Great excitement in Jimena de la Frontera on Thursday morning. Just 30 minutes before this photograph of the popular Cuenca bar was taken the former mayor of Marbella, Julián Muñoz, was sitting outside sipping coffee. Within minutes a TV crew from Antena Tres had descended on Jimena trying to catch a sighting of Muñoz with his girlfriend Karina Pau who lives in the municipality and interview them.
Suddenly Muñoz disappeared, where to only he and Karina knows. Karina’s parents are Gibraltarian and recently Muñoz applied to the court to be allowed to visit them on the Rock on a monthly basis. Not surprisingly as Muñoz is currently in the dock in Málaga in the Malaya corruption trial – the largest of its kind in Spanish history - the judge refused to let him leave Spain.
Muñoz is alleged to have received 162,000 euros from the Malaya mastermind, Juan Antonio Roca, who was Marbella’s director of town planning. However the former mayor is also standing trial on a case linked to Malaya. It involves the famous singer Isabel Pantoja, who was his one time lover plus his former wife Mayte Zaldívar.
The case revolves around the time Muñoz was mayor of Marbella and the anti-corruption prosecutor accuses him of having siphoned off over 3.5 million euros of municipal funds for his own use. First he used his then wife, Mayte Zaldívar, to help launder this cash and once she was dumped the task fell to his then lover, Isabel Pantoja. It is alleged that Pantoja utilised the money to acquire an apartment in the Guadalpín Hotel and her house in Marbella, Mi Gitana.
If found guilty Isabel Pantoja faces three and a half years in jail plus a fine of 3.68 million euros. Julián Muñoz could be sent away for seven and a half years and have to hand over 7.6 million euros. His ex-wife Mayte Zaldívar would be handed a three and a half year prison term and a fine of 2.6 million euros. They each have to pay this money in to court ahead of the trial.
Given the large number of court convictions that are staking up against him it is no surprise that Muñoz is taking time out to enjoy a coffee in convivial surrounds whilst he can. There was one surprise yesterday. As I took a photograph of the Antena Tres cameraman I realised he was filming me. I later heard from my fellow journalist in Jimena, Alberto Bullrich, that they had rushed up to him demanding to know – “was I Karina Pau’s father?” Well you know that I am not, but hush, and let me enjoy my 5 minutes of Spanish TV notoriety.