A judge has formalized charges against Princess Cristina of Spain, the sister of the newly-crowned King Felipe VI. The charges relate to a tax fraud and money laundering case implicating the princess' husband.
The Spanish judge upheld corruption charges against Cristina de Borbon and her husband at the Palma de Mallorca court on Wednesday.
The rulings come less than a week after Felipe took the Spanish throne, promising an "honest and transparent" monarchy, following the abdication of 76-year-old King Juan Carlos.
In a blow to the royal family, investigative magistrate Jose Castro ruled that Cristina would remain a suspect in the case, and should stand trial along with her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin.
Urdangarin is under investigation for embezzling millions of euros in public funds, and using his connections to win public contracts through his non-profit organization Noos Foundation.
Cristina is accused of complicity in these business dealings. She sat on the organization's board and Urdangarin was its chairman. Neither Cristina nor her husband has been formally charged.
The judge's ruling on Wednesday is open to appeal, but in the Spanish legal system the decision is just a few administrative steps away from opening trial proceedings. In court appearances, Cristina and her husband have denied any wrongdoing.
String of royal scandals
Spain's royal family has lost favor in recent years, following a series of scandals that include the Noos case. King Juan Carlos' luxury elephant hunting trip in Botswana in 2012, at the height of Spain's financial crisis, sparked protests across the country.
Polls show the King's recent abdication in favor of his 46-year-old son has given the monarchy a boost. Felipe has distanced himself from his sister and the ongoing fraud case.
Princess Cristina did not attend the coronation, and has been barred from official royal events.
A final decision on whether she will be put on trial will only be made after all appeals and arguments from the prosecutors and defendants have been considered.
If the judge's rulings are upheld, however, Cristina would be the first direct relation of the Spanish monarch in history to stand trial as a criminal defendant.
nm/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)