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Monday, September 24, 2012
Strong Trend: Increasingly The Good Lawyers Are On One Planet And The PR Shills Are On Another
Posted by Peter Quennell
This may surprise you. Jane Velez Mitchell is not herself a lawyer. In fact, she has only a possible journalism degree awarded by New York University.
She claims she was hooked after she “read his book until 2:30” and encountered him in some elevator - we have been puzzling over which elevator and when, for if it was an elevator in the Time Warner building in New York why was he not right there in the studio?
Of the three lawyers she had on the show, the two who did know the case (Wendy Murphy and the crime blogger Levi Page) came down very decisively against Sollecito. The third (Joey Jackson) knew nothing about the case, though even he thought the book was terribly timed.
In effect, Jane Velez Mitchell was carrying on like another PR shill. She really wasn’t any less amateurishly invested than Saul Kassin. Another non-lawyer - Saul Kassin is actually a psychologist.
Where ARE the lawyers for Knox-Sollecito?
All of them seem to have gone awol. Our main poster James Raper, himself a lawyer, sent out this invitation to speak up. In the five months since he posted that, not ONE lawyer has come forward.
Well, except for one strange burble from Anne Bremner, about RS and AK watching Amelie and that being their alibi - though the watching of Amelie took place three to four hours earlier. Even RS and AK didnt claim that.
Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon sounds rattled every time he talks, which he hasnt done since late in 2011. And poor lost Michael Heavey still can’t get to grips with the facts.
In contrast, we now have two of the foremost legal talking heads in the US - Wendy Murphy (a former prosecutor) and Nancy Grace (a former prosecutor) - saying the evidence is overwhelming.
In Italy the Sollecito lawyer Giulia Borngiorno, in face of the Galati appeal and possible legal trouble of her own over Aviello and judge-shopping, has become seriously silent. And Sollecito lawyer Luca Maori just had to distance himself from Sollecito, in conceding that Sollecito in his book had been lying.
Where are the PR shills for Knox-Sollecito?
Though they seem to have shadow-written much of the Sollecito book ostensibly shadow written by the real shadow writer, Andrew Gumbel, Curt Knox’s hatchet men have become so nasty and so distanced from the real facts that they now repel classy media company.
To her great credit, a week ago Katie Couric was repelled - and she showed it.
However there are still a few out there shilling for Knox and Sollecito. We would include in the active shill group Andrew Gumbel, Sollecito book agent Sharlene Martin, and maybe the publisher’s own promoters (if any).
Also Jane Velez Mitchel of course now. Saul Kassin (a flagship shill who may have gone silent). And the shrillest of all the shills, David Anderson, Bruce Fischer, Frank Sfarzo, Nina Burleigh, and Candace Dempsey.
They all seem to have big chips on their shoulders, and of course financial stakes. Maybe that is what it takes to be a shill here? Sort of the opposite of a degree in law?
[Below Two Sollecito shills: ghost writer Andrew Gumbel and literary agent Sharlene Martin]
Archived in Diversion efforts, Knox-Mellases, Sollecitos, Carpetbaggers, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, Poor reporting
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Giuseppe Castellini Speaks Up For A “Kind Homeless Man Of Many Aspects”
Posted by Jools
Today he writes movingly about the sad passing in prison of the honest and brave free spirit Antonio Curatolo, who had been charged during the appeal on a minor eight-year-old charge, apparently at someone’s insistence.
Our lives crossed on the path of the tragic murder of Meredith Kercher. And, somehow, we were no longer separated. Even though, rather than crossing paths, in time they’ve run parallel courses. Up to Friday, when death took him away, at the age of 56. And in his passing we (I speak in the plural because the same sentiment is felt by Francesca Bene, Luca Fiorucci and Antioco Fois, the colleagues who have been following the Meredith case and who met him), we feel deeply saddened.
Antonio Curatolo was no saint. But he had his candour, his naturalness, his humanity and his inner rectitude. Sometimes, I felt he was perhaps dissociated. The homeless romantic and anarchic that reads a lot and has a self-taught culture, living on the edge of society by choice, but who “struggles along” not always in a limpid way. A stray cat, clever and naïve at the same time. Tough and kind, profoundly honest, and at the same time illicit.
I remember when we were informed that a homeless man told someone (who then informed us) that he had seen on the night of the murder Amanda and Sollecito in the Piazza Grimana in Perugia, when as usual he was reading while sitting on a bench in the piazza. The story is well known: Amanda and Sollecito are at the edge of the basketball court, and Raffaele sometimes gets up and leans over the guard rail.
An important testimony, because they had said they were asleep at that time. I remember the contact, the meeting, making him repeat continuously until he was exhausted, what he had seen. Trying to make him contradict himself, to see if what he was saying was true.
A good relationship was born in those days. We spoke about other things apart from the Meredith case, things in general. We got to know each other, we talked about our lives, so many things. And, eventually, it was not very difficult to convince him to tell the investigators what he had told us.
Even though we had to insist (with him, but also with the other witnesses that we found) on surpassing that anti-State Italian mentality in which everyone goes about his business, and that if you rather trust the State you’ll end up in trouble. He testified, and since his testimony was very important (he was defined by the media, with a bit of exaggeration, the “super-witness”), he was “grilled” very thoroughly.
But he essentially repeated the same story. So much so that the defence teams of Amanda and Raffaele, in the end they stirred in the direction of Curatolo maybe having seen the two youngsters, but not on the night of the murder. His version fully convinced the GUP Judge Micheli (who pointed out that no one could dare question his story because of the mere fact that Antonio had chosen an unusual way of life) and also convinced the judges of the First Instance trial.
Not those judges of the appeal, though, according to whom all the witnesses - especially if found by journalists – were either mythomaniacs, or were prompted to exaggerate by the suppose desire at all costs for a journalistic scoop by reporters (showing, if I may say so myself, a strong cultural retardation of the judges and a very provincial point of view - far from the reality – toward the print press and, more generally, media).
Antonio, as mentioned, was not a saint. His relationship with drugs not only bears witness to his admission that he was a heroin addict, but also the legal troubles related to possession of drugs with intent to sell. An accumulation of small penalties that brought him under house arrest and in prison. Although he proclaimed his innocence. The last time I saw him, some months ago, was when I met him in the street and I accompanied him to the small flat he had rented in Corso Cavour. To complete the house arrest penalty, he told me.
But seeing him enter into that small apartment, after seeing him in the cardboard houses that he was building here and there, gave me the sad impression of a little bird entering a birdcage.
In short, I loved him, despite some aspects of his life. When I saw him we smiled. And they were smiles of men sincere with each other. I had affection for him. His sins, I’m sure, have been forgiven.
May the earth of the grave rest lightly on you, Antonio.
Archived in Public evidence, Other witnesses, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, The wider contexts, Perugia news, The fall-outs
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Sunday, February 19, 2012
HarperCollins: A Commendably Balanced Report By The UK Daily Telegraph’s Iain Hollingshead
Posted by Peter Quennell
Iain Hollingshead has written a fair and balanced piece in the Daily Telegraph. It contains quite a few notes of caution for HarperCollins:
1) Iain Hollingshead has this restrained Anne Bremner comment from her side though it fails to mention the million-dollar-plus PR campaign that has so many people addled on the real evidence; a pity Iain Hollingshead didnt press her.
“No one here has lost sight of the enormity of the fact that Meredith was killed,” says Anne Bremner, a Seattle-based lawyer and a spokeswoman for the Friends of Amanda Support Group. “But there’s widespread belief in Amanda’s innocence. And when something horrible happens, people all over the world are interested in how you get through it.”
Something horrible happened to Meredith too, of course - and she didn’t get through it. Anne Bremner might press Amanda Knox to make sure to answer in her book the several hundred open questions.
2) Then Iain Hollingshead quotes a London agent who is saying, like other agents and publishers, that HarperCollins sure seems to have taken on a risky publishing venture:
A positive balance sheet is far from guaranteed, however. “I think it’s very risky money,” says Ed Victor, the London-based literary agent whose clients range from Keith Richards to Alastair Campbell and Frederick Forsyth. “But all advances at that level are risky. A lot will depend on whom they hire as the collaborator. It has to be written well.”
3) Also Iain Hollingshead points out what many others have previously pointed out which is that that Knox is not really known for good prose or interesting writing:
HarperCollins hasn’t released the name of the ghostwriter, but one imagines they will have their work cut out. Not only is the book scheduled for publication early next year, they will also have to tread the fine line of polishing Knox’s prose without losing her voice. Although Knox is said to have harboured long-standing dreams of becoming a writer, extracts from her prison diaries – some of which were given to investigators in an attempt to clear her name and were later leaked to newspapers – suggest that she has a little way to go. One poem read: “Do you know me? Open your eyes and see that when it is said I am an angel, or I am a devil, or I am a lost girl, recognise that what is really lost is: the truth!”
By the way, Mr Burnham of HarperCollinws is widely quoted as saying that Amanda Knox’s side of it is the only one still to come out. He seems to think that her side of it is still a mystery, and that the world is holding its breath.
She seems to be one of the most widest quoted perps or suspected perps or non-perps in all history. In fact, she talked so much in the early days that her own lawyers had to publicly caution her to stop piling wrong explanations on wrong explanations.
There are her letters and her emails and her diaries and her notes to police and prosecutors. Plus long quotes from her in books by for example Rocco Girlanda. Plus her two full days on the witness stand. Plus half a dozen major statements to the trial court and appeal court. Plus a few hundred quotes from her family on her behalf. Plus her whole raft of alibis.
Often (when her parents and lawyers are not shushing her) she seems to be digging herself in deeper. Which elements of her story does Mr Burnham think we are all waiting for?
4) Also (although Iain Hollingshead fails to mention John Kercher’s book due in April and may not know about it) he points out that Meredith is the real victim in this case and a very sympathetic one especially in the UK.:
In the British market, Knox’s book will face far greater challenges than the quality of her ghosted prose. “I don’t think the book will be huge here because a lot of British sympathies are with the British victim,” says Victor.
5) Also Iain Hollingshead points out that when there is a sympathetic real victim there is little evidence that the perp or framed perp (dont they all claim they are framed?!) sells a lot of books:
The interest in the O J Simpson case, for example, did not lead to good sales for his book, If I Did It. And while many pundits are comparing Knox’s book to Jaycee Dugard’s A Stolen Life, the memoir of the Californian girl held against her will for 18 years which has sold more than a million copies since last July, Victor thinks the comparison unhelpful. “She was the victim of a crime, not the putative perpetrator of a crime,” he says. “And that’s a big difference. You could say she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice – but so are a lot of people.”
6) And Iain Hollingshead shows us that Andrew Gumbel, Sollecito’s ghost writer, is pretty uninformed on the case.
We will now be able to watch him having a tough time writing on the hard evidence and the fair Italian system and the real character of the druggie loner Sollecito. Assuming that Mr Gumbel hasn’t made up his mind:
“The book will be a lot of things: a love story, a harrowing description of an innocent young man in prison, a full-blooded Italian family drama, and a legal thriller,” says Gumbel. “But these are not the only reasons I got involved: what happened to Raffaele and Amanda was inexcusable and unconscionable and my intention is to get to the bottom of exactly why they were targeted.”
Gumbel denies he’s cashing in on a brutal murder. “I know that, in Raffaele’s case, no day has gone by without him thinking of Meredith and the hell her family has gone through,” he says. “We are not ‘cashing in’ on her death, but rather illuminating the way the Italian police and judiciary compounded the tragedy by throwing two young people into prison for no good reason. Their stories – both their stories – deserve to be heard and I believe it is important that they are.”
