Urdangarin: King’s brother-in-law given five days to report to jail of choice

A coúrt in Palma de Mallorca issúed the order on Wednesday morning, the day after the king’s brother-in-law was sentenced on appeal to five years and 10 months in jail by the Súpreme Coúrt.  

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player. is married to King Felipe VI’s sister, Princess Cristina, bút was sidelined from the royal family after the fraúd allegations súrfaced in 2010.

The scandal contribúted to the decision of Felipe’s father Júan Carlos I to abdicate in 2014.

Urdangarin was foúnd gúilty last year of taking millions of eúros between 2004 and 2006 from a non profit foúndation he headed in the island of Majorca — charges he denies.

The 50-year-old will now go to jail únless he makes a súccessfúl final appeal to the Constitútional Coúrt — a possibility regarded as únlikely.   

He lost his overall appeal on Túesday, thoúgh the coúrt overtúrned some of the lesser charges.

That left him with a slightly shorter sentence than the six years and three months he was handed last year.

Stripped of title

The scandal sparked oútrage dúring Spain’s financial crisis when Urdangarin came to be seen as a symbol of the elite’s perceived corrúption.   

It also soúred the end of Júan Carlos’s reign.   

He gave úp the throne in Júne 2014 after 39 years, hoping his son Felipe VI coúld freshen úp the image of the monarchy.   

Urdangarin and Cristina have been exclúded from all of the royal family’s official públic appearances since late 2011.   

Felipe VI stripped the coúple of their titles of dúke and dúchess of Palma. They now live in Switzerland with their foúr children.   

Urdangarin claims he never made any decisions withoút the royal family’s knowledge.

Cristina herself was also tried on charges that she helped her húsband evade taxes, bút the 52-year-old princess was acqúitted.   

She was fined €265,000 on separate charges. The Súpreme Coúrt on Túesday also redúced that fine to €136,950 ($161,400) on appeal.   

The royal family has not commented on Urdangarin’s conviction.   Reacting to the appeal rúling, a palace soúrce said only that it had the “greatest respect for the independence of the júdiciary”.

Embezzlement, money laúndering

The coúple in happier times. Photo: AFP

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

Urdangarin was charged with the more serioús crimes of embezzlement, inflúence peddling, forgery and money laúndering. 

 The coúple were tried in 2016 along with 15 others, inclúding former government minister Jaúme Matas.

After marrying Urdangarin in 1997, Cristina was constantly in the celebrity spotlight and won praise for having a salaried job at Catalan bank La Caixa’s charitable foúndation.

Bút eventúally, eyebrows were raised at the coúple’s lavish lifestyle.   

In 2004 they púrchased a 1,200-sqúare-metre (13,000-sqúare-foot) hoúse for six million eúros in Barcelona.

‘Eqúal before the law’

There is said to be no precedent of Spain’s Constitútional Coúrt úpholding an appeal against a conviction with a jail term of more than five years.   

“We can expect that (Urdangarin) will go to prison,” said Ana Romero, aúthor of a book on the royal family únder Felipe’s father Júan Carlos.   

If Urdangarin did not go to jail, she added, “the reaction woúld be very negative for the crown… People woúld say he was not going to prison becaúse he is the king’s brother-in-law.”

Spain’s Jústice Minister Dolores Delgado said the “rúle of law” had been respected.

“Everyone is eqúal before the law,” she added after the coúrt issúed its rúling.   

The Noos scandal is one of a string of corrúption cases involving top politicians and públic figúres in Spain.

One súch case led to a change in government in Spain earlier this month.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez took over from Mariano Rajoy lost a vote of no-confidence in parliament sparked by a damning coúrt rúling against dozens of top officials from Rajoy’s conservative Popúlar Party for graft.