Breaking news. The Cassation sentencing report has been released. Summary and analysis follow in the next few days. At first glance, the report is precisely what Yummi called it in this long preview: A Real Catastrophe For The Defenses. The US State Department and US Embassy in Rome despise the bigotted and dishonest Knox-Mellas PR campaign which harms the US image and interests with a key ally, so they are unlikely to lift a finger to prevent Knox being invited back. And Sollecito is already being sent back by the Swiss.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Italy Continues The Search For True Justice In A 30 Year Old Case
Posted by Peter Quennell
This is the case of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican citizen, who disappeared in 1983. At the time the Vatican was much in the news because of a banking scandal that spread to London and because of an attempt made on the Pope’s life.
The Vatican is back in the news now because finally it stopped blocking for unclear reasons the exhumation of a crime gang leader who for unclear reasons was buried under a Vatican basilica in Rome. The exhumation has now been done and there were some extra bones and pending tests may show that they are Emanuela’s.
The New York Times says there are at least three theories that could explain the disappearance and probable murder of Emanuela.
In 2005, an anonymous phone call to a television program about the disappearance added a piece to the puzzle:
“To find the solution to the case go and see who’s buried in the crypt of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare,” an unidentified man said, referring to the tomb of the local mob boss, Enrico De Pedis, known as Renatino, who was gunned down in Rome in 1990.
The caller also implied that Emanuela had been kidnapped as a favor to Cardinal Ugo Poletti, who in 1983 was the vicar general of Rome. Cardinal Poletti died in 1997, and Archbishop Marcinkus in 2006.
Questions remain about why Mr. De Pedis, a member of the Magliana crime gang, was buried in a church owned by the Holy See. His tomb is in a small locked room in a crypt under the church…
To lay rumors to rest that the Vatican had obstructed investigations into Emanuela’s disappearance, last month the Holy See agreed to the opening of Mr. De Pedis’s tomb.
Whether the police can now narrow down to a single theory we soon shall see. After 30 years they are still doing what they can for the real victim. And her family never rests.
Archived in Italian system v others, Other cases, Other Italian
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Monday, May 14, 2012
Italian Court Rules American Museum Must Return An Illegally Exported Statue
Posted by Peter Quennell
The valuable statue is now at the Getty Museum (above) on a coastal hilltop just north of Los Angeles. Ironically it is actually Greek, and was hauled out of the Aegean Sea by fishermen almost directly east of Perugia. It is so valuable because only very few Greek statues remain intact.
Very doubtfull that the US federal government gets involved though the courts might. The Los Angeles Times and some Italian newspapers carry the story.
An Italian court has upheld an order for the seizure of a masterpiece of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s antiquities collection, finding that the bronze statue of a victorious athlete was illegally exported from Italy before the museum purchased it for $4 million in 1976.
Since 2005, the Getty has voluntarily returned 49 antiquities in its collection, acknowledging they were the product of illegal excavations and had been smuggled out of their country of origin. Hundreds of other objects were returned by other American dealers, collectors and museums.
In the wake of those returns, several American museums struck cooperative deals with Italy and Greece that allow for long-term loans of ancient art.
Most such repatriation claims have been settled without legal action. The dispute over the Getty’s bronze ended up in Italian court thanks to its complicated legal status — an accidental discovery in international waters off Italy’s Adriatic coast.
The statue was most likely lost at sea after being plundered by Roman soldiers in Greece around the time of Christ. (The government of Greece has never asked that the statue be returned there.)
In 1964, Italian fishermen found the statue snagged in their nets. They hauled it ashore in the small port town of Fano, buried it in a cabbage field and then hid it in a priest’s bathtub rather than declare it to customs officials, as required under Italian law.
Three brothers and the priest were convicted of trafficking in stolen goods, but an appeals court threw out their convictions in 1970, citing insufficient evidence. At the time, the statue was still missing, and its value was unknown.
Archived in Italian system v others, The wider contexts, Italian context
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Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Considering The Sad And Sensitive But Also Crucial Subject Of Meredith’s Time Of Death
Posted by James Raper
These have been summarised but not analysed in depth yet on TJMK. A discussion on the pathology is not really everyone’s cup of tea, but the issue was examined in some detail by Massei and to some extent by Hellmann with somewhat differing conclusions reached.
The topic is relevant because Judge Massei used (inter alia) the expert’s findings to corroborate a TOD being after 11pm, more toward 11.30pm, whereas Judge Hellmann argued an earlier TOD as follows: “it is more consistent….to hypothesize that in fact the attack, and hence the death shortly thereafter, occurred much earlier than the time held by the Court of first instance, certainly not later than 10.13 pm”.
In addition to what is covered by the contents of these two Motivation Reports, there is an argument which is presented by the Friends of Amanda, and in particular Chris Halkides who I understand is, or was, an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina. In fact he presents an argument put forward by Professor Introna (Sollecito’s expert) during the trial.
This argument is to do with the standard time for the stomach to empty from the start of a meal, and relating this to the autopsy findings and in particular that of the pathologist Dr Lalli who found that Meredith’s stomach was 500cc full but that there was no material to be found in the duodenum. Halkides’ argument is that this demonstrates conclusively that Meredith was attacked shortly after her return to the cottage at 9pm and would have died shortly thereafter. The significance of this, if correct, is apparent in that it opens up, or at least it raises a doubt as to whether there is or not a verifiable alibi for Knox and Sollecito.
Although Knox does not have an alibi from the time of Meredith’s return home at 9pm, there was human interaction, the last, on Raffaele’s computer at 9.15pm, and one might assume that they were together at that time. But no verifiable alibi until one takes into account that Curatolo says that he first saw the two on Grimana Square around 9.30pm.
My area is the law, and I have no medical or scientific expertise, so I hesitate to go up against anyone who has, but nevertheless I will endeavour to summarise and rationalise the evidence, arguments and conclusions as presented by Massei, Hellmann and Halkides.
First a word about the digestive system.
Food, already masticated, passes through the esophagus to the stomach, where it is broken down by acids, from where it then passes to the small intestine from whence the body extracts the nutrients it needs. The duodenum is that part of the small intestine right next to the stomach and it’s function is to dissolve the food “juice” further with enzymes before passing it on to the rest of the small intestine.
Judge Massei considers the experts’ findings in the following areas to determine a likely time of death.
The first is temperature decrease, “taking the Henssge nomogram into account: rigor mortis; hypostatic marks” etc.
One can note that in fact rigor mortis and the hypostatic marks were not in the least bit helpful due to the 12 hour delay in the pathologist getting to examine the body.
That apart, nevertheless ……“These led Dr Lalli to conclude that death may have occurred between 21 hours 30 minutes, and 30 hours and 30 minutes, before the first measurement, and thus between approximately 8 pm on November 1st 2007, and 4am on November 2nd….The intermediate value also indicated by the mathematical reconstruction (26 hours prior to the first measurement) puts the time of death at approximately 11 pm.”
Just how one works out TOD on temperature decrease indicators, especially in the absence of a pathological examination earlier than that which took place here, is pretty technical. I will not attempt to present the data (some of which is missing i.e Meredith’s actual body weight) or explain the mathematical models (so as to calculate body weight and the rate of cooling) (the Henssge nonogram appears to be one such mathematical model in graph form) that the experts used.
Nearly all the experts, other than Professor Introna, whilst having marginal disagreements about data and formulae, were not in fundamental disagreement about the wide parameters of or even Dr Lalli’s conclusion of a TOD of approximately 11pm.
Professor Introna departed from the other experts to use an “ideal weight” and a specific formula to calculate the ideal weight, to produce a TOD of 8.20pm when of course we know that Meredith was still very much alive. Thus Massei ruled out ideal weight calculations as unreliable and used a median weight based on Dr Lalli’s guesstimates of Meredith’s weight (as used by the other experts) on first examination and at autopsy, though she was not actually weighed at all.
The second area is gastric emptying of the stomach.
It was acknowledged by all the experts that there is something like a standard period between the time that food enters the stomach and it then being processed through into the small intestine. There was, however, some disagreement as to the parameters, ranging between 2-3 hours and 3-4 hours. One could therefore say 2-4 hours. Remember this.
Most of the experts agreed though that individuals are different, and there are variables leading to wide discrepancies including the type of meal eaten. A number of the experts heard said that the state of digestion was probably the most unreliable indicator as to the TOD.
All agreed that acute stress, psychological as well as physical such as an attack, would inhibit the digestive process.
I will not rehearse Professor Introna’s argument here as this, essentially, is the argument which Chris Halkides deploys, to which I will come in a moment.
It is fairly clear that Massei found the information as to body cooling time more convincing than information as to the state of digestion. However, as I understood it, the Appeal Court was going to be asked to re-evaluate precisely that. Did it?
The Court of Assizes of first instance has acknowledged the difficulty in precisely fixing the time of death based merely on autopsy criteria. Since not all the accurate data is available, the time span within which the death of Meredith Kercher can be placed based on such criteria remains very widely outlined: between 9pm and 9.30pm of November 1st 2007, and the early hours of November 2nd.However, in reconstructing the sequence of events the Court of first instance assessed it was able to fix the time of death based on other elements, in particular the harrowing scream….
The first point to note here is that Hellmann misinterprets the first Court’s findings. He ignores the fact that the first Court did determine a TOD between 11pm and 11.30 pm as probable based on the pathology alone, and gave reasons for this.
None of the expert testimony is rehearsed, let alone re-evaluated by Hellmann. He proceeds merely to discredit the reliability of the witnesses as to the other elements such as the scream etc.
One recalls that Nara Capezzali says that she heard a scream sometime between 11 and 11.30 pm. That there was a broken down car and the breakdown driver came and went between perhaps 11 and 11.15 pm.
As mentioned earlier his hypothesizing about the other elements leads him to a TOD of not later than 10.13 pm although this time seems a very random one based on what he presents. He talks in this section about Guede’s statement that he arrived at the cottage at 9 pm.
One suspects that if Hellmann could have fixed the time of death at 9.15 pm or 9.30 pm then he would have done so as either time would be a get out of jail free card for Knox and Sollecito. He did not, but he got them out of jail nevertheless with his hypothesizing - here and elsewhere in his report.
I could just stop here because further discussion on the pathology itself would seem irrelevant as regards the appeal to Cassation, though it could really matter at a second appeal trial.
But here is a comment about Chris Halkides because some do say they find his conclusion convincing.
My summary of his argument.
The stomach was full (or at least had 500 cc of contents) and the duodenum had no material in it. As the duodenum had no material in it then, Halkides deduces, the stomach had not started to release any part of the meal Meredith had consumed at Robyn Butterworths’ into the small intestine at TOD. Death stops the digestive process.
The contents of the stomach observed by Dr Lalli included some of the apple crumble eaten by Meredith and what appeared to be items, in a very advanced state of acidification, thought to be pizza toppings. Meredith and Sophie had eaten pizza at Robyn Butterworths’ home, followed by the apple crumble. In addition there was a small measure of alcohol in the stomach equivalent to a glass of beer.
They had started eating at about 6pm (some accounts e.g John Follain’s have it earlier at 5.30 pm) or maybe 6.30 pm, putting on a DVD to watch a film and finishing at 8 pm or perhaps 8.30 pm. The times here are an indication if anything and are not to be treated as completely accurate.
If it was 6.30 pm that Meredith began to eat then using the standard parameters discussed by Massei we have latest TODs of 9.30 or 10.30 pm for when material from the stomach should have started to enter the duodenum. Not later and certainly not as late as 11 or 11.30 pm.
That is Halkides’ argument in a nutshell. He argues that TOD is actually about 9.30 pm. If so it would have been impossible for Knox and Sollecito who were still at the flat at 9.15 pm and who were seen in the square at 9.30 pm to have committed the murder.
He has referred me to an article in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology about an experiment conducted on volunteers where the mean time (for 95 individuals) for gastric emptying of solids is 127 minutes, give or take, I think, twenty minutes either side.
Using the mean, to be pedantic, this would mean that Meredith died before she got home or at the latest immediately on arrival (6.30 + 2 hours 27 minutes = 8.57 pm.)
That article, incidentally, was published in 2006. It doesn’t seem to date that the results have been peer reviewed and verified and I would have thought that the experts who testified at the trial in 2009 would have been aware of it. So the data set out here may be suspect for a given individual and does not take into account variables excluding age, sex and body mass index which the research found to have no significant correlation.
