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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dissecting The Hellmann Report #4: The Contortions To Dismiss Witness Quintavalle

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Above: Images of Mr Quintavalle’s Conad store; he serves at far left, his cashier serves at far right]


Scroll down here for previous posts in this series.

Mr Quintavalle owns the Conad franchise at the lower end of Via Garibaldli, about halfway between Meredith’s place and Sollecito’s. Judge Massei in his trial sentencing report had stated this about Mr Quintavalle on page 83:

This Court deems that the testimony of Quintavalle is reliable. It was discovered that Inspector Volturno did not ask Quintavalle if, on the morning of November 2, he saw Amanda Knox in his shop.

He was asked – so Quintavalle recalled - about purchases made by Raffaele Sollecito. Mr. Quintavalle did not say anything about having seen Amanda Knox on the morning of November 2, 2007 in his shop because he was not questioned about this and because, as indicated by Quintavalle himself, he considered this fact to be insignificant.

This post exemplifies how the Hellmann-Zanetti web of deception uses a flood of reasons-to-doubt in its attempt to discredit Massei’s conclusion that Quintavalle was a reliable witness. Remarkably, the judges did not even recall Mr Mr Quintavalle, and mostly they work from the brief summary of his testimony in Massei’s report and little else.

Quintavalle’s testimony is key to the guilty verdicts against Knox and Sollecito, and contrary to Hellmann-Zanetti’s improper purpose; therefore they proceeded to systematically “disprove” Massei’s conclusion, stating this on page 39:

Indeed, Quintavalle asserts that she left without having purchased anything.

Verbatim from the hearing of March 21, 2009:

The Hellmann report here proceeds to selectively quote the hearing-transcript in a manner contrary to the usual and customary English-language meaning of “verbatim”. It may be that Hellmann-Zanetti meant to indicate that only the words they did quote were verbatim, and that their ellipses indicated innocent omissions. However the effect of their omissions is not innocent.

…If they had asked me…also because, I repeat, I, when the young lady came into my store, I did not see her leave with anything, because when she passed by and passed by again, when she left and I saw her, out of the corner of my eye I saw her leaving, I did not see that she had a shopping bag or anything in her hands.

PRESIDING JUDGE [PRESIDENTE]: You are speaking of the morning of November 2?

ANSWER: The morning of November 2. I don’t know if she bought anything, I don’t know. My cashier doesn’t remember if she bought anything, I am not able to say whether she bought something or not…”

If one wanted to maintain that perhaps Quintavalle is wrong, because she actually did purchase something, it would be correct to observe that if he could be wrong on this point, and also about the clothing she was wearing, then he could also be wrong about the identification of the young woman [giovane] as Amanda Knox.

Finally, the testimony of the witness Quintavalle does not seem reliable, and, in any case, represents an extremely weak piece of circumstantial evidence.”



Examples of Hellmann-/Zanetti’s flood of Reasons-to-Doubt [That AK/RS are Guilty] :

From Hellmann-Zanetti pages 39-43:

Quintavalle

Another piece of evidence [uno degli elementi] on which the Court of first instance based its conviction of guilt is represented by the testimony of the witness Quintavalle, owner of a grocery store in Corso Garibaldi, not far from Sollecito’s house but also just a few minutes from via della Pergola: he in fact asserted that he saw, early in the morning of November 2, a young woman enter[sic] his store after having waited for it to open, whom he later recognized as Amanda Knox.

According to the prosecution (and to the Court of first instance), this circumstance proves that, contrary to the alibi she gave, she did not sleep at Sollecito’s house until late in the morning, but went very early to Quintavalle’s store, as she urgently needed to acquire a cleaning product suitable to clean the house in via della Pergola of her own traces and those of Raffaele Sollecito, before the police could intervene and take samples, since it was inevitable that sooner or later the alarm would be given because of what had happened.

In reality, even under the assumption that the circumstance is true, this would be a weak piece of circumstantial evidence, incapable in itself of proving guilt even presumptively; but in any case this Court holds that the testimony of the witness is not very reliable, in particular in what concerns the identification of the early‐morning client with Amanda Knox.”



(1) Reason-to-Doubt #1:  “…INCAPABLE IN ITSELF of PROVING guilt even presumptively….”

The reader is being steered away from a level of doubt that is beyond-reasonable, and towards the territory of reasonable-doubt-that -AK/RS-are-Guilty. 

“INCAPABLE IN ITSELF” improperly isolates the issue from all the other considerations which should simultaneously-be-taken-into-account.

“PROVING” improperly implies an inappropriate standard of ‘certainty’.

….this Court holds that the testimony of the witness is NOT VERY RELIABLE, in particular in what concerns the identification of the early‐morning client with Amanda Knox.

Logically “not very reliable” does not exclude “reliable” but Hellmann-Zanetti presumably don’t intend to concede that Quintavalle is reliable; this betrays Hellmann-Zanetti’s extreme bias and determination to exclude Quintavalle’s damning identification of [their client?] Knox.

Later on page 38:

In fact, he presented himself to the police only a year later, following intense urging by a young apprentice journalist…..”

This is a misleading reference to Antioca Fois; see Massei page 84:

He later spoke about having seen Amanda Knox because a young man who used to live above his shop, who he knew, Antioco Fois, had just graduated and had become a freelance reporter for the newspaper Giornale dell’Umbria. When he passed him, he would sometimes ask: “But do you know anything? Did you see something? Did you hear something?”

So one day Quintavalle told Fois that he had seen Amanda Knox on the morning of November 2; later he decided to go to the Public Prosecutor’s Office because Antioco Fois convinced him that this fact might be important.

So the “intense urging” was more like friendly exchanges with Quintavalle’s neighbour, a former lodger.


(2) Reason-to-Doubt #2:  “In fact, he presented himself to the police only a year later….”

Readers are invited to mistrust Quintavalle because he belatedly told this to the police for an untrustworthy reason, steering them further away from a level of doubt [with regard to Knox/Sollecito guilt] that is beyond-reasonable, and further into territory that is reasonable-doubt of their guilt.

Later still on page 38:

Now, what actually happened more than a year before Quintavalle presented himself to the police is absolutely not irrelevant, for the purpose of evaluating the reliability of the witness, especially from the point of view of the genuineness of his memories and the exactness of the identification.



(3) Reason-to-Doubt #3:  “absolutely not irrelevant, for the purpose of evaluating the reliability of the witness”

This double-negative statement further invites Readers to regard Quintavalle as unreliable because his memories are false, and his identification of Knox is too inexact. Steering Readers yet further into a level of doubt of Knox’s guilt that is reasonable-doubt.

Yet further down on page 38:

…..this was a witness who – taking into account what he himself explained – took a year to convince himself of the precision of his perception, and the exactness of the identification of Amanda Knox with the girl that he saw, although he was able to appreciate the relevance of his testimony already in the days immediately following the murder.



(4) Reason-to-Doubt #4: “..took a year to convince himself…”

From Hellmann-Zanetti page 36:

…..took a year to convince himself of the precision of his perception, and the exactness of the identification of Amanda Knox with the girl that he saw, although he was able to appreciate the relevance of his testimony already in the days immediately following the murder.

