Friday, April 11, 2014
Why “Buyer Beware” Re Amanda Knox Could Be A Very Good Idea For The Innocence Project
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
Dozens of American who claim they were unfairly treated by the American justice system (and in some cases probably were; there is a growing recognition in the US that excessive harshness is a costly, losing policy) will share their stories and give pointers for measures that paid off for them.
But Amanda Knox may be the least useful convicted perp on the planet for the conference to get behind or to learn from.
- First, the Italian system is not remotely as she and her colleague Sollecito describe it. It is in fact a system the United States is starting to emulate. If widely adopted the Innocence Project would have a very light load and most of those at the conference would not even have had cause to be there.
- Second, the case against Knox and Sollecito is an overwhelming one with far more and far stronger evidence points than UK and US courts normally require for conviction. The 2011 and 2013 appeals were automatic; in the US and UK grounds for allowing an appeal would have been considered lacking.
- Thirdly, the Knox-Mellases have run a despicable multi-million-dollar PR campaign which has proved not only ineffectual but massively damaging to many good people, and a source of tension between two countries. The blood money Knox and Sollecito have achieved from their dishonest books and endless money-grubbing create a new world record for illegally profiting from a crime.
Unfortunately, a drooling and irresponsible academic who represents the Innocence Project in Idaho, and who may have criminally inserted himself into the legal process in Italy, may be beating the drum for Knox at the conference.
Barry Scheck and REAL victims everywhere would be best served by (1) kicking the grandstanding academic out of the Innocence Project, (2) learning things from the very impressive Italian system, which could help many REAL victims, and (3) deny Knox yet another forum to frame Italians, mislead Americans, and make even more illegal blood-money .
For Barry Scheck and genuine justice and REAL victims everywhere, distancing themselves from Knox would be the smart outcome.
Let her stick to autographing this in the lobby.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Sollecito Takes On A New Lawyer To Help Him Work His Way Past The Minefield That Is His Book
Posted by Peter Quennell
The serious charges Sollecito and Knox will probably face for those books are of three kinds: (1) the contempt-of-court misrepresentation of the Italian justice system itself; (2) the obstruction-of-justice twisting of the evidence in the case; and (3) the claims of crimes committed by numerous career police and prosecution officials.
If false, in effect a gigantic frame-up that leaves Knox’s framing of Patrick in the dust.
At the eighth session of the Florence appeal court back in January, Giulia Bongiorno engaged in a day-long summation which was peculiar, to say the least.
Like Sollecito and Knox in their books, Giulia Bongiorno seemed to be attempting to put the justice system and investigation and prosecution in the dock.
If false, another gigantic frame-up that leaves Knox’s framing of Patrick in the dust.
Bongiorno’s rant didnt seem to help Sollecito in undermining any of the hard evidence in the case, and it left the judges visibly unmoved. But it was notable how closely it resembled the rants on the justice system and its officials by Sollecito himself in his book. See the examples in the post below.
There are some complex later passages in Sollecito’s book and some recurring themes that we will analyse which would seem impossible for Sollecito to write about in such detail without the extensive help of a lawyer who was in the court.
Who precisely was that?
Reports from Italy now state that Alfredo Brizioli, not Giulia Bongiorno, will be the lawyer the Sollecitos choose to respond to the investigating prosecutor’s report on the book. Perhaps Mr Brizioli (who right now is himself on trial for obstruction of justice in another case) can try to negotiate a way for his client to spread the blame before the charges are set in stone.
The Sollecitos seem weak. Alfredo Brizioli seems weak. Giulia Bongiorno seems weak. And Knox also seems weak - if Sollecito is ever going to back away from Knox (perhaps to try to claim the final murderous stab of Meredith was solely Knox’s crazed idea) there is just this one last chance.
We in no way favor Sollecito getting off lightly without recanting. We do want to point to the potential fireworks a smart prosecution has engineered that might help achieve this.
Although there was a sort of bidding war for both books, not every publisher, having seen what was to be in them, was eager to join in. Some did sit on the sidelines.
Archived in The three defendants, Raffaele Sollecito, Officially involved, The defenses, Reporting on the case, Sollecito's book, Diversion efforts by, The Sollecitos, Other cases, Associated trials
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Monday, April 07, 2014
Italy Pushes Back On Dirty Tricks And False Claims: Examples Of What Sollecito Must Defend In Court
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
Many posters contributed to this analysis and to what is to come. Special thanks to James Raper and Sara, and also to Vivianna, Yummi and Kermit.
Sollecito’s blood-money book gets published
Sollecito’s hapless book Honor Bound was released in English on 18 September 2012.
Within ten days all of Italy knew that the book was a crock.
Bruno Vespa, the persistent host of Porta a Porta, Italy’s most popular crime show (for the equivalent of which American TV cries out) forced Sollecito’s father in national prime-time to admit that at the core of the book was a huge lie.
Other claims about the case and the officials were shown to be wrong too.
Smarter people than Sollecito’s help in the US (Andrew Gumbel and Sharlene Martin, later John Q Kelly, and Simon & Schuster) might have put on the brakes until they got the truth straight and a revised version out.
But no, a media blitz was all ready to roar. The blood-money couldn’t wait.
Huge numbers of professional book reviews and Amazon reader reviews swallowed Sollecito’s claims in the book whole. The nastiness toward Italy and its justice system and officials was pushed onto a whole new plain.
Needless to say, official Italy did take note
For the legal reasons explained in this key post an investigation by the Florence Chief Prosecutor’s Office was mandated to begin.
In that same post it was warned that for the period the investigation would require, it would be taken below the radar, so that the Sollecito defense team would have no way to respond through dishonest PR or legal dirty tricks.
A not-unsurprising result of that stealth move was that in the meantime, in the last year, very full of themselves and feeling no constraint, Sollecito and his team went hog-wild in adding more crazy claims. And still more.
Now the investigation is complete
Now Prosecutor Gianbartolomei has issued his announcement of the conclusion of his investigation. The content of the notice is at present confidential except to the defenses.
As Yummi reports, from this point on, the defense has 20 days to say something, such as to request that Sollecito be interrogated or allowed to declare or explain something.
Then the prosecution will file charges against Sollecito and Gumbel, and possibly Sharlene Martin and Simon & Schuster, their careless publishers in New York.
Which precise false claims Prosecutor Gianbartolomei has made the target of his report we do not know. But this is a target-rich environment, that is for sure:
Consider for starters these 20 false claims which, believe it or not, all appear in the first seven pages of the book.
1. That Italian justice authorities took the easy way out
This is the story of two ordinary people who stumbled upon an extraordinary circumstance, the brutal murder of a British student in Italy. Neither Amanda Knox nor I had anything to do with the crime, but we came perilously close to spending the rest of our lives in prison because the authorities found it easier, and more convenient, to take advantage of our youth and inexperience than to mount a proper investigation. It’s that simple. And that absurd.
No advantage was taken of them. The two stood out very sharply from all the others of similar age, and of similar inexperience (whatever that means). They did and said dozens of things in the early days that set them sharply apart.
They were interrogated quite fairly, the Italian media was not especially hard, Dr Mignini never ever leaked, and they had lawyers and family handy at every turn after they were arrested. They each gave the authorities less than zero help - they tried to lead them off on wild goose chases, for example the false claim AK made against Patrick and dozens of other false claims, and apparently tried to finger yet another north African, Hicham Khiri, in a conversation they clearly knew was being recorded.
A “proper” investigation was indeed done. Simply read through all the posts on the trial here in the first half of 2009, and the prosecutor’s excellent summations, and you will see what a smooth comprehensive job was done. And the Supreme Court concluded that THREE had to have been involved, from the recreation of the attack and all the wounds on Meredith’s body. AK and RS and their lawyers never came within light-years of throwing real suspicion on anyone else.
2. That the preventive custody was very harsh
On November 1, 2007, Amanda and I were carefree students at the beginning of a cross-cultural love affair in a beautiful Umbrian hill town. Within days, we were thrown into solitary confinement in a filthy prison, without access to lawyers or loved ones, accused of acts so heinous and disturbing we may never be able to banish them from our thoughts, or our nightmares.
Raffaele was sent to preventative prison on Tuesday November 6. Capanne Prison was almost brand-new then, and far from crowded. Cells contain TVs and private bathrooms.
All questioning had been stopped early on 6 November until Sollecito could have a lawyer present. He himself wrote to his father in his “prison diary” on November 7: “I may see you tomorrow, at least that is what I was told by Tiziano [Tiziano Tedeschi, his lawyer at the time], who I saw today and who defended me before the judge.”
Mr Tedeschi made no complaint about any delay in the first meeting with his new client. In Italy, a judge must determine within 48 hours whether to hold or release detained suspects. Judge Matteini did so meticulously and refused his release.
3. That the prosecution and Italian media demonized the pair
In the newspapers and on the nightly news, we were turned into monsters, grotesque distortions of our true selves. It did not matter how thin the evidence was, or how quickly it became apparent that the culprit was someone else entirely. Our guilt was presumed, and everything the prosecution did and fed to the media stemmed from that false premise.
In the real world, the prosecution fed nothing at all secretly to the media and publicly very little, none of it self-servingly biased. Italian reporting was sporadic and very mild compared to anything one can see said daily about possible perps in the US and UK newspapers and on US TV. Besides, any coverage, which was in part deliberate in the situation as dozens of students were fleeing Perugia, had no influence on anything, neither on the investigation nor the trial.
The Italian system is set up so media can have less influence than almost any other media on any other justice system in the world. The Micheli and Massei sentencing reports show the judges were not unduly influenced even by the lawyers right in front of them, let alone by mild media reports 1 or 2 years before that.
4. That four years were wasted showing where the prosecution went wrong.
By the time we had dismantled the case and demonstrated its breathtaking absurdity [in the annulled Hellmann appeal] we had spent four of what should have been the best years of our lives behind bars.
“We” meaning the defense lawyers did very little in the annulled Hellmann appeal that they hadn’t flailed uselessly against in the trial. Except of course maybe shopping for an inexperience and pliable judge, and for DNA consultants who they could then spoon-feed. Much of the hard evidence they simply kept well away from in the trial and annulled appeal. Such as the extensive evidence in the corridor and bathroom and Filomena’s room, which were all considered parts of the crime scene.
On the other hand, RS’s claim could well apply to what Dr Galati and Cassation did for the Hellman sentencing report. Dismantled the appeal verdict, and demonstrated its breathtaking absurdity.
5. That Knox was made a target because timid Italy was scared of her.
Amanda and I certainly made our share of mistakes. At the beginning we were too trusting, spoke too frivolously and too soon, and remained oblivious to the danger we were courting even after the judicial noose began to tighten. Amanda behaved in ways that were culturally baffling to many Italians and attracted a torrent of gossip and criticism.
An inaccurate and xenophobic remark originated by the American Nina Burleigh, who was having severe culture shock of her own and surrounded only by other foreigners with similar mindsets. What EXACTLY was so baffling about Knox to the very hip Italians? That Knox was pushy, obnoxious, humorless, rather lazy, rather grubby, and not especially bright or funny or pretty? That she put off Patrick, Meredith, her other flatmates, the boys downstairs, the customers in the bar, and just about everybody else except for the distasteful druggie loner Sollecito?
Read this post by the Italian-American Nicki in Milan. To quote from it “As many of us were expecting, Amanda’s testimony has backfired. She came across not as confident but arrogant, not as sweet but testy, not as true but a fake who has memorized a script, an actress who is playing a part but not well enough to fool the public….. Amanda Knox is not on trial because she is American and therefore too “emancipated”....Italians don’t much like Amanda primarily because they perceive her as a manipulative liar, who is suspected of having committed a heinous crime for which there is a whole stack of evidence.”
6. That Knox and Meredith were really great, great friends.
We were young and naive, unthinking and a little reckless. Of that much we were guilty. But what we did not do—and could not have done, as the evidence clearly showed—was murder Meredith Kercher.
