Where is Juan Carlos? Spain reflects on the future of the former monarch

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Speculation over the fate of former monarch Juan Carlos gripped Spain on Tuesday, a day after announcing he was leaving the country for an unspecified destination amid a growing financial scandal.In a letter posted on the Royal Family’s website on Monday, Juan Carlos told his son King Felipe VI that he was moving out of Spain due to the “public repercussions of certain episodes in my past private life”.

Juan Carlos is the target of official investigations in Spain and Switzerland, which examine possible financial misconduct.

His bombshell announcement surprised most Spaniards. Neither the royal family nor the government have revealed where he is going.

The ABC daily reported on Tuesday that Juan Carlos left Spain on Sunday and flew via Porto, in neighboring Portugal, to the Dominican Republic. La Vanguardia also said he was in the Caribbean country, but only temporarily.

But El Confidencial newspaper said he could be in Portugal, where he spent part of his childhood, or in France or Italy, where he has family and friends.

Scarred by scandals

The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. But marred by scandals in the last years of his reign, Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 in favor of his son Felipe, the loss of the immunity from prosecution that the Spanish constitution grants to the head of state.

Following Juan Carlos’ announcement, some people called for the abolition of the monarchy. The leftist political party Unidas Podemos, the small member of the Spanish coalition government, wants a public debate on the creation of a republic.

“There is no reason to continue supporting a monarchy that does not have minimum ethical standards,” the party said in a statement Monday night.

But the Socialist Party, which heads the government under Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, has shown no willingness to follow this path and has declared its support for Felipe. Even so, Sanchez recently said he found the developments regarding Juan Carlos “disturbing”.

Divided opinions

In downtown Madrid, opinions were divided.

“I think it’s a real shame that we let him go,” said Sara Fernandez, a 38-year-old insurance worker. “He should stay here, return the money and go to jail, like all Spaniards when you break the law.” ”

But concierge Mar Verdugo, 55, called for caution. “We are judging him without any proof, so when there is a sentence, we will see if he did good or bad,” she said.

Juan Carlos’ lawyer Javier Sanchez-Junco Mans said in an emailed statement that the former king asked him to clarify that even though he would be outside Spain, he intended to be available to cooperate with the investigation.

Juan Carlos cannot be tried for the alleged crimes he committed while on the throne because the king has immunity. However, he could potentially face trial for acts committed after 2014.

Investigation of possible bribes

A statement from Spain’s attorney general’s office in June said it was investigating whether Juan Carlos received millions of dollars in bribes from Saudi Arabia during the construction of a railway. at high speed by a Spanish consortium.

Since then, Spanish media have published damaging testimony from a separate Swiss investigation into millions of euros allegedly given to Juan Carlos by the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Juan Carlos then reportedly transferred a significant amount to a former companion in what investigators are considering a possible attempt to hide the money from authorities.

The companion, Corinna Larsen, is a Danish-German businesswoman long linked by the Spanish media to the former king. Spanish prosecutors asked him to testify in the September case in Madrid.

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