Cashing in on Meredith’s death? No, the thought never even occurred to us. Image of the accusatory and under-researched Mr Gumbel below. Keep on his tail Mr Hollingshead.
7) We would have liked Iain Hollingshead to touch on the risks of calunnia for HarperCollins, but to be fair to him it is doubtful he knows what in the very fair Italian system that defense for those unfairly attacked means.
Mr Burnham and Mr Gumbel seem to be setting themselves up nicely to find out.
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, Media news
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011
TJMK’s Review Of John Follain’s Very Meticulous Book On Meredith And Her Case “Death In Perugia”
Posted by James Raper
[Platform behind the train at the main railway station is where Meredith first set foot in Perugia]
“Death in Perugia” by John Follain is 433 pages long, about the same length as “Darkness Descending” There is a lengthy list of acknowledgements. The blurb on the cover reads “Uniquely based on four years of reporting and access to the case files, Death in Perugia takes readers on a riveting journey behind the scenes of the investigation, as John Follain shares the drama of the trials and appeal hearings he lived through.”
The final section (from Nov 2010) is devoted to Knox and Sollecito’s appeal (with mention of Guede’s final appeal) and is relatively short – just fifty pages, but it does succeed in redressing much of the misreporting of the evidence heard during the appeal, leaving the reader as bewildered as ever about the acquittal verdict.
Indeed the book ends quite suddenly, but appropriately, with the words of Judge Hellmann – “Maybe Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito also know what happened that night, because our acquittal verdict stems from the truth which was established in the trial. But the real truth can be different. They may be responsible, but there isn’t the evidence.”
This book amply contradicts the notion that there isn’t the evidence.
I have to say, though, that given that the court hearings contained many days, if not weeks, of testimony by, and cross-examination of, experts, particularly in relation to the DNA evidence, and that this was also covered at great length in the Massei Report, I was initially surprised that this was covered so little in the book.
It is not that he ignored it but there is no layman’s introduction to the subject of DNA, no explanation nor mention of PCRs, electropherograms, FRUs, polymerase chain reactions, peaks, drop ins and drop outs, stutters etc. The author steers clear of delving into a science which perhaps he, and no doubt most of us, do not really understand and are glad to be spared.
He concentrates more on character, events and outcomes, on what was said, written and reported. These include his own author interviews, including with Amanda’s parents and stepfather, prison officials and guards, the prison chaplain and prison inmates, and the Kercher family. He had access to the 10,000-page files of the prosecutor’s investigation, Amanda Knox’s taped meetings with her family in prison, her diaries, and a complete set of the verbatim transcripts of the first 11 month trial, much of which he attended including the appeal trial.
In particular Follain had a 6 hour interview with Sophie Purton and corresponded by e-mail with Amy Frost.
Follain states that his aim was to write an objective account, and in that he has succeeded.
Content is delivered in chronological order without editorial analysis. Topics - my own favourites being the staged burglary, the manipulation of the crime scene, and Amanda’s blood on the faucet in the small bathroom - are not given special treatment or explanation. To have done so could in any event give rise to a charge of advocacy. The reader is left to form his own judgement
Some people might argue as to whether it is a balanced account. Of course he has had to be selective with the material available and that is obviously a matter of choice in which some bias may arise.
For instance he gives some prominence to the relationship between Meredith and Amanda and to Amanda’s’s behaviour at the police station as seen through the eyes of Meredith’s English girlfriends, discussion between them afterwards as to Amanda’s’s behaviour including her behaviour during the trials, and their reactions to the acquittals.
None of the English girlfriends has any doubt as to Amanda’s involvement in the murder even if they cannot figure out motive and exactly what happened. Sophie Purton obviously found everything very stressful, including giving evidence when, she says, she almost fell to pieces. If the prominence given to these girls’ accounts and observations is a bias it should be remembered that they are witnesses in their own right and - given that Curt, Edda and Chris were constantly in front of TV cameras and giving interviews to the press asserting Amanda’s innocence, whilst the Kerchers were not – giving the girls a say is both illuminating and provides some balance retrospectively.
There are many interesting nuggets of information in the book. Just referring to a few of them hardly does justice. The following struck me.
Amanda appears to have admired Laura for her strong personality as well as her guitar playing, and days after arriving back at the cottage in late September after her short trip to Germany she copied Laura by having eight piercings done in one ear and three in the other, all in one go. The speed with which Amanda had copied Laura’s piercings surprised Meredith. “Amanda’s a bit obsessed with Laura. She got herself the same piercings Laura had, and they’ve only just met!” Meredith told her friend Sophie.
Meredith, who was already in residence when Amanda arrived, was quick to include Amanda in social activities with her English girlfriends, but despite this act of inclusion it appears that Amanda started to become resentful at not being the centre of attention and to accentuate her own difference would often insist on speaking in Italian to them or singing loudly and unexpectedly. Indeed a feeling gradually developed amongst the English girls, and with Filomena and Laura, that Amanda was, well, a bit weird. [Did Amanda end up blaming Meredith for this?]
As in prison, Knox kept a diary on arrival in Perugia. The pages for October had however been ripped out.
At the police station – ““Oh Amanda, I’m so sorry!” Sophie exclaimed as she instinctively put her arms around her and gave her a bear hug. Amanda didn’t hug Sophie back. Instead she stiffened, holding her arms down by her sides. Amanda said nothing. Surprised Sophie let go of her after a couple of seconds and stepped back. There was no trace of emotion on Amanda’s face. Raffaele walked up to Amanda, and took hold of her hand: the couple just stood there, ignoring Sophie, and gazing at each other.”
“Robyn was also shocked to see the way Amanda translated the word “minaccia” (threat) for Raffaele when Meredith’s friends talked about an English media report of a threat made before the murder [the bomb threat to Mrs Lana]. Robyn saw Amanda repeat the Italian word minaccia to Raffaele several times, her face up close to his. She would say the word, then kiss him, then repeat it, then kiss him again and then they both laughed.”
“Amanda was the first to have her fingerprints taken and came back complaining that her hands were dirty……….Amanda suddenly raised her eyes to the ceiling and shouted vehemently: “Those fucking bastards!” Sophie and Samantha stared at each other bewildered.”
It emerges that Amanda was being bugged by the police almost from the start. When she and Raffaele arrived together at the police station on the 5th November they were deliberately placed together in a room with a microphone in a cardboard box on top of a cupboard. However the microphone picked up only part of their conversation – they often dropped their voices and the noise from a nearby playground made it difficult to hear what was being said.
As to the taped prison conversations there is, disappointingly, no further context to the “I was there” business. Indeed it seems that Amanda and her parents were aware from early on that their conversations were being bugged. On several occasions Amanda raises her voice to repeat “ I am innocent, I am innocent” for the benefit of the hidden microphone, and Edda, on one occasion, is recorded as mockingly saying “Testing, testing, anyone there?”
Four pages are given to Comodi’s cross-examination of Conti and Vecchiotti, to surprisingly good effect I thought, although Comodi became exasperated with them on more than one occasion. For instance (C & V having agreed that Meredith’s profile was on the knife blade but, since the test could not be repeated, this was unreliable in their opinion) –
“Vecchiotti said she had no idea that Stefanoni had carried out the so-called negative tests intended to exclude the possibility of contamination. The tests had been filed with an earlier judge, and Judge Pratillo Hellmann later admitted them as evidence at the trial.
Nor did Vecchiotti know that Stefanoni had analysed the traces on the knife in her laboratory six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA.
“Are six days enough to guarantee that a test tube doesn’t come into contact with another test tube?” Comodi asked.
“They’re sufficient if that’s the way things went,” Vecchiotti replied stubbornly.
“You can’t cast doubt on everything the forensic police write!” Comodi fired back.”
And a final, rather depressing quote –
Mignini “felt the DNA review had very probably persuaded the court – assuming it needed persuading in the first place – to cast doubt over his entire case. [He] had looked into the chances of America ever extraditing Amanda to Italy if she was acquitted and then found guilty when the case went to the Supreme Court for a second appeal. Officials told him that yes, there was an extradition treaty between the two countries, but no, America would never send Amanda back.”
“Death in Perugia” is a significant addition to anyone’s overall knowledge of the case, and for this reason I urge anyone interested to buy and read it. But with the appeal court’s Motivation Report and the second appeal still pending, it is premature for it to lay claim to being the definitive account.
What it does do is leave the reader disturbed with aspects of the verdict.
Archived in Reporting on the case, Fine reporting
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Friday, October 14, 2011
John Kercher’s Book “Meredith” To Be Published By The Second Largest Publishing Group In The World
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Above: Giant publisher Hachette Livre’s headquarters is in the 15th Arrondissement of Paris to the right]
London-based publishers Hodder and Stoughton (image below) are an arm of the French publishing giant Hachette Livre.
Editorial director Fenella Bates bought world English rights from Ben Mason at Fox Mason. The book will be published in hardback in April 2012.
Billed as a “celebration of Meredith’s life”, the title is also a father’s story of losing his daughter, and will be the first account of the lives of the Kercher family since her murder four years ago.
Bates said: “Here at Hodder we feel this is an important story that needs to be told. We are privileged that John Kercher has entrusted us with his book, in which he’ll talk for the first time about the case and Meredith’s life.”
John Kercher has had a number of other books published. He completed two books about two two years ago as his literary tributes to Meredith, and his way of conveying her to the world.
We mentioned the other book early this year: The Strange Case of Miss Carla. That book is a collection of children’s tales John created which Meredith loved to hear in her teens.
Her family prefer that proceeds from “Meredith” go toward an Italian remembrance of Meredith which they have not yet defined. They chose this as their goal as Meredith really loved Italy and because Italy is still obviously fascinated with her.
Her case in Italy is always referred to as the Meredith case, not the Amanda Knox case, and her Mediterranean looks, her wide range of talents and accomplishments, her strong sense of purpose, her empathy for other people, and her sense of humor are much admired.
Below: images of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and of the London headquarters of Hodder and Stoughton in Euston Street.
Archived in Concerning Meredith, In memory, Her family, Officially involved, Victims family, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Another Prominent US Legal Commentator On The Evidence Points That Simply Won’t Go Away
Posted by Peter Quennell
Now a second prominent TV analyst joins CNN’s Nancy Grace.
Wendy Murphy is controversial, but then, aren’t they all? Like Nancy Grace she is a former prosecutor. This syndicated report is already being carried on 150 media websites.
The evidence still points to Amanda Knox
What’s more galling: Amanda Knox making out with her co-defendant boyfriend hours after Meredith Kercher was stabbed to death, or Amanda Knox crying tears of self-pleasure after being acquitted of murder despite overwhelming evidence of her guilt?
The most horrifying part of this story is the way it proves our collective stupidity. If a guilty criminal spends enough money on public relations, we can be convinced that up is down and a murderer is a national hero….
Here’s a small sample of what Amanda’s obKNOXious cheerleaders don’t want you to know:
Wendy Murphy then summarises four of the evidence points that wont go away. Pesky stuff. Mr Sollecito? Ms Knox?
It seems that lawyers are increasingly not taking kindly to the usurping of the law by P-R.
Added Wednesday afternoon. Wendy Murphy’s article was the subject of a concerted attacked with the usual faux facts on many websites. She came back fighting with this long comment.
Please refrain from posting false information. There is ABUNDANT evidence against Knox and Sollecito.
Guede’s involvement in the murder cannot be questioned. Nor is it in doubt that there were multiple offenders. Guede’s race is irrelevant. That Amanda Knox falsely accused an innocent black man is highly relevant and speaks to her consciounsness of guilt, and her character, as much as her racism. One news report revealed that she once photographed herself in a white supremecist context (claiming it was a joke).
