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Monday, April 25, 2016

Another Effective Innovation By New York Police Is Being Duplicated By Others

Posted by Peter Quennell



Police horses, up to a dozen stroked and photographed each evening in the Times Square area


In national US news any innovation of the New York police gets a lot of coverage.

Those crowd-calming police horses seen nightly in the Times Square area go way back, and their presence was never reduced back when some other cities did so - often to their later regret.

There is endemic pressure (especially after 9/11) to keep the city as safe as possible.

From that sustained effort at systems improvement, other American police forces, some very besieged at the moment, attempt to learn something.

New York police both themselves innovate and also adopt good ideas from elsewhere - not least from the brave, popular and effective police forces of Italy.

We posted in January 2013 on New York’s adoption of an Italian approach to policing.

One approach which seems a natural for Italy with all of its art is proving successful in New York now.

Described in the NY Times today is this ongoing exercise in staring at artworks. The point being to sharpen the perceptions of investigators, and to put them all on the same page objectively.

To teach people how to notice details they might otherwise miss, Amy E. Herman, an expert in visual perception, likes to take them to museums and get them to look at the art. Recently she escorted a group of New York City police officers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and asked them to describe some of the things they saw.

They did their best. “This seems to be a painting of some males with horses,” one officer said of Rosa Bonheur’s mid-19th-century work “The Horse Fair,” a scene of semi-chaos as horses are driven to market. He tried to abide by Ms. Herman’s admonishment to avoid words like “obviously.” “It appears to be daytime, and the horses appear to be traveling from left to right.”

Another pair of officers tackled Picasso’s 1905 “At the Lapin Agile,” which depicts a wilted-looking couple sitting at a French bar after what might have been a long night out. “They appear to have had an altercation,” one observed. The other said, “The male and female look like they’re together, but the male looks like he’ll be sleeping on the couch.”

The officers asked that their names not be used because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. They said that they did not know much about art — their jobs allow little opportunity for recreational museumgoing — and Ms. Herman said she preferred it that way.

“I’ve had people say, ‘I hate art,’ and I say, ‘That’s not relevant,’” she said. “This is not a class about Pollock versus Picasso. I’m not teaching you about art today; I’m using art as a new set of data, to help you clear the slate and use the skills you use on the job. My goal when you walk out the door is that you’re thinking differently about the job.”

A painting has many functions. It’s a cultural artifact, an aesthetic object, an insight into a time and a place, a piece of commerce. To Ms. Herman, it’s also an invaluable repository of visual detail that can help shed light on, say, how to approach a murder scene. “It’s extremely evocative and perfect for critical inquiry,” she said in an interview. “What am I seeing here? How do I attach a narrative to it?”

One of the processes:

Before unleashing the officers in the galleries, she talked to them in a classroom in the Met’s basement. She put up a slide of “Mrs. John Winthrop,” a 1773 portrait by John Singleton Copley. The painting, showing a woman sitting at a table holding little pieces of fruit, is considered a masterpiece of fine detail — the intricacy of the lace trim on the lady’s gown, the rich decorations on her hat. But there’s a detail that’s so obvious, or maybe so seemingly irrelevant, that most people fail to mention it in their description.

“Everyone sees that this is a woman with fruit, and 80 percent miss the mahogany table,” she said. (They also miss the woman’s reflection in the veneer.)

Ms. Herman also displayed a pair of slides featuring reclining nudes: Goya’s “The Nude Maja” (1797-1800) and Lucian Freud’s 1995 “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” who is very fat. Ms. Herman asked the group to compare the pictures. “Most cops, when I ask this question, say it shows someone before and after marriage,” she said.

Several officers raised their hands.

“Uh, the woman at the bottom is more generously proportioned,” one said.

“She is morbidly obese,” said another.

“Right!” Ms. Herman said. “Don’t make poor word choices. Think about every word in your communication.”

Ms. Herman, who has a new book out, “Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life,” came to her vocation in a roundabout way. She worked first as a lawyer, did not like it, took a job in the development office at the Brooklyn Museum and then moved to the Frick Collection. Earning a master’s degree in art history at night at Hunter College, she eventually became head of the Frick’s education department.

There, inspired by a program in which Yale medical students studied works of art to better observe their patients, she helped devise a similar program for the Frick. Eventually she moved beyond medicine. She has been offering the courses full time as her own business since 2011; her clients include federal and local law enforcement agencies across the country, as well as medical students and business executives.

Also successful elsewhere:

Steve Dye, chief of police at the Grand Prairie Police Department in Texas, brought in Ms. Herman recently to talk to a group of officers from the region. He said her presentation was invaluable in showing the officers how to better observe and document their findings accurately and free from bias.

“Some of the works of art she showed us, we wouldn’t notice the finer details,” he said. “And we’re supposed to be professional observers.”

When forced to deconstruct paintings in group settings, people from different professions tend to respond differently.

For cops it’s a natural.

“The law enforcement community is much more forthcoming,” Ms. Herman said. “Cops will outtalk you every time. Doctors and medical students are much more inhibited. They don’t want to be wrong, and they never want to show that they are ignorant about anything.”

The New York Police Department is one of Ms. Herman’s most important clients. She tailors her presentations to her audiences, and they are on the regular training curriculum at the detective bureau and the training bureau at the Police Academy; other divisions use her services from time to time. In general, her program is voluntary rather than mandatory.

“Amy reminds officers to explore outside the box,” said Police Officer Heather Totoro, who added that the program helped officers in training because of its “uniqueness and power.”

“She taps into officers’ unique sixth sense, teaching them to tell her what they see, not what they think.”

Law enforcement officials tend to view the works through the lens of the job: Who has done what to whom? Where is the perp?

“Sometimes they’ll say, ‘We have an E.D.P. here’ — an emotionally disturbed person,” Ms. Herman said. Once she showed some officers El Greco’s “The Purification of the Temple,” which depicts Jesus expelling the traders and money-changers amid turmoil and mayhem.

“One cop said, ‘I’d collar the guy in pink’” — that would be Jesus — ‘“because it’s clear that he’s causing all the trouble.’”

Among the works she finds most interesting as a learning tool is Vermeer’s exquisitely ambiguous “Mistress and Maid,” a 1666-7 portrait of a lady seated at a table, handing over (or being handed) a mysterious piece of paper. “There are so many different narratives,” she said. “The analysts come away asking more questions than answers — ‘Who’s asking the question? Who’s doing the talking? Who’s listening?’ The cops will say, ‘It’s a servant asking for the day off.’”

She also likes “House of Fire,” a 1981 painting by James Rosenquist that has three absurdist parts: an upside-down bag of groceries, a bucket under a window shade, and a group of aggressively thrusting lipsticks. “It’s really conducive to good dialogue,” she said. “How many times do officers have to make order out of chaos? So many times in our work we come across things that don’t have a coherent narrative.”

The officers in the class seemed impressed, both by Ms. Herman and by their grand surroundings.

One officer said that she had learned “how to sit down with colleagues and deal with the fact that you can perceive things so differently from each other.” It was her first trip to the Met, or indeed to any art museum.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “It’s very Thomas Crown-ish, isn’t it?”

Below: the Vermeer painting referred to, in the Frick Museum in New York

Posted on 04/25/16 at 11:52 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, April 18, 2016

Justice Systems Comparisons #5: How Appeals Differ in Italy and Common Law Countries

Posted by Chimera




1 Series And Post Overview

Meredith’s case generated enormous amounts of legal confusion and false statements around the world.

This was particularly so in the United States, and some of the confusions were by American lawyers.  We have Curt Knox and the now-defunct Marriott-Gogerty PR firm in part to thank for that. But also part of the misunderstanding comes from the differences in the Italian criminal procedures v.s. the US procedures which derive from English Common Law.

Of course, Knox/Mellas/Marriott have had a vested interested in ensuring that these differences are not made clear. Although it has antecedents in Roman law and French law, Common Law emerged distinctively in England back in 1215 when King John was made to sign the Magna Carta codifying a number of popular rights and of course reducing the king’s powers.

Note: I write this based on my experience in Appellate Court in Ontario (I’m Canadian).  However, the process is similar throughout Canadian Provinces (with minor variations), and I imagine throughout UK and US.  If anyone in other countries has some insight or experience to share, please do so.

Previously in this series: Part #1: An Overview. Part #2: Public Mischief and Perjury. Part #3: Bail, Extradition & Other Crimes. And Part #4: Canada and the U.S.A. (Part 1).

2. The Appeals Process in Common Law Countries

TERMINOLOGY:
  • Appellant—The Party that initiates the Appeal, regardless of who was who at the trial
  • Respondent—The Party that receives the Appeal, again, regardless of who was who at the trial
  • Cross Appeal—The Respondent has the right to launch their own, think of it as a counter appeal
  • Leave to Appeal—Permission to appeal, in some cases it must be granted
  • Proof of Service—Means filing an Affidavit of Service (Form 16-B), with the Appellate Court
  • Back Cover—is a back page put in all submissions (Form 4C)

The decision is handed down by the Court.  For minor criminal matters it is a Bench Trial (trial by Judge alone); for major crimes the Defendant has a choice of a Judge alone or Jury Trial.  In criminal cases, even though the Jury may vote to convict, the Judge will impose the sentence—for every crime except 2nd degree murder, the jury votes on that.  Afterwards ....

Option 1: If leave is needed, it must be granted in order to file.  This is usually for (a) 2nd level appeals; (b) To get Court Orders put in hold; (c) To Appeal prior to a final decision [Rule 62.01]

Option 2: If leave is ‘‘NOT’’ required, then just file notice.

Within the time limit—usually 30 days from the Lower Court ruling—serve a Notice of Appeal (Form 61-A), and file with the Appeal Court.  [Rule 61.04]

If the Appellant intends to submit evidence, then the Appellant’s Certificate Respecting Evidence (Form 61-C) must be served on the other side then filed with the Court.  This is actually optional.  [Rule 61.05]

[15 days after Notice of Appeal] If the Respondent intends to cross appeal, as in launch their own challenge, then Notice of Cross Appeal (Form 61-E) must be served then filed with the Court.  [Rule 61.07]

[15 days after Notice of Appeal] If the Respondent has their own evidence to submit, then the Respondent’s Certificate Respecting Evidence (Form 61-D) must be served then filed with the Court.

[30 days after Notice of Appeal] If a transcript is required, a Certificate of Ordering (proof a transcript has been ordered) must be filed with the Appellate Court [Rule 61.05(5)]

Option 1: If no transcript is required—Appellant must file appeal books within 30 days of Notice of Appeal

Option 2: If a transcript ‘‘is’’ required—Appellant must file appeal books within 60 days of Transcript being completed

In either case, the Appellant must include a Certificate of Perfection

[60 days after Certificate of Perfection Filed] Respondent must submit all books (and cross appeal if one was filed) to the Appellant and the Court

BOOKS TO BE SUBMITTED

[Rule 61.09] and [Rule 61.12] (by Both Sides):

(Mandatory) Appeal Book and Compendium—a collection of various documents and decisions related to the case   [Rule 61.10(1)]

(Mandatory) Factum—this is your ‘‘legal arguments’‘, and usually restricted in length, unless permission given   [Rule 61.11(1)]

(Optional) Exhibit Book—If there was some evidence that the Appellate Court should consider, it gets included here   [Rule 61.10.1]

(Optional) Transcript—If there was reversible error at trial, or in another hearing, it gets sent.  It can be stand alone, or included in the exhibit book

(Optional) Book of Authorities—If there is an error of law, a collection of decisions, a case book, is sent

Note: Factum and Compendium are required by both Appellant and Respondent.  The others may be included, depending on the type of appeal being argued

Note: There is flexibility with the formatting of the Authorities book, and the timing.  It may be sent much later, and cases just downloaded from the internet.

Note: The Appellate Courts are even strict about the colours of the book covers.  They are

  • (Buff)—Appellant’s Appeal Book and Compendium, Appellant’s Exhibit Book
  • (White)—Appellant’s Factum, Appellant’s Book of Authorities
  • (Buff)—Respondent’s Compendium, Respondent’s Exhibit Book
  • (Green)—Respondent’s Factum, Book of Authorities
  • (Red)—Transcript of Evidence
  • (Blue)—Motions filed in the matter
BEFORE THE APPEAL IS HEARD:

While everyone is entitled to ‘‘file’’ an appeal, there is no guarantee the appeal will actually be ‘‘heard’‘.  If the appeal is truly without merit, it will be thrown out before it is fully heard.

One such option (at least in Ontario), is to invoke Rule 2.1.01(6) and ask that the Appeal be dismissed, or grounds it is frivolous, vexing, or an abuse of process.

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900194

AT THE ACTUAL APPEAL:

Depending on the Court, it may be a single Judge, a Panel of 3, a Panel of 5, or a Panel of 9 Judges.  These are actual Judges, with years of experience.  In the Provincial High Courts (Ontario Court of Appeals, BC Court of Appeals, Alberta Court of Appeals ....) it is usually 3 Judges who will hear the case.  The Supreme Courts (at least of Canada and the U.S.) are composed of 9 Judges.

The Appeal (and any Cross-Appeal) is restricted to the points raised in the Notice of Appeal/Cross Appeal.  Nothing else may be argued.

The Appellant goes first, explaining what was wrong with the trial, with references to various books.  The Judge (or panel of Judges) may interrupt at any time.

The Respondent goes second, countering the Appellant.  Again, the Judges may interrupt at any time.

The Appellant gets a rebuttal, not a rehash, but to refute anything the Respondent said, or to being in new points.

The Judge (or Panel) may immediately rule, but more likely will reserve its decision, and rule later.

The parties themselves do not address the Court (except for those self-representing), and no witnesses are called.

If (in criminal appeals), the Defendant does not show up, an arrest warrant would be issued, and the appeal likely dismissed out of hand.

With rare exceptions, an appeal hearing takes only a few hours.  Not weeks or months.

POSSIBLE OUTCOMES:

(1) The Appellate Court ‘‘corrects’’ the Lower Court ruling

(2) The Appellate Court ‘‘sends back down’’ the case to the Lower Court, with specific instructions

(3) The Appellate Court dismisses the Appeal

The Appellate Court has wide discretion in how long they make their ruling.  It could be a single sentence confirming the Trial Court, or up to dozens of pages explaining a decision for either side.

USEFUL LINKS:

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900194
http://ontariocourtforms.on.ca/en/rules-of-civil-procedure-forms/
https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/divisional/Guide_to_Appeals_in_Divisional_Court_EN.html
http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/info/howto.htm

3. Contrast This with Criminal Appellate Trials in Italy

The Jury (composed of 2 Judges and 6 Lay Judges) hands down a verdict, and a sentence to go with it.  By Contrast, in Common Law, a Defendant may be convicted but not sentenced for several months.

[90 days after sentence] The Trial Court hands down a ‘‘Motivation Report’’ explaining in great detail the decision.  In serious cases, this may be hundreds of pages.

[45 days after Motivation Report] The ‘‘Losing Side’’ files an appeal with an Appellate Court

Even if the appeal grounds are extremely weak, the Appeal can still go ahead.

The Appellate Trial is then scheduled.  Like the Trial Courts, it is a panel of 2 Judges and 6 lay Judges.  Although it functions as a trial, it is not meant to be a ‘‘re-start’‘, but rather a ‘‘continuation’’ of the earlier proceedings.

The Judges decide how much (if any) of the evidence submitted by the Prosecution and Defence will be heard.  If the Prosecution has thoroughly proven its case at trial, there may be no need to submit any new evidence.  In the case of AK/RS, Prosecutors Mignini/Comodi had overwhelmingly convinced Judge Massei (2009) of guilt.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/C443/

The Defendants may address the Court (Spontaneous Declarations), or they may agree to actual questioning (Cross Examination).  In this case, AK/RS gave several speeches at the Hellmann Appeal (2011), but neither agreed to actually be questioned.  At the Nencini Appeal (2013/2014) RS gave speeches but again refused to be questioned.  AK didn’t show up at all.

To be fair, the reason AK/RS may have refused questioning at the Hellmann or Nencini appeals may have been due to the trainwreck with Judge Massei

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/italy_shrugs_why_the_defendants_testimony_seems_to_have_been_a_real_fl
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/this_testimony_does_not_seem_to_have_gained_much_traction_here_in_ital

Neither AK nor RS were obligated to attend the Florence Appeal in 2013/2014, but they should have.  It is rude and contemptuous to skip out of the Court deciding your future.  AK hit the media circuit claiming to be afraid, while also arguing that she couldn’t afford to go back (despite a $3.8 million book deal).  RS showed up sometimes, but it interfered with his suntanning abroad.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/questions_for_knox_how_do_you_explain
http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/multiple_ways_in_which_amanda_knoxs_email/
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/The_Nencini_Email_Why_This_May_Be

Although new evidence may be submitted, there are still restrictions about bringing in expert testimony, as it should properly be done at the trial level.  Cassation (2013), was highly critical the Judge Hellmann let Conti and Vecchiotti appear.  This is to say nothing of their actual reports.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/the_hellmann_zanetti_appeal_courts_dna_consultancy_looks_even_worse

Both the Prosecution and Defence are then able to make a Summation of facts for the Appellate Court to consider.

What needs to be said is that the goal is not to ‘‘prove all over again’‘, but to determine if there were sufficient errors, and/or sufficient new evidence to overturn the trial verdict.

A verdict is handed down, either confirming or overturning the Trial Court ruling.  The Appellate Court of Hellmann/Zanetti (2011) overturned the Massei Trial Conviction (2009), while the Appellate Court of Nencini (2014) confirmed Massei’s original ruling, but with a small sentence increase.

The actual Appellate Trial may take place over several months.  With Judge Hellmann (2011) it was 20 sessions that took nearly a year, and with Judge Nencini (2014) it was 10 sessions, which took 4 months.

(90 days after verdict) The Appellate Court must submit their own Motivation Report, which will be scrutinized

4. Other TJMK Posts Of Relevance

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/first_italian_criticisms_of_the_hellmann_verdict_statement_now_startin
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/dissecting_the_hellmann_report_1
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/dissecting_the_hellmann_report_2_how_judges_zanetti_and_hellman_tilted_
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/reasonable_doubt_in_italian_law
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/weighing_the_ten_points
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/Perugias_excellent_umbria24_posts_details
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_1_more_results_
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_3_sollecito_in_court_with_family_lawyer
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_9_sollecito_team_concludes_prosecutor_crini_rebutts_def
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/what_we_might_read_into_sollecito_lawyer_giulia_bongiornos_final_arguments
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/defense_dirty_tricks_did_we_just_see
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/highlights_of_the_nencini_report_1_the_attention_directed1

5. Some Final Thoughts

The ‘‘Appellate Trial’’ as known in Italy, does not have an equivalent in the Common Law Countries.  To be fair though, the Italian Supreme Court hearings (Corti di Cassazione) do resemble Common Law appeals in that they are fairly short hearings restricted to arguing various points of law.

The goal of the ‘‘Appellate Trial’’ is to give the Defendants a huge amount of rights (including re-opening the case) not afforded in Common Law Countries.  Even after going through a full trial, it is an opportunity to re-examine much of the case.

The ‘‘jury’’ of Appellate Trials not the ‘‘Panel of Judges’’ that many would think out here.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/rogue_juror_genny_ballerini_a_sure_sign_oggi_sees_its_conviction

The option to testify (and especially to give Spontaneous Declarations) in an Appeal is unheard of in Common Law Appeals.

However, both in Italy and in the Common Law, it is illegal to make false accusations or to sabotage the Court process.  AK doesn’t seem to have learned.

Weak appeals in the Common Law would be thrown out at the preliminary stages, in Italy the burden seems to be much lower.

The Trial and Appellate Trial Courts in Italy seem to go much more into detail about why they make their rulings.

While it is normal to have a Common Law Appeal in just 1 day, the decision may be reserved for months.  Contrast this with an Italian Appellate Trial, which takes place over months, but the verdict is handed down at the end.

This article is not meant to knock Italy in any way.  There are valid reasons for how things are done.  But without living in both regions, or having lots of exposure to both, few would know about these differences.

*****

Author’s Note: Pardon my lopsided detail when it comes to describing the process in Canada, as opposed to Italy.  If someone would like to come up with a more detailed version for Italian Appeals, it would go nicely.

Posted on 04/18/16 at 12:38 AM by Chimera. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, March 18, 2016

The Case Of Russell Williams: What a ‘‘Set-Up’’ Police Interview Really Looks Like

Posted by Chimera

Russell Williams’s “Compressed” Interview 2 Hours 40 Minutes Long

1. Post Overview

This contrast’s Knox’s claimed trick “interrogation” and “confession” with one known to be real.

Russell Williams, unbelievably, was a Colonel in the Canadian Air Force, and the Commanding Officer at Trenton Air Force Base.

(From Wikipedia) From July 2009 to his arrest in February 2010, he commanded CFB Trenton, a hub for air transport operations in Canada and abroad and the country’s largest and busiest military airbase. Williams was also a decorated military pilot who had flown Canadian Forces VIP aircraft for dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and the Governor General and Prime Minister of Canada.


2. Williams First Association With Crimes

It is early February 2010. Ontario Provincial Police are investigating 4 incidents in a region of Southern Ontario, believing they are connected.  They are, 2 unsolved sexual assaults, the sexual assault and murder a military flight commander, Marie-France Comeau, and the January 28 disappearance of a woman named Jessica Lloyd.

While Lloyd’s disappearance was still ongoing, a witness came forward and reported seeing an SUV-type vehicle nearby.  Police follow up and find tire tracks in that location.  They then go about trying to match those tracks to a particular vehicle.  Roadchecks are set up along various roads.

Williams gets caught in the checkpoint, and the police notice that the tires on his Nissan Pathfinder are identical to those tracks near Jessica Lloyd’s home.  Williams is let go, but under 24 hour surveillance at that point.

3. Narrative Of Williams Interview

It is Sunday, February 7, 2010. Williams is called into police headquarters to answer questions.  He arrives at 3pm, and stunningly, he is wearing the same boots he wore to Jessica Lloyd’s house.  Either moronic, or bold.

The interview starts off casually, though Williams is asked for evidence to prove he is not involved: DNA, fingerprints, and bootprints. 

Watch the video above, Williams is in shock when the topic of bootprints comes up.  At 6pm Det-Sergeant Smyth drops the bombshell:

(1) tire tracks near Jessica Lloyd’s home are from his vehicle;

(2) those are his bootprints behind her house;

(3) the DNA is about to be matched;

(4) the homes are being searched, and the vehicle seized.

Williams realizes at this point that he has been tricked, that it was a setup all along.

Confession “To Spare His Wife”

Williams did come clean about 5 hours into the interrogation.  The reason: to spare his wife the added trauma and humiliation of the police tearing the homes apart.

He rationalized that if he simply told the police where to find evidence, they would take it and go.  At that point, it was about all he could do.

(from Wikipedia) On October 21, 2010, Williams was sentenced to two life sentences for first-degree murder, two 10-year sentences for other sexual assaults, two 10-year sentences for forcible confinement, and 82 one-year sentences for breaking and entering, all to be served concurrently.

Civil Courts Follow-up

Williams’ wife, Mary Harriman did take control of the couple’s multiple properties in Ontario.  She sought a divorce, which has dragged on for years, and did try to get the proceedings banned from publication.

The problem, according to the victims and the families is that this transfer from him to her amounts to FRAUDULENT CONVEYANCE.

In plain English, the allegations are that Williams transferred everything to his wife in order to avoid having it seized by lawsuits.  Williams claimed he sold it (cheaply) to his wife since he was serving a life sentence and not likely to ever need it again.

Ms. Harriman is now also being forced to testify about the true nature of their marriage for civil matters.  The argument being advanced is that she either knew what was going on, and could not be that oblivious—in light of the shear volume of trophies Williams kept.

Wife of serial killer Russell Williams loses court battle

OPP detective used ‘Reid technique’ to get Russell Williams to confess

World’s Greatest Police Interrogator: Detective Jim Smyth

4. The Narrative Of Knox’s Interview

Knox showed up unexpectedly at the Questura the evening of November 5, 2007.  Sollecito had been called in—alone— to clear up inconsistencies in his stories.

Knox went anyway, and remained even when told to leave.  She was told by Inspector Ficarra that if she really wanted to help, she could put together a list of possible suspects who may have visited the house.  She agreed.

Sollecito, when shown proof in his phone records that contradicted his story, threw Knox under the bus.  He claimed that AK went out alone, he stayed inside and used the computer, and that Knox came back several hours later.  RS claims AK asked him to lie, and that he didn’t think of the inconsistencies at the time.

Knox, on the other hand, thought that RS had actually accused her of murder, not just pulled her alibi.  AK is shocked, and fakes a crying fit. 

She then responds by throwing—someone else completely—under the bus.  Not Sollecito.  Not Guede.

Of course once it turns out that PL is completely innocent, police and prosecutors don’t believe anything she says at this point.

The Knox Interrogation Hoax

#1 Overview Of The Series - The Two Version of the 5-6 Nov 2007 Events

#2 Trial Testimony From Rita Ficcara On Realities 5-6 Nov

#3 More Defense Pussyfooting Toward Rita Ficcara, Key Witness

#4 More Hard Realities From Rita Ficcara, More Nervousness From Defense

#5 Key Witness Monica Napoleoni Confirms Knox Self-Imploded 5-6 Nov

#6 Sollecito Transcript & Actions Further Damage Knox Version

#7 Full Testimony Of Witness Lorena Zugarini To Knox Conniption 5-6 Nov

#8 Testimony Of Interpreter Donnino And Central Police Officer Giobbi

#9 Officer Moscatelli’s Recap/Summary Session With Sollecito 5-6 Nov

5. Contrasts And Similarities

1-A The Williams case above is a clear instance of police luring in a suspect under the pretense of a ‘‘background interview’‘.  The Ontario Provincial Police spent days trying to put together a profile and work up a method of questioning such a suspect.  And it took Det. Sergeant Jim Smyth just 3 hours to get Williams to crack.

1-B Knox, on the other hand, showed up uninvited to the police station, most likely to keep RS on a short leash.  She not only wasn’t invited, but was told to leave.  She cracked when RS revoked her alibi.

2-A Williams says his main motivation in confessing was to spare his wife extra humiliation, and destruction to the houses.

2-B Knox, on the other hand, threw a totally innocent person, Lumumba, to the wolves.  She also has no qualms about protracting the publicity, and milking her ‘‘celebrity’‘.

3-A Williams wore the same boots to the police station

3-B Sollecito brought his knife to the police station, and had similar shoes to Guede

4-A Williams was nailed by his bootprints

4-B Knox was cast under suspicion by a shoeprint, and bare footprints nailed both AK and RS

5-A Williams wife illegally profited by taking the property in order to stave off having it seized

5-B AK and RS illegally profited by having other people (Kuhlman and Gumbel) write blood money books for them.

6. Analysis Of Williams Interview

This excellent analysis is one hour long.

 

 

Posted on 03/18/16 at 06:00 AM by Chimera. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, March 07, 2016

Knox’s Nasty-Prisons Hoax: NY Times Describes How Italy Leads The World In Rehabilitation

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



A classy restaurant in an Italian prison which inmates in training fully run

1. The Knox Picture Of Italian Prison Conditions

Three years ago Amanda Knox devoted 200 pages of her book to an extended horror story about her stay in prison.

Knox provided zero proof. Knox has never published her charges in Italian in Italy, so the rebuttals by those Knox maligned are not (yet) in.

But almost immediately English-language corrections and rebuttals started to flow.  See also all these rebuttals here.

Knox was contradicted by her own lawyers who had visited her often and heard no complaints. She was contradicted by the US Embassy in Rome which monitored her often and heard no complaints. She was contradicted by Rocco Girlanda, an Italian Member of Parliament, who checked her conditions over 20 times (and then wrote a loving book) and reported no complaints. Her own parents reported no complaints.

