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Urdangarin's defender

Mario Pascual Vives is a meticulous lawyer

When Iñaki Urdangarin began to see his world cave in around him, he leaned on an old friend. The husband of Princess Cristina is the target of a public corruption investigation that is near completion in Palma de Mallorca.

According to judicial sources, it is only a matter of time before the royal son-in-law is indicted on charges related to the alleged diversion into his private companies of some six million euros in public money that was given to a non-profit entity he had set up.

Urdangarin's partner at the so-called Nóos Institute, Diego Torres, was indicted six months ago in the case.

Just two days before King Juan Carlos officially divested him from any official duties connected to the royal family, Urdangarin announced he was appointing his old friend Mario Pascual Vives as his lawyer and official spokesman.

It is expected to be an enormous responsibility for the Barcelona-based attorney, given the worldwide focus on the Urdangarin case.

In his first comments to the press following the king's decision on Monday, Pascual said Urdangarin is convinced he did nothing wrong. "He is a very strong and upright person," says the lawyer.

The little-known attorney has been catapulted to media fame for something he could never imagine would become the biggest case of his career - keeping his close friend out of jail.

As a partner in the prestigious Brugueras, García-Bragado, Molinero and Associates firm of Barcelona, Pascual has a wide range of expertise, specializing in civil, commercial, procedural and criminal law.

The firm, which is located on Barcelona's Passeig de Gràcia, explains on its website that its partners believe in working in teams to help solve their clients' problems. "Legal security is our paramount objective, our raison d'être."

On Monday, when Zarzuela Palace spokesman Rafael Spottorno made King Juan Carlos' decision known about Urdangarin's future responsibilities in the House of Borbón, Pascual found himself in the middle of a news frenzy. His secretary anxiously awaited him at his office as she was bombarded with requests for interviews.

"He asked me to help him out and chose me out of trust," says Pascual, who has more than 30 years of experience as an attorney.

The attorney speaks to Urdangarin, who lives and works in Washington as an international representative for Telefónica, almost every day. But that Monday they hadn't had the opportunity to discuss the royal decision because Urdangarin was away on a business trip to São Paulo.

Yet Pascual didn't hide the fact that while Urdangarin was "concerned" about the investigation, he was also "outraged" by some of the things being said about him in the media.

One of the things that irked the attorney was the statement made earlier in the day by Spottorno, who said that Urdangarin's conduct was "unbecoming" of a royal family member.

"I don't want to get into a spokesman's war, but whether anyone's conduct is becoming or not shouldn't be left to just anyone's opinion. In any case, conduct is usually determined by law, and I want to point out that Iñaki Urdangarin is not indicted in this case," he said.

According to fellow lawyers, Pascual is a meticulous attorney with ample experience. A graduate of the University of Barcelona's law school, Pascual is a director at the Antoni Serra Santamans Foundation - an entity that provides social and medical assistance to those who need it.