Inaki Urdangarin, Duke of Palma and son-in-law of Spanish King Juan Carlos, appeared in a Mallorca court on Saturday as part of a fraud and embezzlement probe which has caused acute embarrassment to the country’s royals.
Scores of placard-waving anti-monarchy protesters staged a demonstration nearby as Urdangarin, a 44-year-old former Olympic handball player, arrived at the high court in Palma with his lawyer, the Agence France Presse reported.
Dressed in a black jacket and grey tie, the duke told reporters gathered outside the building: “I am appearing today to demonstrate my innocence.”
Urdangarin denies claims he misused millions of euros in public funds paid to the not-for-profit Noos Institute, which he headed up between 2004 and 2006.
Some of the money allegedly ended up in companies that he ran. The duke has not been formally charged, but was suspended from official royal engagements in December, the BBC reports.
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Urdangarin is married to the king’s second child, Princess Cristina. In 2009 the couple moved with their four children to Washington DC, where Urgangarin represents Spanish telecoms group Telefonica, according to Reuters.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria declined to comment on the case on Friday, saying that the government respected the independence of the judiciary.
The royal family has sought to distance itself from the affair, which has enraged Spaniards feeling the effects of an economic downturn, tough austerity measures and a jobless rate of nearly 23 percent.
In an attempt to calm public anger the royal family announced before Christmas that it will make its accounts publicly available.
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