News March, 29th 2010 by

Insurance fraudster released from prison in Malaga Easter tradition

The El Rico brotherhood of Malaga has released convicted fraudster Juan Pascual from a three and a half year sentence.

Pascual has been serving his three-and-a-half year sentence only since December. He was convicted for defrauding clients of his insurance business out of four million pesetas between 1993 and 1995.

In a tradition dating back to Carlos III in 1759, the El Rico brotherhood in Málaga has pardoned one prisoner being held in the Málaga jail each Easter. The tradition supposedly began during a cholera outbreak in 1765. Due to fear of infection, no men in the town were allowed to carry the statue of Christ during the Holy Week procession. Hearing of this, a group of male prisoners in the county jail escaped in order to carry the statue. All of them returned to jail voluntarily after the procession. The legend goes on to say that the epidemic subsided once they returned to jail. As a result, King Carlos III ordered a prisoner to be released every Holy Wednesday from then on.

And so each year one pardoned prisoner leads the El Rico procession on the Wednesday of Holy Week, covered in a black hood.

This year’s pardoned prisoner, Juan Pascual, was presented to the press wearing a hood by the director of the jail at Alhaurín de la Torre, Antonio Guerrero, who said, ‘Tradition is tradition, and that is why we are here’.

Pascual told the press that that the pardon offered him ‘a new life’, and that he would finally be able to relax after two decades trying to evade justice. However, he also admitted that some of his family did not view his pardon well. He explained that some members of his family did not like the public ceremony that goes with the tradition.

Pascual said he had made some good friends while in jail, both among fellow inmates and prison officers, and that now he knew ‘what prison is about’.

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