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Friday, February 21, 2014
The US Lacks Legal Authority To Decline To Deliver A Guilty Knox To Italian Authorities
Posted by TomM
Recent reporting on whether the US would extradite Amanda Knox continues that tradition, ranging from assertions that “sources” within the State Department say they would never extradite her, to claims that the risk of extradition is real, but that the Secretary of State has the discretion to refuse to extradite.
If the Secretary of State actually has this discretion, it must be grounded in the law.
That means it must be found in the Constitution, or in an act of Congress, or in a treaty—all of which constitute the “law of the land”. Beyond authorizing the President to make treaties, with the consent of two thirds of the Senate, the Constitution sheds no further light.
The only act of Congress dealing with extradition of US citizens is Title 18, United States Code, section 3196; a bit of background first.
There is no uniform US extradition treaty. Each treaty is separately negotiated with the other sovereign nation. Historically, many of the treaties entered into by the US contained clauses providing that neither country was obligated to extradite its own citizens.
Notwithstanding this, the US had extradited US nationals on the basis of discretion to extradite even though extradition was not required by the language of the treaty. But in 1936 the US Supreme Court held that if the treaty does not “obligate” the requested party to extradite its own citizens, the Secretary of State does not have the discretion to deliver the person sought to the requesting country. [Valentine v. United States ex rel. Neidecker 299 U.S. 8]
In 1990, Congress passed 18 U.S.C § 3196, captioned “Extradition of United States citizens:”
“If the applicable treaty or convention does not obligate the United States to extradite its citizens to a foreign country, the Secretary of State may, nevertheless, order the surrender to that country of a United States citizen whose extradition has been requested by that country if the other requirements of that treaty or convention are met.”
That is the full extent of Congressional action on extradition of US citizens; there is no Congressional grant of discretion to the Secretary of State to decline extradition in the face of a treaty obligation.
Some US extradition treaties contain clauses that give the requested country the discretion not to extradite its own citizens; perhaps that is where the idea that the Secretary of State has discretion not to extradite Knox comes from.
Here, for example, is a clause from the US-Sweden treaty:
“There is no obligation upon the requested State to grant extradition of a person who is a national of the requested State, but the executive authority of the requested State shall, subject to the appropriate laws of that State, have the power to surrender a national of that State if, in its discretion, it be deemed proper to do so.”
The treaty with Italy is short (ten pages) and written in plain language. The treaty has commences with Article I, captioned “Obligation to Extradite”:
“The Contracting Parties agree to extradite to each other, pursuant to the provisions of this Treaty, persons whom the authorities of the Requesting Party have charged with or found guilty of an extraditable offense.”
The cover letter of the Secretary of State to then-President Reagan explains: “Article I obligates each State to extradite to the other, in accordance with the terms of the Treaty, any persons charged with or convicted…”. (emphasis added)
There are mandatory grounds for refusal, such as political or military acts, double jeopardy (if the person sought has already been tried by the requested State for the same offense), or if the prosecution or penalty is time-barred in the requesting State.
There is just one discretionary ground: if the country requested is also prosecuting the person sought for the same act.
Article 4 provides:
“A Requested Party shall not decline to extradite a person because such a person is a national of the Requested Party.”
Thus, any discretion to deny extradition implied by 18 USC 3196 has no application to requests made under this treaty. Further, although some appellate cases have treated some issues regarding extradition of nationals differently, they fairly firmly hold to the difference in the meaning of mandatory words like “shall” and “obligate” on the one hand, and discretionary or permissive words like “may”.
Comments to the effect that the US has declined extradition to Italy in the past are superficial and uninformed.
The first illustration such commentators cite is that of the Air Force pilot who severed a ski lift cable, causing multiple deaths. That was not an extraditable offense under the treaty because of double jeopardy; the pilot had been court martialed. Although his acquittal enraged Italians, the pilot had already been tried by the US, and thus his case fell under the mandatory ground to denial of extradition specified in the treaty.
The other example mentioned is that of the CIA operatives who were prosecuted in absentia for the abduction of Abu Omar in Milan. The Italian Minister of Justice refused, during both the Berlusconi and Prodi administrations, requests of the Milan court to commence extradition proceedings. In Italy, the courts and the government are independent, and the courts lack power to compel government to make a request for extradition.
Even if the Italian government had made an extradition request, there is at least a colorable argument to be made that this was in the nature of a military act in the US war on terror, thus constituting a mandatory ground of refusal.
Thus, if Italy requests the extradition of Amanda Knox, the US lacks legal authority to decline to deliver her to Italian authorities. If the US government wants to avoid extraditing her, it will have to rely on diplomacy rather than law. In other words, it will need to convince the Italian government not to make an extradition request in the first place.
Archived in Italian system v others, The three defendants, Amanda Knox, The appeals, Extraditions, The wider contexts, American context
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Amanda Knox Lies Again To Get Herself Into Another European Court “But Really, Judge, Its Only PR”
Posted by Kermit
This is the first of two posts on Knox’s claim to have sent an appeal to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Last Monday the main event that followers of the Meredith Kercher murder case were awaiting was the closing argument by Prosecutor Alessandro Crini in Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s appeal trial.
Dr Crini’s structuring of the prosecution’s case in 16 points demolished the defendants’ efforts to present the volume of evidence against them as an incredible, long series of mistakes, coincidences and misunderstandings.
It seems, however, that Amanda Knox and her people didn’t want the public to be too fascinated by Dr Crini’s devastating argument. They really wanted them to be distracted by what can only be seen as an ill-judged public relations move, breaking yet more laws along the way.
Knox attempted to blow smoke over the prosecution’s arguments by grandly announcing “today, my lawyers filed an appeal of my slander[sic] conviction with the European Court of Human Rights.” That explanation of her PR ploy calls for a close review of her eligibility (here) and her so-called proof (next post).
Knox’s eligibility or otherwise
The European Court of Human Rights, is a supranational European tribunal dedicated to – as its name suggests - human rights.
It is not dedicated to criminal or civil proceedings on murder, sexual assault, theft, simulation of a crime, or any of the other charges that Knox faces.
In fact, to avoid the many unnecessary or spurious applications which hamper real cases getting attended to, the ECHR provides a number of online resources on who may apply and how and why.
One of the first issues that its advice underlines is that it is not a glorified appeals court:
Either Knox’s legal advisors are just ignorant (which ones? The Italian professionals, or the American media hacks?) or this is simply a last-ditch Hail Mary action as an extradition request moves inexorably closer.
If the ECHR makes clear that it isn’t a court of appeal, there shouldn’t be any direct correlation between the Supreme Court confirming her as a convicted criminal and her application to the ECHR.
If that is in fact the basis of their application, it will not go far before rejection. In fact, the vast majority (more than 95%) of applications get rejected:
“For a number of years now, and owing to a variety of factors, the Court has been submerged by individual applications (over 130,000 were pending as at 31 August 2010). The overwhelming majority of these applications (more than 95%) are, however, rejected without being examined on the merits for failure to satisfy one of the admissibility criteria laid down by the Convention.
This situation is frustrating on two counts.
Firstly, as the Court is required to respond to each application, it is prevented from dealing within reasonable time-limits with those cases which warrant examination on the merits, without the public deriving any real benefit.
Secondly, tens of thousands of applicants inevitably have their claims rejected, often after years of waiting.”
It would be a outrageous if other, real human rights cases were delayed due to a Public Relations ruse as part of an extra-judicial strategy to undermine a request for Knox’s extradition.
Other ECHR on-line resources help potential applicants decide if they be eligible to be heard at the Court.
Below, a work-flow chart presents the main steps, including various “Admissibility Criteria”:
A first admissibility criterion
The first Admissibility criterion is that an applicant has exhausted “domestic remedies” in pursuing the recognition and correction of the human rights he or she feels have been abused.
Knox in her application to the ECHR directly relates the Italian Supreme Court final confirmation of her “calunnia” sentence (three years for obstruction of justice for framing her kindly boss Patrick Lumumba as the murderer of Meredith Kercher, thereby throwing off the course of the investigation) to her application to the ECHR.
But what were the supposed human rights abuses suffered? What did she do to remedy them?
The first requirement of exhausting “domestic remedies” means that the rights abuses that Knox alleges she has suffered have been pursued in Italy, and that all possible instances of reclamation in Italy have been visited.
However, as far as the public knows, Knox has not even placed a formal complaint concerning supposed civil rights abuse. Certainly her own Italian lawyers have said they havent.
The US and Italian publics would be interested in seeing her specific claims to the ECHR and whether there is any registration of such claims or complaints with the Italian police or other administrative or NGO offices.
Knox’s needling stepfather, Chris Mellas, stated in April 2008 on a precursor to the PMF discussion forum that a complaint had been filed concerning Amanda being hit during questioning.
[Click for larger version]
However, nothing more has ever been heard of this complaint, which definitely would have been a starting point for pursuing domestic Italian remedies to the claimed rights abuse.
Since it appears zero rights abuses have been pursued in Italy, and the date of Knox’s application to the ECHR is in effect unrelated to her “calunnia” sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court, the six month limit beyond national remedies related to the rights abuse for applying to the ECHR is irrelevant here.
It should be noted that when Prosecutor Crini asked this week for an addition to Knox’s confirmed sentence for “calunnia”, adding another year to the three years already served by the convicted criminal, this is not a reopening of the “calunnia” case or an example of “double jeopardy”, but rather the reassessment on appeal of a separate, pending issue related to the basic calunnia charge: whether it should include an additional year of sentence for being aggravated.
Since this aggravation addition to the charge is awaiting determination, and follows from instructions of the Italian Supreme Court (and could result in an additional year in prison), it is not part of the prior, confirmed sentence.
A second admissibility criterion
Now just in case Knox or her lawyers would like to allege any perceived human rights abuse whatsoever in their ECHR application, the Strasbourg court insists on the reclamation in question being directly related to one of the sections of the European Convention on Human Rights
I’ve gone through it and I see chapters related to illegal detention (detention permitted only following arrest) and torture, but nothing related to getting cuffed on the back of your head.
If such an event ever occurred, it shouldn’t have, but quite likely one of the other authorities or rights bodies listed by the ECHR may be better equipped to deal with it.
This is a second Admissibility Criterion that filters out many applications: one can’t simply run to the ECHR saying “my rights have been abused” – the issue at hand must be directly related to the European Convention on Human Rights.
I seriously doubt the “hitting” event ever occurred because Knox’s own Italian lawyer Luciano Ghirga denied it, stating to the Press on 21 October 2008:
Amanda wasn’t hit. There were pressures fom the police, sure, but we never said she was hit.
As our next post here on this same subject will show, even Knox herself admitted she was treated well.
[Above: Amanda Knox’s Italian courtroom lawyer stating to the Press in 2008 that she had not been hit.]
If Knox hasn’t even tried to remedy being allegedly hit in Italy by suing or making formal complaints, nevertheless the Italian police certainly have acted upon such suggestions.
A number of legal processes are under way against Knox and her family members for slander and calunnia. Knox might face two more charges of aggravated calunnia. Why do I doubt that Knox has even mentioned those other legal processes in her application to the ECHR?
Those charges would of course have to be taken care of (as part of “exhausting domestic remedies”) before the ECHR would be able to consider her application, assuming it surmounted all of its other shortcomings to get to the ECHR judges’ hands.
A third admissibility criterion
Another Admissibility Criteria is the “Significant Disadvantage” filter. If an alleged rights abuse is minimal – compared to the very serious issues that the ECHR was created to consider – the application will go no further.
The only violent description of Knox’s alleged beating was given by her stepfather, Chris Mellas: “She was interrogated, and hit, and threatened,” he typed. “Tortured. Physically and mentally”.
However, there was never any medical or forensic notification of such “torture” before or after her incarceration in Capanne Prison.
Rather, Knox spent her time in prison receiving regular visits from a lovelorn Italian politician who befriended her, and participating in prison musical and theatrical activities.
[Click for larger version]
In underlying the “significant disadvantage” requirement, the ECHR states in its examples of rejected claims, that it can’t be distracted by the French driver who lost a point on his driver’s licence, or the Romanian who claims 90 euros from the State, when the Court has real and serious Human Rights cases to deal with such as:
- El-Masri v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Article 3 of European Convention on Human Rights: Torture and inhuman and degrading treatment during and following applicant’s extraordinary rendition to CIA)
- Hirsii Jamaa and others v. Italy (Article 4 of Protocol No. 4: Return of migrants intercepted on the high seas to country of departure)
It’s almost certain that Knox has not pursued on an Italian level any remedies to her alleged human rights abuse (whatever it was), nor is there any evidence that the investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder and the subsequent trials of Knox, Rudy Guede and Raffaele Sollecito were affected in their outcome by the rights abuse.
This is especially the case if the limit of Knox’s human rights suffering is that described by a talky ex-FBI helicopter pilot turned ex-college security guy turned Amanda Knox groupie, Steve Moore.
Moore describes the “frightful” circumstances of Knox’s witness questioning on the night of 5 November 2007 for the couple of hours (perhaps even somewhat less) that it lasted:
No food, no coffee, no bathroom breaks – nothing.
Francesco Sforza is currently a fugitive from the Seattle courts on two counts of Assault-Domestic Violence, who continues to support Amanda in ongoing Internet blog posts, from wherever he may be.
See below. Click for larger. In purple, my corrections to Knox’s “what-I-want-the-World-to-believe” post about applying to the ECHR.
Between the manifest doubtfulness of the acceptability of Knox’s application to the European Court of Human Rights, on one hand, and the falsehoods and half-truths in her announcement, on the other, why do I get the feeling that the only reason and hope she and her team have in announcing the application (whether really filed or not) is to distract the attention of the followers of her appeal trial from the prosecution’s weighty arguments?
This will have little if any effect on the wheels of Italian Justice, and probably even less on a State Department more concerned with maintaining good relations with European allies while diplomatic challenges occur in the Middle East and Asia, than with a lobby plan to prevent Knox’s extradition.
