March 11, 2014
Princess Cristina to give testimony in royal corruption case
Spain's Princess Cristina - younger daughter of King Juan Carlos - will appear in court for questioning by a judge in a corruption case that has deepened public anger over ruling class graft at a time of government spending cuts.
It is the first time since the monarchy was restored in 1975 after the Francisco Franco dictatorship that a member of the royal family has been hauled into court in a criminal proceeding.
Cristina faces preliminary charges of tax fraud and money laundering linked to her use of funds from a shell company she co-owned with her husband Inaki Urdangarin, who is charged with crimes including embezzling 6 million euros of public money.
The princess, 48, accompanied by her lawyer, must answer dozens of questions from the judge in a closed-door hearing set to start at 6 am local time (0900 GMT) at the main court building in Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands.
Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, is accused of using his royal connections to win generous no-bid contracts from the Balearic government to put on sports and marketing events during the boom years before a 2008 property market crash, when local governments were awash with cash.
He and his partners in a consulting firm called the Noos Institute are accused of overcharging, and of charging for services never provided.
The court gave the princess - accused of using Noos Institute proceeds to pay for items such as expensive remodeling of her Barcelona mansion - special permission to be driven to the courthouse door, citing security reasons.
That decision has sparked public outrage because it allows the princess to dodge hundreds of television cameras.
Spanish broadcasters have incessantly replayed footage of her grim-faced husband walking into court along a pedestrian ramp when he went before the judge last year - an image the royal family is eager to avoid repeating with the princess.