Princess Cristina to Face Spain Trial on Tax-Fraud Charges

  • Accusations against princess stem from husband's business
  • Case sparked discontent as Spaniards hurt by economic crisis

Princess Cristina will face trial for tax fraud after a Spanish court threw out a last-ditch bid to have the charges withdrawn.

A panel of judges in Palma de Mallorca rejected an argument by Cristina’s lawyers that she could not face charges for defrauding the state because the accusation was not supported by public prosecutors. The case has been brought instead by a private organization, Manos Limpias, which campaigns to defend ethical standards in public life.

Turning down the application to free her from sitting trial, the judges said the trial can go ahead despite the state’s opposition because it pursues the common good.

“State prosecutors can’t have a monopoly on legal action,” said the ruling, published by El Mundo newspaper on Friday and verified by Miguel Bernad, the head of the Manos Limpias.

The princess faces allegations that she served as an accessory to tax fraud linked to her husband Inaki Urdangarin’s business dealings with the Noos Institute. The probe sparked public outrage among Spaniards and fueled concerns about institutionalized corruption as unemployment surged to a record and the government imposed unprecedented spending cuts at the height of the economic crisis.

Reacting to the ruling, Princess Cristina’s lawyer Miquel Roca said the decision contradicted the so-called “Botin Doctrine” -- named after deceased Banco Santander SA chairman Emilio Botin -- which argues individuals can’t be tried for tax crimes without the support of the public prosecutor as it is the damaged party.

“We will protest this and reserve our right to appeal the thesis by Manos Limpias applied in the ruling when the time comes,” Roca said in comments to reporters published on El Mundo website. “We will continue to defend the princess and her innocence.”

A spokesman for the palace said the royal family always respects judicial proceedings and declined to comment further on the ruling when contacted by phone.

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