[Below: The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg France]
Archived in The three defendants, Amanda Knox, Public evidence, Knox's alibis, Defense dirty tricks, Mafia playbook, Diversion efforts by, Knox-Mellases, Francesco Sforza, Michael Heavey, The wider contexts, Seattle news
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The Considerable Number Of Suspected Perps That Countries Extradite Daily To Other Countries #2
Posted by Peter Quennell
Extradition: a hardball game.
Complete refusals of extradition by any countries other than Russia and China seem increasingly rare, as that can cause a rebound effect and economic retaliation in response. The United States very rarely refuses to extradite.
If anything, the US is stepping up the pace of its extradition cases - both ways. The US at federal and state level is at any one time processing hundreds of requests, and transporting suspected perps back and forth.
These are some of the high-profile extradition cases in today’s news:
The US/Italy Robert Lady case
The twists and turns in the story of the fugitive from Italian justice and former CIA chief in Milan Robert Lady were last posted on here. He scampered out of Central America back to the United States mid-2013.
But now official Washington seems to be giving Mr Lady a very hard time which may have him voluntarily headed to Italy to seek a break.
When the anniversary of 9/11 came around this year, Robert Seldon Lady was moving between low-end hotels around Miami. An international arrest warrant keeps him from returning to his home in Panama. He says he’s flirting with personal bankruptcy, fears for his life, and is “getting pretty desperate.” His marriage is broken. He blames this hard luck on his former employer, the Central Intelligence Agency
Mr. Lady helped CIA contractors and agents snatch an Egyptian Islamist off the streets of Milan and deliver him to an interrogation cell in Cairo. This so-called extraordinary rendition—one of 130 or so carried out by the Bush administration—set in train events that soured America’s relations with Italy and upended the life and career of Mr. Lady and other CIA agents.
Saying “I’m fed up with all this,” Mr. Lady has some extraordinary steps in mind to change his fate. His actions and outspokenness are going to add to the discomfiture of his former bosses at Langley over this messy episode from the early days after 9/11.
If the muddle-headed Knox and Sollecito enablers can find any solace in that, good luck. Mr Lady was a top government employee, who claims he was doing only what he was told.
The Brazil/Italy Henrique Pizzolato case
Believe it or not the former director of the Bank of Brazil has fled to Italy to ensure a fair trial.
Sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison for bribery, embezzlement and money laundering, Pizzolato announced in a letter that he fled to have, according to him, a new trial in Italy “removed from politics and electoral motives” and in “a court not subject to the impositions of the media”.
Brazil might ask Interpol for a “red notice” which is the highest form of international arrest warrant and often has the same wanted result as formal extradition.
A red notice chills renegades’ possibilities worldwide.
In fact so tough is life on the lam under a red notice that perps often simply cave before too long, and head back to defend themselves or pay their dues without any court moves or official transport required.
The US/Italy Raoul Weil case
Finfacts reported on this case last month.
Raoul Weil, a former UBS wealth management chief, was arrested last weekend in Italy and faces extradition to the United States to answer charges of aiding and abetting tax evaders.
Weil left Switzerland’s biggest bank in 2009 after he was declared a fugitive from US justice by ignoring a criminal indictment issued in 2008. UBS was forced to pay a $780m fine in 2009 after admitting to actively assisting US tax evaders to break US law.
Several Swiss bankers and lawyers have since been indicted in the US for their alleged role in helping wealthy US citizens hide their assets from the tax authorities.
Weil is one of the most high-profile of the accused as a then head of UBS’s wealth management and he is now a temporary resident of an Italian prison, likely fearing a longer spell in a US one.
A Florida court indictment charged Weil with having a prominent role in aiding UBS’s US clients to hide around $20bn in undeclared assets between 2002 and 2007.
He however has strongly denied the allegation but would not risk defending himself in a US court.
Italy is giving Mr Weil a pretty hard time and accedes to all American extradition requests except where the death sentence might be involved.
The US/Russia gangsters case
The US is trying hard to get some Russian gangsters (okay, alleged gangsters) extradited from countries around the world and Russia is resisting this “extraterritorial application of America law”.
U.S. organized crime experts say Russian criminals working overseas often have connections within the Russian government, and that the Russian government’s defense of them is designed to keep those links from emerging in public light….
In the past six months, Russians have been a frequent target of arrest warrants executed at the request of U.S. prosecutors.
On Aug. 1, the Dominican Republic extradited 24-year-old Aleksandr Panin to stand trial in federal court in Atlanta on charges related to cyberscams using SpyEye malware, which enables the theft of online banking information. Panin is accused of stealing $5 million from U.S. banks.
In mid-August, Lithuania extradited an alleged arms dealer, Dmitry Ustinov, to stand trial in the United States for allegedly negotiating to sell restricted night-vision goggles. He faces a 20-year sentence.
Another Russian, Dmitry Belorossov, was arrested at the Barcelona airport Aug. 17 upon triggering an Interpol fraud alert. Belorossov’s extradition to stand trial in the United States is pending.
When U.S. prosecutors seized Liberty Reserve in late May, they said the company had laundered “more than $6 billion in criminal proceeds.” Liberty Reserve allowed clients anonymity and offered them a digital currency, known as an LR, to facilitate payments for criminal activity.
The US/Spain Javier Martin-Artajo case
Banker Javier Martin-Artajo now in Spain is refusing to be extradited to the United states - because the crime he is accused of took place in England. Good luck with that one. JP Morgan Chase Bank has just paid a huge fine in the US so THEY accept the crime took place there.
Archived in The appeals, Extraditions, Other cases, Others Italian, Others elsewhere, The wider contexts, American context
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Thursday, August 29, 2013
Amanda Knox Dithering Over Court Appearance For Appeal Going Over Very Negatively In Italy
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Above: the outspoken political leader of the region of Umbria Lignani Marchesani warns Amanda Knox]
Amanda Knox has her name on a book that maliciously slimes everybody she ever encountered in Italy. Then she repeatedly goes on TV whining about how people dont like or trust her.
Guess what? Italians are seeing those same wild accusations as being one self-created reason why Knox seems to lack the guts to head for the appeal court. She would be put face-to-face with many of those that she slimed. How embarrasing.
The other reason of course has applied since 2009: Italians believe she really did lead a very cruel murder pack, killed someone vastly more gifted and worthwhile than herself, and now is lying to the American public in the hope that they will insist their government ignores any arrest warrant for Knox from Italy.
She sure has a real knack of making things worse for herself. No-shows are very rare in Italy and they are seen as not only very cowardly but a sure sign of the person’s guilt. Our main poster Jools translated this tart threat from the leader of Umbria’s regional government which is posted on the regional assembly website.
MEREDITH KERCHER MURDER: “IF AMANDA KNOX DOES NOT COME BACK TO FACE THE NEW TRIAL, PERUGIA SHOULD REVOKE THE SISTER CITIES-TWINNING- WITH SEATTLE”.
The chief regional councillor Andrea Lignani Marchesani (Fd’I) seeks to revoke the twinning of Perugia with Seattle, if Amanda Knox does not return to Italy to stand trial for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.
“Headlines were not needed nor a crystal ball to forcast that Miss Amanda Knox would carefully refrain from returning to Italy to face the new appeal process. The annulment of the judgment at the Supreme Court shows how the references to international pressures were not unfounded and a clear abdication of our sovereignty for the sake of interests that have nothing to do with justice.
“No need to emphasize once more how the city of Perugia, the Umbria [region] and the University have damage to their image and finances from this tragic event, without forgetting the human aspects and family of the victim.”
Andrea Lignani Marchesani calls to revoke the twinning between the cities of Perugia and Seattle, birthplace of the American woman on trial in Italy. According to Lignani, “The city of Seattle, linked in a sister cities twinning for twenty years with Perugia, lost no time during the time Amanda was in custody to criticize our capital city, either by revoking of the naming of a park [in honor] of the city of the Griffon or by petitions tending to the withdrawal of the twinning itself.
“Perugia has no need for undesirable relationships and should, in this situation where a wound of its recent history is being reopened, should proceed to counter offensive.
If Amanda, as is almost certain, does not show up at the trial and does not face the verdict of the Italian justice system, Perugia must withdraw it’s twinning with Seattle. Court judgments are meant to be respected and must be executed, this is what is repeated every day, and this must also apply to the Seattle citizen Amanda Knox.”
As explained in the post below, the Italian court has many ways of applying its own powerful pressure. It could for example put Knox’s entire defaming entourage on trial, including her own dad, and see them all labeled as felons worldwide.
More on this in our next post, about Frank Sforza, which explains all the grief his own meltdown in court could rain down.
Archived in The three defendants, Amanda Knox, Reporting on the case, Media news, Diversion efforts by, Knox-Mellases, Francesco Sforza, The wider contexts, Italian context
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The Prospects In Favor Of A Possible Fugitive Amanda Knox Take Yet Another Hit
Posted by Peter Quennell
He is now a worldwide fugitive - with fewer governments stepping forward with offers for him than for the other famous fugitive Edward Snowden. We posted briefly on the case here and here and two weeks ago Barbie Nadeau posted a good update here.
Robert Lady was the leader of the team that kidnapped the supposed Egyptian radical Abu Omar in Milan in 2003. Then he escorted Abu Omar to Egypt and he was apparently present for some months while Abu Omar was tortured.
The Milan court put online in English this 210-page summary of the case against Robert Lady and another 18 Americans who were involved. Amazing reading. What absolute buffoons. In total 25 Americans and 9 Italians were accused, though not all were put on trial, and as Barbie Nadeau explains, all of the others received Italian leniency.
Robert Lady didnt, though, and after he was convicted in absentia in Milan he took off out of the United States for central America. The CIA might have continued to help him there, though there were signs that the State Department and Rome Embassy, who have many other important dealings with Italy, were pretty ticked.
One CIA operative even sued State for diplomatic immunity (none of them were granted it).
When it became known that Robert Lady was living in Panama (a country without an extradition treaty with Italy) and close to citizenship, Italy through Interpol issued a worldwide arrest warrant, and requested that Panama round him up.
A few days ago, Robert Lady sought to move to the next country, Costa Rica, and was briefly detained.
What happened next is very murky. But it seems that Robert Lady was headed for the US by air, with possible help from some arm of the federal government - and then he just suddenly disappeared.
Last week, the Panamanians picked him up. It was the real world equivalent of a magician’s trick. He was nowhere, then suddenly in custody and in the news, and then—poof again!—he wasn’t. Just 24 hours after the retired CIA official found himself under lock and key, he was flown out of Panama, evidently under the protection of Washington, and in mid-air, heading back to the United States, vanished a second time.
State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters on July 19th, “It’s my understanding that he is in fact either en route or back in the United States.” So there he was, possibly in mid-air heading for the homeland and, as far as we know, as far as reporting goes, nothing more. Consider it the CIA version of a miracle. Instead of landing, he just evaporated….
Having vanished in mid-air, he has managed so far not to reappear anywhere in the US press. What followed was no further news, editorial silence, and utter indifference to an act of protection that might otherwise have seemed to define illegality on an international level.
There was no talk in the media, in Congress, or anywhere else about the US handing over a convicted criminal to Italy, just about how the Russians must return a man [Snowden] Washington considers a criminal to justice.
Nevertheless, a thorn in the flesh of American-Italian relations has been disappeared, suggesting that the pro-friends-with-Italy State Department line is dominant. Having lost everything , the former US officlal Robert Lady is now a world-wide fugitive and further US help if any is likely to be very furtive.
Confessed druggie and convicted felon Amanda Knox, a private citizen, can hardly expect any more official deference.
Archived in The three defendants, Amanda Knox, The appeals, Florence appeal, Extraditions, The wider contexts, American context
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Thursday, May 09, 2013
The Amanda Knox Trainwreck: Knox Invents An Illegal Interrogation By Mignini That Never Took Place
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
[The Perugia Central Police Station where Knox’s imaginary interrogation “took place”]
It is hard to imagine a more extreme form of contempt of court than Knox falsely accusing a respected prosecutor of interrogating her without her lawyer being present, and pressing her to incriminate others.
For this alone, Knox will certainly be investigated and charged. No wonder she is “scared” of returning to Italy. Apart from fears of getting up on the stand, she has lied about and falsely accused way too many people there.
1. What actually happened at Knox’s witness and suspect interviews:
Here is the true account, which has many witnesses, and then her account in the book, which has none.
Before 3:00 AM on 6 November 2007 the respected senior prosecutor Giuliano Mignini had barely set eyes on Amanda Knox.
At that point in time, she had just passed through a purely voluntary witness questioning with the police, who were actually much further ahead in questioning Sollecito and Knox’s flatmates and Meredith’s English friends.
Dr Mignini was at home asleep, but on call if the central police station needed him that night, which is how quite by chance he came face to face with Knox not long before dawn.
Knox’s latest alibi had just been collapsed in another witness interview room. Sollecito had collapsed their joint alibi almost instantly when shown phone records that proved he had just lied. He then declared their current alibi to be a pack of lies.
Told of this, Knox then floundered for a new explanation, turning finally to fingering her employer Patrick Lumumba who the police did not even know to exist until her phone record showed he did.
Police took down that statement, Knox signed it, and this at 3:00 am was the state of play.
Knox was in a waiting room and not under arrest. Mignini was required to warn Knox of her rights as a new suspect, and to warn her to do no further talking to him or anyone else around without a lawyer present.
This was especially so as Knox was inclining to babble on and on and officers were trying to calm her down. As the police had just found (and as her own lawyers later found) she can prove very difficult to stop.
This relatively brief meeting (in which Mignini made quite clear who he was, witnesses confirm) was extended to allow Knox to fine-tune her accusation of Patrick. Prior to this, Knox to Mignini was simply one of a whole lot of people who might be of interest, nothing more.
2. Knox’s invented version of the witness interview which never happened
This interrogation quoted from Knox’s book below is already attracting serious attention in Italy. Why? Because its just not her babbley tone, and because it never even took place.
