Palma.—At another court hearing in Palma yesterday, Olympic medallist and ex Balearic Sports Director José Luis “Pepote” Ballester said that Iñaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma, the King's son-in-law arranged 3 million euros worth of business for the Noos Institute public relations company directly with ex Balearic President Jaume Matas.

Ballester, speaking at a hearing presided over by Judge José Castro that lasted four-and-a-half hours said that he had acted as a go-between from 2004 to 2007 for Urdangarin and Matas. Ballester claimed that he took the role because of his particularl friendship with the Duke as they were both sportsmen.

The Fraud Squad and Judge Castro believe that the Duke of Palma and his associate in the Noos Institute, Diego Torres, were illegally paid as much as 5.8 million euros by the governments of Valencia and the Balearic Islands between 2004 and 2007.

A further media frenzy is expected next Saturday when Urdangarin himself is due to appear in court in Palma over the allegations. The Duke and his legal entourage have asked for special protection on the day and arrangements have been made to seal off some streets near the court house and only give access to the hearing to accredited members of the press. It may even be the case that Urdangarin will be driven into the precinct as opposed to having to approach the building on foot as have done those others who have been called to give testimony.

Mario Pascual Vives, the lawyer acting on behalf of the Duke in the Noos Institute section of the Palma Arena corruption scandal, said yesterday that he and his client would be preparing the finishing touches this week in readiness for Urdangarin's appearance in court on the 25th February. Pascual Vives, commenting on Ballester's declaration to the court, refused to be drawn on whether or not his testimony has promoted the innocence of the Duke.

Urdangarin is married to the youngest daughter of the King of Spain, Cristina.
The Duke in fact lives and works in the United States, but his lawyer said yesterday that he had not been informed of an exact time of his client's arrival in Spain.

The hearing over the Noos Institute in Palma yesterday is just one of a jigsaw puzzle of cases related to the so-called Palma Arena corruption scandal for which ex Balearic President Matas is also on trial. The Noos Institute, fronted by the Duke of Palma, had declared itself to be a non-profit making organisation and one which would use its contacts to bring top sporting events to the Balearics.

Also appearing in court yesterday morning were Joan Carlos Alía, the ex Managing Director of the Balearic Institute for Tourism (Ibatur); Miguel Angel Bonet, the former Secretary for Ibatur; and Gonzalo Bernel, the ex Managing Director of the Illesport Sports Foundation, all of whom are suspected of implication in misappropriation of public funds.