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Category: Italian context

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Meredith’s Perugia #12: A Colorful Event Right Now That Meredith Might Have Loved

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





The flowering of the sunflowers. Il girasoli.

They are flowering right now all around Perugia, and especially to the west in Tuscany.

If you are not pre-warned and happen suddenly on one of these fields, you can drive right off the road, the visual impact is so great!

Meredith missed ever seeing this beautiful sight, sad to say. But many of the foreign students from the university towns do go out to see.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Florence Palace Of Justice Where Sollecito And Knox Are Expected To Be Seen In Court Soon

Posted by Peter Quennell



This is a video of a recent light show. The soundtrack leaves something to be desired, but the huge new courthouse looks amazing at night.

We posted previously here on the new Palazzio di Giustizia, which is one of Europe’s largest and most modern. It only came into full operation this year.

It is reported today in UK newspapers that Knox and Sollecito have just been having a meeting in the vicinity of New York, maybe to sort out a common narrative once and for all. Our betting is that each will appear in the Florence court, not least to keep a close eye on the other and to attempt to warm the judges to themselves.

However, their nasty and dishonest books have not made things any easier for them, and have led to a lot of negative reaction in Italy where they have been discussed on TV. It is easy to spot where in many places the two texts conflict, and also where (as demonstrated in the two post below) they also contradict many accepted well-documented facts of the case.

Both books are being considered as substantial new evidence, and the prosecution will ask the appeal court if they can be included in.

Both books are also being investigated, by the chief prosecutors in Florence and Bergamo for separate new felony charges, as they appear to constitute substantial lllegal attempts along with the internet vilification posted by the likes of Preston, Fischer and the Moores, to inflame and mislead public opinion during an ongoing legal process.

The writers have also sought to undermine the officers of the court, by accusing them of serious crimes, again as illustrated in the two posts directly below. Many Italians and Americans with “relevant information” could be called to testify for the prosecution or the defenses. They will probably be asked to explain their own inflammatory campaigns and may face charges of their own. Again, Preston, Fischer and the Moores seem to have painted targets on their backs. 

Results of both investigations, together with any new charges against Sollecito, Knox, and their entourages, should be made public well before the new appeal of Meredith’s case gets under way.

If the two are indicted on new charges for the books, as expected, that will mean more to explain, more to try to harmonize upon, more goodwill lost, and more legal bills.

If their Italian lawyers recklessly promoted these daft projects, as texts in the books themselves suggest, the lawyers could all face both contempt of court charges and malpractice suits from their clients.

Nice work….


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Seeds Of Betrayal: In Interview Knox Reveals To Italy Her Considerable Irritation With Sollecito

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





For some odd reason, Amanda Knox has decided she is not loved enough in Italy.

Could it be because she is widely seen to have lied her way through trial, came across as loud, self-absorbed and callous in her 2009 testimony and court interventions, served three years for framing her her kindly employer, was reported as being just as grubby and tin-eared and sharp-elbowed as ever in prison, slimed Italy though her cohorts in much of the English-language media after her 2011 release, and has now written an illegal blood-money book which once again slams a benign Italy?

In particular it slams the justice system, one of the most popular and trusted institutions in Italy, and its officers of the court, with more proven lies and contradictions with past testimony being unearthed daily. 

Apparently in Knox’s mind it was all really Guede’s and Sollecito’s faults.

It was they who tarnished her image. Here in an interview in the current Oggi (which appears just as in contempt of court as last week’s Oggi article now the subject of a criminal investigation) she sets Italians straight.

Translation here was by our main poster Miriam, who is herself in Italy - and in disgust.

AMANDA KNOX: ITALIANS; WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE ME?

Amanda Knox answers the phone with a bright voice and no signs of fatigue. Strange. She is a veteran of a promotional tour that would have knocked-out a bison. Her book “Waiting to be heard” is selling like mad [it is?] but it will not be published in Italy: our publishers have a - sound - suspect that it would set off a number of complaints for defamation, and they have decided to not publish it.

“I’m sorry” she says. “The Italians believe that I am full of hate for them, but if they had the opportunity to read my book they would discover that there is not a trace of anger in it. It hurts that so many believe that I am guilty, that I wrote the book out of arrogance, for money. It is not true.” Says Knox venting her frustration.

Following the Cassazione’s decision on March 26 to redo the appeal process - which had absolved Amanda and Rafaele Sollecito - the British publishers also pulled back.

“They asked me if I wanted to postpone the book launch. But it is my turn to talk now, and I do not intend to alter my story just because somebody threatens to sue me.” Amanda is nothing if not pugnacious.  “Compared to how I was before I came to Perugia, I am quieter, even timid. My family is disappointed: the sunny happy Amanda no longer exists.”

