Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Knox “Friends” Paul Ciolino & Co Smear Prosecutor Mignini As “An Out Of Control Maniac”

Posted by Peter Quennell





At the Salty’s hatefest in West Seattle, Paul Ciolino whipped up the crowd with a rant about Dr Mignini being “an out-of-control maniac”.

We see no proof. We check this whole point of view almost daily but we never, ever, ever get independent confirmation.  The BBC also checked it out and found zero proof of ANY of Ciolino’s wild-eyed claims.

We are repeatedly told that Mr Mignini is tough, fair, and effective, in an Italian system of justice where things are not particularly loaded on the side of the prosecution.

And that he has the reputation of being very, very caring of the victims and their families. The Kerchers have expressed their full confidence in him.

Also that Mr Mignini’s stepping-aside would probably make just about zero difference to the momentum of the case at this point.

There seems to be just too much suggestive evidence waiting to be explained, and a dozen careful judges have endorsed it as suggestive, and the strongly dominant mood in Italy seems to be one of: let us proceed.

Amanda Knox is of course very well represented by counsel. They have already shown irritation over attacks on the prosecutor.

Calling the prosecutor a maniac sure won’t be music to their ears. Is this whole PR campaign quite loopy, or what?!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Web Commentary Skeptical Of “Friends” Campaign Proliferating

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for an example.

More commentaries like these are surfacing now. Posted by independent news-watchers who are all of them unknown to us.

They are taking a close look at the case, and finding the Friends of Amanda Knox claims wanting. And the financial angles of some of them suspect.

Posted on 01/23/09 at 07:21 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesGreat reportingMedia news
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is The “Mignini Has Framed Them” Meme Now Fading?

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image]

Looks to us like it might be a strong case.

Perhaps easy to challenge the bits and pieces of the evidence. Perhaps harder now to challenge the sum of the whole.

The whack-a-mole problem.

And if Rudy Guede mounts the stand to tell all (he is to be an early witness, and wants time off his 30 years) and if Rudy’s tale cannot be seriously shaken by the defenses ...

Well, as the lead judge observed, this trial might be over by summer.

In Italy, the notion that Prosecutor Mignini somehow invented or twisted the facts of the crime to frame two of the defendants never really seemed to catch fire.

The problems with this notion are that there were too many professionals involved, the case has had to pass through too many judicial hoops, and there now seems an awful lot of evidence needing serious addressing.

Maverick Rome-based Peter Popham of The Independent (new image above - he looks better!) has seemed to be the lone media holdout for the Mignini-invented-it point of view.

But even Mr Popham is now sounding as if he’s in the dispiriting early phases of a U-turn.

This is from a skeptical piece of his just recently posted:

... how did Mr Mignini discover these salacious details? Through confessions, witness accounts, tapped telephones? Was there a video camera or tape recorder running throughout? None of the above.

None of the three accused has dropped even a hint that they were involved in an orgy, no party trash was discovered, nobody was peeking through the windows. The account seems to have emerged fully formed from the prosecutor’s imagination.

But this is from a more jaded piece also just posted.

Where did they actually pass the night, and doing what? Why did they make a start on cleaning up the murder scene next morning, and why didn’t they call the police? Amanda Knox will have to do a lot more than smile if she wants to go home.


As we mentioned yesterday, Mr Popham’s first piece above was strongly challenged by a commenter - a lawyer in the UK, who actually knew Meredith in person.

Comment by Liam O’Huigin

Title: Peter Popham: Legal Genius

“Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are on trial because Meredith Kercher died horribly, and they gave conflicting accounts of what they were doing at the time and behaved suspiciously the next day.”

Yeah, right. And I suppose everything else the Independent has reported about the pair since November 2007 has come fully formed from the brains of its journalists without the benefit of corroboration from the pair.

Before we take up Mr Popham’s invitation to consider Knox and Sollecito to be whiter than the driven snow, let’s remember, inter alia, that Knox implicated a man who could prove that he was not at the crime scene at the relevant time, that they have given a number of inconsistent accounts of their own whereabouts and activities, that the pair have fallen out between themselves, and that DNA evidence was recovered strongly suggesting their presence. If a prosecutor failed to bring a case against them, people would rightly think that some sort of cover-up was in place.

