Hundreds of noisy protesters gathered chanting slogans against the monarchy and waving flags used when Spain last had a republican government, from 1931-39. Urdangarin was given the title Duke of Palma after he married King Juan Carlos's youngest daughter Princess Cristina. The case against Urdangarin is one of several big fraud scandals in Spanish courts, most dating from a property and urban development boom when local governments went on spending sprees before the global financial bubble burst. Spanish Deputy prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria declined to comment on the case on Friday, saying the government respected the courts' independence. Spain's royals sidelined Urdangarin from official events shortly before he was charged at the end of 2011 and then disclosed details of their income for the first time. All are equal
Urdangarin moved with his wife and four children in 2009 to Washington, D.C., where he represents Spanish telecoms group Telefonica. In an apparent reference to the case, the king said in his traditional Christmas speech that all are equal before the law. When untoward conduct arises which is not in keeping with the law and ethics, society naturally reacts. Fortunately we live by the rule of law and any unworthy act must be judged and penalised, he said. Spain's royals do not normally receive the same intense media interest as their British counterparts, but coverage has increased since Urdangarin was charged. We are trying to lead a normal life and you won't let us, that's the problem, Princess Cristina, who spent the day at Marivent Palace while the Duke appeared in court, told reporters in a Washington supermarket when they asked about her husband.
Urdangarin returned to the Palace for lunch at 2pm and the hearing resumed at 3.30pm.
A court official said the investigating judge will decide whether to order a trial and charge the suspects, or drop the case.
The investigation could go on for months more before such a decision is made, the official said and so will the global media coverage.
The Duke, as expected was driven to the rear of the court house but not all the way to the back entrance. He walked the 30 metres, facing the world's press.
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