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Spain's royal fraud scandal

Friday, February 07, 2014 - 02:33

Feb. 7 - Princess Cristina of Spain is set to appear in court on Saturday to be questioned over allegations of tax fraud and money laundering. It will be the first time a member of Spain's royal family will testify in criminal proceedings since King Juan Carlos came out of exile in 1975. Hayley Platt looks at how, with the country in deep recession, the case is affecting the popularity of Spain's royals.

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Spain's Princess Cristina, youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos and seventh in line to the throne. On Saturday she'll arrive here at Spain's court in Parma De Mallorca. She's due to testify over a corruption scandal involving her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin. It will be a royal history first - a member of the Spanish royal family has not appeared as the subject of criminal proceedings since King Carlos came out of exile in 1975. Jose Garcia Abad is an expert on the Spanish monarchy. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) JOSE GARCIA ABAD, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR OF BOOKS ON THE SPANISH MONARCHY, SAYING: "It's the gravest thing that has happened to the monarchy, which has been going through what the Queen of England would call an 'anus horribulus,' just that in this case it's been longer than a year, where the monarchy has gradually and slowly lost more support from the people than any time over the last 20 years." Cristina in happier times, just before her marriage to Urdangarin. But earlier he was charged with fraud, tax evasion, falsifying documents and the embezzlement of six million euros of public funds. The money was allegedly funneled through his charitable foundation Noos. And their family business Aizoon, of which Cristina is co-owner. Now the judge wants to quiz Cristina over her alleged involvement. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) JOSE GARCIA ABAD, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR OF BOOKS ON THE SPANISH MONARCHY, SAYING: "Public outcry has reached such an extreme that it has been considered necessary that the princess explains and not charging her would have generated a scandal and contradicted what the king said in his Christmas address that justice is the same for everyone.." Spain has one of the highest levels of corruption in Europe along with Greece and Italy. But this particular case has divided society, dragging the royal family's popularity to an all time low. The princess allegedly ran up millions on the company credit card, buying lavish furnishings for her homes. That's angered many ordinary Spaniards who are left struggling to cope amidst Spain's deep recession. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MARIA DE LA CONCEPCION, SPANISH CITIZEN, SAYING: "The princess's, the case of so and so and so and so, they will all end in nothing and we will carry on suffering and, to put it bluntly, Spaniards will continue to be screwed-over and hard done by." Cristina and her husband deny any wrong doing. And the charges against the Princess have already been thrown out once. That could still happen again, but if not, she could face a full trial.

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Spain's royal fraud scandal

Friday, February 07, 2014 - 02:33