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Spanish princess questioned in corruption investigation

MADRID: Spain's Princess Cristina was questioned by a judge on Saturday in a corruption case that has deepened public anger over graft among the ruling class and discontent with the royal family.

It was the first time that a Spanish royal has been summoned in a criminal proceeding since the monarchy was restored in 1975 after the death of dictator Francisco Franco.

With Spain emerging slowly from a deep economic and financial crisis which has left 26 percent unemployed, judges are looking into hundreds of corruption cases left over from a property boom that ended abruptly in 2008.

Cristina, the younger daughter of King Juan Carlos and seventh in line to the throne, is facing preliminary charges of tax fraud and money laundering linked to her use of income from a shell company she co-owned with her husband Inaki Urdangarin.

Both the princess and Urdangarin – who have not represented the Crown at official events since 2011 – have denied any wrong-doing.

Reporters were not allowed into the closed hearing in the courthouse in Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands.

Manuel Delgado, a lawyer for one of the two civil groups bringing charges against the princess told media outside: "Most of her answers have been 'I don't know', 'I don't remember' and 'I fully trusted my husband'."

Jesus Silva, one of the princess's lawyers, told journalists she had been "happy" with how the testimony had gone. "She answered absolutely all of the questions she was asked, (…) so she has not been evasive," he added.

Streets away, hundreds of protesters shouted slogans calling for a republic, equal justice for all and an end to institutional corruption.

"I'm a monarchist, but if they have done wrong they should return what they stole and be exposed just like the rest of us," said Angel Rodriguez, an 80-year-old pensioner passing by the court.

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