Spanish court dismisses paternity suit against ex-king

11th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Spanish judges Wednesday dismissed a paternity suit against former king Juan Carlos by a Belgian woman claiming to be his daughter, sparing the scandal-hit monarchy fresh embarrassment for now.

Ingrid Sartiau, a housewife, claimed that Juan Carlos fathered her in the mid-1960s, in the first lawsuit against the 77-year-old since he lost his total immunity when he abdicated last June.

The court in January agreed to examine Sartiau's claim but Juan Carlos's lawyers appealed for the case to be dropped and the Supreme Court said in a statement that it had upheld that demand.

Sartiau had also demanded that Juan Carlos undergo a DNA test, but the court turned down that request, it said.

Juan Carlos took the throne in 1975 after the death of dictator Francisco Franco and reigned for 39 years.

He married Queen Sofia in 1962 and they had two daughters and a son, the current King Felipe VI.

The court said seven out the 10 judges consulted voted in favour of shelving Sartiau's case, but gave no details of the legal grounds for dismissing it.

State prosecutors had argued that there was not enough evidence to justify a court investigation.

The only tribunal that could theoretically hear a fresh appeal against Wednesday's ruling is the Constitutional Court.

- Elephants, lawsuits -

Juan Carlos handed the crown last year to Felipe, 47, hoping to freshen the royal image after his last years on the throne saw the monarchy plunged into scandal.

His youngest daughter Cristina, 49, has been ordered to stand trial in a fraud investigation focussing on her husband's business affairs, fanning public outrage against the monarchy and the ruling class during the country's recent economic hardship.

Juan Carlos also sparked outrage in 2012 for going on an elephant-hunting trip to Botswana at the height of the economic crisis. He apologised to the nation afterwards.

The trip threw the spotlight on the royal family's luxury lifestyle and on Juan Carlos's friendship with Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a German aristocrat 28 years his junior, who reportedly accompanied him to Botswana.

He was a keen sportsman but has appeared frail in recent years after a series of hip replacements and other operations.

Juan Carlos lost his immunity from court proceedings after he gave up the throne, dogged by the scandals and health problems.

Parliament then rushed through a law giving him similar protection to that enjoyed by many high-ranking civil servants and politicians, giving the Supreme Court sole authority to hear cases against him.

The court in January dismissed another suit brought by Alberto Sola Jimenez, a Spanish waiter in his late 50s claiming to be Juan Carlos's son.

Sola, an adopted child, has claimed for years that his birth mother had an affair with Juan Carlos.

Sartiau has said she began to investigate after her mother one day saw the king on television and told her: "This man is your father."

The royal palace declines to comment on the paternity cases.


© 2015 AFP

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