Spain princess to obey court summons: lawyers

MADRID (AFP) - Spanish King Juan Carlos's daughter Cristina has abandoned plans to appeal her court summons as a financial fraud suspect, her lawyers said on Saturday, in a scandal that has plunged the royals into crisis.

The king's youngest daughter, 48, will become the first of his direct relatives to appear in court accused of wrongdoing when she answers the summons, set by a judge for March 8.

Her lawyers reiterated that she was innocent of the accusations of tax-evasion and money-laundering but said she would comply with the summons so as not to draw out the process.

Cristina "has nothing to hide from the investigating judge nor from Spanish society", said the Barcelona law firm defending her, Roca Junyent, in a statement.

"Her Royal Highness has therefore decided to give up the right to appeal... and to appear voluntarily before the investigating judge on the date required."

The judge on the island of Majorca, Jose Castro, has summoned the princess as a suspect for questioning over alleged tax and money-laundering crimes.

The case is linked to the business affairs of her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, who is himself under investigation for alleged embezzlement of public funds.

The investigation could lead to formal charges being brought against Cristina, but neither she nor Urdangarin have so far been charged with any crime.

Cristina's lawyers on Saturday said the judge's summons was "without legal grounds".

But challenging the ruling "would lead to a delay in the proceedings, prolonging the uncomfortable and in her view unjust situation arising from them".

The case is a major blow to Juan Carlos, 76, who has long been widely respected for helping guide Spain to democracy after the death in 1975 of General Francisco Franco.

The king's standing has been damaged by the corruption scandal, and outrage over a luxury African elephant-hunting safari he took in 2012 as his subjects suffered in a job-destroying recession.

A string of health problems together with the scandals have raised speculation about the future of his reign.

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