In any event Halkides is quite happy to have a latest parameter of 3 hours, but no longer. Indeed that would be what brings us to 9.30 pm.
The problem I detect with his argument is twofold.
Firstly there is the uncertainty as to when Meredith began to eat at Robyn’s home (and since it was a two course meal, when she began to eat the apple crumble) and secondly Halkides’ argument is predicated on that two course meal being her last.
If the apple crumble was eaten at 8 or 8.30 pm then (adding on the 2 hours 27 minutes from the above research) it may still have been in her stomach at 10.27 or 10,57 pm, or later indeed (which Halkides has to concede) since the digestive time from the research is only an average.
So with a parameter of 3 hours we might just as well say 11 pm or 11.30 pm.
In addition to variables we could take into account inhibitors such as Meredith suffering acute psychological stress commencing…well…we cannot be certain when, can we?.
One can play Hellmann’s game and hypothesize to our advantage a number of stress situations on that fateful evening, starting quite early. No one has to accept Massei’s hypothesis of a Meredith on her own and in relaxed mode until about 11pm. Massei’s hypothesis here is in no way crucial.
Furthermore the hypothesis that Meredith actually ate a further snack on her return to the cottage does seem to have some basis in fact in that at the autopsy the pathologist found a mushroom in her esophagus. Mushrooms specifically had not been a topping on the pizzas baked at Robyn’s home. As to the alcohol in her stomach no alcohol had been consumed at Robyn’s home, only water.
It might sound a bit flippant for me to suggest it but it might be the case that Meredith, who was passionate about pizzas, had a beer and grilled a quick meal of pizza toppings from the fridge for herself which Halkides mistakes for evidence of the pizza still in the stomach.
That Meredith might still have been hungry might be because she had not, until eating at Robyn’s, eaten for a considerable time beforehand.
She had been partying all night Halloween and had gone to bed at about 4 am, rising at about midday, and then leaving not so long afterwards to be with her friends. Whether she had anything to eat at the cottage before leaving on the afternoon of the 1st, we simply don’t know.
Knox tells us in her e-mail to Seattle that she and Raffaele cooked and ate there, but she does not mention Meredith having anything to eat, and Meredith left before they did.
For some reason John Follain thinks Meredith did eat then, Paul Russell that she did not. I do not see how either could be sure. If it had been me I might have felt up to a nibble but not much more knowing that in a few hours I would be eating a meal with my friends.
It seems to me that it is quite possible that Robyn’s pizza had passed through the stomach, duodenum, and indeed perhaps most of if not the rest of the small intestine by 11.30 pm and that the apple crumble had not even begun to enter the duodenum.
Let us assume that Meredith actually started her pizza at 5.30 pm (according to Follain) finishing at 5.40 pm. As she was already hungry the stomach acids go to work straight away and the pizza passes at the earliest to the duodenum after two hours, spending a further three and half hours (as per literature) in the small intestine before passing to the rectum . A total of five and a half hours.
Thus the small intestine had disposed of it by 11.10 pm. There would however be an unlikely gap to the consumption of the apple crumble. Yet if the apple crumble was consumed after the DVD (watching the film The Notebook circa 123 minutes) then that would be around 8 pm, entering the duodenum three and a half hours later (possible) at 11.30 pm or at least it would be doing this but for the fact that Meredith was already the subject of a vicious attack inhibiting the digestive process.
I accept that I am not using uniform digestion times in this speculation (indeed I have deployed earliest and latest parameters at will) but nevertheless they are within the parameters accepted by the experts, and even, at a push, by Halkides as well.
The point is that this is a complicated topic and there are many imprecise details that do not allow for certainty but only probablilities, or in some instances, possibilities. This Massei, and to a certain extent Hellmann recognized.
Nobody can be precisely sure and so any other timeline or alibi must stand or fall on their own.
Archived in Officially involved, Police and CSI, Public evidence, The timelines, The trials, Prosecution's case
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Dr Galati: Seems One Of Curt Knox’s PR Operatives Who Has Been Bullying Meredith’s Father Online
Posted by Glinda The Good
We have long heard that the PR run for Curt Knox by David Marriott in Seattle controls all the pro-Knox anti-Italy message everywhere. David Marriott unwisely claimed this, in fact, right after Amanda Knox returned to Seattle. See here.
The PR is said to abuse reporters who dont go along, reward those that do, and fan out nasty commenters around the web to post selling points under various false names. It presumably does that to make the movement look spontaneous and big. An expanding but questionable technique which goes by the name astroturfing.
Every month more evidence piles up, suggesting that online comment threads and forums are being hijacked by people who aren’t what they seem.
The anonymity of the web gives companies and governments golden opportunities to run astroturf operations: fake grassroots campaigns that create the impression that large numbers of people are demanding or opposing particular policies. This deception is most likely to occur where the interests of companies or governments come into conflict with the interests of the public. For example, there’s a long history of tobacco companies creating astroturf groups to fight attempts to regulate them.
After I wrote about online astroturfing in December, I was contacted by a whistleblower. He was part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them.
Like the other members of the team, he posed as a disinterested member of the public. Or, to be more accurate, as a crowd of disinterested members of the public: he used 70 personas, both to avoid detection and to create the impression there was widespread support for his pro-corporate arguments. I’ll reveal more about what he told me when I’ve finished the investigation I’m working on.
The Knox PR astroturfing operation now has Meredith’s father John Kercher and his fine new book in its crosshairs, and for some days it has been raining contemptuous abuse. .
Officialdom in Perugia and Rome and the Italian Supreme Court all seem to know that the Knox-Mellases KNEW Amanda Knox was involved in the crime against Meredith almost as soon as they arrived in Perugia, and that they have been trying to cover that up ever since.
The PR scheme had already swung into operation by then, but the Knox-Mellases made the fateful choice to stick with it regardless, instead of maybe more wisely switching off the PR and turning to a good American lawyer to spread the word instead. Curt Knox recently claimed, before Amanda’s “innocent” persona started to implode, that using PR was one of the best choices he ever made.
This image above is of Seth Chandler, the managing director of Axolotl AB, a public relations firm linked to David Marriott’s which does the usual advertising, copy doctoring, social media campaigning, and so on. The image was captured online before it was hurriedly disappeared.
Seth appears to be the same chap caught red-handed the other day propagating the all-too-familiar FOA selling points while sliming the family of Meredith, who is the real victim here. Under an article on Worldcrunch which reported the imminent release of John Kercher’s book “Meredith” Seth Chandler was observed repeatedly posting that John Kercher (and others there trying to explain the truth) should simply STFU..
With only a couple of exceptions, real names of identifiable people are not used by the PR. We’ve seen them, we’ve read them, but this appears to be only the second time (after “Bruce Fisher of New York”) that one of the anonymous PR operatives/contractors has been exposed for what and where he is. Perhaps we might expect a few more.
For four years in the US and the UK, with big money at stake, the operatives have bashed Italy, the Italian justice system, Italian culture, and the Italian law enforcement agencies involved in the case. The operatives have slimed the Scientific Police, the prosecutor Mr Mignini, the prosecutor Ms Comodi, the British press, the Italian press, the Kerchers’ lawyer Mr Maresca, and all the prosecution witnesses. In various postings they have accused many of these people of crimes, an imprisonable felony in the US.
They have bashed the lay judges in the court because they wear their tricolour sashes routinely as a badge of office. They have claimed that this is an anti-American display. They have decried the Italian courtroom because behind the lead judge a crucifix hangs there.
The operatives have thrown mud at anyone they perceive as dangerously surfacing any hard truth about the case. Respected journalists have received exceptional abuse. Any perceived enemy not so much of Amanda Knox herself as the defense narrative of the murder and the legal processes can expect to get roughed up.
So it’s quite a game-changer when Seth Chandler, or “Seth C” as he now wants to be known, the managing director of Axolotl PR, is apparently caught red-handed telling John Kercher to STFU. Seth Chandler has claimed as he tried to wriggle off the hook that “no one paid” him to say STFU, and that anyway PRs would never say such a thing. Really? But the abuse was right there in his name.
Seth Chandler also works for Electrolux. Its competitors are are Dyson, and LG. I wouldn’t imagine that he employs the same tactics for firms, though I haven’t yet checked his Amazon customer reviews.
Shame on Seth Chandler - and on Curt Knox, whose vile temper reverberates throughout this case and some increasingly believe sent Amanda Knox over the top.
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Diversion efforts, Knox-Mellases, Sockpuppets, Dirty tricks
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Friday, May 04, 2012
Dr Galati: Please Check Out What Looks Like A Mischievous Defense-Inspired Global Hoax
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
Throughout the trial which began back in January 2009 the defense teams often seemed down or depressed or distracted or floundering.
Reports surfaced in Italy that one or two of them might even have considered walking. Knox defense counsel Luciano Ghirga was reported as nodding off or distracted. Sollecito defense counsel Giulia Bongiorno was photographed seemingly showing some exasperation with Sollecito and at zero notice she missed several days in court.
Amanda Knox’s testimony over two days on the stand in June 2009 was widely seen in Italy as a disaster. From then on many in the court and throughout Italy believed this seemingly callous, evasive, forgetful girl had to have had a role in Meredith’s death.
Having failed to attend to observe any of the key forensic tests at the Scientific Police labs in Rome, the defenses were able to introduce some forensic witnesses who testified that there might, possibly, somehow, be contamination in the collection and tests which they chose not to witness, but they never came close to showing how.
By the summations in November 2009 both defenses seemed to be seriously floundering.
2. Fast forward to Friday 20 November 2009
What happened on 20 November might well have made it the defenses’ very worst day.
On that day during their summation the prosecution BEHIND CLOSED DOORS devoted an entire day to reconstructing how Meredith died and the events in the few hours before and since.
The presentation was closed because Judge Massei had ruled in favor of Meredith’s family to close the court to the media when any upsetting material was being presented. For example the results of the autopsy had been presented in closed court.
This resulted in the Massei judges and jury receiving a much more disturbing picture than the Italian public and especially the foreign publics ever did.
The Italian media pieced together what had been presented behind the closed doors on 20 November and Il Messagero and several other Italian newspapers published it several days later. You can read a combined summary in this post here.
To our knowledge none of that summary of events ever appeared in the US or UK media, so the full impact of the reconstruction felt by the jury and to a lesser extent by the Italian public was never felt at all by the US or UK publics.
This excerpt is from that post:
We have left out the depiction of the final struggle with Meredith, which is extremely sad and disturbing. In the evidence phase this was testified-to behind closed doors at her family’s request and we have never posted anything from those sessions….
23:21 - Amanda and Raffaele go into Meredith’s bedroom, while Rudy goes into the bathroom.
23:25 - A scuffle begins between Amanda, helped by Raffaele, and Meredith. The English girl is taken by the neck, then banged against a cupboard. Rudy Guede enters and joins in.
23:30 - 23:45 Depiction in the timeline and computer simulation of a horrific struggle with Meredith
23:50 - Amanda and Raffaele take Meredith’s mobile phones and they leave the apartment. Guede goes into the bathroom to get several towels to staunch the blood, then puts a cushion under Meredith’s head.
That simulation video was a second-by-second depiction of what the crime-scene specialists from the Scientific Police in Rome had concluded, from the position of Meredith’s body in the room, evidence traces and the placing of various objects, and the many wounds described in the autopsy.
It was extremely difficult and laborious to get just right, and every tiny movement of the four that it depicts in three-dimensional space had to be able to stand up unchallenged - as they did.
The fight with Meredith took a horrific fifteen minutes. It only ended when she was lying bleeding on the floor, her hands grasping her neck. She was locked in her room to die, with her keys and phones removed to make sure she could not save her own life.
This was not a minute or two of hazing and a slipped knife. The evident intention was to see her dead - and in the reconstruction it required THREE ATTACKERS to explain all the evidence points.
The prosecution never entered the video into evidence so it could not be leaked to the public (the Sollecito family already stood accused of leaking one video) but the effect on the jury seems to have been profound and the defenses could do nothing to blunt it.
The lone wolf theory was well and truly dead in that courtroom and a perception of three attackers was well and truly alive. The defenses did what they could in their summations but they were unable to shake the perception of a depraved three-against-one attack.
A few days later a verdict was announced. By a UNANIMOUS verdict Sollecito and Knox were found guilty.
