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Embattled Princess Cristina of Spain, husband back in court for tax fraud trial

Spain's Princess Cristina in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.

Spain's Princess Cristina in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.

Facing charges that could send her to jail for eight years, Princess Cristina of Spain appeared before a court Tuesday along with her husband and 17 others defendants.

The trial, which started Jan. 11, has attracted enormous media interest.

The charges range from tax fraud to embezzlement and are related to a company she owned with her husband, Inaki Urdangarin.

Cristina, sister of King Felipe VI and first member of Spain's royal family to face criminal charges since the monarchy was restored in 1975, allegedly failed to declare taxes on personal expenses paid by the company.

The princess lost a last-minute legal battle last week to try to avoid continuing on trial when the court rejected arguments that her charges should be dropped because government officials say she committed no crime and should only face a tax evasion fine.

The case centers around Urdangarin who is accused of using his former title of Duke of Palma to embezzle about 6 million euros ($6.5 million) in public contracts through the nonprofit Noos Institute he co-ran. He faces a sentence of close to 20 years.

The princess and her husband arrived at the court together some 20 minutes before the trial resumed at 9.15 a.m. (0815 GMT).

Defendants began testifying Tuesday and were to finish Feb. 26. Cristina, 50, will be last to speak but it is not yet known on which day.

The case is being heard in Palma de Mallorca, the regional capital of Spain's Balearic Islands, because many of Urdangarin's business deals under investigation were for the islands.

Cristina denied knowledge of her husband's business activities during a 2014 closed-door court appearance.

Details about the couple's regal lifestyle that emerged from the pre-trial investigation from 2011-2014 outraged Spaniards as the country teetered on the edge of an economic crisis and the unemployment rate hit 27 percent.

The case was also seen as one of the reasons for the 2014 abdication of King Juan Carlos in favor of his son, Felipe.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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