Spanish police arrest man accusing princess with tax fraud

Spanish police arrest Miguel Bernad who accused Princess Cristina with tax fraud

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

In this Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, file photo, Spain's Princess Cristina arrives at a makeshift courtroom for a corruption trial, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

A Spanish official said that police on Friday arrested the leader of an anti-graft organization that filed tax fraud charges against Princess Cristina.

Financial crimes officers detained Miguel Bernad, the leader of Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), at his home in Madrid, according to a Spanish police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of police policy, declining to provide more details.

The organization brought tax fraud charges against Cristina de Borbon, the 50-year-old sister of King Felipe VI, using a Spanish legal instrument known as the “people’s accusation.”

Cristina became the first member of the country’s royal family to face criminal charges since the monarchy was restored in 1975. She is one of 18 people on trial following a six-year investigation into the Noos Foundation, a charity run by her husband Inaki Urdangarin.

Cristina has been charged with two counts of being an accessory to tax fraud, which together carry sentences of up to eight years. Urdangarin is accused of nine crimes including fraud and tax evasion with a combined possible jail sentence of 19-and-a-half years.

The couple, who have four children, deny any wrongdoing. Lawyers for Cristina, Urdangarin and Torres say they are innocent.

Details of the probe badly damaged the image of the royal family at a time when ordinary Spaniards were grappling with a devastating economic crisis and tapped into popular disgust at cases of high-level corruption among bankers and politicians.

Princess Cristina’s title, the “Duchess of Palma,” was removed by her brother Felipe in June 2014.

Cristina's trial is underway in the city of Palma de Mallorca. Testimony continued Friday without her presence, which is not required at this stage during witness testimony.

Manos Limpias did not immediately make comment on Bernad's arrest. The Spanish police official had no information on whether Bernad had a lawyer.

Virginia Negrete, lawyer of Manos Limpias, said that she had no details about why Bernad was arrested.

TRTWorld and agencies