Headsup: Will Gladwell perpetuate hoax at heart of new book Monday in Los Angeles interview with Brit Marling? We'd appreciate someone warning her, also Larry Wilmore, and help them avoid legal liabilities.

Category: Italian related

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Florence Courts Resent Mangling Of RS/AK Appeal By Cassation Now Have Ominous Ways To Re-Visit

Posted by Peter Quennell



Highrise Florence courts are just visible at left background


The Marasca/Bruno verdict setting RS and AK free has taken some hard knocks within the Italian legal community.

It is not lost on anyone that Sollecito defense lawyer Bongiorno was given special favors, including being allowed to argue unchallenged before the Fifth Chambers for some hours beyond the legal limit.

Or that the Fifth Chambers should never ever have received the appeal.

Or that the drafter, Bruno, was suffering seriously ill health at the time, and delivered a report which is largely legal nonsense.

Here Machiavelli and Catnip and most exhaustively James Raper explained many of Marasca’s and Bruno’s absurdities.

But the Florence courts are not done yet. They are still processing cases involving Knox, Sollecito, Sfarzo (a stage name, real name Sforza) and Aviello. They still sit on this potential bombshell of a case against Sollecito lawyer Maori, which explains how the Fifth Chambers acted illegally.

Other cases are also possible, and two involving Knox are still continuing in Bergamo.

Now Rudy Guede’s team of lawyers in Rome and Viterbo prison have filed an appeal against his own conviction. It is filed with the courts in Florence.

The team notes that judgments against Guede up to and including the Supreme Court’s First Chambers concluded that he had acted against Meredith only in collusion with others and not in isolation.

This could reopen the Marasca/Bruno outcome which argued that he DID act alone or at least not with RS and AK though there is massive evidence to the contrary. That judgment while final in the normal course of things cannot stand under Italian law if illegalities were entered into.

With more and more documentation being read widely, the case against Knox and Sollecito acting in collusion with Guede is coming to look as strong as it did throughout their trial in 2009.

That is the quite possible Florence outcome.

It is one that Guede might accept fairly calmly, as his fury at Sollecito is quite palpable, and he wants nothing more than to nail his fellow attacker.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Knox Calunnia Trial #2: Judge Receives Arguments Of Prosecution And Knox; Verdict In New Year

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



Court in session 7 September in Florence with Knox a no-show

1. Latest Development

We are informed that the final arguments to the judge by both sides have been submitted in writing.

We will summarise and/or fully translate them, hopefully next week. Next step is the verdict from Judge Boninsegna, which may come early in the New Year.

Below is a reposting of the background to this unusual case, and Machiavelli’s reports from the court on 7 September.

Such trials are very rare. Usually it is only organized crime figures that in the course of a trial impugn police and prosecutors who in Italy are much respected. Defendants rarely even get on the stand, and if they do so, they invariably follow the advice of defence counsel to not dig themselves in any deeper. 

In contrast, Knox pretty well went haywire. NOBODY in Italy has ever believed her. Not her own lawyers, nor multiple hearings & trial judges, or the skeptical media, or the watching population, or Hellmann & Zanetti, or even Marasca & Bruno…  Not even Curt Knox! He failed to turn up to give scheduled defense testimony that could have helped Amanda Knox last September.

Gee, thanks, Curt….

And she has left her own lawyers handicapped, as they had publicly counseled Knox to stop escalating her claims about illegal coercion at her “interrogation” on 5-6 November 2007.

Their filing probably needs to be especially careful to avoid their own liability. 

2. Background To Calunnia Trial

This trial focuses on the claims of Amanda Knox at trial in 2009. Charges for malicious claims in her book will fall to another court, probably also in Florence. Oggi is already on trial for republishing some of them.

There seems no parallel in US or UK legal history to this - to a defendant testifying prolifically for two days to crimes by investigators, in spite of even more days of prior testimony which all pointed the other way.

Seemingly under strong pressure from her own family Knox willingly took a huge legal risk which her own lawyers had warned her about again and again, sometimes publicly, over nearly two years.

They never ever lodged even one complaint. Nor did the US Embassy in Rome, which monitored all sessions in court, and often checked her out (as did Italian MP Rocco Girlanda) in prison at Capanne.

The Massei court and the watching audience in Italy (read here and here) bought none of it. Knox still served three years for framing Patrick. Not even Judge Hellmann bought into her claims. Certainly not the Supreme Court.

The current trial in Florence was preceded by an investigation by Florence prosecutors, who bring the charges and argue them because Knox impugned officers of the justice system in their official roles. 

Prior to today the prosecutors’ investigation report had only been released to Knox’s defense. So we don’t yet know if the charges extend beyond Knox’s claims of having been abused into a false “confession” on 5-6 November 2007.

Post #1 of our ongoing Interrogation Hoax series points toward what investigators testified to at trial.

Four months later Knox contradicted them at length as summarised in our two posts here and here: “The Amanda Knox Calunnia Trial In Florence: What It Is All About”

3. Machiavelli Reports From Trial 7 September

1. Tweets from the Florence court:

16. Zugarini was present throughout the interrogation and described when #amandaknox started to cry, remembered her peculiar hand-ear gestures.

15. Napoleoni testified #amandaknox was brought a chamomille when she started crying at 01:45, the interrogation was immediately stopped.

14. Napoleoni and Zugarini said they “cuddled” Knox because she was a 20-year old girl.

13. Both Mignini and Zugarini described having had impression that #amandaknox was feeling “relieved of a burden” after accusing Lumumba.

12. Mignini said Knox was not clearly a suspect to him by the 05:45 interrogation.

11. Witnesses had inaccurate memory on some details, but were convergent on some peculiar details.

10. Napoleoni said she did not enter interrogation room, she called Rita Ficarra out to talk to her.

9. Zugarini said, as for her knowledge, Knox was not told that Sollecito withdrew her alibi.

8. Zugarini said called interpreter only to ask #amandaknox more precise questions about people in her phone contact list.

7. Zugarini said #amandaknox was able to explain herself in Italian. They called an interpreter to translate what police had to say.

6. Testimony of Mignini was descriptive and framed thing in law. Mostly talked at length explaining alone, prosecutor listened.

5. In today’s hearing, Mignini talked 2 hours, confirmed arrived at 3am, police interview was over, he asked no questions of AK.

4. Napoleoni was precise and synthetic. Zugarini longer and IMO more interesting on many details.

3. Mignini and Judge Boninsegna appeared irritated by Dalla Vedova’s remarks.

2. Long hearing of Mignini at trial against Amanda Knox for calunnia. Napoleoni & Gubbiotti followed, then Zugarini

1. Testimony of some of the investigators accused by Knox and the lead prosecutor Dr Mignini [image above] is being taken in court.

[Reporting from the Florence court sometimes requires a wait to get to a place where mobile phones can connect to the outside.]

2. Emailed report following day (8 September):

No Knox calunnia session required today as last Friday and yesterday both sides completed their witness list.

Amanda Knox and Curt Knox chose not to testify.

Now Judge Boninsegna has ordered each side to prepare their arguments within three months (7 December).

The verdict is likely to arrive in the New Year.

 


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Court Filing Contends Fifth Chambers Encroached Illegally On First Chambers & Florence Court Powers

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





We have devoted an entire series by lawyers to showing how unsound in law, in science, in media analysis, and in facts of the case the Marasca/Bruno explanations are.

This opinion representing the Perugia and Florence Prosecutions was drafted by several of the most experienced and respected lawyers in Italy.

It was drafted in light of the spoken Fifth Chambers verdict pro-defendant at the end of March. The panel’s written explanation was then overdue. The opinion was filed with the Florence court.

These passages quoted below raise issues of what the Fifth Chambers under the Penal Code legally can and can not do, with respect to prior rulings of (1) the Supreme Court itself, which mostly overturned Hellmann in 2013 for exceeding legal scope; and (2) the Florence (Nencini) appeal court.

According to this opinion, the Fifth Chambers has significantly overstepped its legal boundaries in brushing aside previous rulings and trying to fulfill the role of an appeal court, or a first-level trial court.

This was the same overstretch that the First Chambers concluded the 2011 Hellmann appeal court had wrongly done. Both courts are widely considered in Italy to have been illegally bent.

This is now uncharted territory. If this opinion goes forward the Judges of the First Chambers and Florence court and the Council of Magistrates all seem likely to side with what it claims.  If so reactions might ripple on for years.

The Fifth Chambers judges might find themselves increasingly beleaguered. And their rulings on evidence items and the investigators and prosecutors and foreign media would all seem to be moot, if the perception grows that the Fifth Chambers should not even have gone there.

the judgment of the [Florence] court remitted to would have been impugnable only for reasons not regarding the points already decided by the Court of Cassation, according to the very clear disposition of Article 628, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code. From this it follows that the Fifth Chamber of the Supreme Court, called on to decide the merits of the appeals brought by the accused against the decision of the court remitted to, would have had to consider as inadmissible the appeals presented in violation of the second paragraph of Article 628 Criminal Procedure Code and, in any case, would have had to rigorously conform with the points already decided by the First Chamber and with all the questions of law decided by the same”¦

the Court of Cassation cannot, therefore, ever adopt decisions on the merits and issue orders of acquittal under Article 530, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code.

...two chambers of the same Court of Cassation, the First (the one competent for proceedings in homicide matters, whose decision of annulment is definitive and who had identified and decided questions of law in a definitive and un-retractable manner) and the Fifth (who would have had to decide the appeals presented only on grounds of legitimacy of the defendants’, constrained by what had already been definitively decided by the First) have handed down two absolutely divergent decisions and the second had annulled the Florentine decision, positively excluding any remitting to another court and acquitting the defendants pursuant to Article 530, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code.

the judgment of the [Florence] court remitted to would have been impugnable only for reasons not regarding the points already decided by the Court of Cassation, according to the very clear disposition of Article 628, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code. From this it follows that the Fifth Chamber of the Supreme Court, called on to decide the merits of the appeals brought by the accused against the decision of the court remitted to, would have had to consider as inadmissible the appeals presented in violation of the second paragraph of Article 628 Criminal Procedure Code and, in any case, would have had to rigorously conform with the points already decided by the First Chamber and with all the questions of law decided by the same”¦

the Court of Cassation cannot, therefore, ever adopt decisions on the merits and issue orders of acquittal under Article 530, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code.

...two chambers of the same Court of Cassation, the First (the one competent for proceedings in homicide matters, whose decision of annulment is definitive and who had identified and decided questions of law in a definitive and un-retractable manner) and the Fifth (who would have had to decide the appeals presented only on grounds of legitimacy of the defendants’, constrained by what had already been definitively decided by the First) have handed down two absolutely divergent decisions and the second had annulled the Florentine decision, positively excluding any remitting to another court and acquitting the defendants pursuant to Article 530, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code.

from these starting points in fact and in law which are absolutely undeniable, it emerges that the course of proceedings in this case have been absolutely linear and respectful of the substance of the procedural rules up to and including the Florentine decision.

the Court of Cassation, on the appeal of the Prosecutor-General of [the Perugia] district Court, had in a radical and definitive manner annulled the acquitting pronouncement and had remitted it to the Florentine district court because the same would adopt the consequent decisions of merit in the line of reasoning of the principles of law laid down by the First Chamber of the Supreme Court and of the points decided by it.

These principles of law are by now unmodifiable and unarguable: the [Fifth Chambers] , called on to decide the matter, as a “second opinion”, concerning the appeal of the defendants from the [Florence] judgment below, would have had to hand down a judgment fully within the “railway tracks” of the law, as fixed by the First Chamber, like the Florentine district court did, principles from among which we may cite:

[Umodifiable principle] the principle, in fact the unfailing legal prerequisite of a Supreme Court decision, namely the fact that the Court is precluded from “trespassing into a re-evaluation of the compendium of evidence” (see the judgment of the First Chamber at page 40);

[Unmodifiable principle] the principle of law of the total and holistic evaluation of the probative material, as opposed to the “parcelled-up and atomistic evaluation of the pieces of circumstantial evidence, taking them into consideration one at a time and discarded in terms of their demonstrative potentiality”, which characterised instead, in the negative, the decision of the Court presided by Pratillo Hellmann (see the decision of the same First Chamber at pp. 40 and 41”¦ ). The ancient brocard “Quae singula non probant, simul unita probant” [”˜Those which alone do not prove, together do prove’], quoted on p 41 of the First Chamber’s judgment, consecrates in a definitive and unmodifiable manner this requirement of a global and holistic approach in which each individual piece of the jigsaw puzzle of reconstruction of the facts is considered together with all the others in their demonstrative synergy;

[Unmodifiable principle] the principle by which the [Hellmann] court had run afoul of grave shortcomings and contradictory lines of reasoning and in glaring misrepresentations of the outcome, even in the attempted decoupling of the calunnia, by now definitively attributed to Ms Knox, with the result of masking from view the responsibility of the same in the homicide;

[Unmodifiable principle] the principle according to which the testimony of the homeless person Mr Curatolo ought to have been evaluated on the basis of corroboration between his statements and the objective and unarguable circumstances emerging from the trial (such as the fact that the witness had with absolute decisiveness anchored the fact of having seen the two accused in the precincts of the basketball courts of Piazza Grimana, nowadays Piazza Fortebraccio, the evening before the arrival, the following day, at the Via della Pergola house of the men from Forensics in their white coveralls), rather than on the basis of Mr Curatolo’s social conditions and lifestyle (see the cited judgment of the First Chamber at page 50);

[Unmodifiable principle] the principle according to which the definitive conviction of accomplice Rudy Hermann Guede ought to have been taken into account (no. 7195/11, published on 16.12.2010, it also from the First Criminal Chamber of Cassation), Guede having been held to have been extraneous to the simulation of burglary of a house. [A] habitation that, on the night of the murder, was solely at the availability of the victim and of Amanda Knox and from the statements made by the same Rudy before the Perugian district court, according to which Meredith was killed by the two co-accused (see the judgment at pages 55 and 56).

[Unmodifiable principle] The principle by which contamination of the evidence is to be proved by the party invoking it and which, on the facts of the case, no evidence in support had been offered and which the [Hellmann} Court had seriously confused the abstract possibility of the fact with the averment of the fact (see the judgment at page 69).Umodifiable principle] The principle according to which it was a matter of a homicide committed by multiple persons, in concourse amongst themselves (see page 73 of the cited judgment).

Here is a translation of Article 530:

Article 530:

1. If the act does not subsist [541 2, 542], if the defendant has not commited it [541 2, 542], if the act is not an offence or it is not envisaged by law as an offence, that is, if the offence has been committed by a non-indictable person [c.p. 85] or by a not punishable person for other reasons, the judge issues a judgement of acquittal, stating the reason. 

2.The judge issues a judgement of acquittal also when there is lack of evidence or it is not sufficient, or there is contradictory evidence that the act subsists, that the defendant has comitted it, that the act constitutes an offence or that the offence has been committed by an indictable person.(1).

3. If there is evidence that the act has been committed in circumstances of a legal excuse or exemption from criminal liability, that is, there is doubt about them, the judge issues a judgement of acquittal pursuant to clause 1.

4. In the event of an acquittal the judge applies security measures, in the cases provided for by law.

And here is a translation of Article 628:

Impugnability of a ruling issued by a judge after remand

1. A verdict that had been issued by a court following a Cassation order of remand, may be impugned through a recourse at Supreme Court of Cassation if the ruling was issued on an appeal instance, and through the mean provided by law if was issued on a first instance level.

2. In any case a verdict issued by a court following a Cassation order of remand may be appealed only on the reasons that do not concern those that had already been decided by Cassation on the order of remand, or for not abiding to disposition of art. 627 paragraph 2.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Knox-Camp Denial Of Drug-Ring Link Results In Shot Across Knox’s Bows; Many Now Digging

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. The New Response To The Knox Camp By Giallo

A denial of any links between Knox and the dangerous drug ring on what may be one of Chris Mellas’s numerous websites has resulted in a second, tougher, report from Giallo.

Also (see part 2 below) it has resulted in the posting by Giallo of some hard police evidence (images above) of Knox’s very unsavory associations. This translation of a news-agency summary of the new Giallo story is by Miriam.

Mez Case: Amanda Knox hung out with a pusher and had sex with him

Amanda hung out with a pusher and was intimate with him, so reveals an article of the magazine GIALLO, which publishes documentation of the relationship between the two. This information is contained in an informational note of Perugia’s police, written on the 19th January 2008, two months after the Meredith Kercher murder.

The name of the guy is Federico, a young man from Rome, who ended up in jail for dealing drugs in 2011. As reported by the magazine, the guy “was arrested with two pushers, Luciano and Lorenzo, during an investigation starting from the wire tapping of Amanda Knox’s cell phone”.

The young Roman , according to the informational note, was the pusher for Amanda, and her lover. In fact Federico, according to the document, ” would have occasionally supplied drugs to Amanda Knox and they probably had sexual intercourse.”

It seems that Amanda cited Federico in one of her notebooks that were confiscated after the homicide. He was on the list of Italian guys which she had sex with. On her Myspace profile she had written about him, even including a nude picture of him.

“I met Federico on the train with my sister, while I was going from Milan to Florence. We smoked (pot?), my first smoke in Italy” writes Amanda. ” After we put to bed my little sister, we went into his hotel room. I told my friends I could not imagine myself in bed with somebody I just met, but for Cristiano (??) I changed my mind” writes Amanda.

As GIALLO reports, in the informational note there are many more details on the people she hung out with; “even cited is one of Fedrico’s friends, Luciano A., Napolitan, a person with a criminal record for drug and weapons trafficking and also for attempted murder of his brother with a knife.

Luciano ended up in jail on April 4th 2008 a few months after the informative note.  He was found in Perugia at Fontivegge train station with 20 grams of cocaine.


2. Translation Of The January 2008 Police Report

See the image of a police report at the top here. Giallo posted this Perugia Flying Squad report of 19 January 2008 which notes an association between Amanda Knox and a drug ring uncovered by way of her mobile phone. Translation is by Jools.

QUESTURA DI PERUGIA - SQUADRA MOBILE 3RD SECTION

Perugia 19.01.2008

SUBJECT: Annotation [Brief summary]

[Page1]

We the undersigned Officers and Agents of the Judicial Police of P.G. Chief Superintendent Stefano xxxx and Chief Assistants Lorena xxxx, Andrea xxxx, hereby report as follows:

In the course of the investigation in relation to criminal proceedings 9066/07 [crime case number of Meredith Kercher murder] it was verified that an Italian person with the name of “Federico” would from time to time supply drugs to the [person] known as Amanda KNOX, and also allegedly had relations with her of a sexual nature.

The technical task was then activated of tapping the calls of telephone number xxxxx being used by the same person [Knox].

During this period of phone tapping it was possible to ascertain by the telephone file records of the “Wind” company that [the other phone] was in the name of xxxxxx (still in process of identification) but was being used by Federico xxxx, born in Rome on 18/04/1975, resident in xxxxxx (PG), in fact domiciled in Perugia, address: Via xxxxxxx, Ground Floor. The same [F.] also has frequent contacts with transsexuals, to whom he sells drugs.

By means of the technical activities it was established that xxxx is contacted by phone with the presumed clients “ordering” from him the quantity of drugs they want to buy, and in turn according to the demands he contacts various Maghrebie [north African] individuals ordering the desired amount.

[Page 2]

Federico moves around by car using a model Citroen C1 Tg xxxx. From the investigations carried out the car appears to be in his father’s name identified as Andrea xxxx.

It was also ascertained that xxxxxx associates with habitual criminal characters with multiple criminal records for serious crimes in the matter of drugs and personal grievous harm such as Luciano xxxx, born in xxxx xxxxxxxxxx on 17/11/80, with whom he maintains frequent contacts aimed at drug dealing using the phone line xxxxxxx which users name is assigned to his brother Giuseppe xxxx.

The aforementioned Luciano on 28/07/06 was arrested by the Carabinieri in Foligno on account of being responsible of the ATTEMPTED MURDER of his brother Antonio to whom he inflicted 16 stab wounds with a kitchen knife.

We also note that through verifications on the SDI [the State Police automatic palmprint and fingerprint identification system] Federico xxxx has been several times stopped and checked along with Luciano xxxx and other people from southern [Italy] all convicted habitual criminals in matters of drugs, weapons and more.

Finally we report that Federico occasionally seeks help for the distribution of the narcotic substance from a transsexual, (in course of identification) who used the telephone xxxxxxx.

The above as per duty of office.

Signed…


3. January 2009 Reports Of The Drug Ring Trial

The Giornale Dell’Umbria carried the longest report of the trial, but it is no longer online. In January 2009 Catnip posted these translations of shorter versions.

Terni Magazine

The cocaine traffickers trial(s)

(ASCA) - Perugia, 14 Jan ““ The murder of Meredith Kercher and the context from which it flowed forth, one tied to the “youthful world of standardised behaviours, values and deviances”, continues to generate discussion. Evidencing this, this morning, is the local daily Il giornale dell’Umbria (always attentive to the investigative and procedural phases of cases) which, in telling the news of the sentence of 2 years and 8 months’ imprisonment of a cocaine drug dealer who would have known and visited Amanda Knox, asks itself whether this circumstance would have had considerations in the inquest into the murder and, above all whether, now, it could have implications in the appeal case in regard to the American and to Raffaele Sollecito.

The police arrived at the pusher through the mobile phone numbers found in the list stored on Amanda’s phone. The calls between the two handsets would have taken place [intercorse] in the days prior to and following the murder of Mez, giving rise, therefore, to a deeper understanding that led to the discovery of a drug ring for university students and professionals. A trafficking for which a case file was opened, involving three young men as the main leads (one being hypothesized as the American’s supplier and lover).