Meredith was Amanda’s friend, a fellow English speaker in the house they shared with two Italian women just outside Perugia’s ancient city walls. She was twenty-one years old, intelligent, and beautiful. She and Amanda knew each other for a little over three weeks, long enough to feel their way into their new surroundings and appreciate each other’s interests and temperaments. I never heard about a single tense moment between them.
Plenty of other people did know of tensions. Meredith’s family and friends all knew Meredith was finding the noisy dirty lazy loud unfocused Knox and her one-night-stands hard to take. Her other flatmates found her hard to take. Her employer Patrick found her hard to take. His customers in the bar found her hard to take. The Lifetime movie got this strident angle pretty straight.
Remember, Meredith enrolled for a full academic load at the main university. Knox in sharp contrast took only one undemanding language course - which anyone could walk into - requiring maybe 10 hours of study a week. They increasingly did less together. In fact after several weeks nobody was lining up to have anything to do with Amanda Knox.
Seemingly unable to reverse herself, she was headed to being among the least popular of students in Perugia. It should be recalled that the callous remarks by Amanda Knox about the death of her so-called friend Meredith included “Shit happens”, “She fucking bled to death”, and “‘I want to get on with the rest of my life”.
7. That an intruder knew about the rent money and so murder ensued.
Meredith, of course, suffered infinitely worse luck than we did: she came home, alone, on an ordinary Thursday night and had her throat slit by an intruder hoping to steal the household rent money.
There is zero evidence that this was the case. Knox herself ended up with a similar amount of cash that she has never been able to explain. There is zero possibility that Guede would know that any money was lying around - or not lying around, as it was concealed in Meredith’s drawer.
And take a look at the many images of the brightly lit house at night. There are several dozen other houses behind it in the dark which any smart burglar would have chosen first. In 2008 two real break-ins occurred at the house - both were in the dark behind the house, which is by far the easiest place to break in.
So much for the spurious lone-wolf theory, which Judge Micheli first ruled out even before trial.
8. That the media got hysterical and portrayed heartless killers.
But the roles could easily have been reversed. If Meredith’s Italian boyfriend had not gone away for the weekend and if Amanda had not started sleeping over at my house, she—not Meredith—might have been the one found in a pool of blood on her bedroom floor. That reality was quickly lost amid the hysteria of the media coverage. But it continued to hover over both of us—Amanda especially—as we sank into the legal quagmire and struggled in vain to overcome the public image of us as heartless killers.
There was zero media hysteria. This silly claim was addressed above. Watch the Porta a Porta YouTubes and dozens of other Italian reports and try to find ONE that is not fair and cautious and mature.
How precisely did the two struggle in vain to overcome their public image? By coming up repeatedly with stories which didnt even tally with others of their own, let alone with one another’s? They never between them made even one helpful statement which actually helped the police. And even their respective parents strongly suspected or knew of their guilt and were all caught incriminatingly on tape.
9. That Rudy Guede did it alone; ignore vast evidence that proves not.
This should not have been a complicated case. The intruder was quickly identified as Rudy Guede, an African immigrant living in Perugia with a history of break-ins and petty crimes. His DNA was found all over Meredith’s room, and footprints made in her blood were found to match his shoes. Everything at the crime scene pointed to a lone assailant, and a single weapon. Guede repeatedly broke into houses by throwing a rock through a window, as happened here, and he had been caught by the authorities in the past with a knife similar to the one that inflicted Meredith’s fatal wounds.
This is laughable. It has in fact been demonstrated in numerous ways that the attack involved multiple assailants and this was accepted by the Supreme Court.
Sollecito’s own lawyers never forcefully argued this. They produced two non-credible witnesses in the appeal trial (Alessi and Aviello) to actually prove that Guede had some other accomplices or that several others did it. Also Amanda Knox if anything diverted attention AWAY from Guede as he did in turn from her. He wasn’t quickly identified precisely because Knox had rather credibly fingered Patrick.
There is no proof Guede was an intruder. The trial court concluded Knox invited him in. Guede had zero proven history of break-ins or petty crimes or drug-dealing, and late in 2008 at his trial Judge Micheli became angry at such claims. Guede had no prior criminal record at all. He had only been back in Perugia for a few weeks, after an extended stay up north. His DNA was not found “all over” Meredith’s room. A major surprise, in fact, was how few traces of him were found.
The recreation of the crime scene and the autopsy both pointed AWAY FROM a lone assailant, not toward. From Meredith’s wounds, it was quite evident that two and perhaps three knives had been used, and not a single weapon. What lone intruder carries or uses two or three knives? And footprints in blood outside the door matched the feet of both RS and AK. This is why the Supreme Court confirmed Guede’s guilt only “in concorso” (with others).
10. That the cops could have caught Guede fast, despite Knox’s frame
Guede did not call the police, as Amanda and I did, or volunteer information, or agree to hours of questioning whenever asked. Rather, he fled to Germany as soon as the investigation began and stayed there until his arrest two and a half weeks later.
Guede’s apprehension and eventual conviction on murder charges should have been the end of the story. But by the time Guede was identified, the police and the public prosecutor’s office had convinced themselves that the murder was, incredibly, the result of a sexual orgy gone wrong, in which Amanda and I had played leading roles. Their speculations ignited a media firestorm, inspiring sensationalist headlines across the world about the evil lurking behind our seemingly innocent faces.
The authorities had no shred of evidence to substantiate this story line, only erroneous suppositions and wild imaginings. We had an alibi for the most likely time of death, and none of the initial forensic evidence tied us to the scene of the crime. Nothing in our backgrounds gave any hint of a propensity for violence or criminality. We were both accomplished, hardworking students known to our friends and families for our gentleness and even tempers.
Four more untrue remarks. All three were convicted of a murder with a sex-crime element and nobody was wrongly “convinced”. Which alibi is Sollecito talking about now? He himself admits in chapter 1 (Love and Death) that they had no “real alibi”. They still have no alibis at all for the second half of the evening, neither of them, when Meredith’s murder indisputably occurred.
Extensive forensic evidence within days tied them both to the scene. Not a single element of it has been discredited in the eyes of the Massei trial and Nencini appeal court. Not even one. Nothing was falsified.
Neither of their backgrounds was squeaky clean. Both had long been into illegal drugs, the loner Sollecito had to be watched by his father and teachers, the increasingly disliked Knox had a history of doing and saying crass off-putting things. Both were lagging behind their brighter peers in their studies and Knox was taking a year off.
11. That the prosecution fed the media a huge number of false claims.
Yet the authorities stuck to their guns. They fed the media a steady diet of sensationalist stories of how Amanda, the promiscuous American she-devil, and I, her sex-and-drug-addled Italian helpmeet, had tried without success to drag Meredith into our depravity and punished her by plunging an outsize kitchen knife into her neck.
Complete fiction. Again, in the real world, as the media reporters all confirm, the prosecution fed nothing at all secretly to the media, and publicly very little, none of it self-servingly biased.
Italian reporting was sporadic and very mild compared to anything one can see daily on possible perps in the US and UK newspapers and on US TV crime shows. There is zero sign this mild coverage mattered to the courts. As the media reporters all confirm, they were fed next to nothing by the police or prosecution on the case,
But whereas Mr Mignini famously never leaks, the defenses are widely claimed to have leaked throughout like sieves. So did Sollecito’s own family - they leaked an evidence video to Telenorba TV, for which they were considered for trial. Even we at TJMK and PMF received several offers of juicy leaks. Here is one example of where the Knox forces leaked - wrongly in fact - and then nastily slimed the prosecution and defenseless prison staff.
12. That the authorities had lots and lots and lots of scenarios.
It might have been funny if the consequences had not been so devastating. Listening to the tortured language of the prosecution—“one can hypothesize that . . . ,” “it is possible that . . . ,” “one can imagine that . . . ,” “this scenario is not incompatible with . . .”—it became clear that the authorities, like the media, were treating our case with the bizarre levity of an after-dinner game of Clue, or an Agatha Christie mystery. Everyone, even the judges in their black robes, had theories they were itching to air.
Have Sollecito and Gumbel ever before been in any other court in Italy or the UK or the US? Every judge and/or jury has to arrive at a scenario on lines not unlike this. That is the whole POINT of having courts - to weight the probabilities in what happened in the crime. The only difference in Italy is that the judges have to think their verdict through for weeks, and then write it all out, and then see it scrutinized by a higher court. This is hardly a requirement to be sneered at.
Gumble and Sollecito should have studied how US and UK juries arrive at their own scenarios. Very few US and UK lawyers think they do a better job. Ask those who watched the OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony trials and bitterly criticised the outcomes. And Italy has a vastly lower rate of false imprisonment than the US does.
13. That Italy is a medieval country with a primitive justice system.
It could have been Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with the revolver; instead it was Amanda and Raffaele in the bedroom with the kitchen knife. How was it conceivable that a democratic country known for its style and beauty and effortless charm—the Italy of the Renaissance and la dolce vita—could allow two young people to be catapulted to international notoriety and convicted of a horrific crime on the basis of nothing at all?
This is not remotely what happened. There was very far from nothing at all. Convictions in the US and UK regularly result based on evidence 1/10 or 1/100 of that here - sometimes from one single evidence point. Any one or several of maybe 100 evidence points here could have convicted them in a US or UK court.
14. That the prosecutors office and media were in a grim embrace.
The answer has something to do with the grim embrace that developed between the prosecutor’s office and the sensationalist media. Like addicts constantly looking for the next fix, each fed the other’s insatiable appetite for titillation and attention. The casual cruelty of “Foxy Knoxy” and her Italian lover became too good a story line to abandon, even when it became apparent it was overheated and unsustainable. Our suffering was the price to be paid for the world’s continuing entertainment.
WHAT grim embrace? WHAT addicts? WHAT fix? WHAT insatiable appetite? WHAT titillation and attention? This is clearly defamatory if it can’t be proven, and we can turn up no evidence that any of it is true. It has to be one of the most foolish lies in the entire book, it is so easy to disprove. These who are being accused of crimes here are career police and prosecutors secure in their jobs, and none have the slightest gain to make from false convictions.
15. That in the justice system speculation and hearsay run rampant
The meandering complexities of the Italian legal system, where speculation and hearsay are allowed to run rampant and time invariably slows to a maddening trickle, did little to help our cause.
Total mischaracterization. First note that by comparison with any country in the world THERE IS NOT MUCH CRIME IN ITALY. There is some minor corruption and still some minor mafia action, but thefts and burglaries and assaults are few and murders even fewer. The main crime if you can call it such is not lining up to pay taxes. Italy’s murder rate is 1/6 that of the United States and its prison incarceration rate is 1/30 that of the United States, so where IS all this crime about which the claimed speculation and hearsay are running rampant?
The legal process could have been fully over by the end of 2009 if (1) there was not the entitlement to two automatic appeals; in UK and US terms there was very little to appeal about; and (2) the Hellmann appeal court had not been fixed to produce a corrupt outcome, as the displaced judge Sergio Matteini Chiari and Cassation and the Council of Magistrates have all made plain.
And compared to American police and prosecutors, their Italian counterparts are famously taciturn under their unusually firm rules. There is media interest, for sure, as there should be when there are crimes, but that also is comparatively restrained. Watch the various Porta a Porta shows on YouTube and you will see how sedate crime discussion tends to be.
The Constitution and judicial code set out to achieve the exact opposite of speculation and hearsay affecting justice, and they do so. Creating this restraint is a primary reason for the judges’ sentencing reports and all the magistrates’ checks of investigations along the way.
This whole series of dishonest claims about the the Italian system in the preface of the book and in a later chapter have clearly not been read through or okayed by even a single Italian lawyer.
16. That in Italy proof beyond a reasonable doubt scarcely exists
For reasons deeply embedded in the country’s history, the concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt scarcely exists in Italy, and the very notion of undisputed fact is viewed with suspicion, if not outright aversion.
