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Spain’s Princess Cristina Faces Fraud Charges
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Summary: Spain’s Princess Cristina is the first of the royal family to stand trial with charges of fraud.


Now that Spain’s Princess Cristina faces trial for embezzlement, she has become the first of the country’s royal family to stand before a judge. If guilty, she could face up to eight years in prison. The embezzlement trial also involves her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, and 16 other defendants. He could face 19 years in prison if he’s found guilty by a three-member panel of judges.

The case centers around the nonprofit organization Urdangarin allegedly used to secure falsely inflated contracts from regional governing bodies, harvesting the funds ultimately into personal accounts in off-shore tax havens. Most of the money was received from the Balearic Islands and Valencia regional governments.

At the outset of the trial, the princess’s lawyers attempted to get it dismissed. They claimed the only accusation she faced was made by a private, anticorruption group Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), and they cited the “Botin doctrine,” named after a dropped case against a former Spanish bank chief in 2007.

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Clean Hands lawyer Virginia Lopez Negrete claimed all citizens are equal before the law and resorting to that doctrine was anachronistic.

Urdangarin’s nonprofit was named the Nóos Institute and received more than $6.5 million of public money. Princess Cristina co-owned the real estate company Aizoon, which prosecutors claim was used to launder embezzled funds.

The princess, her husband and the sixteen others pleaded innocent. The indictment follows a four-year investigation by prosecuting authorities, focusing specifically on tax fraud in the financial years 2007 and 2008. Her husband faces charges of fraud, influence peddling and laundering money, among other charges.

With a 70,000-page indictment and 363 witnesses forecasted to testify, the case will be nothing less than stellar. This is why they used a government-owned building on the outskirts of the city, as the island’s capital’s courtrooms could hold all those involved.

With an initial attempt to argue that she could not be prosecuted at all by the court, the princess’s lawyers claimed the judicial process as a whole was invalid. She herself said nothing in court. The princess and her husband won’t be required to speak until February when the defendants will be asked to take the stand.

Story source: BBC


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