Town declares hunting king 'persona non grata'

MADRID: A north-eastern 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 a severe financial crisis.

The town council of Berga, population 17,160, in Catalonia, approved a symbolic motion proposed by the pro-Catalan independence Popular Unity Candidature party declaring King Juan Carlos ''persona non grata''.

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Spanish King's costly hunting trip

Spain's King Juan Carlos could lose his position in the World Wildlife Fund after complaints about a costly elephant hunting trip to Botswana.

The king has faced condemnation after breaking a hip while on a lavish safari in southern Africa at a time when nearly one in four Spaniards are unemployed and the economy enters its second recession in three years.

The accident happened in the early hours of April 13 while the king was on the fourth day of an elephant hunt in Botswana's northern Okavango region, and he was immediately flown home by private jet for emergency hip replacement surgery.

Although the king apologised for having gone on the hunt while everyday people endured a severe economic crisis, this act of royal contrition was not enough for Berga's councillors. Berga is 108 kilometres north of Catalonia's capital, Barcelona.

The royal family has been under intense media scrutiny.

The king's son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, is a suspect in a corruption case, accused of using his position to embezzle several million euros in public contracts through a supposedly not-for-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 by law in Spain you must be 14 to handle a gun.

Associated Press