The Strategist

Spanish Princess Appeared in Court

01/11/2016 - 15:22

"Trial of the Century" started in Spain today: Infanta Cristina, the sister of King Philip VI, and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin Liebaert came to the court. They are accused of corruption and embezzlement in the NGO Instituto Noos. Princess could face up to eight years in prison. Although such a harsh sentence is unlikely, the very fact of the investigation is another blow to the Spanish monarchy.

Great attention is focused on Palma de Mallorca in Spain. Princess Cristina became the first-ever member of the royal family to stand trial.
The fact, that it will happen sooner or later, became clear in December 2014 when the relevant decision was taken by judge Jose Castro. Infanta Cristina is suspected of involvement in financial fraud and tax evasion on a large scale. The author and performer of the main criminal plan considered Iñaki Urdangarin - her husband and former head of the NGO Instituto Noos. Taking the title of Duke of Palma de Majorca, he allegedly illegally appropriated around € 6 million. According to the investigation, Instituto Noos won competitions of the regional authorities to provide services at a higher price. This surplus was transferred to personal accounts of participants in the criminal scheme. The investigation believes that the sister of King Philip VI was aware of the illegal activities of her husband and, moreover, helped him.

Previously, neither prosecutors nor the Spanish tax authorities saw crime in Infanta’s actions. However, judge Castro found charges, pushed by a Spanish anti-corruption social movement "Clean Hands» (Manos Limpias), sufficient. Its activists required to put the king's sister to prison for eight years and to award her a fine of approximately € 2 million. This option is the worst for the Infanta Cristina. Her husband also faces from 19 years 6 months to 26 years in prison. The first sentence is required by the prosecutor's office, the second – by the members of "Clean Hands".

Overall, the high-profile case involves 18 people. It is expected that they will be able to testify with statements in court, starting from 9 February. From March 8 to May 17, the court will hear witnesses in the case (363 people).

It is worth noting that Infanta Cristina and her husband have been barred from participating in the official events of the royal family back in 2011. However, the Spanish experts believe that the development of the case could be a new blow to the Spanish monarchy, whose popularity in recent years has fallen markedly. Predecessor of Philip VI, King Juan Carlos abdicated in the summer of 2014. According to the official version, the reason was poor health. However, Spanish media claimed that the monarch’s fall in popularity did not go unnoticed, including in connection with the corruption scandal around her daughter and son-in-law.


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