If it was Mr Popham’s daughter who was the victim of this crime, I doubt he’d be writing about the case in such a lofty and detached tone. I happen to have known Meredith, and I also happen to be a lawyer. I would be outraged if the Italians had not taken matters this far in the light of what we have so far read about the case. And unless the defence manages to produce something very special during the course of the trial I know what verdict I expect to be brought in….

Mr Popham commits an interesting Freudian slip in this article, which shows where his sympathies lie. He talks of the “three” accused, by which I assume he is including Rudy Guede: the latter is no longer an accused, having been convicted of the murder and sentenced to thirty years.

He is therefore correctly described as a murderer, or a criminal or a convict. Why does Mr Popham find that hard to do?

None of Mr Popham’s commenters, in fact, are still buying the fading “invented and framed” line. And we would REALLY like to see more of Meredith’s friends now speaking up.

Write to us, or for us, if you want to win one for her.

Posted on 01/21/09 at 08:18 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesThe officially involvedThe prosecutorsThe defenses
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Influential Legal Talking Head Jane Velez-Mitchell of CNN Is Now On The Case

Posted by Peter Quennell


[click above for the transcript]

CNN airs two one-hour crime talk-shows nightly. Nancy Grace’s, and Jane Velez-Mitchell’s.

They are wildly popular in the US, and the shows can be real scene-changers.

Nancy and Jane are INTENSE advocates for and defenders of victims’ rights - something this case could use some of, right now. 

They have very little patience for defendants who make a weak case or lie. And if they see tricks going down, in the courtroom or outside, they will leap on the case like a dog on a bone.

Usually for days or weeks, and sometimes for months.

Jane has clearly concluded that tricks are going down in the Meredith case. She is becoming very, very scathing in her increasingly frequent segments.

The first time we caught Jane on the case, she was working over a confused, stuttering Peter Popham of the Independent - that’s a great comment below his absurd piece, by the way.

You could watch Jane’s skepticism growing, minute by minute. Last night, her show aimed its spotlight at the opening session of the trial.

Click on the shot above for the astonishing discussion.

Posted on 01/20/09 at 12:21 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers: media groupsCNN NetworkNews media & moviesMedia news
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Trial: The UK Sunday Times Reports The Prosecutions’ Possible Scenario of The Crime

Posted by Peter Quennell

Excerpts from the report by John Follain in Perugia.

Meredith was “Softened up for Fatal Sex Game”

Prosecutors allege that Amanda Knox instigated an ‘erotic game’ with her housemate and became violent when she resisted. Amanda Knox says she is glad ‘the hour of truth’ has arrived. She denies killing Meredith Kercher

New details about a sex game that allegedly led to the murder of Meredith Kercher, the British exchange student, have been revealed by an Italian prosecutor.

Giuliano Mignini, the official leading the case, alleges that Amanda Knox, Kercher’s American housemate, instigated the “erotic game” and probably persuaded an accomplice into “softening up” the 21-year-old Briton.

Reconstructing the student’s final moments, Mignini alleges that Kercher’s killers became “incensed and violent” after she resisted their advances….

Mignini gave his account of the murder at committal hearings which were closed to the public. However, details of his reconstruction will appear in a book called Meredith: Lights and Shadows in Perugia.

It is written by Vincenzo Maria Mastronardi, a forensic psychiatrist, and Giuseppe Castellini, editor of the Giornale dell Umbria newspaper, and will be published this week.

Mignini said Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was likely to have been irritated with Knox for allegedly bringing Sollecito and Guede to the cottage the young women shared late on the night of the murder in November 2007.

Knox, whom Guede was always trying to please, probably pushed him into “softening up” the English girl and preparing her for the erotic “game” . . . while Knox “dedicated” herself to Sollecito, said Mignini.

And when Guede failed because of energetic resistance by the victim, the three became incensed and violent.

They grabbed Kercher by the neck and tried to strangle her. Sollecito grabbed her violently in the back and on a breast, deforming her bra clasp and then they finished her off with the violent knife stab to the left part of the neck. Kercher gave a last desperate scream, which was heard by [a neighbour].

The prosecutor said that just before the final blow, Kercher suffered a cut to the right hand as she tried to free herself and pushed away the knife which Knox allegedly held.

