Princess Cristina of Spain has testified for the first time at her trial for alleged tax fraud, answering only the questions posed by her own lawyer.
The 50-year-old sister of King Felipe told the court in Mallorca that she had never asked her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, how he ran a property company they jointly owned.
Inaki Urdangarin is accused of using his royal connections to generate business income they used for private spending.
Both deny any wrongdoing. Fifteen other defendants are also on trial.
Princess Cristina could face a maximum of eight years in jail if found guilty.
She denies knowledge of the alleged embezzlement scam that also involves her husband and 16 other defendants.
Asked by her lawyer during the 20-minute appearance why she never talked with her husband about what the company did, Infanta Cristina said they “weren’t issues that interested me”.
“At that time my children were very small and we were very busy. He was in charge of the family expenses. I didn’t get involved in that,” she added.
The case was launched in 2010 and has become highly symbolic of perceived corruption among Spain’s elites, including the royal family.
In 2015, King Felipe stripped his sister and her husband Inaki Urdangarin of their titles, the Duke and Duchess of Palma de Mallorca.
Princess Cristina now lives in Switzerland, but remains the sixth in line to the Spanish throne and is the first member of the royal family to go on trial.
Her lawyers argued that as public prosecutors had refused to press charges against her, the counts should be dismissed.
However, the three judges agreed to continue with the prosecution using the evidence filed by the anti-corruption group Manos Limpias (Clean Hands).
The charges relate to the real estate company Aizoon that Princess Cristina owned with Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball medalist.
Princess Cristina is accused of making personal use of Aizoon funds for paying for clothes and dance lessons for the couple’s children, as well as work on the couple’s Barcelona mansion, which reduced the company’s taxable profits.
Inaki Urdangarin is alleged to have used the non-profit Noos Institute sports foundation he ran as a vehicle to win falsely inflated contracts from regional government bodies, before channeling the money to personal accounts via tax havens.
Noos is alleged to have received more than €6m ($6.5 million) of public money, most of it from the Balearic Islands and Valencia regional governments.
King Felipe VI of Spain has stripped sister Princess Cristina of her title as Duchess of Palma ahead of her tax fraud trial.
Infanta Cristina, who is to go on trial charged with tax evasion, was granted the Duchess of Palma de Mallorca title in 1997 when she married Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player who is also accused of tax evasion.
Princess Cristina had asked King Felipe to remove her title, her lawyer said.
However, the royal palace said the king made the decision before seeing her request. Princess Cristina denies the tax fraud charges.
In the year since King Felipe, 47, succeeded his father, King Juan Carlos, to the throne, he has excluded Princess Cristina de Borbon and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, who faces a wider array of corruption charges in the case, from the royal family’s official functions.
Prosecutors in Palma de Mallorca have long been investigating the business dealings of Inaki Urdangarin.
Inaki Urdangarin stands accused with 15 others of embezzling 5.6 million euros ($6 million) of public money from the Noos Institute – a charitable sports foundation he ran with a business partner. Princess Cristina is accused of involvement in the alleged scam.
It is the first time in modern Spain’s history that a member of the royal family has faced court cross-examination in a major corruption scandal.
Princess Cristina, 50, is the youngest daughter of former King Juan Carlos, who abdicated last year.
An investigating judge recommended that Princess Cristina of Spain, sister of King Felipe VI, be charged in a tax fraud and money laundering case that has helped inflame opposition to the monarchy.
Infanta Cristina, 49, was questioned in court in February about the business dealings of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, and could now face trial.
However, an appeal has been lodged against the decision.
The judge’s ruling will come as an embarrassment to Felipe VI, who came to the throne only six days ago.
The tax fraud case was one of several scandals that weakened the popularity of the Spanish monarchy and prompted the abdication of King Juan Carlos.
Princess Cristina’s appearance in court in Mallorca was unprecedented for the royal family and if she goes to trial, she could face up to 11 years in jail.
Princess Cristina’s appearance in court in Mallorca was unprecedented for the royal family and if she goes to trial
The investigating judge’s decision is a major development in this investigation and a huge embarrassment for the Spanish royal family.
Judge Jose Castro believes Infanta Cristina knew more than she has let on regarding the allegedly corrupt activities of her husband, Inaki Urdangarin.
This inquiry has now lasted more than three years and during that time it has heavily eroded the popularity of the royal family. Princess Cristina has already appeared in court to testify, but the door is now open for her to face trial, which would take the scandal to a new level.
Judge Jose Castro has been investigating allegations that the princess’s husband embezzled millions in public funds with a former business partner.
Inaki Urdangarin, who is the Duke of Palma, and Diego Torres were alleged to have received 5.6 million euros ($7.5 million) by overcharging regional governments for organizing sporting events as part of a not-for-profit organization called Noos.
Announcing his decision, Judge Jose Castro said the princess should be tried alongside her husband and other suspects.
Anti-corruption prosecutors had already opposed his decision to name Princess Cristina as a suspect, saying there was insufficient evidence against her. Prosecutor Pedro Horrach said on Wednesday an appeal was being lodged “because there is still no piece [of evidence] against” the princess.
A final decision on whether Princess Cristina should stand trial will be made by the provincial court at Palma de Mallorca.
Princess Cristina of Spain has been summoned to appear in court over allegations that her husband Inaki Urdangarin misused millions of euros of public money.
This is the first court summons for a direct descendant of the Spanish king. Princess Cristina is King Juan Carlos’s youngest daughter.
Inaki Urdangarin, who is suspected of having massively overcharged local authorities for organizing sporting events, denies wrongdoing and has not been charged.
Princess Cristina of Spain has been summoned to appear in court over allegations that her husband Inaki Urdangarin misused millions of euros of public money
It is alleged that some of the money ended up in companies controlled by Inaki Urdangarin – who is the Duke of Palma and a former Olympic handball player – in offshore bank accounts.
The events allegedly happened between 2004 and 2006, when Inaki Urdangarin stepped down as head of the non-profit NOOS Institute.
The duke and his former business partner Diego Torres are suspected of misusing millions of euros in public funds that were given to the institute – a charitable foundation.
Diego Torres, who was questioned by a judge in February, has also denied any wrongdoing.
Inaki Urdangarin has sought to distance King Juan Carlos from the scandal, pointing out in February that the royal house “had no opinion, did not advise and did not authorize” any of his activities at the institute.
“When the accusations arose, the palace recommended I stop any activity not considered appropriate to my institutional status, which I did,” he is reported to have said.
Princess Cristina has been asked to appear in court in Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands, on April 27.
Emails have come to light suggesting that Infanta Cristina knew about her husband’s financial affairs, El Pais newspaper reported.
Anti-corruption campaigners have urged the judge to formally name Princess Cristina as a suspect, alleging that she may also have been involved.
Emails published by Spanish newspapers in February also appear to show that King Juan Carlos took a close interest in Inaki Uradangarin’s business affairs.
Support for the royal family has diminished in recent years, amid criticism that is out of touch with ordinary Spaniards as they struggle with a severe economic crisis.
Inaki Urdangarin was suspended from official royal engagements in December.
“The royal household does not comment in any way on judicial decisions,” a spokesman for the Spanish royal family told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.
Who is Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca?
The younger daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía of Spain
Seventh in the line of succession to the Spanish throne
Fluent in Spanish, Catalan, English, French and Greek
Carries out cultural, academic and welfare activities in Spain and abroad
Honorary president of the Spanish Committee of Unesco
Appointed goodwill ambassador to the UN World Assembly on Ageing in October 2001
President of the International Foundation for Disabled Sailing