Spain’s first royal criminal trial opens

Princess Cristina sits in the dock along with husband Iñaki Urdangarin

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Princess Cristina and husband Iñaki Urdangarin arriving at court on Monday. Photo:EFE

By Dave Jamieson

Cristina de Borbon, elder sister of King Felipe, appeared in a Palma court on Monday on charges of tax fraud during 2007 and 2008. A private prosecution brought by a small right-wing trades union, Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), accuses her of misconduct and calls for an eight-year prison sentence. It is the first time a member of the royal family has faced criminal charges since the restoration of the monarchy in 1975.

As expected, the Princess’s defence team asked the court to acquit their client under a legal device which permits a defendant to be freed if accused only by a private prosecutor and not by the State. Spain’s public prosecutor has defended Cristina throughout, arguing that she was unaware of her husband’s alleged tax evasion and money laundering.

But the lawyer for Manos Limpias argued that the Princess would be “stigmatised” if the charge against her was not heard, in addition to which the Spanish justice system would suffer.

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