Juan Carlos without immunity: Spain’s ex-king has new judicial trouble

Juan Carlos without immunity
Spain’s ex-king has new judicial trouble

His former lover is suing Spain’s former king Juan Carlos for harassment, among other things. On the other hand, he wants to defend himself because of his immunity as a member of the royal family, but fails in court. This could reveal many embarrassing details about him.

All criminal investigations against former king Juan Carlos in Spain have only just been dropped, and he and the Spanish royal family are threatened with new trouble with the judiciary. The 84-year-old, who lives in exile in Abu Dhabi, will have to deal with a lawsuit for damages from his former close friend Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn.

Because the Supreme Court of England in London, where the lawsuit is pending, announced that the former Spanish head of state cannot invoke immunity. “Whatever the status of the accused under Spanish law and the Constitution, he is no longer a ‘sovereign’ or ‘head of state’,” London’s High Court said in its decision. Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn’s attorney, Robin Rathmell, said the court’s decision against the immunity claim “shows that this defendant cannot hide behind any position, power or privilege to prevent this trial.”

Allegations of harassment, trespassing

Many embarrassing details about Juan Carlos’ behavior could come to light when the courts decide what the allegations are and give critics of the Spanish monarchy a boost. Juan Carlos, who was Spain’s head of state from 1975 until his abdication in 2014, had the allegations made in the lawsuit “strongly” rejected. It is not yet clear whether he will have to appear in court himself. But it could still be a long time before an oral hearing, it said.

According to court documents, the then-king and the plaintiff had an “intimate love affair” between 2004 and 2009. Juan Carlos showered Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn with gifts such as artwork, jewelry and money even after they broke up. When Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn refused to rekindle the relationship, he had displayed a “pattern of behavior” that “equated to harassment”.

The plaintiff, formerly Corinna Larsen, said she had been threatened, her property had been broken into, and Juan Carlos had “requested the return of gifts.” Further “covert and open surveillance measures” as well as “trespassing and criminal damage” of their property in England would have put them in “fear and terror”.

Shots were fired and security cameras at the front gate of their property were damaged. In the summer of 2017, a hole was drilled in her bedroom window while she slept at her home in Shropshire, north-west England, according to the daughter of a Danish father and a German mother.

Juan Carlos lives in Abu Dhabi

Juan Carlos, once valued and revered for his role in Spain’s transition from a fascist dictatorship to democracy, has been plagued by numerous scandals since his abdication. Among other things, it was about questionable gifts of money in the millions from Saudi Arabia and allegations of money laundering, in which his ex-lover is said to be involved. Both deny the allegations.

Juan Carlos went into exile in Abu Dhabi in August 2020 on suspicion of embezzlement. In early March, the Spanish judiciary dropped its investigation for lack of evidence, the statute of limitations and the sanctity enjoyed by Juan Carlos as head of state.

Although this clears the way for his return, the ex-monarch said he will continue to live in the UAE capital. Here he “found peace”, he wrote in a letter published by the royal family in Madrid to his son, King Felipe VI. At the same time, Juan Carlos announced that he would “of course return to Spain frequently”.