Spain’s exiled former king makes third visit home

Spain’s scandal-tinted former king Juan Carlos arrived in Spain on Wednesday for his third visit home since moving to Abu Dhabi in 2020 amid fraud investigations.

The 85-year-old slowly descended the stairs of the private jet which took him to the northwestern city of Vigo, holding on to the railing with both hands, images broadcast on Spanish television showed.

Wearing a navy blue jacket, he then headed by car to the seaside town of Sanxenxo where he also stayed during his two previous visits.

Spanish media reports said the former head of state, who served as monarch between 1975 and 2014, would attend a regatta in which his yacht, “El Bribon” — Spanish for “The Rascal” — is competing.

The visit comes days after Spain held an inconclusive snap election that could result in a repeat election in the coming months.

Juan Carlos was for decades revered for his role in steering Spain to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

But damaging revelations about his opulent lifestyle and murky fortune forced him to abdicate in 2014 in favour of his son, Felipe.

He fled to the United Arab Emirates in August 2020 as investigators pursued three probes into his finances.

He returned for a first visit in May 2022 just after prosecutors shelved their investigations due to lack of evidence, the statute of limitations and his immunity while head of state but acknowledged “fiscal irregularities” in his affairs.

The visit irritated Spain’s left-wing government with some demanding he be held accountable for the scandals.

“Explanations for what?” he snapped a TV journalist who asked him about it.

His second visit in April this year was much more discreet, with Juan Carlos limiting himself to waving from a car without even opening the window. — Agence France-Presse

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