Series Appeals 2009-2015

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Guede Appeal Outcome Mon-Tues Could be An Indicator To Knox-Sollecito Appeal Outcome

Posted by Peter Quennell


The top eight posts here represent our previous reporting on Rudy Guede’s appeal.

Commissario Montalbano’s recent post on the Italian appeals process is also vital reading here.

The appeals grounds seemed thin, and the appeals judge will be very thoroughly acquainted with the report of the judge who first sentenced him, Judge Micheli.

There were only two variations to his original story in the appeal hearings: that he had not had intimate relations with Meredith, and that he had seen and identified Knox but not Sollecito. In his trial, his story was that he had identified Sollecito by appearance if not by name, and that he might have heard Knox nearby.

He emphasized that he briefly tried to save Meredith. But of course he fled without ever calling an ambulance, even anonymously, and Meredith was left clutching her wounded neck, with her door locked and her mobile phones removed. Guede then went out to a disco before taking to his heels to Milan and then Germany.

Recently Guede was mysteriously attacked in prison. Connected or not? Who knows? But Rudy might be thinking that 30 years in prison with time off for behavior is a better bet than another possible attack that ends worse.

The pro-Knox and Sollecito factions seem to be banking on their appeals late 2010 being a whole new trial. Guede’s appeals judge simply refused to reopen the whole case with new witnesses, and the November hearings were over very quickly.

Our Italian experts tell us that if Guede gets freedom, then Knox and Sollecito may expect to see freedom too. And if Guede gets his sentence reduced or confirmed, then that is very likely to be their fate too.

For why they all seem to be so joined at the hip read here and here. The Guede-as-lone-wolf theory never even got to first base.

Posted on 12/20/09 at 10:06 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedSupreme CourtAppeals 2009-2015Guede appealsHellmann 2011+Amanda KnoxRaff Sollecito
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another Prominent US TV Commentator Sees The Evidence Pointing Pro-Guilt

Posted by Peter Quennell

Three highly influential women commentators in the US are now forcefully arguing pro-guilt on TV.

They are legal talk-show host Jeanine Pirro (video below), legal analyst Wendy Murphy, and now conservative political commentator Ann Coulter. All three proceed from a deep understanding of the hard evidence.

The bleach purchases mentioned here were never actually proven, though Knox was seen in the bleach area of the Conad supermarket early the day after (when she claimed to be asleep), and in both Knox’s and Sollecito’s apartments, bleach did appear to have been used. 

Otherwise, pretty good.

By the way, Ann Coulter’s new book “Guilty” that you see promoted on the video is not about Amanda Knox. It is actually about liberals being too soft on defendants. To ourselves the large and rapidly growing community of those pro-justice-for-Meredith and pro the verdict and sentence seems to cross all political boundaries.

We’d say the common factors here are strong logic, hard work in really getting into the evidence (a lazy Peter Van Sant obviously hasn’t), a reluctance to be snowed, and a deep humanity toward the real victim.

Meredith. In case the FOA campaign ever forget.

Posted on 12/15/09 at 10:05 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+News media & moviesMedia newsThe wider contextsN America context
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Andrea Vogt Has A Long Cool Take In The Seattle PI On Where Things Stand

Posted by Peter Quennell


Please click above for the report. This one is highly worth reading in full.

Apart from the highlights quoted below, the report touches on Amanda Knox, now semi-resigned in her cell, on the very extensive nature of the evidence, and on the pro-defendant stance of the Italian justice system.

Italian reactions to the commentaries of Timothy Egan and others not very immersed in the evidence are also reported on.

According to Andrea Vogt, in many ways, things are not, at least not yet, so very different from before. The campaign goes on, if now sensibly a lot more subdued.

We do however continue to see large numbers coming by TJMK to read here at length (especially now from Seattle) and according to our emails the shock-factor of the actual evidence is often quite considerable.

And the judges’ long and very detailed judgment report out early next March at the latest may prove to be a definitive bottom line, as Judge Micheli’s report was after the Rudy Guede trial.

It is that objective and exhaustive judgment statement that will define what the appeal is about.

1) On Italian reactions to the charges of anti-Americanism

On Monday, another salvo was fired at Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., from Italy as the Italian president of the Italy-USA Foundation, an association that works closely with the U.S. Embassy in Rome, released a statement on the foundation’s website describing his Sunday prison visit with Knox and harshly criticizing Cantwell’s comments about the Italian justice system.

