A polo-playing Italian prince has been arrested and accused of being a hitman for a Mafia gang in Rome.
Matteo Costacurta, 38, who comes from a noble Venetian family with a long history, has been arrested on charges of allegedly shooting and injuring a drug dealer in the city two years ago.
The dealer, Alessio Marzani, was allegedly trying to extort money from another drug trafficker.
“He’s got a really s—ty face… he won’t last long. I can’t wait to get on with the job,” the prince – who was nicknamed St Peter – allegedly said of his target in phone conversations intercepted by the police.
Mr Marzani was shot and wounded while riding a bicycle in the town of Acilia on the outskirts of Rome in October 2020. A gunman in a passing vehicle fired two shots, one hitting him in the chest and the other in the left arm.
The aristocrat was arrested along with four other people, including Elvis Demce, an Albanian alleged kingpin in the criminal underworld of Rome.
In a conversation that was wire-tapped by police, Mr Demce boasted of having a team of “six lions” who could carry out the hit.
Mr Demce allegedly promised to pay the prince euros 20,000-euros 30,000 to assassinate Marzani in what he described as sending the victim “to play cards with St Peter”.
Mr Demce denies any wrongdoing.
Mr Costacurta reportedly led a privileged lifestyle in Rome, in part financed by property owned by his family, including a boutique hotel in Prati, an upmarket part of the capital. He played polo at the Roma Polo Club, which hosted the Duke of Sussex for a charity event in 2019.
Prince Harry takes part in a Sentebale Polo Cup match. Photo: John Stillwell/PA
The duke took part in a polo match to raise money for his charity, Sentebale, which helps people suffering from Aids in southern Africa.
Mr Costacurta allegedly had links to Right-wing extremists and took part in an attack on a pub in Rome in 2008 in which Left-wing youths were targeted.
The prince has denied the charges, with his lawyer saying he had turned his back on his troubled youth. “He was in Africa recently working on projects run by nuns. Does that seem like the profile of a killer?” Marco Franco told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
But Andrea Fanelli, the judge who ordered Mr Costacurta to be arrested, said the prince had displayed a “malice that seemed to go beyond the economic objectives of his criminal activity”.