Headsup: Those in the US and elsewhere who can access the Lifetime cable channel and website and who are following the Epstein/Maxwell saga may wish to catch Surviving Jeffrey Epstein on 9 and 10 August.

Category: ABC Network

Friday, April 02, 2010

How The Strongarm Public Relations Resulted in Most Of The Media Getting It Wrong

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the full excerpt from Barbie Nadeau’s new book.

This is surely one of the worst cases of misreporting and malicious bias in all of media history. It’d be very nice (though don’t hold your breath!) if journalism schools and media owners examined the firestorm to stop it ever happening again.

Consider just the US hall of shame.

And please remember: this is the SAME media that turned a blind eye to the Micheli sentencing report on Guede, and appears to be trying hard to do the same (not one of them is translating it) to the Massei sentencing report on Knox and Sollecito.

Here is Barbie Nadeau describing how the sharp-elbowed Knox/Marriott public relations bombardment warped Americans’ take on the case.

Coverage of the crime began to diverge on the two sides of the Atlantic. From the vantage point of Perugia, it seemed as though the Knox family’s American supporters were simply choosing to ignore the facts that were coming to light in Italy….

The American press hung back, at first, objective and somewhat disbelieving that such a wholesome-seeming girl could have any connection to such a sordid foreign crime, and then, as the family stepped up its defense, increasingly divided between two camps that would become simply the innocentisti””those who believed she was blameless””and the colpevolisti, those who did not. In Perugia, these labels governed access…

Of the handful of American journalists in Perugia in late 2007 and early 2008, none got access to the Knox family without certain guarantees about positive coverage. Within months, the family decided to speak on the record primarily to the American TV networks, often in exchange for airfare and hotel bills. Most of the print press was shut out. And the TV producers learned to be very cautious about being seen with people like me, lest the Knox family should cut them off.

But as interest in the case grew, an odd assortment of American talking heads attached their reputations to Amanda’s innocence. An aggressive support group called Friends of Amanda formed in Seattle, headed by Anne Bremner, a media-savvy criminal lawyer who had cut her teeth as a tough prosecutor in Seattle’s King County Court…

Very quickly, [PR manager David] Marriott lost control of the situation. As he spoon-fed the Knox-approved message to American outlets that couldn’t afford to send correspondents to Italy, those of us on the ground in Perugia began passing his contradictory e-mails around as entertainment during the long days in the court.

[We reporters in Rome] began what would be a two-year battle against the Seattle message machine, incurring personal attacks and outright threats.

.

We rather like the Daily Beast book, for its splash of cold water on the media, and for its highly accurate accounting of the court proceedings and of the voluminous evidence the judges also describe in their report.

We also believe that although Meredith’s family did not participate, Barbie Nadeau has strong compassion for them, and a sense of real loss over Meredith.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Could The Italian Authorities Be Starting A Wave Of Libel + Slander Investigations?

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Nick Pisa’s report on Sky News about the charges Amanda Knox’s parents are being investigated for.

The sliming of the prosecution, the police and investigators, and even the many judges in the process, never seemed to our legal contacts like a particularly good idea.

The CIA operatives trial we referred to in this post (over which the United States and the Italian prime minister could exert ZERO influence, please note) shows that Italy has a long arm and tough laws.

And the very independent judges and prosecutors are willing to take a very hard line to enforce them.

A Seattle lawyer who propagates what seems to us a pretty daffy and unfounded view of the case, made statements in the recent report by Italian network LA7 which don’t seem to have gone over very well in Italy. They may have attracted some official attention.

We dont know if the many statements made to an American audience on for example the ABC, CNN and CBS networks (most recently by New-York-based lawyer John Q Kelly) could attract investigations. But we do hear they might have all been taken note of, and it is possible the US networks might be monitoring their coverage of the case from now on.

ABC and KING-5 Seattle, both highly negative about Italy in recent months, may be particularly vulnerable.

And if and when the one administrative charge against Mr Mignini is dropped, an American crime-fiction writer and wannabe real-crime reporter might also perhaps find himself in the Italian legal cross-hairs for some very odd things he has said and written.

it will be interesting to see if any of the US-based media pick up on and report objectively on this development in Italy. Someone taking bets?

*******

Update #1: The Associated Press has just fed the defamation story to its client media outlets in the United States.

Update #2: The AP report has now gone viral. As of right now (2:00 pm New York time) Google is returning over 1500 hits. So the word is out: watch one’s tongue where Italian justice is concerned, or there may be consequences.

Update #3: Here is a safe bet based on some insider buzz. This development will make the US State Department and the American Embassy in Rome very happy. They have long wanted the sliming of Italy to stop.

Update #4: It sounds like it might make several million citizens of Seattle very happy too. They have long wanted the Mellases and Knoxes to simply stick to the truth - and address, you know, the hard evidence.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Producer Of CBS Reports On The Case “Crazy, Desperate, Stupid, And/Or Unscrupulous” ?

Posted by The Machine



[click for larger image] 

Meet Joe Halderman. A CBS producer in New York. He now stands accused of blackmail.

None of the four US networks that have attempted coverage of Meredith’s case has a good record for impartial reporting, or anything remotely like a firm grasp of the prosecution evidence as actually presented.

Not one of them seems to be aware of the very careful pre-trial process or the very damning Micheli report. 

Nevertheless, the overall records of NBC, ABC and CNN seem to show some slight attempt at balance.

NBC produced two extremely good Dateline documentaries, which still represent the standard to beat. ABC has a reporter in the court in Perugia, Ann Wise, who we often quote on TJMK because her reporting is generally impartial and good.

And although CNN aired the one-sided Larry King Show last week, and the wild-eyed Jane Velez Mitchel panel discussion (now disappeared from YouTube) in which the lunatics appeared to be running the asylum, CNN did have some good reporting in the early days of the case, and we hear they will attempt to report better.

CBS undeniably is the worst of the worst.

CBS has repeatedly spread bias and misinformation and slimed Italian professionals and witnesses, and for that matter Italy itself, throughout the past two years.

Here is our post on one disaster of a CBS report. And here,  here,  here,  and here are our posts on another.

Joe Halderman of CBS (above) co-produced both of them.

Several weeks ago, Joe Halderman was arrested and charged with blackmail for apparently attempting to stiff CBS comedy host David Letterman for two million dollars.

Mr Halderman, a producer for the real-life crime show 48 Hours, entered his plea as he appeared in court in Manhattan on a charge of attempted grand larceny.

Speaking earlier, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said that the offence, if proven, was punishable by a prison term of five to 15 years. “Our concern here is extortion and that’s what we’re focusing on,” he said.

Mr Halderman was arrested following an undercover police “sting” operation at a New York hotel, during which he was allegedly recorded setting out his blackmail demands to Letterman’s lawyer.

Now it is being reported in New York that Joe Halderman’s story is taking a really bizarre turn.

One of the last 48 Hours stories that CBS Newsman and accused David Letterman blackmailer Joe Halderman worked on - airing just one month before he allegedly launched his plot to extort the late-night host - involved a ransom scheme…

It’s a run-of-the-mill true-crime tale of murder and deception, but it features one detail that seems strange in retrospect: The sister of one of the victims, who never got her brother’s remains from the Philippines after his murder, at one point received creepy anonymous e-mails from someone claiming to have her brother’s ashes, and offering to sell them to her….

The strange thing is, in the story Halderman reported, the ransom scheme goes haywire: The man behind the e-mail ends up attracting attention to himself and gets arrested for Rios’ murder….

We came across the weird synchronicity between Halderman’s day job and his after-hours scheming while going through his old 48 Hours segments and looking for signs that they may have been produced by someone crazy, desperate, stupid, and/or unscrupulous enough to engage in blackmail.

Hmmm. Apparently Joe Halderman is crazy, desperate, stupid, and/or unscrupulous enough to mislead a large segment of the American population about the real facts of Meredith’s murder.

Real crime seems a small step from there. 

