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King's son-in-law appears in court

The Spanish king's son-in-law has been jeered by hundreds of protesters, who pelted his car with eggs as he arrived at court to answer questions about suspected fraudulent deals.

Inaki Urdangarin - the Duke of Palma - has not been charged with a crime. But he is being questioned at the courthouse on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca about whether he used his high-profile status to secure lucrative deals for a non-profit foundation he ran, then fraudulently diverted some of the money for personal gain.

The investigation into the alleged financial misdeeds has embarrassed the monarchy in a country hard hit by a financial crisis and sky-high unemployment and ranks among the worst public relations mishaps the royal household has experienced in the 36-year reign of King Juan Carlos.

As news of the investigation began to fill Spanish newspapers last year, King Juan Carlos announced in December that his son-in-law would no longer take part in official ceremonies with the rest of the family.

Urdangarin, who lives in the United States, is a former professional and Olympic handball player who acquired his title by marrying the king's daughter, Cristina, Duchess of Palma.

The duke arrived at the court accompanied by his lawyer, Mario Pascual Vives, then braved a short walk in front of hundreds of jeering protesters, some carrying banners reading, "Juan Carlos, if you knew, why did you keep quiet?"

A handful of pro-monarchy supporters were also present as around 150 police kept protesters behind barriers, but two eggs hit the duke's car as it arrived and a woman in the crowd was questioned by officers.

The sombre looking Urdangarin gave a brief statement to journalists before going in to be questioned by judge Jose Castro. "I appear to demonstrate my innocence, my honour and my professional activity," he said, adding he is convinced his statements to the court will "clear up the truth".

The duke is suspected of securing large contracts from regional governments for his foundation, then subcontracting the work to private companies he also oversaw, sometimes charging the public unrealistically inflated prices and syphoning some of the income to offshore tax havens.

Newspaper El Mundo reported the revenues Urdangarin and associates are suspected of having handled may exceed £5 million. The duke's alleged misdeeds took place in 2004-2006. Urdangarin, the princess and their four children moved to Washington, DC, in 2009 as the investigation began to heat up.

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