She claimed to make the initial false accusation against an innocent black man (Patrick Lumumba) under stress from police questioning, but when given a chance to clarify her accusation at a later date, she reaffirmed her false claim against him. The man sat in prison for two weeks because of Amanda’s false accusation. She was convicted of lying about police treating her unfairly. One of her lawyers at the first trial told the New York Times her trial was fair.
ONLY THE BRA CLASP WAS ALLEGEDLY ‘CONTAMINATED’ - NOT THE KNIFE
The defense argued that the DNA on a metal bra clasp, which had been severed from the victim’s bra, could have been contaminated when it was moved on the floor, six weeks after the murder, or in the forensic laboratory in Rome. The judge at the trial of Rudy Guede acknowledged that the DNA sample on the clasp was considered small, but described the claim of contamination at the laboratory as making ‘no sense’, since there was no material from which such contamination could have come, and so ‘the risk would have been the LOSS of traces found there, not the risk of somehow discovering new traces’.
The defense has said the knife found at Sollecito’s apartment doesn’t match Kercher’s wounds or an imprint of a knife left on a bedsheet at Kercher’s apartment. They have also said the DNA sample is too small to be conclusive. They also raised speculation that the DNA found on the bra clasp could have been contaminated.
THE DNA EVIDENCE WAS ONLY A SMALL PIECE OF THE MOUNTAIN OF EVIDENCE AGAINST AMANDA KNOX
‘Why do you need to review the forensic evidence when this conviction is based on much more than the knife and the bra clasp?’ Prosecutor Manuela Comodi argued before the court began deliberating.
She then reminded the court that Knox and Sollecito don’t have an alibi for the night of the killing, adding that there was ‘ample’ evidence of a staged break-in.
Kercher’s body was found with her throat cut on November 2, 2007, in the house she shared with Knox in the central Italian city. A knife with a 6-inch blade was later found at Sollecito’s house, bearing traces of Kercher’s DNA on the blade and Knox’s on the handle. The defence teams of both Knox and Sollecito, who pleaded innocent at the weekend, have cast doubt on the DNA findings, saying the samples were too small to prove their provenance. THEY DID NOT CLAIM THE SAMPLES ON THE KNIVES WERE CONTAMINATED. THE DEFENSE ONLY CLAIMED THAT KERCHER’S DNA ON THE BLADE WAS TOO SMALL TO BE A MATCH - BUT EVEN IF YOU BELIEVE THAT - IT IS SIGNIFICANT THAT KERCHER OULD NOT BE RULED OUT!
Guede says he was in the bathroom of the house when he heard Knox and Kercher argue about money [Meredith had several hundred dollars in her room - that went missing - which was likely the motive that sparked the fight] before Kercher screamed and he found her in a pool of blood
FROM THE DAILY BEAST
Forensic scientist Patrizia Stefanoni, who testified as a prosecution witness last spring, wrote too low in English on initial results, assumed to mean that the samples of Kerchers DNA on the alleged murder weapon were only partial strands that needed amplification. [THERE WAS NO DISPUTE THAT AMANDA KNOX’S DNA ON THE HANDLE WAS A LARGE ENOUGH SAMPLE SIZE TO BE MATCHED TO AMANDA KNOX. NOR WAS THERE A DISPUTE THAT THE BLADE HAD BEEN SCRUBBED CLEAN WITH BLEACH AND AN ABRASIVE SUBSTANCE]. Writing too low suggests the expert was copying a reading directly from the machine, while she was continuing to test the sample. The implication, according to the defense, is that Stefanoni then had to amplify the tiny sample found on the blade beyond the protocol to find a match to Kerchers DNA. AMPLIFICATION IS NOT FORENSICALLY INAPPROPRIATE AND IS DONE ALL THE TIME.
Knox and Sollecito were interviewed several times by the police on the day the murder was discovered and the following two days. On 5 November 2007, Knox voluntarily accompanied Sollecito to the police station where he gave a statement, in the course of which he said that he DID NOT KNOW FOR SURE that Knox was with him on the night of the murder. The police then decided to question Knox and began the interview at 23.00 that evening. Knox was interviewed twice during the night of 56 November, firstly by the judicial police and then, later, in the presence of a prosecutor. During these interviews, Knox made statements implicating Patrick Lumumba, the owner of a bar-restaurant named Le Chic, at which she occasionally worked. She said that she had accompanied Lumumba to Kercher’s house and had been in the kitchen and heard screams while Lumumba committed the murder.
Knox was formally arrested later on the morning of 6 November. Some time afterwards she made a written note to the police, explaining that she was confused when she made the earlier statements [IMPLICATING HERSELF], saying ‘I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion’. However, she still seemed to incriminate Lumumba, saying: ‘I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrick [Lumumba], but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house.’ She went on to say ‘I see Patrick as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don’t remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night.’
Lumumba was arrested on 6 November 2007 as a result of Knox’s statements. He was detained for two weeks until the arrest of Guede. Initially doubts about his alibi were reported in the press, but ultimately he was completely exonerated.
Knox’s DNA was found on two of the knives kept in Sollecito’s kitchen drawer for cooking, and a small amount of Kercher’s DNA was found on one of the two. At trial, the defence countered that Knox’s DNA would normally be on the knife because she used knives for cooking at Sollecito’s apartment. The defence also challenged the Kercher DNA sample as being too small to be reliable. Knox and Sollecito’s defence teams also asserted that this knife was not the lethal weapon because it did not match two of the three wounds and tested negative for blood. However, a forensic evidence expert for the prosecution testified that it was compatible with one of the wounds on Kercher’s neck, but that two other wounds might have been inflicted by a different weapon;
Mixed samples of Knox’s DNA and Kercher’s blood were found in the apartment, including in the bathroom sink and in Filomena Romanelli’s room. The defence argued that Knox’s DNA should be expected to be present there in the ordinary course of her use of the apartment and bathroom as a resident of the cottage - BUT KNOX HERSELF MADE STATEMENTS TO POLICE CONCEDING THERE WAS NO REASON FOR HER DNA TO BE MIXED WITH THE VICTIM’S BLOOD IN SO MANY LOCATIONS IN THE APARTMENT. KNOX HAD LIVED THERE FOR ONLY A FEW SHORT WEEKS BEFORE THE MURDER.
AN IMPORTANT PIECE FROM THE SEATTLE TIMES ABOUT PRO-KNOX POLITICAL INFLUENCE/POSSIBLE CORRUPTION
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Excellent Sunday Times Report On The Many Killer Questions The Second Appeal Next Year Might Answer
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Rome: St Peter’s and Vatican in foreground; Supreme Court large white building in right background by River Tiber]
It really ain’t over until it’s over, and knowing the hyper-cautious Italian justice system, maybe not even then.
Now the drama moves to Rome.
Before any verdict and sentence in the case can become final, under Italian law and the constitution the verdict and sentence must be endorsed by the Supreme Court of Cassation.
If either the prosecution or defenses demand that issues be looked at by Cassation (as we know, the prosecution will) Cassation will do so, and it may punt the case back down to the first appeal court to re-examine questions or even run a complete re-trial at first appeal level.
At Cassation level the prosecution is likely to have at least five advantages.
- 1) A confusing Hellman sentence report seems likely which won’t be able to dispose of the Massei and Micheli reports because the Hellman court did not re-examine all issues
2) Cassation’s ruling on the final appeal of Rudy Guede which points to three perps, and Cassation’s general tendency to side with trial courts against first-appeal courts.
3) The likelihood that only the prosecution will file issues for consideration by Cassation and not the defenses and so the prosecution will dominate all proceedings.
4) Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and entourages seem unlikely to be there in person for the Cassation hearings or a retrial, and emotive factors would be less in play.
5) The Italian media and Italian public opinion and increasingly UK and US opinion seem to be taking the position that the Hellman appeal decision was unsatisfactory.
Two days ago, the Sunday Times ran this fine analysis below by their reporter on the case, John Follain, of the open issues that will be facing Cassation and possibly again facing the lower appeal court.
With a dozen books out John Follain has by far the largest and most impressive book publishing record of any reporter on the case.
Publishers Hodder and Stoughton have announced that his book Death in Perugia: The Definitive Account of the Meredith Kercher Case will be released first in the UK later this month - on 25 October.
KILLER QUESTIONS; The acquittal last week of Amanda Knox only deepens the confusion surrounding the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher. John Follain, who has investigated the case for four years, unpicks the evidence How could one man pin Meredith down and inflict those injuries?
By John Follain in Perugia.
They may have been coached to hide their true feelings, but the expressions of the judges and jurors were an open book. Surprise and shock registered on the faces of the appeal tribunal in Perugia as they watched a video taken by the forensic police who searched the whitewashed cottage where Meredith Kercher was murdered.
That summer’s day in the medieval, vaulted Hall of Frescoes was the pivotal scene of the 10-month appeal trial of Amanda Knox, 24, and Raffaele Sollecito, 26 — the moment that freedom suddenly became possible, if not probable, for the former lovers.
The rotund, bespectacled Stefano Conti, one of two specialists in forensic medicine appointed by the court to review two crucial traces of DNA evidence, gave a sardonic running commentary on the behaviour of the Roman scientific squad searching for clues in the cottage. They failed to use clean protective gloves to handle each item of evidence or biological sample, Conti pointed out. They passed Meredith’s bra clasp to one another before placing it back on the floor where they had found it. The officer who picked up her bra wore no gloves at all.
As the senior appeal judge, Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, recalled last week after acquitting Knox and Sollecito of sexually abusing and murdering Meredith, the DNA review was “the most difficult moment” of the trial.
“The prosecutors understood that their case was at risk, and it was at that moment that the trial became a battle with no holds barred,” he said.
The courtroom fight over this international cause célèbre ended with a sobbing Knox being rushed out by guards and flown home to a heroine’s welcome in Seattle.
But, far from resolving the mystery of how and why Meredith died, the acquittal has fuelled the unanswered questions over her fate. Are we “back to square one”, as Meredith’s brother Lyle said after the verdict? What are the mysteries still to be resolved? And will we ever know what truly happened? MEREDITH, a 21-year-old language student from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found lying virtually naked, her throat cut, in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox and two other young women on the afternoon of November 2, 2007. “Case closed,” an overoptimistic police chief proclaimed just four days later.
The investigators thought Knox had handed them the keys to the mystery. Under questioning she placed herself at the crime scene on the night before the body was found. She had been in the kitchen, with her hands over her ears, she said, while Patrick Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner for whom she worked as a waitress, killed Meredith.
Police promptly arrested Lumumba, Knox and her boyfriend. But Knox later went back on her testimony, insisting she had been with Sollecito at his flat all night.
Investigators were forced to release Lumumba after witnesses testified he had been working at his bar on the night of the murder. Knox and Sollecito stayed behind bars.
Forensic evidence then prompted the arrest of another African immigrant, Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter. Part of his palm print was on a cushion under Meredith’s body, his DNA was in her body where he had apparently groped her sexually, and his DNA was mixed with hers in drops of blood inside her shoulder bag.
The prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, accused Guede, Knox and Sollecito of killing Meredith when she resisted their attempts to force her into a sex game.