Repetition of reader-invitation to regard Quintavalle as unreliable, because his perceptions are not precise enough for Hellmann-Zanetti, and his identification of Knox was too inexact even though he knew at that time that his testimony was crucially relevant.

The reader is being steered even further away from belief that Knox and Sollecito are guilty towards the territory of reasonable-doubt-that -AK/RS-are-Guilty. 

Are we there yet? Is there reasonable-doubt-that-AK/RS-are-guilty NOW?!


(5) Reason-to-Doubt #5: “Quintavalle cannot maintain that…”

Near the bottom of Hellmann-Zanetti page 38:

...from the testimony of Inspector Volturno at the hearing of March 13, 2009, it turned out that Quintavalle and his employees and other shopkeepers in the area were shown photographs of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, and were asked in particular to mention any possible purchases of cleaning products on the part of the couple, as this was a precise focal point of the investigation. Thus, Quintavalle cannot maintain that he did not mention what he saw on the morning of November 2 to Inspector [53] Volturno because he did not think it was a relevant circumstance.

Readers are yet further invited to mistrust Quintavalle, because his failure to “mention” everything he had seen, and his idea of “a relevant circumstance” were unacceptable to Hellmann-Zanetti. 

That’s already five reasons to doubt on the first Quintavalle page alone.

See also Hellmann-Zanetti page 42:

....according to Quintavalle’s own statements – he only caught a glimpse of the girl, first out of the “corner of his eye” and then from a bit nearer for a few moments, but never from the front (verbatim from the hearing of March 21, 2009: “Yes, then she entered, I saw her let’s say like this, three quarters left, three quarters of the left side. I didn’t see her from the front…”

And Hellmann-Zanetti page 43:

“....when she left and I saw her, out of the corner of my eye I saw her leaving,”

Hellmann-Zanetti are now reduced to semantic quibbles about Quintavalle’s use of words to describe his visual-angle-of-view when he looked at Amanda Knox’s face.

But see Massei page 83:

This young woman remained impressed in his memory because of her very light coloured eyes, azzurri [light blue]. …. she could have been 1.65 to 1.67metres tall. Her face was bianchissimo [very light skin colour] and she apparently was about 20-21 years old.

And see Massei page 84:

...it is worth observing that the witness gave a precise description of what he saw on the morning of November 2 and also provided a description of certain physical features of the woman he saw (light blue eyes and pale face) which, together with the unusual time, may well have fixed in his memory what Quintavalle said he saw.

So by selective omissions of the contents of the Massei Report, based on the 4-dimensional observations of the Massei trial hearings, Hellmann-Zanetti use a 2-dimensional record of the Massei Proceedings, and semantic quibbles about Quintavalle’s angles of visual observation, to discredit Quintavalle’s testimony.

Even though Quintavalle - who the Hellmann-Zanetti jury never even saw - had testified convincingly at trial that it was Amanda whom he saw in his shop at opening-time on November 2, 2007, and he had held up well under cross-examination.

Enough already? Isn’t this a contorted flood of Reasons-to-Doubt-That-AK/RS-are-Guilty?  Do you now believe that Quintaville is an unreliable witness?

If you now believe that Quintaville is unreliable, then Hellmann-Zanetti will have accomplished their mission.


[Below: Conad is at right and School for Foreigners at back. RS’s place maybe 500 meters behind, up the hill]



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Giuseppe Castellini Speaks Up For A “Kind Homeless Man Of Many Aspects”

Posted by Jools





Giuseppe Castellini (above) is the editor of the Journal of Umbria in Perugia. Throughout the case he and his various reporters have done amazing, fearless work.

Today he writes movingly about the sad passing in prison of the honest and brave free spirit Antonio Curatolo, who had been charged during the appeal on a minor eight-year-old charge, apparently at someone’s insistence.

Our lives crossed on the path of the tragic murder of Meredith Kercher. And, somehow, we were no longer separated. Even though, rather than crossing paths, in time they’ve run parallel courses. Up to Friday, when death took him away, at the age of 56. And in his passing we (I speak in the plural because the same sentiment is felt by Francesca Bene, Luca Fiorucci and Antioco Fois, the colleagues who have been following the Meredith case and who met him), we feel deeply saddened.

Antonio Curatolo was no saint. But he had his candour, his naturalness, his humanity and his inner rectitude. Sometimes, I felt he was perhaps dissociated. The homeless romantic and anarchic that reads a lot and has a self-taught culture, living on the edge of society by choice, but who “struggles along” not always in a limpid way. A stray cat, clever and naïve at the same time. Tough and kind, profoundly honest, and at the same time illicit.

I remember when we were informed that a homeless man told someone (who then informed us) that he had seen on the night of the murder Amanda and Sollecito in the Piazza Grimana in Perugia, when as usual he was reading while sitting on a bench in the piazza. The story is well known: Amanda and Sollecito are at the edge of the basketball court, and Raffaele sometimes gets up and leans over the guard rail.

An important testimony, because they had said they were asleep at that time. I remember the contact, the meeting, making him repeat continuously until he was exhausted, what he had seen. Trying to make him contradict himself, to see if what he was saying was true.

A good relationship was born in those days. We spoke about other things apart from the Meredith case, things in general. We got to know each other, we talked about our lives, so many things. And, eventually, it was not very difficult to convince him to tell the investigators what he had told us.

Even though we had to insist (with him, but also with the other witnesses that we found) on surpassing that anti-State Italian mentality in which everyone goes about his business, and that if you rather trust the State you’ll end up in trouble. He testified, and since his testimony was very important (he was defined by the media, with a bit of exaggeration, the “super-witness”), he was “grilled” very thoroughly. 

But he essentially repeated the same story. So much so that the defence teams of Amanda and Raffaele, in the end they stirred in the direction of Curatolo maybe having seen the two youngsters, but not on the night of the murder. His version fully convinced the GUP Judge Micheli (who pointed out that no one could dare question his story because of the mere fact that Antonio had chosen an unusual way of life) and also convinced the judges of the First Instance trial.

Not those judges of the appeal, though, according to whom all the witnesses - especially if found by journalists – were either mythomaniacs, or were prompted to exaggerate by the suppose desire at all costs for a journalistic scoop by reporters (showing, if I may say so myself, a strong cultural retardation of the judges and a very provincial point of view - far from the reality – toward the print press and, more generally, media).

Antonio, as mentioned, was not a saint. His relationship with drugs not only bears witness to his admission that he was a heroin addict, but also the legal troubles related to possession of drugs with intent to sell. An accumulation of small penalties that brought him under house arrest and in prison. Although he proclaimed his innocence. The last time I saw him, some months ago, was when I met him in the street and I accompanied him to the small flat he had rented in Corso Cavour. To complete the house arrest penalty, he told me.

But seeing him enter into that small apartment, after seeing him in the cardboard houses that he was building here and there, gave me the sad impression of a little bird entering a birdcage.

In short, I loved him, despite some aspects of his life. When I saw him we smiled. And they were smiles of men sincere with each other. I had affection for him. His sins, I’m sure, have been forgiven.

May the earth of the grave rest lightly on you, Antonio.



Monday, September 26, 2011

Sixteenth Appeal Session: Lawyers For Patrick Lumumba And Victim’s Family Weigh In

Posted by Peter Quennell


1) Lawyers for Patrick Lumumba

A translation of the Umbria24 TV station report kindly provided by main poaster Tiziano.