“I believe it is out of place to insert anti-Americanism, as stated by American Sen. Maria Cantwell, into a situation like this that can be easily exploited,” wrote Rocco Girlanda, president of the Italy-USA Foundation, in a news release posted on the foundation’s website. “In my opinion it would have been more correct to avoid creating controversy or alleged affairs of the state that are totally outside the official declarations of the parties and of their respective governments.”...

On Monday, Cantwell’s spokeswoman did not repeat the complaints that the senator has made but said her office will continue to monitor the Knox case….

Cantwell’s questioning the fairness of the Italian justice system has raised the ire of many on this side of the Atlantic….The handful of American journalists inside the courtroom regularly attending the trial did not witness the “anti-Americanism” of which Cantwell spoke.

2) What really mattered to the jury in their deliberations and the length of the sentence

Jurors said they believed the forensic evidence, as reported last spring here and here and not the defense’s attempts to dismiss the evidence at trial and during closing arguments.

The forensic evidence was presented in open court and subject to cross-examination and robust debate. Legal scholars say Knox is lucky she didn’t get a longer sentence….

The jurors, polled and interviewed after the verdict, said they were not split on the question of innocence or guilt but rather on the question of whether she should get life in prison or less.

3) An Italian expert on the justice system notes that this was a fair trial

“This is the simplest and fairest criminal trial one could possibly think of in terms of evidence,” said Stefano Maffei, lecturer in criminal procedure at the University of Parma.

“There were 19 judges who looked at the facts and evidence over the course of two years, faced with decisions on pre-trial detention, review of such detention, committal to trial, judgment on criminal responsibility. They all agreed, at all times, that the evidence was overwhelming.”

The court’s sentence of Knox and Sollecito was mild, Maffei said, with the jury taking into account the facts of the crime along with her clean criminal record.

He noted that a similar reduction in sentence did not happen with co-defendant Rudy Guede, even though he agreed to a fast-track trial, which reduced his sentence from life to 30 years.

4) The very extensive nature of the evidence presented.

Often lost in the debate over Knox’s guilt is the evidence presented at trial. Some of it was strongly disputed, and some likely forgotten by those in America trying to keep up on a trial that took place a couple of days a week over several months with long breaks of no proceeding at all.

Jurors, interviewed after the verdict, said they were convinced by the forensic evidence and were unanimous on the question of guilt or innocence, though they made a point of noting they did not believe Kercher’s murder was premeditated.

[In Andrea Vogt’s full report in the Seattle PI (click through above) there follows an excellent bullet-point list of the evidence.]

5) The many pro-defendant protections built into the Italian justice system

For historical and political reasons unique to Italy, the country has a justice system with an extraordinary number of protections for the accused, more than many other European nations.

“These criticisms we are hearing from the United States are so strange,” said Stefania Carnevale, an assistant professor of criminal procedural law and prisoner’s rights at the University of Ferrara.

“They leave me perplexed because the critique seems to be about the behavior of the police or the prosecutor or small details of this single trial, not the system as a whole. If there are errors in a trial, the Italian system has rigorous checks and balances in place to correct such mistakes, and guarantee an appeal.”

Knox may have a number of salient points on which to base her appeal, most notably several pieces of contested forensic evidence and the fact that she was questioned without an attorney present despite being treated as a suspect by Perugian police.

The presumption of innocence is so strong in Italy that under criminal procedural law, Knox is still not considered a convicted murderer, and won’t be, until she has been found guilty through all phases of the process: Court of Assize, where the jury just made a decision; the Appellate Court of Assize; and the Court of Cassation.

Posted on 12/15/09 at 01:10 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+News media & moviesGreat reporting
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Our Letter To Senator Maria Cantwell: Please Don’t Take Precipitate Action Till Full Facts Are In

Posted by Highly-Concerned Washington-State Voters


We are all regular voters who live in the Seattle area. We have signed the original of this letter to our US senator, Maria Cantwell, and sent it off to her Capitol office. 

We think we increasingly mirror a very large minority or even a majority of cool-headed but concerned Seattle-area voters who would like to see her speaking up for truth and real justice in this case.

And for the rights of the true victim.

We are not running a campaign. We don’t think Senator Cantwell needs hard persuasion. We think once she immerses herself deeply in the real facts, those facts will tell her the right thing to do.

