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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 23 April, 2014

Berlusconi’s accountant held hostage for €35 million ransom

Armed intruders demanded the ransom from the former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi after holding his accountant hostage for a night.

Silvio Berlusconi looking unhappy
Silvio Berlusconi looking unhappy
Image: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

SILVIO BERLUSCONI’S ACCOUNTANT was taken hostage in his home last month by armed intruders who demanded a €35 million ransom from the former Italian premier, police said on Monday.

The police have arrested three Italians and three Albanian citizens accused of taking Giuseppa Spinelli, one of Berlusconi’s closest allies, and his wife Anna hostage for a night in October.

Three attackers forced their way into Spinelli’s apartment on 15 October, and in the early hours of the following morning forced him to call Berlusconi, demanding the ransom for the couple’s release.

In exchange for the ransom, they also offered to hand over documents they claimed would overturn a guilty verdict for the graft against one of the ex-premier’s companies, according to media reports.

“Spinelli was suffering from shock. He could not say he had been taken hostage because he feared for his wife’s life” during the telephone call to Berlusconi, said Niccolo Ghedini, one of the media magnate’s lawyers.

“He was terrified, he was still being threatened with weapons,” he said.

The three intruders, who had been tracking Spinelli’s movements since June, left a few hours later, taking with them the building’s video surveillance tapes.

Police said there was no evidence the ransom had been paid.

Spinelli, 71, is one of Berlusconi’s closest friends. The media magnate, who is currently on trial for paying a 17-year-old call girl for sex, entrusted his accountant with giving cash presents to young girls invited to his parties.

The ex-premier’s lawyers did not alert police to the hostage situation and extortion attempt until 30 hours later, according to media reports.

The intruders claimed the documents they had in hand would overturn a court ruling in 2011 which ordered one of Berlusconi’s family companies to pay €560 million to a rival group as compensation for corrupt activities in a takeover battle.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: I’m back: Berlusconi’s post-conviction about-face >

Photos: 55 pictures of Silvio Berlusconi looking sad, glum, or generally displeased >

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