Even so, one year ago, Knox reissued her notoriously dishonest book. It had been added-to, but not even one of the malicious claims was withdrawn.

Our main poster Chimera highlighted the lies throughout the entire book (over 400) and Posts #3 to #9 here are devoted to Knox’s prison lies.

2. The Real Picture Of Italian Prison Conditions

The Italian prison system was historically always very humane - bathrooms and sometimes kitchens attached to cells; TV in all cells; walk-around rights during the day; numerous group activities such as concerts and games; hair-dressing for women and even massage; and skills training for inmates in an occupation of their choice (Guede and Sollecito both completed degrees).

Around five years ago, largely because of immigrant crimes, the prison population (previously below 100,000 - in the US, California prisons alone hold almost twice that) began to balloon.

New prisons were built, with no expenses spared, and in these images you can see the result.

Stories of extreme over-crowding have gone away, and the New York Times profiles the new prisons and their programs of today.

For years, Italy has struggled with its prison system, as well as how to balance punishment with rehabilitation. Overcrowding had become such a problem that in January 2013 the European Court of Human Rights ordered the country to fix the system. [Actually the ECHR cannot “order” anything, and anyway the building program was already well under way.]

Italian lawmakers responded with more alternative measures for minor crimes. In 2014, Italy also repealed harsh drug sentencing laws enacted during the 1990s, similar to the “three strikes” laws in the United States. In 2014, Italy began releasing 10,000 inmates (of roughly 60,000) who had been convicted of minor offenses.

But the issue of how best to rehabilitate offenders — and lower the recidivism rate — remained difficult. Italy has long allowed inmates in medium-security prisons to move around the facilities during the day.

“The main problem has been that they do little during the day, which doesn’t help them at the present, nor for their future outside prisons,” said Alessio Scandurra, who works for Antigone, a nonprofit group focused on the rights of detainees.

The Bollate prison was at the vanguard of experimentation even before opening the restaurant. Under the director, Massimo Parisi, the prison offers an array of programs. Companies have work programs on prison grounds. Volunteers teach theater and painting. Carpentry skills are taught in workshops equipped with power drills and saws. Inmates maintain a stable of horses in the prison yard.

There is also an initiative involving a carefully vetted group of 200 inmates who are allowed to leave each day for jobs with an outside firm. Inmates travel without supervision on public transportation; they must check in upon arrival at work, and at other points during the day.

Mr. Parisi said only one inmate had failed to return at the appointed time, and he showed up a few days later.

The Times reporter follows this with what has to be a global first - a topnotch restaurant run by inmates right inside one jail.




Posted on 03/07/16 at 05:11 PM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Saturday, March 05, 2016

Italian Justice & The Telling Status Of Extraditions To And From Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell




The Italian Justice System

Any faithful adherents of this campaign know that, in two respects, Italy’s popular justice system is very unusual. 

First, crime-rates and especially murder-rates are low by European standards and very low by American standards and its incarceration rate is only 1/6 that of the United States. At the same time it still does suffer under the presence of several mafias and their fellow travelers and nefarious cousins the rogue masons and corrupt politicians.

Second, Italy’s justice system was set up post WWII to be exceptionally fair to defendants and in subsequent reforms even more-so, for example all appeals are automatic and “fairness” process steps can stretch on for years. And yet even so, the mafias and their fellow travelers and rogue masons and corrupt politicians bend the system even more now and then to their advantage.

The Knox-Sollecito-Guede case played out in these contexts and was unquestionably corrupted.

There has still been zero attempt to repudiate these accusations of law-breaking by Judges Marasca and Bruno of the Fifth Chambers of Cassation. Sollecito’s several visits to the Caribbean hideyhole of these relatives to try to pull strings is known about on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Italian justice system does not give up easily. Multi-prong law-enforcement and media investigations do continue into those angles and other angles. To our occasional frustration they mostly play out behind the scenes. But clearly the case will not be not fully over for some years yet.

International Votes Of Approval

If countries agree to extradite to other countries, that suggests a high degree of trust in justice at both ends. They are in effect voting confidence in each other’s justice systems.

Italy achieves an exceptionally high rate of extraditions in both directions and continues to sign more bilateral treaties.

It is clearly trusted almost worldwide as a destination where those charged will receive a fair shake. And it is very no-nonsense about sending back fleeing felons who try to go to ground there.

Had Amanda Knox’s final appeal not been corrupted, it is extremely unlikely that any a-political judge in the United States would have concluded Italian police and prosecutors had done a poor job and refused to extradite her. Right now she would be serving out her much-deserved time in a nice Italian prison.

The CIA Operatives Case (Resumed)

Now back in the news is the Abu Omar kidnapping case. Remember that one? We posted on it frequently. See our posts here and here and here and here.

Milan CIA Chief Robert Lady and over 20 other CIA agents and several Italian agents kidnapped Abu Omar - a suspected radical who actually had zero involvement in terrorism - and most received prison sentences, some later anulled but not all of them.

For murky reasons Italy’s Ministry of Justice never formally requested the United States to extradite the operatives.

But they did initiate both European and worldwide arrest warrants (red notices) which are close to being the equivalent - they create a kind of living hell, label fugitives as felons worldwide, and make all their foreign travel parlous.

The fugitive Milan chief Robert Lady quietly set himself up in Panama which then had no extradition treaty with Italy. Panama was about to hand him over anyway, but he skipped out on an American aircraft. He was last heard from somewhere in the US lamenting that he is flat-broke (Italy seized his planned retirement home, his main asset) and not in good health and was muttering about suing the CIA or the State Department.

The President of the Italian Republic - the head of the justice system - did agree last year to reduce his sentence from nine to seven years.

Operative Sabrina de Souza

Sabrina de Souza (who has joint US and Portuguese citizenship) was another CIA operative the Italians have long wanted.

You can see her image above and in this report where she too was muttering about a lawsuit against the US government.

Five months ago, Sabrina de Souza was nabbed in Portugal and the Portuguese justice system observed due process in examining the arrest and extradition warrants.

It now seems likely that Sabrina de Souza will become the first CIA operative in the case to serve time in an Italian prison.

The US is not intervening, even though she may spill the beans in a way that could be embarrassing (well, embarrassing for the GW Bush legacy).

Our Own Learning Experience

Note that this case is five years older than Meredith’s case - the crime was in 2003 and trial in 2009 - and yet the legal processes keep ticking.

And Knox faces known further trials, and may not be safe from a red notice during her lifetime. 

Posted on 03/05/16 at 05:46 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Italy Fights For Justice For A Murdered Student As The Pathetic UK Government Never Did

Posted by Peter Quennell

Above: a minute’s silence in the Italian parliament for Giulio Regeni an Italian student found slain in Cairo a few days ago.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered in a village in northern Italy for the funeral of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge PhD student found tortured and dead in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo last week.

Flags were flying at half-mast in Fiumicello, where villagers offered spare rooms and couches for the 28-year-old’s friends and family, as the diplomatic fallout from his death continued in Rome.

The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, warned Egypt that the health of the relationship between the two countries rested on the quality of the investigation into Regeni’s killing.

Compare with how the UK government reacted after Meredith died. Basically it looked the other way. Many in Italian justice were amazed at how totally disinterested the UK government was in the case in all the years since Meredith’s death.

The US government sprang into action to help Knox and to make sure she was treated right, though there was no proof the Italians would do anything but. They found her a Rome lawyer with good English (Carlos Dalla Vedova) and monitored all her court sessions and her four years in Capanne.

This came at a probable cost of over half a million dollars. And that is just the public support. Nobody ever said “the Federal budget cannot stand this”.

The extent of the British government in pushing justice for Meredith and her family? Exactly zero over the years.

Nothing was ever paid toward the legal costs or the very high travel costs of the Kercher family to be in court as the family finances ran into the ground. Nobody from the Foreign Office in London or the UK Embassy in Rome observed in court except in Florence, just the once.

Appalling pro-Knox Italy-bashing in the UK media based on highly inaccurate accounts was never tamped down - presumably because the Foreign Office was itself in the dark, and did not have a clue what was going on.

The ugly message this sent to the world?  If you are going to be a student in foreign trouble, be an American or Italian. Not a Brit.

However, years after four-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal, the UK government is spending heavily to right a possible wrong there.  Back in 2007 Meredith’s case and Madeleine’s case began just a few weeks apart.

Maybe to right a possible wrong in Italy, the UK government could do likewise here.


Posted on 02/14/16 at 12:13 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Prime Minister Renzi’s Proposed Reforms Might Have Received A Strange Nudge

Posted by Peter Quennell





So the President of Iran and the Prime Minister of Italy sit in a museum in Rome and stare at… a horse.

You probably know by now that eight nude statues in a Rome museum, male and female, were boxed up on somebody’s orders when the President of Iran visited to discuss several multi-billion-dollar deals.

It was hard to see any relevance of the resultant fuss to our case at all, but the New York Times helps us out.

As a consequence of Boxgate, Italy has suffered ridicule. Nothing is worse than ridicule. Here it is merited. Not so much, I would argue, for Italy’s clumsy attempt at courtesy, for courtesy is important and has become an undervalued virtue. Reading the fall of the West into the concealment of a nude is going too far. Mistakes happen.

No, the ridicule is merited because the decision to hide the works of art was, it seems, made by nobody. In Rome, the buck stops nowhere.

The Capitoline Venus just boxed herself up one night because she was bored and took a few deities along with her.

The prime minister, Matteo Renzi, did not know. The foreign minister did not know. The culture minister called the decision “incomprehensible.” They were, they insist (perhaps too much), as surprised as anyone to find all those white cubes — none, incidentally, provided by the prestigious White Cube gallery in London.

One account has it that a woman named Ilva Sapora who works at Palazzo Chigi, where Renzi’s office is located, made the decision after visiting the Capitoline with Iranian Embassy officials. “Nonsense,” Jas Gawronski, a former Italian member of the European Parliament, told me. The notion that a midlevel Chigi official in charge of ceremonial matters could have made the decision does seem far-fetched. Gawronski believes it is more likely to have been officials at the Farnesina, home to the Foreign Ministry.

One thing can be safely said: Nobody will ever know. I was a correspondent in Rome for some years in the 1980s. Periodically there would be developments in terrorist cases — the Piazza Fontana bombing of 1969 or the Brescia bombing of 1974. Trials, verdicts, appeals followed one another. Facts grew murkier, not clearer. It would take decades to arrive at convictions that did not resolve doubts. Italy has never had much time for the notion that justice delayed is justice denied.

Renzi has wanted to break with this Italy of murky secrets, modernize it, bring stable government and install accountability.

So this incident in a blazing spotlight could even help to push the current reforms of the justice and governance systems along.

And the strongest reform proponents of all? To escape this hamster wheel, judges and prosecutors of Italy. 

Posted on 02/02/16 at 08:01 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, January 07, 2016

A Stretch Inside Not Only Protects Society: For Perps It May Be Best Shot At Coming Right

Posted by Peter Quennell

Video 1: Very good analysis by psychologist Dr Drew Pinsky on Tuesday 5 January 2016


As we posted Ethan Couch killed four and maimed a fifth for life while drunk-driving in Texas two years ago.

He is now in a Mexico City lockup for illegal immigrants seeking to avoid extradition to the US where he has violated his highly controversial probation. Many or most think this was a travesty for the families of the victims. The judge retired early. Justice was not seen to be done.

Now he is reported to have run up a $1000 tab at a Mexican strip club which his mother paid. That $1000 apparently went in part toward drinks. He had skipped out of the US mid-December because he was videoed at a party with drinks.

Sources say Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya went to a strip club called Harem in Puerto Vallarta on the night of Dec. 23. According to club employees, the pair had drinks before Tonya Couch left the club. Ethan stayed at the club and employees told ABC News that he went off to a VIP room with two women who worked at Harem. Hotel and club employees said Couch was extremely drunk.

Few if any other criminal psychologists ever came out in support of Couch’s defense’s psychologist who convinced the judge two years ago that the affluence of the family was somehow a primary cause.

In the past few days there have been various psychology panels on cable TV discussing the case. Articles too.

From them Ethan Couch did not exactly get a lot of love. A term inside to remove him from his family and choke off his dependencies is what the psychologists incline towards, as Dr Drew in the top video highly recommends.

Video 2: Dr Drew two years ago (this video was previously at the top)

Posted on 01/07/16 at 08:12 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Worldwide In 20th Century, Maybe Half Of All Murders May Be Attributed In Part To Lead Poisoning

Posted by Peter Quennell





That lead damages brains has been known for many years. That it causes murders is more recently accepted. 

The first graph below shows when the US began to move from leaded gasoline to unleaded gasoline in the mid 70s. Lead was removed altogether around 1990.

Some but not all countries followed a similar pattern.

The effects, though diminishing, are going to be with us for a long time. Maybe to mid-century? The pioneer researcher economist Nick Nevin wrote this about the murder-rate/lead correlation:

Lead exposure trends affect homicide trends with a 21-year time lag, reflecting the impact of early-childhood neurodevelopmental damage when those children reach the peak ages of homicide offending.

That suggests that anyone alive today over 25 may have had significant exposure. Roughly half the world’s population, some 3.5 billion.

Very few of those committed murders, but of those that did the research findings reflected in the second graph below suggest that half might have been lead-affected and there remain among us millions of time-bombs. This is from a recent BBC report:

Dr Bernard Gesch says the data now suggests that lead could account for as much as 90% of the changing crime rate during the 20th Century across all of the world.

Numerous cases like this one now use lead poisoning as a defense.  It doesnt seem a get-out-of-jail-free card, but for some obviously mentally impaired it is proving helpful.






Posted on 01/05/16 at 10:49 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, December 31, 2015

How American Judges Can Be Made To Feel The Heat Over Controversial Verdicts

Posted by Peter Quennell





Why American judges can envy Italian judges part deux.

As we surely all know now, most Italian judges advance along a career path. Only a few are politically appointed and none are elected.  All of the time their rulings are under minute scrutiny and (as we have seen with Judges Hellmann, Marasca and Bruno) the powerful Council of Magistrates can stop their advancement in a heartbeat if any of those rulings look suspect.

American judges are mostly elected with little training requirements or qualifications testing. If they seem to have stepped out of line some of them can face political hearings and discipline boards (as Judge Heavey did) but not all do.

But the worse reaction many fear more is the media and the public turning upon them, made vastly more possible because of the Internet and happening time and time again these days. 

The American judge now much in the news - and not in a good way - is Jean Boyd of Texas.

In March 2012 Jean Boyd, then a Juvenile Court judge, sentenced a 14-year-old black boy to 10 years for killing a smaller boy with one powerful punch.  She was criticised for being way too harsh then.

In December 2013 she veered sharply in the other direction.

She sentenced a now notorious teenager to mere probation and rehabilitation after he had killed four people and maimed a fifth for life when drunk-driving. The psychological defense she bought into was that his family was so rich that he grew up without the right parenting.

This was apparently a unique defense and one that has never been attempted for poorer people. Judge Boyd was widely criticised for being way too light then.

The two cases dropped out of the news for a while.

But now the notorious white teenager Ethan Couch is all over the news again. A few weeks ago he was caught on video drinking - which could lead to his serving time in prison - and a couple of weeks ago he disappeared along with his mother.

Considering that he has not yet even been charged with a transgression of his probation, the size and cost of the manhunt was extraordinary. Somehow the US Federal Marshall Service pinpointed his phone in a Mexican apartment, and the Mexican police arrested him along with his mother and locked them up.

Today he is being held in an Mexican prison with his mother. It is just reported that they are fighting extradition.

Good luck with that one.

Judge Boyd actually retired a year ago in face of a petition demanding she be fired. She was given some credit by the local newspaper.

But her verdict never convinced an angry public or the families of the four dead and one maimed victims, and both he and his irresponsible mother also now seem headed for prison.

And it seems Ms Boyd is not returning phone calls.


Below: Tonya Couch and Ethan Couch at the trial in 2013





Posted on 12/31/15 at 12:02 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

National Justice Systems Learning From One Another Tho Far From “International Standards”

Posted by Peter Quennell



Try searching for the “international standards” for DNA testing that Hellmann/Zanetti and Marasca/Bruno claimed Italian police labs dont follow.

In fact, not only are there no international standards or even Europe-wide standards, there are not even any central mechanisms for crime-fighting research and training and standard-setting.

Hellmann/Zanetti and Marasca/Bruno were irresponsibly myth-propagating - all suckered by a pair of dishonest DNA consultants on the defense payroll.

This absence of mechanisms contrasts sharply with all the other segments of national infrastructures, for which the UN agencies run conferences and team efforts for hundreds of nations to learn from. (In them the US and UK and Italy are big players.)

One reason we give the Italian justice system so much attention is that Italy has one of the lowest crime rates and incarceration rates among high-income countries.

There is very much to be learned bilaterally from it. Part of its core model is that it has a large and glamorous and much-liked police presence - Italian police are possibly the world’s most popular.

In contrast, stories of bad policing are pouring out daily in the US.

Most in the US news for bad policing is CHICAGO right in Bruce Fischer’s backyard, where he abysmally failed to comprehend that there was an epidemic of police shootings while he foolishly gunned for Italy. Numbers dead from police guns there are up in the hundreds, and there is to be a Federal investigation.

Meanwhile the effectiveness or even comprehension of Fischer’s pretentious “network” has been at zero (perhaps one reason why the Knoxes disinvited Fischer from Knox’s talk at a Chicago law school - also he had been panhandling them). Why do we doubt the Feds will consult him?

In the news right now in the US is an attempt by jurisdictions to learn from the highly effective Scottish police practices.

Scotland has an extremely low rate of police shootings, and the few police who do carry guns are trained to handle fraught situations to an extent most American police see only a fraction of. See the video.

Here is a Daily Telegraph story, and here is a New York Times story:

Forty minutes into a Scottish police commander’s lecture on the art of firearm-free policing, American law enforcement leaders took turns talking. One after another, their questions sounded like collective head-scratching.

“Do you have a large percentage of officers that get hurt with this policing model?” asked Theresa Shortell, an assistant chief of the New York Police Department and the commanding officer of its training academy, where several hundred officers graduate each year.

“How many officers in Scotland have been killed in the last year or two years?” Chief Shortell added.

Bernard Higgins, an assistant chief constable who is Scotland’s use-of-force expert, stood and answered. Yes, his officers routinely take punches, he said, but the last time one was killed on duty through criminal violence was 1994, in a stabbing.

There is poverty, crime and a “pathological hatred of officers wearing our uniform” in pockets of Scotland, he said, but constables live where they work and embrace their role as “guardians of the community,” not warriors from a policing subculture.

“The basic fundamental principle, even in the areas where there’s high levels of crime, high levels of social deprivation, is it’s community-based policing by unarmed officers,” Constable Higgins said. “We police from an absolute position of embracing democracy.”

That model is pretty close to the Italian one.

Posted on 12/23/15 at 07:50 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, December 08, 2015

One Of The Many Pluses That Amanda Knox’s Paid Defamers Would Prefer That Americans Don’t Know About

Posted by Peter Quennell





We have often mentioned these major justice-system pluses:

(1) That Italy has one of the industrialized world’s lowest crime rates and that US cities have been observing its model.

(2) That it has a very prominent and much admired police presence, and a small and much admired court and penal system.

Now Thomas Williams is reporting this third big plus from Rome in Breitbart Business News

A leading military analyst is citing Italy as a model of counterterrorism done right, pointing out that despite many factors going against it, Islamic terrorists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil.

In the most recent issue of Nikkei Asian Review, Romanian born political scientist and military analyst Edward N. Luttwak lays out a persuasive theory explaining how Italy has been so successful in thwarting Islamic terror attempts. In a word: Italy is not afraid to deport those it considers to be a threat to national security.

In his essay titled “Doing Counterterrorism Right,” Luttwak contrasts Italy with France and Belgium, noting that although Italy is much more vulnerable than they are, it has been far more effective at stopping would-be terrorists before they strike.

So where France has been “caught by surprise again and again by terrorist attacks with many lives lost” and in Belgium “terrorists have been coming and going for years, buying military weapons with remarkable ease,” Italy has remained unscathed.

It would seem that Italy doesn’t have much going for it. It has porous borders and a Muslim population that exceeds 2 million and has played an active role in military expeditions in Islamic territories. Moreover, the Vatican is the “most iconic target in Europe,” and tops the list of objectives of the Islamic State, Luttwak observes. And yet, “nobody has been killed by Muslim terrorists in Italy.”

Italian counterterrorism has been on full alert since 9/11, Luttwak says, and its combined forces “have detected and interrupted hundreds of terrorist plots large and small, at every stage from mere verbal scheming to fully ready actions.”

So where terrorists have successfully attacked in Madrid, London, Paris, Toulouse, Copenhagen, Brussels and elsewhere, in Italy they have been foiled time after time.

Luttwak suggests that Italy’s success is all a question of method, based on the insight that the only thing that can be done to stop potential terrorists is to follow those who are suspected to be truly dangerous around the clock so that they can be arrested or killed at a moment’s notice. Since the numbers of probable suspects can be astronomical, Luttwak says, their numbers must be effectively reduced if this strategy is to bear fruit. And this is exactly what Italy has done.

State intelligence agencies throughout Europe monitor suspects, filling out reports and keeping files, but they often fail to take the action needed. The Italians, however, immediately conduct an interrogation on credible suspects, and many are sent home or arrested, if their situation merits it. Italy currently has more than 180 radical imams in prison, Luttwak notes.

Employing this method, Italian authorities are able to keep numbers of suspected potential terrorists within a reasonable range and thus are able to monitor them effectively.

Earlier this month, Franco Roberti, the head of Italy’s anti-mafia and counterterrorism task force, said he intended to protect citizens from the danger of terrorism “by adopting all the preventive measures necessary,” and noted that “we must be prepared to give up some of our personal freedoms, in particular in the area of communication.”

The fact that the Italians lump together anti-mafia operations with counterterrorism is also telling. Unlike other European states, with the exception perhaps of the UK, Italy has a long history fighting serious organized crime within its borders, coming from the different branches of the Italian mafia working in various parts of the peninsula.

The Italian interior ministry has reportedly also increased its “targeted expulsions” of persons considered to be a risk to national security. So far this year, 55 individuals have been deported and the ministry has said the numbers will only grow.

According to Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, intelligence and counterterrorism units are reevaluating information gathered in recent months on some 56,000 people, scouring case files to see whether anything could have been overlooked.

Given Italy’s impressive counterterrorism track record, it may be about time for other European nations to sit up and take note.

Posted on 12/08/15 at 12:51 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Meredith May Not See Justice (Yet) But She Will Leave At Least Three Legacies

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





Meredith’s goal in life was to help people, and she had thought of making a career in the European institutions in Brussels.

So much of human organization is messy and very hard to make better. She would have found that.  But somehow, often in a terrifying lurch, systems do sometimes tend to get better.

These better systems between them benefiting millions may all be attributed to Meredith. More than 99% of humanity can achieve in a lifetime.

1) Perugia is a safer more thriving place now

This is a repeat of our post of 9 April 2010 - there has been a mayor-change, but the broad safety and economic trends continue.

Meet Wladimiro Boccali. The mayor of Perugia.

A year ago when Mr Boccali ran for office (video above) it was in the context of a city-wide desire for prosperity, public safety, support for the police and the court system, the enhancement of Perugia’s reputation, and the clamping down on drug dealing and student excesses.

A mood that very much flowed from the shock of Meredith’s passing. A sense that certain things had gone too far.

Since then, Mr Boccali has been in the Italian national news almost daily, and he is coming to be seen as the kind of political leader Italy could really use in a turbulent future.

He is in the news again right now, because there was a riot in the main piazza of the old city by some drunks late last saturday night.

In part inspired and encouraged by good town leadership, Perugia’s economy is now one of the more thriving city economies in Italy. Perugia’s median IQ is extremely high (Perugia is probably one of the smartest cities in Europe) and a lot of very advanced research goes on there.

Perugia’s town administration does many caring things, such as the special city council meeting for Sonia Marra.

And seemingly attracted by all of this, people are moving to Perugia in droves - its population is increasing at double the national growth rate.

So. Meet the new Perugia. Meredith’s own qualities, writ large.

Since that post Perugia and the university have recognised Meredith by way of a scholarship and a one-day seminar.

2) American universities acted to stop future Knoxes

Knox behaved grossly irresponsibly in heading to Perugia under-funded, intent on drug-doing, and with zero intention of seriously studying.

The University of Washington and many others realised they could have huge liabilities if they did not distance themselves a lot from such loose cannons in future.

In October 2009 we reposted this report by Andrea Vogt which described the initiation of measures many American universities have now come to implement.

Mirroring a nationwide trend, the University of Washington is overhauling how its students and professors interface with foreign countries….

The UW study abroad experience today involves much more oversight than it did two years ago when Amanda Knox left on an unsupervised European adventure that quickly degenerated into a nightmare.

When Knox, who is on trial for murder in Italy, left her familiar U-district environs in late summer 2007, she embarked on her own independent study in Umbria with very few guidelines or institutional oversight.

She arrived in the tolerant student melange of Perugia, a vibrant college town with temptation at every turn and many paradoxes (drug deals and party plans are often made on the steps of the cathedral).

A month later, the honor student’s pub-crawling, pot-smoking college shenanigans had taken a very serious turn and she was being hauled off to the Capanne penitentiary, where she remains today, pleading her innocence as the trial and controversial accusations against her plod forward.

Once her troubles began, the university tried to offer support, but had very few official guidelines to follow for responding to the kind of complicated legal-judicial matter Knox faced.

It’s different now….

In the wake of several negative overseas episodes, officials are busy raising awareness about the positive impact the UW is having worldwide and taking steps to improve communications, regulation and emergency preparedness for its students abroad.

Compared with two years ago, international education officials are more closely tracking who, where and what study-abroad programs involve. The university has new rules:. The department chair has to sign off on the program. Insurance is required. So is a cell phone. No program money can be used to buy alcohol, just for starters.

“There’s a much more formal process now,” said Taso Lagos, a UW professor who teaches international communication and manages a study-abroad program in Greece. “With administrators that are very aware, with lines of communication open and policies in place if something happens.”...

The UW’s growing commitment to international education—- even in a budget crisis—is reflected in some developments. [UW Vice Provost for Global Affairs Stephen Hanson] was named a vice provost in January, and in the spring, the UW dedicated an entire wing of the Gerberding Hall administration building to growing an international mission and profile.

This year, a travel security and information officer is coming on board to oversee emergency response and preparedness, as is Peter Moran, a new director of international programs and exchanges who previously worked at the Fulbright Commission office in Katmandu, Nepal.

New guidelines are being put in place to streamline communications, ease financial transactions and institute mandatory training for faculty taking students abroad. The Global Support Project, a rapid-response team with one person from each branch of the central administration, takes on cross-disciplinary international challenges.

Such reforms aren’t unique to UW.

Universities across the country are examining how better to organize study abroad to meet blossoming demand from students (and prospective employers) for foreign experience. Many are turning to independent service providers whose business it is to contract housing, health care or niche risk management services dealing with legal, financial or public relations crises when things go haywire abroad…..

Though the university bore no responsibility for any of the events Knox became entangled in, media across the world continued to mention the University of Washington—whether it was because of character witnesses who were her college buddies, reports of wild off-campus parties Knox attended in Seattle or her studies while in prison.

3) Italy’s justice reforms will be nudged hard

Italian justice has a systemic problem, it has been made to tilt hard toward defendants over the years. That problem was described here and here and touched on in many other posts.

Polls have show that though Italians admire and trust their justice system and especially the brave people within it (over 100 have died fighting mafia) a majority would like some rebalancing toward victims and families.