Dear Senator Cantwell

A number of your well-informed constituents are wondering about your motivations for suddenly injecting yourself into the Meredith Kercher murder trial debate, immediately following last week’s unanimous guilty ruling for American Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy. 

We wonder because you said you were saddened by the verdict and had serious questions about the Italian judicial system and whether anti-Americanism had tainted the trial.  But then you went on to describe how you knew for a fact that the prosecution in the case did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Amanda Knox was guilty. 

We’re confused because it seems to us that if you had been following the case closely enough to be certain that not enough evidence had been presented by the prosecution that you would consequently have a very clear idea of how the Italian judicial system functioned and know whether or not anti-American sentiment had impacted the ruling. 

So, as a group of concerned Seattle area constituents who have been following every detail of this case since poor Meredith Kercher was murdered, we humbly offer you our assistance towards bringing things into proper perspective.

Were you aware that Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian from Giovinazzo, Bari was convicted right alongside Ms. Knox?  Mr. Sollecito received some of the best legal representation available in Italy, including senior lawyer and parliamentary deputy Giulia Bongiorno who won fame as a criminal lawyer when she successfully defended former Italian Premier Giulio Andreotti a few years ago. 

Ms Bongiorno has said nothing about anti-American sentiment having influenced the ruling against her client, nor has she complained about fundamental problems with the way this trial was run.  Instead, she is now completely focused on looking ahead to the appeal process as her next opportunity to mitigate sentences or argue for her client’s innocence. 

This should assuage some of your concerns.

But perhaps you are referring to the extra year Ms. Knox received in comparison to Mr. Sollecito’s 25-year sentence as a clear example of anti-American sentiment?  That’s a fair concern; however, in Italy the jury panel for a trial is required to submit a report within 90 days of a ruling describing in great detail the logic used to convict and sentence, or absolve a defendant. 

For example, in Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher last year Judge Paolo Micheli issued an exhaustive 106 page report outlining the panel’s labored decision-making process, in sometimes excruciating detail.  We can expect no less for the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, and when that report is issued we will have our best look yet at the evidence that was used to convict the pair.

We suggest that you seriously reconsider “bringing” Hillary Clinton and the State Department into the debate.

Consider that State Department spokesman Ian Kelly stated that the US embassy in Rome had been tasked with monitoring the trial and had visited Ms. Knox in jail, and several embassy representatives were known to have attended the reading of the ruling last week. In addition, an American reporter based in Italy who has followed the case from the outset said last night on CNN that the trial had been monitored from the outset.

Secretary Clinton has clearly been very busy with far more critical tasks than to have maintained a personal familiarity with the Kercher murder case; however, Kelly did state that in response to recent press reports Secretary Clinton had taken time to look things over and has yet to find any indication that Knox did not receive a fair trial.  You surely realize that Secretary Clinton will not be interested making public comments regarding an ongoing legal process in a sovereign, democratic nation that is a long-time ally of the United States.

Also note that on the Italian side of the equation, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told his countrymen that he has yet to receive any criticisms of the trial from the office of the US Secretary of State and that the fierce criticism of the case by the Seattle based Amanda Knox support group should not be confused as the position of the US government. 

And Luciano Ghirga, Knox’s own Italian lawyer, has stated that he does not question the validity of the trial and that he believes it was conducted correctly. Furthermore, regarding your desire to have Clinton become involved, Ghirga concluded, “That’s all we need, Hillary Clinton involved…this sort of thing does not help us in any way.” 

Perhaps he is referring to the heated discussions in the Italian press these days regarding the strong criticisms of Italy’s legal system coming from a country that supports Guantanamo Bay, the death penalty, and other perceived injustices of a far-from-perfect American legal system.

As these examples demonstrate, and from your own humble constituents’ well-informed perspective, there is nothing out of the ordinary or alarming about the Meredith Kercher murder trial process.  The prosecutors and defense teams will continue to debate the evidence throughout the appeal process, just as we should expect them to. 

If you do decide to go forward with your inquiry, despite significant opposition from your constituents, we recommend that you do so only after becoming more familiar with the evidence presented during the trial, as presented by a neutral source. The family and friends of the US citizen recently convicted are probably not neutral.

If you take a good look, you will see that there are checks and balances in the Italian way of achieving justice, just as there are in the American system. In the final analysis, it is completely as Beatrice Cristiani, deputy judge for the Kercher murder trial, put it: “As far as I am aware our system of justice does not make provision for interference from overseas.”

