Spanish Court Drops Subpoena Against Princess

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

MADRID -- A Spanish court on Tuesday dropped a subpoena for Princess Cristina, the younger daughter of King Juan Carlos, in an embezzlement case that has tarnished the monarchy.

Princess Cristina had initially been due to appear in court last month. She had been named as a suspect by Judge José Castro of Palma, who has been in charge of investigating the dealings of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player.

Investigators contend that Mr. Urdangarin used his royal credentials to secure inflated contracts from regional politicians to organize sports and tourism events through Instituto Nóos, his sports foundation, then siphoned millions of dollars from the contract fees, channeling the money to companies and offshore accounts controlled by him and his associates.

In a surprising move, however, the judge's rationale for summoning the princess -- that she knew that her husband had been using her name and status to advance suspect business deals -- was appealed by the prosecution, which argued that there was insufficient evidence to link her directly to the workings of the charity.

On Tuesday, a panel of judges upheld that view, voting 2 to 1 to suspend the summons.

Still, the panel left the door open for Princess Cristina to be questioned later regarding possible tax fraud and money laundering if new evidence against her emerged.

The corruption case comes as the popularity of the monarchy has fallen to record lows, prompting calls even among its supporters for King Juan Carlos, who is 75 and has had a series of health problems, to abdicate in favor of Crown Prince Felipe, his 45-year-old son. Other corruption cases have shaken virtually every public institution in Spain.

Since Mr. Urdangarin was named as a suspect in late 2011, the royal household has tried to limit the damage of the investigation by barring him from any involvement in royal affairs and distancing his wife and other members of the family from his past business dealings.

Had the subpoena held, Princess Cristina would have been the first royal-born Spaniard to appear in court in the country's modern history. Mr. Urdangarin became part of the Spanish nobility in 1997, when he married Cristina and became the Duke of Palma.

Mr. Urdangarin has denied any wrongdoing, and neither he nor anyone else has been charged with any crime. Since first appearing in court in February 2012, he has also denied that the king, Princess Cristina or other members of the Spanish royal household had any direct involvement or offered him any advice relating to the sports foundation.

However, Judge Castro used a series of incriminating e-mails provided by Mr. Urdangarin's former business partner to try to summon Princess Cristina to court last month.

Alfonso Alonso, the parliamentary spokesman of the governing Popular Party, welcomed Tuesday's court decision as "good for everybody." He added, "If the process has shown anything, it is that in Spain everybody is equal before the law."

Some opposition politicians accused the royal household and the government of pressuring the Palma court into dropping the subpoena. Ricardo Sixto, a lawmaker from the left-wing Izquierda Unida Party, said the government was intervening in order to prevent the three-year-old case against Mr. Urdangarin from reaching any conclusion.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here