[Links are to Spanish-language pages except where noted.]
The younger daughter of the King and Queen of Spain, Infanta Cristina Federica Victoria Antonia de la Santísima Trinidad de Borbón y de Grecia [en], has been called to appear before an examining magistrate as a defendant in connection with the Nóos case currently under investigation.
Judge José Castro, who had already charged the Infanta back in April 2013, issued a 227-page indictment on January 7, 2014, (part 1, part 2 [pdf]) explaining the reasons for his decision. The indictment is unusually long, an indication of his intention to thoroughly document the charges against the Infanta so as to prevent any legal loopholes that could lead to the charges being overturned, as occurred in the prior indictment which was dismissed for insufficient evidence.
The Infanta, who has an undergraduate degree in political science and an M.A. in international relations is charged in her capacity as co-owner of the holding company Aizoon, described in the indictment as a front for Instituto Nóos [en], a non-profit entity from which her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín, is accused of embezzling.
Judge Castro believes there is evidence that the infanta was aware of the criminal activities of her husband, who allegedly used Aizoon funds illegally to cover his personal expenses [en]; he also indicates there are anomalies in the hiring of the princess's domestic staff:
[Los empleados del hogar familiar] en su contratación intervino personalmente Doña Cristina de Borbón y Grecia, anunciando a los aspirantes, cuya situación irregular en España conocía aquélla, que de ser contratados se les abonarían sus salarios en “negro”.
Doña Cristina de Borbón y Grecia personally intervened in the hiring of [employees in the family home], telling prospective staff whose irregular immigration status she was aware of, that if they were hired, they would be paid “under the table.”
He is also openly critical of the public prosecutor's office, admonishing their efforts a few months ago to prevent the Infanta from being subpoenaed to testify using the argument of alleged unfair treatment. The reasons given were in fact the same as for the rest of the individuals charged, cases that elicited no response from said prosecutor's office.
Moreover, he considers three invoices rubber-stamped by the Revenue Office to be fraudulent and part of an attempt to reduce the total amount of the funds in question, thereby precluding any charges being laid against the princess for tax fraud.
The news provoked a torrent of comments in the mainstream media as well as social networks. Around the world, newspapers and television stations echoed one another: BBC, Time, CNN, Financial Times, Aljazeera, Paris Match and Le Monde are just a few of those who dedicated a portion of their content to the story unfolding in Spain.
Response has been plentiful. Judging from the tone of the majority of comments, the Spanish are pleased with the indictment of the Infanta, which they consider fair, although many Internet users doubt she will actually be sentenced.
Some mention the Botín doctrine, a peculiarity of Spanish law originally used to defend the banker Emilio Botín [whereby the plaintiff was not the victim of the alleged crime but making a popular accusation on behalf of the people]. In this instance, a case can be dismissed if no formal accusation is made by the public prosecutor.
Velociraptor displays his lack of faith in the justice system in eldiario.es:
Se va a ir de rositas de esta. Solo hay que tirar de hemeroteca. Si no le salva el culo la Audiencia de Palma, lo hará el Fiscal Anticorrupcion; o el Tribunal Supremo; o el Tribunal Constitucional. En ultimo caso les queda un indulto. Tengo muy claro que se va a ir de rositas; lo que espero es que esta sea la mecha para que por fin el pueblo español se levante y recupere su orgullo.
She is going to get off scot-free. It just takes a little fieldwork. If the High Court in Palma doesn't save her ass, the Anti-corruption unit or the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court will. As a last resort, she could always be pardoned. I am positive she will get off scot-free; what I hope is that this is the spark that sets off the Spanish people so they rise up and reclaim their pride.
On the French newspaper Le Monde‘s website, Sylvain opines that “In Spain there are people the law cannot touch,” to which Juan Manuel Cuesta responds:
(…) les Espagnols ont fait à la famille royale une confiance aveugle, et il faudra tout de même leur expliquer pourquoi un de ses membres échappe à la justice. Et la réputation de cette famille en prendra un sacré coup qui pourrait, à terme, lui coûter cher.
(…) the Spanish have displayed blind faith in the royal family, and it will have to be explained to them why one of its members can escape justice. And the reputation of this family will be hard hit, something that, in the long run, could cost them dearly.
Pacofol, in El País, expresses himself this way:
En un país donde la corrupción esta tan generalizada como el nuestro, es de agradecer el esfuerzo de algunos jueces en que prevalezcan la ley y la justicia. Gracias. No tengo ninguna confianza en que tengan éxito, pero gracias por intentar que el delito no quede impune.
In a country like ours, where corruption is so widespread, we should welcome the efforts of a few judges to ensure justice and the law prevail. Thank you. I have no faith in your succeeding, but thank you for trying to prevent crime going unpunished.
In El Mundo, Guy_Fawkes_V sees it clearly:
Nah, Yeserías no tiene celda real
Nah, Yeserías prison has no royal cell.
On Twitter, cybernauts also have lots to say:
Tranquilos, antes entrará un camello por el ojo de una aguja que la Infanta en la cárcel.
— Dios (@diostuitero) January 7, 2014
Relax, a camel will pass through the eye of a needle before the Infanta goes to jail.
Los medios que contribuyan a salvar la imagen de la infanta serán reconocibles por las páginas dobles de publicidad del banco donde trabaja.
— Almeida (@bufetalmeida) January 8, 2014
The media that is helping to rescue the Infanta's image can be identified by the double-page ads of the bank where she works.
Menú del dia en Zarzuela…. pic.twitter.com/p4GAHkcWMk
— agapitarch (@raisaoski) January 8, 2014
Today's special at the Palace of Zarzuela…
Parece que finalmentw la Infanta Cristina irá a la cárcel: ya están construyendo una cárcel para ella en Pedralbes por 666M€
— Cítrico Cínico (@CitricoCinico) January 8, 2014
Looks like the Infanta Cristina is finally going to jail: they are already building a prison for her en Pedralbes for 666 M€
Infanta: ¿cómplice y culpable? ó¿estúpida mujer florero? Si la “justicia” quiere mantener su poca credibilidad debe haber sentencia #infanta
— Miguel Montalvo (@WhiteMontana_DU) January 8, 2014
Infanta: complicit and guilty? or stupid trophy wife? If the ‘law’ wants to maintain what little credibility it has it should sentence #infanta
Like many Spaniards, Congressman Alberto Garzón criticizes the behaviour of certain institutions in this case:
Y lo preocupante es ver a instituciones del Estado como Hacienda o la Fiscalía tomar el rol de defensores de la infanta.
— Alberto Garzón (@agarzon) January 7, 2014
And it is disturbing to see federal institutions like the Finance Ministry and the Public Prosecutor taking on the role of defenders of the Infanta.
The Infanta has been called to testify on March 8. If the proceedings take their usual course, perhaps the Spanish will see a member of the royal family in the dock…or behind bars.
Support our work
Global Voices stands out as one of the earliest and strongest examples of how media committed to building community and defending human rights can positively influence how people experience events happening beyond their own communities and national borders.
Please consider making a donation to help us continue this work.