Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

WEB NEWS

NSA targets 'Tor' network users

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users call for peace in Gaza

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French government hopes to collect €1.8bn from foreign accounts

Read more

  • France honours those lost on Air Algérie Flight AH5017

    Read more

  • Video: Slaviansk mourns mass grave victims

    Read more

  • Thousands gather in Marseille in support of Israel

    Read more

  • As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

    Read more

  • Liberia tightens border controls to curb Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • The centenary of Austria-Hungary’s calamitous last hurrah

    Read more

  • Video: Ethiopia turns to wine to boost image, economy

    Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

    Read more

  • Nibali joins elite group with Tour de France win

    Read more

  • France calls on its nationals to leave Libya as violence escalates

    Read more

  • Boko Haram kidnap Cameroon minister's wife in deadly attack

    Read more

  • Muslims prepare for Eid al-Fitr festival

    Read more

  • ‘Irresponsible’ American dad tries to scale Mont Blanc with children

    Read more

  • Ukraine fighting prevents observers from accessing MH17 crash site

    Read more

  • In pictures: Crowds flock to enjoy the Tour de France show

    Read more

  • Netanyahu says Hamas 'violating its own ceasefire'

    Read more

  • Video: At the scene of the Air Algérie crash in Mali

    Read more

  • Costa Concordia arrives in port of Genoa to be scrapped

    Read more

  • In pictures: Youths clash with police at banned Gaza protest

    Read more

  • Russia lashes out at new EU sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • Bodies of all Air Algérie crash victims to be brought to France

    Read more

  • Syrian army and ISIS both claim advances

    Read more

  • Briton kidnapped in Yemen freed after five months

    Read more

  • New round of Gaza ceasefire talks takes place in Paris

    Read more

Europe

Spanish princess testifies in royal corruption case

© AFP

Video by Clovis CASALI

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-08

Spain’s Princess Cristina – the younger daughter of King Juan Carlos – was questioned by a judge in court on Saturday in a corruption case involving her husband.

It is the first time that a Spanish royal has been summoned in a criminal proceeding since the monarchy was restored in 1975, after the death of dictator Francisco Franco.

Cristina, who is seventh in line to the throne, faces preliminary charges of tax fraud and money laundering linked to her use of income from a shell company she co-owned with her husband Inaki Urdangarin. The case has deepened public anger at Spain’s ruling class as the country struggles to emerge from economic crisis, following years of stringent austerity measures.

The princess arrived at the closed door hearing in Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands dressed soberly in a white shirt and black jacket. She was given special permission to be driven to the courthouse door for security reasons.

“Her testimony was extensive and exhaustive,” said one of Princess Cristina’s lawyers, Miguel Roca, outside the court. “We are fully confident that today could not be a better day for the princess... We are all equal before the law.”

Manuel Delgado, a lawyer for one of the two civil groups that first brought charges against the princess, told journalists during a break, “Most of her answers have been ‘I don’t know’, ‘I don’t remember’ and ‘I fully trusted my husband’.”

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, is charged with crimes including the embezzlement of 6 million euros of public money at a charitable foundation he ran and where the princess was a board member.

He has been accused of using his royal connections to win generous no-bid contracts from the regional Balearic Islands government to put on sports and marketing events before a 2008 property market crash, when local governments were awash with cash.

Judge Jose Castro is investigating how Urdangarin overcharged and charged for services never provided, and how the proceeds went to a shell company without the appropriate tax being paid. The couple co-owned the shell company and used it for personal expenses including, for example, work on their Barcelona mansion and the princess’s salsa lessons.

Both the princess and Urdangarin – who have not represented the Crown at official events since 2011 – have denied any wrongdoing. Princess Cristina has stuck by her husband, but last year moved with their four children to Switzerland to escape media attention. She now works for a charitable foundation there.

Frustration with royal family

Streets away, hundreds of protesters shouted slogans calling for a republic, equal justice for all and an end to institutional corruption.

“I’m a monarchist, but if they have done wrong they should return what they stole and be exposed just like the rest of us,” said Angel Rodriguez, an 80-year-old pensioner passing by the court.

Widespread hardship and an unemployment rate of 26 percent have fuelled popular resentment of the wealthy and powerful, while data show Spain’s crisis has widened a gulf between rich and poor.

The royal scandal has hastened a decline in the popularity of the once-revered King Juan Carlos after a series of gaffes showed his high-flying lifestyle to be woefully out of step with the rest of the nation.

An opinion poll released last month put the king’s popularity at a record low, with almost two thirds of Spaniards wanting him to abdicate and hand the crown to his son.

“Support for the king plummeted when, in a situation of great economic and social difficulty, he projected an image of frivolity, of having neglected his obligations,” said Ignacio Torres Muro, professor of constitutional law at Madrid’s Complutense University.

Judge Castro brought preliminary charges against Princess Cristina in January in a 227-page ruling. Last year he brought charges of aiding and abetting, only to have them thrown out by a higher court. The investigation, however, began four years ago.

The judge will now have to decide whether to formalise the charges against the princess, drop them, or allow her to plead to lesser charges.

Many Spaniards think she will get off lightly.

“This is a country where there are no consequences for being corrupt. They get a free ride,” said Maria Gomila, an 18-year-old student.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-02-08

  • SPAIN

    Spanish king under fire for elephant hunting trip

    Read more

  • SPAIN

    Spanish duke faces court over corruption charges

    Read more

  • SPAIN

    Spain's PM faces parliament over corruption scandal

    Read more

COMMENT(S)