Prosecutor fights fraud charges against princess

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iol pic wld SPAIN-CORRUPTION-ROYALS_ REUTERS Spain's Cristina de Borbon, sister of the newly-crowned King Felipe VI, leaves a courthouse after testifying in front of judge Jose Castro over tax fraud and money-laundering charges in Palma de Mallorca. Picture: Albert Gea

Madrid - A public prosecutor on Thursday appealed against fraud charges that could bring Spanish King Felipe's sister Cristina to trial, accusing a judge of pursuing her on “mere suspicions”.

Just a week after Felipe became Spain's new king, an investigating judge on Wednesday brought the 49-year-old princess a step closer to trial by upholding tax fraud and money-laundering charges against her.

The judge on the island of Mallorca, Jose Castro, accused Cristina of knowingly benefiting from her husband's suspect business dealings.

Castro is at odds however not only with Cristina's defence team but also public prosecutor Pedro Horrach, who filed an appeal calling that “a sly manoeuvre, an escape route for an inquisitorial spiral fed by mere suspicions”.

The charges upheld by Castro are linked to the business affairs of Cristina's husband Inaki Urdangarin, 46, a former Olympic handball player accused of embezzling millions of euros of public funds.

“To date, there has not been revealed any participation by Dona Cristina of Bourbon in the suspected crime of tax fraud alleged against her husband,” Horrach wrote in his appeal.

Urdangarin is accused along with a former business partner of creaming off six million euros ($8 million) in public funds from contracts awarded to Noos, a charitable foundation.

Cristina sat on the board of Noos and Urdangarin was its chairman.

Investigators suspect that a separate company jointly owned by the couple, Aizoon, served as a front for laundering embezzled money.

Questioned in court by Castro in February, Cristina said she had simply trusted her husband and had no knowledge of his business affairs.

A smiling, blonde mother of four with a master's degree from New York University, Cristina was once considered untouchable as a member of the royal family.

But the so-called Noos affair fanned public anger against the monarchy and the ruling class during the recent years of economic hardship in Spain. Urdangarin and Cristina have been excluded from royal activities since 2011. - AFP



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