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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Now Raffaele Sollecito As Well As Amanda Knox Is Using A PayPal Link To Encourage Donations

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Sollecito And Knox Paypal Accounts

Please check out the images at bottom here. As of today Knox’s PayPal account still exists.

At the same time Sollecito has created a new one as GoFundMe dropped his solicitation page. PayPal and their own Italian lawyers are likely to regard these two accounts as hot potatoes when the following implications are shared with them.

Imperiled Bank Accounts

Each PayPal account will point behind the PayPal scenes to a bank account, which as this example among many others describes can be seized by American and Italian authorities.

The Government wants the seized properties to be handed over to the authorities, and claims it’s permitted under U.S. law. This includes the bank account that was used by Megaupload for PayPal payouts. The account, described as “DSB 0320,” had a balance of roughly $4.7 million (36 million Hong Kong Dollars) at the time of the seizure, but processed more than $160 million over the years.

“Records indicate that from August 2007 through January 2012 there were 1,403 deposits into the DBS 0320 account totaling HKD 1,260,508,432.01 from a PayPal account. These funds represent proceeds of crime and property involved in money laundering as more fully set out herein,” the complaint reads.

PayPal refused to channel payments to the hacker organization Wikileaks and 14 members of the hacker group Anonymous who attempted denials of service attacks (DOS) against PayPal were charged and pleaded guilty.

Strong evidence that law enforcement will work hard to help prevent the use of PayPal for activities it considers illegal. 

How It Gets Worse For Them

Knox is already a convicted felon for life for calunnia with no further appeal possible. Under PayPal’s terms of service that by itself seems sufficient grounds to bounce her. From Paypal’s rules for Donate buttons:

Note: This button is intended for fundraising. If you are not raising money for a cause, please choose another option. Nonprofits must verify their status to withdraw donations they receive. Users that are not verified nonprofits must demonstrate how their donations will be used, once they raise more than $10,000.

Neither have publicly specified in even the least detail who will get what and why out of the funds raised by this Donate button intended for good causes (think charities).

How It Gets Worser For Them

The pitches on the Knox and Sollecito websites are essentially the same as in their two books which are both riddled with demonstrably false accusations, for which Sollecito has already been charged and for which Knox will also in due course be charged.

The charges against Sollecito are a mixture of calunnia and diffamazione, which are explained at the bottom here, and the charges against Knox are expected to be the same.

In effect then this is seemingly not only Knox and Sollecito attempting to profit from crimes, but attempting to profit from crimes based on highly fraudulent accounts of those crimes for one component of which (as pointed out above) Knox has already served three years in prison.

How It Gets Even Worser For Them

“Defense Fund” implies the money being raised is all going to their Italian lawyers. If the lawyers accept such payments as fees that could become a problem for them.

The same thing applies if any of the money raised goes to David Marriott, Ted Simon and Robert Barnett. It is now radioactive. They will presumably know this - know that they cannot profit from proceeds which are illegal under Son of Sam laws and obtained on fraudulent pretenses.

And In Fact Even Worser For Them

If Cassation dismisses the final appeal of Knox and Sollecito (for which the grounds seem very flimsy) they will each be liable for the millions in damages which Judge Massei imposed as modified by Judge Nencini.

Donations legally labeled bloodmoney cannot under any circumstances be used to pay damages. Knox and Sollecito would have to generate new funds to pay the damages awards by legal earnings or by voluntary or forced selling off of any assets.

The Bottom-Line Liabilities Here

The financial liabilities Knox and Sollecito are presently incurring for themselves include (1) payment of all fees for legal and PR help in the US and Italy; (2) the clawing back of all bloodmoney profits from their crimes; (3) the payments of millions in damages as assessed by Judges Massei and Nencini; and (4) further fines and damages that are expected to result from their two books.

Under the post below Popper posted this partial calculation for Knox; the forfeit of bloodmoney and possible future damage awards are additional.

Massei gave (and Nencini confirmed) provisional damage to father and mother of Meredith of Euro 1 million each, to brothers and sister Euro 800,000 each, to PL Euro 50,000 and to the owner of the flat Euro 10,000.

To this it must be added more for the legal costs in Appeal and Cassazione, so a total a bit short of Euro 5 million, about 6 million dollars.

VAT and CPA must be paid on all the above sums, so more than that, we probably go over USD 6 million

Together with the forfeit of bloodmoney and possible future damages imposed, this adds up to around the $10 million estimated in this post. Sollecito’s burden would be less, somewhat more than half of that. 

Explanation Of Calunnia And Diffamazione

The charge of calunnia (art. 368) has been commonly translated as “slander” in the English/US media. This translation is incorrect, however, as calunnia is a crime with no direct equivalent in the respective legal systems.

The equivalent of “criminal slander” is diffamazione, which is an attack on someone’s reputation. Calunnia is the crime of making false criminal accusations against someone whom the accuser knows to be innocent, or to simulate/fabricate false evidence, independently of the credibility/admissibility of the accusation or evidence.

The charges of calunnia and diffamazione are subject to very different jurisprudence. Diffamazione is public and explicit, and is a more minor offence, usually resulting in a fine and only prosecuted if the victim files a complaint, while calunnia can be secret or known only to the authorities. It may consist only of the simulation of clues, and is automatically prosecuted by the judiciary.

The crimes of calunnia and diffamazione are located in different sections of the criminal code: while diffamazione is in the chapter entitled “crimes against honour” in the section of the Code protecting personal liberties, calunnia is discussed in the chapter entitled “crimes against the administration of justice”, in a section that protects public powers.


Click for larger image






Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Legal Nightmare For Knox: How Tough American Laws Will Wind Back Her Blood-Money Profits & Spendings

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The 40-Plus State Son-of-Sam Laws

David Berkowitz or Son-of-Sam as he called himself during his killing spree is a convicted American serial killer. Watch a documentary at bottom here.

In New York State (where Knox’s publisher is) and Washington State (where Knox herself is) and about 40 other American states Son-of-Sam has a much-exercised and now rarely-challenged law named after him.

After early challenges and some revisions, many of those State Son-of-Sam laws continue to be strengthened and almost all are enforced regularly. From Wikipedia:

A Son of Sam law is any American law designed to keep criminals from profiting from the publicity of their crimes, often by selling their stories to publishers… Son of Sam laws are designed so that criminals are unable to take advantage of the notoriety of their crimes. Such laws often authorize the state to seize money earned from deals such as book/movie biographies and paid interviews and use it to compensate the criminal’s victims…

In certain cases a Son of Sam law can be extended beyond the criminals themselves to include friends, neighbors, and family members of the lawbreaker who seek to profit by telling publishers and filmmakers of their relation to the criminal. In other cases, a person may not financially benefit from the sale of a story or any other mementos pertaining to the crime—if the criminal was convicted after the date lawmakers passed the law in the states where the crime was committed.


Son-of-Sam Laws In The News

The Son-of-Sam laws are in the American news almost daily. See these for example:

  • Here is an article about the admitted killer Jodi Arias who could have otherwise been in line to profit from a movie showing her killing of her former lover Travis Alexander from her point-of-view.

  • Here is an article about the former university football coach and male rapist Jerry Sandusky who may be writing a book to benefit himself and his family.

  • Here is an article about OJ Simpson, the former footballer and convicted killer of his wife and one other, who is essentially in prison now for trying to circumvent a Son-of-Sam law mandating payments to the families of his victims.


How Son-of-Sam Laws Work

Here from the Criminal Lawyers website is a generic description of how such State laws work.

Each state’s law is different, but here some of the things you may see in any particular Son of Sam law:

What’s covered?  Practically just about anything a criminal defendant might gain or profit from his crime. Some state laws generally define “profit from crime.” For example, a law may state it’s “any property obtained through or income generated from the commission of a crime.” Other states are very specific and may, for example, state “profit of crime” is money or other property with value a defendant may receive for a book, movie, television show, play or newspaper article about the defendant and his crimes.

Who’s covered? In some states, only the criminal defendant is covered. In other states, members of his family are covered, too. They may be related by blood or by “affinity” or kinship, such as a spouse or father-in-law. The idea is to make sure a family member doesn’t get the money and hold it for the defendant.

Payment. Most states require the person paying the defendant - the book publisher, movie producer, etc. - to pay the money directly to a court or special state agency, like the state’s Crime Victims Assistance agency. The money is held in a special account for the crime’s victims.

Getting the money to the victims. In most states, once money is deposited, the court or the state agency in charge of the money notifies victims the money is available. In other states, the person or company paying the defendant must notify victims. Either way, victims are usually notified by ads or “legal notices” in local newspapers where the crime was committed. It’s also possible the names of specific victims may be found in the court records connected to the case, and those victims may get personal notification, such as by mail.


Ten Grave Weaknesses In Knox’s Position

Under these 40-plus Son-of-Sam state laws Amanda Knox and her agents appear to be in an extremely weak legal position. Here are 10 reasons.

    1) Knox was confirmed convicted without further recourse by the Italian Supreme Court of calunnia (against Patrick Lumumba) in March 2013 and she was also provisionally confirmed guilty of murder and other crimes when her appeal before the Florence Appeal Court failed six months ago.

    2) That final false-accusation conviction occurred prior to Knox’s book Waiting To Be Heard being released. The British and Italian arms of the publishers, HarperCollins, refused to release the book in the UK and Italy, citing major legal liabilities. The New York based HarperCollins publishers and therefore Knox herself knew that there were very serious legal questions.

    3) Amanda Knox was represented by Washington DC lawyer and book agent Robert Barnett who touted the book to various publishers for a claimed $4 million. If Robert Barnett was misled as to the truth of the book, Knox may find herself kicked under the bus by him.  If he was not misled, he too is entangled.

    4) Knox’s book (available globally via Amazon Kindle) includes many serious misstatements on (among other things) the nature of her false-accusation crime, the nature of her police discussion on 5-6 November 2007, and the real reason for her felony conviction and sentence.