In particular, there is a police note [informativa] appended to the file in which it is emphasised “during the course of investigative activity relating to criminal proceedings 9066/07 (that for the homicide of Kercher ““ editor) it was ascertained that an Italian person “¦ [ellipsis in original] had occasionally supplied Amanda Knox with stupefying substance [i.e., narcotics ], as well as presumably having had relations of a sexual nature with her”.

The police action, effected also by means of phone intercepts, ascertained that the three supplied the acropolis [= the hill top city centre] of the capital as well as part of the periphery with cocaine, in response to client orders and also to satisfy the request of the North Africans [maghrebini].

The defendants (represented by the lawyers Maria Laura Antonini, Aurelio Pugliese and Angelo Frioni), have opted for different strategies: one a request for judgement in continuation [in continuazione] with other penal positions suspended; one request of plea bargain [patteggiamento], rejected by the judge, and one fast-track, concluded, as mentioned, with the 2 year and 8 month sentence.

Umbria24 Report

Amanda Knox’s “lover” on trial for dealing cocaine: A 35-year-old sentenced who was supplying another two drug dealers.

A young Italian man is on trial who would have given drugs to Amanda Knox and who would have had a sexual relationship with her. So writes the Giornale dell’Umbria today, which in its article cites a passage from a police note that would have been appended to the case file against the young man and two other persons who, according to the prosecution, would have been at the centre of a cocaine drug ring in Perugia. The three were in fact found through intercepts effected during the course of investigations into the murder of Meredith Kercher.

One of the three, a 35-year-old who would have supplied drugs to the other two, defended by lawyer Aurelio Pugliese, was sentenced via fast-track trial to 2 years and 8 months. One of the other two (defended by lawyers Maria Laura Antonini and Angelo Frioni and who are following different paths in proceedings) would have been identified as “Knox’s lover”. The daily cites a police note in support:

«During the course of investigative activity in relation to criminal proceedings 9066/07 (the Kercher murder ““ editor) ““ one can read in the passage reported by the Giornale dell’Umbria ““ it was ascertained that an Italian person”¦[ellipsis in original] would have occasionally supplied stupefying substances to Amanda Knox, as well as having had, presumably, relations with her of a sexual kind«.


4. Likely Billiard-Ball Reverberations

Knox was never charged with drug use or drug dealing.  As Tuesday’s post noted, it was for the defenses to make something of it at Meredith’s murder trial if they wanted to.

Maybe seek a reduced charge arguing diminished responsibility. But they didn’t.

It is clear that neither the police or prosecution put a foot wrong, and by the end of 2009 they had put away both Knox and the drug dealers. And it is clear that it is not they who are now pushing this story. 

However Knox will take a lot of hits if she can not come up with better answers - preferably some answers involving the full truth.

  • This grim new story, still unfolding, might next result in the publishing of the police intercepts of Knox’s phone-calls and the appearance of informed people on national TV.

  • The reporting does activate State Department rules about not intervening in foreign trials for crimes with drug components, though via Andrea Vogt’s excellent digging we know that interest was at zero anyway.

  • The much-touted appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is now a non-starter, though what we know of it so mangled the facts and the law that it was probably already in a Strasbourg waste-paper basket.

  • And once again it helps to undermine the Knox-as-timid-nice-naive-girl image which many in Seattle and all in Perugia who encountered her have always known to be more or less opposite of the real Knox.


5. The Picture of Knox Now Coming To Dominate

As our posters Stilicho, Michael and Nell have all noted, Knox’s 2013 book carries plenty of effusive claims about her own extreme naivety, and how all around her were harder and brasher, and pushing drugs, while she participated only occasionally and very reluctantly.

In Italy the timid-nice-girl persona was severely dinged at trial when the viewing population witnessed a loud, hectoring, pushy callous Knox on the witness stand trying to make out she was weak and silly. See our reports of Knox on the stand at the time here and here. 

Now, finally, the increasingly dominant picture in the US is one of a highly aggressive risk-taking drug user who may have repeatedly connected with unsavory drug sources long before she ever encountered Sollecito.

Already a heavy drug user, who was quite treacherous enough to publish drug-use accusations about her Perugia room-mates and friends, and put them between herself and the fire.

Maybe the drug reporting will drive home that this was never a good idea




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Italian Reporting Of Prolonged Knox/Cocaine-Dealer Connection; Media Digging

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. How Drug Use Was Addressed At Trial

The story of Knox’s drug use clearly has legs. But whoever is driving it, the trial prosecution is not - they are simply sitting back and watching.

Police and prosecutors have never driven the perception that Knox and Sollecito were stoned on the night when they attacked Meredith. Judge Micheli wasnt keen on this possible “out” and besides they have never had a reason to.

It was in fact the defenses who drove the drug-use argument. Knox admitted to police on 5-6 November 2007 to marijuana use, and so did Sollecito. He already had a minor record of cocaine possession. Both tried to use the argument at trial that they were indeed stoned. But that was only to explain major discrepancies in their statements, not to say that drugs helped to fuel the attack on Meredith.

The defenses had an opportunity with Judge Matteini, the guiding magistrate from late 2007 though to Judge Micheli’s arraignment in October 2008, to try to seek lesser charges due to impaired capacities. But either they did not want to, or they were prevented by the families from doing so.

At trial in 2009 the prosecution remarked that the two were suspected to have been using cocaine (the symptoms seem to us pretty obvious) but the defence simply shrugged at this and did not contend it.

Judge Massei never mentions amphetamines. Two defense experts were brought in to try to convince the Massei court that the admitted drug use had fogged their clients’ brains. Judge Massei simply recorded this doubtful claim in his sentencing report. He gave the perps no breaks based on this reasoning.

]page 393] On the effects of drugs of the type used by Amanda and by Raffaele, such as hashish and marijuana, [we] heard the testimony of Professor Taglialatela who, while underlining the great subjective variability (page 211, hearing of 17 July 2009) specified that the use of such substances has a negative influence on the cognitive capacity and causes alterations of perception (pages 201 and 207) and of the capacity to comprehend a situation (page 218).

In his turn, Professor Cingolani, who together with Professor Umani Ronchi and Professor Aprile, had also dealt with the toxicological aspect (see witness report lodged on 15 April 2008, pages 26 and following), responding to the question he had been asked as to whether the use of drugs lowers inhibitions replied: “šThat is beyond doubt”› (page 163 hearing of 19 September 2009), while correlating that effect to the habits of the person [on] taking the drugs. Raffaele Sollecito’s friends had furthermore stated that such substances had an effect of relaxation and stupor.

2. New Reporting On Knox/Drug-Dealer Connection

Below is the new Giallo report on a connection between Knox and drug-dealers kindly translated by our main poster Jools. Note that the main drug dealer Frederico Martini (who is “F” below) and others were convicted back in 2011 and the connection to Knox was reported then in the Italian press, though not in the UK and US press.

The main new fact here is that Giallo has the dealers’ names. Giallo makes clear it obtained the names legitimately from open police records, not from the prosecutors back at trial.  Dr Mignini merely takes note of the names which Giallo itself provided and he doubted that Knox would now become truth-prone.

Clamorous [Sensational/Scoop]

The American woman already convicted to 28 years for the murder of her friend Meredith.

A NEW LEAD, LINKED TO DRUGS, PUTS AMANDA KNOX IN TROUBLE

The woman was hanging around a circle of hashish and cocaine traffickers. One of them had intimate relation with her. Another, a dangerous criminal offender, had attempted to kill his brother with a knife. Are they implicated?

“During the course of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher we have confirmed that a person whose initial is F. would occasionally supply drugs to Amanda Knox, as well as having a relationship with her supposedly of a sexual nature.” So begins an [official note] annotation of the Flying Squad police in Perugia dated January 19, 2008, two and half months after the terrible murder of the young British student Meredith Kercher. An annotation that could open a new, worst-case scenario on the Perugia murder and on one of its most talked-about protagonists, Amanda Knox, besides making it possible to convince the USA to send her back to Italy for a new trial.

But why is this annotation so important? And who is this mysterious F. that is now entering the scene? Let’s see. When Amanda came to our country to study, in September 2007, did not yet know Raffaele Sollecito, the guy from Giovinazzo who will be accused together with her and Rudy Guede, a thief and drug dealer, of the murder of Meredith. But she soon started to hang around characters implicated in a drug ring for university students in Perugia. A particularly disturbing entourage of whose members included dangerous multi-convicted felons. The first one is precisely F. We will not disclose his full name or F’s last name, for reasons of discretion, but GIALLO knows them.

In 2007, F. is a student of psychology from Rome, much older than Amanda. The two meet on a Milano-Florence train and decide to visit the city together in the evening, Knox having gotten rid of [her sister] she and F. smoke a joint together. “My first smoke in Italy,” says the same Amanda on MySpace, a social network site that was popular seven years ago. The two end the Florentine evening in his hotel room. Photo evidence of this new friendship was formerly on Myspace, because Amanda publishes a photo of F., half naked. An aunt commented: “Do not date strange Italian guys.”

Once she settled in Perugia, Amanda continues to have contact with F. His number is in Amanda’s phone book, and they both frequently called each other, before and after the murder.

F., also appears in a “list” of Italian guys she slept with which was compiled by Amanda on one of her big school notebooks and also in her autobiographical book Waiting to be heard. In the book Amanda talks about F. but changes his name and calls him Cristiano. Maybe to protect their privacy, maybe to obfuscate opinions. She writes of him: “I promised my friends that I would not end up sleeping with the first guy that comes by, but F. was a change of plans.” Further adding that in Italy smoking joints is simply normal, “like eating a plate of pasta.”

On the other hand Amanda spends a lot of money in the several months she’s in Perugia. In September, she draws out $ 2,452 from her bank account, that’s 1,691 euros. How did she spend it? No one has ever investigated this, and she does not explain it. She says she used the cash for living [expenses], but considering that the rent she had to pay was only 300 euros, and that twice a week she worked as a waitress in the bar of Patrick Lumumba, Le Chic, putting more cash in her pocket, the [living] expenses seem really excessive.

What does Amanda do with all that money? For sure she does not buy only hashish, which is not so expensive. Was she, then, using cocaine? The [police] annotation makes you think of it. And this could explain both the state of alteration of the girl on the night of the murder as well as a possible motive. Amanda that evening returned home to get some money to pay for the drugs, and she encountered Meredith? The girls had a fight, as Rudy Guede says in his reconstruction of that night, why, did Amanda steal Meredith’s money? Was Amanda on her own, or maybe she made sure she was accompanied by Rudy or other drug dealing friends?

No one has ever investigated this, or Amanda’s dangerous acquaintances. So dangerous that the same F., in 2011, was arrested. To be precise that started from the analysis of Amanda’s mobile phone, police investigators found that in fact F. and two of his close friends, Luciano and Lorenzo, were part of a major drug ring: all three ended up on trial for selling cocaine.

On January 14, 2011 they were all sentenced. The court judges established that Luciano was the one that supplied the other two: He was to serve two years and eight months in prison.

But let’s read the rest of the police annotation because what this reveals is really disturbing: “F. is contacted by phone by the presumable clients placing an “order” with him of the quantity of drugs they want to buy and in turn he contacts various Maghrebi characters ordering. It is also established that F. associates with multiple-convicted offenders of very serious crimes in the matter of drugs, and with persons such as A. Luciano, with whom he maintains frequent contacts aimed at drug trafficking.”

And precisely in this way Luciano, linked to F., a friend of Amanda, has a terrible past. The cops wrote this about him: “The above-cited Luciano on the 28/7/2006 was arrested by the carabinieri in Foligno because he was responsible for the murder attempt of his brother, who gave him 16 stab wounds inflicted with a kitchen knife.”

Luciano, therefore, who sells drugs in Perugia and provides supply to F., with whom he is often in touch, is an unsuccessful killer. Only a year before the murder in Perugia, under the influence of drugs, he tried to kill his brother during an argument over money and drug dealing. Luciano, out of his head that evening, grabbed the knife with which he was slicing a melon in the kitchen and stabbed his brother’s body 16 times.

A scene not so different from what the judges think happened in Meredith’s house, and even from what was described by the same Amanda on the 5 November 2007 when, at the end of a night of contradictions and anguish, confessed giving culpability of the murder to Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the bar Le Chic, who later proved to be unconnected with the facts of the case. Amanda said: “Patrick and Meredith went to Meredith’s room, while I think that I stayed in the kitchen. I heard screams and was scared, I covered my ears.”

Where were, F. and Luciano the night of the murder? And who was there that night, instead of Patrick? Questions still unanswered. What seems likely, however, is that Amanda was not with Raffaele, who was at his home on his computer. The judiciary may now decide to open a new file on her. Will the USA grant extradition?

Here is the translation of Dr Mignini’s interview with Giallo translated by Kristeva.

Luciano [Giuliano] Mignini, the judge leading the investigation, talks “Amanda knows how to lie very well: she seems sincere and credible ...”

[GM] The magistrate has directed all investigations: it is she [Judge Matteini] who had Amanda, Raffaele, Patrick Lumumba and Rudy Guede arrested.

[GM] “In the Supreme Court of Cassation new revelations don’t count” Giuliano Mignini, deputy prosecutor of the Attorney General Office of Perugia and public prosecutor of the first trial for the murder of Meredith [Kercher], goes straight to the point.

Mr. Mignini, pending the Supreme Court, Raffaele Sollecito seems to have distanced himself from Amanda Knox. He claims he is not certain that the American girl has spent the whole night with Sollecito ...”

[GM] “All this is irrelevant. In Court of Cassation only questions of laws can be raised. They do not take into account the new elements of reconstruction of the facts. Trials are based on the acts of the proceeding. Sustaining now a different reconstruction of what happened is a question of merit that does not in any way interest cassation.”

Amanda has repeatedly argued that her version of the facts had been affected by heavy pressures from the prosecutor’s office.

[GM] “Nothing could be more false. The process of investigation and trial proceeding of Kercher’s murder has had from the beginning an unprecedented media pressure, which has confused some ideas in public opinion. The trial should take place with the guarantee of an adversarial process, with equality of prosecution and defense. When one steps out of these parameters one ends up with a trial through the media. In this scenario, the foreign press, especially the American one, not taking into account our legal system, has given its input. They created a discourse that sounds a bit like this:she is one our fellow citizens and therefore she must be innocent. “

And if today even Amanda was to change her version?

[GM] “I would be astonished. She had plenty of occasions to tell her truth”

What was your impression of Amanda?

[GM] Amanda is very intelligent. She cleverly tried to divert suspects from her, as in the case of the staged burglary, a huge lie. Amanda is shrewd like when she accused Patrick Lumumba. On that occasion she appeared credible, she was crying. She looked as if terrified. I believe she’s a very theatrical girl and in a certain way even anti conformist: while everyone was crying and were worried, she was doing cartwheels.

What was her relationship with Meredith?

[GM] “Amanda did not like to be contradicted and had a conflictual relationship with Meredith. There were constant arguments regarding Amanda’s behaviour that Meredith could not tolerate. She believed that Amanda stole her money.”

And what type was Sollecito?

[GM] Raffaele is an enigmatic character. He is a shy young man who was subjected to Amanda’s strong personality. He was very attracted to Knox who in the meantime did not disdain the company of other acquaintances.

About acquaintances, Amanda knew some drug dealers. Could they have had a role in the murder?

[GM] “I cannot answer this” But then writes down their names.

[By] Gian Pietro Fiore

3. Our Comments On The Giallo Report

As observed above, for Italians most of this is actually not new news. The new news is that Giallo now has all the dealers’ names, from the open records of the police.

Giallo’s mention of a possible new trial is presumably connected to this drug-dealing, as the trial for Meredith’s murder and Knox’s and Sollecito’s failed appeal have both concluded, and only Cassation’s endorsement of the verdict is awaited.

Giallo’s references to Guede as a drug dealer and thief are both unproven. He had no criminal record prior to final conviction by Cassation. He was never a police source, and got zero breaks, ever. He was unknown to Dr Mignini until some days after Meredith was attacked and forensics identified him.

4. UK and US Media Get Key Fact Wrong

The UK’s Daily Mail has wrongly claimed that Italy’s Giallo magazine had reported as follows: “Italian prosecutor from Amanda Knox trial gave newspaper list of drug-dealer names associated with American student”.

In their headlines the US’s National Enquirer and Radar Online make the same wrong claim, though they quote enough from Giallo to show how that magazine really re-surfaced the report.

So for now UK and US media get that key fact wrong.  This surely wont be the end of it though. The story finally has legs of its own, and clearly the media in all three countries have a willingness to pursue it more.

In the interview also posted on Giallo Dr Mignini doubted that even now Knox will tell the truth - in fact it is hard to see what she can say. We will wait and see.

5. Ground Report Also Gets It Wrong

This shrill report from “Grace Moore” about Guede and Dr Mignini in Ground Report is both seriously wrong on the facts and defamatory - she should try saying that sort of thing about any American prosecutor.  “Grace Moore” should find out what the roles of Judge Matteini and Prosecutor Comodi were, and why after a malicious prosecution against him Prosecutor Mignini is riding high on Italian TV - and pouring cold water on satanic claims about any crimes.

Paul and Rachel Sterne, the father and daughter owners of Ground Report which carries well over 100 similarly inflammatory posts, could in theory be charged by both Italian and American prosecutors, as they are an eager party to bloodmoney (a felony), harrassment of the victim’s family (a felony) and obstruction of justice under Italian law for poisoning opinion out of court (another felony).

They need to clean up their site and make some amends.   


Click to enlarge


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mignini And Giuttari Win Final Round In Spurious 2010 Conviction By Rogue Prosecutor And Judge

Posted by Peter Quennell




Poison pill sown in 2006

The entire edifice of the Knox PR campaign was always built on a foundation of sand. 

Years ago, the wannabe real-crime-reporter Doug Preston was shaken to the core when Dr Mignini and others figured out with the help of court-authorized wire-taps that he and Mario Spezi were planting evidence and using fake IDs to frame someone they had wrongly concluded was the “real” murderer in the Monster of Florence case.

In uncalled-for retaliation (he got off very lightly and could have faced a prison term) Preston went back to the US and, safe there, wrote a nasty and largely fictional book. He repeatedly claims it was really the cops and specifically Dr Mignini not Preston & Spezi who were dumb and blundering in not sufficiently investigating and charging the “real” murderer.

Fast-forward to 2008

Almost nobody in Italy supports Preston’s and Spezi’s “solution” to the MOF crime which they seemed to hope would bring them big bucks and whole new careers. That solution is widely regarded as a joke and there is voluminous evidence against it.

Nevertheless, Preston’s MOF book is published in the US, demonizing Mignini in great detail.

Knox PR aide David Marriot and his media pet poodles and online thugs, including the wild-eyed Paul Ciolino of CBS and the bizarro Frank Sforza of Perugia, were all over the notion that it was Mignini and not Preston & Spezi who had done something seriously wrong. 

The mafia always has an interest in taking Italian justice down a peg, and opportunities were increasingly seen here. The mafia’s various useful idiots in the US (John Douglas, Saul Kassin, Dempsey, Burleigh, Steve Moore, Michele Moore, Heavey, Fischer, Doug Bremner, Hampikian, Halkidis, and some others) who have plagued a correct understanding of the MOF and Perugia cases all helpfully all piled on.

Fast-forward to January 2010

Dr Mignini and the former head of Florence detectives Michele Giuttari were convicted in Florence on spurious grounds. See our posts back then by Commissario Montalbano and TomM.

The purpose of the Florentine investigation against Mignini and Giuttari was obviously a pretext, a ploy aimed at blocking the seemingly very threatening Narducci arm of the MOF investigation. In fact it was a pretext for the rogue Florence prosecutor seizing the Narducci case file back from Dr Mignini in Perugia and burying it out of sight.

Nevertheless,  the demonization of Mignini became even more shrill, multiplied globally by the gullible Joel Simon of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists in foolishly protecting the proven liar Frank Sforza who is now facing THREE trials.,

Fast-forward to November 2011

The Florence appeal court reverses the 2010 convictions because the case was brought by the SAME rogue Florence prosecutor who was caught on tape meddling in the Narducci investigation and who was one of those (there were others) trying to slow it down or destroy it. 

Fast-forward to January 2013

The Supreme Court scathingly endorses that reversal.  The attempt from within the Florentine court to de-legitimize the Narducci arm of the MOF investigation was from now on definitively at a dead end.

The investigations and trials of those who had for mysterious reasons been hampering the Narducci investigation were also put back on track by Cassation. Most threatened is Doug Preston’s mate Mario Spezi. He seems headed for a prison sentence for sure, leaving Preston (a major meddler in Meredith’s case) also legally very exposed..

Fast forward to April 2013

Dr Mignini is promoted, gaining very high marks in a competitive process. From this point on he will handle only appeals, and when Dr Galati retires (expected soon) Dr Mignini is expected to be the #1 prosecutor of the Region of Umbria.

Fast forward to summer 2013

The Turin prosecution office finally obtains the investigation file on Mignini and Giuttari from Florence as the Florence appeal judge and Cassation had instructed.

The investigation file should have been sent in November 2011 for action leading to full closure on the substance, but the Florence prosecutors illegally sat on it, presumably fearful of what could happen to him.

The Turin prosecution office had little interest in re-opening what seemed a dead-end and frivolous case. If this was what Mignini and Giuttari had wanted, the charges could have been dropped, but without any court finding of “not guilty”.

However, Dr Giuttari and Dr Mignini explained that they wanted a court finding of “not guilty” on the merits of the case. They WANTED the Turin court to read the evidence and to make a final ruling.

Fast forward to today

The Turin court did meet. Andrea Vogt posted this report.

For those keeping track of the various “sideshows” in the Amanda Knox case, a Turin court Wednesday definitively acquitted Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini of three charges against him in connection to his investigations into the Monster of Florence case.  The court shelved another three charges because the statute of limitations had expired. One abuse of office charge involving the wiretapping of a La Stampa journalist will be heard in court on March 18, but its statute of limitations appears to expire just days before, so it is unclear if the case will go forward. None of the matters relate directly to the Amanda Knox case, but they were often referenced by the prosecutor’s detractors.


