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Prosecutor will use Manos Limpias arrest to get royal out of fraud trial

Source: El Pais - Fri 29th Apr 2016
Prosecutor will use Manos Limpias arrest to get royal out of fraud trial

The anti-corruption prosecutor in the Nóos case, which affects a member of the Spanish royal family, will use a recent raid against a far-right union to try to get Princess Cristina de Borbón acquitted of all charges.

Manos Limpias, whose leader Miguel Bernad was arrested this month on extortion charges, is the sole private prosecution in the case against the infanta, as Cristina is known in Spain. Bernad, a self-styled corruption crusader who spent years targeting bankers, politicians and even judges, had managed to get a royal on trial for the first time in Spanish history.

But both the prosecutor Pedro Horrach and the government’s defense attorney have claimed that the princess is innocent of the tax fraud charges leveled against her in connection with her husband’s shady business dealings. They refuse to press any charges, and Horrach has been particularly vocal in his defense of Felipe VI’s sister.

Now Horrach will use the raid against Manos Limpias to try to get the private prosecution thrown out of court, on the legal basis of procedural fraud. If he convinces the Balearic Islands court overseeing the Nóos trial that Manos Limpias is not an acceptable party to the case, Cristina de Borbón would automatically be acquitted, as no accusation against her would remain.

Prosecution sources said that Horrach will first ask Madrid colleagues for information regarding various proceedings currently underway against Miguel Bernad, who is being held in custody and has reportedly already told close friends that he might voluntarily drop all his ongoing court cases.

A controversial group

Manos Limpias has been a controversial group throughout its two-decade existence, and acted as the private prosecution in practically every corruption case to see the inside of a Spanish court, from Nóos and Gürtel, to Púnica (affecting the Popular Party), the ERE case in Andalusia (affecting the Socialist Party) and the Pujol family case in Catalonia.

He and his friend Luis Pineda, head of a consumer rights group, are accused of extracting money from victims in exchange for dropping lawsuits against them or withholding negative media coverage.

Bernad allegedly asked Cristina de Borbón’s defense for €3 million in exchange for withdrawing his accusation against her. Her lawyer reported the case to the authorities.

Horrach will not be the first legal representative at the Noos trial to ask for Bernad’s group be thrown out of court. On April 21, following the raids against Manos Limpias and Ausbanc, the defense for Diego Torres, one of the main defendants in the Noos case, made a similar request, but it was dismissed.

Recommended Reading :

* Leader of Manos Limpias union wants to withdraw all court cases

* Manos Limpias head arrested for corruption