Your personality - the way you reacted to Meredith’s death - caused you many problems at the time.

“People involved in a tragedy can react in many different ways, and your behavior can be manipulated to reinforce the idea that you are the one who is guilty.”

What are you referring to?

“To the infamous images taken outside of the small villa on the day Meredith’s lifeless body was found. Those images were cut and obsessively repeated, so as to only show Raffaele and me kissing.” The message was clear: “their friend is dead and all those two think about is kissing.”

What were you feeling at that moment?

“I hadn’t understood what had happened; I had not accepted the fact that Meredith had died in such a terrible way. I felt lost and sad. I was desperately trying to understand. Raffaele kissed me to console me: since I did not speak Italian yet, there was a linguistic barrier between us that prevented us from giving each other verbal support. And then, to re-enforce the strangeness of my behavior, there was the contrast of the cries of my roommate Filomena Romanelli. She is Italian, she had understood. She had seen Meredith’s room, the body, the blood. Not me: I was in total confusion.”

In the book, Honor Bound, Sollecito writes that your behavior that day was “embarassing”

“I don’t think he was embarrassed . I can understand that he would find me “clingy”. I depended on him completely; I was absolutely clingy. However, he knew how they were looking at us, while I hadn’t considered at all how people might have judged us. I was simply reacting in my lost and disoriented way.”

One of the PMs believes that Guede didn’t act alone. Could he have had an accomplice?

“I can only base my opinion on what the prosecution brought to court.”

And?

“They found another person’s DNA in Meredith’s room, a person that has never been identified. A smaller amount of DNA than Rudy’s. There is Guede’s bloody handprint on the wall, his footprint, his DNA on Meredith’s body. This evidence leads me to believe he acted alone.”

John Kercher, Meredith’s dad, maintains that his daughter had studied karate as a child, and that she would have fought to survive. He believes one man would not have been able to subdue her.

“Of course Meredith fought, but what could she have done against an armed man? Rudy is athletic, and is not small. Mez was minute, she maybe weighed 54 kgs, what good could have Karate done her? Even a man if faced against the likes of Guede, armed with a knife, would not have stood a chance.”

How do you explain Rudy’s calm countenance during the trial? Before being arrested he had told a friend - Giacomo Benedetti - on Skye that you and Raffaele had nothing to do with the murder. After being arrested he started accusing you.

“Yes, it is a strange coincidence. I do not know if he changed his story based on his own ideas or those of his lawyers or the prosecution. I only know that after his story changed, the PM began calling him “poor Rudy” to demonstrate how fragile he was, and consequently how easily manipulated by me.”

When and why did you break up with Raffaele?

“When he “broke” my alibi (during a police questioning, Raffaele claimed to not remember if Amanda had left the house the night of the murder, editor’s note.) It was a shock for me.”

“A shock that combined with the fact that we did not communicate for a long time while in prison erased my feelings for him. In prison I had to focus on survival and put love aside.”

Back in Seattle, James Terrano became your boyfriend.

“We had been together in university. While I was in prison, we wrote a lot, but just as friends. When I came back home, we began looking at each other differently.”

Do you live with James?

“No. At first, I lived with a friend (Madison Paxton, who had moved to Perugia to be closer to her, editor’s note) now I live alone. James is often at my place, we’re very close, but we don’t live together.”

Did you see a psychiatrist to get over your prison experience?

“Only once, I started crying and never went back. I talk with my friends and with my family; I don’t need an “external consultant.” Writing the book was extremely helpful; I freed myself of all my anger and my wounds.”

What will you do now?

“I took a break from university to write my book; I’m going to go back and would like to graduate next year. I would also like to write other books, if I can afford do. My financial future is very uncertain.”

But everyone says the advance on the book was fantastic.

“I’ll just say that I still have not been able to meet my first goal: repay my family for all expenses incurred in defending and staying close to me.” (One and a half million dollars, editor’s note)

People have also mentioned a movie.
..
“I’ve heard the same. I don’t know how being on the set would be; perhaps not as terrible as I imagine.”

Is there anything you regret?

“Yes. I regret not having immediately contacted Meredith’s family, of not having expressed my feelings and sorrow to them. At the beginning, perhaps, it would have been possible. It hurts to know that John Kercher believes I’m guilty, and that this belief is based on faulty information. I had hoped that once absolved, the Kerchers would have believed me. But that didn’t happen.

Maybe the new trial will draw out the truth

“That is up to Rudy, but I doubt he will do it.”

In May 2014, Rudy could receive the first permit allowing him to enjoy a few days out of prison.

“That’s crazy. It’s simply insane for them to let a guilty man loose because they refuse to admit they were wrong about me.”



