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Judge sells suppers and shirts for campaign cash

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Judge sells suppers and shirts for campaign cash
Judge Elpidio José Silva is currently suspended after sending a friend of the former Spanish PM to jail. Photo: Wikimedia
13:11 CEST+02:00
A controversial Spanish anti-corruption judge who is standing as a candidate in May's European elections is selling everything from autographs to coffee-side chats in a bid to raise cash for his campaign.

Judge Elpidio José Silva has launched a 'crowdfunding' campaign with the goal of raising €250,000 ($346,000) to cover the costs of standing for election to the European Parliament in May.

It began just before midnight on Monday with the presentation of over 25,000 signatures from Silva's supporters, according to Spanish daily El Mundo.

He is campaigning on an anti-corruption platform, known as RED (Democratic Citizen Renovation), and plans to employ a wide range of unusual fundraising strategies to avoid taking "contaminated" money from banks.

These include the sale of T-shirts for €15, autographs for €20 and a place backstage on the campaign trail including the chance to chat to Silva for €25.

Groups who wish to spend more quality time with the judge — who is also a publish poet — can reserve a work meeting with him in Brussels, in the case of his election, for €500, while individuals can donate €300 and enjoy his company over coffee or dinner.

The chance to have an off-the-record chat with Silva could well prove to be tempting to those who wish to peer inside Spain's often-murky political machinery.

As the first judge to imprison a banker during the economic crisis he has first-hand knowledge of the corruption cases that have rocked the nation in recent years.

In May last year, Silva sent the former president of Caja Madrid, Miguel Blesa, to jail during an investigation into multiple cases, including a preferential €26.6 million loan to Gerado Díaz Ferrán, who was President of the Spanish Businessmen’s Confederation (CEOE) at the time.

Ferrán was already in prison for corporate crime by the time the Blesa case came to trial.

Caja Madrid had close ties to Spain's ruling Popular Party but ran into trouble and was merged with other banks to form Bankia in 2010 before being bailed out at a cost of €22.5 billion.

Silva ruled that Blesa had flouted rules on risk management during Caja Madrid's purchase of City National Bank of Florida in 2008, citing evidence of improper management, misappropriation of funds and falsifying a public document.

Blesa, who is a close personal friend of former Popular Party Prime Minister José María Aznar, posted his €2.5 million bail but was then jailed by Silva for a second time in June when new evidence came to light.

Blesa then instructed his lawyers to go on the offensive.

Silva was accused by the former bank chief of overstepping his authority and perverting the course of justice.  

The judge was suspended in July 2013 and appeared in court this week to try to delay the case, for the fifth time, until after the European elections.

He has described the case against him as "manifestly illegal".

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