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Spain's Princess Cristina acquitted in fraud case, husband jailed for 6 years

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Spain's Princess Cristina, the sister of King Felipe VI, has been cleared of helping her husband evade taxes at the end of a year-long trial that has further tarnished the image of the royal family and done little to allay public concern over the apparent ubiquity of corruption at the highest levels of Spanish society.

Neither Cristina nor her husband were called to court for the ruling. He also received a fine of 512,000 euros ($545,150). Emerging as unemployment surged and the government slashed spending at the height of the country's economic crisis, the case contributed to a sense of popular anger that helped turn the anti-austerity platform Podemos into a political force. She could have gone to prison for eight years if found guilty.

Mr Urdangarin, an Olympic handball bronze medallist who was once the golden boy of the royal family, had faced up to 19 years in prison and a fine of €980,000.

Neither Urdangarin nor the princess were at the Palma de Mallorca court for the verdict, both were said to be in Geneva. The couple will not be in court for the verdict, which can be appealed.

The case centres on accusations that Urdangarin used his royal connections to win inflated public contracts to stage sporting and other events, and then siphoned off the proceeds to fund a lavish lifestyle.

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Some of the money was allegedly moved to a firm jointly owned by Urdangarin and Cristina, the youngest daughter of former king Juan Carlos I. Aizoon has been labelled a "front company" in court documents.

The princess had been accused of being an accessory to tax fraud.

Authorities conflicted over whether Cristina should be tried, with an investigating judge insisting she should but the treasury and public prosecutor's office concluding she had not committed any offence.

When he ascended the throne, King Felipe removed his older sisters, Elena and Cristina, from royal duties as part of efforts to modernise the monarchy. King Juan Carlos I abdicated in 2014 under pressure for, among other things, going on an elephant hunting trip to Botswana. The following year he stripped Cristina of her title of Duchess of Palma.

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