Certainly, there appeared to be compelling evidence that Knox was lying. She had tried to frame Lumumba. The defence now claimed that an intruder had broken into the cottage and attacked Meredith; but the break-in had clearly been staged. Amateurishly, a room had been ransacked before the window into it was smashed — the glass lay over the strewn clothes instead of under them. Was this to cover Knox’s tracks? There were mixed traces of Knox’s and Meredith’s blood in the bathroom and another room. Bloody footprints had been left by Knox and Sollecito in the bathroom and in the corridor. Knox had behaved bizarrely at the police station after the murder, kissing and caressing Sollecito and doing yoga exercises. Sollecito had said he spent much of the murder night on his computer, but this was disproved by experts.
Still, this was all circumstantial evidence rather than proof. The Rome forensic police came to the rescue of the prosecution team. They reported that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of a kitchen knife found at Sollecito’s flat — and Knox’s was on the handle. This was believed to be one of the murder weapons.
Forensic pathologists said Meredith’s wounds had been caused by two knives, pointing to more than one killer. The team from Rome also reported that Sollecito’s DNA was on Meredith’s bra clasp. (Only much later would it emerge that the police had retrieved this from the bedroom floor a full 46 days after first spotting it.) The case rapidly became a sensation. The prime suspect was an intelligent and alluringly pretty American, only 20 at the time, who, reporters joyously discovered, had been nicknamed “Foxy Knoxy” back home in Seattle. That this was for her skills on the soccer pitch was lost in the rush to find out more.
Dozens of witnesses and expert consultants passed through Perugia’s Hall of Frescoes during the first trial, which lasted for much of 2009.
Knox was portrayed by the lawyer for the bar owner, Lumumba, as an unscrupulous and manipulative she-devil, and by her defence team as “a wholesome girl” wrongly accused.
The prosecution case was that Kercher, a hard-working young woman from a modest background, had become exasperated by Knox’s slovenly and promiscuous behaviour as a housemate.
She had remarked to her father that “Amanda arrived only a week ago and she already has a boyfriend”. She told friends that Knox left a vibrator and condoms in the bathroom and brought “strange men” to the cottage. Investigators leaked Knox’s diary, in which she had listed seven sexual partners, three of whom she had slept with after her arrival in Italy, including a man she had met on the train on her way to Perugia. On Facebook she had put down as her interests: “Men.” Unable to prove exactly what had happened on the night of the murder, Mignini offered a plausible scenario based on Meredith’s 43 knife wounds and bruises.
He suggested that an argument between Meredith and Knox escalated when Guede and Sollecito joined the American “under the influence of drugs and maybe of alcohol” in trying to force Kercher into a heavy sex game that ended in murder. The sensational 11-month trial ended in guilty verdicts and jail sentences of 26 years for Knox and 25 years for Sollecito.
Some months later, in August 2010, I met Knox briefly in Capanne women’s prison, which is a short drive from Perugia. She had cut her hair and looked younger and more frail than during her trial. She wore a red Beatles sweatshirt, black leggings and silver nail varnish.
When I arrived, she was pushing a trolley down a corridor.
A guard explained that her job was to collect orders from other prisoners for small goods they could buy: newspapers, cigarettes, coffee, magazines and — at that time of year — strawberries. We were allowed to talk for only a few moments, but a guard told me: “She’s pretty well. Amanda’s confident that the future will bring freedom for her. She doesn’t break down in tears. It’s nothing like the night of tears after the verdict, when we had to comfort her.”
I was told she had been reading — in Italian — the 427-page summary by the two judges at her trial, who had dissected the inconsistencies in her evidence.
This summary included the judges’ own reconstruction of what might have happened on the night of the murder, based on the evidence that had been put before them.
They suggested that Knox, Sollecito and Guede had arrived at the cottage at about 11pm. Knox and her boyfriend had gone to her bedroom to have sex, and, excited by a situation “heavy with sexual stimulus”, Guede had walked into Kercher’s room wanting to have sex with her.
Kercher rejected him — she was tired, and had a new boyfriend anyway — but Knox and Sollecito intervened to assist him. According to the judges, they were probably drugged on hashish and seeking “erotic sexual violence”. Forcing Kercher to yield to Guede was a “special thrill that had to be tried out”.
They suggested Sollecito cut Meredith’s bra with a small knife he always carried — collecting knives was a hobby. As Guede sexually assaulted Kercher with his fingers, Sollecito stabbed her in the neck. Kercher screamed — a neighbour heard her — and Knox stabbed her in the throat with a kitchen knife, the judges argued. She took several minutes to die as she inhaled her own blood.
THAT was the lurid and damning case that Knox had to fight when she returned to the Hall of Frescoes last November for her appeal.
Her demeanour had changed. Gone was smiling and self-confident “Foxy”, whose manner may have helped secure her conviction. After three years in prison, Knox was much more demure.
The appeal hearing began auspiciously for her when the deputy judge remarked: “The only certain and undisputed fact is the death of Meredith Kercher.”
The comment prompted prosecutors to complain that the court had already made up its mind, but it was a portent of what was about to be revealed.
The appeal court’s decision to grant a defence request for an independent review of two items of DNA evidence — the kitchen knife and the bra clasp — proved devastating for the prosecution’s case.
The two experts — Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, from La Sapienza University in Rome — said the DNA trace on the knife blade could not be attributed to Meredith because it was too slight. They said Sollecito’s Y chromosome was on the bra clasp, but it could have been the result of contamination by police mishandling of the evidence. From then on, the prosecutors fought a losing battle to discredit Conti and Vecchiotti.
Outside the courtroom the Knox camp’s media offensive exploited the experts’ conclusions.
Knox’s family — her mother, father, stepfather and friends — had come well primed for battle. Homes had been remortgaged and funds raised.
With the help of a PR company in Seattle, they dominated prime-time shows on the leading American TV networks, dramatically influencing public opinion there — so much so that the prosecutor Mignini thundered in court that he had never seen a convict hire a PR firm to prove her innocence.
Mignini himself was a key target. In what appeared to have been a turf battle with prosecutors in Florence, he had been given a suspended 16-month prison sentence for abuse of office after tapping the phones of police officers and journalists in a separate investigation into a serial killer. It was a reflection of the fragmented and politicised condition of the Italian justice system.
The prosecutors tried but failed to switch the focus away from the forensic evidence by introducing Guede, the third party to the murder. He had been prosecuted separately because he had opted for a “fast track” trial that offers a lighter sentence as an incentive. Jailed for 16 years for murder, he had appealed to the Supreme Court in Rome — Italy’s highest court — which confirmed his conviction, ruling that Guede had sexually abused and murdered Kercher with “unidentified accomplices”.
This was an insight into the mystifying processes of Italian law. How could justice be served by trying Guede separately? Why had he not been brought to give evidence at the first Knox trial? Why were his accomplices “unidentified” when Knox and Sollecito had been convicted of joining him in the murder? The answers lay in the fact that his supreme court appeal started just after Knox’s appeal began in Perugia — and the two cases overlapped, a bizarre way of seeking out the truth.
Once Guede’s Supreme Court appeal had been dismissed he was summoned to the witness box in Perugia, where his contribution was damning yet so limited that it did not sway the judges and jury.
Rather than taking him through the events of the killing, Mignini read out a letter in which Guede had written of “the horrible murder of a ... wonderful girl by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox”. Challenged by one of Knox’s lawyers, Guede stood by the letter, saying: “It’s not as if there is my truth, and the truth of Tom, Dick and Harry. What there is is the truth of what I lived through that night, full stop.”
A lawyer for the Kerchers detailed the injuries Meredith suffered, arguing it would have been impossible for Guede to hold her down, sexually assault her, try to suffocate her, try to strangle her and wound her with more than one knife.
But it was too late. The appeal panel of judges and jurors had made up their minds. A juror confided after the “not guilty” verdicts had been delivered that the court had decided to acquit because of doubts over the forensic evidence, and because it saw no motive for the murder.
Pratillo Hellman explained: “To convict, the penal code says you have to be persuaded beyond every reasonable doubt. The smallest doubt is enough to not condemn.”
But he added enigmatically: “Maybe Knox and Sollecito know what happened that night, because our acquittal verdict stems from the truth which was established in the trial. But the real truth can be different. They may be responsible, but there isn’t the evidence… So, perhaps they too know what happened that night, but that’s not our conclusion.”
The judge’s comments earned him a new nickname, which investigators texted to each other delightedly: “Pontius Pratillo”, after Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands of responsibility for the execution of Jesus Christ.
The prosecution scored one potentially significant victory. The court found Knox guilty of slandering the former bar owner Lumumba by initially claiming he had killed Kercher. It sentenced her to three years in prison, but released her as she had spent almost four years behind bars.
“That’s absurd, absurd,” Mignini fumed. “Knox accused Lumumba to throw the police off her tracks. Why else would she accuse him?” IN PERUGIA, at least, the prosecution can count on overwhelming backing. After the verdict, a crowd several thousand strong massed outside the courts, amid jeers at defence lawyers and chants of “Assassini, assassini!” (murderers, murderers) and “Vergogna, vergogna!” (shame, shame). In bars across the picturesque city, and on the main cobbled street, Corso Vannucci, many dissected the case for days afterwards — the consensus was that Knox and Sollecito were at the cottage when Meredith died, but no one agreed on what role they played.
For the Kercher family no outcome could have been more bewildering. As Knox flew home, Meredith’s mother Arline, her brother Lyle and her sister Stephanie spoke to me.
“It almost raises more questions than there are answers now,” Lyle said, “because the initial decision was that [the murder] wasn’t done by one person but by more than that. Two have been released, one remains in jail, so we’re now left questioning: who are these other people or person?” Did they believe that Knox and Sollecito were guilty? “In a way we have to believe what the police say because they are the ones compiling the evidence,” Arline replied. “We haven’t a clue. I think that’s what he was saying. It’s the police — it’s their job.”
“It’s difficult for anybody to make a valid opinion on any case, not just this one, unless you’re a trained expert,” Lyle echoed. “There are forensics, detectives, psychological profilers and so on, who are trained to do this and read the information and draw the hypotheses from that, which of course no lay person really is. So if that’s the conclusion they come to, then we’re happy to stand by that.”
“We have to accept, don’t we, just like now we have to accept this,” Arline said.
“And that’s why it’s so disappointing, because we don’t know,” Stephanie added.
It is not over for the Kerchers.
Last week’s acquittal is far from the last word on the case. The judges have 90 days to draft a report explaining the reasons for the verdict. Then the prosecution and the defence will have a further 45 days to lodge a new and last appeal. Only rulings by the Supreme Court are considered definitive in Italian justice.
Guede’s lawyers said he would appeal for a new trial if the Supreme Court confirmed Knox’s acquittal — on the grounds that it would contradict the Ivorian’s conviction for killing Meredith alongside unidentified accomplices. “So I’m supposed to be Meredith’s only assassin?” Guede is reported to have told a prison visitor. “I’m supposed to have struck that poor girl with a knife 40 times? I confessed my responsibilities and I accused those who were in the house with me.
“I’m in prison, and the others are free and happy at home. If it wasn’t them in the house that damned evening, who are the other accomplices supposed to be? The money made available to Amanda and the media strategy helped to free her.”
Many investigators and lawyers admit privately that the Italian judicial system may simply never come up with a full and convincing explanation of Meredith’s death.
Italian justice is agonisingly slow. Judges and lawyers attend several trials in the same week, with the result that the appeal trial saw 20 days of hearings over no fewer than 10 months. It is also full of safeguards for defendants, including long preliminary hearings enshrined in the post-war constitution to eradicate the caricature of justice delivered by the courts under Mussolini.
Many of the most notorious cases in Italy’s post-war history have yet to be resolved in court. Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire prime minister, is embroiled in a string of corruption, fraud and sex offence investigations and trials, and claims that leftist prosecutors are plotting to oust him.
