Demonstration in Madrid against ex-king Juan Carlos, for his first reappearance in Spain

Some 300 people demonstrated in Madrid on Sunday against ex-king Juan Carlos I, whose visit to Spain after nearly two years in exile in the United Arab Emirates following accusations of embezzlement has drawn widespread criticism.

Corruption and money laundering investigations closed in March

Brandishing signs that read “Justice” or “Le Bourbon, en prison”, the demonstrators, numbering 300 according to a government spokesman, gathered in a square opposite the royal theater, very close to the royal palace, to criticize the former head of the Spanish state (1975-2014).

The 84-year-old ex-king, who had not returned to Spain since August 2020, arrived on Thursday to attend a regatta in Sanxenzo, Galicia (northwest) until Sunday. On Monday, he must go to Madrid to see in particular his son, King Felipe VI, and his wife Sofia, before leaving the same day for Abu Dhabi “where he has established his permanent and stable residence”, said Wednesday evening the palace.

This brief visit by Juan Carlos comes after the Spanish courts closed the corruption and money laundering investigations against him in March.

But the revelations about the opaque origin of his fortune have forever tarnished, in much of Spanish public opinion, the image of this figure adored for decades for having led Spain’s democratic transition after his death. of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

“It’s a shame”

The government of socialist Pedro Sánchez – which has opposed, according to the media, that he can stay at the Royal Palace of Zarzuela, the official residence of Felipe VI – is still waiting for him to “explain” his conduct.

“It is a shame that the king emeritus has returned to this country to do a regatta, it is a shame that he has not returned to render accounts before justice and the citizens”, commented Sunday Ione Belarra, secretary general of the radical left party Podemos, on the sidelines of a meeting of this party, a member of the coalition government.

On the port of Sanxenxo, where Juan Carlos boarded this weekend the “Bribon”, the sailboat with which he had been world champion, dozens of curious people cheered and welcomed him with cries of “Vive le roi, Long live Spain”.

“He does what suits him, in accordance with his rights and freedoms,” commented the leader of the Popular Party (PP, conservatives), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, on Sunday, who defended his visit.

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