Husband of Spain's princess avoids jail while awaits appeal

AP News
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Posted: Feb 23, 2017 8:16 AM
Husband of Spain's princess avoids jail while awaits appeal

MADRID (AP) — The brother-in-law of Spain's King Felipe will avoid imprisonment but must show up in court in Switzerland, where he lives, once per month while he waits for the Supreme Court to rule on an appeal to a fraud and tax evasion guilty verdict, a court ruled Thursday.

The provincial court of the Balearic Islands sentenced Inaki Urdangarin on Feb. 17 to six years and three months in prison, but the decision must be reviewed by the higher court.

The provincial court absolved Cristina but ordered her to pay a fine for benefiting from her husband's deals. The decision is final in her case because all the parties have rejected appealing the ruling.

The prosecutor had requested precautionary imprisonment for both Urdangarin and his former business partner, Diego Torres, avoidable with bails of 200,000 and 100,000 euros respectively ($211,000 and $105,000).

A panel of judges in Palma de Mallorca maintained provisional freedom for both after a two-hour debate following Thursday's hearing.

For Urdangarin, the court required that it must be informed of residency moves or any travel plans outside of the European Union and imposed regular monthly appearances before a court in Geneva, where the former Duke and Duchess of Palma moved with their four children from Barcelona when the first allegations of wrongdoing emerged in 2012.

The judges ordered Torres to surrender his passport and required for him to appear before a Spanish court on the first day of every month. His original sentence of 8 1/2 years in jail on various corruption charges will also be reviewed by the Supreme Court in the coming months.

Carrying only a backpack, Urdangarin walked out of the court in Palma alone, without his lawyer. The 49-year-old former handball Olympic medalist jumped into a car and drove away, leaving behind dozens of reporters and some protesters shouting "thief."

In the verdict that ended a year-long case that captivated Spain, the judges ruled that Torres and Urdangarin broke the laws when they used the latter's status to obtain public contracts in the Balearic Islands related to sports events.

The wide-ranging tax fraud case brought a member of the royal family before the judges for the first time since the monarchy was restored in 1975.