An Italian aristocrat who played in the same polo club as Prince Harry has been charged with acting as a professional assassin accused of accepting a hit on another criminal.
His arrest appears to have untangled a web of criminal agreements in Rome linking underworld figures who referred to each other with ecclesiastical nicknames, including ‘The Pope’ and ‘St Peter’.
Matteo Costacurta, 38, is accused of shooting another underworld figure involved in a case of extortion in Rome.
Italian aristocrat Matteo Costacurta, circled in red, is accused of shooting another underworld figure involved in a case of extortion in Rome
Prince Harry has played matches in Roma Polo Club, the oldest one in Italy and the same frequented by Costacurta
He was one of five people arrested when police penetrated an encrypted communications network.
The wealthy aristocrat is said to be linked to the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (NAR), a right-wing terrorist group that killed 85 people when it bombed the Bologna Centrale railway station in 1980 during Italy’s Years of Lead.
Costacurta was a member of the Roma Polo Club, founded in the 1930s and the oldest of its kind in Italy.
The Queen was a spectator in her youth before donning the crown, reported The Times, and Prince Harry has played polo at the club.
The incident in Rome started when Alessio Marzani – another alleged underworld figure – reportedly demanded hush money for hiding drugs that belonged to another crime boss and staying silent about it while in jail.
Marzani was allegedly asking another person, Daniele Gallarello, for money in exchange for keeping quiet – demanding €1,000 per month.
Costacurta is accused of accepting a €30,000 payment to carry out a hit on Marzani to stop the extortion.
Police allege the aristocrat turned to an Albanian crime boss, Elvis Demce, adding that the two tracked down Marzani together.
With one man holding a gun and the other steering the motorcycle, two men sped through the town of Acilia on October 20, 2020, before spotting Mazani, slowing down, and shooting him in the chest.
The men hit him on the left side of the chest and in the arm, but the victim was able to take refuge inside a building, according to La Repubblica.
One resident opened a door to allow him inside, while a neighbor called the carabinieri, saying he heard shots.
The police found Marzani injured, taking him to be operated on at San Camillo Hospital. He was discharged after 45 days.
Alessandro Corvesi, a retired professional footballer, pictured left, is allegedly one of the organisers of the plot. Elvis Demce, allegedly an Albanian crime boss, pictured right, was also said to be part of the hit
Among the alleged organisers of the hit was Alessandro Corvesi, a retired professional footballer. Police arrested Corvesi after he was allegedly found with 2kg of cocaine.
Now, Costacurta is on trial, but his lawyer says he has turned away from the extremist of his youth.
‘Costacurta has recently been in Africa with the nuns who work on the projects of the Community of St Egidio. Does that seem like the profile of a killer?’ he said, according to the Corriere della Sera.
But The Times quoted a coordinator of the charity’s projects in Africa saying she had never heard of Costacurta.
Judge Andrea Fanelli, who is overseeing the trial, described Costacurta as possessing a ‘malice that seemed to go beyond the economic objectives of his criminal activity’.
He is the scion of a noble Venetian family, with the on-going case gaining huge traction in Italy.