And what next

The Italian justice system protects its senior judges and prosecutors from criminal defamations intended to obstruct justice with some powerful measures. They were originally intended to keep the mafia in its place as defamation of police, prosecutors and judges is one of its mainstays.

All of the false claims about Dr Mignini are still out there. Preston’s book is still on sale. So is Burleigh’s, Dempsey’s, Fischer’s, and John Douglas’s. Joel Simon’s seriously wrong claims are still online. Not one has recanted or wound back.

Knox and Sollecito each repeated the baseless claims at length in their books, and even embellished them. Michael Heavey parrots them to the State Department. They are the main crutch of Bruce Fischer, Steve Moore, Michele Moore, Doug Bremner, and so on.

However, the required pushback by Florence prosecutors and others has begun, and with today’s ruling will accelerate. Frank Sforza is already on trial for calunnia and the Italian justice system is quietly zeroing in on many others, all the book publishers included.

On March 14 the magazine Oggi which published many of Amanda Knox’s baseless claims in Italian must appear in court in Bergamo. Knox and Sollecito themselves may find a heap of new legal troubles after the appeal verdict is announced on 30 January.

*****

Numerous posts by Kermit and Yummi still need to be linked to.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More Collateral Damage: Owner Hopes To Sell 7 Via Della Pergola Though Chances Seem Slim

Posted by Peter Quennell





Please click here for a Powerpoint in which Kermit explains how this unusual house came to be.

The house has just gone on sale for E460,000, which is not steep for two apartments with parking in Perugia, a high-income town with a huge university. But whether the house sells fast - this is said to be the best season price-wise - we will have to wait and see. 

The owner is a retired woman who lives in Rome and the rental payments were once an important part of her income. As one of the victims of the crimes perpetrated late in 2007 she has been legally represented at the 2008 and 2009 trials and the 2011 and 2013 appeals.

The house seems unlikely to attract professionals as a place for them to reside, with its continuing appearance in the news and daily visits. Rental income in recent years from the several groups of young people who occupied the apartments has been quite spasmodic.

It may be that the house is replaced by a parking facility. Infiltration of carbon monoxide gas from the cars above has been a problem recently, and there is to be a very long escalator right from about there to carry commuters up the hill to the city center.

For a short time in 2007 it gave eight residents such joy. But perhaps it is better gone - there are better ways to remember Meredith by.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Trashing Of Italian Justice To Bend Trial Outcomes And How The Republic Pushes Back

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



A big mob trial in Italy

1. Those Who See To Trash Italian Justice

Based on murder and incarceration rates there are not so many bad guys in Italy. But those who are bad can be very very bad.

Those with a vested interest in taking Italian prosecutors and police down a peg to affect trial outcomes can be bunched into seven groups. 

  • The three regional mafias;
  • A few defense lawyers and well-funded defendants;
  • Politicians shielding corruption;
  • In some instances the freemasons.
  • Those wanting investigations like MOF/Narducci to drop dead;
  • Muckraking magazines like Oggi;
  • Some anti-Italy foreigners.

None of them are simply pro-Amanda or pro-Raffele. All of them have hidden agendas, and all are under the constant eye of law enforcement.

Any of the above can join forces. Fighting institutions that make the public safe can make for strange bedfellows. Those attempting to trash justice can use any or all of three prongs in their attacks.

1) Assassinate the prosecutors and judges assigned to mafia cases. Over 100 in recent years have been assassinated.

2) Bend the laws in parliament. Bent laws excessively favoring defendants have greatly affected this case.

3) Flame the justice system and those who work for it. The pro-Knox pro-Sollecito campaign has definite mafia fingerprints.

Italian justice has adopted powerful if usually latent ways for law enforcers to push back and try to arrive at just outcomes.

If officers of the Italian courts are publicly accused of crimes in the media while a legal process is playing out, and the claims are malicious and untrue, this is not a civil matter (defamation, slander or libel).

It is a criminal matter (in the UK and US too) for which sentences can include long prison terms.

If the officers of the Italian court who are attacked are very senior and have an anti-mafia role they are REQUIRED BY LAW to request a criminal investigation by a chief prosecutor to take place.

They essentially have no further role themselves after that, except to provide true testimony in court.

A range of measures is then available to investigating chief prosecutors, up to and including invoking the powers of the Council of Magistrates and even the President of the Italian republic. 

2. Trashing Of Justice In Perugia Case

If we look closely - a lot closer than all the UK and US media look, and most of the Italian media - we can spot attempts to further the interests of all seven of these groups in the campaigns against justice for Meredith and especially against justice for the Monster of Florence victims.

  • The three mafias have their toe in the door in various ways including but not only the mafioso witness Luciano Aviello (on which more below), and the Narducci 22 including Spezi, and the editors of newspapers like Oggi who have long done their handiwork for them.

  • The defense forces and the well-funded, sneering, money-grubbing defendants Knox and Sollecito are very well-known to us here; their myriad dirty tricks go as far back as early 2008 and the list has not yet stopped growing.

  • The Berlusconi loyalist and fervid Knoxaholic Rocco Girlanda wrote to the President, asking that he order that the Perugia prosecutors be investigated; Girlanda also tried to cut the national police budget before he was voted out of office..

  • Both the judges in the annuled appeal were freemasons and our main poster Yummi described the furtive freemason fingers in the pie (some freemasons ally with mafias and feud strongly with catholics, which Perugia police and prosecutors are) in his well-researched posts here and here.

  • Those who wanted the MOF/Narducci investigations to drop dead used the ever-willing “useful idiot” Doug Preston to ridicule the investigations in a strident book and numerous media appearances; also they tried hard to take down Dr Mignini, their most recent nemesis though the Supreme Court has totally reversed that for reasons explained here.

  • The notorious editor of Oggi has a long history of sneering and essentially fact-free reporting, aimed at undermining the courts and the police; playing to his advantage, there is a smallish but terminally paranoid readership for such conspiracy myths in Italy.

  • And as for anti-Italy foreigners with their fingers in the pie, well, where to begin? Doug Preston? Michael Heavey? Nina Burleigh? Candace Dempsey? Greg Hampikian? Paul Ciolino? Judy Bachrach? David Anderson? Joel Simon?  Bruce Fischer, and his vast operation?

All seven groups were happily on a roll up to around the end of 2011, when Knox and Sollecito were released, and many (including Curt Knox’s PR guru David Marriott, Hampikian, and Fischer) prematurely declared that they had won total victory.

But it is astounding how much matters have reversed in the past year and a half. Take a look at the state of play for them as it is now.

3. Pushback In Meredith’s Case:

The Italian Supreme Court is nothing if not remorseless in its mandated pursuit of justice and the truth. We saw this the other day when a prison sentence was allowed to stand against the former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who had long thumbed his nose at the courts.

We also saw it in the convictions allowed to stand against the many CIA operatives and their Italian counterparts who kidnapped Abu Omar and flew him for torture to Egypt.  Though most of their sentences were permitted to be reduced, most are still left with a felony record for life - and the lead CIA operative is now a world-wide fugitive.

We can now see this same strong reaction against contempt of the courts in the Meredith Kercher case and the Monster of Florence case and the hairbrained “defense” campaigns nominally run for the perps in those two parallel cases.

Italian officials have various reasons to believe not only that Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox are surely guilty, just as Judge Massei described, but also that they and their American supporters are foolish pawns in some much bigger and even nastier games, and deeply in over their heads.

In its annullment of the Hellmann/Zanetti appeal and its instructions to the Florence Palace of Justice, Cassation reveals its own suspicion that some very unsavory elements may be attempting to take the Italian justice system down a peg and it wants fast decisive action to stop this. A high-stakes new trial described at bottom here is a first huge warning shot.

Knox has served three years, will be labeled a felon for life, faces an enormously tough new appeal against an excellent prosecutor, and has her name on a book which commits against Italian officials THE EXACT SAME CRIME she served three years for: false accusations of crimes. She is expected to be charged soon by Bergamo prosectors.

Sollecito in his own book committed some of the same crimes as Knox did in hers (did we mention criminal enterprise?!) plus another one (accusing the prosecution of wanting him to roll over on Amanda) which his own father has renounced on national TV. He is expected to be charged soon by Florence prosecutors.

Everybody involved in the writing and publishing of the two criminally defamatory and very self-serving blood-money books (illegal in Italy) could soon be about to take a fall, both in the Italian criminal courts and in the US civil courts. The foolish publishers and deal-makers included, of which Curt Knox himself is one.

If neither RS nor AK turn up for the new appeal in Florence later in September, they risk warrants being issued for their re-arrest. If they DO turn up they could well turn on one another, and their books will help the prosecution and hamper the defenses no-end - with those mad claims, how can they possibly take the witness stand?

Criminal defamation charges are still pending against Amanda Knox and against both of her two biological parents. Corruption charges are pending against Francesco Sollecito and Raffaele’s sister Vanessa for attempting to use political means to up-end the Perugia prosecutors.

Judge Hellmann has been eased out ignominiously, and Judge Zanetti demoted. Conceivably both may face charges, along with Conti & Vecchiotti and maybe Hampikian. And all the defense lawyers are in a ton of trouble for helping AK and RS to write their books, Giulia Bongiorno especially. The former MP Rocco Girlanda is of course long gone. 

Many of the Knox defense forces have exited or ended up as being of no consequence: Frank Sfarzo (now on the run from the law in the US and Italy); Halkidis and Hampikian (see the Machine’‘s posts below), the hapless two Moores, the proven phoney Bruce Fischer, and so on and on. 

And US officialdom, not least the State Department and the US Embassy in Rome, still show not the slightest interest in intervening. Any judge is expected to approve extradition of Knox if her refusal to face trial and prison is sustained in face of a final guilty verdict. 

4. Pushback In Monster of Florence Case

Yummi mentioned some pushback in the post linked to above, including the trouble rained down on the heads of the prosecutor and judge who put on trial Giuttari and Mignin, whose convictions were scathingly reversed by a very angry Supreme Court. 

The Narducci case was put back on track by the Supreme Court and a prison sentence seems a sure thing for Mario Spezi and up to 2 dozen others. A prison sentence might be incurred by the delusional weakling and serial defamer Doug Preston.

The “theory” of the MOF case Dr Mignini has good reason to hold is that the murders were not those of one single serial killer. This perception of a shadowy self-protecting group is absolutely mainstream in Italy, and is reflected in the excellent Guittari book on the case (Il Mostro) which could soon with good reason (it tells the truth) push the silly Preston MOF book off the US and UK bookshelves.

That theory is espoused by all the current prosecutors in Florence.

The one media outlet which never fails to take an anti-prosecution stance, Oggi, Is being investigated and could be put on trial for publishing Knox’s false charges against the Perugia and national police and prosecutors and may have problems hanging in there.

Dr Mignini looks set to be promoted to becoming the next attorney general of Umbria, the region of which Perugia is the capital. And the hold of the freemasons and the mafias over Italian justice is not getting any stronger, just as most Italians prefer.

5. Pushback In Related Cases

Former Sollecito witness Luciano Aviello could be the direct cause of a lot of people ending up in jail.

His trial for perjury and contempt of court is happening now in Florence. His trial has been fast-forwarded as a direct result of the Supreme Court declaring that getting to the bottom of his erratic day in court in 2011 with too-familiar mafia-type allegations must be a top priority.  His forthcoming defense is expected to be explosive.

We have posted extensively on Aviello since he first surfaced. A mafioso since his teens in Naples, now aged about 40, he has spent most of his adult years in prison. (He is back there again right now - for killing a dog and extortion.)

As police and prosecutors all know, Aviello has a very long record of making things up to try to give himself some breaks and to keep in with the mafia. He has been repeatedly convicted for perjury.

He was the witness summoned by a hapless Giulia Bongiorno to try to arrive at an explanation that fits with the prevailing conclusion of the Supreme Court that THREE people had attacked Meredith on the night.

What Aviello came up with on the stand was that his own missing brother and one other habitual criminal had unintentionally committed the murder. They were trying to steal some artworks, but they got the address of the house wrong.

Raffaele Sollecito was so thrilled at this (palpably false) testimony by Aviello that he says in his book that he sent Aviello an embroidered handkerchief, perhaps because Aviello has urges toward a sex change operation.

On the witness stand in mid 2011 Aviello really roasted the police and prosecution in mafia-type terms for failing to come down on his side and follow up on his allegations (actually they had already followed up, but found nothing).

Then two fellow inmates at his prison near Genoa testified for the prosecution that he had told them that the Sollecitos had offered or paid large bribes for any false testimony helpful to their boy getting sprung.

Extraordinarily, Judge Hellmann brushed all of this under the rug, and hurried on to other matters less embarrassing to the Sollecitos and Bongiorno.  This REALLY caught Cassation’s attention as there have been strong suspicions in Perugia and Rome that Hellmann and/or Zanetti were in the pocket of one of the families.

Why did the unqualified Judge Hellmann replace the excellent Judge Chiari, suddenly and inexplicably decided upon by Chief Judge Di Nunzio? Why are seemingly all of the lead players bending things to the Knox-Sollecito side freemasons?

Were Hellmann and Zanetti and Aviello and Aviello’s fellow inmates among those who received some sort of inducement to bend RS’s way? What was Giulia Bongiorno’s precise role in all this?

Directly, Aviello could be in a position to bring down both families, both defense teams, and both appeal judges. He could even make a guilty verdict for RS and AK a sure thing.

Criminal enterprise indeed. We will continue reporting. Oh and make sure to watch your back, Luciano.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hard Line Against Seeming Self-Serving Meddling By Preston & Spezi Likely To Get Cassation Nod

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Another crazy provocation from Preston & Spezi The Angel With The Eyes Of Ice due in Germany soon]


Breaking news.  Cassation is deciding right now on a formidably worded appeal by the Umbria Prosecutor General to sustain the MOF/Narducci investigation.

The mood generally in Italy is pro the Giuttari and Mignini Monster of Florence supposition, for which there is some firm proof, and not in favor of the hairbrained Spezi and Preston supposition, for which there is none at all. Giuttiari’s book Il Mostro sells very well, while Spezi’s and Preston’s MOF hardly sells at all.

Continued investigation had been stymied by the self-serving actions of certain Florence prosecutors in charging and convicting Giuttari and Mignini for supposed harm to themselves. That conviction was reversed a year ago by an appeal judge in Florence for lack of jurisdiction, and several week ago Cassation scathingly ruled that the case must come to a total end..

The judge who found Giuttari and Mignini guilty (Francesco Maradei) is now up to his ears in his own trouble for bending court outcomes, seemingly due to pressures and bribes. Meanwhile the way has been opened for Mignini to move up to the level of Prosecutor General for Umbria (there are four prosecutor posts at that level) in the next few weeks.

Giuttari spoke out strongly about the trumped up case, and in yet another unexpected development the police chief he blamed for blocking strong pursuit of the case, Antonio Manganelli, has just died.

This post by Yummi of 21 January (especially the second half) is a vital read.

One thing you can say for the fictionalist Doug Preston: he never knows how to quit when he’s behind! 

Read our many, many posts especially by Kermit exposing Preston as a serial liar here.  This new book [image at top] by Preston and Spezi in German on Meredith’s case is promised for release next month, and included in the publisher’s blurb is this claim:

In Perugia, Italy, the British student Meredith Kercher is brutally murdered in her apartment. Prime suspect is her American flatmate Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. With sparse circumstantial evidence both are convicted to extremely long prison sentences. Two years later, an appeals process frees both. Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi roll out the spectacular case of Amanda Knox from scratch. Previously unpublished details, interviews with lawyers involved and the exposure of the dubious machinations of the Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini guarantee a breathtaking reading that can compete with any thriller.

Yeah, well, good luck with that one.

As we have reported in depth the Chief Prosecutor in Florence is already considering contempt-of-court charges for Raffaele Sollecito based on a large number of complaints about his book. If Amanda Knox’s book which is promised for next month impugns even one Italian official, she can be assured of the same..

Presumably so can Preston if this book, the latest of his many hairbrained ventures, comes forth.  More reporting right here when Cassation decides on the Prosecutor General’s appeal.


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.


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.


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.




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, 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.


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.


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.


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.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sollecito Family Trial: On The Component About Their Alleged Attempt At Political Interference

Posted by Jools





Almost nothing is showing up in the English language media on the court case Raffaele Solecito’s family are facing for allegedly trying to throw the murder investigation.

In the Italian media (as so often in this case) the reporting on this is franker, fuller, and on the whole way more honest. I previously posted articles that focussed mainly on the Telenorba TV video component of the trial.

This now is a translation of a June 2008 writeup of official wiretaps on a police association website of the political-influence component of the trial. The police association would be interested because it was some of their members allegedly being impugned. 

Perugia Flying Squad: other interceptions published.

The role of Carabinieri lieutenant, Vanessa Sollecito, becomes stronger from the latest interceptions published by the daily newspaper LIBERO”¦

THE TELEPHONE CALLS OF THE SOLLECITOS’ TO POLITICIANS FOR RAF

The relatives are accused of manipulating the investigation. The sister a lieutenant: “I break a finger and I move to the civilian personnel this is how I’ll get him out”

Murder in Perugia. This is the sister of Raffale Sollecito, the student from Giovinazzo charged with the murder of the young English girl Meredith Kercher, who in a telephone call to her father Francesco tells him that she is prepared to break a finger just to transition into a civilian role in the carabinieri and succeed like this to pursue an “illicit” scheme to get her little brother out of prison and help him to get out of this sh**”¦ country.

Vanessa Sollecito is 31 years old and she is a lieutenant of the Carabinieri armed forces in the Lazio Region. She too, like her father and the rest of the relatives (uncle/aunt, a brother in law, cousins, dad’s second wife), try to gain favors from well known “excellent” people in order to exonerate Raffy and to remove the “real culprits”. These (“real culprits”) would be the police officers that have placed him under investigation and the magistrates who don’t want to know about freeing him.

The Sollecito “clan” (this is how who’s investigating the murder of Via Della Pergola defines Raffaele’s family) is written in the logbook register on the occasion of a second line of police investigation on the murder of November 2 last. The alleged offences are: defamation, invasion of privacy, and publication of arbitrary acts of a criminal case.

The time is 18:20 hours March 3 last [2008] when Vanessa phones her father (a well-known cardiologist [sic] in Puglia) and announces: “I’ve met a man, he is from the penitentiary police who works at the Ministry of Justice. He says that a union leader has explained to him that there is one way for transitioning into the carabinieri civilian staff role, although it is not very legal. And that is for me to break a finger, if things were to go down badly for Raffy, in order to lose the (fit to serve) eligibility” and move to the authority in control of civil service roles.

Francesco Sollecito gets very angry. Not about his daughter breaking a finger, but because he knows that his phone is being intercepted, and screaming he says: “You mustn’t speak on this phone, it is intercepted.” And Vanessa says: “Yours might be intercepted, but not mine!”

Two weeks later, it’s the morning of March 17 - at 10:59, Vanessa tries to phone the “˜Idv’ party - Senator Domenico Formisano - in order to go to meet him. And conveys to her father “He is our friend. He asked me a favor for a young man who must stay in Rome. He’ll be in his office Wednesday at 12:30, I hope to please him so afterwards I make use of the favor owed and will help Raffaele. He is the number two to Di Pietro.”

It’s [a date in] May at 10:23 and aunt Sara Achille (wife of Francesco Sollecito’s brother, Giuseppe) says: “Listen Francesco, Senator Domenico Nania told me to call him to arrange for a meeting in Rome. You know, it’s always better to have a nice… And Sara wanted to involve in the affair even the honorable Renato Schifani.”

Three days before, at four in the afternoon, Vanessa also spoke to her father in a “sarcastic” tone: “That lot are still going to take the foot prints”¦ Colonel De Fulvio, who is the one from RiS, says that they are still at this point”¦ and he’s offered himself to meet up with lawyer Bongiorno in terms of friendship, to see the scientific police material”¦”

[Her father Francesco] Sollecito interrupts her: “About these things you must not speak on this telephone, THIS ONE IS BEING MONITORED! Call me later.”

Uncle Giuseppe Sollecito, on July 30, utters offensive phrases toward the magistrates in Perugia because they haven’t gone in-depth into investigating the trail of the junkie found covered in blood near the victim’s house the day of the murder… “and this is just on purpose to keep Raffaele in prison”. His brother Francesco responds: “I’ll skin them alive those… and they’ll hear from me as well.”

Raffaele’s stepmother Mara Papagni, puts her complete trust in lawyer Giulia Bongiorno: That one “Ms Thirtyballs” will fix everyone”¦ She knows how to behave on certain occasions.

The strategy of Sollecito’s relatives appears to be clear in other wiretappings: they want to put pressure on the judges of the Supreme Court of Cassation so that they’ll agree to accept the appeal presented by the defenders of the young man, they prefer that some investigators whom they regard as inconvenient be removed from the investigation.

In their targets above all are Commissioner Monica Napoleoni, head of the [Perugia] Homicide Section, and Giacinto Profazio, head of the Flying Squad. In their phone calls, the Sollecitos call them bastards, pigs, sons of whores. And they all agree: “We must find someone to intervene at any rate. As written in the logbooks: Its necessary to stop police from doing other vileness.”

The “clan” accuses them of falsifying evidence to frame Raffy. And for this reason they contact journalists and television networks to supply documents and images for broadcasting (such as those depicting the tortured body of poor Mez after the murder and aired by a local television in Puglia).

They wanted to demonstrate that the scientific police played dirty to frame Raffaele.  Now the Sollecitos’ and their respective wives are under investigation.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Post-Trauma Example Of Italy As One Of The Fastest-Learning And Adjusting Societies

Posted by Peter Quennell


Here is an image of Elisa Benedetti whose sad death after crashing and then disabling her car in deep mud our poster Catnip profiled back here.

