• Spain's news in English

Fury as celebrity jailbird gets special treatment

Fiona Govan · 17 Jun 2015, 14:08

Published: 17 Jun 2015 14:08 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Once the darling of Spain and a fixture of the gossip press, Isabel Pantoja, the 58 year-old folk singer, is now serving a two-year jail sentence in Seville prison for money laundering.

But the singer's presence at the Alcalá de Guadaíra women’s prison east of Seville is ruffling more than a few feathers.

Prison guards have complained that they have lost their authority among inmates because of the special privileges being afforded to Pantoja and that her presence at the prison has become a liability.

"We are scared that something will happen," explained a prison source quoted in Spanish newspaper El Mundo. "The other inmates see that she gets special treatment and at first they loved her but now there is quite a lot of bad feeling. This is a prison, there is violence. We are playing with fire."

The newspaper reported that Pantoja has breakfast in a private dining area normally off-limits to prisoners and that she is joined by the prison director and her deputy who she greets with kisses on both cheeks.

Prisoners also complain that she is exempt from carrying out the duties compulsory for other inmates such as sewing and that she has a private cell while other inmates are forced to share.

On a recent four-day release she was reportedly  allowed to return with three bags of belongings while the limit is usually set at one.

The singer waves to waiting crowds as she leaves prison on June 1st for a four-day release. Photo: Gogo Lobato.

Meanwhile guards complained that she goes over their heads to make requests directly to the prison director.

"The situation is scandalous," one warden told El Mundo. "We are constantly undermined. We have no authority and the other prisoners know it."

They warned that unless Pantoja is transferred to another prison there is a risk that inmates could riot.

Story continues below…

Pantoja was sentenced to two years in prison in 2013 and fined €1.15 million ($1.44 million) after a court found her guilty of laundering money on behalf of her boyfriend Julian Muñoz.

Muñoz, a former mayor of Marbella, was himself jailed for his role in massive fraud and embezzlement scandal known as Malaya.

María Isabel Pantoja Martín popularized a flamenco-style folk music selling more than six million albums. Of Gypsy origin, she was born in the Seville neighbourhood of Triana and in 1983 married the famous bullfighter Francisco Rivera "Paquirri".

Just a year later he was killed in the ring and the glamorous Pantoja became known as "the widow of Spain".

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Russia withdraws request to refuel warships in Ceuta
The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was due to dock in Ceuta

Russia has withdrawn a request for its aircraft carrier group to be refuelled at the Spanish port of Ceuta, authorities confirmed.

Bulls replace guard dogs at scrap yard in Valencia
Two bulls will be patrolling the scrap yard in eastern Spain. Archive photo: AFP

Guard dogs were not proving enough of a deterrent to thieves at a car breakers yard in eastern Spain so the owner has brought in a pair of fighting bulls.

Two-headed shark born in Spanish laboratory
Scientists are studying the rare find. Photo: IBIMA / University of Malaga

Scientists at the University of Malaga found the embryo of a shark with two heads and just one body.

Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available