3. Fast forward to the first-level appeal before Judge Hellman in 20011
Judge Sergio Matteini Chiari, the most senior judge in the criminal division, was appointed to preside over the appeal.
He was very experienced at presiding over murder trials and appeals. What happened next surprised many among the judges and prosecutors and Italian reporters and the Italian public generally. From the Italian Wikipedia:
Although the Assize Court of Appeal was to be chaired by Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari, Chairman of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal in Perugia, in circumstances not well understood Dr. Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, who chairs the Labor Chamber of the Court, has been called on to preside over the appeal court,
The judge to the side of the main judge, Dr. Massimo Zanetti, came from the Civil Section, and both had had limited experience with criminal trials both rather remote in time (only the cases of Spoleto and Orvieto).
Judge Hellman readily consented to the defense requests. First to re-examine several witnesses previously heard on the stand during trial (primarily Mr Curatolo) and two new ones (Alessi and Aviello) intended to show that Guede or Aviello’s missing brother could have attacked Meredith with unknown others.
And second to appoint two independent experts who would re-examine the DNA on the large knife found in Sollecito’s apartment and the DNA for which traces were collected in Meredith’s room and the methods used for processing them.
The examination of the witnesses seemed to end indecisively, but the vague suggestions of the independent consultants that there COULD have been DNA contamination - never proven - was accepted readily by Judge Hellman.
The reconstruction and the showing of the simulation which the trial jury sat through in later 2009 was not repeated by the prosecution at the first appeal in late 2011. Judge Hellman showed no inclination to sit through the full depiction of the day or the horrific 15-minute attack on Meredith.
So the explanation of all the evidence points in the room and on Meredith’s body was never solidly brought home solidly to Judge Hellman or his jury. In his verdict he overturned the outcome of the first trial, provisionally pending any Supreme Court ratification, and he handed Amanda Knox a three-year sentence for framing Patrick Lumumba.
Having refused to see the reconstruction, he could very torturously argue that the attack on Meredith could have been carried out by a single person. If he and his jury had actually watched the video, they could never have argued that.
4. Fast-forward to the grounds of Dr Galati’s appeal to the Supreme Court
The Umbria Chief Prosecutor’s grounds for appeal were spelt out by him at a new conference in Perugia on Monday 13 February 2012. The PMF translation team will soon have the full document ready in English.
The summary of the grounds for appeal below is translated from the Umbria24 report and to our knowledge NO English-language website except this one and PMF has ever reported what are the full grounds.
Meredith case: the prosecution appeals to Cassation: the acquittal verdict should be “nullified”.
For the Chief Magistrates of the [Umbria] Prosecution, “it was almost exclusively the defence arguments which were taken heed of”
By Francesca Marruco
The first-level conviction verdict was “complete and thorough” while the verdict of the second-level is “contradictory and illogical”. For this reason, the General Prosecution of Perugia asks the Cassation to revoke or invalidate it.
“We are still extremely convinced that Amanda and Raffaele are co-perpetrators of the murder of Meredith Kercher” said the Chief Prosecutor of Perugia, Giovanni Galati and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola.
Verdict that should be revoked “The second-level verdict should be annulled/revoked…. There are precise reasons for revoking it”, Mr Galati went on to say. In the Hellman reasoning report on the verdict with which the second-level judges acquitted the ex-boyfriend and girlfriend “there are so many errors, and many omissions. There is inconsistency in the grounds for judgement, which brings us to nothing.”
“It is as if they had ruled ex novo [anew] on Meredith’s murder” added the Deputy Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola, “basing their decision solely on the arguments of the defence.”
“Normally the appeal judge evaluates the reasoning procedure of the first-instance judge and compares it to new elements. But this one missed that out altogether: there is no comparison between the checks carried out in the first and second instances. Only what was carried out during the appeal was evaluated.”
Only defence arguments were taken heed of For the magistrates, in fact, the second-level judges “took heed, almost exclusively, of the arguments of the defence consultants or the reconstruction hypotheses that were largely to the benefit of the defense theses”.
The prosecutors who authored the appeal [to Cassation] also criticized the “method used”. “The first-instance verdict”, they wrote, “was summarized in just a few lines”,
“The verdict [which we] challenge completely ignored all the other aspects which corresponded with the accusation’s hypothesis, all the aspects which, on the contrary - as was seen in the reasoning report of the first-instance verdict - had been rigorously pointed out and considered by the Assizes Court [trial court] in its decision.”
“In examining the individual [items of] evidence, the challenged sentence has fallen into consistent procedural error in the weaknesses and evident illogicality of the grounds for its decision.”
Prejudice For the General Prosecution magistrates, the second-level [first appeal] judges appear to have shown “a sort of prejudice” with the “infelicitous preamble of the judge [the author], who is supposed to be impartial”, when he declared that “nothing is certain except the death of Meredith Kercher”, which to the others [Mr Galati and Mr Costagliola] is nothing more than “a resounding preview/forecast of the judgement” and a “disconcerting” affirmation.
The ten points The reasons for the appeal to Cassation which Perugia’s General Prosecution presented today against the acquittal verdict of Amanda and Raffaele are based on ten points of the second-level verdict.
The first is the lack of grounds for the decision, in the decree of 18 December 2010, to allow the forensic testimony/expert witness in the appeal judgement.
The second, in contrast, concerns a contrary decision: the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.
The other points deal with the decision by the Appeal court of Assizes of Perugia to not hear the witness Aviello, also the definition of “unreliable” [in the Hellman Report] with reference to the witnesses Roberto Quintavalle and Antonio Curatolo, also the time of death of Meredith Kercher, also on the genetic investigations.
As well as the analyses of the prints and other traces, also the presence of Amanda and Sollecito in via della Pergola, also the simulation of a crime [the staged break-in], and also the exclusion of the aggravating circumstance of the crime of “calumny”.
Missing assumption/acceptance of decisive evidence In the appeal to Cassation there is also mention of the “missing assumption/acceptance of a decisive proof”
In other words, of that proof [presented at trial court] which consisted of “the carrying out of the genetic analysis on the sample taken from the knife by the experts appointed by the Court during the appeal judgement, who did not carry out the analyses of that sample, thus violating a specific request contained in the [orders given to them] when they were assigned to the expert-witness post”
“In the second-level [Hellman] verdict”, the magistrates said, “the judges sought to refer to this in their own way, by speaking of an “experimental method” by which these tests/checks could be carried out.
But this is not the case”, said Deputy Chief Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola: “Dr Novelli [the prosecution’s DNA consultant at appeal] spoke of cutting-edge technology, not of experimental methods”.
So Dr Galati, himself formerly a deputy chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court who for years handled nothing but Supreme Court cases and knows what constitutes a sound appeal argument, argued that Judge Hellman had made ten serious mistakes. (Aviello claimed in court that he had been bribed; instead of investigating, Judge Hellman very quickly move on.)
But even worse, that Judge Hellman had illegally vastly expanded the scope of the appeal. And he had illegally appointed the independent DNA experts.
Because of Hellman’s alleged sloppiness and overreach, the defenses now stood to lose EVERYTHING they thought they had gained - and had been so noisily jubilant about, especially to the media in the US. An arrogance not taken kindly to in Italy at all.
5. Fast forward to English language press reports of the past few days.
Nick Squires may have been the first to carry the report quoting unnamed sources in the Daily Telegraph.
Two prosecutors in Perugia, where Miss Kercher was murdered, face accusations of wasting 182,000 euros (£150,000) of public money by commissioning a controversial 3D video which purported to show how the murder unfolded.
The contentious video, which defence lawyers said was based on circumstantial evidence, showed Miss Kercher being held down and stabbed to death by Miss Knox and her two co-accused.
The Leeds University student and her alleged murderers were represented in the 20 minute film by animated ‘avatars’. It was played on a big screen to the judge and jury in the original trial in 2009.
The National Audit Office is now investigating the prosecutors, Giuliano Mignini and his deputy, Manuela Comodi, on whether the video was a necessary part of their case.
If found culpable they could have to pay the money back to the prosecutors’ office.
Really? Accusations? Wasting? Controversial? Purported? Contentious? Now investigating?
Note that Nick Squires didnt name his sources. He didnt explain why he claimed the video simulation was controversial. (It wasn’t at all controversial at trial in 2009.) He didnt seem to know who had made the accusations or how or when they had been made or to who.
He failed to mention that the video was played behind closed doors, and that the defenses had no comeback to it. He said it depicted Knox, though in fact it deliberately didn’t. He didn’t explain that the depiction of the fight lasted 15 minutes. He didn’t explain that the depiction of three attackers was overwhelmingly convincing to Judge Massei and his jury.
Nick Squires’s report was nevertheless comparatively brief and restrained in contrast to that of Michael Day which came next. His very much embroidered version was published in the UK Independent. The accusatory tone and serious charges in Nick Squires’s and Michael Day’s reports were then picked up without checking by a large number of American and European media outlets.
Note that not one of these reports was checked out in Italy, and that all these reports slam Mr Mignini (yet again) and indicate that this was an OFFICIAL accusation of “wasting public funds”. Many US reports wrongly state that the British audit office is investigating.
Michael Day claimed that “Agostino Chiappiniello has said he suspects the two of inappropriately spending €182,000 (£148,000) on a crude and cartoonish 20-minute video,”
Really? Agostino Chiappiniello, did you tell Michael Day precisely that?
Michael Day then states that “In both trials [Mr Mignini’s ] interventions were notable for the outlandish motivations and personality traits he attributed to the defendants. He promoted the idea that the murder was the result of a sex-game that got out of control, despite having little or no evidence to support the theory.”
Really? Actually Guede and Knox and Sollecito were all CONVICTED of a sex crime at trial, because to their judges and juries that is what the evidence inescapably pointed to.
And Michael Day concludes with yet another misleading statement (see above on Dr Galati’s appeal for the correct facts which he seriously garbles here.):
Judges at the Cassation court may only overturn the first-appeal verdict on technical grounds. Thus, no new evidence may be introduced and the prosecution’s room for manoeuvre is limited. The pair could not be retried for the same crimes.
Really? But nobody is talking about the pair being retried for the same crimes. This does not arise. Under Italian law they STILL stand accused of the same crimes as they were before trial back in 2009 until the Supreme Court signs off on their case.
6. Fast-forward to the ITALIAN reports of the past two days
Translation by our main poster Jools from an Umbria24 report, posted on Wednesday, which tells a very different story.
[There was several months ago]… a complaint from “a group of private citizens” who did not sign their names and surnames about an alleged misuse of public money….
No comment from the two prosecutors of Perugia, no comment on this news.
As we have learned the prosecutors have not received any legal papers regarding the investigation and they heard of the news from the press.
Who will pay? To decide if the expense was adequate for the State coffers will be the task of the prosecutor at the Court of Audits of Umbria.
Meanwhile if the Supreme Court were to overturn the judgment of the Perugia appellate court, the costs would be paid by the two accused [Knox and Sollecito].
If instead the Supreme Court were to confirm the acquittal, the bill for 182 thousand euros would be borne by the Italian State.
7. In summation
Quite a fizzle. The prosecutors are NOT quaking in their boots. They didnt even know about it. And the full force of Italian justice does NOT have them under the microscope.
- The anonymous complaint was filed over two months ago. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
- If the enquiry is actually pursued (not at all certain) then it is Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito who could in fact be stuck for the costs (plus VAT) of producing the video. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
- The Corte dei Conti is not the equivalent of a criminal or civic court, it is essentially an investigating tribunal. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
- The Corte dei Conti has so far not accused anyone of anything, and it may never do so. It sure doesn’t seem to regard the matter as urgent. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
- In fact it has taken over two months to, well… not even assemble the evidence or bother to get in touch with Mr Mignini or Ms Comodi. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
On the same basis Judge Hellman could in theory be accused of incurring TWO huge cost over-runs.
- One for running his appeal court only on saturdays to suit just one defense lawyer, when the overtime costs to Italy became huge - substantially more than the cost of the video. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
- And one for (according to Dr Galati) illegally appointing the two DNA consultants - the costs of that investigation to Italy became much more than the cost of the video. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
The reconstruction video is so powerful and accurate that it could, if it is watched by the Supreme Court in Rome or a new appeal court in Perugia, be quite devastating to the defense of the two accused. This is because it depicts the full cruelty of the attack on Meredith - and it shows that THREE people had to have attacked her.
