Spain's Princess Cristina not guilty in tax fraud case

Posted February 17, 2017

Spain's Princess Cristina and her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, leave the courtroom previous year after a hearing in a landmark corruption trial on the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca.

Spanish King Felipe's 51-year-old sister, Cristina, had been charged with two counts of being an accessory to tax fraud.

Although she was absolved, Princess Cristina will still have to pay a fine of €265,000 (£227,000; $282,000) as she has civil responsibility.

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

The case was heard in Palma de Mallorca, the regional capital of Spain's Balearic Islands, because many of Urdangarin's business deals related to the area.

Cristina was suspected of involvement in fraudulent activities carried out by her husband.

Princess Cristina, who now lives in Switzerland, was the first member of Spain's royal family to go on trial since the monarchy's restoration in 1975.

The verdicts are in relation to a corruption ring surrounding Urdangarin's non-profit organization, the Noos Institute, which siphoned off more than €6 million ($6.4 million) in public funds. She could have gone to prison for eight years if found guilty.

Asked by her defence lawyer why she became the co-proprietor of a company called Aizoon through which illegal funds were funnelled into their personal accounts, Princess Cristina said it had been Mr Urdangarin's idea and she had agreed: "Out of trust".

During six hours of questioning, she said "I don't know" 188 times and "I don't remember" on 55 occasions. The charges leveled against him included money-laundering and forgery.

The investigation, as well as his own lifestyle, led to the abdication of King Juan Carlos in 2014.

The case further soured public opinion of the Spanish royal family.

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".

The couple's multimillion-euro mansion has been impounded by the courts and Cristina was notably absent from ceremonies marking Felipe's ascension to the throne in June 2014.