Spain puzzles over former king’s whereabouts

There is intense speculation in the Spanish media about the whereabouts of embattled ex-King Juan Carlos, after his shock announcement on Monday that he was leaving the country.

The 82-year-old, who is targeted by a corruption probe, announced the move in a letter posted on the royal website.

It gave no details about his destination, but some reports suggest he has gone to the Dominican Republic.

Juan Carlos said he would be available if prosecutors needed to speak to him.

In June, Spain’s Supreme Court opened an investigation into his alleged involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia.

BBC Europe correspondent Nick Beake says it is a humiliating exit for a king who had once seemed set to go down in history as the leader who skilfully guided Spain to democracy after the death of General Franco in 1975.

In 2014, Juan Carlos abdicated and handed over to his son Felipe.

What do Spanish media say?

Newspapers give various accounts about the former king’s travels.

La Vanguardia says he went to Portugal early on Monday, and was planning to fly to the Dominican Republic to stay with friends.

ABC, another daily, said he was already in the Dominican Republic. But El Confidencial said he could be in Portugal, France or Italy.

El Pais meanwhile has so far refrained from speculating about Juan Carlos’s whereabouts.

In Portugal, media said he was in the resort towns of Estoril or Cascais.

There are no reports from the Dominican Republic that he is in the Caribbean country.

What did the letter say?

In the letter, the former monarch wrote that 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 statement from the Zarzuela palace said that King Felipe VI had conveyed “his heartfelt respect and gratitude” to his father for this decision.

In March, King Felipe VI renounced the inheritance of his father.

The royal palace also said at the time that Juan Carlos would stop receiving an annual grant of €194,000 ($228,000; £174,520).

What is the corruption investigation about?

Spain’s Supreme Court has said it aims to establish Juan Carlos’s connection with the Saudi Arabia contract after his abdication.

Spanish firms won a €6.7bn (£6bn) deal to build a Mecca-Medina rail link.

The probe involves Swiss banks too.

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

The Spanish government has said that “justice is equal for all” and it would “not interfere” in the inquiry.

King Juan Carlos

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