Category: Other legal processes

Monday, February 11, 2013

Funny Talented Very Smart Woman, 21, Killed By Another Woman With No Record Of Crime Or Violence

Posted by devorah





Sound familiar? Sadly, probably too much so.

The stabbing death of Susan Sarkis is believed to have happened in a spiral of anger and violence on Saturday night, in Brighton Le Sands, a southern suburb of Sydney Australia,

The woman arrested is the apartment’s 31-year-old owner who is now being held in custody. A video and the story so far are included in this report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Details about Ms Sarkis are still emerging but she was clearly talented, warm, and admired. Messages posted online by her cousins are quoted as follows.

“RIP little cousin. When I received that phone call on New Year’s Day and u were wishing me a happy birthday I was almost in tears seeing as you always remembered my birthday,” he wrote.

“Well now I’m in tears remembering you. We miss you. Your life was cut too short, but your in a better place. Love you cuz and we will definitely see you later.”

Another cousin wrote: “RIP Suzie.. A life cut short but the memory of a beautiful young girl will live in our heart forever. May God give your parents, Chrissy & Anthony the strength to get through this very difficult time. Love you cuz xx”...

“Sweetie, habibi susie my little sister. I’m shattered you’re a beautiful sweet angel sweetness,” another wrote.

Below: Brighton Le Sands is south of Sydney downtown, by the airport, on its “other harbor” Botany Bay










Monday, January 21, 2013

An Overview From Italy #2: Current Perceptions In Italy, Justice Perverters Fail, Mignini Vindicated

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)





My previous report on the bad news remorselessly building here for the defense was on the Procura Generale appeal to the Supreme Court.

One year ago ““ between the end of December 2011 and beginning of January 2012 ““ there were only rare idle comments in the Italian press about the Meredith Kercher case, more or less sarcastically noting the “suspicious” circumstances of the Appeal trial.  I recall how a mention of the topic was dropped into the last number of “ll Venerd씝 of 2011.

“Il Venerdì di Repubblica” is the weekly magazine issued together with the newspaper “La Repubblica” (thus probably the most read magazine in Italy).

The cover theme of that week was provincialism ““ or better “the provincials” - the adjective used to assemble a sample of seven little cities (Cuneo, Voghera, Rimini, Jesi, Perugia, Benevento, Partinico), picked from different regions, and taken as examples on the theme, that is stories of “local colour”;  what goes on in small “provincial places”.  A few characters and stories are brought in to depict the local life of each place, and the voices of local authors adds something about the places.

The article about Perugia (at pages 62-68) was by Luca Cardinalini. In that number of Il Venerdì, having stories of “local colour” as weekly theme, there were shades of ironic tones for each city, often through the voice of local intellectuals. As Perugia is described, the Meredith trial is quickly recalled among its local stories; the reader can’t miss how this is viewed as in connection with another most remarkable feature of the city, that is Masonry.

According to Luca Cardinalini and Enrico Vaime, Masonry is called a “Specialty” of Perugia, like chocolate. Local author Enrico Vaime intends to convey the people’s perception about shady powers existing in the city, about a local environment saturated by plots and informal powers, as something behind recent strange judicial decisions such as the Hellmann verdict and the apparent dropping of the Narducci case.  The widespread belief of Perugians that the Public Minister (prosecutor) is the righteous one shines through the words of Enrico Vaime.

Also notice how racism appears to be another key perception about the verdict. Quality media press in Italy has a typical style of understatement.  This comment hints that it seems obvious that the Appeal was a racist verdict - and it was “expected” that they would find a way to blame the black one and the outcast. 

Some of Perugian “provincialism” seems to include a very narrow localism of Perugian identity: a person from Orvieto is reported to be called “a foreigner” ; but this is because the cultural viewpoint is based on the assumption of a personal knowledge of all people.  In among this, there is Vaime’s knowledge about how rooted Masonic tradition and power is in the city, in a scenario of “brotherhoods” and “tribes” (the article includes a photo of the most known “Masonic” monument in Perugia: the gryphon or griffen ““ the emblem of Perugia ““ grabbing a toppled Pope’s Tiara in a sign of rebellion). 

The report by Vaime is objectively correct : the concentration of members of Masonic lodges in Perugia is the highest in the world, about 5 times the national average of Italy (which is anyway very high). 

In Vaime’s wording decent people in Perugia are ‘Christians’ or ‘Communists’ ““ these are the names he uses to address the main categories he sees as “good” people, two transparent moral systems.  He devolves skepticism toward the less transparent allegiances, the murky and informal connections to powers. 

I believe these perceptions from one year ago, in this colorful article about Perugia, should be most interesting to the readers of this site.

The first part of the article on Perugia is not that interesting - it speaks mostly about a local character named Ivano Massetti, nicknamed “Savonarola of Umbrian football”,  the director (“boss”) of a local TV network and leading showman of his own soccer talk show. I skipped this first part with depictions of local folks, and get to the point at p.66 where the Kercher case is first mentioned. 

This is my translation of the article from this point:

[”¦](p.66 line 17):

As Enrico Vaime ““ a 100% Perugian, a writer, and among many other things fiercly provincial ““ already knows: “Only in Perugia do you hear people saying “actually Tizio [random guy] was not a native from Colombella, but from Piccione”, which is three times further”. And when his grandfathers (farther of his father) bearing the same name Enrico Vaime, moved his formal place of residence [to Perugia] from Spello, on the official documents they wrote “emigrated to Perugia and married to a foreigner from Orvieto”.

The roots are extremely deep. “Still today” Vaime says “when I say to my family “we go back home”, I mean here, in Perugia, where I have not owned a house for decades. And I still call the roads and shops with the names they had when I was a child, even if now the owners are foreigners, from Shangai or, as I say, from Terni”.

Vaime is cross with the bad reporters who described Perugia, in the Meredith murder case, as a capital of corruption and vice: “An invasion of charlatan journalists who, as they believed they were visiting a remote and lost province, they painted it as a sort of Chicago on the Trasimeno Lake”.

[The fact] that no Perugian was involved in that sad story, to them that was an irrelevant detail. And the trial ended just the way many Perugians expected: a black guy first wrongly put in jail, another black one convicted, the two white, good-looking, wealthy and well defended young people, free.

So it was that the Public Minister Giuliano Mignini became a target. He’s a Perugian whom the Perugians know as the dominus of the other judicial case ““ this also is, yes, entirely local ““ about which everybody talks and knows, but always in a low voice: the death of doctor Francesco Narducci,  the one suspected of having ties to the crimes of the Monster of Florence. From the judicial point of view that was - by half ““ just another hole-in-the-water [a failure] for which some critics have hastily put the blame on some alleged lunacy of the public minister.

But”¦  however”¦ meanwhile, this [Naducci] corpse-swap was indeed found to have been for sure, a kind of unique case in the criminal history of the country. And, for what concerns the recent acquittals of those characters involved in this death, well, after almost a year and a half we are still waiting for the verdict motivations. All of the suspects were esteemed high-class professionals. That’s a perfect mix of strange deaths, sex, lead-astray investigations, and Masonry; this is in the city with the highest number of Masonic lodges in Italy.

Vaime sighs: “Masonry is something alien from me, but I have many friends who are in it. In Perugia it works as a compensation chamber for various powers, but also as an effort for the surge of the spirit to many decent people. Masters, masons and “33”, but all of them decent Perugians”.  Masonry is considered a local specialty, just like the bruschetta or the Etruscan arch.

“One day you find out that that mediocre employee of your acquaintance, or the one who performed an incredible career in the public administration or in politics, is a “˜son of Horus’. Then you either laugh, or you slap yourself on the forehead just like saying to yourself “Wow! [how could I ] think about it!”. “That travet* [*a generic mediocre opportunist employee], too” 

Vaime says “to me it is a strange Perugian, with little interest for the Egyptian god compared to his covet for entering inner circles of a certain world. Their internal motivation is “I want to see how the lords sit at the table”. But in there [Masonry], you see, there are also good Christians and good Communists; as has always happened in this province, which has the art of living together in its genes”.

[”¦. ]



This month ““ Jan 2013 ““ the Italian press returned to the topic of the case again in a few brief articles. This time it was because of Sollecito’s book.

After Maurizio Molinari’s report from New York on the book in September, and the busting by Bruno Vespa on Porta a Porta of Francesco Sollecito, who ended up openly contradicting his own son’s statements, another hint appeared in the local press about what is cooking up backstage. 






This article in Perugia Today has a neutral take, but the same understatement and kind of vagueness as it anticipates that something very likely will happen.

What I find most delightful is the quotation marks in the title around the word “author” ““ journalist Nicola Bossi doesn’t believe for a moment that Sollecito actually wrote the book: 

Meredith Case: “author” Sollecito at risk of criminal lawsuit

The recounts about an alleged negotiation in order to pin the main charges on Amanda Knox, and unproven violence by the Perugia Police are under target. Mignini is considering criminal lawsuit.

Written by Nicola Bossi ““ Jan 4. 2013  

The Meredith case is not closed, and this despite books and movies almost tend to drop it after the acquittal in second instance of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito - who were convicted in first degree for the murder of the English girl that took place in Via della Pergola.

On upcoming March the 25th the Court of Cassation of Rome will have to decide on the request for a re-opening the trial, submitted by the Procura with the authorization of Public Minister Giuliano Mignini.

In the environment of the magistrates there is confidence about a [guilty] verdict that many ““ in Italy and in the USA - have heavily attempted to discredit. But from the same environments around them, they talk about a greatly serene Mignini making assessments about the next strategic moves, following the attacks directed against him ““ and against those in Law Enforcement who cooperated with him ““ contained in the book by Raffaele Sollecito.

An upcoming criminal defamation lawsuit is becoming more and more likely every day, especially about some particular paragraphs. The material published by Sollecito has already resulted in discussions and clamor above all about claimed negotiations [with the prosecution]  aiming to shift the blame onto Amanda alone, to be rewarded with his immediate release.

But there are also accusations against the Police about violence during his interrogations. “If you dare get up and walk, I beat you up in a bloody pulp and I kill you. I leave you in a pool of blood”. This is what you read in the book “˜Honour Bound’ issued in the US, as what Sollecito attributes to the Perugian officers.

“They wanted me to lie so they could frame Amanda”: this is the premise of the claimed negotiations claimed to indirectly involve Mignini too, which he always denied. Allegedly this would have been enough to get [Sollecito] out from prison soon, leaving the American woman in trouble.

So, these are grave accusations which Mignini apparently does not intend to let go unpunished. The criminal lawsuit is likely to be filed earlier than the date of Cassazione [25 March].

 

Another small piece of news is this article below published in Leonardo and written by Valentina Cervelli: 

It seems basically a “commented” version of the Perugia Today article. Cervelli adds a few polite lines on her own thoughts in this piece, published on the Bbooks page of Leonardo,it; this is my translation:

Is Raffaele Sollecito going be sued soon for “Honor Bound”?

By Valentina Cervelli -  6. Jan 2013

Are there troubles in sight for Raffaele Sollecito? His “Honour Bound” book is going well in the United States in terms of sales, but here in Italy it might be soon result for him in a lawsuit for defamation by the Law Enforcement forces and by the Public Minister Giuliano Mignini.

As we know already, in Honor Bound ““ My journey to hell with Amanda Knox and return Raffaele Sollecito has reconstructed the whole judiciary story from his point of view, telling in his autobiography what [he says] is his own truth.

On March 25 Cassation in Rome will decide on the [prosecution] request for the re-opening of the trial submitted by the Procura authorized by Giuliano Mignini, after the acquittal in the second instance of the two main accused, Sollecito and Amanda Knox.

The young woman has returned back to her country and we bet it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to get her back in our country even in case of retrial after Cassation and a possible conviction. But lets leave aside this possible dispute and lets focus on the book. In Raffaele’s book Mignini is iimplicated because he reportedly comes out discredited. In the material published by Sollecito in his book he even talks about alleged negotiations in order to blame Knox alone, obtaining in reward a quick release.

And what about the allegations of Police violence during interrogations? Of course we don’t get into the merits, but it seems obvious that parties that may be considered offended would tend to launch a counter-attack to defend their dignity and their work. At the moment no lawsuit has been submitted. But with much probability that will be done before the decision of Cassazione.

By now we can only wait for the publishing of the book in our country, in order to assess with our minds what Raffaele Sollcito has written and the “hot” material published in his made-in-the-US autobiography.

By the way; one thing Valentina Cervelli might get wrong is the purported good sales of Sollecito-Gumbel’s book.

The Amazon.com site is reliable as quick indicator of a product’s success;  the price of a new copy of “Honor Bond” on Amazon.com is now $ 3.51 (last week it was 3.76; the cover price is $ 24). It suggests sales are not quite as expected.  The drop speed is significant if you consider that the book has been out for only four months.



[Above: the Florence Palace of Justice]


While many honest magistrates seem to be working in Florence, there is still some strange behavior by one or two people in the Florence prosecution office.

Iin particular by the chief prosecutor there were some unexplainable decisions.  As people reading this site know, Giuliano Mignini and Michele Giuttari were convicted (of some of the charges) in the first degree trial in Florence. 

The motivations document was disconcerting because: besides the proof of their innocence on the main charge, what was described as the evidence on the remaining charge constituted extremely weak and vague arguments for what was claimed about Giuttari, while they were totally non-existent about Mignini. 

In the second instance appeal as we know the court completely crushed the trial case.

The case against them collapsed not because of a technicality, as the FOAs falsely claimed. In the figment of their imagination the Knox supporters erroneously thought that the Florence court had an “option” to overturn the case, to find Mignini and Giuttari innocent, but that they instead decided to pass the judgment on to some other tribunal.

The pro-Knox believers are probably also ready to believe blindfolded that there was some kind of evidence against Mignini.

The Knox believers are wrong. What in fact happened in Florence is something almost unique in a judge’s career. The first remarkable event was the decision by the Florence court of nullifying the first degree verdict. They did not simply overturn the verdict (neither change, or “reform” it as we say) since an overturning would imply acceptance that a previous verdict actually existed and was legitimate.

The cancellation was in fact an in limine act about the validity , which does not require an assessment about it correctness. The court went way beyond. In fact they nullified the whole trial, not only the previous one in terms of judgment, but also the preliminary hearing, and the indictment; and even the request of indictment. 

It is a legal outcome not comparable to a simple change or overturning because it is a ruling that the whole proceeding was illegitimate from the very roots. The investigation itself of Mignini and Giuttari was declared illegitimate. 

If elements were found for the opening of an investigation, the prosecutor would be entitled to carry on their duties, though the investigators should be from another territory.  This is important because the Florence court found evidence that people from the same office were involved in cases against Giuttari and Mignini, both as offended parties and as prosecutors. 

Because of a basic conflict of interest, the local prosecutors were incompatible and the Procura of Florence had no jurisdiction. Not even Genoa would be compatible.

Florentine prosecutors therefore had no right to bring cases against Mignini and Giuttari. The investigation files now must now be sent to the competent jurisdiction ““ where they should have been sent from the beginning ““ which is Turin; there other legitimate prosecutors will decide if and how there is anything to investigate about, and if there are any charges to bring against anyone.  The Florentine trials should have never taken place. The court ordered that the legitimate investigators are the Procura of Turin. 

In addition, they also ruled that the court of Florence would be an incompetent jurisdiction in any further possible case that stems from that investigation: since the competent prosecution is Turin, in case elements for the indictment of anyone for any charge are found, in the future, everything should go to a court in Turin ““ this, only if there will be any charge to bring to court . 

This decision in Florence was a total debacle for the Florence prosecutors.  It is in fact “politically” much worse than an overturning of a verdict. It is not just a like a different conclusion on the merit, it is the decision to take away even the investigation from them, a kind of implicit censure of their work as highly illegitimate.

But at this point in the procedings, something even worse and even more strange happened.  The Procura of Florence did something even more unusual, in fact unprecedented as far as I know. 

Apparently the Florence prosecutors are not happy at all to pass the investigation file on to Turin. For some reason they seem instead to want to do unnecessary and irrelevant hard work instead.  The Florentine prosecutors impugned the decision and revisited this at the Supreme Court against the Florentine judges.

This step is almost unheard of because the decision of the Florence appeal court is of a type that manifestly cannot be impugned at the Supreme Court. The recourse is obviously going to be declared inadmissible. If that submission was done by a private citizen, they would get a heavy fine for that.

Here it is a power in the Florence judiciary branch making this inadmissible move; for unknown reasons. 

I’d like to know the real motive behind the latest Florence move, the only effect of which can be a waste of time (and money), a delay, of at least one or maybe two more years, which only makes the failure of the whole proceeding against Mignini and Giuttari more likely due to lapse on an expiration terms.

I say “I’d like to know” but in fact one motivation stands out as obvious:  the whole proceeding against Giuttari and Mignini, from the first bringing of the charges at the lower courts, appeared as having a wasting of time among its purposes. 

One practical effect - maybe a practical purpose - of pushing the charges against Mignini, was taking the file about the Monster of Florence case links with the Narducci case away from Perugia. By this move, the Florentine prosecutors managed to factually put their hands on the Narducci-MoF file and remove it from the investigating powers in Perugia.

Another effect of this was delay. Now this latest move looks as if its purpose were to delay, as much as possible, the transfer of the legal documents to Turin.   

What is the ultimate event that, by all this, they seem to be seeking to delay?  I can’t know for sure, I can only guess; in fact, I have only one answer, which also stands out as something obvious for those who know a bit of the backstage: 

Giuliano Mignini is not an ordinary magistrate, he belongs to the Anti-Mafia Territorial Division of Umbria, and recently was selected for a further promotion by the Supreme Council of Magistrates.

In fact what is delayed is the advancing of Mignini’s career:  in fact he has been already promoted to a directive function; but, by the rules, his taking the post was frozen while awaiting the outcome and conclusion of the Florentine prosecution. 

Prosecutor Mignini is de facto already functioning as a prominent Magistrate in Perugia and considered as such; but formally he has not been given the directive power.  Several people ““ among them Spezi and a number of his journalist friends, but possibly also other much more important people too ““ are likely not at all eager to see Mignini awarded further power.

About the latest endeavor by Raffaele Sollecito, who became liable for criminal defamation by writing false allegations about Mignini and others in his book, I expect - as logically unavoidable ““ that several powers and subjects will basically have no option but taking legal against him.

There will be a strategic necessity to doing this in order to prevent extradition issues in the future, but also, above all, on principle, because Sollecito made false claims about public institutions that needt to have their names cleared.  Considering the kind of allegations against the judiciary as an institution, and considering that Mignini is a judge of the Anti-Mafia Division, this is the kind of lawsuit that I see as likely to be submitted on a national level, in Rome. 

If that is the case, it would not be the only strange thing that the courts of Rome will deal with.

It seems like there is a kind of “curse”  on proceedings related to the Narducci case. All sections of the Supreme Court which have been asked seem to have attempted to declare themselves “˜incompetent’ about re-opening the cases related to the Perugian doctor. The Cassazione is a huge office with a hundred judges working there, but maybe not so many of them are eager to deal with this case.

This could be only a coincidence. It only brings up to my mind, through a free association of thoughts, a more generic question ““ a personal question of mine ““ that is whether the words “Masonry” and “Politics” have an echo in Roman corridors too.

*****

Finally I want to add another significant piece of Italian news. 

The news a week ago was that the Procura of Florence is investigating a possible corruption/mafia plot involving construction enterprises and politicians that revolves around the building of a new high speed railway in Florence.

Some 31 people are being investigated and among them is the former governor of Umbria. A huge drilling machine ““ nicknamed the “Mona Lisa” ““ used to dig subway tunnels in Florence was sequestrated by the Procura. 

In the last couple of years Perugia’s prosecution office had a main role in fighting political corruption, but it seems that the Florence Anti-Mafia division is also active, just as it was in the times when the prosecutor Vigna worked with them.

Vigna was the one who first evolved the “secret sect” scenario in the Monster of Florence case, raising unexpected problems among the Procura staff.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Barbie Nadeau Reports On A Mystery Disappearance That Is Now Gripping Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell





This MAY be a kidnapping. It concerns Italian fashion house head Vittorio Missoni.

Missoni and several others took off for a short flight from a Caribbean island to Venzuela where he was to board a plane to Italy. One main problem is that so far in clear though very deep water there is absolutely no sign of any wreckage.

Usually in light aircraft crashes in water a few things remain on the surface or soon float to the top. How Barbie Nadeau describes the second main problem.

But more disturbing is a series of cellphone anomalies. On Jan. 6, according to Italian wire service ANSA, more than 48 hours after the plane disappeared, the cellphone belonging to fellow passenger Guido Foresti sent a message to Foresti’s son indicating that the phone was back in range after being out of that zone since earlier that day. Calls made later to both Foresti and his wife’s number indicated that the phones were off.

A day later, calls to Foresti’s wife’s phone rang 10 times before automatically transferring through to the phone’s answering service, indicating that her phone was also momentarily on or back in cell-tower range. According to several Italian newspapers, a list of calls registered by the local Venezuelan telephone carrier the Italians’ phones were roaming through showed that both the Foresti phones made a series of calls at noon on Jan. 4, several hours after the plane disappeared.

The search continues. As with so many Italian fashion houses (see image at bottom) there is an elegant store in Manhattan.




















Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Might Frank Sforza Already De Facto Be Banned From Ever Reentering The United States?

Posted by Kermit




If the disastrous last few hours of 2012 are any indication, 2013 will be a nightmare year for the Amanda Knox PR campaign and their associated income streams.

As regards the latter, with Knox’s memoirs book set for going on sale next April, there will have to be some serious rewriting or respinning if any mention is made of her family’s stalwart friend and logistics handler in Perugia. The man of many aliases, amongst which is his blogging name of “Frank Sfarzo”.

“Sfarzo” (real name Sforza) did not show up yesterday ““ New Year’s Eve 2012 - in court in Seattle for his preliminary hearing for a double charge of Assault 4-Domestic Violence related to his latest arrest associated with violence (domestic violence or against law enforcement officers) in different countries and continents.

Already the few remaining “Friends of Amanda” spinners on Bruce Fischer’s TrashForCashVictimsAnywhere forum not yet chilled by his escalating legal comeuppance are desperately justifying “Frank’s” bouts with domestic violence arrests as being the fault of the alleged victims.

One of the victims, Peter H in Canada, who had trustingly contributed to Sforza a very large sum, has now said “enough is enough” and bit the bullet in terms of personal embarrassment and posted a highly abusive and dishonest email from Sforza which passes for truth in his pathological world.

This is reposted with thanks from PerugiaMurderFile.net and deep appreciation to Peter H.

Yes, unlike you, abandoned and avoided like pest by everyone, I’m having fun. And anyway it’s not your business if I’m having fun or not, since the idea of you making my business makes me puke, as everyone who looks at you can only be disgusted by your scary appearances and, if they know you, even more by your person.
You are a zero, in BC nobody knows you, you never produced anything in your life, you just live out of a disability check, you have no money, you save on the electricity, you calculate how much water your victims, who accept to reach you in that barn, consume.
Your “friend” Bill Gates doesn’t have any idea who you are as well as your other “friend” Steve Jobs didn’t.
It’s only your imagination of mythomanic, paranoid, perverted, drunkard, old fool, as you rightly define yourself.
You are a disturbance for every one who has the bad luck to come across you, or who falls in the traps in which you attract them. You harassed Betttina, you harassed me, you are violent, dangerous, you have hallucinations because you are crazy, you are a snitch and a slanderer at once, you called the police at 4am while I was in bed telling them that I had stolen your wallet and cellphone. And that’s in the records of the police of BC. You were so clever to call the police after having made crimes against me, exactly as the other drunkard did. That’s the proof that you are stupid. You are so stupid you are not even able to make up an accusations against your victims. How can someone who has to stay in your house steal your cellphone and wallet, what does he do with your cellphone and your wallet if he’s staying in your house out of the world?
Uh? What? You don’t understand? If you were able to understand you would have produced something in your life, you would have someone close to you instead of having to pay people to get there.
Old disgusting drunkard and fool, remove immediately all my contact information from your email and cellphones. Remove within 48 hours the emails to me or from me you have been publishing online (because you are a nobody mythomaniac who wanted to show to the world that you were my friend). I never authorize you to publish my emails,I told you that you could post them only on the private discussion of IIP, where there are my friends, not on the public one. Remove those emails withing 48 hours or I’m gonna sue you. Never contact me again. You can’t answer this email, you can’t talk about me or say anything about my person with anyone. Next email or any attempt of communication in any form from you towards me will be evidence of your further disturbance to me, I’ll pass the border and I’ll report you to the police, who luckily know you very well.

We checked and Sforza’s malicious description of Peter H is not remotely akin to the truth. Many others can testify that, in terms of Sforza’s endless stream of threatening and abusive emails, that one is very much par for the course. Could Michael Heavey be next?

No wonder more and more one-time supporters of “Frank” and the Bruce Fischer forum TrashForCashVictimsAnywhere and in general the Amanda Knox cause are becoming more and more revolted with an immoral and borderline illegal campaign.

