Regional High Court removes judge who sent ex-banker Blesa to prison twice

Magistrate Silva ignored recusal request filed by lawyers for ex-Caja Madrid chairman

Judge Elpidio José Silva.
Judge Elpidio José Silva.Kiko Huesca (EFE)

The Madrid High Court on Wednesday removed the judge investigating two criminal cases filed against former Caja Madrid Chairman Miguel Blesa after defense lawyers filed petitions for his recusal.

Madrid Judge Elpidio José Silva had sent Blesa to jail on two occasions, prompting lawyers to accuse the magistrate of acting unfairly against their client.

In its ruling, the regional High Court said Silva acted “wrongfully” for only dealing with just one petition for the recusal when Blesa’s defense had filed two.

Silva was investigating a 26.6-million-euro loan Caja Madrid gave to Gerardo Díaz Ferrán, the now-jailed former head of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), Spain’s largest employers group, who faces fraud charges and tax violations related to the bankruptcy of his Viajes Marsans travel agency.

From that investigation, Silva opened another inquiry into Blesa’s purchase of City National Bank of Florida (CNB), a case that prosecutors rejected because the Madrid regional High Court had dismissed it in 2010.

Blesa was released from preventive custody at Soto del Real prison on June 20, when prosecutors announced they would not side with the judge in the CNB  inquiry, forcing Silva to sign his release orders. The former banker had been at Soto del Real since June 5.

On May 17, Silva had ordered Blesa held in connection to the Díaz Ferrán loan but he was released the following day after posting bail of 2.5 million euros.

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