Spain’s Princess Cristina has become the first member of the country’s royal family to be put on trial.
As reported by the BBC, Princess Cristina is charged with being an accomplice in an alleged embezzlement scam involving her husband and 16 other defendants, who all deny the charges.
Princess Cristina faces eight years in jail if found guilty by a three-member panel of judges.
The trial in Palma, Majorca is seen as an embarrassment for the royal family.
Princess Cristina, aged 50, arrived at the court in Palma on Monday with her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, who is accused of embezzlement and money laundering. They made no statement to reporters.
Princess Cristina sat at the back of three rows of defendants in a makeshift courtroom at a public administration school in Palma. Her husband sat in the same row but court rules prevented them from sitting together, reports the Guardian.
Mr Urdangarin’s supposedly non-profit Noos Institute sports foundation was allegedly used as a vehicle to win falsely inflated contracts from regional government bodies, before channelling the money to personal accounts via tax havens.
Noos is alleged to have received more than $6.5m of public money, most of it from the Balearic Islands and Valencia regional governments.
If found guilty, Mr Urdangarin could face 19 years and six months in jail.
Princess Cristina was a board member at the foundation and, with Mr Urdangarin, co-owned a real estate company called Aizoon, which prosecutors say was used to launder embezzled funds.
The case was launched in 2010 by a judge investigating corruption among Balearic Islands officials. It has become highly symbolic of perceived corruption among Spain’s elites, including the royal family.
As the trial began, the princess’s lawyer asked the judges to drop the case against her because it was not supported by public prosecutors.
Her defence argued that the only accusation against the princess had been made privately, by anti-corruption group Manos Limpias (Clean Hands). Lawyers cited the so-called “Botin doctrine”, named after a case dropped against a former Spanish bank chief in 2007.
Last year, King Felipe stripped his sister of the title of Duchess of Palma, but she remains sixth in line to the throne.
The charges Princess Cristina Faces Include:
- Princess Cristina is charged with being an accomplice to tax fraud, relating to the financial years 2007 and 2008. The private prosecution accusing her wants a jail sentence of eight years
- Inaki Urdangarin is accused of using the Noos Institute and associated companies to embezzle public funds amounting to €5.6m and is also accused of fraud, influence peddling and money laundering, among other offences. The public prosecutor wants a jail sentence of 19.5 years for the king’s brother-in-law
- There are 16 other defendants in the case, including Diego Torres, Mr Urdangarin’s former partner at Noos, and Jaume Matas, a former government minister and former chief of the Balearic Islands regional government
- Mr Torres could face more than 16 years in jail on similar charges to Mr Urdangarin, while Mr Matas could face 11 years, having already served a nine-month term for corruption