Amanda Knox, Waiting To Be Heard, HarperCollins, Pages 90-92
[Description is of the end of Knox’s voluntary witness interview with police which Mignini did not attend; the most damaging claims are in bold]
Eventually they told me the pubblico ministero would be coming in.
I didn’t know this translated as prosecutor, or that this was the magistrate that Rita Ficarra had been referring to a few days earlier when she said they’d have to wait to see what he said, to see if I could go to Germany.
I thought the “public minister” was the mayor or someone in a similarly high “public” position in the town and that somehow he would help me.
They said, “You need to talk to the pubblico ministero about what you remember.”
I told them, “I don’t feel like this is remembering. I’m really confused right now.” I even told them, “I don’t remember this. I can imagine this happening, and I’m not sure if it’s a memory or if I’m making this up, but this is what’s coming to mind and I don’t know. I just don’t know.”
They said, “Your memories will come back. It’s the truth. Just wait and your memories will come back.”
The pubblico ministero came in.
Before he started questioning me, I said, “Look, I’m really confused, and I don’t know what I’m remembering, and it doesn’t seem right.”
One of the other police officers said, “We’ll work through it.”
Despite the emotional sieve I’d just been squeezed through, it occurred to me that I was a witness and this was official testimony, that maybe I should have a lawyer. “Do I need a lawyer?” I asked.
He said, “No, no, that will only make it worse. It will make it seem like you don’t want to help us.”
It was a much more solemn, official affair than my earlier questioning had been, though the pubblico ministero was asking me the same questions as before: “What happened? What did you see?”
I said, “I didn’t see anything.”
“What do you mean you didn’t see anything? When did you meet him?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Where did you meet him?”
“I think by the basketball court.” I had imagined the basketball court in Piazza Grimana, just across the street from the University for Foreigners.
“I have an image of the basketball court in Piazza Grimana near my house.”
“What was he wearing?”
“I don’t know.”
“Was he wearing a jacket?”
“I think so.”
“What color was it?”
“I think it was brown.”
“What did he do?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“Are you scared of him?”
I felt as if I were almost in a trance. The pubblico ministero led me through the scenario, and I meekly agreed to his suggestions.
“This is what happened, right? You met him?”
“I guess so.”
“Where did you meet?”
“I don’t know. I guess at the basketball court.”
“You went to the house?”
“I guess so.”
“Was Meredith in the house?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Did Patrick go in there?”
“I don’t know, I guess so.”
“Where were you?”
“I don’t know. I guess in the kitchen.”
“Did you hear Meredith screaming?”
“I don’t know.”
“How could you not hear Meredith screaming?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I covered my ears. I don’t know, I don’t know if I’m just imagining this. I’m trying to remember, and you’re telling me I need to remember, but I don’t know. This doesn’t feel right.”
He said, “No, remember. Remember what happened.”
“I don’t know.”
At that moment, with the pubblico ministero raining questions down on me, I covered my ears so I could drown him out.
He said, “Did you hear her scream?”
I said, “I think so.”
My account was written up in Italian and he said, “This is what we wrote down. Sign it.”
To repeat, Mignini was not even present at the midnight interrogation of Knox by the police, and he certainly never edged her into fingering Lumumba as is being claimed here. Knox herself did that all by herself in the presence of the police.
Archived in The three defendants, Amanda Knox, Officially involved, The prosecutors, Public evidence, Knox's alibis, Reporting on the case, Knox's book, Defense dirty tricks, Mafia playbook, Diversion efforts by, Knox-Mellases, The wider contexts
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Thursday, May 02, 2013
The Amanda Knox Trainwreck: Good Reporters Start To Surface Amanda Knox’s False Claims In Droves
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
Did ANYBODY think to check Knox’s book for criminal defamations and false claims? Take this glaring “mistake” from page 248.
During the rebuttals, on December 3, each lawyer was given a half hour to counter the closing arguments made over the past two weeks. Speaking for me, Maria criticized Mignini for portraying Meredith as a saint and me as a devil
Really? Prosecutor Mignini said that? So why did the entire media corps report that it was said by Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer Carlo Pacelli? As the BBC reported:
[Mr Pacelli] added: “Who is the real Amanda Knox? Is it the one we see before us here, simple water and soap, the angelic St Maria Goretti?”
“Or is she really a she-devil, a diabolical person focused on sex, drugs and alcohol, living life to the extreme and borderline - is this the Amanda Knox of 1 November 2007?”
So even Mr Pacelli didnt compare Knox to Meredith, or simply call Knox a she-devil to her face. He asked rhetorically if she was a she-devil or a saint. Not exactly unheard of in American courts.
And remember he was addressing someone who would have been quite happy to see Patrick put away for life, cost him two weeks in a cell, entangled her own mother in a cover-up, destroyed Patrick’s business and reputation world-wide, still hasnt paid him money owed, and for lying about him served three years.
Prosecutor Mignini in fact never called Knox anything at all. We can find no record that he did. Again and again he has denied it. And he had no personal need to prosecute Knox, and certainly no need to frame her, despite many pages Knox devotes to trying to prove the reckless claim that he did.
Another false claim: Knox’s claim that Prosecutor Mignini invented the notion of a satanic cult to explain the Monster of Florence murders, also made by Sollecito, is totally untrue.
Dozens of others had suspected and talked about a satanic cult for YEARS before he investigated one loose end in the case. And both that theory and that investigation are back on track - at the recent order of the Supreme Court.
Another false claim: Knox devotes pages to trying to make herself look good on the witness stand at the trial. But Italians who could follow in Italian in real-time ended up suspecting and despising her performance up there. Read what they saw here and here.
Inspired by such conspicuous false claims as these, various reporters have begun to dig. We posted on Knox’s false claims about her prison time and the many disproofs. Italy-based reporter Andrea Vogt uncovers some more.
Knox’s memoir is a vivid personal account of the difficulties of prison life in Italy, complete with claims about inappropriate behaviour by staff. But Knox herself once painted a different picture.
Other documents - including writings Knox penned in her own hand while incarcerated, case files and state department records - conjure up quite another impression of a very different Knox, one who was more sanguine about her experience.
On the attitudes of the prison staff
“The prison staff are really nice,” wrote Knox in her personal prison diary, which was eventually published in Italy under the title Amanda and the Others.
“They check in to make sure I’m okay very often and are very gentle with me. I don’t like the police as much, though they were nice to me in the end, but only because I had named someone for them, when I was very scared and confused.”
She described Italian prisons as “pretty swell”, with a library, a television in her room, a bathroom and a reading lamp. No-one had beaten her up, she wrote, and one guard gave her a pep talk when she was crying in her cell.
Unlike the heavily-edited memoir, these are phrases she handwrote herself, complete with strike-outs, flowery doodles, peace signs and Beatles lyrics.
On the positive HIV result she was given
Both accounts also refer to the devastating but erroneous news from the prison doctor that she had tested positive for HIV, although her diary presents a more relaxed person at this point. “First of all, the guy told me not to worry, it could be a mistake, they’re going to take a second test next week.”
We also know that it was Knox’s own lawyers who leaked the HIV report and list of sex partners. Not the doctor or anyone else. No malice was intended, that is clear, despite her claims.
On her framing of her kindly employer Lumumba
[Knox] writes that she had a flashback to the interrogation, when she felt coerced into a false accusation. “I was weak and terrified that the police would carry out their threats to put me in prison for 30 years, so I broke down and spoke the words they convinced me to say. I said: ‘Patrick - it was Patrick.’”
In her memoir, she describes in detail the morning that she put that accusation in writing, and says the prison guard told her to write it down fast.
Yet in a letter to her lawyers she gives no hint of being rushed or pressured. “I tried writing what I could remember for the police, because I’ve always been better at thinking when I was writing. They gave me time to do this. In this message I wrote about my doubts, my questions and what I knew to be true.”
On her medical examination after arrest
“After my arrest, I was taken downstairs to a room where, in front of a male doctor, female nurse, and a few female police officers, I was told to strip naked and spread my legs. I was embarrassed because of my nudity, my period - I felt frustrated and helpless.”
The doctor inspected, measured and photographed her private parts, she writes - “the most dehumanising, degrading experience I had ever been through”.
But in the 9 November letter to her lawyers, she described a far more routine experience.
“During this time I was checked out by medics. I had my picture taken as well as more copies of my fingerprints. They took my shoes and my phone. I wanted to go home but they told me to wait. And that eventually I was to be arrested. Then I was taken here, to the prison, in the last car of three that carried Patrick, then Raffaele, then me to prison.”
On her persona and mood swings in prison
She says she was often suicidal, but recollections of prison staff and other inmates differ. Flores Innocenzia de Jesus, a woman incarcerated with Amanda in 2010 described Knox as sunny and popular among the children who were in Capanne with their mothers, and recalled her avid participation in music and theatrical events. She also held a sought-after job taking orders and delivering goods to inmates from the prison dispensary.
“Most of the time when we spoke during our exercise break, the kids would call her and she would go and play with them,” de Jesus told me.
And on what US officlals and her own lawyers perceived
State department cables, released through the Freedom of Information Act, show that between 2007 and 2009, three different high-level diplomats from Rome (Ambassador Ronald Spogli, Deputy Chief Elizabeth Dibble and Ambassador David Thorne) were among those reviewing Knox’s case.
Embassy officials visited regularly. Records show one consular official visited Knox on 12 November, soon after her arrest. A few weeks later she wrote in her diary how the visits of embassy officials improved her experience….
In 2008 and 2009, she was visited by two embassy officials at a time, six times. Ambassador David Thorne, whose name appears at the bottom of cables in August, November and December of 2009, is the brother- in-law of US Secretary of State John Kerry (at that time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee).
If the diplomats knew anything of the “harrowing prison hell” Knox was going through (as one paper put it), they are keeping those reports under wraps. Neither Kerry nor any other prominent US politician has made any public complaints. Even today, her Italian lawyers maintain she was not mistreated.
Half a dozen obvious false claims and defamations here. We estimate we will uncover well over one hundred more.
Archived in The three defendants, Amanda Knox, Officially involved, Reporting on the case, Fine reporting, Knox's book, Defense dirty tricks, Mafia playbook, Diversion efforts by, Knox-Mellases, The wider contexts, Italian context
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Saturday, April 06, 2013
Giuliano Mignini Promotion Places Him First In Line For Prosecutor General of The Region Of Umbria
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Above: Giuliano Mignini at left at Lake Trasimeno where Dr Narducci’s body believed bound was recovered]
Umbria of course is the Region for which Perugia is the capital and the current Prosecutor General is Dr Galati who will soon retire.
The post that the popular Dr Mignini was promoted into on his high-scoring merit this past week is one of three deputy prosecutor general posts. The promotion was delayed because of the rogue prosecution against him which Cassation annulled, but he is the most senior and most high-scoring of the three so he should succeed Dr Galati.
We will post the full story (it is a long and impressive one) after our series of posts on the Cassation outcome is done. The story includes an almost unprecedented THREE Cassation wins in just the past several months.
- One obviously was Dr Mignini’s role in the overturn of the Knox-Sollecito appeal and confirmation of Knox’s felony conviction. His main role was to have presented an error-free case at trial in 2009 resulting in the solid grounding of the Massei Report just praised by the Supreme Court.
- One was the final termination of the spurious prosecution against Dr Mignini and Dr Michele Giuttari in Florence by a rogue prosecutor who was desperate to cover his tail after he was (legally) caught on tape incriminating himself.
- One was the Cassation decision to permit the reopening of the MOF-related Narducci case and to confirm that investigations and prosecutions against nearly two dozen who had been seemingly obstructing justice may proceed.
Congratulations to a fearless and effective prosecutor. We will update his full story here soon.
Archived in Officially involved, The prosecutors, The wider contexts, Italian context
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Tuesday, April 02, 2013
The Real Catastrophe For The Defenses That Was The Supreme Court Ruling Last Week
Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)
The Supreme Court annulled almost the entirety of the 2011 Hellmann-Zanetti appeal verdicts, declaring the appeal outcome completely invalid on five of the six charges. The Court only upheld the sixth charge which made definitive Knox’s conviction for calunnia for which she had been sentenced to three years.
Calunnia is the crime of maliciously placing false evidence or testimony against an innocent person, something the Italian Criminal Code considers not as criminal defamation but as a form of obstruction of justice, a more serious offence.
Worse for Knox, the Court annulled a part of the appeal verdict which had dropped the aggravation known as continuance, the aggravation that acknowledges a logical link between the obstruction of justice and the murder charge.
Once the dust has settled, the defendants and pro-Knox and pro-Sollecito supporters and defences may finally realize how severe a defeat has been dealt to their side.
Most American journalists were completely unprepared for and very surprised at the outcome. But most Italian commenters and a very few others elsewhere considered the outcome quite predictable (the criminologist Roberta Bruzzone for example hinted so in written articles, so did Judge Simonetta Matone, as well as John Kercher in his book, and many others too).
This really is a catastrophe for the defences. A complete annulment of an acquittal verdict is just not frequent at all. They do occasionally occur, though, and this one appeared easily predictable because of the extremely low quality of the appeal verdict report.
For myself I could hardly imagine a survival of the Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti outcome as being realistic.
I previously posted at length on the Galati-Costagliola recourse (that is an important read if you want to understand all angles of the annulment). I argued there that a Supreme Court acceptance of the verdict would have so jeopardized the Italian jurisprudence precedents on circumstantial evidence that it would have become impossible to convict anyone in Italy at all.
The previous appeal trial obviously violated the Judicial Code as it was based on illegitimate moves such the appointing of new DNA experts for unacceptable reasons. It contained patent violations of jurisprudence such as the unjustified dismissal of Rudy Guede’s verdict on a subset of the circumstantial evidence. Hellmann-Zanetti even “interpreted” the Constitution instead of quoting Constitutional Court jurisprudence.