Two other post-accidents traumas have been much in the news in Italy as Il Giornale today describes.

Two drivers were in traffic accidents in which they feared they had caused the death of others, and both are now dead.

One after dying of cold in the woods after wandering aimlessly for days, and the other after jumping off a bridge. In the case of the first, nobody was even hurt, and in the case of the second, the child who was slightly knocked by the car was released from hospital the same day.

As one would expect in Italy, these incidents have been the subject of much public discussion and several TV chat shows, similar to those for missing people that we learned about in the case of the missing or murdered Sonia Marra.

Now hospital emergency rooms and police forces are moving to beef up their capacity to provide psychological support to those similarly traumatized.

In the case of Elisa Benedetti, the cops tried really hard to help her in the times when she called them for help on her cellphone. Next time they might have psychological knowhow on their side.

Few other countries in the world come close to Italy for a caring population driving constructive effects like these.


Monday, March 28, 2011

The Sollecito Family Criminal Trial And Civil Trial For Leaking Evidence Will Both Start On 29 April

Posted by Peter Quennell


The Sollecito family face charges for releasing an evidence video to the Bari TV station Telenorba showing Meredith’s body unclothed.

Also for attempting to influence some politicians to get some cops investigating the case moved on. Several Telenorba TV Bari staff-members will also also face charges. The trial was postponed five weeks ago as the judge was still on another case.

It is now reported in Italy by the news service Adnkronos that at today’s brief hearing a Kercher family civil suit against the Sollecitos for this disrespecting of Meredith will run in parallel.

The Sollecito defense team want to dispute the Perugia court’s jursidiction as the alleged crimes took place in Bari and Rome. That seems unlikely to fly as the evidence leaked was taken from Perugia.

The next court date for the Sollecito family will be Friday 29 April.


Friday, March 25, 2011

The Civil Case Of Knox v Lifetime - Umbria 24 TV Video Of Arrivals Today At The Courthouse

Posted by Peter Quennell


Amanda Knox is the supplicant here but you’d be hard-pressed to know it.

Unfortunately there’s no video or images of the team for Lifetime the alleged wrongdoers in this case, who seem to be keeping well out of sight.

There are reports in English here and here and here. Ann Wise of ABC notes that YouTube has removed the video of the movie’s trailer.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Civil Case Of Knox v Lifetime Will Be Considered By The Perugia Courts On July 4

Posted by Peter Quennell


On July 4? Big day in America. Seems today’s judge has a sense of humor.

The closed hearing in civil court in Perugia was brief, and there are just a couple of media images of Knox looking rather dispirited.  The Italian media have not yet identified who are Lifetime’s legal representation or whether they were in court.

Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said his client wants the Lifetime TV movie withdrawn. He claimed that the movie had already been viewed 687,000 times on Lifetime’s website from all over the world, and that there is a version with Italian subtitles.

He said the movie could do irreparable harm to the prospects of his client. Amanda Knox in her statement said: “I am shocked at this invasion of my life and the speculations made about myself… I was very disturbed at the images in the trailer I saw on TV.”

The Knox and Sollecito suits were all actually filed before the movie itself had ever aired. No specific scenes were complained about today in court, and as the movie for the most part adheres to Massei, with some artistic license, it will be interesting to find out precisely which scenes are the bad ones.

The movie appeared to give Knox at least one big break in public eyes by making the provisional finding of an HIV test seem highly malicious though the facts don’t support this.

Sollecito appears in the movie much more briefly than Knox, and his most dramatic scene is where he throws one of Knox’s various alibis under the bus. Otherwise he comes across like a pussy.

His legal team has also said they were filing suit against Lifetime both in Perugia and in New York. No sign yet of those filings.





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amanda Knox To Be In Court In Perugia Tomorrow In Hearing About Stopping The Lifetime TV Film

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Lifetime TV has an office suite in this giant hitech building which Google is presently purchasing]

Past posts on this mixed bag of a TV movie can be found here.

Late February Amanda Knox’s lawyers filed suit in Perugia to stop the airing of the movie (so far aired maybe half a dozen times in the US) and Raffaele’s Sollecito’s lawyers filed suit in Perugia and (or so they say - we can find no court record) also in New York.

The Perugia judge at the first hearing took a pretty relaxed view of the urgency of the matter and so it is only now that legal teams for Lifetime and Amanda Knox will face one another in court. The suit claims that the movie “violates the reputation” of Amanda Knox.

Very substantial payment for damages has been requested. If the New York suit also proceeds (unlikely as US law is not exactly favorable) the total asked appears to amount, converted from Euros, to over two hundred million dollars to compensate for sullied reputations.

Today’s Italian media reports in ANSA and AGI dont say very much more than that, except that Amanda Knox would like to be present in court.

As this is not Sollecito’s team’s suit, this is about the first time that one appellant will appear in court without the other. No word at all yet on the constitution of Lifetime’s legal team.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Giuliano Mignini’s Seeingly Trumped-Up Conviction For Guessing Right In The MOF Case

Posted by TomM





We previously posted on the case here and here and here.

Giuliano Mignini became involved in the Monster of Florence case only years after many people had already come to believe a satanic sect in Florence might be behind the MOF murders. But he pursued it with a vengeance when a body that in 1985 mysteriously washed up on the shore of a lake in his jurisdiction showed signs of murder.

And when the crime fiction writer Doug Preston injected himself into the case under a pseudonym and appeared to be planting evidence, Mignini gave him a very brief shaking up and Preston timidly removed himself from the case and from Italy - to turn to inventing a whole lot of fiction about it from safely across the Atlantic. 

Here now is the fine Italian journalist Adriano Lorenzoni, describing The Strange Conviction of PM Giuliano Mignini by the prosecutor whose frustrated conversation was captured (the recording seemed to prove there was indeed a satanic sect in Florence) in objective terms that prove sympathetic to Mr Mignini.

Translation here is with the kind help of my fellow poster Clander.

The Perugian investigation of the instigators of the crimes of the Monster of Florence has, in effect, been stopped.

In January of 2010 the Public Prosecutor of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, and the former head of the flying squad of Florence, Michele Giuttari, were sentenced by the Court of Florence on the charge of abuse of office in an investigation into some Perugians connected to the “instigators” of the crimes of the Monster of Florence. According to the prosecution’s theory, Mignini and Giuttari illegally wiretapped and investigated journalists and law enforcement officials to influence their activities.

These are abnormal proceedings, since the Public Prosecutor Mignini had been properly authorized by the Investigating Magistrate of Perugia to use wiretaps for his investigation, actions that he had the duty to carry out. Abnormal proceedings also because leading the investigation against Mignini and Giuttari was the same Public Prosecutor’s Office [Procura] that Mignini [PM di Perugia], had investigated the head of, Ubaldo Nanucci. Not by chance did Dr Mignini object to the jurisdiction of that Office [Procura] to carry out the investigation and raise objections of the legitimacy of the judgment. The Court of Appeal of Florence will hear the appeal next November 22 [2011].

This all springs from a recording made by Michele Giuttari of one of his conversations with a Deputy Prosecutor of Florence, Paolo Canessa, in which Canessa states that his boss was not a free man and admits to having been hindered by the then Prosecutor General, Ubaldo Nannucci, regarding the requests of Dr Giuttari into the investigation of the crimes of the Monster of Florence.

Giuttari [then] sent the recording to Mignini, who turned it over to the Prosecutor’s Office of Genoa which had been authorized to investigate the magistrates of Florence. Prosecutor Nannucci was then investigated [verrà  inquisito] for having slowed down, or rather obstructed, the investigation of the Monster of Florence. Genoa promptly dismissed [archivierà ] it.

Giuttari continued to complain to Mignini about the conduct of the police commissioner of Florence, De Donno who, as ordered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, should have set up a new wire tapping room for the GIDES (serial crimes investigative unit) where Giuttari and his men were working [si erano sistemati]. De Donno never set up the new room [cosa che non fa]. Mignini charged him and sent the file to Florence.

A question comes to mind: where is the abuse of office in all of this?

It is also puzzling why there was such an apparent lack of interest in the investigations conducted by Michele Giuttari, even when they are not being obstructed. “The instigators must not be investigated because there are only conjectures, a fruitless waste of time,” Giuttari is told.

Astonishing. As long as the [lowlife] “snack buddies” are being investigated [for the MOF , all is well. It’s fine to investigate Pacciani, Lotti and Vanni; but when the investigation tries to produce greater results [si alza il tiro], problems start to arise. Michele Giuttari was even relieved of his post and transferred.

Prosecutor Mignini’s office is searched and documents from an ongoing investigation into the death of the Perugian doctor Fransesco Narducci are seized, documents which Mignini had without success objected were secret.

Another question comes to mind: why so much fear (in Florence and in Perugia) about the investigation of the death of Francesco Narducci?

According to the Perugian Public Prosecutor [Mignini], Francesco Narducci was connected in some way to the Monster of Florence case.  Giancarlo Lotti, one of the [lowlife] snack buddies, asserted that some doctor was given the amputated parts of a female body, in exchange for money.

Crimes, therefore, on commission [i.e. murder or mayhem for hire] by a doctor. A real doctor, not the mere pharmacist, Francesco Calamandrei, of San Casciano val di Pesa. Among other things, during the investigation it emerged that Calamandrei and Narducci knew one another. Narducci then died in unclear circumstances on October 13, 1985. Drowned in the waters of Lake Trasimeno. One month after the last murder committed by the Monster of Florence.

Suicide was claimed at that time. A truth considerably less than believable. So much so that while the Preliminary Investigations Judge [GIP], Marina De Robertis, dismissed the case for lack of enough evidence [con formula dubitativa] the hypothetical murder case against certain suspects (the journalist Mario Spezi, the pharmacist from San Casciano, Calamandrei, and others) and declared it time-barred, still, evidence exists of other crimes committed at the time: the concealment and abduction of a corpse and the falsification of numerous public records.

Moreover, since last April, we have been waiting to learn the reasoning with which, for different reasons, including claimed lack of evidence, the Preliminary Hearing Judge, Paolo Micheli, acquitted twenty people (including Narducci’s father and brother) of charges of forgery, criminal conspiracy, dereliction of duty, and concealment of a corpse.

Against this decision of the Preliminary Hearing Judge, Public Prosecutor Mignini will most likely file an appeal as soon as the sentencing reports are lodged which should have been lodged last July 20 [2010].

Mignini and Giutarri were acquitted of the charges of abuse of office (and Mignini also of aiding and abetting Giuttari) because it was not proven that any crimes were committed [i fatti non sussistono] (and the Florence Prosecutor’s Office did not appeal).

[The abuse of office charges] related to their so-called parallel investigations to those of the Genoa Prosecutor’s Office, which was investigating the former head of the flying squad of Florence for false acts [falso] due to the recording of the conversation with the deputy [Prosecutor] Canessa (of which we have spoken above) which, according to the indictment, had been tampered with. This investigation then led to the search of the office of the Public Prosecutor of Perugia [Mignini’s office] and the seizure of numerous investigation documents.

Needless to add that the proceedings against Giuttari and the two police officers concluded with a judgment of non-suit for absolute lack of foundation of fact, as proclaimed by the Genoan Preliminary Hearing Judge Roberto Fenizia. The “aberrant” conviction of Giuliano Mignini does not have immediate disciplinary consequences of any kind. The disciplinary proceeding is in fact suspended until the resolution of the criminal case on which it depends.

And Public Prosecutor Mignini is able to continue to carry out his functions, in trials of great importance and of international interest, such as that relating to the death of the English student, Meredith Kercher.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Trial Hearing Scheduled For Sollecito Family Charges Of Perversion Of Justice

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Raffele Sollecito’s father Dr Francesco Sollecito who is a urologist practicing in Bari]

Update: Italian media sites are reporting that the new trial date for the Sollecitos is 28 March as the investigating judge Alberto Avena has commitments outside Perugia. The prosecutors are Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Handy. The Sollecito defense team is Marco Brusco, Francesco Crisis, Luca Maori and Donatella Donati.

There should be a hearing in Perugia in the case against the Sollecito family on Thursday.

Francesco (Sollecito’s father), Vanessa (his sister), Mara (his stepmother) Giuseppe (his uncle) and Sara (his aunt) all of Bari have been charged with leaking a crime scene video out of the 10,000-plus pages plus of evidence and exhibits to Telenorba, a Bari television station.

It was an apparent attempt to discredit the investigators although the video backed that claim weakly if at all. The video included deeply upsetting closeups of Meredith’s uncovered body and the wounds to her neck. It was later re-broadcast by the state network RAI throughout Italy.

Richard Owen of the London Times in an article no longer online described the Telenorba and RAI broadcasts as follows.

Relatives of Meredith Kercher, the British student murdered in Perugia in November, were said to be shocked and distressed last night after images of her bloodied corpse were broadcast on Italian television…

Telenorba, which showed the footage late at night, warned viewers that it was disturbing and suitable only for adults. It showed police scientists in white protective clothing pulling back the duvet to reveal Ms Kercher’s body and slashed throat, and turning the corpse over to examine her bloodied back.

Her eyes were covered by a mask. RAI did not include this part of the footage in its news broadcasts.



[Above Raffaele Sollecito with his sister Vanessa Sollecito who was fired late in 2009 by the Carabinieri]

This is a translation by Jools of an April 2009 report in La Nazione.

The prosecutor of Perugia has served notice of the completion of four investigations into Raffaele Sollecito’s family members and two journalists of the TV station Telenorba on the transmission of a forensic video in which the body of Meredith Kercher wa shown…

The report on the investigations (usually a prelude to a request for trial) indicates crimes were committed of defamation, invasion of privacy, publication of arbitrary acts of investigation and publication of gruesome acts.

According to the reconstruction by the Perugia prosecutor, the father and sister of Raphael Sollecito had legitimately obtained the scientific survey of the police, and had then illegally provided it to Telemundo.

The report also cites a journalist and the editor of Panorama for the publication of an article in which they reported that blood samples from Meredith had revealed an alcohol concentration above the legal norm - implying she was drunk when she was killed. This claim was proved a lie in the course of the forensic tests.

And this is a translation by Jools of an AGI news-service report of April 2009 also no longer online.

Eight “notices of termination of the investigations” have been reported by the public prosecutor of Perugia…  Four Sollecito family members, the TV journalist on Telenorba and the director of the station, are accused of the crimes of defamation, invasion of privacy, publication of documents during the investigation, and publication of gruesome acts….

According to the reconstruction, the Sollecito family members delivered to Telenorba the video and photos of the crime scene survey carried out by the forensic team on November 2 of 2007 in Meredith’s house. Telenorba then put the material on the air.

Other investigations are on-going.

The family members are all also charged with an attempt to manipulate the Knox-Sollecito trial through the political process. There is said to be evidence wiretaps capturing them trying to get family friends in the Italian parliament in Rome to have several senior investigators removed from the case.

Vanessa Sollecito was fired from the Carabinieri late in 2009 for her involvement in this attempt to manipulate politicians, and we believe she still faces a further internal Carabinieri hearing. 



[Above: the town of Bari in south-east Italy where ferries depart for the east Adriatic coast and Greece]


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Elisa Benedetti: Another Sad And Unneccesary Death Of A Young Woman Living In Perugia

Posted by catnip


About our series

This is another in our occasional series of posts on crimes involving young women in Perugia.

It shows how trouble and death so easily overwhelmed the vivacious Elisa, how drugs and drug dealers may have played a role, how the authorities handled Elisa’s disappearance, and how caring Perugia yet again rallied round.

Who was Elisa?

Elisa Benedetti was a 25 year old student and call-centre operator and lived in Città  di Castello with her father Osvaldo, 51, and younger brother. Her mother had died two months previously.

The disappearance

On Saturday night, 29 January 2011, Elisa Benedetti, 25, out drinking with friends, disappeared into the dark wilderness north of Perugia. The car she was driving became bogged down on a muddy track.

She called the emergency number. She was lost, confused and frightened.

Eventually, the phone batteries gave out. It was icy cold and wet, mud everywhere. Around midday on the following Monday, her body was found about a kilometre from the abandoned car.

She had died from exposure to the cold.


Click here for the rest


Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Don’t Perpetrators Say They’re Sorry? A Psychoanalytic Perspective

Posted by Carol Poole


[Image: In downtown Leeds, a city in which Meredith was extremely happy]

A disclaimer: I do not intend these remarks as commentary on any specific individual(s). I’m offering them as food for thought, for anyone who (like me) struggles to understand both the human capacities for destruction and for healing

Why don’t abusers apologize when they’re caught? Even when it would be in their own best interest to show remorse?

Of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes people own their crimes and take responsibility. The less shameful the crime, the more likely this is. As Johnny Cash sang, “I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die.” When he sang at Folsom Prison, no doubt his audience nodded along, sharing a general sense that shooting or getting shot in a bar is the kind of thing that any man might find himself doing on a bad day.

But no one sings about molesting a child. Or rape. Even the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, was offended when officers suggested he had raped the women he murdered—women, most of them young, all of them working the hardest of jobs and deserving much better.

So there are some crimes that no one brags about—or apologizes for, either, which is a shame, since the survivors and loved ones are left to try to understand what has happened. In my work as a psychotherapist for trauma and abuse survivors, I seek answers for this difficult question: how can people do such terrible things to others, and show no remorse?

This is especially hard when the perpetrator seems like a nice, “normal” person, a respected member of society. We can more easily understand when an act of violence is committed by someone in the grip of a psychotic delusion. It’s just a terrible accident then, a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Likewise, we don’t lose sleep trying to understand a coldly sociopathic attack: we don’t have to wonder why a mugger steals a purse.

But it baffles and hurts us deeply when someone we should have been able to trust commits violence against one of us. Especially when the crime is covered up by denial, adding injury to injury by robbing the injured parties of something they need in order to heal: acknowledgment of the truth of what’s happened.

Dori Laub, a psychoanalyst who survived a childhood in concentration camps in the Holocaust, observed that when our faith in goodness is shattered, we feel abandoned by the world of goodness, and lost in a kind of desert of the soul, a deathly state that feels empty of all life except for the malign presence of the perpetrator.

And he pointed out something he must have learned by experience: there is something about trauma that messes with our ability to recognize it when it’s happening. Our minds sometimes cannot see it, refuse to put together the picture that is right in front of our eyes, perhaps because we fear that if we see the truth, it will destroy our hope that the world is the good place we need it to be.

This, I believe, is why good people sometimes collude with abuse by refusing to see it. The refusal is happening at such a deep instinctive level that it’s rarely an entirely conscious choice.

And in a sense, it’s also why perpetrators of the worst crimes so rarely own what they’ve done. Research has shown that abusers have a curious relationship with remorse: they may have formidable defenses against feeling guilt, which is feeling bad about what you’ve done. But they are highly prone to shame, which is feeling bad about who or what you are.

The kind of people who are most likely to abuse others are those who are absorbed by a damaged sense of self. They lash out in a crude effort to fend of feelings of being bad, in a kind of magical thinking: If I put the badness in you, it won’t be in me anymore. If I make you hurt, then I won’t have to hurt. To a very childish state of mind, to hurt is to be bad. We all make that equation when we’re very small, but most of us grow a mature sense of self that integrates our many different feelings into a whole picture.

Having a mature sense of self means being able to say, “I sometimes do things that aren’t good. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is. At least I can try to repair the harm I’ve done, and learn not to do it again.” The same sense of integration is what prevents us from acting out our worst impulses. We can safely want to strangle people from time to time, knowing we will never do it.

When someone’s sense of self is so badly damaged that they can be violently abusive, they aren’t able to hold together a whole story about themselves, or about what they’ve done. It’s only after years of therapy (or other means of growth) that such a person might become able to really put together the picture of their own violence, and take responsibility for their actions.

Which means that people who have been harmed by violence have to find ways to take care of themselves and heal, even though the perpetrator has an infuriating, baffling way of seeming not to have been there at all. It’s as though nothing happened.

It’s natural to wish that the perpetrator would be sorry. It would help so much to hear their apology. But there’s a trap, too, in waiting for help from that quarter. It’s no good trying to get such a person to hear you or understand that gravity of what they’ve done. It’s like trying to get a clear reflection out of the fragments of a shattered mirror.

Instead, what helps survivors and loved ones heal is to tend their souls, and work their way back toward everything that makes life full: love, trust, gratitude, hope. Which means finding a way to grieve the losses.

We don’t grieve in the cold shadows of the death zone; we grieve when we remember our love and our hope for the future.

It helps to have a sense of community acknowledging our loss. It helps if we can find a way to bring something good out of the devastation—if we can at least bring some meaning to the loss by letting the tragedy inspire us to do good.

It’s only at the end of the movie, when the mother and child embrace, that we can let down and weep for everything they had to go through to find each other again, and weep too for the ones we miss.


Friday, November 26, 2010

More On Motive: Some Of The Cases Of “Nice” Girls Who Killed With Little Or No Motive At All

Posted by The Machine



[Above: One of the Manson girls’ murder victims, Hollywood film star Sharon Tate]

The conspiracy theorists trying so hard to spring Amanda Knox now have about zero credibility - because they can’t field even one good expert that any other expert respects. 

The various claims of their various faux experts about this or that aspect of the evidence having been mishandled or misread or contaminated lack the one really crucial element. ANY real evidence.

And NOT ONE Italian interrogator or investigator or prosecutor has been proved to have done even one thing wrong with intent.  Which seems these days to be making the conspiracy theorists more and more shrill in their claims.

An ex campus security guard Steve Moore is now one of the shrillest faux experts - but the conspiracy theorists still seem to think he is their great ace in the hole.

