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Former Spanish king Juan Carlos who fled corruption allegations ‘staying in luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi’

Juan Carlos flew by private jet then helicopter before holing up in expensive Gulf hideaway

Tim Wyatt
Friday 07 August 2020 21:24 BST
Juan Carlos is reportedly staying at the ultra-luxury five-star Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi
Juan Carlos is reportedly staying at the ultra-luxury five-star Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi (Chris Down)

The former king of Spain Juan Carlos is reportedly staying in a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi since he went into self-imposed exile on Monday.

According to reports in the Spanish newspaper ABC, Juan Carlos flew on a private jet from the northwestern city of Vigo with four bodyguards to the Gulf emirate, where he was then helicoptered to the state-owned Emirates Palace Hotel.

No official confirmation of the former monarch’s location has been released, amid speculation the 82-year-old had fled to Portugal or the Dominican Republic.

Officials in the United Arab Emirates and the Emirates Palace Hotel did not reply to requests for comment when contacted by the Reuters news agency.

Juan Carlos announced he would leave Spain on Monday in a letter to his son and current king, Felipe VI.

The former monarch said he had decided to move because of the “public repercussions of certain episodes of my past private life”.

“Guided by my desire to do what is best to serve the Spanish people, its institutions and you as king, I am informing you of my ... decision to leave Spain at this time,” Juan Carlos said. He wrote that his “legacy and my own dignity demand that it should be so” and said he did not want to make his son’s role difficult.

Juan Carlos is being investigated by authorities in Spain and Switzerland over claims he was given millions of euros by Saudi Arabia’s late king Abdullah in alleged bribes for a high-speed rail contract.

He is alleged to have transferred a large amount of the money to a former mistress in what investigators are considering as a possible attempt to hide the payments from authorities.

The once-popular king abdicated the throne in 2014 after his reputation had been battered by a string of scandals, including being photographed hunting elephants in Botswana during Spain’s worst recession in 50 years and seeing his son-in-law charged (and eventually convicted) of embezzling public funds through his charitable foundation.

The exile of the once-popular but now scandal-tarnished King Emeritus, as he is known following his abdication, stunned Spaniards and left them divided over whether the 82-year-old should have stayed to face justice.

Lawyers for Juan Carlos, who is not formally under investigation, have said he remained happy to cooperate with prosecutors in the future, and Abu Dhabi also has an extradition treaty with Spain should he eventually be charged.

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