Spain king’s brother-in-law might not have to go to jail after all

The brother-in-law of Spain's king, who was handed six years and three months jail for syphoning off millions, will remain free and not be required to post bail as he prepares to appeal his sentence, a court said on Thursday.

Spain king's brother-in-law might not have to go to jail after all
Inaki Urdangarin arrives to the courthouse in Palma de Mallorca on February 23rd 2017. Photo: AFP

the news made waves in Spain, where the corruption scandal involving Inaki Urdangarin sparked outrage at a time when the country was going through a devastating crisis, becoming a symbol of the elite's perceived corruption.

The decision by a court in Palma on the island of Majorca came in response to a request from prosecutors that Urdangarin be allowed to remain temporarily free if he pays bail of 200,000 euros ($211,000), rather than go straight to prison.

The court also said Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player who is married to Spain's Princess Cristina, could stay in Switzerland where he currently lives with his wife and their four children until all possible appeals are exhausted.

When the 49-year-old left the court, angry protesters shouted “chorizo” at him, a word that literally refers to a spicy Spanish sausage but also means “thief”.

Cristina had also been accused of involvement in the scandal over her husband's business dealings while he was head of the Noos Institute, a not-for-profit sports foundation, on suspicion of helping him evade taxes.

But on Friday, following a long-running and high-profile trial, she was acquitted.

Her husband though was sentenced to jail for using his royal connections to win inflated public contracts to stage sporting and other events, and then syphoning off the proceeds to fund a lavish lifestyle.

The fact that both stood trial was seen as unprecedented in a country that had long protected its elites.

And when Urdangarin was handed the sentence, newspapers started speculating as to what prison conditions could be like for the former Duke of Palma.

The court said however that while Urdangarin would remain free during the appeal process, he would have to check into a Swiss court every month, and report any trips out of the European Union as well as any residency change.


Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Spain's far-left Podemos party, reacted angrily to the news, saying “injustice is different for everyone”.

“Songs will be written about his sentence and their authors will be condemned,” he tweeted.

He was referring to this week's much-talked-about sentencing of Spanish rapper Valtonyc, handed three-and-a-half years in prison for songs that were deemed to insult the crown and apologise for terrorism via references to Basque separatist group ETA.

Iglesias was not the only critic to draw angry parallels between Valtonyc's sentence, seen by some as a breach of freedom of expression, and Urdangarin's temporary reprieve for syphoning of millions of euros.

“A rapper in jail for singing a song about the king whose brother-in-law won't go to prison for stealing,” tweeted journalist Hibai Arbide Aza.

Urdangarin's lawyers have until February 28th to launch an appeal against his sentence.

If they do, the Supreme Court will then need several months to make a final ruling on a case that has shamed the royal family.It soured the last years of the reign of king Juan Carlos, who gave up the throne in June 2014 after 39 years, hoping his son Felipe VI who replaced him could freshen up the image of the monarchy.

Since it erupted, Urdangarin and Cristina have been excluded from all of the family's official public appearances.

King Felipe VI also stripped them of their titles of duchess and duke of Palma.

By Laurence Boutreaux

READ ALSO: Princess Cristina acquitted in royal fraud trial but husband jailed




Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president

Police raided the offices of FC Barcelona on Monday, carrying out several arrests just six days ahead of the club's presidential elections, a Catalan regional police spokesman told AFP.

Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president
Barcelona's former president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among the arrested. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain's Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services.

But the police refused to confirm names, saying only “arrests are taking place” and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.

“We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit,” the police spokesman told AFP.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the operation is linked to last year's investigation into the 'BarçaGate' scandal, which saw the club deny hiring a company to criticise current and former players on social media to improve the image of the then-president Bartomeu.

Cadena Ser said Barca paid €1 million in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.

Bartomeu resigned in October, after mounting pressure following months of controversy and a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch.

His successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.