    5) Knox also misstated the nature of her false-accusation crime, the nature of her police discussion on 5-6 November 2007, and the real reason for her felony defamation conviction in (a) an arrogant email to Judge Nencini at the Florence appeal and (b) an arrogant press release after the judge’s sentencing report was released.

    6) Knox appears to have misstated the nature of her false-accusation crime, the nature of her police discussion on 5-6 November 2007, and the real reason for her conviction in a submission to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. She also uses those false claims for her continued refusal to pay damages to Patrick.

    7) Large numbers of opportunists appear to have directly profited. While we don’t know for sure, it seems Knox blood-money may have been used (a) to pay off her parents’ legal debts; (b) to pay her Italian and American lawyers; (b) to pay David Marriott’s public relations outfit; (d) to pay travel to Seattle and other expenses for some of her wackiest supporters, Sforza and Fischer included. Fees for abusive work by many in online support of Knox are rumored

    8) We have repeatedly been told that any media request for access to Sollecito or Knox results in a greedy hand being stretched out. Any media who paid anything to Knox or her family (CNN? ABC? CBS? The Guardian? Oggi?) for access since 2007 could be seriously vulnerable.

    9) Knox will face a new trial in Italy in due course for numerous new felony accusations in the book, including a very serious false charge against Dr Mignini. Also she and her followers are widely on record as disrespecting and harrassing the real victim and her ailing family.

    10) And a mandatory Son-of-Sam Law investigation by State Attorney Generals can be triggered in over 40 American states via a simple report from a citizen. The Italian Government could also trigger such a criminal investigation.

And Amanda Knox still has her greedy paw out for contributions. See her highly misleading website. Tread warily, folks. Up to 40-plus investigators could come calling at your door…

Early Death To Any Political Support

American politicians almost all favor the Son-of-Sam Laws. The thought of a convicted killer profiting is something almost 100% of American voters wont tolerate. Anything that encourages crimes and the flouting of laws is a really big American no-no.

And if Knox is trying to assemble any bought-and-paid-for political support to resist extradition, such political support will dissipate in a heartbeat when Son-of-Sam again rears his head.

Not a very nice slippery slope for Knox. On multiple counts she looks like a sure-fire loser.


Friday, February 21, 2014

The US Lacks Legal Authority To Decline To Deliver A Guilty Knox To Italian Authorities

Posted by TomM

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[Rome airport; exceedingly rare for those convicted of Italian crimes not to be sent back via here]


The reporting on this case has, with few exceptions, been poor.

Recent reporting on whether the US would extradite Amanda Knox continues that tradition, ranging from assertions that “sources” within the State Department say they would never extradite her, to claims that the risk of extradition is real, but that the Secretary of State has the discretion to refuse to extradite.

If the Secretary of State actually has this discretion, it must be grounded in the law.

That means it must be found in the Constitution, or in an act of Congress, or in a treaty—all of which constitute the “law of the land”.  Beyond authorizing the President to make treaties, with the consent of two thirds of the Senate, the Constitution sheds no further light.

The only act of Congress dealing with extradition of US citizens is Title 18, United States Code, section 3196; a bit of background first.

There is no uniform US extradition treaty.  Each treaty is separately negotiated with the other sovereign nation.  Historically, many of the treaties entered into by the US contained clauses providing that neither country was obligated to extradite its own citizens.

Notwithstanding this, the US had extradited US nationals on the basis of discretion to extradite even though extradition was not required by the language of the treaty.  But in 1936 the US Supreme Court held that if the treaty does not “obligate” the requested party to extradite its own citizens, the Secretary of State does not have the discretion to deliver the person sought to the requesting country.  [Valentine v. United States ex rel. Neidecker 299 U.S. 8]

In 1990, Congress passed 18 U.S.C § 3196, captioned “Extradition of United States citizens:”

“If the applicable treaty or convention does not obligate the United States to extradite its citizens to a foreign country, the Secretary of State may, nevertheless, order the surrender to that country of a United States citizen whose extradition has been requested by that country if the other requirements of that treaty or convention are met.”

That is the full extent of Congressional action on extradition of US citizens; there is no Congressional grant of discretion to the Secretary of State to decline extradition in the face of a treaty obligation.

Some US extradition treaties contain clauses that give the requested country the discretion not to extradite its own citizens; perhaps that is where the idea that the Secretary of State has discretion not to extradite Knox comes from.

Here, for example, is a clause from the US-Sweden treaty:

“There is no obligation upon the requested State to grant extradition of a person who is a national of the requested State, but the executive authority of the requested State shall, subject to the appropriate laws of that State, have the power to surrender a national of that State if, in its discretion, it be deemed proper to do so.”

The treaty with Italy is short (ten pages) and written in plain language.  The treaty has commences with Article I, captioned “Obligation to Extradite”:

“The Contracting Parties agree to extradite to each other, pursuant to the provisions of this Treaty, persons whom the authorities of the Requesting Party have charged with or found guilty of an extraditable offense.”

The cover letter of the Secretary of State to then-President Reagan explains:  “Article I obligates each State to extradite to the other, in accordance with the terms of the Treaty, any persons charged with or convicted…”. (emphasis added)

There are mandatory grounds for refusal, such as political or military acts, double jeopardy (if the person sought has already been tried by the requested State for the same offense), or if the prosecution or penalty is time-barred in the requesting State.

There is just one discretionary ground: if the country requested is also prosecuting the person sought for the same act.

Article 4 provides:

“A Requested Party shall not decline to extradite a person because such a person is a national of the Requested Party.”

Thus, any discretion to deny extradition implied by 18 USC 3196 has no application to requests made under this treaty.  Further, although some appellate cases have treated some issues regarding extradition of nationals differently, they fairly firmly hold to the difference in the meaning of mandatory words like “shall” and “obligate” on the one hand, and discretionary or permissive words like “may”.

Comments to the effect that the US has declined extradition to Italy in the past are superficial and uninformed.

The first illustration such commentators cite is that of the Air Force pilot who severed a ski lift cable, causing multiple deaths.  That was not an extraditable offense under the treaty because of double jeopardy; the pilot had been court martialed.  Although his acquittal enraged Italians, the pilot had already been tried by the US, and thus his case fell under the mandatory ground to denial of extradition specified in the treaty.

The other example mentioned is that of the CIA operatives who were prosecuted in absentia for the abduction of Abu Omar in Milan.  The Italian Minister of Justice refused, during both the Berlusconi and Prodi administrations, requests of the Milan court to commence extradition proceedings.  In Italy, the courts and the government are independent, and the courts lack power to compel government to make a request for extradition.

Even if the Italian government had made an extradition request, there is at least a colorable argument to be made that this was in the nature of a military act in the US war on terror, thus constituting a mandatory ground of refusal.

Thus, if Italy requests the extradition of Amanda Knox, the US lacks legal authority to decline to deliver her to Italian authorities.  If the US government wants to avoid extraditing her, it will have to rely on diplomacy rather than law.  In other words, it will need to convince the Italian government not to make an extradition request in the first place.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Considerable Number Of Suspected Perps That Countries Extradite Daily To Other Countries #2

Posted by Peter Quennell

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[Interpol HQ is now in Central France, a new HQ is planned for outside Paris soon.

Extradition: a hardball game.

This is the latest of many posts which include this legal take explaining the gloomy prospects for Sollecito and Knox if their final conviction comes down. 

Complete refusals of extradition by any countries other than Russia and China seem increasingly rare, as that can cause a rebound effect and economic retaliation in response. The United States very rarely refuses to extradite.

If anything, the US is stepping up the pace of its extradition cases - both ways. The US at federal and state level is at any one time processing hundreds of requests, and transporting suspected perps back and forth.

These are some of the high-profile extradition cases in today’s news:

The US/Italy Robert Lady case

The twists and turns in the story of the fugitive from Italian justice and former CIA chief in Milan Robert Lady were last posted on here. He scampered out of Central America back to the United States mid-2013.

But now official Washington seems to be giving Mr Lady a very hard time which may have him voluntarily headed to Italy to seek a break.

When the anniversary of 9/11 came around this year, Robert Seldon Lady was moving between low-end hotels around Miami. An international arrest warrant keeps him from returning to his home in Panama. He says he’s flirting with personal bankruptcy, fears for his life, and is “getting pretty desperate.” His marriage is broken. He blames this hard luck on his former employer, the Central Intelligence Agency

Mr. Lady helped CIA contractors and agents snatch an Egyptian Islamist off the streets of Milan and deliver him to an interrogation cell in Cairo. This so-called extraordinary rendition—one of 130 or so carried out by the Bush administration—set in train events that soured America’s relations with Italy and upended the life and career of Mr. Lady and other CIA agents.

Saying “I’m fed up with all this,” Mr. Lady has some extraordinary steps in mind to change his fate. His actions and outspokenness are going to add to the discomfiture of his former bosses at Langley over this messy episode from the early days after 9/11.

If the muddle-headed Knox and Sollecito enablers can find any solace in that, good luck. Mr Lady was a top government employee, who claims he was doing only what he was told. 

The Brazil/Italy Henrique Pizzolato case

Believe it or not the former director of the Bank of Brazil has fled to Italy to ensure a fair trial.

Sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison for bribery, embezzlement and money laundering, Pizzolato announced in a letter that he fled to have, according to him, a new trial in Italy “removed from politics and electoral motives” and in “a court not subject to the impositions of the media”.

Brazil might ask Interpol for a “red notice” which is the highest form of international arrest warrant and often has the same wanted result as formal extradition.

A red notice chills renegades’ possibilities worldwide.

In fact so tough is life on the lam under a red notice that perps often simply cave before too long, and head back to defend themselves or pay their dues without any court moves or official transport required.

The US/Italy Raoul Weil case

Finfacts reported on this case last month.

Raoul Weil, a former UBS wealth management chief, was arrested last weekend in Italy and faces extradition to the United States to answer charges of aiding and abetting tax evaders.

Weil left Switzerland’s biggest bank in 2009 after he was declared a fugitive from US justice by ignoring a criminal indictment issued in 2008. UBS was forced to pay a $780m fine in 2009 after admitting to actively assisting US tax evaders to break US law.

