Spanish princess Infanta Cristina summoned over fraud


A Spanish judge has summoned the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos to appear in court over accusations of fraud and money-laundering, the BBC reports.
The Infanta Cristina, 48, has been linked to the business affairs of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, who is being investigated for alleged embezzlement. The princess is now a formal suspect and should appear in court on 8 March.
It is believed to be the first time a direct relative of the king will appear in court accused of wrongdoing. Palma de Mallorca court judge Jose Castro ordered the princess to appear for questioning about her partnership with Mr Urdangarin in a firm called Aizoon.
Last year, properties belonging to her husband were impounded after allegations that Mr Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma, misused millions of euros in public funds given to a charitable foundation he ran. The duke denied wrongdoing and was not charged with any crime.
One of the properties impounded is a large luxury house on the outskirts of Barcelona belonging to the duke and Princess Cristina.
The Infanta Cristina is the king’s middle child. She has an elder sister, Infanta Elena, and a younger brother, Crown Prince Felipe, the heir apparent. Judge Castro issued the summons despite objections from the anti-corruption prosecutor in the Balearic Islands, Pedro Horrach, who said he saw no evidence linking the princess to her husband’s alleged wrongdoing, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reports.
When Judge Castro first tried to summon the princess last April, the bid was blocked by the provincial court in Palma de Mallorca.
On that occasion, she would have been questioned over the non-profit Noos Institute, which her husband had headed. The charitable foundation had received millions of euros in public funds, which were then allegedly embezzled.
The new court summons relates to Aizoon, a company which investigators suspect served as a front for laundering the embezzled funds.
The events are alleged to have happened between 2004 and 2006, when the duke stepped down as head of Noos.
According to El Pais, Judge Castro has called the Infanta Cristina to testify for two reasons: to clear up lingering questions about her role in the case, and to uphold the principle that “justice is the same for everyone”.
Responding to Tuesday’s announcement, the royal household said it had “maximum respect for judicial decisions”. News that the princess is now a formal suspect comes amid a decline in popularity for the Spanish king, 76, whose image was dented by a luxury elephant-hunting trip he made to Africa in 2012. On Monday, he presided over a military parade on crutches at Madrid’s royal palace, having recently undergone hip replacement surgery. An opinion poll published on Sunday suggested that 62% of Spaniards wanted him to abdicate and fewer than half supported the monarchy in general. However, the same Sigma Dos poll for El Mundo newspaper also indicated that a majority supported Crown Prince Felipe and believed he could restore the family’s prestige. Juan Carlos became king in 1975, when he oversaw the country’s transition from dictatorship under the late Gen Francisco Franco to democracy.

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