Berlusconi accountant 'kidnap' leads to six arrests

Giuseppe Spinelli (file image) Giuseppe Spinelli, pictured here in May 2012, was held for 11 hours, police say

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Police in Italy have arrested six people accused of kidnapping the accountant of ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi and attempting to extort money.

Giuseppe Spinelli and his wife were held hostage for 11 hours at their home last month, police in Milan said.

The armed intruders are said to have asked for 35m euros (£28m; $44m) in exchange for documents they said could help Mr Berlusconi in a legal case.

Mr Spinelli was forced to call Mr Berlusconi, who then called his lawyer.

The intruders left after speaking to the lawyer, a news conference was told.

Police said they had arrested three Italians and three Albanians on suspicion of kidnapping and extortion. Three had forced their way into Mr Spinelli's apartment and the other three were accomplices, they added.

However, Italian media said many questions surrounding the episode remained unanswered.

The hostage-takers are said to have told Mr Spinelli that the documents could overturn a 2011 court ruling that had forced one of Mr Berlusconi's companies to pay compensation to a rival media firm.

The authorities were not informed about the kidnapping until more than 24 hours later, although police did not explain why.

The news conference was told that no money had been handed over. Police said they had used closed circuit TV footage to track down the extortionists.

Mr Berlusconi has faced a number of legal cases over the years, mostly involving his business activities.

Last month he was convicted of tax fraud, although his lawyers say he will appeal.

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