So Gumbel and Sollecito are historians and legal experts now? It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if either were able to explain the remark. This may be an ignorant swipe at the Napoleonic Code on which the law of a lot of continental Europe is based. Ignored is that Italy carried out its own reforms to the Code in 1990 and more subsequently. Much of that reform, it should be pointed out, was procedural or structural rather than substantive law.
There are two things wrong with “..the concept of reasonable doubt scarcely exists in Italy.”
1. It is factually wrong. Italian jurists, the courts, and so on, are well acquainted with the concept as it has been a fundamental aspect of criminal proceedings in Italy as elsewhere for many decades if not centuries.
2. It suggests that Italians are not intelligent enough to understand the concept anyway. That of course is an insult to Italians. Actually they are no less intelligent than the rest of us elsewhere who strive to understand it.
Until the 1990 Reforms the relationship between criminal and civil proceedings in Italy were governed by the principles of unity of jurisdiction and the prevailing status of criminal proceedings. Hence, if the facts were the same then criminal proceedings (to punish the guilty) and civil proceedings (to render liable the guilty for damages) were heard at the same time and still sometimes are, as in the Meredith Kercher case.
What has changed (relevant to the above quote) is that civil cases can be and are more likely to be heard independently from the related criminal cases and, where not, the standard of proof in civil cases (the preponderance of evidence or, as we usually refer to it, the balance of probabilities) is to be applied to the civil case, and the civil case only, rather than be confused with or overriden by the criminal standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt).
Not an easy task, admittedly, to apply different standards to different tasks, based on the same facts, in the same proceedings, but Italian judges are trained to do this because that is their system. No judge would EVER confuse “beyond reasonable doubt” with “the balance of probabilities” when the issue at stake is depriving an individual of his freedom.
17. That the Italian judiciary has vast, unfettered powers
Few in Italian society wield as much unfettered power as the robed members of the judiciary, whose independence makes them answerable to nobody but themselves.
Radically the opposite of the truth. The paranoid claim reads like it came from ex PM Berlusconi fearful of his own conviction or one of his parliamentary lackeys such as Girlanda.
All of the best judges in the world are independent and they all follow a demanding career path, not elected (as ex-Judge Heavey was) under zero criteria, or appointed under the political sway of politicians. We wonder if Gumbel and Sollecito have ever heard of the US Supreme Court? Do those judges answer to anybody? No? How unfettered.
18. That the courts are the most reviled institution in Italy.
Many Italians retain a healthy skepticism about the reliability of their procedures and rulings. The courts—tainted by politics, clubbishness, pomposity, and excruciating delays—are the most reviled institution in the country.
As our Sollecito Book pages make clear again and again and again, the Italian system is remarkably NOT tainted by politics, as even the most surperficial watcher of the trials of ex Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi would know.
Our Italian poster Machiavelli (Yummi), who posted our deep analysis of the appeal to the Supreme Court by Dr Galati, has provided these hard facts:
For comparison, in 2011 the percentage of Italians who declared they trust the justice system “a lot” or “enough” was 53.3%. By comparison, the percentage of Italians who declared they trust the government “a lot” or “enough” were 14.7%, and those who trust the parliament were only 15%.
In 2012, the percentage of Italians who trust the parliament is now only 9.5%, and those who trust the Mario Monti administration are only 21.1%.
Over the eight years from 2004 to 2012 the percentage of Italians who trust the justice system was always bigger than those who trust parliament or government by at least ten points, and in some years we can see a spread of 20, 30, even 39 percentage points achieved by the judiciary over the parliament and government.
However, some cases of corruption (such as our Hellmann-Zanetti case, but also several others indicated by the Rapporto Italia 2012) do hamper trust.
The most trusted institutions in Italy above all are the Carabinieri (74% of Italians trust them) and the Polizia di Stato (71%).
Which means the most trusted institutions are precisely those law enforcement instruments which are deployed to enforce the orders of prosecutors.
19. That prosecutors can spin their cases into any shape they please.
Because the Italian legal system is almost completely blind to precedent and relies on a tangle of impenetrable codes and procedures, prosecutors and judges have almost boundless freedom to spin their cases into any shape they please and create legal justifications on the fly. Often, they are more interested in constructing compelling narratives than in building up the evidence piece by piece, a task considered too prosaic and painstaking to be really interesting.
Whoever wrote this either wasnt an Italian or a lawyer, and either way didnt have much of a clue. The entire Italian system under the post WWII constitution was designed to PREVENT what Sollecito & Gumbel claim it allows here.
There are checks and balances and reviews every step of the way. Magistrates (initially Matteini here) determine what a prosecutor may do in developing and presenting a case. Parties may appeal to the Supreme Court AT ANY TIME as Knox’s lawyers did over her second written confession - which she herself had demanded to make in front of Dr Mignini after he finished warning her of her rights.
Hard for Sollecito & Gumbel to believe, perhaps, but the defense is actually present in the same courtroom. They can raise points of order at any time. So can the defendants themselves, at any time, something maybe unique in the world.
And judges actually have minds of their own. And then there are the unique written sentencing reports, and the two automatic appeals if any parties want to pursue them.
Sollecito & Gumbel should have read the 2012 Galati appeal more closely. The Prosecution’s Appeal To The Supreme Court is available in English here. Precedent has a section to itself - “The non-observance of the principles of law dictated by the Cassation Court in the matter of circumstantial cases (Article 606(b)) in relation to Article 192 paragraph 2 Criminal Procedure Code.”
Well, that’s precedent, via the Court of Cassation no less! How surprising from Gumbel/Sollecito that they should make that claim about ignoring precedent when in fact there it is, going right to the heart of the flawed Hellmann/Zanetti judgement on circumstantial evidence! What else is a Code but in effect a codification, a gathering together, a rationalisation, of best law - and precedent?
There is an absurd irony here, were they aware of it. Perhaps they are. Surely it is Hellmann and Zanetti who have displayed “a boundless freedom” in spinning the case “into any shape they please”, and who have “created legal justifications on the fly”? As for prosecutors doing this, at least Dr Mignini followed the evidence, and American readers may recall the infamous Jim Garrison, the DA hero of Oliver Stone’s movie “JFK” but who in reality, unlike Dr Mignini, was a total and utter crackpot.
And what issue exploded the Porta a Porta TV show in Italy in September 2012? It was Sollecito’s false claim that the prosecution had secretly tried to offer him a deal if he would roll over on Knox. NOBODY including his own father and his own lawyers confirmed him. Evidence against both was overwhelming. Nobody needed such a deal, and Italian prosecutors are highly rules-bound against ever offering such deals.
Sollecito was in effect accusing Dr Mignini of a felony with this much-repeated false claim in his book. (In her book Knox also accused Dr Mignini of a felony.)
20. That the prosecutors and judges in Italy are far too close.
Prosecutors and judges are not independent of each other, as they are in Britain or the United States, but belong to the same professional body of magistrates. So a certain coziness between them is inevitable, especially in smaller jurisdictions like Perugia.
Yes, prosecutors and judges in Italy belong to the same professional body of magistrates. But then so does the defense lawyer Ms Bongiorno. The claim that there is no independence between prosecutors and judges in Italy, in fact a coziness between them, is a bit rich.
Consider, say, the UK. It is true cases are prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service, a government body, but in serious cases the CPS will employ barristers from the Inns of Court. There is scarcely a judge in the UK, even up to the highest level, who was not and who is not still a member of one of the Inns of Court from whence barristers, for the prosecution or for the defence, ply their trade.
You can’t walk past an Inn without seeing the names of judges on the roll call on the plaques outside. A judge is still a barrister, just fulfilling a different function, although, of course, now paid by the State. The old school boy tie? Corruption? No, the fulfilling of different roles by members of the same body is called professionalism.
Judges and lawyers all belong to the American Bar Association in the US and attend the same conferences. No sign that this lack of “independence” ever affects trials. This claimed excess of coziness is often ranted about online by the Knoxophile David Anderson who lives near Perugia. Nobody who pays him any attention can get where he derives this from. Maybe he heard it from Hellman?
Perugia prosecutors and magistrates are all known to do a fine job, and the national Olympics & earthquake relief cases involving powerful Rome politicians were assigned for competent handling to where? To Perugia… Defense lawyer Ghirga and Prosecutor Mignini have the reputation of being good friends. And Mignini and Massei would both draw their salaries from the State. But so what? Do not judges and DAs in the the USA do likewise? Are Gumbel and Sollecito impugning the professionalism of the counterparts of Mignini and Massei all over the world? It sure reads like it.
On our further postings
Akk of this above analyzes only the first seven pages, out of a book which has several hundred pages. We will post one or two times more during April. Later in the book, there is a lot of venomous sneering addressed at Dr Mignini, although his performance at trial was excellent - and he is now for Perugia’s region (Umbria) the Deputy Prosecutor General.
In Italy Dr Mignini is now and then on national TV along with Michele Giuttari, who pursued the main Monster of Florence theory - not the crackpot theory Preston and Spezi attempted to use to frame someone. At impugning him, Sollecito and Gumbel have failed miserably, and for that are now in the crosshairs of the system.
Many posters contributed to this analysis and to what is to come. Special thanks to James Raper and Sara, and also to Vivianna and Kermit.
[Kermit’s take on Katie Couric, one of several smart TV hosts who suspected a giant con]
Archived in The three defendants, Raffaele Sollecito, Reporting on the case, Sollecito's book, Diversion efforts by, The Sollecitos, Other cases, Associated trials
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Friday, April 04, 2014
The Florence Chief Prosecutor’s Office Announces That Sollecito Will Face More Court Action
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
Breaking news from Main Poster Yummi
Prosecutor Gianbartolomei has issued a notice about the conclusion of his investigation. The content of the notice is confidential for the defenses.
From this point the defense has 20 days to say something, like to request that the defendant (Sollecito) is interrogated or has anything to declare, or to submit any documents if they want to.
Then, once the 20 days are expired, the prosecution will file charges.
Since the charges will include almost certainly, beyond aggravated defamation, also contempt of the Judicial organs, the prosecution may send a notice to the Ministry of Justice too.
Since they are victims of contempt they may appoint a plaintiff.
The senior Florence prosecutor Dr Giuliano Giambartolomei was assigned to investigate the claims in Sollecito’s “Honor Bound”.
Today he announces that his findings indicate that many claims are spurious and justify new charges being brought against Sollecito. Shadow-writer Andrew Gumbel, who recently published this self-incriminatory rant has also been named.
When the charges are filed several or some others who have been assiduously “helping” Sollecito (mostly for big bucks) such as book-agent Sharlene Martin might find themselves named also
So Sollecito for sure and Knox most probably will be confronting the often-contradictory claims in their books, and saying whether they accept or reject each of them, which should put other book-writers who made false claims on the spot and maybe wind the whole FOA effort down.
We will be making our separate page on Sollecito’s various false claims live again. Main posters have posted a large number of corrections to Sollcito’s claims in the book. We have been putting them in correct page-order.
Miriam has kindly contributed this translation of today’s report in Il Messagero. Dr Giambartolomei only hints to the reporter what will be in his report which will quote all the passages in full for which Sollecito will have to account.
Raffaele Sollecito Insults The PM And A New Trial Starts
As always everything [possible] is presumed and as always, in the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher, everything [possible] can be overturned at every verdict.
Even in the associated trials, such as the one for defamation (against PM Mignini) and contempt (against the police) for which Raffaele Sollecito, found guilty of the murder of Meredith Kercher along with his ex-girlfriend Amanda Knox, is being investigated along with the British journalist-author (now in absentia) Andrew Paul Gumbel.
Defamation, because many parts of the book “Honor Bound”, of which both are authors, contains for the prosecution various ignominious remarks.
More than simple phrases, entire chapters (allegedly) of the book are written in what is technically called “conclusione delle indagini” and requires the matter to be brought to justice, and therefore to trial.