Several Swiss bankers and lawyers have since been indicted in the US for their alleged role in helping wealthy US citizens hide their assets from the tax authorities.

Weil is one of the most high-profile of the accused as a then head of UBS’s wealth management and he is now a temporary resident of an Italian prison, likely fearing a longer spell in a US one.

A Florida court indictment charged Weil with having a prominent role in aiding UBS’s US clients to hide around $20bn in undeclared assets between 2002 and 2007.

He however has strongly denied the allegation but would not risk defending himself in a US court.

Italy is giving Mr Weil a pretty hard time and accedes to all American extradition requests except where the death sentence might be involved.

The US/Russia gangsters case

The US is trying hard to get some Russian gangsters (okay, alleged gangsters) extradited from countries around the world  and Russia is resisting this “extraterritorial application of America law”.

U.S. organized crime experts say Russian criminals working overseas often have connections within the Russian government, and that the Russian government’s defense of them is designed to keep those links from emerging in public light….

In the past six months, Russians have been a frequent target of arrest warrants executed at the request of U.S. prosecutors.

On Aug. 1, the Dominican Republic extradited 24-year-old Aleksandr Panin to stand trial in federal court in Atlanta on charges related to cyberscams using SpyEye malware, which enables the theft of online banking information. Panin is accused of stealing $5 million from U.S. banks.

In mid-August, Lithuania extradited an alleged arms dealer, Dmitry Ustinov, to stand trial in the United States for allegedly negotiating to sell restricted night-vision goggles. He faces a 20-year sentence.

Another Russian, Dmitry Belorossov, was arrested at the Barcelona airport Aug. 17 upon triggering an Interpol fraud alert. Belorossov’s extradition to stand trial in the United States is pending.

When U.S. prosecutors seized Liberty Reserve in late May, they said the company had laundered “more than $6 billion in criminal proceeds.” Liberty Reserve allowed clients anonymity and offered them a digital currency, known as an LR, to facilitate payments for criminal activity.


The US/Spain Javier Martin-Artajo case

Banker Javier Martin-Artajo now in Spain is refusing to be extradited to the United states - because the crime he is accused of took place in England. Good luck with that one. JP Morgan Chase Bank has just paid a huge fine in the US so THEY accept the crime took place there.

Posted on 11/20/13 at 10:14 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

After 5 Years Heavey Is Still Heedless Of His Errors Pointed Out Again & Again & Again

Posted by pat az

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Overview of this post

This post corrects an error-filled letter to President Obama and the Congress dated 16 May 2011.

First, note that Michael Heavey has a considerable record of interventions that seriously mislead. Often corrected, he gravitates no closer to the truth.

Prior misleading Heavey interventions in 2008

During this year Heavey (then still a judge, though one who was merely elected - nothing compared to the rigorous process Italian judges must go through) sent three erroneous open letters (posted on the web and widely copied) to senior justice officials in Italy about the case.

TJMK posted on the errors in December 2008.

Prior misleading Heavey interventions in 2009

By way of interviews in the media, Heavey continued his campaign. He has claimed that his motives really are noble: in effect, Knox could have been his own daughter, though his daughter has distanced herself from this campaign.

Prior misleading Heavey interventions in 2010

One of the 2008 letters to Italy was sent on official judicial letterhead, as if he was speaking for the State of Washington. In 2010 the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct disciplined Heavey although it was only for an illegal use of the official letterhead, not for wrong claims.

The initial announcement was posted on here. The details of the charges were posted on here. The disciplinary penalty was posted on here.

Prior misleading Heavey interventions in 2011

In April 2011, one month prior to his misleading letter,  Heavey was a droning presence on a panel before an audience of 35 at Seattle University. His familiar talking points were again repeated.

It is cross-posted from my own website here.  Links to previous posts about Heavey on TJMK for the period 2008 to 2011 appear at the bottom of this post.

The 16 May 2011 letter to President & Congress

On May 16, 2011, Judge Heavey (now retired) apparently sent US President Barack Obama a letter regarding the Amanda Knox case. 

This document was retrieved from the King5.com news site under a search result for “Amanda Knox.” The subject of Judge Heavey’s letter was ”Re: Failure of Rome Consular Officials to protect the rights of U.S. Citizen Amanda Knox.”

The new Heavey letter was written on letterhead “From the chambers of Judge Michael Heavey.” The address given is his house address.






The Judge charged that the State Department absolutely failed to look out for the rights of Amanda Knox. Nowhere in the letter does Judge Heavey actually address any of the evidence in the case.

Ten times in his letter, he charges consular officials failed to take action when they should have.

However, many of his points are false or misstate the events. In many instances, Judge Heavey is proven wrong by statements from Amanda Knox herself.

This letter, full of errors, was carbon copied to Members of Congress AND the Secretary of State (at the time, Hillary Clinton).

These mistakes would have known at the time Judge Heavey wrote his letter by using the interviews and documents available at that time.  This did not stop Judge Heavey from writing an error-laden letter to the President and Congress. These errors are detailed below.

Additional signatories to the letter (on letterhead from “from the chambers of Judge Michael Heavey”) include Friends of Amanda representative Thomas L. Wright, and author of “The Framing of Amanda Knox” Dr. Mark C. Waterrbury.






Judge Heavey had been admonished for using court resources and stationary as a part of his advocacy in the Amanda Knox case, as well as his public speeches while he was a sitting judge. 

The admonishment only covered the letters written to Italian court officials and prosecutors, using court stationary and court staff. The letter he apparently sent to Obama and congress was not included in the admonishment.

The following is a point by point review and rebuttal of the by-now admonished Judge Heavey’s Letter to President Obama and Congress

False brutal interrogation claims

The letter opens up with a summary of the argument- that this case was a prosecutor’s vendetta against Amanda Knox, and that her rights were violated, and Consular officials did nothing. The letter is arranged as a series of points, which are discussed below.

Judge Heavey writes: “Amanda Knox was arrested for the murder of her roommate after an all-night interrogation [...]. The Perugian Police denied her food and water, cuffed her on the back of the head, and, most importantly, prevented her from sleeping.”

However, Amanda Knox was not the one called into the station. Raffaele was; and they went right after having dinner!

A UK based paper had published the day before an article with quotes from Raffaele. Raffaele said he and Amanda went to a party on the night of the murder. Police were likely calling in Raffaele due to the conflicting stories.

Amanda’s “interrogation” didn’t start until at least 11pm. Police have testified she was offered food and water. She went to sleep after signing her second statement, at 5:45 am. There was a break between signing her first statement at 1:45 am and signing her second statement (after being warned by Dr Mignini to say nothing further without a lawyer) at 5:45 am.

Here is Amanda Knox:

“Around 10:30pm or 11pm Raffaele and I arrived at the police station after eating dinner at the apartment of one of Raffaele’s friends. It was Raffaele who the police called, not me, but I came with him to the Questura anyway while he was to be questioned for support, as he had done for me many times.” -Amanda Knox, letter to lawyers, 9 Nov 2007

“I signed my second “spontaneous declaration” at 5:45 AM [...]. I asked permissions to push two metal folding chairs together, balled myself into the fetal position, and passed out, spent. I probably didn’t sleep longer than an hour before doubt pricked me awake… ”  -Amanda Knox, Waiting to be Heard

To this day, Raffaele Sollecito has not corroborated Amanda Knox’s alibi in court.

False no-lawyer claim

Judge Heavey writes: “When a witness becomes a suspect, the police are obligated to appoint a lawyer”

Knox was not a suspect and the interview was merely a recap/summary session with someone who might have information as the defenses themselves agreed. Knox herself twice declined a lawyer before insisting on writing three statements out.

Prosecutor Mignini was interviewed by CNN ten days before Judge Heavey wrote his letter. In the interview, Mignini describes the questioning of Amanda:

“And thus her interrogation as a person informed of the facts was suspended by the police in compliance with Article 63 of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure [c.p.p. - Codice di Procedura Penale], because if evidence appears that incriminates the person, the person being questioned as a person informed of the facts can no longer be heard, and we must stop. “Everyone stop! There must be a defense attorney [present]”. And thus the police stopped and informed Amanda” -

Prosecutor Mignini, CNN interview, May 6 2011 (Ten days prior to Judge Heavey’s letter)

Thus, it was known on national television in the US what the sequence of events was. This did not stop Judge Heavey from writing an error-laden letter to congress.

False no-recording claim

Judge Heavey writes: “Article 141 of the CCP requires that every interrogation of a person in custody (for any reason) must be fully recorded by audio or audiovisual means”

However, Amanda Knox was not in custody during her questioning on Nov 5th & 6th. She was not a suspect, and this was not a suspect interview. She merely eagerly listed seven names. She was only at the station because Raffaele was called:

“It was Raffaele who the police called, not me, but I came with him to the Questura anyway while he was to be questioned for support, as he had done for me many times. ”

-Amanda Knox, Letter to Lawyers, 8 Nov 2007

False no-interpreter claim

Judge Heavey writes: “Amanda spoke little Italian, yet was not allowed to have an interpreter to assist her with understanding the questions put to her, the charges against her, or anything else.”

Two sources refute Judge Heavey’s point- official court records of the questioning, and Amanda Knox’s own statement on trial and in her book:

From Court documents

“…assisted by the English-speaking interpreter Anna Donnino” -Signed 1:45 AM statement.

“….assisted by the English-speaking interpreter Anna Donnino” -Signed 5:45 AM statement.

