Archive image of one of the prisoners released on the afternoon of Holy Wednesday. SUR
Malaga prisoner to be pardoned and released from jail early during Holy Week tradition
Semana Santa 2024

Malaga prisoner to be pardoned and released from jail early during Holy Week tradition

The forty-eight-year-old city man will escape the 18 months left on his court sentence as part of a solemn act that dates back to the 18th century

Antonio M. Romero


Wednesday, 20 March 2024, 17:36


A man from Malaga city who had a year and a half left to serve on his jail sentence will be the prisoner who this year will be released by Nuestro Padre Jesús El Rico brotherhood. It is a solemn act that takes place on Holy Wednesday on the steps of the atrium of Malaga Cathedral in fulfilment of a deep-rooted Holy Week tradition dating back to the 18th century.

The pardon of José Manuel, 48, known as Jesús El Rico, was approved this Tuesday at the weekly meeting of the government's cabinet meeting, at the request of the minister of the Presidency, Justice and Relations with the Courts, Félix Bolaños. José Manuel was sentenced to three years in prison by Malaga's provincial court in a ruling on 28 March 2023 as the perpetrator of a crime against public health. The pardoned prisoner has served a year and seven months in Archidona prison.

Re-education and social reintegration of convicted persons

The Spanish government representative in Malaga, Javier Salas, recalled the executive's commitment to maintaining this tradition of the El Rico brotherhood of releasing a convict, something that "reminds of the objective of our Criminal Law for the re-education and social reintegration of convicted persons".

Javier Salas met last week with the elder brother of the El Rico brotherhood, Ramón Varea, and the second deputy elder brother, Juan Ramírez, to analyse the final details prior to the approval of the pardon; for which the reports of the sentencing court and the Public Prosecutor's Office are taken into account, as well as the circumstances of the convicted person.

Salas highlighted "the work carried out both by the brotherhood and the general secretariat of Penitentiary Institutions and the ministry of the Presidency, Justice and Relations with the courts to make this event possible, as well as the collaboration of the National Police to participate in the processional parade".

Jesús El Rico will regain his freedom in an act before the images of Jesús El Rico and the Virgen del Amor at the doors of the cathedral.

A tradition dating back to the 18th century

The tradition of freeing a prisoner in Malaga is based on a royal pragmatic decree of Charles III, issued after a plague epidemic that had a serious impact on the population of Malaga and led to the suspension of the Holy Week processions in 1759.

The inmates of Malaga prison asked the warden to take out the image of El Rico, to which they claimed to be devoted, but when their request was denied, they mutinied, escaped from the prison and carried the Christ on their shoulders through the streets of the city in the longest procession in Malaga's Holy Week in living memory, later returning to the prison.

Shortly afterwards, the epidemic subsided. In gratitude for this gesture of devotion, the king granted the brotherhood the royal privilege of pardoning a prisoner every year.

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