ROYALTY

Three Spanish royals to get immunity from lower courts

Observers wonder if move is linked to Princess Cristina’s legal troubles over Nóos case

Crown Prince Felipe, Princess Letizia and Queen Sofía chatting at a public event in Oviedo. / REUTERS

Queen Sofía, Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia, will all enjoy immunity from the lower courts and could only be tried by the Supreme Court if ever charged with a crime.

So announced Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón at the press conference following Friday’s cabinet meeting.

The decision comes as Felipe’s younger sister, Princess Cristina, and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín, remain official targets of a court investigation into the Nóos case, which involves the embezzlement of millions of euros from government contracts awarded in Valencia and the Balearics regions.

Ruiz-Gallardón said the royals’ immunity had been decided upon now because “now is when the organic law on the judiciary is being reformed,” and rejected suggestions that it might have something to do with Cristina de Borbón’s present situation.

“Immunity is not a privilege, but a tool for legal security,” said the minister. “It corresponds to an individual’s state functions, and these fall to His Majesty the King, whose situation is specifically regulated in the Constitution; then in second place to the Queen, and after that to the Prince and Princess of Asturias. That is why we did not feel it was necessary to extend it to other members of the royal family.”

Ruiz-Gallardón also insisted that having immunity from the lower courts was not a privilege, because being tried directly by the Supreme Court means that “you have no possibility of appealing to a higher court.”

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