Three others who Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau might also want to keep a close eye on are CBS junior producer Sara Ely Hulse, CBS reporter Peter Van Sant, and CBS consultant detective Paul Ciolino!

All have shown themselves extremely ignorant of the basic facts of the case.

Email exchanges with the obviously obsessively pro-Knox producer Sara Ely Hulse have suggested to us that, among many other key facts of the case, she was not aware of the following:

  • Amanda Knox had a criminal record in Seattle.
  • Amanda Knox had met Rudy Guede on a number of occasions.
  • Amanda Knox was not questioned for 14 hours without an interpreter.
  • A woman’s bloody shoeprint in Knox’s size was found on a pillow in Meredith’s room.

The seemingly extremely amateurish detective Paul Ciolino was responsible for conducting the farcical experiment in Perugia in the first CBS documentary linked-to above where he could not even get the STREET right before claiming this was a railroad job from hell.

And reporter Peter Van Sant channeled some of the worst libels about Prosecutor Mignini - baseless claims about satanic sects and so on - without even being able to spell Prosecutor Mignini’s name properly!

It seems to us very odd that both Sara Ely Hulse and Paul Ciolino appear to be members of the Free Amanda Knox Facebook group. Does CBS have any guidelines at all on ethical matters or standards of reporting?

On second thoughts…. Do we REALLY have to ask?



Above: CBS reporter Peter Van Sant who repeated online unfounded libelous smears about Prosecutor Mignini



Above: Junior CBS producer Sara Ely Hulse, an obsessed Knox fan who participated in CBS’s two fiascos.



Above: CBS consultant Paul Ciolino who ran a farcical test in Perugia and also slimed prosecutor and police



Above: Indecisive CBS producer Doug Longhini who with Joe Halderman produced CBS’s two fiascos


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Justice V Jingoism: UK’s Sky News Tells Us They Are Seeing Hypocrisy

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

Sky News (controlled from NYC when last we looked! by Rupert Murdoch, above, on Sixth Avenue) says what a lot of Europeans are thinking.

A lot of New Yorkers too. A mean-spirited and dishonest PR campaign and a lazy dishonest media have colluded for far too long on this case.  And on too many similar examples.

It is quite different in the US when it comes to foreign treatment of one of their own citizens.

Amanda “˜Foxy’ Knoxy, is the young American woman now on trial in Italy for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.

I was astonished to see her whole family, parents and children, invited on [ABC’s] Good Morning America and treated with cloying sympathy for all the world as if they were victims of a miscarriage of justice.

Sky News and the other Murdoch vehicles (the London Times, for example) have been among the MOST dispassionate about the case and among the MOST compassionate about Meredith.

Good on you, Rupert. For this, we salute you.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trial: ABC News Has The Only End-Of-Day English Report

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Ann Wise’s report. “Rejected offer to leave” seems rather misleading.

In some of the Italian reports it is observed that Knox was told very soon after the death of Meredith was discovered that she was not allowed to leave Perugia for the time being, so she really had no choice but to stay. Cousin Dorothy and Ann Wise seem not to have known this.

In fact all of the key witnesses including Meredith’s English friends were told to remain in Perugia until the investigations were further advanced. Although it was very tough on them all because of a voracious media, they had to remain there for some weeks.

Only two witnesses were heard today - the second was the mobile phone specialist that Ann Wise mentions - leaving half a dozen witnesses to testify tomorrow or after the summer break.

We are told that the uncertainty about whether Judge Massei would be recovered enough to preside this Friday and Saturday resulted in several scheduling problems and forced absences. This is a busy press corps and few of them actually live in Perugia.

Apparently Judge Massei looked well and very attentive today, and interrogated the mobile phone specialist on his contribution to the timeline for the morning after.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Trial: ABC News Reports On The Trial Happenings On Friday

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Overview

Click above for Rome-based Ann Wise’s report on what happened in court today.

2. Defense Witness Demonstrates Breaking Windows

Prosecutors say Knox and Sollecito staged a break-in to make the murder appear to be the result of a botched theft. A window in the bedroom of Filomena Romanelli, Knox and Kercher’s housemate, was broken, and glass shards and a 9-pound rock were found in the room.

The prosecution presented witnesses and evidence that suggest the window was broken from the inside.

Francesco Pasquali, a retired forensic police officer hired as a consultant by Sollecito’s defense, presented a video in court that included three different scenarios showing how the rock could have been thrown from the outside to break the window, located 13 feet off the ground.

According to Pasquali, the rock was thrown from a terrace across from the window, making the glass “explode” on the inside and spreading glass fragments everywhere on the inside and the outside of the windowsill.

Pasquali said that he had re-created the same conditions that were found in Romanelli’s room at the time of the break-in. Pasquali said he constructed a window of the same size, with the same paint and the same type of glass, and threw the rock through it into a room with the same characteristics as Romanelli’s room. Two video cameras—one inside and one outside—filmed the rock being thrown through the glass.

By analyzing the trajectory of the rock and the projection of the glass shards, Pasquali said he could “exclude that the glass could have been broken from the inside.”


3. But Pasquali Has To Back Down

Prosecutors, however, contend that shutters outside the window could have prevented a rock from breaking it….

The two prosecutors in the case, Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Comodi, made a number of objections when they cross-questioned Pasquali, who admitted that he had not taken into account the fact that there were shutters on the outside of the original window.

Prosecution witnesses have testified that the shutters were partially closed on the morning after the murder, and Pasquali conceded that the closed shutters would have prevented a rock from the breaking the window from the outside.

“It does not take a technician,” Pasquali said. “If the shutters were ajar then the rock couldn’t fit through.”

As we mentioned earlier, the prosecutors also got Pasquali to admit that, besides omitting those shutters, he had also omitted the mostly-drawn curtains in his simulation.

They could have radically altered the broken-glass pattern.

4. ATM withdrawal from Meredith’s bank account

The director of a local bank, Paolo Fazi, testified that 20 euros ($28) had been withdrawn from Meredith Kercher’s account Nov. 2—the day her body was found.

But he also said that the bank accounting date does not necessarily reflect the actual date of the ATM withdrawal, and that only Kercher’s British bank would have that date.

Someone from the British bank is expected to testify in upcoming hearings. Knox and Sollecito are… accused of stealing Kercher’s credit cards, her cell phones and 300 euros ($420) in cash…


5. Guede at disco early AM

A University of Perugia student told the Perugia court that he had seen Guede at a local disco in the early morning hours of Nov. 3, after Kercher’s murder.

Pietro Camplongo said Guede was dancing alone, and that people were keeping their distance from him, because he smelled “as if he hadn’t washed.”


6. Amanda Knox family in court

[Knox during a break] graciously accepted a chocolate from Sollecito, thanking him out loud. It is reportedly the second time he has given her a chocolate.

Knox’s younger sister, Deanna, 20, appeared in court for the first time on Friday, along with Knox’s mother, Edda Mellas… Deanna Knox had been to Perugia and visited Knox in jail, but she had not returned since the trial started in January.

Knox’s half-sister Ashley, 13, also came to court Friday morning but was asked to leave by the judge, because she is a minor.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trial: ABC News Posts A Wrap-Up Report For The Day

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the story from Rome correspondent Ann Wise.

1) Testimony on Rudy Guede

A defense witness testified that just two weeks before British exchange student Meredith Kercher was murdered his law studio was broken into and a computer and cellphone were stolen. The stolen objects were later found in the possession of Rudy Guede, who has already been convicted for his role in Kercher’s murder….

Brocchi explained in court that about two weeks after the theft, on Oct. 27, the he received a call from the police saying that they had found the stolen computer and a cellphone belonging to him (which he had not realized had gone missing). The objects had been found on a person who was picked by police up in Milan, but they did not specify who that person was.

But two days later a young black man showed up on the steps to Brocchi’s office in gym shorts and a tank top (though it was cold) holding a basketball.

Brocchi said the man spoke perfect Italian with a Perugia accent and told him that he had been caught with some things that Brocchi had reported as stolen, and just wanted to tell Brocchi that he had bought those things and paid for them at the Milan train station.