MEREDITH, LUMUMBA’S LAWYER: “AMANDA IS DIABOLICAL” PATRICK: “I HAVE RELIVED THOSE DAYS”

“PATRICK IS THE SECOND VICTIM IN THIS CASE”

By Maurizio Troccoli

The civil parties are playing the last cards too in the Mez trial, represented by the lawyers of Meredith Kercher’s family and those of Patrick Lumumba, the young man who ended up in gaol with Amanda and Raffaele, because he was accused of being the author of the murder by the young American.

A few days before the sentence, which should come on Monday, and the reconstructions of what happened that night between the 1st and 2nd November, 2007 in the cottage in via della Pergola in Perugia, go on stage. A bloody murder which has seen the two ex-lovers condemned to 26 years prison for Amanda, and 25 for Rafaele at the first stage [trial}.

Patrick Lumumba was set free after a few days of detention thanks to an “iron clad alibi” which put him in a different place from “the house of horrors”, that is to say in his night spot, together with a Swiss professor, Roman Mero, who witnessed this, thus helping the young man to get back his freedom.

That testimony was sufficient to convince the magistrates - notwithstanding the accusations of Amanda - of his “complete non-involvement in the facts”, which originated in the questioning at the Perugia police headquarters on November 6th, 2007.

Patrick is still waiting for justice to be done, to be compensated for what was taken from him, for payment for the person who was stained by such a serious crime which sees him as “the second victim of this tragedy”, as his defender Claudio Pacelli said this morning. “Patrick has paid a lot, not only for his imprisonment but also for the damage to his image, said Pacelli. “My client ended up in the newspapers and on TV all over the world as the author of the murder of the young Englishwoman.”

“During the appearance of my lawyer - [Patrick] says – it is as though I had gone back, reliving that really sad period. We hope that justice is done. Today I relived those moments - the night when the professor came to the pub saying that he wanted to say good-bye because that next day he would be going back to Zurich,” Lumumba said, “However he came to save me, with neither I nor he realising this.”

“Amanda falsely accused an innocent person - lawyer Pacelli affirmed - exclusively to avoid being discovered. A classic scheme. Amanda is a consummate actress, a very intelligent girl, astute and cunning. One who really knows how to inspire the emotions of whoever is listening to her.”

And the fault of what happened to the damage of Patrick resides completely in “the young American, Amanda”, whose profile the lawyer drew in court, defining her “an explosive mixture of drugs, sex and alcohol.”

He added, “Quite the opposite of sweet, she has a split personality, fresh-faced, the daughter everyone would like, Saint Maria Goretti, and then with her histrionic side [she is] an impostor, she is a she-devil, satanic, diabolic, addicted to borderline behaviour.

What Amanda says when she claims that Patrick’s name was suggested to her by the police is a huge lie. She was the one to arbitrarily choose to point to Patrick as the guilty on, in order to distance herself from suspicion,” the lawyer said further.

2) Lawyers for the victim’s family

[translation to follow]


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti In Perugia Seen Enjoying Their 15 Minutes Of Fame

Posted by Peter Quennell









Saturday, June 18, 2011

Today’s Desperate Moves By The Defense Lawyers Seem To Have Backfired On The Two Defendants

Posted by willsavive





Cross-posted here from my own website Savive’s Corner.

Order of business

Just as expected, five inmates testified to in an Italian court that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent, to the best of their knowledge.

According to Barbie Nadeau (author of the Beast Book Angel Face) security was tight in Perugia today, as a string of blue prison vans pulled into the back parking lot of the central courthouse carrying some of Italy’s most notorious convicts.

1. Mario Alessi

First to the stand was Mario Alessi who is serving a life sentence in Italy for kidnapping and killing 17-month old, Tommaso Onofri, in 2006, was called by Sollecito’s defense team. Almost immediately after taking the stand, Alessi turned pale, became ill, and had to step down. After nearly an hour he finally returned to tell his story.

Alessi, who was being held in the same prison as Rudy Guede, testified that the Guede told him that Knox and Sollecito are innocent, speaking in prison conversations in November 2009, a month before the Knox and Sollecito were convicted.

Alessi said Guede approached him during recreation time at the Viterbo prison. “Rudy links arms with me, inviting me to take a walk with him, he has something important to tell me,” Alessi told the court. He quoted Guede as saying he was worried because “I don’t know whether to tell the truth or not,” and that the truth “is altogether different from what you hear on TV.”

Alessi then testified that Guede said he and a friend went over the house with the intent of having three-way sex with Meredith Kercher. When she refused, the scene turned violent. Alessi said Guede told him he had gone to the bathroom and upon coming back he had seen his friend holding Kercher to the ground.

Eventually, “a knife appeared, almost out of nowhere,” Alessi said, quoting Guede as saying that it was pointed at Kercher’s throat. Kercher began fighting, according to Alessi, and her throat slit got slit in the process. Guede tried to rescue her, Alessi said, but his friend stopped him.

Alessi testified (translation by Jools) that…

“Guede asked me what benefits he would get if he told the truth. He then said that he had met Meredith in a bar with some friends of his – one was called The Fat One. He said that one had got drunk and that he had followed Meredith home to see where she lived. A few days later he said he and this drunk friend went back to the house to see Meredith. They asked her if she would like to have a threesome and she had told them to leave.

Rudy said he then went to the bathroom and that when he came back the scene was very different. He said that Meredith was on the floor, back down, and that his friend was holding her down by the arms. He said that they swapped positions. Rudy then told me that he had put a small ivory handled knife to her throat and that it had cut her and his hands were full of blood. He said that his friend had said: ‘We need to finish her off or we will rot in jail.’”

Note: The bold statement above is a huge inconsistency, because, by all accounts (Knox as well as others who lived in the cottage), Guede already knew where Meredith was living—he had been to the cottage twice before that. According to Alessi, Guede did not reveal the identity of his alleged accomplice.

Alessi said he and Guede had developed a friendship in prison but eventually Alessi broke it off as he realized that Guede “said two innocent people were in jail” but did nothing about it. Alessi then contacted the lawyers representing Sollecito. Of course, being the humanitarian that he is, Alessi claims that he tried to convince Guede to “tell the truth.”

Upon cross-examination, Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca held up a photo of the child Alessi murdered (Tommaso Onofri) and asked him, “Do you know who this is?” “No,” Alessi replied, looking away. Italian media report that he also denied he is serving a life sentence.

Three more fellow Viterbo prison inmates were called to back up Alessi’s story, including police informant Marco Castelluccio, who took the stand behind a blue cover, guards around him. Castelluccio said he heard the story about Knox and Sollecito’s innocent mostly from Alessi. He said on one occasion, however, he heard Guede say from a separate cell that Knox and Sollecito were innocent.

2. Luciano Aviello

Another prison inmate Luciano Aviello [42] who has served 17 years in jail after being convicted of being a member of the Naples-based Camorra, testified today that his brother Antonio and his colleague had killed Meredith while attempting to steal a “valuable painting.”

Aviello said that the Albanian—who offered his brother “work” in the form of a robbery—had inadvertently jotted down the wrong address, and they instead went to the house where Kercher and Knox were living, and they were surprised by Meredith’s appearance. According to Aviello, his brother and the Albanian man then committed the murder and fled.

