Spanish King's Brother-in-Law Starts Jail Term

Spanish King's Brother-in-Law Starts Jail Term

Monday, 18 June, 2018 - 10:45
Inaki Urdangarin, Spain's King Felipe's brother-in-law, leaves court with his prison sentence in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, June 13, 2018. Reuters
Asharq Al-Awsat
The Spanish king's brother-in-law began a six-year jail sentence on Monday for crimes including tax fraud and embezzlement.

Inaki Urdangarin, the husband of King Felipe's sister Cristina, arrived at a prison north of Madrid early on Monday after losing an appeal at the Supreme Court last week.

Urdangarin, 50, who was sentenced to five years and 10 months of prison, turned himself in at a facility near Brieva, about 100 kilometers north of Madrid.

The 162-cell mostly-woman's prison has a small separate area for men and was chosen for its proximity to Madrid to ease visits by his wife, newspaper El Pais reported.

The former Olympic handball player was guilty last year of embezzling millions of euros between 2004 and 2006 from the non-profit Noos Institute sports foundation that he headed on the island of Majorca.

The probe first began in 2010 and the scandal really took off a year later when the royal family excluded him from its activities after he embarrassed it.

The case fueled angry protests by Spaniards suffering hardship in an economic crisis.

It also soured the end of Juan Carlos's reign.

He gave up the throne in June 2014, hoping his son Felipe VI could freshen up the image of the monarchy.

Urdangarin and Cristina eventually moved with their children to Switzerland.

In 2015, King Felipe VI stripped them of their titles of duke and duchess of Palma.

At the start of 2016, the pair went on trial in Majorca along with more than a dozen others. Urdangarin faced charges of embezzlement, influence peddling, forgery and money laundering.

In February 2017, he was found guilty of creaming off millions to fund a lavish lifestyle. The court handed him a sentence of six years and three months.

Cristina was tried on charges of helping her husband evade taxes while he headed the Noos Institute. She was acquitted, but was fined 265,000 euros on separate charges on the grounds that she had benefited from her husband's wrongdoing.

Despite Urdangarin's sentence, he was allowed to remain free while pursuing an appeal to the Supreme Court. He lost that case last week, although the court reduced his sentence by five months.

The court also reduced Cristina's fine to 136,950 ($161,400) euros.

Cristina was the first member of Spain's royal family to face criminal charges since the restoration of the monarchy in 1975.

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