[The book] starts by summarizing the main evidence (that was then proved to be wrong by the facts) against Sollecito.
The two being investigated write: ” the main proof that Mignini had to bring to the preliminary hearing were my Nikes… and he did everything possible to render them more incriminating…”
Then again “the police had only the pictures of my shoes (not those of the print) and in some way they came to the conclusion that my Nikes were the same brand, model and size as the shoeprints on the floor of Meredith’s apartment. There was no doubt about this”
Then the facts demonstrated that the shoe prints where of Rudy Guede, the third person condemned for the murder of the British student, and could not be those of Sollecito, because of the size.
Therefore this touches on the management of the trial on the part of Mignini. Sollecito-Gumbel write: “one of the reasons that our hearings were so distant one from the other was that Mignini was fighting his own separate legal battle for abuse of investigated activity.”
This connection goes to the case of the death of the Perugian Doctor Franceco Narducci, connected to the Monster of Florence case which Mignini had investigated.
Sollectito sustains: (defended in this case by Alfredo Brizioli) “I think our case, among other things, was a big diversion to keep the media’s attention away from the legal battle Mignini was having in Florence, and to give him the victory in a high profile case he so desperately needed to restore his reputation.”
The young Pugliese continues: “…..just as he did in the Monster of Florence case, Mignini used every instrument at his disposal against his critics and adversaries. The avalanches of legal action by part of Mignini had an inevitable icy effect , especially on the Italian press and this played a clear role in turning the public opinion against us.”
The charges against Sollecito and Gumbel are those of having sustained that it was Mignini’s idea to seek to obstruct the investigation as is from the beginning, it was a studied act to bend the investigation and turn the trial to his side.”
This is a clear accusation in the eyes of the prosecutor Giuliano Giambartolomei: “His approach (Mignini’s), Sollecito is saying, was particularly vindictive…. This is enough for Sollecito to face charges of defamation.”
Important to note that Dr Giambartolomei does NOT explain here precisely what will be in his report. That will have to quote all the passages in full for which Sollecito may have to account. Then he or whatever prosecutor charges Sollecito will go to another depth.
With our analysis of the book and knowledge of Italian law we can probably pick many or most of the false claims made which impugn officals or the Italian system.
More posts coming. Stay tuned.
Archived in The three defendants, Raffaele Sollecito, Reporting on the case, Sollecito's book, Other cases, Associated trials
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Thursday, April 03, 2014
Sleazy Magazine Trick To Sell More Copies Results In Angry Reaction In Germany
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Cover of German magazine Aktuelle; the banner headline translates as “Awake!”]
As we have seen, bad reporting can cause real harm. Here is an encouraging example of other media hammering the originator of a hurtful, tacky reeport.
The German Grand Prix driver Michael Schumacher, the winningest of all time, is a huge hero in Germany, and known and liked throughout the world. He amassed a fortune close to $1 billion and had started many projects with his money to make a difference to many peoples’ lives.
The 44-year-old retired driver who is currently fighting for his life in a Grenoble hospital following a skiing accident has long made large but low-key donations around the world. Here are some examples from the NewsTalk site.
The former Ferrari driver is a Special Envoy for Education and Sport and donated €1.5 million to the organization.
In a 2002 interview with the organization he explained his dedication to funding projects: “I really want to help the ones people don’t know about. Nowadays, certain projects attract lots of donors. Then there are others you never hear about. Those are the ones I’m interested in.”
He also once told F1 magazine that: “It’s great if you can use your fame and the power your fame gives you to draw attention to things that really matter.”
In 2002, Schumacher funded the construction of a school in a poor slum in Dakar, the capital of the West African state of Senegal.
In 1997, Schumacher opened a clinic for child victims of the Balkans War. The clinic provides artificial limbs for amputees as well as psychological support.
In 2002, he funded the construction of a ‘Palace for the Poor’ in Lima, Peru which caters for homeless children and provides education, food and medical treatment for street children.
Along with his two sons, Schumacher’s bodyguard lost his life in ihe 2004 Tsunami following the Indian Ocean earthquake. Schumi donated over €7 million in aid which meant that he gave more money than many individual countries, sports entities and organizations. .
Schumacher has remained in a coma in a French hospital for three months since a ski accident which initially seemed minor led to bleeding in the area of his brain. This is a particularly difficult time because for some weeks doctors have been trying to wake him up.
There is an unprecedented number of ongoing tributes to Michael Schumacher by friends and fans around the world and all the Grand Prix cars at present are carrying a message of hope.
A majority of brain surgeons now feel his waking-up will be a long shot at best, but Schumacher’s very loyal wife Corinna is having a $10 million medical facility built in a hurry at his estate several miles north of Geneva, Switzerland, on the west side of the lake. [Though widely reported his manager has just denied this.]
What has caused the outrage in Germany is the banner headline on the cover of a women’s magazine saying “Awake” implying that Schumacher himself has woken up. From the Eurosport site:
Outraged Michael Schumacher supporters have bombarded a magazine with furious complaints after a front page showed the F1 legend smiling with a horribly misleading headline - ‘AWAKE!’.
The magazine’s content, which was actually full of stories about other people who had woken from comas has infuriated Schumacher fans, who saw the smiling photo of the star cuddling wife Corinna as “abysmal”, “tasteless” and “insulting”....
Dr Gerd Hartmann, a regular reader, wrote in the comments section of popular news portal News.de: “Such magazines are simply terrible, especially given that the chances of survival with this type of therapy are abysmal.
“Out of 10 patients 5 would never recover, 3 will be severely disabled and only 2 might recover.”
Another user, posting under the name SchumiFan, added: “I can’t believe they are cashing in on this tragedy - there should be a law against this type of shoddy, sensationalist and downright insulting journalism.”
Meanwhile, German media ethics expert Christian Schicha said: “This is a clear attempt to deceive the readers. It is an obvious attempt to make money out of a sick man.
“It is completely tasteless. It is ethically completely out of the question. “Die Aktuelle blatantly makes the impression through the headline that they know something new about the case. It is completely irresponsible.
“Schumacher’s family have suffered enough without this kind of story circulating.”
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Tuesday, April 01, 2014
With Radioactive Knox Campaign Not On Agenda, US & Italian Leaders Give Each Other Big Boosts
Posted by Peter Quennell
Here’s a Rome-based blog our main poster Yummi pointed out, which describes in detail chronologically how the productive four days went.
And Mr Obama went out of his way to give Mr Renzi a lot of praise as Reuters described
Renzi, Italy’s youngest ever prime minister, has set a testing agenda of economic and constitutional reforms to help the eurozone’s third-largest economy recover from its longest recession since World War Two.
“I want to say that I’ve just been impressed by the energy and vision that Matteo’s bringing to his position,” Obama said during an hour-long joint news conference in Rome.
“There’s a seriousness and ambition of ideas, and I think the spirit and the energy of the Italian people has the opportunity to be unleashed in a way that will be good for Italy, but it will also be good for Europe,” he said.
“So it’s wonderful to see this new generation of leadership coming to the fore.”
The comments were a welcome boost to Renzi, who took over leadership of Italy’s cross-party ruling coalition after a party coup last month, pledging to push forward more aggressively on reforms than his predecessor Enrico Letta.
Not a single mention by any official or any media outlet of the radioactive Knox campaign. NOT ONE. Ask any justice official in either capital city, and the responses now are ““Knox who?” and “She should go quietly and serve her time”.
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Friday, March 28, 2014
Silicon Valley Lawyer Richard Dwyer Mulls Knox Fingering Patrick, Also Dewani Killing Wife
Posted by Peter Quennell
Below Mr Dwyer comments with cold precision and a significant depth of detail on the matter of Amanda Knox framing Patrick (15 minutes) which he sees as in itself all an America court could need to find for guilt.
In the second video below he comments on the strong case that South African justice has against Shrien Dewani for killing his wife (50 minutes) to which several posts of ours immediately below refer..
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Monday, March 24, 2014
Jaw-Dropping BBC Bias Toward Murder Suspect Doesnt Stop UK Extraditing Him For Trial
Posted by Peter Quennell
Below: Anni Hindocha and Shrien Dewani; there are more images in the post below this one
The British citizen Shrien Dewani is to be extradited to South African in a few days, to face trial in the death of his wife Anni.
This is another case with many similarities to Meredith’s: for example where money, arrogance, bigotry, dishonest PR and corrupted media are on one side, and where the careful courts and the more diligent of the public are on another.
Dawani does have his supporters, and some are making vicious accusations about Anni’s family and racist remarks about South African police (“incompetent and corrupt”) without any proof, not least on the FOA sites.
Where this case maybe goes even beyond Meredith’s is in the extent and precision with which some of the reporting, especially two reports by the BBC, has been taken apart and revealed to have been corrupted.
The analysis of the BBC reports occupies an entire new website, which is linked-to in Part 9 below.
2. Facts of lives prior
The victim, Anni Hindocha, was born in central Sweden in March 1982. She would now be 32. In 1972 the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had expelled 90,000 Asians from Uganda, and Sweden had kindly taken her family in.
Anni graduated in engineering and joined the Swedish telephone giant Ericsson in Stockholm right after.
The family of her future husband, Shrien Dewani, moved to Bristol in the west of England from Kenya some years earlier. Dawani’s millionaire father built up a clinics and resthomes group. Along with his brother, Dawani was educated at Bristol Grammar and at Oxford University.
He worked briefly as an accountant in London, and then joined PSP Healthcare, the family firm, which soon made him too a millionaire.
Anni visited her cousin in the UK, met Dawani through mutual friends, met frequently in London and Stockholm, and were married (ceremonially but not yet legally) at a resort outside Mumbai (Bombay) on 29 October 2010.
Two weeks later, on 13 November, Anni was dead.
3. Prosecution murder scenario
Anni and Shrien made a honeymoon trip to South Africa and first spent four days at the Kruger national game park. Then they returned to Cape Town.
Dawani claimed that their hired car was hijacked by two perps in an eastern suburb, Gugulethu township, on the way back from an evening trip to a beach restaurant further east.
Then for no obvious reason he was dumped out of the moving hired car 11 miles away, unharmed, and unwarned about identifying who the hijackers were.
The next morning, Anni was found dead in the back of the car another two miles beyond that. She might have been molested; she had been shot once in the neck.
The families left South Africa with Anni’s body on the 17th. Her body was cremated in London and her ashes scattered on the lake by the town where she was born.
The hired-car driver and two others were promptly arrested and another was arrested later on. Mngeni, one alleged hijacker, was arrested on 16th November. Another, Qwabe, was arrested on the 18th, and the driver, Tongo, on the 20th.
4. Three arrests so case closed?
Things still looked very fishy though.
For example Dewani had given 3 different accounts of how he was ejected from the hijacked car. The car was not stolen or burnt. Dawani was unharmed, rare in hijackings, even though he saw the faces of the two.
He took Anni to the streets of Gugulethu twice at night. He told one reporter it was Anni’s idea, then told another it was Tongo’s. He apologised to Anni’s father for not saving her life, even before, if innocent, he could have known she was already dead.
And so on and on.
From London Dawani hired a high-powered South African defense lawyer (who mysteriously withdrew) and a high-powered UK PR man who set to work moulding the mindset of the British public against the authorities in South Africa (he is now on trial himself for multiple indecent sexual assaults.)
5. Tongo fingers Dawani
On 7 December under a plea bargain (for which he received 18 years) the driver, Tongo, said he had arranged a fake hijacking and the murder at Dawani’s request for a promise of about $2,000.
Tongo went into some verifiable detail about meetings, phone calls, text messages, and cash withdrawals from a bank.