Aviello is from Naples, but was living in Perugia at the time of the murder. He claims that his brother, who is currently on the run, was staying with him in late 2007 and on the night of the murder he returned home with an injury to his right arm and his jacket covered in blood.

Flanked by two prison guards, Aviello described how his brother had entered the house Meredith shared with Knox and had been looking for the painting when they were disturbed by a woman “wearing a dressing gown.”

“My brother told me that he had put his hand to her mouth but she had struggled,” Aviello testified. “He said he got the knife and stabbed her before they had run off. He said he had also smashed a window to simulate a break in.” Aviello said his brother had hidden the knife, along with a set of keys his brother had used to enter the house. “Inside me I know that a miscarriage of justice has taken place,” he asserted.

Consequently, Aviello had been in the same jail as Sollecito and had told him: “I believe in your innocence.”

Knox’s lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova and Luciano Ghirga, visited Aviello in Ivrea prison near Turin back in May 2010 and videotaped his statement and included it in their appeal request.

Under cross examination from the prosecution it emerged that Aviello had also been convicted seven times of defamation to which he angrily replied: “That’s because all of you, the judiciary are a clan.”

As Aviello testified, Knox—dressed in an ankle length floral pattern white dress and blue top—listened intently, occasionally making notes or discussing points with her lawyer. 

A comment

So many convicts, which one to believe, if any?

Rudy Guede will now get a chance to rebut all of the above at the next appeal hearing on 27 June. This may be the worst-case scenario that the pussyfooting Knox and Sollecito defenses tried to avoid for three years. Did Knox realize?

Oh yes, it’s true! Judge Hellman has ordered Guede’s testimony to counter that of Mario Alessi. Guede will be heard alongside two fellow-detainees and two Perugia officers. June is shaping up to be a real “scorcher” in this appeals trial.

Guede had refused to speak on the stand in the original trial of Knox and Sollecito, because his appeal was still ongoing. Now, with Guede’s final appeal completed with Italy’s Court of Cassation; a real surprise could be in store.


Today’s Star Witness For The Defense Mario Alessi Looks To Be Up To His Neck In Trouble

Posted by Peter Quennell


Main reporting on the testimony of Mario Alessi will be available later today. Already the Italian media are reporting on what looks like a slow moving train-wreck for the defense.

1) Alessi’s nervous and defiant claims on the witness stand that Guede told him Sollecito and Knox were not involved sounded distinctly hollow.

2) The prosecution ripped into him during the cross-examination phase and left him squirming and evasive on his claims.

3) The prosecution announced that the police have already investigated him for false claims, and a request for his prosecution has been sent to Viterbo.

4) The lawyer for the victim’s family also ripped into him with a description of his murder of a baby, with an image of the baby being presented to the court.

5) Alessi then developed some sort of health condition with low blood pressure as one of the symptoms, and was briefly treated.

6) Alessi seemed to be trying to opt out from any more interrogation on the stand, but Judge Hellman ordered him to come back.

Baby killer Mario Alessi is one of the least liked characters in Italy, in part because before he was arrested he was seen on TV saying “who could have done such a horrible thing?” 

Attempts to hoodwink the Italian public and courts never seem to go over very well.

***

Added: Luciano Aviello next took the stand. He is the Naples mafia snitch who claims that his missing brother and one other murdered Meredith.

It will be interesting to see if any photographs surface of Aviello. There are no recent shots. Barbie Nadeau tweeted from the court that he looks about 12 years old.

If he cannot produce Meredith’s keys or a knife that he claimed he buried at his brother’s request, he too will be toast and also facing more charges.



Saturday, April 30, 2011

Italian Campaigner For Victims And Their Families Says The System Is Denying Them Justice

Posted by Peter Quennell





You can see the problem. Many Italians now think that their justice and penal systems lean too far in the direction of perpetrators getting every possible break.

We have posted often on how tough things are for Italian police and prosecutions, and how many hurdles they have to jump through. There is great caution built into the process before cases ever go to trial, and then there are two compulsory rounds of appeal.

There are proportionally very few perpetrators in Italians prison by global standards, and when there in prison they are given quite a nice time, trained to perform usefully when released, and very often get out of prison early.

Seemingly very humane. But this does carry high costs. There is quite a high proportion of recidivists (perps who do their crime over again) and there are often almost unbearable pressures on victims’ families, as Meredith’s father John Kercher has several times described.

On top of all this, there is the growing western fascination with perps, and in many cases their elevating to popular cult-worship status.

Barbara Benedettelli is a writer and columnist and the editor of the popular “Top Secret” program on Rete4 TV of which her husband Claudio Brachino [image at bottom] is the host. 

Her latest book (only in Italian) is called “Victims Forever”. She talks of various prominent perps (one of whom is the convicted babykiller Mario Alessi. who may be a defense witness of all things in the Knox and Sollecito appeal) and various forgotten victims.

Barbara Benedettelli has been interviewed by Maria Rosaria De Simone for Italia Magazine

Barbara, tell me about your latest book, “Victims Forever.”

In this book, I put all my soul into it. I was completely absorbed, I have worked tirelessly. It’s the outcome of numerous interviews that I made with the relatives of those who were torn from life prematurely. Life is the greatest gift that we possess and it is important that we learn to respect it. We can not devalue it, treat it as waste paper. We can not despise it. Life must be defended. That ‘s what I tried to highlight.

Who are the ‘victims forever’ you speak of?

The victims are always the relatives of those who were killed. Killing a person is to kill an entire world, destroying the lives of family members who are sentenced to a life of pain. The murderer after serving his sentence can still have a future. Relatives of the victims do not.

They are sentenced to a life in pain. In the book I wanted to give voices to these victims. It covers eight stories.

I saw that the book contains interviews with relatives of the victims.

Yes, the book includes dialogues spoken in confidence, and the correspondence I received from relatives who live a life torn apart. They are trying to make their voices heard in order to receive justice, and instead they feel forgotten, mistreated and poorly tolerated by our justice system.

I approached them only to discover a world that I not even remotely imagined. I came into their lives on tiptoe, I saw their pain, the disillusionment of discovering that the murderer, in the process, is transformed from a ruthless criminal into a “poor victim” who is well treated, carefully supported, and spoiled to give him, after a detention not adjusted to the brutality of the crime, a new life, a new possibility for the future and a rehabilitation.

In the Italian criminal justice system, the victims and the relatives of the victims, who have lost their greatest asset, matter very little.

It cares far more for the wellbeing of the murderer, his recovery, his return to the social system. And with this mindset, I found that victims and their relatives do not receive justice.

We have a ‘system of rewards’ and if the murderer demonstrates a desire to involve themselves in re-education, we reduce by forty-five days every six months of the sentence. And we add a number of other benefits.

The book denounces a system that does not respect the victims in their need for recognition of their dignity, their value.

The penalties that are imposed on the offenders should be proportionate to the offense. A man who committed a murder, resulting in a final death, a road of no return, should receive an appropriate sentence, because what he did can not be erased, nor can there ever be reparation.