“I told him, ‘look, I have no idea who you are’,” said Brocchi in court. “And he answered, ‘I don’t know who you are either.’” Brocchi then told the young man he just wanted his things back, and shut the door…

2) And testimony from Sollecito’s cleaning lady

In what was a relatively short hearing at the trial, the judge and jurors also heard testimony today from Sollecito’s former cleaning lady.

Marina Ciriboga, from Ecuador, answered questions regarding the use of bleach as a detergent at Sollecito’s house.

Prosecutors believe Knox and Sollecito used bleach to clean up blood and other evidence on the crime scene after the murder. A number of prosecution witnesses have been questioned regarding purchases of bleach and bottles of bleach found in Sollecito’s house.

Ciriboga today said that she usually washed the floors with another detergent, but that she had asked Sollecito to buy bleach. When she stopped working for Sollecito in September one and a half bottles of bleach were still in the house, Ciriboga said.

Ciriboga also works at the small supermarket down the street from Sollecito’s house where a witness—the owner of the store—has testified he saw Knox early on the morning after the murder, when Knox says she was asleep.

Ciriboga told the court that she had never seen Knox or Sollecito at the supermarket.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/27 at 01:02 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Trials 2008 & 2009Hoaxers: media groupsABC NetworkComments here (1)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Italy Shrugs: Why Amanda Knox’s Testimony Seems To Have Been A Real Flop

Posted by Nicki





Posting from Milan (image below) where we also have been watching Knox testify in Italian.

Here are just three of the disbelieving headlines on the testimony that have been appearing in the Italian press.

  • All of Amanda’s wrong moves (La Stampa)

  • Amanda growls but Patrick bites (Il Giornale)

  • Amanda: I am innocent. But many “I don’t remembers” start popping up (ANSA)

As many of us were expecting, Amanda’s testimony has backfired. She came across not as confident but arrogant, not as sweet but testy, not as true but a fake who has memorized a script, an actress who is playing a part but not well enough to fool the public.

It is true that the Italian media and public opinion in general have not been very benign with Knox. But not for the reasons that the American media seem to want to push.

Let’s make it clear, Amanda Knox is not on trial because Italians are unaccustomed to or even “jealous” of her freedom and lifestyle”¦ The first time we read these “explanations” we found them quite laughable.

But for many or most Italians the initial amusement has now given way to a profound irritation. Amanda Knox’s lifestyle is shared by hundreds of thousands of Italian girls, who like partying and sex as much as she does - or even more - and they live a happy carefree life with no fear of being perceived as “bad girls.” They behave no differently from any other girl of the same age in America or in any other Western country.

Dear American media, welcome to the 21st century and to globalization!  Please put aside pseudo-romantic and passè vision of a country where all men chase American girls because Italian women are not as approachable for “cultural” reasons: Italian men are into foreign girls no more but no less than Italian girls are into foreign boys.

They generally greatly like Americans because of their great interest and curiosity for a country and its people that many Italian youngsters have only known through books or movies. Amanda Knox is not on trial because she is American and therefore too “emancipated”. She could even be from the North Pole as far as Italians are concerned.

What really matters to them is to find the truth about Meredith’s murder and to do real justice for her terrible death. Italians don’t much like Amanda primarily because they perceive her as a manipulative liar, who is suspected of having committed a heinous crime for which there is a whole stack of evidence - and they perceive this even more-so after this last week’s court hearings.
 
In addition, the US media’s seemingly endless bashing of the Italian justice system, and of the whole country, most recently by CBS and ABC, has definitely made things worse.

The Italian police are NOT known to be particularly violent - although, agreed, it may happen when they’re dealing with violent males suspects from Eastern Europe or Africa, or in the streets when they have to deal with a riot. Violence is NEVER used with white, female college students from Italy, America or elsewhere.

And Italy is a sovereign state with a great juridical tradition. Receiving condescending lectures by the media of a country where the death penalty is still applied in many states comes across as more than insulting - it is utterly ridiculous. Before you judge the “backwardness”  of the Italian justice system, you should at least first read Cesare Beccaria’s amazingly humane Of Crimes And Punishments (written in 1764) and perhaps you’ll reconsider.

If the American media just cannot understand that there are alternatives to the “American way “, that may not be so bad after all. But they should at least show some respect for a foreign, sovereign state and its people.

If the media can’t even manage to do so - and they really want to help Amanda - the best thing to do now is to go quiet and let the Italian justice work at its pace and according to its own principles. If Amanda is only guilty of arrogance, callousness and narcissism, she will be free soon.

Dear American followers of Meredith and, for that matter, also friends of Amanda Knox. May I speak right to you, and right past the media?

There has been no character assassination, no demonization, no great wave of hate and revenge, no mad prosecutor, no Satan theory of the crime, no invented evidence, and no massive bumbling.

What there has been is a whole stack of evidence and a VERY careful process. Kernit in effect described all the evidence in his extraordinary 150 questions.

And on Friday and Saturday, Amanda Knox for better or worse chose to answer NONE of them.



Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trial: ABC’s End-Of-The-Day Report On Friday’s Forensic Testimony

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Patrizia Stefanoni prepares to testify, click for a larger image]

Ann Wise filed this report

1) On Amanda Knox’s DNA

[Stefanoni] said that in about 20 out of over 100 hundred samples taken from the crime scene she found Knox’s genetic profile, or DNA. This is not unusual since Knox lived in the cottage, but significantly, in a number of the samples Knox’s DNA was mixed with Kercher’s DNA.

Most of the mixed DNA from the two women was found in blood traces discovered in the bathroom. Stefanoni told the court that Knox’s DNA was found mixed with Kercher’s in a luminol-enhanced bare footprint in the hallway outside Kercher’s room,and in a luminol-enhanced spot found in the room of housemate Filomena Romanelli.

When the murder was discovered, Romanelli’s room appeared to have been broken into. Her window was shattered and a large rock was found on the floor. Nothing was stolen, however, and investigators accuse Knox and Sollecito of faking the break-in after murdering Knox.

In the small bathroom that Knox and Kercher shared, investigators found numerous spots of blood, including on the sink, the toilet, the bidet, the rug, the light-switch and the door jamb. Three of these blood stains one on the edge of the sink, the one on the drain of the bidet, and one on a Q-tip box - contained the mixed DNA of Kercher and Knox

2) On Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA

The DNA of Sollecito was found only in two samples out of the many taken in the house, one on a cigarette butt in the kitchen, and on the hook of Kercher’s bra, mixed with Kercher’s DNA.

Kercher’s bra was found on the floor in her room, soaked in blood and with the shoulder straps torn. The part of the bra with the hooks had been cut off. This fragment of the bra was taken into evidence a month after the crime when the forensic police returned to look for it and other items they had not taken the first time.

In the meantime, the crime scened had been searched and the house turned up-side down. Sollecito’s defense maintains that the late collection of the piece of bra and the earlier search of the house has contaminated that particular piece of evidence.

Under a sometimes-heated cross interrogation by the defense lawyers for both Knox and Sollecito, Stefanoni defended her methods and denied the crime scene had been contaminated.

Sollecito would have had to rub the bra hook forcefully for DNA from his skin cells to be on it, she said. Dead skin cells floating around the room do not contain DNA and would not stick, she said.



Saturday, April 18, 2009

Trial: Another Objective Report From ABC News

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Images above and below: the lay judges and lawyers tour the crime scene]

Rome-based Ann Wise reports.

1) More on the issue of the second knife.

With journalists unable to attend the hearing, information on what Dr. Bacci said in court today came from lawyers as they emerged from the courthouse and, as always, interpretations differed.

Francesco Maresca, who represents the family of Meredith Kercher, is a firm believer in the prosecution’s theory that the murder was the result of a sex game gone wrong between all three defendants—Knox, Sollecito and Guede. He told journalists outside the courthouse that Dr. Bacci told the court that whoever attacked Kercher first tried to strangle her, and then stabbed her in the throat, possibly with two different knives.

