The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office was born in the last days of 1995 and one of its first missions was one that they would never have imagined: to investigate and accuse a magistrate for practicing corruption from his court. That magistrate was Luis Pascual Estevill, who has died in Barcelona at the age of 88. Close to Jordi Pujol and Convergència, Estevill became a member of the General Council of the Judiciary and was finally sentenced, among other penalties and causes, to nine years in prison for extorting a dozen businessmen in exchange for giving them favorable treatment in cases lawsuits, in addition to hiding millions and millions of pesetas in Switzerland.
What Dívar and Estevill have in common
Estevill entered the judiciary in 1990, although by then he had been practicing as a lawyer for almost three decades. A period in which he, among other things, defended President Jordi Pujol in the ‘Banca Catalana case’. According to the sentence that studied his case, a year after putting on the toga he was already prevaricating with the collusion of lawyers like Piqué Vidal.
He did so between 1991 and 1994 when he worked as an investigating judge in Catalonia, after gaining access to the judiciary as a jurist of recognized prestige. Indicted in various cases related to cases of business corruption and false invoice schemes such as Indelso, Pryca, Macosa or Nutrexpa who, at a given moment, discovered that the solution to their problems was to comply with the demands of the judge. These demands, many times, went through collecting money in accounts in Switzerland in exchange for getting them out of jail or lightening their precautionary measures.
The chief anti-corruption prosecutor, Carlos Jiménez Villarejo, filed a complaint against him before the second chamber of the Supreme Court. He did it at a time when Estevill was a member of the General Council of the Judiciary, located on the sidewalk in front of Calle Marqués de la Ensenada in Madrid. He had been appointed in 1994 at the proposal of Convergència i Unió, obtaining 199 votes in the Senate.
The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia he was convicted in 2005 after a long and complicated investigation, pending not only what had happened inside his court but also the rogatory commissions that arrived from Switzerland. That is where Estevill collected bribes, which in some cases reached 50 million pesetas. At the time, a bail of more than 500 million pesetas was imposed on him to face civil responsibilities and, among other things, up to 13 properties were seized.
A judge extremely close to Jordi Pujol and Convergència, Estevill occupies one of the highest positions on the list of judges sentenced in Spain for corrupting himself with his robe on. That was his final sentence: nine years in prison for prevarication, bribery, illegal detention, threats and seizure of assets. But it was not his first visit to the bench as a judge and not as a judge.
In 2001 the Supreme Court had confirmed a seven-year prison sentence for three fiscal crimes, in addition to the obligation to pay 100 million pesetas to the public coffers. Previously, in 1996, the same second chamber of the Supreme Court had imposed six years of disqualification for extortions similar to those that later cost him nine years in prison: for sending several businessmen to prison in the case of the banker Alfredo Sáenz. Three convictions, a record figure for a Spanish magistrate for crimes committed from the court that also resulted in an earthquake in the General Council of the Judiciary.
Pascual Sala, then president of the governing body of the judges, disfigured the “irreparable damage” that several members were causing the institution to try to prevent Estevill from being removed from the institution despite his convictions. Among those who opposed Estevill’s dismissal in the 1990s was Margarita Mariscal de Gante, later Minister of Justice in the first legislature of José María Aznar and a member of the Court of Auditors until last year.
Died yesterday in Barcelona, Luis Pascual Estevill starred in a judicial and criminal earthquake that had repercussions in politics, in the Justice and that did not end just five years ago. In 2017, the Superior Court of Catalonia declared his criminal responsibility extinct for his three cases of corruption, at which time his sentence was completed. Almost three decades after accessing the judiciary and entering the General Council of the Judiciary.