MADRID (AP) — A judge subpoenaed the son-in-law of Spain's King Juan Carlos on Thursday to testify as a suspect in a corruption case, deepening a public relations nightmare for the royal family at a time of acute economic crisis for everyday people.
The case surrounding Inaki Urdangarin, husband of the king's daughter Cristina, has been front-page news for weeks. But it went a big step further Thursday when Judge Jose Castro on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca named Urdangarin as a formal suspect in a criminal probe.
The Balearic Islands Superior Court of Justice said in a statement that Urdangarin has been called to testify Feb. 6 in Palma, the capital of the archipelago. The one-page document did not mention allegations.
But Spanish media say Urdangarin, 43, is suspected of siphoning money from public contracts awarded from 2004 to 2006 to a nonprofit foundation he then headed. He has not been charged with a crime.
An official at the Royal Palace declined comment Thursday other than to say it "respects the decisions of judges."
Spain has nearly 22 percent unemployment, a stagnant economy, mountains of debt and many other woes, so alleged shady business dealings by a member of the royal family look terrible for the Spanish monarchy.
On Dec. 12 the Royal Palace shocked the country by announcing Urdangarin would for the time being stop taking part in official ceremonies involving the royal family.
And in an unprecedented show of transparency, the palace this week made public the details of the stipend the royal family receives from the national budget. It said, for instance, that King Juan Carlos earns euro292,552 ($382,597) a year in salary and expenses and his son, Crown Prince Felipe, roughly half that amount.
In his yearly Christmas Eve speech, the king expressed concern over what he described as the declining confidence among Spaniards in public institutions, a remark seen as a reference to the scandal surrounding his son-in-law, a commoner who used to be a professional handball player.
Judge Castro's order Thursday made public an until-now sealed case file that the newspaper El Pais said contains 2,700 pages.
Spanish newspapers have quoted investigators as saying Urdangarin is suspected, among other things, of having taken some of about euro6 million ($8 million) his nonprofit foundation received from the regional governments in Valencia and the Balearic Islands for organizing events such as sports seminars and diverting it to for-profit companies Urdangarin ran.
The case is part of a broader, long-running corruption probe involving the regional government in the Balearic Islands.
Since 2009 Urdangarin, the princess and their four children have lived in Washington, D.C., where Urdangarin works for the Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica, S.A.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia have three children. Crown Prince Felipe is the youngest, Princess Cristina is the middle child and the eldest is Princess Elena.