They omitted a number of pieces of evidence, literally “forgetting” them or dismissing them without providing an argument (they should have, being an appellate trial based on the previous findings and arguments of the lower court). The appeal trial had obvious illogical contradictions on a macro level, such as the contradictory putting together of the conviction for calunnia and the acquittal on the murder charge (ignoring a logical link required by statute without introducing any reason at all).
The Hellmann-Zanetti verdict was also based on an illogical processing of all pieces of evidence (such as the dismissal of Nara Capezzali’s evidence without logical reason, even after calling her “credible,” and that of Quintavalle; and attributing the bloody footprint to Rudy Guede on the basis of some ludicrous reasoning).
The appeal verdict basically ignored the concept of “a contrario” evidence, like concluding that the luminol footprints are probably not in blood but in some other substance and not related to the murder (despite failure to indicate any alternative substance nor any reasonable scenario).
The verdict was also biased with open prejudice in favor of two of the suspects in assuming they would be unlikely to even socialize or hang out together with the third, based on social or racial discrimination (two whites from good-looking families are called “good fellows” while the third is “different”).
Beyond the glaring, major faux pas in procedure, the verdict’s low quality, unlawfulnesses, and hypocrisy in its reasoning tended to be pervasive and obvious through all its paragraphs, and possibly this also could have caused an aura of distrust toward the work of the Hellmann-Zanetti court.
One could assess the strikingly low quality of the appeal verdict especially by comparing it to a sophisticated recourse such as the 100-page Galati-Costagliola Supreme Court appeal. While nobody could anticipate with total certainty the Supreme Court decision between the Galati-Costagliola appeal and the Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti appeal verdict, to good legal eyes the outcome would be as uncertain as the result of an England versus San Marino football game!
EACH of the eleven single mistakes, plus EACH of the six “method” mistakes pointed out in the Galati-Costagliola recourse could by itself have been a sufficient cause for the annulment of the acquittals.
The redundancy of reasons and remarks by Cassation sheds light on the judgment shortcomings from many different angles, and all the reasons presented for the recourse were certainly assessed by the Supreme Court.
But on the practical side, most probably the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict did not even survive beyond the first mistake. The appeal verdict most likely crumbled completely from the very beginning on reason #1, the illegitimate appointing of new experts by Hellmann-Zanetti to re-examine the DNA.
But even given that the defences’ defeat could be foreseen, I never expected the defeat to pervade to this extent.
I thought the appeal verdict might be quashed entirely and a new appeal would start from scratch. But the Supreme Court went further and decided to “save” only the parts of the verdict that were unfavorable to Knox, and declared her conviction for calunnia definitive.
Meanwhile, the Court accepted the Calati-Costagliola reason #10, and quashed the part that denied a logical link between calunnia and murder.
The Supreme Court thus sends Raffaele Solecito and Amanda Knox back to appeal trial, but this time Amanda Knox will enter the trial as a felony convict with a definitive criminal record, which – the Supreme Court hints – is to be considered logically linked with the charge of murder.
Moreover, judges in the appeal that will come next in Florence will have to follow the decisions set by the Supreme Court. Since the Supreme Court’s motivations report has not been issued yet, we still don’t know what points exactly Cassazione will make. But we can expect that several arguments used by Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti that were “needed” to acquit Knox and Sollecito will be now declared illegitimate.
This might mean that we will not see for a second time such faulty reasoning as “Knox’s statement can’t be used as evidence of lying because it is not true.” It may not be possible to dismiss the verdict that found Guede guilty of concurring in murder “with others” from the set of evidence just because it was “weak.” It may not be possible to deduce the time of death based only on declarations of Rudy Guede.
We also may not have a chance to again see an expert declaring that contamination is “likely” on the sole basis that “everything is possible.” We also may not have another judge attributing footprints without talking about any measurements.
The Supreme Court session began on March 25, and it is only a rare event that a Cassazione session extends over into two days.
The first criminal division of the Supreme Court – scheduled to decide on this case – was a five-judge panel presided over by Dr Severo Chieffi. His name never did sound like a particularly favorable omen for Knox and Sollecito. Dr Chieffi is a 70-year-old judge, known for being the author of a famous 2008 verdict which definitively closed a notorious criminal case (“the first time a Cassazione hearing attracted massive live media attention”), a verdict among the most quoted in jurisprudence which is known as that “on reasonable doubt.”
Dr Chieffi and his nine-judge panel explained reasonable doubt as to be intended as an “a contrario” concept, the concept used to formulate a logical reasonable alternative. That verdict pointed out the concept of “reasonable” and also stressed that the nature of evidence is “logical” – reasonable depends only on the plausibility of alternatives, not on how conclusive or reliable single pieces of circumstantial evidence are, and a piece of evidence does not require any specific “physical” element or conclusive quality.
The rapporteur judge was Dr Piera Maria Severina Caprioglio. The rapporteur judge goes through the papers of the whole trial and summarizes their content to the other panel judges; the rapporteur and the president are the two who physically write the report (it may sound like irony that both judges have the adjective “severe” in their name). I was told Dr Caprioglio was a rather stiff judge, known for her scrupulosity in procedure matters, and she is also a specialist – and hard liner – about sexual crime (maybe that’s why she was chosen by Dr Chieffi as the one to do the research on this case).
At the Supreme Court there is also an office known as the Office of Procurator General, which has more than 50 magistrates. The Procurator General appoints a magistrate (normally called the “PG”) to study cases and to make arguments on all cases dealt with in Supreme Court sessions. The PG is considered “neutral” in the sense that their office represents no party only the “precedents” of the court. While the rapporteur makes a description of the case, the procurator makes arguments about the recourses submitted by the parties.
At 10:30 am on Monday, Judge Caprioglio begun her 90-minute speech summarizing the case. She detailed legal events that led to the first Massei-Cristiani verdict, and then the appeal trial led by Hellmann-Zanetti and their verdict.
She sounded rather neutral; hers was a sheer summary with no comment attached. Nevertheless, it sounded most ominous for the defences: right from Dr Caprioglio’s speech, in fact, Knox and Sollecito’s attorneys understood that they were going to lose.
This is because Dr Caprioglio devoted half of her rapporteur time or more to detailing Massei’s first degree trial and verdict, explaining the arguments and evidence used by the Massei court. Such attention was itself ominous to the defences.
A main basis of the Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti verdict is in fact a series of denials about the work of the lower court, in which plenty of evidence was simply ignored or dismissed without dealing with the first degree conclusions; while the strategy of Giulia Bongiorno was to entirely “replace” the details of the evidence set with a self-made narrative, quite unattached to actual trial events, which somewhat “worked” as rhetoric and in the media.
Yet Dr Caprioglio was not yet the biggest problem facing Knox and Sollecito. The defence was about to face a pincer front, because the Procurator General’s offices did not appreciate the appeal verdict at all.
A bomb went off with the speech of Procurator Riello which followed next.
Dr Riello recalled the points of recourse submitted by Galati-Costagliola, which may sound technical or subtle to those unaccustomed to them. Dr Riello endorsed the radical censures made by Galati-Costagliola and made clear his own view in an overview of the whole verdict. His arguments had the subtlety of an anvil.
To summarize, he basically maintained the appeal judges had conducted an appeal trial as if they were idiots, and followed the paths of logic, procedure and law like sailors without a compass.
Seen from the point of view of the Procurator General, their way of conducting the appeal trial itself was like a journey through a dreadful series of unlawful steps, decisions informally taken without deliberation, and arbitrary and unjustified ordinances. The court simply “lost their way.”
In the body of their findings, it seems they understood almost nothing about the evidence – in particular about how circumstantial evidence works. They did not deal with the findings and arguments of the first instance court as they should have, as if they didn’t exist, and they trivialized the previous legal material.
In fact Dr Riello sounded almost sarcastic; outraged by the incredibly amateurish work of this appeal court, he tended to detail the merit of questions and was interrupted by the president asking him to stick to the discussion on the table.
At the close of his speech, he called the appeal verdict “a rare concentration of law violation, a monument to illogicality.” He said “the judge of merit lost their way in this trial.” Dr Riello noted “they fragmented, they parceled out the pieces of circumstantial evidence.”
He implied not only incompetence but a kind of disingenuous attitude: “The Court employed a fair dose of snobbism for trivializing the first degree verdict, reducing it to four elements. A very imprecise and superficial synthesis.”
He went beyond the criticism expressed in the Galati-Costagliola appeal when he described an obvious bias of the appeal court “not in just a few passages of the second instance verdict – it’s as if the defendants should benefit from a kind of anthropological and cultural immunity, in relation to the events.”
He criticized Pratillo Hellmann’s dismissal of Amanda Knox’s handwritten memoir, and recommended that a new appeal trial must in part be based on that statement as “it is a usable document”; and he stressed that in his opinion “the scream heard by Amanda is a significant datum, of great importance.” The behavior claimed by Knox on the morning of November 2, 2007 in his view was “chilling” and her taking a shower in a cold bathroom is a “chilling detail.”
Dr Riello concludes by saying: “These are all conditions for not letting the curtains close on an upsetting and extremely serious crime for which the only culprit found up to the present day is Rudy Hermann Guede, who has been addressed through a Lombroso-style assessment, either calling him a thief, a criminal or a drifter. He didn’t confess and he was not convicted by another court for concurring in a crime together with others, maybe with ‘ectoplasms.’” (A reference to Cassation’s previous decision that he did commit the crime with others, but Hellmann-Zanetti identified no other people; hence ‘ectoplasms.’)
The Prosecutor General also dealt with the DNA experts’ report which defined the previous results as “unreliable.” He implied that the report and its language were used as a pretext by the defences “as a tombstone, while in fact it is not.” It was used as a tool to focus the trial on the DNA and steer it away from the whole evidence set, to “bury the set of pieces of circumstantial evidence which all have their vital value.”
The rhetoric of the defences aimed to “blame everything on those involved in the scientific police who are almost depicted as bunglers; however they are not brigadiers playing with toy chemical sets, they are in fact a highly qualified department and they do employ cutting-edge technologies.”
A severe legal bashing like the Riello speech is not at all common at the Cassazione. As I heard the news on the radio, law experts commented that the event was unusually serious, and they hinted that its consequences may lead to the setting of a historic jurisprudence precedent.
Francesco Maresca – who brought his mentor Vieri Fabiani with him – endorsed the recourse points and made points similar to Dr Riello’s. He pointed out that a major flaw of the appeal trial was to focus on two DNA instances as if the case was based on them. The court appointed experts to review items with no legitimate basis, they provided an inconsistent explanation for their steps, and then they refused to analyze and introduce further evidence, totally contradicting themselves and also violating the code.
Their criteria for choosing which piece of evidence to discuss or review were totally contradictory, and their series of steps egregiously violated a series of procedural conditions that any court is supposed to follow.
The analyzing of the knife DNA sample and bra clasp sample as pieces in isolation is a sort of device that serves a defence made-up narrative; the focus on “disputed” items and the re-make of a narrative about legal events is simply a defence strategy which is aimed at the media rather than official court proceedings. For the Kercher family, the evidence points to the guilt of Knox and Sollecito beyond reasonable doubt.
The evidence, explained Maresca, consisted of numerous pieces of evidence and reasoning, that were simply not dealt with by the appeal court. The whole process was “non-transparent” and the result is also contradictory given that Knox is indicted by her own words on the crime of calunnia.
Maresca explained that the appeal verdict is riddled with many flaws and errors in the merit of the facts which cannot be assessed by the Cassazione court, but there are also patent violations of law which are “strong and obvious” and of the most serious kind.
Then it was the defence attorneys’ turn. Giulia Bongiorno knew she would need to apply the full power of her best rhetorical skills: she pointed out a factual error in the recalling of Prosecutor Riello and threw herself head-first into the merit of the evidence.
She even made FOA-style overstatements on the number of Guede’s DNA instances: “So many genetic traces of Rudy Guede were found in the bedroom of the murder, Amanda and Raffaele’s DNA would have been found too if they had been there.” (Her claim is false: in fact, only four samples yielding Guede’s DNA were found in the bedroom, and some were very scant.)
Bongiorno focused on investigation mistakes and complained that Raffaele Sollecito “was put in jail because of a shoe print found beyond the duvet which covered the body, a print that was attributed to Guede.” She also commented on Knox’s handwritten memoir and again put forward the claim – already rejected by all the judges of all instances – that the statement should be “not usable” because there was a “blackout” of defendant guarantees. Apparently, Bongiorno did understand that the most dangerous threat, and the actual battleground, would be about the danger of having Knox now definitively convicted for calunnia.
Bongiorno said “we do not want to put the scientific police on trial” but then said the point defence demonstrated was that they made “an infinite series of errors.” In fact, Bongiorno’s speech largely consisted of the well-known defense stance of pointing the finger at a list of supposed wrong-doings by the police.
Bongiorno’s argument of pointing out supposed “police mistakes” would probably ring true to Knox’s Amarican supporters, who may find these arguments convincing and effective.
In fact, it was obvious that Bongiorno’s position was extremely weak, and that her arguments were not going to have any effect. The weakness of Bongiorno’s arguments was obvious from the start because she backed into arguing the case only on the merit of investigation techniques.
Her arguments would maybe resonate effectively with uninformed spectators, but they had already failed in those courts that were legitimate, and they have no consequence from a legal standpoint. Talking about supposed mistakes during the investigation and supposed bad behavior of police are good to build a narrative for journalists, but they would have zero effect on expert judges.
I think she knew she was going to lose, but besides being a lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno is also a smart public person, and she plays in the public arena as well as in a court of law at the same time. Her technical stances are all wrong, but she knows she will be remembered well for her good-looking performance.
The president did not interrupt her, showing due politeness toward the defence attorneys. But no attorney would convince the Supreme Court by simply saying “we demonstrated that the investigators made mistakes.”
In order to seek to obtain some positive effect, she should have argued in favor of the Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti appeal verdict on points of law, and put forward arguments for their legitimacy; for example, an argument in response to point #1 of Galati’s recourse claiming that the appointing of DNA experts was unmotivated.
Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Dalla Vedova had to take care of their own recourse against the conviction for calunnia on the false accusation of Patrick Lumumba. Their line of defence on this point was the same – and could be nothing else – than what they maintained though all the previous instances. Dalla Vedova deals with the handwritten note where he understands “Amanda says she is confused, she does not care about what she said.”
They reintroduced the myth that “she had been interrogated by the investigators for 54 hours.” They explain – almost a paradoxical argument – that the document was “a defensive paper” while then becoming one of the elements on which the charge of calunnia was built. They stressed that “she wanted to cooperate” with the investigation and that “she was a friend of Meredith.”
A failure of their arguments was easily predictable because their recourse was built on points that had already failed at lower instances. Some time ago before this appeal, I posted this criticism of the Ghirga-Dalla Vedova recourse on Knox’s calunnia conviction to the Supreme Court:
Pages 3-11: The first argument is about the non-usability of the evidence for the crime of calunnia.
Such an argument is basically the re-proposal of the same argument that had been already dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2008, and subsequently by Massei-Cristiani in 2009 and also by Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti. Therefore, it is an especially weak argument. Ghirga-Dalla Vedova do attempt to use it again at the Supreme Court because it is what they have.
Just like Giulia Bongiorno will likely recall it too, just like she attempted to request of nullification of Stefanoni’s testimony on procedure grounds before Massei, which was rejected again by Hellmann-Zanetti (the Knox supporters have such a spun perception of the proceedings, they apparently don’t see how some basic defensive claims were rejected by all judges).
Pages 11-14 complete the first argument, addressing the further requirements of the crime of calunnia (maliciousness and voluntarity).
Basically, this point contends that the false accusation was not voluntary or not malicious. The only usable point in my opinion in this reasoning consists of one line, which recalls that Hellmann-Zanetti did not acknowledge the aggravation of continuance for the crime of calunnia. But this point has no consequence because it is a weak point in Hellmann’s verdict itself which violates jurisprudence and logic itself.
The other claims at this point are basically useless; they attack the Hellmann verdict in a way peculiar to the prosecution appeal with an opposite stance. But in fact “not knowing” that someone is factually innocent obviously cannot be extended to an absolute meaning; Hellmann is illogical on that, because he dismisses the logical link with the murder without explanation.
Pages 14-18 speak about the alleged “extreme exhaustion” of Knox in order to exculpate her of her confusion and falsehood.
This argument tends to be a stronger attempt to use some of the contradiction in Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti, using as a starting point the fact that H-Z did state that Knox was allegedly under excessive pressure. They convicted her for calunnia nonetheless. I think this argument won’t go too far, for two reasons.
First, because it’s basically on the merits; it quotes the whole writing of Knox and requests the SC to directly re-assess the sincerity of her words, something which the SC are unlikely to do.
Second, because while on the one hand there is a contradiction in H-Z as they accuse her of calunnia but do not use her writings as an evidence of lying on the other crime, and they reject the continuance despite the obvious link between the calunnia and the murder, on the other hand the contradiction addressed by Ghirga is weaker. There was in fact no factual finding about “excessive pressure,” neither in the H-Z appeal trial nor in previous Massei testimonies.
As for jurisprudence, pressure and “psychological alteration” itself is not enough to cause a loss of mental faculties to understand and will. Basically, most crimes are committed in a state of psychological stress or alteration, and people are responsible for themselves notwithstanding. The faculty to understand and will is not a psychological condition; it is something that affects the cognitive and decisional functioning of the brain on more basic functions, and requires a medical assessment.
So there is no way the argument of Ghirga-Dalla Vedova can overturn a conviction for calunnia based on an argument of psychological conditions: they have no basis; and there is no consistent ground to assert “excessive pressure” either.
Pages 19-20 is a very short argument about two articles of the code that Ghirga puts in in relation to a case of defensive rights.
This is an argument I am unable to assess clearly. This point basically claims Knox is somehow protected by the law because of an extension of her rights of defence. I have the feeling this point is wrong, because the boundaries of the right to defend oneself are already fixed and limited by a SC ruling of 2008, and because Article 51 only applies to what she declared as a defendant, but not to what she declared as a witness.
Pages 20-22 is only about the sentencing and not about innocence; it claims that, anyway, even if Amanda is guilty of calunnia, the punishment was too stiff and this severity was not logically motivated by Hellmann. This point is the only that could stand, in my opinion.
After the hearing of March 25 – which was the ninth case the Supreme Court panel dealt with that day – the panel deliberated for six hours, then adjourned the hearing and scheduled the final decision for the following morning.
The question whether to annul the verdict entirely, or to confirm the calunnia conviction, might have been the cause of some of the extra time needed.
When the Supreme Court has to deal with scheduled cases the relator puts a mark – between 1 and 8 – indicating the difficulty of the case: 1 is the easiest and 8 is very complex.
Almost all recourses are below 3, while a case like the one on the Narducci investigation a week earlier, involving Mignini, could have been closer to 8. The difficulty of this case is unknown. But because of some sensitive jurisprudence involved and because of the articulation of the recourses, this could have been around 6 or higher.
After retirement of the court, and adjournment to the subsequent day, at 10 am on March 26, the court’s dispositivo was the following:
ENDING THE RESERVATION FROM THE HEARING OF 03-25-2013, [THE COURT] DECIDES AS FOLLOWS: ANNULS THE IMPUGNED VERDICT, LIMITED TO THE CRIMES UNDER CHARGES: A) (INTO WHICH CHARGE C) IS ABSORBED), B), D), E), AND TO THE AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER C.P. ART. 61 NO.2 IN RELATION TO CHARGE F), AND REMANDS [THE CASE] TO THE CORTE DI ASSISE DI APPELLO OF FLORENCE FOR A NEW TRIAL. REJECTS THE APPEAL OF AMANDA MARIE KNOX, WHOM IT SENTENCES TO THE PAYMENT OF COURT COSTS AS WELL AS REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED IN THE PRESENT PROCEEDINGS BY CIVIL PARTY DIYA LUMUMBA, IN THE AMOUNT OF 4000 (FOUR THOUSAND) EUROS, IN ADDITION TO I.V.A. AND C.P.A., PLUS GENERAL EXPENSES ACCORDING TO LAW.
Thus, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are sent back to appeal trial in Florence on all charges related to the rape and murder of Meredith Kercher (a, b, c, d, e). And Knox is definitively declared guilty of the obstruction of justice charge known as calunnia, while the argument denying any logical link between the calunnia and the murder is quashed.
The article above draws in part upon a translation into English of news information published by various Italian press sources, which our readers may like to look at directly. A good coverage of the case – including Riello’s speech – was broadcast by RaiNews 24 and they also have a lot of information on the website. Online updates were provided by Televideo. Commentaries and discussions were hosted on Radio1 - GR Rai. Dr Riello’s comments were reported by Il Fatto Quotidiano and Style.it. There were reports on Libero Italy.it. Also details and chronicles were reported at the end of the day by Il Giornale dell’Umbria. Coverage and the quotes for March 25 were provided by AGI. The dispositivo official document was obtained and published by Andrea Vogt.
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Officially involved, The appeals, Cassation appeal, Florence appeal, Diversion efforts by, The wider contexts, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito
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Thursday, March 21, 2013
Hard Line Against Seeming Self-Serving Meddling By Preston & Spezi Likely To Get Cassation Nod
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Another crazy provocation from Preston & Spezi The Angel With The Eyes Of Ice due in Germany soon]
Breaking news. Cassation is deciding right now on a formidably worded appeal by the Umbria Prosecutor General to sustain the MOF/Narducci investigation.
The mood generally in Italy is pro the Giuttari and Mignini Monster of Florence supposition, for which there is some firm proof, and not in favor of the hairbrained Spezi and Preston supposition, for which there is none at all. Giuttiari’s book Il Mostro sells very well, while Spezi’s and Preston’s MOF hardly sells at all.
Continued investigation had been stymied by the self-serving actions of certain Florence prosecutors in trying and convicting Giuttari and Mignini for supposed harm to themselves. That conviction was reversed a year ago by an appeal judge in Florence for lack of jurisdiction, and several week ago Cassation scathingly ruled that the case must come to a total end..
The judge who found Giuttari and Mignini guilty (Francesco Maradei) is now up to his ears in his own trouble for bending court outcomes, seemingly due to pressures and bribes. Meanwhile the way has been opened for Mignini to move up to the level of Prosecutor General for Umbria (there are four prosecutor posts at that level) in the next few weeks.
Giuttari spoke out strongly about the trumped up case, and in yet another unexpected development the police chief he blamed for blocking strong pursuit of the case, Antonio Manganelli, has just died.
This post by Yummi of 21 January (especially the second half) is a vital read.
One thing you can say for the fictionalist Doug Preston: he never knows how to quit when he’s behind!
Read our many, many posts especially by Kermit exposing Preston as a serial liar here. This new book [image at top] by Preston and Spezi in German on Meredith’s case is promised for release next month, and included in the publisher’s blurb is this claim:
In Perugia, Italy, the British student Meredith Kercher is brutally murdered in her apartment. Prime suspect is her American flatmate Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. With sparse circumstantial evidence both are convicted to extremely long prison sentences. Two years later, an appeals process frees both. Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi roll out the spectacular case of Amanda Knox from scratch. Previously unpublished details, interviews with lawyers involved and the exposure of the dubious machinations of the Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini guarantee a breathtaking reading that can compete with any thriller.
Yeah, well, good luck with that one.
As we have reported in depth the Chief Prosecutor in Florence is already considering contempt-of-court charges for Raffaele Sollecito based on a large number of complaints about his book. If Amanda Knox’s book which is promised for next month impugns even one Italian official, she can be assured of the same..
Presumably so can Preston if this book, the latest of his many hairbrained ventures, comes forth. More reporting right here when Cassation decides on the Prosecutor General’s appeal.
Archived in Officially involved, Supreme Court, Other cases, Associated trials, The wider contexts, More sockpuppets
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Friday, March 15, 2013
The Oil Tanker Incident: Things Between Italy And India Become… Complicated
Posted by Peter Quennell
Italy maintained that the shooting of two fishermen who the soldiers above had wrongly assumed were pirates happened in international waters, and the oil-tanker company offered to pay substantial damages to the grieving families, which they appeared at one point to have accepted.
But though the tanker was long gone from the port of Kochi, the soldiers remained under house arrest, and in the state of Kerala there remained a disposition to put them on trial though the central government told Kerala they had no jurisdiction. On the say-so of the Italian Ambassador in New Delhi that they would return, the soldiers were recently allowed to return to Italy.
Now it seems Italy doesnt want to send them back. In quick retaliation, the Indian mission to Rome may be in the process of being diplomatically downgraded, the Italian Ambassador to India is being prevented from leaving India, and the Indian Express sees a sardonic side to all of this.
To complicate the lives of the diplomats, Sri Lanka has arrested 53 Indian fishermen which it said were illegally fishing in its territorial waters, and is still holding 19 of them captive. And Italy is seeking to have a number of CIA operatives returned to Italy to stand trial there for kidnapping.
One bit of genuine good news is that piracy is at a five year low. Phew. Thanks for that one.
Archived in The wider contexts, Italian context
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Saturday, March 09, 2013
Subject To Appeal, Ex PM Silvio Berlusconi Is Sentenced In Milan To One Year For Corruption
Posted by Peter Quennell
The New York Times reports on this, the first outcome out of three corruption cases..
The story is in line with many previous posts here on the popularity and the efficient and unbending nature of Italian law enforcement. This is a system that has had to contend with a string of corrupt politicians and three mafias, and is slowly but surely winning the wars against all of them.
Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister and dominant political figure in Italy, was convicted and sentenced on Thursday to one year in prison for his role in the publication of a wiretapped conversation in a newspaper his family owns.
The verdict, handed down in a Milan court, was the second conviction for Mr. Berlusconi, the leader of Italy’s main center-right political party, in the past five months. It promises to weaken his position further as negotiations begin later this month to form a governing coalition, after inconclusive national elections late last month in which his party, People of Liberty, ran a close second behind the Democratic Party.
After Thursday’s conviction, “it will be difficult for Mr. Berlusconi to have an institutional role in the next government, either in the Senate or in any other Italian institution — he’s out of the game,” said Sergio Fabbrini, director of the school of government at Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome. “But in the Italian public opinion, there won’t be any difference,” he added. “The country is already divided between those who think he is a criminal and those who think he’s a victim. It’s been that way for 15 years.”
Archived in The wider contexts, Italian context
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Monday, March 04, 2013
Disarray And Decay In The Pro-Knox Parade: #2 Key Knox-Mellas Flunkie Now AWOL On 2 Continents
Posted by Peter Quennell
That was the header of our post of 19 December. This is the excerpt on Perugia Shock blogger “Frank Sfarzo” who like Bruce Fischer is unwillingly outed under his real name (Frank Sforza) and found to be exceedingly mundane.
Sforza hides behind the name Frank Sfarzo as an intemperate and rarely accurate blogger on the case. He brings no known professionals skills to the task. He is reported to be the target of criminal charges relating to alleged abuse of the sister and mother with whom he lives. His unsavory reputation and desperate finances mushroomed openly the other day, when he was reported in personal confrontations while visiting Canada and Hawaii.
Sforza now faces a defamation suit as well, for claiming to the whole world via Doug Preston and Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York that he was being persecuted by a prosecutor back in Perugia. The prosecutor was not even involved. Seems to us an open and shut case.
While on the west coast of the United States and Canada and Hawaii late last year, Sforza attracted the attention of the police in three cities.
Meanwhile his legal trouble in Perugia escalated. He failed to show for court hearings in Perugia in December and January and his lawyer walked. He was to face charges of violence against the police when they were called to quell a rampage. They were called by his mother and sister.
Now Frank Sforrza has again failed to show up in court, this time in Florence, and police will be actively looking for him. This case concerns one of his craziest “scoops” which was that Mignini was in cahoots with drug dealers, whereas exactly the opposite is true, Perugia drug dealers fear Mignini and he has taken a number of them down.