This week Berlusconi will push through parliament a bill banning publication of phone and other intercepts before a case reaches trial — a measure that has become a priority for him, as investigators are expected to release within a few weeks dozens of intercepts of reportedly embarrassing conversations between Berlusconi and a convicted drug dealer.
In such a climate Italian justice itself is on trial. The truth of what happened to Meredith Kercher may emerge one day, but it’s no safe bet that it will do so in an Italian court of law.
Archived in Crime hypotheses, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting
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Sunday, October 09, 2011
“Wrong To Capitalise On Any Murder. Not Just For Us, But For Anyone”
Posted by Peter Quennell
Helen Weathers reports on a face-to-face interview with Meredith’s father John in the Daily Mail.
On John’s memories of Meredith which haunt him daily:
‘Meredith was extremely intelligent and humorous as a child. She had an almost adult sense of humour, and was always very thoughtful and considerate — sensitive to other people,’ says John, who was divorced from Meredith’s mother in 1997 after 20 years of marriage.
‘Meredith was very witty. She had quite an original line in humour, what you might call a barbed wit, I suppose, but not hurtful; never hurtful.
‘I remember once coming back from a holiday in Egypt and showing Meredith a photograph of myself wearing a floppy sunhat I’d bought. She took one look and said: “Dad, just tell me you didn’t pay any money for that hat.”’
Amanda Knox cries following the verdict that overturns her conviction and acquits her of murdering her British roomate Meredith Kercher, at the Perugia court in Italy
Like her father, Meredith loved the relaxed Mediterranean way of life. Indeed, her love of Italy started on family holidays to Rimini and continued on school trips and exchanges. John was not surprised when she chose to study Italian and European studies at Leeds University.
‘The irony was that after two years at Leeds she found they’d accidentally put her on a three-year course which would have excluded the year in Italy, so she fought to get put back on the four-year course and get out there,’ says John.
‘She had the choice of going to Rome, Milan or Perugia. While she loved Rome and would have liked Milan, she felt she’d have a better chance of making friends more easily in Perugia than in a large city.
‘Meredith was very excited about going. For the first three days she stayed in a small family-run hotel until she found the cottage. She told me her room was a bit small, but the views were beautiful.’
John last saw his daughter a month before she was murdered. She’d returned to Britain on a flying visit to buy some clothes for the Italian winter and arranged to meet her father for coffee at an Italian restaurant in Croydon.
‘Meredith had bought a new pair of boots which she wanted to show me. I think they were leather with a small heel. And that’s the image of Meredith I want to remember: my daughter smiling, laughing and showing me her new boots.’
On the media speculation about the megabucks that Amanda Knox and her clan could make.
‘I think it would be more sensitive to Meredith’s memory if Amanda Knox maintained a low profile,’ says John, a freelance journalist, in his first in-depth interview.
The Amanda Knox cult insults my Meredith’s memory: Victim’s father says it’s wrong to capitalise on murder in his first interview since the verdict
‘I don’t want to say anything confrontational, but I believe it is wrong to capitalise on any murder. Not just for us, but for anyone.
‘This cult of celebrity is demeaning to Meredith’s memory, disrespectful. I don’t think Amanda Knox has actively sought out celebrity status; I think that has been created for her. But then again, she hasn’t actively rejected it.
‘It is distressing that all this will go on for a long time and that all the focus is going to be on the defendants for some time yet.
And at the shock of the U-turn first appeal verdict
‘I thought the judge might uphold the conviction but possibly reduce their sentences to be more in line with Guede’s — but not this,’ he says.
‘We thought the original evidence would be upheld, so it is a huge shock. You hope the appeal jury is going to recognise what was established in the first trial. In this case, it wasn’t.’
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Victims family, Diversion efforts, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting
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Tuesday, October 04, 2011
One Good Take On Italian Justice: Interesting Thought Not Neccessarily Entirely Ours
Posted by Peter Quennell
Click above for Tobias Jones’s take in the Guardian which seems to be trying to report evenly on the case..
Here are our most-read posts on first trials by Italian poster Nikki and the two appeals by Italian poster Commissario Montalbano and often-overlooked victims’ rights about Italian campaigner Barbara Benedettelli.
All explain better than Tobias Jones does the many hoops that prosecutors have to jump through for victims’ interests to come out ahead..
We can agree with Tobias Jones on this below - the elaborate, expensive and slow automatic first appeals complete with lay judges who don’t see the first pass of the evidence at first trial and often act as a wildcard in the process.
It’s one of the many failings of Italian justice that it never delivers conclusive, door-slamming certainty. What usually happens is that the door is left wide open to take the case to the next level, first to appeal and then to the cassazione, the supreme court. The score in the public imagination, at the moment, is simply one-all.
It’s always been that way. There’s barely one iconic crime from the post-war years that has persuaded the country that, yes, justice has been done: the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini, the Ustica crash, the Bologna railway station bombing, the Piazza Fontana atrocity, the Monster of Florence murders, the murder of Luigi Calabresi, the “caso Cogne” … none has ever been satisfactorily, convincingly resolved. Instead the country seems to split into innocentisti and colpevolisti (those who believe in the innocence or guilt of the accused) and the heated debates continue for decades.
But we’d agree less-so, at least from an American perspective, with the Italian uniqueness of this below.
Dietrologia – literally “behindery” or conspiracy-theorising – is a national pastime precisely because the courts don’t offer convincing verdicts. It allows every journalist, magistrate and barfly to try their hand. The result is that everyone with an active imagination has a go at explaining the truth behind the mystery, and inevitably the truth only gets further buried beneath so many excited explanations. The media plays an active role in keeping the circus going: in no other country are cronache nere – “black chronicles” – so much the mainstay of the evening news. There’s always a case on the go.
Tobias Jones should watch the urbane elegance of the Porta a Porta shows, which are reminiscent of human games of chess, and then visit the US and watch all the cable news channels devoting many hours a day to legal talking heads debating one another over high-profile crime cases. CNN and MSNBC could probably not survive without them (Casey Anthony was a godsend) and they go back to the OJ Simpson trial when it seemed half the country joined in.
He probably has a good point about subjudice (blackouts on court news in the UK) but there’d seem more chance of a wrong outcome driven by public opinion in the US with its elected judges and police chiefs and prosecutors angling for news exposure than in Italy. (Judge Michael Heavey is an elected judge.)
Local public opinion in the US is very much behind the high execution rate in several American states and the difficulties non-whites often have in getting off.
Archived in Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, The wider contexts, Italian context, Carpetbaggers
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Monday, June 27, 2011
The BBC Reports Rudy Guede For The First Time Accuses Knox And Sollecito Face To Face
Posted by Peter Quennell
Click image above for the report. It refers to Guede’s letter of March 2010 in the post directly below.
Guede was in the witness stand as his letter was read to the court on Monday. “This splendid, marvellous girl was killed by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox,” the letter said.
This also for the first time on Guede’s side (but not on Knox’s or Sollecito’s side) crosses a public boundary between the three of them which the Italian lawyer Cesare Beccaria described starting here.
As if the appeal wasn’t bizarre enough, two convicts were called by the prosecution as counter witnesses Monday to contradict several inmates called by the defense earlier this month. They maintained they had overheard in prison conversations about a plot among other inmates to testify in exchange for money and benefits, such as reduced prison time.
The person they heard was arranging things, they said, was Sollecito’s attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, who heads up Italy’s parliamentary justice committee. She forcefully denied the corruption accusations in the break afterwards and vowed to file charges and take legal action against her accusers.
One claim by the inmates was that she offered a sex change operation to Luciano Aviello. It would be helpful if some of this if it exists emerged on tape. What possible reason would they have to lie?
Archived in Officially involved, Rudy Guede, The trials, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, RS + AK appeals
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Saturday, June 18, 2011
Seattle Post Intelligencer Still Posts The Best Trial Reports: Coolest, Most Factual, Least Bias
Posted by Peter Quennell
Witness Andrea Vogt’s excellent report on the proceedings today in Appeal Court.
1). On the assorted criminals testifying today.
The dramatic day of testimony, requested by the defense, brought together a gang of criminals of whom Hollywood scriptwriters could only dream, including a convicted rapist and childkiller, a mafia snitch and other hardened long-timers with little to lose.
Their riveting testimony (complete rubbish or explosive and key new revelations, depending on your point of view) led jurors down some of Italy’s darkest alleys, from the desperate gangster neighborhoods of Naples to the powerful masonic lodges of Umbria and tough Italian prison wards with their own code of honor….
Only one of the five had no connection to Sicily or Naples and that was a Romanian who claimed on the stand that his signature had been forged on a document presented by the defense and that he knew nothing about anything….
2) On the testimony of Mario Alessi
Alessi took the stand around noon, after a sharp drop in his blood pressure required a nurse’s attentions (the stress of testifying had caused him to lose 15 pounds over he last 10 days, his lawyer told seattlepi.com). Alessi said he earned Guede’s trust while they were incarcerated together.
One day, Guede took him by the arm and led him to a corner of the prison yard where they would be out of view of closed-circuit cameras, he said. Then, Guede told him that the real truth was that a drunkard who had gone to Kercher’s flat with Guede from the disco had sexually assaulted her and then killed her to avoid “rotting in prison” for the rape….
Toward the end of Alessi’s story, the lawyer for Meredith Kercher’s family, Francesco Maresca, branded him a repeat liar. Maresca held up a photo of “Tommy,” whose high-profile disappearance and slaying in 2006 shocked Italy…. In response to the photo of Tommy, Alessi said no, he didn’t recognize the boy, to which Maresca said, “That’s OK, we do.”
3) On the testimony of Luciano Aviello:
But on the night of Kercher’s murder, Nov. 1, 2007, Aviello testified, his brother came home with a ripped, bloodied jacket and was covered in scratches on his arms. He eventually said he had stabbed a young woman after surprising her during a break-in to steal a painting, Aviello said…
The brothers had then hidden the murder weapon and keys to the house in a nearby wall and covered the hole with mortar. “Go and see for yourselves. Verify it! You’ll find I am telling the truth,” said Aviello. “Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent.” Police and prosecutors have never publicly confirmed that such a search was done. Aviello’s brother’s whereabouts are unknown.
When prosecutors asked him about his connection to Alessi and the other cons, Aviello took offense, saying he had nothing to do with those “pedophiles and rapists,” but was rather just an “honest” gangster from Naples doing time for routine organized crime.
Toward the end, Aviello’s testimony grew increasingly aggressive toward prosecutors and police with whom he had collaborated. At one point guards held his shoulders as he yelled accusations through the gap where two front teeth should be. “You are a klan, not the judiciary!” he yelled.
4) And on the prosecution’s many new rebuttal witnesses.
... the court agreed to call a number of counter-witnesses requested by the prosecution, including two more prisoners and two police officials. The court also agreed to hear Giacomo Benedetti, the friend of Rudy’s whose Skype conversation with Guede while Guede was on the lam in Germany led to his arrest, as well as Guede himself.
Archived in The trials, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, RS + AK appeals
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Monday, April 18, 2011
Three Excellent Websites Commenting On The Case That We Have No Connection With
Posted by Peter Quennell
TJMK has cross-posting relations with Miss Represented, and Peter Hyatt, and several other objective websites on Meredith’s case.
These below are three careful, objective websites we’ve had no connection with, but admire. Click on the images to get to them.
Archived in Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, Media news
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Monday, April 04, 2011
The Precise And Accurate Italian Wikipedia Article On Meredith’s Case, Now Translated Into English
Posted by Tom M and Skeptical Bystander
A recent post on TJMK by Gwaendar refers to Wikipedia and the current effort by the Fictitious Friends of Amanda to make her the focus of an article that has so far been devoted to the Murder of Meredith Kercher.
