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Spanish princess faces fraud trial

The decision to indict followed a 4-year probe of Cristina's husband.

MADRID - Spain's Princess Cristina was indicted on tax fraud charges Monday - a severe setback to efforts by her brother King Felipe VI to rid the royalty of image problems after his scandal-plagued father abdicated six months ago.

Cristina is the first royal family member in the country ordered to stand trial since the monarchy was restored in 1975.

Judge Jose Castro has spent four years investigating Cristina's husband on charges ranging from money laundering to fraud.

He went against a prosecutor's recommendation this month that Cristina, 49, should face only fines and ordered a trial that could see her get prison time of up to four years if found guilty.

Her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, an Olympic handball medalist turned businessman, faces additional charges punishable by up to 19 years in jail.

Castro's decision sets the stage for a royal trial late next year, just as Spain is expected to see heavy campaigning in national elections that must be called by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy by the end of 2015.

After his coronation in June, Felipe pledged to restore public trust in the monarchy.

He ordered a palace reshuffle, meaning Cristina and her sister, Princess Elena, are no longer official members of the royal family.

He has also limited gifts that royal household members and employees are allowed to accept and subjected the household's account to external audits that are made public.

Polls have shown that Felipe is Spain's most popular public figure. But royal watchers say his credibility drive would be undercut by the trial for his sister, her husband, and 15 others accused of participating in the scheme.

Castro set bail for Cristina at 2.7 million euros [$3.3 million] and 15 million euros for her husband.