A PRISONER has been set free by Semana Santa.

The 52-year-old inmate from Marbella has had his three year drug dealing sentence quashed thanks to an annual tradition which dates back centuries.

The Malaga Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus El Rico has obtained a pardon for the father-of-two, who will now lead the brotherhood’s procession through the streets of Málaga on Holy Wednesday.

Hidden behind a blue velvet hood, the man, with the initials CDA, spoke about his pardon from the Alhaurín de la Torre prison, where he has been held for the last year.

He said: “I’m sure I will never return here.”

“I thank Jesus El Rico for their kindness; this has helped me a lot.”

And the man, who claimed to be ‘quite religious’ added he did not know the reason for the surprise pardon but he was of course “very happy.”

The custom is believed to have started in 1759 when an outbreak of cholera killed many of Malaga’s citizens leaving no men to carry the statue in Holy week.

Hearing of this the prisoners in the county jail escaped to carry the Christ before returning voluntarily to jail, coinciding with the end of the epidemic.

The reigning king, Carlos III, considered it a miracle and ordered for a prisoner to be released every Holy Wednesday from then on.

This year brotherhoods across the country obtained pardons from the cabinet for a total of 17 prisoners.