Mon, May 07, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Spanish king ‘not welcome’ in town

AP, MADRID

A northeastern town has declared the king of Spain an unwelcome person, dealing another blow to the 74-year-old monarch who has faced scalding criticism for going on an elephant hunting trip during the country’s financial crisis.

The town council of Berga — population 17,160 — in the Catalonia region, approved a symbolic motion proposed by the pro-Catalonian-independence party Popular Unity Candidature that declared King Juan Carlos I persona non grata, not welcome.

The censure was published on the town’s Web site on Saturday after having been approved in a vote by the council chamber.

Spain’s king has faced public condemnation after breaking a hip while on a lavish safari in southern Africa, at a time when nearly one in four Spaniards were unemployed and the economy entered its second recession in three years.

The accident happened in the early hours of April 13 while the king was on an elephant hunt in Botswana’s Okavango region.

In a separate statement, the party published its proposal which said the king’s “personal behavior has been marked by all kinds of scandals” which, it added, “reach a climax with the Botswana affair in April.” Although the king apologized for the ill-timed elephant hunt, it was clear this was not enough for Berga’s councilors.

The royal family has been under intense media scrutiny lately.

The king’s son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, is a suspect in a corruption case, accused of having used his position to embezzle several million euros in public contracts through a supposedly non-profit foundation he set up.

Then, over Easter, the king’s 13-year-old grandson Felipe Juan Froilan shot himself in the foot with a shotgun, even though Spanish law sets a minimum age of 14 to handle a gun.

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