On New Year’s Eve, “Frank’s” Seattle court appointed lawyer initially tried ““ do give her credit ““ to arrange a week’s delay in the hearing, alleging “customs” problems that “Frank” was said to be suffering. However, Judge Ed Mckenna probably believed that with a month to prepare for any such problems, the blogger known as “Frank” should have foreseen them and been in court on schedule.

In reality, Frank likely had no problems with the American Customs. There are only three or four grounds. See the form below.





It is doubtful that even he would fly to the US for a domestic violence preliminary hearing and at the same time tried to introduce those prohibited or restricted goods into the country. Given “Frank’s” dependence on other peoples’ earnings, it is unlikely he introduced excessive levels of cash into the US. It is unlikely he tried to introduce livestock, vegetables, or disease agents.

Instead of being allowed a week for Sforza to make it through Customs, the judge gave Sforza’s lawyer only three and a half hours delay in starting the proceedings against him on New Year’s Eve. However, by 1:30 p.m., she had to concede that she couldn’t ensure that Frank could be anywhere in particular at any particular time. She did not even know where he was.

As a result, Judge McKenna had no other option than as prosecution requested to issue a bench warrant for “Frank’s” arrest.





Click for a larger image. That shows that the Amanda Knox PR asset known as “Frank” is now officially wanted under an arrest warrant covering any jurisdiction in the United States. If spotted any police can arrest him on sight. Anyone with any information concerning his whereabouts may inform the nearest law enforcement agency.

However! He may still be in Italy, or he made already be in some other country, indeed even under cover in the United States. In fact, his personal Facebook page currently lists a visited location in the New York area, although given his track record of deception that may or may not be where he really is.



[“Frank” could be in NYC if his Facebook page shows his true location.]


A number of questions remain to be answered.

One is the basis on which “Frank”, a foreigner with a recent record of domestic violence arrests, could be released on bail last November following his arrest for attacking two housemates in Seattle.





As the above image indicates, it appears that typically Assault IV”“DV suspects are held in prison, especially if there is a likelihood of flight.

Just as Amanda Knox was held in preventive prison in Italy to avoid her entourage of fulfilling their promise to get her out of prison and Italy in whatever possible way, why was “Frank” ““ a foreigner with arrest and legal issues growing around the world ““ allowed out on only $2,000 bail when it was very likely that what could happen has actually happened: he left the country and hasn’t returned on time for his court preliminary hearing in Seattle. Who facilitated this questionable decision to offer him bail in November?

Having left the country, both the judge who freed “Frank” on bail in November and “Frank” himself should have been more than aware that should “Frank” leave the country ““ exactly as he seems to have done hours after getting his bailed freedom in November - that he could have serious and lengthy paperwork to prepare should he want to return and face the American justice system?

A justice system that Fischer’s TrashForCashVictimsAnywhere and the Amanda Knox PR campaign has so often favourably compared to what they paint as a corrupt, abusive Italian justice system.





Entering the US if you have an arrest record ““ as is definitely the case of “Frank” ““ is difficult and requires much more extensive paperwork than simply filling out the ESTA VWP forms online like an average tourist. Anyone in “Frank’s” situation should have been responsible enough to identify potential problems in returning to the US to face his Domestic Violence charges “¦

Unless!

    ...unless the entourage around him (I’m not referring to his court appointed lawyer) felt that in fact the best option of those available is to not have “Frank” go through a difficult trial that could further damage the Knox PR campaign and have a negative impact on upcoming sales of Knox’s memoir “tell all” book and her odds on appeal.

    or unless the US Rome Embassy or Immigration decided (not at all for the first time) that it would be way cheaper and safer for everybody concerned to simply keep him out.

The final question is: where actually is “Frank”?

He has an upcoming trial in Italy for biting a police officer who responded to a domestic violence complaint phoned in by a female member of “Frank’s” own family. A prison term is a real possibility. He has an American arrest warrant issued against him. A prison term is a real possibility. He’s certainly not wanted back in Canada.

His attempted point of entry into the USA if there was one is not publicly know. He has not been seen publicly in Perugia for some weeks.

Maybe he’s already disappeared into some far-off hills for a few years. Cross-section of his new lodgings below?




Judge Ed McKenna Issues A Bench Warrant For The Arrest of Court No-Show Frank Sforza

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below Municipal Judge Ed McKenna and some images of Seattle Justice Center]


Our main poster Fly By Night reports from the Seattle court.

Before the afternoon session began, Frank’s court appointed lawyer and the court bailiff informed interested parties that he would not be making an appearance.  The KING5 cameraman decided to leave before hearing the adjudication. With court in session, the lawyer apologized to the judge for wasting the court’s time on her no-show client by requesting the half-day delay.

In the morning session the lawyer initially requested a one week delay due to Frank having “customs” problems, but could provide no further information for the court regarding Frank’s absence in the afternoon session.  The judge was aware of Frank’s legal issues in Hawaii, but could find nothing in Frank’s record that would have prevented him from making it to court and therefore disregarded the claims of “customs issues”.

The judge was willing to entertain any additional excuses or suggestions on Frank’s behalf, but unfortunately there were no supporters to be found, leaving his lawyer to state, “I have no further suggestions, your honor.”

The judge then asked the prosecution for a recommended course of action.  The response was, “issue a bench warrant for Mr. Sforca’s arrest”, and the judge agreed, issuing a bench warrant for Frank’s arrest on New Year’s Eve 2012.

Hmmm. Unfortunate that there was not even one supporter to be found…

Frank Sforza has apparently not been seen in Perugia either since his flight out of Seattle a month ago. He also failed to attend a court hearing in Perugia on his (more serious) resisting-arrest charge there.

If he fails to appear in court on the new date next month a Perugia judge is expected to issue a warrant for his arrest. Its is possible that he could be declared an international fugitive if there are more no-shows. 

Oddly, Frank Sforza is apparently still sending out his trademark abusive emails to his former fans and financial helpers. Will that come to include Judge Heavey and Curt Knox? 

Not such a good idea to fight justice all these years. Kermit will post again next on the full implications of Frank’s meteoric career - downward.

 










































Monday, December 31, 2012

Will Frank Sforza Show In Seattle Court? If Not Arrest Warrant And Freedom Revocation Probably Next

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above center: Frank Sforza with close acquaintances Curt Knox and Michael Heavey]


1. Skeptical Bystander reports:

Live from the Seattle Municipal Court: Sforza a no show this morning.

Attorney requests one week delay, says Frank is having customs problems and interpreter is not available this afternoon.

Judge asks if Frank’s English is good enough to function without interpreter and then resets for 1:30 today.

Will he show? KING 5 cameraman was there.

2. Fly By Night reports

Frank Sforza is a no show this afternoon as well. This time, there’s no KING camera to record the non-event. Waiting for Judge McKenna to make an appearance.

If there were supporters in attendance, they were being very discreet.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Frank Sforza Serial Defamer of Italian Justice Must Face Hard Truths Of American Justice

Posted by Kermit





This has not been a good year at all for the increasingly beleaguered Knox and Sollecito campaigns.

As interest in Amanda Knox and her case dwindles precipitately in the United States, her image handlers seem to realize that a major final push effort must be made for their final challenge to be successful: a profitable sales kickoff for Knox’s “tell-it-all” book now promised for April 2013.

At this point, the tough prosecution appeal in the case against Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher seemingly hardly interests the PR campaign, apart from any market “churn” that it can help to develop for the book..

Raffaele’s own US book promotion tour three months ago was little short of a complete disaster. On the one hand, his heated text has provided massive new defamatory material against innocent persons, and on the other he has introduced new affirmations that totally contradict his defence team’s posture throughout the murder trials.

Now, the Perugian Blogger known variously as “Frank Sfarzo”, “Francesco Sforza” and “Francesco Sforca” (real name Sforza) has been arrested and has spent time confined in Hawaii and Seattle jails, in addition to being questioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada. In Seattle he may face more time.

These arrests and questionings are in addition to his arrest and charging in Perugia for attacking police officers coming to investigate a complaint for alleged domestic violence phoned-in by a female member of his own family. That trial is now pending.



[“Frank Sfarzo” with his fellow serial belittlers of Italian justice, Bruce Fischer and Steve Moore]


Frank’s Canadian Caper and his Hawaiian Punch adventure were of thematic note. In one case, it was an elderly Canadian gentlemen who was acting as Frank’s host who made the phone call in the wee hours to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, because he feared that the often scantily clad and more-and-more argumentative “Frank” was a real physical threat to him. In the other case, a woman had Hawaiian police alerted and had claimed that she was pushed around by “Frank” in the hotel where she had put him.

What is really surprising is that in both cases the victims of alleged aggressions were fervent supporters of Amanda Knox! And in both cases, the victims had given “Frank” substantial monetary gifts: $5,000 by the Canadian man, and air tickets to Hawaii by the American woman.

In both cases, the victims were followers of the absurdly named “Injustice in Perugia” blog run by the beleaguered pro-Knox Chicago-suburbs blogger Bruce Fisher/Fischer. Fischer is actually a mall store assistant and wannabe sleuth who like “Frank” makes use of more than one name in grandly presenting a faux front to the world.

Back when he claimed online to be the upscale “Bruce Fisher of New York”, Bruce carried out many nasty and in-effect anonymous attacks on individuals, mostly women, who did not share his point of view. The “Fischer of Chicago”, now exposed, continues more cautiously in public, but in his little private forum he continues to rant against anyone who doesn’t share his untethered take on Amanda Knox’s total innocence and a vast Italy-wide conspiracy. This authentic Fischer has a fairly unexotic lobbying base and Internet connection for promoting his pro-Knox cause: the suburban-mall fur-shop where he works.

Fisher/Fischer is now maintaining that the plea on his blog for the “Frank Sfarzo Fund Drive” is to help the Perugia Shock blog and not “Frank” the blogger who runs it ““ however, that’s not what the Fund Drive description says:



[Above: Amanda Knox advocate Bruce Fisher/Fischer has been a key enforcer of donations to the Perugian Blogger]


As is often the case of persons who suffer domestic physical and psychological abuse at the hands and mouth of someone they implicitly respected, it must have taken a major act of self-questioning and doubt before the Hawaiian and Canadian victims were able to make themselves step forward and decry the abuse they allegedly suffered and were humiliated by.

Both of those cases were talked about a lot on several web discussion boards. Not surprisingly, Fisher/Fischer, who has invested heavily in the particular versions of the crimes against Meredith that he promotes to “save” Knox (and, as a necessary side-effect, Raffaele Sollecito) could only try and explain/justify the Perugian Blogger’s behavior, while at the same time directly accusing the two real victims of provoking the Blogger’s “quirky” personality. Fisher/Fischer’s take on Knox and his related income stream would otherwise be at stake.

Perhaps Fischer should be more worried about the potential liability for wrong claims he makes about third parties in this case, especially those in Rome and Perugia, and about the potential for the Perugian Blogger to cause further cases and more victims of domestic violence, given the blogger’s alleged record.





In spite of the statement of “Probable Cause” by the arresting police officer in Hawaii (see image above), in the end, under a great deal of heat, charges were not pressed by the victims against “Frank” in Canada or in Hawaii.

However, what Fisher/Fischer and other pro-Knox PR assets did not reveal in what I consider to be their hypocritical justification of “Frank’s” known violence in his North American travels is that he actually had one further legal case, still going forward in Seattle at this date.

It started to receive public scrutiny only when it was unearthed by Internet commenters on the pro-victim side.

Following his problems in Canada and Hawaii, on November 27 “Frank” was arrested yet again, in Seattle, after allegedly having a physically violent encounter with the persons with whom he had arranged a room when he returned to Washington State after his disastrous emergency exit from Hawaii. He spent over 24 hours in a Seattle jail before being bailed out thanks to donated funds.

The Seattle police report concerning this most recent incident and the arrest of “Frank” states thus:

“(VI ““ Victim1) said that he was sitting on the couch talking to the District Attorney’s Office when S/Sforza became agitated and slapped the phone out of his hand. S/Sforza then jumped on top of him and punched him in the face approximately four times. V I was able to push S/Sforza off of him and stand up but S/Sforza pushed him back on the couch causing pain to his right shoulder. S/Sforza then jumped on top of V II (Victim 2) and began slapping in the face and scratched him on the temple. While V II struggled to get away he scraped his left knuckle but was able to get to his room. While in his room he grabbed his phone to call 9-1-1. As he was walking out of his room S/Sforza tried to push him back in the room and grabbed him by the throat using both of his hands. S/Sforza then left the house and 9-1-1 was called. V II had a visible red scrape to his right temple, a visible scrape to his left knuckle and redness around his neck. Both victims declined medical attention at the scene.

[ed note. Sforza called 911, informing police that he would meet them] ... at 36th Ave W and W Mcgraw where he said he would be waiting. S/Sforza said that both V I and V II had been giving him a hard time since he returned from his trip. He said they told him that he wasn’t able to leave his room. He stated that V II had tried to force him to leave the house and choked him. S/Sforza did not have any visible signs of assault and did not have any redness around his neck. S/Sforza said the police were called to the house yesterday for a disturbance. A report was written on that incident (12-403658).

S/Sforza was placed under arrest and transported to the West Precinct… Persons took pictures of the injuries to V II and sent them for processing to the SPD Photo Lab via the Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS). 2 Domestic violence Supplemental forms were completed by Officer… S/Sforza has a passport from Italy and requested Consular notification.”

“Frank” has hinted in online conversations that he may be coming to Seattle for the purpose of celebrating New Year’s Eve. He has even gently jibed Amanda’s co-murder suspect (pending final appeal) Raffaele Sollecito for not being sure if it’s worth it to go to Seattle for just a few days at year’s end:





However, if The Perugian Blogger, a man of at least three aliases and now a number of arrests relating to domestic violence, is going to be in Seattle on December 31, it will actually be because he has a court hearing on New Year’s Eve for two counts of Assault 4 ““ Domestic Violence. 

This time, it seems that the alleged victims won’t hold back or be humiliated into letting the crime go unchallenged and have the charges withdrawn.

“Frank” has been a central figure to the pro-Knox forces ever since a few months after the murder of Meredith he decided instead to advocate for Knox in conjunction with other elements of the Knox PR campaign. This was a shocking and sudden 180 degree U-turn for someone who had up until then been strongly pro-Meredith and favorable to the prosecutor. Mr Mignini, on the case.

What incentive did he have to make such a rapid, stunning, radical change? Leaving many former followers behind?

I don’t know, but do note that nobody can account for how he paid his bills these past 4 years since he claims that no Italian media buys his articles. With “Frank” seemingly living off of the kindness of others and/or the PR campaign, and seemingly not having a particular long-term address of his own… Does the term “drifter” come to mind?

In time, the integration of “Frank’s” Perugia Shock blog with the Knox PR campaign was openly evidenced ““ before its current aesthetic makeover after it briefly was forced down ““ by the incorporation of key Knox lobbyist Jim Lovering into the blog credits thus:



[Above: Will “Frank’s” campaigner colleague and local resident Jim Lovering appear in court next Monday to support him?]


The Perugian Blogger has been useful to the pro-Knox campaign. In spite of American thriller novelist Douglas Preston’s strange affirmations that Italy has been coming over to Amanda’s side in her legal battle, the truth is that few non-American and specifically no Italian faces have come out strongly in favour of Knox, except for her own lawyers of course.

“Frank” quickly became a local enabler for the Knox-Mellas clan in Perugia, helping out with the most mundane activities, from revealing secret insider “knowledge” or “facts” on his blog, to babysitting the younger Knox-Mellas girls, or involving the girls in paid-for photo shoots.

In return, he was often referred to in pro-Knox circles as a “journalist”. This faux title was certainly a step up from “Frank’s” prior life of maintaining a website dedicated to selling truffles or capitalizing on the Italian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.



[Image above: “Frank” before Meredith’s murder: a mundane life of waiting for his 10 minutes of fame]

.
Following Meredith’s murder, and with the Knox-Mellas clan desperately in need of a facilitator for their everyday logistics in Perugia, “Frank” became their handyman and, in time, almost part of the Knox-Mellas clan.



[Image: Perugian Blogger “Frank” and Chris Mellas, Amanda Knox’s stepfather.]


“Frank”, however, was not merely a passive enabler. He asserted himself, and he pushed his envelope of fame and ownership of knowledge, even though he was mostly a receiver of the tidbits of information the Knox-Mellas clan would throw him when convenient.

His particular claim to “ownership” of information given to him got to the ridiculous point of claiming copyright to court documents that he received and posted on his blog. Court officials might find that pretty cheeky!





The official image of the knife later resurfaced in a great video by ViaDellaPergola here.

It seems that befriending “Frank” became the “in” thing to do, for a brief moment anyway, with many FOA-types and Knox Entourage hangers-on. He must have seemed quite exotic, and also, surprisingly, on their side. After all, the rest of Italy was clearly not.

Bruce Fisher/Fischer the blogger and Knox lobbyist has increasingly isolated himself in supporting “Frank”, and has been working around the clock to justify “Frank’s” string of domestic violence arrests and police questionings, after having published and vouched for “Frank’s” need for financial assistance.

Will Fisher/Fischer and Steve Moore continue to befriend and support “Frank” the blogger? Moore once stated that he would trust Amanda Knox as a roommate to his own daughter. Would he trust “Frank” to spend time alone overnight with his own daughter, now that Moore is aware of Frank’s arrest record for domestic violence? Does he approve of “Frank’s” way of living “¦ is it simply “”˜Frank’ being “˜Frank’”, or something that a father might be worried about?

Another of “Frank’s” close confidantes in the US has been Candace Dempsey, a person with a personal food blog on the Seattle Post Intelligencer website who hastily erased most of her culinary blogging past in order to get on with her new found life as a pro-Knox writer.



[Food blogger Candace Dempsey has attempted to recycle her professional focus in parallel with “Frank”]


Dempsey continues to dedicate herself ““ for the moment at least ““ to writing about Amanda Knox’s involvement in the Meredith Kercher murder case from a pro-Knox point of view.  Will Candace be at Frank’s hearing in the Municipal Court of Seattle on December 31? It would be a fine way of supporting someone she has shared so much fellowship with.

Followers of Meredith’s murder case all remember how Dempsey’s man-in-Perugia “Frank” stalwartly supported her affirmation that it would have been impossible for Amanda and Raffaele to stake out any movements of persons entering or leaving the cottage following Meredith’s murder, due to the entrance to the cottage grounds supposedly not being visible from the Piazza Grimana “¦ in spite of every eye-witness observation and evidenciary photo to the contrary.

Another pro-Knox asset who has been supportive of “Frank” in many ways is Seattle’s King County Judge Michael Heavey. Heavey once received a stern official reprimand for sending, on State of Washington stationary, private accusations of judicial negligence to Italian authorities, where he accused Prosecutor Mignini of grave mismanagement of the Meredith Kercher murder investigation, without providing any evidence to support his wild and defamatory claims. Heavey continues his pro-Knox support in a vocal manner, with appearances at university forums that are prepackaged to support Knox, or speaking at local Rotary Club meetings (luckily we saved the video).



[“Frank” the Perugian Blogger and host Judge Michael Heavey pose together.]


Will Judge Heavey be present at “Frank’s” hearing for charges of domestic violence on December 31? Will he use his good offices to help Frank bear the state of Washington’s justice in the lightest manner possible?

Anti-Mignini novelist Douglas Preston, a patron funder of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), appeared (how coincidental) in a strange CPJ open letter to the world by Joel Simon to Italian authorities, complaining that a mysterious police squad that supposedly reports to Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini had beaten up “Frank” and had him arrested on trumped up charges.



]Novelist Douglas Preston ““ now a self-described “point-of-view journalist”]


Preston was a central source in a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) open letter which transformed the domestic violence complaint of a female member of the Perugian Blogger’s family into a case of harassment by Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. It’s hard to make up crazier tales, yet the CPJ stands by the unsubstantiated claims fed to it.  In most jurisdictions that’s called defamation.

Now is a good time for the CPJ’s Executive Director Joel Simon to show his face and admit his embarrassing error by recognizing that “Frank’s” arrest for violence against police officers in Perugia while resisting arrest was under the responsibility of Prosecutor Paolo Abbritti and his team.

Mr Mignini who “Frank” and Preston and Simoin smeared globally had no role at all and may well have not even have known about it. “Frank’s” domestic and anti-authority violence in Italy is consistent with his domestic violence related arrests in North America.

No one, not even CPJ’s Joel Simon could ever have seriously considered that the provincial civil servant Mr Mignini has a private goon squad of rogue policemen who report to him and beat up persons on his request.

By recognizing his error, Joel Simon would be making a positive gesture to classic journalistic standards (not gonzo point-of-view journalism standards) of correcting errors, and he would also be doing a great service to victims of domestic violence around the world. Joel, I ask you please to finally do what is right, and not what a financial benefactor of your organization wants you to do.





It is also important to hear what Preston’s response if any is to “Frank’s” current legal woes in the US. So far, no word from him. Will Preston continue to see the long arm of Mignini in all these arrests? Or will he distance himself from a person Preston considers a fellow “point-of-view journalist” in the Meredith Kercher case?

Preston recently contacted this writer, saying he was writing an Afterword to a book by Mario Spezi about what he calls the “Amanda Knox case”. He said this chapter would be dedicated to the key online players on both sides of the case. (Preston was first invited, see here and here and here, to correct some of his previous error-laden work.)

There is probably no other online personality more prominently associated with the Amanda Knox PR campaign than the blogger who goes by the nickname of “Frank Sfarzo”.

If Preston can’t make it to Seattle to support “Frank”, I guess we will have to wait for his new Afterword in Spezi’s book or his magazine article to catch his angle on “Frank’s” travails with the law, or at least what he thinks about “Frank” after they appeared together in the CPJ open letter - after which, Preston wrote some vigorous followup emails about the CPJ’s open letter concerning “Frank”.

If it had not been for Preston the fictionalist and “Frank” the recycled truffle blogger, there would have been no inaccurate and highly unfair demonizing of Prosecutor Mignini, and that would have taken the air out of Bruce Fisher/Fischer’s own very nasty campaign.

In addition, the pro-Knox books written by would-be opinion benders Nina Burleigh and Candace Dempsey would have been very different or impossible to develop as they are.

It goes on and on. The list of pro-Knox PR assets who have used “Frank” in their own particular contributions to Amanda’s cause is extensive.  Will any of them be in Seattle Municpal Court [image below] with the Perugian Blogger this Monday at 10:00 am?





A pro-Knox commenter who goes by the penname of “KayPea” is trying to rally the pro-Knox troops who are now starting to back off in a very natural manner from “Frank” and the string of domestic violence incidents that “Frank” seems to have been involved in. On the “IIP” blog, she exhorts them to remain in the fold. If we believe her, she is speaking for herself - and remarkably, also the Knox and Mellas families:

“several of you good people [she’s referring to pro-Knox readers] seem to be trying to make up your mind about Frank’s credibility as the author of Perugia Shock as it is juxtaposed on his personal life and this crazy mess with Bettina, Peter and the nutters at the boarding house [ed note: these are respectively the pro-Knox Hawaiian, Canadian, and Seattlietes who are now non-grata “¦ it seems that if you want to make sure that you are allowed to be a groupie, don’t let yourself to get into a situation where “Frank” the Perugian Blogger can abuse you].

Please know that the people who know him the best, Amanda’s family and friends, have been at his side throughout the past few months. COME. WHAT. MAY. They, and I, accept all of Frank’s personality quirks ...” (IIP, 27/12/2012)

However, the owner of the blog, Bruce Fisher/Fischer, seems to be trying frantically to isolate the impact of “Frank’s” “personality quirks” on the IIP emporium. Fischer has stated thus:

“lets lay this out in simple terms. Amanda and Raffaele are free. Nothing that happens in Frank’s life at this point has anything at all to do with anything that took place in the past with regard to the case. Nothing happening in Frank’s life has anything at all to do with Meredith Kercher.”

(Bruce Fisher/Fischer ““ IIP blog ““ 27/12/2012)

It’s as if Fischer in his surreal bubble is claiming that “Frank” never really ever existed. Never fought tooth-and-nail for years to deny Meredith and her family their justice.

If I were “Frank”, I would be thinking that maybe not very many of my once long list of FOA friends will be showing support during the New Year’s Eve court appearance.

Will they be joining him for drinks later after the court hearing is done? Or maybe further contact would put them at risk of being pushed into being the next “Bettina” or “Peter” in Canada, more victims of domestic violence.

Does anyone reading believe any longer the wild, uninvestigated claim of Douglas Preston’s friends at the CPJ? That the Italian Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini was behind the complaint placed by female members of “Frank’s” family in Italy? Which eventually led to his arrest there after attacking police officers?

Or is that simply another falsehood from the pro-Knox PR myth factory?

Domestic violence is a terrible, terrible issue in our society. We should never try to explain it away, or blame the victim or any third parties who had nothing to do with the violence.  To do so only degrades the victim, and distances yet further the perpetrator from correcting his criminal behavior.