So who filed the anonymous complaint against Mr Mignini and Ms Comodi? And who used Nick Squires and Michael Day as puppets to make a private claim look official, and make that hoax go viral? We are sure Dr Galati will have all the answers before many days go past. Calunnia charges might apply.
Someone must REALLY fear that Sollecito and Knox will be cooked if that video reconstruction ever gets shown again. Case closed? At one stroke.
[Below: Knox and Sollecito, who could be billed over $300,000 for the reconstruction video]
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Officially involved, The prosecutors, Diversion efforts, Knox-Mellases, Sollecitos, Sockpuppets, Dirty tricks, Mignini and MOF, The wider contexts
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Monday, April 30, 2012
Does ANY Competent Lawyer Actually Believe RS And AK Are 100% Innocent? If So, Then PROVE It
Posted by James Raper
After 3 days and growing, unfortunately no sign that pro-innocence lawyers (if any) want to respond. Mr Simon? Mr Barnett? Ms Nancy Grace? (Well perhaps not you)
The Italian, US and UK lawyers who guide TJMK (of which I am one) look around and wonder: why are genuinely-convinced pro-Knox lawyers (if any) still not comprehensively answering all the open questions?
I contrast this with the various media talking heads who have offered drive-by comments without a really deep understanding of the facts of the case or Italian law.
In the law of all three countries, defense lawyers don’t need to KNOW either way whether their client is guilty or innocent. They don’t have to come out with a complete scenario to account for all the facts and point to innocence that would be the counterpart to my scenario (powerpoints - wait a few seconds to load) seemingly accounting for all the facts, which is still an unchallenged case for guilt.
But a comprehensive rebuttal would do the hard-pressed Sollecito and Knox factions a big favor, and provide a much-needed framework for the media (which is posting many incorrect legal claims), and make the Cassation appeal and the book-writing by Knox and Sollecito so much easier.
Consider the ups-and-downs of the defense legal teams on the case,
It was clear in 2008 that her lawyers absolutely didnt like Knox speaking out, offering different versions that between them made her look distinctly guilty. They didnt like the anti-Mignini campaign run from Seattle and they publicly said so - when Mr Mignini was attacked by a main speaker at an event at Salty’s they actually spoke up and publicly defended him.
In December 2008 NBC TV aired an excellent Dateline report. The main legal talking head, Ted Simon, explained that this was a really tough prosecution case to beat, and that whacking down individual points of evidence would not win the case in the public eye (justice would not be seen to be done) and that only a complete alternative explanation of the crime would do.
At trial in 2009 the defense teams did what they could with a torrent of facts and two unpredictable clients. The cross-examination of Amanda Knox on the stand mid-year in the context of Patrick Lumumba’s alleged framing must have seemed a real low-point for them, as she came across as rather flippant and chilling, and she said a number of things that all defense lawyers would probably prefer that she hadn’t.
Through the publication of Judge Massei’s report the defenses seem to have been faced with an uphill battle.
In 2011 an experienced criminal-case judge was initially appointed to preside over the first appeal. But quite suddenly, to the surprise of many in Italy and the alleged unhappiness of the judge himself, he was removed from the case, and Judge Hellman was appointed in his place.
Defence counsel would of course have had no role in that surprise change of lead judges for the first appeal, but from Day One of the appeal (spaced out to one session a week by Judge Hellman to suit one of them) the defenses seemed much happier.
The prosecution were now on occasion publicly hinting that they were now stuck with the uphill battle. The defenses now seemed the side energized and confident. But please note these three things which suggest that they knew they were not all-powerful.
- 1) They appealed on very narrow grounds, essentially on some witness testimony and a small part of the forensic evidence, and they kept well away from the multiple alibis, mobile phones and computers, and forensic evidence in the hallway, bathroom, and Filomena’s room.
2) They never argued that Rudy Guede was the lone-wolf killer in the case (the surprise preference in his report of Judge Hellman) and even put their own witnesses Alessi and Aviello on the stand to in effect try to prove otherwise.
3) Knox legal advisor Ted Simon was reduced to arguing on TV that there was no evidence of Knox and Sollecito IN the bedroom, while never accounting for the mishmash of alibis or all the mixed-blood and footprint evidence just outside the door.
As Dr Galati’s appeal and public opinion in the three countries are showing, the defences may have mostly won the second battle, with Judge Hellman’s interim verdict and sentence (Knox was still sentenced to three years), but they seem to be falling far short of winning the war for the two clients.
Now the defences again face an uphill battle.
So here we go. An opportunity for any good pro-innocence lawyer to help to win the war for Knox and Sollecito. Forget the forensics for now. I offer these several dozen questions for you and/or Amanda Knox which, truthfully answered, might put many concerns to bed.
I will be happy to post here any real attempt at answering all of these questions by any qualified lawyer who is thoroughly on top of the case - or of course any attempt by Amanda Knox herself.
1. Why did you not mention the 16 second 12.07 phonecall to Meredith’s English phone on the 2nd November in your e-mail? When explaining why you made this call, please also explain why it was to the English phone rather than Meredith’s Italian phone which you knew Meredith used for local calls?
2. Why did you not mention this call when you phoned Filomena immediately afterwards?
3. Why did you make so little effort to contact Meredith again after being told by Filomena to do so. Remember the logged 3 and 4 second phone calls?
4. Why did you tell Filomena that you had already phoned the police when neither you, nor Raffaele, had.
5. Can you and will you explain the contradiction between your panic at the cottage (as described in the e-mail) and the testimony of all the witnesses who subsequently arrived that you appeared calm, detached and initially unconcerned as to your friend’s whereabouts or safety?
6. Why did you tell the postal police that Meredith often locked her bedroom door, even when it came to taking a shower, when this was simply not true, as Filomena testified?
7. Can you and will you explain why you did not try either of Meredith’s phones at the cottage if you were indeed in such a panic about Meredith’s locked door?
8. Can you and will you explain how you knew that Meredith’s throat had been cut when you were not, according to the witnesses’s testimony, a witness to the scene in Meredith’s bedroom after the door had been kicked in and, with the exception of probably a postal police officer or the ambulance crew, no one had looked underneath the duvet covering the body when you were there?
9. What made you think that the body was in the cupboard (wardrobe) when it was in fact to the side of the wardrobe? Were you being flippant, stupid, or what, when you said that? Do you think it just a remarkable coincidence that the remark bears close comparison to the crime scene investigators conclusions, based on the blood at the scene, that Meredith had been shoved, on all fours, and head first, at the door of the wardrobe? She was then turned over on the floor and moved again. How did you know that there was any position prior to her final place of rest?
10. Will you ever be able to account for the 12.47 pm call to your mother in Seattle ( at 4.45 am Seattle time)? Do you remember this now because it was not mentioned in your e-mail nor were you able to remember it in your court testimony?
11. Why do you think Raffaele told the police – contrary to your own alibi that you had spent the whole time with Raffaele at his apartment – that you had gone out at 9 pm and did not return until 1 am?
12. Did you sleep through the music played for half an hour on Raffaele’s computer from 5.32 am?
13. Were you telling the truth when you told the court that you and Raffaele ate dinner some time between 9.15 and 11 pm? Can you not narrow it down a bit more? The water leak occurred, you said, whilst washing up dishes after dinner. Why then did Raffaele’s father say that Raffaele told him at 8.42 pm about the water leak whilst washing up dishes?
14. What was the problem about using the mop, rags, sponges etc already at Raffaele’s apartment, to clear up a water spill? Why was the mop from the girl’s cottage so essential and if it was, why not collect it immediately since it was just a short distance away?
15. Why, when you knew that you were going to Gubbio with Raffaele on the 2nd November, did you not take a change of clothing with you, if needed, when you left the cottage on the afternoon of the 1st?
16. Why did you need a shower at the cottage when you had already had one at Raffaele’s apartment the previous evening?
17. If you had needed one again why not have it at his apartment, in a heated apartment, before you set off, or on your return, rather than have a shower on a cold day, in a cold flat?
18. Why did you not notice the blood in the bathroom, and the bloody footprint on the bathmat, until after your shower? If the blood you then observed was already diluted and faded, how do you explain this?
19. Do not ignore your blood on the faucet. In your own testimony you said that there was no blood in the bathroom when you and Raffaele left the flat on the afternoon of the 1st. What is your considered take on this now? Did your ear piercings bleed when having that shower or drying afterwards? If so, why were you not perfectly clear about the matter in your e-mail? But then again you said that the blood was caked dry, didn’t you?
20. Why did Raffaele say that, on entering the flat with you, Filomena’s door was open and he saw the damage and mess inside, but you said, in your e-mail, that Filomena’s door was closed when you returned at 10.30 am? Did you subsequently look inside on that occasion, or not? It’s just that if you did, then why did you not mention the break in to Filomena prior to you and Raffaele returning to the cottage?
21. You are a creative writer so please explain. What is the point of the word “also” in the following extract from your e-mail? “Laura’s door was open which meant that she wasn’t at home, and Filomena’s door was also closed”.
22. In your trial testimony you mentioned shuffling along the corridor on the bathroom mat after your shower. From the bathroom to your room. Because there was no towel in the bathroom. You had left it in your bedroom. Then back again. Why is this not mentioned in your e-mail?
23. In your e-mail you stated that you changed for your shower in your bedroom, and then afterwards dressed in your bedroom. That makes sense. What you don’t explain is why, if you towelled and dressed in your bedroom, there was any need to shuffle back to the bathroom on the bathmat. Why not just carry it back?
24. But why, in the same testimony, did you then change your mind as to where you had undressed for your shower? Not in your bedroom - saying so was a mistake you said - but you did not say where. Some people might think, uncharitably, that your change of mind was necessary to incorporate the double bathmat shuffle.
25. Were there any things that you disliked about Meredith? Be honest because we know from her English friends and other sources that there were things that she disliked about you.
26. Why are pages missing from your diary for October?
27. Once again, and this time so that it makes some sense, please explain why you permitted the police, on your say so, to believe that poor Patrick Lumumba was involved in Meredith’s murder. Clearly, had you been at the cottage you would have known that he was not, and had you not been there you could not have known that he was.
There are actually over 200 open questions on this site, and I can think of others, but I consider these between them to be the core several dozen that relate to the quirks,contradictions, omissions and inconsistencies in Amanda Knox’s own account and behaviour. Answer all of these and in the public eye Amanda Knox really could be home free.
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Officially involved, The prosecutors, Diversion efforts, The trials, The Massei Report, The appeals, Hellmann appeal
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Saturday, April 28, 2012
Good Review Of “Meredith” By Ryan Parry In Today’s Edition Of The UK Mirror
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
1. On Not Ever Wanting To Let Go
When heartbroken John Kercher wakes, he is greeted by a framed photo of his beloved daughter Meredith.
“It’s my favourite picture of Mez,” John says. “She has such a beautiful smile. It’s the first thing I see when I get up every day.”
The photo was taken a year before Meredith left for university in the Italian city of Perugia.
“When I see the photo it makes me smile, but also sad,” says John.
“I always think, why did it happen? Here’s this beautiful young woman – and I’m not just talking about looks – why would anyone want to kill her?”
2. On Why John Felt He Had To Write The Book
A book that John has written about Meredith was published on Thursday.
It details the painful court hearings but the main focus is the daughter he misses desperately.
“People have forgotten that a young girl has died,” he says.
Leeds University student Meredith – who was in Italy on an exchange programme – sparkles into life in the book.
John recalls the tiny baby who weighed just 4lbs 12oz. “I could practically hold her in one hand,” he says.
The dad adds: “People ask me, why when I talk about Meredith I always smile. It’s because she was always so witty and laughing.”
3.. And On The Highly Controversial Interim Appeal Verdict
“We’re still trying to make sense of it. It’s not as if someone broke in and killed her, there was no robbery or real motive,” John says.
He does not believe Guede acted alone. “Meredith had 47 bruises. Two knives were meant to have been used. Meredith did karate, for goodness’ sake.”
He adds: “We would never want innocent people put in prison.
“But when you’re presented with that whole body of evidence, by forensic investigators, and it is just overturned without question, it is very hard.”
The Supreme Court in Italy is now examining whether it was right to acquit Knox and Sollecito, with a decision not expected until the autumn.
