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Category: Italian related

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Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said his client wants the Lifetime TV movie withdrawn.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.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/11 at 07:00 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian relatedComments here (5)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

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

Posted by Peter Quennell



Umbria’s top criminal judge Sergio Matteini Chiari

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.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/02 at 07:18 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Crime hypothesesPondering motiveItalian relatedComments here (14)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

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

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/10 at 09:32 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Crime hypothesesThe wider contextsItalian relatedComments here (7)

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.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/21 at 03:30 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian relatedComments here (2)

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.”

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/06 at 05:04 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian relatedComments here (0)

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.

Posted by Tiziano on 04/02 at 03:44 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian relatedComments here (0)

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.


 

Posted by Tiziano on 03/01 at 06:54 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian relatedComments here (2)

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.


Posted by Tiziano on 02/17 at 06:25 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian relatedComments here (1)

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.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/13 at 12:47 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian relatedComments here (2)

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.

Posted by Tiziano on 02/12 at 04:36 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Other legal processesItalian relatedComments here (0)

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