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Italian Royal Sex Scandal Transfixes a Nation

In a story that has enthralled many Italians, the pretender to the Italian throne, Victor Emmanuel, has been jailed over his alleged involvement in a sex scandal.

The prince prefers to stay in jail rather than be granted house arrest in a nearby rented villa -- because, he says, there is no air conditioning.

The lead investigator in the case, Henry John Woodcock, has become a minor celebrity. He is a Neapolitan with an English father.

Transcribed wiretaps that have been published by the media reveal an underworld of right-wing politicians promising showgirls jobs in TV in exchange for sex -- which is said to take place inside the foreign ministry.

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Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.