Yes Rudy! What about that? Why did Knox’s own lawyers and the Supreme Court accept that overwhelming evidence proved three people did it?

And why did you say she did it? And why do her own parents believe she did it? How did you accomplish those tricks? Amanda says: speak up.












Saturday, April 06, 2013

Giuliano Mignini Promotion Places Him First In Line For Prosecutor General of The Region Of Umbria

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Giuliano Mignini at left at Lake Trasimeno where Dr Narducci’s body believed bound was recovered]


Umbria of course is the Region for which Perugia is the capital and the current Prosecutor General is Dr Galati who will soon retire.

The post that the popular Dr Mignini was promoted into on his high-scoring merit this past week is one of three deputy prosecutor general posts. The promotion was delayed because of the rogue prosecution against him which Cassation annulled, but he is the most senior and most high-scoring of the three so he should succeed Dr Galati.

We will post the full story (it is a long and impressive one) after our series of posts on the Cassation outcome is done. The story includes an almost unprecedented THREE Cassation wins in just the past several months.

  • One obviously was Dr Mignini’s role in the overturn of the Knox-Sollecito appeal and confirmation of Knox’s felony conviction. His main role was to have presented an error-free case at trial in 2009 resulting in the solid grounding of the Massei Report just praised by the Supreme Court.

  • One was the final termination of the spurious prosecution against Dr Mignini and Dr Michele Giuttari in Florence by a rogue prosecutor who was desperate to cover his tail after he was (legally) caught on tape incriminating himself.

  • One was the Cassation decision to permit the reopening of the MOF-related Narducci case and to confirm that investigations and prosecutions against nearly two dozen who had been seemingly obstructing justice may proceed.

Congratulations to a fearless and effective prosecutor. We will update his full story here soon.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Oil Tanker Incident: Things Between Italy And India Become… Complicated

Posted by Peter Quennell





India and Italy have long been close allies but an incident a year ago perversely reverberates on.

We posted on it here and here with some excellent commentary from our Indian posters Sara and Chami.

Italy maintained that the shooting of two fishermen who the soldiers above had wrongly assumed were pirates happened in international waters, and the oil-tanker company offered to pay substantial damages to the grieving families, which they appeared at one point to have accepted.

But though the tanker was long gone from the port of Kochi, the soldiers remained under house arrest, and in the state of Kerala there remained a disposition to put them on trial though the central government told Kerala they had no jurisdiction. On the say-so of the Italian Ambassador in New Delhi that they would return, the soldiers were recently allowed to return to Italy.

Now it seems Italy doesnt want to send them back. In quick retaliation, the Indian mission to Rome may be in the process of being diplomatically downgraded, the Italian Ambassador to India is being prevented from leaving India, and the Indian Express sees a sardonic side to all of this. 

To complicate the lives of the diplomats, Sri Lanka has arrested 53 Indian fishermen which it said were illegally fishing in its territorial waters, and is still holding 19 of them captive. And Italy is seeking to have a number of CIA operatives returned to Italy to stand trial there for kidnapping.

One bit of genuine good news is that piracy is at a five year low. Phew. Thanks for that one.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/16 at 02:46 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextComments here (10)

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Subject To Appeal, Ex PM Silvio Berlusconi Is Sentenced In Milan To One Year For Corruption

Posted by Peter Quennell





The New York Times reports on this, the first outcome out of three corruption cases..

The story is in line with many previous posts here on the popularity and the efficient and unbending nature of Italian law enforcement. This is a system that has had to contend with a string of corrupt politicians and three mafias, and is slowly but surely winning the wars against all of them.

Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister and dominant political figure in Italy, was convicted and sentenced on Thursday to one year in prison for his role in the publication of a wiretapped conversation in a newspaper his family owns.

The verdict, handed down in a Milan court, was the second conviction for Mr. Berlusconi, the leader of Italy’s main center-right political party, in the past five months. It promises to weaken his position further as negotiations begin later this month to form a governing coalition, after inconclusive national elections late last month in which his party, People of Liberty, ran a close second behind the Democratic Party.

After Thursday’s conviction, “it will be difficult for Mr. Berlusconi to have an institutional role in the next government, either in the Senate or in any other Italian institution “” he’s out of the game,” said Sergio Fabbrini, director of the school of government at Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. “But in the Italian public opinion, there won’t be any difference,” he added. “The country is already divided between those who think he is a criminal and those who think he’s a victim. It’s been that way for 15 years.”

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/09 at 02:15 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextComments here (3)

FBI Reporting Close Co-operation With Italy In Arresting And Soon Extraditing A Fugitive Swindler

Posted by Peter Quennell





A new FBI report in the news.