Justice reforms are now on the national agenda. What happened in Rome yesterday to deny Meredith justice is stirring Italy and seems certain to impact them.’

Court days to flow continuously? Some backing off from automatic appeals? No juries at the second level? Prosecutors and judges to be allowed to speak out more? Maybe in lieu of some of those onerous sentencing reports? Limits to defendants talking without cross-examination in the courtroom?

These are not extreme, they are mainstream in the common-law system, and they would speed Italy’s up, make it fairer, and cost less (a lot less!).

***

All incredibly worthwhile. For one so young, in death Meredith may come to help millions for the better.

Posted on 03/28/15 at 11:01 AM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Concerning MeredithHer memoryJustice systems Italy etc The wider contextsPerugia contextItalian contextN America context
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Probable Final Cassation Ruling In 10 Days: Likely Scenario For The Immediate Future

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



Italian Justice Minister Andrea Orlando with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi


We reported previously that Prime Minister Renzi, the former mayor of Florence, has great trust in the court system there.

Cassation is expected to rule on Knox’s and Sollecito’s separate appeals against the Florence outcome (in which they yet again not-too-subtly edge one another between themselves and the flames) on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

We have something of a consensus here upon what happens then and thereafter, with main inputs here from Italian watchers Popper and Yummi.

1. Cassazione will probably merely announce that the affirmation of conviction by the Nencini appeal court is legitimate from the point of view of Italian law and there will be nothing significant said on the merits of the case.

2. In final appeals Supreme Court justices simply confirm a sentence or not based exclusively on law points. The Cassazione motivation reports due within three months are not too important as they cannot be appealed anyway. A report may not be needed for extradition, the Massei + Nencini sentencing reports could be explanatory and legally correct enough in this case.

3. The execution of this decision would then be over to the Florence courts. If the Nencini confirmation of verdict and sentence is affirmed it will probably then be over to Prosecutor Crini and Judge Nencini, and an arrest warrant for Sollecito would be immediate.

4. There is a slight chance, perhaps 5% to 10%, that Sollecito might try to escape, as he seemed set on doing when he made it to the border on the same day as Judge Nencini’s 2014 ruling. On Italian TV he has been sounding very aggrieved with Amanda while not really winding back the strong case against himself. He lacks his passport and probably the secret stash of money to stay on the run indefinitely.

5. An arrest warrant for Knox, the other defendant, would normally be issued as soon as possible. If she is still located in the US she could be rapidly arrested and put in a holding cell. Based on other examples it is possible that her physical return to Italy could take as long as nine months, though the treaty promotes a fast-track meaning not upward of three months.

6. There is normally 45 days for the extradition papers/request from Dr Andrea Orlando, the Italian Minister of Justice, to be handed over by the Italian Embassy in Washington DC to the State Department, though there is allowance for that request time to be extended.

7. The evidence of course really is overwhelming and no single proof of foul play has ever been proven. Italian justice officials have relevant information they could share privately, such as the corruption of the Hellmann appeal alleged by Judge Chiari, Prosecutor Comodi and others, and such as Knox’s unsavory drug record which is normally a big no-no for the State Department. 

8. Comments made by the host and a magistrate on Italy’s Porta a Porta show last week suggests vagueness on the part of the Italian media and public about the Italy/United States extradition treaty. This treaty, which has always been faithfully observed previously by both countries, with no exceptions, is stark and minimalist and focuses on the paperwork and whether the national law was followed, as explained by lawyers James Raper and TomM. 

9. Assuming their final conviction, Sollecito’s arrest and return to prison will drive Italian public opinion, dormant for years but stirring as the Porta a Porta show suggested, to demand a quick extradition of Knox, who was the flatmate of Meredith the victim and without whom no murder would have taken place.

10. Probably very unlikely, but if there is sustained political resistance despite American media finally getting the facts right, the powers demanding extradition will build up immense pressure, and it will be world-wide pressure from the point of view of the US, not just Italy. All countries will be watching to see how the US behaves, and if their treaties are reliable or not.

The US relies heavily on the Italian government, which is currently a very strong one, on many other matters, and it has other extradition cases worldwide in motion or anticipated (think Snowden in Moscow) so it will be almost certainly be faithful to legality and precedent.

Knox smeared prison authorities in her book and directly caused the imprisonment of a drug-dealer which might be reasons she fears going back. Conceivably a negotiated outcome could result in Knox serving the rest of her time in an American prison to get round this. American prison? This would be nice for her family, but probably a lot less nice for Knox herself.

Knox has long been the pawn of an ugly family and bunch of parasites. Dont totally rule out her simply hopping on a plane to pay her dues and get away from them.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Sollecito Trial For “Honor Bound” #6: Examining Gumbel’s Role In Biasing The Book

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



Andrew Gumbel seen in a shrill 2014 CNN report, perhaps the least balanced so far 

1. Bringing The News Up To Date

On 5 March the Florence court will replace the prosecution’s translation of the target claims in the book with its own translation.

And Sollecito and Gumbel will probably be ordered to stand public trial then.

Both the prosecution and the guiding magistrate have as usual in Italy played immensely fair in this case. Each gave Sollecito and Gumbel numerous opportunities over more than a year to try to explain and justify certain target passages in a way that gets them off the hook. In further fairness the hearings have all been closed.

What leaked out after the last hearing in Florence a couple of weeks ago suggested that Sollecito has yet to come up with any justification at all. He was said to look dazed and depressed.

Gumbel was not in court. But his lawyer apparently claimed that Gumbel was merely a sort of well-meaning sheep: Sollecito’s ghost writer, nothing more, who faithfully took down only what he heard from his client.

This has apparently not gone down at all well in the Sollecito camp.

The Sollecito family and legal team has long hinted rather publicly that Gumbel did a number on them, an end-run. Francesco Sollecito and the family and Sollecito’s lawyers Giula Bongiorno and Luca Maori had all claimed within several weeks of the book coming out that numerous passages in the book were malicious and untrue. Sollecito himself denied that he put them in.

The Sollecito family and legal team have also hinted ever since that Gumbel and some American Knox cronies with self-serving agendas (suggested on pro-Knox websites to have been Steve and Michele Moore, Frank Sforza, Bruce Fischer, maybe some more) had recklessly put dangerous unfounded claims in the final draft of the book.

Those claims (now the main subjects of the Florence trial) were seemingly never put into Italian and run carefully by them. No proper due diligence was done, and as a result they have been left holding the can. And all this under the cold eyes of the Supreme Court, which must rule in six weeks whether Sollecito makes things up. 

2. Smart Rules For Ghost Writers To Avoid Trouble

This is hardly the first time a ghost writer and their client have fallen out. It is a touchy trouble-prone profession not governed by formalised training or an established code of ethics, where getting sued or not getting paid is quite a frequent thing.

Some of those who do it full-time and have had their share of trouble and want no more of it and want to alert others have posted their own suggested groundrules online.

For example, both client and ghost writer are well served by spending a few days checking out each other. Then they make a contract where literally everything needs to be spelled out.

Ghost writers need to take extreme care with clients in legal trouble who might drag them in or who they might drag in further. They need to be clear whether they are to research on their own, and to whom they are permitted to talk.

They need to know whether their name will be on the cover or anywhere inside the book. They need to know whether they have a licence from the client to do related TV and print articles, especially if those pay a separate fee, and what they are allowed to say.

They need to try to capture honestly the client’s voice and not turn them into someone they are not. They need to know what facts to put in and to be clear what facts are consciously left out. They need to do due diligence on the drafts with the agent and publisher and lawyers, and if allowed check out dynamite claims with “the other side”.

And if any accusations of crimes are to be made they REALLY need to check those legal hot potatoes with the client and the lawyers and the publishers, line by line. 

Gumbel seems to have ignored pretty well all of these groundrules, and dug Sollecito in much deeper.

Knox’s ghost writer Linda Kulman (more experienced than Gumbel at this and with no axe to grind) seems to have followed some but not all of these guidelines. Her name is only in the Knox book once, in a short thankyou note by Knox at the back, and she remained low-key and made no separate statements.

Nevertheless, Linda Kulman had the Sollecito book as a (then) largely unchallenged model. She included in the book a number of false accusation of crimes and malicious ridicules of others, none of them properly checked out, which will have Knox in court for sure before too long. (Oggi is already in court for repeating some of her claims.)

Linda Kulman also included an entire chapter about Knox’s “interrogation” where every detail is made up. She included a lengthy claim that Mignini did an illegal interrogation of Knox, when in fact he wasn’t even there. And she left out numerous key facts, such as that Knox was having sex with a major drug dealer almost to the day of her arrest, and most of the evidence.

Linda Kulman certainly dd not capture Knox’s real voice or mode of behavior, which are notoriously brash and possibly the root cause of Meredith’s murder.

3. Flashing Warning Lights In Italy In 2012

If the Sollecito family and team did not know all of the above, it would seem to be Sharlene Martin’s fiduciary duty as book agent for Sollecito to make sure both they and any ghost writer they hired did know.

For their part, the Sollecito team should have done their own due diligence in Italy, and perhaps looked around for an experienced ghost writer in Italy who could converse with all of them and show them in Italian what would be in the book. And in particular known about and been respectful of this which was in our first post.

On 3 October 2011 Judge Hellmann told RS and AK they were free to go, despite the fact that no legal process for murder and some other crimes is considered final in Italy until no party pursues any further appeals or the Supreme Court signs off. Most still accused of serious crimes (as in the UK and US) remain locked up. Hellmann, pathetically trying to justify this fiasco ever since, was firmly edged out and still the target of a possible charge.

Other flashing warnings should have made Sollecito’s family and legal team and book writers very wary. They included the immediate strong warning of a tough prosecution appeal to the Supreme Court. They also included the pending calunnia trials of Knox and her parents, the pending trial of the Sollecitos for attempting to use politics to subvert justice, the pending trials of Spezi, Aviello, and Sforza, and so on. 

A major flashing warning was right there in Italian law. Trials are meant to be conducted in the courtroom and attempts to poison public opinion are illegal. They can be illegal in the US and UK too but, for historical reasons to do with the mafias and crooked politicians, Italian laws in this area are among the world’s toughest. So mid-process, normally no books are ever published


4. Warning Lights About A Hasty Gumbel Contract

Many of the problems in the book are associated with a strident anti-Italy tone.  Well over half the false claims taken apart in this May 2014 post are FACTUALLY wrong in areas where Sollecito has no known knowledge or point of view.

For example, it was claimed that the Italian justice institutions are both very unpopular and corrupt. Neither is true, and almost no Italians believe that.

Sharlene Martin was first mentioned as Sollecito’s agent in the NY Times on 5 December 2011 when Sollecito had been swanning around the US west coast in an apparent attempt to, well, get her back in the sack. He was in a weak mode.

On 10 January 2012 Francesco Sollecito was reported in the Journal of Umbria as saying this about the purpose of the book 

“I have not done the math [the lawyers etc costs]. For good luck. I will do it after the ruling of the Supreme Court. It will be painful because the figure of one million euro of which one speaks is not far from reality.” This was stated to the weekly Today, on newsstands tomorrow, by Francesco Sollecito, father of Raffaele.
According to [Francesco] Sollecito, in case of confirmation of absolution, then there will be 250-300,000 euro compensation provided for the unjust detention of his son, this money will be enough only to pay the fees of the 12 consultants “that we had to appoint to succeed to refute the allegations.”

In the interview with the weekly, Francesco Sollecito denies that Raffaele has a girlfriend, as reported after the publishing of photos while kissing a girl: “Annie, the girl who appears with him in photos on Facebook is just a friend, in fact a sorta of cousin… “The priorities of my son right now are otherise.” What? “Raffaele has signed a contract with the American literary manager Sharlene Martin for a book, it is a definite undertaking “.

Apparently at this point Sharlene Martin had not been to Italy or spoken face-to-face with Francesco or the legal team. Whether she had briefed herself on the warning lights described above so that she could properly warn the US team of writer, editors, publishers and publicists is not known. 

5. Gumbel’s Shrill Record Of Sliming Italy

On 12 February 2012 Andrew Gumbel is reported in the NY Times as having got the co-writer job. During that period due diligence (if any) on his background would have been done, seemingly mainly by Sharlene Martin (if any) as a complaint of Sollecito’s team is that they could not look him over before he came on board.

Andrew Gumbel is not a lawyer, and in fact our own lawyers have repeatedly found silly his pretentious and inaccurate legal claims. Nor as far as we know does he have a track record as a ghost writer. His main claim to the job seems to have been based on his having been based in Italy with the UK Independent for nearly five years in the 1990s.

The 1990s were a pretty good time in Italy.

There was okay growth and jobs availability, record tourism, relative political calm before Berlusconi grabbed political and media power, many successful farms and firms, and a really push against the mafias - for which many brave judges and prosecutors had died.  The Italian food and wine were great, the cars and luxury goods were great, and Italy was home to about half of the finest medieval art in the world.

We checked it out: foreign reporters in Italy at the time did a fair and balanced job reflecting all of this. With seemingly only one notorious exception: the British reporter Andrew Gumbel for the UK Independent.

Apparently Gumbel could find almost nothing to like about Italy. In 5 years almost nothing to write a positive report on.

Brits relying only on his shrill reporting in the Independent may have thought Italy to be a very corrupt, lawless, politically and economically dysfunctional place, with nothing about it to like and no reason to visit. If they were bigoted, this could have made them more-so. Nasty stuff, and for foreign reporters in any country anywhere very unusual.

Below are the headers for most or all of Andrew Gumbel’s shrill reports from Italy.

Fair and balanced? The right guy for a delicate project with his client in a delicate legal bind? You decide.  We have highlighted in yellow all the reports with a negative bias, maybe true, maybe not. Of the total of 62 reports only 4 seem to us neutral or nice. Were the Sollecitos or their Italian lawyers or HarperCollins made aware by Gumbel or Sharlene Martin of Gumbel’s emotional negative bias?

    1. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Government + History (25)
  • A sick economy shakes out the fake invalids. (growing economic problems in Italy make corruption less acceptable)
  • Bickering while Venice sinks.
  • Can Italy survive Dini’s fall? (prime minister Lamberto Dini)
  • Chirac consigns Italy to Europe’s second division. (French president Jacques Chirac)
  • Corruption on an Olympian scale.(Rome, Italy, seeks to host Olympic Games)
  • Facing up to Italy’s crisis. (Italy’s economic problems)
  • Glitz takes a back seat on road to Rome. (Romano Prodi begins electoral campaign in Italy) (Interview)
  • How the kidnap and rape of Dario Fo’s wife was ordered by Italy’s right-wing rulers.
  • Illegal migrants reach EU havens via Italy.
  • Italy waits for the gravy train to be derailed. (problems facing Italian railway system)
  • Italy ready for mission impossible: intervention in Albania could bring instability to Rome.
  • Italy heads back into a political void.
  • Italy struggles to shake off the legacy of Mussolini.
  • Italy’s Olive Tree fails to bear fruit.
  • Italy’s rich city prays for fall of nation state. (citizens of Bologna, Italy, strongly in favour of European Union)
  • New wave of state corruption stuns the Italians.
  • Past demons threaten Italy’s bid for change. (Italy fails to move towards a SEcond Republic)
  • Prodi’s dilemma: let the left win or surrender Italy’s drive towards Emu. (Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi)
  • Rome’s magic circle. (deterioration of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy)
  • Scholars in a spin over Churchill link to the death of Mussolini. (claims that Mussolini was shot by British secret services)
  • Shouting could drown out Italian democracy. (serious political clashes damage reputation of Italian parliament)
  • So, were there offers he should have refused? (trial of Giulio Andreotti)
  • The Nazi and the protection racket. (controversy over trial of former Nazi Erich Priebke in Italy)
  • Venice’s grand opera descends to farce. (dispute hampers rebuilding of La Fenice opera house)
  • Why Italy cannot bring war criminals to justice.
  • 2. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Scenery, Art, Music, Fashion, Culture (2)
  • Il Papa brings on Dylan for a taste of the devil’s rhythms. (Bob Dylan to perform for Pope)
  • Inside the Assisi basilica, a sight to make saints weep. (challenges involved in restoration of art treasures from Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy)
  • 3. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Economy + Business (8)
  • A nation that brings its style to the track. (many changes to Italian rail network)
  • All is not bene among the united colours. (problems facing Benetton)
  • Berlusconi consolidates his rule over the Italian air waves. (former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi)
  • Ciao Gianni, but now what? (Gianni Agnelli resigns as chairman of Fiat)
  • Climax of Italy’s TV war. (referendum on whether Silvio Berlusconi should sell his television channels)
  • Italy’s new crop stifled in the shadow of a paradise lost.(problems affecting the Italian motion picture industry)
  • Murdoch pursues Italian television. (News Corp seeks stake in Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire).
  • The dark world behind Versace’s life of glamour. (murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace)
  • 4. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Justice, Crime, Corruption,  Mafias (24)
  • Accidental death of an anarchist comes back to scandalise Italy. (three men convicted of murder of police commissioner Luigi Calabresi in 1972)
  • A fashion label that really is to die for .... (murder of fashion designer Maurizio Gucci may have been instigated by his former wife)(Column)
  • After the suicide, a wall of silence. (new type of Mafia activity in Sicily)
  • Amnesty offers Italy chance to forget its years of terror. (Italian government pardons six people involved in Red Brigades terrorist group in 1970s)
  • Andreotti to face trial on Mob links. (former Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti to stand trial for consorting with the Mafia)
  • Another black mark against Italy’s judges. (Italy’s anti-corruption magistrates lose their credibility)
  • Arrest us, but we’ll be back next week. (three Italians with Aids use legal loophole to rob banks)
  • Backlash threatens to silence informers. (controversy in Italy over Mafia informers)
  • Bloody end of a fashionable affair. (murder of Maurizio Gucci)
  • Fake invalids at heart of Italy’s postal scandal. (postal service employs many invalids, but some are fakes)
  • Fear and loathing in the Alto Adige. (serial killer murders six people in Merano, Italy)
  • Godfather’ village baffled by murders. (Sicilian town of Corleone)
  • God’s Banker: ‘He was given Mafia money and he made poor use of it.’ (investigation into death of Italian banker Roberto Calvi in 1982 may soon be concluded)
  • Gucci: hell for leather. (Patrizia Gucci convicted for contract killing of former husband Maurizio Gucci)
  • How Cosa Nostra’s cunning outfoxed the Italian state. (Mafia’s criminal network still operating in Italy)
  • How Italy failed to trap its Monster. (failure to bring serial killer in Florence, Italy, to justice)
  • Italy’s men of violence throw off the state’s chains. (revival of the Mafia in Italy)(includes details of murder of magistrate Giovanni Falcone)
  • Mafia trawls Venice’s dark lagoon. (organised crime in Venice, Italy)
  • Mysteries unravel as mafiosi spill secrets. (Italian gangsters make confessions)
  • One woman’s dangerous and lonely battle to break the Cosa Nostra. (challenges facing Maria Maniscalco, mayor of San Giuseppe Jato, Italy)
  • Rome turns a blind eye to Mafia’s killing spree.
  • Secret of why the Mafia has never shot a soul. (code of silence about Mafia in Sicily)
  • Street wars in Italy’s wild south. (high crime levels in Naples, Italy)
  • Who killed Pasolini? (new film about the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini)
  • 5. Gumbel Articles On Italy’s Physical Disasters (3)
  • After the deluge (eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy will create chaos)
  • Assisi in mourning as quake shatters Basilica of St Francis.
  • Umbria shows the civilised way to cope with calamity. (effects of series of earthquakes in Italy)


6. Conclusion And Next Posts

This list was checked out with half a dozen posters resident in Italy at the time. All of their reactions were to the effect that, in lying by omission, Gumbel did not play fair with Italy back then. A trivial mind. One which should have been fought off with a stick.

The next posts seek to identify what Gumbel and the Knox misrepresenters (said to be primarily the Moores, Sforza and Fischer) were responsible for putting in the Sollecito book, and to describe Andrew Gumbel’s vigorous public media campaign. Whether authorized or not authorized, he made around 20 shrill damaging interventions.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Sollecito Trial For “Honor Bound” #5: Gumbel Really A Cowardly Defamatory Shill?

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



Above: “Neutral ghostwriter” Andrew Gumbel tweets…

1, Today In The Florence Court

Lately many of the chest-thumping PR shills have whined a lot more about themselves as victims than done anything to boost Sollecito and Knox.

Think of Preston, Burleigh, Dempsey, Sforza, Fisher, Moore, and a whole lot of other serial complainers. Now chest-thumper Andrew Gumbel seems to want to join their ranks. That is if the claim that he was ONLY a ghostwriter was made by his lawyer with his consent to the Florence judge.

2. Signs Gumbel Really Is A Shill

Note that Sollecito gave many signs during his US book promotion tour late in 2012 that he really didn’t know much about what was in his own book.

So did Gumbel really only hang on Sollecito’s every word? Or did he talk to a lot more people than that, and get very invested in nasty, dishonest propaganda to deny justice for Meredith via the courts?

Here’s Andrew Gumbel on 1 May 2014, providing the first media opinion in the UK on Judge Nencini’s appeal report. The nasty false claims highlighted suggest Gumbel has a very strong investment in Sollecito and Knox and not a little contempt for the Italian courts.

One truth in Gumbel’s article which he must really regret? That sentence in the thitrd paragraph: “Disclosure: I am the co-author with Sollecito on his memoir about the case.”

The longer the Italian courts consider the Meredith Kercher case – and we have now had three trials, six presiding judges, two hearings before the Italian high court and a third on the way – the more the country’s institutions of justice have covered themselves in shame.

Judge after judge has twisted the available evidence into extraordinary contortions of logic to assert, at different times, that Kercher – a British exchange student stabbed to death in her room in Perugia in 2007 – was the victim of a premeditated attack; that her murder happened spontaneously; that the motive was sexual; that the motive was a dispute over housework with Amanda Knox, the star defendant; that the trigger for the murder was the unseemly appetite Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, had for sex and drugs; that the trigger for the murder was Rudy Guede, the Ivorian-born drifter everyone agrees was involved, knocking on the door to use the toilet.

By now, Knox and Sollecito have been convicted, acquitted and convicted again, and the underlying forensic evidence has been both exposed as a sham and, mystifyingly, reinstated. (Disclosure: I am the co-author, with Sollecito, on his memoir about the case.)

Still, the latest judicial document in the ongoing battle, a 337-page justification of the most recent convictions made public on Tuesday, marks a new low. Not only has Alessandro Nencini, the presiding judge of the Florence appeals court, apparently resorted to the same tortured logic as his predecessors; he has also stated things as fact that are manifestly and provably wrong.

That may be more than even the Italian justice system can stomach; judges, after all, aren’t supposed to do things like that. And it may provide Knox and Sollecito with unexpected – if still slim – grounds for hope at the very moment when Kercher’s death had seemed settled, at last, according to the law.

To read the new conviction report in detail is to enter a kind of alternate reality, where concrete facts appear ignored and alternate facts are seemingly plucked from the air. Kercher’s murder is reduced to a parlor game and all roads lead to the inevitable, if not also foregone, conclusion that Knox and Sollecito are guilty. For instance:

  • On page 63, Judge Nencini claims that a partial shoeprint found at the murder scene comes from a size 37 women’s shoe and must therefore belong to Amanda Knox. But this is not based on the available evidence. In the early days of the case, the prosecution sought to show that the shoeprint was from Sollecito’s Nikes; the pattern of concentric circles on the sole was later proven to come from a different pair of Nikes belonging to Guede.

  • On page 81, Nencini grapples with the question of how Knox and Sollecito could have participated in the murder but left no more than a single, hotly disputed trace of themselves at the scene. Extraordinarily, Nencini argues that Knox and Sollecito must have wiped the place clean of their DNA (but left an abundance of Guede’s) because no traces of Knox’s DNA were found anywhere in the apartment that she shared with the victim. But multiple samples of Knox’s DNA were found and presented at trial; they just weren’t found in the room where the murder took place.

  • Then, on page 321, Nencini writes that the blade of the purported murder weapon – a large kitchen knife found in Sollecito’s apartment – bore traces of both Kercher’s and Sollecito’s DNA. Again, this is at variance with the evidence. The most the prosecution ever asserted was that Kercher’s DNA was on the tip of the blade. Sollecito’s DNA has never been found.

The defense teams have reacted with consternation: Knox issued a formal statement decrying the lack of “credible evidence or logic” in this latest document, which arrived just ahead of the three-month deadline following her latest conviction; Sollecito’s lead lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, denounced what she said were “at least ten clamorous mistakes per page”. (A Kercher family lawyer called the document “a version that we have always in some ways sustained”.)

This being Italy, however, the judicial errors are not necessarily a bad thing for Knox and Sollecito, because they give the Italian high court an opening – should the justices choose to take it – to overturn the latest conviction, and either dismiss the case, send it back to get the mistakes fixed, or order yet another trial in another court.

The high court justices will be aware, of course, that the longer the case drags on, the more suspect the process will look in the eyes of world opinion. Another trial would test the patience of even the most ardent believers in Knox and Sollecito’s guilt, and certainly of the Kercher family. But the process is starting to curdle – even without the spectacle of lawyers arguing, yet again, over the same controversies before a barrage of international TV cameras. That leaves the high court, which always has one eye on the integrity of the system, with a genuine dilemma.

Much has been written about Italian justice’s desire to save face in this much written-about case. To admit a miscarriage of justice, the argument runs, has become too difficult, because it would expose the mistakes of too many people, from the primary investigators to the Rome forensic lab to the prosecutors and judges.

However, as the case trudges toward the seven-year mark, one has to wonder how much appetite the institutions of justice still have to stand by what they have done. Will the high court really want to endorse Nencini’s report with all these evident flaws? Or will this finally be the moment when the justice system calls a halt to a travesty committed in its name and exonerates Knox and Sollecito, as it should have done years ago?


3. How Gumbel Got It Wrong

We responded by rebutting 20 of Gumbel’s malicious claims in just the first 7 pages of Honor Bound. And Pataz1, a TJMK main poster who also runs his own blog posted this rebuttal of Gumbel below

This letter was sent to the Guardian’s Reader Editor on 4 May 2014, and again on 3 June, 2014. The Reader’s Editor did not respond to either of the email submissions.

Gumbel’s May 1st, 2014 article in the Guardian is a thinly veiled advocacy piece for Sollecito and Knox. He left out a significant phrase from a Nencini passage he cites; this phrase he omitted undermines one of his main claims.

To the Guardian:

I’m writing to you about Andrew Gumbel’s “comment” on developments in the murder of Meredith Kercher case. Gumbel writes about the recently released Nencini court motivations document, which outlines the court’s reasoning for affirming Knox and Sollecito’s conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Gumbel waits until the end of the third paragraph in his article to provide his disclaimer: that he is a co-author of the book by one of the defendants. Its hard to understand why Gumbel waited so long to disclose his vested financial interest in the innocence of one of the defendants on trial. By this time, Gumbel has already levied allegations of impropriety upon the Italian courts and judges. For example, he alleges “the country’s institutions of justice have covered themselves in shame.” He continues specific allegations that “judge after judge has twisted the available evidence […]”.  If Gumbel had provided his disclaimer appropriately at the beginning of his letter, readers would have had a more appropriate understanding of Gumbel’s perspective and motivations for writing his letter.

Despite being a co-author of a book by one of the two still on trial for Meredith’s murder, Gumbel’s statements on the court process are wrong. Gumbel pushes the perspective that Knox’s reps have pushed in the US; that Knox and Sollecito have been “convicted again” after an acquittal. Gumbel leaves out any mention of the Italian Supreme Court ruling that overturned Knox and Sollecito’s acquittal and sent the case back to the appellate level. After the acquittal was annulled, the original 2009 conviction remained in place. Gumbel is no doubt aware that the Florence court is an appellate court.  (Curiously, Sollecito’s co-defendant Knox also wrongly claims on her website that the Italian Supreme Court “annulled all previous verdicts”; ref: http://www.amandaknox.com/about-contact/?).