Sfrorza was initially cocksure (like Sollecito) on his return to Italy late 2012 and made taunting posts on Facebook and Fischer’s Misinformation Forum (like Sollecito) early 2013 but he has since gone very quiet and fled the internet (like Sollecito) as the deep legal trouble he is in slowly seeps in.
Back in 2007 and 2008 those of us who were here then followed Frank’s Perugia Shock postings and it was only late in 2008 that for murky reasons he jumped the shark and switched his sweaty attentions over to Amanda Knox. Read his first posts here. Scroll down for English.
They were actually at times accurate - and he clearly did think Sollecito and Knox were up to their ears in it. Read his headline on the last image below. On 10 November 2007 he even penned this satire.
A: Shit, my roommate is dead, do you mind if I sleep at your place?
R: Sure, so we can have another couple of joints. The guy just supplied me.
R: Hey what are those cellpones?
A: Oh, it’s her cellphones. Do you think I should hide them?
R: Give them to me… Uuuuhuuuh! (he throws the cellphones away).
A: Oh my goood, what have you done? You’ve thrown them in that garden! They gonna find them!
R: Naaa, don’t worry. My sister is Carabiniere, I know how to handle such things.
A: Hey, you should throw away your knife too.
R: What? Throw my knives away? I’m from Puglia, you know? I always have a knife with me.
I can’t believe you just said that. You know what? You better sleep at your place.
A: Oh no, please, don’t make me sleep at my place. There’s blood in the bathroom. I’ve already got my sweater dirty. I had to throw it away, can you believe it? I don’t’ wanna loose another sweater.
R: Oh right, good, ok, sorry, you can sleep at my place. By the way what happened to your roommate?
A :She made everything dirty with her blood, and then she stopped moaning about one hour ago.
R :Hey I was there with you at that time.
A: Are you sure?
R:Yes, don’t remember? We were… you know?
R: We were having sex. Did you already forget?
A: I’m not sure.
R: Actually I’m also not sure too, now, I’m too smoked.
A: We should do something than. They’ll come to take us.
R: Naaa. Are you kidding? I’m from Puglia. There’s mafia in Puglia, you know? My sister is Carabiniere! And My father is a doctor, you know? DOCTOR! He makes a call and I’m not gonna have any problem.
A: What about me? Well, if you save me too I’m gonna give you anything you want. You can have me anytime, no problem.
R: Actually I’d prefer some joints. By the way, no problem. Now we break the window and they’ll think was some thieves.
A: What if they don’t buy it?
R: Don’t worry, I know how this things go.
A: Yes, your sister is Carabinieri. Well, anyways, I’ve sent a message to Patrick so they can still think was Patrick.
R: Fine. He’s such a perfect suspect. Now let’s go to sleep. I’ll set the alarm so tomorrow I’m calling my sister.
A: Are you gonna remember that?
R: I’ll put a note on the fridge.
A: However… Are you sure that wasn’t us to hurt her with your knife?
R: To hurt who?
Archived in Defense dirty tricks, Mafia playbook, Diversion efforts by, Knox-Mellases, Francesco Sforza, More sockpuppets, The wider contexts, Seattle news
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Saturday, February 23, 2013
An Overview From Italy #3 Dr Michel Giuttari Speaks Out About The Trumped Up Florence Case
Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)
[Dr Michele Giuttari, former head of the Mobile Squad in Florenece and prominet authoer]
Dr Giuttari and Dr Mignini are connected because they both investigated the Monster of Florence case - and because a nasty case trumped up in Florence in retaliation has just been killed by the Supreme Court. .
The erratic Mario Spezi and his timid colleague the sniper from afar Doug Preston have blown up that case to gigantic proportions, as have the Knox and Sollecito forces, and most recently (very foolishly and ill-timed, as his claims may constitute contempt of court) Raffaele Sollecito himself.
Some important background can be found in Overview #2 and Comments here.
Michele Giuttari started his police career in the 1970s’ as a mobile squad detective in Calabria; after 15 years of “Calabrian “ experience he was appointed to the Anti-Mafia Division of Naples, and subsequently became the head of the Mobile Squad in Florence. During his Florentine service time, following investigation guidelines under the direction of prosecutor Piero Luigi Vigna, he produced a solution to the ‘Monster of Florence’ case, but also brought the investigation to an unexpected turning point.
[Former Florence chief prosecutor Piero Luigi Vigna created the “monster of Florence” term]
As Vigna deduced, the MoF was not really one serial killer, but rather the manifestation of the killing activity carried on by a small group of people, at least three. In fact three people were found guilty for taking part to the murders; but both prosecutor and judges were not entirely satisfied: because there was evidence – so the court concluded – that someone else was involved too, who remained unknown.
The investigation into the death of Dr Francesco Narducci was opened in Perugia in 2005 as a routine cold case, because of Narducci’s wife’s and relatives’ doubts about the “official” version of his “accidental” death in Lake Trasimeno.
[Former Perugia doctor Francesco Narducci found drowned in Lake Trasimeno]
Points of contact between Narducci and the MoF emerged independently from two directions, from the Perugia investigation, and from Giuttari’s findings from the previous Florence investigation.
Crossed analysis with the data bank collected by Michele Giuttari showed that several people were common witnesses both in the Narducci and the MoF case, while many things in the Narducci case were not adding up (for example, the unburied body was found to have died by strangulation, not by drowning, his trachea and hyoid bone were crushed).
Something even more unexpected was that the investigation into the Narducci case revealed - and partly itself triggered - a network or other collateral crimes. A number of people were caught engaged in criminal activities with the purpose of plotting cover-ups and obstruction of justice on this cold case. Among them were law enforcement officers and lawyers.
But most surprising and peculiar, there was a fierce reaction from some magistrates among the Florence judiciary, in an attempt to stop the Perugia investigation.
The first wild accusations launched by a Florentine prosecutor against Perugia offices were proven false, so the most serious charges were dropped by a preliminary judge as obviously unfounded.
But a second wave of legal action followed, alleging that Giuttari and Mignini’s wiretapping recordings were false; this accusation was also proven false in a trial, as expert technicians demonstrated the authenticity of all material.
But after ignoring the objection about territorial competence the judge managed to let one accusation stand – that of abuse of office, a charge less serious than the previous ones, which was not formulated on points of facts but only on points of law – at the first degree trial.
After some years, this charge was canceled, as the courts finally declared the whole investigation illegitimate, and they nullified both the first degree trial, and the investigation and indictment itself.
A last attempt by the Florentine prosecution to further delay closure was ended by the recent, final Supreme Court verdict. Meanwhile, a couple of Florentine magistrates were successful in stopping the investigation into the Narducci case, for a total of seven years.
Unfortunately these happenings are not entirely new to the Italian judiciary. This one resembles other happenings – possibly more serious – that affected the system in recent Italian history (the most famous examples are the Elisa Claps, or the plots known as “Toghe Lucane” targeting known magistrates such as Luigi De Magistris and Henry John Woodcock).
The system shows symptoms of stress from the whole extreme political instability of the country, but so far it still manages to fiercely resist those drifts.
Michele Giuttari is also an author. Albeit he is not the top crime fiction novelist for sales in Italy (the Italian market has top-class masters in the genre), yet he is the top-selling Italian crime writer in the English speaking world. Curiously, the best-seller among all his titles published in Italy – the non-fiction book about the history of the true MoF investigation – is the only one in his books which has so far been rejected by American publishing houses.
[The top-selling Michele Giuttari book, the non-fiction Il Mostro]
His last book bears the title “The Evil Dreams of Florence” [image of cover at bottom] and he might have chosen it as a metaphor of what he was drawn into by some people within the Florentine authorities and some in high positions.
After the final Supreme Court verdict on Feb 8., he posted a long comment about it in Italian on his Facebook page, in which he addresses his criticism mainly toward the head of police Antonio Manganelli .
[Chief of Italy’s civil police Antonio Manganelli]
I agree with Giuttari about the shame police chief Antonio Manganelli brought on his administration through the terrible handling of the case of the Genoa G8 violence. In 2001 some police corps attacked and tortured peaceful demonstrators in Genoa, following political inclinations, in what was called by Amnesty International “the most serious violation of civil rights committed by police forces in Western Europe” after WW2.
The leader of the Democrats (the main opposition party) at the time called it “state violence with a fascist mark”. Recently Cassation definitively called the event a “shame”, and prominent journalist Marco Travaglio wrote an open letter to Antonio Manganelli, saying “I beg you to kick out from your police force the authors of such henious crimes” .
[Police violence against peaceful protestors at Group of 8 meeting Genoa 2001]
Yet Manganelli (ironically his name means “batons” in Italian, and the Diaz School night assault is now remembered as “la notte dei manganelli”) – a man who apparently has the quality of being friends with many high-profile politics – had chosen to “help” them, to defend and protect from prosecution the proven authors of political violence, while at the same time, apparently he didn’t care about what was going on in Florence and quietly pulled a curtain of silence on a “politically uncomfortable” issue.
I add that Manganelli was recently found to be the most paid public employee of the Italian State (with a wage of 621,000 euros per year).
Dr Giuttari expressed his outrage against Manganelli in a comment on his Facebook page which I translate below:
Seven years of deafening silence by the head of State Police Manganelli
On February 8. 2013 the Supreme Court of Cassation, by declaring them inadmissible, put the final seal on the investigations that the Florentine prosecution had “illegitimately” carried on against myself, on the basis of mere accusatory theories about absurdly formulized charges of abuse of office which, allegedly, I committed concurring together with Perugia Public Minister Giuliano Mignini in the course of official activity, during my enactment of the written orders of a PM [supervising magistrate] at the time when I was responsible for a special team which had been created by the head of the police through a Ministry decree.
And this [Supreme Court] decision confirms, in a certain and incontrovertible way, on the one hand the “instrumental” nature of the judicial events, and on the other hand the fact that we should not ever have been investigated; and, what’s worse, that we should not ever have been tried in Florence by magistrates who weren’t impartial at all: and this is exactly what Cassation has asserted, addressing the investigators with a clear message, even if they did it by using the available legal formula of territorial incompetence (functional rectius)!
So ended a case of Italian miscarriage of justice, which, besides causing damages to we the defendants, it also caused – and this is even more serious and absolutely unforgivable – the stopping in 2006 of the ongoing investigation into the death of the medical doctor Francesco Narducci in Lake Trasimeno, which was believed to be connected to the serial murders of couples around Florence (the so-called monster of Florence).
It was seven long years of bitterness. Seven long years of blocked investigation. Seven long years of denial of justice to the victims’ relatives.
Seven long years during which the head of State Police held to deontologically [ethically] reprehensible behavior, which was especially serious since we are talking about a man [Manganelli] supposed to be an institutional point of reference for many people who put their lives at risk on a daily basis – who was appointed to occupy a top post (by the way, as we recently learned, a financially very, very well paid post), and he simply abandoned to his fate one police officer [myself] who had a professional history not inferior to his own, though not to his predecessor who held the same post before him.
This officer – leaving aside the solving of the monster of Florence case – was
(1) honored in the fight against the ‘ndrangheta [the Calabrian mafia] (on July 10. 2009 the Chief Prosecutor of Reggio Calabria declared publicly that Giuttari as a detective “created a turning point in the history of fight against ‘ndrangheta”);
(2) honored in the fight against the camorra (when responsible for the judiciary police department of the Anti-Mafia Division of Naples, I was appointed on request of the national Anti-mafia prosecutor Bruno Siclari for travel to South America for an important and dangerous investigation about an international drug traffic and an impressive series of murders);
(3) honored in the fight against the Cosa Nostra, and in particular the investigation of the 1993 mafia massacres of Florence, Rome and Milan (chief prosecutor Vigna, as he concluded the preliminary investigation, sent a letter to the head of the Anti-mafia Division – letter #8/95, sent on 2.2.1995 – where he stressed the officer’s important contribution);
I could go on.
They were all “pure” investigation , with no contribution from mafia turncoats or cooperators!
And what about the head of the state police?
He didn’t do what he was supposed to in his function as the police chief:
(1) protect his officer, from risks including those deriving from the important police activities accomplished; answer – or make someone answer for his office – the explanatory letters that were sent to him, very detailed letters which had a judicial corroboration today (letters were sent directly to him on 2.20.2010 and 5.20. 2010);
(2) protect him from professional and economical damage (for example by paying in advance, as was his duty, the legal expenses) since he knew very well that the officer operated in an institutional role, in the name of and on behalf of his administration.
He remained deaf to the various requests which were forwarded by the Minister of Interior himself at that time, he didn’t do anything. Inexplicably, he ignored everything.
And further, I cannot keep quiet about the punishments against the cooperators in my working team.
None of them was allowed to go back to the Mobile Squad, they were all appointed to totally unrewarding duties such as guard work. All these humiliations were offenses to the personal dignity of hard working people, as humble servants of the state let alone being police officers. And moreover it was true professional competences that were lost.
A deafening silence.
I might go on but I want to recall instead what Manganelli did – even at the cost of his own public exposure – in favor of those colleagues who were involved in the Genoa G8 events, the saddest page in the history of Italian police to my memory!
They were actually promoted in their rank and functions! I think about what he did for them, even paying thousands and thousands of euros in advance for their legal expenses and for the provisional damage payments, as reported in newspapers (Il Secolo XIX of 5. 22. 2010, p.6).
A deafening silence.
These of the head of police are conducts reasonably leading anyone to conclude that he used a double standard, he considered his employees, involved in different cases, as divided between “sons and stepsons” (the Genoa case ended with definitive convictions of all on all charges, the case where I was involved was shown to be a judicial flop).
Or even better put (it is incorrect to call his behavior a “double standard” or a different treatment for “sons and stepsons”) it was actually two opposite policies, on situations that were opposites to each other.
No, that’s really not good at all. That’s not how it should be.
