The brother-in-law of Spain’s King Felipe VI entered prison on Monday to begin serving a jail sentence of five years and 10 months for corruption, the country’s penitentiary service said.
Inaki Urdangarin, who is married to Princess Cristina, was allowed the option of being able to pick the prison of his choice and selected the rural Brieva penitentiary, located seven km east of Avila city, which is normally used to house women offenders but has a secluded unit in which men can serve their sentences, Efe news reported.
Urdangarin, who lived in Geneva and had been found guilty of embezzling millions of euros, landed in Madrid on Sunday evening, after a court in Palma de Mallorca on June 13 gave him five days to report to the Brieva prison authorities.
The former Olympic handball player was found guilty of offences against the public treasury, influence peddling, fraud and perversion of justice in the so-called “Noos case”, reports say.
The Noos Institute, a non-profit that organises sports events, overcharged for its services and billed for events that did not take place.
The money was diverted to private accounts via another company, Aizoon, where Cristina was on the board of directors. She was fined 136,950 euros ($159,040).
A court ruled last year that Urdangarin had embezzled 6.2 million euros ($7.2 million). Both he and Cristina were stripped of their royal titles after the court verdict.
The fact that Urdangarín was able to pick the prison of his choice and avoid any interaction with other inmates, drew criticism from some Spanish lawmakers.
Marian Beitialarrangoitia, of the left-wing Basque Bildu party, said that while it was “logical” that Urdangarín should be imprisoned for his crimes, it was not clear why he was given a choice as to where to serve his sentence.
In a press conference, the organization secretary of the progressive Podemos party, Pablo Echenique, said that it was evident that the monarchy received a privileged treatment.