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German prince accused of flashing Nazi salute

BERLIN — Prince Ernst August of Hanover, the controversy-prone husband of Caroline of Monaco, allegedly gave the stiff-arm Hitler salute to an airport security guard during an argument, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The security guard told police the dispute erupted when the prince resisted being checked before boarding a plane Nov. 24 at Hanover's Langenhagen airport, prosecutors in the city said.

Ernst August allegedly shouted insults, then raised his arm in a Nazi salute, said a prosecutors' spokesman, Thomas Klinge.

He said prosecutors were considering whether to charge the prince with verbally abusing the security agent and making an outlawed Nazi gesture.

A spokesman for the prince, Mauritz von Reden, declined to comment on the security guard's allegations.

A day after the alleged incident, a court convicted Ernst August of assaulting a hotel owner in Kenya in a drunken rage in June 2000 and fined him $587,000.

The prince — a distant relative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and great-grandson of the last German emperor, Wilhelm II — has had brushes with the law before. He was fined for attacking a German photographer in 1999 and caused an uproar a year later after press photos showed him urinating outside the Turkish pavilion at the World's Fair in Hanover.

On Wednesday, the prince lost a bid to regain properties taken from his family under the Soviet occupation of eastern Germany at the end of World War II.

He was among two plaintiffs whose case was thrown out by Germany's supreme court, part of a wider battle since German reunification by people who lost family property in the Soviet zone between 1945 and 1949.

Ernst August lays claim to several castles, artworks, forests and land with an estimated value of more than $133 million.

The Federal Constitutional Court refused to reverse the expropriations, saying the government had done enough by offering to compensate the victims.