Madrid asks Bern for legal aid about fugitive ex-king

Graffiti of Juan Carlos in Valencia on Wednesday Keystone

Spain has asked Switzerland for legal assistance in connection with scandal-plagued former king, Juan Carlos, who has fled the country and gone into hiding amid corruption allegations.

This content was published on August 5, 2020 - 18:24

The justice ministry received a request for legal assistance in February, a spokeswoman for the ministry told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Wednesday. She said the request had been delegated to the Geneva prosecutor’s office for execution.

The Geneva prosecutor’s office has not commented on the case and the justice ministry spokeswoman did not provide any further details.

The foreign ministry told Keystone-SDA that the Swiss authorities were cooperating with Spain in the Juan Carlos case. It said the former king’s assets had not been not frozen in connection with the request for legal assistance since the conditions for this had not been met.

Tarnished image

The Spanish royal family unexpectedly announced on Monday that 82-year-old Juan Carlos had left Madrid and was going into exile. His whereabouts remain a mystery. The foreign ministry said it had no information on whether he was in Switzerland.

The palace statement quoted Juan Carlos’s letter to his son, King Felipe, as saying that he wanted to enable Felipe to rule untroubled “amid the public repercussions that certain past events in my private life are generating”.

In June the Spanish Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’s involvement in a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia, after Swiss newspaper La Tribune de Genève reported he had received $100 million (CHF90 million) from the late Saudi King.

Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco and was widely respected for his role in helping guide Spain from dictatorship to democracy. But recent scandals have tarnished his image, prompting him to abdicate in 2014 and now to leave the country.

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