* Italian police arrest three Italians, three Albanians
* Accused of kidnapping Berlusconi accountant; extortion
* Mystery surrounds nature of documents they tried to sell
ROME, Nov 19 Italian police on Monday disclosed
an attempt to extort former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi by
bandits who held his accountant hostage and offered to sell
sensitive documents for 35 million euros ($44.47 million).
Police told a news conference in Milan they had arrested
three Italians and three Albanians on suspicion of kidnapping
and extortion but many questions remained unanswered in what the
Italian media said remained a mysterious episode.
Police said three men held Giuseppe Spinelli and his wife
hostage at their home overnight on Oct. 15 and demanded money in
exchange for documents they said could help Berlusconi win an
It was not clear from what emerged at the news conference
what type of documents the extortionists had. Spinelli told
police he saw some of the documents but police did elaborate.
The aggressors told Spinelli the papers could overturn a
2011 court ruling that forced Berlusconi's Fininvest
empire to pay 560 million euros to rival media company CIR
in compensation for a takeover battle over publisher
Mondadori that was marred by corruption.
The extortionists forced Spinelli to call Berlusconi on the
morning of Oct. 16 and tell him about the documents.
Berlusconi called his lawyer, who in turn called Spinelli
while the bandits were still there. They left after an agreement
to get back in touch with Spinelli and at least one other
telephone contact was made.
The authorities were not informed until more than 24 hours
later, when Berlusconi's lawyers filed a complaint.
Niccolo Ghedini, Berlusconi's lawyer, told reporters he
called Spinelli and told him to ask the bandits to bring the
documents to Berlusconi's residence in Milan.
"Spinelli told me he could not and I could tell from the
tone of his voice that something was wrong. Spinelli was under
shock. He was worried about his wife and his daughter and his
granddaughter, who all live in the same neighbourhood," Ghedini
Police told the news conference no money was handed over and
had no explanation why the complaint was not made for 24 hours.
In an investigation that was kept secret for more than a
month, police used closed circuit television footage to track
down the extortionists, including three accomplices who did not
take part directly in the kidnapping.
Spinelli, an accountant in charge of Berlusconi's finances,
paid showgirls to attend the media mogul's infamous "bunga
bunga" parties, according to testimony he gave an Italian court.
($1 = 0.7871 euros)
(Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)