And from Amanda Knox:

November 2nd: “…they brought in an english-speaking detective for hours two through six.”  -Waiting to be Heard

November 4th: “AK: So, it seems to me that Laura and Filomena were there, but they had arrived with other people, while I was in the car with the police and an interpreter, that’s it.” -Trial Testimony

November 5th/6th: “The interpreter, a woman in her forties, arrived at about 12:30 A.M.” -Waiting to be heard

False vengeful prosecutor claim

Judge Heavey simply engages in a character assassination of Prosecutor Mignini:

“[...] Mignini was well known in Italy for a bizarre theory [...] under investigation for abuse of office [...] previously driven American journalist, Douglas Preston out of Italy[...]“

Judge Heavey, Dr. Waterbury, and FOA representative Thomas Wright conclude point five with:

”Consular officials knew Mr. Mignini was prosecuting Amanda Knox. They knew he had been charged with abusing his office. They knew of the bizarre theory that he pursued, from which the charges arose. They also knew he was under tremendous pressure to achieve some vindication to save face. Why did consular officials do nothing?”

The trumped-up charges against Prosecutor Mignini pursued by a rogue prosecutor ad rogue judge in Florence were overturned by the Florence appeal court and sacthingly roasted by the Supreme Court. Dr Mignini (now Deputy Attorney General for Umbria) was under no pressure at all. See this post here.

False satanic myth claim

Heavey and others raise the satanic ritual myth quoting Prosecutor Mignini as stating at the October preliminary hearing, “the crime was a sexual and sacrificial ritual in accordance with the rites of Halloween.”

The ONLY source for this quote is a defense lawyer for Sollecito who made it up. Judge Heavey then turns around and uses this metaphor himself:

“these and other statements should have shouted to consular officials that Amanda was a defendant in what had become a witch trial, being prosecuted by a delusional prosecutor. Why did consular officials do nothing?”

False US Embassy claim

Despite Heavey’s claims, US consular officials WERE monitoring the case, as revealed in FOI-released documents requested by journalist Andrea Vogt. She released these documents in a May 2013 post on her website.

This is clear: consular officials regularly visited Knox and tracked case developments. The following diplomats’ names appear on the cables: Ambassador Ronald Spogli, Deputy Chief   Elizabeth Dibble and Ambassador David Thorne, U.S. Embassy Rome.







The US Embassy cables that were released were dated: Nov, 07; Dec 08; Feb 09; May 09; Aug 09; Nov 09; Dec 09. No other documents were released.

Consular staff visited Amanda Knox on November 12 2007, and noted her lawyers had already visited with Knox.  The charges against Amanda Knox as stated by the US Embassy were:

  * Participation in Voluntary Manslaughter with aggravating circumstances of cruelty
  * Participation in sexual assault
  * Simulated robbery
  * Slander
  * Possession of weapons
  * Aggravated theft.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Prospects In Favor Of A Possible Fugitive Amanda Knox Take Yet Another Hit

Posted by Peter Quennell

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[Above and at bottom: Panama, where the fugitive Robert Lady was setting himself up to be untouchable]


The former CIA operative Robert Seldon Lady is on the lam from Italian law.

He is now a worldwide fugitive - with fewer governments stepping forward with offers for him than for the other famous fugitive Edward Snowden. We posted briefly on the case here and here and two weeks ago Barbie Nadeau posted a good update here.

Robert Lady was the leader of the team that kidnapped the supposed Egyptian radical Abu Omar in Milan in 2003. Then he escorted Abu Omar to Egypt and he was apparently present for some months while Abu Omar was tortured.

The Milan court put online in English this 210-page summary of the case against Robert Lady and another 18 Americans who were involved. Amazing reading. What absolute buffoons. In total 25 Americans and 9 Italians were accused, though not all were put on trial, and as Barbie Nadeau explains, all of the others received Italian leniency.

Robert Lady didnt, though, and after he was convicted in absentia in Milan he took off out of the United States for central America. The CIA might have continued to help him there, though there were signs that the State Department and Rome Embassy, who have many other important dealings with Italy, were pretty ticked.

One CIA operative even sued State for diplomatic immunity (none of them were granted it).

When it became known that Robert Lady was living in Panama (a country without an extradition treaty with Italy) and close to citizenship, Italy through Interpol issued a worldwide arrest warrant, and requested that Panama round him up.

A few days ago, Robert Lady sought to move to the next country, Costa Rica, and was briefly detained.

What happened next is very murky. But it seems that Robert Lady was headed for the US by air, with possible help from some arm of the federal government - and then he just suddenly disappeared.

Last week, the Panamanians picked him up. It was the real world equivalent of a magician’s trick. He was nowhere, then suddenly in custody and in the news, and then—poof again!—he wasn’t. Just 24 hours after the retired CIA official found himself under lock and key, he was flown out of Panama, evidently under the protection of Washington, and in mid-air, heading back to the United States, vanished a second time.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters on July 19th, “It’s my understanding that he is in fact either en route or back in the United States.” So there he was, possibly in mid-air heading for the homeland and, as far as we know, as far as reporting goes, nothing more. Consider it the CIA version of a miracle. Instead of landing, he just evaporated….

Having vanished in mid-air, he has managed so far not to reappear anywhere in the US press. What followed was no further news, editorial silence, and utter indifference to an act of protection that might otherwise have seemed to define illegality on an international level.

There was no talk in the media, in Congress, or anywhere else about the US handing over a convicted criminal to Italy, just about how the Russians must return a man [Snowden] Washington considers a criminal to justice.

Nevertheless, a thorn in the flesh of American-Italian relations has been disappeared, suggesting that the pro-friends-with-Italy State Department line is dominant. Having lost everything , the former US officlal Robert Lady is now a world-wide fugitive and further US help if any is likely to be very furtive.

Confessed druggie and convicted felon Amanda Knox, a private citizen, can hardly expect any more official deference.


Posted on 07/30/13 at 06:14 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Appeals 2009-2014Florence appealExtraditionsThe wider contextsAmerican contextAmanda Knox
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Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Amanda Knox Book: Could Her Book Legally Entangle These Four?

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters

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[Image above: Curt Knox, Ted Simon, Robert Barnett, and David Marriott]


It seems probably that in every legal system on Earth, enabling or encouraging or inciting a crime may itself be a crime.

Could Amanda Knox’s forthcoming book be considered a crime, or more precisely a series of crimes? We wait to see what it says, but for starters its mere existence flouts Italian law. From our 22 April post:

Italy’s justice system so favors DEFENDANTS that it is perhaps the most pro-defendant system in the world. In fact many Italians feel its leniency has gone way too far. That is why there are these automatic appeals and why Knox could talk freely in court and have no cross-examination of her claims.

At the same time, officers of the Italian justice system are sheltered by huge powers hardly even needing to be invoked. The reason the law is so strong in this dimension is in part because a favored mafia tactic is to do what Sollecito and Preston and Burleigh have done in their books: slime the officers of the court.

Get that? Knox can talk her head off in court (as she did for two full days and many “spontaneous” interventions at the trial and annulled appeal) but because of a torrid history of false allegations against Italian courts, especially by the mafia and accused politicians, Italian law forbids her to do so outside in ways that misrepresent the evidence and impugn any officers of the legal system, prosecutors and prison staff counted in.

Sollecito’s book published six months ago made four kinds of mistake: (1) publishing for blood money while still accused; (2) including many false claims which contradict his own case at trial and will almost certainly contradict claims Knox makes; (3) defaming numerous officers of the court in freely accusing them of crimes - falsely, as his own dad admits; and (4) maligning the entire Italian justice system, the most popular and trusted institution in Italy with heavy protections at its disposal when it wants.

The criminal investigation into Sollecito’s book is under the wing of the same chief prosecutor in Florence who will oversee the re-run of the murder appeal. His investigation target is expected to be broad, and will certainly include the shadow writer and publisher and Sollecito’s own legal help. At the max, because Sollecito has impugned anti-mafia prosecutors and judges, he might face close to ten years.

PLUS the mitigating circumstances Massei allowed which brought his sentence down by five years will likely be disallowed by the Florence appeal court, adding five more years if the new appeal concludes guilt.

It seems an open secret in Perugia that Knox’s lawyers there have long shrugged off the US campaign and acted locally as if it really isnt there. They may or may not have attempted to forestall the book, though by now they certainly know it will make things far worse for Knox.

Sollecito’s lawyers have even more reason to know this as they are already under the gun, and they are probably sitting back and watching the trainwreck with ever-growing glee. 

Going forward, the prosecution is in a very sound and dominating position.

The evidence is very, very strong.  The Massei Trial Report is still unscathed. The Galati Appeal and the late-March Supreme Court decision absolutely destroyed the Hellmann appeal, and heavily implied that it had been bent. And the prosecutor who has been so unfairly maligned in the US has zero legal problems of his own, after Cassation nailed a rogue prosecutor for pursuing him and put his Narducci investigation back on track, and he was promoted and is set to be the Region of Umbria’s number one prosecutor very soon.

In contrast even without the albatross of the book Knox’s position was very weak.

She has already served three years for criminally lying to protect herself, and that sentence is subject to no further appeal. (Talk of taking it to the European Court is a joke.) Nobody in Italy will trust her word after that. As the post below this one shows, dozens of witnesses will speak up against any false claims. Who will testify on her behalf?

Also Knox seems intent on skipping the appeal, which is itself a contempt of court. And Sollecito, who has said he will be present, showed strong tendencies in his book to sell her short. If her book and her ABC interview are not roundly chastized on Italian TV as Sollecito’s was late last year, it will be a surprise. And complaints are already on their way to Florence - a prison guard she impugns in the book who earlier she herself had said meant no harm is moving forward. 

Curt Knox, Ted Simon, Robert Barnett, and David Marriott may end up in the crosshairs of the anticipated investigation for enabling or encouraging or inciting the book. And if Knox is handed extra years because of their zero due diligence, she may have a malpractice case against Simon and Barnett.

We hope their fingers are crossed.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Powerpoints #16: Placing The Noisy Claimant Doug Preston In The Hot Seat

Posted by Kermit

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This is the first in a new Powerpoint series. Click here if you have Powerpoint or the Powerpoint Viewer program loaded. If not here is the Viewer download.

This curious incident instigated this series:

A week or two ago I received an unexpected email from Douglas Preston, co-author with Mario Spezi of The Monster of Florence (Spezi also wrote an Italian version that seems to conflict at points with the English version) and a heated champion of the attempt to free Amanda Knox, who is stlll accused pending Supreme Court appeal of the murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia on 1 November 2007.