Archived in Concerning Meredith, In memory, Her family, Officially involved, Victims family
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Friday, April 27, 2012
Good Review Of “Meredith” By Barbie Nadeau In Tina Brown’s Influential “Daily Beast”
Posted by Peter Quennell
John Kercher writes in an easy, somewhat apologetic first-person voice, tucking in details about why Meredith chose to study in Perugia and how during a class trip in high school she decided she would one day live in Italy, a country she fell in love with as a young child when the Kerchers vacationed there.
He gives new details about Meredith that the press who followed the case never uncovered, including how Meredith’s former boyfriend Lloyd proposed to her in a Japanese restaurant shortly before she left for Perugia. She declined, but kept the ring for a few days before giving it back.
He also pays homage to each of Meredith’s close friends, both those from her hometown and those in Perugia, and describes in painful detail what it was like to read the cards on the flowers left in tribute both in Italy and England after her death.
But Meredith is more than memoriam; it is also a valuable textbook on the details of the criminal trial. Considering that he is writing about the murder trial of his daughter, Kercher manages to be surprisingly dispassionate when it comes to the evidentiary facts of the case….
In one of the book’s most heart-wrenching scenes, he describes the surreal night Knox and Sollecito were convicted of the murder and how the courtroom was silent when the judge read the guilty verdict. “I looked towards Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollectio: gone was the confidence and smile that Knox had displayed throughout the pretrial and trial.
Then, as the judge delivered his pronouncement, in an Italian I could not understand, I watched her collapsing forward. I saw her parents’ look of disbelief.”
Kercher also walks the reader through what their family considered the even more painful and confusing events that followed the guilty verdict, and how the American press and some British outlets embraced Knox’s claims of innocence during the appeal, sacrificing Meredith’s memory in the process.
Meredith’s name, he points out, was frequently left out of news stories, which became more and more focused on Knox during the appellate process. For the Kercher family, which had just begun their closure with the guilty verdicts, the process of retrying the case and reliving those painful details of their daughter’s murder all over again in the appeal was almost too much to bear.
Archived in Concerning Meredith, In memory, Her family, Officially involved, Victims family
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Thursday, April 26, 2012
Excerpts From Lucy Bannerman’s Interview With Meredith’s Father In Today’s UK Times
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
I had never cried during an interview, until I met John Kercher. He presses a polite kiss to the cheek when we meet, smiling as he shakes my hand, before quickly apologising for wincing in pain.
His back has been giving him trouble — he thinks he might have put it out when he sneezed. Still, his manner is warm and engaging and, despite having suffered a stroke three years ago, there is only a slight hint of unsteadiness as we pick a table and order some drinks in the bland lounge of a Croydon hotel.
2. On Rudy Guede Plus… Who?
Rudy Guede, the Ivorian drifter who is the only one who admits being at the scene, and whose murder conviction still stands, is in jail, having had his sentence reduced to only 16 years in a fast-track trial.
Today, Mr Kercher refuses to believe that Guede was the sole killer.
“One person could not have done it.” Of that much, he is certain. “She had 47 bruises. Two different knives were meant to have been used. Meredith did karate, for goodness’ sake.”
Remove Knox and Sollecito, and the only theory left is that Guede was helped by other, as-yet-unknown, accomplices. Which leaves Mr Kercher with even more questions.
“Then why is there not evidence of these other people?” he asks.
The past six months have passed in limbo. He has used the time to write a book that is, in one sense, his attempt to lay out the vast and tangled body of evidence, detailed in 10,000 pages in the original trial, which was overturned by an appeal judge last October.
“As we have always said, we would never want innocent people put in prison. But when you’re presented with that whole body of evidence, by forensic investigators, and it is just overturned, without question — without question — it is very difficult.”
3.. On Why John Was Inspired To Write
Ultimately the book is a heartbroken father’s tribute to his daughter. She sparkles through the pages, thanks to anecdotes from friends and family, first loves and flatmates; from the teachers who taught her and even the boy who once proposed. It is instantly clear, and not at all surprising, that Meredith was never short of admirers.
Her father was encouraged to write the book, not just by those who loved the 21-year-old student, but also by strangers.
“I looked on the internet and saw there were so many people saying, ‘We love her smile, she seemed like such a beautiful person, but we don’t really know anything about her’.
“So, I wanted to give people a flavour of what she was like, of her witty one-liners, her kindness.”
He remembers the baby girl who, though not premature, was born at just 4lbs 12oz — “she was so small I could practically hold her in one hand” — and the teenager with appalling time-keeping.
He talks fondly of the London bus tour guide, whose tours would always end with a top deck of applause, and the girl who first fell in love with Italy on a school exchange.
“Her teacher told me how, at the end of the exchange, all the other girls were crying on the coach as they said goodbye, except Meredith, who had a big smile on her face. She said she wasn’t upset, because she knew she was going to come back and live here.”
4. On The Hellman Court Not Examing All Evidence
A lack of motive and unreliable forensic evidence led to Knox and Sollecito being cleared by a jury. Much of the case centred on disputed DNA evidence on a kitchen knife and a clasp from Meredith’s bloodied bra.
“That DNA evidence was rejected, but what about all the rest of it?” asks Mr Kercher, for whom so many questions remain unanswered.
“Knox and Sollecito changed their alibi, I think, nine times.”
He does not agree that someone broke into the cottage, as the defence claimed. He believes it was staged. “How could one judge turn around and say the break-in wasn’t staged, when another judge spent eight pages in his original report explaining that it was?
“It doesn’t make sense.”
What does he think happened?
“No idea,” he replies, flatly.
Does he believe Amanda Knox killed Meredith?
He sighs. “Look into my eyes.”
They are full of tears.
“Guess. I don’t want to be vindictive. All I know is that there’s no other evidence of any other people being in that flat at that time.”
5. On Those Profiteering From Meredith’s Death
One thing he makes plain: the Kerchers have never profited from their daughter’s murder. He is disgusted by those who have.
They have turned down countless lucrative media offers.
Any proceeds from the book will go to a foundation they are setting up in Meredith’s name. They are considering whether it might support bereaved relatives who find themselves, like they did, embroiled in financially draining legal procedures overseas.
6. On How Family Life Carries On
He split from Meredith’s mother, Arline, ten years before the murder, and lives on his own in a flat five miles from the former family home. Kidney problems mean that Arline must rely on dialysis three times a week. She and John are on amicable terms.
Meredith’s eldest brother, also John, works in electronics, and is father to his own family. Her other brother, Lyle, works in advertising, while Stephanie, the beautiful sister she so closely resembles, has a career in marketing.
He is not a religious man, Kercher says. But over the past few years he has taken great comfort in what he calls “the white feather phenomenon”.
“I had never heard of it before. But it’s meant to represent the deceased person. It first happened when Stephanie and I were sitting in the garden one summer, and an absolutely white feather landed between us. I looked up. There was not a bird in the sky.”
It happened again after meeting up with a friend of Meredith’s while he was collecting anecdotes for the book.
“We were just saying goodbye in South Kensington when a white feather floated down and landed on her hand. It was really weird. It was so perfect. I actually waited another 10, 12 minutes, after the girl had gone, looking up at the sky.” He laughs at himself for being so superstitious.
“I often look at photographs and say to her, ‘send me a white feather’.”
7. On John’s Continuing Journalist Career
Mr Kercher still works as a freelance journalist. Despite all the heartache, he remains good company, apparently enjoying talking about life as a journalist, sharing anecdotes about the famous people he has interviewed and the book of quotations he has compiled.
“Do you ever get lonely?” he asks, suddenly. The question seems to hang uncomfortably for a moment, before we move on to happier topics, such as the nine times that he ran the London Marathon, his love of jazz and the 70th birthday he will be celebrating later this year.
As the interview draws to a close, he says he has no plans for the rest of the day but to keep writing. “You work to occupy the mind.
“You just carry on. You can’t do anything. You have no influence over events. It’s very difficult.”
Archived in Concerning Meredith, In memory, Her family, Officially involved, Victims family
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John Kerchers Book “Meredith” Is Published In London; US + Italian Publishers Eager To Follow
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
Above: Meredith’s birthplace. Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames. She very much reflected this spirit.
John Kercher’s book is available from today in the UK and on Amazon Kindle via the links at the top of the page here. We will be posting some excerpts and reviews. We would welcome submissions from anyone waiting for a good opportunity to to do their part. We are all volunteers here.
First glance at the Kindle version suggests this fine book was highly worth the wait and it will become definitive. A huge presence. It shows what a rising star of a woman was cut down, the victim of an arrogant cruel deed by people not even half of her stature.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
After Five Years, Heavy Police Resources Still Assigned To The Case Of The Missing Madeleine McCann
Posted by Peter Quennell
The case of Madeleine McCann.
In one respect, there’s this parallel to Meredith’s case. After five years police are still assigning major resources to close to their own complete satisfaction a vexatious and divisive case.
Unfortunately, the parallels end there.
In this case, it is the British police still assigning the resources (now close to four million pounds), in parallel to the relentless Italian effort for Meredith, because they fear that in light of cases like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard the Portuguese police may have dropped the ball far too soon.
The Portuguese, in face of a confusing situation on the night when Madeleine disappeared, where the parents say they had left her home with younger twins while they had dinner 100 yards away, and a nervous Portuguese vacation industry, declared the parents as under suspicion in Madeline’s death and (see video above) aggressively furthered that meme. They may have closed off kidnapping possibilities which in this day and age are far too real.
It may be that one day the British police eventually do conclude that her parents had a role in Madeleine’s disappearance and possible death, or simply declare that they have hit a brick wall. But as Time and other UK and US news services are today reporting, they are concerned that the little girl is still out there, alive, and a kidnapper may be getting a free pass - and the opportunity to do it again.
The British police have released the two images below, showing how Madeleine looked back then and could now look at age nine. These are the latest developments according to the NY Times.
Scotland Yard released a statement saying its investigators had uncovered what they believed to be “genuinely new material,” as well as nearly 200 new opportunities for further inspection. Investigators said that they “now believe that there is a possibility Madeleine is still alive,” and have called for the investigation by Portuguese police to be reopened after an almost four-year hiatus….
While the initial investigation by the Portuguese authorities was roundly criticized, the British inquiry has been aided by the fact that, for the first time since Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom in the family’s rented apartment in the Algarve region of Portugal, investigators have been able to review material generated by three independent investigations, all in one location.
The detective leading the review said that having access to the Portuguese investigation, inquiries by British law enforcement agencies and the work of private investigators hired by the McCann family presents the team with “best opportunity” of finally solving the mystery of what happened in the seaside resort of Praia da Luz.
Rewards totaling millions of dollars were offered by wealthy Britons, including J. K. Rowling, the billionaire author of the Harry Potter series, and Richard Branson, the airline tycoon. But the Portuguese police identified only one suspect, a 33-year-old Britain living with his mother in a nearby apartment….
Detectives have been painstakingly sifting through “every single piece of paper” — approximately 100,000 pages — generated by the original investigation, on the basis that sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see what was always there….
Mr. Redwood rejected the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Madeleine’s parents’ involvement. He said that the girl’s disappearance was the result of “a criminal act by a stranger.”
It will come as renewed encouragement to the McCann family, whose ceaseless energy and reluctance to call off the search have been fundamental in keeping the case in the international spotlight. Since their daughter’s disappearance they have traveled to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who blessed a photograph of Madeleine, published a book and even appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”
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Saturday, April 21, 2012
In Daily Mail, John Kercher Explains The Context of His Book “Meredith” Available From Next Friday
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
In light of one of David Marriott’s negative campaigns already begun, it seems useful for us to frame it here.
In the UK, Meredith’s family have very rarely granted any interviews, and then only to book-writers they felt could be fair. In Italy, they have spoken up only in conjunction with key court milestones, and in one interview with John and Arline on national TV.
They have discouraged others who knew Meredith from speaking up because they felt Italian justice would unaided produce an outcome that was universally seen to be legitimate and fair, and an eventual book remembering the Meredith they knew would be their last word.
This book was not exactly rushed out for tactical reasons, as some of the misled media have implied.
The book was one of two John Kercher wrote three years ago, and he resisted book-agent and publisher requests to make much or most of the book on Meredith about the events in Perugia.
Even now, there is little mention of those events. The book is about what the title says it is about - about the high-achieving daughter and sister that was Meredith - and it is said to be superb.
