Category: Other legal processes

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.






 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/13 at 10:18 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesThose elsewhereComments here (19)

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.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/07 at 02:23 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian unrelatedComments here (20)

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?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/02 at 12:40 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian unrelatedComments here (18)

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.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/30 at 12:24 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian unrelatedComments here (5)

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]

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/28 at 03:44 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian unrelatedComments here (19)

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