Let’s hope that if someone shows up at the Perugian Blogger’s court hearing this Monday December 31, even if all of his erstwhile FOA friends have disappeared, that victims of domestic violence are there with true supporters, demonstrating that they have no fear of decrying this degrading, despicable criminal behavior.





Final question. Will the Knox-Mellas families really continue to support Frank? Will they let him stay at their homes? Would Amanda let him sleep at her apartment or even visit without her boyfriend or anyone else present?

In fact will any of the Knox-Mellas clan members be at “Frank’s” court hearing at the Seattle Municipal Court at 10:00 am this Monday December 31?  In particular, will Amanda be there? Or does Frank, as is rumored, have her freaked?








Wednesday, December 19, 2012

False Allegations Against Italian Officialdom Sparking Increasingly Tough Legal Reaction

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





David Marriott? Chirs Mellas? Doug Preston? Curt Knox?

Maybe none of the above. But whoever came up with the hairbrained idea that a pedal-to-the-floor assault on the officlals handling the case would lead to a tranquil outcome for the accused was maybe not thinking very well on that day.

The Italian System

We have gone over the impressive characteristics of the Italian justice system again and again. It is THE most popular and trusted institution in Italy - and by a wide margin.

It is a very fair, carefiul and painstaking system, staffed by well-trained professionals all the way up from cops through investigators through prosecutors through judges through the Supreme Court to the President of the Italian Republic himself.

The Italian system may be the least likely justice system IN THE WORLD for rogue police or rogue prosecutors or rogue judges to hijack it and bend things their way. Even ex-PM Berlusconi tried but his charges still plague him.

Prosecutors again and again see their cases tested in front of administrative magistrates, and those magistrates make all of the decisions. Everything is very public, and judges explain how they decided (ask a typical US or UK jury to do that!) and how they arrived at their theory of the crime.

In the Perugia case the judge for Guede developed one theory of the crime, the judges for Knox and Sollecito at trial a second, and the the judges for knox and Sollecito at first appeal a third. In fact none of them swallowed the tentative prosecution theory wholesale, though many of our lawyers found it quite sound.

Those Who Attack

Now we have three Italians either already facing charges or soon to face charges - Mario Spezi, Frank Sforza and Raffaele Sollecito, each in several suits. These are in addition to the three Americans who have already been charged - Amanda Knox, Edda Mellas, and Curt Knox.

So the present total is six.

Mario Spezi

Spezi is the Italian sleuthing partner of the American fictionalist Doug Preston who for his uninvited interference in what was an ongoing police investigation of the Monster of Florence case has faced legal woe after legal woe in recent years.

Spezi has already lost one defamation suit to the former MOF investigator and prominent novelist Michele Giuttari, he must in February face another, and he may have to face up to another half dozen more after that. We don’t expect Spezi’s losing streak to end any time soon.

Frank Sforza

Sforza hides behind the name Frank Sfarzo as an intemperate and rarely accurate blogger on the case. He brings no known professionals skills to the task. He is reported to be the target of criminal charges relating to alleged abuse of the sister and mother with whom he lives. His unsavory reputation and desperate finances mushroomed openly the other day, when he was reported in personal confrontations while visiting Canada and Hawaii.

Sforza now faces a defamation suit as well, for claiming to the whole world via Doug Preston and Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York that he was being persecuted by a prosecutor back in Perugia. The prosecutor was not even involved. Seems to us an open and shut case.

Raffaele Sollecito

Sollecito still stands accused in Meredith’s death unless and until the Supreme Couirt signs off. It may not do that any time soon.

Flowing from his new book, Sollecito will apparently face a ton of defamation woes in the next few weeks. These may come to ensnare his defense team (who are credited with helping put together the book) and his shadow writer, his Seattle supporters, and his publishers Simon & Schuster of New York.

Our emerging book corrections page shows how riddled with wrong claims we find Sollecito’s book. We estimate up to 300 wrong claims.  If and when Sollecito sees all the defamation charges filed, we will know from court filings who among Italian officialdom claims passages in the book defame them.

What Next?

Maybe the cases against these six could eventually all dry up and then there will be no more. But we sure wouldn’t lay any bets. Do an Internet search and you’ll instantly turn up plenty more defamatory idiocy. Many media sites may be very vulnerable and may be sued to retract and pay up.

Italian anger is riding high - and it sure ain’t against the prosecutors or cops.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Considerable Number Of Suspected Perps That Countries Extradite Daily To Other Countries

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Umarked Federal flying paddy-wagon, seen here leaving Seattle, transports 300,000 prisoners annually ]


Extradition is not without its controversies and not all extradition requests see a suspect sitting on a plane handcuffed to a federal marshal.

However, most do, and the US at federal and state level is at any one time processing hundreds of requests and transporting suspected perps hither and thither - the majority, of course, internally between U.S. states, but a large minority are incoming and outgoing. 

Complete refusals of extradition seem very rare, as that can cause rebound and ripple effects down the ages.

The US is sort of refusing to send some pilots and CIA operatives back to Italy for trial, but those cases are both in the realm of the quasi military. In the case of the Italian soldiers being held in India for the shooting from a oil tanker of Cochin fishermen they suspected were pirates, even Italy says rules for military must be different.

The US and Italy co-operate on law enforcement more than most countries and the FBI and its Italian equivalent have officers from the other service permanently embedded. We posted on this case of Italy sending an American renegade doctor back to Indiana to face charges.

In general extraditions in both directions between the U.S. and Italy seem to go smoothly and if the State Department ever gets involved (it states that this is Justice Department business) we don’t see any evidence of it in recent reports.

These cases - some of them involving countries sending their own nationals to other countries to face the music - are all live cases on the first 10 of 30 pages when “extradition” is searched on Google News.

  • The United States extradites US national David Kramer to Melbourne in Australia. He “has been charged with 10 counts of indecent assault allegedly committed in St Kilda East when he was a teacher at a Jewish orthodox school.”
  • Canada rules to send Canadian national Rapinder (Rob) Sidhu a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer to the US. “The U.S. indictment… alleges Sidhu… worked with convicted British Columbia smugglers Rob Shannon and Devron Quast to operate a cocaine transportation organization based in British Columbia.”
  • The UK sends back Joshua Edwards, a murder suspect, to the US after he fought extradition for five years. He is accused in a 2006 shooting death in Maryland.
  • The UK sends back Prine “Prince” Jones to Newark New Jersey. “The 46-year-old Birmingham, England, resident is charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to import and export cocaine.”
  • Mexico sends back two brothers to New York City “to join a third brother to face sex trafficking charges in New York as part of a complex collaborative effort to combat human trafficking”.
  • The UK sends back TV star Robert Hughes to Sydney, Australia. ““He is wanted in connection with allegations of gross indecency, indecent assault and sexual assault towards children in NSW, Australia, between August 1984 and August 1990.”
  • Guatamala sends Horst Walther Overdick to New York. “Overdick, known as “The Tiger,” was detained in April during an operation to arrest [very dangerous] Zetas [cartel] operatives in the Central American country.”
  • Finland sends Igor Vassiliev to the US.  “Igor Vassiliev, 38, a Russian citizen, was arrested in July in Finland, based on an Interpol Red Notice. He is only the third person ever extradited from Finland to the U.S….[in 2005] a federal grand jury handed up indictments charging him with health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud and mail fraud.”
  • The United Arab Emirates sends Kamchybek Kolbaye back to Kyrgyzstan after a two-year legal process. “Kolbayev faces charges of kidnapping, robbery, organization of a criminal group, illegal drug trafficking, and illegal weapons possession,”
  • Israel will send Israeli national Aleksandar Cvetkovic to Bosnia. He was arrested in 2011 “on an international warrant after witnesses testified that he had assisted in the shooting of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II.”
  • Ireland extradites Philip Baron to Liverpool in England. “Alleged crime gang boss Philip Baron faces four charges relating to money laundering and conspiracy to import a huge shipment of cocaine and cannabis to the UK from South Africa and Costa Rica between 2005 and 2009.”
  • The US may extradite David Headley to India. “CNN-IBN reported US Under Secretary Wendy Sherman as saying, “The US acknowledges Hafiz Saeed is mastermind of 26/11 [Mumbai bomb] attacks. President Barack Obama is determined the US will bring Hafiz Saeed to justice.”
  • The UK will extradite British national Lee Aldhouse to Thailand. “Mr Aldhouse successfully fled Thailand after allegedly stabbing American Deshawn Longfellow to death in August 2010. He was later arrested at Heathrow Airport on an unrelated charge when he tried to re-enter the UK.”
  • Mauritius has sent Captain Kung back to Taiwan. “Kung was suspected of shooting and killing 12 Chinese sailors [in 1999] on his… fishing vessel during a failed mutiny attempt on Feb. 1999. The vessel at the time was sailing on waters northwest of Mauritius…. Kung was later arrested by Mauritius authorities and sentenced to 20 years in prison.”
  • Italy will deport Muiz Trabulsi to Tunisia under an agreements signed by Italy Justice Minister Paola Severino. Muiz Trabulsi is “the nephew of Layla Al-Trablisi, Tunisia’s ex-first lady, to stand trial in Tunisia…. [a part of Tunisia’s eforts] efforts to bring back money stolen by members of the former regime”.
  • Bulgaria extradited Stefan Klenovski to Italy, who “had a Europol Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued against him by Italian authorities on suspicions of participating in the crime ring practicing ATM fraud [and], was arrested on January 27 in a shopping mall in downtown Sofia.”

Two more cases are now prominently in the news: Wikileaks founder Julian Assad, holed up in the Ecuador Embassy in London, who the Brits want to extradite to Sweden, and John McAfee, the formoer software magnate now back in the US, who Belize may charge with murdering his neighbor.

Almost invariably while awaiting a final decision those subject to an extradition request have to sit out their appeals in prison. If Amanda Knox is reconvicted in a new appeal trial ordered by the Supreme Court, she could face years sitting in an uncomfortable American prison if her extradition is disputed.

Or, of course, she could willingly move straight to an Italian prison, which as she knows offer in-cell TV, private bathrooms, good career skill-building, and concerts.


[Below: Paola Severino, Italy’s relentless no—nonsense justice minister]


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Casey Anthony Might Have Escaped Guilty Verdict Because An Incriminating Web Search Was Missed

Posted by Peter Quennell



This has been sensationalized news in the United States for two weeks and many people are still grinding their teeth.

As the video explains it seems pretty certain that it was Casey Anthony on her Firefox browser that googled “‘Foolproof Suffocation’” on the day her daughter Caylee disappeared and/or died.

The defense lawyer Jose Baez knew of the hit throughout the trial but, apparently under no legal compulsion to assemble the prosecutor’s case, he simply held his breath on the evidence until the “not guilty” verdict came in. He now suggests to universal disbelief that Casey was thinking of suicide.

Several of our lawyers are inclined to doubt that an American judge would have allowed an appeal in the Knox and Sollecito case given the very weak grounds - and had he or she done so, the appeal court would have had no second-guessing jury, and its brief would have been very circumscribed. With or without appeal granted, in the US the pair would probably still be serving their time.

So the uber-cautious Italian system favored them so far. But two of the prosecution appeal grounds at Supreme Court level seem at least as damning as searching “foolproof suffocation”. One is that the Conti-Vecchiotti consultancy was illegal, and the other is that the failure to test a remaining sample on the knife was also illegal.

So if they eventually do go down, Casey Anthony may still end up laughing at Sollecito and Knox. It has been announced that Casey Anthony is getting her own Lifetime movie (airing early next year) and can pretty well say and write anything and take any money offered that she wants.

But Casey Anthony is still appealing convictions for lying to police, a long shot at best, and after that the nanny whose name she gave to police as “the kidnapper” will get her day in court.

So Casey Anthony, who sounds psychologically untethered, might not end up laughing too much after all.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

CIA v. State Department: A Significant Development For The Perugia Case?

Posted by Peter Quennell





As expected the Supreme Court of Cassation has upheld kidnapping convictions against 23 CIA operatives.

The landmark case dates to Feb. 17, 2003, when Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a radical Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar [image below}, walked out of his Milan apartment in broad daylight and vanished.

talian authorities used cellphone records made at the time and location of the abduction to determine that CIA officers snatched Abu Omar, drove him to nearby Aviano Air Base and flew him to Egypt. According to Italian court documents,

Abu Omar was beaten and subjected to electric shock in a Cairo prison. He was later freed.

The significant development for Meredith’s case is that the State Department had refused to organize diplomatic immunity with Italy for any of the 23. 

Now at least one of them, Sabrina De Sousa (image at top with her lawyer), is suing the State Department for not having stood by her in retroactively organizing that diplomatic immunity.

All 23 could now be the subject of requests for extradition to Italy to serve out their six-year sentences, and if the US Justice Department refuses to comply they could be the subjects of worldwide arrest warrants via Interpol.

That could mean the end of their operational usefulness in the CIA and conceivably prevent any of them ever traveling outside the US again in their lifetimes.

Why have the CIA and the State Department seriously parted company here? Well, their mandates are almost polar opposites.

The State Department and its Embassies and the very considerable American presence throughout the United Nations tries hard to get along with friendly nations, and Italy is probably one of its top half-dozen friends.

The CIA on the other hand is charged with using fair means and foul to fight back against terrorism worldwide, and sometimes its practices contravene the best interests of diplomacy and the local law.

Here the CIA is coming out the clear loser and State is sweetly sitting on its hands and not upsetting Italy in any way.

Cables released so far by the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act suggest that State and the Rome Embassy really didnt ever lift a finger to subvert Italian justice on behalf of Amanda Knox.

Here’s betting more of the same - no action by State - as the Cassation appeal comes alive. And no standing in the way of an extradition request for Knox if Cassation decides Judge Masssei got the trial right.




Friday, August 24, 2012

Giulia Bongiorno Loses A High Profile Case Watched All Over Europe And May Soon Lose Another

Posted by Peter Quennell





Crime fascinates Italians but unfortunately (or fortunately) there isnt that much of it in Italy.

The real national pasttime is soccer as the thousands of YouTubes and Google images and news reports and hundreds of blogs attest. The case Giulia Borngiorno has just so publicly lost concerns the coach Antonio Conte (image below) of the crack Turin club Juventus. 

The Juventus coach Antonio Conte is set to miss the whole of the Serie A season with the defending champions after losing his appeal against a 10-month ban over a match-fixing scandal.

Conte, who led an undefeated Juventus to the Italian title in his first season in charge, was banned on 10 August for failing to report two incidents of match-fixing in the 2010-11 season when he was coach of Siena.

The Italian federation (FIGC) said in a statement on Wednesday that Conte, whose hearing was heard on Monday, had lost his appeal.

Giulia Bongiorno seems to have a tendency to be a sore loser. La Gazetta del Sporto quotes her “the dog ate my homework” excuse thus:

Giulia Bongiorno said “” “We were not given the opportunity to defend ourselves to the full. This is a violation of constitutional rights which go far beyond these issues. Negotiating sentences is becoming very attractive for those who falsely turn state’s evidence,” said Giulia Bongiorno, Antonio Conte’s legal representative.

“If you examine Carobbio and find him not credible, and if you take one of his crutches away (the charges regarding Novara v Siena, Ed), the other one will collapse too, because Conte is being charged with the same thing for Siena v AlbinoLeffe. Carobbio is a bit like Jessica Rossi at the Olympics, and the only clay-pigeon missed is Novara v Siena. And our intention was not to obtain a reduction in the sentence, if it had been we would have negotiated.”

This is the most public case Bongiorno has lost since the Andreotti mafia-connection appeal in 2002. She was on the defense against Prosecutor Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari.

This is the same Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari who as the highly competent head of the Umbria courts’ criminal division was first nominated to preside over the Sollecito-Knox appeal.

Giulia Bongiorno, who did some very odd things during the trial and appeal to ensure winning, at least one of which is being investigated, is also the powerful head of the justice committee in the parliament.

Is that the mother of all conflicts of interest or what?! We know of no parallel in any other country and it seems highly unconstitutional. Nevertheless, despite all the caution of the Italian justice system, this conflict is allowed to persist.

In November 2002 Prosecutor Chiari won his prosecution appeal, and the ex-PM Mr Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years (later reversed by the Supreme Court).

Giulia Bongiorno was widely reported as collapsing in court at the verdict, and seemed to take it very hard.

Fast forward to 2010.  Suddenly Giulia Bongiorno is about to face Dr Chiari once again, as a judge in what was to be a very tough appeal. Under UK and US law, she would have had to be the one to step aside, or not even take the case back in 2008.

But she didn’t step aside.

Instead, all of a sudden, lo and behold, her nemesis back in 2002 is yanked off the 2011 appeal trial, and seemingly demoted to head the childrens’ branch of the court. Meanwhile, labor judge Hellmann is in effect promoted, into being the lead judge in the murder appeal.

Who made the call from Rome that fixed this suspicious judge rearrangement? Rumors around Perugia suggest that maybe it was made or inspired by the head of the justice committee in the parliament. 

True or not, the seriously out-of-his-depth labor judge Hellmann joined the seriously out-of-his-depth civil judge Zanetti - and produced an appeal verdict and reasoning the chief prosecutor of Umbria Dr Galati sees as a complete fiasco.

Contending with the myriad illegalities of this reasoning is for Dr Galati like shooting fish in a barrel. Bongiorno may soon be facing yet another big loss if Cassation accept his prosecution arguments.

As they say, always be careful what you wish for. Wishing for Hellmann might have been a bridge too far.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

DNA Proof 40 Years After A Cowardly Murder Shuts Down A Fact-Fogging Campaign For The Murderer

Posted by The Machine



[Above: the murder victim Michael Gregsten and Valerie Storie who survived]

Relevance to Meredith’s case

You maybe thought journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities campaigning on behalf of someone who evidence strongly suggested was guilty was peculiar to Meredith’s case?

Think again. Exactly the same thing has happened more than a few times. This is one. The UK’s notorious A6 murder of 1961.

On the evening of 22 August 1961, Michael Gregsten, a government scientist, and his girlfriend Valerie Storrie, a laboratory assistant, were sitting in his car next to a cornfield in Berkshire, just west of London, when a masked gunman tapped on the car window. He demanded Gregsten’s wallet and Storie’s handbag.

He then forced Gregsten to drive 60 miles to Deadman’s Hill at Clophill in Bedfordshire where he shot the scientist twice in the head, killing him instantly. Next, he raped and shot Ms Storie five times. She survived the attack, but was left paralysed from the waist down.



[Above: Convicted murderer James Hanratty and his campaigning father]

Trial and evidence

James Hanratty, a petty thief, was arrested after cartridge cases from the murder weapon were found in a London hotel where he stayed the night before the murder. Valerie Storie picked out Hanratty at an identity parade from her hospital bed and she also made a voice identification of him. 

At the trial at Bedford Assizes, James Henratty changed his original alibi that he was staying with friends in Liverpool on the day of the murder and said that he had gone to Rhyl, in north Wales, and stayed two nights in a boarding house. The jury didn’t believe him and James Hanratty was found guilty of murdering Michael Gregsten.

The families of the victims (one dead, one crippled for life) expressed relief that a unanimous verdict was reached.

Hanratty was hanged at Bedford Prison on 4 April 1962. The day before he was hanged, he told his family: “I’m dying tomorrow but I’m innocent. Clear my name.” 

The pressure for an appeal

After James Hanratty was hanged, his father launched a campaign to clear his name. A number of high-profile public figures lent their support to the campaign, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and prominent politicians David Steel and Norman Fowler.

In 1971, a hundred MPs signed a petition demanding a public inquiry. The Conservative government refused to open such an inquiry.

Three years later the Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, commissioned a report from Lewis Hawser QC who sat in secret and came to the conclusion Hanratty was guilty.

In 1999, the case was sent back to the Court of Appeal. In March 2001, Hanratty’s body was exhumed and DNA tests were carried on it to see whether his DNA matched DNA traces found on Valerie Short’s knickers and her handkerchief that was found wrapped around the gun.

DNA tests confirm a right verdict

Forensic scientists from the Forensic Science Service (FSS) found that there was a perfect match and concluded that the DNA found on these exhibits was 2.5 million times more likely to belong to Hanratty than anyone else.

A report from the Daily Mail.

James Hanratty was guilty of the notorious A6 murder for which he was hanged, sensational scientific evidence has revealed. A DNA sample taken from his exhumed body has been matched by forensic experts to two samples from the crime scene.

They now believe that there is only a 1-in-2.5million chance Hanratty was innocent.  The results of the tests, released to Hanratty’s defence team, are a crushing blow to campaigners who have insisted he was not guilty.

In 2002, James Hanratty’s conviction was upheld at the Court of Appeal and a bid to take the case to the House of Lords was rejected. Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, who with two colleagues - Lord Justice Mantell and Mr Justice Leveson - considered the posthumous appeal, said the DNA evidence established Hanratty’s guilt “beyond doubt”.

Lord Woolf for the Supreme Court on 10 May 2002:

We have already stressed the importance of looking at a case such as this in the round. The grounds of appeal are of differing significance and although we have dealt with them individually it is also necessary to consider them collectively in asking ourselves the critical question is the conviction of James Hanratty of murder unsafe either on procedural or evidential grounds?

As to the evidential issues they all ultimately relate to the single issue which dominated the trial and this appeal, the identity of the killer. In our judgment for reasons we have explained the DNA evidence establishes beyond doubt that James Hanratty was the murderer.

The DNA evidence made what was a strong case even stronger. Equally the strength of the evidence overall pointing to the guilt of the appellant supports our conclusion as to the DNA.



[Above: journalist campaigners Paul Foot and Bob Woffinden]

The 40-year media campaign

Forty years of excruciating hell for the families and friends of the victims, one dead, one crippled for life .

Investigative journalists such as Bob Woffinden and Paul Foot wrote articles and books about the case, stubbornly certain that James Hanratty was innocent and that the case was a miscarriage of justice.

Paul Foot was a highly-respected campaigning journalist who worked for Private Eye, the Daily Mirror and The Guardian. However, his reasons for believing that James Hanratty was innocent were flimsy to the say the least.

From the BBC obituary for Paul Foot:

Beyond his obvious triumphs, Foot sometimes got it terribly wrong.

The Hanratty affair is a case in point. Twenty-five-year-old James Hanratty was hanged in 1962, after being found guilty of killing scientist Michael Gregsten and raping and shooting his mistress Valerie Storie.

Foot’s interest began in 1966 and, for the next 34 years, he consistently and eloquently demanded justice for Hanratty.

The case was finally reopened in 2000 and, after Hanratty’s body was exhumed, so DNA samples could be scraped from his bones, his guilt was proved beyond doubt.

The main crux of his argument for innocence was that James Hanratty was in Liverpool and Rhyl on the day of the murder. There were no positive identifications of Hanratty, just a couple of people who claimed that they had seen a man who looked like him.



[Above: John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Hanratty’s parents]

A report of John Lennon’s involvement.

On Side One of John & Yoko’s “Live Jam” album (recorded on 15th December 1969) Yoko can be heard to shout “Britain, you killed Hanratty you murderer!”, she then chants Hanratty’s name throughout the opening bars of Don’t Worry Kyoko.

As the [1960s] progressed, the view that Hanratty had in fact been the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice began to gather momentum, another man was even seen to confess to the murder on British Television in 1967. Together with Hanratty’s parents, John and Yoko discussed the idea of making a film to back the campaign for an enquiry and this was announced at an Apple press conference on December 10th 1969.

The one and only public screening of the 40-minute colour result was eventually shown in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London on 17th February 1972.

29 years later DNA evidence from the exhumed body of Hanratty was said to prove that he DID commit the murder, although it has been argued that the retained evidence may have been cross contaminated in storage.

Supporters of James Hanratty have come out with the predictable excuse that the DNA evidence must have been contaminated. However, the forensic scientists who worked in the case said this highly unlikely and pointed out that they had found no other DNA profiles on the two exhibits.

Implications for PR campaigns

The DNA tests carried out by the FFS that finally provided definitive proof that James Hanratty killed Michael Gregsten and raped and shot Valerie Storie more or less stopped the bandwagon dead in its tracks.

But there had been for decades almost fanatical and very vociferous support for someone who’d been unanimously convicted of murder, many of whom stood to gain, though it didnt have too much effect except to have the case looked at and found solid twice.

James Hanratty’s supporters claimed that he had no motive, that the police framed him, and that the DNA evidence was contaminated by the government’s experts. NONE of this was proved. Unless there is actual proof of dastardly plots and contamination, these claims against the authorities are unfruitful and unfair.

The most important lesson to be learnt from the A6 murder case is that a bandwagon of journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities being absolutely convinced of someone’s innocence does not make him or her innocent in fact.

Even intelligent and well-intentioned people like Paul Foot and David Steel can mistakenly believe a killer is innocent and shrug off the pain the victims’ families must feel.

Implications for Curt Knox’s campaign

There are a number of parallels to the campaign against justice for Meredith. The families of the victims for one were put through years of hell, the real evidence was wildly distorted, and many good justice professionals and reporters were impugned. .

