Pubdate: Thu, 25 Mar 1999
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: of Telegraph Group Limited 1999
Author: Bruce Johnston


PRINCE Serge of Yugoslavia, a grandson of the last king of Italy,
should stand trial on charges of drug dealing, say Turin

The ruling is a fresh blow for Italy's troubled house of Savoy weeks
after it was rocked by murder. The 36-year-old son of Princess Maria
Pia of Savoy, daughter of King Umberto II, was allegedly caught by
detectives last year buying cocaine in Turin, where, despite having an
official Monte Carlo residence, he has a home and works as a design
consultant. Magistrates say they have photographs to back their
claims, together with evidence from witnesses.

They accuse the prince of buying cocaine "more than once a month from
January 1997 to April 1998 for the purpose of furnishing third
parties" during soirees he threw for Turin's "jeunesse doree" at his
home in the city centre. A female friend was quoted as telling police:
"He used to prepare everything and pass the cocaine round on a tray.
We all used to sniff it together before going out to a

While admitting to investigators that he had taken the drug, the
prince has denied dealing in cocaine, claiming that it would put his
professional reputation at risk. Prince Serge, who uses the
appellation His Royal Highness, faces up to five years in jail if he
is ordered to stand trial and is convicted. Among the prosecution
witnesses is his own alleged supplier of cocaine, Germano Ranosi, who
claims to have gone to four or five of Serge's cocaine parties.

It the latest embarrassing episode to befall the troubled Italian
former royal house, which was in mourning last month after the murder
of Luis Reyna Corvalan, an uncle of Prince Serge.

The victim of an apparent crime of passion, Corvalan, the husband of
Princess Maria Beatrice of Savoy, Maria Pia's sister, was found naked
in a bathroom in his luxury villa south of Mexico City, strangled with
the belt of his dressing gown. Italians voted down their monarchy in
1946 for capitulating to fascism, sending the direct male line of the
900-year-old dynasty into exile. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Patrick Henry