And you should not ignore your own employees while you listen to those who are criminally indicted, you have your personal secretary call to fix a hearing at the Ministry with them, and you listen to them while they complain against others who were investigating them by written orders of the Public Minister ! (in the trial papers – no longer officially secret – there are phone call recordings with unequivocal meaning).
the head of police Manganelli was utterly disappointing to me, since he revealed himself to be light-years distant from the man and the officer I happened to know at the beginning of the eighties, before his drift into pernicious “political” things.
Hopefully, soon or later, a parliament inquiry on the Perugia and Florence judicial events will be appointed, to search into the behavior of some institutional personalities. I’ll be ready to offer my contribution to that.
And I’m sure Dr. Mignini will do the same too.
I conclude with a twofold question: Will the head of police now feel some guil, at least morally as a person? Doesn’t he think he should respond – if not to an ordinary court – to the most severe tribunal of his own conscience, within his internal judgment?
Michele Giuttari, ex-head of the Florence Mobile Squad
Archived in Officially involved, The prosecutors, Other cases, Others Italian, The wider contexts
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Monday, February 18, 2013
Raffaele Sollecito Now Under Formal Investigation For New Crimes Apparently Unprecedented
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
Breaking news. The chief prosecutor has taken this investigation behind the scenes. See the explanation added in the box at the end.
This is Wikipedia’s definition of “contempt of court” under US and UK common law.
Contempt of court is a court order which in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court’s authority.
Often referred to simply as “contempt,” such as a person “held in contempt,” it is the judge’s strongest power to impose sanctions for acts which disrupt the court’s normal process.
A finding of contempt of court may result from a failure to obey a lawful order of a court, showing disrespect for the judge, disruption of the proceedings through poor behaviour, or publication of material deemed likely to jeopardize a fair trial.
A judge may impose sanctions such as a fine or jail for someone found guilty of contempt of court.
We may now find out much more about the equivalent under Italian law.
When Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox were released at the end of 2011, the prosecution filed a Supreme Court appeal within the allotted period. This automatically meant that Sollecito and Knox still stood accused of crimes until the Supreme Court finally signs off.
Typically Italian defendants in such a legal status get good legal advice, on the lines of “Shut up and keep your heads down. We need to be the only ones doing the talking here.”
Here such advice may or may not have been forthcoming, but the public record strongly suggests it was not. In fact Sollecios entire legal team is credited by both himelf and his shadow writer Andrew Gumbel with helping. This is what Gumbel wrote in his Acknowledgments:
Donatella Donati in Luca Maori’s office gave up many hours to make the official documentation available and to present it all in a cogent order. She’s a largely unsung hero in this story and deserves recognition for her extraordinary efforts on Raffaele’s behalf. Giulia Bongiorno, Luca Maori, and Tiziano Tedeschi answered questions and made comments on parts of the manuscript.
In the same Acknowledgments Sollecito credits the following.
I was lucky to have a crack legal team who showed their devotion to the truth and, in some cases, did not even request payment. The team of lawyers and consultants included Adriano Tagliabracci, Francesco Vinci, Bruno Pellero, Francesco Introna, Giulia Bongiorno, Maurizio Parisi, Daniela Rocchi, Luca Maori, Donatella Donati, Marco Brusco, Aldo Poggioni, Delfo Berretti, Tiziano Tedeschi, and Antonio D’Ambrosio.
Interestingly, Luca Maori has already left Sollecio’s legal team, and all eyes are now on Giulia Bongiorno. Buy plenty of popcorn. Lawsuits could fly between lawyers and family.
Since the end of 2011 Curt Knox’s forces seem to have have gone full steam ahead with their own vilifications of the Italian prosecutors, police, judges, and witnesses - in fact almost anyone who had any role in 2009 in finding them guilty, or came to believe that was a fair finding. Ourselves included.
In late 2012 Curt Knox apparently invited all the most fervent of these attackers to Seattle, including Frank Sforza and Bruce Fischer, as some sort of reward for their legally very ill-advised campaign. Buy plenty more popcorn. Lawsuits could fly here as well.
Raffele Sollecito’s forces in Italy had been a lot more restrained.
But at a stroke, the shrillness of Raffaele Sollecito leapfrogged that of Amanda Knox’s forces, with the publication of his book Honor Bound by Simon and Schuster in English in the UK and US last September,
INSTANTLY the book became notorious in Italy, because excerpts were read out by an Italian reporter in New York on the national television show Porta a Porta. Raffele Sollecito’s father Francesco was on that show, and he was increasingly forced to admit a key claim in the book was invented. It simply never happened. His son made it up.
The false claim by his son that Francesco was made to repudiate - it reappears over many pages - concerned a claimed deal engineered by his family and offered by the prosecution to Sollecito.
The deal he claimed was to roll over on Amanda Knox, and if Sollecito did so, he would be home free.
Following the Porta a Porta show, the book (obtainable on UK Amazon, where many false claims are repeated in the reviews) began to make its rounds in Italy. It took some time before many official parties accused of crimes by Sollecito obtained copies and started to explore their own legal possibilities. They are apparently still far from finished.
At the end of last week, the Chief Prosecutor for Tuscany Giuseppe Quattrocchi received the first official request from Perugia, which is to investigate 12 very serious claims in the book against the prosecution and the legal institutions of Italy. The complaint nominates a number of witnesses.
The Prosecution office of Florence now has a maximum of six months to investigate whether there is a case against Sollecito and other named parties. If so, they will steer it through the hoops of the Italian process.
The potential ripple effects of this appear to us to stretch on and on. They could come to engulf both legal teams (credited in the book with helping) and all of the PR for both defendants. Sollecito’s publisher and shadow writer are specifically named in the complaint
If Amanda Knox is not let off the hook by the Italian Supreme Court late in March (the outcome we consider most likely, given the great strength of the appeal) the smart way for Knox to go in light of this could be to junk all her websites, her book, and her interviews, and throw her supporters under the bus. Plus maybe get smarter lawyers - the aggressive and inexperienced Dalla Vedova does her no favors.
Keeping Amanda Knox’s head out of this deadly new line of fire may be very late - but maybe better late than never.
The Prosecutor General in Florence is actually under no compulsion to make any of the Perugia and Rome complaints public before his investigation is complete. He has ordered all documents removed from the public domain.
This is specifically to give the defenses no advantage and to make sure those others in Perugia who are going to complain do so with a clean sheet of paper. It may also be to keep the yammering FOA remnants silent for the first time in five years.
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Italian system v others, The three defendants, Raffaele Sollecito, Officially involved, Defense dirty tricks, Mafia playbook, Diversion efforts by, Knox-Mellases, Sollecitos, Francesco Sforza, The wider contexts
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Monday, January 21, 2013
An Overview From Italy #2: Current Perceptions In Italy, Sollecito Case, Mignini’s Full Vindication
Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)
My previous report on the bad news remorselessly building here for the defense was on the Procura Generale appeal to the Supreme Court.
One year ago – between the end of December 2011 and beginning of January 2012 – there were only rare idle comments in the Italian press about the Meredith Kercher case, more or less sarcastically noting the “suspicious” circumstances of the Appeal trial. I recall how a mention of the topic was dropped into the last number of “ll Venerdì” of 2011.
“Il Venerdì di Repubblica” is the weekly magazine issued together with the newspaper “La Repubblica” (thus probably the most read magazine in Italy).
The cover theme of that week was provincialism – or better “the provincials” - the adjective used to assemble a sample of seven little cities (Cuneo, Voghera, Rimini, Jesi, Perugia, Benevento, Partinico), picked from different regions, and taken as examples on the theme, that is stories of “local colour”; what goes on in small “provincial places”. A few characters and stories are brought in to depict the local life of each place, and the voices of local authors adds something about the places.
The article about Perugia (at pages 62-68) was by Luca Cardinalini. In that number of Il Venerdì, having stories of “local colour” as weekly theme, there were shades of ironic tones for each city, often through the voice of local intellectuals. As Perugia is described, the Meredith trial is quickly recalled among its local stories; the reader can’t miss how this is viewed as in connection with another most remarkable feature of the city, that is Masonry.
According to Luca Cardinalini and Enrico Vaime, Masonry is called a “Specialty” of Perugia, like chocolate. Local author Enrico Vaime intends to convey the people’s perception about shady powers existing in the city, about a local environment saturated by plots and informal powers, as something behind recent strange judicial decisions such as the Hellmann verdict and the apparent dropping of the Narducci case. The widespread belief of Perugians that the Public Minister (prosecutor) is the righteous one shines through the words of Enrico Vaime.
Also notice how racism appears to be another key perception about the verdict. Quality media press in Italy has a typical style of understatement. This comment hints that it seems obvious that the Appeal was a racist verdict - and it was “expected” that they would find a way to blame the black one and the outcast.
Some of Perugian “provincialism” seems to include a very narrow localism of Perugian identity: a person from Orvieto is reported to be called “a foreigner” ; but this is because the cultural viewpoint is based on the assumption of a personal knowledge of all people. In among this, there is Vaime’s knowledge about how rooted Masonic tradition and power is in the city, in a scenario of “brotherhoods” and “tribes” (the article includes a photo of the most known “Masonic” monument in Perugia: the gryphon or griffen – the emblem of Perugia – grabbing a toppled Pope’s Tiara in a sign of rebellion).
The report by Vaime is objectively correct : the concentration of members of Masonic lodges in Perugia is the highest in the world, about 5 times the national average of Italy (which is anyway very high).
In Vaime’s wording decent people in Perugia are ‘Christians’ or ‘Communists’ – these are the names he uses to address the main categories he sees as “good” people, two transparent moral systems. He devolves skepticism toward the less transparent allegiances, the murky and informal connections to powers.
I believe these perceptions from one year ago, in this colorful article about Perugia, should be most interesting to the readers of this site.
The first part of the article on Perugia is not that interesting - it speaks mostly about a local character named Ivano Massetti, nicknamed “Savonarola of Umbrian football”, the director (“boss”) of a local TV network and leading showman of his own soccer talk show. I skipped this first part with depictions of local folks, and get to the point at p.66 where the Kercher case is first mentioned.
This is my translation of the article from this point:
[…](p.66 line 17):
As Enrico Vaime – a 100% Perugian, a writer, and among many other things fiercly provincial – already knows: “Only in Perugia do you hear people saying “actually Tizio [random guy] was not a native from Colombella, but from Piccione”, which is three times further”. And when his grandfathers (farther of his father) bearing the same name Enrico Vaime, moved his formal place of residence [to Perugia] from Spello, on the official documents they wrote “emigrated to Perugia and married to a foreigner from Orvieto”.
The roots are extremely deep. “Still today” Vaime says “when I say to my family “we go back home”, I mean here, in Perugia, where I have not owned a house for decades. And I still call the roads and shops with the names they had when I was a child, even if now the owners are foreigners, from Shangai or, as I say, from Terni”.
Vaime is cross with the bad reporters who described Perugia, in the Meredith murder case, as a capital of corruption and vice: “An invasion of charlatan journalists who, as they believed they were visiting a remote and lost province, they painted it as a sort of Chicago on the Trasimeno Lake”.
[The fact] that no Perugian was involved in that sad story, to them that was an irrelevant detail. And the trial ended just the way many Perugians expected: a black guy first wrongly put in jail, another black one convicted, the two white, good-looking, wealthy and well defended young people, free.
So it was that the Public Minister Giuliano Mignini became a target. He’s a Perugian whom the Perugians know as the dominus of the other judicial case – this also is, yes, entirely local – about which everybody talks and knows, but always in a low voice: the death of doctor Francesco Narducci, the one suspected of having ties to the crimes of the Monster of Florence. From the judicial point of view that was - by half – just another hole-in-the-water [a failure] for which some critics have hastily put the blame on some alleged lunacy of the public minister.
But… however… meanwhile, this [Naducci] corpse-swap was indeed found to have been for sure, a kind of unique case in the criminal history of the country. And, for what concerns the recent acquittals of those characters involved in this death, well, after almost a year and a half we are still waiting for the verdict motivations. All of the suspects were esteemed high-class professionals. That’s a perfect mix of strange deaths, sex, lead-astray investigations, and Masonry; this is in the city with the highest number of Masonic lodges in Italy.
Vaime sighs: “Masonry is something alien from me, but I have many friends who are in it. In Perugia it works as a compensation chamber for various powers, but also as an effort for the surge of the spirit to many decent people. Masters, masons and “33”, but all of them decent Perugians”. Masonry is considered a local specialty, just like the bruschetta or the Etruscan arch.
“One day you find out that that mediocre employee of your acquaintance, or the one who performed an incredible career in the public administration or in politics, is a ‘son of Horus’. Then you either laugh, or you slap yourself on the forehead just like saying to yourself “Wow! [how could I ] think about it!”. “That travet* [*a generic mediocre opportunist employee], too”
Vaime says “to me it is a strange Perugian, with little interest for the Egyptian god compared to his covet for entering inner circles of a certain world. Their internal motivation is “I want to see how the lords sit at the table”. But in there [Masonry], you see, there are also good Christians and good Communists; as has always happened in this province, which has the art of living together in its genes”.
This month – Jan 2013 – the Italian press returned to the topic of the case again in a few brief articles. This time it was because of Sollecito’s book.
After Maurizio Molinari’s report from New York on the book in September, and the busting by Bruno Vespa on Porta a Porta of Francesco Sollecito, who ended up openly contradicting his own son’s statements, another hint appeared in the local press about what is cooking up backstage.
This article in Perugia Today has a neutral take, but the same understatement and kind of vagueness as it anticipates that something very likely will happen.
What I find most delightful is the quotation marks in the title around the word “author” – journalist Nicola Bossi doesn’t believe for a moment that Sollecito actually wrote the book:
Meredith Case: “author” Sollecito at risk of criminal lawsuit
The recounts about an alleged negotiation in order to pin the main charges on Amanda Knox, and unproven violence by the Perugia Police are under target. Mignini is considering criminal lawsuit.