It is still more confirmation in line with many previous posts here that US and Italian crime-fighters respect one another and work closely together - and don’t turn a hair at requests for extradition.

The fugitive fund manager Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm could face 25 years in prison. The FBI explains what he is accused of: 

Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm, a German hedge fund manager who was on the run for more than five years, has been arrested in Italy on federal fraud charges that accuse him of orchestrating a market manipulation scheme designed to artificially improve the performance of his funds, a fraud that led to at least $200 million in losses to investors around the world….

Homm was the founder and chief investment officer of Absolute Capital Management Holdings Limited, a Cayman Islands-based investment advisor that managed nine hedge funds from 2004 until September 2007. The criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Homm directed the hedge funds to buy billions of shares of thinly traded, United States-based “penny stocks.” Homm caused many of the purchases of penny stocks to be made through Hunter World Markets Inc., a broker-dealer in Los Angeles that Homm co-owned. Homm also allegedly obtained shares of the penny stock companies through various businesses he controlled.

And the FBI credits the role in arresting Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm of the Italian authorities.

Homm, 53, was arrested at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Friday (local time). Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles obtained an arrest warrant on Wednesday, March 6, after filing a criminal complaint that charges Homm with four felony charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud. Homm was arrested by Italian authorities after the United States submitted a request for a provisional arrest with officials in Rome.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some Homework For Curt Knox/Marriott/FOA: How Leaning On Italian Judiciary Can Seriously Misfire

Posted by Peter Quennell




Update: Nicolo Pollari won at the Supreme Court level and walks free. On close examination this seems fair. He was forbidden by secrecy rules at trial to explain his role and put on a defense. It seems his role might have been very minor or none at all if he was kept out of the loop. Italy has ignored a negative opinion on this from the ECHR.

Nicolo Pollari (above) has just been sentenced to ten years and Marco Mancini to nine.

Mr Pollari was the supreme head of Italy’s intelligence agencies - its top spy - and Mr Mancinin was one of his deputies. They were sentenced by a court in Milan.  They were found to be complicit in an act now illegal both in Italy and now the US.

Under the George Bush and Berlusconi regimes, an Egyptian called Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and dispatched to be tortured elsewhere. Revealed not to be a terrorist, he was later released.

Some 26 Americans, mostly CIA, were previously sentenced in Milan for the same crime in absentia. Italian warrants for their arrest are out and those warrants could be submitted to Interpol to be applied worldwide.

These were the outcomes DESPITE elements of the US and Italian governments putting up a tremendous rearguard fight. To their credit the US State Department and Rome Embassy dont seem to have been proactive in this (State was even sued for not providing one CIA operative with diplomatic cover) but bets are they would have hit a wall if they had. .

In an amazing new behind-the-scenes expose of the sordid history of the political strong-arming in The Guardian, in which he praises Italian justice a lot, Glenn Greenwald includes this:

This prosecution was possible in the first instance only because a single Italian magistrate, Armando Spataro, insisted on pursuing it despite all sorts of attacks against him.

This 2009 Der Spiegel article reports that, as a result of his pursuit of the case, “his communications were monitored, the Italian intelligence service placed him under observation and there were even investigations into whether he had betrayed state secrets.

The government tried again and again to silence him. But the magistrates ignored those repressive efforts, eventually even seizing [chief CIA operative] Robert Lady’s retirement villa in Italy to cover court costs.

Numerous cables show Italian officials, especially Berlusconi himself, attacking the Italian magistrates and assuring the US that Italian courts would eventually stop them.

One 2005 US cable celebrates that Minister of Justice Roberto Castelli “took the unusual step of publicly criticizing a member of Italy’s highly independent magistracy” over this case, specifically that he “called Armando Spataro a “militant’. meaning a communist”...

That public denunciation of the magistrate happened, recounted the US cable, after he “presented Castelli with requests for the provisional arrest in contemplation of extradition for 22 Americans involved in the alleged rendition of Egyptian Imam Abu Omar from Milan.”

Does this sound at all familiar?! There seem to be good lessons here for Curt Knox, David Marriott and the FOA.

Italian justice may take its sweet time (deliberately so, because of the Post World War II constitution) but all important cases are an opera in three acts - and no perp should think he or she is home free (and start writing books) at the end of Act II.

And prosecutors should never ever be leaned on because they invariably push back and most have the firm support of powerful colleagues - not the hapless Judge Hellmann, though, who the Council of Magistrates has made quite sure is gone.

Note that under Italian law criminal defamation suits by officialdom can be brought in Italy even if the serial slimers are across the Atlantic and believe distance or a helpful government is on their side.

