Spain's former king Juan Carlos to stay in UAE: royal family

Mr Juan Carlos went into self-imposed exile in the UAE in 2020 for possible illegal commissions linked to a high-speed rail project in Saudi Arabia. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's former king Juan Carlos said he will stay in Abu Dhabi despite the closure of investigations into his financial dealings that led to his self-imposed exile in the UAE, the Spanish royal family announced on Monday (March 7).

"For now, I prefer for personal reasons which concern nobody but myself, to continue residing in a permanent and stable manner in Abu Dhabi," Juan Carlos wrote to his son, Spain's reigning monarch Felipe VI, in a letter published by the royal family.

"It seems timely to me to consider my return to Spain, but not immediately," Juan Carlos added, five days after Spain's public prosecutor published its decision to drop all three investigations against him.

Juan Carlos went into self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates in 2020 amid the probes, which included allegations of possible illegal commissions linked to a high-speed rail project in Saudi Arabia that was awarded to a Spanish consortium in 2011.

While he was never charged with any crime, the probes tainted his reputation and that of the Spanish monarchy.

Felipe has taken steps to distance himself from his father, who abdicated from the Spanish throne in 2014.

In Abu Dhabi, Juan Carlos said he "found peace, in particular for this period of my life even though, naturally, I will frequently come back to Spain".

Juan Carlos was previously celebrated as a key figure in Spain's transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

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