Qatari authorities say the country’s former ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has been flown to Switzerland over the weekend for surgery after breaking a leg.
The Qatar Government Communications Office said early Tuesday that Sheihk Hamad suffered “a broken leg while on holiday” and was flown to Zurich on Saturday to receive treatment. The statement came in response to a query from The Associated Press.
The office says the 63-year-old sheikh underwent a successful surgery and was in Zurich “recovering and undergoing physiotherapy.”
The government declined to say how or where Sheikh Hamad broke his leg.
Sheikh Hamad is believed to have been in poor health for years. He ruled the oil-and-gas-rich Qatar from 1995 until handing over power to his son, Sheikh Tamim, in 2013.
Earlier, a fleet of jets — part of the Qatari royal fleet– including an Airbus, made emergency landings at Zurich-Kloten airport overnight from 25 to 26 December.
“The emergency landing clearance was given by the Swiss air force,” a spokesman for Switzerland’s federal office of civil aviation told AFP, explaining that the civil aviation office was closed during the hours in question.
Qatari authorities later said that the country’s former ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, had been flown to Switzerland over the weekend for surgery after breaking a leg.
According to Zurich’s Tages Anzeiger newspaper, the first Qatari plane, an Airbus, landed in Zurich from Marrakesh shortly after midnight on 26 December.
A second flight landed at Zurich-Kloten at 5 am (0400 GMT) on 26 December, with a third plane coming 15 minutes later, both having originated in Doha, the paper reported.
According to Tages Anzeiger, the medical emergency in question was so significant that six more planes linked to the Qatari royal family and government landed in Zurich at night through the weekend.
Night landings and take-offs are typically forbidden at Zurich-Kloten to avoid disturbing local residents.