Former Spain king Juan Carlos I returned home after two years, faced harsh criticism PiPa News

Former Spain king Juan Carlos I returned home after two years, faced harsh criticism

Spain’s former king made his first trip home on Thursday after nearly two years of exile following a string of financial scandals that drew widespread criticism.

Although prosecutors closed their investigation into the cases of Juan Carlos I in March, revelations about the dubious origins of his fate have dealt irreparable damage to a man who played a key role in Spain’s transition to democracy after decades of dictatorship. was honored for.

“What we have heard in recent years is very worrying for everyone about the institution of the head of state,” Nadia Calvino, the economy minister and deputy prime minister, told Cadena Ser radio.

“There is no doubt that we need some clarification.”

According to an AFP reporter at the scene, the 84-year-old former monarch arrived in Vigo in northwestern Spain on a private jet on Thursday evening, ahead of a three-day regatta at the nearby resort Sancsanxo.

His yacht, “Bribon” – Spanish for “rascal” – is participating, and is the same vessel with which he and his crew won the world sailing title in 2017.

He was welcomed at Vigo airport by his eldest child, Princesa Elena, who hugged him before boarding a car that would take him to Sanxenxo.

The palace said late Wednesday, he travels to Madrid on Monday to meet his wife Sofia, his son King Felipe VI and other family members, leaving for Abu Dhabi on the same day “where he established his permanent residence”. has done”.

He has been living there since going into self-exile in August 2020.

The visit reflects the former king’s “desire to visit his family and friends regularly in Spain”, indicating that such gatherings would be held “in a private setting”.

Government opposes Palace sleepover

According to Spanish media, the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez strongly opposed any suggestion that he be allowed to stay overnight at the royal residence, the Zarzuela Palace.

Sanchez’s junior coalition partner, the radical leftist Podemos, expressed displeasure over his visit.

It tweeted, “Anyone returning to our country with a record like King Juan Carlos I will be arrested and prosecuted as soon as they cross the border.”

After nearly 40 years on the throne, it was the scandal that prompted the fall of Juan Carlos from grace, forcing him to first step down in 2014 and then flee to the United Arab Emirates, surrounded by allegations of financial corruption.

Announcing his departure in 2020, the former monarch said he was leaving “due to the public repercussions that some past events in my personal life are causing”, expressing hope that Felipe will continue to perform his royal duties as necessary “peace be upon him”. and peace”.

Some 18 months later, Spanish prosecutors suspended their investigation into his finances, concluding that they “did not permit any criminal action” against him.

He cited a variety of reasons, including “lack of criminal evidence, statute of limitations, violence of the head of state and tax regularization” payments made in recent years.

Although he confirmed the identification of “amounts defrauded from the Treasury” between 2008 and 2012, he said tax authorities had managed to recover more than five million euros, “an amount commensurate with the tax owed”.

Since leaving, Juan Carlos has twice settled tax debts on undisclosed income for more than five million euros, which was widely seen as a bid to avoid being charged with a crime.

legally sound, morally dubious

“There is no longer a legal or judicial reason to prevent King Emeritus from traveling to Spain, but there are moral grounds that explain the stir,” an El Pais editorial said on Thursday.

In an attempt to restore the monarchy’s image, Felipe VI – who took over as king in 2014 – has tried to distance himself from his scandal-hit father.

In March 2020, Felipe abolished his father’s annual palace allowance, which was worth 200,000 euros ($210,000), and relinquished his own claim on what he would have inherited from King Emeritus.

Last month, he took steps with the government to increase transparency of the monarchy with the publication of a decree that required the palace to publish its budget and make tenders public.

It also means that royal accounts will be audited, that senior officials of the palace must declare their personal wealth upon taking and leaving office, and that gifts given to royals will be listed.

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