A minute after the last stab wound, the three allegedly fled the cottage, with Knox and Sollecito returning later to stage a fake robbery by breaking a window, said Mignini.

The prosecutor singled out the placing of a duvet over Kercher’s body as “extremely important from a psychological point of view”. He argued it indicated pity and respect for the victim: “Amanda, especially as a woman, couldnt bear that naked, torn female cadaver.”

Both Knox and Sollecito insist they were at his home on the night of the murder. Their defence teams dispute DNA evidence linking Knox to a knife, which investigators say may be the murder weapon, and Sollecito to Kercher’s bra clasp.

Last week Knox told her lawyer Luciano Ghirga: “At last the hour of truth has arrived. I’m not afraid. I hope that the whole truth will come out because I’ve always been a friend of Meredith’s and I didn’t kill her.”

However, Mignini alleges that on the morning after the murder Knox tried to delay the body’s discovery by telling other housemates that it was normal for Kercher’s bedroom to be locked.

When the door was kicked down, Knox and Sollecito were too far away to see into the room, where Kercher’s half-naked body lay on the floor under a beige duvet, according to witnesses quoted by Mignini at the committal hearings last October.

“When those present go outside after the body is found, Knox and Sollecito are also outside, intent on kissing and caressing each other, as they did subsequently during police searches.”

“A very strange way of behaving which started the very moment the victim’s body was found . . . and at a time when all the other young people were literally overwhelmed by that discovery” said Mignini.

Posted on 01/18/09 at 09:45 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesVarious scenariosThe officially involvedThe prosecutorsTrials 2008 & 2009Hoaxes against Italy8 No motive hoax
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Trial: Defendants Did Chat At Trial Friday: Defense Move? Or Just Making Nice?

Posted by Peter Quennell


[click above for full report]

Added later: We now have good reason to doubt that this chat ever happened. The meme may have emanated from a dubious source. There is of course a court order FORBIDDING the two from communicating.

We also believe that it’s doubtful that the eyes of the two ever met. RS sneaked 4 or 5 glances at AK, and AK sneaked at least one glance at RS, as the shot posted below showed.

But that may have been that. Nothing more. Signs of a fork in the road? One will now go one way and the other will go another way? Stay tuned.

Posted on 01/18/09 at 09:09 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Amanda KnoxRaff Sollecito
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Trial: Court Report From Trisha Thomas Of Associated Press

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 01/16/09 at 04:47 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Hoaxers: media groupsAssoc PressNews media & moviesGreat reporting
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Trial: Amanda Knox Takes Her Place At The Start Of The Trial

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for a selection of shots. This may be the last time Knox is photographed in court.

Some shots available seem to catch Amanda Knox at a gleeful moment. It is hard to know what to make of those shots. Photographers click away at a “gotcha” moment. It may have lasted only five seconds and meant nothing.

These are a few of the less loaded shots. They show Amanda Knox being led in, looking around the courtroom, perhaps for people she knows, and reading some passage in the Italian legal code.

It appears that an uncle and aunt were present at the back or in the balcony. Her biological parents will be witnesses and so are not allowed to attend the trial before they testify.

It seems certain now that Rudy Guede will testify. And Knox and Sollecito have just both said they’re eager to do so.

So far as we are aware, the Kercher family and the parents of the defendants have not yet ever come face-to-face. That is probably an encounter that none of them look forward to.

Posted on 01/16/09 at 01:43 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
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Trial: Raffaele Sollecito Takes His Place At The Start Of The Trial

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for a selection of shots. This may be the last time Sollecito is photographed in court.

The last shot here was a real catch for that photographer. It appears to be the one time that Amanda Knox tried to catch his eye.

Posted on 01/16/09 at 12:24 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Raff Sollecito
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Trial: The Proceedings Commence: The Times’s Lunchbreak Report

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for the story. The Kercher family is not present. Nor are the biological parents of Amanda Knox. It is not yet reported if Raffaele Sollecito’s father is present; his mother passed on.

And note this breaking news on yet another possible eye-witness, near the bottom of David Owen’s piece - the significance here being that Rudy Guede may have known both defendants prior to the night in question.

