The Infanta Cristina became the first relative of the Spanish monarch ever to stand trial on Monday as legal proceedings in a tax fraud case opened against her and 17 others in Palma de Mallorca.

The 50-year-old sister of King Felipe VI was stripped of her duchess title due to the embezzlement charges, which she faces as an accessory to her husband Inaki Urdangarin, 47.

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, is accused of embezzling about 6 million euros (6.8 million dollars) in public funds through a charity, the Noos Institute, which he ran from 2004 to 2006. Cristina allegedly helped him withhold income tax in 2007 and 2008.

The couple met an hour before the proceedings were due to start at the court venue, which is a plain classroom in Mallorca's Administration School instead of a courtroom due to space constraints. The school lies right next to the island's prison.

Cristina took her place in the furthest corner in the back row of the seating area for the accused, who got to sit on blue upholstered chairs instead of the usual wooden benches. The placement means she sees a portrait of her brother every time she looks at the judges.

Urdangarin's business partner, Diego Torres, is among the total of 18 accused in the case.

Cristina, known as the Infanta, was sixth in line to the throne. Many say her father, Juan Carlos, would possibly not have abdicated in June 2014 if it had not been for the scandal. The trial is expected to reveal exactly what the royal family knew about Urdangarin's business dealings.

Cristina had received the title of duchess from her father when she married Urdangarin, in 1997. Urdangarin was named the duke of Palma de Mallorca at the time. The couple now no longer belong officially to the royal family and Felipe has reduced contact with his sister to a minimum.

The royal family has maintained silence throughout the scandal and is unlikely to make a statement in the future.

Prosecutors are seeking a 20-year prison sentence for Urdangarin.

The defence is expected to ask for the case against Cristina to be dismissed, arguing that both the prosecution and the tax authorities were opposed to the indictment against her.

They will also say that the charges were based solely on the actions of the trade union Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), which fights corruption and is acting as joint plaintiff in the case. It is seeking eight years and a fine of 2 million euros against her.

The trial is expected to last until June, but could end sooner if individual defendants strike deals with the prosecution. The former head of the government of the Balearic Islands Jaume Matas is seeking just such a deal to reduce the 11-year sentence demanded against him.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.