Gumbel’s omission of the Italian Supreme Court ruling is odd, because the entire point of his article is the integrity of the judicial decisions. Gumbel left out that the Italian Supreme Court has already made one ruling regarding the integrity of a judicial decision in this case. The Supreme Court’s ruling wasn’t in favor of Gumbel’s co-author and defendant Raffaele Sollecito;  perhaps this is the reason that Gumbel failed to mention the actual outcome of the acquittal.

Or perhaps Gumbel left out this information so he could present the evidence the way it is framed by supporters of Knox and Sollecito. Later in the the same paragraph, Gumbel expresses confusion about why evidence remains in the case. He states “the underlying forensic evidence has been both exposed as a sham and, mystifyingly, reinstated.” As the co-author of the book with Sollecito, Gumbel is again no doubt aware that after the appellate-level acquittal was thrown out, the original conviction (with all of the evidence) remained as a part of the case. Any decision made by Hellmann on the evidence was also thrown out of the case, including Hellmann’s conclusions on the knife DNA evidence and the Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp. Further, if Gumbel had indeed read the Nencini decision, he would have read the passage where Nencini takes to task the “independent experts” in the Hellmann trial (detailed here:http://thefreelancedesk.com/amanda-knox-trials-meredith-kercher-case/). Gumbel should be well aware after his reading of Nencini why the evidence still contributed to the Florence court upholding his co-author’s conviction.

In his second point on the Nencini decision, Gumbel leaves out a key phrase that completely undermines his claim. By this time in his article, one is forced to wonder if this omission is deliberate. Gumbel’s claim is that Nencini contradicted himself by writing that Knox and Sollecito only left a “single, hotly disputed trace of themselves” despite the other evidence that Nencini also talks about. But the start of the passage Gumbel cites is:

“Una peculiarità è, ad esempio, il rilievo che all’interno della villetta di via della Pergola quasi non sono state rinvenute tracce di Amanda Marie Knox – se non quelle di cui si dirà e riferibili all’omicidio – né di Raffaele Sollecito.”

The phrase Gumbel deliberately left out is this: “se non quelle di cui si dirà e riferibili all’omicidio”, which, roughly translated, is “except those which will be discussed and related to the murder.”  The Nencini Motivations document explicitly contains a clause that accommodates the other traces related to the murder. Gumbel’s point is provably false. As someone who arguably puts himself forth as an expert on the case, this omission is highly concerning.

In Gumbel’s third point he highlights what is a minor error in the Nencini report. Calling out one word in a longer passage, Gumbel points out the report states that Sollecito’s DNA was found on the knife that is alleged as a murder weapon. If Gumbel truly read the report, as he claimed in a twitter exchange with me, he would be aware that the rest of the section that is contained in makes it clear that the finding is Knox’s DNA on the knife, not Sollecito’s. This minor error is hardly cause to overturn the full conviction.

I could continue, but the rest of Gumbel’s article is largely a diatribe against the length of the trial and the Italian justice system. Gumbel cites an article written by Douglas Preston, another author who has financially benefited by being openly critical of the prosecutor in Knox’s case. Knox and Sollecito’s case has gone through three levels of the Italian court system, and back to appeals. Cases in the US that follow a similar path have not happened any faster than the one in Italy. For example, in the Scott Peterson case in the US his defense still filed appeals eight years after his first-level conviction.

That the Guardian has allowed itself to be used as a platform to push the defense’s perspective is not only a disservice to the family of the murder victim who lives in the UK, but is also a disservice to the victim of a violent, brutal murder.


Friday, December 19, 2014

The Dangers Of Not Extraditing Convicted Felons Labeled An Explosive Threat To Other People

Posted by Peter Quennell



Above: Sydney moslems leaving wreaths- for the non-moslems killed

1. Lessons From Australia

It looks like several Australian judges may have wrecked their careers for allowing Man Haron Monis to be at large even though police said he should be denied bail.

Man Haron Monis was the former Iranian who took 17 hostages in downtown Sydney and caused the death of two others and himself. Coming to light is how many times previously the Australian justice system had treated him with kid gloves for major crimes.

Reporting from NBC:

Iran tried to extradite the gunman behind Sydney’s deadly hostage crisis years ago, Tehran’s top cop said, amid questions over how the self-styled cleric had found his way to Australia but not onto a watch list…

Monis grew up in Iran as Mohammad Hassan Manteghi. In 1996, he established a travel agency, but took his clients’ money and fled, Iran’s police chief, Gen. Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, told the country’s official IRNA news agency Tuesday.

Australia accepted him as a refugee around that time. The police chief said Iran tried to have Monis extradited from Australia in 2000, but that it didn’t happen because Iran and Australia don’t have an extradition agreement.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he wanted to know how Monis had been granted permanent residency and why he had been receiving welfare benefits for years, despite being able-bodied “if not necessarily of sound mind.”

Monis had a gun licence, a rarity in Australia - and he walked free after being charged for writing letters of hate to families of dead Australian soldiers, and for having a hand in the killing of his wife.


2. The Relevance Of This To Knox

Regardless of extradition treaty situations, countries almost universally extradite convicted murderers. They dont want dangerous people to have another chance to cause deadly havoc in their own midst.

Knox is already a felon for life. If Knox is confirmed guilty of murder next March she will be a DANGEROUS felon for life.

The Italian-US extradition treaty gives a US judge no wiggle room other than to check if the paperwork is in order and then send her on her way.

But another bent judge could again throw a spanner in the works.

How dangerous is Knox?  Our psychologists generally think that, untreated,  she is not good news. Not a latent serial killer, or one who sits around and plots, but one who could again explosively hit back when she imagines or exaggerates slights.

More than anyone in Perugia, Meredith tried to get along with Knox. But Knox showed no sign of a learning curve. The very heavy drug use went on, the sleeping with a drug dealer went on, the dirtiness and laziness around the house went on, and the noisy sex episodes with strangers through paper-thin walls went on.

She really was the housemate from hell.

For a month or two after Meredith died, Knox was highly erratic about her role in that death, and showed an extreme eagerness to talk with the prosecution which resulted in the long session with Dr Mignini on 17 Dec.

In a move serially misinterpreted by the dimwits of the Knox brigade, the prosecution, suspecting she was both mixed up and high on hard drugs, in effect offered Knox and her team a way to a lesser count, when they said that the murder could have been a taunting attack which spun out of control.

In her book, Knox describes how the family and lawyers worked hard on Knox to destroy all elements of trust. By the summer of 2008 she was in a mood of full-blown paranoid mistrust, and all chances of a lesser charge were gone.

At trial in 2009 Knox was daffy and uncomprehending, making irrelevant interventions and really shooting herself in the foot when she took the stand. Raffaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba, almost the last two in Perugia to still give her the time of day, both said she was very odd.

Knox was mentally tested in Capanne Prison and apparently scored high on the psychopathic chart. The four courts hardest on Knox all knew this - the Matteini court, the Ricciarelli court, Cassation, and the Nencini court - which was a major reason why Cassation did not allow bail in April 2008.

Assuming she killed once, in what was an exceptionally barbaric attack, Knox may or may not kill again. She is certainly inciting or condoning a massive amount of dangerous hate toward Meredith’s family and toward the Italian officials of the court.

One unhinged attack has already occured - that of the disturbed Michele Moore against Dr Mignini in the Perugia court - and the British resident David Anderson has screamed at meetings and runs an incessant campaign to stir up hate. Court officials have received messages of hate, and there is a small mountain of false and dangerous accusations against them on the web.

Left untreated and unpunished, a convicted but not extradited Knox would be a killer walking loose on American streets and could continue to condone or incite violence for the rest of her life.

If Knox killed and remains loose, could she kill again or cause others to kill? Any extradition judge needs to ask as the Australian judges did not:

Do we REALLY want to find out?















Friday, December 12, 2014

Even More Reasons Why NOBODY In Italy Now Is Claiming Innocence Of RS And AK

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. The Knox-Sollecito State Of Play

On average we get an email or two from readers in Italy every day.

Maybe half are from Italians and half are from foreigners who are resident there. This is from an appreciative American who is married to an Italian and now lives in Milan.

I go back to Perugia and my friends there as often as I can - everything there is very special to me. Perhaps this sounds a little strange but, to me, the city seems to have lost it’s innocence with Meredith’s murder. I still haven’t met anybody in Italy - from North to South (or from Switzerland either) who believes that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent.

No-one in Italy any longer seems to believe that AK and RS or of course Guede were not involved. The courts have made their case.

There has simply been too much documentation, too much commentary broadcast on TV, too many disturbing facts coming to light like Knox having sex for drugs with a drug kingpin right up to the night of her arrest.

The incessant bickering of the two has become a bore. Trials against Sforza, Aviello, and Sollecito proceed and more charges against Amanda Knox and Curt and Edda Mellas remain.  Since this time last year neither of the two has won even one point.

2. More Proof Undermines The Guede Hoax

Can you figure out what the image at the top depicts?

This is the north end of the massif from the east. Right at the center is the law office of Dr Paolo Brocchi, whose office was burgled and whose laptop turned up in the possession of Rudy Guede in Milan. Meredith’s house is visible at top-right and Patrick’s bar, the English girl’s house and the courts are all off to the left.

At the bottom of the image below in the center is a narrow dark ally. Whoever broke in seems to have done so via that ally and a narrow balcony on the second floor of the law offices. 






The killer-groupies refer to Rudy Guede as the FORGOTTEN killer though there is no logical reason why. He doesnt hog the limelight but he is convicted and he is doing his time.

The killer-groupies claim Guede was a drug dealer (untrue), a petty thief (unproven), a knife wielder (untrue), who threatened a man (untrue), a police snitch (untrue) who killed Meredith alone during a burglary which went wrong (untrue). Quite a list of false claims. 

There is in fact zero evidence proving Guede acted alone. Meredith’s missing money was equivalent to money Knox could not explain.  Read the 45 posts here for all the proof the killer-groupies ignore.

Absolutely key to the verdict of the trial court were the TWO recreations of the attack on Meredith. Each pointed to three attackers. Both were presented in closed court. 

Please follow the images below to see how a burglar broke into Dr Brocchi’s office two and a half weeks before Meredith was killed.

The front door of the law office is at street level. Because the ground slopes down at the rear, the law office is one level above ground level. That is where the glass in the French doors was broken and the break-in may have occurred. 




Above and below: images of law office at the street level from the front,






Whether it was Guede or not (there are good reasons for thinking it was not) he or she broke in around the back, up that alley, in the dark, where there is a quite easy reach up to the floor of a narrow balcony outside the French doors.



Above and below, law office from back, balcony is at hard left not visible here





Above and below, law office from back, balcony is visible one floor up from ground level





Above law office from back, balcony is visible one floor up from ground level



What does that climb resemble? See the final image below. It fairly precisely resembles the climb in the dark onto Meredith’s balcony, also at the back, a route which two separate sets of burglars used in 2009.

It does NOT resemble at all the climb into Filomena’s room, much higher, in bright light, which to this day not one person has been able to emulate, and which would actually resemble a climb to the office windows at the front in bright streetlight . 

Those who claim that climbing into Filomena’s window was anyone’s known “modus operandi” are not telling the truth.




Above, Meredith’s house from the east with balcony used by burglars at the back


There were no fingerprints in the office and to this day nobody can say for certain what the burglary was really about.

Only that certain legal papers had been accessed and it is held probable in Perugia that someone was trying to interfere with a legal case. Two other offices at the back were bypassed. 

Neither Dr Brocchi nor Ms Maria Del Prato who encountered Guede in her nursery school in Milan pressed charges against him for assault or theft. Their testimonies at trial were low-key and puzzling but certainly did not leave Guede in a worse light. Neither had an axe to grind with him.

So the Milan police and courts finally acted against Guede merely for being in possession of a couple of items of stolen property. Nothing more.

If Guede had no already been convicted he would have served no prison time.

But as we recently reported he gets an additional 16 months in prison and his work-release is denied.  Guede’s final appeal to Cassation has just been turned down.

The killer-groupies should move along. Demonizing Guede with false claims and lying to justice departments (their new angle) will never ensure Knox remains free.

Posted on 12/12/14 at 06:52 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Those officially involvedRudy GuedeKnox book hoaxesSollecito book hoaxesItalian justice hoaxGuede good guy hoax
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Friday, November 14, 2014

In A New Italy Case Involving A Foreign Student The UK Media Is Not Reporting The Full Facts

Posted by Peter Quennell



Above: Serena Bowes seen taking a selfie

Overview Of The Case

Rape is a devastating crime and if someone DID rape Serena Bowes in Florence he must be put away.

Apart from this the UK media seems to be reporting her claims cautiously and unemotionally. But if they had checked with the Italian police, or even checked out Italian media reports, they would have found that Serena Bowes is leaving out key facts.

The Claims By Serena Bowes

The Daily Telegraph reported what Serena Bowes claims.

The incident unfolded when Miss Bowes, who is in the second year of her fashion course, joined other students on a trip to Florence.

She explained how she and a group of friends had been in a local nightclub when she began chatting to a man.

She alleged that they had been heading to the VIP area when she was guided towards the unisex bathroom where the attack happened.

Miss Bowes alerted staff from Newcastle College who accompanied her to the police station and to the local hospital.

After returning to the UK she attempted to put the incident behind her as no one was charged in relation with the alleged offence.

When she received a letter in Italian from the Florence Police she assumed it was an update on the case, but when she got it translated, was stunned to discover that she herself was facing charges.

She said: “I thought it was done with and I could get on with my life. I didn’t think he was going to get prosecuted so I just wanted to get on with my life but this has brought everything back.

“It doesn’t feel what actually happened is the problem anymore – it feels like that has actually been forgotten about.”

The Daily Mail report additionally added this.

‘I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there.  ‘If I receive a prison sentence somewhere between four and 12 years my life will be over.’


Real Facts In Italian Media

The Italian media seems much further down the road and more fully informed.

They have reported the details of the case the police have put before the supervising magistrate, and they have done some poking around of their own.

The police are said to have investigated the allegations very diligently, but so far it is only his story that is holding up and not at all hers. CCTV cameras throughout the club (even apparently in the restroom) show no sign of her fighting off an attack.

He is seen inside and exiting a restroom, but she does not appear to be in that room or at that same door with him. Many staff and customers in the club were interviewed, but none of them seem to have backed up her report.

Medical examinations apparently showed no physical evidence on either of them of an attack.  And DNA swabs apparently showed none of his DNA on her or her DNA on him.

Serene Bowes’s reasons for not going to a mere hearing to explain the question marks above do seem pretty lame. She has placed a big cloud over the guy who she fingered who has been in suspect status ever since.

But now she shrugs off further help to the Italian police to nail him or clear him as being inconvenient or risky merely to her?

“I just wanted to get on with my life.” Where have we heard that before?

Update By Popper On The Rules

Popper in a comment now explains this, which even more suggests that Serene Bowes would be advised to head back to Florence, that the letter she received (still not released) said nothing about 4-12 years, and that foreign press are too gullible or worse.

On the case of Serena, we certainly need more details.  Simulation [of a crime] and calumny [accusing someone you know innocent of having committed a crime] are serious matters.

If she is investigated magistrates have elements that obligated them to inform her of their suspects, it is an act for her protection. If video material exists I fear it must be explicitly against her version, but we do not know enough to be able to give an informed opinion.

Version presented by some UK papers is uninformed and biased, as we have seen often in MK’s case.  Worst of all, it is exaggerated. An investigation is not a conviction, and if I were Serena [and a victim] I would certainly go there with a lawyer and explain the facts to exculpate myself and get the guilty convicted.

In any case, the risk she ends up in jail is quite low.  It is fairly likely that, even if convicted for the above crimes [after a trial and 2 appeals], her sentence will be suspended, if statute of limitations does not kick in first.  It follows that her justification for not going back to explain herself to a judge is ridiculous.

If she is lying and is guilty of simulation and calumny, it will be one of many cases, certainly not a surprise or uncommon.  Unfortunately many crimes are simulated every day, which makes more difficult and expensive the prosecution of real crimes.

Posted on 11/14/14 at 09:21 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Other legal processesOthers elsewhereReporting, media, moviesV bad reporting
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Saturday, November 01, 2014

Prime Minister Renzi’s Justice Reforms: One System-Change Need Strongly Suggested By Meredith’s Case

Posted by Peter Quennell





Prime Minister Renzi might be able to push some justice reforms through the Rome parliament.

After all, it was not his pals that were being plagued with investigations and charges, it was ex-PM Berlusconi’s, and business is leaning on him.

Those reforms being talked about (of a system which most Italians rightly feel proud of) seem to mostly involve economic efficiency. But it would be popular if a more-pro-victim tilt is also promoted.

The only slight pro-victim tilt at present is the presence of a lawyer representing the victim at trial. Dr Maresca in fact is representing Meredith not her family, but this small tilt toward fairness drives the Knox crazies like Bruce Fischer even crazier. It also promotes the (illegal under the laws of all countries) stalking and harassment of Meredith’s family.

A more-pro-victim tilt polls well in Italy. A clear majority of the population would like to see it. This post was about one of the fearless campaigners, a popular TV presenter who has written to us with thanks for siding with her.

Surely introducing a hurdle to all those automatic appeals (unique to Italy) that so clog the court agendas and eat up judges’ time would be a good idea.

Surely a really good idea, one which all of those tied up by the case in Italy and also many elsewhere would side with, is: No fast-track trial and automatically reduced sentence like Guede’s without a REAL confession and repentance.

Our poster Popper explained (again) in comments here on 21 October what the law on fast-track trials is for the moment, and why Guede got no special breaks from anyone except the Italian system itself for not talking.

[A deal with Guede? All such deals are illegal.] Not only illegal, impossible I would say, as not envisaged by the code for serious crimes, ie not practically possible, there are no exceptions ... in addition 1. a prosecutor cannot promise or decide anything in that system (even if it was a small crime for which plea bargain is possible, judge or court decides and can say no)  2. Mignini was not the PM responsible of the Guede appeal as the groupies should know if they had read the primary documents they publish on their, for the rest, useless website 3. Mignini got a life sentence for RG (decreased to 30 years for fast track discount) I do not believe he appealed this verdict, obviously.

So as we said many times (I repeat for newcomers and for the benefit of people in good faith, FoA in bad faith know already) Guede got this reduction as the life sentence (with fast track discount 30 years, this is an automatic formula) became 24 years given the judges of appeal gave generic mitigations equivalent to aggravations, exactly as in the first instance and appeal trials of Amanda and Raffaele.  Once this factor is introduced, the base penalty for murder becomes 24 years (like Amanda and Raffaele) but there is, for Guede, the automatic reduction of 1/3 for the choice of the abbreviated trial.  Result is 16 years of prison.

Amanda and Raffaele got from 24 to 28.5 and 25 for their other crimes in continuation, theft phones, simulation, transportation of a weapon, calumny to Lumumba (only Knox).

Many might live more easily with the idea of Guede getting his sentence pared down to only 16 years in prison, if only he had been made to fess up properly about what happened and make a real bid to express sorrow and remorse to Meredith’s family.

But his sticking point even now which the current law allows is that Meredith INVITED him in for sex and he was only a bystander to her murder.

Wail at his callous obtuseness all you like, but he has only gone where the system itself points him. 

Judge Massei had tried to punish him additionally by reversing Judge Micheli on primary blame and placing primary blame for the fatal attack on Guede.

But that weird stretch didnt hurt him, his eventual sentence was unaffected, and it caused enormous problems down the road when Judge Hellmann was enabled to go even further and roll back the guilt of RS and AK entirely.

This is a problem Judge Nencini then had to set about correcting, which never would have even existed had Guede been forced in 2008 to fully confess and repent, in exchange for his fast-track trial and reduced sentence.

If the Italian system had forced Guede’s confession in 2008 as his part of the deal, how radically different would have been the history of this protracted process. And how radically different would have been the lives and peace of mind of Meredith’s family, left suffering now both financially and in health terms.

It wasn’t meant to be, but in this respect Italy’s is a cruel system. Please, Prime Minister Renzi, correct it. Call it the Meredith Amendment.

Posted on 11/01/14 at 12:24 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc The wider contextsItalian context
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why Numerous American JUDGES Favor The Supremely Neutral Italian Kind Of System

Posted by Peter Quennell



See that above at the bottom of the YouTube screen? Some $280 million has been spent since the year 2000.

Can you guess what the $280 million was for?

In fact the $280 million is funds raised and spent for judges’ election campaigns in the roughly 3/4 of all American states where such judges’ elections are held - the original intention of which was good: to get judicial choices out of smoke-filled rooms.

Sitting judges and prospective judges themselves usually dont like this fundraising, because they have to take time off to raise these funds,  and pressures from donors - including bad-boy donors and in some cases defense lawyers seeking a break - can become extreme.

We have posted previously on enlightened American lawyers favoring main aspects of the Italian kind of system and on American cities now doing the same. Now we see many American judges and public-interest groups inclining the same way.

Why all judges in Italy are impartial and well-trained in the extreme (like all prosecutors) and dont have to keep their paws outstretched is that they are in a merit-based system where only their performance and not their politics counts.

We described how Italian justice system officials have to jump hurdle after hurdle in getting their cases advanced. A very demanding process in which only the best succeed.

It’s the same with their careers. They have to jump hurdle after hurdle in exams and peer assessment to advance from level to level - to make it as high for example as this revered prosecutor here.

Do such serial defamers of the Italian system as Doug Preston and Steve Moore and ex-judge Michael Heavey bother to tell you this about the Italian system? Probably not. They have never been truthful about it before.

Posted on 10/30/14 at 09:28 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc The wider contextsItalian contextN America contextItalian justice hoaxFlorence MOF hoax
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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Spitting In the Wind: Sollecito News Conference Backfires On Him AND Knox - What The Media Missed

Posted by SomeAlibi



Raffaele looks for divine inspiration? Precious little showing at press conference on Tuesday

What on earth were they thinking?

At Tuesday morning’s press conference Raffaele Sollecito’s team did at least two completely inexplicable things.

Firstly, they scored a spectacular own-goal on the facts surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher, which has been missed by the press.

Secondly, they did it all for no legal benefit.

In the run up to the press conference it was widely trailed that Sollecito would throw Amanda under the bus by removing her alibi - that she spent the whole of the night of the 1st of November with him at his apartment. After the press conference, it was widely reported he’d done that very thing.

Wrong. Very wrong. In fact, Team Sollecito did the opposite and put a position forward entirely consistent with how the prosecution says Knox, Sollecito and Guede all come together.

Speaking in tongues

There are only a few grains of sand left in the hourglass before Cassation and confirmation of the sentence, which will see Sollecito return to jail until he is well into his forties. You would have thought that it would be “absurd” for him to do anything other than speak clearly and unequivocally.

But that is precisely what didn’t happen…

Sollecito and lead counsel Giulia Bongiorno performed a bizarre tip-toe dance, avoiding saying anything clear or direct. Instead, they made points by reference and allusion, with an unhealthy assortment of metaphorical nods, winks, heavy coughs and adjustments of the lapels at key points.

Did Raffaele say that Amanda left his apartment in the early evening? No. As Bongiorno tortuously phrased it: “Raffaele takes note of the fact the court of appeal found there was something of a lie over Amanda’s whereabouts… of the fact the court [says] she was not with him in the early evening”.

Takes note? What on earth was that all about? Well, the sentence mangling was because at the final Cassation hearing next year, no fresh facts can be heard. The only arguments that can be heard are on failure of due process or failure of logic and reasoning as pmf.org Italian legal expert Popper explains extremely clearly here:

I think we should clarify a number of points after discussions of past few days:

1) Corte di Cassazione does not hear evidence and can only discuss the possible invalidation of a sentence or part of it ref the points appealed, not other points. Corte di Cassazione does not hear defendants or private parties. In public hearings only a specific category of lawyers (Cassazionisti) can speak before them

2) Corte di Cassazione therefore cannot take into account evidence now given spontaneously by the defendant RS directed against AK (eg open door of Filomena) as in Court he has never accepted cross-interrogation of AK’s lawyers, except if on some points RS’ lawyers appealed in writing for manifest illogicality of reasoning but what he says now cannot be used. Keep in mind Cassazione cannot discuss the merit of the judgement of Nencini and Massei, only invalidate it if this judgement and reasoning were based on clearly illogical arguments or neglected key evidence

3) Only if Cassazione invalidated Nencini and remanded to a further appeal a possible renovation of “istruttoria” (evidence discussion) may take place. Otherwise all RS has to say now, even if he confesses she did it and he only helped clean [unlikely IMHO], cannot be taken into account by Corte di Cassazione and would have to be the possible argument for a “revisione del giudicato” (a case in which, after a final judgement, a convicted person claims there is a clear error and brings solid evidence to prove it, it is quite rare only in case of obvious errors. Procedure can be easily denied and IMHO will be denied if he said he just helped clean as Courts have already considered that scenario and rejected it)

4) any discussion on cocaine was not taken into account to convict (even if true, no evidence they sniffed that night) and will not be taken into account by Corte di Cassazione, in theory will not be taken into account for extradition hearing in US Court as this only verifies there is a conviction and treaty respected. PR is another matter, but I think it is not correct to say that would be added to extradition request and may change legal course. Same goes for garage video.

5) The press conference of RS was useless, the panel of Corte di Cassazione judges has not even been appointed and, while not illegal, it is completely unusual for a defendant to hold a PC talking about an appeal (RS is not a public figure or administrator). What counts is the appeal document that we have read. The “great” point that AK does not talk about RS in memoriale is too stupid for me to discuss it here. We must conclude this was only publicity for Bongiorno, she knows she is likely to lose and wishes to make it seem it is a close call. She has minimal chances, approximating 0%.

6) RS has very low chances to succeed, and LG for AK even less, as Corte di Cassazione explained well what they wanted and Nencini gave it to them. Court presided by AN explained who the people concurring with RG in the murder are and gave clear logical explanation for such conclusion. Also, Nencini confirmed first instance, a trial that was perfectly valid for Cassazione after first appeal was invalidated.

There have been cases of a double iteration at Cassazione eg in very complex terrorism trials, evidence was scarce mostly based on witnesses who wanted to sidetrack other investigations. Here, as Alan Dershowitz said [he does not know much about case but this and a few other points he got absolutely right] all pieces of evidence point exactly in the same direction creating a good case [AD does not know it is overwhelming; maybe he did not read all docs].

One other thing AD said, most FOA and JREF and IIP tend to forget: Court is the judge, not them, Court has the responsibility to evaluate all evidence and issue a judgement that, as long as explained logically and legally in writing [something a US jury would not be required to do] using all available elements, will stand and be final after Cassazione.


So, Team Sollecito needed to phrase all of their “points” as things already said by the Appeal Court, which are now facts in law unless overturned due to failure of logic etc.

From there they must then try and make insinuations about these ‘facts’, all the while dressing it up as if it were procedurally in accordance with the pre-Cassation phase. Even though … and here one should be allowed a Pepto Bismol given all the twisting and turning… as Popper explains, it will have no effect on the outcome whatsoever.

In the real world, it was quite clear that what Sollecito was actually saying was, “Yes, she did go out in the early part of the evening, even though I’m not personally saying it, those are the Court’s words.”

He left a massive hanging dot dot dot in place of: ‘Hey everyone - Amanda went off and performed the murder with Guede, not me! No, I haven’t stated the time of her return, because it’s not me talking, it’s the court, but she was out, so figure it out for yourselves…’




Not with him in the early evening, which is not the night, we are told, that begins around 11:00 pm

The light at the end of the tunnel has steam billowing underneath it

Here, Team Sollecito run into a horrendous brick-wall of facts which lays Raffaele and Knox out cold. It’s not hard to work it through, but the world’s weary press are too fatigued by this case to even do some simple “if-then” calculations and draw the appropriate conclusion.

