Singer Isabel Pantoja to serve jail time after appeals fail

Veteran Spanish star told to report to prison within three days to begin two-year term

Isabel Pantoja leaves the Málaga court.
Isabel Pantoja leaves the Málaga court.CORDON

Spanish singer Isabel Pantoja has been ordered to report to prison within three days to serve her two-year sentence for money-laundering after Málaga provincial court on Wednesday rejected all appeals and requests to suspend her punishment.

The 58-year-old star, who received her sentence alongside former partner and ex-Marbella mayor Julián Muñoz after the Malaya case trial, which involved a massive property kickbacks-and-bribes scheme in the Costa del Sol resort, is free to choose the prison in which she will serve time. Her lawyer, José Ángel Galán, said she would go voluntarily and not request a government pardon, newswire Efe reported.

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Pantoja has been fighting to avoid having to serve jail time for the last two months. The Málaga court initiated proceedings for the sentence to be executed at the end of September and notified the singer and the others affected several days later. Since then, there has been a frenetic exchange of appeals, requests and subsequent rulings. Now, though, there is no way back.

Pantoja – who is the former wife of legendary bullfighter Francisco Rivera Pérez, “Paquirri,” who died in the ring in 1984 – had not initially been expected to have to serve the two-year sentence she received at the conclusion of the Malaya case trial in April 2013. But the court turned down her lawyers’ appeals to have the sentence suspended on clemency grounds – given that it was under two years and she had no prior convictions – owing to the seriousness of the political corruption for which she was being punished. The Anticorruption Attorney’s Office, which is also obliged to produce a non-binding report in such cases, reached a similar decision.

Judges did, however, allow her to start paying the €1.14 million fine she also received after the trial in quarterly installments of €210,000.

Muñoz, 65, is now serving a six-and-a-half years for money-laundering and bribery, while his ex-wife Maite Zaldívar entered prison on October 29 in Alhaurín de la Torre prison, Málaga province, to begin her two-and-a-half-year sentence for laundering Muñoz’s money.

A former waiter, Muñoz became the epitome of Marbella’s excesses during Spain’s property boom, profiting from public funds, bribes and other favors during his time as deputy mayor from 1991 to 2002, under the notorious Jesús Gil, and as mayor from 2002 to 2003.

Muñoz was detained during the third wave of arrests in the Operation Malaya investigation, in July 2006. Zaldívar was arrested later that same year, while Pantoja was implicated in the case in May 2007.

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