6. South Africa speaks
Dawani was arrested in Bristol, western England, on the night of 8 December 2010, by officers from the [London] Metropolitan Police’s extradition unit. From Wikipedia:
On the afternoon of 10 December, at a hearing at the High Court, Watson told Mr Justice Ouseley that CCTV footage from the Cape Grace hotel showed Dawani:
* Meeting Tongo twice in his taxi in the carpark of the Cape Grace on 12 November, the night before the killing, when Tongo claims Dawani asked him to hire a hitman to kill a woman. In later extradition papers submitted to the British courts, South African Police claimed that Preyan Dewani tried to obtain the video footage of the pair meeting.
* Having a series of meetings with Tongo inside the hotel, without his wife Anni, in the 24 hours before the killing.
* Handing Tongo a package of cash on 16 November, three days after the murder, having just previously been sitting beside his grieving father-in-law, Vinod Hindocha. Tongo is then seen entering the hotel toilets, where he counted the money.
The court granted him bail and he was electronically tagged and required to observe a curfew while he stayed at his family’s home in north Bristol.
7. The extradition fight
This wasnt really a legal fight. More a fight for the hearts and minds of the British people, so that they could maybe lean on the British courts to block extradition.
In the following many months the extradition process was repeatedly interrupted while Dawani’s mental health was very publicly and emotionally made an issue by the lawyers and PR for his defence.
On his behalf, a Member of Parliament attempted to intervene.
Finally, just three weeks ago, after all possible appeals had been turned down, a court ordered that Dawani be extradited to South Africa on 7 April, for a trial to start the next day.
8. The BBC Panorama Reports
These misleading reports were aired in March 2012 and September 2013 and somewhat inflamed UK opinion while leading it far away from the truth.
Seemingly highly invested reporters for two BBC Panorama reports were given access to testimony and autopsy evidence that the police and defense but not the public would have.
In describing the two programs Wikipedia added this cautionary note.
This section may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. Please improve the article by adding information on neglected viewpoints, or discuss the issue on the talk page.
9. The Panorama Reports repulsed
However, the real nuking of the two Panorama reports went live on a dedicated website, Panorama Busted, updated three months ago.
The analysis in this dossier shows how the Panorama programme makers used a catalogue of dirty tricks including misrepresentation of material facts, exclusion of relevant information, camera trickery and psychological skulduggery to try to fool the viewing public….
There is a scattering of snippets in the programme which appear to show some of the prosecution evidence against Shrien Dewani, but these form only a small segment and various trickery is deployed to belittle them. The facts of the entire prosecution case against Dewani are not portrayed.
The findings of this dossier are truly shocking. The issues go beyond the sub-standard shoddy documentary which they tried to pass off as journalism undertaken in the public interest. The issues go much deeper.
The Panorama production team must now be investigated by the BBC and its supervisory bodies and, if found appropriate, the Metropolitan Police. The Culture Secretary is called upon to investigate why licence fee payers’ money appears to have been used to fund the PR campaign of a murder suspect.
10. Present conclusion
Sound at all familiar?
Please do read the whole rejection of the Panorama claims. In 24 parts, it is huge - quite an indictment of a prestigious media outlet lying to the British public about hard evidence in a foreign case, and leaving a great deal of it out.
As in Meredith’s case, under the rules for a fair trial, the prosecution may not rebut such false claims as these in the media, only in court.
Yes, to us, this is only all too familiar.
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Some Images Relevant To The Murder Of Anni Hindocha And The Extradition Of Shrien Dewani
Posted by Peter Quennell
Please see the post above for the narrative. All images expand when clicked on.
[Image above: Anni Hindocha and Shrien Dewani before their ceremonial marriage]
[Image above: the ceremonial marriage in India; they were never legally married]
[Image above:the mother of Anni Hindocha who lives in central Sweden]
[Image above: the father of Anni Hindocha who lives in central Sweden]
[Image above: Stockholm HQ of telephone giant Ericcson, Anni’s employer]
[Image above: residential compound in north Bristol of the Dewani family]
[Image above: house in north Bristol where Shrien Dewani is under house arrest]
[Image above: Shrien Dewani with his father addressing the media]
[Image above: Shrien Dewani’s father and Shrien’s older brother]
[Image above: Shrien Dewani’s public relations manager addressing the media]
[Image above: downtown Cape Town where Anni and Shrien were in a hotel]
[Image above: Daily Mail recreation of the crime published December 2010]
[Image above: discovery of hijacked car and Anni’s body in Gugulethu township]
[Image above: car driver Nongo at his trial where he plea-bargained for his testimony]
[Image above: a memorial for Anni in her home town in central Sweden]
[Image above: her family scatters Anni’s ashes on the large lake near their home]
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Saturday, March 22, 2014
Italy’s 13th Foreign Oscar Winner Shows A Very Beautiful Side Of Rome
Posted by Peter Quennell
Since 1950 Italian films have won more Foreign Oscars than those from any other country.
And now this. The Great Beauty. Said by some to be a La Dolce Vita for the 21st century and by others to be a Great Gatsby for Italy.
The movie was re-released on 14 March after a limited run late last year and is still playing in many art houses in Europe and the US. The Great Beauty has a 91% positive rating among the critics on Rotten Tomatoes and the reviews sure take off in many different directions.
The Los Angeles Times review started off thus:
As its name promises, “The Great Beauty” is drop-dead gorgeous, a film that is luxuriously, seductively, stunningly cinematic. But more than intoxicating imagery is on director Paolo Sorrentino’s mind, a lot more.
One of Italy’s most impressive contemporary filmmakers, Sorrentino has a superb sense of how to fill a wide screen and, working with his longtime cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, a wizard with camera movement, his visuals display the intoxicating richness of color 35-millimeter film in a way few contemporary ventures can match.
When Sorrentino says in the press notes that “a single shot, if well thought out and balanced, can enthrall and say more than ten pages of dialogue,” he’s as good as his word
Another small shot in the arm for Rome where everybody seems to be headed these days. Well done Rome and well done Italian film industry where movies mainly for adults are still happening.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Human Rights Group “Human Rights Watch” Gives An Approving Nod To Italy
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Above: Armando Spataro, the chief prosecutor in the 2009 trial in Milan; CIA operatives all absent]
Human rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International keep an eye on the Italian courts, as they do the courts of most countries.
When it comes to Italy, they rarely have anything to complain about. Italy has a firm high-profile police presence but when the playing field is level the Italian courts are known to be very fair and prison rates are among the world’s lowest.
Nothing is seen to be broken..
The same applies to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which receives mind-numbing numbers of spurious appeals from Italy (an unfortunate circumstance for Knox) which repeatedly jump the gun (as Knox’s appeal did) before the Italian legal process is over. But the ECHR only very rarely finds that Italian courts did anything wrong.
In an excellent report by the AP’s Colleen Barry (not our favorite reporter in Florence, but now we have hopes for her) the New York-based Human Rights Watch has just praised Italy for persevering against the CIA operatives who executed an example of extraordinary rendition - kidnapping for torture in a third country of suspected terrorists.
Cassation had just confirmed three of the guilty sentences among the 26 for American operatives earlier handed down:
“It is really a seminal case. It set a very important precedent that unfortunately has not been followed yet by any other countries,” said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We certainly hold it as an example how a national judiciary can in fact get to the bottom of an unlawful rendition.”
The Obama administration renounced the Bush administration’s practice of extraordinary rendition, and neither the CIA or State Department seems to have done very much to help the CIA officers who were being prosecuted.
Alessia Sorgato, who was one of four court-appointed defense lawyers, complained the U.S. government had not responded to requests for help to defend their clients.
None of the court-appointed lawyers had any contact with their clients. U.S. officials only granted two of the defendants permission to seek their own counsel, toward the end of the trial…
Leader Robert Seldon Lady did possibly get some minor official help to disappear recently within the United States, but has since spoken out against the CIA and State Department bitterly. So did other CIA operatives.
At the same time, the Italian government (think Ministry of Justice) has been fairly passive, and allowed the courts to increasingly confirm the convictions, except for several Italian ones (they were declared military as was one American).
These outcomes from Cassation may not result in former CIA operatives ending up in Italian prisons. But life for perps on the run can be made hell worldwide under an Interpol Red Notice. So civil rights groups are not unhappy.
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Friday, March 14, 2014
On Saul Kassin: Our Letter To Dr Douglas Starr Who Wrote An Effusive Profile In The “New Yorker”
Posted by Peter Quennell
We would like to take issue with your article “The Interview: Do police interrogation techniques produce false confessions?” in the Dec 2013 New Yorker.
Specifically the effusive passages on the New York psychologist Saul Kassin. Dr Kassin was a hired gun in the annulled 2011 appeal of the Amanda Knox case in Italy. In our assessment he has widely conflated the defense’s (spurious) position he was paid for with an objective academic analysis.
Our posting community consists of professionals in legal and criminal-science fields, and we have quite detachedly uncovered over 50 false claims in Kassin’s widely-promoted papers and TV and conference appearances. The presumed intent of those was to spark more paid court business and more academic advancement.
Amanda Knox was confirmed guilty for lying about her so-called confession a year ago by the Italian Supreme Court, and her sentence of three years was confirmed. This is the same confession Kassin builds huge castles upon, which had placed an innocent man in jail for three weeks, during which time Knox never recanted.
So exactly what is left standing of Kassins position today is hard to discern. However, instead of exposing him and chastizing him, your New Yorker piece seems to have set out without due caution - no buyer-beware - to make your readers respect and associate with him.
This matter isnt over in Italy, because those many defamed by Kassin are unhappy about baseless slurs presented at a global John Jay conference and many other forums and tv shows. Any one of those who feel impugned can trigger a felony investigation for poisoning American opinion in an attempted obstruction of Italian justice. Out of which, Kassin might find himself fighting charges incurring possible prison time.
If credible crime experts here in the United States such as yourself now come down in support of those falsely impugned in Italy, and in rejection of Kassin’s categoric false claims, it might assist to defuse a tense and ugly situation, and might keep Kassin’s legal troubles to a minimum. We dont speak on behalf of the officers impugned in Italy but we might have some sway as we accept no payment from anyone and are widely trusted there.
We would like to ask you to read these various posts explaining where Kassin went wrong, particularly the fourth one, and then decide what you might like to do. It would be good if this could include inserting an addendum into the New Yorker explaining that due caution should be observed toward Kassin’s claims.
- 1. Includes a court-accepted widely-confirmed description of the Knox interrogation
2. An Example Of How The Knox Campaign Is Misleading American Experts And Audiences
3. Post Of Jan 2011 Rebutting Kassin’s Substantive Claim Of Forced Confession
4. Correcting Saul Kassin’s Massively Inaccurate Description Of Amanda Knox’s So-Called Confession
5. Passage from Amanda Knox Book Quoting Kassin As Explaining Her “Mental Condition”
If it would help I will need to be soon in Boston and could sit with you. I can also suggest several experts that you might like to consult with.
Editor True Justice
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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Italy’s Anti-Mafia Winning Push In Co-operation With FBI Is Headed By Arturo De Felice, Who Was…
Posted by Peter Quennell
Dr Arturo De Felice (at center below) was formerly the head of Perugia’s police. He ran this show while the investigations into Meredith’s murder went on.
It was his police officers who conducted the witness interrogation about which Amanda Knox has told so many lies. Defenses tried to impugn police performance, but fell absolutely flat. Not one police action has ever been criticised by any judge.
Like Dr Giuliano Mignini and many others who performed so well, Arturo De Felice has been honored and promoted. He now heads an elite national organization in Rome much admired in Italy which works on a daily basis with the FBI.
He will be able to pull many strings if Knox tries to mount an extradition fight - especially one based on Knox’s endemic lies about the police.
Here are several recent English-language reports of anti-mfia gains which name Dr Felice - the same highly successful police official who foolish amateurs like Michael Heavey and Steve Moore and Bruce Fischer and Doug Bremner (none of whom speak Italian) have impugned.
- Italian Authorities Pulled Off The Largest Seizure Of Mafia-Linked Assets In History
- Italy files new charges over judge slain by mafia.