Steve Moore is not exactly what we might call competent as a real-crime-scene investigator. He seemingly can’t get even one core fact right and his knowledge of the Micheli and Massei reports are absolutely abysmal.

Few of this faux expert’s claims arouse more ridicule and sardonic contempt than one sweeping claim made to any lazy and gullible reporter who will listen - Ann Curry, Linda Byron and Steve Shay, for example.

The claim that there is some standard profile for women who kill. And that well-bred educated middle-class girls like Amanda Knox do not fit “it”. That profile.

So it is impossible that they would ever kill.

In an interview with Anne Curry on NBC the faux expert actually claimed: ““This was an honor student; she is not a violent person….  What they are alleging is that she not only helped assault the roommate, but stabbed her in the throat. That kind of deviant, violent behavior doesn’t go unnoticed for 18, 19, 20 years. Some things leak out; you see some episodes, some indication that this person has issues.”

Actually she DID have issues.

Their faux expert clearly does not know the history of Amanda Knox very well. She seems to have started putting out warning calls for help from around the age of four, and there are a number of stories about her quirks and her drugs up to when she left for Perugia.

In this piece, we will look at some some high-profile murder cases in America, Italy and New Zealand involving seemingly normal young women with profiles not unlike Amanda Knox who suddenly committed horrific and senseless murders.



[Above: Laurie Ann Swank’s victim, hotel night clerk Janet Chandler]

USA: Laurie Ann Swank

If anyone thinks the idea that a woman would arrange for men to sexually assault and murder her friend and roommate is totally far-fetched and beyonds the realms of possibility, they should read about the Janet Chandler case.

In January 1979, Laurie Ann Swank held a position of responsibility, working as the manager of the Blue Mill Inn in Holland, Michigan. She was also the roommate and friend of Janet Chandler, a 23-year-old student who worked as a desk clerk at the hotel. 

Laurie Ann Swank lured Janet Chandler to a “party” where she was tied to a chair and raped and tortured for hours by five security guards who were staying at the Blue Mill Inn. After Janet Chandler had been gang raped, she was strangled and her body was dumped on the side of Interstate 196.

The officers involved in the case concluded that Laurie Swank orchestrated the attack on Janet Chandler out of envy and jealousy “to teach her a lesson.” The motive behind this vicious murder was actually admitted by Swank to have been petty jealousy, especially over a boy. She actually watched while Janet was raped and then strangled with a belt.



[Above: Two more of the Manson girls victims Leno and Rose Labianca ]

USA: Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel

Steve Moore seems to think that honor students are incapable of committing murder. His apparent refusal to believe that someone who is from a respectable background and well-educateed could be involved in murder is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Vincent Bugliosi was the chief prosecutor in the Manson trial. He has pointed out that the backgrounds of the Manson killers terrified America precisely because they were from fairly good backgrounds and that many people refused to believe they could be involved. Vincent Bugliosi, chief prosecutor in the Charlie Manson case:

The other thing that terrified the nation so much is when the identity of the killers became known. And who were they? Young kids from average American homes with fairly good backgrounds. There was a feeling that this could be our own children.

Tex Watson, Manson’s “chief lieutenant” at the murder scene, was from Farmersville, Texas, hometown of World War II hero Audie Murphy. Watson was a football, basketball, and track star. He had almost an A average in high school. And when the people in Farmersville learned he was being charged with these murders, the general consensus was this is absolutely impossible, it must be a case of mistaken identity.

Patricia Krenwinkel””another one of the main killers””her father was an insurance executive; she sang in the church choir; got good grades in school; at one time she even wanted to attend a Jesuit college in Alabama. Leslie Van Houten””another killer””she was a homecoming princess at Monrovia High School here in L.A.



[Above: Manson girl Squeaky Fromm attempted to murder President Gerald Ford]

Leslie Van Houten was an honor student and a homecoming queen. She came from a middle class background; her father was an auctioneer and her mother was a school teacher.

In 1968, she joined Charlie Manson’s family. She was not involved in the vicious killings at Roman Polanski’s home - which upset her - but she took part in the savage murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.  She along with Patricia Krenwinkel attacked and stabbed Rosemary LaBianca. Van Houten tied the electrical cord from a lamp around La Bianca’s neck and put a pillow case over her head before stabbing her 16 times in the lower back.

Patricia Krenwinkel came from a fairly normal background. Her father was an insurance salesman. She graduated from high school and then attended a Catholic college for a semester before moving in with her sister. In 1967, she met Charles Manson when he was visiting her sister.

Krenwinkel participated in the Tate and LaBianca murders. She stabbed Abigail Folger more than 70 times. When the police found Folger’s body, they thought she was wearing a red dress.

Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel are currently serving life sentences for the Tate and Labianca murders. They are still being denied parole 40-plus years later.

USA: Amy Bishop

Dr. Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated neurobiologist, inventor and mother of four, went on a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama. 

Amy Bishop had already shot and killed her 18-year old brother, with a shotgun, during an argument in 1986. Bishop claimed it was an accident and no charges were filed then - but 24 years later, charges were indeed filed.

According to witnesses, Amy Bishop later killed three professors and wounded three others during a meeting at the University of Alabama. They said that she sat through the first 30 minutes of the meeting and then pulled out a 9mm handgun and opened fire until the weapon jammed or ran out of bullets.



[Above: Karla Homolka murdered her own sister Tammy and and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French]

Canada: Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo

Karla Homolka was the oldest child of three. She was regarded as well-adjusted and intelligent. She was a popular child who received plenty of love and attention from her family and friends. She loved animals and after high school she went to work at a veterinary clinic.

When she was 17, Karla Homolka attended a pet convention and met 23-year-old Paul Bernado. They soon discovered they shared the same sado-masochistic tendencies.

On 23 December 1990, Homolka and Bernado gave alcoholic drinks spiked with halcyon to Homolka’s 15-year-old sister, Tammy, at a Christmas party. They took her to the basement and Homolka held a cloth soaked with Halothane to Tammy’s mouth until she became unconscious. Bernado and Homolka then raped her. Tammy choked on her own vomit as she was being raped.

On 15 June 1991, Bernado kidnapped Lesle Mahaffy and took her to the couple’s home, where they repeatedly raped over a number of days. The couple videotaped many of the assaults. They then killed Mahaffy and cut her body into pieces and encased the pieces in cement.

On 16 April 1992, they kidnapped 15-year-old Kristen French and took her to their home and videotaped themselves torturing and sexually assaulting her. The couple killed French before they left for Easyer Sunday dinner with Homolka’s family.

Karla Homolda was convicted for her role in the raping, torturing and killing her own sister, Tammy and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. She was released from prison after serving 12 years in prison. Paul Bernado is still in prison.

There are videos on the seeming normality of very dangerous people like these two here and here.



[Above: Julet Hume who with Pauline Parker battered Pauline’s mother to death]

New Zealand: Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker

Juliet Hulme was the daughter of Dr. Henry Hulme, an eminent physicist and a rector at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In 1954, Juliet Hulme and her friend, Pauline Parker, battered Parker’s mother, Honora Rieper, to death with half a brick in a lisle stocking. At the trial, it was revealed that Honora Rieper had been subjected to a sustained and brutal attack. Hulme and Parker had planned to murder Parker’s murder because they didn’t want to be separated.

After the murder, Parker and Hulme ran to a nearby tea shop, upset and covered in blood, claiming that Pauline’s mother had slipped and fallen.

Honora Rieper had 45 separate wounds on her head. The torn blood-soaked stocking with the brick in it was found nearby.

Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker were found guilty of murder.



[Above: Kelly Ellard was convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk]

Canada: Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski

Kelly Ellard came from a middle class family and lived in a well-to-do neighborhood.

In 1997, she and Warren Glowatski murdered convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk, who was the 14-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants. Ellard and six other teenage girls beat up Reena under a bridge. Ellard and Glowatski then dragged Reena to the other side of the bridge and beat her for a second time. It is believed that Ellard forced Reena’s head under the water and held it there until she stopped struggling.

Kelly Ellard was sentenced to life imprisonment for the second-degree murder of Reena Virk on 20 April 2000. . A second trial in 2004 ended in a hung jury. The Supreme Court of Canada reinstated the second degree murder conviction against Ellard in 2009. Warren Glowatski was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999. Six girls aged between 14 and 16 were sentenced in 1998 for their roles in the initial attack.

Next year Kelly Ellard will apply for parole. Reena’s parents are still waiting for any sign of remorse or sorrow for their loss.



[Above: Nadia Roccia was murdered by her friends Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica]

Italy: Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica

Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica lured their school friend Nadia Roccia to Botticelli’s home with the excuse of doing homework together and then they killed her. It was their second attempt as The Independent reports.

They turned off the lights and Sica began strangling her with a scarf. Botticelli urged her to pull it tighter and kicked Roccia in the stomach. Once satisfied she was dead, they looped a rope around her neck to simulate hanging…

The mother of Nadia Roccia yelled “Bravi ... finally justice for Nadia” as the sentences were read out. In imposing the toughest sentence, the court accepted the prosecution argument that the crime had been “premeditated, ferocious and for futile motives”.

Investigators are still at a loss to uncover a motive for the murder - with theories ranging from Satanic sects to prostitution rings. The pair appeared in court only once, but refused to answer questions and never showed any repentance.

It was discovered that the pair had tried to murder Roccia several months earlier. They offered her a cola drink laced with rat poison, but she refused to drink it. They made her sign a blank sheet on which they later typed a fake suicide note. “I am lesbian and in love with my best friend, that is you, my sweetest Anna Maria ... unfortunately you like men but soon you won’t have to worry about my jealousy any more,” read the note found by Roccia’s body.

Anna Maria Botticelli and Sica, both now 20, heard the sentence on television from their cell in Foggia, 90 miles from Naples. In jail they have completed their high-school leaving exam and are now studying law and economics.

Before Wednesday’s verdict Botticelli’s father pleaded: “I beg you on my knees to give these two girls a chance.”

There was widespread disbelief that Botticelli and Mariena Sica could be guilty of such a horrific murder because they were normal girls from respectable backgrounds. It was only after they were recorded admitting that they were involved, that many people acknowledged their guilt.



[Above: Erika de Nardo at letf with dark hair murdered her mother and brother]

Italy: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro

Erika de Nardo came from a wealthy middle class family - her father was a factory manager and her mother was an accountant - and she grew up in an affluent part of Novi Ligure in Italy. From Wikipedia:

The crime scene, indeed, didn’t suggest a robbery: doors and windows weren’t forced and nothing precious had been stolen. Neighbours noticed nothing unusual and De Nardo’s dogs didn’t bark all evening long. Moreover, Susy and Gianluca had been over-killed (medical examiner counted almost 100 brutal wounds on their corpses), while young Erika was safe and didn’t exactly seem shocked.

She immediately described the presumed aggression she faced, but her version of the facts was full of contradictions. Policemen showed her several mugshots and she “recognized” without any doubt an Albanian teenager named Cezar: the boy was immediately interrogated but proved he had an alibi. Erika stated that she ran away from the garage’s door, but police easily observed that her footprints didn’t mark a run: in fact, she had walked quietly.

Some close friends described the 16-year-old girl as a neglectful, pampered girl, recalled she often squabbled with her parents because of her bad school marks and because her new boyfriend, a bully named Omar Favaro, was someone her mother disliked.

Investigators found Erika’s diary in her bedroom. It was full of terrible sentences such as “That damn child (her brother) made me angry today and I beat him… ” or “This is the end, Mommy, I hate you” or “However we know that everything will be finished by death” and so on. Two days later, Erika and Omar Favaro (a 17-year-old) were left alone in a room at the police station where some hidden microphones and a camera recorded their shocking confession.

It is reported that Erika even performed the very scene of the stabbing and whispered: “I hit her (referring to her mother) right here…” and recalled: “My brother was so strong, he didn’t want to die… he fought so much… was as strong as a bull… oh my God, he was my little brother! He was just eleven years old!” and later ironically asked Omar: “You enjoyed yourself by killing them, didn’t you?”.

But Omar was upset: “You don’t understand, Erika, this is not a game… two people have died… we do risk a life sentence for this!” whispered “Come here, you, murderer!” the boy screamed while shaking her. The girl stated: “I hate my mom, I hate my brother and if you keep on saying this I’ll hate you too! They (policemen and judge) can’t do anything, there are no evidences, they are to believe me!”

De Nardo’s false claim about Albanians (shades of Amanda Knox) caused immense collateral damage. There was an anti-immigrant outcry with Italian newspapers articles demanding a crackdown on illegal immigrants, and anti-immigration demonstrations.

Erika de Nardo drew only a short sentence as a minor and is due to be released in 2012. Omar Fasaro was released a few months ago.



[Above: Erika de Nardo murdered her mother and brother, above]

*******

There are some clear parallels between the Meredith Kercher case and the cases above. There was widespread disbelief that some of the highlighted killers were capable of committing brutal murders.

Like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, many of these killers attempted to derail the police investigation. And nearly all these murderers came from respectable, middle class backgrounds, were well-educated and had no previous history of violence.

Real experts know that it is indisputable that murderers come from all walks of life. The motives behind the horrific murders described above are beyond the comprehension of any normal person, and in some of these cases a motive was never uncovered.

The claims of faux experts like Steve Moore that Amanda Knox is innocent because she doesn’t fit the profile of a someone who would kill in a violent rage are in fact the complete opposite of true.



[Above: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro after their arrest in Italy]


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #10: The Chief Suspect Sonia’s Boyfriend Now Certain To Stand Trial

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Sonia’s sister Anna moved to Perugia from south-east Italy to wage a persistent campaign]

Indicted chief suspect in Sonia’s possible murder Umberto Bindella is still out on bail, but lacking his passport so that he gets no ideas of fleeing.

He did flee a few months ago and ended up with his car down a steep slope below a highway a few miles south of Perugia. He sat in the car all night, maybe shocked, maybe despondent, maybe suicidal, and he and the car were hauled back up to the highway the following morning.

One theory is that Sonia may have told Bindella she was pregnant and an angry Bindella physically attacked her. The main basis for considering Bindella as a suspect is some phone calls he made on the night, the contents (if recorded) of which have not been made public and the reasons for the calls not explained, plus also other subsequent behavior. 

The Perugia police and lab people and prosecutors and investigating judge have all been ultra-cautious in pursuing the case, as a body that could be Sonia Marra’s has never been found, and in this case unlike Meredith’s the evidence really is quite thin.

Several weeks ago, the results of some court-mandated forensic tests on a jacket Bindella was wearing on the night Sonia disappeared came back, and there was a court hearing for the announcement of the results.

The report from Leggo Italia.

No traces of organic material, female DNA or blood were found on the jacket seized from Umberto Bindella, the thirty-one-year-old accused of killing Sonia Marra, the Perugian student from Puglia who disappeared four years ago….

According to the reconstruction in the indictment against Bindella, who is claiming no wrongdoing,  he wore the jacket on the evening when Sonia Marra had disappeared.

The deposition of the expert lasted only a few minutes. According to the defence lawyers Daniela Paccoi and Silvia Egidi, “this is yet another proof of innocence.” of their client.

Prosecutors Giuseppe Petrazzini and Angela Avila have asked for a trial of Bindella. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Quotidiano di Puglia reported on that second hearing.

The family of Sonia Marra, a student who disappeared into thin air in Perugia four years ago, formed a civil party to the preliminary hearings that began today before the GUP of Perugia, in which Umberto Bindella may be charged with killing the young woman and concealing her corpse with an accomplice, Dario Galluccio, who works in the banking industry.

Family members were represented by advocate Alessandro Vesi. Bindella, 31, was present in court today as were Sonia’s parents, her two brothers and her sister Anna. The hearing was postponed until February 7 when the prosecutor’s request for a trial of the accused will be decided upon.

A careful process where again the judges are showing no bias toward the prosecution. To the contrary, putting it through the same hoops Meredith’s case was put through.

Nevertheless Bindella seems certain to be facing a trial early in 2012.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Corruption Of Appeal: Angry Top Criminal Judge Chiari Is Blatantly Forced Aside

Posted by Peter Quennell




Very Dirty Business

Only one month ago Umbria’s top criminal judge Sergio Matteini Chiari was to preside.

Now a very angry Judge Chiari has been forced aside with no public explanation from Chief Judge De Nunzio [image below] as to why.

A wildly wrongly qualified judge, Hellmann, a business judge with just two criminal trials in his past, both fiascos, mysteriously takes his place.

Rumors of foul play are appearing in the Italian media. Has Chief Judge De Nunzio been leaned upon politically? Do big bucks or rogue masons have any role in this?

Click here for the rest


Friday, July 02, 2010

Italy’s LA7 Is Running A Series On The Rare Phenomenon For Italy Of Female Criminality

Posted by Peter Quennell


Italy’s LA7 network is running a five-part series on notorious crimes in Italy involving women.

Compared to the US and most of Europe, Italy has only a small fraction of its population in prison at any one time. And an even smaller percentage of its female population. The involvement of women in serious crimes is rare in Italy - and the subject of considerable public interest. 

The first segment (which is not yet on YouTube, although we have hopes that it will be) two weeks ago focussed on Amanda Knox’s involvement in the murder of Meredith. It was very highly rated.

The excellent American reporter Andrea Vogt was a main presenter, as she is throughout the LA7 series, and the Knox segment included interviews with Prosecutor Mignini and the lawyers for Knox and the other two perps.

The third segment, which aired this week, involved Antonella Conserva. You can see her in the image above and briefly in the LA7 report in Italian below.

She is married to Mario Alessi, who claimed earlier this year, to wide ridicule, that he had encountered Rudy Guede in prison, and that Guede had thoughtfully shared with him that Knox and Sollecito were not at the scene of Meredith’s murder.   

Antonella Conserva and her husband, Mario Alessi were convicted four years ago of the kidnapping and murder of a baby (“Tommy”) and, although she was not even present when her husband murdered Tommy, she was sentenced to 30 years.

That is generally accepted in Italy as a reasonable sentence. This could be the new sentence for Amanda Knox, revised upward from 26 years, that the prosecution might win on appeal.

Absent any confession and show of contrition, which seems to us the smart way for Amanda Knox to go, reaction in Italy would probably be neutral or positive.

Like the name “Tommy” everyone in Italy knows the name “Meredith” and no last name is required. Speak up, Amanda.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

CNN Report On The Money Transfers That Bankrolled Van Der Sloot’s Trip To Lima

Posted by Peter Quennell


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #9: Extreme Caution Over Non-Repetitive Testing In Sonia’s Case Too

Posted by Peter Quennell


It will be interesting to see if the defense observer ducks out of this examination in this case too.

La Nazione/Umbria describes a hearing last Monday in Perugia on the jacket the chief suspect was perhaps wearing on the night Sonia disappeared.

Together in the same courtroom without a word spoken between them.

On the one hand, Anna, the sister of Sonia Marra, the student from Puglia who disappeared from Perugia in November 2006. On the other hand, Umberto Bindella, who is accused of killing the girl and concealing her body.

At this preliminary hearing, Judge Carla Giangamboni fixed the date on which the police investigations will start on the jacket seized from the suspect.

Professor Giuseppe Novelli is the expert appointed by the court, the task of checking whether there are biological traces of organic material possibly due to Sonia Marra.

Prosecutor Joseph Petrazzini agreed to carry out investigations into the black jacket Bindella was wearing when first arrested, three years earlier, after the death of Sonia, in response to defense attorney Daniela Paccoi, who request the forensic examination.

They will be carried out in the laboratories of the faculty of medicine at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. The garment examination will begin on June 7.

Following the tests for the defense will Dr. James D’Agostaro, an expert in genetics…

Bindella had been in prison but he was released by the magistrate [judge Micheli] who concluded the investigators had not proved ‘serious indications of guilt’.

The jacket is now an object of tug of war between the prosecution and defense. It was confiscated by agents of the police post from the closet of Bindella before his arrest.

It was ‘“similar to that worn by the unknown assailany,” said a girl, a neighbor of Specchia student, who claims to have seen a man enter the apartment in via Purgotti where Sonia lived.

In that house biological traces of Bindella [Sonia’s former boyfriend] and the vicrim were found.


Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #8: Bindella Hearing Tomorrow - Prosecutor Won’t Ask For Incarceration

Posted by Peter Quennell


Our previous posts are here. There is a surprise move in the case.

The prosecutor leading the Sonia Marra investigation, Joseph Petrazzini, has withdrawn his appeal to the court of review against the decision of the investigating judge, Paolo Micheli, to release Sonia’s boyfriend, Umberto Bindella, pending further investigations.

The scheduled hearing on this appeal will still be held tomorrow in Perugia, but it is expected that all that will happen is that the withdrawal of the prosecutor’s appeal will be noted. So Bindella will continue living at home.

Two reasons for this are being hypothesized. One, that Bindella won some sympathy when he recently disappeared and drove his car down a steep slope. He did not really seem to have the makings of a great getaway artist.

And two, that there may be problems with such evidence as there is against him, or possibly a new line of investigation is opening up in this difficult, frustrating case.

Sonia’s sister Anna (right above) is part of a nationwide missing persons support group. Someone she may have known - the mother of a girl, Paola, who disappeared 17 years ago in Turin - has now taken her own life.

Anna remarked in sympathy: “No, I do not think it was hopeless for her I think that she just had not found anyone who listens. That’s what happens all too often to the families of missing persons.”


Friday, April 02, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #7: New Evidence Check And Decision Soon On Umberto Back In Custody

Posted by Tiziano



[click for larger image]

Sonya’s is the other recent case of a woman student in Perugia who ended up in harm’s way.

In Italy this case gets as much attention as Meredith’s case, in part because Sonya is also very appealing, and in part because here to there seems to have been such callous cruelty.

You can read our previous posts here concluding with her boyfriend’s strange disappearance - the image above is when Umberto Bindella reappeared, out of his vehicle which had plunged down a slope, perhaps with suicidal intentions. 