The first of the suits against Sollecito for the multiple defamation in his book could be filed any day now, and Andrew Gumbel and Simon & Schuster executives might find targets on their own backs.

Roll on, the Amanda Knox interview and book!  We’ll see if anyone by then grew a brain.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Italy’s Advanced, Effective, Humane Law & Order System Also Adopted By City Of New York

Posted by Peter Quennell





New York City.

The main characteristics of the Italian system are (1) a large and visible national and local police presence, (2) a low crime rate even by European standards, and even more-so by American standards, and (3) a very low rate of incarceration that is only 1/6 that of the US.

Pretty well the exact opposite of what you’d suppose if you read only Frank Sforza and Raffaele Sollecito and Bruce Fischer and Saul Kassin and Steve Moore and of course Mario Spezi. Read only them, and one might be excused for thinking Italy’s is a huge, horrible system the Italian population desperately needs them to save it from.

Get a life!

An extremely misconceived campaign if the real purpose (we do wonder) is to do anything helpful for in particular Amanda Knox. The average Italian in the street likes and respects and is proud of their system. Polls repeatedly show that the institutions of that system are the most trusted and respected in Italy.

The general mood is probably toward a bit less concern about all perps and a lot more concern about all victims.  But essentially the system is liked for what it is. Conspiracy theories don’t fly.

New York is now the safest big city in America. It is following a route that is not only almost identical to Italy’s - it is being watched and emulated elsewhere across the US. All of John Tierney’s important report in last Friday’s New York Times is worth a read, for this could represent a huge sea-change.

These are the openings paras. 

Now that the United States has the world’s highest reported rate of incarceration, many criminologists are contemplating another strategy. What if America reverted to the penal policies of the 1980s? What if the prison population shrank drastically? What if money now spent guarding cellblocks was instead used for policing the streets?

In short, what would happen if the rest of the country followed New York City’s example?

As the American prison population has doubled in the past two decades, the city has been a remarkable exception to the trend: the number of its residents in prison has shrunk. Its incarceration rate, once high by national standards, has plunged well below the United States average and has hit another new low, as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced recently. And crime in the city has fallen by more than 75 percent, almost twice as much as in the rest of the country.

Whatever has made New York the safest big city in America, that feat has certainly not been accomplished by locking up more criminals.

“The precise causes of New York’s crime decline will be debated by social scientists until the Sun hits the Earth,” said Michael Jacobson, a criminologist who ran the city’s Correction and Probation Departments during the 1990s and is now the president of the Vera Institute of Justice, a criminal justice research group. “But the 50,000-foot story from New York is that you can drive down crime while decreasing your jail and prison population “” and save a huge amount of money in the process.”

New York’s singular success has attracted attention across the country from public officials whose budgets have been strained by the prison boom. The 2.3 million people behind bars in America, a fifth of the world’s prisoners, cost taxpayers more than $75 billion a year. The strict penal policies were intended to reduce crime, but they have led to a historic, if largely unrecognized, shift in priorities away from policing.

“The United States today is the only country I know of that spends more on prisons than police,” said Lawrence W. Sherman, an American criminologist on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Cambridge University in Britain. “In England and Wales, the spending on police is twice as high as on corrections. In Australia it’s more than three times higher. In Japan it’s seven times higher. Only in the United States is it lower, and only in our recent history.”


Saturday, January 19, 2013

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

Posted by Peter Quennell





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

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

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

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

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

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




















Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Perugia’s Exceptional Uni And Economy May Have Made RS And AK Feel Small Frogs In Big Pond

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Multi-millionaire success story Brunello Cucinelli and, below, his Perugia-area factory and a typical store]


Few crime specialists seem to see the pattern of the attack against Meredith as being absent of intense anger.

There is no way that attack represents the pattern of a lone burglar or for that matter of a single perp of any kind. The Supreme Court already KNOWS that and they know that at first appeal the Knox and especially Sollecito lawyers tried desperately to prove that two or three other perps were there, either with Rudy Guede (witness Aviello) or without (witness Alessi).

For months now, apparently unnoticed by the FOA sheep, the defenses have been sounding absolutely feckless in the face of the juggernaurt prosecution appeal submitted to Cassation by Perugia’s chief prosecutor Dr Galati.

We’re betting that if they had it all over they would have urged Knox and Sollecito to take the short-form trial and one of the olive branches offered by the prosecution (that it was a sex-based attack which went too far, not an intentional preplanned murder).

They could have entered known facts about Sollecito and Knox to show that at the least they had tin ears and had always been callous, jealous and quirky. They might have advanced a drug-based excuse - the other olive branch advanced by the prosecution was that they were on cocaine and not marjuana that night and cocaine can induce rages leading to murder.