- Italy seizes wind and solar trove from Mafia
- After 20 years, hunt for fugitive Sicilian Mafia boss intensifies
The huge joint FBI-Polizio operation described in the video at top and also here as resulting in many arrests in Italy and New York city is another feather in Dr De Felice’s cap.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Council Of Magistrates In Effect Shrugs At Judge Nencini Answering Loaded Question Of A Reporter
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Cassation judge Antonio Esposito who just faced down a similar complaint to the CSM]
The only ones pushing for the CSM committee hearing today and maybe another one at Cassation were Giulia Bongiorno and a few political friends.
Everybody knows she has once again lost very big and once again is snakily trying to demonize the court rather than gracefully moving on.
The final vote of the full CSM will be announced next week, but it seems a foregone conclusion. The Council will shrug and move on.
Judge Nencini explained himself well for one hour (with his wife, also a judge, present) and probably no magistrate on the Council would have acted so differently, given that the michievous reporter had been asking if the killing of Meredith happened simply because the three had nothing better to do.
Maybe some of the magistrates were thinking “So Bongiorno didnt put Sollecito on the stand? Hmmm, she KNOWS of his guilt only too well”. There is no mood among them to to see the defiant Sollecito who has slimed the system and slimed a much admired judge use a loophole to get himself off.
Knox, Sollecito judge unlikely to be disciplined by CSM
Inquiry over post-conviction press statements
Rome, March 11 - The Italian judiciary’s self-governing body, the CSM, is likely to drop an inquiry into a Florence judge who broke Italian legal convention by giving press interviews after convicting Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in February, judicial sources said Tuesday.
In Italy, judges usually only talk about their verdicts via written explanations published at least a month after they are handed down. But Alessandro Nencini, the head of the panel that sentenced Sollecito to 25 years and American citizen Knox to 28 and a half years at the repeat of the appeals-level trial, gave three interviews to different newspapers that were published February 1.
As a result, Nencini was accused of being biased. One of the most controversial aspects is that in one of the interviews, Nencini seemed to suggest that the fact Sollecito had not allowed himself to be cross-examined had damaged his chances of getting off.
The judge told a CSM commission Wednesday that he did not give interviews, but rather spoke in passing to reporters at the courthouse. He also denied saying the murder was the result of ‘‘kid’s play’’ gone wrong, or expressing an opinion on Sollecito’s defense strategy.
The hearing transcript will be available within a week, when the CSM commission will make its opinion official. The consensus seems to be that Nencini’s statements to the press may have been ill-timed, but not enough to justify a transfer, judicial sources said. Nencini is still not out of the woods, pending the result of justice ministry and Cassation Court inquiries that could lead to disciplinary action against him.
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Friday, March 07, 2014
Obstruction Of Justice? How The Guardian Poisons Public Opinion Against The Italian Courts #1
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
1. How the Guardian got itself on a roll
The Guardian has a daily UK print run of around 180,000 which places it 12th among Britain’s 13 national newspapers. (Last is The Independent, which may soon fold.) The Murdoch-owned Sun has a print run more than 10 times the Guardian’s. The Daily Mail’s print run is 9 times, the Mirror’s is five times, and the Times’s is two times.
Seemingly stuck at the back, the Guardian has worked hard to get a lot of people to beat a path to its website, especially Americans, and to become addicted to it. Website readers now run neck-and-neck with its hardcopy readers. Its website comes second in readers among UK newspapers after the Daily Mail, thanks largely to those Americans, and that jumps the overall readership of the Guardian from 12th to 5th place in the United Kingdom.
In another attempt to boost circulation, the Guardian has become triumphally missionary. It is doing a lot more than the old-fashioned reporting which most other UK newspapers stick to. The Guardian assisted Julian Assange’s Wikileaks to publish a number of secret documents “borrowed” from governments, although it has since turned on him and has been attacking him and Wikileaks ever since.
The Guardian also spearheaded the media investigation into the phone-hacking by Robert Murdoch’s News Of The World which led to that newspaper’s demise and the ongoing parliamentary and police investigations into other phone hacking by other Murdoch media vehicles.
2. The Guardian’s substantial pro-Knox campaign
The Guardian’s campaign against Italian justice on behalf of Amanda Knox is another triumphalist campaign, but this one often takes it very far away from the truth, and almost certainly outside Italian law. Less obviously a campaign at first glance, but undeniably one in progress when one connects up the dots as we shall do.
The resources the Guardian allocates to it are quite astonishing. Since 2007 the Guardian newspaper and website have been averaging several long reports, videos, opinion pieces or brief mentions every day for a grand total according to Google’s site-search application of over fifty thousand separate items.
Well over a dozen reporters have their names over stories and opinion pieces, and some have filed reports from London, Seattle and Italy that now number in the dozens and dozens. At least three of the Knox PR shills (Nina Burleigh, Doug Preston and Andrew Gumbel) have managed to have over-the-top opinion pieces published in the Guardian, with no explanation at all of their vested interests and family links.
Only the volume of the Daily Mail’s coverage of the case comes anywhere near the Guardian’s - and the Daily Mail coverage shows little sign of being a consistent campaign. The Mail publishes pro-Knox and anti-Knox trivia and gossip and photos with equal enthusiasm, and attracts frequent irritation from the pro-Knox forces.
In sharp contrast to these two UK newspapers, the top American newspapers and websites have averaged at most one-fifth the number of items since 2007 and, with the possible exception of CNN, none of them seem nearly as fixated upon the Knox cause as the Guardian is.
From late 2007 to around mid-trial in 2009 the Guardian was about as even-handed and tentative in its coverage as the Times was. Then bias suddenly moved into overdrive. These headlines below are representative of the Guardian’s coverage from mid-2009 to the present day.
3. Notice the typical pro-Knox headline bias here
- 2009 “Amanda will get out eventually” exclusive interview with mother Edda Mellas | Hattenstone
- 2009 The friends back home intent on telling the ‘real Amanda Knox’ story | Paul Harris
- 2009 Police beat me, Amanda Knox tells jury as she takes her turn in the witness box | Kington
- 2009 Cold comfort in jail as Amanda Knox begins 26-year sentence | Kington
- 2010 Unanswered questions over Amanda Knox’s conviction | Deborah Orr
- 2011 Amanda Knox ‘crucified’ for crime she did not commit, lawyer tells court | Hooper
- 2011 Amanda Knox begs judges to ‘do justice’ in emotional final plea | Hooper + Kington
- 2011 Confident and optimistic, Amanda Knox waits to hear the final verdict | Kington
- 2011 Amanda Knox was a ‘faithful woman in love’ says defence lawyer | Hooper
- 2011 Yes, Amanda Knox is guilty. Guilty of being sexually active and female | Carole Cadwalladr
- 2011 Amanda Knox ‘could make millions from TV and press deals’ | Lisa O’Carroll
- 2013 My penpal Amanda Knox and me | Simon Hattenstone
- 2013 Amanda Knox: I went to jail naive and came out an introspective woman | Esther Adley
- 2013 Amanda Knox: what happened to me could have happened to anyone | Shiv Malik
- 2013 Read all about Amanda Knox – except in neurotic Britain | Nick Cohen
- 2014 Amanda Knox will not return to Italy to serve sentence, say parents | Lizzy Davies
- 2014 Amanda Knox: ‘They’ll have to pull me back kicking and screaming to prison’ | Hattenstone
- 2014 Amanda Knox: I feel stranded and trapped since new guilty verdict | Hattenstone
- 2014 Amanda Knox vows to fight Meredith Kercher murder conviction ‘to the end’ | Hooper etc
4. Notice the typical anti-Italy headline bias here
- 2009 Amanda Knox case is typical of Italy’s inconclusive justice | Tobias Jones
- 2009 Call for solitary confinement of pair accused of killing Meredith Kercher | Kington
- 2009 Cold comfort in jail as Amanda Knox begins 26-year sentence | Kington
- 2010 Amanda Knox appeal: ‘Italians are embarrassed by this case’ | Preston
- 2010 Unanswered questions over Amanda Knox’s conviction | Deborah Orr
- 2011 Amanda Knox: victim of Italian code which puts saving face before justice | Preston
- 2011 Amanda Knox is a witch? Sorry, are we living in 1486? | Joan Smith
- 2011 Amanda Knox trial was flawed at every turn, says appeal judge | Kington
- 2011 Amanda Knox: police under fire over botched investigation | Hooper
- 2011 Amanda Knox’s lawyers hit back at police and prosecutors | Hooper
- 2011 Amanda Knox ‘is lucky Italy doesn’t have death penalty’ | Hooper
- 2011 Amanda Knox case is typical of Italy’s inconclusive justice | Tobias Jones
- 2011 Amanda Knox: what next after 1,450 days of wrongful imprisonment? | Hooper
- 2013 Amanda Knox’s retrial puts Italian justice in the dock | Joan Smith
- 2013 Knife key to Amanda Knox trial had no trace of Meredith Kercher’s blood | Lizzie Davies
- 2014 Knox and Sollecito case delivers harsh verdict on Italian justice | Andrew Gumbel
5. Meredith’s friends demand extreme bias be ended
This unprecedented objection to the Editor of the Guardian which had been signed by over 100 of Meredith’s friends was published on Tuesday 4 February.
The Guardian’s repeated casting of the Meredith Kercher murder trial as a gross miscarriage of justice for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is disturbing (Reports, 1-4 February). Undoubtedly, the case is complex and shrouded in ambiguity and uncertainty. However, there are at least three points which are certain.
1) During the pre-trial, trial proper, and retrial, different judges and juries have, after close and prolonged examination of all the evidence, concluded there is enough evidence against the defendants to find them guilty of the murder charge against them.
2) The appeal in which the defendants were acquitted was overturned after the supreme court found it to have “multiple shortcomings, contradictions and inconsistencies” and that the “evidence against [the defendants] had been underestimated”.
3) At the same time as she was originally found guilty of murder, Amanda Knox was also found guilty of slander and subsequently sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for having accused an innocent man of the crime. Although acquitted of murder on appeal, the slander charge was upheld.
At the time of the acquittal, Ms Knox had spent four years in jail, ie she effectively served the slander sentence while on remand. Therefore, she has not in fact served any time in prison for a crime she did not commit (although the same could not be said for Mr Sollecito if the final outcome of the legal process were to find him not guilty).
Assertions such as those made by Andrew Gumbel (himself a co-author of Sollecito’s autobiography) that Knox and Sollecito have been reconvicted “without a shred of evidence to substantiate the verdict” are untrue and undermine the gravity of the case, as does a one-sided interview with Ms Knox during which the evidence against her is barely addressed.
Only those in the courtroom are in possession of the full facts; it is only they who should make pronouncements on what the outcome should or should not be. Until then, the best course of action would be to wait for the (admittedly, grindingly slow) Italian legal process to come to its conclusion.
Guardian staffer Chris Elliot (image below) offered only a whiny and dishonest response. Our next post will start with that in identifying the Guardian’s many illegalities.
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Monday, March 03, 2014
As Knox & Sollecito Try To Separate Themselves, Each Is Digging The Other In Deeper
Posted by willsavive
In a recent exclusive interview on an Italian TV news broadcast, Sollecito said he has several “unanswered questions” for his former girlfriend, Amanda Knox. This adds yet another waiver to the many different explanations Sollecito provided over the years about the same details.
In the official story, in the part that remained consistent, Knox and Sollecito both claimed that Knox left his flat the morning after Kercher’s murder and returned home, where she noticed the door left wide open and witnessed blood spots in the bathroom. Knox claimed that she found it odd and just assumed that one of her roommates was menstruating and left blood behind. She proceeded to take a shower and returned to Sollecito’s flat and ate breakfast.
“Certainly I asked her questions,” Sollecito explained in his latest interview. “Why did she take a shower? Why did she spend so much time there?” When asked what responses he had for these question Sollecito replied, “I don’t have answers.” In the interview, Sollecito said Knox left his apartment to take a shower, then returned hours later looking “very agitated.”
