The naming of Princess Cristina as an official suspect in a fraud case confirms that the rule of law works in Spain. It also shows that, as King Juan Carlos himself said in his 2011 televised Christmas address, after finding out that his son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin had been implicated in the Nóos case, that “justice is the same for everyone.” The judge had previously rejected a suit for the infanta to be officially targeted because of a lack of grounds to do so. However, testimony and documents recently received — above all via the emails supplied bit by bit by Urdangarin’s former partner at the Nóos Institute, Diego Torres — made him change his mind.
By doing so, Judge José Castro is now at odds with the public prosecutor, who is against the implication of the princess in the case. Previously, the pair had worked in almost perfect harmony throughout the probe into Urdangarin’s business affairs. The judge has made it clear that none of the available facts in their own right has sufficient weight to justify naming the infanta as a suspect. However, all these facts have to be taken as a whole, and the judicial investigation cannot be concluded without questioning her about them.
The 18 pages of the judge’s argument put forward solid grounds for justifying her being targeted (imputado), although less so when describing the concrete facts upon which this decision is based. It gives the impression that Castro has had to take into account the pressure of public opinion before making this move to refure the idea that Princess Cristina has been allowed to escape the judicial proceedings to which the other protagonists in the case have been submitted.
Without prejudice to the future course of the proceedings, what needs to be clarified is whether the available evidence falls within the area of criminal behavior of “necessary cooperation” or “complicity” in the committing of crimes. If the decision had not been taken to subpoena the infanta, it would have given risen to the idea of a scheme to protect the king’s daughter from involvement in legal proceedings because of that very relationship. The members of the king’s family are not entitled to immunity, and if the order summonsing the infanta is confirmed — the public prosecutor has announced he will appeal the decision — she will appear in court just as any other member of the public would.
It is clear that the princess was not involved in the management of the Nóos Institute or other suspect activities. What is being investigated is whether the princess consented to her name and position — namely, her status as the king's daughter — being used in order for companies and public institutions to make payments to the institute without recourse to “customary administrative controls.” In other words, whether “use” was made of Princess Cristina to impress authorities and companies involved in projects carried out under the auspices of Nóos, with a view to them believing that these had the backing of the Royal Household; an impression reinforced by the presence of Carlos García Revenga, the secretary to the infantas, in the management structure of Nóos.
To answer questions before a judge as an official suspect is not an indication of any concrete offense. It is the only way for the infanta to explain herself before the law. If she had been called simply as a witness, she could have taken advantage of the law to make a written declaration or chosen not to speak at all. It is important that justice is pursued to the end in the Nóos case, not only because it involves the serious matter of corruption, but also because it is a scandal that has significantly dented the prestige of the monarchy.