A Spanish judge has ordered the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos to appear in court on allegations of tax fraud and money laundering. The charges against her, though, will not necessarily result in a trial.
The examining magistrate in Palma de Mallorca, Jose Castro, handed down the ruling on Tuesday in which he charged Princess Cristina, 48, and summoned her to appear in court on March 8.
Her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, had been earlier charged with fraud, tax evasion, falsifying documents and the embezzlement of 6 million euros ($8 million) in public funds through the charitable foundation Noos institute, which he headed from 2004-06.
In his 227-page written decision, Castro said his team had gathered sufficient evidence to summon the princess on suspicion of involvement in some of her husband's alleged illegal dealings.
Among other things, the ruling spoke of "grave and serious irregularities" in the documentation of deductable expenses. The magistrate also accused her of being responsible for the illegal employment of domestic staff.
Shortly after the ruling was handed down, her defense lawyer, Miguel Roca told Spanish television that they intended to launch an appeal against the summons.
"I am absolutely convinced of her innocence," Roca said.
The charges brought against the princess are known as an “imputacion” and do not necessarily lead to a trial.
The judge opened his investigation into the princess and her husband three years ago, but has had trouble making any charges stick against her.
Last May, a higher court threw out charges he had brought against her in a ruling one month earlier, in which he cited evidence that she had aided and abetted her husband.
Tuesday's ruling will come as another blow to the image of King Juan Carlos, who was widely respected in Spain for his role in transforming the country into a democracy following the Franco dictatorship. His popularity, though, has been damaged by the scandal and public outrage over a 2012 African elephant-hunting safari, which came at a time when the country was experiencing a deep recession.
A recent opinion poll showed that almost two thirds of Spaniards felt it was time for the 76-year-old king to step down.
pfd/ipj (Reuters, dpa, AFP)