They might also have advanced the notion that both AK and RS were being remorselessly frozen out by their peers, who increasingly looked down on them, not least of course Meredith whose sleep and studies were constantly disrupted by the thoughtless, sharp-elbowed Knox.

Consider first who were their peers. Perugia is a city of driven high performers and it may not be the most comfortable environment for low-performing layabouts. In its own small way it is about as hustling as Manhattan.

It is one of the brightest cities in Europe with an extremely high median IQ. It is one of the top-performing cities in the Italian economy, in part because of the advanced scientific research at the very large university, and in part because it is the home to some brilliant international entrepreneurs.

Both these faces of Perugia are constantly in the Italian news. A search of the past week’s news for the university turns up reports on medical and mathematical and space-science breakthroughs and as usual a number of international conferences in the works.

And a search of last week’s news for Perugian businesses turns up for example this report on Brunello Cucinelli the highly sucessful and innovative fashion-goods entrepreneur who is now talking of doubling his factory.

Sollecito was never really a part of either. He had few friends and no girlfriends, he was a year or two behind his age-group in his studies, and he needed his back watched at all times - though from his book it is obvious that he felt needled by his highly successful doctor-father.

And Knox arrived with poor Italian despite all the claimed studies back in Seattle, she took on only a light and unimpressive study-load (compare Knox’s to Meredith’s) and she was rapidly shedding friends and the goodwill of her tolerant, well-meaning employer.

Neither had a credible and impressive career path in mind, and for that matter, still don’t. It is tough enough to know you are not making it, that can induce in many quite a rage.

But it is even tougher when all your peers around you notice it, and in American street parlance you get to feel “dissed”.












Monday, December 10, 2012

Italian News Through February Will Be Dominated By A Surprise Election

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Pier Luigi Bersani, the probable next prime minister of Italy]


Prime Minister Monti is leaving, with most of his reforms pushed through, after Ex-PM Berlusconi’s party withdrew support.

Berlusconi announced he would again seek to be Prime Minister but his flouting of law, slimy ethics and previous wrecking of the economy don’t exactly make him the front-runner.

The front-runner in fact is Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the center-left Democratic Party, who has said he will sustain the reforms his party helped Mr Monti put in place.

Italy doesn’t usually have primary elections but the other day it did and Mr Bersani really trounced a leadership bid by the young mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi (image below).

Mr. Bersani, 61, who has been the secretary of the Democratic Party since 2009, ran as the favorite, with nearly the full support of the party apparatus and its elected officials. He easily defeated Mr. Renzi, winning nearly 61 percent of the vote.

But Mr. Renzi’s message of change rang forcefully with a sizeable chunk of the center-left electorate, with over one million supporting him. He also attracted a considerable number of mostly young center-right voters whose frustrations with Italy’s influential and pervasive gerontocracy obliterated party lines.

It is a message that Mr. Bersani may have heeded. Speaking to supporters on Sunday night, he said his greatest challenges were to change the center-left and to “prepare paths and spaces to give opportunities to new generations.”

Austerity as a precursor to strong growth had already been taking a lot of knocks as the evidence that it is a cure-all is pretty slim and it creates terrible unemployment. Center-left governments (as in the US) are doing well these days.

The IMF was once the grand inquisitor of the austerity movement but is increasingly inclining toward the Asian mixed model, in part because it is there the IMFs cash and leadership increasingly come from.

This might be quite a help to Mr. Bersani as he confronts harder-line EU leadership and bond markets.


[Below: Matteo Renzi who lost primary but may affect Italy’s direction anyway]

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/10 at 03:56 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextComments here (8)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Perugia Police Chief During 2008 Investigation Rises To Head Of National Anti-Mafia Department

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Video commentary and interview in Italian]


Arturo de Felice has served more than 30 years in various police jurisdictions. Now he becomes head of the anti-mafia department in Rome.

He was in charge at the Perugia questura up to August of 2008 when the crime was being jointly investigated with experts from Rome.

Arturo de Felice made the anouncement to the media and a nervous Perugia on the day after interrogators caused Knox’s and Sollecito’s alibis to separate.  He announced to the media that Sollecito had admitted lying and Knox had admitted to being at the scene - with Patrick Lumumba, though, not with Guede.

He indicated that police were surprised at how quickly Knox crumbled, and this surprise was confirmed by interrogators themselves and an interpreter at the trial in 2009. From the 7 November Daily Telegraph.

The police said today that Knox’s confession could be the key to solving the case.

Mr De Felice said: “She crumbled. She confessed. There were holes in her alibi. Her mobile phone records were crucial.”