Preston explained that he wanted to write a “piece” about the “Knox case” and that he would like to do a 10 question email interview with me.  I got the hunch that Preston and Spezi are going to be active over the next few months in the media as their cause is increasingly thrown in disarray. Along with, I presume, their possible movie based on the Monster of Florence book.

I was surprised that Preston said he would “quote you accurately, honestly, and in context, and represent your views respectfully and accurately”. 

Hmmm. We all have in our memory Preston accusing me (see his comment April 28 2011 at 6:57 pm) of “distortions, falsehoods, and crackpot opinion presented as settled fact. Kermit’s open letter contains many out and out lies”.

He also claimed, erroneously, that I hide behind a “screen of false IP addresses and various other hacker tricks” (what, has Preston tried to hack me?) and that I had “demonstrated a long history of falsehood and dishonesty” (I have?!).

Given that past experience, would you trust Preston? Silly me, I’m ready to give anyone another chance.

In return I proposed that the interview be two-way, and that we each proceed question by question on the issues that we wanted to clarify for us to publish in due course. I included a first question on seeming significant errors and mistruths in the “Afterword” or epilogue chapter of his and Spezi’s Monster of Florence book.

Very disappointingly, he didnt respond in kind. Nothing useful came back. He concluded “as for my (Preston’s) ‘objectivity,’ I am a point-of-view journalist in this case. People know where I stand and they know my bad history with Mignini. I don’t pretend to be objective”.

Should Preston really call himself a journalist or an opinion maker, or a lobbyist?  Why can’t people just respect the Italian legal process, which right now is not (and never was) firmly in the hands of Prosecutor Mignini, Preston’s perceived nemesis?

As we seem set to be subjected once again to seeing Preston and/or Spezi regularly sharing their rancid opinion of Prosecutor Mignini and Italians officials on the case with the public, I decided to get out in front, with this series pre-emptively checking their versions of the “truths”.

The Monster of Florence book is labeled (see above) a “True Story”, and while it does include historical facts related to the MoF murders in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s,  the two authors also personally intrude themselves into events.

This series should help the public to decide how seriously (if at all) they should accept Preston’s and Spezi’s opinions expressed in their media appearances where they interject themselves into Meredith Kercher’s murder case.

And to see if any of Preston’s self-described “point-of-view journalism” truths he shares with Spezi really stand up.

Please check back to TJMK every few days as we pose new questions to Preston and his co-author Spezi.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

An Extremely Significant Development For The Perugia Case In Italy-American Relations?

Posted by Peter Quennell

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As expected the Supreme Court of Cassation has upheld kidnapping convictions against 23 CIA operatives.

The landmark case dates to Feb. 17, 2003, when Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a radical Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar [image below}, walked out of his Milan apartment in broad daylight and vanished.

talian authorities used cellphone records made at the time and location of the abduction to determine that CIA officers snatched Abu Omar, drove him to nearby Aviano Air Base and flew him to Egypt. According to Italian court documents,

Abu Omar was beaten and subjected to electric shock in a Cairo prison. He was later freed.

The significant development for Meredith’s case is that the State Department had refused to organize diplomatic immunity with Italy for any of the 23. 

Now at least one of them, Sabrina De Sousa (image at top with her lawyer), is suing the State Department for not having stood by her in retroactively organizing that diplomatic immunity.

All 23 could now be the subject of requests for extradition to Italy to serve out their six-year sentences, and if the US Justice Department refuses to comply they could be the subjects of worldwide arrest warrants via Interpol.

That could mean the end of their operational usefulness in the CIA and conceivably prevent any of them ever traveling outside the US again in their lifetimes.

Why have the CIA and the State Department seriously parted company here? Well, their mandates are almost polar opposites.

The State Department and its Embassies and the very considerable American presence throughout the United Nations tries hard to get along with friendly nations, and Italy is probably one of its top half-dozen friends.

The CIA on the other hand is charged with using fair means and foul to fight back against terrorism worldwide, and sometimes its practices contravene the best interests of diplomacy and the local law.

Here the CIA is coming out the clear loser and State is sweetly sitting on its hands and not upsetting Italy in any way.

Cables released so far by the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act suggest that State and the Rome Embassy really didnt ever lift a finger to subvert Italian justice on behalf of Amanda Knox.

Here’s betting more of the same - no action by State - as the Cassation appeal comes alive. And no standing in the way of an extradition request for Knox if Cassation decides Judge Masssei got the trial right.




Sunday, June 12, 2011

FOA’s Michael Heavey Sends A Rather Confused Letter To President Obama Copied To Congress

Posted by Peter Quennell

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Elected Washington State county court judge Michael Heavey was recently reprimanded for sending a misleading letter on official letterhead.

Oddly, he seems to have done it again.  Click above to read the Open Letter from Michael Heavey to President Obama copied to members of Congress on what looks like official letterhead.

The Open Letter was dated 15 May but, unusually for an Open Letter, took some time to come to light. So far, we are seeing no official response. 

Perhaps not surprising. Any quick call to the Italy Desk of Secretary of State Clinton’s State Department will reveal that not one of the claims made is on solid ground and several very, very widely already shot down in flames.

In our usual helpful way, we too will shortly write an Open Letter to President Obama, with a copy to the State Department and the Congress (where a lot of people especially Italian-Americans already think the Knox campaign is a real crock) explaining precisely how each claim made by Mr Heavey is wrong.

For example in quick summary, the consular office found nothing out of order, zero interrogation of Knox as a suspect ever took place without a lawyer, Mr Mignini never came up with any bizarre theories not already out there and anyway Judge Micheli and Judge Massei settled on theories of their own, and Mr Mignini merely recommended to Doug Preston (who was foolishly attempting to mislead him) to go get a good lawyer who speaks Italian. Not to run squealing back to Maine. 

Previous posts on Mr Heavey’s many hapless and ineffective insertions of himself into the case can be read here.


Posted on 06/12/11 at 08:42 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Appeals 2009-2014ExtraditionsDiversion efforts byThe Knox-MellasesMichael HeaveyThe wider contextsItalian contextAmerican context
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Andrea Vogt Obtains New Rome Embassy Cables From State, Still Showing Zero Concern About Knox

Posted by True North

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The State Department released seven cables a year ago. Click above for details of the further release.

They were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. These now provide a complete overview. The new cables are as bland and routine and unconcerned about Amanda Knox as ever.

There was no smoking gun among them, as the Knox PR campaign had so very much hoped for. The State Department will never move on this case based on how Italy handled it.

Remarkably, the increasingly bitter loser “Bruce Fisher” actually draws attention to the Knox PR campaign’s big disappointing loss with these bland new cables showing Italy has handled the case just fine in the Embassy’s eyes.

The poster of the first seven cables, History Buff, had hoped they would show the Rome Embassy was really concerned about Amanda Knox’s trial and sentence. No such luck. He seems to have hidden those cables now.

We still have them here

Posted on 05/18/11 at 10:30 PM by True North. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedAmanda KnoxDiversion efforts byThe Knox-MellasesThe wider contextsAmerican context
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Monday, May 02, 2011

Could One Good Outcome Of This Sad Case Be That Italy Sees Less Foreign Student Druggies?

Posted by Peter Quennell

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[Above: the city of Florence north of Perugia where there have been several drug-driven murders]

Chicago’s Loyola University has just done a survey of American students to see if Amanda Knox’s experience in Italy could be offputting.

Quite a few respondents said that it could. Anti-Italianism does have some traction. 

But if you look closely at the poll, it didn’t ask all of the right questions. The availability and effect of drugs was not included as a factor that might attract students to Italy.

American student buzz had long been that if you want to seriously party in your study year in Europe, Italy was an easy and safe place for drugs, and Perugia especially so.

But then Amanda Knox was widely reported as admitting to drugs on the night that Meredith died. And there have been other recent high-profile murders in Italy, also involving Americans on drugs.

Take a look at this and this.

One direct result is that there has been some high-profile tightening up on drugs lately in Italian universities.

The message has been beamed at American students that you can now get into serious trouble if you mess with drugs - and you may get no sympathy at the American Embassy.

Precisely as the Italians intended, this could be turning a proportion of prospective students off.

Posted on 05/02/11 at 01:08 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextAmerican context
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done #2

Posted by Kermit

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Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom (#2)




[Above: Knox lawyer Luciano Ghirga stated on 21 October 2008: “Amanda wasn’t hit. There were pressures from the police, sure, but we never said she was hit.” Well into Amanda’s trial, and shortly after her stepfather’s arrival in Perugia, she unexpectedly stated in court that she had been hit by police during her questioning. Watch the whole video yes at the Perugian blogger’s site.]



From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Sfarzo (real name Sforza) was released pending a trial in May. He faces up to six years in prison if convicted. ‘The police can count on the complicity of judges,’ Sfarzo told CPJ”

Now I’m confused: I thought that it was Mignini who utilized and had the complicity of the national police in his nefarious actions against the Perugian blogger. Now it seems that the blogger (or CPJ) is saying that the national police manipulate the judiciary to advance some terrible agenda, with the complicity of judges. Please clarify, for the sake of sanity, is it Mignini or the national police who are the source of the harassment that the blogger suffers?



[Above: Now let me get this straight: Amanda Knox hearing and trial judges such as Paolo Micheli (left), Giancarlo Massei (centre), or Claudio Pratillo Hellman (right) are beholden to members of the national police? Where will the Evil Conspiracy stop?]


Although motive is not necessary to any crime, having one helps to understand a criminal action. This alleged harassment makes no sense. Mignini presented his investigation report three years ago.  A guilty conviction was obtained, and the defendants are now in appeals, with different judges and new legal processes.

The case has for some time been out of Mignini’s investigative hands and is following its natural progression through different courts, under the guidance of the corresponding judges.

In the case of the national police, they don’t have any particular relation with the blogger as regards the Meredith Kercher murder case. Quite another possibility is that he has some other legal problem. Have you asked the blogger if he has any other legal question open, under his real name?