Hopefully the judges at the Italian Supreme Court will order a new appeal trial early next year, and the new tests the prosecution requested at the appeal on the remaining sample from the large knife can now be carried out.

Professor Novelli testified that it is possible to extract, amplify and attribute DNA with just 10-15 picograms of DNA using cutting-edge technology.  Conti and Vecchiotti extracted approximately 100 picograms of DNA from the blade of the knife.

Sollecito seemed to know there could be incriminating DNA evidence on that knife, and Knox had an extreme reaction not yet accounted for in an innocent way when she was shown a drawer full of knives.

There is enough DNA for more than one test. If Meredith’s DNA is indeed identified once again, the already strong case against Knox and Sollecito can be closed once and for all. And Curt Knox’s PR will be gone.


[Below: the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf]


Friday, July 27, 2012

Heads-Up To The Amanda Knox Forces: A Case Showing How Closely The US and Italian FBIs Co-operate

Posted by Peter Quennell



Meet Doctor Mark Weinberger.

That report about his arrest in Italy was broadcast in 2009. We last posted on him here.

Weinberger was apparently a wildly successful doctor who ran a sinus clinic in Indiana and lived a wildly affluent lifestyle a few milers north outside Chicago. In 2004 he disappeared off his large yacht which was then anchored at a Greek marina, and for six years his (very impressive) wife Michelle presumed he was dead.

In the meantime she had found out that he had actually been running a huge fraud, scamming health insurance and the US government via false billing and unnecessary surgery (often botched) for many millions. And that far from being left comfortably off, she was financially wiped out.

In 2006 in absentia she divorced Weinberger and started over.

In 2009 Weinberger was captured in the Alps by the Italian equivalent of the FBI and returned to the United States as soon as his extradition was requested. In perhaps 99 percent of all US-Italian extradition cases, the fugitives are handed over by both governments very promptly. This sure wasn’t any exception. 

Weinberger began to lose the first of numerous civil suits a year ago, and on wednesday he pleaded guilty to 22 criminal charges in federal court.

His prison term is set at ten years.

One moral of the tale apparently still not learned by Steve Moore and Bruce Fischer and their hapless ship of fools, so desperate for approbation, is this: much or most of the time it is the fine Italian equivalent of the FBI that they are misrepresenting and defaming.

In the past two weeks alone, we have seen new ramblings by Saul Kassin and Nigel Scott (engineered by Bruce Fischer) that to any informed lawyer are quite crazy. Kassin and Scott clearly didnt have the slightest idea WHO they were defaming or accusing of crimes.

Or how much more determined thier defaming makes the Italian FBI and other law enforcement agencies and the courts to give Amanda Knox (or Curt Knox or Edda Mellas) no special breaks.

The daffy Steve Moore first introduced this confusion way back here.  And of course Bruce Fischer, Curt Knox’s hotheaded chief hatchet man, sustains it up to this day.

Eighteen months ago, Chris Mellas (whose business in Seattle is doing well) sensibly recommended from Perugia that the Knox campaign should finally acquire some cool heads and some REAL experts, and toss the trouble-making grand-standers they had acquired over the side.

Perhaps predictably, Curt Knox (whose business in Seattle is doing badly) reacted red-faced and steaming, and shot this seemingly quite smart idea down. So the abrasive, misleading, very amateur campaign goes on.

***

Added. We are now told that Frank Sforza and David Anderson are in Seattle, and Sollecito will be there soon, to actually jack up the level of defaming in the RS and AK “we were the victims” books being written.

Wow. THAT is Curt Knox’s end-game?l He ran that one past Chris Mellas?  It seems universally believed in officialdom in Rome and Perugia that Curt Knox KNEW all along that Amanda did it. Apparently with good evidence.

What will he do if they charge him?
 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ominous Development For Sollecito And Knox: A DNA Conviction Based On A Tiny Sample Of DNA

Posted by The Machine



[Burgess, image below, murdered Yolande Waddington and, above, Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams]


There is a HUGE dagger hanging over Sollecito and Knox. A UK case resolved this week indicates why.

New tests on the DNA sample on the large knife found in Sollecito’s house which the independent DNA experts refused to do, and the judges failed to re-order despite a strong prosecution request, could result in Knox and Sollecito being ultimately convicted and secure Knox’s extradition to serve out her term.

Lawyers consider it a dead certainty that the Supreme Court will order those tests -  that is if they dont throw out the entire Hellman/Zanetti judgment for illegal scope, or throw out the DNA report for illegally having been ordered in the first place.


(1) Summary of the UK case

David Burgess this week was convicted in Reading of murdering Yolande Waddington, 17, some 46 years after the crime was committed, thanks to all the advances in DNA technology. Back then, he was already convicted of killing Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams.

Burgess is the latest person in Britain to have been finally found guilty of murder years after his crime was committed. Nat Fraser, Gary Dobson and David Norris had been convicted of murder this year after evading justice for a number of years.

In September 2010, Thames Valley Police reviewed the case and with advances in DNA techniques finally gathered the evidence which resulted in Burgess being convicted of Yolande Waddington’s murder.

Forensic experts obtained a partial DNA profile from the blood samples using a new technique called MiniFiler. It differs from previous methods as it can obtain information from smaller pieces of DNA. This is ideal for older cases where samples have degraded over time.

According to the manufacturer’s website

[The MiniFiler kit] increases your ability to obtain DNA results from compromised samples that previously would have yielded limited or no genetic data. This means cold cases can come off the shelf for re-analysis and new, challenging samples have a better chance of delivering interpretable results.

When David Burgess attacked Yolande, he left blood on a number of Yolande’s items, including her hair band and comb. Tests showed the chances of the DNA found on the comb and hair band not being Burgess’s were not more than one in a billion.


[Below: David Burgess then and now who had taunted the police a year ago to “prove it”]




(2) Here are the implications for RS and AK

It puts the 46-day delay (caused by the defenses) in retrieving the bra clasp into perspective.

It’s not the first case of somebody being convicted of murder decades after the crime took place on the strength of DNA evidence. Ronald Castree was convicted of murdering Lesley Molseed 32 years later.

It also highlights the arrogant negligence of the DNA consultants Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti who had refused to carry out ordered test on the knife for flimsy reasons (“the technology is experimental” when it wasn’t) that no US or UK court would have accepted. They had been specifically instructed to do the tests if possible by Judge Hellmann.

At trial in 2009 it was accepted that Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the knife sequestered from Sollecito’s kitchen. There still is no argument about that.

And a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano - had all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was found on the blade.

Even Greg Hampikian, a forensic expert who argues Knox is innocent, concedes that Meredith’s DNA was definitely found on the blade.

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti didn’t know that Dr Stefanoni analysed the traces on the knife a long six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. Contamination couldn’t possibly have occurred in the laboratory after so long a gap.

At the appeal, Professor Guiseppe Novelli testified that there are a number of laboratories that now have the latest accepted technology to carry out a new test on the remaining DNA on the knife.

The fact that Judge Hellmann denied the prosecution the opportunity to present evidence to the contrary was a violation of the procedure code. Italian law states the following:

If new evidence about a point is admitted, evidence a contrario proposed by the opposing party must always be admitted too.

Dr Giovanni Galati has now argued in his appeal to the Supreme Court that Judge Hellmann should have allowed a new test to be performed because the technology is NOT experimental but cutting edge. Summary here:

The second [point concerns] the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.

As remarked at the top, if the entire judgment or the DNA report are not thrown out for illegal scope, Judge Hellman’s refusal to allow the prosecution’s request to allow a new test on the knife will be the main reason why his verdict will be revoked.

Under Italian law RS and AK still stand accused until the Supreme Court signs off. Anyone who is concerned with the truth and justice and what Meredith stood for and the good name of Italy will want to know whether the remaining DNA on the knife is Meredith’s.

If Meredith’s DNA is identified on the knife it should make conviction and extradition a slam dunk..


[Below: ViaDellaPergola’s video first posted 18 months ago and still relevant]


Friday, June 15, 2012

In Trial For Killing Of 77 Norway Very Complexed About Whether Admitted Perpetrator Is Barking Mad

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: this is the courthouse in central Oslo where Anders Breivik is currently been tried]


In Norway a judge and jury and those tens of thousands personally affected by the bombing and shooting deaths of 77 people, mostly in their teens, are trying to calibrate the personality of Anders Breivik.

The self-confessed killer has under Norwegian court procedures been allowed to say a lot about himself during his trial. And to mount a defense which in effect implies that he is the one who is normal, and that everybody else in Norway is either stupid or blind.

There is a sort of Catch 22 situation here.

If the judge and jury and those affected accept that Breivik really IS normal and merely a common or garden Nazi-type fanatic, he can only be sentenced to 21 years x 77 with the sentences to run concurrently. He could be out of prison at only 54.

Even Breivik has said that is pathetic and he would be joyously executed rather than be diminished like that.

But if they accept that he is insane, then he can be sent away to a prison for the criminally insane, and unless he in effect grows a totally new brain, he could be kept locked up for the rest of his natural life.

So if prosecution psychologists can prove him to be what the British like to call barking mad, he could get in effect the maximum time behind bars: life. But blame for a deed which most see as pure evil would in effect be dilute.

Breivik of course is trying very hard to prove that he is NOT mad. But he is not being helped by the testimony of either his mother or his father (who separated in great anger in London a few months after he was born) who have each thoroughly rejected his defense. His mother says he simply lies all the time, and his father says he should have committed suicide.

Nor is he helped by the 1517 page manifesto that he wrote (in English) and emailed to everybody in his address book a few hours before he set out on his attack. 

Dr Avner Falk lives in Jerusalem, Israel, and he is perhaps the most published in the world in the fields of long-distance psychohistory and political psychology. 

On his personal website Dr Falk has just posted this long and deeply researched essay exploring Breivik’s psychology.

Although of course the analysis was done 1/4 of the way around the world, it is difficult to read this essay without concluding that these really are the main facts about what is in Breivik’s head - and that he really is barking mad.

More scientifically, his psychology seems situated somewhere between borderline personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenic.

Dr Falk shows how Breivik may have got that way, and what was driving him to kill (don’t laugh, read the essay first: he became psychotically angered over repeated shows of lack of love by his father, who when Breivek was 16 cut him right off, and too much love by his mom, which Breivek thinks sissyfied him).

And why it would seem to be the safest thing to do to put Breivek away for life.   

So. Is any of this relevant to Meredith’s case? More below.






In Meredith’s case there also seems to be a sort of Catch 22.

First off, it seems that nobody holding any point of view about Knox or Sollecito can see the makings of a credible insanity defense.

One reason many dont want to go down that road is that Italian prosecutions are always facing long odds, and they fear that it could too easily at the end of the legal process leave the accused-perps off the hook and free to go, and to publish whatever they will.

Some fear the same could happen with a defense based on too much alcohol or psychosis-causing drugs.

But at the same time, many also believe that AK and RS were not the social and psychological paragons that many in the obfuscatory PR campaign have tried for a long time to make out.

Even those eager henchmen in Curt Knox’s campaign have had to turn cartwheels to explain why Knox did cartwheels and so quickly put so many people in Perugia right off her, or to explain why Sollecito was so friendless and so obsessed with violent comics and porn and always carried a concealed knife.

And yet despite that, a sort of stealth psychological defense DOES seem to have been mounted, and with Judge Hellman’s interim appeal verdict it does seem to have helped them to be provisionally sprung.

In a process a little reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day where the “villain” has to keep repeating the same day over and over until he gets certain things just right, the public audience and the judges and juries were presented with several different Amanda Knoxes and Raffaele Sollecitos and the 2011 versions seem to have worked.

  • In 2008 the images that dominated were of two cold-hearted or hot-headed jealous abusers who had gone way too far in the remorseless 15-minute struggle with Meredith. Magistrate Matteini and Judge Micheli both firmly took this view, which was confirmed by psychological tests on RS and AK in Capanne Prison that concluded that Perugia would be safer if they stayed behind bars pending their trial.
  • The images that dominated the trial in 2009 was of a mild and slightly daffy Sollecito and a mostly milder and decidedly daffier Amanda Knox, strongly supported by their large and loving families spread out all around the court. That seems to some extent to have worked on Judge Massei, and RS and AK were rewarded with some years off their sentence for a supposed kindness to Meredith’s dead body. In the sentencing report, Rudy Guede became the somewhat villainous initiating attacker of Meredith on the night.
  • The image that dominated the appeal in 2011 was of two serious studious very normal bambinos falsely being tied together with an extremely villainous Rudy Guede, now a notorious drifter and drug dealer who carried knives. The accused in effect dressed in shades of grey, and there were never any smiles or jokes in court. Italian judges and juries and watching audiences have a reputation for leniency toward bambinos, and Judge Hellman’s report suggests that attitude did intrude.

The Italian Supreme Court doesnt usually get to set eyes on those who are appealing or (as in this case) appealed against. More often than not they calibrate a legal and psychological position about as hard-line as the investigating magistrate (Matteini) or the judges at the first level (Micheli and Massei).

Now Knox and Sollecito might not return to the court for any re-run of the appeal trial. But if they don’t, the original images of themselves, those advanced in 2008 which a clear majority of Italians still hold to, could be the version of their personalities that a second appeal judge and jury get to “see”.

Tough call for Knox and Sollecito and their tribes. Their Catch 22.

But either way, assuming a level playing field, a fair outcome seems reasonably assured.

*****

Below: a crowd of 40,000 gathered in central Oslo to sing a song “Children of the Rainbow”.

That is the song by Norwegian folk singer Lillebjoern Nilsen (based on Pete Seeger’s “Rainbow Race”) which Breivek claimed in his manifesto shows the decadence of Norwegian youth. 


Friday, June 08, 2012

A Case In Which The Accused’s Team Used A Psychological Condition Maybe Similar To AK’s Or RS’s

Posted by Grahame Rhodes





The wealthy Durst family develops tall buildings in Manhattan including the Bank of America tower in midtown and the new One Wold Trade Center in downtown which will soon reach 1776 feet high.

Robert Durst is one of the heirs of the founder of the Durst Organization who died in 1995 and his brother Douglas now runs the company with a cousin. Here is a brief summary of Robert’s early life from Wikipedia.

Durst grew up, one of four children, in Scarsdale, New York and attended Scarsdale High School. He completed his undergraduate degree at Lehigh University and attended graduate school at UCLA.

Durst reportedly witnessed his mother’s apparent suicide at age seven; she either fell or jumped off the roof of the Scarsdale family mansion.

According to Reader’s Digest, Durst underwent extensive counseling because of his mother’s death, and doctors found that his “deep anger” could lead to psychological problems, including schizophrenia.

Durst went on to become a real estate developer in his father’s business; however, it was his brother Douglas who was later appointed to run the family business. The appointment in the 1990s caused a rift between Robert and his family, and he became estranged. His earlier schizophrenia diagnosis was incorrect.

In 1982 a seeming dark side to Robert Durst began to appear. Also from Wikipedia:

In 1973, Durst married Kathleen McCormack, who disappeared in 1982. Her case remained unsolved for eighteen years when New York State Police reopened the criminal investigation.

On December 24, 2000, Durst’s long-time friend, Susan Berman, who was believed to have knowledge of McCormack’s disappearance, was found murdered execution-style in her Benedict Canyon California house. Durst was questioned in both cases but not charged.

According to prosecutors, he moved to Texas in 2000 and began cross-dressing to divert attention from the disappearance of McCormack.

Both the Kathleen Durst and Susan Berman cases remain open, and New York and Los Angeles police still work on them.

From the Galveston Texas Daily News here is a timeline for the movements of Robert Durst for late 2001 and early 2002.

Sept. 30 “” A 13-year-old boy spots a man’s torso floating near the shoreline of 81st Street and Channelview Drive. Nearby, police find garbage bags containing human limbs, along with a number of items investigators later trace to an apartment house in the 2200 block of Avenue K.

Oct. 5 “” Officials identify the body parts as the remains of Morris Black, a 71-year-old South Carolina native who lived at the apartment house.

Oct. 9 “” Police arrest Robert Durst, 58, who lived in an apartment across the hall from Black. Durst is charged with murder and possession of marijuana, but leaves jail that night after posting $300,000 bond.

Oct. 16 “” Durst becomes a fugitive when he fails to appear at a court hearing in his case. A grand jury indicts him on charges of murder and jumping bail.

Oct. 17 “” A man in Mobile, Ala., rents a red Chevrolet Corsica, using the name Morris Black.

Nov. 30 “” Police in Pennsylvania arrest Durst and charge him with the shoplifting theft of a small bandage, a sandwich and a newspaper.

Dec. 5 “” Galveston detectives leave for Philadelphia, armed with a search warrant for the red Chevrolet Corsica police seized from the parking lot of the Pennsylvania grocery store where Durst was arrested.

Dec. 7 “” A search of the car reveals numerous pieces of identification in the name of Morris Black, an undisclosed amount of marijuana, two handguns and about 80 bullets.

Dec. 17 “” State District Court Judge Susan Criss issues a gag order in the murder case, barring officials, attorneys and potential witnesses from talking about the case.

Jan. 25 “” Durst waives his right to an extradition hearing, agreeing to return to Galveston to face charges.

Jan. 27 “” Durst arrives at the county jail.

New York Magazine adds this bit of color.

At the time of Black’s death, Durst was living as a deaf-mute woman known as “Dorothy Ciner” who communicated with the landlord via handwritten notes. During the trial he startled jurors by growling loudly like a dog and snorting like a pig.

Later, in prison, he became known for doing nude calisthenics in his cell.

In 2003 he was found not guilty of the murder of Morris Black. From Wikipedia:

During cross-examination, Durst admitted to using a paring knife, two saws and an axe to dismember Black’s body before dumping his remains in Galveston Bay. The jury acquitted him of murder.

Specifically he was found not guilty because the jury bought into the idea of a mental condition. CBS News describes how the jury saw it.

Is Durst a cold-blooded killer with a string of victims over more than 20 years? Or is he somehow a victim himself?

Last spring, Correspondent Erin Moriarty talked to Durst’s closest friends and the defense psychiatrist who examined him. The Durst fortune, valued at more than $2 billion, is in the same league as Donald Trump’s fortune. And it’s certainly more than enough for the best legal defense that money can buy.

His high-powered defense team - Dick DeGuerin, Mike Ramsey and Chip Lewis ““ say that early on, they had difficulty communicating with Durst. So they hired Dr. Altschuler, a well-known Houston psychiatrist, to find out why.

Altschuler says he met with Durst almost on a weekly basis, and spent more than 70 hours examining him. His conclusion: Durst suffers from a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a fairly uncommon disorder that leaves a victim’s intellect intact, but limits his ability to interact socially.

“Emotion is very difficult to him. He doesn’t know what happy is,” says Altschuler. “He can feel it, but almost as if he were feeling it as we would feel fingers through a glove. It’s very dulled, at best, to him “¦ His whole life’s history is so compatible with a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder.”

The jury apparently bought it. They were convinced that Durst, in a panic, dismembered Black’s body.

Many people with Asperger’s self-diagnose themselves and learn to adjust and most have good lives and careers, many in computers and math-based professions. (Probably a coincidence but Knox’s parents are both in math-based professions, as is Chris Mella.) But some apparently do have flash rages when they yet again encounter in themselves an inability to connect or to win people over. So there are some murders that have been ascribed to this condition.

Both Knox and Sollecito may have had childhood trauma which their families, naturally, seem not too keen to have exposed. Or one or other might have been born wrong-headed.

Note how both of them in Perugia had isolated themselves from just about everybody else when Meredith died - Sollecito with his dark sullenless and Knox with her sharp elbows and brash, grubby, offputting ways.

Note Sollecito’s sordid history of beasty porn, and his knife fetishes, and violent manga comics and films, and lack of close friends, and endless drugs, and slow school progress, and attempted close supervision by a struggling father, and a loyal sister who he has left decimated and jobless without even a shrug.

Note how Amanda Knox seems to have tried all her life to be liked and has never understood why she is so often successful for just a short time. Note the reported riotous behavior off campus in Seattle, the shortage of school and college friends who speak up for her, the strange tale of her walking off the intern job in the German parliament, and the searching for love in all the wrong places

Note her willingness to let Patrick Lumumba rot in jail for weeks. Note how she bought hot underwear while giggling, and how she chose to miss the remembrance service for Meredith in favor of a pizza. Note how the prison tests in 2008 seem to have found both her and Sollecito to be continuing dangers. Note her flippant narcissistic demeanor at the trial, and her various bizarre statements.  Note her reported self-imposed isolation and odd deportment and hygiene while in prison.

Note how her sense of right and wrong seems to be completely at odds, comparatively speaking, with the rest of the human race. Note how she seems unable to exhibit any emotion, or take any responsibility for her actions, even when challenged directly and her veracity called into question.

Finally, note her seeming never-ending lack of empathy for Meredith and her family, observed and remarked on both when Meredith was found and at trial and in the months and years afterwards. Meredith came from a hard working loving family who encouraged her to work hard and gave her every break and certainly never brutalised her. She was talented and made friends easily because of her wonderful sense of humor and her positive view of life.

Meredith was the complete antithesis of Knox. Well adjusted, liked, highly intelligent, very diligent and disciplined,  and driven to succeed. A remarkable success story in process, whicht Knox seemingly could not even begin to relate to.

So are Robert Durst and either of the still-presumed-guilty perps in any way similar? Were either of them born wrong in the head or made that way by childhood trauma?

Or was a mental defense simply an easy way for the entitled but awkward Robert Durst to have got off the hook for a cruel murder, and one that the Hellman jury (and those in the FOA) subliminally bought into for Knox and Sollecito as well?

I leave it to you to decide.


[Below: Robert Durst’s missing wife, and a murdered Los Angeles friend]


[Below: Some new Durst organization buildings in New York including at center 1 WTC]


Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Smug Killer Who Thought Perhaps He’d Escaped Justice Was Brought Down In The UK Today

Posted by The Machine



[Above and below: Arlene Fraser and husband Nat who today was again convicted for her murder]


Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Nat Fraser has been been found guilty for the second time of murdering his estranged wife Arlene in 1998.

He was originally was found guilty in 2003 and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. However, after a long appeal process, his conviction was quashed last year by five judges at the Supreme Court in London.

They sent the case back to the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal, where the jurors have just taken approximately five hours to reach a majority verdict after a six-week trial.

It’s not the first time this year that someone in Britain has been finally found guilty of murder after initially escaping justice.

In January, Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of murdering Stephen Lawrence in 1993 by a jury at the Old Bailey. Dobson had been acquitted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1996 but the Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal. (The case against David Norris collapsed before it reached court.)

David Harvie the director of serious casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal, said:

The Crown is absolutely determined to ensuring that criminals are brought to justice for crimes they have committed, no matter the passage of time nor the legal complexities involved.

I have no doubts that Chief Prosecutor of Perugia, Giovanni Galati and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola are just as determined to ensuring that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are brought to justice.

The cases above are a reality check for anyone who assumes that Knox and Sollecito are innocent simply because they were provisionally acquitted. It’s a fact of life that killers are sometimes acquitted. It’s also a fact of life that for them things often come full circle.

And if anyone thinks that cases of people being convicted of murder after escaping justice don’t happen in Italy, they are seriously mistaken. Barbie Nadeau outlined the case of Angela Birikova, who was convicted of murder after being acquitted at her first trial, in a November 2010 article for the Daily Beast:

In the meantime, the Seattle native’s lawyers say she is anxious to get back to court. She has reportedly been getting to know a new cellmate, Moldovian native Angela Biriukova, herself a celebrity criminal in Italy. Dubbed the Black Widow by the Italian press, Biriukova was tried for murdering her wealthy older husband by stabbing him 16 times.

Her DNA was found on a cigarette butt near the corpse, but nowhere else at the murder scene. Unlike Knox, however, Biriukova was acquitted during her first trial. Knox might take comfort in what happened next: The prosecutors appealed and Biriukova’s acquittal was reversed””after being set free, she was convicted during the appellate process. Should Knox’s appellate trial yield the same dramatic reversal, it will be a stunning conclusion to a trial whose narrative has often sharply turned on twists of fate.

It should noted that there is considerably more undisputed evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito than there is against the various convicted killers that are mentioned above.

Apologist journalists like Nick Pisa and Nick Squires, and especially Michael Day, would do well to remember this, before glibly dismissing the case against the still-accused pair.


[Below: convicted killer Angela Biriukova who Knox reportedly made a friend of in Capanne]


Friday, May 25, 2012

Italy Works With Australia On A Complex And Possibly Precedent Setting Case

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Above: Australian Broadcasting Corporation report from Brisbane posted 3 days ago]


Italy has the reputation of being among the more diligent of countries in respecting international law and conventions. So does Australia.

But now they find themselves in a strange kabuki dance fraught with international tension, courtesy of two divorced parents.

The image below with the faces disguised appeared yesterday on Facebook. It shows an Italian father and his four daughters on the coast near Brisbane in Australia. With one newspaper exception which could result in a heavy fine, no Italian or Australian newspapers are publishing their names.