Instead, our Constitution, with the intent of an educational purpose and the rehabilitation of prisoners into society, has since 1975 triggered a series of benefits for good behavior, leading to numerous reductions of sentences for those convicted.

This is pervasive. It results in assurances for the inmate that leads to a serious imbalance. A murderer is often out of prison very soon, not having fully served his sentence, often emerging unaware of the seriousness of the crime he committed.

Relatives of the victims not only feel that their loved one is killed for the second time by a justice that they consider unjust, but often have to live with the terror of meeting the murderer on the streets of their country, proud and with the eyes of those who got away and without any gesture or sign of repentance.

In my book, the relatives of the victims complained that today in our justice system there does not exist any certainty of punishment.

Can you give some examples?

Take the case of four young boys, Alex Luciani, Daniela Traini, David Corradetti, and Eleonora Allevi.  In 2007, they were going to get ice cream.

A Rome boy who was drunk while driving a minibus mowed them down.

Well, consider how much pain, how many people were destroyed that night: the boys, their friends, their parents, their brothers, all those who loved them. Yet all this could all have been avoided. The murderer, Marco Ahmetovic, the previous year had attempted a robbery at a post office. Should he not have been in prison?

Of course, he should have been in prison. And how did it work out?

The taker of four young lives, Ahmetovic, was given six years and six months in prison. He was initially under house arrest in a residence by the sea with a friend, and then released because the house did not meet the standards.


There is no certainty of punishment, as you say. Not only is the sentence not appropriate for the offense that was committed, but even that is not properly served.

Yes, this is an insult to the relatives of the victims. I’ll give you another example. Remember little Tommaso Onofri? [The baby murdered near Parma, Sicily, by Mario Alessi.]

How could I forget? His case has been watched throughout Italy with bated breath ...

I interviewed his mother, Paola. She is a woman destroyed. The closer you get to her, the more you feel her pain and are overwhelmed. Paola calls for justice, justice before any thoughts of re-education, to punish, to emphasize that the life of a child has value.

Destroying that has a price: that of freedom. This price, the price of liberty, must be paid by the murderer. In 2006 Paul had a family and that now no longer exists.

Two men kidnapped Baby Thomas, who was seventeen months old, and they killed him without mercy. Mario Alessi and Salvatore Raimondi, these are the names of the killers.

And Antonella Conserva [Alessi’s wife and] was their alleged accomplice. Alessi was sentenced to life imprisonment. Raimondi, he was given twenty years, he has benefited from the fast-track trial [same as Guede’s] despite the brutality of the crime.

We keep waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeal in Bologna. [The Supreme Court of Cassation referred the wife’s case back to them.] The woman’s defense team seeks to demonstrate that she was not involved despite the evidence.

“I declare myself innocent,” she says. Meanwhile there is only one certainty, that the family will never see again Tommy Onofri that they killed.”

Mario Alessi had already had trouble with the law.

Indeed, this is another important point.

Alessi had a conviction for first and second-degree sexual assault. In 2000 a young couple in their rural home was attacked by two unknown men armed with a gun and a knife. The girl was brutally raped. And the rapist was the very same Alessi, who was arrested but released after only nine months after expiry of the period of detention.

After two convictions for rape, Mario Alessi was turned out and free to go and kill the little Tommaso Onofri.

This is the scandal of the Italian justice ...

Yes, a scandal and you could tell a long sequence of stories like that.

How did you feel to spend so much time with the relatives of the victims?

It ‘s hard. Their pain becomes your own, you’re totally involved.

However there is one thing you can say. Relatives of the victims asked for the certainty of punishment for the murderers through my book, but I have not read in them hatred, resentment and fury. Only pain and grief.

I remember that you entered into politics ...

I went into politics. I was full of projects, I thought I could change the world. I thought I could help those who are weakest, those who are less fortunate.

Unfortunately, I encountered the harsh realities of politics. I found myself alone in my battles. I am too idealistic, I do not go over well with this policy.

And in all this your husband Claudio Brachino [the host of Top Secret, image below] helped you?

Claudio is a wonderful man. Always over the years we worked together. He has always supported me. He’s also a loving father. He respects my work and my need to carry out my work in complete independence.

Claudio is not only a true professional, but he is also very sensitive and is proud of what I’m doing. Even my two sons are, who I love with all my heart, and who I have rather neglected during the writing of this book. Especially in the final stages. I was very busy and unbearable.

*********

Maria Rosaria De Simone adds: I read her book, “Victims forever.” Barbara Benedettelli’s work is valuable not only for the way she conducted the interviews and the reflections of high compassion, but also she uses the Italian language fluently and is full of interesting styles. Very nice also is the foreword to the book by Rita Dalla Chiesa, who recalls the day when she learned of the murder of her father, Carlo Alberto. An excerpt.

This is for More Victims. A book in which the soul of the writer shows through and seems naked, stripped at times. Pages that reflect strong feeling, the passion of civil pain but also the love for life, interspersed with the complaints toward a system that allows double, triple, endless injustices. These make these people, in fact, Victims Still.

Not only once, but whenever a court fails to follow up, a murderer intrudes again in those lives that are torn, injured, deprived of any human right. Every time we, the people, public opinion, politicians, judges, writers, forget that the effect of a murder does not end with the death of a human being irretrievably “deleted”, but continues in those who survive the death. Because a human being is an entire world. A world full of meaning, history, and other people.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Defenses’  Possible But Extremely Unlikely Star Witness Is Once Again Back In The News

Posted by Peter Quennell





Above: Mario Alessi. The defenses’ possible get-out-of-jail-free card.

That is if he actually agrees to testify in face of possible perjury charges, can do so credibly, and can weather a withering cross-examination from the prosecution which has already investigated his claims - and a possible reappearance of Rudy Guede on the stand.

Mario Alessi’s claim is that Rudy Guede confessed to him in their cell that he actually carried out the crime against Meredith with two others, not Sollecito and Knox. Guede has very adamantly denied this, and remains seething and maybe likely to hit back hard.

Alessi, a carpenter, actually has some assets in Sicily where he lived and where he murdered a baby boy. But he applied for legal aid for his trial and appeals and he got it - a lot of it. The total is nearly $200,000.

The prosecution then appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court of Cassation that Italian taxpayers should not be stuck with this very large tab. Yesterday the Supreme Court disagreed.

And so Alessi gets to keep his property in Sicily, and Italian taxpayers are indeed stuck with the large tab. Confidence boosting? The Perugia prosecution probably hopes so…


Friday, April 08, 2011

Could Desperate Knox And Sollecito Defenses Be Forced To Resort To Something Like This?

Posted by Peter Quennell





Luciano Aviello is the so-called Camorrah Supersnitch from Naples. He has not been photographed in two decades.

When he testifies in court, he does so from behind a curtain, so that back in his cell he can sleep easier. Perhaps make that: can stay alive.

The beautiful scene below is of Alba, north of Genoa and south of Turin in northwest Italy, where Luciano Aviello may or may not be in the prison there. Nobody seems to know for sure.

We first described what is know of Luciano Aviello back here in June of last year, along with some excellent satire.

Aviello explosively emerged as a possible key defense witness - the US and UK media made a really huge deal out of this - when he claimed that his missing brother was the real murderer, along with two others.

And that Aviello knew where some evidence was hidden (not yet actually unearthed).