One question: if the blogger had been abused by Mignini or the Italian national police between October 2008 and September 2010, why is it only now that noise is being made about it?

In order to check out the blogger’s emotional state in the time frame of the alleged police attack, I took a look at his blogspot page for posts and comments in that time period.

The blogger’s last post before the alleged attack was on 10 September 2010. This post generated 586 comments, mostly before, but also some following the supposed attack on 28 September 2010 including comments by the blogger himself.

His first post following the alleged police attack was just a couple of days later on 1 October 2010. He writes “The mini media circus around the Meredith Kercher case materialized again in Perugia, surprisingly, for a closed door hearing …. Luciano Ghirga described her as showing a shorter haircut and as being concerned …”

In the 361 comments which this post generated, including comments by the blogger, I didn’t detect any indication that he had been through a harrowing experience at the hands of police officers who in some yet-to-be-defined-manner are remotely controlled by the prosecutor Mignini.



[Above: Business as usual. It’s 1 October 2010, just 48 hours after the supposed brutal attack which required the blogger to receive medical attention in the hospital. Yet his recovery is swift, and his texts don’t reflect the suffering he has gone through.  (Image: Perugia Shock blog)]


From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Oggi editor Umberto Brindani also received two “notices of investigation” that year—dated July 24 and September 2—in relation to the magazine’s coverage of the Monster of Florence case, CPJ confirmed.”

If the CPJ was able to confirm a couple of notices of investigation against the well established national magazine Oggi, why didn’t the CPJ also try to confirm any of the alleged abuse against the vulnerable Perugian blogger who is the main point of the CPJ text? You indicate that you had direct contact with him.

For example, you could have asked the blogger to show you a copy of a complaint concerning the alleged attack by national policemen on 28 September 2010. Or the CPJ could have spoken with the hospital psychiatrist who supposedly examined the blogger following that alleged attack.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Preston, Spezi’s co-author who suffered harassment by Mignini himself in 2006—and eventually was forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment—told CPJ he was still afraid of going back. He has been unable to clarify his legal status in Italy. In the summer of 2008, Mignini told third parties that he would have Preston arrested if the writer returned, Preston writes in the Afterword to The Monster of Florence paperback edition, published in 2009.”

If Preston was “forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment” in February of 2006,  then why did Preston go to Italy with an NBC “Dateline” filming crew in October 2006, just months after leaving under an alleged “threat” by Mignini, and four months after his interview in The Atlantic where he called Mignini “a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge”.



[Above: Many people are led to believe that Preston hasn’t been to Italy since his hasty departure after meeting Mignini in early 2006. In fact, he has returned with Dateline NBC to tape a show on The Monster of Florence. (Photo credit: Original source. And an alternative link to same story.]

Barbie Nadeau, an excellent and recognized reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, wrote in a well researched article on Preston that he “also says that Mignini ordered him to leave Italy. Mignini says that he never asked Preston to leave the country, but instead suggested that Preston didn’t understand Italian and that he should get a lawyer.”

If you do further Googling, you will see that it appears that the only person who says that Preston can never go back to Italy (in spite of having gone back to Italy) seems to be Preston himself.

What Preston says he hasn’t been able to clarify, Mignini has repeated in a number of articles in the Italian and English-speaking press.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“We ask you to ensure that the politically motivated lawsuit against Perugia blogger Frank Sfarzo is immediately scrapped and that outside investigators are assigned to conduct an investigation into the September 28-29, 2010, abusive actions of Squadra Mobile officers against him.”

On what basis can you affirm that the alleged abuse suffered by the Perugian blogger is “politically motivated”? What link is there between the national police officers who allegedly committed said abuse and the prosecutor of the first trial against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito which ended almost a year prior to said abuse?

Who is this Perugian blogger, if he isn’t “Frank Sfarzo”?  Is he a journalist? Or in fact is he closely associated with “opinion-makers” for the Amanda Knox cause?

I have no interest in knowing the Perugian blogger’s real-life name, but I would hope that as part of its investigation, the CPJ would have ascertained whether the blogger’s real life persona may explain why the event of 28 September 2010 occurred (and what motivated the visit of the national police) better than linking it without any real proof to the prosecutor who so enraged Doug Preston (at least from the end of 2007 onwards, following Meredith Kercher’s murder and the intense media coverage of this sad event).

One of the most well known members of the Amanda Knox on-line lobby is an American, Jim Lovering. He appears on many websites where the case against Knox is discussed, sometimes posting in his own name and sometimes under the pseudonym “Charlie Wilkes” (a 19th century American naval explorer linked to Puget Sound).

It is telling that Lovering-Wilkes is cited as one of the two collaborators that the Perugian blogger works with on his site.



[Above: The Perugian blogger counts on Jim Lovering (also known on-line as “Charlie Wilkes”) as one of his two collaborators. Lovering is one of the most prominent figures in the “Friends of Amanda” pro-Knox activist group.]


If you do some basic Google research (“Jim Lovering” “Friends of Amanda”), you will find that Jim Lovering is the moderator of the “Friends of Amanda” website.

Here below is the Perugian blogger and Chris Mellas, presenting the Friends of Amanda website:



[Above: The Perugian blogger and Chris Mellas – Amanda Knox’s stepfather – presenting the Friends of Amanda website.]


Lovering/Wilkes has made himself famous in the pro and con discussion boards of this case for his anything-goes pro-Amanda stand.

This includes the manipulation with a Photoshop-type program of an image of a footprint of Rudy Gudy, found guilty together with Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of Meredith Kercher’s murder.

The manipulation adjusted the size of the Guede print taken in prison to the dimensions of a footprint made in blood found on the bathmat of the cottage where Meredith was brutally murdered (the matching of the footprints would support the “lone-wolf” theory of the Knox defence, that only Rudy was involved of the group of three young people found guilty, and therefore that Amanda should go free).

A simple gauging of the size of the print seems to show that when Lovering/Wilkes resized it, the print ended up much smaller than what it should be.

For further information consult this presentation with the satirical title: “Mr. Marriott, I Shrank the Black Kid”. Or review the on-line discussion of the issue by Googling: Rudy Guede “hobbit foot”.

Although the Friends of Amanda Knox group declares on its webpage that “We are not affiliated with her family”, some of its most prominent members are close friends to the Knox-Mellas family, as they themselves publish on Internet sites such as Facebook.



[Above: In this Facebook posting from September, poster “Charlie Wilkes” (Knox activist Jim Lovering) writes of his photo: “At the table are (Washington State Judge) Mike Heavey, Mark (Waterbury) and Michelle (Moore, wife of ex-FBI / ex-university security man / screenwriter Steve Moore). Chris (Mellas) is seated at the table in the background. I’m not sure who he is talking to. Christina Hagge and Edda (Mellas – Amanda’s mother) are standing on the right …. It was a very enjoyable gathering”. (Photo credit: Facebook – Perugiamurderfile.org)]


Judge Michael Heavey of the Superior Court of the State of Washington is a neighbour of the Knox-Mellases and has been involved with lobbying efforts for the family from early on (he now seems to not be a formal activist of FOA, although informally – as we see in this photo – he continues to support the cause).

In August of 2008, he wrote a letter to the Italian judicial council that regulates the activity of the country’s judiciary, decrying:

“….On June 16, 2008, Judge Giuliano Mignini, The Public Minister of Perugia, closed his investigation concerning the horrific murder of Meredith Kercher.

…. Since November 6, 2007, the conduct of the prosecutor, police and prison employees has been to supply false information to the press to inflame public opinion against Amanda Knox, Rafaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba.

…. the prosecutor’s office (Kermit: ie. Mignini’s), police and prison employees have made illegal and false statements to the press.

…. Amanda Knox’s lawyers have no knowledge of my request to the distinguished and honorable members of the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura.”


The English text and Italian original were published for a number of weeks in 2008 on Seattle celebrity lawyer Anne Bremner’s webpage. Bremner is another original member of the Friends of Amanda group.  Source: this webpage which has since been redesigned)
 

[Above: Heavey wrote a neither substantiated nor proven extra-judicial opinion of grave illegalities he ascribed to the investigators of the murder of Meredith Kercher, naming specifically the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini. His opinion was sent to Nicola Mancino, vice-president of the Italian Judicial Council, and four other persons, including Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Berlusconi.]


This unofficial, private lobbying done on Washington State Superior Court stationery didn’t go over well, as you can imagine, with the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which proceeded to charge Heavey:

“[Mr. Heavey is charged with] violating Canons 1, 2(A)and 2(B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct by writing letters on official court stationary to Nicola Mancino, Judge Claudia Matteini, and Giuliano Mignini (members of the Italian judicial system) on behalf of criminal defendant Amanda Knox; utilizing court staff to type those letters; and speaking publicly on several occasions about that same pending criminal case in an attempt to influence the proceeding.” (Source: Washington CJC)

The CJC’s investigation later concluded that Heavey had violated the judicial code by:

using his status as a judge to attempt to influence a criminal proceeding in another country, thereby exploiting his judicial office for the benefit of another.

…. Respondent agrees he will not retaliate against any person known or suspected to have cooperated with the Commission, or otherwise associated with this matter; that he will not repeat such conduct in the future; and that he will promptly read and familiarize himself with the Code of Judicial Conduct in its entirety.”(Source: Washington CJC)




[Above: In spite of his reprimand in 2010 from the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct for - amongst other things - “speaking publicly” about the Amanda Knox case, it seems that Judge Michael Heavey has found a way to make this sort of activity compatible with the sentence of the Commission, and he continues to appear on her behalf (on his own time?). Recently on 4 April 2011 he appeared at Seattle University with other speakers aligned with the Amanda Knox cause to present the case for her innocence.] (Source: Youtube video uploaded by West Seattle Herald)

 
What is curious is Heavey stating in his letter to the Italian authorities that he was doing this without the knowledge of Amanda Knox’s Italian lawyers.

