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Spain's Princess Cristina, husband on trial in corruption case

The royal couple arrived together an hour ahead of the start of legal proceedings, walking briskly into the building as photographers snapped pictures.



Palma: Spain's Princess Cristina and her husband went on trial Monday under intense global media scrutiny in a landmark corruption case that has outraged the country and sullied the monarchy's reputation.

Cristina, a 50-year-old mother-of-four with a master's degree from New York University, is the first Spanish royal to face criminal charges in court since the monarchy was reinstated following the 1975 death of dictator General Francisco Franco.

The trial of the princess and the 17 other accused, including her husband, former Olympic handball medallist Inaki Urdangarin got underway at 9:20 am (0815 GMT) at a makeshift courtroom in Palma on the palm-lined Mediterranean island of Mallorca, where the Spanish royals have a holiday home.

The royal couple arrived together an hour ahead of the start of legal proceedings, walking briskly into the building as photographers snapped pictures.

But following courtroom rules, they had to sit apart as judges read out the alleged crimes committed by the suspects.

Cristina has been charged with tax evasion while her husband is accused of the more serious crimes of embezzlement, influence peddling, document falsification, money laundering and tax fraud.

Journalists from around the world have flocked to cover the trial, which was moved from a courthouse to a public administration school on the outskirts of Palma to accomodate the large number or reporters and lawyers.

The trial comes as Spain seethes over repeated corruption scandals that have exposed politicians, trade unions, bankers and footballers, eroding Spaniards' faith in their institutions and elites after a major economic crisis and a government austerity drive.

"We have never had as much corruption in Spain's democratic history," said Francisco Solana, a 45-year-old unemployed masseur who protested outside the makeshift courtroom before the start of the trial.

"No judge will dare send Princess Cristina to jail. I think justice is not equal for all, it favours the rich," added Solana who was wrapped in a yellow, red and purple Spanish Republican flag.

The case is centred on business dealings by the Noos Institute, a charitable organisation based in Palma which Urdangarin founded and chaired from 2004 to 2006.

From Zee News

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