Spain: King's son-in-law grilled for two days

Urdangarin rejects corruption charges, royal image tarnished

27 February, 10:44

Inaki Urdangarin, Duke of Palma and husband of Spanish Princess Cristina leaves the court in Palma de Mallorca Inaki Urdangarin, Duke of Palma and husband of Spanish Princess Cristina leaves the court in Palma de Mallorca

(ANSAmed) - MADRID - Spain is glued to the TV and its newspapers, watching with unbelieving eyes the legal case on King Juan Carlos's son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin, husband of Infanta Cristina charged with corruption and grilled for the past two days by Palma de Mayorca judge José Castro - as if he were any other alleged criminal. Urdangarin, the former Olympic handball champion who became Duke of Palma de Mayorca after marrying the king's youngest daughter in 1997, is charged with having used a ''not-for-profit'' foundation (the Noos Institute) to re-route funds to his companies, using false invoices and huge quantities of money funds paid out by the regional governments of Valencia and the Balearic Islands. The scandal is doing serious harm to the image of the monarchy, which was restored by the dictator Francisco Franco in violently bringing an end to the Second Republic. Shortly before his death the caudillo himself had designated Juan Carlos of Borbon as his successor. Seated before Judge Castro, who inundated him with questions for 17 hours to then hand him over to the anti-corruption prosecutor, Urdangarin denied everything. He offloaded all responsibility in the management of Noos - as well as the front companies (some in tax havens) set up around the foundation and to which 5 million euros were allegedly siphoned off - onto his former second-in-command Diego Torres, and the accountant Miguel Tejero. He claimed that he had only had an institutional role and was not involved in commercial matters. He accused Torres of having signed contracts ''behind his back''. Press reports instead claim that some of the funds diverted from Noos had ended up in the accounts of his companies, including the real estate one Aizoon (which he owns with his wife), and that it is highly unlikely that he was unaware of the fact. Urdangarin often said that he simply did not remember, or that he did not know, thereby irritating the judge, who noted that ''to tell us this you needn't have come''. Castro reportedly has raised the possibility of questioning also the king's daughter, faced as he was with her husband's evasive answers. So far the Infanta has been left out of the inquiry despite the fact that she owns 50% of Aizoon and is on the board of directors of Noos. Her being involved would be a nightmare scenario for the royal house. On social networks and newspaper websites, a rash of criticism has been seen which does not even spare the king himself, accused of knowing about his son-in-law's activities since 2006, as well as the Infanta.

''They were all in it together, especially the Infanta,'' said an El Mundo reader. ''What a horrible person this Torres, he made him earn a bunch of money without telling him the details,'' was the ironic statement by another. ''Republic!'' was the succinct remark by another. The Republican front is pleased with the situation, and is hoping a referendum will be held in the post-Juan Carlos period.

"Urdangarin has done more for the Republic than all of the rest of us combined,'' said the leader of the Republican left Cayo Lara. Sources from the royal family have expressed ''unease'' over how the king's son-in-law had been grilled - for whom the Clean Hands Association (the people's prosecution) has requested preventative measures without specifying of what type. In any case, the taboo has been broken. A member of the royal family had never before been charged - especially for corruption - and grilled by a judge.(ANSAmed).

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