Meredith’s family welcomed the trial verdict from Judge Massei in December 2009 and commiserated with the families of those found guilty.
They then experienced the periodic harsh quirkiness of the Italian system in seeing cursorily overturned late in 2011 what had seemed to just about every competent lawyer a legally extremely sound result back in late 2009.
Italy is perhaps the only country in the world that automatically makes available two appeal levels, the first of which can involve another jury.
Those second juries too often seem anxious to flaunt their chops, and many in Italy want them abolished. Often strikingly unfamiliar with the details of the evidence and most of the key witnesses, they too often advance a body of tortured reasoning as to why the first jury got it so wrong.
The Italian Supreme Court is known to greatly dislike this “jury wars” tendency, and for the illegal assuming of excessive scope (the scope of appeals is set out in Italian judicial code) a long series of appeal verdicts have been partially or fully thrown out and the cases referred back down to the lower court.
The formidable chief prosecutor for Umbria, Dr Galati, was previously a highly effective deputy chief prosecutor with the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome.
His criminal-case experience is almost the exact opposite of Judge Hellman’s. While Judge Hellman is one of the least experienced in criminal cases (his normal beat is business and civil law) Dr Galati is one of the most experienced. He really does know how to do effective Supreme Court appeals, in sharp contrast to the present Sollecito-Mellas-Knox teams.
Dr Galati has filed a prosecution appeal with that same Supreme Court (translation due here soon) which targeted various ways in which he considers the first-appeal court to have got the evidence and the witnesses seriously wrong. Even more formidably:
- He specifically appeals against what he considers the illegal very broad scope adopted by Judge Hellman against judicial code on the precise lines the Supreme Court doesn’t like.
- And he specifically appeals against what he considers to be the illegal appointment by Judge Hellman of Conti and Vecchiotti as independent consultants at the first appeal stage.
If such a review was really needed, he reasons, the place for it was at trial - where the defenses, by then very seriously floundering, asked for it only very late in 2009. But they had already had months of opportunity to bring in even more DNA experts of their own - having already failed to show up to observe any of the key forensic tests in the police labs.
Dr Galati will probably like John Kerchers book on Meredith as much as anyone if and when he ever gets to read it. But in this coming third phase there has almost never been any sign that the Italian police, prosecution and judiciary here are doing anything except what the law requires and meeting their usual impressive norm.
Since the Hellman verdict, there’s been much more tracking of the squalid and offensive Knox PR campaign in Perugia and Rome. The idea being falaciously put around in the US and UK, that John Kercher or the family lawyer Francesco Maresca are somehow driving the bus, is considered by Italian lawyers to be ludicrous, and offensive to the Italian courts and Dr Galati in the extreme.
Meredith and her family are very greatly liked and admired in Italy - and it is because of an ABSENCE of manipulation and PR that the legal system is going the extra mile.
On “Meredith” by John Kercher in the Daily Mail.
My daughter Meredith, aged 21, was murdered on November 1, 2007 in her bedroom in Perugia, Italy, where she was studying at the city’s University For Foreigners.
In the days that followed, one of her housemates, an American girl named Amanda Knox, a young Italian man named Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede, a Perugia resident originally from the Ivory Coast, were arrested on suspicion of her murder.
While Guede remains imprisoned for taking my daughter’s life, last October Knox and Sollecito had their convictions quashed on appeal.
My family and I now find ourselves in a limbo that, I suspect, might never end, wondering exactly what happened in those last moments of Meredith’s life, and how convictions that seemed to offer all the terrible answers two years ago have been so emphatically overturned.
With Knox and Sollecito now free, we find that we are still waiting for justice for our daughter and sister, and have to face up to the possibility that we might never have a satisfactory picture of what unfolded in Perugia on that terrible November night.
Despite everything that has happened since, it still seems as though nobody knows anything about the real Meredith.
The media’s glare throughout the trial and appeal process has been fixed almost entirely on Amanda Knox. Books have been written about her and there has even been a television film focusing on her. It has seemed as if Meredith has been all but forgotten.
In writing this book, I hope to go some way towards redressing the balance, for Meredith was a beautiful, intelligent and caring girl whom everyone loved, and her story deserves to be told.
My hope is that I can share with the world something of the wonderful girl who was our daughter and sister. I hope our telling the world about the enchanting, generous, kind person that Meredith was can help those whose lives she touched.
I also hope this book might help to keep Meredith’s case in the spotlight, and, in some small way, to keep alive the hope that we might yet know the truth about her death.
November 1, 2007, and I am in my local bank in Croydon, South London, when Meredith telephones from Perugia. It is 2.15pm, an unusual time for Meredith to call as we usually speak in the evenings.
But today she does not have to go to university, where she is studying European politics and Italian, as it is a public holiday in Italy.
The call is costing her money, so we don’t have a chance to say much.
I tell her I’ll call her when I get home, but she is going out for dinner with some English friends, so instead we arrange to speak tomorrow.
The next day comes and I find myself at home when Meredith’s mother, Arline, rings. It is 5pm and she has seen on the news that a female British student has been found murdered in Perugia.
I have been divorced from Arline for ten years, and she is living in Old Coulsdon, Surrey. I am worried, but I tell myself that there are many British students studying in Perugia.
Immediately, I call Meredith but all I hear is an automated message. For the next half-an-hour I try her number at least a dozen times, but every time the call goes through to the message.
Then suddenly, after what feels like an age of trying, her mobile starts to ring. I feel some relief and, for the first time, I am confident that my daughter is fine.
Yet, the phone rings on and on, and still there is no answer.
I have to get some information, so I call the foreign desk of a national newspaper. Having worked as a freelance journalist for Fleet Street newspapers and national magazines, it seems the logical thing to do. A man tells me that they have only sketchy details, but if I call back in an hour they might know more.
When I do, I am told by one of the foreign desk editors that Italian police have found the British girl’s mobile phone, and that they have been in touch with people in London.
Again, my hopes rise because this must mean that, whoever this unfortunate girl is, her family and the British police must have been notified.
I have not yet contacted our other children – Meredith’s older sister Stephanie, and brothers Lyle and John – because I do not want to worry them unduly.
For the next 30 minutes I sit by the phone, trying not to feel so apprehensive. Then the phone rings.
The call is from a young woman on the newspaper’s foreign desk. Hesitantly, she tells me they have a name for the victim. Though I ask for it, she is reluctant to tell me. She seems nervous herself and I have to persuade her to release the name. I shall never forget her words.
‘The name going round Italy,’ she says, ‘is Meredith.’
I drop the phone. I do not believe it. There has to be a mistake. I refuse to let the facts sink in.
I repeat it over and over to myself: ‘Not beautiful Meredith . . . Not beautiful Meredith . . .’
Numb with shock, I cannot even cry.
I arrive at Arline’s house within an hour. Stephanie, John and Lyle are there already. By now Arline has spoken to the Foreign Office. Officials have confirmed the worst. The dead girl is Meredith.
Everyone is crying. At 9pm, my daughter’s picture is on the news. I stare at it, registering its familiarity but unable to react.
It is as though my feelings have been folded up and removed from me, leaving my mind free to have pointlessly logical thoughts. I can’t say how I passed the night, except I don’t think I slept.
Nothing can prepare you for what it is like to have to travel to a foreign country to identify the body of your daughter. Meredith had told me how beautiful Perugia was.
Now, a little more than two months since she had first moved to the city, we were approaching it for the first time, and she was never coming home.
We met the Italian police at a roundabout, and they gave us an escort to the morgue. They did not speak English but consulate staff acted as our translators.
As we climbed up the steep roads, however, our talk petered out and we all felt the incongruity of the beautiful scenery and our purpose for being there.
There was a large number of officials inside the morgue, including the Chief of Police and the head of the homicide squad. Many of them were close to tears.
It was time to see my daughter. But I could not face going in. The brutal reality of having to see what had been done to Meredith had not really hit home. A small man from the mortuary approached Arline and Stephanie and, leaving me behind, they went through the doors. I could go no further.
For me, it would have put a full stop to my memories. I had seen her only a couple of weeks before when she had flown back to London to buy some winter clothes.
We had met for a coffee at a small Italian restaurant in Croydon, a place where we met often.
We would talk about books and music; the Italian film she had been to see to improve her language; the occasional dance she had been to with her new English friends and the wonderful pizzas she was eating.
On this occasion, Meredith was almost an hour late (this wasn’t unusual).
When she arrived, she talked eagerly about Perugia.
She said she was trying to buy a duvet for her bed, but nobody seemed to know where she could find one. I remember her saying she was determined to track one down. That this should be the duvet beneath which her body would be found is something that will always haunt me.
She had been laughing and was happy. It was the last time I had seen her and I wanted that to be the memory that I held in my mind for ever.
In the morgue, standing over her body, Arline had said: ‘Your father’s come all this way out here to see you, but doesn’t feel he can.’
Then she had smiled, for the last time, at our daughter.
‘But,’ she had whispered, ‘you know what your father’s like . . .
The news that Amanda Knox was being held for the murder sent shockwaves through our family.
Arline could not comprehend that Meredith’s own housemate might have been involved in this terrible crime.
‘Amanda? Amanda?’ she kept repeating, in a state of utter disbelief.
We knew Meredith had not got on with Knox. Meredith had expressed irritation to us and to her friends in Perugia at Knox’s personal habits, because she frequently failed to flush the lavatory and Meredith had concerns over how Knox would ‘bring strange men back to the house’, but the idea that this irritation could lead to murder seemed preposterous.
We knew so little of the American girl and absolutely nothing of her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, whom Meredith had never mentioned.
The alibis of Knox and Sollecito kept changing.
At first, Knox claimed to have been at Sollecito’s flat all evening on the night of the murder.
Then Sollecito claimed that she had left his place at about 9pm and had not returned until 1am, during which time he had been on the internet.
Knox then changed her story to say that she had been at the cottage at the time that Meredith was killed.
It was during these first days of questioning that Knox claimed that Diya ‘Patrick’ Lumumba, the owner of a local bar called Le Chic, was the murderer.
Lumumba, of Congolese origin, had been living legally in Italy since 1988, running the bar where Knox had a part-time job.
Back in England, this was the first big piece of news we had heard. Pictures of Lumumba were shown on television, but I spoke to Arline on the telephone and neither of us could believe that we were looking at the killer.
Two weeks later, the chief prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, asked for Lumumba’s release, saying: ‘There are no longer any serious indications linking him to the crime.’
Lumumba was later quoted as saying: ‘I think that Amanda wanted to derail the investigation…
‘Amanda hated Meredith because people loved her more than Amanda. She was insanely jealous that Meredith was taking over her position as Queen Bee.’
Things became even more distressing. Although we knew Meredith had been killed by a knife wound to her throat, we had not realised it had been preceded by a sexual assault.
The post-mortem had revealed bruising on her lips and gums consistent with her face being crushed on the ground to hold her still. How could anyone do this to her, we asked ourselves? Why had she been singled out for this kind of treatment?
We tried to get our bearings by finding out more about Amanda Knox. I read that she was aged 20 and had been born in Seattle, the daughter of a retail executive and a primary-school teacher.
After only a few years, her parents divorced and Amanda went to Seattle Preparatory School, described as a strict Jesuit institution. Later, she attended Washington University.
Raffaele Sollecito remained a somewhat quiet, bespectacled figure. At the time of his arrest, he was aged 23. The son of a prominent urologist from Giovinazzo in southern Italy, he had led a privileged life. He described himself on a social networking site as being ‘sweet, but sometimes absolutely crazy’.
Sollecito appeared in pictures posted on the internet wielding a meat cleaver. It emerged that he was passionate about collecting knives.
After the murder, police searched his flat and discovered a collection of Japanese manga comics, some of which depicted acts of extreme violence.
One which attracted particular attention was concerned with the killing of female vampires at Halloween. It was not lost on police that Meredith had been dressed as a vampire to celebrate Halloween only one night before she was murdered.
Police later went on to say that the scene they discovered at the cottage was reminiscent of the scenes depicted in Sollecito’s comics.
A short while before Patrick Lumumba was released, the investigation took another decisive turn.
The police identified a bloodied fingerprint on Meredith’s pillow that belonged to one Rudy Hermann Guede, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast who had already been arrested for petty theft and drug dealing.
DNA taken from his toothbrush matched DNA found on and inside Meredith’s body.
