Princess Cristina of Spain has become the first member of the country’s royal family to stand trial.
Cristina has been charged in connection with an embezzlement scam that involves 17 defendants, including her husband, but all the defendants have denied the charges against them.
The princess and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, appeared in court for their hearing on Monday morning. The fraud case against them is being presided over by a panel of three judges. If Cristina is found guilty, she faces eight years in jail.
This is a new concept to Spanish people who never thought they would see such a powerful individual held to account. This case is a big blow to the monarchy’s popularity.
Cristina’s lawyers are expected to push the judges to dismiss the case. This however, will be tough since corruption in Spain has become a huge political issue.
Why Princess Cristina is in Court
Noos Institute Sports Foundation is a non-profit organization owned by Mr. Urdangarin. The institute is alleged to have been the means used by government bodies to win inflated contracts before transferring the cash to personal accounts. It is alleged that Noos has received over 6 million pounds of public funds mainly from Valencia and Balearic Islands regional governments. If Cristina’s husband is found guilty of the charges, he faces almost 20 years in jail.
Princess Cristina is involved because she is a board member of Noos. Therefore, such schemes could not have been carried out without her knowledge. Furthermore, Princess Cristina and Mr. Urdangarin co-owned Aizoon, a real estate company that is alleged to have been used for laundering embezzled funds.
The case against Cristina was filed in 2010 during a corruption investigation involving Balearic Islands officials. This case has brought to light the level of corruption that exists among Spain’s upper-class members.