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Spain lawyer denies plea bargain for royal in-law

Associated Press Modified: May 2, 2012 at 10:01 am •  Published: May 2, 2012

Urdangarin and ex-partner Diego Torres — who once taught him at an exclusive MBA program in Barcelona — could face embezzlement charges, which can carry a jail term of three to six years.

El Pais and El Mundo say Torres is seeking a similar arrangement. His lawyer, Manuel Gonzalez Peeters, did not return a call seeking comment.

When Urdangarin testified behind closed doors in February before a judge in Palma, he described himself as a mere figurehead at the nonprofit foundation — called the Noos Institute — and said the foundation's business dealings were handled by Torres, according to media reports.

The Urdangarin case and its suggestions of royals using their high-profile position to make loads of easy money in a country that is mired in recession and saddled with a jobless rate now near 25 percent has been a howling embarrassment for the Spanish monarchy. Juan Carlos has banished his son-in-law from royal events.

Many in Spain seem to think it's virtually inevitable that Urdangarin, a tall, suave man who used to be a professional handball player and met the princess at the Atlanta Olympic games in 1996, will be charged.

Things got worse for the beleaguered royal family last month when it emerged that the king went on an elephant-hunting safari in Africa right in the middle of a week when investor confidence in Spain was hitting rock bottom and Argentina nationalized a big Spanish oil company.

The trip became known only because the king fell and broke his hip during it. Back in Madrid, he apologized sheepishly in an unprecedented act of royal contrition.