Will the English judge grant Juan Carlos I immunity from Corinna’s lawsuit?

  • The High Court of Justice of England and Wales will begin on Monday to hear the arguments of the parties

Next Monday, December 6, a two-day hearing opens in London, before the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, on a civil lawsuit filed by Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein against Juan Carlos I for harassment, illegal monitoring and defamation, as official sources of the court have confirmed to EL PERIÓDICO. A judge will hear, as a preliminary question, both the arguments of the defense of the king emeritus, the law firm Clifford Chance (according to which the English court lacks jurisdiction over the facts because Juan Carlos I enjoys sovereign immunity in his capacity as former head of State) and those of the prosecution (which questions the application of said doctrine).

“The hearing is scheduled for next week and will take place in person,” he wrote to this newspaper on Thursday morning, December 2, in an email. Rupkiran Bhamra, of the section of the court in which the civil claim has been filed.

The court proceeded with the civil lawsuit, filed at the end of 2020, last March, in the so-called Queen’s Bench Division, where the most complex civil and criminal cases are seen, with the number QB-200-004165. On Corinna zu Sayn Wittgenstein and Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón –As the case is labeled–, Corinna’s lawyers maintain, along 32 pages, that Juan Carlos I promoted alleged illegal actions against his client, from 2012 to the present.

Corinna, who attests with her signature that the facts described in the lawsuit are true, requests as a precautionary measure a restraining order for Juan Carlos I and his agents that “prevents them from communicating with her, following her, slandering her or approaching a distance of less than 150 meters.” It also requires a Compensation for damages, without quantifying, to cover the different costs caused by the harassment for his family and his work.

The lawsuit – which EL PERIÓDICO has officially had access to through a request before the High Court of Justice– is directed against Juan Carlos I. In the narration of the so-called ‘Particulars of claim’, the general Felix Sanz Roldan, director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI) at the time of the events, acts on the instructions of the then king of Spain and current king emeritus, according to the letter.

Judgment lost

It was precisely Sanz Roldán who, at his own request, informed the deputies members of the Commission on Official Secrets of Congress, on July 25, 2018, that he had traveled to London in May 2012 to meet with Corinna. A fact that he admitted again in the Spanish court on January 15, 2021, when the oral trial that he himself, through the State Attorney, against the former commissioner was held. Jose Manuel Villarejo for false accusations and slander, for pointing out the director of the CNI as the author of death threats against Corinna.

That trial was lost by Sanz Roldán and the CNI, represented by the State advocacy: Villarejo was acquitted. Corinna testified from London that, in effect, the director of the CNI threatened her physical integrity and that of her family members. This acquittal of Villarejo is a criminal piece that adds credibility to the accusations of the plaintiff, who claims to have been repeatedly intimidated by alleged CNI agents in London and Monaco, where he also has residence.

It is a fact that the meeting that Sanz Roldán had with Corinna on May 5, 2012 in his ‘suite’, number 518 in The Connaught Hotel, in the exclusive London borough of Mayfair, is not a cause for dispute or, as they say in English court jargon, is ‘common ground’. Its content is under discussion. Corinna maintains that Sanz Roldán threatened her and her family if she did not keep her mouth shut about her relationships with Juan Carlos I, and the general denies it, although he has not wanted to reveal why he visited her in London and what they talked about being, as he has argued, “reserved matter”.

Mission in London and Monaco

The proceedings, if this civil trial is carried out, would reveal the use of the CNI and the commissioning of a mission to General Sanz Roldán for his personal purposes in 2012 when he was king in office and the possible continuity of the operations of the CNI of harassment and monitoring, entrusted to Sanz Roldan, in London and Monaco, when Juan Carlos I he became king emeritus.

Corinna lists different proposals from Juan Carlos I to rebuild his relationship with her and marry, after donating to her 100 million dollars in June 2012 – an amount the monarch had received in 2008 from Rey Abdullah from Saudi Arabia to your account foundation of the grove, at the Mirabaud bank in Geneva – and her change of attitude, with a clearly aggressive behavior when she refused to restart that relationship, which she accompanied with the demand that she return the “money and other gifts”.

