Spanish royal to face court again

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iol news pic jan23 Spain Royal Family AP File image - Spain's King Juan Carlos, left, waits during a reception with Queen Sofia, second left, Princess Letizia, third left and Prince Felipe at the Royal Palace in Madrid. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Rojas, Pool)

Madrid - Spanish King Juan Carlos' son-in-law has been summoned to appear in court for a second time for questioning as part of a corruption probe which has hurt the popularity of the royal family.

Inaki Urdangarin, who acquired the title of Duke of Palma when he wed the king's youngest daughter Cristina in 1997, has been called to appear at a court in Palma on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca on February 23, the court said Wednesday.

He and his former business partner Diego Torres are suspected of syphoning off millions of euros paid by regional governments for staging sporting and tourism events to the Noos Institute, a charitable organisation based in Palma he chaired from 2004 to 2006, and of tax fraud.

The money allegedly went to for-profit companies and offshore accounts under his control.

Urdangarin has denied any wrongdoing. He has not been charged with a crime.

The 45-year-old ex-Olympic handball player was jeered February last year when he appeared at the court in Palma where the Noos Institute is based to be questioned for the first time as part of the investigation into the case.

At the time, investigating judge Jose Castro questioned the duke over the workings of the companies involved in the case.

This time around the judge wants to question Urdangarin over alleged tax fraud carried by the Noos Institute under his watch and by the duke himself, according to Spanish media reports.

The court in Palma also summoned Torres to appear for questioning again on February 16.

King Juan Carlos, 75, is widely admired for guiding Spain to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975.

But the popularity of the royal family has been hurt by the corruption scandal and a luxury elephant-hunting expedition the king took last year in Botswana at a time when one in four Spaniards is out of work.

General support for having a monarchy in Spain fell to 54 percent, six points lower than a year ago and “a historic low”, according to a poll published on January 3 in centre-right newspaper El Mundo. - Sapa-AFP

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