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Spain king's brother-in-law loses graft appeal, faces jail

AFP  |  Madrid 

The Spanish king's was sentenced on appeal to five years and 10 months' jail today for embezzling millions of euros in a case that shamed the royals, the said.

Former Olympic handball Inaki Urdangarin, 50, is married to VI's sister, Cristina, but was sidelined from the royal family after the fraud scandal erupted in 2010.

The scandal contributed to the decision of Felipe's father I to abdicate in 2014.

Urdangarin was found guilty last year of taking millions of euros (dollars) between 2004 and 2006 from a non-profit foundation he headed in the island of

He will now go to jail unless he makes a successful final appeal to the -- a possibility regarded as unlikely.

He lost his overall appeal on Tuesday, though the court overturned some of the lesser charges. That left him with a slightly shorter sentence than six years and three months he received last year.

The corruption scandal sparked outrage during Spain's financial crisis when Urdangarin came to be seen as a symbol of the elite's perceived corruption.

The scandal soured the end of Juan Carlos's reign.

He gave up the throne in June 2014 after 39 years, hoping his son VI could freshen up the image of the monarchy.

Urdangarin and have been excluded from all of the royal family's since late 2011.

VI stripped the couple of their titles of duke and duchess of Palma. They now live in with their four children.

Urdangarin claimed he never made any decisions without the royal family's knowledge. herself was also tried on charges that she helped her husband evade taxes, but the 52-year-old was acquitted.

She was fined 265,000 euros on separate charges. The on Tuesday also reduced that fine to 136,950 ($161,400) euros on appeal.

was the first member of Spain's royal family to face criminal charges since the monarchy's restoration in 1975.

Urdangarin was charged with the more serious crimes of embezzlement, influence peddling, forgery and money laundering.

The couple were tried in 2016 along with 15 others, including former government

After marrying Urdangarin in 1997, Cristina was constantly in the celebrity spotlight and won praise for having a salaried job.

But eventually, eyebrows were raised at the couple's lavish lifestyle. In 2004 they purchased a 1,200-square-metre (13,000-square-foot) house for six million euros in

The royal family has not commented on Urdangarin's conviction. Reacting to Tuesday's ruling, a palace source said only that it had the "greatest respect for the independence of the judiciary".

There is said to be no precedent of upholding an appeal against a conviction with a jail term of more than five years.

"We can expect that (Urdangarin) will go to prison," said Ana Romero, of a book on the royal family under Felipe's father I.

If Urdangarin did not go to jail, she added, "the reaction would be very negative for the crown... People would say he was not going to prison because he is the king's

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 12 2018. 19:10 IST