In the lawsuit, Corinna notes that Dante Canonica, a Swiss lawyer for Juan Carlos I who drew up the documents for the “irrevocable donation” of the aforementioned 100 million dollars, participated in turn in a meeting, held on September 16, 2014 in The Connaught Hotel, in London, in which Juan Carlos I demanded from his ex-lover the “return of the 100 million dollars or make them available for their use.”

An “irrevocable gift”

Canonica stated to its client, Juan Carlos I, according to the lawsuit, that he “had never told him that the donation was anything other than a irrevocable gift“and that he had” prepared the documents on that basis and that he had not authorized the transfer on another criterion in his role as administrator of the foundation of the grove. He said it was irrevocable and could not be used for the benefit of the now defendant & mldr; “.

Those 100 million dollars are investigated by the Swiss prosecutor Yves Bertossa, since August 2018, as an alleged money laundering aggravated by its possible link to the award of the Desert Bird, which joined the cities of Mecca and Medina to a Spanish-Saudi consortium (Al-Shoula) that lowered the price offered by 30%, thus beating the proposal of a rival French consortium, Alstom-SNCF. Corinna, precisely, has been charged in Switzerland since 2018 in this proceeding for alleged money laundering.

According to the lawsuit, Juan Carlos I, after failing once again his proposal to marry Corinna and live in a mansion in Madrid, a project of which the emeritus shows him the plans, begins to spread the “story” of the robbery among mutual friends. of the 100 million dollars which in turn had been gifted to him by King Abdullah.

The Dominican friend

It is the case of Pepe Fanjul, the magnate of the sugar empire erected in Cuba, and with residence in Miami, whose tourist complex Casa de Campo in Dominican Republic Juan Carlos I traveled in June 2014 after abdicating. According to the lawsuit, the king emeritus, on one of the trips on the Fanjul yacht to which he is invited, tells that Corinna is a thief, a story that also relates to the Mexican billionaire based in London, Allen Sanginés-Krause, who, according to the lawsuit, was introduced by Corinna to Juan Carlos I and from whom he would become her personal financial advisor.

Precisely, Sanginés-Krause turned funds around 800.000 euros to the front man of Juan Carlos I, the colonel of the air Nicolas Murga, transfers on which the Emeritus has submitted a regularization to the Tax Agency to avoid tax crime.

The lawyers James Lewis, Jonathan Caplan and Adam Chichester-Clark They filed the lawsuit on December 29, 2020, the processing of which began last March. Juan Carlos I, a resident of Abu Dhabi, hired the law firm Clifford Chance at the suggestion of his lawyer in Madrid, Javier Sánchez-Junco.

Outstanding issues

The judge in charge, before summoning the parties to agree on the course of the civil action (summons of witnesses and presentation of evidence documents), has to resolve a preliminary question: the lawyers of Juan Carlos I reject the English jurisdiction and They protect the fact that he has been head of state of Spain, which is why he enjoys it in his capacity as former head of state or king emeritus.

The argument of sovereign immunity has a negative precedent for Juan Carlos I in the judgment of the judicial committee of the House of Lords, in its capacity as supreme court, of 1999, which denied the immunity of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, arrested in London, who lost the legal battle in a criminal extradition trial.

The judge-lords ruled by majority that among the functions of a head of state – a condition that Pinochet acquired after the coup of September 11, 1973 – there is no crime of torture. And they refused to protect the former dictator from Spain’s extradition demand.

‘The king cannot commit a crime’

This doctrine is translated in the maxim, in Latin, ‘The king cannot sin’ or ‘the king cannot commit a crime’. Refusing the jurisdiction of the English courts implies obtaining the immunity from execution (‘immunity from enforcement’). The British newspaper ‘Daily Mail’ ironized on October 17, 2021 that Juan Carlos I’s lawyers had rejected the civil lawsuit with the following reason: “You cannot sue me, I have been King.”

Related news

James Lewis, one of Corinna’s three lawyers who signs the civil lawsuit, participated in 1998 and 1999 in the team of lawyers that defended in favor of the English Crown Prosecutor’s Office – which represented Spain in the legal battle for the extradition of Pinochet– the lack of protection for the former dictator of the doctrine of the sovereign immunity.

In this civil procedure, Juan Carlos I is a direct party because the lawsuit is directed against him, unlike the investigations into his activities in Spain and Switzerland, where, until now, he has never been charged. The judge in charge of hearing the arguments on sovereign immunity will issue a resolution that may be appealed.


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