Spanish princess gives testimony in historic corruption case | News | DW | 08.02.2014
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Spanish princess gives testimony in historic corruption case

The younger daughter of Spain's King Juan Carlos, Princess Cristina, has testified in a fraud case that has further damaged the image of the royal family. She and her husband deny any wrongdoing.

A Spanish judge on Saturday questioned Princess Cristina on whether she illegally used funds from a company she owned with her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, for personal expenses.

She and Urdangarin are alleged to have used proceeds from the real estate and consulting firm Aizoon to renovate their Barcelona mansion and hold lavish parties there.

Both have denied any wrongdoing.

The judge, Jose Castro, has referred to Aizoon in court paperwork as a "front company."

The princess's seven-hour appearance in the court in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the Balearic Islands, was the first time a Spanish royal has been summoned in a criminal proceeding since the monarchy was restored in 1975, after the Franco dictatorship.

Reporters were not allowed into the hearing, but a lawyer for one of the two civil groups bringing charges against the princess told media outside that she had been evasive in response to the judge's questions.

"Most of her answers have been 'I don't know,' 'I don't remember' and 'I fully trusted my husband'," Manuel Delgado said.

Princess 'happy'

One of the princess's lawyers, Jesus Silva, told journalists she had been "happy" with how the testimony had gone, and denied that she had dodged the truth.

"She answered absolutely all of the questions she was asked, (...) so she has not been evasive," he added.

A final decision on whether the two are charged could take months. Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball medalist, testified in the case in 2012.

Urdangarin is charged with crimes including the embezzlement of 6 million euros ($8.17 million) of public money at a charitable foundation he ran, the Noos Foundation, where the princess was a board member.

Prosecutors dropped a subpoena against the princess in that case, related to the present one, because of insufficient evidence of her involvement.

Anti-monarchy protests

The case has deepend anger at the monarchy at a time when the country is suffering from 26 percent unemployment, tax hikes and austerity measures.

Hundreds of protesters gathered several streets away from the courthouse shouting anti-monarchy slogans and calling for an end to institutional corruption.

The popularity of the princess's father, Juan Carlos, has hit a record low, with an opinion poll released last month showing that almost two thirds of Spaniards want him to abdicate and hand the crown to his son.

tj/ph (AP, Reuters)

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