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Savoy acquitted of gambling-machine conspiracy

Vittorio Emanuele cleared in case that saw him jailed

22 September, 15:39
Savoy acquitted of gambling-machine conspiracy (ANSA) - Rome, September 22 - Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, the son of Italy's last king, has been acquitted of conspiring to bribe public officials to install illegal gambling machines.

The prince, 73, was cleared with the fullest formula under Italian law, "the crime was not committed".

Vittorio Emanuele and five others were charged with conspiracy to obtain licences and supply contracts for illegal gambling machines procured by a Sicilian businessman, Rocco Migliardi.

The prince, who denied all wrongdoing, was accused of using his high-level contacts to help sell the video-poker games to a casino in Campione d'Italia, an Italian enclave in Switzerland.

Vittorio Emanuele said at the time of his arraignment in last year that the affair was ''inexplicable'' and he was ''confident'' of proving his innocence.

In June 2006, when the case broke, the news of the prince's arrest flashed worldwide - especially because he was initially accused of procuring Eastern European prostitutes for the casino.

He spent a week in jail and a month under house arrest.

Italy's former royal family was banished in 1946 following a national referendum introducing the Republic, their name tainted by the links of Vittorio Emanuele's grandfather, Vittorio Emanuele III, with Fascism.

Vittorio Emanuele was nine years old when his father King Umberto II and mother Maria Jose' went into exile in Portugal.

The male members of the Savoy family were subsequently banned from entering Italy by the 1948 Constitution.

But in November 2002 the Italian parliament lifted the ban.

Although the Savoy family now regularly stay in Italy, Prince Vittorio Emanuele has maintained his Swiss residency.

His son Emanuele Filiberto recently moved from Paris and, on the back of a win in the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars, is building a successful career on TV.

Vittorio Emanuele's popularity in Italy has fluctuated.

His long campaign to get the Savoy ban lifted was damaged by his trial and eventual acquittal on manslaughter charges in the 1978 death of a young German tourist killed by a hunting gun following a quarrel at a Corsican marina.

More recently the Savoys sparked outrage with a request, subsequently withdrawn, for massive damages for their exile.

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