MADRID: Spain’s former king Juan Carlos, at the centre of an alleged $100-million corruption scandal, has reportedly fled to Portugal after a shock announcement he was going into exile. The 82-year-old revealed on Monday that he had decided to leave Spain to help his son, the current King Felipe VI, “exercise his responsibilities”.

The letter, published by the royal palace, did not mention where he would go, nor when exactly he would leave.

Spanish media went into overdrive on Tuesday about where Juan Carlos had fled as the palace refused to reveal further information.

Online newspaper El Confidencial said the former head of state was in Portugal, where he spent part of his youth, at the town of Azeitao, 30 kilometres south of the capital Lisbon. He was “staying with the Brito e Cunha-Espirito Santo family that he has maintained friendly relations with” since his own family’s exile during the Franco dictatorship.

“Until further notice, this will be his residence after he ruled out other more distant destinations such as the Dominican Republic or New Zealand,” said El Confidencial.

Daily newspaper ABC had earlier reported that Juan Carlos left Spain on Sunday and flew to the Dominican Republic via Portugal. Dominican television station Canal de Noticias even said the country was “carrying out preparations for his arrival”. However the Republic soon denied that the ex-king had entered the country.

The foreign ministry said it had “no information” about Juan Carlos eventually spending time there.

Im Madrid, a royal palace spokesman refused to reveal his whereabouts saying: “The only information we have is the information which was published on the website of the royal palace yesterday.” Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he did not know where Juan Carlos had gone but suggested King Felipe had pressured his father to go abroad.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2020

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