Il Giornale dell’ Umbria reported that a new witness, a researcher named only as Fabio G, had told police he had seen Ms Knox, Mr Sollecito and Mr Guede together near the cottage Ms Kercher shared with Ms Knox on 30 October 2007, two days before the murder and sexual assault.

Posted on 01/16/09 at 09:47 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtAmanda KnoxRaff SollecitoTrials 2008 & 2009Hoaxes against Italy8 No motive hoax
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Trial: Reuters Shot Of The Courtroom, Getty Shot Of Lead Judge

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click for larger images. The defendants were not yet present.

These may the last shots of the courtroom and judge for a while. Still cameras and TV cameras have just been reported as banned from the courtroom.

The press will be present except during the most sensitive passages. Audio recordings may at times be allowed.

Posted on 01/16/09 at 09:22 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe judiciaryTrials 2008 & 2009
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Trial: The Proceedings Commence: The UK’s Daily Mail Reports First

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for the story. From Nick Pisa’s report:

Dressed in a hooded grey sweatshirt Knox, 21, smiled and shook hands with her legal team as she was led into court. She seemed overwhelmed by the mass presence of over 150 journalists and TV crews - who, bizarrely, had been herded inside a caged area in the court normally reserved for terrorists.

Nick Pisa appears to be sitting in the terrorist cage at bottom-right below. Click for a better look at him.

Posted on 01/16/09 at 08:25 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good Overview Of The Case In Germany’s Der Spiegel

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click above for the two-part report by Alexander Smoltczyk.

Based on the numbers of reports appearing in Germany, interest in the case is high there. It seems to rank fourth after Italy, the UK, and the US.

There is some mild sensationalism in the newspapers there; not much. Reporting on the whole is as in this report: factual and objective.

Before she moved to Perugia Amanda Knox stayed with an uncle in Germany and interned for a day or two at the Bundestag in Berlin. German is one of her languages.

An on-the-run Rudy Guede was caught on a train in Germany and after a brief period he was semt back to Italy where he broke from the other two.

And Italy is the Number One tourist destination for Germans on vacation. They know and really like the place.

Posted on 01/15/09 at 08:48 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trial: Rather Surprisingly, The Trial Will Take Place Here

Posted by Peter Quennell


[click for larger images]

Somewhere in this complex. The Court of Assizes, in the Piazza Giacomo Matteotti.

Familiar turf for the two defendants. In several different courtrooms, this is where all the pre-trial hearings took place, except the hearing at the Supreme Court in Rome.

La Nazione is reporting  that the choice of court is controversial. The court seats only 150 and so only a tiny handful of media and a tinier handful of the public will get to be present.

Rudy Guede’s trial was moved down the hill to the west, to much larger court space in the modern part of town. In part to avoid the much-photographed perp-walks that the defendants had had to make it through.

Will we be back to watching the perp-walks, resuming from tomorrow? Nobody seems to know. The attires and demeanors of the defendants were much studied at the time.

One large TV monitor is already hooked up in a separate large room for the media. The decision whether to switch it on should be out of the way by 10:00 tomorrow morning.

Meredith’s house is about one kilometer to the north - off to the left in the first of these shots.

A place of work in the daytime, with a big police presence, this is a really beautiful square at night.


Below: Behind complex, tunnel system, from which defendants might enter by elevator

Posted on 01/14/09 at 01:32 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe judiciaryTrials 2008 & 2009
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Book Deal We Are Maybe Not In Favor Of

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the breaking story. This book now seems prejudicial, and it might be good if it’s withdrawn.

The passage we quoted in an earlier post actually seemed beneficial to Knox. The book is not out in English.

[Added] The author has now stated that the contentious passages in the book were all written by Amanda Knox herself.

In my book I used the diary written by Amanda Knox herself and which is now part of the evidence in the trial against her.

‘I don’t understand how the fact that I have retold her own words in a book can have a negative influence on her trial.

Earlier proceedings have already established the sexual element of the this case and that is what I am saying in the book.

So Amanda should sue… herself?! The diary excerpts sure are getting a lot of reads. It was an Italian best-seller over Christmas.

Sounds like that withdrawal is too late and this may be a red herring that goes nowhere.

Posted on 01/13/09 at 03:06 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesMedia news
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