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Ex-king Juan Carlos leaves Spain amid financial scandal

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has gone to the Dominican Republic after leaving his home country under a cloud of scandal, Spanish newspapers said on Tuesday.

The royal palace announced on Monday that Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 over a previous scandal, was leaving so that his personal affairs would not affect his son Felipe’s reign. The palace did not say where the 82-year-old had gone.

Pressure had been building on Juan Carlos and King Felipe to take action to protect the monarchy, after Spanish and Swiss prosecutors started examining allegations of bribes relating to a high-speed rail contract.

But his surprise exit left Spaniards divided over whether Juan Carlos, who was a prominent figure in the transition to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, should have stayed to face justice. “I think he’s running away like a coward. He should admit what he has done and be up front,” said Madrid resident Paz Rodriguez.

Retiree Manuela Fernandez was more understanding. “I don’t think it’s wrong for him to leave,” she said. “However, if he’s leaving because he is running away from the issue I don’t like it.”

Juan Carlos’s lawyer said on Monday the ex-king would “remain at the disposal” of prosecutors. Neither the lawyer nor the Royal House have commented on whether Juan Carlos has left Spain or where he is. Via his lawyer, the ex-king has repeatedly declined to comment on the corruption allegations.

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Ex-king of Spain, Juan Carlos, center. (Credit...Andrea Comas/Associated Press)

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