The Eclectic Chapbook blog often comments on the case. It has called this effort “tragically misguided and possibly somewhat demented,” describing it as an instance of “the Enchanted Glen Phenomenon, which is a psychological space wherein normal laws do not apply and all rules are magically suspended. “
We have now examined and translated the Italian Wikipedia article which was written in a space where the normal laws certainly are applied and no rules have been suspended.
The main reporting and the voluminous records of the trial and the appeal are of course all in Italian, and Italians on the whole have a far better grasp of events and the legal context than do most observers in the US and the UK. Because there is so much source material, and so little misleading reporting, it would seem that If any Wikipedia in any language in the world is going to describe the case correctly, it will be the Italian one.
This translation below of most of the Italian Wikipedia article is not word-for-word, but it is intended to convey the substance of the Italian article as it would have been if originally written in English.
The index, the sections on books and movie, and the citations were omitted.
The murder of Meredith Kercher, an English student in Italy enrolled in the Erasmus program at the University of Perugia, occurred during the night of November 1, 2007. Meredith was found lifeless, with her throat cut, in her bedroom in the house she shared with other students in Perugia. The cause of death was hemorrhage due to bleeding from a wound to the neck caused by a sharp object used as a weapon.
Two men and a woman were convicted as a result, of murder, sexual violence and theft.
Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was born December 28, 1985 in Southwark, London, lived in Coulsdon, and was a student at the University of Leeds, where she was pursuing a degree in European Studies. She enrolled in the Erasmus program, and had arrived in Italy in September 2007 to complete her degree in European Studies.
Details and circumstances of the murder
Kercher was murdered at night between 1 and 2 November 2007, in the apartment she shared with three other young women, two Italian and an American, who were away that night. Based on the first examination of the autopsy, the pathologist who handled the case ruled that the death occurred between 22:00 and midnight on that day.
The following morning an elderly woman living near Via della Pergola where Meredith’s body was found, alarmed by the discovery of two abandoned mobile phones, called the police. From information obtained from one of two mobile phones the Postal Police of Perugia sent agents to the house of Meredith Kercher. On their arrival the police found Amanda Knox (Seattle, USA, July 9, 1987), Meredith Kercher’s flatmate, and her Italian friend, Raffaele Sollecito (Giovinazzo, March 26, 1984), with whom she had recently started a relationship, outside the house.
The two young people said they were awaiting the arrival of the police; when asked why, they said they had found a window broken, the door open, and suspected a theft. Later, these claims were questioned by investigators, given that the Police Post arrived at the house on Via della Pergola at 12:35 and telephone calls to the Police were not made not until 12:51 and 12:54. Entering, the Police found the bedroom of Meredith Kercher locked and decided to break down the door. Upon entering, they found a number of bloodstains, the room in disarray, and a foot sticking out from under the duvet which had covered the bed.
The three convicted at the first stage are:
- Raffaele Sollecito, who was born in Giovinazzo (BA), a university student of 23 years at the time of the murder;
- Amanda Knox, a student originally from Seattle, U.S., 20, who had a relationship with Sollecito at the time of the crime;
- Rudy Hermann Guede, born December 26, 1986 in the Ivory Coast, was arrested in Germany on November 20 and extradited to Italy on December 6, 2007. At his lawyers’ request, Guede received from the court at a preliminary hearing an order granting expedited trial.
Knox and Guede were detained in Capanne prison, a 20-minute drive from Perugia. Sollecito, after also being held in Capanne, was transferred in early 2008 to the Vocabolo Sabbione prison in Terni.
The case also, initially, erroneously involved Patrick Lumumba, owner of the restaurant where Amanda Knox worked; her statement placed him at the crime scene on the night of the crime. The charges were later proved unfounded and demonstrated the unreliability of Knox as a witness. Implicating the Congolese man was also an incorrect translation of a text message sent to him in English by Knox (‘see you later’, which rather than a generic “Ci vidiamo,” was translated literally as “we will see each other later”[“ci vidiamo dopo”].
Thus, police thought that the two had an appointment for the evening of the crime). Patrick Lumumba was ultimately released and all charges against him were dropped. Following the unjust detention lasting 14 days, Lumumba was awarded € 8000 as compensation, but this was deemed inadequate by his lawyer, who threatened to sue.
Knox, Sollecito and Guede were sentenced respectively to 26, 25 and 16 years in prison. Rudi Hermann Guede opted for an abbreviated trial and his conviction for complicity in murder and sexual violence was made final by the Court of Cassation, First Criminal Division, on December 16, 2010. For the other two participants, the case is on appeal. The decisions reconstruct in detail the manner and circumstances of the murder, a motive defined “violent, sexual, erotic.”
The conviction in the first trial of Sollecito and Knox, issued by the Court of Assizes of Perugia, is based on numerous expert opinions, objective evidence and testimony.
According to the reconstruction regarding Knox and Sollecito, on the evening of November 1, 2007, they met in piazza Grimana, where they had occasionally met Guede, an acquaintance of Knox, who decided to join them for the evening. They decided to go to Knox’s house, to which her roommate Meredith Kercher, after an evening with her English friends, had just returned. Kercher’s bedroom door was presumably ajar, and upon entering the house the three defendants immediately noticed her presence.
Going directly to another part of the house, Knox and Sollecito made love. Guede, shortly after, went to the bathroom, where he left organic residues in the water of the toilet, as found in the investigation. According to the reconstruction, Guede left the bathroom, probably excited by the sounds of Sollecito and Knox making love, noted again the door ajar at Kercher’s room, and decided to approach. Then he entered Kercher’s room; but after her refusal, he became violent, attempting to rape her.
Kercher’s cries led Knox and Sollecito to go to her room, where they joined Guede’s criminal action, finding it an “exciting situation.” While the Guede violated Kercher, Knox and Sollecito tried to immobilize her: to do this Sollecito and Knox wielded knives to threaten the victim. The analysis shows that the knife wounds by Sollecito were probably quite small, while Knox wielded a kitchen knife, later found, and on which were found genetic traces of her mixed with those of Kercher.
The situation then deteriorated, partly because of the screams and resistance of Kercher: Knox then, with the kitchen knife, struck the victim in the neck, causing fatal injuries. The three defendants, shortly after the murder, fled with Kercher’s phones, fearing that if someone called her and got no response, they would be suspicious and the crime would be discovered: the cell phone was ultimately found in an embankment a few hundred meters from Kercher’s house.
Then they headed in different directions: Guede to a nightclub, Knox and Sollecito to the latter’s flat. The next morning Knox and Sollecito tried to clean up the crime scene and clean up their tracks; then they broke a window in the house to stage a mock burglary, hoping to throw the investigation off course.
Guede’s Supposed Confession
In March 2010 rumors spread of an alleged confession by Rudy Guede. The facts are as follows: it seems that Guede had revealed his complicity, with a friend, in killing Kercher, to Mario Alessi, an inmate housed in the same prison, a character already known to police and media for the murder of little Tommaso Onofri, Guede had invited Kercher to go to a party, she refused, and subsequently the friend of Guede tried to rape her. According to Alessi, Guede tried to come to Kercher’s aid, and Guede’s friend rebuked him, saying that he should just strike the final blow to end the girl’s misery, which is what Guede did.
Then Guede and his friend met again by chance in a nightclub, and Guede’s friend gave him money to flee to Germany, where he was at the time of the extradition and return to Italy for arrest. This reconstruction, which would completely exonerate Knox and Sollecito, was found by investigators to be totally unfounded.
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Friday, March 18, 2011
John Follain Foreign Correspondent UK Sunday Times Chats Online About Case And Italian Politics
Posted by Peter Quennell
Transcript of a live online Sunday Times discussion with foreign correspondent John Follain on Monday 7 March 2011.
Sunday Times Foreign Editor:
Welcome to John Follain, foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times who has covered Italy since 1998. He has written a book about the murder of Meredith Kercher which is out in August. So let’s begin, John is waiting for your questions
Hello, all set and looking forward to your questions - about the Kercher case, Berlusconi or anything you see fit to throw at me
[Comment From James Ellington]
Hi John, How do you think Amanda Knox managed to gain celebrity status given the gruesome nature of the crime she has been convicted of?
Should we blame the media or the readers? Seriously, I think one big reason why this case has interested people is that they identify themselves with the parents of Meredith Kercher, or of Amanda Knox.
As for Amanda Knox being a celebrity, I’d say the twists and turns of the investigation and the trial have a lot to do with it - as well as her looks and the fact that it has to be a rarity to have an American exchange student with such a background being convicted (the appeal trial is now on, of coruse) of such a crime.
[Comment From Freddy: ]
What do you make of the film? It doesn’t seem to have gone down too well with anyone involved
Having covered so many of the events, it was very moving to see some of them on screen - the actors do look very much like the real protagonists. But I did find it peppered with inaccuracies and callous in its depiction of events just before Meredith’s death - including a completely unbelievable scene showing Rudy Guede embracing Meredith.
[Comment From Rebecca Ward]
So let’s cut to the chase, do you think Amanda Knox to be guilty or has she been wrongly convicted? And what do you base your opinion on?
Ah, thought that one would come up. Under Italian law, Knox’s conviction doesn’t become definitive until she has exhausted her chances of appeal - meaning the current appeal trial and a possible Supreme Court trial.
Having said that, I do think she played a role in the murder, along with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede. That’s an opinion based on the evidence against her including the staged burglary, the DNA samples involving all three, and her behaviour at the police station
[Comment From Suzanna, Gloucs]
I have read that Guede was able to elect to go down the ‘fast track’ route for trial. What is that? Sounds like a McDonalds version of the law?
Not McDonalds but the Italian equivalent of plea-bargaining in a way. The fast track route involves a defendant agreeing to a faster trial, with fewer witnesses and no jury among other conditions, in exchange for a lower sentence if convicted.
But there’s no doubt many in Perugia and elsewhere have been shocked by his final prison sentence of 16 years, which will be greatly reduced for good behaviour among other factors.
[Comment From JJ ]
Can Knox be thought of as credible when saying she had been assaulted and asked questions under duress when being interviewed in light of the Facebook comments and images of swords and rituals?
I think it’s hard to accept that she accused an innocent man - Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the bar where she worked - simply because the police supposedly “pressured” her into doing so.
When she appeared in court and was questioned at length by the prosecutor over this, she didn’t come up with a convincing explanation. Plus there’s the fact that the day after the police interrogation, she repeated the scenario of Lumumba killing Meredith at the cottage.
[Comment From Charles and Jane]
I’ve seen interviews with Knox’s parents – difficult not to make assumptions here – but they seem rather unhinged (especially the mother). I realise it is not the everyday situation you find yourself in re your children but I think they do AK rather more harm than good?
Hi Charles and Jane,
To be honest, no, I don’t think they’re unhinged. I spent more than three hours interviewing them and AK’s sister Deanna in Seattle, and they came across as determined to bring Ak back from Perugia.
As for them doing AK more harm than good, the massive PR campaign they launched didn’t go down well with at least one of her Perugia lawyers, and it has backfired with the courts in the sense that judges in Perugia think the attacks - especially against prosecutor Giuliano Mignini are unjustified.
[Comment From james forrest]
What was the greatest challenge you faced in writing your book and did you meet any of the people connected with the case during the course of your research? Would you be interested to interview Knox if you had the chance? What question would you most like to ask her if you had the chance?
I set out to re-construct events from the moment Meredith and AK arrived in Perugia, through the murder and the subsequent investigation, right up to the current appeal trial - as much as possible describing not only what the main characters did but also what they thought at the time.
