Socialists, conservatives and far right prevent investigation on former king

Catalan left-wing and pro-independence groups willing to look into commissions allegedly received by Juan Carlos from Saudi Arabia

King Juan Carlos signing his abdication (by Casa Real / La Zarzuela)
King Juan Carlos signing his abdication (by Casa Real / La Zarzuela) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 16, 2020 02:06 PM

The Socialist party, the People's Party and far-right Vox have prevented a parliamentary investigation committee on the former Spanish king, Juan Carlos.

The three groups voted against two proposals to look into the alleged commissions received by the former monarch from Saudi Arabia on in the congress bureau meeting on Tuesday.

The main Catalan pro-independence parties, ERC, Junts per Catalunya and CUP, were some of the groups that joined the proposals, as well as En Comú Podem, the Catalan allies of left-wing Unidas Podemos.

Can former King Juan Carlos be judged?

The Socialists, the conservatives and the far right argued that the chamber's lawyers had sided against such committee on the grounds that the Constitution grants "immunity" to a monarch.

Yet, this is highly controversial.

According to the Carta Magna, a king cannot be judged by any means, but Juan Carlos abdicated the throne in June 2014 in favor of his son, Felipe, the current king. The investigation committee aimed to look into Juan Carlos' activities after June 2014.

Since the abdication, some legal doubts have arisen on whether Juan Carlos can face a trial – last week, it was announced that Spain’s Supreme Court prosecutor would investigate the former monarch, thus considering him eligible to be judged with immunity similar to high-ranking politicians, meaning he can only be judged by the Supreme Court.

Commissions from Saudi Arabia

Juan Carlos allegedly received commissions from Saudi Arabian government in exchange for interceding so that a Spanish consortium win a contract to build a high-speed train link to the city of Mecca.

Yet, the project to link Medina and Mecca was allocated to a consortium of Spanish firms between 2011 and 2012, before Juan Carlos’ abdication.

The Swiss newspaper ‘Tribune de Genève’ published in March that he received 100 million dollars from Saudi Arabia in 2008, revealing that the Swiss judiciary was investigating him after some leaked conversations between Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, an alleged former lover of Juan Carlos, and a former police official, José Manuel Villarejo.

Also in March, it was reported that lawyers in the United Kingdom representing zu Sayn-Wittgenstein were preparing to launch a suit against Juan Carlos, accusing him of making threats against her.

In May, Spanish daily ‘El País’ claimed that the former king of Spain, Juan Carlos, was given 1.7 million euros in cash by Bahrain's sultan, Hamad bin Isa al Jalifa, in 2010.

The funds allegedly given to Juan Carlos possibly ended up in some foundations. Switzerland is investigating the movements of the Panamanian foundation Lucum and its bank account in Mirabaud bank, of which Juan Carlos was its first beneficiary and the current king, Felipe, its second beneficiary.

When these came to light, Felipe rejected his father’s inheritance and removed him from royal family payroll, something announced as the state of alarm came into force, on March 15, 2020.