Fully signed by all of us in the original sent to Senator Maria Cantwell


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Explaining How The Italian Appeals Process Works And Why It Consumes So Much Time

Posted by Commissario Montalbano


Above is Vincenzo Carbone, Prime President of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation, addressing the Italian Supreme Court.

The appeal process in the Italian judicial system is disciplined by art. 593 et seq. of the Italian Code of Penal Procedure (CPP).

Both the defendant and the prosecution have the right to appeal a sentence, according to the principle of parity of the two parties in a judicial process. In 2006 a law passed by the Berlusconi government (known as “Pecorella Law”, from the name of his sponsor), intended to prohibit the right of appeal of the prosecutor, similarly to what happens in the US, however the Italian Constitutional Court struck down that law as unconstitutional since it is in violation of the parity of the two parties in the process, as explained above. As a result the CPP has been modified to reflect its original version.

It is to be noted however, that if only the defendant requests an appeal (and not the prosecution), then the appeal court can only confirm or decrease the sentence of the first trial, but not increase it.

Since Mignini has already said that they won’t appeal the case, Amanda and Raffaele are likely to see their jail sentence decreased by a few years, or at most confirmed, but not increased. Art. 575 of the Italian Penal Code however prescribes a minimum of 21 years for voluntary homicide.

The principle of “double jeopardy”, which is also guaranteed by Italian law and by the law of all members of the European Union as condition of membership, does not apply to the appeal trial, as such trial is interpreted as being a mere continuation of the same first trial. The double jeopardy principle will therefore apply only after the sentence is definitive, i.e. after the Supreme Court of Cassation decision. In other words if Amanda and Raffaele are found not guilty after all the appeals are exhausted, the Italian state will not be able to try them again in the future.

This characteristic is not unique to Italy, most European countries, in fact, apply the double jeopardy only after all appeals have exhausted, among these Germany and France, which also permit the appeal by the prosecution.

The competence of the appeal process is disciplined by art 594 of the CPP. Such article establishes that the Appeal Court of Assizes has jurisdiction over the sentences rendered by the Court of Assizes. The Court of Assizes is the court in Italy which tries serious crimes, that is those crimes for which the penal code provides a maximum punishment of at least 24 years.

In this case the Corte d’Assise d’Appello of Perugia will have jurisdiction over the case. However the defense may request a change of venue, if they can demonstrate just cause.

The terms of the request for appeal are disciplined by art. 595 of the CPP. Such article specifies, among other things, that the party requesting the appeal can do so within 15 days from the day the Sentence is communicated. If such sentence is particularly complex (as this case is) the judge can request that the “Motivazione della Sentenza”, often referred to in TJMK as the Judge’s Report, or be filed with the court within 90 days from the end of the trial. In this circumstance the terms to file an appeal is 45 days, instead of 15.

The Italian constitution requires that all sentences be accompanied by this Report, including appeal sentences. As we’ve seen with Judge Micheli’s Report on Rudy Guede’s trial, the Sentence Motivation Report must explain the entire rationale that the judges utilized to reach the decision. The lack of such report would invalidate the sentence.

Once one or more parties to the trial requests an appeal, within 15 days from the day such Motivation report is communicated, the competent court will then acquire all the documentation regarding the case. The court will then notifies all parties of the beginning of the hearing at least 20 days before the commencement day.

As mentioned above, the appeal process in Italy is a brand new trial where all evidence and testimony is analyzed in the same terms as the first trial. The standards are however higher. The president of the Appeal Court of Assizes is in fact a judge from the Supreme Court of Cassation (the members of the Supreme Court are actually called “Consiglieri”). The requisites for being one of the 6 jurors are also higher. They must be all holding a high school degree (in the first trial the minimum required is only a middle school education).



[Image Above: The Seat of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation, in the Hall of Justice in Rome, also known as “Il Palazzaccio” or the Ugly Palace].

The extraordinary broad appeal rights awarded by the Italian system are all part of the 1989 reform, which intended to add even more guarantees to the right of the accused. This has resulted in an incredible increase in pending cases in the overburdened Italian justice system. According to the latest report to Parliament by Justice Minister Angelo Alfano the pending cases in the Italian justice system at the end of 2006 amounted to nearly 9 million cases.

Over 5.4 million were civil cases, and over 3.3million criminal cases. Of these 3.3 million penal cases, over 1/3 were first trials, the rest were appeals. Compared to the rest of Europe Italy’s pending workload amounted to 3 times the one from France, over 6 times the one of Germany, and 5 times the one from Spain. The criminal cases pending in the first trial alone are 1.2 million, a figure twice as large as the one of Germany, Spain and England combined!