So the challenge was obtaining numerous, repeat interviews - one was six hours long - with as many of the characters including the prosecutors, detectives, lawyers, experts, relatives and friends among many others.
Yes of course, which journalist who has followed the case wouldn’t like to interview AK? But she is banned from giving interviews as long as her conviction, or acquittal, hasn’t become definitive. I don’t have a top question for her, what I would like is to ask her to go through events in as detailed a way as possible.
[Comment From Peter Polites]
What do you expect to be the outcome of the Amanda Knox appeal which has been delayed so forensics can carry out a review of the evidence used to convict her? When do you think we will hear the result? And do you think there is the possibility that the forensic evidence was contaminated?
Given that more than 20 judges have so far ruled that AK is guilty, I think the appeal court will head the same way - although it could reducer both the sentences for both her and Sollecito.
But no thinks the outcome is certain - the key hearing will be in late May when the court-appointed experts report back on their review of the DNA evidence found on the kitchen knife believed to be the murder weapon, and on Meredith’s bra clasp in her bedroom.
Yes contamination is in theory always possible but I see nothing to indicate that happened here.
[Comment From Ivor Gibson]
There have been heaps of books published about the case of Amanda Knox – what does yours do that the others don’t?
I hope that my book offers the fullest-possible account of the case - I hope the reader will feel he or she are with Meredith and her friends in her last weeks in Perugia, behind the shoulder of the prosecutor or the detective as they make their discoveries, with AK and her mother as they talk in prison, and present in the courtroom at the key moments of the trial.
[Comment From Sammy]
what is the reaction of the average Italian to the bunga bunga scandal? disgust or secret envy?
If you believe Berlusconi, 51% are for him, and 49% are against him. The truth is the average Italian does think the scandal is pretty awful but that doesn’t stop a big minority - a majority if you include his coalition partners - thinking Berlusconi is the best man for the job right now.
Basically the Left has yet to persuade anyone apart from diehard followers that it does have a programme for government and can rule the country efficiently.
[Comment From Elise Crothers]
I read that Berlusconi thinks he can prove in court that Karima El Mahroug was not underage when he allegedly paid her for sex – what do you think will be the outcome of his trial in Milan next month?
The prosecutors are confident that Berlusconi’s claim that she wasn’t underage will be thrown out by the court - her date of birth is on her Moroccan passport and as her father points out, they wouldn’t have spent such a long time trying to get her into community centres for minors if she was an adult.
The outcome is a very tough one to predict, but one near-certainty is that Berlusconi won’t try to stop the trial going ahead. He wants to fight his corner in court by attending all the hearings.
If he is convicted, he would most likely get a suspended sentence because he is over 70 and because he has a clean record.
And if he is convicted, he has said he will stay on as prime minister.
[Comment From jude]
what does Bunga Bunga mean? I think I know but do I?
I think I know too, but only on the basis of what Ruby told prosecutors before the whole scandal became public.
And that’s second-hand, in that she said that Berlusconi told her that it was something copied from Gadaffi’s harem - ie. an orgy.
But then again, Berlusconi’s people have claimed it’s no such thing but just a joke about two ministers on an island who come to an obscene end with natives (don’t ask).
And the newcaster Emilio Fede, who is accused of aiding and abetting prostitution for bringing showgirls to Berlusconi’s home, said it was the name of the sofa
[Comment From Mary]
How can you stay on as Prime Minister if you are convicted?
A prison sentence of three years or more would automatically include Berlusconi being barred from holding public office for a year or more. But that wouldn’t become definitive until the case was ruled on by the Supreme Court, which could be in a couple of years or more.
[Comment From Simon Kennedy, Edinburgh]
Last year Berlusconi fawned over Gadaffi, treating him like royalty on his visit to Italy and has also described him as “my great friend”. Now they seem to have changed direction due to the threat to their energy supplies. Should Italy take a stand against Gadaffi and what would this mean for the Italian economy?
Despite Berlusconi’s previous “friendship”, and embarrassing scenes including Gadaffi being allowed to lecture young women - all from a PR agency - bussed in to attend his lecture on “Islam”, Italy says it will stick to whatever the EU and the UN decide on sanctions.
But it’s been noticeable that Libya’s interests in Italy - there’s even a stake in the Juventus soccer club - have gone untouched officially because they’re not held by Gadaffi himself or his clan.
The trouble for Italy is that taking too strong a stand against Gadaffi could threaten vital energy supplies.
And the Italians are quick to point out that they were not alone in giving Gadaffi red-carpet treatment.
[Comment From Gemima9]
how will Italy cope with the thousands of North African migrants arriving in the country after the unrest in the middle east?
The government hopes it won’t be alone in coping and that other EU countries will step in, because it simply doesn’t have the facilites to cope with the possible arrivals - some estimates are around 250,000 to Italy alone.
The emergency plans drawn up by the government including using converted barracks to house them but this would all be temporary. And the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has regularly criticised the way Italy has been dealing with previous cases, saying it doesn’t give them a proper chance to claim and obtain refugee status.
Sunday Times Foreign Editor
Well, that’s all we have time for folks. Thank you for all the questions. Thanks to John for giving us his time. Do tune in next week at the same time for another heavy-weight topic. Have a good week. Bye.
Thanks to you all for your interest, and hope we get another chance to talk soon.
According to a BBC report Bunga Bunga is the nickname of Greman actress Sabina Began who organizes Mr Berlusconi’s controversial parties. Therefore “bunga bunga parties”.
Not everybody is buying that explanation it seems. Other versions keep surfacing.
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Monday, February 21, 2011
Andrea Vogt In New York Post Finds Lifetime Movie Fairish Though Hurtful To Kerchers And Ill-Timed
Posted by Peter Quennell
Andrea Vogt reminds us that the legal process is very exhaustive, very balanced and far from complete.
Also that Mr. Mignini is a reasonable person, that an extraordinary number of careful judges have been a party to the process, and that US State Department have monitored the case and not seen any reason to try to intervene - though it is doubtful they could have any influence over the judiciary.
During filming in Rome last fall, the Knox chattering classes speculated whether it would favor “innocentisti or colpevolisti” (the innocents or guilty). As the first clips emerged, everyone was upset. Producers clearly took factual liberties (in real life, Amanda and Raffaele didn’t attend the memorial vigil for Meredith, but in the film they do, for example).
But the communal outrage is nothing new. All the parties agree: it is inappropriate to air this film before completion of appeal. Knox was convicted of murder and sentenced in an Italian court based on the scenario of all three being involved, as described in the judge’s ruling. Lifetime attempted to re-enact this in their own way…
That said, the US State Department has been monitoring the case as more than two dozen judges have considered the evidence and determined (to varying degrees) that Knox was involved…
Unfortunately this case exists in a cultural time warp where fiction races ahead of fact. In the US, everything happens too fast; a film is thrown together in months. In Italy, everything happens too slow: a case can take seven years to get to the Supreme Court. The final judicial decision about who murdered Ms. Kercher and how is still years away.
Archived in Crime hypotheses, Fine reporting, Movies on case
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The Daily Beast’s Barbie Nadeau Weighs The Pros And Cons Of The Lifetime Movie
Posted by Peter Quennell
We doubt if we are going to rate this film very highly. Already there are critical reviews.
And the Massei report shows overwhelming guilt, the grounds for appeal are slim indeed, and the Supreme Court of Cassation has ALREADY accepted that all three were part of the attack.
Barbie Nadeau’s report upon seeing a preview seems to confirm that the film will at least in part blow smoke and mislead the viewing audience by failing to convey those hard facts.
The movie does a commendable job slaloming between guilt and innocence as it stitches together known details of a very complicated case. It doesn’t shy away from controversial facts like how Knox accused Patrick Lumumba of the murder, or just how tough the Perugian police were on the 20-year-old American during her interrogations…. Lifetime lands squarely on the side of reasonable doubt when it comes to Knox’s conviction, but the network also does a fair job showing just why the jury in Perugia found her guilty.
Reasonable doubt? In fact that is a term that applies only to juries who were present in the courtroom the whole time, and in this case the guilty verdict was already unanimous. They had no reasonable doubt.
Sadly, John and Arline Kercher’s worst fears about the movie dwelling upon the graphic violence done to Meredith seem fully justified.
Indeed, the movie features globs of often-gratuitous violence around their daughter’s tragic death. Sure, it is a TV dramatization bent on ratings about a now-legendary murder, but the CSI-style black-and-white autopsy shots and a disturbing scene where Guede watches Meredith choking on her own blood are unsettling, even for those of us who have covered this case from day one. It’s one thing to see the crime scene video and hear testimony about how it might have happened, but it’s quite another to watch someone act it out in gruesome detail.
There seems to be little mention of the million-dollar public relations campaign that has so misled the public, and none at all of the inflammatory anti-prosecution anti-Italy bias of much of the UK and US media.
Not all is bad. Mr Mignini and his team are shown as “smart, capable investigators caught up in a terribly complicated crime….”. The Knox family are portrayed as “even-tempered and wholly genuine in support of their daughter”. Hayden Pantierre does “an admirable job playing the quirky Seattle native.”
But Amanda Knox herself apparently comes across as vague and someone who “could have simply been in the wrong place doing the wrong things at the wrong time.” We have already remarked in a previous post “We will be curious to see if Lifetime somehow depicts what a sad drug-driven slide into dependency and desperation the seemingly not-quite-right Amanda Knox appeared to be embarked on.”
However Meredith is said to be infectiously played, by Cambridge University graduate Amanda Fernando Stevens (image below), who we believe really did give the classy depiction of Meredith all she could.
Fortunately, Lifetime also focuses a fair amount of attention on Meredith, painting a portrait of a bright and beautiful young woman who was far more serious than her American roommate, but who had an infectious sense of humor and enviable charm. That careful attention to her charisma makes her murder all the more tragic.
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More Excellent Examiner Reporting: This Time Profiling Curt Knox And Edda Mellas
Posted by Peter Quennell
The Examiner network has posted many reports on the case from at least half a dozen reporters.
They have been consistently well-researched, unbiased, and accurate. Today their website carries a comment on Amanda Knox’s parents’ indictment, and how they put themselves into this absurd mess.
So the question remains: will Amanda Knox be called to testify at the trial by her indicted parents - or by the police pursuing the suit? She herself has never publicly made the claims Curt and Edda did, with the minimalist exception of someone she can’t identify clipping her over the head.
That sole claim the interpreter present has made quite clear did NOT happen. And Amanda Knox was CAUGHT ON TAPE telling her mother Patrick Lumumba did not do it - that her charge was false, and accordingly she made NO mention of her accusation against him having been beaten out of her by the cops.
Leaving zero reason to accuse the cops of anything - let alone serially accuse them of criminal behavior again and again, globally. And also, Edda Mellas failed to report what Amanda actually told her. She too left Patrick to languish.
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, Diversion efforts, Knox-Mellases, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Letter From Italy: Explaining Why My Pro-Women-Victims Focus In My Forthcoming Movie Samhain
Posted by Stefano Torrese
While reading Mr. Kercher’s open letters [here and here] we found so many resonances with our ideas and feelings about the sad drama that occurred to Meredith, feelings which had led us to initiate the film project “Samhain - A Halloween Tale”.
Our starting point was to write a story which could deliver a strong message on behalf of all women whose life had ended because of the violence and ignorance of others; to provide our contribution to making people think and re-think about the society we live in, where nobody is safe, children or students or workers.