As with the hapless Mario Alessi, on whom we posted earlier this week, Luciano Aviello was interviewed not only by the defenses, but also by Prosecutor Mignini and Ms Comodi.

The Italian police also investigated his claims - and they did a surprise search of his prison cell. Nothing is known of what the police and prosecution found out, which makes Aviello something of a one-man minefield.

Even in the middle of last year, Luciano Aviello did not sound too credible.

Here now is an excellent new profile of Aviello and the credibility of snitches like him. It is by Mike La Sorte,  a professor emeritus at the State University of New York. Mr La Sorte includes this:

On November 1, 2007, in the Italian city of Perugia, Meredith Kercher was murdered. A trial was held and Amanda Knox was found guilty of the crime and imprisoned. At the time of the murder Luciano Aviello was out of prison and living in Perugia with his brother, Antonio. Returning to prison for extortion, Luciano from his cell in the Spring of 2010 came forward to announce that the true slayer of the victim was Antonio.

“Yes,” he declared, “it was my brother who killed Meredith during the commission of a break-in. I can produce the weapon of the crime and the keys to the house.” This generated international attention and got Avellino into the newspapers. His confession gave the defense the excuse to reopen the case to review the evidence. [Actually the mandatory appeal was already pending.]

Camorra expert Gigi di Fiore said of him: “Aviello is a strange person. He has had several contacts with the Anti-Mafia Commission and was judged to be less than truthful, a confused youth in search of publicity. He would want to exchange information for protection but had little to offer. His story is an emblematic event of no merit.”

Why could Luciano Aviello’s testimony on his claimed murderous brother (who presumably does know what he looks like) really, really matter to the besieged Knox and Sollecito defenses if it is believed? 

These are the reasons:

    1) The Supreme Court of Cassation has already accepted that overwhelming evidence proves THREE people - Guede and two others - all attacked Meredith.

    2) There are literally hundreds of evidence points pointing to Rudy Guede and Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito - in fact MORE point to Knox and Sollecito.

    3) Despite the absurd claims of the dispirited conspiracy panel at Seattle University Monday night, not one evidence point - NOT ONE -  points to anyone else.

The defense lawyers actually get along well with Mr Mignini, and they know that the justice professionals have really done an okay job. They have never once claimed that any evidence was fabricated, or that investigators made things up, or beat or starved Amanda Knox, or performed any other criminal act. They seriously need to finger other perps.

So. Look forward to welcoming the colorful if invisible Mr Aviello. We sure do look forward to seeing you.  Or not, as the case may be.



Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Harsh Language For Possible Defense Witness Mario Alessi From The Supreme Court Of Cassation

Posted by Peter Quennell


Mario Alessi is the jailhouse snitch who claims that Rudy Guede told him that Guede and two others murdered Meredith.

That if believed would leave Knox and Sollecito in the clear. But if the Knox and Sollecito defenses put him on the witness stand, it might destroy their appeal like a hand grenade.

Why? Well, the prosecution interviewed both Alessi and Guede in prison and they further investigated Alessi’s claims - and have never made those results public. Alessi’s own lawyer does not believe him and she has publicly urged him not to get on the stand to repeat his claims.

She presumably fears he might get slapped with perjury charges and end up spending even more years behind bars - he is already serving a life sentence at Parma Prison which normally means 30-plus years.

The Supreme Court has just issued a ruling on the appeal of Alessi’s wife wife Antonella Conserva. It says that as she was not present at Mario Alessi’s horrific killing of Baby Tommy when the baby would not stop crying, her 30 year sentence is not properly supported in law.

Her case is referred back to the Appeals Court in Bologne where the first-level appeal must be repeated. Meanwhile Alessi looks even more disreputable.  And the other possible witness with an alternative theory is Luciano Aviello who has a well-established record of lying. 

More and more it is looking now like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito may be forced to take the witness stand in last-ditch efforts against their appeals totally failing and their getting awarded even tougher sentences.

Little else is going their way these day - the DNA review and and Mr Curatolo’s testimony are expected to still remain creditable, and even if they don’t they are only two drops in a large evidence bucket.

If either do take the stand (and if they don’t, much will be made of that, even though Italian law says it shouldn’t) Kermit’s cross-examination questions are waiting.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Sixth Appeal Hearing: Andrea Vogt On The Testimony Of The Witness In The Square

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: north side of Piazza Grimana showing the benches where Mr Curatolo normally sits]

Click here for Andrea Vogt’s report for the Seattle PI from the appeals court.

One of the case’s most colorful and controversial characters, Curatolo, 53, has spent many a day sitting in the small public Piazza Grimana square near the university where college students come to play basketball, buy hashish and hang out….

When questioned by prosecutors, he said he remembered seeing Knox and Sollecito having “an animated discussion” in the square, which overlooks the villa where Kercher’s body would be found the next day. It was not raining that night, he said, when asked about the weather. The following day the Carabinieri came around to ask him if he had seen anything, he recalled, and he had watched as forensic crime scene investigators worked around the house.

“Are you sure that the day after you saw those two discussing in an animated way you were questioned by the Carabinieri and saw the police at Via della Pergola in their white suits?” asked Mignini.

“Very sure,” Curatolo said. “As sure as I am that I am sitting here.”

But minutes later, in questioning by Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, Curatolo also said he had seen young people in masks and getting on buses to go to the discos. The distinction is important because Halloween was Oct. 31 and there were likely students in costumes, getting on shuttles to go to the discos on the outskirts of town.

Kercher, however, was killed on the evening of Nov. 1, 2007, which is All Saints Day, a somber holiday in Italy, when it is less likely there were any festivities.

“I think it is clear that he does not have a lucid memory,” said a member of Knox’s legal team, Maria del Grosso, after the hearing. “And I think it was demonstrated today that he is not a credible witness.”

However, prosecutors and the lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, maintained the testimony was in line with previous statements.

“He repeated exactly what he said during the first trial. We still believe he is reliable.”

Good neutral report, as you’d expect, from Andrea Vogt who is the American reporter most consistently in the courtroom. All the other reports in English seemed to include a lot of fluff from the defenses.

We’ll have an analysis post on this hearing and the DNA testing in Rome later today or tomorrow.

**********

Below: Mr Curatolo’s preferred benches are at the far left there. If Sollecito did watch the gate of the house on the night he’d need to be to the far right there. The gate can easily be seen from there.



Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fifth Appeal Hearing: Testimony On Club Closings And Buses Leaves Credibility Of Eyewitness Intact

Posted by Peter Quennell


The shot above from the front of the School for Foreigners is of Piazza Grimana.

Click for a larger image. You can see the square with the benches at extreme left and right, and at rear the basketball court where Rudy Guede played. At the back there at the far right are the stone stairs down which Knox and Sollecito may have entered the park.

The many traversing buses mostly stop right in front here and they would block most of that view.

It is hard for us to see the defense witness testimony from six witnesses - one nightclub owner apparently refused to show - that several clubs were closed and several buses not running as any big deal.

In this post below we mentioned that Judge Micheli at Rudy Guede’s trial in October 2008 had accepted the testimony of Mr Curatolo because he said it was the night before the police descended on Meredith’s house and the square.