This situation, coupled with the fact that the number of Italian magistrates is about the same as other similar European countries, has resulted in an incredibly slow process. On average a criminal trial lasts 426 days in the first trial, and 730 days at the appeal trial, a duration much longer than any other EU country. The Perugia case was therefore faster than average, having lasted less than a year.

This situation is exacerbated by the broad appeal rights guaranteed also on the 2nd level of appeal, at the Supreme Court of Cassation. Like other supreme courts around the world, such court does not re-examine the entire body of evidence, but only ‘errores in iudicando’ and ‘errores in procedendo’ (errors in procedure or application of the law).

However, unlike its American or English counterparts, the Italian Supreme Court cannot refuse to review a case, and defendants have unlimited appeal rights to the Supreme Court of Cassation. They don’t even have to wait for the Appeal Court. You can in fact appeal to the Supreme Court directly after the first trial.

To give an idea of what this creates I’ll cite some figures. The US Supreme Court renders annually about 120 decisions. The Supreme Court in England about 75. The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation issues over 30,000 sentences every year!! No surprise then about the huge backlog, in spite of the fact that the Italian Supreme court consists of over 400 judges (called Consiglieri), divided into various sections (each of 5 consiglieri), all nominated by the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura (CSM), the Italian Magistrates’ self governing body explained in a previous post.

Besides the broad appeal rights granted by the Italian law, an ulterior incentive to appeal is given by the fact that Italy has a very high amendment rate during the appeal process. Approximately half of all sentences rendered in the first trial are amended during the appeal process, a percentage which is 3 times higher than France for example. The ones that are not amended often see a decrease in punishment.

No surprise therefore that Italians always appeal their sentences. And some analysts have even ventured to say that Italian appeal courts like to modify the sentences of the first trial just for the purpose of justifying their own existence.

Given these facts, coupled with the chronic lack of prison space, it shouldn’t be a surprise that in spite of the Cosa Nostra, the Camorra and N’drangheta (as the mafia is called in the various regions), Italy has maybe the absolute lowest prison population in the world in relationship to the total population.

Italy in fact has 66 inmates for every 1 million population, a figure matched only by Denmark, a country certainly not famous for their organized crime. By comparison, the US boasts a prison population of more than 750 inmates over 1 million inhabitants, a figure 12 times the one in Italy.

If Amanda and Raffaele really wanted to experience the thrill of committing a murder, Italy is definitely the place to do it, and get away with it!
 


[Image Above: Italian “Guardasigilli” (Justice Minister) Angelo Alfano]

Posted on 12/08/09 at 11:27 PM by Commissario MontalbanoClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe judiciaryTrials 2008 & 2009Appeals 2009-2015Guede appealsHellmann 2011+Italian system
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Monday, December 07, 2009

US Overreaction: State Department (Foreign Office) Rebuts Senator Cantwell’s Claims

Posted by Peter Quennell


If Senator Cantwell or her staff come by looking for something to convince them fast please read this.

The same people who set the hapless John Q Kelly up (he has never been heard from again since that post) seem to have set Senator Cantwell up too.

Now Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that her precipitate involvement in the case seems to be hitting a brick wall.

WASHINGTON, USA - The US government said Monday it had no signs that a court in Italy failed to follow the country’s laws when it found American Amanda Knox guilty of the murder of her British housemate.

However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will discuss the verdict with Senator Maria Cantwell, who said it raises ‘serious questions’ about the Italian justice system, Clinton’s spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

‘I don’t have any indications to the contrary,’ Kelly said when asked if Knox was treated fairly under Italian law. ‘We haven’t received any indications necessarily that Italian law was not followed.’

He added: ‘I do know that our embassy in Rome was very closely involved in this. They visited Amanda Knox. They have monitored the trial.’

Kelly said he preferred to limit comment as the legal process continues, recalling that Knox has the right to appeal in 45 days.

Posted on 12/07/09 at 08:24 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015The wider contextsSeattle contextN America contextExtradition issuesKnox-Mellas teamMore hoaxers
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Friday, December 04, 2009

The Rulings: Meredith’s Family At Their Hotel Waiting For Possible Call To The Court Tonght

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]





Posted on 12/04/09 at 03:47 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+
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The Rulings: Meredith’s Beloved Mom, Dad, Sister And Two Brothers At Perugia Airtport.