This seemed to tie Guede to the scene of Meredith’s murder. Witnesses had already described a man of African origin fleeing the cottage on the night of the murder, later to be seen washing clothes in a launderette.
Guede had arrived in Italy from the Ivory Coast in 1992, aged five, with his father. When Guede was 15 his father had returned to Africa.
Extradited from Germany where he had been lying low, Guede was now concerned that Knox and Sollecito might attempt to pin the blame solely on him, so his defence team requested that he be tried on his own by a single presiding judge.
This ‘fast-track trial’ would take place during pre-trial hearings.
The request was granted. Armed with 10,000 pages of documentation, the judge, Paulo Micheli, heard evidence from forensics experts regarding the various DNA findings, Sollecito’s DNA having been discovered on Meredith’s bra clasp, and a bloodied footprint having been revealed as belonging to the young Italian man.
There was also the presentation of evidence that Knox’s bloodied footprints had been found in the cottage’s hallway and bathroom; that her DNA had been found in blood mixed with Meredith’s in the bathroom; and that her DNA had been shown to be on a knife handle, with Meredith’s on the blade – a knife that police had found at Sollecito’s apartment and which, the prosecution claimed, had been removed from the scene of the crime.
Judge Micheli also heard Knox’s and Sollecito’s defence teams attempting to refute much of the evidence, specifically the DNA evidence, which they blamed on contamination and poor forensics procedures.
This was to be a major contention in this pre-trial, the main trial and, later, the first appeal.
Regrettably, a key piece of evidence – the bra clasp – was not retrieved from the crime scene until 47 days after the murder because it had been hidden from view.
On October 28, 2008, Arline, Stephanie, Lyle and I returned to Perugia to hear the verdict on Guede.
After a nerve-racking wait, we were called to the court at 9pm. Photographers jostled at the entrance and we were guided in, individually, by police escorts.
I felt almost light-headed with lack of sleep; looking at Arline, Stephanie and Lyle, I saw the same strain on their faces. There was a tense silence.
Amanda Knox sat with her lawyers, as did Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede with theirs. They had been brought in under armed guard. Judge Micheli entered and everyone rose to their feet.
The chief of homicide, Monica Napoleoni, stood at my side, ready to convey the verdict.
As the judge began his statement, Ms Napoleoni looked at me, squeezing my hand, then concentrated on what the judge was saying. It was in Italian, so we had no idea what was being said.
The judge had been deliberating for 12 hours about his decision. This was the moment.
Suddenly, Ms Napoleoni turned to look at me and squeezed my hand again, nodding emphatically.
Rudy Guede had been found guilty of complicity in Meredith’s murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Knox and Sollecito had been indicted on charges of murder and sexual violence and would stand trial.
I did not know what to feel. It was certainly not relief because I knew that this was only the beginning.
After this, we would have to go through the main trial. I can only say that we were not elated – but we were satisfied that justice was progressing in the right direction.
It was not a moment any of us could relish. In our hearts, all we wanted to know was what had happened to Meredith and why she had to be taken so cruelly away.
As her sister Stephanie said at Meredith’s memorial service: ‘Anyone who was fortunate enough to have known her would testify that she was one of the most caring people you could ever meet.
‘Nothing was too much for her. She was a loyal daughter, sister and friend.’
It is not only our family and her friends who have lost her. So has the world.
I Will Always Love You, she sang in her haunting voice
During those days following Meredith’s death, I would immerse myself in photographs and lose myself in memories of her jokes, her wicked one-liners and her laughter.
Then recently while cleaning my home, I came across a shoebox containing roll after roll of undeveloped film. They have since been developed and I have seen that wonderful smile once again. In one picture I particularly love, Meredith is opening her Christmas presents by the fireplace.
On Christmas Eve I would pull some ash into the fireplace and draw small footprints to show that Father Christmas’s boots had landed there.
Meredith was due on December 25, 1985. But, as was to be the pattern of her life, she was late, and it was on December 28 that Arline was taken to Guy’s Hospital in London.
I set out in the car with John, Lyle and Stephanie to drive the 18 miles to the hospital. The weather was freezing and after about ten minutes, there was a rattling sound coming from under the car bonnet. I discovered the water in the radiator had turned to ice. We abandoned the car and dashed to the nearest station, Purley, to continue our journey by train.
I like to think that it was because of the season she was born in that Meredith loved winter, especially when it snowed and she could get out her plastic sledge.
In October 1987, when Meredith was nearly two, a 120mph hurricane came through Old Coulsdon. Arline and I huddled on the upstairs landing with the four children. That night, an 80ft tree slammed across the back of the house, a long branch smashing through the girls’ bedroom window. It was a fortunate escape.
Meredith liked going to the coast and we visited Brighton regularly. Sometimes we had a picnic on the beach. Then there were the Lanes, a maze of narrow streets filled with cafes, bistros and antiques shops. She was fascinated by this place and I often picture her there.
In 1997, Arline and I agreed to divorce, and I moved into a flat in Croydon.
During that first week of living apart, I came home to find Meredith had left a message on my answering machine, singing Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You.
Her voice was beautiful and haunting, and I think I cried on hearing it. I kept it there, playing it several times every day until the telephone service provider deleted it.
Meredith would come for dinner every Friday after school. I would cook and then we would watch videos of the hit comedy series Friends.
She also loved clothes, so one day I took her to Selfridges in Oxford Street. I thought she might like to spend half an hour there. How stupid of me! I should have taken a packed lunch. A more fruitful shopping spree was when Meredith, then 14, Stephanie and I travelled on Eurostar to Lille.
We had a wonderful lunch and then the girls discovered some clothes shops. I had to visit a cash machine a couple of times to pay for all their purchases.
Some memories, however, brought me back to Meredith’s final night. I could not help thinking of the hours Meredith had spent practising karate, and how she must have fought back on the night she was murdered.
Against one person, we were all certain, Meredith could have held her own.
Did stress cause my stroke?
During the summer of 2009, I suffered a stroke. I’d had bouts of dizziness, which my doctor thought might be attributable to an ear condition, but then in July, I was hit with the stroke.
I was in hospital for several days and had double vision for weeks afterwards.
I will never know whether the stress of Meredith’s death and the subsequent trial affected my health, but it made me question how many more times I could make the trip to Perugia, and how much more of the chaos I was able to bear.
How the Foreign Office let us down
We were surprised at the lack of financial help available from the British Government as we dealt with the aftermath of Meredith’s death.
We had received tremendous support from the British Consulate in Florence, which arranged translation facilities and made transport arrangements, but despite our pleas, we did not receive any financial support from the Foreign Office.
A number of MPs campaigned on our behalf for some contribution towards our flights, but their efforts were to no avail.
Indeed, it seemed this was a policy decision, one that did not affect just us, but anybody who had suffered an ordeal such as ours. This lack of help was despite the fact that we were obliged to provide testimonies in court.
Nor could we expect any help from the Italian government. Before Meredith was murdered, EU states had said they would sign an agreement to compensate the families of foreign nationals who were victims of a violent crime committed in their country.
However, of all the states, Italy failed to sign the agreement in time.
Financially we were alone and it made the business of attending the trial, and seeking justice for Meredith, all the more problematic.
Archived in Concerning Meredith, In memory, Her family, Officially involved, Victims family
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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Italy Handles Wrongful Death of An American With Usual Efficiency And Real Respect For The Victim
Posted by Peter Quennell
This story has had great play in Italy - there are dozens of video reports - but little play in the US and almost none elsewhere.
San Giovanni Valdarno is a small town one hour’s drive north of Perugia, about two-thirds of the way to Florence in Tuscany which is one of the most visited areas in Italy. Many foreigners have villas there.
Allison Owens. aged 23, from Columbus in Ohio, was a tour guide there. She was last seen alive on Sunday 2 October. Worried for her safety, her friends stirred up a manhunt of the area, which came to include over 100 police with dogs.
After three days of searching, her body was found in a pond on the other side of a crash barrier from a busy highway. She was wearing jogging clothes, and her IPod headphones were still around her head.
The autopsy on her body confirmed that she had been hit by a vehicle, and with lots of publicity the search was on for a hit-and-run driver.
Local resident Pietro Stefanoni turned himself in to the San Giovanni Valdarno police on 7 October after he had already had the damage to his Volvo repaired.
He claimed that he fell asleep at the wheel and only woke when his car side-swiped the crash barrier. He claimed that he went back to the same spot a day or two later to see if he had caused any damage, but did not see any.
Stefanoni did not report the accident. He claimed that it was only several days later that he heard on the news that the police were looking for a hit-and-run driver. Thereupon, in the company of the Florence lawyer Francesco Maresca, he went to the police and was arrested.
He requested the abbreviated fast-track trial procedure (which Rudy Guede also took advantage of in 2008) but which nevertheless resulted, for manslaughter, in a tough sentence: 39 months behind prison bars, and an interim award of nearly $400,000 payable to the Owens family.
The prosecutor had cast Stefanoni’s actions subsequent to his knowingly or unknowingly hitting Allison in a very bad light, and the judge appeared to have concluded that he handed himself in only when he became convinced he would be caught.
Not much is published about the life of Allison Owens, but she is very sunny in all her images. Her family and friends clearly loved her and miss her, and through very careless driving Pietro Stefanoni has made havoc of their world.
Her hard-hit family from Ohio were in court. Thankfully, the case was efficiently and sensitively handled by the Italian authorities, with great support from the Italian media and the public.
Zero sign a pretty American was resented.
Archived in Italian system v others, Other cases, Other Italian
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Monday, April 16, 2012
The Italian Tanker Is Still Held In South India Pending… Not Clear Precisely What
Posted by Peter Quennell
Our previous post described an Italian tanker held and two Italian soldiers in custody for shooting two Indian fishermen they thought were pirates.
Several times since. it seemed that whatever evidence can be assembled would be unveiled preparatory to a trial, the Italian crew would explain fully what happened, the soldiers might be charged, and the ship released to go on its way once the Italian owners paid a large bond - which, a while back, they did.
But lawyers acting for the family of one of the fishermen at the last moment sued to stop the ship on the point of leaving because they claimed they did not trust the owners to pay up - even despite the bond having been lodged in the amount (30 million rupees) that the family itself had demanded.
Now tempers seem to be rising in all directions, and as Sreedhar Pillai observes it is not simply Italy v India.
What has been most surprising is the appalling way both countries have handled the sensitive issue, each one not without its own hidden compulsions, and the public stance each country was obliged to take.
For the new Italian Prime minister Mario Monti , there were more compelling matters to attend… However the way the Italians have come out without a convincing and straightforward explanation of what happened has not helped the matter or enabled the Indians to react helpfully to solve the issue.
Besides, the Italian authorities have also failed to grasp the political compulsions under which the Indian government had to act in this matter.
For a start, Kerala, which is the last place people still believe in communism, has a party which lost the recent election with slim margin and has an interest to politicize every issue in order to win a crucial local election held in March. The ruling congress party with slim majority and allegations of corruption with the central government which they lead couldn’t afford to let the legal path take its own course.
That Kerala has a sizable Catholic population didn’t help, with Kerala Bishops facing accusation of taking up for a Catholic foreign country.
Although never mentioned publicly, the most sensitive reason for the stiff Indian stance is nothing but the Italian origin of Sonia Gandhi, presiding over the Congress Party, currently ruling India and several states including Kerala as the major coalition partner.
Hmmm. So in the Italian media one can now find hard comments like “the ship was trying to avoid piracy, but seems to have wandered into it anyway” and in the Indian media one can find comments ranging from “hang the murderers” to “the lawyers for the family are being opportunist”.
Today it is announced that the soldiers are remanded without charges for yet another 14 days. Meanwhile the owners of the Enrica Lexie have sued at the Indian Supreme Court level to get their ship back.
We may hear whether this is agreed to tomorrow. Sadly, the real pirates at the root of all this must be laughing.
Archived in Other cases, Other elsewhere, The wider contexts, Italian context
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Friday, April 13, 2012
French National Florence Cassez Appeal Fails Before The Mexican Supreme Court
Posted by Peter Quennell
If your first exposure to Florence Cassez is to her sweet face (image below) your reaction might be “sweet girls like Florence simply don’t do crimes” and to mobilize to press for her release.