He said Knox’s claims that she was elsewhere had been demonstrated to be false. The police found text messages on her phone from Lumumba, fixing a meeting between them at 8.35pm on the night Miss Kercher died.

The police also said that Sollecito had cracked, and admitted he had lied. Tomorrow morning, all three will appear before a judge to have their arrests confirmed before they are formally charged with non-premeditated murder and participation in an act of sexual violence.

Of course, it was not an especially helpful crumbling by Amanda Knox. Lumumba was released after a lot of time and effort was wasted when a palm print at the scene was identified as that of Rudy Guede.

However in her two written confessions Knox was pretty nasty toward Patrick. Then she let him languish in prison for several weeks. And as Fly By Night posted on the PMF forum last year, Knox had admitted to crimes, if not to murder.

1. She provided the access for a murderer to enter the cottage.

2. She heard thuds and a scream, and imagined what was happening.

3. In her drunken stupor, she failed to come to Meredith’s aid both during and after the murder.

4. She actively covered up the murder by failing to report it or otherwise detail her actions for 4 full 24 hour days following the murder.

In December Knox was interviewed by Mr Mignini in the presence of her attorney and was asked her why she had implicated Patrick. She refused to answer.

At trial she raised no objections to any testimony from those present at the interrogation that she spontaneously fingered Patrick, and she admitted under interrogation that it was her idea.

Mr De Felice comes from Calabria in the deep south (where Dr Galati also comes from) and has headed many mafia investigations in his career. This is dangerous work and those who do it tend to be widely admired in Italy.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What New York And Venice (Surprise Surprise) Suddenly Find They Have In Common

Posted by Peter Quennell


1) New York










Plus more images down below in Comments.


2) Venice










Plus more images down below in Comments.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/21 at 04:25 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextComments here (10)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Powerpoints #19: Placing The Noisy Claimant Doug Preston In The Hot Seat

Posted by Kermit





This is the first in a new Powerpoint series. Click here if you have Powerpoint or the Powerpoint Viewer program loaded. If not here is the Viewer download.

This curious incident instigated this series:

A week or two ago I received an unexpected email from Douglas Preston, co-author with Mario Spezi of The Monster of Florence (Spezi also wrote an Italian version that seems to conflict at points with the English version) and a heated champion of the attempt to free Amanda Knox, who is stlll accused pending Supreme Court appeal of the murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia on 1 November 2007.

Preston explained that he wanted to write a “piece” about the “Knox case” and that he would like to do a 10 question email interview with me.  I got the hunch that Preston and Spezi are going to be active over the next few months in the media as their cause is increasingly thrown in disarray. Along with, I presume, their possible movie based on the Monster of Florence book.

I was surprised that Preston said he would “quote you accurately, honestly, and in context, and represent your views respectfully and accurately”. 

Hmmm. We all have in our memory Preston accusing me (see his comment April 28 2011 at 6:57 pm) of “distortions, falsehoods, and crackpot opinion presented as settled fact. Kermit’s open letter contains many out and out lies”.

He also claimed, erroneously, that I hide behind a “screen of false IP addresses and various other hacker tricks” (what, has Preston tried to hack me?) and that I had “demonstrated a long history of falsehood and dishonesty” (I have?!).

Given that past experience, would you trust Preston? Silly me, I’m ready to give anyone another chance.

In return I proposed that the interview be two-way, and that we each proceed question by question on the issues that we wanted to clarify for us to publish in due course. I included a first question on seeming significant errors and mistruths in the “Afterword” or epilogue chapter of his and Spezi’s Monster of Florence book.

Very disappointingly, he didnt respond in kind. Nothing useful came back. He concluded “as for my (Preston’s) ‘objectivity,’ I am a point-of-view journalist in this case. People know where I stand and they know my bad history with Mignini. I don’t pretend to be objective”.

Should Preston really call himself a journalist or an opinion maker, or a lobbyist?  Why can’t people just respect the Italian legal process, which right now is not (and never was) firmly in the hands of Prosecutor Mignini, Preston’s perceived nemesis?

As we seem set to be subjected once again to seeing Preston and/or Spezi regularly sharing their rancid opinion of Prosecutor Mignini and Italians officials on the case with the public, I decided to get out in front, with this series pre-emptively checking their versions of the “truths”.

The Monster of Florence book is labeled (see above) a “True Story”, and while it does include historical facts related to the MoF murders in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s,  the two authors also personally intrude themselves into events.

This series should help the public to decide how seriously (if at all) they should accept Preston’s and Spezi’s opinions expressed in their media appearances where they interject themselves into Meredith Kercher’s murder case.

And to see if any of Preston’s self-described “point-of-view journalism” truths he shares with Spezi really stand up.

