MADRID (Reuters) - A court ruled on Friday that the trial of Spain's Princess Cristina on charges of tax fraud must go ahead, in a case that has badly damaged the image of the royal family at a time of economic hardship for many ordinary Spaniards.The 50-year-old sister of King Felipe is one of 18 people on trial following a six-year investigation into the Noos Foundation, a charity run by her husband Inaki Urdangarin.
Prosecutors say Noos was used to embezzle millions of euros in public funds and that Urdangarin, who is also on trial, exploited his royal connections to win public contracts to stage events through the non-profit organization.
Cristina de Borbon became the first Spanish royal to sit in the dock when she appeared in court in early January to answer preliminary questions.
She is charged with two counts of being an accessory to tax fraud and, if found guilty, could face up to four years in prison for each charge - a maximum of eight years.
Cristina de Borbon's lawyers had asked judges to drop the criminal charges against her, and the state prosecutor said there was insufficient evidence to back up the accusations.
But the court in Palma de Mallorca, where the trial is being held, said in a statement it was upholding the charges, which were filed by the 'Clean Hands' anti-graft organization using a Spanish legal instrument known as the 'people's accusation'.
The case has added to public anger in Spain over high-level corruption scandals in business and political circles.
The accused are due to reappear in court for questioning in February.
(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Gareth Jones)