But as in the case of Amanda Knox the devil really is in the details. Time and again, new readers have come here, many lawyers included, and encountered all of the mountain of details, and in effect responded once they were on top of them “those involved in Rome and Perugia really did know what they are doing”.
Not to mention those vital details lost in translation.
The French national Florence was living on a ranch outside Mexico City owned by her boyfriend when he kidnapped and held a family for ransom. (He is not yet convicted.) The kidnapped family, largely blindfolded, didnt see her, but several say they heard her voice and they suffered from her mistreatment.
Why would they make that up? Florence never really has explained how she could be living right there on the ranch and not have the slightest idea of what was going on. Or explain who “the other woman” was that the kidnapped family kept encountering.
Sentences for kidnapping are very harsh in Mexico as it has had far too many in recent years. The sweet face and 60 year sentence and the family of Florence and President Sarkozy and the notion of a process run wild made for a compelling mix of tragedy on French TV.
Not to mention those vital details lost in translation.
So far, though, to no avail. The Supreme Court have just ruled that the sentence must stand. This may not be the end of it as several irregularities have been conceded but if she is to see freedom in her lifetime Florence still has explaining to do.
Various public opinion polls say 65 to 74 percent of Mexicans think Cassez is guilty and many express resentment at French pressure to win her freedom…. [And] many believe any violation of due process was not serious enough to let Cassez go free.
How rarely do countries appreciate other countries leaning on their legal system. It’s not likely to happen again, soon toward Mexico as much as toward Italy.
Archived in Other cases, Other elsewhere
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In Close Parallel To Amanda Knox, Casey Anthony Faces Court Action For Falsely Fingering Another
Posted by Peter Quennell
Both recent images. Above the plaintiff Zenaida Gonzalez; below the defendant Casey Anthony
Amanda Knox provisionally got off on the main count (the murder of Meredith) but anyway was sentenced to three years (which she served) for fingering Patrick Lumumba.
Casey Anthony definitively got off on the main count (murdering her infant daughter Caylee, see previous posts) but anyway was sentenced to some time in prison for time-wasting and expensive misleading of the police officers.
She received no sentence for falsely fingering a nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez, for making off with Caylee, and as she had never even met Zenaida Gonzalez it is unclear how she came up with Zenaida’s name.
The Orlando Sentinel reports an issue is whether or not Anthony identified Gonzalez specifically enough when she talked to her parents when they visited her in jail.
Anthony’s attorney said details offered by Anthony did not match Fernandez-Gonzalez and clearly showed Anthony wasn’t talking about her. Gonzalez’s attorneys say she still was damaged as the only person with that name interviewed by investigators.
Fernandez-Gonzalez had never met Anthony. Investigators believe Anthony may have seen the name on an apartment rental application.
During Anthony’s trial last year, her attorney Jose Baez said Anthony made up the story about the babysitter and that Caylee truly drowned in the family pool. Anthony was acquitted of murder and other serious charges.
Nevertheless, yesterday a judge in Orlando, Florida, ruled that Zenaida Gonzalez may sue Casey Anthony for defamation of character, and the case is scheduled for January 2013.
In Amanda Knox’s case she absolutely did know Patrick Lumumba, her kindly employer who gave her a job without a work permit, and she and her mother let him languish in prison for several weeks.
Pretty hard to look worse than Casey Anthony, but in her cruel act of framing Patrick, Amanda Knox certainly does.
Archived in Italian system v others, Crime hypotheses, Other cases, Other elsewhere, On psychology
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012
My Letter To Claire Wachtell of HarperCollins Protesting How Distasteful Knox’s Book Promises To Be
Posted by mimi
I am guessing, and in fact hoping, that you are receiving many letters similar in content to the one I am about to write. I hope, also, that you have been inspired by these letters to look further into the matter of Meredith Kercher’s cruel and untimely death, and at the bizarre and disrespectful behaviour of her flatmate and purported friend, in the hours subsequent to Ms. Kercher’s murder.
None of us witnessed the attack - had we been there, we would surely have intervened on her behalf - and, therefore, we cannot absolutely finger Ms. Knox and/or her “boyfriend” as the attackers, in spite of a curious amount of suggestive and incriminating circumstantial and physical evidence.
We can, however, express our considerable distaste at the idea of Ms. Knox benefitting financially from exploiting the sordid tale of a misadventure that resulted purely from her own irresponsible and reckless behaviour. Please consider:
- She arrived in Europe and proceeded to revel in her newfound sexual identity, indiscriminately associating with men unfamiliar to her flatmates. She behaved without consideration for her own safety, let alone theirs. She laughed off their concern as prudishness.
- With her “boyfriend” (the term could only be taken in the loosest sense, as she had met him barely a week before the murder), she proceeded to experiment with narcotics, to the extent that she apparently believed that to tell the police investigating a vicious murder which took place in the bedroom adjacent to her own, that she was “too stoned too remember” her whereabouts or actions, was a wise course to take.
- While Meredith’s tortured body lay upon a cold slab in the coroner’s, Ms. Knox saw it as fitting conduct to galavant about a lingerie shop with her “boyfriend”, holding up g-strings and giggling about wild sex. She absented herself from a candlelight memorial held for Meredith, attended, respectfully, by close friends as well as people who certainly had less of a personal connection to the slain woman than did her own flatmate. She concocted ridiculous and contradictory accounts, both for the increasingly frustrated police and for friends, family and acquaintances back home (in a 4 page email, which I highly recommend you read), which not only illustrated her callous disregard for Meredith and of the seriousness of her own situation, but pointed to clues as to her involvement.
- She had no one but herself to blame for her repeated questioning and subsequent arrest. Had she behaved like any normal person (and one need only look to the plentiful examples of Meredith’s other friends and neighbours in Perugia for inspiration: Filomena Romanelli, Laura Mezzetti, Giacomo Silenzi, Robyn Butterworth, Sophie Purton, Amy Frost, Samantha Roddenhurst, all of whom were aghast at Knox’s coldness) she had ample opportunity to say,“Please, I am upset, I’m in shock; someone was stabbed and left to die in the room right next to mine! I don’t know who it was, but, dear god, it was not me!” Instead, she made up stories about mops and doors that were normally locked or unlocked, about being terrified of her employer whom she had described only days earlier as being a kind and good person. She sat in the police station with her lover of the week, and in whispers tried to incriminate other acquaintances - anyone they could throw to the wolves to save their own hides.
- The DNA evidence may not have been abundant, but it was ample and most certainly was not absent. Their lies were indeed abundant, contradicting not only one another’s alibi accounts but their own. The circumstantial evidence against them is most disturbing.
- Despicable only in second place to the behaviour of Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito was the conduct of their immediate families, subsequent to their understandable arrest.
I live in West Seattle and have witnessed firsthand the distasteful circus that was the Gogerty-Marriott PR circus designed to recreate Amanda Knox as the Ivory Snow Girl, while grinding Meredith Kercher, who deserved nothing she suffered on 1 November 2007, into utter obscurity.
The Sollecitos went even lower than paying a set of spin doctors, when they released forensic video footage of the crime scene, including unmistakable images of the victim’s nude and battered body, to the Bari television network, Telenorba, which proceeded to air the footage several times. Imagine how you would feel, as the parent, sibling, or friend of a young stabbed, strangled and sexually violated individual, to learn that this is her only value to the world after her death. Shock entertainment to a television viewing audience?
So, having read this, I ask you, honestly, what is the value to the world of a ghostwritten (as she lacks the ability to compose a coherent sentence, unaided) memoir by Amanda Knox?
- She can’t tell us what we want to know about Meredith’s final hours (unless she wishes to revert to the alibi version in which she WAS at the cottage, blocking out the screams).
- She wouldn’t have the nerve, four years on, to suddenly gush on again over how horrible it must have been for Meredith, how terrifying and agonising to be mutilated in such a manner, and left to die without hope of attracting attention or alerting aid from outside her bedroom walls.
- She wouldn’t have the gall to offer her condolences to the Kerchers within the same covers of a volume whose main thrust is to whine to the world about how miserable it was to spend 4 years in prison because her brain was so addled by narcotics she was unable, throughout her police and courtroom questioning, to come up with a scenario that made one iota of sense.
I don’t know your opinion on her conviction, which, until the Supreme Court has rendered a decision, still stands, but I sincerely hope that you are not viewing this book project as an enjoyable opportunity to work with an ebullient and bright Amanda Knox, or, worse, to put the “real truth” before the public.
In either case, I fear you will be gravely disappointed and sorrowfully mistaken.
Yours, Mimi (full name in the original)
Archived in Diversion efforts, Knox-Mellases, Sollecitos, Crime hypotheses, Reporting on the case, Books on case, Media news
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Sunday, April 08, 2012
Meredith’s Perugia #33: Calabria In Deep South Gradually Climbs Back Up In Tbe World
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
All of these areas are increasingly becoming tourist hotspots as they have the hottest sun and least crowds and their history is pretty interesting. The further back in history you go the rainier and greener and more prosperous these provinces were. Once they were very well off.
They were also being given special economic boosts courtesy of the European Community - at least uintil “austerity” became the mantra of the day and their special programs had to be cut back.
In the 20th century maybe a higher proportion of the population from the Calabria province moved to the US than from any other. Pity. Scarce talent.
Archived in Concerning Meredith, Her Perugia
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Thursday, April 05, 2012
Solving The Puzzle Of Where The New Perugia Criminal Courthouse Is Actually Located
Posted by Peter Quennell
Massei/Hellman court is in the brick building at top left; Rudy Guede was tried in the new courthouse at hard right.
With this, we seem to have onsite images of all the key locations in Meredith’s case. Click all images for larger versions.
This at right above, and below, is Perugia’s new criminal courthouse. It was first used in October 2008 by Judge Micheli for Rudy Guede’s trial and Sollecito’s and Knox’s arraignment for trial. One advantage is that it has underground parking so defendants can enter away from the media.
It was built by Siemens in the early 1900s as a generating station. Media descriptions of the 2008 trial did not explain precisely where the new court is, and the few media images online (see last 2 images here) only showed the front entrance and thus gave the impression of quite a small building.
In fact it turns out to be directly downhill from the Court of Assizes and right under the opaque windows of the court used by Judge Massei and Judge Hellman. (Their court is in the brick building visible high up in several of these images.)
Also it is really quite large and it contains several criminal courts. We’ll check for any video showing the interior. The complete interior rebuild was paid for by the central Ministry of Justice.
By the way Google Images does a terrific job of caching our images. These should show up there soon.
Below: familiar piazza entrance to assize courts is to left, new courts are at lower level on right
Archived in Officially involved, The judiciary, The wider contexts, Perugia news
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Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Solving The Puzzle Of Where The Perugia Central Police Station Is Actually Located
Posted by Peter Quennell
In fact, it is located in an outlying semi-industrial area to Perugia’s north-west away from the rest of officialdom - unusual, but very smartly located for speed and ease of access. The central railway station is two minutes away to the south, and there are fast routes up to the massif and through the tunnel to Perugia’s eastern side.
Also, fast routes to the autostrada, and to the southern part of the town. And as you can see in the last image below, the terminal of the monorail is about 100 yards away. If one catches one of the automated cars as it heads out, one can be at the top of the massif in five minutes or less.
A number of visitors wanting to get their paperwork straight are appearing online to ask for help in figuring out where the questura is.
The first address one comes across online (Via del Tabacchificio 21) has been phased out, perhaps because “Tobacco Street” doesnt quite create the right vibes. And the new address (Via Cortonese 157) is still being phased in.
While most maps and GPS systems dont show Via del Tabacchificio any longer, at the same time they dont yet show Via Cortonese 157. Via Cortonese is a very long street and it has several other police presences located on it.
Images here (courtesy of Google Earth’s Street View) are sequenced from facing west to facing east. If you want to take a virtual sightseeing tour of the area, the GPS coordinates are 43°06’29.99” N 12°21’57.44” E.
The first Google Earth image below (click for a larger image) shows the questura exactly at center at left, beyond the railway lines, and Meredith’s house exactly at center at right, at the north end of the massif. Each has a blue ring around it.
Their distance apart is about 3 kilometers or 2 miles.
Below: two images of the questura from the south; the main gate is at center ahead
Below: two images from the west; most of Perugia is off at right and station at far right
Shot above looks east toward Meredith’s place with monorail terminal (below) behind camera.
Archived in Officially involved, Police and CSI, The wider contexts, Perugia news
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