Spain's Princess Cristina takes stand at her tax evasion trial

Spain's Princess Cristina, the country's first royal to face criminal charges since the monarchy's 1975 restoration, today took the stand in a landmark corruption case centred on her husband's business dealings.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 04, 2016, 01:31 AM IST

Palma: Spain's Princess Cristina, the country's first royal to face criminal charges since the monarchy's 1975 restoration, today took the stand in a landmark corruption case centred on her husband's business dealings.

"I will answer only my lawyer," said Cristina, King Felipe VI's sister, who denies being an accessory to tax evasion.

Cristina has also denied knowledge of her husband Inaki Urdangarin's activities.

The couple went on trial along with 15 others in January in a case that has sullied the reputation of the monarchy.

The case centres on accusations that Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball medallist, used his royal connections to win inflated public contracts to stage sporting and other events and then syphoned off the proceeds to fund a lavish lifestyle.

He and his former business partner Diego Torres are accused of embezzling about six million euros (USD 6.6 million) in public money that was paid to the Noos Institute to organise events.
One of the companies that allegedly benefited from Noos was Aizoon, a real estate firm that Urdangarin owned with Cristina, the youngest daughter of former King Juan Carlos I who abdicated in June 2014. Aizoon has been labelled a "front company" in court documents.

The princess is accused of making personal use of Aizoon funds to pay for clothes and dance lessons for the couple's children, as well as work on the couple's Barcelona mansion, lowering the firm's taxeable income.

If convicted Cristina faces a jail term of up to eight years. Urdangarin, who has been charged with the more serious crimes of embezzlement, influence peddling, forgery and money laundering, faces more than 19 years in prison.

The trial is being held in a public administration school on the outskirts of Palma on the Mediterranean island of Majorca.