Yet, in an interview with Kate Mansey just two days after the murder, Sollecito said, “But when she went into the bathroom she saw spots of blood all over the bath and sink. That’s when she started getting really afraid and ran back to my place because she didn’t want to go into the house alone.” This is a far cry from what Knox said in her email to friends and family, Knox wrote:
I returned to raffael’s place. after we had used the mop to clean up the kitchen i told raffael about what i had seen in the house over breakfast. the strange blood in the bathroom, the door wide open, the shit left in the toilet. he suggested i call one of my roommates, so I called filomena.” (6th paragraph).
The discrepancies between Knox’s version and Sollecito’s version is strikingly different. Raffele claims Knox was visibly distraught when she returned and that this was the focus of discussion (i.e. being the first thing they discussed). Knox, on the other hand, claims that she did not even bring up the bizarre circumstances back at her apartment until “after” they finished mopping the kitchen floor.
In his latest statement, Sollecito is clearly trying to distance himself from Knox, believing that there is far more evidence against her than against him.
“You all know that the focus was only through Amanda to her behavior, to her peculiar behaviour, but whatever it is, I’m not guilty for it. “Why do they convict me? Why do put me on the corner and say that I’m guilty just because in their minds I have to be guilty because I was her boyfriend. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Sollecito forgets to mention the bloody barefoot prints at Knox’s apartment, found to be in Kercher’s blood attributed to him, the knife found in his apartment that scientists say was the murder weapon, his DNA found on Meredith Kercher’s bra that was found in her room, even though Sollecito claims that he was never ever in that room, and his own strange behavior, which includes providing a false alibi (saying he and Knox were at a party with a friend on the night of the murder) and several conflicting versions.
But what’s there to question if you [Raffaele] were with Knox the whole day and night of Meredith Kercher’s murder?
It appears as though Sollecito is alluding to the notion that he knows something far more than he is saying; yet, he is being very careful with his words—only providing us with a hint of this. His latest statement is a clear attempt to distance himself from Knox.
Sollecito appeared on Twitter recently, for what he claimed was to answer questions and clear his name. He was very outspoken of his innocence and had no problem in his witty, sarcastic responses to those who questioned his innocence.
However, when I asked him about the Mansey interview he denied claiming that he was with Knox at a friend’s party on the night of the murder.
Sollecito disappeared for a couple of days, came back writing only in Italian, and ceased responding to any more questions.
Is it possible that Sollecito will turn on Knox altogether at some point when the pressure mounts over the next year? Guess we’ll have to wait and see…
Cross-posted from Savive’s Corner
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Thursday, February 27, 2014
What We Might Read Into Sollecito Lawyer Giulia Bongiornos Final Arguments To The Appeal Judges
Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)
Under the table & over the top
The picture of a serene-looking Giulia Bongiorno waving a couple of knives in court on 9 January may be visual inspiration to this reflection about what we can understand from the structure and content of her closing arguments.
A very peculiar feature of her arguments was the desperate opening, suggesting to put the investigation – and the whole justice proceedings – on trial.
The introductive topic of her speech is a quote from a book by Alessandro Satta, a narrative description of the riotous irruption of the mob inside the Revolutionary Tribunal hearing room on Sep. 2. 1792, the defendants are the some of the King’s Swiss guards.
The passage by Satta describes the “horrendous” vision of a hord of sanculots slowly gathering outside the court, Bongiorno compares that to the angry mob in Perugia after the first appeal verdict.
But if you read the same text by Satta a little further, a few lines beyond the snippet Bongiorno was reading, the narration goes on describing how sanculots manage to enter the courtroom, in a force of hundreds ready to lynch the defendants, but they are suddenly halted by an authoritative order of the Judge, and they unexpectedly obey.
Just after that, Satta drops in an explanatory quote from the book Le Tribunal révolutionnaire (by historian Lenotre) saying: “the people understood that these highly educated individuals in black robes would have gone on with the action started by the hords, and they would accomplish it more perfectly”.
It seems like Bongiorno opened her speech with an implicit depiction of the judges and magistrates of Perugia as kind of Jacobin extremists whose task is to “legitimize” the vindictive fury of a pitchforks mob.
The quote she read did not include Satta’s conclusive lines, so that the consequent thought about the judges’ role remained unexpressed and in the background.
(Photo by Machiavelli_Aki)
A side note about Bongiorno’s arguments: in fact I had the feeling that allusion to implicit subtexts was something that belonged to her speech as a method or a style, it marked the whole of her arguments. You may recall Wittgenstein’s dictum “This work consists of two part, what is written in it, and what is not written in it. The latter is the most important part.”
Such a motto might be apt to address the major feature of Bongiorno’s defensive argument, insofar as she conveyed that something that “couldn’t be talked about openly” was there and that was probably a main argument.
(photo by Ansa)
At first, as I said, she went through a brief emotional recollection of her moments while in Perugia surrounded by a raging mob, and then she unfolded the rest of her introductive section.
The purpose of this bit of revolutionary narrative first juxtaposing the Perugian citizens to Sanculots and the judges to Jacobins, and then, immediately following, a series of accessory arguments all encompassed by an introductive function, all this was clearly intended to set a framework thesis meant to work as a basis for the structure of the whole defensive arguments.
It is in fact a peculiar structure, apparently entirely resting upon one, single elaborate premise.
The thesis she places at the foundation of the entire defensive argumentation is the following: the trial as a whole, as much as its outcome, had been somehow determined and “tainted” from the beginning by events which occurred within a very short framework of time, in the very early days of the investigation, the weeks around the time of the suspects’ arrests.
Bongiorno suggested that only this “short period” – the early days of November 2007 - is what matters and the only topic worth of a defence analysis; since this was the time frame within which - according to Bongiorno - everything was decided, this was the time when some “errors” in the investigation occurred, before the point when a veil of prejudice and hatred fell upon people’s hearts and minds like kind of black curtain, preventing from that moment on any fair or rational judgement.
After the quoting of Satta’s speech, she develops her introduction for a while, branching out into some political-sociological speculations (such as that authorities chose the crime scenario that was most reassuring for the population) as well as some political-anthropological consideration (like the theory that free spirited women are seen as suspicious as a consequence of women empowerment movements).
(Palace of Justice of Florence – photo by FrederickStudio)
A speech opening as did Bongiorno’s, that is, relying on a set of over-the-top considerations, and apparently so much depending upon one extreme premise, unavoidably conveys a perception of weakness, which is at risk to be transferred to the rest of the argumentation.
Thus, it would be a logical question to ask ourselves: why did Bongiorno chose such a setting and introduction, with several risky, over-shooting arguments?
A perception that the argument was unconvincing was palpable among the public as she was unfolding her theories about Perugian police opting for “political” scenarios and about sexy and free women seen as suspicious because of the women’s political movement.
Scepticism emerged even more openly when she described a scene with Amanda Knox releasing her false accusations while speaking under the hypnotic influence of interpreter Anna Donnino - whom she called “psychic” – which triggered some stifled laughs among the public.
Then her long introduction dealt with the unfolding of a rhetorical structure set around the concept of “half”.
I use the word “ rhetoric” in a most technical, non-derogatory sense, to mean the setting of a clear order and concepts designed to be easily remembered, anchored to multiple implicit suggestions, so as to remain impressed in the mind of listeners what is distinctive of the style of Giulia Bongiorno.
Introducing to ‘Halves’
In the previous trial instances she didn’t miss the opportunity to borrow characters such as Jessica Rabbit, Amelie and the Venus in a Fur. I thought she would mention at least a few characters of Disney or the Harry Potter saga this time too, and I was not disappointed as she met expectations on this matter (she did mention Harry Potter, the Eskimo kiss ‘Unca-Nunca’, the Bunga Bunga, the Aladdin Lamp and 9½ Weeks).
She entered the topical part of the introductive section saying ‘basta’ to always focusing on Amanda’s personality alone, while considering Raffaele just Knox’s other “half”, he is not half a character, he should not be seen as reflexion of Knox.
The curse of being “half” chases him also, meaning there are only “half pieces of evidence” against him. And this is the rhetoric structure envigorating the arguments after the introduction, the concept of “half” .
Only half pieces of evidence, almost a half admission, or the clear suggestion that there is maybe one “other half” of something (of culprits?) somewhere else, something not to be said, something that is not here.
The concept of “half” recurs and somehow pervades her defence, we should say something more about later on because she picked it up also in the subsequent hours of speech.
Some videos from the Florence trial available may still be available at the Sky site.
Only after recollecting all these things in the ‘aggressive digressions’ over the introductive part, she goes on with a ponderous section which is the main part of her argumentation.
It’s a topic directly stemming from the introductive themes and premises, in the sense that this main part focuses on and blows up events of the first four days of investigation. It zeroes on few small details of the investigation history, the previous introductive part functionally working to justify the choice and to limit the argumentation to these topics.
Something the listener would notice from this first and main part of the arguments, as everyone well understands, is that these arguments are arranged in a peculiar type of architecture. A choice that makes crystal clear the actual state of the defence’s options.
The defence strategy is to focus attention on the supposed flaws in evidence collection at the beginning of the investigation, and not on the evidence set itself.
Bongiorno’s arguments do not map out the evidence set array. They do not devolve an effort of analysis in proportion to the actual weight of the of pieces of evidence.
The bulk of her speech in fact can be summarized as a criticism of some historical happenings – what she sees as such – which allegedly occurred within a very small time frame. She devoted hours to attacking the beginning of the investigation, early errors such as that the shoe print that had been wrongly attributed to Sollecito on a first assessment.
It appears this attack against the early procedures of the investigation was really considered to be the most effective weapon the defence had left.
The ‘topics’ Bongiorno addressed in this attack as ‘main points’ of evidence against Sollecito, are only three: the wrongly attribute shoeprint, Sollecito’s side-tracking the investigation, and ‘the knife’ (a topic which gets picked up again later, with a long discussion focused on the blade length).
In the same ‘knife’ topic she included DNA discussion, in a connected digression she dealt with the bra claps, called all the scientific evidence collection ‘the mother of mistakes’ and offered again the known criticism of Stefanoni’s alleged “suspect-centred”.
Later in her speech, she dealt with the other evidence topics, parroted the ‘principles’ expressed in the Conti & Vecchiotti report, offered the known arguments about the bathmat print, etc.
But the bulk of her defence hinged around those ‘mistakes’ in the early investigation phase, this was the actual core of her argumentation, while the other pieces of evidence were dealt with summarily, I had the impression they were almost treated as accessories.
It was clear above all that the defence was not battling the structure of the evidence actually existing today, they were battling a minuscule part of it, or better they were battling something else, something which is not directly the evidence, but rather some historical foundations of the accusation building.
Basically what Bongiorno conveyed is, the fighting terrain was the ‘investigators’ errors’, their ‘excesses’. That is, they were not actively contending Raffaele’s innocence any more.
The implicit content was rather obvious to the listener: a direct claim of Sollecito’s innocence had been already abandoned, that territory was left beyond the lines and the defensive front had been drawn back.
The topic now was not innocence, but rather how the accusation had been unfair and excessive.
At her opening, the quote of Satta was a device to draw attention to the events at the “origin”, so as to prepare listeners for the fact that defence arguments will be focused on what happened during the moments before the “black curtain” came down.
Hence the a long introduction starting from an image of the fury of a mob of sanculots, a narrative on this theme: people were willing to convict the defendants immediately and judges were legitimizing people’s violence.
She oriented the discussion towards the topic of early prejudice and excesses, so to justify the fact that she will talk about the early phases rather than the evidence set, and then she introduced the leit-motiv of the “half”.
This means, rather than disputing the pieces of evidence, Bongiorno wanted to set a “trial of the investigation”, she zeroed on just a few details actually not having much relevance in the actual evidence set.
She talked at length about elements that are kind of fossils – like when she went on discussing about the number of circles in the sole of Guede’s shoeprint – putting the alleged “errors” in the course of the investigation on trial, and her speech at times sounded as if it was a lecture about dinosaurs, recalling curious things now extinct.
