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Much ado about the infanta

The prosecutor lodges what amounts to a covert appeal and the justice minister weighs in

Anticorruption prosecutor Pedro Horrach, who had not formally appealed against the infanta, Doña Cristina, being summoned to testify, has since demanded a proceeding aimed at taking the sting out of Judge José Castro’s summons. This move amounts to a covert appeal, clothed in a demand for more evidence. Formally, it was not presented as such, thus avoiding the procedural delays involved; but the aim is that several civil servants give testimony, to clear up the doubts and errors that, in his view, dog the judge’s writ targeting the princess, which was issued on January 7.

The prosecutor’s allegation is not without certain interest. On the one hand, it does recognize the existence of apparently immoral conduct. The firm Aizoon, owned by the infanta and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, on a 50-50 basis, “distributed dividends to its partners camouflaged under the heading of personal expenses unconnected to the firm’s commercial activity.” But the prosecutor points out that this is not a crime, so there is no criminal case here. And he also notes that the Nóos Institute and all the mercantile companies associated with it were conceived to “consummate the appropriation of public funds received by [the non-profit institute].” However, he sets forth technical arguments to demonstrate that either these activities were not the responsibility of Doña Cristina, or that no crime was involved.

The princess requires security measures over and above those of other people summoned to testify

It is hard to stress sufficiently the spurious use often made in Spain of the term imputación (employed when issuing a summons to testify) — a term that does not imply a formal accusation, but only a justification of the reasons for which a judge sees fit to take testimony from a person, assisted by legal counsel. In any case, the prosecutor’s basic arguments are jumbled with the accusations he aims at Castro: he asserts that the judge is less rigorous in his proceeding than the Tax Agency; portrays him as being ignorant of fiscal and accounting matters; and says that he has let himself be carried away by a “conspiracy theory.” If the attorney Horrach believes that we are looking at a conspiracy theory, then the public ought to know the grounds on which he bases this suspicion.

Nor has Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón got it right by intervening in the controversy on whether or not the infanta ought to walk the path leading to the courthouse in Palma in full public view, alleging that this amounts to a “parallel punishment.”

Understandably, the princess requires security measures over and above those of other people summoned to testify, and we may assume that the Judiciary will take this into account when it comes to organizing her court appearance. But a controversy created essentially for the consumption of media talk-show listeners does not require the intervention of a leading Cabinet member, especially in a matter that is none of his particular business.

What is important here is to clarify just what happened, and who bears responsibility for what went on at the Nóos Institute and its various front companies. The principle of equality before the law is ill-served by these attempts to create mindless confusion around the proceedings, instead of bringing it to a conclusion once and for all.

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