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Spanish town of Berga declares hunting King 'persona non grata'

Berga, a town in Spain's northeastern Catalonian region, has declared the Spanish king an unwelcome person over his recent elephant hunting trip in Botswana during a severe financial crisis.

spain King Juan Carlos 2012 4 16 Enlarge
Spanish King Juan Carlos I pictured at La Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on March 18, 2011. (DANI POZO/AFP/Getty Images)

Berga, a town in Spain's northeastern Catalonian region, has declared the Spanish king an unwelcome person over his recent elephant hunting trip in Botswana during a severe financial crisis.

Berga, population 17,160, situated 67 miles north of Barcelona, approved a symbolic motion proposed by the pro-Catalan independence Popular Unity Candidature party declaring King Juan Carlos I ''persona non grata,'' the Associated Press reported.

The 74-year-old monarch had apologized to the Spanish people for going on the secret trip to Africa while nearly one in four Spaniards are unemployed and the economy enters its second recession in three years.

Juan Carlos ended up being airlifted home with a broken hip from the trip, the result of a fall, and underwent hip replacement surgery at a Madrid hospital.

"I'm very sorry, I made a mistake. It won't happen again," King Juan Carlos said as he left the hospital in Madrid in mid-April, the BBC reported.

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According to the AP, the Popular Unity Candidature had said the king's "personal behavior has been marked by all kinds of scandals" which, it added, "reach a climax with the Bostwana affair in April."

The royal family has also been under intense media scrutiny recently, the AP wrote: The king's son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, had been accused of having used his position to embezzle several million euros in public contracts through a supposedly not-for-profit foundation.

And Felipe Juan Froilan — the king's 13-year-old grandson — shot himself in the foot with a shotgun over Easter. Spanish law requires an person handling a gun to be aged 14 or over.

According to NPR, Spain's monarchy is mostly symbolic and usually well-respected.

Juan Carlos, hand-picked by Gen. Francisco Franco to lead Spain before the dictator died in 1975, is credited with easing the country's transition to democracy.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/120506/spanish-town-berga-catalonia-declares-hunting-king-persona-non-grata