So, let’s do it for them here…

  • Team Sollecito are saying Knox went out before she sent her SMS reply to boss Patrick Lumumba at 8.35pm. This is in accordance with the case for the prosecution from day dot. They now agree, as the prosecution have always said, that Knox is out of Sollecito’s flat sometime before 8.35pm. (In fact, we know it’s by at least 8.17pm because this is when she received Lumumba’s text to say that she didn’t need to go into work).

  • Team Sollecito then pause and wink to let you do the math(s). If the murder occurred circa 9.30pm by their estimate (which it didn’t, but let’s go with this for a second) and you don’t know when she returned to Sollecito’s for the night, then he couldn’t have done it, because he was at home, but she could.

Here, the Press stop and report Amanda is under the bus. Thank heavens for that, not a stain on Raffaele’s Warren Beatty white suit and can we all go home now?

Wrong. In fact, it’s a horrendous own-goal, which ricochets in hard off the testimony of both independent witness Jovana Popovic and Raffaele’s own father Francesco.

  • At 8.40pm, Popovic arrives at the front door of Raffaele’s apartment and testifies that Amanda Knox opens the front door. It has been suggested that Popovic’s self-estimated timing of 8.40pm is wrong, but this rings very hollow indeed. Popovic had done the walk from her late class ending at 8.20pm many times, and knew it took 20 minutes because she lived on the same road – Corso Garibaldi – as Raffaele himself.  Both Massei and Nencini agreed with this too. Ouch.

  • So Knox, who was out previously, is already back, at least 50 minutes before even the putative time of murder put by the defence and a couple of hours plus before the real time.

  • In fact, Raffaele’s father Francesco testified to the Massei court that he was certain that Amanda was with his son when he spoke to him at 8.52pm that night. And this was not contested by the defence. Double ouch.

So, even if Knox went out in the early evening, she is objectively shown to have been back at the apartment well before 9pm. And, if that is the case, both Knox and Sollecito are 100% back in the frame. And this is even before they are also seen by a third person who corroborates that they were together that night – Antonio Curatolo. Triple ouch.

Confirming how three became company

Worse yet, Knox has argued for 7 years that she never left the apartment. If Sollecito now “says” she did, but we know objectively that she is back at least by 8.40pm, it supports the prosecution case.

This was that Knox left for work and walked to near the cottage, in the area of the basketball court at Piazza Grimana, around where she received the text from Patrick saying not to come to work.

This is the exact time that Rudy Guede was having a kebab, only a couple of hundred yards away. This provides the opportunity for Knox and Guede to have seen each other. Knox, suddenly at a loose end, makes a plan, which involves asking for Guede’s help.

What might that help be? Well, the resurfacing story of Knox’s link with a cocaine dealer chimes nicely with the idea that Knox asked Rudy either to supply her or help her get some sort of drugs and that they arranged to meet back up once he had secured them.

Knox then returns to Raffaele’s to fetch him, is seen by Popovic and her presence acknowledged at 8.52pm by Papa Sollecito and son, before they both head out to connect with Guede back at Piazza Grimana. (Remember, this is where Knox “saw” Patrick Lumumba, when she tried to frame him).

Guede, as was his wont, managed to get himself invited back to the cottage, perhaps for a shared line. This is consistent with Knox’s prison piece “The Story of Marie Pace”, where there are at least two++ men present in a kitchen in a “party” type atmosphere taking drugs which ends up with a hospitalised victim.

It’s only one theory and there are others. However, what Team Sollecito managed to do this week was to confirm that Knox left the flat. Objective facts and witness testimony tell us the time by which she had returned.

And, in that round trip lies the entire timing, location and mechanism for how Guede became involved, which otherwise makes little sense. Now all confirmed by Team Sollecito…




One of Raffaele Sollecito’s telling grimaces when Amanda Knox’s name is mentioned

What silence gets you

So what was the point? Face-saving for Raffaele? Hoping to key up populist support? Fat chance in Italy, where the case has been properly reported.

An opportunity to allude to a “truth” (the best one he can think of for now – other truths are available) and say that he and his family believe Knox is innocent? Pull the other one Raffaele!

It is quite clear that several members of the Sollecito clan think that Knox absolutely is guilty and their Raffaele is still too “honourable” to tell the truth. He merely aided the clean-up perhaps. Well in that case, why hasn’t he said exactly when she came back? Was it 11pm? 1am? Was it at 5am when the music starts playing. Why won’t he or you say?

Or… was it face-saving for Bongiorno, as she faces defeat and seeks to protect her valued public persona?  Well, as much as I’ve tried, I have no idea what they thought they were doing.

And to be honest with you, I honestly don’t think they were entirely sure, nor did they think through the consequences of the brick wall objectivity of Popovic + Papa Sollecito.

In the meantime, a family sits in Surrey listening and watching the weasel words and once again is insulted by this “honourable” all-in-white character who knows what “Amanda Marie Knox” did that night, but simply will not say.

Which of course he could choose to do at any moment, court proceedings or not, the way us normal human beings do it: not making allusion, not tipping a wink, but speaking the truth.

But he hasn’t and I suspect he won’t, even though it actually would now be the only thing that could mitigate the length of his inevitable prison term.

And for his acts and that silence he still won’t break - and at least here it is possible to finally speak with certainty - I believe he deserves every one of those 25 years.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perps Babbling That They Are Victims Has Long Been A Lose-Lose Strategy In Italian Courts

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Florence prosecutor Giambartolomei will soon make many false claims radioactive]


To the considerable pain of victims and their loved ones, Italy’s has become one of the most pro-defendant justice and penal systems in the world.

That doesn’t mean that it has become a complete pussycat. Push it, and it pushes back harder in its search for the truth. And all the quality Italian media goes along. 

Time and again the ill-conceived short-term PR and legal tactics for Knox and Sollecito based on a hurricane of lies have left them in terms of the ultimate end-game worse off than they were before.

Judge Matteini and Judge Micheli (the judges in 2008) both took firm lines with the copious evidence and the psychological tests of AK and RS in front of them.

Both judges took a firmer line than the prosecution (yes firmer than the “evil Mignini”) in concluding that there was a drug-fuelled intent to murder with sex aspects (however short the timescale of the intent) and that this was not simply a hazing of Meredith gone wrong (the softer prosecution line).

[Ed note: See comment by Yummi below which explains the above a little differently. PQ.]

Though his panel of judges voted unanimously for guilt, Judge Massei in 2009 did take a somewhat less firm line in the sentences, after observing one daffy defendant and one very nervous defendant sitting in front of him for nearly a year.

Judge Massei for no especially convincing reason (1) pinned the initiating of the attack on Rudy Guede (really?!) and (2) handed Knox and Sollecito (and thus Guede) quite a break with his supposed “mitigating circumstances” (the duvet over Meredith’s body) resulting in 20 years lopped off their combined sentences.

Both the defenses and the PR were weak and largely futile in that year. But come 2010 the dirty tricks moved into overdrive.

Cassation reverted to the firmer line in January 2011 when it ruled on Guede’s final appeal: Guede was a party to the murder, but copious evidence proved he did not act alone. 

The Hellmann appeal court and DNA consultancy and verdict of 2011 were corrupted (counter-measures are still quietly playing out) which fully explains its startling soft line.

Thereafter the Italian courts observed the illegal blood-money binge with the essentially fictional books of Sollecito and Knox, and two years of them each claiming to ill-prepared interviewers “we’re the real victims” on TV.

Cassation observed all of this, annulled the corrupted Hellmann court verdict, and issued instructions in June 2013 to the Florence appeal court to ensure that the firm line should be maintained. Unsurprisingly, we have seen a firm line from the chief prosecutor (Crini) and a seeming firm line from the lead judge (Nencini) in recent weeks.

In the rest of this year Italy will see at minimum these events where the court’s firm line will go on and the babbling and unhelpful legal and PR tactics may finally dry up.

    1) RS and AK continuing to babble for a while on TV as they each dig the other one deeper. Sollecito has just said that his saliva or sneezing may explain why his DNA was on the clasp of the bra.

    2) The sentencing report of Judge Nencini is due at the latest on 30 April and he seems likely to give space to rebuttals of any bizarre new claims made by Knox and Sollecito before 30 April like the one just above. 

    3)  The obstruction of justice trials of witness Luciano Aviello and incessant meddlers Mario Spezi and Frank Sforza will continue, probably though into 2015. Each of those trials could result in others (like Spezi ally Doug Preston and Sforza allies Bruce Fischer and Steve Moore) being declared at minimum persons of interest if not actually charged.

    4) Florence prosecutor Giambartolomei Firenze (image above) may soon be announcing which passages in Sollecito’s book Honor Bound criminally defame Italian officials or deliberately miscontrue hard facts in evidence in an illegal attempt to to poison public opinion against the court.

    5) Similarly soon after on Amanda Knox’s book with the surreal title Waiting To Be Heard (and on Knox articles and interviews in Oggi) by the chief prosecutor in Bergamo. 

    6) Cassation will take note of all such revelations by way of Judge Nencini’s and Prosecutor Crini’s reports; and this next autumn or winter will likely declare a firm “confirmed guilty” final-appeal outcome and invite Knox to come back.

And when prosecutor Giambartolomei Firenze announces which claims are radiocative, hopefully a major hush will come over Heavey, Fischer, Bremner and Moore. 

Posted on 02/26/14 at 08:25 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article 4 provides:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Italy’s Unpopular Politicians And Mafia Fellow Travelers Against Italy’s Popular Justice System

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: several of over 100 car bombings Italian police and prosecutors were killed in]

1. On The Pro-Justice Side…

This puts the faux Nencini “end-of-civilization-as-we-know” crisis into some sensible context.

The Italian system doesn’t exactly come out badly compared to say that of the US. Surprise, surprise: See here who agrees.

Comparatively speaking, Italy has a much lower crime rate than the US, a much lower murder rate, a highly professional un-elected police hierarchy, a much smaller court system, and a miniscule number of prison cells.

The mafias are now mostly backed into small pockets..

For reasons to do with Italian history pre-WW II the system keeps politicians very much at arms length.

Almost every other justice system in the world comes under the Prime Minister’s or equivalent’s control, and it his or her party that appoints the judges. The Italian system comes under the separately-elected and non-partisan President of the Republic.

All judges and all prosecutors follow a career path laden with checks and balances, learning exercises and tests. (At this the highly-competent and impartial Dr Mignini excels and he will soon be the attorney-general of a region.)

The system is extremely pro-defendant - probably the most pro-defendant in the whole world. See this article and this article for proof.

The number of Italians who are in prison at any one time is proportionally only about 1/5 that of the United States. Take a look.

It is not like everyone in Italy is impatiently waiting for the fatuous posse of Preston, Heavey, Fischer & Moore to turn up and save them from themselves. There is no problem there.

Our Italian poster Machiavelli (Yummi) who reported for us on the Cassation and Nencini appeals has assembled these facts on what the Italian population actually thinks. 

For comparison, in 2011 the percentage of Italians who declared they trust the justice system “a lot” or “enough” was 53.3%. By comparison, the percentage of Italians who declared they trust the government “a lot” or “enough”  were 14.7%, and those who trust the parliament were only 15%.

In 2012, the percentage of Italians who trust the parliament is now only 9.5%, and those who trust the Mario Monti administration are only 21.1%.

Over the eight years from 2004 to 2012 the percentage of Italians who trust the justice system was always bigger than those who trust parliament or government by at least ten points, and in some years we can see a spread of 20, 30, even 39 percentage points achieved by the judiciary over the parliament and government.

However, some cases of corruption (such as our Hellmann-Zanetti case, but also several others indicated by the Rapporto Italia 2012) do hamper trust.

The most trusted institutions in Italy above all are the Carabinieri (74% of Italians trust them) and the Polizia di Stato (71%).

Which means the most trusted institutions are precisely those law enforcement instruments which are deployed to enforce the orders of prosecutors.

(My source is “Rapporto Italia 2012” by EURISPES). 

More evidence of this popularity.  And even more.

2. On the Anti-Justice Side

In the past decade both corrupt politicians and the mafias have been remorselessly rolled back.

The Perugia Prosecutor-General’s Office being close to Rome and notoriously hard to bend was given national jurisdiction over the corruption of the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2010 rebuilding following a huge earthquake.

The Florence Prosecutor-General’s Office being close to Rome and notoriously hard to bend was given national jurisdiction over the corruption of the contracts for the high-speed rail links that pass through Florence and on.

But attempts of corrupt politicians and others to meddle in this case go on and on and on.

Knox and Sollecito may think it is for pure love of them. Think again. There are unsavory parties on the anti-justice bandwagon who if it suited them would disappear Knox and Sollecito in the blink of an eye.

Politics played a part in ex-MP Rocco Girlanda, a Berlusconi poodle, accessing Capanne Prison multiple times to slobber over Knox. As a member of the Justice Committee under former Berlusconi-party MP Giulia Borngiorno’s sway (hows THAT for a conflict of interest?) Girlanda (1) petitioned the President for Knox, (2) tried to cut the national police wiretap budget, (3) tried to get Perugia prosecutors investigated, (4) repeatedly appeared on TV and in other media to make false allegations, and (5) chaired several US/Italy “liberation” meetings.

Sollecito lawyer Giulia Bongiorno has been wearing her member-of-parliament hat to stir up the (essentially toothless) Ministry of Justice against Judge Nencini. And to try to get the Council of Magistrates to give her client a break (Good luck with that - they wont move.)

The mafia backseat drivers (known about in Italy but not reported in the US) are there in a minor but pervasive way. Their roles were summarised in several places including this post here.

It is odd, to say the least, to see such self promoting reformers of the Italian system as Preston, Heavey, Fischer and Moore happily carrying water for the mafias.

So What We May Expect

Judge Nencini is a seasoned mafia fighter, and he is also a seasoned fighter of politicians who are corrupt and try to bend the system their way. But his record is very clear. Attack him for murky end - and he does not exactly back down.

From the point of view of Sollecito’s prospects, this faux storm looks like another huge wrong move.

Posted on 02/05/14 at 06:53 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Those officially involvedPolice and CSIThe prosecutorsThe judiciary
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Friday, December 06, 2013

After 6 Years Heavey Is Still Heedless Of His Errors Pointed Out Again & Again & Again

Posted by pat az




Overview of this post

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

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

Prior misleading Heavey interventions in 2008

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

TJMK posted on the errors in December 2008.

Prior misleading Heavey interventions in 2009

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

Prior misleading Heavey interventions in 2010

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

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

Prior misleading Heavey interventions in 2011

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

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

The 16 May 2011 letter to President & Congress

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

False brutal interrogation claims

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

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

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

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

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

Here is Amanda Knox:

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

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

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

False no-lawyer claim

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

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

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

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

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

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

False no-recording claim

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

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

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

-Amanda Knox, Letter to Lawyers, 8 Nov 2007

False no-interpreter claim

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

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

From Court documents

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

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

And from Amanda Knox:

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

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

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

False vengeful prosecutor claim

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

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

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

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

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

False satanic myth claim

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

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

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

False US Embassy claim

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

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







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

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

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


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Differences Between Micheli, Massei, Hellmann and Nencini Courts Pointing To Almost Certain Outcome

Posted by Peter Quennell





What are the biggest differences? In fact the Supreme Court already pointed them out: science, scope, and balance.

Judge Micheli, Judge Massei and Judge Nencini all have a very extensive criminal-case background. All three have handled many cases of murder, many cases against the mafia, and many cases involving criminal science. All three have remarkable success records and have hardly ever been overturned on appeal. 

Judge Hellmann and his court are the extreme outliers. Until forced into early retirement by the Council of Magistrates, he had been a (quite good) business judge. His one major criminal case, years ago, had led to a farcical outcome, and he was ridiculed for this at the time.

Cassation made it very clear that he simply did not reflect a knowledge of the precise Italian law on scope and balance at the appeal level, and that he mishandled the science. In fact, as he actually said, the reason he appointed two independent DNA consultants was that he was at sea on the science.

That left Judge Hellmann’s panel of judges like a rudderless ship, bereft of the kind of good guidance from the lead judge on science, scope, and balance that comes only from many years of experience.

Which, given a level playing field, the pathbreaking Italian system enforces competently like almost no other.

Above all as the Hellmann Report makes extraordinarily plain, his court came to be swayed by the CSI Effect, with the help of two tainted consultants and probably the irresponsible Greg Hampikian in Idaho.

The CSI Effect is a phenomenon very, very unlikely to happen in Judge Nencini’s court.  First, take a look at this good explanation of what the CSI Effect is in the Fox Kansas City video.



Many crime shows such as the BBC mysteries and the Law & Order series and spinoffs show investigators solving their crimes in the old-fashioned way. Lots of witness interviews and alibi and database checking, and walking around and loose ends and lying awake at night puzzling. And often there’s a big stroke of luck. 

But if you watch the very popular CSI Las Vegas series and its spinoffs in Miami and New York, and the various clones on other networks, you will see something very different indeed.

When those shows first began airing worldwide in the late nineties, the producers explained that audiences increasingly appreciate learning something new when watching a show, and it is true, one sure can load up on the trivia.

But you will also see the US equivalent of Dr Stefanoni and her forensic team in those shows, roaming far beyond the narrow crime scene, interrogating witnesses and checking alibis and finding a lot of non-forensic evidence, and even at times drawing guns.

Most unreal is that, time and again, the forensic evidence testing is clearcut and takes just a few minutes and instantly clinches the case.

  • There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the Casey Anthony jury was affected by a shortfall in the starkness of the forensics when the behavioral evidence seemed so strong.
  • There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the appeal verdict outcome in Perugia might be affected in the same way.
  • There are many articles like this one and this one and this one and especially this one saying there is a tough added burden on investigators and juries without a commensurate improved outcome.

With conviction rates declining in the US and Europe, professionals are taking a scientific look at whether the CSI Effect is one big cause of that decline.

At the macro level in the US this writer doubted that the CSI Effect is fatally unbalancing takes on the wider evidence. The same conclusion was reached in this first major study at the micro level.

But the belief in the CSI Effect continues. Articles like this one on an Australian site talk of a backlash against too many acquittals. Some articles like this one argue that maybe lay juries are out of their depths.

And judges and prosecutions are taking countermeasures.

In Ohio and many other states prosecutors and judges are acting against a possible CSI Effect in their selection and briefing of juries. And an NPR report came up with these findings.

Some states now allow lawyers to strike potential jurors based on their TV habits. Judges are issuing instructions that warn juries about expecting too much scientific evidence based on what they see on TV.

In the field, Shelton says death investigators sometimes run useless tests, just to show they went the extra CSI mile.

“They will perform scientific tests and present evidence of that to the jury. Even if the results don’t show guilt or innocence either way, just to show the jury that they did it.”

This is coming at a time when death investigators in America have no resources to spare. An investigation by NPR, PBS Frontline and ProPublica shows some states have already opted not to do autopsies on suicides, others don’t autopsy people who die in traffic accidents, and many don’t autopsy people who die over the age of 60.

But Murphy, the Clark County coroner, expects things to get worse.

“You know, we’re in budget cuts right now. Everybody’s in budget cuts. Las Vegas is no different than anybody else. We’re hurting. We’re going to feel that same crunch as everybody else,” he says.

One of Zuiker’s great disappointments is that, for all its popularity, his fictional Las Vegas crime lab didn’t generate more political support to fund death investigation.

“I’ve done my job. You know, we’ve launched three shows that cater to 73.8 million people a week and is a global phenomenon and the largest television franchise in history. We hoped that the show would raise awareness and get more funding into crime labs so people felt safe in their communities. And we’re still hoping that the government will catch up.”

None of the science in Meredith’s case has ever been discredited in court. Even in Judge Hellmann’s court the agenda-driven independent consultants Conti and Vecchiotti failed - and under cross-examination admitted it.

Also remember that the Hellmann court did not get to see two very key closed-court scientific presentations (the stark recreation of the attack on Meredith, in a day of testimony, and later in a 15 minute video) which had a very big balancing effect on the Massei court. 

Right now the reputation of not one defense-campaign stooge who has attacked the science remains intact.

Greg Hampikian has headed for cover. He had widely proclaimed that he clinched the Hellmann court’s outcome, in an act which may well have been illegal. Unsurprisingly, he is now trying very hard to hide his own claimed “proof ” of shortfalls in the science, as Andrea Vogt has been showing in her Boise State University investigation, and as we will soon post more on. 

Saul Kassin is another defense-campaign stooge who falsely claimed that he clinched the Hellmann court outcome by “proving” a false confession by Knox - in an interrogation that never even took place.

Despite all of this, maybe as straw-snatching, we can again see an organized attempt to confuse American opinion on the science of the case.

Whether she did this intentionally or not, that is what the PR tool Colleen Barry of the Associated Press was doing when she omitted that the trace of Meredith on the knife is undisputed hard evidence.

Judge Micheli and Judge Massei handled the science, scope, and balance with some brilliance. In all three dimensions Judge Hellmann fell short abysmally.

What is your own bet on the outcome under the exceptionally experienced Judge Nencini?





Parts of this post were first posted in 2011 after the disputed and much examined outcome of the Casey Anthony murder trial..


Friday, October 25, 2013

Questions For Sollecito: Do You Stand By Your Smear Of Reasonable Doubt In Italian Law?

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



The Italian Supreme Court is seen here at rear-right with the Vatican in the foreground]


How the tough questions for you only grow, and grow… We have 12 posts already in our questions for Knox series and 11 posts already in our questions for Sollecito series.

We also have increasing confirmation that this thrust is paying off and is helping to meet a widespread felt need in the media. Ask Katie Couric, and Diane Sawyer, and the CNN legal talking heads, and the BBC, and an increasing number of others in the media.

Today’s post returns, certainly not for the last time, to your wildly inaccurate book.

1. What You Wrote in Honor Bound On Reasonable Doubt:

Amond the absurd legal babble in your absurdly titled book Honor Bound this legal babble especially stands out.

The meandering complexities of the Italian legal system, where speculation and hearsay are allowed to run rampant and time invariably slows to a maddening trickle, did little to help our cause. For reasons deeply embedded in the country’s history, the concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt scarcely exists in Italy, and the very notion of undisputed fact is viewed with suspicion, if not outright aversion.


2. How Lawyer James Raper With Yummi Disagreed

From their post last January before Cassation uttered its final word, which also takes to task Hellmann’s and Zanetti’s interpretation. 

What he is implying (in a manner gratuitously insulting to the intelligence of his compatriots) is that were the above statement not true then he, and Amanda, would have been acquitted in the first instance.

Oh, really?

It seems that we are also being asked to believe that Sollecito and his ghostwriter, Gumbel, are historians of Italian jurisprudence. So, let’s quickly examine what substance there is to the claim.

It will be seen that the concept of “reasonable doubt” is understood well enough in the courts of Italy, though unfortunately less well understood by the former Umbria Appeal Court judges Hellmann and Zanetti.

Not only that but those two judges made pointed remarks at the outset of the appeal also garbling the concept, which were very disturbing. I shall look into that in a moment.

Sollecito‘s remark does have some context but it is wildly inaccurate and unfair. 

We know that the Italian legal system is based on the inquisitorial system common to continental Europe, whereas the anglo-saxons amongst us are used to the adversarial system. It is also true that the specific expression “beyond reasonable doubt” was not introduced into the Italian criminal procedure code until 2006.

It is Article 533 of the Criminal Procedure Code: “The judge pronounces sentence of conviction if the accused is guilty of the offence charged beyond all reasonable doubt.”

Now let me defer to our Italian poster Yummi who can explain the historical context. He writes -

The current Italian system is the result of a procedure code reform introduced in 1989. This reform introduced several features of the adversarial system into a new criminal procedure code. One of the features of the new code was the abolition of the “not proven” verdict. This factually had been working very effectively as the version of “reasonable doubt” in the Italian system.

In an inquisitorial system the court is a council headed by professional judges and it’s task is not just to deliver a verdict, but to deliver a written rationale or dossier aimed to provide “a judicial truth”.  Typically “reasonable doubt” is a formulation coming from systems where juries do not issue a written rationale while systems that have motivation reports on verdicts usually don’t have it: it was commonly agreed that the absence of doubt should be understood from the rationale. Absence of doubt is not a quality that is inherent in the internal conviction of a juror, but instead is understood to be a feature of the logical proof provided by the written rationale. It was believed that the absence of doubt in the judge’s mind should be shown by the fact that a motivation report is logical.

No Italian scholar would ever maintain that the “reasonable doubt” standard is a recent introduction in the Italian system.  Only the acknowledgement of it’s wording is relatively recent.  In the Italian system the formulation “reasonable doubt” was starting to be used explicitly in Supreme Court jurisprudence in the early nineties; a change of wording in honour of the adversarial reforms, but in fact a continuation of the long jurisprudence tradition of the “not proven” standard.”

In fact in the adversarial system “beyond reasonable doubt” is really an instruction to the jurors that they must arrive at a certain evidentiary standard if they are to convict. Any system that would produce a “not proven” verdict would mean that the standard has not been met.

In the adversarial system no written rationale for a verdict is required to accompany the verdict. That the Italian system retains this requirement is very much a safeguard for the accused as well as for the State both being thereby protected from perverse or capricious convictions or acquittals.

Second here is Judge Zanetti at first appeal:

The only certain and undisputed fact is the death of Meredith Kercher.

So said Judge Zanetti on the opening day of the appeal. It was a statement that brought gasps of astonishment from those in court, particularly from the reporters present who deemed it to be an admission that reasonable doubt existed.

In fact, of course, there were a lot of certain and undisputed facts. No one denied that there was evidence, most of it undisputed. What was disputed was the interpretation of that evidence.

That, being so, why did not Zanetti say that? Clearly the remark was injudicious, and cogent only in its intended impact.

What of the Massei Motivations Report one might ask? is it toast?

That remark not only helped to set the tone for the entire appeal - what was said soon after by his senior colleague was even worse. 

Compliance with article 533 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Judgement of conviction only if the defendant is guilty of the offence complained of beyond a reasonable doubt) does not allow (us) to share fully the decision of the Court of Assize of First Instance.

(In Italian: il rispetto dell’articolo 533 del Codice di procedura penale (pronuncia di condanna soltanto se l’imputato risulta colpevole del reato contestatogli al di la ogni ragionevole dubbio) non consente di condividere totalmente la decisione della Corta d’Assize di primo grado”)

That was said by Judge Hellmann on the third day of the appeal before even the evidentiary and discussion stage had opened. And thanks again to Yummi for the above quote.

It seems that the presiding judge had felt compelled to expand upon his colleague’s stark opening remark but in doing so he had opened a can of worms. He had just made things even worse. Unfortunately the prosecution decided not to challenge the remark and the appeal proceeded. They should have done so.

Article 533 relates to verdict. The verdict (to be) is not to be hinted at or discussed at the opening of any trial or appeal and certainly not as pointedly as this. So serious is this faux pas that I have it on good authority that the prosecution considered impeaching the presiding judge for incompatibility and incompetence. It seems that they did not because of the furore this might have caused and perhaps also because they were confident of the strength of the case in any event. In retrospect a grave mistake.

What in fact was Hellmann saying? Let us consider.

“Compliance with article 533.…..…does not allow us to share fully the decision of the Court of Assize of First Instance.” 

I believe that what we see here is the first indication of the judges’ manifest misunderstanding of what should have been the correct approach to an evaluation of the evidence in the case and the application of the “reasonable doubt” standard.

I do not intend to deal with that in any detail. It is set out cogently in the Galati appeal.