Judge Masse’s court also used this as a pointer to Mr Curatolo’s credibility and the Supreme Court of Cassation in denying Guede’s ten appeal grounds also endorsed the testimony as good. 

Here now is a repeat of our report on Mr Curatolo’s day in court by our man in the court at the time, StewartHome2000,  almost precisely two years ago (29 March 2009).

He is a fixture in Perugia. He is a vagrant that spends most of his time hanging around Corso Garibaldi (the street where Sollecito lived) and Piazza Grimana (the piazza in front of the School for Foreigners within eyeshot of the gate of Meredith’s house on Via della Pergola).

The crowd murmured as he was helped in by court assistants, uncleaned and dressed in an old jacket and winter knit hat. His skin was dark against his long un-groomed white hair, beard and mustache. But once he opened his mouth, you knew that this guy was no slouch. He spoke clearly, concisely and directly, and was very certain of what he saw.

His testimony never swayed and was consistent even under cross examination. In short, his appearance was one thing, his articulate convincing testimony was another.

He stated that he has been a regular hobo (for lack of a better term) around that part of Perugia for about 8-9 years. He testified that he was in Piazza Grimani around 9:30-10:00pm when he saw across the piazza two people, a man and a woman. He described them as a couple from the way they were sitting next to one another.

He was asked to describe them and he turned and looked at Amanda, just a few feet away, and said calmly, “it was her”, and then looked at Sollecito and said “and him.” He stated that having been in that area he had seen them before separately, but this was the first time he saw them together. But he was certain it was them.

He said also that, although he did not watch them all the time, he did see them again “poco prima di mezzanotte” or “just before midnight” at the same place. He originally said that they were there from 9:30 through midnight, but clarified that they were there at 9:30-10:00pm and may have left around 11-11:30 and then returned to be there just before midnight.

After midnight, he left the piazza to go to the park and sleep.

The next day, he arrived at his faithful piazza around 12:00pm, and eventually, around 1:30 or so, he saw the carabinieri pass by, and the police and crime scene staff, and stated that he watched them at the scene, including the CSI people dressed in the full-white suits.

Under cross-examination, Sollecito’s lawyer Ms Buongiorno may have thought she had an easy target. But in fact he held up extremely well. She asked, “how could you possibly know it was 9:30?” and he responded “Because the sign next to the piazza has a digital clock. I look at it often to check the time”.

He stated that “when I sat on the bench to read I looked at my watch and it was just before 9:30pm….and I saw them shortly afterwards.” He said he knows what he saw, and he saw those two! No more questions.

Buses and nightclubs were not even mentioned in this comprehensive report. They were not even brought up by the defenses to rebut Mr Curatolo’s timeline two years ago.

The defenses again seem to be clutching at straws.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Fifth Appeal Hearing: What Will Be On The Agenda Tomorrow In Court

Posted by Peter Quennell


Scheduled for tomorrow are seven witnesses for Sollecito’s defense, which is trying to prove that the eyewitness in the park, Mr Curatolo, got his dates wrong.

One of the ways in which Mr Curatolo identified the night on which he says he watched Knox and Sollecito sitting and talking in the park and periodically peering in the direction of the gate of Meredith’s house was by the presence of some buses.

They may have been the buses which climb up the very narrow Via Ulise Rocchi from the square to some clubs further up. However many, many other buses also pass through that square.

The defense hopes to land its first blow on the prosecution’s case by showing that on the night those nightclub buses weren’t there - that the clubs were closed that night for the holiday, and so the nightclub buses were nowhere to be seen.

Is this crucial? We think not. Mr Curatolo is useful in establishing a possible timeline for the night, but not for much more than that. The prosecution have never given the slightest hint that they believe anything like their whole case hangs on him.

And in Rudy Guede’s brief trial in October 2008 Judge Micheli accepted Mr Curatolo’s testimony as valid because he said he saw Knox and Sollecito on the night before all the police descended on Meredith’s house and the square.

Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Antonio Curatolo. He says that although Curatolo mixes up his dates in his statement, he does have a fix on the night he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana sometime around 11:00 to 11:30pm. Curatolo is certain it was the night before the Piazza filled up with policemen asking if anyone had seen Meredith.

In his evidence, he says they came into the square from the direction of Via Pinturicchio and kept looking towards the cottage at Via della Pergola from a position in the square where they could see the entrance gate.

Judge Micheli reasons in his report that their arrival from Via Pinturicchio ties in with the evidence from Nara Capazzali that she heard someone run up the stairs in the direction of that street. He also reasons that they were likely watching the cottage to see if Meredith’s scream had resulted in the arrival of the police or other activity.

Acceptance of his testimony is already endorsed by two appeals courts, including the Supreme Court of Cassation, and all the decisions and all the evidence from all three courts now get ported into the Knox-Solleito appeal.

You can see photos of the square here and the view down to the gate of Meredith’s house here.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Five Sleepers For The Knox And Sollecito Defenses That Could Make Matters Even Worse

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Knox defense lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova and Sollecito defense lawyer Luca Maori]


The situation actually seems tougher for the defenses than even the very stark facts in the post below suggest. Here are some sleepers.

1) All the DNA tests could go against them, Amanda Knox’s DNA might be confirmed on Meredith’s bra or bra clasp as several DNA witnesses believed it was, and if the opening of the knife handle is permitted, Meredith’s DNA might be discovered in there.

2) The defenses hope to destroy the timeline of Curatolo the eyewitness in the park by proving there were no nightclub buses operating that night. But Judge Micheli said that in accepting him as credible his statement that he saw the two in the park the night before all the police activity at the house was enough, and did not even mention any buses. The Hellman court might agree.

3) Prosecutors interviewed and investigated both Alessi and Aviello but never revealed what they found out. If the defenses call them as witnesses, as they desperately need to in light of the Supreme Court of Cassation position below that Guede and two others were involved, they could be destroyed in cross examination and end up facing perjury charges and longer prison terms as a result.

4) The Hellman court might discount the Massei scenario that Guede just happened to be there for a reason not explained, and just started to molest Meredith with two others nearby, who then just oddly chose to join in on his side with some handy knives. The prosecution and Judge Micheli both believed the hazing of Meredith was probably a Knox-driven initiative. The prosecution could make this a main argument in the requested waiving of the mitigating circumstances the Massei court allowed.

5) Sollecito and/or Knox could insist on mounting the witness stand despite counsel advice and in trying to explain the alibis and cellphone and computer happenings and a few other things might collapse under cross-examination - their first unrestrained cross-examination in this process.

Raffaele Sollecito’s superstar lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, now on maternity leave, may not be heard from again. And Sollecito still seems to be maintaining some separation and not giving Knox any help with her fifth alibi.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Inaccurate Report By The Associated Press Carried By Over 2,000 Media Sites Is Now Corrected

Posted by Peter Quennell


Above is one inaccurate headline. The witness Curatolo has NOT been convicted of drug dealing. No reason to be feeling encouraged. .

1) From the original A&P release last Saturday

That Antonio Curatolo, the eye-witness in the park, had already been convicted was maybe mischievously planted by Luciano Ghirga (image below) the hands-on lawyer for Amanda Knox.

Or maybe he just made a mistake. This wrong fact was then widely quoted in commentary and blog posts. Total search hits are over 2,000.