The reason is that this is a battle over illegal child abduction and both countries have laws shielding the minors. The mother is an Australian who married an Italian in Italy and they had the four children there. When they were divorced the mother and father were awarded joint custody so the father would get to see his daughters half of the time.

Two years ago the mother took off back to Australia with the girls. The Australian authorities were starting to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which says cases must he handled speedily and the country of origin has sole rights over matters of custody.

The mother missed a court-ordered deadline of 15 May for a return of the children to the father who had flown to Australia to get them. They went into hiding but were tracked down by police to a house or hotel on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. 

It now appear that the four girls want to remain in Australia, and although under the Hague Convention they dont as minors have separate rights, majority Australian sympathy may be on their side. The mother has just made claims about the father which he has denounced and hence the image of himself and the girls below which he posted on Facebook.

The precedent is in whether the children should have a say, the resolution of which could affect future abduction cases world-wide.  Australia’s High Court will decide the case one way or another this August.

Here’s a past post on a remarkably similar case. Liam is still in Italy.




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Italy Continues The Search For True Justice In A 30 Year Old Case

Posted by Peter Quennell





Nothing if not tenacious, those Italian prosecutors and police - and Italian TV on which the victim’s family never stopped pressing.

This is the case of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican citizen, who disappeared in 1983.  At the time the Vatican was much in the news because of a banking scandal that spread to London and because of an attempt made on the Pope’s life.

The Vatican is back in the news now because finally it stopped blocking for unclear reasons the exhumation of a crime gang leader who for unclear reasons was buried under a Vatican basilica in Rome.  The exhumation has now been done and there were some extra bones and pending tests may show that they are Emanuela’s.

The New York Times says there are at least three theories that could explain the disappearance and probable murder of Emanuela.

In 2005, an anonymous phone call to a television program about the disappearance added a piece to the puzzle:

“To find the solution to the case go and see who’s buried in the crypt of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare,” an unidentified man said, referring to the tomb of the local mob boss, Enrico De Pedis, known as Renatino, who was gunned down in Rome in 1990.

The caller also implied that Emanuela had been kidnapped as a favor to Cardinal Ugo Poletti, who in 1983 was the vicar general of Rome.  Cardinal Poletti died in 1997, and Archbishop Marcinkus in 2006.

Questions remain about why Mr. De Pedis, a member of the Magliana crime gang, was buried in a church owned by the Holy See. His tomb is in a small locked room in a crypt under the church…

To lay rumors to rest that the Vatican had obstructed investigations into Emanuela’s disappearance, last month the Holy See agreed to the opening of Mr. De Pedis’s tomb.

Whether the police can now narrow down to a single theory we soon shall see. After 30 years they are still doing what they can for the real victim. And her family never rests.

Below: images of Emanuela’s brother Pietro, a Vatican protest, and the exhumation yesterday of Mr De Pedis.















Wednesday, April 25, 2012

After Five Years, Heavy Police Resources Still Assigned To The Case Of The Missing Madeleine McCann

Posted by Peter Quennell



The case of Madeleine McCann.

In one respect, there’s this parallel to Meredith’s case. After five years police are still assigning major resources to close to their own complete satisfaction a vexatious and divisive case.

Unfortunately, the parallels end there.

In this case, it is the British police still assigning the resources (now close to four million pounds), in parallel to the relentless Italian effort for Meredith, because they fear that in light of cases like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard the Portuguese police may have dropped the ball far too soon.

The Portuguese, in face of a confusing situation on the night when Madeleine disappeared, where the parents say they had left her home with younger twins while they had dinner 100 yards away, and a nervous Portuguese vacation industry, declared the parents as under suspicion in Madeline’s death and (see video above) aggressively furthered that meme.  They may have closed off kidnapping possibilities which in this day and age are far too real.

It may be that one day the British police eventually do conclude that her parents had a role in Madeleine’s disappearance and possible death, or simply declare that they have hit a brick wall.  But as Time and other UK and US news services are today reporting, they are concerned that the little girl is still out there, alive, and a kidnapper may be getting a free pass - and the opportunity to do it again.

The British police have released the two images below, showing how Madeleine looked back then and could now look at age nine. These are the latest developments according to the NY Times.

Scotland Yard released a statement saying its investigators had uncovered what they believed to be “genuinely new material,” as well as nearly 200 new opportunities for further inspection. Investigators said that they “now believe that there is a possibility Madeleine is still alive,” and have called for the investigation by Portuguese police to be reopened after an almost four-year hiatus….

While the initial investigation by the Portuguese authorities was roundly criticized, the British inquiry has been aided by the fact that, for the first time since Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom in the family’s rented apartment in the Algarve region of Portugal, investigators have been able to review material generated by three independent investigations, all in one location.

The detective leading the review said that having access to the Portuguese investigation, inquiries by British law enforcement agencies and the work of private investigators hired by the McCann family presents the team with “best opportunity” of finally solving the mystery of what happened in the seaside resort of Praia da Luz.

Rewards totaling millions of dollars were offered by wealthy Britons, including J. K. Rowling, the billionaire author of the Harry Potter series, and Richard Branson, the airline tycoon. But the Portuguese police identified only one suspect, a 33-year-old Britain living with his mother in a nearby apartment….

Detectives have been painstakingly sifting through “every single piece of paper” “” approximately 100,000 pages “” generated by the original investigation, on the basis that sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see what was always there….

Mr. Redwood rejected the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Madeleine’s parents’ involvement. He said that the girl’s disappearance was the result of “a criminal act by a stranger.”

It will come as renewed encouragement to the McCann family, whose ceaseless energy and reluctance to call off the search have been fundamental in keeping the case in the international spotlight. Since their daughter’s disappearance they have traveled to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who blessed a photograph of Madeleine, published a book and even appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”







Friday, April 20, 2012

Italy Handles Wrongful Death of An American With Usual Efficiency And Real Respect For The Victim

Posted by Peter Quennell





This story has had great play in Italy - there are dozens of video reports - but little play in the US and almost none elsewhere.

San Giovanni Valdarno is a small town one hour’s drive north of Perugia, about two-thirds of the way to Florence in Tuscany which is one of the most visited areas in Italy. Many foreigners have villas there.

Allison Owens. aged 23, from Columbus in Ohio, was a tour guide there. She was last seen alive on Sunday 2 October. Worried for her safety, her friends stirred up a manhunt of the area, which came to include over 100 police with dogs.

After three days of searching, her body was found in a pond on the other side of a crash barrier from a busy highway. She was wearing jogging clothes, and her IPod headphones were still around her head.

The autopsy on her body confirmed that she had been hit by a vehicle, and with lots of publicity the search was on for a hit-and-run driver.

Local resident Pietro Stefanoni turned himself in to the San Giovanni Valdarno police on 7 October after he had already had the damage to his Volvo repaired.

He claimed that he fell asleep at the wheel and only woke when his car side-swiped the crash barrier. He claimed that he went back to the same spot a day or two later to see if he had caused any damage, but did not see any.

Stefanoni did not report the accident. He claimed that it was only several days later that he heard on the news that the police were looking for a hit-and-run driver. Thereupon, in the company of the Florence lawyer Francesco Maresca, he went to the police and was arrested.

He requested the abbreviated fast-track trial procedure (which Rudy Guede also took advantage of in 2008) but which nevertheless resulted, for manslaughter, in a tough sentence: 39 months behind prison bars, and an interim award of nearly $400,000 payable to the Owens family.

The prosecutor had cast Stefanoni’s actions subsequent to his knowingly or unknowingly hitting Allison in a very bad light, and the judge appeared to have concluded that he handed himself in only when he became convinced he would be caught.

Not much is published about the life of Allison Owens, but she is very sunny in all her images. Her family and friends clearly loved her and miss her, and through very careless driving Pietro Stefanoni has made havoc of their world.

Her hard-hit family from Ohio were in court. Thankfully, the case was efficiently and sensitively handled by the Italian authorities, with great support from the Italian media and the public. 

Zero sign a pretty American was resented.



















Monday, April 16, 2012

The Italian Tanker Is Still Held In South India Pending… Not Clear Precisely What

Posted by Peter Quennell





Our previous post described an Italian tanker held and two Italian soldiers in custody for shooting two Indian fishermen they thought were pirates.

Several times since. it seemed that whatever evidence can be assembled would be unveiled preparatory to a trial, the Italian crew would explain fully what happened, the soldiers might be charged, and the ship released to go on its way once the Italian owners paid a large bond - which, a while back, they did.

But lawyers acting for the family of one of the fishermen at the last moment sued to stop the ship on the point of leaving because they claimed they did not trust the owners to pay up - even despite the bond having been lodged in the amount (30 million rupees) that the family itself had demanded.

Now tempers seem to be rising in all directions, and as Sreedhar Pillai observes it is not simply Italy v India.

What has been most surprising is the appalling way both countries have handled the sensitive issue, each one not without its own hidden compulsions, and the public stance each country was obliged to take.

For the new Italian Prime minister Mario Monti , there were more compelling matters to attend… However the way the Italians have come out without a convincing and straightforward explanation of what happened has not helped the matter or enabled the Indians to react helpfully to solve the issue.

Besides, the Italian authorities have also failed to grasp the political compulsions under which the Indian government had to act in this matter.

For a start, Kerala, which is the last place people still believe in communism, has a party which lost the recent election with slim margin and has an interest to politicize every issue in order to win a crucial local election held in March. The ruling congress party with slim majority and allegations of corruption with the central government which they lead couldn’t afford to let the legal path take its own course.

That Kerala has a sizable Catholic population didn’t help, with Kerala Bishops facing accusation of taking up for a Catholic foreign country.

Although never mentioned publicly, the most sensitive reason for the stiff Indian stance is nothing but the Italian origin of Sonia Gandhi, presiding over the Congress Party, currently ruling India and several states including Kerala as the major coalition partner.

Hmmm. So in the Italian media one can now find hard comments like “the ship was trying to avoid piracy, but seems to have wandered into it anyway” and in the Indian media one can find comments ranging from “hang the murderers” to “the lawyers for the family are being opportunist”.

Today it is announced that the soldiers are remanded without charges for yet another 14 days. Meanwhile the owners of the Enrica Lexie have sued at the Indian Supreme Court level to get their ship back.

We may hear whether this is agreed to tomorrow. Sadly, the real pirates at the root of all this must be laughing.



Friday, April 13, 2012

French National Florence Cassez Appeal Fails Before The Mexican Supreme Court

Posted by Peter Quennell





Florence Cassez heads back to prison to continue her 60-year sentence.

If your first exposure to Florence Cassez is to her sweet face (image below) your reaction might be “sweet girls like Florence simply don’t do crimes” and to mobilize to press for her release.

But as in the case of Amanda Knox the devil really is in the details. Time and again, new readers have come here, many lawyers included, and encountered all of the mountain of details, and in effect responded once they were on top of them “those involved in Rome and Perugia really did know what they are doing”.

Not to mention those vital details lost in translation.

The French national Florence was living on a ranch outside Mexico City owned by her boyfriend when he kidnapped and held a family for ransom. (He is not yet convicted.) The kidnapped family, largely blindfolded, didnt see her, but several say they heard her voice and they suffered from her mistreatment.

Why would they make that up? Florence never really has explained how she could be living right there on the ranch and not have the slightest idea of what was going on. Or explain who “the other woman” was that the kidnapped family kept encountering.

Sentences for kidnapping are very harsh in Mexico as it has had far too many in recent years. The sweet face and 60 year sentence and the family of Florence and President Sarkozy and the notion of a process run wild made for a compelling mix of tragedy on French TV.

Not to mention those vital details lost in translation.

So far, though, to no avail. The Supreme Court have just ruled that the sentence must stand. This may not be the end of it as several irregularities have been conceded but if she is to see freedom in her lifetime Florence still has explaining to do.

Various public opinion polls say 65 to 74 percent of Mexicans think Cassez is guilty and many express resentment at French pressure to win her freedom….  [And] many believe any violation of due process was not serious enough to let Cassez go free.

How rarely do countries appreciate other countries leaning on their legal system. It’s not likely to happen again, soon toward Mexico as much as toward Italy.






 


In Close Parallel To Amanda Knox, Casey Anthony Faces Court Action For Falsely Fingering Another

Posted by Peter Quennell



Both recent images. Above the plaintiff Zenaida Gonzalez; below the defendant Casey Anthony


Amanda Knox provisionally got off on the main count (the murder of Meredith) but anyway was sentenced to three years (which she served) for fingering Patrick Lumumba.

Casey Anthony definitively got off on the main count (murdering her infant daughter Caylee, see previous posts) but anyway was sentenced to some time in prison for time-wasting and expensive misleading of the police officers.

She received no sentence for falsely fingering a nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez, for making off with Caylee, and as she had never even met Zenaida Gonzalez it is unclear how she came up with Zenaida’s name.

The Orlando Sentinel reports an issue is whether or not Anthony identified Gonzalez specifically enough when she talked to her parents when they visited her in jail.

Anthony’s attorney said details offered by Anthony did not match Fernandez-Gonzalez and clearly showed Anthony wasn’t talking about her. Gonzalez’s attorneys say she still was damaged as the only person with that name interviewed by investigators.

Fernandez-Gonzalez had never met Anthony. Investigators believe Anthony may have seen the name on an apartment rental application.

During Anthony’s trial last year, her attorney Jose Baez said Anthony made up the story about the babysitter and that Caylee truly drowned in the family pool. Anthony was acquitted of murder and other serious charges.

Nevertheless, yesterday a judge in Orlando, Florida, ruled that Zenaida Gonzalez may sue Casey Anthony for defamation of character, and the case is scheduled for January 2013.

In Amanda Knox’s case she absolutely did know Patrick Lumumba, her kindly employer who gave her a job without a work permit, and she and her mother let him languish in prison for several weeks.

Pretty hard to look worse than Casey Anthony, but in her cruel act of framing Patrick, Amanda Knox certainly does.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rome Appeal Court Rejects Vanessa Sollecito’s Appeal For Reinstatement In The Carabinieri

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: Francesco, father of Vanessa and Raffaele, outside their Bisceglie family home late 2011]


In 2008 Vanessa Sollecito and her father Francesco were caught on tape discussing the manipulation of Rome politicians into forcing changes upon the investigation team in Perugia.

Vanessa was fired from the Carabinieri the prestigious Italian national civil-military police force in November 2009 for demonstrating behavior and psychology inappropriate to a law enforcement officer’s job.

Our Italian poster ncountriside has just alerted us to the posting of the official statement that her appeal has been turned down.

The European Court is quoted in that report as confirming that national members have the right to fire official staff for psychological and behavioral cause.

The Carabinieri carried out a very thorough investigation which included the secret bugging of her mobile phone and her father’s phone. Jools translated one key conversation here. Her father suspects they are being bugged by the police but she blithely talks on, digging them in deeper.

This ruling was probably posted when Vanessa Sollecito was already in the air bound for Seattle (see the post below) but she would have known it was coming. This does not bode well for the criminal trial she faces along with her close family, possibly starting in Bari at the end of this month. The charges could incur prison terms.

The Sollecito family arc has almost never been reported on in the English language press. In 21 June 2008 Tom Kington of the Guardian did file this brief report.

The investigation into the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Italy took a dramatic twist yesterday when the family of one of the suspects was accused of attempting to interfere with the inquiry.

Police tapping the phones of the father of Italian student Raffaele Sollecito overheard discussions that appeared to suggest plans being made to get senior politicians to use their influence and get detectives whom the Sollecitos considered hostile taken off the case. The phone tap information is in files handed over to lawyers as magistrate Giuliano Mignini officially completed the investigation into the strangling and stabbing of Kercher, from Surrey, who was found on 2 November semi-naked in a pool of blood in her bedroom in Perugia.

‘We’ve got to flay the Perugia flying squad,’ a family member was overheard saying, according to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. ‘If we can get rid of the head of homicide and that other one, we’ll be OK.’

Relatives of Sollecito, including his sister, a policewoman, were also overheard discussing politicians who could help their case. Giulia Buongiorno, a lawyer and MP in Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling coalition, has now been retained to represent Sollecito. ‘She can help out on this case at a political level,’ Sollecito’s father was overheard saying.

Sollecito’s father, Franco, a well-to-do doctor from Bari in southern Italy, has campaigned to prove his son’s innocence, even to the point of allegedly leaking to a TV station a video obtained from the crime scene showing Kercher’s corpse, as well as highlighting perceived errors by the investigators, including the delayed recovery of parts of Kercher’s bra strap which were found to carry Sollecito’s DNA.

Police are holding in custody Sollecito, 24; his former girlfriend and Kercher’s flatmate, American student Amanda Knox, 20; and a third suspect, Rudy Guede, 21. All three deny involvement in the vicious killing.

As you can see here, Italian reporting like that translated by Jools usually includes a lot more damning detail.




Friday, March 02, 2012

The Irony In A Legal Standoff Between Italy And (Normally Its Good Friend) India

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Cantilevered fishing nets. There are hundreds of these along the ocean shore and harbor of Kochi.]


Images here are of the beautiful and comparatively wealthy south-west India city of Cochin (Kochi).

Also of an Italian oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, which was ordered into the Kochi port mid-February by the Indian coastguard. Two Italian marine snipers guarding the tanker en route from Singapore to Egypt had shot two Indian fishermen on a small tuna boat assuming they were pirates.

The marines do seem to have been rather quick on the draw, and in contravention of a new IMO law of the sea saying violence during such incidents must be kept to a minimum. The tanker had apparently already been attacked once that day; shots had apparently been fired then too.

Indian accounts say India has behaved reasonably. The incident was in an area the Indian navy makes a serious effort to keep safe (images also below) even though most ships cruising along the busy sea-lane off Kochi (map below) don’t touch base in India and provide no benefit to the Indian economy. 

The Italian tanker has been released now and is on its way, but the two Italian marines are still under house arrest in the house shown below, while a discussion between the two governments continues over where they should be put on trial.

The Italian government is arguing that as the marines are military personnel therefore Italian military law trumps Indian civil law and they must be put on trial in Italy.

Okay. Now for the irony. Read the posts here and here. The US government made the same argument twice against Italy, and to say the least Italy was not too happy.

Pssst. Don’t tell India.

At bottom: Another Italian ship in trouble in the Indian Ocean. This is the fire-stricken Carnival cruise line ship Costa Allegra (yes that Carnival cruise line) unloading its disconsolate passengers in the Seychelles.































Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Victims Ride High - With No Thanks To The Conspiracy Theorists

Posted by Peter Quennell





Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart with the sustained help of their appealing families are right now two of the most admired women in America.

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped from California’s beautiful South Tahoe area (image below) in 1991 and kept captive east of San Francisco through late 2009. Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her north-east Salt Lake City home (image below) in 2002 and sprung from her captors in March 2003.

Both girls seem to have been affected by the Stockholm Syndrome, Jaycee Dugard by way of the physical abuse of her captors, and Elizabeth Smart perhaps by way of the religious claims of her male captor, though she claims it was only the physical abuse.

Both women put on a very determined and self-confident performance on the witness stand, and both saw their captors put away for good. It may have been tougher for Elizabeth Smart because she had to endure years of argument over whether her male captor was mentally competent. The jury agreed with prosecution witnesses that he was simply putting on a skillful act and they returned a very quick guilty verdict.

Jaycee Dugard wrote a fearless and unflinching best-seller about her experience. Similar books have been written about Elizabeth Smart, who was married to a Scotsman a few days ago (bottom image) amid reports that said they looked like royalty.

Both have been interviewed frequently on American TV, with Elizabeth Smart pushing back strongly against CNN’s Nancy Grace. Both want to raise awareness of female kidnappings.

Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping happened when the internet was in its infancy and the conspiracy theories targeting her family were mild and did not slow her mother’s determination. Elizabeth Smart’s parents however were really targeted by the conspiracy theorists, and rants against both her father and herself became absolutely endemic.

Any comparison between these two and Amanda Knox here? We dont see it. Most of the internet abuse has flowed from Knox’s own “supporters”. They have too often made demented personal attacks which absolutely cannot help her with Perugia’s top prosecutor, or the Supreme Court which she soon faces.

And many months since she returned home after the first appeal court released her, she still has not had the courage to face the TV cameras, or to do other than announce a book which sounds like a work of fiction.

Learn something from these two, Amanda Knox. Get classy. Or understand why you and yours will never be widely admired.





Friday, February 24, 2012

Costa Concordia: Amid Continuing Environmental Concerns The Captain Is Charged With More

Posted by Peter Quennell

The death toll has now risen to 25 including one child, a little girl. Maybe 10 are still unaccounted for.

The ship turns out to be balancing precariously on two small castles of rock at its front and back ends and they now seem to be decomposing under the ship’s colossal weight.

Whether the fuel oil can be removed from the ship before it disappears into deeper waters in a very fragile marine environment now seems anyone’s guess. Technically the engineers seem to be doing all they can.

The Genoa-based Carnival subsidiary seems to have closed ranks again as its own top management behavior comes under investigation. Nick Squires of the Daily Telegraph has just reported this from a session of the Grosseto court.

Prosecutors allege that the captain’s negligence and misconduct were compounded by errors made by senior officials from Costa Cruises, the Italian company that owns the ship.

They have broadened their investigation to include three Costa Cruises employees, including Manfred Ursprunger, the vice-president, and Roberto Ferrarini, the head of the company’s crisis management unit.

He was in regular contact with the skipper on the night of the disaster but prosecutors accuse him of being “culpably unaware of the real situation on board the ship” and of falling to verify the information provided by Capt Schettino.

Nick Squires also reports that Captain Schettino’s legal prospects have now worsened.

On Thursday, prosecutors lodged two new charges against the captain, accusing him of abandoning incapacitated passengers and failing to inform the coast guard in Livorno, on the mainland, of what was happening on the ship.

He was already charged with abandoning ship, causing a disaster and multiple counts of manslaughter and is under house arrest at his home near Sorrento, south of Naples.

Nick Squires also reports on how the ship was slowed down to allow the captain and his lady friend to finish their meal. Then it was speeded up to awe someone in Giglio, and a big crowd on the ship’s bridge.


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Learning Experiences Emerging From The Carnival Ship Disaster Off Italy’s West Coast

Posted by Peter Quennell





Value migrations force better systems upon us, and so the human race progresses…

Check out first what seems to be happening to value as a result of the Costa Concordia wreck, as reflected in the stockmarket chart just below.  Stockmarkets and currency exchange rates constitute the value votes of a lot of watchful people trying to decide where to put their money.

Italy has no independent currency any more, so Italy sorely lacks that other very useful value indicator and safety valve.  But stockmarket behavior is telling us a lot both about Italy and about the Carnival cruise line.

In the past three months during which the main American index, the Dow-Jones (red curve), gained an okay 8 percent, the Italian stockmarket index (green curve) gained a very impressive 30 percent.

The main news out of Italy in those three months was (1) the austerity plan, which in theory is setting the stage for future growth (toward which there was some cynicism), and (2) the recovery from the wreck of the Costa Concordia (toward which the doubts were even greater).

You can see a slight blip down in the green curve immediately after the wreck, but then Italy continued with speedy value migration inward.  It seems fair to say “Well done Italy. You’ve received votes of international confidence on both fronts.”

Carnival, however, rather less-so.. The blue curve is the stock price of Carnival Cruise Lines and it’s still down about 12 percent since the wreck happened which is about $3 billion off Carnival’s market valuation. All cruise lines seem to have taken something of a hit and are likely to encounter other heat to make sure they all keep improving.


Check out now what is happening to systems.

It seems clear that the captain was steering the ship while he was a bit tiddly while showing off to what increasingly appears to have been his girlfriend by his side. By international and Carnival rules (1) the captain should not have been drinking, (2) he should not have been five miles off course, (3) the Moldovan dancer should not have been on the bridge, and (4) the captain should have been a lot more careful in his navigating.

So four systems at least were violated.

Then when the ship was beached - there is some uncertainty as to whether this was deliberate or whether the captain was just putting the ship in shallow water -  (5) damage to ship bulkheads was much more than expected, adding to the high number of deaths, (6) the lifeboats were almost impossible to launch, and (7) the evacuation procedures almost totally broke down - in part because there had been no evacuation drill before the ship left the port of Rome, and in part because the captain went awol and was already standing on the beach.

That is far from an exhaustive list and systems changes implemented after the 9/11 attack numbered up in the hundreds - military responses, building techniques, city preparedness, corporate distribution of their people and physical assets. We will see the same happen here. 

Right now we are watching what appear to be two very efficient systems cutting in and doing their work. One is the recovery of the oil from the ship and then the ship itself. And the other is the Italian legal system, which is going to be kept busy with this one for years.

There is increasing evidence that the single Moldovan dancer and the married captain were having some sort of affair.  She briefly admitted as much, telling a court she loved him, and the searchers and divers may have found her effects in his cabin.

He may now face 2,500 years in prison to reflect on the importance of respecting systems and the value of peoples’ lives. . 






Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Curt Knox And Edda Mellas Diffamazione Trial Will Resume In Perugia 30 March.

Posted by Jools





First, here is an explanation of diffamazione.

The charge of calunnia (art. 368) has been commonly translated as “slander” in the English/US media. This translation is incorrect, however, as calunnia is a crime with no direct equivalent in the respective legal systems.

The equivalent of “criminal slander” is diffamazione, which is an attack on someone”Ÿs reputation. Calunnia is the crime of making false criminal accusations against someone whom the accuser knows to be innocent, or to simulate/fabricate false evidence, independently of the credibility/admissibility of the accusation or evidence.

The charges of calunnia and diffamazione are subject to very different jurisprudence. Diffamazione is public and explicit, and is a more minor offence, usually resulting in a fine and only prosecuted if the victim files a complaint, while calunnia can be secret or known only to the authorities. It may consist only of the simulation of clues, and is automatically prosecuted by the judiciary.

The crimes of calunnia and diffamazione are located in different sections of the criminal code: while diffamazione is in the chapter entitled “crimes against honour” in the section of the Code protecting personal liberties, calunnia is discussed in the chapter entitled “crimes against the administration of justice”, in a section that protects public powers.

The suit against Curt Knox and Edda Mellas will commence in earnest on 30 March.

That is two days after the scheduled start of the Sollecito family trial in Bari for alleged subversion of justice, and about six weeks after the prosecution lodges its grounds for appeal with the Supreme Court against the appeal verdict on Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. 

The defamation charges were lodged not by the Perugia prosecutors’ office but by those who considered themselves to have been defamed. Under their rules they are required to do that to safeguard the system.

Amanda Knox is quoted as saying how much she likes Italy and how she would like to be at that trial.

Amanda Knox “loves Italy and likes Perugia”.

She wants to return as a tourist but, if necessary, she’ll do so to testify in the trial against her parents”. To say as much was one of the defenders of the American [female], lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova. Words came in the space of the proceedings for defamation against the parents of the student from Seattle, which is taking place in Perugia.

The name of Amanda Knox was included in the list of trial witnesses that the defence for Kurt Knox and Edda Mellas, lawyers Dalla Vedova and Luciano Ghirga intend to call to testify in court. “Both are accused of libel through the press in an interview which appeared in 2009 on the website of The Sunday Times” in which they spoke of alleged abuses on her daughter at the police headquarters during the questioning for the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher. For which crime Knox was provisionally acquitted on appeal.

In the meantime today the single judge Giuseppe Noviello has rejected an instance by the defence in relation to the territorial incompetence of the Perugian judiciary in dealing with the court proceedings.

“Amanda - said Dalla Vedova - is very interested” in the trial hearings against her parents and to which she is accused of calunnia, also against the flying squad police agents”. With her lawyers she maintains a correspondence by e-mail and every now and then they speak on the phone. “We have not seen her again ““ explains Dalla Vedova - since she was acquitted and went back to the United States. At Christmas though we exchanged greetings and yesterday she sent me an email asking for information on today’s hearing. Tonight I will tell her how it went”.

For the record the hearing in question was then postponed to March 30. On that date the witness for the prosecution will be heard. Then will be the turn for defence witnesses.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Did The Captain Being Drunk Delay Evacuation And Cause The Probable 30-Plus Deaths?

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the passengers and apparently somewhere here the captain standing on Port Giglio’s beach at midnight]


Airline pilots have been accused of drunk flying and the worst incident seems to have caused 88 deaths.

Systems changes were implemented to try to stop this ever happening again. We may now be about to see the same thing happen in the cruise ship industry. There are multiple Italian and UK reports that in the two hour period after the ship left the port of Rome, the captain drank maybe a whole carafe of wine, and became distinctly the worse for wear.

Survivors from the shipwreck have claimed that when the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, stood up from his table in the ship’s exclusive Club Concordia restaurant, approximately half an hour before the ship ran on to the rocks, he was in a particularly jolly mood.

La Repubblica suggests that Capt Schettino (52) was not in a fit state to drive a moped let alone pilot a 114,000-tonne cruiser, asserting he would almost certainly have failed a breathalyser test.

The Wall Street Journal reported this bizarre claim from a cook.

About a half-hour after the ship struck the rock…Rogelio Barista, the ship’s cook, said he and other kitchen staff members spotted the captain and a woman ordering food, including drinks and dessert””a sign of apparent nonchalance that left kitchen staff puzzled.

“I asked myself why he was still there waiting for his companion’s dessert with what was happening,” Mr. Barista said in an interview with Italian television.

The Associated Press reported the confusion caused for the shipping company, crew and passengers as a seeming direct result:

The cruise captain who grounded the Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast with 4,200 people on board did not relay correct information either to the company or crew after the ship hit rocks, the cruise ship owner’s CEO said Friday as the search resumed for 21 missing passengers.

CEO Pierluigi Foschi told Italian state TV that the company spoke to the captain at 10:05 p.m. some 20 minutes after the ship ran aground on Jan. 13, but could not offer proper assistance because the captain’s description “did not correspond to the truth.”

Capt. Francesco Schettino said only that he had “problems” on board but did not mention hitting a reef.  Likewise, Foschi said crew members were not informed of the gravity of the situation.  Passenger video shown on Italian TV indicates crew members telling passengers to go to their cabins as late as 10:25 p.m. The abandon ship alarm sounded just before 11:00 p.m.

“That’s because they also did not receive correct information on the gravity of the situation,” Foschi said.

In the most cutting English-language report, the Daily Mail claims that the presence of the Moldovan dancer alongside the captain seemingly throughout may have played a deadly role.

And that the very extensive delay in evacuating the ship may have cost all or most of the 30-plus lives lost - most of those still missing are believed to have jumped into the cold sea.

Costa’s president Pierluigi Foschi admitted in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere Della Serra yesterday, that the alarm had been raised too late by Schettino.

“˜Too late. I can’t sleep at night. If we had abandoned it earlier then we would not have lost any lives.’

He said Schettino had always been considered “˜technically able’ but had “˜character issues’. “˜He liked to be at the centre of it.’

The company has now announced it will not pay the captain’s legal fees. Although cruise ships are already very safe, mandatory system change at ship and company levels seem in store. Hopefully including compulsory brain scans of captains and all top crew.

Yesterday the captain finally - finally - expressed some contrition. The sad tales of the dead including a six year old girl are only now starting to come out.


Below: The Concordia, the first supersized Carnival ship, was built in Palermo Sicily in this yard in 2006.

Below: The ship headed out of Rome’s port (Civitavecchia) about two hours before it hit the rocks.

Below: The route the cruise ship was to take. Its unauthorized cruise by Giglio was several miles off authorized course.

Below: The ship hit the rocks at bottom and tilted to the left as it took on water, and is seemingly deliberately beached.

Below: The La Scole rocks (which are not a reef) which the ship hit; there is still confusion over its precise course.

Below: Various charts seem to show all the rocks correctly, and also very deep water a few meters to the east.

Below: The ship picked up the rock that it hit and the rock can be seen here still embedded in the side.

Below: The ship as it was yesterday precariously perched on the highest of several underwater shelves.

Below: The search divers are mostly Carabinieri. Most lost bodies are probably down in very deep water.

Below: The captain is confined to his home in this town across the bay from Naples and Vesuvius to the left.

Below: The captain’s house. Reporters are hanging around outside to record him, but he has not emerged.

Below: One of Carnival Cruise Corp’s two global headquarters, this is in Miami; the other is in London

Below: US Carnival Cruise Corp President and CEO Christine Duffy wants a global cruise systems review

Below: Carnival’s current market capitalization ($24 billion) seems low, but in recent years its stock (blue curve) beat the US average.

Below: Carnival’s stock (blue curve) has not been so hot in recent weeks; it just dropped $4-5 billion. 

Below: The UN’s International Maritime Org in London where global maritime systems are agreed.

Below: A BBC animation that aired last monday on what happened to the ship on the night..


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Italy Hails An Unlikely Hero Who Tried To Talk The Captain Back On The Ship He Abandoned

Posted by Peter Quennell

You probably already know the broad outline of this story.

Last Friday the Carnival cruise ship Costa Concordia ran onto some rocks by an island off the west coast of Italy and it semi-capsized. Some 35 passengers are declared dead or missing, the ship could slide further or sink any time, and the fuel-oil is all still on board.

This video is the BBC’s translation of the coastguard captain Gregorio De Falco (left below) trying to talk the cruise ship captain Francesco Schettino (right below) out of a lifeboat and back on board his ship to facilitate the rescue of the 4,000 passengers and crew.

Captain De Falco is not mincing any words. It seems that Italians cannot get enough of that stern talk. The tape is being played again and again on Italian radio and TV with Captain De Falco being likened to various great Italian leaders of the past - and Captain Schettino to the vain and ultimately disastrous Mr Berlusconi.

This report is from American National Public Radio.

“You’ve abandoned ship! I’m in charge now,” De Falco rages at Schettino, who was apparently in a rowboat at this time. “Go back and report to me how many passengers [are still onboard] and what they need. ... Perhaps you saved yourself from the sea, but I’ll make you pay for this, dammit!”

Schettino can be heard trying to refuse the order. “You don’t understand, it’s dark here. Can’t see anything,” he says.  “What is it, you want to go home Schettino?” De Falco spits out. “It’s dark and you want to go home?”  Eventually De Falco demands: “Go back onboard, dammit!”

De Falco’s Italian expletive is actually much harsher than “dammit” “” but the line [“Torni a bordo, cazzo!”] has become a national catchphrase, and is Italy’s top trending hashtag or keyword on Twitter.

Minutes after that audio was posted online, Italians had a new hero.  Within hours, a Facebook page created in De Falco’s name had 10,000 friends. By Wednesday morning, his words were a national slogan, with T-shirts being sold online with the words, “Go back onboard, dammit.”...

One tweet from a woman named Sofia Rosada said, “It’s men like De Falco who should be governing, instead we are full of men like Schettino.”

The governing politicians dithered and looked after their own main chance for far too long. But the various stories we have followed on this site have thrown up at professional levels a number of unlikely and unsung heroes.



















Friday, January 13, 2012

Umbria’s Chief Prosecutor Will Proceed Against Knox And Sollecito And Also Aviello

Posted by Peter Quennell



Above: Cassation. Image replaced till we are sure we have one of Dr Galati. See comment in thread below.]


Dr Giovanni Galati is the region of Umbria’s chief prosecutor. He was appointed by the Minister of Justice last year. Previously he was a high-profile and very successful Deputy Prosecutor General at the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome.

The chief-prosecutor post in Umbria is a sign of great official confidence in Dr Galati. His office in Perugia is one of the best staffed and most formidable of that of any of Italy’s 20 regions. The principle reason for this is that the Perugia office serves as a national surrogate for Rome prosecutors where national political cases are concerned.

His office has been investigating corruption in construction related to the Winter Olympics in 2006 and the severe earthquake in 2010. Parliamentarians in the party of former Prime Minister Berlusconi (which is also the party of Sollecito defense counsel Gulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox acolyte Rocco Girlanda) are among those now being investigated. Several or some MPs could end up in prison and the parliamentary party severely damaged..

Mr Berluconi’s party is no longer the lead party in the governing coalition in parliament, but it was the lead during the whole of the first-level Knox and Sollecito appeal in Perugia up to the surprise verdict from Judge Hellman. Berlusconi, Bongiorno and Girlanda seem to have all had good reasons to humiliate Giovanni Gelati and his team.

Now Dr Galati gets to fight back.

Reporting items of breaking news on Meredith’s case on her excellent Twitter feed ( @andreavogt )  the Italy-based reporter Andrea Vogt has already reported that Dr Galati is preparing to proceed with a forceful Cassation appeal of the appeal verdict.

Andrea Vogt also reports that the defense super-witness and Mafia super-snitch Luciano Aviello will face a slander hearing in Perugia on 24 May. This may be a smart tit-for-tat move by Dr Galati as Judge Hellman did seem to have bent over backward in his report to ridicule all the prosecution witnesses - most of whom he never even set eyes on.

It may also be a smart taunt directed at Giulia Bongiorno. On the witness stand during the appeal, Mr Aviello claimed that Ms Bongiorno had channeled suggestions to his prison of bribes from the Sollecito family for false testimony. She angrily said she would sue him - but so far she hasn’t launched a suit. 

Dr Galati is said to respect Mr Mignini, and to consider that his sliming and the sliming of the police investigators by the Knox forces has been way, way, way over the top.

During the appeal Dr Galati appeared twice in the courtroom to show solidarity with his prosecution colleagues. He addressed the court at the start of October on what he considered severe shortcomings in the DNA report written by Stefano Conti, Carla Vecchiotti and the peripatetic grandstander Greg Hampikian.

Our main poster Tiziano translated this from La Nazione.

The new Prosecutor General of Perugia, Giovanni Galati, spoke briefly in Court in support of his colleagues. He wished to “show his complete support of all the matters raised by his colleagues, in particular as far as the expert report is concerned.”

Seated next to the deputy Prosecutor General, Giancarlo Costagliola, Galati spoke before the Court affirming that it had seemed “his duty” to inform himself on the proceedings in court.  “I hope that the Court’s decision will be the fruit of a dignified confrontation of the parties.”

Referring to the expert report of the consultants named by the Court ... he spoke of “evident gaps” and “evaluations [which had been] not requested.”

Last month there was an official function involving Dr Galati and the mayor of Perugia and the chief judge of the Umbria appeal court to initiate Italy’s first online system to allow every interested party to track the progress of court cases and appeals and to obtain all the public documents.

It was not said at the time that one reason for such an open information system is to counter the massive misinformation put out by the Knox and Sollecito forces - but smart people in Italy are not slow to connect up the dots.

Dr Galati’s grounds for the appeal to the Supreme Court (where until recently as mentioned above he was a trusted main player) will be published by February 18th. He does know that court.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Watch Out David Marriott! Your Feeble Efforts To Market AK May Land You One In The Eye…

Posted by Peter Quennell





It seems Casey Anthony may have seized control of her own PR and dumped her lead lawyer for not landing her a megabucks deal.

Her lead lawyer was Jose Baez (image above) who may not yet have been fully paid for getting her off minus the convictions for lying to the cops. Early on, Jose Baez compared her to Amanda Knox who now also appears to be struggling for a megabucks deal. Clearly not much synergy there.

Casey Anthony’s need for money to pay her bills and set herself up after her probation period ends (she is now confined to a hideway in Florida) are said to be considerable. For example she owes the State of Florida about $100,000 toward their investigation costs for so often leading them astray.

Last month it was reported that her latest pitch was for $500,000 to $750,000 for a first interview - and that most TV networks had already passed.

Casey Anthony seemed to have had a short shelf life. A few days ago it was conjectured that Jodi Arias may now be edging out Casey Anthony in the notoriety stakes. Jodi Arias has just been accused of shooting her ex-boyfriend and also stabbing him 27 times.

But in this context - perhaps coincidence, perhaps not - two video diaries by Casey Anthony suddenly surface and promptly they go viral. The first one is below. This is Diane Dimond’s report about this in the Daily Beast.

It only took six months””to the day””for Casey Anthony to catapult herself back into the nation’s consciousness. Six months after the verdict in her notorious murder trial, Anthony’s visage flooded computer screens worldwide.

Viewers were fascinated by her suddenly short blonde hair, her oversize reading glasses, and her self-absorbed four-minute soliloquy during which she mentioned herself more than 40 times and uttered not one word about her dead baby girl, Caylee, or her family….

It’s confirmed that it is Casey Anthony on the video. One of Anthony’s criminal-defense lawyers says she kept notes and a video blog as part of her “continuing therapy.” But Cheney Mason steadfastly maintains it wasn’t Anthony who let it loose on the Internet… 

Mason was part of the team that successfully defended the young mother during her murder trial and, according to two sources, has now displaced Jose Baez as the media spokesperson for Anthony””apparently at her request.

People close to both men report a recent major falling out among all the parties””between Baez and Anthony, between Baez and Mason””sparked by Anthony’s displeasure at Baez’s inability to win her a TV, book, or movie deal.

Anthony apparently gave Baez until the end of the year to come up with a deal, and absent that anointed Mason as her official liaison. Just how involved Baez will be in Anthony’s future affairs isn’t known, but his unhappiness with the situation has supposedly caused strain around his law office. As one person close to this story who did not want to be identified put it, “Jose is on the outs now. Cheney is in.”

There are many unknowns about the videos. While Anthony gives the date of the v-blog as October 2011, there is no way of knowing exactly when she spoke into her webcam, immortalizing herself.

She could have done it after the first of the year as part of a new self-directed publicity plan””a way to test the waters about a possible rebranding of her image.

Whoever leaked the two videos, whether it was Casey Anthony intent on rebranding herself or another who pirated the videos (Diane Dimond reports the various theories), it may have worked to Casey Anthony’s advantage. Radar Online has just reported this:

Casey Anthony’s web videos have caused a renewed interest in the notorious “˜Tot Mom’ and RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned that a website has offered her an enormous sum for her first post jail sit down interview.

Nik Lamas-Richie, founder of the website The Dirty, has offered Casey Anthony a whopping $350,000 for an interview, according to a source close to the situation.

This is the website referred to. Better take a look, Mr Marriott.  But not too close.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

UK High Court Convicts Two After 18 Years When Defense DNA Contamination Claims Lose Traction

Posted by The Machine



Gary Dobson and David Norris have been found guilty of murdering Stephen Lawrence in 1993 by a jury at the Old Bailey.

There are some parallels between this case and the Meredith Kercher case: the police were accused of making a catalogue of errors and the defence lawyers claim forensic evidence was contaminated.

Gary Dobson was acquitted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1996. However, the Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal. The case against David Norris collapsed before it reached court.

It’s heartening that Dobson and Norris have been finally brought to justice. Forensic scientists used advanced techniques which were not available to the original investigators to recover bloodstains, clothing fibres and a single hair belonging to Stephen Lawrence from the clothes of the suspects.

Rosalyn Hammond from LGC Forensics explaining in today’s Telegraph:

Their convictions come after a five-week trial during which forensic evidence linking the two to the murder was shown to the jury.

The discovery of the fibres, blood and hair on the clothing was the evidence upon which the trial was based. A spot of Stephen’s blood was found on the collar of Dobson’s jacket, while hairs belonging to Stephen were found on Norris’ trousers.  As well as the blood spot, fibres from Stephen’s clothing were found on clothing taken from the homes of Dobson and Norris.

At one point in the 1990s Dobson contacted the Metropolitan Police to ask for the return of his clothes. But, after considering his request, Scotland Yard declined. Even today the force retains the clothing of all of the suspects so that they can be tested as forensic techniques develop.

A further criticism could be laid at the door of the scientists who failed to discover the blood spot in the 1990s.  But experts pointed out that even if it had been discovered then, it would have been useless as DNA testing had not yet developed enough to be able to clarify that such a small stain was blood belonging to Stephen Lawrence.

The tiny stain found on Dobson’s jacket is believed, by forensic experts, to be the smallest piece of forensic evidence upon which a trial has ever been mounted.

The decision to base the prosecution against Dobson on such a small piece of evidence was a risk, however. After his conviction was quashed, the current law allows only one further attempt at prosecution. It meant that if he was found not guilty, Dobson could never have been charged again.

The Italian Supreme Court should order another appeal trial on the grounds that the court consultants Vecchiotti and Conti failed to carry out a newly available test on the knife. That was despite the fact they were specifically instructed in their initial instructions to do so.

Also that Judge Hellman late in the appeal arbitrarily denied the prosecution request for precisely that test of the DNA without any good reason.

The prosecution grounds for their appeal to the Italian Supreme Court due this month are expected to repeat this request and we can see no grounds that could allow the Supreme Court to deny it. There are a number of laboratories that have the technology to carry out a test on the remaining DNA on the knife.

The requested test on the knife should go ahead.



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #6

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: 1 June to Parolisi’s arrest 19 July

Previous posts on the Melania Rea case here which in many ways is comparable to Meredith’s.

By the end of this seven-week period, to 19 July, during which the Italian media coverage is extremely intense, several of the main theories of the crime have surfaced (some 2-3 more are still to come) and the police and prosecutors are being praised for a job well done.

Ascola and Teramo prosecutors have not had to contend with their Perugia counterparts’ giant headaches: three warring perps, their conflicting alibis, three teams of lawyers, a CSI effect, defense-witness pyrotechnics, short-form and long-form trials, a demonizing million dollar PR campaign, and a quirky process and judge in the first appeal.

A strong case against Melania’s husband Salvatore for her violent murder as described below comes together late in July. However (future posts) the roller coaster ain’t done careening yet.





This again is Stefania Dorinzi, Melania’s close friend and neighbor who lived in the same apartment block. Early in June, she gave a long interview on TV about her times with Melania, and what Melania and he husband had been doing in the past few days, and what they intended on 18 April.

She pointed out that the trip that day was very strange. Melania did not take her usual things along including a bag of supplies she always carried for the baby. Melania certainly never talked about going to Casermette park. Very quickly Stefania and her husband began to suspect Salvatore.





This is Salvatore’s family home east of Naples and north of Vesuvius, where he retreated for all of May and for parts of June and July. Below he is seen walking nearby with his sister Francesca.






This is one of several images of Salvatore’s now-outed girlfriend at the regimental barracks, Ludovica Perrone, which flooded Italian websites and TV reports in June. She is an ambitious college graduate who is originally from Turin.

She and her parents came under heavy fire for aggressively working to break up Melania’s marriage even after Melania confronted her by phone several times. Late June Ludovica finally gave an interview downplaying the affair.

In retrospect it did not come across as very truthful. It was contradicted by phone conversation transcripts and Facebook messages filed with the court by the prosecution late in July which showed the affair to be long-standing and very intense.

Those same messages however also served to suggest that she was not a party to Melania’s murder and that she was gradually dropping to the fact that Salvatore probably was the main perpetrator in her death.

In October she was interviewed for a full day at a secret location west of Teramo (which leaked anyway and the media arrived after it was all over) and will be a star witness at any trial. Present state of mind unknown. 





This is the eminent Italian criminologist Francesco Bruno who appeared on TV several times in June to argue forcefully that Salvatore could not have done it (“they were too much in love… wrong psychological profile.. wrong method… no motive”).

His theory was that the modus operandi was that of a serial killer, and he suggested one (image below) who was then in the news. For various reasons the theory was not accepted by the police and it rapidly faded. 






This is Paolo Ferraro, a Rome prosecutor, who was put on forced leave in June for suggesting that there may be satanic cells in the army. Salvatore’s barracks at Ascoli might be one of those locations.

We discussed this possible satanism in detail in the comments under Post #3. Not much more has leaked out about this so far, though there is a strange tale of a female soldier at Ascoli who was tied to her bed with candles or other flames around her.





This is Laura Titta. She was a soldier at the barracks and along with about ten others was arrested in June for aiding the flight of a convicted Naples Comorrah killer. Again not very much has leaked out.

She certainly knew Salvatore and it has been suggested they had a brief affair. She is considered a very hard case despite her sweet looks and was thought to maybe have been the one who helped Salvatore.

On the two mornings after Melania disappeared on 18 April Salvatore visted the barracks, including once with his daughter, and it has not yet been made public why he did this or who he saw there.





The regiment rushed out the second of at least three waves of media releases to try to show the public that in fact the place is alright. The notice in the image below is a code of behavior for male and female soldiers.






On 16 June a young guy who lived in the same village as Salvatore and Melania reported that a few days before he had seen someone going behind the changing rooms (building at left-center) and apparently hiding something.

When he went to look, he found that it was a mobile phone wrapped up to look like trash. Salvatore admitted it was a secret second phone he had used for secret chats with Ludovica. He denied trying very hard to hide it.

He pointed out that the SMS chip was still inside and the pay-as-you-go phone might be traced back to him. He said he was simply done with it and wanted it out of the way. Two images below show its location. 







This again is Imma Rosa. She was probably Melania’s best friend and had known her for around twelve years. On 19 April after Melania was reported missing Imma was quite startled to receive a phone call from Salvatore.

In the three or four years she had been acquainted with Salvatore through Melania she had never been called by Salvatore. He was now telling her how much he loved Melania and told her was nervous the police would harass him if she did not turn up soon.

Imma was instantly suspicious and contacted the Ascoli investigators right away. Prosecutor Umberto Monti immediately went to the supervising magistrate Georgio Ciccone and requested a tap of both their phones. On 21 April it was approved.

Not all the transcripts have been released, but one of a long rambling call on 1 May between Ludovica and Salvatore, where she ranted tearfully at him and he didn’t say very much, was released upon his arrest on 19 July. 





On 23 June Salvatore was required to come to the Ascoli questura (police hq) for questioning. For several hours, he refused to answer any questions from Umberto Monti and his team on the advice of his new lawyers - Walter Biscotti and Nicodemo Gentile from Perugia.

You can see them here as they all exit. The same lawyers had represented Rudy Guede in Meredith’s case and, interestingly, arranged for Guede to choose the short-form trial. In this case, the Italian internet is noticeably critical of them.





