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GERMANY

Spy chief: ‘German princess helped Madrid’

Spain's national intelligence boss testified before parliament on Tuesday that Corrina Sayn-Wittgenstein, a German aristocrat and friend of King Juan Carlos, had worked for the Madrid government.

Spy chief: 'German princess helped Madrid'
Spain's top intelligence figure has implicated German aristocrat Corrina Sayn-Wittgenstein in business dealings for Madrid's government. Photo: Christophe Simon AFP

Corrina Sayn-Wittgenstein, a German princess through a former marriage, has told Spanish media in recent weeks that she carried out "delicate" missions for the Madrid government.

The authority has, however, denied her claims.

Sayn-Wittgenstein, who runs a consulting firm and has called Juan Carlos "a national treasure", mediated between Madrid and Abu Dhabi to try to calm investor anger over Spain's decision to slash subsidies for renewable energy projects, the newspaper El Mundo reported.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo has not denied meeting with the German aristocrat, but he has "firmly" denied that Madrid ever relied on Sayn-Wittgenstein to mediate on behalf of the government.

The head of Spain's National Intelligence Agency, Felix Sanz Roldan, refused to comment on the claims made by Sayn-Wittgenstein as he arrived at the parliament to testify behind closed doors before a commission on state secrets.

"There is no comment to make because it is a commission on secrets," he told reporters.

But the leader of the tiny United Left party, Cayo Lara, who attended the proceedings said Roldan was "sincere" in his replies to lawmakers' questions.

He added, however, that many points still needed to be cleared up "regarding the action of the government as well as of the royal palace".

"I don't know if Corrina lies or not, but she has said many things in the media and they are very serious things for the state," he said.

"The state should respond and take measures, and when I speak of the state I mean the government as well as the head of state," he added in a reference to the Spanish monarch.

Sayn-Wittgenstein took part in a controversial elephant-hunting trip which Juan Carlos took in Africa last year during a time of record unemployment in Spain.

The 75-year-old king issued an unprecedented public apology after the trip, which threw the spotlight on his relationship with Sayn-Wittgentein. Her name has also become embroiled in a corruption scandal involving the monarch's son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin.

Last month she told El Mundo that she secured a job for Urdangarin, who is under investigation for allegedly embezzling millions of euros of public money, at the Laureus sports foundation in 2004 at the request of the king.

But she said Urdangarin, who is married to the king's youngest daughter, eventually decided not to accept the job.

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GERMANY

Fireworks promised for Spain–Germany friendly

Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has demanded his players put on a show as his rejuvenated side prepare to welcome Germany, the team that succeeded them as world champions, in Vigo on Tuesday.

Fireworks promised for Spain–Germany friendly
Spanish manager Vicente Del Bosque has injected plenty of new blood into his side, the reigning European champions. Photo: AFP

"When you get this kind of match there's almost no difference whether the game is an official one or like in this case a friendly," said Del Bosque, whose side go into the game on a high having rediscovered their form.

"We want to play well, to put on a show," he said.

"They (Germany) want to remain at the highest level, and we want to keep up our post World Cup momentum," said Del Bosque, after Saturday's 3-0 European qualifier win against Belarus.

Germany coach Joachim Loew looked to be taking the game less seriously than Del Bosque.

"We're delighted to be taking on a team of such a high technical level. It's the perfect test for us," Loew said in Vigo, where the teams are due to play.

"But if we lose I won't consider it a defeat that would compromise our chances for next year (of winning Euro 2016). It's not so important," said Loew.

The World Cup winning coach also suggested he would give a run out to fringe strikers Kevin Volland of Hoffenheim and Stuttgart's Antonio Ruediger.

Loew has recently complained that Germany is suffering a post World Cup hangover, and that a fresh start is needed in the New Year.

"After this match, we need a good break and a long holiday so everyone can recharge our batteries," he said.

Spain captain 'keeper Iker Casillas said the teams needed to live up to their reputations.

"Tomorrow (Tuesday) the last two World Cup winners go head-to-head so you really can't get a more attractive game than that," explained the Real Madrid stopper.

Spain romped to the 2010 World title in South Africa but fell to a dramatic first-round elimination at the 2014 edition in Brazil, won so impressively by Germany.

Del Bosque has injected plenty of new blood into his side, the reigning European champions, with players such as Real Madrid midfielder Isco, Juventus striker Alvaro Moratta or winger Jose Callejon.

"Against the Germans, we'll be giving a run out to everyone we can," said Del Bosque.

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