Milan

Six arrested for holding Berlusconi aide captive

Criminals tried to extort 35 million euros from ex-premier

Six arrested for holding Berlusconi aide captive

Milan, November 19 - Italian police arrested six people on Monday who are suspected of involvement in one of Silvio Berlusconi's aides being held captive last month as part of a bid to extort million of euros from the ex-premier. Police said Giuseppe Spinelli, an accountant who is considered one of Berlusconi's top aides, and his wife were kept captive at gunpoint at their home on the night of October 15 and 16. The gang is suspected of trying to use Spinelli to mediate to obtain 35 million euros from the media magnate in exchange for documents they said were "important" for a corruption case regarding the takeover of publishing group Mondadori. The Berlusconi family holding company, Fininvest, has been ordered to pay a 560-million-euro fine over a bribe paid to a judge to obtain a favourable ruling during the takeover. However, Berlusconi's lawyer Niccolo' Ghedini, who received a call early on October 16 in which Spinelli forwarded the captors' demands, denied that sensitive information was part of the extortion attempt. "In truth they did not have anything in their hands," said Ghedini. "They kidnapped the accountant (to have money from Berlusconi). "Spinelli was in such shock that he couldn't even say he'd been taken hostage because he feared for the life of his wife and daughter. "He was terrorised because he was under armed threat". Police believe Spinelli was held captive for 11 hours from 22:00 on October 15 and was forced to call both the ex-premier and Ghedini. The people arrested were three Italians and three Albanians, all with criminal records. Spinelli, 71, is considered 'treasurer' of Berlusconi, who is on trial in Milan for allegedly paying for sex with an under-age prostitute at alleged bunga bunga sex parties at his home. The accountant gave cash gifts to young women who took part in the parties.

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