Bacci said that the knife the prosecutors believe is the murder weapon is compatible with the largest and deepest cut in Kercher’s throat but is not compatible with another, smaller wound. This is the first time a witness for the prosecution has mentioned the possibility that more than one knife might have been used…

Maresca also told reporters that according to Dr. Bacci “injuries suggest” that Kercher had probably participated in a nonconsensual sexual act before she died.

Luca Maori, one of Sollecito’s lawyers, told journalists that based on Dr. Bacci’s conclusions, the knife prosecutors believe is the murder weapon is “only abstractly compatible” with the wounds found.

2) And more on the visit by the judges, jury and lawyers to the house - sadly, extremely disarrayed, it seems..

The afternoon was the occasion for the court in its entirety—minus the two defendants, who chose not to attend—to visit the scene of the crime. A small crowd, comprised of the two judges, six jurors and their substitutes, the prosecutors and a bevy of lawyers, gathered outside the charming cottage-with-a-view on the edge of old-town Perugia. On the road just above, another crowd of journalists and photographers and some hangers-on watched as policemen activated a generator (the electricity in the house has been cut off) and opened the door to the house.

“The court looked closely at the inside and the outside of the house,” [Prosecutor] Comodi said. The court spent a good amount of time in the room where the murder took place and discussed the position of the corpse. Carlo Dalla Vedova, a lawyer for Amanda Knox, told reporters the house “was a mess, and it was important that the jurors see this. Amanda’s clothes were thrown all over the place.”

There have been many press reports of bad forensic work and bad handling of the scene of the crime on the part of investigators, and this is expected to be an important part of the case the defense will make. The house where the crime took place has also been subjected to two break-ins in recent months, adding to the sorry state of the premises. The house is in “terrible condition,” Bongiorno said. “The mess made by the searches was compounded by the two beak-ins.”

 


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Trial: ABC’s Ann Wise Has More Reporting On Sollecito’s Early History

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report. The police chief from Bari provided testimony:

Antonio Galizia, a police chief from Sollecito’s hometown in southern Italy, said in court today that in 2003 Sollecito and some friends were caught in possession of one ounce of hashish at a nearby beach. That was, however, the only time Sollecito had been in trouble with the law.

When asked by Sollecito’s lawyer Luca Maori, Galizia also testified that Sollecito’s mother, who died when he was a teenager, had not committed suicide.

Maori later told reporters that Sollecito had agreed to have his mother’s death discussed in court, so, as he said, “we can clarify once and for all that she died from natural causes.” There had been repeated reports in the press that it was a suicide and that this had traumatized Sollecito.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Trial: ABC News Report: Experts Remark On Very Odd Phone Patterns

Posted by Peter Quennell


In another objective report for ABC News, Rome-based reporter Ann Wise adds the following details.

Sollecito was particularly cheerful today…. as the 10th hearing of the trial concentrated on phone records.

Sollecito has always maintained that he was home in his apartment the night of the murder and initially told police his father had called him at home around 11 p.m.

Phone records later showed that he received no such call.,,,

Police investigator Letterio Latella testified today that Knox and Sollecito’s cell phones were inactive most of the night, and activity on the cell phones stopped almost simultaneously….

Latella said that he did not find any evidence of a similar “blackout” of Knox and Sollecito’s phones in the month preceding the murder.

Normally, investigators have said, both Knox and Sollecito’s phones were on until late at night and would come back on in the late morning.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Trial: More Testimony On Knox Acting Weird After Meredith Was Murdered

Posted by Peter Quennell




Overview

Click above for the full ABC website report.

Perhaps ABC News is attempting to turn over a new leaf here. Long conspicuous for banging the PR-inspired drum about a frame-up of Knox by those meanie Italians, ABC now seems the one American network attempting its own reporting.

This story was written by Ann Wise, apparently in Rome on 13 and 14 March,  with Zach Nowak, an American resident of Perugia, in the courtroom.

Witnesses on these two days included investigators D’Astolto and Volturno and interpreters Colantone and Donnino.


1) Testimony about Knox hitting herself on the head

Fabio D’Astolto, an English-speaking police officer in Perugia, told the court today that he was asked to come to the police station on Nov. 2, 2007, the day Kercher’s body was found, to help question Knox.

“She seemed calm, as if nothing had happened, while everyone else was crying,” said D’Astolto. However, when D’Astolto accompanied Knox to have her fingerprints taken, he said Knox “paced up and down the hallway pretty nervously, and brought her hands to her head, hitting herself on the temples.”

D’Astolto said her behavior worried him, and he offered to get her something to drink, but Knox said she was fine.

At bottom here is a full translation of this testimony by Catnip.


2) Testimony about Knox shaking uncontrollably back at the house

Another interpreter, Ada Colantone, described Knox’s behavior two days later when she and the two Italian women who also shared the Perugia apartment were taken back to confirm that the knives found in the kitchen belonged there. Knox “started shaking,” recounted Colantone.

“She was shaking so hard that the coroner went over to her. She was visibly upset, and made to lie down on the couch.” She said Knox also began crying.


3) Testimony about Knox’s “emotional shock” at seeing Patrick’s text message

Anna Donnino, an interpreter for the Perugia police, said she was summoned to the police station to translate just after midnight. Knox was calm as police talked to her again about what she had been doing the evening of Nov. 1, the night Kercher was slain, Donnino said.

But Knox had an “emotional shock” when she was shown a text message she had sent to Patrick Lumumba, her boss at the pub where she worked occasionally. “She brought her hands to her head, and shook it,” Donnino told the court. And also: “It’s him, he did it, I can feel it,” referring to Lumumba.

The questioning stopped, and when Knox was asked if she wanted a lawyer, she said no, according to Donnino. Donnino repeatedly confirmed that Knox was never mistreated, and made her statements voluntarily.

Included in this post is a transcript of Anna Donnino translated by Catnip.


4) Testimony about Chief Inspector Oreste Volturno’s investigations

He testified that he took part in the search of Raffaele’s place; and investigated when and where the bleach found there was purchased, and investigated the 20 euro withdrawal from Meredith’s account, and tried to track down Raffaele’s school and police records; and also participated in the seizure of material from the Telenorba TV station after their broadcast had gone to air.

On the next post here is a full translation of this testimony by Catnip.


5) Finally, Knox rose in the court today to attempt some damage control:

In Italian courtrooms, defendants are allowed to make statements during their trial, and Knox stood today to refute the police depiction that they treated her well and that her statements were made voluntarily.

In a respectful but insistent tone, Knox said in clear Italian, “The witnesses are denying things about the interrogation. There were hours and hours that they don’t talk about, during which I confirmed my story and there was an aggressive insistence on the text message to Patrick,” she said.


6) Translation Of Testimony Of Assistant Fabio D’Astolto

Fabio Astolfo helped translate during interviews, helped with food and drink from the vending machines, and observed Amanda hitting herself while on the way to get her fingerprints taken.

Transcript translated is of testimony given in the hearing of 13 March 2009, pp 68-84

[68]
Depositions of the witness Fabio D’Astolto

The witness, admonished pursuant to Article 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code, reads the oath.

Particulars: Assistant Fabio D’Astolto, with the Perugia Police ““ Flying Section; born 22 July 1972 in Sydney (Australia).

President: Mr Public Prosecutor.

Public Prosecutor, Dr Mignini
QUESTION: You on the date of 2 November 2007 were in service at the Perugia Police Station, in which office in particular?
ANSWER: I was at the Flying Section of the Station.

Q: You were born in Australia?
A: Yes.

Q: Your mother tongue is English?
A: Yes, yes, I lived in Australia until 14 years of age, I studied several”¦

Q: I wanted to know this, you remember the murder of Meredith Kercher, you took part in investigation activity or anyway had been called in relation [69] to the investigations that were being carried out?
A: I had been simply called as someone knowing English the afternoon of the 2nd.

Q: Do you remember the exact time?
A: It was afternoon but the exact time, exactly I don’t remember.

Q: Were you there in the Police Station?
A: I was at home and then they had called me from the Station saying that they needed a person who obviously knew the English language, I did nothing else but take the car and go to the Station.