A defense lawyer for Amanda Knox, the U.S. college student serving a 26-year prison sentence for the murder of her British roommate, expressed optimism Saturday that a drug charge conviction of a prosecution witness might help the American in her appeal in Italy.

The defense always maintained that Antonio Curatolo, a homeless man in the university town of Perugia, wasn’t a credible witness, Luciano Ghirga told The Associated Press in Rome.

Perugia court offices were closed Saturday, and officials could not be reached to confirm Italian news reports that Curatolo had been convicted earlier in the week for dealing drugs. It wasn’t immediately known what his sentence was or if he had been jailed….

“We have always said that he was not a credible witness,” Ghirga said, referring to Curatolo. “It was the court that held he was credible.” The drug charge conviction “will be an additional thing to help prove the witness is not credible,” Ghirga said in a phone interview.

2) From the A&P correction issued today.

This release states that Curatolo has NOT been convicted. As of noon New York time on Tuesday the number of sites carrying this correction is less than 1,000.

ROME — In a Jan. 15 story about a prosecution witness in the Perugia murder trial of U.S. college student Amanda Knox, The Associated Press, relying on information from a lawyer, erroneously reported that the witness, Antonio Curatolo, had been convicted on a drug charge. Curatolo has been ordered to stand trial on a drug charge, but has not been convicted.

The defenses are seeming pretty desperate. Understandably so. Luckily for justice for Meredith, in Italy as in the US and UK the defenses cannot use a mere charge against a witness to discredit them on the stand.



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Proposed Defense Witness Aviello Cell Searched: Could Be Huge Setback For Defenses

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: So-called supersnitch Luciano Aviello as he looked maybe 20 years ago]

The defenses could be about to find that neither of their requested key witnesses will be willing to mount the stand. 

The Italian media are reporting that the prison cell of Luciano Aviello has just been searched. Aviello is the supersnitch from Naples who has a history of falsely accusing others to try to give himself a break.

We have been remarking for a while that both Aviello and the baby killer Mario Alessi could face perjury charges and another few years on their sentences if the police can uncover evidence that if either testify, they committed perjury on the stand.

Both prospective witnesses were interrogated in prison by both the defense teams and the prosecution. The defense claims after their interrogations always sounded pretty desperate. The prosecution have never ever revealed what they heard.

The purpose of the Aviello search was stated to be related to a possible charge of calunnia which in effect is criminal defamation of others. Possibly Aviello’s cellmate snitched. That sure would be ironic.

Let us take a leap in the dark here. Do Italian authorities REALLY not like people who lie in the course of criminal proceedings? Whether on the stand or in the mass media?


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Report #1 On Perugia: I Meet A Very Decent Brave Man

Posted by SomeAlibi


I walk the journey to the cottage from where Meredith and Sophie parted ways at the Via Del Lupo. Time from there to the cottage is 5 minutes at a leisurely pace. I video the journey for proof.

As I finish, I decide to walk up Via Scortici with the wall of the basketball court to my left, just to prove to myself that it isn’t what sane people would normally do (they go round the basketball court on the stairs of the Via Della Pergola which is why Amanda saw Rudy, practising on the basketball court, daily).

Managing not to get spread against the wall by a slowly passing car which honks at me for my patent stupidity, I come to the bottom corner of Piazza Grimana by the news-stand. The entrance to Corso Garibaldi, Raffaele’s road, is five metres away.

I turn round to look at the entrance to Piazza Grimana and see the figure of a man on crutches with shoulder-length white grey hair poking out from the bottom of a striped bobble hat walking away from me and towards the steps. Is it? I cross quickly and go round the top of the basketball court, along the pavement of Via Pinturicchio trying to look down to see if I can identify him. If it’s who I think it is, I haven’t been able to find him in previous days.

The man is dressed in a white and blue ski jacket and moves purposefully, even with the crutches. He goes to the steps of Via Della Pergola and heads down towards the cottage. But then he does a right and disappears into Via Melo which is half way down the steps and leads to an area of public garden. I go down after him, down the steps, and turn into Via Melo too. I try to take a picture but inadvertently engage video mode. That has to go quickly – I need to catch him.

I walk past a woman and then overtake him. As I do, I look back at him naturally as if just with a friendly passing nod. I allow my ‘spontaneous’ surprise to stop me.

“Mr Curatolo?” I say, in my best very English sounding Italian. He looks at me in a friendly way. His eyes are bright, unbothered, looking straight at me. He furrows his eyebrows minutely at me.

“Curatolo” he says with a pronunciation which is different from mine but in ways in which I’d never be able to explain. “Yes, I’m Curatolo” he says in Italian.

His voice is soft, clear, his diction precise, also unbothered, and he looks at me calmly.

I smile at him and nod, mostly to myself. I size him up for a couple of seconds. I reach out to shake his hand which he does so unhesitatingly, taking if from the crutch at his side. As I draw close to him, I hate myself for doing it, but I use an old trick a policeman taught me and breath in deeply through mouth and nose. It looks like a normal inhalation, which of course it is, but I’m smelling him. There isn’t the slightest wiff of alcohol or smoke about him, not from today or last night, completely corroborating the precision of his speech.

My spoken Italian, worse than my understood, will now let me down but I will try in Italian and English combined. He replies only in Italian.

“Thank you,” I say, shaking his hand, “Meredith Kercher; what you saw – so important.” I point to my eyes as I do so.

“Ah, Meredith Kercher,” he replies, understanding my action and nods. “Are you a friend?” he asks.

Well that’s a complex one. “Yes, in a way”, I reply, waggling my hand from side to side in the universal language of ‘kind of’.

“Ah, I see. That is a good thing,” he replies.

“Thank you,” I say again, patting my chest with the flat of my hand. “Many people say thank you. Many people.”

He nods.

“It is my pleasure,” he says in that calm voice again. Then he shrugs with those crutches of his but in a very measured way. “I saw what I saw” he says simply.

I look him straight in the eyes throughout the whole conversation. He doesn’t once break eye contact back – never - and I particularly note it when he says those final words. I look at him some more and I nod again.

“I know you did,” I say.

But this time I really do know it, with certainty. And since Raffaele and Amanda never said they went to the basketball court on the previous night and did what Curatolo saw them doing, I know when he saw them too.

“For you, sir,” I say and give him a twenty euro note to help him through today.

I ask if I might possibly take a quick picture, just to prove it happened, and he graciously says yes. I take a single one and then I shake his hand once more. I pat him on the back and smile a last time.

And then I say a final thank you and goodbye. I haven’t got the Italian to talk to him further but more than that, I want him to know that sometimes people say thank you and mean it without wanting anything else.

I walk off back towards Piazza Grimana and out into a little sunshine on an otherwise grey day as the bells start to chime out one o’clock.

Seeing the three disco buses last night after 11pm helped, about what happened that night in the square. But this meeting helped me more. I’ve dealt with more liars than most people have had hot breakfasts: I know the deeply credible ones, the squirming ones, I know the lies of drug addicts and thieves and other types more innumerable than I care to mention. He’s none of these things whatsoever. He is calm, measured, collected and together, softly spoken; a man with dignity even if he is down on his luck.

Curatolo saw what he saw, and now, as I start walking with a smile on my face, I know he did too.


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