Spanish king presides over final military ceremony

June 09, 2014 - 1:24:53 am

MADRID: Spain’s Juan Carlos, who announced plans to abdicate last week, presided yesterday over his last military ceremony as king before he cedes the throne to his more popular son Prince Felipe.

Hundreds of onlookers applauded and chanted “Long live the king!” as the 76-year-old monarch, dressed in a brown military uniform, reviewed troops at the  annual armed forces day ceremony in central Madrid.

The king, who walks with a cane after multiple hip operations, was flanked by his wife Queen Sofia, and Felipe, who wore a white navy uniform, and his wife Princess Letizia, a former TV news reader.

Felipe, 46, ascends to the throne amid smouldering republican sentiment in a nation with a towering 26-percent jobless rate which has fuelled growing discontent with the political elite.

Within hours of the king’s announcement on June 2 that he was abdicating in favour of his son, thousands of people massed in central Madrid and other cities to demand a referendum on the monarchy.

Thousands took to the streets again on Saturday, calling for a popular vote on whether it should be abolished. Many waved the red, yellow and purple Spanish republican flag and brandished placards reading: “No more kings, a referendum”.

Spanish police detain ETA fugitive at Madrid airport

MADRID: Spanish police yesterday arrested a member of the armed Basque separatist group ETA suspected of belonging to a unit that killed several police officers in the 1980s, the interior ministry said.

Police detained Maria Jesus Elorza Zubizarreta, 66, at Madrid’s Adolfo-Suarez Barajas airport under a European arrest warrant issued by France in 2006, the ministry said in a statement.

Zubizarreta, also known by her alias “Karakate”, was a member of ETA’s Donosti unit “which was responsible for the murder of several police officers in the 1980s” in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, it added. She fled to France in the 1980s, allegedly joining ETA’s underground structures there.

“In the mid-1990s she participated in making homemade explosives for terrorist organisation under the orders of the head of its logistical apparatus, Julian Achurra Egurrola, alias ‘Pototo’,” the statement said.