June 17, 2006

Corruption probe leads to Italy prince’s arrest

By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - Prince Victor Emmanuel, who lived in a
former papal palace as a boy and spent his life among
Switzerland's jet set, woke up in a jail cell on Saturday,
arrested as part of a probe into prostitution and corruption.

The 69-year-old son of Italy's last king was one of 13
people detained in northern Italy on Friday in the
investigation. He was taken to a jail in southern Potenza,
where the probe is based.

The arrest came as a shock even for a country hardened by
scandal. Some newspapers dedicated five pages to the story.

"Women and Money - Victor Emmanuel ends up in handcuffs,"
was the headline in Milan's Il Giornale newspaper.

The operation that led to his arrest focuses on the
activities of a casino in northern Italy. It involved charges
of corruption, trafficking in licences for video poker used in
casinos, giving false testimony and abetting prostitution.

According to Italian media reports, investigators allege he
had contacts with Mafia clans and was involved in procuring
prostitutes for clients of the casino in Campione d'Italia, an
Italian enclave on Lake Lugano near the Swiss border.

His lawyer, Donatello Cimadomo, visited Victor Emmanuel in
jail on Saturday morning. He told Reuters the prince was well
and that that he denied all the accusations against him.

Magistrate Iannuzzi Alberto told reporters on Saturday he
had decided to sign an arrest warrant for the prince and the
other 12 men due to "extremely alarming evidence."

Among those detained was a top aide to the foreign minister
in former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government which
lost power in a national election in April.


Victor Emmanuel was 9 years old in 1946 when Italy's last
royal family, the Savoys, left Rome's Quirinale palace, once a
papal summer residence and today the seat of Italy's

Until a change in a law allowed him to return, he spent
much of his time jetting around Europe.

Victor Emmanuel was involved in a high-profile shooting
incident on a sailboat off Corsica in 1989 in which a
19-year-old German died. After several trials, a Paris court
cleared him of manslaughter charges in 1991.

He again made headlines in 1997 when he gave an interview
in which he refused to ask forgiveness for racial laws against
Jews that had been signed by his grandfather in 1938.

King Umberto II and the rest of the royal family went into
exile in 1946 when Italians rejected the monarchy in favor of a
republic in a referendum. Umberto died in Portugal in 1983.

The referendum punished the family for first collaborating
with fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and then ignominiously
fleeing Rome in 1944 to avoid an invading German army.

Victor Emmanuel was based in Switzerland with his family
until 2002, returning soon after Italy lifted a ban on male
heirs of the discredited throne from entering the country.

(Additional reporting by Massimiliano Di Giorgio)