Q: You knew that Meredith Kercher was dead and how she died?
A: No.

Q: What did you know?
A: I knew that there was a decease, but how”¦

Q: Knew from whom?
A: Yes, then when I had arrived at the Station that I went to the office they had mentioned that there was an English girl but I absolutely didn’t know how this girl had died.

Q: So it could even have been a natural death?
A: For me it could have been a natural death, suicide, I don’t know, anything.

Q: So no one had informed you?
A: No.

Q: So you arrive at the Station and then what happens?
A: I arrive at the Station, I go into the Inspector’s office, I go in, I sit down beside the Inspector and I begin, in quotes, to translate what they were asking me and then I was referring, that is I was re-translating the words of the signorina.

Q: You’d spent”¦
A: This was my job. Miss Amanda.

[70] Q: You’d spent how many hours at the Station?
A: A lot, up until around seven in the morning, more or less.

Q: You had in practice carried out the functions of an interpreter?
A: Yes, simply translating what was asked and then the reply.

Q: By Amanda Knox?
A: Yes.

Q: Can you say what behaviour Amanda had?
A: Her behaviour was, in my opinion, enough”¦

Intervention: No, not your opinion, let’s avoid evaluations!

President: Like a photograph.
A: Yes. Her behaviour was one thing only, in the sense that it seemed to me to be something calm enough, as if absolutely nothing had happened, this was her behaviour.

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: Were there also other girls?
A: Yes, there were other friends, I think acquaintances, anyway there were other girls inside the Station, at the Flying [Squad] and they were all obviously tried.

Q: What were they doing?
A: They were seated quietly, they were really”¦ some were crying, some were a bit distressed obviously by the event.

Q: Amanda, you had seen her also waiting to be heard or else you’d seen her only in the”¦
A: I had seen Amanda for the entire span of time that I was inside the Police Station because obviously then we were there also with the other persons, every now and then I was accompanying some girl down to get something to drink, something to eat, we have a little [71] automatic machine, a vending machine downstairs, so if they needed anything we were always obviously at their disposal.

Q: You saw her with Sollecito in the Station?
A: Yes, yes.

Q: This when, before being heard or after?
A: After.

Q: And after what was she doing?
A: There’s a small waiting room there by the Flying Squad offices where there was obviously everyone, the ones who were waiting to be heard etc etc, their behaviour they were kissing each other, they were hugging, every now and then they were laughing.

Q: Were they talking to each other?
A: Yes, they were talking also between themselves.

Q: Were they talking in a loud voice?
A: A lowered voice, I in fact had heard absolutely nothing of what they were saying. They were talking amongst themselves.

Q: But they had said something at that moment or one of the two”¦
A: Every now and then, I remember that Sollecito asked me once: “But what time are we finishing?” and I had simply told him: “a bit of patience, we’ll try and finish as quickly as we can”, to stay calm for a sec, it takes what it takes.

Q: You’ heard her first at the beginning, that is you’d translated the questions and the answers.
A: I had simply translated the questions that the Inspector had asked and then I’d referred obviously to Amanda, always asking her: “you’ve understood?” and then as Amanda was going me the reply I simply retranslated for the Inspector.

Q: She was demonstrating an ability to in part understand Italian?
[72] A: Yes, yes, she was understanding also because I more than once had asked her “Have you understood? Do I need to repeat the question?”, so.

Q: Then you had also seen her subsequently? Had there been things ascertained?
A: Yes, then I think that it was around four, now I don’t remember well, in the morning obviously, I had accompanied her down where there’s the Scientific Police to take her prints, for the mugshots basically. We had gone down, no problems, then at a certain point along the corridor, right in front of the Scientifica there’s a corridor, she was walking up and down in a quite nervous manner and every now and then she was taking her hands and she was putting them like this on her head, she was hitting herself a bit like this. I at a certain point I started to get a bit worried, if she was feeling ill, I don’t know. Then I asked: “Do you need some water? Do you want a coffee? Do you want to sit down for a bit? Don’t worry yourself, stay calm” and I remember that she had turned round as if to say”¦ in fact she’d said to me: “no, no, I don’t want anything, I don’t need anything”. I’d left it at that, I’d said: “OK, it’s no trouble at all’, if you don’t need anything”.

Q: These blows she was giving herself”¦
A: Basically she was making this gesture here.

Q: Were they strong?
President: A gesture where she was lifting both her hands simultaneously to the height of her temples?
A: Yes, of her head.

President: Repeatedly?
A: Yes.

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: She was hitting herself on the head with her hands or just lifting her hands to her head and that’s it?
A: No, no, she was hitting herself.

[73] Q: You have said in the statement of 21 December 2007 “strong enough”, you were saying that she was hitting herself rather hard, at page 10.
A: Yes I confirm that.

Q: You then tried, you insisted?
A: Seeing this scene I became worried and asked her: “Do you need some water? Do you need a coffee? Do you need something? Do we want to go a bit to the machines and get something?”

President: This, when is it that”¦ what time are we at, what day are we at, can you make it precise?
A: It was around four in the morning of the 3rd, so at night basically, around four in the morning if I’m not mistaken. Nothing, I asked her if she needed anything, she turned round and said, “no, I don’t need anything!”, “sorry, OK”.

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: Did you by chance hear what they were saying to each other, what she was saying?
A: No.

Q: What she was saying not only to Sollecito, but in the event to the other girls present, to the young English people for example?
A: No, I don’t remember having heard anything, also because she was whispering quietly.

Q: And after having taken her to the Scientifica she left there?
A: Yes, then I accompanied her back up.

Q: How was she after the mugshots actually?
A: She was calm enough and settled herself back down in the waiting room.

Q: So these blows to the head, she was giving them to herself before going to the Scientifica?
A: While we were downstairs, when we had gone down to the [74] Scientifica”¦

Defence ““ Bongiorno: Mr President excuse me because while I’ve been talking to Sollecito, and asking him questions, we have documents on the computer, it’s an electronic instrument”¦
Intervention: It’s linked to the Internet, Mr President!
Defence ““ Bongiorno: {incomprehensible "“ overlap of voices}
President: Everybody! Please, I point out that the order of proceeding in this hearing at this moment is”¦ given the defenders may speak with each other, there are no particular security reasons for which the accused need a different location, they can remain where they are, they can talk and also consult the documents they’re consulting. Please continue”¦
A: Then actually while we were down at the Scientifica, I repeat around four in the morning, more or less that was the time, we had gone down, at the moment in which we had entered the corridor where there was the door to the Scientifica, she started to walk up and down the corridor making this gesture of lifting her hands.

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: Multiple times, this?
A: Multiple times, yes.

Q: But you had asked her questions? Had there been something, had you encountered someone?
A: Nobody, we hadn’t encountered anybody, I had taken her and accompanied her downstairs.

Q: And as soon as you had arrived downstairs”¦
[75] A: As soon as we had arrived downstairs we entered into the corridor where the Scientific is she had started to make this gesture and to walk obviously nervously up and down the corridor.

Q: You didn’t occupy yourself with asking any more questions?
A: No, absolutely.

Q: Then you accompanied her back and that was it?
A: I’d accompanied her back up and then I did other things.

Q: I have no further questions.

Defence ““ Ghirga:

Counsellor Ghirga, Amanda Knox defence. It was the 2nd of November when they called you, true?
A: Yes.

Q: Now 15:30 or 16:30 we’re in the Police Station. You were at home, you said?
A: Yes.

Q: Was your morning shift finished, or else were you on holidays? You were at home?
A: Yes, I was at home in any case.

Q: And they were calling you for?
A: They were calling me saying”¦

Q: You were at home, but I asked you: had you finished your shift, were you on holidays?
A: Honestly I don’t remember. I was simply at my home where a call arrived from the Station saying that they needed a person who knew English. No problem, I did nothing else but take the car and go into the Station.

Q: So you take the car and go to the Station?
A: Yes.