Tam Tam is now reporting new developments. This is translated from the Italian:

Developments in the Sonia Marra - Umberto Brindella case.

A jacket belonging to the young man from Marsciano will be subjected to precise scientific analyses in the next few days; on the other hand, a decision on the appeal against his release from prison is expected on May 7th.

On April 7th the scientific analyses on a jacket of Umberto Bindella, the young man from Marsciano under investigation for the disappearance of the student Sonia Marra, will be carried out.

The investigators therefore are continuing to sound out the relations between the two.

On the other hand, the hearing of the Tribunal to examine the Proscutor’s appeal on the merits of the provision to release Bindella from prison is set down for May 7th.

The regional TV news in its afternoon edition also referred to talk about a failure to find telephone records between Bindella and Ms Marra.

This fact is said not to have repercussions on the investigation, but would add another “mystery” to the whole business.


Monday, March 01, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #6: The Sole Suspect Goes Missing For Several Days

Posted by Tiziano


We have posted several times previously on the case of Sonia Marra, a missing and possibly murdered Perugia student.

Her boyfriend Umberto Bindella (above after being found) is the sole suspect. On March 12th the Review Court will decide on the appeal by Prosecuting Magistrate Giuseppe Petrazzini against Umberto Bindella’s recent release from Capanne Prison, where he was being held while police investigations were advancing.

Terni In Rete reported a couple of days ago that Umberto Bindella had gone missing for several days and there was a fear that he might have caused himself harm .

BINDELLA FOUND. “THEY HAVE RUINED MY LIFE AND CONTINUE TO DO SO”

FEBRUARY 28TH 2010 18.08 HOURS

By Adriano Lorenzoni

Bindella has been seen in the woods near Deruta in the vicinity of the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Baths.

UPDATE: The Carabinieri from Deruta have found Umberto Bindella in the woods around Deruta, near the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Baths. According to the first reports it has been learnt that Bindella was found in a confused state.  His vehicle was bogged down in a pool of mud. His parents and his lawyer, Daniela Paccoi rushed to the spot.  Bindella himself exchanged a few words with journalists to whom he insisted that he had absolutely nothing to do with the disappearance of Sonia Marra.

“They have ruined my life and continue to do so.  In reply to the reporters who asked him why he had run away from home, he replied, “I needed a break to think”.  His mother as well repeated that her son was “a victim”.

Lawyer Daniela Paccoi asked for “respect on behalf of the media” for her client.  “Umberto is confused, it’s been two days since he ate, he needs peace.  Perhaps we will give a press conference, for now let’s leave him in peace.”

Umberto Bindella was found safe and sound.  He was seen in the early afternoon by a group of trippers who were on a horse ride through the woods around Deruta.  The Carabinieri who were alerted straight away went to the spot.  First they found Bindella’s car, then they came upon Bindella himself, who was found in good physical conditions.  According to first reports, Bindella is supposed to have told the officers that he had no intention of going home.

During the 48 hours when Bindella left no trace of himself, his parents feared that he could have done himself extreme harm.  He had left papers on his desk in which he expressed his disappointment about justice, holding himself to be its victim….



And La Nazione has the story on what he claimed happened, and Bindella is now back in Perugia. 

Perugia, the finding of Umberto Bindella

Luca Vagnetti

“I didn’t run away, I just needed to be alone and think a bit, away from everyone.” The mystery around the disappearance of Umberto Bindella finished in a little stretch of woods, between Deruta and Casalina.

Deruta, March 1st, 2010 ““ On Friday evening the traces of the 31year-old young man accused of the murder of the student Sonia Marra (missing since November 2006 when she was 25) were lost. 

Yesterday the Carabinieri of the Deruta Branch found him not far from the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Baths, from where it seems that he had not budged in the period of time between his leaving home and his discovery.  Upset and nervous to the point of attacking a photographer, but alive, hidden in a little wood on the edges of the highway in his Honda Jazz, which had ended up accidentally in a ditch.

Therefore the possibility of a tragic final gesture has been averted.  “My family knows that I could never do such a thing,” Bindella said referring to the theory of a suicide which had actually circulated straight after he went away. The arrival of the forces of law and order, of his parents, of his sister and brother-in-law served to calm down the young man, who then vented his feelings into the microphones of the press.

“The system is disgusting” he said “and this event is ruining my life.  I’m not afraid of the trial, I’m afraid of the system; in spite of everything I still trust in justice, I’m ready to defend my honour and to show my innocence.”

Wearing a dark red jumper, blue jeans and black shoes, Bindella let himself go and intensely showed his state of mind.

“They are depriving me of liberty, of dignity, of work and everything.  This whole business is stopping me from living the years between 30 and 40; and once all the accusations against me collapse, nobody will be able to give me back what has been taken away from me.  I am innocent, I reaffirm this, but the system thinks differently: I have clarified my position; I have given all the explanations, everything that I have been asked.”

“I don’t feel like a scapegoat, at the most a victim: the investigations are all going in one direction; they are trying every way to find me guilty, without examining other possibilities.”

Bindella speaks openly of the “obtuseness” of the magistrates, while his mother holds her hand on his shoulder and seems to almost hold up this big man who is almost a foot taller than she is.

“I believe him ““ the woman declares, her eyes dense with emotion and understandable concern ““ because he is a good lad.  He needed to think and probably he could have done so differently; he’s done something foolish, but this going away doesn’t mean anything in itself.”

The tow truck arrives to pull out Bindella’s car, a small crowd gathers on the edge of the road: the young man who wanted to reflect all alone thus finds himself once again with so many eyes directed at him.

Below: Deruta is about 20 minutes drive south of Perugia at the west edge of a forrested area.


 


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #5: Prosecuter Indicates Case Against Sonia’s Lover Is Strong

Posted by Tiziano


Sonia Marra and Meredith Kercher may be the only two women students to meet a brutal and senseless end over a very long period in Perugia.

This case - one of a search for true justice for Sonia - remains a demonstration of the same carefulness of the Perugia judiciary, cool persistence of the police and prosecuting magistrate, and restraint of the Italian press that we have seen in Meredith’s case. 

Last week Umberto Bindella was released from Capanne Prison as a murder suspect and he headed back to his apartment in Perugia. We presumed that Friday’s would be our final post on the case, at least for a while, and that it might never be solved.

Not so fast, it seems.

The prosecuting magistrate has now argued that the judge who released Bindella (Judge Micheli, yes, our Judge Micheli) had not considered new evidence against Bindella seriously enough, and seeks to put Bindella back behind bars to ward off the possibility of his disappearing.

This report on this stand of the prosecutor, which may or may not win out, appeared in today’s La Nazione - Umbria Edition.

THE PM: BINDELLA MUST GO BACK BEHIND BARS

By Erika Pontini

It was on the cards and it has happened: the magistrate Giuseppe Petrazzini wants Umberto Bindella behind bars and has lodged an appeal against the decision of judge Paolo Micheli who decided to free the only person under investigation for the murder of Sonia Marra because, in his opinion, the serious indications of guilt which permit the application of custody on remand were lacking.

“A leap in quality in the consistency and seriousness of the clues had been demonstrated, as evidenced above, precisely in the realisation that he [Bindello - Ed] had allowed himself to make incriminating admissions [to his police officer friend when he was supposed to have said “˜I’ve made a real mess.’-Ed] when he should not have yet known anything about the disappearance of Sonia Marra…. Up until today the clues were lacking that last but essential element.”

It will now be the Perugia Review Tribunal - presided over by Dottoressa Nicla Flavia Restivo - which will decide whether the thirty-one year old from Marsciano must go back to a cell, or whether the prosecution will continue investigations with Bindella out on bail. 

The tribunal should decide within twenty days.

Doubts remain about many of the statements of the person under investigation - this is even the opinion of investigating magistrate Micheli - who probably lied about some of the profiles noted above, both about relations with the girl and about [his friend the financier who provided an alibi - Ed] Galluccio, with whose contribution, whether as a witness or as a co-accused, it is fair to imagine it would be possible to reach concrete results. And the statement of the witness remains valid [the little girl’s - Ed] and has an important circumstantial value.

But in itself it is not sufficient to maintain the restriction on Bindella’s personal liberty.It is reasonable to hold that, on the basis of what has been gathered, he should be tried: but the law requires that he should take part as a free man;  also, the theory that the differences can be resolved between the possible reconstructions of the phone call with [the police officer friend -Ed] through a confrontation between the latter and the person under investigation himself, does not legitimise the continuation of remand in custody, there exists nonetheless a situation of doubt where the general principles of the law bind this judge to resolve in the sense favourable to the accused, who must be permitted to take part in that and other trial activities as a free man.”

Umberto Bindella had been investigated in recent weeks after three years of uninterrupted investigations into the disappearance of the student from Specchia.  On January 18th judge Paolo Micheli, accepting the request of the prosecution, had ordered the measure of remand in custody against the ex forestry worker accused of murder, concealment of a body and the theft of Sonia’s two mobile phones.

After 19 days in a cell and following the application of the defence - Daniela Paccoi and Silvia Egidi - judge Micheli changed his mind and decided on the release of the man under investigation.  The Prosecuting Magistrate, however,  is not convinced by that reasoning and in five pages explains to the Review Court why the thirty (sic) year-old from Marsciano must go back behind bars.



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Meredith’s Perugia #22: Salento In South-Eastern Italy - Where Sonia Came From

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


 


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #4: And Finally The Story Of Sonia’s Still-Unresolved Case In Pictures

Posted by Peter Quennell

Our final post on the Sonia Marra case for now. Click on all for larger images.


Above: Sonia lived in the relatively new and modern Montemorcino area of Perugia at the bottom of the hill below the old town about two kilometers from the town center.

Five minutes walk to the south of her area are the railway station and central police station. Ten minutes to the north is the computer-science department Sollecito attended.


Above: Sonia lived at center-left of this map. Sollecito and Guede lived near top-center. Meredith and Knox lived at center-right, north of the parking facility shown in light blue.

The main University of Perugia campus is at top-center and top-left here, in that steep hillside area in between where Sonia lived and where Sollecito lived.


Above: Looking up at the north of the old city from Sonia’s area down on the flat. Most of the buildings at the top of the shot are part of the University of Perugia.


Above: Again, looking up at north old Perugia. We dont know where Sonia studied - the medical faculty is a long way off, to the north-east of the old town.


Above: These are steps leading down from the university area which, if Sonia walked to and from that area, she would almost certainly have used.


Above: The quiet and elegant neighborhood at the bottom of those stairs, which is about five minutes walk from where Sonia lived.


Above: This is one or two blocks away in the same area. The rents for apartments here are lower than in the old town of Perugia.


Above: Another street in the same area; although there are plenty of cars, most people would enter and exit this quiet area from the south.


Above: This is claimed to be the apartment building where Sonia was living, though the two flags (one of them the EU flag) have us puzzled. 


Above: This is the same apartment building, now from the side, showing at top left what is said to be the apartment from which Sonia disappeared.


Above: This and the shot below show what is said to be the one (rather small) window of Sonia’s apartment that actually had a view, of sorts.


Above: This is another view of the window, with the rolling wooden shutters outside the glass windows found on most modern buildings in Italy.


Above:Two of the Carabinieri officers who were active on the case - all disappearances in Italy are handled by Italy’s national police. 


Above: One of the Perugia offices of the national Carabinieri police from which investigations into missing people are conducted.


Above: Another of the Perugia offices of the national Carabinieri police from which investigations into Sonia’s case took place.


Above: The prosecutors’ office in old Perugia which became involved in the case when it first looked like it might be one of murder.


Above: Another shot of the prosecutors’ office - we believe this is where Mr Mignini can be found, though he is not active on Sonia’s case. 


Above: Another shot of Sonia; her sister Anna said she did not like to be photographed though in many shots she looks nice and appealing.


Above: A shot of Sonia and her mother Lucia who has traveled to Perugia from Specchia several times to help focus attention on her missing daughter.


Above: this is another shot of Sonia’s mother Lucia who is seen here at a special meeting on Sonia of the town council of Perugia.


Above: This is a shot of Sonia’s sister Anna Marra who has now lived in Perugia for three years, she is seen here in a Rome TV studio.


Above: this is another shot of Anna, seen here arranging sacramental candles in front of posters of Sonia and another missing person.


Above: This is said to be one of Sonia’s two brothers; Sonia had two older brothers and this is said to be Giacomo, the second.


Above: This is the catholic cathedral in Sonia’s hometown of Specchia at the very south-east of Italy 4-5 hours drive from Perugia.


Above: This is an aerial image of the coastline - Specchia is a couple of kilometers inland from from these beaches and the many holiday homes.


Above: This is another aerial image of the coastline - it is one arrival area for illegal immigrants who make it across by open boat from north Africa.


Above: This is the lawyer in Perugia who handles legal matters for the Marra family - they pay all of their own legal costs as far as we know.


Above: This is Umberto Bindella who was arrested for murder and last week released; Sonia claimed she loved him, he denied they had had an affair.


Above: Another shot of Umberto Bindella, Sonia’s probable lover, released last week but apparently still suspected, seen here together with his mother.


Above: This is the priest Father Stefano Ciacca who lived and worked at the Cante di Montevecchio and apparently was very friendly with Sonia.


Above: More than three years ago Father Ciacca was arrested for mailing a package of cocaine to himself from Colombia in south America. 


Above: Father Ciacca was sentenced to several years in prison, it is theorized that Sonia might have known something about the drug deal.

That is the reason why Sonia’s sister Anna keeps ringing the Cante di Montevecchio doorbell - only to encounter a complete wall of silence.


Above: This is prisoner Michele Mariucci being interviewed in prison by a TV reporter from a Rome TV network about Father Ciacca and Sonia.


Above: Michele Mariucci has admitted traveling with Father Ciacca to Colombia to mail back cocaine worth several hundred thousand dollars.

The cocaine was mailed to a false name in Perugia and Father Ciacca turned up to collect it, very shortly before Sonia Marra disappeared.

The police knew the package contained cocaine because dogs had identified it when the aircraft carrying it was unloaded at Rome airport. 


Above: This is the Rome TV studio from which the weekly missing-persons program “Chi l’ha visto?” (“Who has seen him/her?”) originates.


Above: This is one of the presenters of the widely-watched missing-persons program; she is seen here interviewing Anna Marra about Sonia.


Above: this is one of the posters with Sonia’s image and an appeal for help which Anna has been taping up for three years around Perugia.


Above: Another of the posters of Sonia, now faded so that the image is not recognizable; about 2000 people are presently missing in Italy.


Above: Some of the 2000 missing are seen here on the “Chi l’ha visto?” website; Sonia’s image can be at the bottom center here. 


Above: Click on Sonia’s image on the “Chi l’ha visto?” website page and this page for her case opens up with some details and four TV videos.


Above: The town council of Perugia held a special session on Sonia last year to keep attention on her and other persons missing.


Above: Another shot of the Perugia town council meeting which Sonia’s mother attended; Italy is nothing if not a caring country.


Above: Sonia is seen here in a video walking through a crowd; this video and some others were shown several times nationally.


Above: Sonia in her bedroom with what was said to be her stuffed cuddly creature and a shot of herself when she was younger.

These four posts on TJMK on Sonia’s case are the only English-language reports to have appeared about her anywhere.

Rest in peace, Sonia. We guess you, too, are never coming back. And may the Marra family of Specchia also arrive at some peace.


Friday, February 12, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #3: The High Standard The Italian Media Have Maintained Throughout

Posted by Tiziano


As with the many hundreds of Italian reports we’ve read on Meredith’s case, the reporting on Sonia Marra’s case has been objective, compassionate, and full of detail.

The tendency to demonize suspects and defendants that seems not uncommon in the UK and US tabloids and on the US TV crime talk-shows has never surfaced in the Sonia Mara case - even though in one respect there might have been some reason: the strange alternative theory of the crime (our next post) involving a drug-dealing priest.

This is quite a high-profile case in Italy for at least three reasons. Sonia disappeared right out of her apartment - she was not in a high-risk place. Sonia’s sister Anna has worked tirelessly in Perugia to keep some public attention on Sonia. And a TV network program and website that tracks hundreds of cases of missing people in Italy has done an excellent job.

This is a sampling of the articles up to where Sonia’s boyfriend or fiance Umberto Bindella was arrested; he was subsequently released again when the judge found the evidence inadequately conclusive. 

1. Translated from a permanent fixture on The RAI Website

The Sonia Marra Disappearance

Sonia Marra is a 25 year-old girl from Puglia who lives in Perugia and is a student in the Faculty of Medicine of this city. 

On November 61th, 2006 her mother called Sonia [from the south-east tip of Italy] as she did every evening, but her mobile phones were turned off.  Alarmed, the woman rang her other daughter, Anna, who lives in Rome with her fiancé, Paolo. 

The two began to ring the young woman from Puglia again and again throughout the night, without however succeeding in tracing her. 

On the morning of November 17th,  Paolo went to the apartment in Perugia where Sonia lived alone. He could not get in. However since there was a strong odour of gas coming from the house, he called the fire brigade, and they broke a window and went in.

There was no trace of the girl in the apartment.  According to a witness, the evening of the disappearance, about 8.00 PM, a car stopped below the dwelling of Sonia.  A man got out from a light-coloured car and went towards the girl’s apartment on the first floor of the premises. 

He opened the door with keys without forcing the lock.  Noises were heard from inside the house; then this individual went out, got into the car and went away.  Many investigations have been made, but there is no trace of the girl.

A murder investigation has been opened on the disapearance.

2. Translated from the RAI Internet site:

An Arrest In The Sonia Marra Case

Perugia, 18/01/2010

In the matter of the investigation into the disappearance of Sonia Marra, a warrant for the arrest and detention on remand of Umberto Bindella was issued during the afternoon. This was confirmed by the man’s lawyer, Daniela Paccoi, to the Italian TV programme and website “Chi l’ha visto?” [“Who has seen him/her?”] 

A civil servant, 31 years old, from Marsciano, Bindella is said to have had a brief romance with the girl, who is from Specchia in the province of Lecce.  He had already been interviewed a few days after the disappearance [of the girl] as a person informed about the facts.

His status had then changed at the end of last November, when he was investigated for murder and the concealment of the student’s body. The Carabinieri of the Perugia contingent and the Communication Police had returned to him after examining the phone records of the girl. 

The investigators also accuse him of the theft of the victim’s mobile phone in order to impede the investigations.

“Chi l’ha visto?” has dealt with the disappearance of the student from Puglia, Sonia Marra, which took place in the Umbrian capita in November 2006, on several occasions.

3. Translated from Terni In Rete

Sonia Marra Case: Umberto Bindella Denies all Accusations

19th January, 2010 at 23.51 Hours by Adriano Lorenzon

Sonia’s sister:“finding her alive is just a heartfelt hope”

According to the Public Prosecutor in Perugia, the parameters of the accusations against Umberto Bindella are quite clear.  Bindella was Sonia Marra’s fiancé.  This relationship is one which the civil servant from Marsciano continues to hotly deny, despite the fact that it is confirmed by numerous phone contacts, and above all, SMS between the two, according to the investigators. 

Furthermore, Bindella is said to have confided in a policeman friend the day after the disappearance of Sonia Marra, a disappearance about which he could not yet have known.  According to the evidence of this police officer,  Bindella is said to have referred to a “mess and something much bigger than you or me”. 

In support of the prosecution theory there is also the evidence of a tenant in the building where Sonia Marra was living.  The woman described a man, seen on the stairs, a description which corresponds to that of Bindella, according to the investigators.  According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, an argument between the two fiancés about the possible pregnancy of Ms Marra degenerated into a murder.

Umberto Bindella’s lawyers disagrees completely.  Accorrding to Silvia Egidi “it is an established fact that there was no pregnancy.  The test was negative, as stated by a nun.”  According to Daniela Paccoi, another defense lawyer, there is no mystery about the confidence made to the police officer friend. “Bindella knew that the carabinieri were looking for him because he knew Ms Marra.”  Paccoi concluded, “This is tortuous explanation of recognised facts.”

Sonia Marra disappeared on November 26th, 2006.  From that day, her family has followed the unfolding investigations in the hope that they would end up in Sonia’s being found alive.  Today Sonia’s sister Anna spoke out, referring explicitly to this hope. 

“Finding her alive,” said Anna, “is only a heartfelt hope.  More realistically, I am waiting to find out where her body is, so it can be brought home.  Sonia did not foresee that she would end as she probably has.”

4. Translated from La Nazione Umbria

Sonia Marra’s Disappearance

Perugia, 19/01/2010

There were several telephone calls and SMS texts between Sonia Marra and Umberto Bindella in the days that preceded the probable death of the student from Puglia, in November 2006.

And ‘the findings from an examination of phone records of the two like those conducted by the postal police in any investigation has led to the arrest of the thirty-one year old Marsciano employee on charges of murder and concealment of a corpse (not yet found).

The mobile phone of the twenty-five-year-old of Specchia (Lecce) has never been found. But the findings showed that it was turned off on the afternoon of her disappearance and was never turned on again.

In the investigation conducted by the Postal Police and the Carabinieri, coordinated by the prosecutor of Perugia, it has been suggested that Bindella had a romantic relationship with Marra. In particular, the student - the investigators believe - was particularly infatuated with him.

According to the reconstruction in the charge accusing Bindella, the disappearance and murder of Sonia Marra could be linked to a discussion about a possible pregnancy of the young student. Among the elements of the accusation against Bindella is a statement quoted by a policeman friend of his:’‘I’ve made a big mess.’’

The order is for remand in custody assuming risk of escape. Bindella, already interrogated in the past by investigators, has always denied any responsibility in the disappearance of the young woman. He also claimed that he had a romantic relationship with her but it was simple knowledge.

