Kidnappers 'tried to blackmail Berlusconi'

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The Independent Online

Kidnappers who took Silvio Berlusconi's accountant hostage may have been attempting to blackmail the former premier, Italian media reported.

Initial accounts suggested that the armed men attempted to sell the 76-year-old tycoon documents linked to one of his legal cases. But it has emerged that the gang may have had videos of Berlusconi's "bunga-bunga" parties.

Berlusconi's money man, Giuseppe Spinelli, told investigators a band of six armed men kept him and his wife captive in their home on the night of 15-16 October. The suspects, said to be after €35m, were arrested on Monday. The gang, led by a man with links to the Puglian mafia, were said to be offering documents that would save Mr Berlusconi's business empire a €560m compensation payment.

Political gossip sites, including Dagospia, suggested instead that shady characters from around Bari, the Puglian capital, were supplying prostitutes to the mogul's parties – and may have filmed some of the activities.