Italy cash out $1m to free hostages


Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has said no money was paid.

But Gustavo Selva, head of the Italian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said the denial was purely “official”.

The BBC’s Guto Harri in Rome says Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has fuelled the rumours by talking of “a difficult choice which had to be made”.

“The young women’s life was the most important thing,” Mr Selva, a member of the Northern League, one of the parties in Italy’s governing coalition, told French RTL radio.

Security experts have told the BBC that money is likely to have played some part in the negotiations, but they also point to intensive behind-the-scenes negotiations on the part of the Italians.