Did Silvio Berlusconi morph into Aethelred the Unready? From AP:
ROME (AP) – One of the two freed Italian aid workers said Wednesday that their abductors in Iraq taught them about Islam and reassured them they wouldn’t die. While the women rested with their families after a joyous reunion, questions were raised whether a $1 million ransom had been paid to secure their freedom.
Simona Torretta spoke briefly to a mob of reporters outside the front door of the apartment building where her family lives on the outskirts of Rome before dawn, a few hours after being questioned by Italian investigators.
Torretta and Simona Pari, who was also freed in Baghdad on Tuesday after three weeks in captivity, had flown to Rome late Tuesday night. Two Iraqis abducted with them on Sept. 7 were also freed on Tuesday.
Asked if she feared she would die during her captivity, Torretta first said “Yes.” Then she added that their abductors “reassured us. They understood the work we did” for a volunteer group in Iraq.
Selva is a member of National Alliance, a partner in Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government. La Stampa, a moderate Turin daily, quoted Berlusconi as brushing off the questions over ransom, saying “About this business, we won’t say anything. Even more, we won’t talk about it any more.”
Officials of Kuwaiti newspaper Al-rai al-Aam, which in recent days had said the women’s release was imminent, told Italian state radio Wednesday that the ransom had been paid and that the negotiations were conducted in Baghdad.