Fraud trial for Princess Cristina opens in Spain

First royal-family member to stand in the dock is accused with her husband of embezzling 6m euros in public contracts.

A landmark trial has opened for Spain’s Princess Cristina, accused of helping bankroll a lavish lifestyle with funds her husband received from an alleged scheme to embezzle about 6m euros ($6.5m) in public contracts for conferences and sporting events.

Cristina appeared on Monday in front of a three-member panel of judges on charges of tax fraud.

She is the first member of the royal family to stand in the dock, as a lengthy investigation into her husband’s business affairs finally goes to trial.

Arriving at the court in Palma, Majorca, Cristina, her husband Inaki Urdangarin, and 16 others were charged with being accomplices in the embezzlement and tax fraud case. All deny the charges.

READ MORE: Spain’s Princess Cristina stripped of title

The 50-year-old sister of King Felipe VI has been stripped of her duchess title because of the charges.

She is accused of two counts of tax fraud, carrying a maximum prison sentence of eight years, for allegedly failing to declare taxes on personal expenses paid by a property company she owned with her husband.

Her husband, an Olympic handball medallist-turned-businessman, is accused of using his Duke of Palma title to embezzle millions of euros in public contracts through a nonprofit company he ran, Noos Institute.

Prosecutors are seeking a 20-year prison sentence for Urdangarin.

Clean Hands campaign

The anti-corruption group, Manos Limpias, meaning Clean Hands, drove the case forward.

The case is being heard in the regional capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands as many of Urdangarin’s business deals under investigation were made for the islands.

Cristina and her husband are not expected to utter a word during the first few days of the trial as judges read out the 89 alleged crimes committed by the suspects.

During this period, lawyers including Cristina’s will make their arguments aimed at having their clients removed from the case.

Cristina denied knowledge of her husband’s activities during a closed-door court appearance in 2014, when a prosecutor recommended she should be fined.

The charges against Cristina are limited to the financial years 2007 and 2008.

The trial is expected to last six months.

Source: News Agencies