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Spain's Princess Cristina Is Cleared In Fraud Trial; Her Husband Gets Prison Time

Spain's Princess Cristina and her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, leave the courtroom last year after a hearing in a landmark corruption trial on the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca.

Princess Cristina, the sister of Spain's King Felipe VI, has been acquitted in an alleged embezzlement scheme — but her husband was found guilty Friday, as a court handed down a prison sentence of more than six years to Iñaki Urdangarín for an assortment of crimes.

"They were accused of embezzling millions of dollars in public donations to a sports charity they ran," Lauren Frayer reports from Madrid for NPR's Newscast unit. "Both are former Olympians. Princess Cristina was the first royal to face criminal charges in Spain's modern history. Urdangarín's lawyers are expected to appeal."

Lauren adds, "Cristina and her husband are believed to be at their luxury villa in Switzerland, and were not in the courtroom for sentencing. Both denied wrongdoing."

Infanta Cristina de Borbón, 51, had faced charges of tax fraud; although she was acquitted, a provincial court also ordered her to pay a fine of 265,000 euros (around $280,000).

Urdangarín was a main defendant in the case, which also involved more than a dozen other people. The charges leveled against him included money-laundering and forgery.

As Lauren reported last month:

"Cristina's defense appears to be two-pronged: She denies knowledge of her husband's business dealings and repeated the phrase "I don't know" 182 times in response to a judge's questions at a February 2014 pretrial hearing, according to a transcript.

"Her lawyers also want her case dismissed because charges were brought by a private anti-corruption group, not Spanish authorities. (A quirk of Spanish law allows this.) In fact, Spain's tax authorities have sided with the princess, arguing for an administrative fine rather than criminal charges."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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