The explicit function of her introduction was to justify her setting aside the evidence set, downplaying it by framing it into a historical moment, maintaining that it was collected and interpreted when investigators were already beyond the “black curtain” of bias, therefore tainted by prejudice, while judges were like sycophants before an angry mob.
The purpose behind the Black Curtain
The implicit, most important function of the introduction was accomplished via the concept of “half” and all the subliminal suggestions attached.
We should ask ourselves: is it reasonable to believe Bongiorno was so naïve to expect that the court may accept a theory about a dismissal of evidence in limine?
The answer is no. Bongiorno knew perfectly well that her preliminary criticism of the investigation would not lead to a dismissal of the evidence.
Bongiorno also knew that the series of preliminary arguments she would offer would be considered ineffective by judges. Such as that the knife DNA should be seen as unreliable preliminarily, that Stefanoni’s work lacked “transparency”, that Vecchiotti and Conti’s “method” should be taken at face value (Bongiorno knows C&V’s intellectual honesty was called manifestly questionable by the Supreme Court ), that this and that allele in the bra clasp DNA should not be considered because, etc.
She also knows that this court will not allow pieces of evidence to be considered separately from each other in a parcelled out way, and that imperfection of single pieces themselves do not work as a logical argument. Even less could she dismiss the evidence based on political and anthropological theories.
From the fact that she was setting afoot on a trial of the investigation instead of battling the evidence, the rational listener infers that she is well aware of the weakness of her position, since it implies that the evidence set as the battleground would be indefensible. She needs to search for another terrain of attack, a different structure, as the only possible move.
But there is also another implication. She does need to engage and draw attention to areas where she could “win” something, but this also means that her intent was to “soften” the accusation, to work it out at the flanks rather than face it frontally; to reduce the size of some fundamentals, the “excess” of the accusation.
In other words, to shorten the sentence. And if possible, to separate Sollecito’s position from that of Amanda Knox, albeit within the boundaries of her client’s plea.
Her strategy of attack had a reason, that was to try to soften the accusatory attitude against Sollecito. Besides being risky (may sound extremely unconvincing) the strategy was also loaded with implicit meanings.
What was most stunning to me – as it was a recurrent topic through her whole speech – was the concept of “half”. She picked up this introductive theme several times, such as while speaking about the medical findings explaining that only “half” the length of the blade would be used, if a knife so large as Sollecito’s kitchen knife was used, saying that, in this event, this would mean the perpetrator did not intend to kill and killing was the effect of “mistake”, an involuntary movement.
The importance of the length of the big blade and its “half” was emphasized by a waving of knifes, in a quite impressive theatrical performance: “Either the big wound was made by a smaller knife” that was held by “someone else” or the knife was “plunged only by half” showing there was no intent to kill.
All this is to be coupled with the fact that, as said above, she devoted a main portion of her 6-hour speech to discussing things that are fossils, elements not existing any more.
She dealt later with other pieces of evidence too, though in a way that seemed somehow marginal, and she did not deal with some of them at all - the inconsistencies in Knox’s account, for example, were left completely out.
She was not that kind with Knox’s written memorials either, calling them “farneticanti” (waffling, raving).
I noted her complaining about Raffaele being “halved”, as his character is portrayed as depending on Amanda’s and thus seen as equally guilty insofar he was Amanda’s half – and this effect is somehow transferred to pieces of evidence.
Bongiorno’s rhetoric emphasizes that Sollecito was accused on “half” pieces of evidence (you perceive that the metaphorical repeating of “half” implies that evidence actually exists, “by half”, and at the same time this complaint about being seen as “half” of something is a subliminal suggestion that the defendants should be considered separately, and their charges as well, thus maybe their responsibilities if considered separately may be different; and when it comes to discussing how the murderer used only half of the blade, the subliminal suggestion is bring down the charge by half, involuntary event/manslaughter versus voluntary murder).
The Mark of Infamy
Giulia Bongiorno picked on the investigators and acted as if she was putting the investigation on trial not because she thought that this would lkead to the defendants being found innocent, but exactly for the opposite reason, because she expected them to be found guilty.
Insults against Prosecutor General Crini, against witnesses and and gratuitous accusations are a risky path but they are also an overt attempt to “soften” the investigation scenario, rather than fight it frontally.
She had no hope to make her client look innocent, her only hope was to soften the strength of the accusation, to make him look less guilty, not so bad as the investigators saw him.
She pursued this in two ways, by suggesting that he should not be seen as the “half” of another perp but rather his responsibility should be considered separately, only that evidence which proves directly against him (Bongiorno repeatedly pointed out that Knox did not utter his name in her interrogation and statement), his actual responsibility might be much lesser than the charge for which he is accused.
The other arm of the defence’s pincer move, the second way to try diminish the accusation, was to portray the investigators in bad light. The ‘excess’ of accusation was to lay blame on investigators for their bias and errors.
Bongiorno’s attack against the investigation might be intended to achieve a psychological effect due to comparative process.
If you consider how the police are responsible for ‘excesses’ and disputable behaviours, you may think the investigators have been prone to gross mistakes that lead to exaggerating Sollecito’s implication, thus the accusation should be not be taken at face value and should be corrected. Maybe the correct assessment of evidence proves he not as much implicated as they had thought.
This seemed to be Sollecito’s own defence strategy, albeit implicit, since Bongiorno must restrain her action within the boundaries of her client’s plea.
In order to follow her strategy, however, Giulia Bongiorno decided to take a few steps which must be pointed out as particularly reprehensible and infamous.
I was surprised and stunned by those action because they qualify the character of Giulia Bongiorno as far worse than I thought, I really did not expect her to stoop so low.
The infamous part of Bongiorno’s speech is her gratuitous name calling and defamatory attack against Anna Donnino, her attempt to smear her professional reputation and the rude insult in calling her a ‘psychic’.
In real life Anna Donnino is a very respected professional, she has been working for the Questura on tasks of interpreter and language mediator (not as a ‘translator’).
She is also an intelligent person, she is precise and expresses herself with the utmost clarity as her lucid testimony shows.
She is known not only for having unquestionable professional ethics, but also she has an excellent reputation as a person; she is honest and humane and known by everybody for her extremely reassuring, protective temperament, and for her expertise and excellent performance of working with people.
She would help immigrants in difficulty to express themselves and understand their rights and was priceless helping the police to obtain precise information in their investigations.
As an expert in chuchotage and linguistic mediation from two foreign languages, the professional quality of her work is excellent. Her training and work is of interpreter and language mediator although sometimes shee is given translating tasks such as the translation of recordings and wiretappings.
The Questura of Perugia used to hire ‘language mediators’ at the time. You don’t know what a language mediator is? See a university course for a degree in Language Mediation.
The Questuras of some bigger cities also have ‘cultural mediators’ in addition. They are mother-tongue trained to deal with African or Chinese immigrants (one of the many young people having their internship as cultural mediator in a Questura is shown here.)
To me, this defamatory attack against Donnino was most disturbing. By doing this Bongiorno came across as surprisingly mean, I’d say what she did was really infamous.
Indeed this was not the only virulent attack, it came after insults to the city of Perugia as she was comparing its citizens to a mob of blood-thirsty fanatics.
This attack too is also particularly vicious, since it exploits, inflames and is subtly synergic with the tones of lies and prejudices disseminated by a perfidious propaganda strategy.
But at a certain point, Bongiorno focused the defamation against one person. As she unfolded a narrative about Anna Donnino acting as a ‘psychic’ who managed to hypnotize, to gaslight Knox to the point of inducing a state of trance in which she mistook a dream for reality, some people couldn’t help laughing in the courtroom.
But even if we consider the surreal and comical rather than the convincing effect, the defamatory intent stands out as reprehensible and humanly vicious.
This is because, as I said above, these particular insults were directed against a person distinguishable for her being a most decent, honest and trustworthy character, and also – a further reason – because of the recent events for which this person experienced personal suffering: Anna Donnino, a mother of teenagers, has been struck with cancer, and has undergone surgery.
She is under treatment but still currently remains in very bad health.
The attack against Anna Donnino is an action that rebounds as an ugly stain on the reputation of those who launched it. A young man from Perugia created a Facebook group to express a the citizens’ “hate” for those who lead a defamatory campaign of lies against the city. He collected over two thousand likes within three days.
Some of the comments were about Bongiorno’s insults against the city and against respected citizens, pointing out her outrageous hypocrisy since Giulia Bongiorno poses as a campaigner for the respect and dignity of women.
(a StripBit comment by a poster on a Facebook group)
Criticism of Giulia Bongriorno pointing out her hypocrisy is actually not a novelty, it has appeared long since in the press and on the internet.
But it’s hard to understand how someone like her, promoting an image of herself as an advocate for women and for correctness and respect in language and culture, could take such a an egregiously visible false step, come out with such stupid stereotypical rants, only for what looks like an awkward and useless cause.
A note for the record: we may recall Bongiorno has also attacked the Perugian police officers, citing the recording of some of their phone conversations in which they say bad words about the Sollecito family.
We can understand her outrage (at least we could, if only she were not the hypocrite she is) but at the same time we can’t fail to notice that she “forgot” to mention another half of the phone call recordings.
Specifically those where the members of the Sollecito family were speaking about the police officers; and the kind of language they were using, while attempting to plot ‘under the table’ help from some politician.
Expressing their intent to ‘scorch’ officers and ‘destroy’ magistrates, and one person even suggested that if he met Monica Napoleoni on the road, he would kill her by ‘running over her with the car’ then flee without telling anything, pretending that nothing happened.
After these last sparkles and the knife waving Bongiorno’s performance was over. In the following day’s hearing it was Maori’s turn. As a really last resort, he was taking on the task of disputing evidence in a more “traditional” way, objecting to points of evidence.
Possibly this revealed even more the extreme weakness of the defensive argument (a commenter called it ‘pathetic’). I did not listen to his argument myself, I only notice that he did not get much space neither in the press nor in the pro-Knox commenting sites; this might be a clue of how unconvincing he might have been.
One thing that however I could learn about it, is about the feeling, the perception that Maori pointed out even more the separation between the two positions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
A hint about this comes in the words of a journalist who was questioning Alessandro Nencini in the lounge immediately after the verdict: the journalist pointed out how Sollecito defence “tried to split the positions of the two accused”.
This mild attempt of a separation was the last act by the defence. As for Raffaele Sollecito himself, we were left with his rather different claim, his book where he described himself as sticking to a ‘honour bound’.
He reportedly bragged about this also with his ex-girlfriend Kelsey Kay, who described him as feeling very entitled because of his loyalty to Amanda Knox and believing she owes him a vital a favour; but Knox won’t even respond to his messages.
Then, we had his final admission in an interview that his friendship with Amanda Knox has ‘deteriorated’, because apparently Knox in practice no longer supports him as before.
If his defence advisors understood that they needed to somehow ‘separate’ his position from Knox’s at any cost, despite his plea, to suggest he may be implicated but just ‘less’ guilty, we may only agree with them on this. It would also be convenient for him to confess even if he shared the same degree of guilt of Knox.
Sadly, instead he still felt compelled to offer further lies and changing stories such as‘I noticed no blood on the bathmat’ when questioned by Kate Couric; he offered again a story of pricking Meredith’s hand while cooking together at the cottage.
Other murderers, who committed even more heinous crimes, have recovered and rehabilitated themselves after time spent in prison; even some of those deemed among the worst serial killers managed to do this by expressing remorse – for example the rather psychopathic ‘Ludwig’ (Furlan & Abel) killers.
Sure after the years he will spend in jail for the gang-like crime he is found guilty of, there would be a possibility for a ‘casual murderer’ such as he is to be perceived as rehabilitated. But to see him as ‘less guilty’ or as ‘rehabilitated’ would be impossible as long as he remains silent or denies.
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