One of the central points of the reconstruction in the charge made on the basis of investigations conducted by police is a confidence picked up by a policeman friend of Bindella whereby the employee, the day after the disappearance of Marra, made reference to ‘‘something bigger than you and me.’’ And at that moment the young man - argued the prosecution - could not yet know that the student was no more in touch.

Another element is the description given by one of the tenants of a man seen on the stairs of the building where the couple lived for investigators that corresponds to the employee. The assumption is that accusations between the two there was a discussion related to a possible pregnancy of Sonia Marra, based on a test purchased by Bindella and a gynecological examination booked by the young woman but never sustained.

According to the lawyer Silvia Egidi, one of the defenders of the arrested man Bindella ‘It is a fact that there was no pregnancy. The test’‘(which our client has always spontaneously admitted to having purchased for the young woman) was negative and this includes confirmation by a Sister’‘.

Hence, no motive is seen by the defense and also no mystery about the phrase said to his policeman friend. “Bindella knew’’ explained lawyer Paccoi, that the police were searching for him because he knew Marra….

Anna Marra, Sonia’s sister who more than three years ago moved to Perugia to follow the investigation into the disappearance of her sister, says Sonia was in love with Bindella. “In recent times before her disappearing Sonia was strange, she told me that something was not being reciprocated.’’

Sonia, explained her sister,’‘had no reason to leave home that day. She did not expect to meet the end that she probably did.’‘

.
5. Translated from Corriere

The Sonia Marra Case

From our correspondent Francesca Mandese in Specchia

“We hope that Sonia is still alive.” After the arrest of the ex-fiancé expectations have grown in Specchia. Sonia’s brother and sister Giacomo and Anna say “We want to know the truth.”

The marra house is two storeys, a white and pink cottage.  In the early afternoon hours it appears to be empty, with the shutters closed and the doors bolted.  Inside, however, there is deep suffering, such as you would never wish to experience. 

Donato Marra, the father, Lucia Valente Marra, the mother, and brother Giacomo, the only one of the four children still at home; have left the phone off the hook so that they don’t have to talk about Sonia, who disappeared three years ago and who was perhaps killed by a fiancé who now even denies having mixed with her, other than as a simple acquaintance.

There is nobody in the streets of Specchia, a little town in the south of Salento.  There is not even anyone in Via Marconi where at number 23 the Marra family lives. 

At the ringing of the doorphone Giacomo himself responds, looking out from the doorway, but he says that his parents don’t want to talk to anyone.  “They found out yesterday evening [about the arrest], the lawyer Alessandro Vesi from Perugia rang us. He told us to remain calm, not to get alarmed, because, even if they have arrested that man, Sonia’s body has not been found and therefore nothing is certain yet.”
 
There are four children in the Marra family, the oldest, Piero, is 38, married; then there is Giacomo, 36, who still lives with his parents, Anna, 34, who since November 2006, the moment that Sonia disappeared, moved from Rome to Perugia to look for her sister, who today would be 29 and who was studying in the Umbrian city to become a bio-medical laboratory technician. 

The only one to know about the affair between Sonia and Umberto Bindella, the 31 year-old civil servant from Marsciano accused of murder, concealment of a corpse and suppression of evidence (the girl’s mobile phone has never been found) was actually Anna.

“My sister always talked to me about him.  She was in love with Umberto Bindella,” the woman repeated again yesterday.  “In the time just before she disappeared” Anna explains further “I felt that Sonia was out out of sorts.  She told me that something wasn’t going well for her.”  According to Anna, Bindella “was the second boy-friend in Sonia’s life.” 

Anna explains further, “I met him after my sister’s disappearance - she continues -and I spoke to him.  He told me that hers was a friendship like many others.  Sonia had no reasons to leave home.  There was no expectation that she would end up as she did.”

But they don’t want to talk about that end in the Marra household.  “We hope that she is still alive” says Giacomo “that she is being held somewhere against her will.  This is the last hope that we can hold onto.  Certainly, in these three years the thought that she could be dead has also come to us, but we have always relegated it to the back of our minds.”

Giacomo confirms that, as his father declared on a TV programme, the family wants to know the truth and wants justice.  “We are not people who like showing our feelings - he says further - we don’t even have many photos of Sonia because she would run off when she saw a camera.  My parents are really exhausted.” 

And even his reddened eyes betray suffering and pain, even if hope has not yet left this clean and tidy, silent house. Thus, after a brief chat Giacomo says good-bye and goes back inside to his parents Donato and Lucia, in expectation of a phone call which will reduce the anguish and placate the pain.  A phone call which perhaps will never come.

6. Translated from La Nazione Umbria

Anna, Sonia’s sister:“She was in love with him”

Sonia’s sister Anna moved from Puglia to Perugia in November 2006 to follow investigations on the lost student.

A young man from Marsciano, Bindella, has been arrested & accused of murder

“My sister talked about him all the time. She was in love with him…. In the time just before she disappeared I felt Sonia was acting strange. She would tell me that something wasn’t going well for her.”

The Marra family’s lawyer Alessandro Vesi said that “Of course Bindella must be considered innocent and will remain so until there is an eventual finding of definite guilt.”

On behalf of his clients. the Marra family, the lawyer then thanked the Perugia Prosecutor’s office, in particular Giuseppe Petrazzini and Federico Centrone, for their assistance to the the relatives of the missing student.

Vesi said Bindella’s arrest did not automatically imply guilt but adoption of this measure does mean that the prosecuting magistrate and the judge have absolutely important elements. He spoke of the news “hurting the morale of the family because it reduces the hope of finding her [Sonia] alive”

Anna Marra:said Bindella was only the second important man in Sonia’s life. Anna met him after her sister’s disappearance and spoke to him. He told her that it was just a friendship like many of his others. He went places with her and he knew many details about Sonia’s life.

Anna believes that her sister had no reason for leaving her home. Anna concluded by saying that that her sister’s end was not expected.

7. Translated from the Umbria Journal

Marra Case - a Crucial Week Begins for Umberto Bindella

24/01/2010 at 19.14 hours

The week about to begin will be decisive for umberto Bindella, in prison accused of the murder of Sonia Marra, the student from Puglia who disappeared in Perugia on November 16th three years ago. 

His legal representatives have presented a request fro the lifting of remand in custody invoked by GIP Paolo Michele, and an application for his release from custody has been put to the review court. 

Thus these are crucial days for Bindella, arrested a week ago for the murder and the concealment of the corpse of the young woman from Puglia. 

The legal representatives Daniela Pacconi and Silvia Egidi are certain of the innocence of the young man and convinced of the inconsistency of the clues pointing to the involvement of their client

And subsequently Bindella was released by the judge for lack of enough conclusive evidence as Catnip has posted below.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #2: Summary Of Known Facts To Release Last Week Of Prime Suspect

Posted by catnip


The Sonia Marra case hits another dead-end (blind alley) (n1).

Umberto Bindella, 31,  accused of the murder of student Sonia Marra who vanished in November 2006, was released the afternoon of 6 February 2010. (n2).

He had always maintained his innocence. (n3)

The Perugia GIP granted a defence request for release of their client (n4),  who had been in prison since 18 December 2009 (n5).

According to one of Bindella’s lawyers, Daniela Paccoi, the GIP had decided the evidence was insufficient (n6). “The evidence has been shown to be quite weak. There is no evidence against Umberto Bindella.” (n7).

“In any case, they found confirmation, elements furnished by Bindella himself, suporting his defence case.” (n8).

The GIP’s decision, following the defence’s formal request for a release from custody for their client, “was handed down due to lack of evidence against Umberto Bindella,” she said. (n9)

Bindella’s other lawyer, Egidi, also expressed satisfaction with the decision. (n10)  Waiting for him outside the prison, besides his lawyers, his parents were also present. (n11)

Bindella’s first words were: “I don’t want to appear banale, but Justice has been done.”  (n12)  “I’m satisfied.” (n13)

The same Justice that Sonia Marra’s family is waiting for. (n14)  They have had no news of the Pugliese student since 16 November 2006. (n15)

She left her apartment in order, and all her things behind. (n16)  Her disappearance is still wrapped in mystery. (n17)

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES BELOW IMAGES OF SONIA



Click here for the rest


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #1: Summary Of The Known Facts Up To The Charging Of A Suspect

Posted by catnip



[Above: Sonia Marra is at center here - we have many more photos to be added]


This annotated summary below of the known facts of Sonia’s case up to the charging of a suspect is the first of four posts here on TJMK.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting on on the release of the suspect. Then there will be two posts by my fellow Italian-speaker Tiziano, who has translated many of the media reports.

Sonia’s case is of special interest to us here because violence to women happens rarely in Perugia, and a year prior to Meredith meeting her fate, this case placed a cloud over the town.

And there are two other reasons why it is of interest.

  • It reflects the caring and discretion which is for the most part to be found in the Italian media - nobody here has been demonized.
  •  
  • It reflects the extreme caution of the Italian judiciary, which has released the prime suspect when the evidence did not stand up.

These facts are drawn from a number of Italian sources, and you will find all of them below listed the fold (“MORE”) at the bottom of this post.

The known facts

Sonia Marra disappeared on 16 November 2006 in Perugia (n1). She was 25 years old (n2).

Her body has never been found (n3) and nor has her phone (n4)  which was switched off on the evening of her disappearance and was never switched on again (n5).

Despite really intense investigations, there has never since been any trace of her (n6).

Her ex-boyfriend Umberto Bindella was arrested (n7)  at 6pm on the 18 January 2010 (n8) on suspicion of her murder - he is now released again, see below.

Her family raised the alarm when they were no longer able to make phone contact with her (n9).  Her mother called her that night, as she did every day, but her phones were off (n10).

Alarmed, she called her other daughter Anna, who lives in Rome with her boyfriend Paolo (n11). They both tried all night to call her, but were unsuccessful. (n12).



[Above: Sonia’s amazing sister Anna who moved to Perugia and incessantly fanned interest]

On the morning of the 17th, Paolo went to her apartment in Perugia (n13). He was unable to enter, seeing as there was a strong smell of gas coming out. (n14).

At this point, Sonia’s cousin called the Fire Brigade, who gained entry. (n15). The place was all in order. There was no trace of Sonia at all. (n16).

A (young woman) neighbour in Sonia’s building (n17)  saw someone on the stairs (n18) matching Bindella’s description. (n19).

According to a witness, on the night of the disappearance, at around 8pm, a car parked underneath her apartment. (n20).

A man got out of the light-coloured car and headed towards Sonia’s first-floor apartment. (n21).  He opened the door with keys, without forcing the lock.(n22).

Noises were heard from inside apartment, then the man exited, got into the car and left. (n23).

Sonia was from Specchia (n24) in the Lecce district (n25) of southern Puglia (n26) and she was studying in Perugia (n27)  at the University of Perugia (n28)  at the Faculty of Medicine (n29) training to become a biomedical lab technician (n30).

She was living alone in an apartment in the Elce zone downhill to the west of the historic town centre (n31) not far from the railway station (Meredith would have passed very close by at times) and the central police station.

She was formerly with the Theological School in Montemorcino, where she had got to know Umberto (n32).  She was doing volunteer secretarial work there (n33)  and they both lodged there for a time (n34).

The family’s lawyer is Alessandro Vesi (n35)  who is representing them during the investigations as “persons injured” (n36).

They never gave up the search for Sonia and the hope of finding her alive (n37).  But Vesi says: “The ray of hope of ever seeing Sonia again is diminishing ever smaller.” (n38).

“There is no way that this [arrest of Bindella] can ever be spoken of as a victory.” (n39).

“For the family, it was gut-wrenching to hear the word ‘murder’ tied to Bindella’s interview, and thereby also to Sonia’s disappearance. They were still hoping she would be found alive.” (n40).

“His arrest now has thrown them into deeper despair.” (n41).

According to the family, the young man would be “considered innocent until the last definitive appeal” (n42).  “Certainly, his arrest is a strong link in the investigations, but we have to wait for the conclusion of the proceedings.” (n43).

Umberto Bindella, 31 years old (n44) with no previous record (n45), is from Marsciano (n46). He had been under investigation since November 2009 (n47).

He was charged with: wilful murder (n48) and hiding a body (still not found) (n49) and suppressing evidence (a mobile phone) (n50) and aggravated theft (of a phone) (n51) with a view to misleading the investigation (n52) by making it more complex. (n53).

He denied all the allegations (n54)  and his lawyers were confident of accompanying him home after a review hearing (n55) which was two hours long (n56) before the GIP Claudia Matteini (n57).

The public prosecutor is Giuseppe Petrazzini (n58). The Chief Prosecutor is Federico Centrone (n59).

The precautionary custody arrest order, requested by public prosecutor Giuseppe Petrazzini and signed by the GIP Paolo Micheli, was carried out by the Carabineri of the provincial command and by the Postal Police (n60).

The order mentioned the possibility of evidence tampering and flight risk. (n61). The arrest was confirmed by his lawyer (n62) as well as by the carabinieri (n63) and the TV program “Has anyone seen them?” (“Chi l’ha visto”) (n64) which has featured the case for a while now. (n65).

The TV program is held in high regard by viewers and is presented by Federica Sciarelli, 51 (n66)

Sonia’s family were said to be “surprised” by Umberto’s arrest (n67). The news had thrown them into deep consternation (n68). They had up until then hoped to welcome their daughter back with open arms. (n69)



[Above: Sonia’s hometown at the south-east corner of Italy, south of Sollecito’s hometown]

The Case made against Bindella 

Bindella was the last person to have seen Sonia alive in Perugia (n70). He was interviewed various times previously (n71), in fact 4 times previously (n72). At the last interview, he admitted he was an old partner of hers (n73).

He was interviewed for 3 hours by the Public Prosecutor on 26 November, accompanied by his parents (n74). He was then interviewed as a suspect (n75) and was the only suspect ever (n76).

He had been interviewed in the past as “a person informed of the facts” (n77). His status changed last December (n78).

He has always denied having a relationship with Sonia or being involved in her disappearance (n79). He was only “a passing acquaintance”, “only a friend” (n80). The investigators thought he was lying (n81).

He says they met at the ex-forestiera at the ex-seminary (n82).

His lawyers are Daniela Paccoi (n83)  from the “Foro di Perugia” (n84)  and Silvia Egidi (n85).

The Public Prosectutor thought the picture against Bindella was clear. (n86).  So did the GIP (n87).

Investigators hypothesised there was a (brief) romantic relationship (n88).  Sonia was particularly fond of him, they think. (n89).  They not only knew each other but there was a relationship going beyond mere friendship. (n90).

That in fact he was her boyfriend. (n91) which he denied (n92),

Just before she disappeared, she bought a pregnancy test kit (n93)  (which Bindella says he bought, at her request) (n94) and she had booked a visit to the gynecologist (n95) though she never turned up. (n96).

Triggering the murder prosecutors believed was the news that Sonia might probably be pregnant (n97) and this degenerated into a murder (n98).

It was Bindella who, from the first, informed the investigators that she was having problems because she knew she was pregnant. (n99). He wasn’t ready for the responsibility and so prosecutors believed decided to kill her. (n100)

“I don’t know anything about a possible pregnancy for Sonia,” he told the magistrates at the initial interview. (n101)

But contradicting his assertion were two phone calls with her at the time when she was arranging an appointment with the gynecologist to confirm the pregnancy. (n102)

Phone contact was also made via SMS (n103), just before 8pm, the hour of her effective disappearance. (n104)

The phone records triggered the investigation which led to the arrest (n105)  after their analysis by the Postal Police of Perugia (n106)

The phone records established contact between Bindella and Marra, as well as with other people who, when interviewed, provided details useful to a reconstruction of the facts (n107)

As it turned out, she was not pregnant, but perhaps the news arrived too late. (n108).

In November, the Perugia Prosecutor’s Office ordered searches of the area around Montemorcino, where there are deep ravines where it is suspected Sonia’s remains might be found. (n109).

The day after the disappearance, before Binderlla was told about her disappearance, (n110),  “I’ve made a right mess of it,” he is understood to have told a police officer friend. (n111). “This is bigger than you or me.” (n112).

There are also doubts about his attendance at an Enlglish course on the night Sonia disappeared. (n113).

The prosecutors’ theory is pure fantasy, said his lawyers. (n114). Thjey said that Bindella, “from the first day, on his own initiative told the investigators that Sonia asked him to but a pregnancy test kit and he did so” (n115).

The prosecution was not certain there actually was a murder and, if there was, that Bindella did it, even if the elements of the case hint at an undeniable involvement. (n116).

Bindella was a bit demoralised by his arrest, but clear-headed and determined to assert his innocence. (n117). His lawyers immediately requested his release. (n118).

His lawyer Paccoi, flanked by her colleague Silvia Egidi, said:  “Bindella has answered all the questions put him, furnishing elements which he considered useful for demonstrating his innocence.” (n119).  “My client doesn’t understand why he was arrested.” (n120)

“He supplied further particulars regarding his movements prior to the student’s disappearance.” (n121). “In particular, the first two weeks of November, a period which Sonia had described to various people as ‘idyllic’.” (n122)

“But Bindella was not in Perugia for a week during that period, and we have documented proof.” (n123). “In particular, he was in Bologna for exams, and then in Pisa with his mother.” (n124)

“Other investigative leads were not fully followed, especially the possibility of other visitors.” (n125).  “Bindella is absolutely respectful of the law, even the road rules, to say nothing of criminal law.” (n126)

Paccoi says that there is no mystery about the remark made to the friend. (n127).  Bindella was explaining that the carabinieri were looking for him because he knew Sonia. (n128). He actually said: “What a mess! A friend of mine has disappeared.” (n129)

Even the witness doesn’t remember whether the phrase was “I made a mess” or “It’s a mess” (n130). “Lots of witnesses have modified or rectified their statements as the net drew in” (n131)

“This led in turn to a colpevolista-slanted investigation. (n132). “But I am totally convinced of his innocence, and he is the first innocent that I am defending.” (n133)

“There is no motive” (n134)  “It is a case of getting existing facts mixed up.” (n135).  “If there is no new evidence, it [the arrest] is a profoundly unjust act.” (n136).  “There is no reason at all why my client should remain in prison.” (n137)

Bindella’s lawyer is of completely the opposite opinion (n138).  “It’s a given fact that there was no pregnancy.” (n139).  “The test was negative; a nursing sister made mention of it.” (n140)

“It is obvious there is nothing new here and we therefore hope to establish that in the rights review hearing, which will probably be Thursday morning”, and further, “It is a given fact that there was no pregnancy and it is not even up for discussion.”  (n141)

Sonia’s sister Anna transferred to Perugia three years ago to look for her sister (n142).  She says: “finding her alive is only a slim hope now” (n143). “More realistically, I’m waiting to be told where her body is so we can bring her home” (n144)

“Sonia wasn’t expecting to end up where she probably did.” (n145).  “Sonia was in love with Bindella” (n146). “Just before she disappeared, Sonia was strange, she told me there was something that wasn’t working for her” (n147)

But “she didn’t have any reason to leave home.” (n148)

Commentator Federica Sciarelli:  “There is sadness, yes, but it transforms itself into anger, because in a lot of case, the research into the disappearances were not well done, often leaving dangerous people still on the loose. I’m always astounded by the number of women and girls who have vanished.”

“But call them for what they are: murder with the hiding of bodies. Take the recent case of Sonia Marra, the girl who went to Perugia to study and who called her mother every night: you think it’s possible that she could disappear without leaving even the slightest trace?” (n149)

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES BELOW



[Above: The beaches near Sonia’s hometown of Spechia]

Click here for the rest


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Breaking News From Perugia: An Arrest In The Sad Case of Sonia Marra

Posted by Peter Quennell


Sonia Marra was an Italian medical student who disappeared from her apartment on 16 November 2006, just under one year before Meredith met her fate.

Her disappearance was one reason why some women in Perugia became very nervous on the news of Meredith’s death, and it may have helped color the press coverage.

Sonia’s case more or less fell below the radar even in Italy as the years passed and it never was widely reported elsewhere. But the police never forgot her.

Now they have arrested an ex-boyfriend, and the key evidence is said to be some mobile phone records, extensively analyzed once again.

The only reporting is in Italian. We should have more here on Sonia’s case next week - there is a lot of reporting to condense..

Below: Sonia’s sister Anna, who moved to Perugia and tried to sustain public interest in her missing sister.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Could The Italian Authorities Be Starting A Wave Of Libel + Slander Investigations?

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Nick Pisa’s report on Sky News about the charges Amanda Knox’s parents are being investigated for.

The sliming of the prosecution, the police and investigators, and even the many judges in the process, never seemed to our legal contacts like a particularly good idea.

The CIA operatives trial we referred to in this post (over which the United States and the Italian prime minister could exert ZERO influence, please note) shows that Italy has a long arm and tough laws.

And the very independent judges and prosecutors are willing to take a very hard line to enforce them.

A Seattle lawyer who propagates what seems to us a pretty daffy and unfounded view of the case, made statements in the recent report by Italian network LA7 which don’t seem to have gone over very well in Italy. They may have attracted some official attention.

We dont know if the many statements made to an American audience on for example the ABC, CNN and CBS networks (most recently by New-York-based lawyer John Q Kelly) could attract investigations. But we do hear they might have all been taken note of, and it is possible the US networks might be monitoring their coverage of the case from now on.

ABC and KING-5 Seattle, both highly negative about Italy in recent months, may be particularly vulnerable.

And if and when the one administrative charge against Mr Mignini is dropped, an American crime-fiction writer and wannabe real-crime reporter might also perhaps find himself in the Italian legal cross-hairs for some very odd things he has said and written.

it will be interesting to see if any of the US-based media pick up on and report objectively on this development in Italy. Someone taking bets?

*******

Update #1: The Associated Press has just fed the defamation story to its client media outlets in the United States.