Written by Nicola Bossi – Jan 4. 2013
The Meredith case is not closed, and this despite books and movies almost tend to drop it after the acquittal in second instance of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito - who were convicted in first degree for the murder of the English girl that took place in Via della Pergola.
On upcoming March the 25th the Court of Cassation of Rome will have to decide on the request for a re-opening the trial, submitted by the Procura with the authorization of Public Minister Giuliano Mignini.
In the environment of the magistrates there is confidence about a [guilty] verdict that many – in Italy and in the USA - have heavily attempted to discredit. But from the same environments around them, they talk about a greatly serene Mignini making assessments about the next strategic moves, following the attacks directed against him – and against those in Law Enforcement who cooperated with him – contained in the book by Raffaele Sollecito.
An upcoming criminal defamation lawsuit is becoming more and more likely every day, especially about some particular paragraphs. The material published by Sollecito has already resulted in discussions and clamor above all about claimed negotiations [with the prosecution] aiming to shift the blame onto Amanda alone, to be rewarded with his immediate release.
But there are also accusations against the Police about violence during his interrogations. “If you dare get up and walk, I beat you up in a bloody pulp and I kill you. I leave you in a pool of blood”. This is what you read in the book ‘Honour Bound’ issued in the US, as what Sollecito attributes to the Perugian officers.
“They wanted me to lie so they could frame Amanda”: this is the premise of the claimed negotiations claimed to indirectly involve Mignini too, which he always denied. Allegedly this would have been enough to get [Sollecito] out from prison soon, leaving the American woman in trouble.
So, these are grave accusations which Mignini apparently does not intend to let go unpunished. The criminal lawsuit is likely to be filed earlier than the date of Cassazione [25 March].
Another small piece of news is this article below published in Leonardo and written by Valentina Cervelli:
It seems basically a “commented” version of the Perugia Today article. Cervelli adds a few polite lines on her own thoughts in this piece, published on the Bbooks page of Leonardo,it; this is my translation:
Is Raffaele Sollecito going be sued soon for “Honor Bound”?
By Valentina Cervelli - 6. Jan 2013
Are there troubles in sight for Raffaele Sollecito? His “Honour Bound” book is going well in the United States in terms of sales, but here in Italy it might be soon result for him in a lawsuit for defamation by the Law Enforcement forces and by the Public Minister Giuliano Mignini.
As we know already, in Honor Bound – My journey to hell with Amanda Knox and return Raffaele Sollecito has reconstructed the whole judiciary story from his point of view, telling in his autobiography what [he says] is his own truth.
On March 25 Cassation in Rome will decide on the [prosecution] request for the re-opening of the trial submitted by the Procura authorized by Giuliano Mignini, after the acquittal in the second instance of the two main accused, Sollecito and Amanda Knox.
The young woman has returned back to her country and we bet it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to get her back in our country even in case of retrial after Cassation and a possible conviction. But lets leave aside this possible dispute and lets focus on the book. In Raffaele’s book Mignini is iimplicated because he reportedly comes out discredited. In the material published by Sollecito in his book he even talks about alleged negotiations in order to blame Knox alone, obtaining in reward a quick release.
And what about the allegations of Police violence during interrogations? Of course we don’t get into the merits, but it seems obvious that parties that may be considered offended would tend to launch a counter-attack to defend their dignity and their work. At the moment no lawsuit has been submitted. But with much probability that will be done before the decision of Cassazione.
By now we can only wait for the publishing of the book in our country, in order to assess with our minds what Raffaele Sollcito has written and the “hot” material published in his made-in-the-US autobiography.
By the way; one thing Valentina Cervelli might get wrong is the purported good sales of Sollecito-Gumbel’s book.
The Amazon.com site is reliable as quick indicator of a product’s success; the price of a new copy of “Honor Bond” on Amazon.com is now $ 3.51 (last week it was 3.76; the cover price is $ 24). It suggests sales are not quite as expected. The drop speed is significant if you consider that the book has been out for only four months.
Iin particular by the chief prosecutor there were some unexplainable decisions. As people reading this site know, Giuliano Mignini and Michele Giuttari were convicted (of some of the charges) in the first degree trial in Florence.
The motivations document was disconcerting because: besides the proof of their innocence on the main charge, what was described as the evidence on the remaining charge constituted extremely weak and vague arguments for what was claimed about Giuttari, while they were totally non-existent about Mignini.
In the second instance appeal as we know the court completely crushed the trial case.
The case against them collapsed not because of a technicality, as the FOAs falsely claimed. In the figment of their imagination the Knox supporters erroneously thought that the Florence court had an “option” to overturn the case, to find Mignini and Giuttari innocent, but that they instead decided to pass the judgment on to some other tribunal.
The pro-Knox believers are probably also ready to believe blindfolded that there was some kind of evidence against Mignini.
The Knox believers are wrong. What in fact happened in Florence is something almost unique in a judge’s career. The first remarkable event was the decision by the Florence court of nullifying the first degree verdict. They did not simply overturn the verdict (neither change, or “reform” it as we say) since an overturning would imply acceptance that a previous verdict actually existed and was legitimate.
The cancellation was in fact an in limine act about the validity , which does not require an assessment about it correctness. The court went way beyond. In fact they nullified the whole trial, not only the previous one in terms of judgment, but also the preliminary hearing, and the indictment; and even the request of indictment.
It is a legal outcome not comparable to a simple change or overturning because it is a ruling that the whole proceeding was illegitimate from the very roots. The investigation itself of Mignini and Giuttari was declared illegitimate.
If elements were found for the opening of an investigation, the prosecutor would be entitled to carry on their duties, though the investigators should be from another territory. This is important because the Florence court found evidence that people from the same office were involved in cases against Giuttari and Mignini, both as offended parties and as prosecutors.
Because of a basic conflict of interest, the local prosecutors were incompatible and the Procura of Florence had no jurisdiction. Not even Genoa would be compatible.
Florentine prosecutors therefore had no right to bring cases against Mignini and Giuttari. The investigation files now must now be sent to the competent jurisdiction – where they should have been sent from the beginning – which is Turin; there other legitimate prosecutors will decide if and how there is anything to investigate about, and if there are any charges to bring against anyone. The Florentine trials should have never taken place. The court ordered that the legitimate investigators are the Procura of Turin.
In addition, they also ruled that the court of Florence would be an incompetent jurisdiction in any further possible case that stems from that investigation: since the competent prosecution is Turin, in case elements for the indictment of anyone for any charge are found, in the future, everything should go to a court in Turin – this, only if there will be any charge to bring to court .
This decision in Florence was a total debacle for the Florence prosecutors. It is in fact “politically” much worse than an overturning of a verdict. It is not just a like a different conclusion on the merit, it is the decision to take away even the investigation from them, a kind of implicit censure of their work as highly illegitimate.
But at this point in the procedings, something even worse and even more strange happened. The Procura of Florence did something even more unusual, in fact unprecedented as far as I know.
Apparently the Florence prosecutors are not happy at all to pass the investigation file on to Turin. For some reason they seem instead to want to do unnecessary and irrelevant hard work instead. The Florentine prosecutors impugned the decision and revisited this at the Supreme Court against the Florentine judges.
This step is almost unheard of because the decision of the Florence appeal court is of a type that manifestly cannot be impugned at the Supreme Court. The recourse is obviously going to be declared inadmissible. If that submission was done by a private citizen, they would get a heavy fine for that.
Here it is a power in the Florence judiciary branch making this inadmissible move; for unknown reasons.
I’d like to know the real motive behind the latest Florence move, the only effect of which can be a waste of time (and money), a delay, of at least one or maybe two more years, which only makes the failure of the whole proceeding against Mignini and Giuttari more likely due to lapse on an expiration terms.
I say “I’d like to know” but in fact one motivation stands out as obvious: the whole proceeding against Giuttari and Mignini, from the first bringing of the charges at the lower courts, appeared as having a wasting of time among its purposes.
One practical effect - maybe a practical purpose - of pushing the charges against Mignini, was taking the file about the Monster of Florence case links with the Narducci case away from Perugia. By this move, the Florentine prosecutors managed to factually put their hands on the Narducci-MoF file and remove it from the investigating powers in Perugia.
Another effect of this was delay. Now this latest move looks as if its purpose were to delay, as much as possible, the transfer of the legal documents to Turin.
What is the ultimate event that, by all this, they seem to be seeking to delay? I can’t know for sure, I can only guess; in fact, I have only one answer, which also stands out as something obvious for those who know a bit of the backstage:
Giuliano Mignini is not an ordinary magistrate, he belongs to the Anti-Mafia Territorial Division of Umbria, and recently was selected for a further promotion by the Supreme Council of Magistrates.
In fact what is delayed is the advancing of Mignini’s career: in fact he has been already promoted to a directive function; but, by the rules, his taking the post was frozen while awaiting the outcome and conclusion of the Florentine prosecution.
Prosecutor Mignini is de facto already functioning as a prominent Magistrate in Perugia and considered as such; but formally he has not been given the directive power. Several people – among them Spezi and a number of his journalist friends, but possibly also other much more important people too – are likely not at all eager to see Mignini awarded further power.
About the latest endeavor by Raffaele Sollecito, who became liable for criminal defamation by writing false allegations about Mignini and others in his book, I expect - as logically unavoidable – that several powers and subjects will basically have no option but taking legal against him.
There will be a strategic necessity to doing this in order to prevent extradition issues in the future, but also, above all, on principle, because Sollecito made false claims about public institutions that needt to have their names cleared. Considering the kind of allegations against the judiciary as an institution, and considering that Mignini is a judge of the Anti-Mafia Division, this is the kind of lawsuit that I see as likely to be submitted on a national level, in Rome.
If that is the case, it would not be the only strange thing that the courts of Rome will deal with.
It seems like there is a kind of “curse” on proceedings related to the Narducci case. All sections of the Supreme Court which have been asked seem to have attempted to declare themselves ‘incompetent’ about re-opening the cases related to the Perugian doctor. The Cassazione is a huge office with a hundred judges working there, but maybe not so many of them are eager to deal with this case.
This could be only a coincidence. It only brings up to my mind, through a free association of thoughts, a more generic question – a personal question of mine – that is whether the words “Masonry” and “Politics” have an echo in Roman corridors too.
Finally I want to add another significant piece of Italian news.
The news a week ago was that the Procura of Florence is investigating a possible corruption/mafia plot involving construction enterprises and politicians that revolves around the building of a new high speed railway in Florence.
Some 31 people are being investigated and among them is the former governor of Umbria. A huge drilling machine – nicknamed the “Mona Lisa” – used to dig subway tunnels in Florence was sequestrated by the Procura.
In the last couple of years Perugia’s prosecution office had a main role in fighting political corruption, but it seems that the Florence Anti-Mafia division is also active, just as it was in the times when the prosecutor Vigna worked with them.
Vigna was the one who first evolved the “secret sect” scenario in the Monster of Florence case, raising unexpected problems among the Procura staff.
Archived in Vital Must-Read Posts, Officially involved, The appeals, Cassation appeal, Diversion efforts by, Sollecitos, Other cases, Associated trials, The wider contexts, Raffaele Sollecito
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Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Perugia’s Exceptional Uni And Economy May Have Left RS And AK Feeling Like Small Frogs In Big Pond
Posted by Peter Quennell
[Multi-millionaire success story Brunello Cucinelli and, below, his Perugia-area factory and a typical store]
Few crime specialists seem to see the pattern of the attack against Meredith as being absent of intense anger.
There is no way that attack represents the pattern of a lone burglar or for that matter of a single perp of any kind. The Supreme Court already KNOWS that and they know that at first appeal the Knox and especially Sollecito lawyers tried desperately to prove that two or three other perps were there, either with Rudy Guede (witness Aviello) or without (witness Alessi).
For months now, apparently unnoticed by the FOA sheep, the defenses have been sounding absolutely feckless in the face of the juggernaurt prosecution appeal submitted to Cassation by Perugia’s chief prosecutor Dr Galati.
We’re betting that if they had it all over they would have urged Knox and Sollecito to take the short-form trial and one of the olive branches offered by the prosecution (that it was a sex-based attack which went too far, not an intentional preplanned murder).
They could have entered known facts about Sollecito and Knox to show that at the least they had tin ears and had always been callous, jealous and quirky. They might have advanced a drug-based excuse - the other olive branch advanced by the prosecution was that they were on cocaine and not marjuana that night and cocaine can induce rages leading to murder.
They might also have advanced the notion that both AK and RS were being remorselessly frozen out by their peers, who increasingly looked down on them, not least of course Meredith whose sleep and studies were constantly disrupted by the thoughtless, sharp-elbowed Knox.
Consider first who were their peers. Perugia is a city of driven high performers and it may not be the most comfortable environment for low-performing layabouts. In its own small way it is about as hustling as Manhattan.
It is one of the brightest cities in Europe with an extremely high median IQ. It is one of the top-performing cities in the Italian economy, in part because of the advanced scientific research at the very large university, and in part because it is the home to some brilliant international entrepreneurs.
Both these faces of Perugia are constantly in the Italian news. A search of the past week’s news for the university turns up reports on medical and mathematical and space-science breakthroughs and as usual a number of international conferences in the works.
And a search of last week’s news for Perugian businesses turns up for example this report on Brunello Cucinelli the highly sucessful and innovative fashion-goods entrepreneur who is now talking of doubling his factory.
Sollecito was never really a part of either. He had few friends and no girlfriends, he was a year or two behind his age-group in his studies, and he needed his back watched at all times - though from his book it is obvious that he felt needled by his highly successful doctor-father.
And Knox arrived with poor Italian despite all the claimed studies back in Seattle, she took on only a light and unimpressive study-load (compare Knox’s to Meredith’s) and she was rapidly shedding friends and the goodwill of her tolerant, well-meaning employer.
Neither had a credible and impressive career path in mind, and for that matter, still don’t. It is tough enough to know you are not making it, that can induce in many quite a rage.
Archived in Officially involved, Psychology and motive, On psychology, The wider contexts, Italian context, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito
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