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Spain to deliver verdict in Princess Cristina tax fraud trial

Princess Cristina of Spain could face jail when she learns the verdict on Friday in her trial over claims she helped her husband evade taxes

17 February 2017, 10:08am
Spain's Princess Cristina and husband, former Olympic handball player, Inaki Urdangarin arrive for a hearing in their trial in Palma de Mallorca
Spain's Princess Cristina and husband, former Olympic handball player, Inaki Urdangarin arrive for a hearing in their trial in Palma de Mallorca
Spanish judges will deliver their verdict on Friday in the trial of the King of Spain's sister Princess Cristina, charged with being an accessory to tax fraud following a long investigation into her husband's financial affairs.

King Felipe's 51-year-old sister is one of 18 defendants in the year-long trial which followed a probe into a charity run by her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, that prosecutors say was used to pilfer millions of euros in public funds.

The scandal broke in 2011, just as the country was going through a deep economic crisis.

A court in Palma, on the Mediterranean island of Majorca, is due to rule at noon on whether Cristina and her husband Inaki Urdangarin are guilty. The couple will not be in court for the verdict, which can be appealed.

Cristina is charged with two counts of being an accessory to tax fraud and, if found guilty, could face up to four years in prison for each charge. Any criminal indictment would be unprecedented for a relative of the royal family.

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball medallist who was charged with the more serious crimes of embezzlement, influence peddling, forgery and money laundering, could face more than 19 years in prison and a €980,000 fine over claims he siphoned millions from public funds.

Some of the foundation's money was transferred to a private company used to pay for personal family items like holidays, home furnishings and theatre tickets, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors accuse Urdangarin of using royal connections to win public contracts to put on events through his non-profit organization, the Noos Foundation. He overcharged for the events and then hid the proceeds abroad, they say.

Neither Cristina nor her husband have been called to appear in court for the verdict, a court spokeswoman said. Both have lived in Switzerland with their four children since 2013 and have always denied any wrongdoing.

The other 16 accused include the former head of the Balearic Islands government and other high-ranking officials from the islands and the Mediterranean coastal region of Valencia.

As part of efforts to modernise the monarchy, King Felipe removed Cristina and her sister Elena from royal duties when he ascended the throne in 2014. The following year he stripped Cristina of her title of Duchess of Palma.

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