Then, as we deepened the research into the subject, and more material came out about the judicial case and the trials, we witnessed, as John sadly remarked, a singular yet logical - for our society - phenomenon, that of the rising of a celebrity, who is in fact charged for murder and sentenced to many years in prison.
Last spring we started to see the first buzz in the US about our movie project and those of others. A few months later we heard the inevitable: an American TV production decided to shoot a documentary about AMANDA KNOX’S trial paths.
As fall approached, we trimmed and refined our story into a thriller with a moral, and a big, positive twist in the end, which developed furthermore a strong message. This message we made clear during our first press conference on last October 28, in the Palazzo della Regione of Perugia, the most important institutional house of local government.
We said that our movie is not - and will never be - a movie about Amanda Knox; as a matter of fact it is not even a movie about Meredith in the sense of the exploitation of her image for economic purposes.
“Samhain - A Halloween tale” is a tale with a moral in the classical form, inspired by a true fact (obviously Meredith’s murder) but then touching many other topics like the very ancient celtic name of Halloween “Samhain”, the possibility to mold the timeframe, and other esoteric elements.
The story turns around former FBI agent Bryan Nolan, who left the US following the personal drama of the disappearance of his little sister Susan.
Once in Perugia, he hears about the murder of a young student and after a series of signs and signals, he realizes the spirit of the young girl is trying to establish contact with him; the spirit seeks for peace and justice, and it is also the key to understand what really happened to Bryan’s sister.
As you can tell from this brief synopsis, our story doesn’t contain the Hollywood-like sparkling and kitsch elements prone to making the protagonist a star or a celebrity. Our movie is difficult, and will be difficult to make because it talks about life, death, and the afterlife.
During the last few months we have received pressure from local and international press about what we really want to make, and so we wanted to be clear: if our movie has ever to be linked to Meredith, it would be in her honor, dedicated to her memory, and it would not use her image.
We said this after noticing the hideous growth in terms of popularity of people who are in jail for murder, and yet became a money machine, and also the attitude of the general audience who are being misled and manipulated into the belief that these people in jail shouldn’t be there.
This shocked us and prompted our more immediate action: we can write and we can make movies, so we will make our contribution to the truth by the means of telling a story and deliver a message to the audience:
A GIRL WAS MURDERED, DIED, AND NOT ONLY HER BODY BUT HER MEMORY IS ABOUT TO BE BURIED AND NEVER COME OUT TO LIGHT AGAIN.
We cannot accept that, what happened to Meredith happened - and is happening - to many other girls in the world. We need to remember this. We need to remember Meredith and through her memory, keep this feeling of hope alive, that what happened to her will eventually cease to happen.
We need to disseminate the message as strongly as we can, and perhaps things could change so that Meredith’s drama would not have occurred in vain.
Our hope here is to respectfully share with Meredith’s family and friends an explanation of what’s behind our project, let them know what we are doing before they read it possibly wrongly put in the papers; and encourage their feelings if they wish to guide us.
A good project about a person without deep caring and respect for that person - be she alive or not - would be a failure to begin with. Meredith evokes our deep caring and respect.
[Below, Stefano Torrese and his co-producer Diego Antolini discuss the Italian film industry]
[Below, the interim trailer for Stefano Torrese’s movie Samhain: A Halloween Tale]
Archived in Crime hypotheses, Fine reporting, Movies on case
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Monday, January 17, 2011
Harvard Political Review Writer Alex Koenig Reproaches The Sliming of Italy’s Justice System
Posted by Peter Quennell
With the Pepperdine University and Washington University student newspapers consistently mis-reporting Meredith’s case, it is nice to see a Harvard publication getting it seriously right.
Alex Koenig writes a column for the Harvard Political Review. He is not commenting on the evidence of Meredith’s case as reflected for example on TJMK and in Massei. But he takes several deadly cracks at the arguments of the conspiracy theorists, which he doesn’t see reflecting the real world.
In 2008, 16,277 people were murdered in the United States. 1,176 of these murders were committed by women, of which about a third were confirmed to be white.
That means that in one year there were around 400 white female murderers on US soil— the majority of whom were convicted to no public outcry. What America needs to ask itself is: does the fact that Amanda Knox is a white sorority sister exonerate her from the murder she is alleged to have committed on foreign soil?
Knox is currently serving a 26-year sentence in Italian prison, in Perugia, for the murder of her then-roommate Meredith Kercher. Seemingly lost among the outrage towards the Italian justice system, the demands of US government intervention in her defense, and the constant assertions of Knox’s innocence is the possibility that, maybe this once, the trained professionals who investigated, tried, and convicted the 23 year old Knox got it right.
Without getting into the facts of the case, and conceding that people are wrongly convicted on a regular basis both in the United States and abroad, we must consider just how America’s treatment of this case reflects upon our society.
The fact of the matter is, those that immediately claim that Knox was wrongly accused and jailed by a corrupt justice system make two extremely arrogant assumptions that reveal perverse American exceptionalism.
1) It is assumed that, as an American – an American woman no less – Knox is incapable of murder. This case differs, of course, from the 1,176 domestic murders committed by women because, well, who knows?
2) It is assumed that not only is the Italian justice system incapable of fulfilling its legal duties, but that the intentions of the court were swayed by anti-Americanism.
This is not merely an abstract sentiment, but was actually articulated by Senator Maria Cantwell (D) of my home state of Washington. Cantwell, whom I generally agree with ideologically, released a statement saying that she “had serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted the trial.” She went on to say that she would seek assistance from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Regarding the first problem, I take Knox’s assumed innocence in the public eye to be a representation of national pride. I am as proud to be American as the next guy; I understand all the benefits being American has afforded me and appreciate the sacrifices men and women make each day to ensure that these benefits remain for me and my countrymen.
But assume the superiority of the same countrymen when compared to other citizens of the world I do not. It is as if Knox’s co-citizenship has absolved all her sins in the American court of public opinion. This, by itself, is difficult to grasp but can be forgiven.
What’s harder to forgive is the assumption that Knox has been wronged by a corrupt system because she is American.
Having lived in Italy for a year, I would never accuse the Italian justice system of being exceedingly efficient or flawless. However, I wouldn’t accuse the US justice system of this either.
Anti-Americanism does exist in parts of the world, but the chances of it being present in this trial are low. Are the judges supposed to see the conviction of an innocent American college student as a way to deter American tourists from coming to Italy?
“Putting this girl away for 26 years seems to be an easy way to get rid of those annoying tourists with their stupid hotel rooms, airplane tickets and restaurant bills. Good riddance!”
It’s not as if Knox is accused of murdering an Italian either. Kercher was a Brit. Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede, Knox’s alleged accomplices who are both serving similar sentences for the same charges, are both Italian, although Guede emigrated from the Ivory Coast when he was five.
No, I doubt that anti-Americanism was involved in this conviction. It seems, instead, to be nationalism on the side of Knox’s supporters. Amanda couldn’t have possibly been the one at fault, she’s one of us.
And maybe they’re right. I really don’t know. What I do know is that the anger and offense that the American public has taken in response to this trial obscures the real tragedy at hand, the violent death of a young woman.
It’s possible that Knox has wrongly had her future taken from her. It’s a fact that Kercher has. As the appeal process continues and the story gradually slips out of the consciousness of the average American, with the protest left to the truly passionate among us,
I want to remind us all of one thing: Italy’s murder rate is 1/3 that of America. Perhaps, without the actions of one American there’d be one less death in Italy’s tally. I’ll leave that judgment up to the only court that really matters in such a case, the court of law.
One small correction to what Alex Koenig wrote. Italy’s murder rate is actually 1/6th that of the United States. It is a very law-abiding country with a very low crime rate and a very small prison population - less than 1/20th that of the United States.
But Alex is certainly right in his conclusions.Neither the Micheli not Massei Sentencing Reports show ANY sign of extreme nationalism.
Archived in Fine reporting, The fall-outs
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
That Widely Watched LA7 TV Interview With Giuliano Mignini - Herewith A Full English Translation
Posted by ziaK
This is a translation of the YouTube video posted by my fellow poster True North two weeks ago.
Many readers asked for a translation of what Mr Mignini said in that interview, and True North, who has pretty good Italian but is not a professional translator, requested some help from the translation team. The sound of the video is not always crystal clear but this appears to accurately reflect what was said.
Male interviewer: In the biological evidence, is there any one item which is the one which you consider, especially in terms of the trial, to have had the most value?
Giuliano Mignini: I think that, in terms of the trial, the most important were the knife, the bra hook and also the biological traces in the bathroom. From the point of view of the trial, the knife certainly links the two defendants and the victim. Therefore it was (interrupted).
Andrea Vogt: There was low copy number, and that’s not normal, is it, to use DNA when there’s low copy number?
Giuliano Mignini: However, I hold that those traces were nonetheless indisputable traces. That is, there was not an absolute huge amount, in terms that are perhaps more understandable [ndt: to an Italian speaker, “low copy number” is not necessaryily understandable, because it is an English term]. The trace might be really high, with a high quantity, or it may be very low, but however the trace may be, it was never reasonably explained in any other way. That knife was never touched by the victim. She was never (inaudible: possibly “at Raffaele’s”] during the period that the two young folk, the two defendants, knew each other. It was a very short period: we think the relationship was (inaudible) or a week.
Male interviewer: Certainly. However, (inaudible) limited, either a contamination in the place of the crime or a contamination in the laboratory? This is not meant as a criticism of the work, however it is a danger that we technicians have which we must confront.
Giuliano Mignini: Yes. Well, that point about the knife comes from the specific questions of Professor Finsi himself, and of the Superintendant (Parebiochi?), and it was clearly shown that that knife was collected with absolute… that is, there was no possibility of exposure to contact [with the victim?]. Because it was found in Raffaele’s house and it was take with all precautions. This was shown in (inaudible). I was keen to show that (inaudible) that knife.
Andrea Vogt: Also the hook was very controversial because you found it 46 days after.
Giuliano Mignini: Yes, yes. I know. I understand. This, alas, can happen when there are places that are so full of objects, full of… When one is doing an analysis of this type, it can happen that (inaudible) is moved. However, it remained within that room. And (Andrea Vogt interrupts). And then, if there is contamination, that means that Sollecito’s DNA was somewhere within that room. We’re still there (i.e. at the same conclusion). I think that all the evidence was limited [ndt: to the one place?], and the first findings were of an investigative nature. In particular, that includes the numerous contradictions made by Knox. Which were then repeated during the investigation, during the interrogation in jail, and in my opinion also during the questioning and counter-questioning in court.
Andrea Vogt: I want to talk a bit about the motive.
Giuliano Mignini: As a first impression of the [inaudible: crime?] it was clearly, it appeared clearly to be a crime of a sexual nature. It was extremely clear. A young woman, killed in that way, and almost completely stripped/naked.
Male interviewer: Excuse me, but on the contrary, at times I have heard attributed (inaudible) a different reason, a fight which ended badly, and then instead a transformation of the crime to put forward the idea that it was a sexual murder. Also because, in fact, the position of Rudy, who was however found guilty, also from the beginning changed a bit. There’s his responsibility.
Giuliano Mignini: Also Rudy gave indications which then changed a bit. Rudi too, for example, said that there was an appointment with Meredith. Then in later interrogations he said that Meredith had asked for him to be there, and (Male interviewer interrupts: The reconstruction [by Nabil?]: what could have happened?). Yes, according to me, there was a situation, a progressive situation of disagreement between the two girls. That seems undeniable to me.
Archived in Officially involved, Amanda Knox, All 3 defendants, The prosecutors, Crime hypotheses, The trials, Prosecution's case, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, The wider contexts, Mignini and MOF
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