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Spain investigates former king in Saudi corruption case

Juan Carlos I, the then King of Spain, seen at the International Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen, in 2007 [Aleph / Wikimedia]
Juan Carlos I, the then King of Spain, seen at the International Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen, in 2007 [Aleph / Wikimedia]

Spain’s supreme court prosecutor has opened an investigation into former King Juan Carlos in connection with a high-speed train contract in Saudi Arabia, reported Reuters, piling pressure on a once-popular monarch who abdicated six years ago.

The supreme court prosecutor will investigate whether the former king can be included in the case in respect of any action that took place after he lost his immunity when he abdicated in June 2014 in favour of his son Felipe, the general prosecutor said on Monday.

“This investigation focuses, precisely, on establishing or discarding the criminal relevance of deeds that happened after June 2014, when the King Emeritus was no longer protected by inviolability,” the statement said.

The Spanish Royal House did not respond to a request for comment. Juan Carlos’ lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Juan Carlos was popular for his role in the country’s transition to democracy in the late seventies, before various scandals eroded public approval a decade ago and forced him to pass the throne to his son.

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The Supreme Court prosecutor’s investigation into the king derived from another probe led by the country’s anti-corruption prosecutor over the second phase of a high-speed railway linking the cities of Medina and Mecca in Saudi Arabia that was granted to a group of Spanish companies in 2011.

In mid-March, King Felipe said he had renounced any inheritance from his father and ended his palace allowance following allegations of secret offshore accounts.

Felipe’s decision came after Switzerland’s La Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported that Juan Carlos, while he was king, allegedly received $100 million from Saudi Arabia’s late king. The Spanish king’s office declined to comment.

The newspaper added that Juan Carlos later gave $65 million to Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a businesswoman with whom he had a relationship that led to his abdication. Her representatives declined to comment at the time.

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