Suffice to say that the “reasonable doubt” standard applies only to the culpability of the accused for the offence with which he/she is charged. Article 533 makes this abundantly clear and this is no different from how our own adversarial system deals with it. It is not a standard to be parcelled out to each item of evidence or inference drawn. That the appeal judges thought they could do (and did) precisely that is implicit in Hellmann’s remark.

How can one not “share fully the decision of the lower court”?

Hellmann could have said that he did not fully share the decisions of the lower court as regards each element of evidence rather than “the decision“, which can only be a reference to the actual verdict. But “the decision” is what he says, linking it specifically to article 533 where only the singular use of the noun would have any meaning. So on the face of it this can only be about the verdict of the lower court. And yet, how can one not fully share a verdict? A verdict cannot be parcelled out. One either agrees or disagrees with it.

Despite it’s manifest inappropriateness, no doubt the remark was meant to acknowledge that there was some doubt about the validity of the verdict in their minds. Well at least that’s honest but in that case, was it not incumbent on them to specify what it was that concerned them? I would have expected that. True, it was already clear that the DNA on the knife and bra clasp, and Curatolo’s credibility, were specific issues, as they had allowed these to be examined, but beyond that there was no disclosure as to what other doubts on the evidence they had in mind. We know now from the Motivations that there were others and what these were ( Quintavalle and the staged break-in, just for example) - and I think it would be pretty disingenuous of them to pretend that they did not exist at the time.

Already one sees elements of confusion, incompetence, mis-procedure, misleading the prosecution and coded messages (for the media and politicians?) to the effect that the appeal judges had already rationalized an acquittal in the appeal.

And if, with their doubts, they had in fact done so then what, pray, was the point of :-

1. Ordering a review of the DNA evidence on the knife and the bra clasp

2. Re-hearing Curatolo

3. Hearing from Aviello and Alessi

……other than that they were seeking that elusive “reasonable” element of doubt.

It is almost as if the entire appeal was tailored to suit and a sham. It certainly looks that way in retrospect, particularly as the element of reasonable doubt still remains elusive on close examination.

Yet it may just be that the appeal judges were just incompetent and that their incompetence (with the incompetent assistance of Conti & Vechiotti) infected the entire proceedings.

We shall see what Cassation thinks of the garbling of this fundamental concept when the prosecution appeal is entertained on 25 March.

3. How The Cassation Motivation Report Also Disagrees

The Supreme Court doesnt buy your smear of Italian law either, though we doubt your book was a hot item there. The concept of “reasonable doubt” was fully respected in the Massei trial where your guilt was firmly established - and the concept was trashed by the unlamented Hellmann & Zanetti.

This is from the Cassation report on the decision to annul the Hellmann appeal.

2.2.3 ‐ Manifest lack of logic and inconsistency in the reasoning in reference to the use of the principle of reasonable doubt in sustaining the order of 18.12.2010. [According to the lawyers for the Civil Parties], the verdict of conviction beyond a reasonable doubt could have been reached even after the outcome of the expert report arranged for in the second instance trial, inasmuch as the examination of the circumstantial evidence ought to have been global and consistent, the hypothetical defect of any one of these being acceptable, provided that the remaining elements were – as they ought to have been deemed – sufficient to reach the required level of certainty, [29] since what is asked of isolated elements of proof being evaluated is that they display the credentials of correspondence with real events, at least with predominant probability. Proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt can rest on items of circumstantial evidence that are not all equally certain, that is, not all established with the same level of probability.

So, Raffaele Sollecito, you jobless failure in all walks of life: would you care to correct all these fine lawyers?

Posted on 10/25/13 at 08:29 PM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Those who were chargedRaff SollecitoThose officially involvedQuestions RS & AK avoidSollecito team
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Monday, September 09, 2013

In English The Vital Supreme Court Rationale For the Hellmann Annulment And Florence Repeat Appeal

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters




On 23 June in his summary for English speakers our main poster Yummi started off as follows:

On June 18. 2013 the Supreme Court of Cassazione issued the official rationale for the sentence of annulment of the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict.

That verdict acquitted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito on the charge of murder and sexual violence, while finding Knox guilty of the crime of calunnia (obstruction of justice by maliciously placing false accusation against a person you knew was innocent)....

The 74-page motivation report states clearly that they ‘accept the points of the recourse’ from both the Prosecution and the Kercher parties, while they reject the Knox defense recourse.

While you will realize it yourself in reading it, I can say in advance that what the Supreme Court points out in the appeal verdict is a pattern of manifest violation of an unprecedented gravity. All those I know in the law professions have never seen, throughout their professional lives, a Cassazione bashing portraying such a concentration of flaws in one verdict. 

Mostly written by Judge M. S Caprioglio (possibly including parts by Judge Severo Chieffi) the document features a sophisticated Italian language and a formal style.

This report has now been put into English by the same team on PMF that has already done so much to level the playing field which the defense forces have tried so hard to tilt by way of the fact that Italy speaks a different language. 

The translators are the PMF posters and Italian speakers Catnip, Clander, Earthling, Jools, Popper, Skeptical Bystander, The 411, Thoughtful, Tiziano, TomM, and Yummi,

Clander has posted the download link and covering notes here on PMF. Well done. A vital read.


Below at front: some of the judges of the Supreme Court’s elite First Section with Dr Caprioglio at right]

 

Posted on 09/09/13 at 07:08 AM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Those officially involvedSupreme CourtAppeals 2009-2015Cassation 2013Italian justice hoaxNo-evidence hoax
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Florence Palace Of Justice Where Sollecito And Knox Are Expected To Be Seen In Court Soon

Posted by Peter Quennell



This is a video of a recent light show. The soundtrack leaves something to be desired, but the huge new courthouse looks amazing at night.

We posted previously here on the new Palazzio di Giustizia, which is one of Europe’s largest and most modern. It only came into full operation this year.

It is reported today in UK newspapers that Knox and Sollecito have just been having a meeting in the vicinity of New York, maybe to sort out a common narrative once and for all. Our betting is that each will appear in the Florence court, not least to keep a close eye on the other and to attempt to warm the judges to themselves.

However, their nasty and dishonest books have not made things any easier for them, and have led to a lot of negative reaction in Italy where they have been discussed on TV. It is easy to spot where in many places the two texts conflict, and also where (as demonstrated in the two post below) they also contradict many accepted well-documented facts of the case.

Both books are being considered as substantial new evidence, and the prosecution will ask the appeal court if they can be included in.

Both books are also being investigated, by the chief prosecutors in Florence and Bergamo for separate new felony charges, as they appear to constitute substantial lllegal attempts along with the internet vilification posted by the likes of Preston, Fischer and the Moores, to inflame and mislead public opinion during an ongoing legal process.

The writers have also sought to undermine the officers of the court, by accusing them of serious crimes, again as illustrated in the two posts directly below. Many Italians and Americans with “relevant information” could be called to testify for the prosecution or the defenses. They will probably be asked to explain their own inflammatory campaigns and may face charges of their own. Again, Preston, Fischer and the Moores seem to have painted targets on their backs. 

Results of both investigations, together with any new charges against Sollecito, Knox, and their entourages, should be made public well before the new appeal of Meredith’s case gets under way.

If the two are indicted on new charges for the books, as expected, that will mean more to explain, more to try to harmonize upon, more goodwill lost, and more legal bills.

If their Italian lawyers recklessly promoted these daft projects, as texts in the books themselves suggest, the lawyers could all face both contempt of court charges and malpractice suits from their clients.

Nice work….

Posted on 06/20/13 at 07:43 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Appeals 2009-2015Florence 2014+The wider contextsItalian context
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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Tips For The Media: In Fact Knox Extradition Is Likely To Be Readily Granted

Posted by James Raper



[[Above: a plane landing at Florence airport; most under arrest arrive via Rome airport]


This is the latest in our many posts nailing the myths perpetrated by the pro-Knox campaign,

We can already see that there is an attempt to generate a new myth in the media and on the internet.  This is that it is unlikely that Amanda Knox would be extradited to Italy. Talking heads appear by the dozen on US TV channel networks to say so. A plethora of internet articles add up to the same. They are all wrong, take it from me.

However the fact that the subject is even under discussion is an indication that the implications of the Italian Supreme Court’s annulment of the Appeal verdict are sinking in, in some quarters at any rate. I am sure that what Ted Simon says for public consumption is very different from the advice which (assuming he has been asked) is rendered privately to Amanda and her family. If not then the family is being seriously misled as to Amanda’s prospects of avoiding extradition.

There is, of course, an extradition treaty between the United States and Italy and it seems that the main issue as to whether extradition could take place would be Double Jeopardy.

Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Professor of Law, has written a good piece.  Sensible articles like this have been a long time in coming but even he gets some of it wrong and cannot resist creating a little air of uncertainty.

“Ms Knox would likely challenge any extradition request on the ground that she was already acquitted by the lower appellate court, so any subsequent conviction would constitute double jeopardy.

That is when the real legal complexities would kick in, because Italian and American law are quite different and both will be applicable in this trans-national case involving a citizen of one country charged with killing a citizen of another country, in yet a third country.

America’s extradition treaty with Italy prohibits the US from extraditing someone who has been “acquitted“, which under American law generally means acquitted by a jury at trial. But Ms Knox was acquitted by an appeals court after having been found guilty at trial.  So would her circumstances constitute double jeopardy under American law?

That is uncertain because appellate courts in the US don’t re-try cases and render acquittals (they judge whether lower courts made mistakes of law, not fact). Ms Knox’s own Italian lawyer has acknowledged that her appellate “acquittal” wouldn’t constitute double jeopardy under Italian law since it wasn’t a final judgement - it was subject to further appeal, which has resulted in a reversal of the acquittal.

This argument will probably carry considerable weight with US authorities, likely yielding the conclusion that her extradition wouldn’t violate the treaty. Still, a sympathetic US State Department or judge might find that her appellate acquittal was final enough to preclude her extradition on the ground of double jeopardy.”

“Final enough”?….hmmmmm. That doesn’t seem very legal language to me. And given the Italian three tier system how does one determine when an acquittal is final enough, other than at the end of it? Of course, if in doubt, the State Department or judge could read all the published court judgements in the case. That would help.

On the other hand, perhaps Dershowitz should read the 1984 Extradition Treaty between the USA and Italy more carefully.

Article VI states -

Extradition shall not be granted when the person sought has been convicted, acquitted or pardoned, or has served the sentence imposed, by the Requested Party for the same acts for which extradition is requested.

The Requested Party, in the case of a request for extradition from Italy, will of course be the United Sates.  Clearly this is no bar to extradition in the case of Amanda Knox as there has been no judicial process against her in the USA regarding the murder of Meredith Kercher .

And for the avoidance of doubt jeopardy Article I states - “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.” So an offense shall be an extraditable offense only if it is punishable under the laws of both Contracting Parties by deprivation of liberty for a period of more than one year.

(There are other circumstances under the treaty when extradition will not be granted, but these do not apply to Knox. They concern political and military offences.)

Furthermore the 1984 Extradition Treaty recognizes (as do all such treaties) the validity and fairness of the contracting parties’ respective judicial systems. Such treaties would not be possible otherwise. The USA has already extradited its citizens (when it had to) to countries where, as here, an appeal acquittal has been overturned on further appeal, the original conviction has been re-instated, and the process then continues to another appeal. This is in recognition of the fact that in some systems the State has a right of appeal as well as the accused. What’s wrong with that?

Is all of this likely to change on account of Amanda Knox?

Imagine, for a moment, that Knox fights the request for extradition through the US courts and secures a landmark decision from the Supreme Court that the request is a violation of double jeopardy. At a stroke the US government will be forced to negotiate a raft of new unequal treaty rights and obligations with a number of foreign states that will feel insulted, nonplussed and humiliated by the slight to the reputation of their judicial systems. Some may refuse to do so, and this will more likely disadvantage the USA than the other way around. It would create an enormous mess in US relations with such states.

I don’t think the Supreme Court would be that daft. It’s just not, given the circumstances, a runner.

Neither would the State Department, for the same reasons, be that daft. It is under a treaty obligation, the extradition papers being in order, to (a) grant the request or (b) if the request is challenged in the courts, to hand the matter over to the Justice Department for it to be pursued there on behalf of the Requesting Party.

The reality is that if Knox’s fresh appeal were to fail and the conviction were to be upheld finally by the Italian Supreme Court, then her opposing an extradition request from Italy through the US courts would be an exercise in futility, and an extravagant waste of legal costs that would cut deep into the alleged $4 million for her book.

There would be nothing left for her after that, and after paying off Marriott and numerous other creditors waiting in the wings.


Friday, April 05, 2013

The New Palace Of Justice In Florence Where The Repeat of The Appeal Will Take Place

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Click above for a larger image]


The huge new Palace of Justice in north-west Florence was fully opened in January 2012.

It was built on the site of a former FIAT factory. It is Italy’s second largest Palace of Justice after that in Turin (in Rome the justice functions are still distributed) and one of the most modern and spectacular in Europe.

Several thousand people work in the building, including the judges, lawyers, clerks, police and support employees.

It houses all the civil and criminal courts for Florence, and the higher courts for the province of Tuscany. Also the chambers of the chief justice and all other judges. Also the office of the prosecutor general and chief prosecutor and all prosecutors. Also the office of the judges for preliminary investigations (GIP), and also all the associated police and support functions.

It was inaugurated on 23 January 2012 by the Minister of Justice Dr Paola Severino and the Mayor of Florence Mr Matteo Renzi (images below) and It frees up nine sites in the center of Florence for other business.

It was designed by the architect Leonardo Ricci (now deceased), is 240 meters long and 146 wide, with a tower of 72 meters, the second highest in the city. The occupied building area is about 800,000 square meters.

The largest courts are on the ground floor, and the upper floors house smaller courts and the offices for all the judges and prosecutors.


























Above: the January 2012 inaugural opening ceremony. Front from the extreme left the Chief Prosecutor (red tie), the Mayor of Florence (red, white and green sash), the Central Government Minister of Justice (white scarf) and the Chief Judge (beige coat).

The Chief Prosecutor Dr Giuseppe Quatrrocchi and the Chief Judge Dr Fabio Massimo Drago will be ultimate overseers of the new appeal. They will appoint the prosecutors and judges who will preside.

The Chief Prosecutor is already heading a contempt of court investigation into the many false claims of criminal behavior in Sollecito’s book. He seems certain to need to do the same if Knox’s book transgresses.

False claims in either book may incur additional years in prison, and millions in civil damages.

Posted on 04/05/13 at 08:26 AM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Real Catastrophe For The Defenses That Was The Supreme Court Ruling Last Week

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)





On Tuesday March 26, the Supreme Court of Cassation quashed the previous acquittals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

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.

Resources used

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.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday: Elite First Criminal Section Of Italian Supreme Court Annuls The 2011 Appeal Verdict

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above: Some of the judges of the First Criminal Section hearing another recent case, with other sections behind]


Report one

@andreavogt Breaking: high court has anulled acquittals and a retrial has been ordered in #amandaknox case.

Report two

From the New York Times report  Italy’s highest court on Tuesday overturned a previous acquittal and ordered a new trial in the sensational case of Amanda Knox, an American exchange student accused of murdering her roommate, Meredith Kercher of Britain, in 2007.

The ruling offered a further dramatic turn in a long-running case that has fascinated many people in the United states, Britain and the rest of Europe. But the full implications of the ruling were unclear, particularly the question of whether Ms. Knox would return voluntarily from the United States or be extradited to face new hearings.

Report three

Andrea Vogt in the Seattle PI. In a stunning turn around of one of Europe’s most closely watched murder trials, Italy’s Court of Cassation on Tuesday annulled the acquittals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and ordered two to stand trial again on appeal.

The decision came after nearly six hours of debate, not just on points of law, but on the evidence too.

This was a rare mix of exceptional violations of law and monumentally illogical reasoning, said Procurator General Luigi Riello in his scathing description of the appeals court’s 2011 decision to acquit. I believe all the elements are there to make sure the final curtain does not drop on this shocking crime, he said.

[Read more, especially on the remarks of AG Riello]

Report four

Further Tweets from Andrea Vogt who was in the courtroom:

Any outcome at appeal retrial in Florence would have to be upheld at Cassation [Rome] level.

No extradition unless formal request is made after a definitive conviction (appeal conviction upheld by high court).

Report five

Translated from La Stampa

The news is breaking news on all major U.S. television, including from CNN. The announcement of the Supreme Court arrives at Seattle on the U.S. west coast a little past two in the morning, and in New York at four. “I am not unsatisfied,” said the Attorney General of the Supreme Court Luigi Riello. The lawyer Francesco Maresca, the Kercher family lawyer, welcomed the judgment of annulment by the Supreme Court with a gesture of a fist in victory “It ‘a moral victory and good appeal trial outcome ,” said Maresca. “I had confidence in the Supreme Court” Maresca-explains why there were so many weaknesses of the judgment of the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Perugia.” In tears the victim’s sister, Stephanie said to him. “I’m happy ...,”

Posted on 03/26/13 at 01:28 PM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Elite First Criminal Section Of Italian Supreme Court Now Receiving Prosecution Critiques

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Some of the judges of the First Criminal Section hearing another recent case, with other sections behind]


We believe the woman in the image is PIERA MARIA SEVERINA CAPRIOGLIO who is the lead judge (rapporteur) for the case.

Dr Caprioglio is known as a legal expert and hardliner on sex crimes. There is a total of five judges, and the president of the First Section is on the panel. This is unprecedented judicial firepower for a murder case, and seems to be a response to the enormous damage done by the Curt Knox/David Marriott campaign. No American political leader is going to second-guess this.

We are anticipating tweets and news reports out of Italy throughout the day.  Andrea Vogt is one who is tweeting from the court. Follow her here.

First report:

@andreavogt #amandaknox discussions starting now in cassation court in Rome. Judge Caprioglio is summarizing the case.

Second report

@andreavogt Procuratore Generale Riello now taking the floor in #amandaknox case, after a 90-minute review of all the arguments.

[Deputy Chief Prosecutor Luigi Riello [image below] holds the same rank that Dr Galati held before he transferred to Perugia to be chief prosecutor there.]

Third report

@andreavogt PG Riello: I believe the judges [Hellmann and Zanetti] lost their way. There are elements that were absolutely not taken into consideration.

Fourth report

@andreavogt PG read from Guede’s letter blaming Sollecito and #amandaknox. Says “strange” that court believed some Guede statements and not others.

Fifth report

@andreavogt The president just curtly asked PG Riello to get on with it, not go into details heard already in first instance and appeal.

Sixth report

@andreavogt PG Riello has concluded, asking that acquittals be anulled and an appeal retrial be set. Half hour break in #amandaknox hearing.

Seventh report

Okay this is us. The proposal to annul the Hellmann-Zanetti outcome has gone viral on Italian media websites. A translation of ACP Riello’s remarks is coming.

Eighth report

@andreavogt Cassation back in session in #amandaknox case, w/ Kercher Atty F. Maresca asking why there wasn’t a full review all forensic evidence.

Ninth report

@andreavogt Giulia Bongiorno has begun def arguments in #amandaknox case: “raff sollecito went to jail for a shoeprint that belonged to Rudy Guede.”

Tenth report

@andreavogt #Bongiorno just pointed out a factual error in the PG’s #amandaknox arguments. Judges listening. She’s a very good orator.

Eleventh report

@andreavogt C. Dalla Vedova urges Cassation to uphold #amandaknox acquittals and overturn slander: “This girl was stressed, confused, pressured.”

Twelvth report

@andreavogt Lawyers say the court of cassation is expected to announce a decision in the #amandaknox case around 21:00.

[Image below: Luigi Riello Deputy Chief Prosecutor Of The Supreme Court]

 

Posted on 03/25/13 at 02:53 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Supreme Court Appeals: A Good Briefing On Tomorow’s Court Proceedings By Italy-Based Andrea Vogt

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Image above: Supreme Court in the foreground and St Peters & Vatican in the background]


Andrea Vogt often tweets very usefully on the case. Her tweet feed is here.

Today’s tweet pointed to this overview here.  It is very worth your reading the whole piece.

This is news about three of the judges of Cassation’s elite First Section on Criminal Cases which hasnt yet appeared in the Italian or, UK or US media.

I’ve chosen to not name the magistrates involved in the case until the hearing opens Monday, but for those following closely, here is some brief background on the key judges whose roles are more prominent, based on information I have gleaned from Ministry of Justice documents and “bolletino ufficiale” or public bulletins required to publicly announce personnel changes and events in the judiciary.

The presiding judge is a 72-year old magistrate originally from Naples. Over the years he has dealt with some of Italy’s most high profile crime cases, including the Sarah Scazzi case, as well as the Cassation’s 16-year prison sentence confirmation to Anna Maria Franzoni in the “delitto di Cogne,” the first high-profile case to divide Italy among innocentisti and colpevolisti lines. According to Ministry of Justice documents, the relatrice in the Amanda Knox case is 57-year old female magistrate from Turin.

The procurator general is the figure who has a prosecutor-like function and who presents the case to the panel and suggests what decision should be taken. In this case, the PG is married with two children, has been a judge since 1979 and worked for over two decades in Naples, including several years at the court of appeals there. He is known for his hard line against the clans of the Camorra.

Dr. Giovanni Galati, the Perugia procurator-general leading the recourse of the appeal’s court acquittal ruling is also no stranger to high-profile cases, having worked in the 1980s on the case of Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker murdered and found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in June, 1982

And this further explains the Cassation decision last week which will probably see the hapless Mario Spezi back in prison. We have several more of our own posts pending on this very complex affair.

There was a major development in that case earlier this week, when a separate section of the Cassation court ruled that the decades- old Narducci case, which Mignini had been ridiculed for pursuing, be sensationally re-opened.

The ruling gives new credence to Mignini’s much-maligned theory that there had been a body swap and cover up in the death of the Perugia doctor found in Lake Trasimeno and alleged to be involved in the Monster of Florence case.

Mario Spezi is among those whose acquittals were overturned this week and who has been called by the high court to stand trial.  Spezi’s alleged crime is calunnia, for suggesting Antonio Vinci was the real killer (his book marries this theory and it is the charge over which he was originally taken into custody in 2006).  It appears there are still a few chapters to be written.

Spezi has one definitive defamation conviction from the 1980s, and in the last two years, courts in Perugia and Florence handed down other convictions. He also faces trials in Padua, Milan and Perugia: all related to allegedly false or defamatory declarations in the Monster of Florence case.

Posted on 03/25/13 at 01:25 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Appeals 2009-2015Cassation 2013
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Saturday, March 09, 2013

FBI Reporting Close Co-operation With Italy In Arresting And Soon Extraditing A Fugitive Swindler

Posted by Peter Quennell





A new FBI report in the news.

It is still more confirmation in line with many previous posts here that US and Italian crime-fighters respect one another and work closely together - and don’t turn a hair at requests for extradition.

The fugitive fund manager Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm could face 25 years in prison. The FBI explains what he is accused of: 

Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm, a German hedge fund manager who was on the run for more than five years, has been arrested in Italy on federal fraud charges that accuse him of orchestrating a market manipulation scheme designed to artificially improve the performance of his funds, a fraud that led to at least $200 million in losses to investors around the world….

Homm was the founder and chief investment officer of Absolute Capital Management Holdings Limited, a Cayman Islands-based investment advisor that managed nine hedge funds from 2004 until September 2007. The criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Homm directed the hedge funds to buy billions of shares of thinly traded, United States-based “penny stocks.” Homm caused many of the purchases of penny stocks to be made through Hunter World Markets Inc., a broker-dealer in Los Angeles that Homm co-owned. Homm also allegedly obtained shares of the penny stock companies through various businesses he controlled.

And the FBI credits the role in arresting Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm of the Italian authorities.

Homm, 53, was arrested at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Friday (local time). Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles obtained an arrest warrant on Wednesday, March 6, after filing a criminal complaint that charges Homm with four felony charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud. Homm was arrested by Italian authorities after the United States submitted a request for a provisional arrest with officials in Rome.

Posted on 03/09/13 at 05:52 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Appeals 2009-2015Other legal processesOthers elsewhereExtradition issues
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some Homework For Curt Knox/Marriott/FOA: How Leaning On Italian Judiciary Can Seriously Misfire

Posted by Peter Quennell





Nicolo Pollari (above) has just been sentenced to ten years and Marco Mancini to nine.

Mr Pollari was the supreme head of Italy’s intelligence agencies - its top spy - and Mr Mancinin was one of his deputies. They were sentenced by a court in Milan.  They were found to be complicit in an act now illegal both in Italy and now the US.

Under the George Bush and Berlusconi regimes, an Egyptian called Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and dispatched to be tortured elsewhere. Revealed not to be a terrorist, he was later released.

Some 26 Americans, mostly CIA, were previously sentenced in Milan for the same crime in absentia. Italian warrants for their arrest are out and those warrants could be submitted to Interpol to be applied worldwide.

These were the outcomes DESPITE elements of the US and Italian governments putting up a tremendous rearguard fight. To their credit the US State Department and Rome Embassy dont seem to have been proactive in this (State was even sued for not providing one CIA operative with diplomatic cover) but bets are they would have hit a wall if they had. .

In an amazing new behind-the-scenes expose of the sordid history of the political strong-arming in The Guardian, in which he praises Italian justice a lot, Glenn Greenwald includes this:

This prosecution was possible in the first instance only because a single Italian magistrate, Armando Spataro, insisted on pursuing it despite all sorts of attacks against him.

This 2009 Der Spiegel article reports that, as a result of his pursuit of the case, “his communications were monitored, the Italian intelligence service placed him under observation and there were even investigations into whether he had betrayed state secrets.

The government tried again and again to silence him. But the magistrates ignored those repressive efforts, eventually even seizing [chief CIA operative] Robert Lady’s retirement villa in Italy to cover court costs.

Numerous cables show Italian officials, especially Berlusconi himself, attacking the Italian magistrates and assuring the US that Italian courts would eventually stop them.

One 2005 US cable celebrates that Minister of Justice Roberto Castelli “took the unusual step of publicly criticizing a member of Italy’s highly independent magistracy” over this case, specifically that he “called Armando Spataro a “militant’. meaning a communist”...

That public denunciation of the magistrate happened, recounted the US cable, after he “presented Castelli with requests for the provisional arrest in contemplation of extradition for 22 Americans involved in the alleged rendition of Egyptian Imam Abu Omar from Milan.”

Does this sound at all familiar?! There seem to be good lessons here for Curt Knox, David Marriott and the FOA.

Italian justice may take its sweet time (deliberately so, because of the Post World War II constitution) but all important cases are an opera in three acts - and no perp should think he or she is home free (and start writing books) at the end of Act II.

And prosecutors should never ever be leaned on because they invariably push back and most have the firm support of powerful colleagues - not the hapless Judge Hellmann, though, who the Council of Magistrates has made quite sure is gone.

Note that under Italian law criminal defamation suits by officialdom can be brought in Italy even if the serial slimers are across the Atlantic and believe distance or a helpful government is on their side.

The first of the suits against Sollecito for the multiple defamation in his book could be filed any day now, and Andrew Gumbel and Simon & Schuster executives might find targets on their own backs.

Roll on, the Amanda Knox interview and book!  We’ll see if anyone by then grew a brain.

Posted on 02/14/13 at 04:33 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Appeals 2009-2015Other legal processesOthers ItalianExtradition issuesKnox-Mellas team
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Italy’s Advanced, Effective, Humane Law & Order System Also Adopted By City Of New York

Posted by Peter Quennell





New York City.

The main characteristics of the Italian system are (1) a large and visible national and local police presence, (2) a low crime rate even by European standards, and even more-so by American standards, and (3) a very low rate of incarceration that is only 1/6 that of the US.

