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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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ROME

‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.

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