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ROYAL SCANDAL

Princess Cristina signed papers blindly, claims Nóos case defense

King Felipe’s sister files pre-trial motion rejecting responsibility in running of Aizoon firm

Cristina de Borbón after testifying in court in February 2014. Ampliar foto
Cristina de Borbón after testifying in court in February 2014. REUTERS

Cristina de Borbón, the younger sister of Spain’s King Felipe, did not commit any tax crimes, and if any were committed, she cannot be held responsible in any way, said her defense in a pre-trial motion filed on Wednesday with the court investigating the Urdangarin case.

The princess is the first member of the Spanish royal family to find herself ensnared in a criminal inquiry. The main suspect in the case is her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, who together with a business partner is accused of siphoning off around €6 million in public funds awarded to their non-profit Nóos Institute.

The money was allegedly channeled to private companies after overcharging the regional governments of Valencia and the Balearics for organizing sports events. One of these recipient companies was Aizoon, a business jointly owned by Urdangarin and Cristina de Borbón, and managed by the former.

Urdangarin’s former business partner is trying to get King Felipe to take the stand as a witness

The infanta is alleged to have used company credit cards to make personal purchases in 2007 and 2008 and then to have deducted the expenses from her tax filings.

After questioning her in court, the investigating judge in Palma de Mallorca decided in January of this year to try Cristina for tax fraud.

But her defense team is stressing that Urdangarin’s wife knew nothing of the way the company was being run, had no training in accounting, and simply signed whatever documents her husband placed in front of her “without asking for explanations.”

“She had absolutely no role in fulfilling Aizoon’s accounting and tax-related obligations,” reads the defense’s 24-page-long motion to dismiss the case.

The defense team’s strategy rests on Supreme Court doctrine that says that an individual cannot be tried for tax crimes if there is no accusation from state prosecutors. The anti-corruption attorney in the case, Pedro Horrach, has had a public fallout with Judge José Castro over the issue of the infanta, whom he refuses to charge with any crimes. Horrach has stated that he believes the princess is being targeted because of who she is, rather than for what she has done.

But Cristina de Borbón faces a private accusation from Manos Limpias, a far-right group specializing in suing public figures that gained notoriety after filing a lawsuit against Judge Baltasar Garzón, who was ultimately barred from the bench.

Meanwhile, Urdangarin’s former business partner, Diego Torres, who stands accused of similar crimes to the infanta’s husband, is trying to get other members of the royal family to take the stand as witnesses.

In his own pre-trial motion, Torres is proposing that King Felipe VI, his father Juan Carlos and his mother Sofía, as well as his older sister Elena de Borbón all be asked to be questioned by the court  in connection with the case.

Torres claims that all of them were aware of the Nóos Institute’s activities, and had given their blessing to them.

In 2005 Juan Carlos, who was then head of state, tasked his legal advisor, the Count of Fontao, with investigating Urdangarin’s business dealings. The monarch then allegedly asked his son-in-law to stop his private activities. But Torres has reams of emails and other documents in his power that he believes prove that the monarch knew and abetted Noos’ activities, which automatically made them above board, he claims.

The public and drawn-out case has eroded the Spanish royal family’s credibility and is believed to have played a role in Juan Carlos’ decision to abdicate in favor of his son Felipe in June of last year.