Savoys 'sorry' fosr exile pay-out request

Fri, 02/15/2008 - 04:03

Italy's former royal family apologised Thursday for asking the state to pay damages for the 54-year exile imposed on it by the 1948 constitution that founded the modern republic.

''I'm sorry for any trouble caused,'' Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy said in an interview with ANSA on Thursday.

''The Italians were right to react the way they did and I'm not making excuses.''

Politicians, Jewish groups and the families of others persecuted under Fascism reacted with outrage last November at the compensation request by Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, the son of Italy's last king, and his son Emanuele Filiberto.

In letters to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Romano Prodi, the pair had asked for a sum reportedly in the range of 260 million euros as well as the return of property confiscated by the nascent Italian state.

But while apologising for the request, Emanuele Filiberto reiterated the ex-royal family's belief that its exile ran counter to the European Convention on Human Rights.

''The Italians should know that for 31 years they forbade me and my father from setting foot on Italian soil just because of our name,'' Emanuele Filiberto said.

''As far as I'm concerned, that law was not just,'' he added.

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

The male members of the Savoy family were subsequently banned from entering Italy by the 1948 Constitution until the government lifted their exile in 2002.

Although the Savoy family now regularly visits Italy, Vittorio Emanuele has maintained his Swiss residency while his son lives in Paris.

The family's request for compensation came despite an earlier promise not to seek damages when their exile was lifted.

The Savoys said they would give any money from compensation they received to charity.

The government said in November it had no intention of paying out and was considering seeking damages from the family for its actions before and during World War II.