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CRIME

An Italian man posed as a prince to get free luxury holidays – and meet Pamela Anderson

Italian police said on Wednesday they had tracked down a man who posed as a Montenegrin prince in order to get free luxury holidays and meet influential figures.

An Italian man posed as a prince to get free luxury holidays - and meet Pamela Anderson
A Montenegrin flag. Photo: gilmanshin/Depositphotos

In reality, the suspect was a 57-year-old from Trieste, but he assumed the identity of a Montenegrin prince – despite the fact Montenegro has not been a monarchy since the end of the First World War.

The disguises allowed the 'prince' not only to blag travel freebies, but to arrange meetings with leading businessmen and religious authorities, police said.

A search of his Turin home revealed fake diplomatic passes and documents, including the knighthoods and other honours he bestowed on many of those he met.

Even actress and animal rights campaigner Pamela Anderson fell for the fraud, and was named 'Imperial Countess' by the fake prince in June 2015.

The moment Pamela Anderson became an 'Imperial Countess'.

A Facebook page and website – which includes a disclaimer in which he sets out his perceived right to use the title – helped him boost his profile. On the website, he is pictured with Italian mayors, high-ranking cardinals, and even some of Monaco's royal family.

These figures were attracted by the prince's “granting of knighthoods and diplomatic passports (always false) and alleged economic cultural exchanges with Montenegro,” police said in a statement quoted in the Brindisi Report.

Prosecutors labelled the fraud a “pantomime”, but it was nothing if not thorough: the man reportedly hired an accomplice to act as his valet, and travelled in a Mercedes with diplomatic registration plates.

Police began the probe in August 2016 after the suspect was spotted in Puglia with a car bearing the insignia of the Republic of Montenegro. On that trip, he was able to enjoy a two-week stay in a luxury resort and had meetings with high profile figures from the worlds of business and politics.

Both the 'prince' and his valet were on Wednesday charged for false declaration of identity, and possession and manufacture of forged identity documents, Repubblica reported. 

 

 

 

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CRIME

Italy remembers murdered anti-mafia judge Falcone

Italy commemorated the death of Italian judge Giovanni Falcone on Monday, thirty years after the brutal Capaci bombing.

Italy remembers murdered anti-mafia judge Falcone

The entire country paid tribute on Monday to anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, killed by the Sicilian mafia 30 years ago in a car bomb murder that shocked the country.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese laid a wreath at the memorial at the site of the blast at Capaci, near Palermo, that killed Falcone, his wife, and three members of his police escort on May 23rd 1992.

Another ceremony in Palermo was attended by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, whose brother Piersanti, then Sicily’s regional president, was also murdered by the mafia.

In a statement, Prime Minister Mario Draghi hailed the legacy of Falcone, saying that thanks to his “courage, professionalism and determination, Italy has become a freer and fairer country”.

He said Falcone and his colleagues – one of whom, Paolo Borsellino, was killed by Cosa Nostra two months later – “dealt decisive blows against the mafia”.

“Their heroism had rooted anti-mafia values in society, in new generations, in republican institutions,” he added, saying the “relentless fight against organised crime and […] the search for truth” must continue.

The mob used a skateboard to place a 500-kilogramme (1100-pound) charge of TNT and ammonium nitrate in a tunnel under the motorway which linked the airport to the centre of Palermo.

Falcone, driving a white Fiat Croma, was returning from Rome for the weekend. At a look-out point on the hill above, a mobster nicknamed “The Pig” pressed the remote control button as the judge’s three-car convoy passed.

The blast ripped through the asphalt, shredding bodies and metal, and flinging the lead car several hundred metres.

READ ALSO: How murdered judge Giovanni Falcone shaped Italy’s fight against the mafia

On July 19th, Borsellino was also killed in a car bomb attack, along with five members of his escort. Only his driver survived.

Falcone posed a real threat to Cosa Nostra, an organised crime group made famous by The Godfather trilogy, and which boasted access to the highest levels of Italian power.

He and Borsellino were later credited with revolutionising the understanding of the mafia, working closely with the first informants and compiling evidence for a groundbreaking ‘maxi-trial’ in which hundreds of mobsters were convicted in 1987.

“Thanks to Falcone and Borsellino, the Sicilian mafia became a notorious fact, not something that had to be proved to exist at every trial,” anti-mafia prosecutor Marzia Sabella told AFP.

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