Spanish royal ordered to court over claims

A judge yesterday subpoenaed the son-in-law of Spain's King Juan Carlos 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.

Judge Jose Castro on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca named Inaki Urdangarin, husband of the king's daughter Cristina, as a formal suspect in a criminal probe.

The Balearic Islands Superior Court of Justice said he had been called to testify on 6 February in Palma. No allegations were made, but Spanish media say Mr Urdangarin, 43, is suspected of siphoning money from public contracts awarded from 2004 to 2006 to a non-profit foundation he then headed.

He has not been charged with a crime, and an official at the Royal Palace declined comment other than to say it "respects the decisions of judges".

Spain has nearly 22 percent unemployment, a stagnant economy and mountains of debt, so alleged shady dealings look terrible for the Spanish monarchy. The palace has barred Mr Urdangarin from official ceremonies involving the royal family.