Q: Why are you still today saying: “for me, it could have been an accidental death?” If they were calling you that [76] first afternoon, you go to the Station”¦
A: For only a bit.

Q: You’ve used this expression.
A: Then, for a bit only”¦

Q: Mr President he cannot contest what I’m saying!
A: No, I’m not contesting anybody, if you make me respond I will explain.

President: He’s not contesting, he’s waiting to be able to respond.
A: If I’m made to respond I will explain everything.

President: The defence is asking how come they were calling you at home”¦
A: They called me at home.

President: You knew if there was”¦
A: No, absolutely, I went up to the Station, I entered the Inspector’s office, I sat myself down and I began to translate, that’s it.

Defence ““ Ghirga: I’m a step before that, you have said: “for me it could have been an accidental death”, yet you say: “once I arrived at the Station I was informed about something”, is that so? Relating to the death of the girl.
A: Now then after ten minutes or so, twenty minutes, I don’t remember perfectly now, obviously I tried to understand what might have happened, but I was aware that there had been a decease, but I was unaware for what reason.

Q: A couple of questions on the modality of exercising the interpretative activity.
A: Yes.

Q: So you get to be called because you know English, you’ve said, and it couldn’t have been anyone else but, who was translating Inspector Ficcara’s questions.
A: Yes.

[77] Q: Therefore questions in Italian translated into English for Amanda Knox, Amanda was replying and you were translating into Italian the replies given in English?
A: Yes.

Q: Is that so?
A; Yes.

Q: You were translating the questions and you were translating the answers?
A: Exactly.

Q: In the first three pages of the statement of the 2nd, which is in the case file, I don’t see one question, can you explain why?
A: By question is meant, obviously in the moment in which we were taking the summaries [the SIs] it needed a second to say: “What do you call”¦”

Q: No, no, no, excuse me for interrupting, you’re going ahead. I don’t see one question asked by Inspector Ficcara and translated by you, how come?
President: Counsel is asking, in the statement you had said”¦
Defence ““ Ghirga: Not the personal details or the address.
President: You’ve said that you were translating the questions that were being put to Amanda Knox, but Counsel is saying: “I can’t find the questions in the statement”.
A: In the moment in which I was being asked to translate what it was called, where it was obviously needed to formalise the summaries.

President: Yes, but at the moment of the exposition of the facts, who was transcribing it into the record?
A: The Inspector.

President: You were translating into Italian and into English?
A: Yes.

Defence ““ Ghirga: Then he doesn’t remember, he doesn’t know why the questions were not translated.
[78] Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: But translated or transcribed?
Defence ““ Ghirga: Listen, in the first three pages there isn’t”¦
President: Counsel it’s clear.
Defence ““ Ghirga: It was only to understand the modality and that’s it.
President: Do you know how come the questions weren’t also put into the record?
Defence ““ Ghirga: When he says: “I was translating the questions”, he’s not saying something true because the questions aren’t there.
President: Excuse me, Counsel, please! Why aren’t the questions you say you were translating also reported in the record, if you know.
A: I don’t know.

Defence ““ Ghirga: And the last three are: “RTQ ““ replies to question”, here as well do you know why?
A: I don’t know.

Q: Do you know at what time the bar at the Station opens in the morning?
A: The Station bar varies, the times vary every now and then, in the sense that if there’s a service or anything else, a special service, I don’t know, usually they also open earlier, usually around a quarter past seven, 7:20, I don’t know the opening times exactly because I hardly ever go there.

President: Who manages the bar? Internal Station personnel?
A: No, no, if I’m not wrong they’re external, they have a contract [79] if I’m not mistaken.

President: So they are called in for a particular need?
A: It happens, it’s happened often.

Defence ““ Ghirga: No, I haven’t understood then.
A: The opening hours”¦

Q: You’ve answered about the opening hours, there’s no bar inside the Station?
A: Yes, it is, of course! Sure there is!

Q: You’ve said no now.
A: It’s on the first floor.

Q: Who manages it? Someone private?
A: I think that it might be someone private.

Q: You don’t know the opening hours?
A: Exactly, no, because I hardly ever go there, I’ve been only a very few times.

Defence ““ Dalla Vedova: Just one clarification: do you remember the exact time that you arrived at the Station?
A: Frankly I don’t remember because I wasn’t standing there with a watch, usually I don’t even wear a watch.

Q: Was it in the afternoon or in the evening?
A: No, no, in the afternoon.

Q: Could we say around five or around six?
A: No, it was earlier, at five or six I was already in the Station, it was earlier, much earlier.

President: It was still daytime?
A: Yes, yes.

President: Daytime still?
A: Yes, yes.

President: It’s November, it was still daytime, afternoon.
[80] A: Yes, although I repeat I don’t remember the precise time because I don’t wear a watch, out of habit, and I wasn’t there either to look at the clock honestly, they had called me, they needed someone, I take the car and go, inasmuch as I had no particular need at home and I went.

President: He doesn’t recall. Please, Counsel.
Defence ““ Dalla Vedova: You carried out the function of interpreter also with the other non-Italian girls who were present at the Station, true?
A: Yes.

Q: Exactly what did you do? Were you translating questions also for them?
A: I have to repeat, my job was to translate”¦

Q: I’ve understood that, I asked you if you also interpreted for the other girls, for example Ms Jade Bidwell?
A: Yes.

Q: And also other girls as well?
A: Yes, I remember having also done translation for the other girls.

Q: It was always an interview with an Italian functionary who was asking questions in Italian and you were translating into English and then the English person was answering in English and you were translating into Italian or was there”¦
A: There were summary informations [SIs].

Q: Was it only an enquiry if they needed something, like you referred to earlier, because you were also concerned with offering them a coffee, some water, taking them downstairs.
A: Certainly. Now the point is this: we are human beings to start with, so if a person needs something we have to”¦ if they need a coffee, a glass of water, something else, there are [81] machines downstairs, they’re accompanied downstairs and they’re given it, that’s it. We aren’t”¦

President: Yes, but Counsel was asking, in addition to this activity, which before you had described in relation to Amanda Knox, you have also carried out the function of interpreter and in the examination of Amanda Knox and also in the examination of the other English girls.
A: Sure.

President: How many other English girls if you’re able to recall? All of them or “¦
A: No, now I don’t recall, I think it might have been three, now I don’t remember exactly.

Defence ““ Dalla Vedova: Do you remember having taken part in the statementing of the SIs of Jade Bidwell, mentioned earlier, on the 2nd at 21:30?
A: Possibly yes, although I repeat I frankly don’t remember the names. I don’t remember the names of these girls.

Q: Another clarification in relation to your activity at the Police Station, when you took Ms Knox to the Scientifica to do the prints and photos had you informed her what thing you were going to do?
A: Yes.

Q: And what did you say to her?
A: I said to her that we were going downstairs, that we had to take these prints and that’s it, like what was done with all of the others.

Q: And you also accompanied the other English girls in this activity?
A: I don’t remember, I think no.

Q: You don’t remember?
A: I don’t remember, I honestly don’t remember.

Q: But the other girls also had had the same [82] necessity to do the ID-ing with their fingerprints?
A: I think so, I say I think.

Q: But they were foreigners, was there someone helping the girls in explaining what was happening? If you were with Amanda how was it done? Was there someone else?
A: The point is also this, that some of these girls were also understanding Italian a bit, therefore definitely my colleagues had explained it to them definitely, then I must reiterate I am only one person.

Q: There was some other interpreter that evening?
A: I don’t think so.

Q: So you, from the afternoon of the 2nd until four in the morning of the 3rd, were the sole official interpreter who was working inside the Police Station for all the foreigners, for all the foreign girls?
A: Yes, I think so.

President: You were however the only one, that’s what he’s asking, that you knew about?
A: That I know of I think it was only me.

Defence ““ Dalla Vedova:

In this whole period of time you had always stayed near Amanda?
A: During the summaries and then when I took her for the prints and mugshots, then I was present while she and the other friends and with the other friends were in the Squad office, in the waiting room, so I was there next to the wall, standing there, watching.