She has two heavyweights as her main lawyers: Luciano Ghirga – a well–known and experienced Perugian lawyer – and Carlo Dalla Vedova – also experienced, and suggested by the American Embassy in Rome. In addition, there are all the experts in a number of areas that these two lawyers have introduced to the case as it has proceeded.

They will know what’s best for Amanda, and if she or her family have any questions about the legal strategy, then they should change the team. It’s inconceivable of persons close to her family taking extra-judicial measures to “help” her when those measures aren’t vetted first by her legal team beforehand in order to decide if it really does help or hinder the cause.

But that does seem to be the case here.

Between actions like Heavey’s and the not-stop media onslaught with programs such as the CBS 48 Hours series produced by Doug Longhini (starring Private Investigator Paul Ciolino who travelled to Perugia and tried to get a witness to the crime to open her door at night to talk to him – he has recently called that witness “crazy” from the safe distance of a Seattle auditorium) which questioned the correctness of the investigation, there was so much noise coming from America that Knox’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga actually had to go to prosecutor Mignini’s office and disassociate himself and Amanda’s defence from these opinion-making actions:

“There are people around the figure of Amanda who have no formal role in the student’s defence team, which is formed by myself together with my colleague Carlo Dalla Vedova. These people are not only not helping our client in the difficult judicial process in the Corte d’Assise in which we have to defend her, but on the contrary, they are harming her judicial position.”

(Source: La Nazione 3 February 2009- Alternate translation link here.)

Why in the world would anyone participate in an extrajudicial strategy of attacking a legal process, unapproved by the defendants own lawyers? The first answer that comes to my mind is that the party involved doesn’t have much faith in being successful in the legitimate legal process.

Paul Ciolino, the Private Eye who went to Perugia for Doug Longhini’s 48 Hours, recently participated in a seminar in Seattle University dedicated to Amanda Knox (co-speakers included Friends of Amanda founder Tom Wright, ex-FBI / ex-university security officer / screenwriter Steve Moore, and … State of Washington Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey).

Mr Ciolino, I believe, more or less sums up the extra-judicial strategy for dealing with Amanda’s predicament by stating:

“She’s not going to come out of there because the Italians are nice guys and they’re going to admit that they made a horrible mistake and that the prosecutor yes indeed he is crazy but ... she may come out, she’ll come out in a year or two, that’s my best guess, okay, but she’s going to come out because the State Department is going to get involved, it’s going to become political.”

(Source: At 1:48:23 in the Youtube video uploaded by the West Seattle Herald)

I’m not saying that the Perugian blogger is a member of the Friends of Amanda group (which in any case doesn’t seem to be a “card-carrying” type of association … it’s more a question of who wants to be publicly associated with it. Judge Heavey was “publicly” with the group until he decided to not be publicly associated with it.)

But it would be hard for the blogger to deny that he’s very, very, very close to this influence/lobby group, what with blog bed fellows such as his blog’s main collaborator Jim Lovering - the Friends of Amanda Knox website moderator - and what appears to be a personal relationship with members of the Knox-Mellas family.

I honestly believe that the Committee to Protect Journalists does fine and commendable work protecting journalists, who risk so much all around the world trying to do their work and keep people informed through a free press.


[Above: Truly threatened journalists around the world benefit from the support and awareness activities of CPJ. Bravo. (Photo credit: Committee to Protect Journalists)]

However, I encourage the CPJ to do further research concerning the news and blog personalities surrounding the Meredith Kercher murder case, and the alleged injustices they may have suffered.

Particularly worrisome for the preservation of balanced reporting by independent journalists is the hiring by the Knox family of the Gogerty Marriott public relations firm. This contract has been so successful that this PR firm uses their Amanda Knox campaign as a case study on their website.

At Gogerty Marriott we apply campaign strategies, disciplines and tactics to public affairs problems to help our clients achieve their goals …. We consider every project individually and assemble a team to suit the client’s specific needs. We then develop and implement a plan; usually integrating a range of tactics such as earned and paid media, community outreach, ally development, and government relations among other ways of reaching important audiences.”  (Source:  Gogerty Marriott website.)

It is ever so important for the CPJ to protect journalists around the world who are struggling in dangerous situations to maintain their independent voice and to promote free press.

However, a PR campaign which uses “earned and paid media” could perhaps, be analysed further before sending alarmist communications to high-profile international authorities and potentially wasting the scarce resources of your organisation.


 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“It is unacceptable that journalists, bloggers, and writers on both sides of the Atlantic should censor themselves by staying away from subjects of public interest such as the Meredith Kercher murder case and the Monster of Florence killings because of Prosecutor Mignini’s inability to tolerate the scrutiny that comes with public office.”

If you read the thousands or tens of thousands of articles and blogposts written on the Meredith Kercher murder case, you will quickly find that few persons censor themselves or hold back in their comments, starting off with the Perugia blogger.

Please do go to the blogger’s site. Compare it to this True Justice for Meredith Kercher site, which has a different, victim oriented focus, or to any other of the many sites, and newspaper articles which have been dedicated to this case.

Each one has its angle which it has freely developed. You’ll see that the only censoring carried out is the prudent censoring of unsubstantiated libelous claims which once in a while must be done to guarantee the ongoing unhindered success of the sites.

A study of the Perugian blogger’s posts and his own comments (in addition to the people who comment on his site) doesn’t lend credence to the belief that his voice has been somehow repressed or threatened.

Let me wind up with the words of Andrea Vogt, an objective, bilingual reporter who has been providing great coverage on the Meredith Kercher case, writing about both things positive and negative for Amanda Knox:

“In real life, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is not at all as he’s been portrayed in the mainstream American media. He’s been vilified as a conspiracy theorist out to get anyone who dares criticize him. I’ve done it (in print and in person) and he’s been professional and dignified, even when he heartily disagreed.”

(Source: the New York Post.)

You can not imagine the abuse received by that reporter (and other valiant journalists who dare have an open opinion on the Knox-Sollecito-Guede trials) from certain pro-Knox sectors of the online world. In a separate story, this same reporter provides us with insight concerning threats pervading the discussion of this case:

“Police are investigating complaints from a Seattle woman who says she was intimidated and threatened online because of comments she made about the Amanda Knox case.

The unredacted Seattle Police Department report, obtained by seattlepi.com, names a primary suspect and quotes the woman as saying that that the suspect ‘is engaging in tactics meant to intimidate,’ along with ‘the tacit consent’ of Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas.
…. Perugia Shock is hosted on a California server and financed by an American firm, according to the Perugia-based blogger who covers the case and operates the site under the alias ‘Frank Sfarzo.’

While fans say his blog poses alternative theories rarely discussed in the mainstream media, critics say his minimalist moderation results in an out-of-control comment section where posters “out” those who wish to remain anonymous, track their ISP addresses to reveal their physical locations, pose as people they are not—someone posted as Meredith Kercher, the victim, once—and make threatening posts about each other, as well as about the major players in the case, including Knox, her family, journalists, lawyers and prosecutors.

…. A similar address, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), which is cited in the police report, was also used to send two vulgar messages to a Newsweek reporter covering the case in Perugia. The message, sent from a Blackberry device, ended with the postscript, ‘You sound like you were abused as a child.’

…. (True Crime blogger Steve Huff) has been particularly surprised by the network newsmagazines’ ‘pro-active efforts’ to smear the prosecutor while painting Knox as ‘some innocent pixie college girl.’ ‘There’s some larger statement afoot in that about American views and our culture of looks over authenticity, in my opinion,’ Huff said. Huff said his opinion about guilt or innocence in the case is still flexible—he can see both sides and thinks the case could go either way, but the vicious online harassment—present from the onset but particularly intense just prior to the start of the trial—prompted him to dial back his participation.

‘It was so pervasive and distasteful to me that as a blogger and now as a journalist I’ve all but washed my hands of covering the case,’ Huff said.”

Read more on the Seattle PI website.

Now that surely is interesting. Maybe you should talk to longtime professionals like Steve Huff, and learn why the threatening environment of this case – specifically from the pro-Knox camp – made him decide not to continue covering it.

Contact independent, credentialed, widely read, knowledgeable, bilingual (English-Italian) journalists such as Andrea Vogt (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, New York Post and other publications) and Barbie Nadeau (Newsweek, The Daily Beast) who have been at most or all of the Amanda Knox trial sessions.

Read their work and you will see balance in the information provided, including both that which supports Amanda’s cause and that which is not favourable. Ask them about their take on the judicial and reporting scene in Perugia concerning this trial. Ask them about the threats or abuse they have received. Consider offering them protection if they request it (I have not contacted them on this, take it as a tip).

Beyond these two journalists in particular, you will be able to find more.

I think you will see that you will have to rectify your letter of last 19 April 2011, or at least comment that in the media circus surrounding this sad, sad case of a bright young English girl beloved by her family who was brutally murdered, there is more than meets the eye.

