Monarchy Ex-King Juan Carlos I will return to Spain for the first time since leaving for exile

Juan Carlos I back home. Gone in exile in August 2020 in the United Arab Emirates against a backdrop of suspicion of embezzlement, the former king of Spain will return this Thursday for the first time to the Iberian Peninsula for a brief visit. The former monarch communicated to his son King Felipe VI “his decision to travel to Spain from tomorrow and until Monday May 23”, the royal palace said on Wednesday evening in a press release.

This brief visit comes as the three investigations targeting Juan Carlos in Spain were dismissed by the courts in March.

A visit in a “private” setting

Juan Carlos will first go to Sanxenxo, a town in Galicia (in the north-west) where a regatta will be held from Friday in which the “Bribon”, a sailboat with which he was world champion in 2017, will take part. then the trip to Madrid on Monday to visit Felipe VI, his wife Sofia and other members of his family before leaving “the same day” for Abu Dhabi “where he has established his permanent and stable residence” , the palace continued.

This visit falls within the framework of the “desire of His Majesty Juan Carlos to travel regularly to Spain in order to visit his family and friends” in a “private” setting, concludes the press release from the palace while the possibility that the he former monarch’s stay in an official palace has drawn criticism in the country.

The subject of controversy, this visit was denounced in particular by the radical left party Podemos, a member of the coalition government of socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Suspicions of embezzlement

A central figure in the democratic transition after the death of dictator Franco in 1975, Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 amid scandals, left Spain for Abu Dhabi in August 2020 after increasingly compromising revelations. He then explained that he wanted to “facilitate” his son Felipe VI “the exercise” of his functions in the face of “the public consequences of certain past events in (his) private life”. But his destination had drawn criticism even more, while his links to the Gulf monarchies are at the center of suspicion over his opaque fortune.

The three investigations targeting him in Spain were finally dismissed in early March. Unable to prosecute the ex-sovereign “because of the lack of incriminating evidence, the prescription of offenses and the immunity” which he enjoyed as head of state until 2014, the prosecution had however underlined the “fiscal irregularities” of which the former king had been guilty.

As part of the most important of them, the Spanish public prosecutor’s office had been trying since December 2018 to determine whether the 84-year-old ex-sovereign had pocketed a commission for the attribution, in 2011, to a Spanish consortium of the construction of a railway line between Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. The payment in 2008 by the Saudi monarchy of 100 million dollars to the Swiss account of a foundation of which Juan Carlos was the beneficiary was at the center of this first file. But the prosecution had explained that this sum was a priori a “gift” received by the sovereign in his capacity as head of state, which could however have represented an offense of “corruption” now prescribed.

Even before Juan Carlos’ exile, Felipe VI had decided in March 2020 to renounce his father’s inheritance and withdraw his annual allowance of nearly 200,000 euros.

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