Q: And listening to the conversations?
A: No.

Q: But if you were standing there”¦
A: Obviously when they were talking aloud I was hearing something, but it wasn’t that I was”¦

Q: Do you remember if Ms Knox’s phone rang, [83] did she receive calls?
A: This I don’t remember.

Q: Do you remember if Ms Knox had made calls?
A: I don’t remember this either frankly.

Q: Do you remember whether in translating the questions the subject of sexual activity had been put to Ms Knox? If anyone had asked her questions on this subject?
A: I don’t remember.

Q: You don’t remember this subject?
A: No.

Q: And do you instead remember the subject of the vaseline? Whether this question in relation to a presumed usage or in any case the presence of this material had been put?
A: This I absolutely don’t remember. This is news to me, I don’t remember.

Q: You remember in any case whether Amanda Knox had a phone?
A: If I’m not mistaken yes, I think yes.

Q: And the other young people had a phone?
A: I think so, some had used it, I think so.

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Mignini: But this is cross-examination, they’re not questions”¦
President: Let’s limit it to what was the examination.
Defence ““ Dalla Vedova: Although seeing that he was changing his stance and that he had acknowledged the fact that”¦
President: In fact these questions are being put.
Defence ““ Dalla Vedova: Since it appears from the documents that almost everyone was making phone calls, it would have helped me [84] to understand how come he can claim that the young people were quiet, therefore I wanted to know if anyone had made calls for example to their parents or in any case at that moment.
President: So he remembers that they had them, from their behaviour, under this aspect.
Defence ““ Dalla Vedova: Exactly, under the aspect of their behaviour, when he had claimed that the other girls were quiet, I wanted to better understand what led him to that conclusion, that’s all. Thank you, I have finished the examination.

Public Prosecutor ““ Dr Comodi: Only one question: when the bar in the Police Station is closed, if you want to have a coffee, a tea, a brioche, a bottle of water, do you have to go outside?
A: No, actually on floor zero, on the ground floor”¦

Q: Which is the same floor where there is the bar also?
A: No, the bar is on the first floor. So on the ground floor there are three small machines, one for drinks, the other obviously for snacks etc etc, then there’s the other one for coffee, like those outside.

Q: Which work 24 hours a day?
A: Yes, yes, 24 hours a day.

Q: Is the electricity switched off?
A: No, 24-hour, they’re always on.

Q: Thank you.

President: Very well, you may go.

- - -
Note: “fotosegnalazione” ““ “the taking by police authorities of a person’s fingerprints and face-on and profile photos for identification purposes” ([Italian Neologism Observatory]) ““ has been translated here as “˜(fingerprinting and) mug shots’, according to context. Usage of the term carries no imputed meaning as to legal status.



On the next post here is a full translation of the testimony of Chief Inspector Oreste Volturno by Catnip.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Daily Mail’s Jan Moir Wants Due Process Respected By Parents

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for influential Jan Moir’s full column.

It is mainly about UK cases of parents not respecting the process, but the Knox campaign also gets a mention.

When Amanda Knox was arrested in Italy in connection with the murder of Meredith Kercher, her family began an incantation of her innocence and a blaring defence of her character that continues to this day

The defense PR campaign here seems to be unique in recent United States legal history. Also TV networks paying out very big bucks for exclusives with defendants’ relatives, as was just reported about ABC, seems something of a first here.

Typically the situation is that it is the victim and their relatives who get all the attention. Often on steroids. So it’s perhaps not surprising that Jan Moir is surprised.

The name of the victim here is Meredith, of course.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Knox PR Campaign: Have The Dishonest Talking Points Now Become A Trap?

Posted by The Machine



[David Marriott of a Seattle public relations firms]

Marriott’s dishonest campaign

David Marriott apparently manages (see sample press release) the message and media relations for the campaign to enhance Amanda Knox.

The main thrust of the PR campaign seems to be that there’s no evidence against Knox, or the evidence is tainted, they are holding the wrong person (or already have the right person), and there’s no need to have a trial…  but those rascally Italians just won’t let her go.

Marriott’s nasty campaign already seems to have most of Italy backed off (the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito legal teams both included), and to have lost most of its traction in the UK and New York.

Many good PR gurus think it is very sleazy. Even in Seattle, there are now those who speak out against it.

Not exactly what we’d call a big win.

True, people accused of a cruel and depraved murder do not normally have a PR campaign making their case. Normally they have a lawyer out front - preferably a very good lawyer, who can contend with evidence as it comes out, and appear on the talk-shows and news to explain what really happened.

And true, the PR campaign was launched almost instantly after Knox had already come out with suggestive actions and statements which seem to implicate her in the crime which do not want to go away.

So the campaign was maybe handicapped right from the start.

But still, public relations guys we know are scratching their heads over this one.

Ten obvious public relations lies

Why run a campaign which, time and time again, has taken loud positions not 5 degrees away from probable truth - but a full 180 degrees away? And therefore very hard to quietly back away from?

Each of these ten false claims and mantras below - still not put to rest, although last week was not a good week for them - have been incessantly propagated, some for nearly one year. 

Each of them now seems to be an albatross around the necks of the Seattle defendant and her team. The danger now is that, as the media find ONE false claim fake, they will start to question all of them, and feel that they have been lied to.

Again, not exactly what we’d call a winning stance.

False claim 1: Amanda was beaten or “smacked around” by the police during her questioning

Amanda herself may have started this false claim when explaining to family why she incriminated herself. Although Mr Knox wasn’t present when Amanda was questioned by the police, he has frequently repeated this claim when interviewed by the media.

Reality 

Amanda gave two very different accounts of where she was, who she was with, and what she was doing on the night of the murder. She also accused an innocent man of Meredith’s murder.

This is highly incriminating and poses a real problem for Amanda’s defense and family and supporters. 

However Amanda’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that Amanda had not actually been beaten or “smacked around” at Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial last October: “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”

Mr Knox has not acknowledged the admission of his daughter’s counsel or apologised for accusing the Italian police of brutality. The false claim continue to mislead people, with posters on Internet website still maintaining that Amanda’s confession was beaten out of her. 

False claim 2: Amanda was interrogated for 9 hours/14 hours/all night

Jon Follain in The Times quoted the parents in an interview proclaiming: “On November 6, five days after Meredith’s murder, Knox was interrogated by police for nine hours until she signed a statement at 5.45am.” 

Juju Chang claimed it was “an all night interrogation” on ABC News. Jan Goodwin stated in her article in Marie Claire magazine that:“After her arrest, Amanda was detained by the police and interrogated for 14 hours.”

Mr Knox repeated the claim that Amanda’s interrogation last all night, and that it lasted 14 hours, on a recent Seattle TV station King5 interview.

Lexie Krell wrote in The UW Daily on 16 January 2009 that: “The Italian Supreme Court has already thrown out Knox’s original statement on the basis that she was denied a lawyer during her initial 14-hour interrogation.”

Reality 

We know that Amanda was on the phone with one of her Italian flatmates at around 10.40pm, asking if the living arrangement could continue in spite of Meredith’s death. The police questioning had not begun then.

And according to the Italian Supreme Court, Amanda’s questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect. So Amanda was questioned for only approximately 3 hours and then she was held as a suspect.

There never was an all-night interrogation, and it certainly was nowhere remotely near 14 hours in length. 

It seems there may be a simple and straightforward explanation why Amanda suddenly admitted that she was the cottage when Meredith was murdered and implicated Lumumba:

She was informed that Raffaele Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi that she was with him all the night of the murder.

False claim 3: Knox’s confession to being at the murder scene was thrown out.

This was the spoken confession at the end of the claimed 14 hours which Knox claimed she finally came out with only because she was knocked about.

Reality 

True in the narrow sense. But one of Amanda’s statements in which she admits to being at the cottage on the night of the murder was not “tossed” out by the Italian Supreme Court. 

Her letter to the police is almost identical in content to the statements that were not admitted as evidence. This incriminating letter was admitted as evidence last Friday.

False claim 4: Meredith wasn’t sexually assaulted.