I will conclude by stating that:

  • In spite of collaborating on his website with Jim Lovering, one of the prominent leaders of the Friends of Amanda opinion-making lobby group, the Perugia blogger isn’t necessarily a member of that group, if the group actually has formal membership. I am in no position to state that (nor deny it). However, with Lovering/Wilkes by his side on his own blog, the Perugian blogger is very, very, very close to them.
  • nor is there evidence that the Perugia blogger is an element of the Gogerty Marriott pro-Knox PR campaign, a campaign which may use “tactics such as earned and paid media”.
  • However, in case that the Perugian blogger is an opinion-maker, or is simply caught up in an opinion-making framework, is he still to be protected by the CPJ? Can journalists – if the blogger claims to be a journalist – be lobbyists, or associated with lobbies and still benefit from the protection of the CPJ, if they actually are threatened? Would the CPJ protect FOA leader Jim Lovering / Charlie Wilkes who helps the Perugian blogger with his posts,  if Lovering/Wilkes claimed that Mignini had sent police to beat him up due to writings on the blogger’s Perugia Shock blog where Lovering/Wilkes is a collaborator?
  • of the examples you gave in the CPJ text concerning the supposed threats and abuse suffered by the Perugian blogger, the blogger’s own video of the event on 28 October 2008 seems to contradict your description of several national policemen approaching him and hitting him and pushing him (in front of Meredith Kercher’s family and preserved by the cameras of the press in the media scrum?). The example of national policemen looking over his notes in the press area at the back of the courtroom doesn’t seem to jive with the physical layout of the courtroom. The example of the Perugian blogger supposedly being beat up by policemen on 28 September 2010 may have happened (or it may have happened in another manner), but there is information lacking as to why these policemen showed up at the blogger’s door and which superior of theirs in the national police sent them. I see no link to Mr. Mignini there nor have you shown any. As far as motive is concerned, Mignini closed his investigation case file on the murder of Meredith Kercher three years ago. The case is out of his hands and now is at different levels of appeals in the courts. Why would he send a goon squad after the blogger?  (If anyone tells you that Mignini is an evil, satanic-obsessed, rogue prosecutor, then please tell them that they are mistaken, that role was assigned by a famous American writer years ago to an Italian policeman who the famous writer doesn’t talk about anymore.)
  • the insinuations that Mr. Mignini has some sort of private police force at his beck and call don’t fit in with the procedure-based workings of the relations between the Italian judiciary and the different police forces.

I would ask you that you reopen your investigation of this matter. I would exclude contact with persons who have a financial or any other interest in Mignini being painted in a specific light. And – as a good journalist – I would seek out “the other side” of this story.

I thank you for your time and attention. Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or if I may be of assistance as you become more familiarized with this case.

Very sincerely,

Kermit

A Main Poster on TJMK (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

Copied to:

His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic
Angelino Alfano, Ministro della Giustizia
José Manuel Barroso, Presidente della Commissione Europea
Herman Van Rompuy, Presidente del Consiglio Europeo
Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Alto Rappresentante dell’EU per gli
Affari Esteri e la Politica di Sicurezza
Viviane Reding, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per Giustizia, Diritti
Fondamentali e Cittadinanza
Neelie Kroes, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per la Digital Agenda
Jerzy Buzek, Presidente del Parlamento Europeo
Heidi Hautala, Presidenza del Sottocomitato sui Diritti Umani del Parlamento Europeo
Jean-Marie Cavada, Presidenza dell’Intergruppo per i Media del Parlamento Europeo
Thomas Hammarberg, Commissario del Consiglio d’Europa per i Diritti Umani
Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso l’EU
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Philip H. Gordon, U.S. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
John Kerry, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democratic Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Ambasciatore Italiano presso gli Stati Uniti
David Thorne, U.S. Ambassador to Italy



[Above: Joel Simon of the CPJ, left, with “Frank Sfarzo”, Chris Mellas, and Doug Preston]


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Remarks Mocking Japan Win Disapproval In The American Media

Posted by Peter Quennell

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Most Americans are eager global travelers (or would be if they could afford it) and large numbers live through choice in foreign countries.

But there are some for who certain foreign countries seem to give problems. Italy has been given a vey hard time over Meredith’s case, both by some journalists we previously thought reputable and by some anonymous commenters online.

Typically they depict an Italy that none of us here recognise, and as we periodically try to show through our videos, images and reports there is a reason why in the eyes of most of the rest of the world it is rightly seen as a gentle, cultured, beautiful country.

Japan is another country toward which a few media stars and a few online commenters have felt safe in presuming there’s an open season for unkind remarks. But not, it seems, any more.

Dozens of media sites are today reporting negatively on such remarks.  Best not to repost the unpleasant remarks right here. But click on the image above for some examples, and the reactions they are now engendering. 

The reader comments below that report are good. The decent broad middle steps in.

Posted on 03/16/11 at 12:23 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting on the caseMedia newsThe wider contextsAmerican context
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Strange Story Of Congressional Knox Supporter Apparently Becoming Over Aggressive

Posted by Peter Quennell

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[Above: Portland, largest city in Oregon, David Wu’s constituency; Mount Hood at back there]

A few months ago Oregon Congressman David Wu wrote a mean and inaccurate letter on Knox’s behalf

Now his own Congressional staffers are having to restrain him from becoming too over-the-top on other matters.

Their concern had been spiking for weeks in tandem with the Oregon Democrat’s increasingly unpredictable performance on the campaign trail and in private. He was loud and sometimes angry, some of them told The Oregonian. He said kooky things to staff and—more worrisome with a tough election fast approaching—around potential voters and donors.

Earlier and gentler efforts had failed, so the tight-knit group of high-level staff took other steps, including quiet inquiries about the availability of beds in hospitals in Portland and Washington, D.C., multiple sources familiar with the effort told The Oregonian.

Several staff members confronted Wu for the final time on Oct. 30. Wu’s psychiatrist was brought into that meeting as well, joining the group at the Portland campaign headquarters by speaker phone. The meeting was held after four consecutive days of troubling behavior that led the staff to agree that Wu needed a higher level of medical care, according to people intimately familiar with the events of that period.

“This is way beyond acceptable levels and the charade needs to end NOW,” wrote Lisa Grove, a senior and long-serving campaign pollster, in an e-mail to colleagues that day. “No enabling by any potential enablers, he needs help and you need to be protected. Nothing else matters right now. Nothing else.”

Wu, however, remained defiant, sources said. He left the meeting and said he was going to a movie.

Unfortunate case. What a surprise.

Posted on 03/08/11 at 11:24 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Diversion efforts byMore sockpuppetsThe wider contextsAmerican context
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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Thoughts On Meredith’s Tragic Case And Its Significance In The Bigger Scheme Of Things

Posted by Saskia van der Elst

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As one of the regular commentators on this forum once pointed out, the question we all are trying to answer regarding the pointless murder of the talented and beautiful Meredith Kercher in Perugia is: What is it, that keeps on drawing us to this case?

We all have our own reasons. According to me, a murder case seldom has so much in common with an old school murder mystery, or ¨whodunnit¨. A victim that you instantly sympathize with, several suspects, each with their own particular background, ethnic origin and possible motives, a tragic event taking place on the day of the Death, a charismatic prosecutor, who himself is the center of some controversy, and all of this set in the stunningly beautiful medieval hilltop town of Perugia, with its two universities, its relatively small population and its many temporary residents, studying and partying in the small town center.

All are ingredients for a captivating story: a small universe, that can easily be explained to an outsider and once you heard the beginning of the story, you crave more. More information, more depth, more color. For those that have a normal, healthy brain, there comes a point in any murder mystery where you are convinced of the guilt of one or more of the characters in the story and as you near the end of the story, there might be an unexpected twist, but you can rest assured that you will find out who did it.

Of course, in real life stories don´t follow formulas, most of the time they don´t have a definitive ending and in the case of the murder of Meredith, the book is not closed. The three perpetrators of the crime have been convicted to a total of 67 years in jail between the three of them, but all three maintain their innocence. We all know that three cannot keep a secret, so it is a matter of time until one of them reveals more about the exact events that took place on the 2nd of November in 2007.

Each of the three perpetrators will go through a process of maturing in prison. Once they feel they have paid a significant price for their crime, they may realize the graveness of they crime and realize that they made bad decisions in their past. Not until that moment, they can find redemption and may feel the need to let the world know that they have changed as a person. All three perpetrators were immature in their own way when they committed their crime, so it might take a while for them to mature enough to be able to face reality.

Rudy might be the first one to reach that point, since he is more or less an orphan, with no controlling relatives, friends and others with vested interests in the lies that have masked the truth. Nobody will lose face if he decides to confess his participation in the crime. The same thing, but to a lesser degree,  is true for Raffaele. Since he never even cared about clarifying all inconsistencies in his stories, he implicitly has already admitted his involvement. He too, doesn´t affect many people if he opens up and gets clean. The only close relatives he has are his father and sister and they have not publicly expressed a strong believe in his innocence.

Amanda is in a much more difficult position, because of the amount of people that was mobilized to defend her. By now she has been the income generator for quite some people and although nobody envies her parents, they have a clear mission, that keeps them occupied and that gives their lives meaning. The moment Amanda would confess her involvement, the parents would be forced to exchange the “free my innocent daughter” banner for one that reads “I raised a murderess that is serving two and a half decades in a foreign prison”.

On top of the above, the process of coming clean might be a slow one, because all three suffer from uncertainty about how the other two are doing. That uncertainty might cause postponing the advance, until they are forced to speak up, because one of the others did so first.

The result for those that are following the case is that we know we don´t have all information yet and for us to fill in all the blanks and be able to understand what exactly has happened to Meredith we need that information. Until we have it, we cannot accept the story as is as it leaves us unsatisfied. Of course we are talking about a true story here and not about a work of fiction, but for the rational part of our minds that doesn´t make a difference.

Posted on 03/05/11 at 09:33 AM by Saskia van der Elst. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

In The US Political Commutations Of Judicial Sentences Are Rarely Greeted With Public Approval

Posted by Peter Quennell

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The idea that PM Berlusconi could insert himself into Meredith’s case - or for that matter Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton - has frankly always seemed rather ludicrous. .

In Italy there is not even any clear route for politicians to meddle with the legal processes. The Italian judiciary is one of the world’s most independent, as many politicians (not least Mr Berlusconi) have found out to their cost.

In the United States the president and many state governors have the power to award prisoners clemency and to reduce or fully commute their sentences. Rarely is this very popular, and sometimes it turns into a third rail.

We now have a good example in California. Arnold Schwarznegger left office as governor of California late in January, already under something of a cloud for a lackluster performance while in office.

Just before departing he approved various commutations including a reduction by half of the sentence of the son of a political colleague who had already pleaded guilty to a knife murder and had been awarded a not-very-tough sentence.

Now the outraged family of the murdered boy are running both a legal campaign and a political campaign to have this commutation reversed, and those campaigns are both gathering wide public traction.

Mr Schwarznegger is seeing no obvious gain out of this, and his legacy could be permanently tarnished. Shades of Senator Cantwell? She also has gone very very quiet.

Posted on 03/02/11 at 10:03 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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