MADRID (Reuters) – Catalonia’s separatist leader said on Friday that the abrupt departure abroad by Spain’s former king Juan Carlos, whose whereabouts have yet to be officially confirmed, was a farce.
The royal palace said four days ago that the former monarch had decided to leave the country amid a cloud of scandals.
This has left the door open to an international guessing game about where the 82-year-old could be, with Spanish media placing him in Portugal, the Dominican Republic and Abu Dhabi.
“Neither Spaniards nor Catalans deserve such a loud and ridiculous scandal on an international scale,” Catalonia’s leader, Quim Torra, told the regional parliament in a special session that he called to discuss the monarchy.
The northeastern Spanish region’s separatist leaders want to build a Catalan republic that would break away from Spain, and the latest scandal is an opportunity for them to push their anti-monarchy agenda. Catalans are split over independence.
“We Catalans do not have a king and we do not want one,” Torra said. “What authority will we have to enforce the rules against corruption if we accept a royal family that escapes when they are investigated after taking millions and millions of euros in terrible business commissions?”
In a letter published on Monday by the royal palace, Juan Carlos said he was leaving the country so that his son King Felipe’s reign would not be troubled by his woes.
While not formally under investigation, Juan Carlos is at the heart of two probes in Spain and Switzerland over suspicions surrounding a multi-billion high-speed Saudi train contract won by Spanish firms.
Spain’s supreme court prosecutor opened a preliminary probe in June to decide whether to extend a corruption investigation into the train contract to the former monarch.
Via his lawyer, Juan Carlos has repeatedly denied to comment on the allegations.
(Reporting by Nathan Allen; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Nick Macfie)