Please check back to TJMK every few days as we pose new questions to Preston and his co-author Spezi.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Sunk Ship: This Week’s Closed Hearings Required The Conversion Of This Theater

Posted by Peter Quennell





The international media presence at the hearings in Grosetto matches those at the end of the trial and the appeal in Perugia.

But despite the conversion into a court of the large Theater Moderno shown here, the media is not getting to observe the hearings first-hand. The judges decided that they all have to wait outside.

So many passengers and relatives of victims wanted to attend to look Captain Schettino in the eye that they occupy all of the several thousand seats.

This hearing is similar to the hearing presided over by Judge Micheli in October 2008 to decide whether to remand Knox and Sollecito for trial. We should know in a few days if Captain Schettino and several other officers and company officials will face trial for manslaughter and other crimes.

Perhaps the most shocking fact to emerge from the reports prepared for the hearings is that once the ship was gashed in the side it was almost instantly mechanically incapacitated. If a brisk headwind had not stopped the ship and pushed it around onto an underwater shelf, it might have sunk in minutes, perhaps with several thousand drowned.

The captain has just been fired. He in turn is strenuously trying to shift the blame for the disaster to his fellow crew, many of whom had weak English and no Italian, and also to the cruise company.

The cruise-line business has now recovered but, as with the Titanic, a lot is being learned around the world about ship construction, emergency ship management, and the relevant law.






















[Below: Captain Schettino, now fired by his company, arrives from Sorrento for the hearing]




[Below: Giulia Bongiorno reopresents some passenger and seeks a class action suit]




[Below: the ship now shows up on Google Earth. The rocks it hit are at lower left]

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/18 at 11:17 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextComments here (4)

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Sunk Ship: Italian, French And American Systems May All Ensure Justice For Victims

Posted by Peter Quennell





Our series here tracks how the Italian system is performing. On Monday the criminal inquest will begin.

So far it is looking (as usual) pretty good but as the Costa Concordia was an American-owned ship, and as many Americans and French were on board, the French and American systems could pick up a part of the legal strain.

This is a huge case with 32 dead, thousands suffering serious stress, a ship written off, and its expensive refloating for breaking-up elsewhere now under way.  Andrea Vogt reports:

The Italian criminal inquest into the Costa Concordia shipwreck finally opens in Grosseto ““ the closest town to the scene of the accident - on Monday 15 October. 

The Grosseto judges will hear evidence from a dry but damning 270-page technical report compiled by two Navy admirals and two engineers. It details the maddening series of errors by crew, captain and the cruise company Costa Crociere that doomed the mega cruise ship.

Among the nine people facing charges ranging from manslaughter to abandoning ship is the captain, Francesco Schettino. Given the stories of the mistress ““ a Moldovan dancer called Domnica Cemortan ““ and the accusation that he purposefully took the ship too close to land for a sail-by ‘salute’, his presence alone guarantees a heavy media presence.

The much reviled captain’s wife Fabiola Russo and his girlfriend Domnica Cemortan (images below) both still seem loyal to him but (cartoon at bottom) they may now be his only two friends and one or other could break away at any time.

On [French] Coast Guard orders, the 456 [French] survivors were interviewed by the French Gendarmerie, who asked them all the same questions, amassing a formidable database of independent depositions detailing their experiences and the post-traumatic stress many suffered.

Half of them formed a victims’ association to bargain collectively…. The group met in recent weeks to discuss progress in the case and seek comfort in their shared suffering.

To measure the psychological impact, a study was commissioned by a psychologist from the University of Haute Alsace. It revealed trauma typical of survival scenarios: nightmares, anxiety, depression, anger, a sense of abandonment and a loss of faith in the fairness of fellow humans (especially among the mothers with children)....

The massive body of evidence assembled in France has not gone unnoticed in Italy, where it will likely be submitted as evidence. “The Italian magistrates are very interested ““ we have 456 different people responding to the same questions,” Bertrand Courtois told The Week.

Carnival Line’s American stock is still an under-performer, though its fleetwide systems have been tightened up, and the same with other cruise lines. Generally a safe industry but with spectacular disasters now and then.











Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/12 at 06:42 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextComments here (4)

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.




Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seems A Sudden U-Turn For The Better In The German-Italian Economic Relationship

Posted by Peter Quennell





This has been a tense time for both leaders. Just a few days ago nasty words were surfacing in the media on both sides.

But quite suddenly things are looking up. Ms Merkel praises Mr Monti and Italy just got the best price for its bonds since March.

Still the deep insecurities persist. Hard to see such a fine people so down.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/30 at 04:01 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextComments here (4)

Friday, August 24, 2012

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

Posted by Peter Quennell





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But she didn’t step aside.

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

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

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

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

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



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