This image and the two below are of Salvatore packing up and moving out of the apartment the army had rented for himself and Melania. The army decided not to renew the lease beyond June. Melania’s family came separately to claim her effects.







This is a transsexual or crossdresser who calls himself Alessandra in his online videos. This image is from one of those videos and you can see Alessandra holding the camera and capturing the video while he dances.

Alessandra suddenly became very famous in Italy late in June when some of his videos and those of some other transsexuals or crossdressers were reported as having been found on Salvatore’s seized computer.

This led to the creation of yet another main theory of the crime - that Salvatore himself is sexually out of the mainstream, and that this was the terrible secret Melania told her friend Sonia Viviani she had uncovered two days before she died. 

If such an orientation is revealed as true, it could be considered enough to collapse his marriage and his affair with Ludovica and his standing at the barracks and probably his job. So far, no innocuous explanation has been advanced. 





This is Salvatore at his last TV studio appearance in Rome late in June. As usual it was a mix of his love for Melania, his downplaying of Ludovica, and his anger at the harrasing investigators and the media.

During the on-air segment two videos were aired, one of Melania’s wedding and one of a memorial procession at her hometown just before her funeral. Salvatore had copies of both videos, and he appeared to be exploiting them to manipulate public opinion.

Such cynical use of these videos deeply upset Melania’s family, who had not been asked and received no warning. Melania’s brother Michele forcefully emphasized that all personal videos are the private property of Melania’s family.

Italian media have respected that since. Melania’s family seems to have allowed both videos to remain online. They show Melania in a very endearing light at her wedding and how much she was missed after she died.





In the first three weeks of July all of the emerging evidence seem to be converging and breaking hard against Salvatore.

This shows the San Marco park again. In July a woman witness came forward to tell the investigators she had not seen any man or woman or child at the playground in the key one hour 2:30 to 3:30 on 18 April.

Her presence was confirmed by mobile calls she made and by the CCTV camera at the refreshment kiosk which is behind the camera and to the right.





This is the view down from the Casermette park where Melania’s body was found on the 20th of April toward Civitella where the nearest mobile phone tower is located.

It was now revealed that both Melania’s and Salvatore’s main phones were proven to have been pinged there on 18 April so both of them were seemingly up there. Salvatore’s phone was also pinged at the San Marco park an hour later.





This is from a video taken by an investigator which was aired late in 2011. It briefly showed Melania’s body at a distance in a different place and facing the other way to the officially released police graphics.

Somehow Salvatore knew the correct place and position when late in April he demonstrated them to a reporter on TV. He claimed his friend Raffaele Paciolla who identified Melania’s body took a video and then showed him.

But Raffaele denied that he did so. The image below (in front of the flowers) shows where Melania’s body was “wrongly” depicted as having been found. The depiction “wrongly” showed her facing off to the right.






This above is the Teramo coroner Adriano Tagliabracci (who was a defense witness for Sollecito at Meredith’s trial) who in mid July released the findings of his second autopsy on Melania carried out mid-May.

He depicted what the wounds and blood traces told him of Melania’s final struggle. Her mouth was held closed from behind (in what commenters later noted is a military mode of attack) as Salvatore’s DNA in her mouth suggested while she was stabbed very fast repeatedly.

She broke away but fell down because her pants were down at her ankles, and then the stabbing continued. Some of the stabs reached her internal organs and she died painfully as much as one hour later.





This is the Palo Alto California headquarters of Facebook. The prosecutors requested founder and CEO Mark Zuckerman to unerase some erased messages between Salvatore and Ludovica prior to Melania’s death. He kindly obliged.

Salvatore had phoned Ludovica in late April on the secret phone to make sure that she would erase any such messages on her computer. One unerased message was released at time of arrest. It showed how intense the romance had become.. 





These two images show the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case Umberto Monti at the San Marco park with Salvatore late in April. He was trying to understand the claimed kidnapping of Melania being described for him by Salvatore. 

On 19 July he filed charges for murder and Salvatore was arrested. Officially regarded as dangerous, he has been locked up ever since despite two lawyers’ motions to release him on bail pending any trial.






This is Salvatore Parolisi arriving at the Ascoli palace of justice to be arrested and imprisoned and told of the reasons why. His lawyers Walter Biscotti and Nicodemo Gentile supported him at the arrest hearing before Judge Carlo Calvaresi.





This is the supervising magistrate for the case in Ascoli, Judge Calvaresi, who ordered Salvatore to be arrested and locked up. He issued a 20-page written explanation of his reasoning.

The case now had to go through a change of jurisdiction as there were no signs of a kidnapping from the Ascoli park. Judge Giovanni Cirillo of Teramo wrote a longer 60-page report in two days, and added “cruelty” to the charges.

The Teramo prosecutors Greta Aloisi and Davide Rosati (images of them in the May post) took the lead now from the Ascola prosecutor Umberto Monti.






This is Teramo prison above and below where Salvatore has been held since late July. Salvatore will be formally arraigned for trial next month. He may be moved soon to a prison near Naples so he can see his daughter Victoria once a month. 

Investigations now if anything accelerated into some sensational aspects, all main witnesses were interviewed again more deeply, and Melania’s family and friends were speaking out.

Salvatore got some messages to the public out of prison and his lawyers Biscotti and Gentile threw a few curve balls. Several new possible motives including money (Salvatore had a 100,000-plus Euros hoard which would have to be split in a divorce) were soon to be worked on. 





Finally in our series for now these are the headlines on a couple of the arrest stories. With Italy’s murder rates among the lowest in Europe and only a very small fraction of the US’s such headlines as these do not appear very often.




Friday, December 02, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #5

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: events in May 2011

These CCTV images above and below are the last known shots of Melania Rea still alive. She is with her husband Salvatore and baby daughter Victoria and it is the day after Palm Sunday.

Melania would be dead approximately five hours later. She is entering a supermarket here. Then she goes to a clinic for a quick check of a health condition, and then back home to call her mom.

They talk for about seven minutes. She tells her mom that her little family was heading for the afternoon to the playground at the San Marco plateau about ten minutes drive to the west.

Although Salvatore and Victoria were seen there about two hours later, there is zero trace of her having ever arrived. Her body was found in another park 10 kilometers south two days later.








This is the Carabinieri office in Ascoli. They have helped with major arms of the investigation including the tracking of cell phones and the blood and DNA work where Melania’s body was found.





This is Umberto Monti who was the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case through to Salvatore being charged in July in Teramo. Teramo has jurisdiction over the Casermette park.

He prepared a detailed report for the overseeing judge in July which outlines all the evidence already assembled against Salvatore. This led to a judge labeling him dangerous and locking him away pending charges.





These are the Teramo prosecutors, Greta Aloisi and Davide Rosati, who have also been working on the case all along. They assumed the lead from July once Salvatore was locked away. Teramo is about 20 kilometers south of Ascoli.

If and when the case against Salvatore Parolisi for killing Melania goes to trial, they will be the lead prosecutors in the court.





Salvatore Parolisi was prominent and outspoken on Italian TV for a number of weeks. He appeared on several national interview shows like these above and below. He explained his version of events - Melania’s supposed kidnapping.

He often cried on camera,  and said often how much Melania and he were in love. He looked or assumed a look of being haggard. He urged the police to find the real killer, and he became more and more prickly as his credibility fell.






This is Father Don Carlo Lupi, the Catholic priest at Melania’s and Salvatore’s local church. He had spoken with them after the Palm Sunday service the previous day, and they always seemed to him good together and in love.





This is the Villa San Marco clinic in Ascoli where Melania was checked three hours before her death for a small gynaecological condition. She had been advised to abstain for a short while from sex, a fact which came to matter later.





In these images above and below, we can see Salvatore and his sister Francesca with a reporter in the Casermette park right where Melania died. In this documentary report, he identified precisely where Melania’s body was found.






This is Melania’s friend Sonia Viviani who tried twice to call Melania mid-afternoon and also sent her several text messages. Melania did not pick up, although her mobile phone had a loud ring tone and the vibration was also switched on.





This is Melania’s friend Immacolata (“Imma”) Rosa who talked with Melania two days before her death. Melania told Imma she had just found out something really shocking and did not want to describe it over the phone.

Two main theories of what this shocking secret could be emerged in June and July (see later posts), both bizarre, and both possibly the real main motive behind the crime against Melania.





This is Raffaele Paciolla, a prison guard, who lived in the same building as Melania and Salvatore. They were very good friends. Raffaele was taken up the mountain by the police to do the first identification of Melania’s body.

When Salvatore was challenged about knowing where Melania’s body was found (see images above) he said Raffaele had taken shots with his phone. But Raffaele said he took no shots, a fact very damaging to Salvatore.





This is Raffaele Paciolla’s wife Stefania Dorinzi who lived with Raffaele in the same building. She knew that Melania was struggling to hold onto Salvatore and said after the crime Salvatore emerged as a very nasty person.





This is Colonel Alessandro Patrizio who was the commandant of the Clementi regimental barracks where Salvatore was a trainer. The barrack trains almost exclusively girls, some 330 every three months. Then they decide if they want to continue.

He moved fast to try to shore up the reputation of the barracks and to demonstrate that growing suspicions of major breaches of rules were taking place were wrong. He was reassigned within three months. It was said to be long-planned.
 




This is Krizia Sardella who completed the course but decided not to become a soldier. She still lives locally. She trained with Salvatore and said her group found him to be upstanding, serious, polite, and seemingly safe to be alone with. 





This is a soldier colleague of Salvatore at the barracks who would not give his name or show his face on camera, but said he found Salvatore’s behavior in the barracks to be okay and nothing out of the ordinary.





This is Melania’s friend Valentina Esposito who like her other friends knew from Melania that something was amiss in her marriage. Melania had talked of taking the baby back to her hometown for kindergarten.





This is the Samsung model of mobile phone that Melania had on her that day. She last used it to talk with her mother. The police remotely switched it to GPS mode to try to find approximately where Melania was lying.

They then did a great deal of signal measurement with similar phones in both parks (full details in the prosecutor’s report) and concluded that there was no proof that Melania had ever been to the first park as Salvatore had claimed.





This map is from the report on the cell towers in the wider area to which Melania’s phone would respond with a ping. One tower near where Melania’s body was found documented a strong signal from her phone all afternoon.





This is the town of Civitella several kilometers south of Ascoli and east of the mountain on which Melania was found. From a call box (shown below) at the bus station, somebody called in a report on her body two days after she disappeared.

He seemed to be authentically someone in his sixties with a strong regional dialect. He has never been traced, but that is said to be not uncommon for such calls. He may be a wild-mushroom picker in the forest. 







Late in the month, rumors of Salvatore having a longtime girlfriend at the barracks grew to a crescendo, and his fellow soldier trainer Ludovica Perrone, about three years younger than Melania, was publicly outed.

Phone calls in the next several weeks that they both thought were secret (Salvatore used a secret second phone) were recorded by the police, and long excerpts appeared in the prosecutor’s report in July.

Salvatore had led Ludovica to believe that his leaving Melania was just around the corner, and so she had arranged for her parents to meet him the following (Easter) weekend at a hotel on the Amalfi Coast south of Naples.

He had apparently not said as much to Melania. She knew about the affair and was outraged. Twice in the three days before she died she called Ludovica at the barracks to warn her to stop breaking up their marriage.

Ludovica was dismissed after the case opened up and has since disappeared, though the police know where she is and still interview her. She sounded outraged after Melania’s death at hearing Salvatore on-air saying how much he loved Melania. 






This is the Teramo coroner Adriano Tagliabracci who in mid May did a second autopsy on Melania and concluded she had not been moved after her death. He reconstructed the horrific final fight that she went through.

He also concluded that the body had been stabbed a dozen more times the day after Melania died, and that the body was inscribed and a syringe inserted to throw investigators off the trail. 





This is Michele Rea, Melania’s brother, who attended the second autopsy with Salvatore and his brother Rocco. Nearly a month after the murder both families were still getting along well, though they bitterly split soon after. 





These next few shots are of Melania’s funeral at Summa Vesuvio, her home two, three days after the coroner released her body for burial. Believe it or not, the shot above is of Salvatore hugging Melania’s father Gennaro; both were crying.








Salvatore moved back to his own home town near Vesuvius after his forced release from the army at the start of May. His car and the entrance to the yard of his family’s apartment were watched by reporters up to late July when he was put in prison.






Meanwhile little Victoria lives with Melania’s parents at Summa Vesuvio and she is not old enough yet to understand anything that is going on.  As in Perugia, cold callous unrepenting narcissism reigns, while there is more and more heartbreaking damage.

Open questions

These are not make-or-break, but they do show that as in Perugia there will always be loose ends. Why were there so many small cuts on Melania’s body? Why did she have her back turned, seemingly trustingly with her pants down? Why did she agree to go to the Casermette park when that was not what they’d intended? Who mutilated Melania’s body on the Tuesday? Was it possible for Salvatore to get back there on Tuesday unnoticed? Or could that have been Ludovica, or another woman? Why did he visit the barracks on Tuesday and Wednesday? What was Melania’s dark secret that she had told no-one? And if Salvatore wanted to marry Ludovica, why did he not simply ask Melania for a divorce?


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #4

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: events in April 2011

Above is Melania Rea’s husband, army corporal Salvatore Parolisi, with his sister Francesca, when he was riding a national wave of sympathy back in April and May.

Could this equally prominent case not so far from Perugia in turn come to impact upon the final appeal outcome of Meredith’s case? There seems a distinct chance of this. 

What may become obvious as we illustrate events starting from April is that, given a level playing field and no vigorous PR campaign, the dedicated work of the different components of the Italian police is impressively good.

They come across as highly trained, competent and well-organized, and they leave very few stones unturned. Here four arms of the Italian police - the Carabinieri, the Scientific Police, the Ascoli police, and the Teramo police - have worked together notably smoother than say the FBI and the CIA before the New York trade towers came down.

This has been in face of a pro-defendant justice system, possible attempts at intimidation, two main motives and scenarios and several others, a confusing crime scene re-arrangement, a time-and-resources-consuming alibi, little DNA, no fingerprints, no weapon, four or more mobile phones to be analyseds, Facebook messages erased (and un-erased when Facebook HQ in California obliged), a possible charming psychopath, hints of a possible satanic sect, and no eye-witnesses at all.

Tough case. Still, this has lead to an approval rating for the investigators now through the roof, and the endorsement (post directly below) of the Supreme Court. 





These shots pick up from the previous main post on the geography of the house, barracks and two parks and the layout of the San Marco park where Salvatore claims Melania disappeared. 

This shows the temporary operations headquarters set up in the Colle San Marco park on 19 April, the day after Melania disappeared, where her husband claimed he last saw her.

The investigators were first trying to find her, and then when her body was found in another park to the south trying to unearth any evidence that she was ever there. 





The police swept for fingerprints and DNA (no luck) the playground where Salvatore said he and Victoria were at play while Melania headed off for a restroom in a bar and to bring back two coffees.





The police used dogs trained in several kinds of search (no luck) to cover the whole park. They were initially looking for a body or a grave, and then any evidence proving Melania was there.

As we mentioned in the previous post. a large number of people in the park that afternoon were lined up for interrogation, and over the next month were called to police HQ in Ascoli. 





This is the road along the side of the mountain which is the short way to get from Colle San Marco park to Casermette park seven or eight miles south, where on the 20th a tip led to Melania’s body being found.





This is the east side of the “mountain of flowers” where in Casermette park, in the center of that dark green swathe near the top, Melania’s body was found. Salvatore’s regiment trains up there.





That park is used almost daily by the army trainees at the Ascoli barracks where Salvatore primarily trained newly enlisted women soldiers in among other things weapons techniques.





These two shots above and below show Meredith’s body being removed, to be transported to the morgue in the palace of justice several miles to the south in the large town of Teramo. 

Melania’s body was photographed and examined in the park, and then two autopsies were carried out. Salvatore never saw Melania in the park, though he later identified for a reporter the precise spot.






These three shots above and below show the large Carabineri and Scientific and local police presence on the mountain at Casermette park which remained there in force for most of the next week.







This is Colonel Luigi Ripani from Ascoli who was in charge of co-ordinating the police investigation in the two parks and issuing the few rather cryptic reports to the media of what was going on.





This shot above and the one below show the Casermette refreshment kiosk, not yet open for the summer season, next to which Melania’s body had been arranged.






This shot and the three below show evidence of a considerable struggle. Melania was a tall strong girl. She was attacked and stabbed from behind, it is now believed when she was relieving herself and unable to run.

That fact in particular which emerged at the second autopsy has incensed those in Italy who have been following the case.








A wedding ring was found lying in the dirt, the same one you can see here on Melania’s ring finger. Several other items were also found, but not (then) her bag or wallet or keys.




This is Teramo in Abruzzi province (larger than Ascoli in Marche province to the north) which now has primary jurisdiction. Since July Salvatore has been locked up in prison awaiting a possible trial there.





Melania’s first autopsy was carried out here at the palace of justice morgue in Teramo. A main interim conclusion was that Melania (later reversed) had been killed some place other than the park.





The police released this graphic and the one below when requesting leads. They show a syringe in Melania’s chest which had male and female DNA on it; and cuts like a swastika on Melania’s upper left leg.

The police graphic below is (perhaps out of kindness) misleading. Melania’s pants were down around her ankles, which prevented her running (she did get up, but then fall again) as it’s believed the killer intended.






This is an image of the Teramo coroner who carried out this autopsy and also a second one in mid May which put the place of death back by the kiosk in the park. He found two foreign DNAs on Melania’s body.

One was Salvatore’s DNA, inside her mouth, which was ruled as placed there maybe by a kiss, maybe only minutes before she died. The other was a small trace of an unknown woman’s DNA under the fingernails of one hand. 





This image above and the two below are of Melania’s family: mother Vittoria, father Gennaro, and brother Michele. All often appear on TV. They were very supportive of Salvatore early on.







This image above and the two below are of Salvatore’s family: mother Vittoria, loyal sister Francesca (a good friend of Melania who was very distraught), brother Rocco, and Francesca with Salvatore. 

Salvatore’s father has kept in the background, and he has made few or no willing appearances on TV. Early on, Rocco and Francesca often appeared on TV, supporting Salvatore but also lamenting Melania’s death.




Monday, November 28, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #3

Posted by Peter Quennell





Next detailed post on this “parallel universe” case not far from Perugia late today. There are two breaking-news developments to report.

1) Today 28 November the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome should respond to a petition from defense lawyers Biscotti and Gentile (for yes, it is again they, the Rudy Guede defense team) to allow Melania’s husband Salvatore Parolisi out of Teramo prison on bail on the claimed grounds of a lack of hard evidence. If he gets out on bail he may fight for custody of his daughter, who is now with Melania’s parents near Naples..

If you read Italian, the Ascoli prosecutor who saw Parolisi confined to prison in July, Dr Umberti Monti (image below), pending more investigations and possible charges, offered the Ascoli magistrate this 68-page reasoning.

2) And the second magistrate on the case, Dr Marina Tommolini, in Teramo, the large town south of Ascoli and south-east where Melania’s body was found, had her Audi A6 doused in gasoline and set on fire. She was not in it. It’s not clear if the destruction of her car was case related, but strong suspicions are out there.

There is a huge volume of “known facts” on the case but also many unknowns and puzzles. All sides seem to have learned lessons from Perugia. The national and local police and prosecutors are playing a masterful game of seeping out info on this or that point to stir up leads. More surprises to come.

[Below: the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case, Dr Umberti Monti, who works with counterparts in Teramo]


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #2

Posted by Peter Quennell





This photo series picks up from the first, overview post. Click on any images for larger versions.

Melania Rea came from Summa Vesuvio, a suburban town on the north slope of Vesuvius a few minutes east of Naples, and Salvatore Parolisi from nearby. You can see Summa Vesuvio here at bottom left.

Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, and one day will do so again. Beyond Vesuvius here is Pompeii (not visible) and also the Bay of Naples.and Sorrento (top right) and the mountains that on their other side form the Amalfi Coast. 





Melania and Salvatore were married in Summa about three years ago in the church where last April her funeral was held. At the end of both ceremonies, white balloons were released into the sky.





Melanie then moved to set up home with Salvatore outside the town of Ascoli Piceno which is almost directly opposite Summa on the east coast. She and Salvatore rented an apartment, which the army paid for, south of his barracks..





This is the Clementi army barracks at the east end of Ascoli where Salvatore was stationed until he was given a release from the army after Melania was murdered last April.

Rome investigators launched a confidential investigation into strange happenings at the barracks a few months ago. [See more on this now in Comments.] Not much information has been given out. It is possible that Melania stumbled on a dark secret; she told a friend that she had.





These are some of the women soldiers who were being trained at the barracks. They are all volunteer soldiers and 330 are stationed at the barracks at any one time. Salvatore was one of their instructors, and he had a heavy affair with at least one.





This is the apartment building south of the barracks, in the village of Folignano, where Salvatore and Melania were living. That is their car in front.





This is the same model and color of car as their car, a French-made four-door Renault Scenic. It was sequestered several times by the police for searches and traces of Melania’s blood were found inside. Salvatore claimed they were old. 





Here are Salvatore and Melania out walking with their baby Victoria who was born late in 2009. Melania suffered from post-partum depression, but her health at the end was mostly good.





[Click for larger image] This is looking south. Ascoli and the Clementi barracks are directly below. Casermette park in the distance is where Melania’s body was found.

Salvatore claims that on the afternoon of Monday 18 April he drove Melania and Victoria from their home (bottom left) about 10 kilometers west to a park with a playground on the Colle San Marco plateau (bottom right).





Salvatore claims that Melania and Victoria began playing on these swings, and that after a while Melania said she needed a restroom. As she headed off, he suggested she go to a nearby bar and to bring them back two coffees.

See that brown refreshments kiosk in the woods in the background? That becomes key, because people were sitting there watching and there is also a CCTV.





This is the restaurant and bar less than 200 meters away from the playground where Salvatore says he thought Melania was headed to, to use the restroom and purchase the coffee.





After nearly an hour of playing with Victoria (he says he lost track of time) as Melania had not returned Salvatore checked at the bar and called the local police and they brought along a tracker dog.





[Click for larger image] To Salvatore’s real or feigned great surprise, the tracker dog headed off at right angles, down the road along which he said they had driven up to the park. The scent went cold about 300 meters away from the swings.





Here is the playground in the background. If Melania walked that route she would have had to come by this portaloo and the refreshment kiosk with its outdoor seating, then mostly occupied.





This is the refreshment kiosk looking onto the road that Melania would have walked. The park was quite busy and people were seated in those chairs.





This is the access road to the park down which the police dog suggested Melania must have walked. The road descends here at just a slight slope.





After 250 meters the road above arrives at this intersection. Instead of turning left (yellow arrow) and back up another road to the bar, the dog turned right (blue arrow) and it lost Melania’s scent at the war memorial. 





This is the war memorial by the intersection where the dog lost Melania’s scent trail.





The police now arrive in force. This is the scene the next day when the police set up a base to search the park and to re-create what he says happened with Salvatore.





Salvatore is seen here with senior police officers and detectives explaining what he claims happened at the playground. Also in the two images below.







On the corner of the roof of the refreshment kiosk is a closed-circuity TV camera (CCTV) seen ringed here. Its recording was examined for an image of Melania walking by. No image was found.





The proprietor of the refreshment kiosk was interviewed by the police and later by the media. He did see a man in shorts with a small girl at the swings but he did not see Melania walking by.





This is the garden side of the bar where Salvatore said he thought Melania was heading to use the restrooms and pick up two coffees. Melania might have entered here.





This is the inside of the bar where Salvatore said he thought Melania was heading to use the restrooms and pick up two coffees. Melania would have had to walk through here.





The proprietor of the bar and restaurant was interviewed by the police and later the media. He saw Salvatore when he came checking, but he had seen no sign of Melania.
 




All the people who were sitting under the trees at the refreshment kiosk (two are seen here with a reporter) were interviewed. They had seen no sign of Melania walking by.





On wednesday an anonymous police call was made from this callbox (center at back) at a bus station in a town 15 kilometers south. The caller, disguising his or her voice, said there was a body in the Casermette park on the mountain high above the town.





The police headed in force for this park, which Salvatore knew well because his regiment trained there. They found Melania’s body beside the kiosk arranged like this..

There were around 32 stabs to Melania’s neck and upper back, some inflicted many hours after she was dead. Police profilers say this could be the payback of an extremely jealous other woman, and a jealous other woman (a fellow soldier) will appear.

Or maybe Salvatore alone could have made it look like this. Or other soldiers could have done it, if Melania for example stumbled onto the dark regimental secret the Rome police are now investigating.

Much of Italy now follows this cliffhanger, rooting as usual for the police, in part because Melania left behind a little girl. Also because Salvatore seems to have a terrible alibi, and yet nothing concrete ties him (yet) to Melania being found right here.

