Spain's Princess Cristina cleared of corruption charges

Feb 18, 2017, 00:33
Spain's Princess Cristina cleared of corruption charges

The Spanish king's sister, Princess Cristina, was acquitted on Friday of being an accessory to tax fraud at the end of a year-long trial seen as a test of whether Spain's rich and powerful are accountable to the law.

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, had used his royal connections to win public contracts to put on events through his non-profit organisation, the Noos Foundation, then overcharged for the events and hidden millions of dollars in proceeds overseas, according to prosecutors.

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, faced a maximum term of 19 and a half years in jail.

Princess Cristina, the sister of Spain's King Felipe VI, has been acquitted in an alleged embezzlement scheme - but her husband was found guilty Friday, as a court handed down a prison sentence of more than six years to Iñaki Urdangarín for an assortment of crimes. She could have gone to prison for eight years if found guilty.

The princess and her husband were among 18 co-defendants facing 89 charges ranging from fraud and money laundering to trafficking of influences.

She told the court last March that her husband was in charge of family finances, saying: "I didn't get involved in that".

Princess Cristina now lives in Switzerland.

One of the companies said to have received money, real estate firm Aizoon, was jointly owned by Cristina and Urdangarin. Questioned in court in February 2014, she said she took her husband at his word.

During six hours of questioning, she said "I don't know" 188 times and "I don't remember" on 55 occasions.

Cristina is the first member of the Spanish royal family ever to stand in a dock.

Public prosecutors had declined to press charges against her but the three judges agreed to continue with the prosecution using evidence filed by the anti-corruption group Manos Limpias, meaning "Clean Hands". His wife, Princess Cristina, was cleared by the court.

Since ascending to the throne following the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos, in 2014, King Felipe has endeavoured to improve his family's disintegrating public image.

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