Pretty well the exact opposite of what you’d suppose if you read only Frank Sforza and Raffaele Sollecito and Bruce Fischer and Saul Kassin and Steve Moore and of course Mario Spezi. Read only them, and one might be excused for thinking Italy’s is a huge, horrible system the Italian population desperately needs them to save it from.

Get a life!

An extremely misconceived campaign if the real purpose (we do wonder) is to do anything helpful for in particular Amanda Knox. The average Italian in the street likes and respects and is proud of their system. Polls repeatedly show that the institutions of that system are the most trusted and respected in Italy.

The general mood is probably toward a bit less concern about all perps and a lot more concern about all victims.  But essentially the system is liked for what it is. Conspiracy theories don’t fly.

New York is now the safest big city in America. It is following a route that is not only almost identical to Italy’s - it is being watched and emulated elsewhere across the US. All of John Tierney’s important report in last Friday’s New York Times is worth a read, for this could represent a huge sea-change.

These are the openings paras. 

Now that the United States has the world’s highest reported rate of incarceration, many criminologists are contemplating another strategy. What if America reverted to the penal policies of the 1980s? What if the prison population shrank drastically? What if money now spent guarding cellblocks was instead used for policing the streets?

In short, what would happen if the rest of the country followed New York City’s example?

As the American prison population has doubled in the past two decades, the city has been a remarkable exception to the trend: the number of its residents in prison has shrunk. Its incarceration rate, once high by national standards, has plunged well below the United States average and has hit another new low, as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced recently. And crime in the city has fallen by more than 75 percent, almost twice as much as in the rest of the country.

Whatever has made New York the safest big city in America, that feat has certainly not been accomplished by locking up more criminals.

“The precise causes of New York’s crime decline will be debated by social scientists until the Sun hits the Earth,” said Michael Jacobson, a criminologist who ran the city’s Correction and Probation Departments during the 1990s and is now the president of the Vera Institute of Justice, a criminal justice research group. “But the 50,000-foot story from New York is that you can drive down crime while decreasing your jail and prison population — and save a huge amount of money in the process.”

New York’s singular success has attracted attention across the country from public officials whose budgets have been strained by the prison boom. The 2.3 million people behind bars in America, a fifth of the world’s prisoners, cost taxpayers more than $75 billion a year. The strict penal policies were intended to reduce crime, but they have led to a historic, if largely unrecognized, shift in priorities away from policing.

“The United States today is the only country I know of that spends more on prisons than police,” said Lawrence W. Sherman, an American criminologist on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Cambridge University in Britain. “In England and Wales, the spending on police is twice as high as on corrections. In Australia it’s more than three times higher. In Japan it’s seven times higher. Only in the United States is it lower, and only in our recent history.”

Posted on 01/29/13 at 08:11 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Francesco Sforza
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Reasonable Doubt In Italian Law: How Sollecito, Hellmann, And Zanetti Seriously Garbled It.

Posted by James Raper





Above: Sollecito’s lawyers. Is he too thick to understand them? Or are they incompetent and giving him bad advice?

Certainly as compared to the incredibly high legal standard of the Galati Appeal, it appears that the accused, their lawyers, and Hellmann & Zanetti are all seriously outclassed.

Hellmann and Zanetti at first appeal trial, and Sollecito in his absurd book, all seriously garbled one fundamental concept in Italian law that they ABSOLUTELY need to get right if they are to have any sway with the Supreme Court.

Incredibly Sollecito’s own lawyers Bongiorno and Maori are listed as assisting him with the book and allowed this lunacy to fly.

Here is Raffaele Sollecito in Honor Bound.

For reasons deeply embedded in the country’s history, the concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt scarcely exists in Italy.

What he is implying (in a manner gratuitously insulting to the intelligence of his compatriots) is that were the above statement not true then he, and Amanda, would have been acquitted in the first instance.

Oh, really?

It seems that we are also being asked to believe that Sollecito and his ghostwriter, Gumbel, are historians of Italian jurisprudence. So, let’s quickly examine what substance there is to the claim.

It will be seen that the concept of “reasonable doubt” is understood well enough in the courts of Italy, though unfortunately less well understood by the former Umbria Appeal Court judges Hellmann and Zanetti.

Not only that but those two judges made pointed remarks at the outset of the appeal also garbling the concept, which were very disturbing. I shall look into that in a moment.

Sollecito‘s remark does have some context but it is wildly inaccurate and unfair. 

We know that the Italian legal system is based on the inquisitorial system common to continental Europe, whereas the anglo-saxons amongst us are used to the adversarial system. It is also true that the specific expression “beyond reasonable doubt” was not introduced into the Italian criminal procedure code until 2006.

It is Article 533 of the Criminal Procedure Code: “The judge pronounces sentence of conviction if the accused is guilty of the offence charged beyond all reasonable doubt.”

Now let me defer to our Italian poster Yummi who can explain the historical context. He writes -

The current Italian system is the result of a procedure code reform introduced in 1989. This reform introduced several features of the adversarial system into a new criminal procedure code. One of the features of the new code was the abolition of the “not proven” verdict. This factually had been working very effectively as the version of “reasonable doubt” in the Italian system.

In an inquisitorial system the court is a council headed by professional judges and it’s task is not just to deliver a verdict, but to deliver a written rationale or dossier aimed to provide “a judicial truth”.  Typically “reasonable doubt” is a formulation coming from systems where juries do not issue a written rationale while systems that have motivation reports on verdicts usually don’t have it: it was commonly agreed that the absence of doubt should be understood from the rationale. Absence of doubt is not a quality that is inherent in the internal conviction of a juror, but instead is understood to be a feature of the logical proof provided by the written rationale. It was believed that the absence of doubt in the judge’s mind should be shown by the fact that a motivation report is logical.

No Italian scholar would ever maintain that the “reasonable doubt” standard is a recent introduction in the Italian system.  Only the acknowledgement of it’s wording is relatively recent.  In the Italian system the formulation “reasonable doubt” was starting to be used explicitly in Supreme Court jurisprudence in the early nineties; a change of wording in honour of the adversarial reforms, but in fact a continuation of the long jurisprudence tradition of the “not proven” standard.”

In fact in the adversarial system “beyond reasonable doubt” is really an instruction to the jurors that they must arrive at a certain evidentiary standard if they are to convict. Any system that would produce a “not proven” verdict would mean that the standard has not been met.

In the adversarial system no written rationale for a verdict is required to accompany the verdict. That the Italian system retains this requirement is very much a safeguard for the accused as well as for the State both being thereby protected from perverse or capricious convictions or acquittals.

Second here is Judge Zanetti at first appeal:

The only certain and undisputed fact is the death of Meredith Kercher.

So said Judge Zanetti on the opening day of the appeal. It was a statement that brought gasps of astonishment from those in court, particularly from the reporters present who deemed it to be an admission that reasonable doubt existed.

In fact, of course, there were a lot of certain and undisputed facts. No one denied that there was evidence, most of it undisputed. What was disputed was the interpretation of that evidence.

That, being so, why did not Zanetti say that? Clearly the remark was injudicious, and cogent only in its intended impact.

What of the Massei Motivations Report one might ask? is it toast?

That remark not only helped to set the tone for the entire appeal - what was said soon after by his senior colleague was even worse. 

Compliance with article 533 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Judgement of conviction only if the defendant is guilty of the offence complained of beyond a reasonable doubt) does not allow (us) to share fully the decision of the Court of Assize of First Instance.

(In Italian: il rispetto dell’articolo 533 del Codice di procedura penale (pronuncia di condanna soltanto se l’imputato risulta colpevole del reato contestatogli al di la ogni ragionevole dubbio) non consente di condividere totalmente la decisione della Corta d’Assize di primo grado”)

That was said by Judge Hellmann on the third day of the appeal before even the evidentiary and discussion stage had opened. And thanks again to Yummi for the above quote.

It seems that the presiding judge had felt compelled to expand upon his colleague’s stark opening remark but in doing so he had opened a can of worms. He had just made things even worse. Unfortunately the prosecution decided not to challenge the remark and the appeal proceeded. They should have done so.

Article 533 relates to verdict. The verdict (to be) is not to be hinted at or discussed at the opening of any trial or appeal and certainly not as pointedly as this. So serious is this faux pas that I have it on good authority that the prosecution considered impeaching the presiding judge for incompatibility and incompetence. It seems that they did not because of the furore this might have caused and perhaps also because they were confident of the strength of the case in any event. In retrospect a grave mistake.

What in fact was Hellmann saying? Let us consider.

“Compliance with article 533.…..…does not allow us to share fully the decision of the Court of Assize of First Instance.” 

I believe that what we see here is the first indication of the judges’ manifest misunderstanding of what should have been the correct approach to an evaluation of the evidence in the case and the application of the “reasonable doubt” standard.

I do not intend to deal with that in any detail. It is set out cogently in the Galati appeal.

Suffice to say that the “reasonable doubt” standard applies only to the culpability of the accused for the offence with which he/she is charged. Article 533 makes this abundantly clear and this is no different from how our own adversarial system deals with it. It is not a standard to be parcelled out to each item of evidence or inference drawn. That the appeal judges thought they could do (and did) precisely that is implicit in Hellmann’s remark.

How can one not “share fully the decision of the lower court”?

Hellmann could have said that he did not fully share the decisions of the lower court as regards each element of evidence rather than “the decision“, which can only be a reference to the actual verdict. But “the decision” is what he says, linking it specifically to article 533 where only the singular use of the noun would have any meaning. So on the face of it this can only be about the verdict of the lower court. And yet, how can one not fully share a verdict? A verdict cannot be parcelled out. One either agrees or disagrees with it.

Despite it’s manifest inappropriateness, no doubt the remark was meant to acknowledge that there was some doubt about the validity of the verdict in their minds. Well at least that’s honest but in that case, was it not incumbent on them to specify what it was that concerned them? I would have expected that. True, it was already clear that the DNA on the knife and bra clasp, and Curatolo’s credibility, were specific issues, as they had allowed these to be examined, but beyond that there was no disclosure as to what other doubts on the evidence they had in mind. We know now from the Motivations that there were others and what these were ( Quintavalle and the staged break-in, just for example) - and I think it would be pretty disingenuous of them to pretend that they did not exist at the time.

Already one sees elements of confusion, incompetence, mis-procedure, misleading the prosecution and coded messages (for the media and politicians?) to the effect that the appeal judges had already rationalized an acquittal in the appeal.

And if, with their doubts, they had in fact done so then what, pray, was the point of :-

1. Ordering a review of the DNA evidence on the knife and the bra clasp

2. Re-hearing Curatolo

3. Hearing from Aviello and Alessi

……other than that they were seeking that elusive “reasonable” element of doubt.

It is almost as if the entire appeal was tailored to suit and a sham. It certainly looks that way in retrospect, particularly as the element of reasonable doubt still remains elusive on close examination.

Yet it may just be that the appeal judges were just incompetent and that their incompetence (with the incompetent assistance of Conti & Vechiotti) infected the entire proceedings.

We shall see what Cassation thinks of the garbling of this fundamental concept when the prosecution appeal is entertained on 25 March.

Posted on 01/25/13 at 06:22 AM by James Raper. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann critiquesItalian justice hoax
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Friday, December 14, 2012

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

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Umarked Federal flying paddy-wagon, seen here leaving Seattle, transports 300,000 prisoners annually ]


Extradition is not without its controversies and not all extradition requests see a suspect sitting on a plane handcuffed to a federal marshal.

However, most do, and the US at federal and state level is at any one time processing hundreds of requests and transporting suspected perps hither and thither - the majority, of course, internally between U.S. states, but a large minority are incoming and outgoing. 

Complete refusals of extradition seem very rare, as that can cause rebound and ripple effects down the ages.

The US is sort of refusing to send some pilots and CIA operatives back to Italy for trial, but those cases are both in the realm of the quasi military. In the case of the Italian soldiers being held in India for the shooting from a oil tanker of Cochin fishermen they suspected were pirates, even Italy says rules for military must be different.

The US and Italy co-operate on law enforcement more than most countries and the FBI and its Italian equivalent have officers from the other service permanently embedded. We posted on this case of Italy sending an American renegade doctor back to Indiana to face charges.

In general extraditions in both directions between the U.S. and Italy seem to go smoothly and if the State Department ever gets involved (it states that this is Justice Department business) we don’t see any evidence of it in recent reports.

These cases - some of them involving countries sending their own nationals to other countries to face the music - are all live cases on the first 10 of 30 pages when “extradition” is searched on Google News.

  • The United States extradites US national David Kramer to Melbourne in Australia. He “has been charged with 10 counts of indecent assault allegedly committed in St Kilda East when he was a teacher at a Jewish orthodox school.”
  • Canada rules to send Canadian national Rapinder (Rob) Sidhu a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer to the US. “The U.S. indictment… alleges Sidhu… worked with convicted British Columbia smugglers Rob Shannon and Devron Quast to operate a cocaine transportation organization based in British Columbia.”
  • The UK sends back Joshua Edwards, a murder suspect, to the US after he fought extradition for five years. He is accused in a 2006 shooting death in Maryland.
  • The UK sends back Prine “Prince” Jones to Newark New Jersey. “The 46-year-old Birmingham, England, resident is charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to import and export cocaine.”
  • Mexico sends back two brothers to New York City “to join a third brother to face sex trafficking charges in New York as part of a complex collaborative effort to combat human trafficking”.
  • The UK sends back TV star Robert Hughes to Sydney, Australia. ““He is wanted in connection with allegations of gross indecency, indecent assault and sexual assault towards children in NSW, Australia, between August 1984 and August 1990.”
  • Guatamala sends Horst Walther Overdick to New York. “Overdick, known as “The Tiger,” was detained in April during an operation to arrest [very dangerous] Zetas [cartel] operatives in the Central American country.”
  • Finland sends Igor Vassiliev to the US.  “Igor Vassiliev, 38, a Russian citizen, was arrested in July in Finland, based on an Interpol Red Notice. He is only the third person ever extradited from Finland to the U.S….[in 2005] a federal grand jury handed up indictments charging him with health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud and mail fraud.”
  • The United Arab Emirates sends Kamchybek Kolbaye back to Kyrgyzstan after a two-year legal process. “Kolbayev faces charges of kidnapping, robbery, organization of a criminal group, illegal drug trafficking, and illegal weapons possession,”
  • Israel will send Israeli national Aleksandar Cvetkovic to Bosnia. He was arrested in 2011 “on an international warrant after witnesses testified that he had assisted in the shooting of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II.”
  • Ireland extradites Philip Baron to Liverpool in England. “Alleged crime gang boss Philip Baron faces four charges relating to money laundering and conspiracy to import a huge shipment of cocaine and cannabis to the UK from South Africa and Costa Rica between 2005 and 2009.”
  • The US may extradite David Headley to India. “CNN-IBN reported US Under Secretary Wendy Sherman as saying, “The US acknowledges Hafiz Saeed is mastermind of 26/11 [Mumbai bomb] attacks. President Barack Obama is determined the US will bring Hafiz Saeed to justice.”
  • The UK will extradite British national Lee Aldhouse to Thailand. “Mr Aldhouse successfully fled Thailand after allegedly stabbing American Deshawn Longfellow to death in August 2010. He was later arrested at Heathrow Airport on an unrelated charge when he tried to re-enter the UK.”
  • Mauritius has sent Captain Kung back to Taiwan. “Kung was suspected of shooting and killing 12 Chinese sailors [in 1999] on his… fishing vessel during a failed mutiny attempt on Feb. 1999. The vessel at the time was sailing on waters northwest of Mauritius…. Kung was later arrested by Mauritius authorities and sentenced to 20 years in prison.”
  • Italy will deport Muiz Trabulsi to Tunisia under an agreements signed by Italy Justice Minister Paola Severino. Muiz Trabulsi is “the nephew of Layla Al-Trablisi, Tunisia’s ex-first lady, to stand trial in Tunisia…. [a part of Tunisia’s eforts] efforts to bring back money stolen by members of the former regime”.
  • Bulgaria extradited Stefan Klenovski to Italy, who “had a Europol Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued against him by Italian authorities on suspicions of participating in the crime ring practicing ATM fraud [and], was arrested on January 27 in a shopping mall in downtown Sofia.”

Two more cases are now prominently in the news: Wikileaks founder Julian Assad, holed up in the Ecuador Embassy in London, who the Brits want to extradite to Sweden, and John McAfee, the formoer software magnate now back in the US, who Belize may charge with murdering his neighbor.

Almost invariably while awaiting a final decision those subject to an extradition request have to sit out their appeals in prison. If Amanda Knox is reconvicted in a new appeal trial ordered by the Supreme Court, she could face years sitting in an uncomfortable American prison if her extradition is disputed.

Or, of course, she could willingly move straight to an Italian prison, which as she knows offer in-cell TV, private bathrooms, good career skill-building, and concerts.


[Below: Paola Severino, Italy’s relentless no—nonsense justice minister]


Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Overview From Italy Of The Galati-Costagliola Appeal To The Supreme Court Of Cassation

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)





1. About Dr Galati

Dr Giovanni Galati is the Procurator General of Perugia, and one of the two magistrates at the highest function currently working in the Region of Umbria.

Until early 2011 he worked in Rome as a Procurator General at the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. His life and career had nothing to do with Perugia. A native of Calabria, he spent the last and most important part of his career in Rome, and moved to Perugia only quite recently.

Working as a deputy chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Cassation, he developed an expertise as a “cassationist” magistrate. That means specialized in legitimacy issues, and in this role he handled several high profile cases. Among them was the recent one of Salvatore Cuffaro, the former governor of Sicily, now in jail.

Cuffaro was convicted for having favored the mafia and was sentenced to seven years. The governor was found guilty by the appeal court, but Galati impugned the sentencing by the Supreme Court on one specific aspect: while he agreed Cuffaro was guilty, he considered there was only evidence of common crime, while the lower courts failed to provide the legal requirements for proof of the aggravating circumstance of the mafia-related kind of crime.

In Galati’s opinion, Cuffaro was still corrupt and a criminal, and the difference may seem like a minor detail. His conclusion was not to overturn the verdict, but only to reduce the aggravating circumstance and shorten the prison term. Galati made the point and won, the Supreme Court cut one and a half year off Cuffaro’s prison term.

One thing to note is that the majority of Galati’s recourses are appeals in favor of the defendant. The Prosecution General, the office that brings cases to the Supreme Court, deals with procedure and legitimacy issues. Its aim is to ensure consistency and quality of work of the criminal courts.

It does not deal directly with the merit of evidence, but in fact, since the assessment of the evidence is a matter of internal logical consistency and consistency with trial actions, as well as respecting of procedure and of Supreme Court jurisprudence, the scrutiny of the lower court’s process obviously indirectly involves an assessment of the quality of evidence, and on the quality of the lower court’s reasoning on all factual points.

Giancarlo Costagliola was of course the lead prosecutor for the Hellmann-Zanetti appeal.


2. About the appeal

The Galati-Costigliola appeal is a 112-page document, with citations in an appendix to each chapter remanding to trial documents (technically the cited documents have to be considered included in the submission). The Supreme Court of Cassation however will have the entitlement of going through the whole trial documentation.

The Galati-Costagliola Appeal to the Supreme Court immediately looks different in quality and content from the previous court documents that we have seen up to now on the case. As we read it in Italian, it looks well written (except for a few grammar mistakes in the Latin parts) and stylistically homogeneous.

It dedicates extensive parts to the philosophy of law, and it includes several quotes of Supreme Court jurisprudence in the introductory and conclusive chapters.

It is an unusual appeal. Contrary to most appeals submitted by Galati as Procurator General, this one does not raise objections simply on parts of the sentencing, conclusions, or points of reasoning. Instead it attacks the verdict in its entirety. It attacks indeed all logical points and conclusions, including the part about calunnia, for which Knox was found guilty. And it goes even beyond.

Besides disputing the single points on the merit, it contains an explicit and more general attack on the whole appeal court’s approach to the case, against the general quality of their reasoning and their handling of trial and procedure, as well as against even their behavior even before the beginning of the trial discussion. There is an introductory part, and one conclusion part, which are dedicated to this kind of general criticism toward the entirety of the judges’ work.

At the beginning the document presents the summary of the ten reasons for appeal which, in Galati-Costagliola’s opinion, fatally affect the legitimacy of the judgment.

The ten questions of merit are the following:

1.  The illegitimacy of Hellmann’s admission of new expert witnesses (Vecchiotti and Conti). The appointing of new experts violates the code. Galati-Costagliola clearly explains why, using both Supreme Court jurisprudence and Criminal Procedure Code. It addresses and shows the multiple instances of lack of reasoning in Hellmann’s explanations on the point, the “contradictory nature of reasoning” and its “manifest illogicality” in light of the law.


2.  The failure to acquire elements of evidence. Galati-Costagliola focuses specifically on the rejection of witness testimonies, above all 1) the refusal to again hear the witness Aviello, and 2) the refusal of new tests on the knife. These decisions were taken in violation of Articles 190, 238 paragraph 5 and 495 paragraph 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and in violation of Article 606 (c) and (d) of the Criminal Procedure Code. There is manifest illogicality of the judgment on the point.


3.  The establishing of the unreliability of the witness Quintavalle. The method declared to assess reliability of the witness violates the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court on the topic, and the insufficient reasoning violates Article 606(b) and (e) of the Criminal Procedure Code.


4.  The establishing of the unreliability of the witness Curatolo. The reasons expressed are illogical, prejudicial, and violate the Criminal Procedure Code.


5.  The claimed timing of the death of Meredith Kercher demonstrates a manifest illogicality in the reasoning, contains an unfounded assessment, and is manifestly in contrast with other court documentation of the case. The internal and external inconsistencies of Hellmann’s statements on the topic constitute a violation of the Criminal Procedure Code.


6.  The genetic investigations: coverage of this topic in Hellmann’s sentencing report demonstrates deficiency in the reasoning, and inconsistency and illogicality [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]


7.  The analysis of the prints and traces (stains) demonstrates deficiency in the reasoning, and a contradictory nature and illogicality in the reasoning [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]


8.  The presence of Knox and Sollecito at Via della Pergola on the night of the murder: misrepresentation of the evidence presented is demonstrated and illogicality of the reasoning [Article 606 paragraph 1(e) Criminal Procedure Code]. Violation of procedural rules and illogicality of the reasoning [Article 606 paragraph 1(b) and (e) Criminal Procedure Code] are demonstrated.


9.  The staging of the break-in (simulation of a crime): demonstration of deficiency in the reasoning and manifest illogicality of the same [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]


10. The exclusion of aggravation in the calunnia offence: the contradictory nature or manifest illogicality of the reasoning is demonstrated, also defects resulting from internal and external inconsistence with the court documents of the case: starting with the declarations by Patrick Diya Lumumba, and those by the accused, Amanda Knox, and the contents of the conversation between the latter and her mother on 10 November 2007 [Article 606(e) last part, Criminal Procedure Code].

However, the ten reasons listed above are not all of Galati-Costagliola’s arguments. Their explanations cover the core (80%) of the Hellmann-Zanetti sentencing document. But even before entering into these reasons on the merit, Galati-Costagliola make a preliminary point, a “premise” to the whole document.

The “premise” takes twenty pages and this alone is telling about the gravity of the criticism Dr Galati is going to make throughout the whole appeal document.  The premise warns the readers (the judges of the Supreme Court) that in fact there is a problem of quality pervading the whole of Hellmann’s and Zanetti’s work which affects deeply their reasoning and conclusions on multiple occasion and in multiple concurring ways.

He makes clear that his criticism of Hellmann is methodological, and he points to the trial as a whole from the roots, far beyond the single topic of errors exposed in the appeal.

The “premise” of preliminary points, a short essay in itself, has its own summary of six points, each one to explain a typology of recurrent error committed by Hellmann and Zanetti. In the premise Galati explains four of the types of error, while the last two are discussed in the further chapters together with some of the points on the merit.

These are the six types of error:

1.  One error “of method” affecting the logical process is the “petitio principii”, which Galati-Costagliola addresses as a recurrent, structural and pervasive method of reasoning used by Hellmann-Zanetti.

It is “begging the question”, a kind of empty circular reasoning. This is demonstrated in several chapters and points. For Hellmann-Zanetti’s reasoning, Galati-Costagliola reserve the names “paradoxical”, “disconcerting”, “useless”, “circular”, and worse in this same tone.


2.  The failure to apply the inferential-inductive method to assess circumstantial evidence. This is a key point based on jurisprudence and is in fact a devastating general argument against Hellmann-Zanetti:

The appeal to Cassation’s jurisprudence on the circumstantial case originates from the fact that the Assize Appeal Court did not deploy a unified appreciation of the circumstantial evidence and did not examine the various circumstantial items in a global and unified way.

With its judgment it has, instead, fragmented the circumstantial evidence; it has weighed each item in isolation with an erroneous logico-judicial method of proceeding, with the aim of criticizing the individual qualitative status of each of them ..


Dr Galati accuses the appeal court of focusing on the quality of some pieces of circumstantial evidence, instead of their correlation to each other as the Supreme Court always requires. .

The appeal judges, in actual fact, deny that the probative reasoning and the decisive and cognitive proceeding of the court is to be found in the circumstantial evidence paradigm of the hypothetico-probabilistic kind, in which the maxims of experience, statistical probability and logical probability have a significant weight.

The court must reach a decision by means of the “inductive-inferential” method: it proceeds, by inference, from individual and certain items of data, through a series of progressive causalities, to further and fuller information, so arriving at a unification of them in the context of [13] the reconstructed hypothesis of the fact.

This means that the data, informed and justified by the conclusions, are not contained in their entirety in the premises of the reasoning, as would have happened if the reasoning were of the deductive type … (..) A single element, therefore, concerning a segment of the facts, has a meaning that is not necessarily unambiguous.

Dr Galati cites and explains further:

The Perugia Court of Appeal has opted, instead, precisely for the parceled-out evaluation of individual probative elements, as if each [14] one of them must have an absolutely unambiguous meaning, and as if the reasoning to be followed were of the deductive type.

This error emerges from the text of the judgment itself, but the gravity of the error committed by the Court in its decision derives from the fact that even the individual elements had been acquired by the cognitive-decisioning process in a totally partial manner, isolating the sole aspect that allowed the recognizing of doubts and uncertainties in the element itself..

So Galati-Costagliola concludes – and this by now is obvious – that the Hellmann-Zanetti court followed a “deductive only” paradigm on pieces in isolation, instead of the “inferential-inductive” paradigm prescribed by Supreme Court requirements (1995).

Moreover, Hellmann-Zanetti applied a deductive paradigm of assessment only to some cherry picked aspects of the single isolated pieces of evidence, overlooking other qualities of the single piece (an example – my own – is the possible “contamination” of the bra clasp found on the floor in the murder room.) Ordering an assessment of the quality of any element as if it was a proof in isolation from the rest of the evidence is itself unlawful.

But Hellmann–Zanetti also picked out of the evidence one aspect alone, for example it points to the theoretical possibility of contamination by touching from gloves, but does not consider the negative check results from the possible contamination sources. The interpretation of X-DNA from the bra-clasp by Vecchiotti in the conclusion is worded as if to ignore the results on the Y-haplotype, and so on.

So even single aspects/qualities of isolated items are further isolated from other aspects by Hellmann-Zanetti, and are assessed without looking for a relationship to the context. This is a core violation of the basics of jurisprudence in cases based on circumstantial evidence.


3.  Refusal to acquire documentation as evidence: the definitive Guede verdict. Hellmann-Zanetti refused to acquire the documentation and to consider it a piece of evidence, without any backing from procedure jurisprudence and without providing any justification.

By doing this the Hellmann court was again violating the legal boundaries. The Galati-Costagliola appeal considers this as one more type of violation, the refusal to attribute any kind of probative value to the definitive verdict on Guede, thus violating Article 238 of the Criminal Procedure Core, and bringing up a manifestly illegitimate justification. The violation is quite egregious under the code.


