Singer and socialite Isabel Pantoja reports to Seville penitentiary

The queen of ‘copla’ will serve two years for laundering Marbella mayor's money

Isabel Pantoja reporting to prison on Friday morning.Photo: atlas

Isabel Pantoja, a fixture of Spain’s social scene, reported to a Seville penitentiary on Friday morning to serve a two-year sentence for money laundering.

The 58-year-old singer and actress spent her last night of freedom in the company of her two children before heading out of her estate in Medina Sidonia (Cádiz) in the back of her chauffeured Mercedes.

Officials at Alcalá de Guadaíra penitentiary in Seville cordoned off the entrance to hold back a crowd of reporters who had gathered at the scene to watch the popular singer being put behind bars.

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Her admission came a day after the Provincial Court of Málaga rejected a last plea by Pantoja’s defense to suspend the imprisonment order until the Constitutional Court decides whether to accept her appeal.

The performer was found guilty of laundering money on behalf of her sentimental partner Julián Muñoz while he was mayor of Marbella. The latter is already serving a six-and-a-half year sentence over the case, as his his former wife Maite Zaldívar.

All three were targeted in the 2007 Operation Malaya, a sweeping raid against corruption in Marbella and other cities that became the first of many such probes conducted across Spain since then, including Gürtel and the recent Púnica cases.

Pantoja has also been handed a fine of €1.14 million, of which she has paid €147,000.

Also on Friday, the Andalusian government officially revoked the honorary medal it awarded the singer in 2002.

Isabel Pantoja (center) inside Alcalá de Guadaíra penitentiary in Seville.
Isabel Pantoja (center) inside Alcalá de Guadaíra penitentiary in Seville.Rafa Alcaide (EFE)

Of Gypsy descent, María Isabel Pantoja Martín was born in the Sevillian neighborhood of Triana, considered the cradle of flamenco. She was a child performer who flourished into a popular solo artist on the back of her talent for coplas, a type of popular Andalusian song that had fallen out of style.

Pantoja became even more famous when she married a successful bullfighter, Francisco Rivera Paquirri, in April 1983. Paquirri met his death in the ring less than a year and a half later, adding to the larger-than-life image of romance and tragedy surrounding the singer.

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