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Ex-king of Spain refused offer to move to Saudi

August 6, 2020 at 10:17 am

Former King of Spain Juan Carlos (L) meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (R) in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi [Twitter/Saudi Foreign Ministry]

Former Spanish King, Juan Carlos, refused a Saudi offer to move to a palace in the kingdom after abdicating the throne and going into exile after facing allegations of corruption.

Spanish media said Carlos moved to the Dominican Republic in an effort to save the royal family, issuing a letter addressed to his son, King Felipe VI, saying he was leaving “in the face of the public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating” and in the hope of allowing his son to carry out his functions as king with “tranquillity”.

The 82-year-old continued: “I desire to do the best for the Spanish people and their institutions, and you as a king. I inform you of my decision … to leave Spain at this time.”King Felipe thanked his father for his decision, noting the “historical significance of his father’s rule” for democracy in Spain.

Al Jazeera reported local media, including EL PAÍS newspaper, known to be close to the royal palace, as saying the former king had arrived in the Dominican Republic, where he will be staying in the house of one of his friends.

This comes as Spain’s Supreme Court said it aims to establish Juan Carlos’ connection with a contract issued by Saudi Arabia after his abdication.

Spanish firms won a €6.7 billion ($7.9 billion) deal to build a Makkah-Madinah rail link.

Spanish anti-corruption officials suspect that the former king kept some undeclared funds in Switzerland, and a Swiss investigation is underway.

READ: Petitions and memes target former king Juan Carlos after he leaves Spain

The king’s lawyer, Javier Sanchith Junko, said his client would “remain at the disposal of the prosecution office” despite his decision to leave the country.

Carlos has previously come under harsh criticism after circulating a photo of him in Abu Dhabi with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who has been accused of ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The former king’s relationship with Bahrain has also come under scrutiny, with claims he received a bribe from the King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa.

According to El Mundo, the king of Bahrain transferred approximately €1.7 million ($1.9 million) to Carlos’ Swiss account “as a gift”, in an attempt to polish the image of Bahrain, which is known for its violations of human rights.

The newspaper added that Juan Carlos travelled to Bahrain about six times since 2011 including at the height of the Arab Spring, when Bahrainis took to the streets seeking a change in government.

The Telegraph reported that in 2008, Juan Carlos established a mysterious Panama-based foundation called Lucum, whose Swiss account received an alleged donation of €65 million ($76 million) from the king of Saudi Arabia.

Two years later, the same account saw a payment of €1.7 million ($1.9 million), and it is alleged that it was the King of Bahrain who provided this money “in appreciation of the prestigious position of King Juan Carlos I in the Arabian Peninsula.”Juan Carlos took the throne in 1975, after the death of General Francisco Franco, but his popularity decreased as a result of a number of scandals, which forced him to abdicate.