4.  Failure to assess and to weight key elements, among which is Knox’s written “memoir”. This is a severe violation of article 237 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The usability of Knox’s “memoir” as well as its probative value were already established by the Supreme Court itself, and it was admitted into the process. Hellmann-Zanetti fail to provide the slightest logical explanation for changing the established assessment and disregarding that evidence.


5.  The failure to acquire possibly important pieces of evidence. Galati-Costagliola are focused mainly on two points: 1) the knife, and the refusal of having it further tested for DNA; 2) the refusal to hear Aviello after his retraction of his claims.

We know that, while the testimony of Aviello might be just not credible because of his proven unreliability, and while some may argue that thus his testimony was not “decisive”, the testing of DNA found on the knife would be a piece of evidence for sure.

But the Procurator General points out that the refusal to hear Aviello is part of a severe violation, because the Hellmann motivazioni accepts his retraction statement, considering it thus reliable, but throws out some parts of it and refuses to hear him as a witness.

So the Galati-Costagliola appeal statement includes quotes of some shocking lines from Aviello’s interrogation, to show the heavy nature of it that cannot be thrown out without assessment

A twisting of words - like “cutting-edge” which becomes “experimental” in Hellmann’s reasoning - is the illogical justification for Hellmann-Zanetti forbidding a further DNA test. The motivation is obviously bogus, and Galati backs the point with quotes from Novelli’s tehnical explanation.


6.  Galati-Costagliola address a pervasive violation, claiming it recurs multiple times in the document: a violation of a kind called “misrepresentation of the evidence”.

This is when the judge omits aspects of the pieces of evidence that would contradict their conclusion, expressing an obvious cognitive bias. The appeal describes this violation in different chapters (5,6,8) as occurring in the process of assessing different pieces of evidence, including witness reports, wiretappings, and other items.



3. My own assessment of the Galati appeal

As you can guess from the summary above, the appeal is rather strong, and explains many heavy implications in Italian jurisprudence so that it would be difficult for the Supreme Court to reject it. 

Difficult not only because the kind of objections raised by Galati-Costagliola are devastating to Hellmann’s legitimacy (in fact it’s even more, they tend to form a picture of manipulation of the trial); and not only because Hellmann’s verdict appears to be devastating to jurisprudence generally, so much so that it would become impossible to rule on guilt in many other cases; and not only because a verdict that puts together the conviction for calunnia (a felony crime with malice) and the acquittal for murder, has a contradiction on a macro-level.

But also diificult because the same office of Cassation has already issued another definitive verdict, on the Rudy Guede case. They acknowledged that Guede did not act alone, and the Supreme Court themselves even obtained independently some elements of evidence of this, which had not been considered by the previous judges.

Accepting Hellmann-Zanetti and rejecting Galati would equate to cancel Guede’s verdict. It would require a re-write of the entire process from scratch.

Galati-Costagliola shed light on many points in good order, so I tend to be optimistic and confident in the strength of the appeal.

However I also believe there could have been something more, to make it even more strong. There are a few points – in my opinion - still missing, which I would have added. Four points that I miss are the following:

1.  There is no mention about the analysis – or the lack thereof - of Knox’s lies, aka the inconsistencies in her story, her “mop-shower” alibi version, what she told prior to her false accusation. There was a partial analysis of this area of evidence in Massei, who only mentioned her lying about her behavior before Meredith’s closed door.

But a lot more could have been brought out, so many contradictions and so sharp, to demonstrate that her recollection was entirely fictional. The entire topic disappeared in Hellmann’s logic and Galati-Costagliola does not hit on the point. I think this obliteration of key evidence should have been a battlefield for the appeal, I think it could have been linked to the error of misrepresentation of the evidence.


2.  Galati-Costagliola misses one point of criticism on the bathmat footprint assessment. It does make a point objecting to the manifest illogicality of Hellmann’s reasoning on the footprint analysis. But there is one point more where it could hit, one external inconsistency that could have been highlighted:

Hellmann-Zanetti’s illogical reasoning on the footprint is based on a false assumption. Not only it has no basis in the acts of evidence but it is proven false. It is that Hellmann excludes Sollecito on the basis that the print was “inked” by stepping on a flat surface (proven false), and attributes it to Guede, on the opposite assumption that it was produced by immersion. I note that Galati does not address directly this introduction of false premises.


3.  The appeal deals only partly with the Vecchiotti-Conti report controversy. It points to Hellmann’s contradiction on “contamination” of the knife and their failure to indicate any path for any contamination in general. But it does not say much about the bra clasp (it implies however that Sollecito’s DNA was found).

Vecchiotti’s report is unacceptable when it comes to the DNA chart: it acknowledges that Sollecito’s DNA was on the clasp after all when it comes to the Y-haplotype, but in the autosome-chromosome analysis attempts to create confusion by applying principles that are incompatible with Supreme Court guidelines on evidence analysis. Also Vecchiotti desecends into inconsistency and shows her real cards when she attempts to figure out contamination paths for how Sollecito’s DNA had arrived on the clasp.

However, I think the SCC might have all the material on this point in the attachment documents from Galati.


4.  One missing point important to me is that Galati-Costagliola does not point out the prejudicial and racist stance declared at the beginning and at the core of Hellmann’s reasoning.

Other parts are maybe more outrageous and more directly offensive to other people and other intelligences, but the racist Hellmann’s reason to me is the most disgusting.

It is a shame that a judge of the Republic is allowed to write things like this. Hellmann-Zanetti write that it is itself “unlikely” – it would require a very special proof – that Guede and Knox/Sollecito could have just met and done something together because they are “different”, while Sollecito and Knox are “good fellows”

Hellmann-Zanetti could have legitimately used the argument that it was likely for Guede to have committed a crime alone because he had a police record. They could have used this argument, but they did not use it. Their wording was totally different. I think we can guess what the reason is why they didn’t use this argument. It would have been extremely weak.

There is a logical connection between a theoretical break in and the theft in the law firm; this logical connection is equal to (in fact much weaker than) the logical connection between a staged break in and a roommate. But there is no logical connection between crimes like a theft of a laptop in an apartment and assaulting, torturing and killing a woman: thousands, in fact hundreds of thousands, of common thieves, in Italy, do not rape and do not kill anyone.

You cannot use the criminal record of Rudy Guede as a basis for claiming it is “likely” that he could commit a crime of this kind alone. That’s why Hellmann-Zanetti didn’t use it.

Instead, they used prejudice, the racist card: instead of trying to explain why it was likely that Rudy could have done it alone, they decided to claim that it was unlikely that they would find themselves together, because they are “good fellows” (and “different”).

As you can understand, this has nothing to do with Rudy’s criminal record.

By the way, Hellmann-Zanetti know that Knox had been knowing Guede long before she became friends with Sollecito, they already knew that Knox and Guede have been seen together on more than one occasion in more than one place, and even that Guede in fact attended the cottage and was friends with other people in the cottage. In fact they knew Guede and Knox used to attend the same places, house, roads and pubs.

They also knew that both Sollecito and Guede attended Piazza Grimana and the drug circle (which is the square in front of the school where Amanda had her language classes), that they lived 150 meters from each other, walked every day the same road; and ate at the same bars.

It was also known that not only Guede alone, but both Knox and Sollecito had questionable aspects in their personalities, so that these 20-years olds were not exactly expressing a profound stability in their lives.

They knew details like: leaving university, abandoning a job after one day, public disturbance fines, drunk parties, pouring beer glasses on the heads of unknowns, flirting with clients, relational problems with roommates and other girls, bringing several men at home causing arguments with roommates, collecting violent porn, heavy drug abuse over the years, knife collecting, a possible suicide mother, a lonely childhood and introverted character under the attention of a college director, memory voids.

Nobody is perfect. These details do not mean someone is guilty of anything. But what exactly is, in Hellmann-Zanetti’s mind, the “difference” of these personalities that makes these two be so obviously “good fellows”, as opposed to Guede, to the point that it is “extremely unlikely” that they can be found together, despite the fact that they attend the same places every day?

Who can tell me what is the possible reason of this difference?

Maybe there could be a relation with the fact that in Italian “good fellows” – “bravi ragazzi” means, in the subtext “ my family” as opposed to the other who is an outsider.

To my eyes this reasoning of Hellmann-Zanetti turns them into individuals who deserves no respect, they gain with this the most justified contempt, they should be treated like pigs: they practically wrote “they can’t be around together with Guede because they are our friends” while “he is out”.

Two bastards dirtying my country by wearing the robes of judges. I find this disgusting. It is unfortunate that Galati-Costagliola overlook this point.



4. The Galati appeal: my final thoughts

It is not possible to understand in depth the 10 points of merit from my short summary, which in fact is just a list. By reading them, I think they show their inner logical strength. I found only one weakness, that is in one of the sub-sections of point 5, where Galati-Costagliola discuss about Guede’s skype call.

I feel it’s remarkable that I couldn’t find any other questionable point (I am rather severe).

Reason 8 appears made of several points each with a different topic. They didn’t seem especially important to me as pieces of evidence, however they exist and are part of Galati-Costagliola criticism of Hellmann’s reasoning.

Reason 9 is effective but I would have used much more extensively the elements of evidence available and place them in line before the judge’s faces. Galati-Costagliola prefer to direct their objection to the inconsistence of Hellmann-Zanetti.

The part where Galati sounds more outraged is Reason 10, about the Calunnia. In this part in fact Hellmann sounds most “FoA” and offensive. In fact I think I have never read before a Cassation recourse so scathing as the Galati-Costagliola document seems to be on the Hellmann’s report.

Reading through the whole Galati document in Italian, you come upon expressions addressing the lower court’s work (repeatedly) with terms like “grave error” and “grave behavior”, you find also “disconcerting shallowness”, or the accusation of “ignoring the law”.

In the C&V report section Galati-Costagliola have some sarcastic lines such as: “how is it now they suddenly have become experts?”. In other parts you read the word “prejudice” or “obvious bias”, some of the parts of the Hellmann-Zanetti report are called “offensive” and “gratuitous”, and you also encounter the term “insinuation”.

Galati-Costagliola devolve significant attention to their method error in logic called “petitio principii”.  Now, in the traditional scholarly logic, there is a list of thirteen kind of typical “logical errors” divided in three groups: the errors of the kind “fallacia in voce” (due to misusing words in their meaning concepts) , “fallacia in re” (about getting facts wrong in the direct logical use of them) and “fallacia in deductione” (error in inference process): there are four types of “fallacia in re” and five types of “fallacia in deductione”.

The “petitio principii” (implicit circular reasoning) is one of the five types of “fallacia in deductione”.  Galati-Costagliola focus on this and on another case of “fallacia in re” called “corax”, but in fact in Hellmann-Zanetti there are also severe cases of logical errors of other kinds of “fallacia in deductione” and of the kinds of “fallacia in re”. Which may not matter too much.

This was my final thought.  I hope this can help readers to gain a rough idea of what the Galati-Costagliola Appeal to the Supreme Court looks like, its structure, its kind of arguments, and assess its qualities.

If the Supreme Court of Cassation accepts the appeal, I would consider the battle for justice in this case as won. I know that the Kerchers may need to see the end of the whole process. But to me, the fact of having the Galati-Costagliola appeal means itself half victory achieved.

This document, as you know, was issued by the highest magistrate in Umbria and what will remain in history is the forcible assertion that Knox and Sollecito are murderers beyond any doubt as expressed by Dr Galati in this document and elsewhere, as well as his outrage for the disgusting Hellmann-Zanetti trash-verdict.

This stance will never go away.

Posted on 08/16/12 at 04:03 PM by Machiavelli (Yummi). Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc Those who were chargedAmanda KnoxRaff SollecitoAppeals 2009-2015Cassation 2013Florence 2014+No-evidence hoax
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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Italian Supreme Court Grants Turin Prosecutors A New Trial In Another Case

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: the still-accused (the same status as AK and RS) in temporary happier days]

Reversals of not-guilty verdicts like this one are handed down by the decisive Italian Supreme Court several times a month.

Franzo Grande Stevens, Gianluigi Gabetti and Virgil Brown had been charged in Turin with the white-collar crime of insider trading. They are rich powerful people who help the Agnelli family to control the carmaker FIAT.

Last December they were acquitted at their first trial. The prosecution did not even bother to lodge an appeal to the Turin appeal court - they took their appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. 

Now Franzo Grande Stevens, Gianluigi Gabetti and Virgil Brown get to have their day in court - all over again. Being rich and powerful was of no help.


Posted on 06/29/12 at 05:06 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Justice systems Italy etc
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Italy Continues The Search For True Justice In A 30 Year Old Case

Posted by Peter Quennell





Nothing if not tenacious, those Italian prosecutors and police - and Italian TV on which the victim’s family never stopped pressing.

This is the case of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican citizen, who disappeared in 1983.  At the time the Vatican was much in the news because of a banking scandal that spread to London and because of an attempt made on the Pope’s life.

The Vatican is back in the news now because finally it stopped blocking for unclear reasons the exhumation of a crime gang leader who for unclear reasons was buried under a Vatican basilica in Rome.  The exhumation has now been done and there were some extra bones and pending tests may show that they are Emanuela’s.

The New York Times says there are at least three theories that could explain the disappearance and probable murder of Emanuela.

In 2005, an anonymous phone call to a television program about the disappearance added a piece to the puzzle:

“To find the solution to the case go and see who’s buried in the crypt of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare,” an unidentified man said, referring to the tomb of the local mob boss, Enrico De Pedis, known as Renatino, who was gunned down in Rome in 1990.

The caller also implied that Emanuela had been kidnapped as a favor to Cardinal Ugo Poletti, who in 1983 was the vicar general of Rome.  Cardinal Poletti died in 1997, and Archbishop Marcinkus in 2006.

Questions remain about why Mr. De Pedis, a member of the Magliana crime gang, was buried in a church owned by the Holy See. His tomb is in a small locked room in a crypt under the church…

To lay rumors to rest that the Vatican had obstructed investigations into Emanuela’s disappearance, last month the Holy See agreed to the opening of Mr. De Pedis’s tomb.

Whether the police can now narrow down to a single theory we soon shall see. After 30 years they are still doing what they can for the real victim. And her family never rests.

Below: images of Emanuela’s brother Pietro, a Vatican protest, and the exhumation yesterday of Mr De Pedis.














Posted on 05/15/12 at 02:59 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Italian Court Rules American Museum Must Return An Illegally Exported Statue

Posted by Peter Quennell





Now everybody holds their breath. Will it be returned or not?

The valuable statue is now at the Getty Museum (above) on a coastal hilltop just north of Los Angeles. Ironically it is actually Greek, and was hauled out of the Aegean Sea by fishermen almost directly east of Perugia. It is so valuable because only very few Greek statues remain intact. 

Very doubtfull that the US federal government gets involved though the courts might. The Los Angeles Times and some Italian newspapers carry the story.

An Italian court has upheld an order for the seizure of a masterpiece of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s antiquities collection, finding that the bronze statue of a victorious athlete was illegally exported from Italy before the museum purchased it for $4 million in 1976.

Since 2005, the Getty has voluntarily returned 49 antiquities in its collection, acknowledging they were the product of illegal excavations and had been smuggled out of their country of origin. Hundreds of other objects were returned by other American dealers, collectors and museums.

In the wake of those returns, several American museums struck cooperative deals with Italy and Greece that allow for long-term loans of ancient art.

Most such repatriation claims have been settled without legal action. The dispute over the Getty’s bronze ended up in Italian court thanks to its complicated legal status — an accidental discovery in international waters off Italy’s Adriatic coast.

The statue was most likely lost at sea after being plundered by Roman soldiers in Greece around the time of Christ. (The government of Greece has never asked that the statue be returned there.)

In 1964, Italian fishermen found the statue snagged in their nets. They hauled it ashore in the small port town of Fano, buried it in a cabbage field and then hid it in a priest’s bathtub rather than declare it to customs officials, as required under Italian law.

Three brothers and the priest were convicted of trafficking in stolen goods, but an appeals court threw out their convictions in 1970, citing insufficient evidence. At the time, the statue was still missing, and its value was unknown.

 

Posted on 05/14/12 at 03:41 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

After Five Years, Heavy Police Resources Still Assigned To The Case Of The Missing Madeleine McCann

Posted by Peter Quennell



The case of Madeleine McCann.

In one respect, there’s this parallel to Meredith’s case. After five years police are still assigning major resources to close to their own complete satisfaction a vexatious and divisive case.

Unfortunately, the parallels end there.

In this case, it is the British police still assigning the resources (now close to four million pounds), in parallel to the relentless Italian effort for Meredith, because they fear that in light of cases like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard the Portuguese police may have dropped the ball far too soon.

The Portuguese, in face of a confusing situation on the night when Madeleine disappeared, where the parents say they had left her home with younger twins while they had dinner 100 yards away, and a nervous Portuguese vacation industry, declared the parents as under suspicion in Madeline’s death and (see video above) aggressively furthered that meme.  They may have closed off kidnapping possibilities which in this day and age are far too real.

It may be that one day the British police eventually do conclude that her parents had a role in Madeleine’s disappearance and possible death, or simply declare that they have hit a brick wall.  But as Time and other UK and US news services are today reporting, they are concerned that the little girl is still out there, alive, and a kidnapper may be getting a free pass - and the opportunity to do it again.

The British police have released the two images below, showing how Madeleine looked back then and could now look at age nine. These are the latest developments according to the NY Times.

Scotland Yard released a statement saying its investigators had uncovered what they believed to be “genuinely new material,” as well as nearly 200 new opportunities for further inspection. Investigators said that they “now believe that there is a possibility Madeleine is still alive,” and have called for the investigation by Portuguese police to be reopened after an almost four-year hiatus….

While the initial investigation by the Portuguese authorities was roundly criticized, the British inquiry has been aided by the fact that, for the first time since Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom in the family’s rented apartment in the Algarve region of Portugal, investigators have been able to review material generated by three independent investigations, all in one location.

The detective leading the review said that having access to the Portuguese investigation, inquiries by British law enforcement agencies and the work of private investigators hired by the McCann family presents the team with “best opportunity” of finally solving the mystery of what happened in the seaside resort of Praia da Luz.

Rewards totaling millions of dollars were offered by wealthy Britons, including J. K. Rowling, the billionaire author of the Harry Potter series, and Richard Branson, the airline tycoon. But the Portuguese police identified only one suspect, a 33-year-old Britain living with his mother in a nearby apartment….

Detectives have been painstakingly sifting through “every single piece of paper” — approximately 100,000 pages — generated by the original investigation, on the basis that sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see what was always there….

Mr. Redwood rejected the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Madeleine’s parents’ involvement. He said that the girl’s disappearance was the result of “a criminal act by a stranger.”

It will come as renewed encouragement to the McCann family, whose ceaseless energy and reluctance to call off the search have been fundamental in keeping the case in the international spotlight. Since their daughter’s disappearance they have traveled to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who blessed a photograph of Madeleine, published a book and even appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”






Posted on 04/25/12 at 05:06 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Italy Handles Wrongful Death of An American With Usual Efficiency And Real Respect For The Victim

Posted by Peter Quennell





This story has had great play in Italy - there are dozens of video reports - but little play in the US and almost none elsewhere.

San Giovanni Valdarno is a small town one hour’s drive north of Perugia, about two-thirds of the way to Florence in Tuscany which is one of the most visited areas in Italy. Many foreigners have villas there.

Allison Owens. aged 23, from Columbus in Ohio, was a tour guide there. She was last seen alive on Sunday 2 October. Worried for her safety, her friends stirred up a manhunt of the area, which came to include over 100 police with dogs.

After three days of searching, her body was found in a pond on the other side of a crash barrier from a busy highway. She was wearing jogging clothes, and her IPod headphones were still around her head.

The autopsy on her body confirmed that she had been hit by a vehicle, and with lots of publicity the search was on for a hit-and-run driver.

Local resident Pietro Stefanoni turned himself in to the San Giovanni Valdarno police on 7 October after he had already had the damage to his Volvo repaired.

He claimed that he fell asleep at the wheel and only woke when his car side-swiped the crash barrier. He claimed that he went back to the same spot a day or two later to see if he had caused any damage, but did not see any.

Stefanoni did not report the accident. He claimed that it was only several days later that he heard on the news that the police were looking for a hit-and-run driver. Thereupon, in the company of the Florence lawyer Francesco Maresca, he went to the police and was arrested.

He requested the abbreviated fast-track trial procedure (which Rudy Guede also took advantage of in 2008) but which nevertheless resulted, for manslaughter, in a tough sentence: 39 months behind prison bars, and an interim award of nearly $400,000 payable to the Owens family.

The prosecutor had cast Stefanoni’s actions subsequent to his knowingly or unknowingly hitting Allison in a very bad light, and the judge appeared to have concluded that he handed himself in only when he became convinced he would be caught.

Not much is published about the life of Allison Owens, but she is very sunny in all her images. Her family and friends clearly loved her and miss her, and through very careless driving Pietro Stefanoni has made havoc of their world.

Her hard-hit family from Ohio were in court. Thankfully, the case was efficiently and sensitively handled by the Italian authorities, with great support from the Italian media and the public. 

Zero sign a pretty American was resented.


















Posted on 04/20/12 at 04:35 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, April 13, 2012

In Close Parallel To Amanda Knox, Casey Anthony Faces Court Action For Falsely Fingering Another

Posted by Peter Quennell



Both recent images. Above the plaintiff Zenaida Gonzalez; below the defendant Casey Anthony


Amanda Knox provisionally got off on the main count (the murder of Meredith) but anyway was sentenced to three years (which she served) for fingering Patrick Lumumba.

Casey Anthony definitively got off on the main count (murdering her infant daughter Caylee, see previous posts) but anyway was sentenced to some time in prison for time-wasting and expensive misleading of the police officers.

She received no sentence for falsely fingering a nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez, for making off with Caylee, and as she had never even met Zenaida Gonzalez it is unclear how she came up with Zenaida’s name.

The Orlando Sentinel reports an issue is whether or not Anthony identified Gonzalez specifically enough when she talked to her parents when they visited her in jail.

Anthony’s attorney said details offered by Anthony did not match Fernandez-Gonzalez and clearly showed Anthony wasn’t talking about her. Gonzalez’s attorneys say she still was damaged as the only person with that name interviewed by investigators.

Fernandez-Gonzalez had never met Anthony. Investigators believe Anthony may have seen the name on an apartment rental application.

During Anthony’s trial last year, her attorney Jose Baez said Anthony made up the story about the babysitter and that Caylee truly drowned in the family pool. Anthony was acquitted of murder and other serious charges.

Nevertheless, yesterday a judge in Orlando, Florida, ruled that Zenaida Gonzalez may sue Casey Anthony for defamation of character, and the case is scheduled for January 2013.

In Amanda Knox’s case she absolutely did know Patrick Lumumba, her kindly employer who gave her a job without a work permit, and she and her mother let him languish in prison for several weeks.

Pretty hard to look worse than Casey Anthony, but in her cruel act of framing Patrick, Amanda Knox certainly does.


Posted on 04/13/12 at 07:28 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Costa Concordia: Amid Continuing Environmental Concerns The Captain Is Charged With More

Posted by Peter Quennell

The death toll has now risen to 25 including one child, a little girl. Maybe 10 are still unaccounted for.

The ship turns out to be balancing precariously on two small castles of rock at its front and back ends and they now seem to be decomposing under the ship’s colossal weight.

Whether the fuel oil can be removed from the ship before it disappears into deeper waters in a very fragile marine environment now seems anyone’s guess. Technically the engineers seem to be doing all they can.

The Genoa-based Carnival subsidiary seems to have closed ranks again as its own top management behavior comes under investigation. Nick Squires of the Daily Telegraph has just reported this from a session of the Grosseto court.

Prosecutors allege that the captain’s negligence and misconduct were compounded by errors made by senior officials from Costa Cruises, the Italian company that owns the ship.

They have broadened their investigation to include three Costa Cruises employees, including Manfred Ursprunger, the vice-president, and Roberto Ferrarini, the head of the company’s crisis management unit.

He was in regular contact with the skipper on the night of the disaster but prosecutors accuse him of being “culpably unaware of the real situation on board the ship” and of falling to verify the information provided by Capt Schettino.

Nick Squires also reports that Captain Schettino’s legal prospects have now worsened.

On Thursday, prosecutors lodged two new charges against the captain, accusing him of abandoning incapacitated passengers and failing to inform the coast guard in Livorno, on the mainland, of what was happening on the ship.

He was already charged with abandoning ship, causing a disaster and multiple counts of manslaughter and is under house arrest at his home near Sorrento, south of Naples. 

Nick Squires also reports on how the ship was slowed down to allow the captain and his lady friend to finish their meal. Then it was speeded up to awe someone in Giglio, and a big crowd on the ship’s bridge.

Posted on 02/24/12 at 10:57 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Learning Experiences Emerging From The Carnival Ship Disaster Off Italy’s West Coast

Posted by Peter Quennell





Value migrations force better systems upon us, and so the human race progresses…

Check out first what seems to be happening to value as a result of the Costa Concordia wreck, as reflected in the stockmarket chart just below.  Stockmarkets and currency exchange rates constitute the value votes of a lot of watchful people trying to decide where to put their money.

Italy has no independent currency any more, so Italy sorely lacks that other very useful value indicator and safety valve.  But stockmarket behavior is telling us a lot both about Italy and about the Carnival cruise line.

In the past three months during which the main American index, the Dow-Jones (red curve), gained an okay 8 percent, the Italian stockmarket index (green curve) gained a very impressive 30 percent.

The main news out of Italy in those three months was (1) the austerity plan, which in theory is setting the stage for future growth (toward which there was some cynicism), and (2) the recovery from the wreck of the Costa Concordia (toward which the doubts were even greater).

You can see a slight blip down in the green curve immediately after the wreck, but then Italy continued with speedy value migration inward.  It seems fair to say “Well done Italy. You’ve received votes of international confidence on both fronts.”

Carnival, however, rather less-so.. The blue curve is the stock price of Carnival Cruise Lines and it’s still down about 12 percent since the wreck happened which is about $3 billion off Carnival’s market valuation. All cruise lines seem to have taken something of a hit and are likely to encounter other heat to make sure they all keep improving.


Check out now what is happening to systems.

It seems clear that the captain was steering the ship while he was a bit tiddly while showing off to what increasingly appears to have been his girlfriend by his side. By international and Carnival rules (1) the captain should not have been drinking, (2) he should not have been five miles off course, (3) the Moldovan dancer should not have been on the bridge, and (4) the captain should have been a lot more careful in his navigating.

So four systems at least were violated.

Then when the ship was beached - there is some uncertainty as to whether this was deliberate or whether the captain was just putting the ship in shallow water -  (5) damage to ship bulkheads was much more than expected, adding to the high number of deaths, (6) the lifeboats were almost impossible to launch, and (7) the evacuation procedures almost totally broke down - in part because there had been no evacuation drill before the ship left the port of Rome, and in part because the captain went awol and was already standing on the beach.

That is far from an exhaustive list and systems changes implemented after the 9/11 attack numbered up in the hundreds - military responses, building techniques, city preparedness, corporate distribution of their people and physical assets. We will see the same happen here. 

Right now we are watching what appear to be two very efficient systems cutting in and doing their work. One is the recovery of the oil from the ship and then the ship itself. And the other is the Italian legal system, which is going to be kept busy with this one for years.

There is increasing evidence that the single Moldovan dancer and the married captain were having some sort of affair.  She briefly admitted as much, telling a court she loved him, and the searchers and divers may have found her effects in his cabin.

He may now face 2,500 years in prison to reflect on the importance of respecting systems and the value of peoples’ lives. . 





Posted on 02/10/12 at 07:31 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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