Update #2: The AP report has now gone viral. As of right now (2:00 pm New York time) Google is returning over 1500 hits. So the word is out: watch one’s tongue where Italian justice is concerned, or there may be consequences.

Update #3: Here is a safe bet based on some insider buzz. This development will make the US State Department and the American Embassy in Rome very happy. They have long wanted the sliming of Italy to stop.

Update #4: It sounds like it might make several million citizens of Seattle very happy too. They have long wanted the Mellases and Knoxes to simply stick to the truth - and address, you know, the hard evidence.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

How This Cable Car In The Dolomites Hangs Over The Trial In Perugia

Posted by Peter Quennell


The Dolomites (image below) are a spectacular range of mountains east of the Alps in north-east Italy.

In 1998 a squadron of American Prowlers (image at bottom) based in Italy as part of the US NATO presence was roaring up and down those valleys, when one cut the cable of the cable car shown above. Twenty people in a gondola died when it crashed to the ground 350 feet below.

The US military has a huge presence in Italy (scroll down to “Conditions in Italy”) and good US-Italian relations are extremely important as a result. But in this case, the airmen were yanked back to the US, under NATO rules, tried by other military officers - and found not guilty of anything except destroying a videotape.

Outrage in Italy and across Europe and even in the US was intense. There have since been very, very few US interventions in any judicial process in Italy.

Now suddenly there is a new US intervention and Italian emotions are getting stoked.

If the FOA campaign ever thought the US government would spring Amanda using political pressure, they could not have picked a worse country in Europe to ridicule and try to strong-arm.




Thursday, July 02, 2009

Doug Preston’s Nasty Ant-Italy Anti-Mignini Campaign To Stir Bigotry Hits A Wall

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



[click for larger image]

The Daily Beast has an excellent article on the unrelated case against Mr Mignini.

A final verdict has now been postponed, pending testimony from four other witnesses. This charge has been a huge part of the US PR campaign waged by Marriott and the FOA (of which Doug Preston is a member).

I came away from the article thinking that Doug Preston’s limited knowledge of Italian and excessive reliance on Spezi have not helped matters.

For example, in his Monster of Florence book - to which Preston has added an afterword about Meredith Kercher’s murder, even though the two cases are unrelated except for the fact that the prosecutor in both is Mignini - Preston relates that the crazy bloodied man in the square on Nov 2 was shouting “I killed her”, when in fact witnesses have testified that he shouted “I will kill her” (he was referring to his girlfriend and it was determined that he had nothing to do with the murder of Meredith).

In addition, Preston has claimed that Mignini told him he could not come back to Italy when in fact Mignini says he said no such thing, though he did suggest that Preston get an attorney, in part because his understanding of the Italian language (and certainy Italy’s laws) was limited.

It is also important to note that Mignini has been cleared of the illegal wiretapping of journalists charge. The pending trial is not about this at all, as the article explains quite clearly. The Daily Beast article actually provides invaluable facts for anyone who really wants to put the abuse of power charge against Mignini into perspective. I say “really wants” because I sometimes suspect that this is the last thing those stuck in “delirium” mode want.

Although the article only touches on the financial stakes - mentioning that Tom Cruise has optioned the MOF book - I came away feeling that there is a ferocious battle going on behind the scenes, and that the battle itself is part of the money-making drama.

The murder of Meredith Kercher has been caught up in this vortex, and I believe we have mainly Doug Preston to thank for that.

Poor Meredith.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Second Misleading New York Times Comment On The Case

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



No prizes for guessing that this is Italy’s wonderful Venice.

1. Seattle-ite Egan Gets It Bady Wrong, Again

Timothy Egan of the New York Times came back with a follow-up justification to his first post.

The cat was out of the bag at that point, of course, and the first post was being widely ridiculed as untrue and unfair both in the US and in Italy.

Egan’s second post makes me wonder if he actually even read the comments under his first post before firing off his second round. It also makes me wonder if Egan has any idea of how badly his “contribution” was received in Italy, let alone why.

Frankly, I was surprised that a “Pulitzer prize winning” journalist would make these basic mistakes and write such a shockingly bad article to boot.

I posted this NY Times comment on that second post addressed at his first piece, lamenting the number of basic factual mistakes he made, though without enumerating all of them.

From memory, there are at least five major errors in Egan’s blog entry still not corrected

1. Egan claims that no translator was present for the Nov 5 questioning. This is false. Granted, Edda Mellas and others have made this false claim on the record, repeatedly, even after the Italian police formally challenged it. (Note to Egan: check the CNN world news website once in awhile.) Finally, Edda and others had to change their tune in light of the undisputed facts, but they did so by shifting the claim from no interpreter to no “professional” interpreter. This too turns out to be false. How can Egan continue to claim that no interpreter was present when at three were called upon by the prosecution to testify under oath as witnesses to the session of questioning where Egan wants us to believe there were no interpreters? Incidentally, they—like all of the other relevant witnesses—have stated under oath the Knox was not physically abused or maltreated. Conversely and as a reminder, Knox is not testifying under oath.

2. Egan also claims that there is forensic evidence against Guede only, and not the other two suspects. This, as everyone else except official FOA spokespeople know, is false. For anyone who is interested in knowing what it is, this non-profit website would be a good place to start. It is too bad that Mr. Egan did not do more than just consult the new afterword to Doug Preston’s Monster of Florence book. In fact, Egan’s blog entry serves as a friendly review in a way.

3. Egan stated that a 6-person jury, with two judges among them, would decide the fate of Knox and Sollecito. Ii shows Egan’s sweeping and sweepingly ignorant indictment of the Italian criminal justice system. In fact, the correct numbers are 6 lay jurors and 2 judges, for a total of 8 individuals - and thereafter two automatic appeals. Does this make a difference? Only insofar as it is definitely better to demonstrate a grasp of the basics of the system one seeks to criticize. Instead of quoting Rachel Donadio, who was in fact talking about Italy’s Prime Minister, Egan would have been better off trying Wikipedia or, better still, a comparative law website. There are tons of them out there.

4. Egan states that Amanda Knox only suggested that Patrick Lumumba maybe killed Meredith Kercher. In fact, Knox did far more than that. She firmly accused him of killing her roommate, twice orally, and then three times in writing. The written statements were not coerced, and testimony from half a dozen other people (again, under oath) refutes Knox’s claim that her oral accusation was coerced. An investigation is underway, ordered by one of the two prosecutors. In fact, Knox admitted on the stand that her third written statement was not made because she was hit - it was a “gift” to the police who supposedly tortured her, whatever that means!

5. Egan failed to point out that two prosecutors are working side by side on this case. If Mignini has to step down because of the verdict in a pending matter, the case will go forward in the able hands of Manuela Comodi who is handling more than half the testimony. I hear she is clean as a whistle: not so much as a slap on the wrist during her career. Instead of just repeating what Doug Preston writes, Egan could have told us in more detail about the charge pending against Prosecutor Mignini.


2.  Enabled By Heavey, Bremner and Ciolino

Allegedly, some individuals—like Paul Ciolino, whom Egan quotes in his rebuttal (?) entry—speak of a “pattern” of misconduct, but I have been unable to find any other example of possible “abuse of office” except for the one related to the Monster of Florence case.

Wouldn’t it be great if an investigative journalist of Pulitzer prize caliber were to take the time to find out what the facts are in the longstanding feud between Mignini and Spezi, Doug Preston’s friend and associate? That would really add substance to this fake debate.

Paul Ciolino’s paid work for 48 Hours on this very case has been laughably poor. Forgive me for not taking the time to count the ways.

In a Seattle fundraiser for Knox he stated that legal experts in the US and Italy believe Mignini is “mentally unstable”.

What this really boils down to is the following: one quote in Italian by an Italian judge that was taken out of context (that’s the Italian legal expert (singular)), and statements made by two people from the Seattle legal community, Anne Bremner and Judge Michael Heavey, who have never set foot in an Italian courtroom but who happen to be members of FOA (Friends of Amanda).

Heavey, a neighbor of Knox’s, actually wrote a letter to the authorities in Italy asking for a change of venue. That letter ““ which incidentally was written on Heavey’s official Superior Court Judge letterhead—was so full of errors, and was so embarrassing to Knox’s own defense team, that Heavey is said to have written a second letter in apology.

The first letter, after being prominently displayed on Anne Bremner’s website, was then quietly removed. As if it had never existed. Never apologize, never explain, as Flaubert said. Where is that letter of apology? Why is it not displayed on Bremner’s website? Was it too written on official letterhead? As a King County taxpayer, I’d sure like to know.

Where are those Pulitzer Prize winning journalists when you need them?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How The New York Times Caused Unneccesary And Unhelpful Anger In Italy

Posted by Miss Represented



[click for larger image]

Another beautiful view of Italy. This one is of Portofino.

How could THE NEW YORK TIMES of all papers enable the ridiculing of this civilized and humane country for its handling of the case?

The Times may deny it because Timothy Egan’s rancid piece was “just” a blog. But ask any good lawyer - all content is ultimately the Times’s. They presumably have rules, and if they don’t have them, then they should.

Let’s look in depth at the content of Egan’s piece, which a huge audience in Italy has now read and found wanting. 

Aside from the very suggestive title “An Innocent Abroad” what becomes immediately apparent is not only the lack of objectivity (surely an essential tool for any self respecting journalist), but also the lack of any in depth discussion about the actual basis of the prosecution’s case.

A case that has been presented in detail twice a week for nearly half a year now.

Instead of discussing the factors leading to the arrest and trial of the defendants, Egan brings up the old, clichéd and unsubstantiated “mad fanatical prosecutor” charge as a reason for the trial. He muses thus:

The case against Knox has so many holes in it, and is so tied to the career of a powerful Italian prosecutor who is under indictment for professional misconduct, that any fair-minded jury would have thrown it out months ago.

My, my, feeling ethnocentric today aren’t we? Egan continues to bandy the “this would never happen in America” claim and appoints himself judge, jury and excuser, in order to make the assertion that he alone knows what the outcome of this trial would be in good old USA.

Egan is clearly suggesting to his readers that the conviction of Amanda Knox would be tantamount to a miscarriage of justice. Can anyone say objective reporting? Nope? I really didn’t think so.

Egan fails to mention that both Knox and Sollecito had many court hearings prior to the trial, and were afforded many legal advantages and some excellent legal representation.

If even one of the judges who presided over the initial hearings had decided there was insufficient evidence to hold or charge them, they would have been released. Every single judge that heard the evidence suggesting their involvement in the murder denied their release - some in very sharp terms.

It’s hardly as if they were at a disadvantage or even in the position to be railroaded. Knox and Sollecito actually incriminated themselves long before the police even got a sniff of Rudy Guede by way of their repeated lying.

Egan also fails to mention neither Knox nor Sollecito have a firm alibi that holds up for the night of the murder. Rather telling.

It seems Egan has opted to pass on the option of providing his readers with an interesting and objective piece, in favor of bandying the PR agenda surrounding the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their possible role in the murder.

The victim here is of course an afterthought. Egan briefly gushes about Meredith being “high-spirited” before comparing how “high-spirited” (what?!) both girls were. Then he essentially explains that we should forget about Meredith, and focus on poor old Amanda whom this case obviously revolves around:

But it is also about Amanda Knox, an equally high-spirited student whose life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution ““ “the railroad job from hell,” as one outside expert hired by CBS News concluded.

Knox’s life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution? Most unfortunate. How inconvenient. Meredith of course now has no life to be interrupted.

Egan forgets to mention that the “outside expert” here is Paul Ciolino, a P-I for hire, whose objectivity and expertise have on several occasions been called into question. His several public forays into the case (Perugia for CBS and Salty’s for FOA) were disasters. 

The following statement is again pretty misleading:

Knox may not feel the same way. She spent nearly a year in jail without being charged. This, despite the fact that the only physical evidence found on the murder victim’s body was from someone else ““ a drifter with a drug problem named Rudy Guede.

Knox and Sollecito spent a year in jail whilst the police built a case, as they are legally entitled to do, while the accumulating evidence was gradually becoming massive.

There were repeated judicial hearings on the evidence, any of which could have released them.

The second statement, about Guede, is technically true, but Egan fails to go into any depth concerning the considerable other forensic evidence - something even the most banal reporter on the case has managed to do.

Equally telling is this:

After being questioned all night without an attorney or a professional translator, Knox said some things in response to a series of hypothetical questions. This was initially trumpeted as a contradiction, or worst ““ a confession. A higher court later threw out the most damning statements.

Egan at least fails to trumpet once again the accusation that Knox was hit by police, an accusation that has angered much of Italy (see several posts below) and got her into hot water with the Italian authorities.

Amanda was not questioned all night by Mignini, and she freely offered the police Patrick Lumumba’s name. She even made up details about how they had met and when they went to the cottage together.

Egan also attempts to gloss over the significance of the false confession with what is perhaps my favorite euphemism in the whole post:

Knox raised the possibility that a bar owner with an airtight alibi could have been involved.”

You don’t “raise the possibility” that someone was involved in a murder. You either accuse them or you don’t.

If the subject weren’t so serious and the potential for real harm and misinforming the public so great, it could almost be funny. In fact Knox accused Lumumba flat-out, in great detail, and later confirmed it in writing when certainly not under duress.

And Knox was certainly not questioned for 14 hours, it was four or five hours at most, between midnight and sunrise. She was offered refreshments, and she willingly signed a statement.

A lawyer was not present and therefore this statement cannot be used against her. But Egan forgets to mention a handwritten note Knox gave to police detailing her “confession” explaining how she would “stand by” her accusation of Patrick (that she knew was false) which, unlike her first statement, has not been thrown out of court and will be used as evidence in the slander case against her.

Egan further mentions (on details of Amanda’s sex life being leaked):

The Brits, in particular, had a field day. Locked from her house in the first days after it became a crime scene, Knox went to a store one day with Sollecito to buy emergency underwear. The British tabs bannered this as a g-string celebration of remorseless killers.

Emergency underwear that consists of a g-string and a camisole top? Hardly “emergency underwear” would you perhaps agree? Add this to the spectacular scene Amanda and Raffaele made in the Bubbly lingerie store, and it seems the British tabloids were perhaps not far from the truth.

The British papers were certainly not the only papers to have published details about Amanda’s sex life (which in the grand scheme of things is not important). But the press were always going to try and find out this sort of information about her because it’s what all of the press do.

Egan, as a journalist himself, should know this, and attempting to portray Amanda as a sweet and innocent ray of sunshine by criticising those who uncover evidence that she is in fact the opposite is a blatant attempt at shooting the messenger.

Some of you may be asking what the point of Egan’s article is? After all, it sheds no new light at all on the ongoing trial or the evidence that has come out over the last few months.

Well, hidden in Egan’s article is what seems a badly disguised advert for Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi’s book “The Monster of Florence” and as these little “promos” often are, the result seems a transparent endorsement written in extremely poor taste.

Has anyone noticed that whenever any criticism of the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito surfaces, the same name usually pops up? Often introduced by the synoptic tagline “the prominent best-selling American author” Douglas Preston?  I seriously rather doubt that Douglas Preston could give a fig about Amanda Knox.

Indeed, the only linking factor between Preston and Amanda Knox’s “plight” is the presence of Giuliano Mignini. Preston seems to harbor a grudge and to be using his “experience” of being questioned by Mignini to peddle his book.

Whilst people like Douglas Preston keep bleating on about the “backward” Italian justice system, the Italians have actually presented a very solid case. If people like Timothy Egan now choose to cover it irresponsibly and unethically, sadly, it’s up to them.

But there’s no reason at all for the New York Times to provide him with a vehicle.

Egan explains how “˜haunted’ he is by an observation made by a former Times colleague in Rome:

In Italy, the general assumption is that someone is guilty until proven innocent. Trials ““ in the press and in the courts ““ are more often about defending personal honor than establishing facts, which are easily manipulated.

I too am haunted by this statement.

Haunted by the fact that Egan has apparently based his entire article and his understanding of the complex and very fair Italian legal system on the opinion and hearsay of one other journalist.

And one who was absurdly in the wrong, as any observer with a brain can see.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

“An American Student Kills 62 Years Old Retired Bankteller”

Posted by Nicki

[click for larger image]

Corriere reports that this crime took place yesterday.

The American student was under the effect of psychotic drugs. He was wandering through the streets of Florence. He tried to force entry through a garage door while the victim was in the process of locking it.

The student attacked the retired bankteller and cut his throat with a mirror sliver. He covered the body with a piece of cloth and then left.

Police found him sitting on a bench nearby, a few hours after the murder was discovered. He has already confessed the murder.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Criminal Charges Almost Certain For Serious Disrespecting Of Meredith

Posted by Jools



[above: the Telenorba reporter who may soon be among those facing charges]

Raffaele Sollecito comes from Bari. Precisely one year ago, the local Bari TV station Telenorba did the almost unthinkable.

It broadcast some crime-scene video of Meredith. They showed her lying half-naked on her back on the floor, with the wounds to her throat clearly visible.

The footage was then picked up by the Italian state broadcaster, RAI, and it was rebroadcast a number of times.  Still shots ended up in a number of newspapers. And a video of the broadcast ended up on YouTube where (as of this morning) it still remains.

All of which now appears almost certain to attract a number of criminal charges.

Here is Richard Owen of the London Times describing the broadcast one year ago.

Relatives of Meredith Kercher, the British student murdered in Perugia in November, were said to be shocked and distressed last night after images of her bloodied corpse were broadcast on Italian television…

Telenorba, which showed the footage late at night, warned viewers that it was disturbing and suitable only for adults. It showed police scientists in white protective clothing pulling back the duvet to reveal Ms Kercher’s body and slashed throat, and turning the corpse over to examine her bloodied back.

Her eyes were covered by a mask. RAI did not include this part of the footage in its news broadcasts.

And here is the report in the Daily Mail also one year ago.

The Kerchers’ lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said: “This is an example of gross journalistic misconduct, which evidently violates all the rules of how to report a story….

Anna Maria Ferretti, the director of the leading Italian TV programme Antenna Sud, said: “For five minutes of television, the ultimate taboo has been broken without any shame.”

Italy’s Order of Journalists has asked for the video to be confiscated so that it is not shown again and a repeat of the programme that had been due to air on Tuesday night was cancelled…

Enzo Magistra, the editor of the programme, defended the show and insisted it had not meant to cause offence.

He said: “When I decided to transmit the images of Meredith’s corpse, I did not have the least intention of violating anyone’s dignity, but merely to do my job with respect to an important event.”

Sparked by a complaint from Mr Maresca for the Kerchers, the Perugia prosecutor initiated a one-year investigation.

And yesterday the outcome was announced. This is a translation of the report in La Nazione.

The prosecutor of Perugia has served notice of the completion of four investigations into Raffaele Sollecito’s family members and two journalists of the TV station Telenorba on the transmission of a forensic video in which the body of Meredith Kercher wa shown…

The report on the investigations (usually a prelude to a request for trial) indicates crimes were committed of defamation, invasion of privacy, publication of arbitrary acts of investigation and publication of gruesome acts.

According to the reconstruction by the Perugia prosecutor, the father and sister of Raphael Sollecito had legitimately obtained the scientific survey of the police, and had then illegally provided it to Telemundo.

The report also cites a journalist and the editor of Panorama for the publication of an article in which they reported that blood samples from Meredith had revealed an alcohol concentration above the legal norm - implying she was drunk when she was killed. This claim was proved a lie in the course of the forensic tests.

And this is a translation from the AGI news-service website.

Eight “notices of termination of the investigations” have been reported by the public prosecutor of Perugia…  Four Sollecito family members, the TV journalist on Telenorba and the director of the station, are accused of the crimes of defamation, invasion of privacy, publication of documents during the investigation, and publication of gruesome acts….

According to the reconstruction, the Sollecito family members delivered to Telenorba the video and photos of the crime scene survey carried out by the forensic team on November 2 of 2007 in Meredith’s house. Telenorba then put the material on the air.

Other investigations are on-going.

The YouTube video of the Telenoirba broadcast as of this morning had had over 9,000 looks. It is in an area for adults only, and it requires registration to get in.

Notwithstanding, these are typical of the angry comments in Italian that appear right under the video.

This video is a disgrace to every individual. There’s a girl who is no more, a family suffering for this, and now has to suffer public humiliation ... Let us never forget that the right to dignity and decency of the victims, especially if already dead.

*********

The video should be removed. The right to record is in conflict with the respect and devotion of the deceased. The publication of such images add nothing to the journalistic chronicle

Mr Maresca, who is in legal practice in Florence, appears to us to have fought hard for the rights of Meredith and the Kerchers.

He put the case for a closed trial (which the Knox and Sollecito forces bitterly fought) and he won the court’s agreement that the most disturbing segments at least would be closed to the journalists and the public. 

Here is the Times report on his battle then with the defendants’ families.

Mr Maresca said Italian law provided for trials in cases of sexual violence to be closed to the public, at the discretion of the judge. He said that showing graphic photographs and video footage of Ms Kercher’s body and the murder scene in open court could do injury to her memory.

Mr Maresca said that 280 journalists had been accredited for the pre-trial hearings, which were held in camera. This led to reporters and photographers trying to snatch pictures of the accused as they arrived and left the court, with defence lawyers and prosecutors besieged by the media outside the courtroom.

And to counteract the massive and pervasive spin being put on every development in the trial, Mr Maresca has been sharp and outspoken on what the growing body of evidence implies.

Other apparent attempts by the Sollecito family to interfere with the course of justice, as suggested in telephone intercepts, are still being investigated by the Perugia prosecutor. Mr Mignini is famous in Italy for fighting for victims’ rights to the maximum.

Mr Maresca is clearly doing a fine job in protecting Meredith’s dignity and the peace of mind of her poor family.

And this throws a MAJOR shot across the bows of the families of the defendants, if they incline to further disparaging of Meredith.

[below: the Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca; his office is in Florence]