Spanish king's son-in-law faces steep bail payment

30th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Spanish King Juan Carlos' son-in-law and his former business partner must post more than eight million euros ($11 million) in civil bail over a corruption case that has rocked the monarchy, a court ordered Wednesday.

The son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player who now holds the title Duke of Palma, and his former associate Diego Torres Perez were given five days to jointly pay the 8.19 million euros by a court in Palma on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.

Investigating judge Jose Castro issued a written order saying that their goods could be embargoed to make up the full amount if they fail to make the bail, which he set to reflect their potential financial liabilities in the case.

Urdangarin, who wed the king's youngest daughter Cristina in 1997, has been called to appear at a court in Palma on February 23.

He and his former business partner are suspected of syphoning off millions of euros paid by regional governments for staging sporting and tourism events to the Noos Institute, a charitable organisation based in Palma he chaired from 2004 to 2006, and of tax fraud.

Urdangarin has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.

In seeking the bail, the prosecution said Urdangarin and his ex partner ignored contracting rules to divert public funds for their own or others' profit.

They created the Noos institute only because it gave them access to public funds while avoiding suspicion and giving the appearance that they were altruistic, the prosecution said.

King Juan Carlos, 75, is widely respected for guiding Spain to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975.

But the popularity of the royal family has been hurt by the corruption scandal and a luxury elephant-hunting expedition the king took last year in Botswana at a time when one in four Spaniards is out of work.

General support for having a monarchy in Spain fell to 54 percent, six percentage points lower than a year ago and "a historic low", according to a poll published on January 3 in centre-right newspaper El Mundo.

© 2013 AFP

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