Open questions

These are not make-or-break, but they do show that as in Perugia there will always be loose ends. Who made the call from that booth? Was the dog fooled and if so how and by whom? What does the mobile-phone triangulation show? Why did Salvatore visit his barracks each of the next two days?



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mignini’s And Giuttari’s Florence Convictions Are Annulled: No Evidence, And No Jurisdiction

Posted by Peter Quennell





The ANSA news service is reporting that Giuliano Mignini’s and Michele Giuttari’s 2010 convictions have been annulled.

The Florence appeal court ruled scathingly that no evidence exists and also that the Florence trial court did not have jurisdiction. The case might be looked at again by the prosecutors in Turin or Genoa, which Mignini and Giuttari favor to get the spurious case against them more than just annulled. They’d like its root causes brought out. .

Mignini had caught the exact-same Florence prosecutor on tape, with a judge’s consent, bewailing the fact that the Monster of Florence cabal was tying his hands. That trial was simple a panicky attempt to get himself out from under which will hurt his career and the trail judge’s too.

It wasn’t Mignini who invented the Florence cabal (or satanic sect) notion, and he is suspicious of people (like Preston and Spezi) who work so hard to deny it.  Many of the Italian Monster of Florence books also argue 180 degrees away from Preston. Hmmm. What hold does the Monster of Florence sect have over Preston? Is he a secret satanist?! The world really wants to know…

Mignin’s quoted remarks outside the appeal court make it sound like he would like to resume the investigation of why Dr Narducci died suspiciously in Lake Trasimeno. That had to be halted because the Florence prosecutor seized all the papers on the case.

We have posted several times as much on Mignini as most of the UK and US media combined, and we translated a long email from him, and two long and very revealing interviews.

Kermit’s contrast of Preston’s satanic obsessions with Mignini’s really very mundane interests are an absolute must-view.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #1

Posted by Peter Quennell





In Italy the rates for murder are low by global and European standards. It has the second lowest murder rate in Europe, more than Norway’s but less than Britain’s, France’s, Sweden’s or Finland’s.

Puzzling murders are very rare. Only a very small fraction of Italian murders are of women and and at least two-thirds of those are simple, obvious crimes by by husbands or other relatives or boyfriends.

So at any one time few puzzling cases involving the deaths of young women, which seem to cause special outrage, are in the news or on Porta a Porta or the other TV talk shows. Meredith’s death was one of the rare exceptions, and that certainly drove the police and prosecutors to go the extra mile.

Melania Rea’s death is another. She was killed in April in very strange circumstances about 90 minutes south-east of Perugia. Her murder and investigation and Meredith’s seem to have several points in common, included the dogged sorting-out of an apparent cover-up.

Melania, 29, and her 30-year-old husband, Salvatore Parolisi, came from a town between Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples, where Melania now lies buried (image of her funeral below).

Corporal Parolisi was an instructor in the Clementi army barracks in the town of of Ascoli Piceno, where many female soldiers are trained. (Images of barracks and female soldiers training below).

Parolisis claimed to the police that on 18 April he was on a picnic with Melania and their 18-month-old daughter in a park on the south side of Ascoli Piceno,. He said Melania went off to look for a restroom and did not ever come back.

Two days later, an anonymous telephone tip from a phone-booth in a town nearby to a park called the the Mountain of Flowers, 10 kilometers south of Ascoli, led to the finding of Melania’s body in that park. The location is close to an army shooting range, and Parolisi later said that he and Melania had visited that park just 10 days before.

The police initially concluded that Melania’s body had been moved there after her death,  and so the jurisdiction for the case is the Carabinieri’s and local police’s back in Ascoli. 

The autopsy concluded that Melania had died slowly from loss of blood. She had suffered 32 stab wounds, some post-mortem, all of them shallow and possibly inflicted by someone not particularly strong.

There was extensive bruising to her face, and a syringe was stuck in her chest. There was no sign of sexual violence,

Self-infliction was immediately ruled out. A serial killer was briefly considered, as the nature of the victim and the crime and the condition of the body all resembled the vital facts of a serial killer’s victim called Rossella Goffo

No DNA or other physical evidence connected Melania’s husband to the crime. His story sounded sincere and it mostly hung together. After some initial questioning he was allowed to leave the barracks, and to return to his town near Vesuvius.

There both his own family and Melania’s family gave him a lot of public support. But then Parolisi (image in bottom two shots here) was recalled to Ascoli for more questioning, and the case began to get complicated.



























Friday, October 28, 2011

A Famous Black Widow Confirms What MP Girlanda Told Us First: Italian Prisons Are Pretty Nice Places

Posted by Peter Quennell




Florence is 70 miles north of Perugia along a winding roller coaster of an autostrada which everyone drives at great speed.

If you take more than 1/2 an hour you are a sissy. (Just kidding.) The global luxury goods empire House of Gucci with stores in New York, Shanghai, and many other main cities was founded in Florence in 1921.

In 1998 Maurizio Gucci the grandson of the founder who was then aged 46 was executed by a hit man in Milan.

He had sold financial control of the empire he had managed to greatly expand to a Bahrain group in 1993 and then turned to doing other things. That included several girlfriends or mistresses which greatly distressed his wife.

Patrizia Reggiani was subsequently tried for initiating the hit and she was sentenced to 29 years which was reduced on appeal to 26. Nick Squires in the Daily Telegraph picks up the story from there.

Patrizia Reggiani has been in jail ever since being convicted of the killing in 1998. More than a decade later, she was the prospect of day release from Milan’s San Vittore prison, if she will accept a menial job such as working as a waitress.

But the 63-year-old, whose extravagant tastes included spending 10,000 euros a month on orchids, told a court in Milan: “I’ve never worked in my life and I’m certainly not going to start now.”

Her peremptory refusal of the day release deal echoed one of her more famous quotes: “I would rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.”

Instead she intends to serve the rest of her 26-year sentence in her jail cell, where she reportedly lavishes affection on a collection of pot plants and a pet ferret.

She will continue to be allowed to make twice-monthly visits to her ageing mother, who lives in a lavish palazzo in central Milan ““ a reminder of the cosseted lifestyle Mrs Reggiani used to enjoy.

A not-unpopular figure in Italy, she may soon be depicted by Angelina Jolie in a new Ridley Scott film to be called “Gucci” with Leonardo di Caprio as the hapless Maurizio. 

The description of Patrizia’s prison life comes with no surprises. If you are going to be a prisoner anywhere in the world, Italy does seem the place of choice. .

The prison population is very small (proportionally only 1/6 that of the US) and prisoners often get their own bathroom and even a kitchen attached to their cell. They can watch TV and walk outside (in many prisons cell doors are kept open all day) and get their hair done professionally and attend rock concerts and plays. They can learn a trade if they lack skills, study for a degree, and even work on a computer all day.

Knox and Sollecito are believed to have done all of these things. Not least because the Italian MP Rocco Girlanda often visited Knox in Capanne and publicly told us all so. Mr Girlanda regularly visited to inspect conditions and then he declared Knox to be very well off. (He in return ended up with enough material for a book which nowhere depicted prison life as hell.)

These sob-stuff stories on torrid life at Capanne suddenly emerging from Seattle sure smack of an instant rewrite of history. Perhaps Angelina Jolie could check them out.


[Image at bottom: the Gucci museum in Florence which recently had a celebrity opening]








Monday, October 24, 2011

The Casey Anthony And Sollecito/Knox Outcomes Spark A New Discussion Of The CSI Effect

Posted by Peter Quennell



That seems a good explanation of the so-called CSI effect in the Fox Kansas City video above.

Many crime shows such as the BBC mysteries and the Law & Order series and spinoffs show investigators solving their crimes in the old-fashioned way. Lots of witness interviews and alibi and database checking, and walking around and loose ends and lying awake at night puzzling. And often there’s a big stroke of luck. 

But if you watch the very popular CSI Las Vegas series and its spinoffs in Miami and New York, and the various clones on other networks, you will see something very different indeed.

When those shows first began airing worldwide in the late nineties, the producers explained that audiences increasingly appreciate learning something new when watching a show, and it is true, one sure can load up on the trivia.

But you will also see the US equivalent of Dr Stefanoni and her forensic team in those shows, roaming far beyond the narrow crime scene, interrogating witnesses and checking alibis and finding a lot of non-forensic evidence, and even at times drawing guns.

Most unreal is that, time and again, the forensic evidence testing is clearcut and takes just a few minutes and instantly clinches the case.

  • There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the Casey Anthony jury was affected by a shortfall in the starkness of the forensics when the behavioral evidence seemed so strong.
  • There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the appeal verdict outcome in Perugia might be affected in the same way.
  • There are many articles like this one and this one and this one and especially this one saying there is a tough added burden on investigators and juries without a commensurate improved outcome.

With conviction rates declining in the US and Europe, professionals are taking a scientific look at whether the CSI Effect is one big cause of that decline.

At the macro level in the US this writer doubted that the CSI Effect is fatally unbalancing takes on the wider evidence. The same conclusion was reached in this first major study at the micro level.

But the belief in the CSI Effect continues. Articles like this one on an Australian site talk of a backlash against too many acquittals. Some articles like this one argue that maybe lay juries are out of their depths.

The graph at bottom (which we’d like to see updated) showed how the US Feds are still winning juries over and maintaining amazingly high conviction rates.  And at state level and lower, judges and lawyers are also taking countermeasures.

In Ohio and many other states prosecutors and judges are acting against a possible CSI Effect in their selection and briefing of juries. And an NPR report came up with these findings.

Some states now allow lawyers to strike potential jurors based on their TV habits. Judges are issuing instructions that warn juries about expecting too much scientific evidence based on what they see on TV.

In the field, Shelton says death investigators sometimes run useless tests, just to show they went the extra CSI mile.

“They will perform scientific tests and present evidence of that to the jury. Even if the results don’t show guilt or innocence either way, just to show the jury that they did it.”

This is coming at a time when death investigators in America have no resources to spare. An investigation by NPR, PBS Frontline and ProPublica shows some states have already opted not to do autopsies on suicides, others don’t autopsy people who die in traffic accidents, and many don’t autopsy people who die over the age of 60.

But Murphy, the Clark County coroner, expects things to get worse.

“You know, we’re in budget cuts right now. Everybody’s in budget cuts. Las Vegas is no different than anybody else. We’re hurting. We’re going to feel that same crunch as everybody else,” he says.

One of Zuiker’s great disappointments is that, for all its popularity, his fictional Las Vegas crime lab didn’t generate more political support to fund death investigation.

“I’ve done my job. You know, we’ve launched three shows that cater to 73.8 million people a week and is a global phenomenon and the largest television franchise in history. We hoped that the show would raise awareness and get more funding into crime labs so people felt safe in their communities. And we’re still hoping that the government will catch up.”

The jury is still out on what really swayed the Perugia appeal jury. Their sentencing report is due out in the New Year. They sure didnt look at very much except for a small fraction of the DNA.

Which leaves us with a big question. How did Judge Hellman brief his jury? Did he warn against the CSI Effect? We’re told this might be his first DNA case, so Cassation will surely look closely at that.




Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Witness Tampering By Defenses? Two Investigations Apparently Already Launched In Rome And Perugia

Posted by Peter Quennell





Sources tell us they believe Vanessa Sollecito and her family are once again under investigation, this time possibly with Sollecito’s defense lawyers.

The investigation was apparently sparked by the specific claims yesterday under oath before a magistrate in Perugia of Luciano Aviello (a serial defamer and perjurer whose credibility never has ranked high) that Vanessa Sollecito paid him 30,000 Euros for his testimony on June 18 with Sollecito’s counsel in the loop.

First, here is a summary of what Luciano Aveillo testified to on 18 June by our main poster Will Savive:

Another prison inmate Luciano Aviello [42] who has served 17 years in jail after being convicted of being a member of the Naples-based Camorra, testified today that his brother Antonio and his colleague had killed Meredith while attempting to steal a “valuable painting.”

Aviello said that the Albanian””who offered his brother “work” in the form of a robbery””had inadvertently jotted down the wrong address, and they instead went to the house where Kercher and Knox were living, and they were surprised by Meredith’s appearance. According to Aviello, his brother and the Albanian man then committed the murder and fled.

Aviello is from Naples, but was living in Perugia at the time of the murder. He claims that his brother, who is currently on the run, was staying with him in late 2007 and on the night of the murder he returned home with an injury to his right arm and his jacket covered in blood.

Flanked by two prison guards, Aviello described how his brother had entered the house Meredith shared with Knox and had been looking for the painting when they were disturbed by a woman “wearing a dressing gown.” So many convicts, which one to believe, if any?

“My brother told me that he had put his hand to her mouth but she had struggled,” Aviello testified. “He said he got the knife and stabbed her before they had run off. He said he had also smashed a window to simulate a break in.” Aviello said his brother had hidden the knife, along with a set of keys his brother had used to enter the house. “Inside me I know that a miscarriage of justice has taken place,” he asserted. Consequently, Aviello had been in the same jail as Sollecito and had told him: “I believe in your innocence.”

Luciano Aviello now claims that all of this above was fiction. There were no hidden keys or knife, and his brother was not living in Perugia at that time.

Here is a translation by our main poster ZiaK of one of the most comprehensive reports of what Luciano Aviello testified to yesterday under oath in Perugia. We have added the emphasis to key passages..

Meredith, Aviello: «I lied following agreement with Sollecito’s lawyers in exchange for money »

Aviello claims he received 30 thousand euros in exchange for his testimony

Scritto il 27/7/11 “¢ Categoria: Cronaca

by Francesca Marruco

After having received notice that investigations had been completed by the Perugia prosecutor, the ex supergrass (state’s evidence), Lucian Aviello, requested and was granted a hearing with the Perugia prosecutors. Last Friday in Capanne prison, the witness who had been brought into the court case by Amanda Knox’s defence team admitted ““ in a roundabout way - to Dr Manuela Comodi that everything he had declared was false: that it was false and had been agreed with Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyers in order to create confusion in the case.

He denied all the statements he had made in court. Luciano Aviello, who had told the judges of the Assize court that Meredith had been killed by his brother and that he himself had hidden the knife with which she was killed as well as the keys of the via della Pergola house, told the assistant prosecutor, Manuela Comodi ““ who, together with her collegue Giuliano Mignini, was in charge of the investigations into the death of Meredith Kercher ““ that he recanted everything he had previously declared. His brother had nothing to do with it, he had never hidden any knife nor any bunch of keys. Just as he had never lived in Perugia ““ as he had stated in court before the judges.

Aviello: «Nothing is true, and it was all by agreement» As to why he had told this sea of whoppers, he gave his explanation in fits and starts in over 80 pages of court records. From the desire to help someone he had met in jail, and whom he loved ““ Raffaele Sollecito ““ by means of his lawyers, some of his family, and one of Amanda Knox’s lawyers who apparently went to the Alba jail to hear him in order to deflect suspicion from Sollecito’s team. Aviello heavily accused Sollecito’s lawyers and sister. He said that it had been she [the sister] who had delivered the 30 000 euros to an acquaintance of his in Naples, who was to act as a go-between. The money was to be found in an apartment in Turin which the Perugia police will check. Aviello declared himself as being willing to appear in court and repeat everything before the appeal judges of the court of Assizes.

His first motives and his current ones The reasons for which he had agreed to tell these lies was that, according to what he told the prosecutor, he had been assured that the Perugian prosecutors would not investigate him ““ contrary to what had in fact happened ““ and that he was fond of Raffaele Sollecito, and also because he was to receive in counterpayment those 30 000 euros which he would use for a sex-change operation, as he himself had declared several times. But now that he had received notice that the investigations were finished, and since (he claims) he no longer hears from Raffaele any more because otherwise no-one would believe him [translator’s note: I assume Aviello means he doesn’t hear from Raffaele because Raffaele is concerned that if he stayed in touch with Aviello no-one would believe Raffaele any more], he no longer has any reason to continue lying, whereas he has plenty of reasons to try and lighten his own position as someone under investigation for calunnia (slander).

Aviello: Raffaele told me that it was Amanda and that he was also there Around the middle of the interrogation, Aviello said ““ referring to something that Raffaele apparently told him ““ that «the murderer, in fact, was not him: it was Amanda, during an erotic game». Raffaele apparently also declared «I actually know that it’s true that Amanda did it, but I didn’t do it: it wasn’t me that did the murder; I didn’t do it». This is what [Aviello] declared between one allegation and another, and he also declared that he was prepared to repeat everything before the judges. Before those very judges to whom, on 18 June last, he so shamelessly lied.

What has changed? The repercussions which these new declarations ““ made by a man who has already been convicted 8 times previously for slander [calunnia] ““ might have cannot be conjectured. Or at least, not all of them. The lawyer Giulia Bongiorno has already declared that she will defend her honour in court against anyone who might accuse her of having paid a convict to create confusion in the case. It is foreseeable that Luca Maori and Carlo Dalla Vedova will take the same stance. What the Prosecution will do is more difficult to determine. The investigations on Aviello’s slander against his brother may have ended, but how many others may be instigated as a result of these declarations? In the meantime, everyone will return to court on Saturday to discuss the genetic evidence, which might truly decide the path that this case will take.

Presumably a beeline is now being made to that apartment in Turin where the 30,000 Euros if it exists might be hidden. Early announcements might also be expected from the Sollecito family, who did meet with Aviello in prison, and from Giulia Bongiorno who chose to put Aviello on the stand.

There is also a second investigation, we are told. Several sources understand that the independent DNA consultants Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti might now be under investigation for possible contact or collaboration with one or several defense DNA experts.

Our main poster Fly By Night already suggested that the geographical location and published views of experts quoted by Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti looked pretty fishy. And the lawyer for the family of Meredith, Francesco Maresca, complained on Monday that a request endorsed by Judge Hellman for them to make sure to use European resources on the state-of-the-art of low-count DNA testing had been ignored.

A note on Italian law here. If the prosecution or defense come to believe that an element of the appeal is not being thoroughly and objectively examined they are entitled to appeal instantly to the Supreme Court of Cassation for a ruling.

Amanda Knox’s defense already took that route, before she ever went to trial, to request that her statement made without counsel present in the wee hours of November 6 2007 should be put aside. The Supreme Court so ordered.

We are sure Judge Hellman will want only the full truth and he may put all parties back on the stand. Still, the power of upward appeal is available to the prosecution in both these instances.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Norwegian Public Safety Forces Ill-Equipped To Stop Possible Worst Shooting Spree in History

Posted by Peter Quennell

The latest death toll estimate at Lake Utoya and Oslo is 98 dead. The gunman was firing for one and a half hours.

Apparently there was no security presence on the island. And the Associated Press has the first report on why such a delayed response from an under-equipped police force to stop Anders Behring Breivik from more killing.

Police arrived at an island massacre about 1.5 hours after a gunman first opened fire, slowed because they didn’t have quick access to a helicopter and then couldn’t find a boat to make their way to the scene just several hundred yards (meters) offshore.

There is a minute by minute description of the growing horror on the island here and a Norwegian politician has posted a first-hand account of how so many others died and she survived here.

Intensely sad and disturbing - and in the land of the Nobel Peace Prize. We don’t support public institutions at our real peril.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

French Divided Over French Woman In Mexico Jail: Take A Hard Noisy Line Or One Quiet And Subtle?

Posted by Peter Quennell





You’d be surprised - or maybe not - at how very rare it is that publicly impugning another country’s legitimacy and competence really pays off.

Good governments and good international lawyers and good public relations experts all very rapidly move to take negotiations quietly behind the scenes. Though that may not guarantee the outcome they want, it usually results in some wiggle room and softening.

But the opportunity for this passes very fast.

We have only ever seen a hard line out of the unblinking Italian courts in Meredith’s case, up to and including the Supreme Court of Cassation in their rejection of Guede’s final appeal. The hardline PR seems to have hit a wall. And Amanda Knox (in the calunnia trial) and her biological parents (in theirs) and the family of Raffaele Sollecito (in their perversion of justice trial) all seem to have hit their own individual walls.

It is hard to see what the hardline PR campaign for Amanda Knox has achieved other than that equal and opposite Italian hard line.  After a very silly start the Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon seems to have tried to get away from all that, and to move things behind closed doors.

Florence Cassez’s case is very well described in the Wikipedia entry.

Now 36, she moved to Mexico from France in 2003, ended up with a Mexican boyfriend who was decidedly bad news, and in December 2005 was arrested for her part in kidnapping three people for ransom.

Kidnapping is huge in Mexico, and along with the wars over the supplying of Americans with drugs, it comes top of most people’s most-feared list. 

In line with the Mexican government’s efforts to try to stamp out all the kidnapping, Florence Cassez was given a very harsh sentence. It is now set at 60 years. There are dozens of French and Spanish-language reports and YouTubes on the case.

She has had one appeal which failed and right now she serves out her 60 years.

Almost without exception, Mexicans feel it was a well-proven case and that Florence Cassez’s claims that she did not not know what was going on right under her nose when three captives were being held by her boyfriend on the same ranch rang hollow at her trial.

France has been more divided.

There are some who think she did it and must pay the piper for her crime. There are some who think a softer line might have helped. And there are some, like President Sarkozy, who have taken a very hard line. They seem to have upset Mexico’s president and senior officials and not influenced the judges at all.

France has no sentence longer than 20 years for kidnapping-related crimes so the Mexican government has closed the door to her returning to France and serving out her sentence in prison there.

After more time passes and presidential elections happen in Mexico and France, the deadlock might be broken, and the case could be reviewed and Florence Cassez’s fate become something different.

But for now she has only her “friends” to thank. 





Below: two of the few videos with English commentary or subtitles, both pro-Florence Cassez, the first some years old, and the second early this year.



Friday, July 08, 2011

Jury Sequestration Coming Under Fire From Those Who Question The Casey Anthony Verdict

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: The jury’s Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando; there are more images here].

The jury was imported for the Casey Anthony trial from a Gulf of Mexico town 100 miles west.  They stayed in this hotel for nearly seven weeks.

Now they are rather defiantly starting to speak out (see the ABC News video posted below) to explain that, given big gaps in the evidence against Casey Anthony, and the dubious scenario presented (that she put the baby she loved to sleep with chloroform and duct tape in the trunk of her car while she went off to have a good time), they did what they had to do: unanimously vote no on the charges of murder and manslaughter.

There seem to be no signs that during the trial a hue-and-cry media had any pro-guilt effect on their thinking - in Tuesday’s post we suggested that if anything it seemed to do quite the opposite.

But it is now being suggested that while staying all together in this hotel the 20 jurors became just a little too chummy.

The former Los Angeles prosecutor Marcia Clark, who is critical of both the verdict and the prosecution, argues in the Daily Beast that jury members themselves are signaling that their sequestration was a very big factor.

I’m going to start by saying that, for those who thought the jury came back awfully fast””less than eleven hours spent in deliberation, you should now wonder what took them that long. Because from the very first vote, this jury was already close to a unanimous verdict of acquittal - at least as to murder: ten to two for not guilty. That’s an impressive show of solidarity for a first vote. And it shows they were almost unanimously inclined to acquit right from jump.

It’s the fact that this jury was already in sync in a case that posed so many debatable issues is what’s so noteworthy. And it has everything to do with sequestration. This jury was sequestered for more than two months. When jurors are forced to spend day and night with each other, apart from their families and friends, they become a tribe unto themselves. Because they only have each other for company, and because most people prefer harmony to discord, there’s a natural desire to cooperate, to compromise in order to reach agreement. And they have no safe retreat. If they disagree with their fellow jurors, they can’t go home to a husband, a wife, a friend, where they can regroup and marshal their energies. Make no mistake about it, sequestration is no picnic and I have sympathy and respect for the jurors who put up with that incredible hardship.

But we can’t ignore the mental and emotional impact it has on the jurors””an impact that likely thwarts the whole point of drafting twelve individuals to decide a defendant’s fate. The point of having twelve jurors is to have an array of differing points of view. The belief is that people of different backgrounds and experience will naturally bring a variety of attitudes to bear, and thus produce a more balanced view of the evidence. What one juror doesn’t get, another one does, and each of them sees different aspects to each witness and piece of evidence. The idea is for them to share differing views and reach a greater understanding””not to have them shave off their square corners so they can all roll together.

Unfortunately””and psychological studies bear this out””a group that is kept together for any length of time becomes more and more alike, more in sync, as time goes on. (By the way, this phenomenon is also in play with regard to proximity to the defendant. The longer the jury is in contact with the defendant, the less sinister he or she appears. In this way, familiarity with Casey Anthony turned her from a potential murderer to an abused, perhaps disturbed, but certainly nonthreatening, child.) Add this phenomenon to the natural desire to avoid contentiousness and seek harmony and you can see how individuality begins to erode in a sequestered jury.

Now add to that the psychology of group dynamics””a subject well known to trial lawyers and jury consultants. In every group there will be leaders and followers. Listening to Juror Jennifer Ford, who was very likely a leader, it became abundantly clear that the leaders on the Anthony jury were cheerleaders for the defense.



Jennifer Ford Is The First Juror To Speak Out On The Casey Anthony Acquittal

Posted by Peter Quennell


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