Jan Goodwin claimed in Marie Claire: “There is also no indication that Meredith was subjected to sexual violence”¦”

In his unprecedented letter to Italy’s justice minister, Judge Michael Heavey stated that it was not true that: “Sexual violence was perpetrated against the victim”

Jonathan Martin claimed in The Seattle Times. “An autopsy found no evidence Kercher had been raped or had sexual contact with anyone except Guede.”

Reality 

Rudy Guede was found guilty of sexually assaulting Meredith on 30 October 2008. Sexually assaulting. And Judge Micheli in commiting Knox and Sollecito to trial graphically describes how the physical evidence points to a kind of gang rape. 

The claim that Meredith wasn’t sexually assaulted is not only untrue, it’s deeply offensive to Meredith and her poor family. By claiming that there was no sexual assault, the likes of Judge Heavey and Jan Goodwin are insinuating that Meredith consented to sexual activity with Rudy Guede.

False claim 5: The double DNA knife has been essentially ruled out.

The DNA on the blade could belong to half of the population of Italy or there is only a 1% per cent chance that the DNA on the blade belongs to Meredith.

Reality 

Forensic expert Patrizia Stefanoni has consistently maintained that Meredith’s DNA IS on the blade and Amanda’s DNA is on the handle of the knife found at Raffaele Sollecito’s apartment. 

This result was confirmed as accurate and reliable by Dr Renato Biondo, who is head of the DNA Unit at Polizia Scientifica, Rome.

Patrizia Stefanoni and Dr Renato Biondo are highly respected, independent forensic experts with impeccable credentials.

False claim 6: The crime scene was totally compromised by the police or analysts

Many of Amanda Knox’s supporters who seem to have no relevant qualifications or expertise in forensic science have claimed that the crime scene was compromised or violated. One vocal supporter analysed a police break-in downstairs on TV and offered it as proof that the crime scene upstairs had been compromised.

Reality 

This claim has been vigorously refuted by the forensic police. They claim that they have followed international protocols throughout. They recorded the investigation as it happened, changed tweezers when they needed to, and duly informed the defence of every finding.

Independent forensic expert Renato Biondo stated: “We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.”

False claim 7: The European press gave Amanda Knox the nickname Foxy Knoxy.

This is a part of the larger “UK and Italian tabloids have crucified her” meme for which actual evidence online is very hard to find..

Reality 

European newspapers, including the quality newspapers, have occasionally called Amanda by the nickname she herself called herself by on her MySpace page.

False claim 8: Amanda has never ever before been in trouble

Paul Ciolino has stated: “I was stunned that this was why he suspected Amanda and her boyfriend were involved in the crime,” he says. “These two kids, never in trouble, classic middle-class college students “” it’s ludicrous that they were implicated.”

Reality 

Amanda Knox was charged for hosting a party that got seriously out of hand, with students high on drink and drugs, and throwing rocks into the road forcing cars to swerve.

The students then threw rocks at the windows of neighbours who had called the police.

The situation was so bad that police reinforcements had to be called. Amanda was fined $269 (£135) at the Municipal Court after the incident - Crime No: 071830624.

Incidentally, anyone who has recently tried to gain access to the police report has been denied access. It seems strange that a police report into a “routine” incident has seemingly now been hidden from the public.

False claim 9: Amanda hasn’t lied or if she has, she has only lied once

Amanda’s mother claimed in a recent interview with Linda Byron on Seatlle TV’s King5 (6 January) that Amanda has maintained she told the same story for over a year when she was asked whether Amanda had lied. She had previously stated that Amanda had only lied once.

Reality 

Amanda has given multiple alibis and told different stories repeatedly. Amanda herself apologised to Judge Paolo Micheli for lying about Diya Lumumba’s role in the murder. Amanda’s conflicting statements to the police seem to indicate that she lied to them several times. 

False claim 10: The prosecutors have been widely leaking information to the media

Amanda’s family and supporters have frequently made this claim. The biological parents claimed in their interview with Linda Byron on King5 that the international media frenzy had been fed by leaks by the prosecutors. 

Deanna Knox claimed on the Today Show that Amanda is the victim of an anti-American bias: “It’s because she’s an American,” she told Matt Lauer. “They don’t really like her there because she’s a pretty girl and they see her as some target that they can get to, because she’s from a different country.”

Reality 

In Italy Prosecutor Mignini is widely known for not leaking. Many of the so-called leaks were information put out in the course of the many hearings. The evidence in this case has in fact long been like an iceberg - all but a tiny fraction of it has remained out of sight, as the startling revelations last Friday and Saturday went to show.

Media sources have mentioned that many of the leaks have in fact come from defence sources. Fellow TJMK poster Skeptical Bystander was offered access to Amanda’s diary, not by the prosecutors, the police or prison guards, but by somebody close to Amanda herself.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Honest, Accurate TV Coverage Has Been HIGHLY Overdue

Posted by The Machine



[Above: Anne Bremner blows smoke]

NBC have shown the other American television networks how to make an objective documentary about the case.

I know that a lot of work went into making the NBC Dateline programmes with over 40 hours of tape shot for both stories. I hope the the likes of CBS News and ABC News now follow suit.

And that they always - always - remember this: Meredith Kercher’s murder was exceptionally brutal and sadistic. Specifically:

  • She was sexually assaulted and viciously teased with a knife for many minutes before the final stab.
  • And after the torture, she died a slow and intensely painful death, clutching her neck with both hands.
  • She might still have been saved - but a conscious decision was made that she wouldn’t be.
  • And this was then followed by two days of apparent glee on the part of the two defendants.

The news channels have to get their coverage right from now on. The case is precedent-setting in several ways, and far too important for the media to play fast and loose with the facts.

Hints of anti-Italy xenophobia have abounded in the American commentary. Such abysmal coverage would never have happened if this was an all-American case - the real victim would be there front and center, not a defendant with a notably odd history.

The parents of the prime suspect should not be allowed to dictate the content of the documentaries and news reports. The media have a duty to report objectively and not be used as vehicles for the Amanda Knox PR campaign. Some of the documentaries on the case have been essentially free advertisements for Amanda’s PR company.

I hope any future documentaries don’t include an interview with Curt Knox talking with great authority about Amanda’s interrogation despite the fact he wasn’t actually present. Amanda’s lawyer has already stated for the record that Amanda wasn’t hit by the police, so Curt can’t repeat that false allegation.

Juju Chang of ABC won’t be able to repeat the wild claim that the double DNA knife has been essentially ruled out after Patrizia Stefanoni confirmed that Meredith’s DNA is on the blade of the knife and Judge Paolo Micheli accepted it as evidence.

Rudy Guede was convicted of the sexual assault of Meredith, which means that the deeply offensive and untrue claim that there was no evidence of sexual assault can’t be repeated.

Instead of Anne Bremner analysing the wrong crime scene and ranting about Italian incompetence in a desperate attempt to discredit the investigation, the documentary makers should interview somebody who is actually an expert in forensic investigations.

Renato Biondo would be the best person to interview. He provided independent confirmation that the forensic investigation was carried out correctly, following international protocol. The only person guilty of incompetence was Anne Bremner.

It is always highlighted in documentaries that Amanda’s confession was thrown out by the Italian Supreme Court. However, they never mention that one of Amanda’s statements in which she admits to being at the cottage when Meredith was murdered was not thrown out by the Italian Supreme Court.

Her note to the police on 6 November is almost identical in content to the statements that were not admitted as evidence.

And Amanda Knox was not given the nickname Foxy Knoxy by the European press. It was a nickname she used herself on her MySpace page.

It’s wrong that inconvenient and incriminating facts are airbrushed out of these programmes. There has been a deliberate attempt to mislead and manipulate the general public.

The media should always have an ethical commitment to the truth, and they should never forget that it was Meredith who was the real victim of this terrible crime.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been the case. Well done, NBC, for breaking the mould.

Now CBS News, ABC News, and other television networks owe it to Meredith and her poor family to get it right, the next time they cover the case.


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