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]








Posted on 12/04/09 at 01:25 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+
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The Ruling Deliberations: Updates On Any New Developments Today Friday

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the main entrance of the court complex]

Update 1: After a brief hearing in the courtroom this morning the judges and lay judges commenced their deliberations on a ruling around mid-morning.

Update 2: The Croydon Guardian reports the departure of Meredith’s family from London for Rome and then Perugia.

The parents of murdered Coulsdon student, Meredith Kercher, are due to arrive in Italy for the verdict of her murder trial.

Arline and John Kercher flew to Perugia today to see the jury deliver its verdict on whether or not Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were involved in their daughter’s murder.

Update 3: The BBC has a brief simulation of the police finding Meredith in her room on the day.

Update 4: The Independent devotes a report exclusively to the Kercher family’s two-year ordeal.

Update 5: Today for the first time ever, Meredith’s family may get to meet face-to-face Raffaele Sollecito’s family and Amanda Knox’s family. During Guede’s trial in October 2008. Meredith’s family were in court, and Knox’s family apparently observed the courtroom from a hillside up above.

Update 6: A video of Amanda Knox making her final statement in Italian has been added to the post below on the wrapping-up of the summations yesterday.

Update 7: Sky News has just posted a written report and a video report.

Update 8: La Notizie is saying that the ruling, barring unforseen circumstances, should come tonight. On Perugia Murder File forum (link just below) they are saying that might not bode well for the defense. 

Update 9: Eight PM in Perugia now, and the judges’ deliberations on their rulings continue. Meredith’s family are waiting at their hotel now, as are Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s families. No further news leaking out. Everybody tense.

Update 10: Nine PM in Perugia and informal word from Perugia is that the rulings are expected tonight some time after midnight, maybe 4 or 5 hours away. Knox and Sollecito are right now back in their cells in Capanne prison.

Update 11: The AGI News Service  is reporting this below.

It has been now more than 8 hours since the Court of Assizes of Perugia began in closed session to reach the verdict against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Deliberating are the presiding judge, Giancarlo Massei, 55 years old, head of the criminal division of the court in Perugia, the judge Beatrice Christians, 52 years old, and 6 lay-judges, three men, 35 , 38 and 57 years… and as many women, 37 43, and 51 years, all residents in the area of jurisdiction of the court in Perugia. (the alternates were set free - ed.)

Posted on 12/04/09 at 07:30 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Germany’s Der Spiegel Posts An Analysis Of The Case

Posted by Peter Quennell


Please click above for Der Spiegel’s analysis in German

The case is being followed closely in Germany. Many Germans take vacations in Italy and they know the country well, and of course Rudy Guede was arrested there. Reporting is good, and TJMK see a number of hits daily from Germany.

With thanks to Has-Georg for the heads-up..

Posted on 12/01/09 at 08:49 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+News media & moviesMedia news
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Andrea Vogt Asks Some Useful Questions Concerning The Legal Process

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click here to read all of this well-researched report on the Seattle P-I website.

After presenting an overview of the system similar to those posted here by Nicki and Commisario Montalbano Andrea Vogt asks two experts on the system these questions.

Do jurors have to find Knox guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

Yes. The concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has long been a part of Italy’s justice system. It was formalized and passed into law in 2006.

Knox’s defense lawyer Luciano Ghirga said his team will remind jurors that, even after more than 40 hearings, everything is still in doubt.

The court’s ruling (which is not called a verdict in Italy) is made by an eight-member jury: six laymen and two professional judges. They will vote, and the majority rules. In the case of a 4-4 tie, acquittal overrules.

Could Amanda Knox have plea bargained?

Knox maintains her innocence.

However, while not completely analogous to plea bargaining, Italy does have a similar alternative to trial, also a part of the 1988 reforms. The alternative is not applicable for serious crimes, such as murder, punishable by more than five years in prison.

Suspects who cooperate fully with the police, however, may become eligible for a bundle of mitigating circumstances that would lower prison sentences. A judge may also choose to apply aggravating circumstances to increase a sentence.

Negotiation on the evidence—in which both sides agree what can be admitted—is also available when defendants choose a fast-track trial, as did Rudy Guede, sentenced to 30 years last year for his role in the case for which Knox is on trial. Guede is appealing his conviction.

Why does the figure of prosecutor seem so powerful in Italy?

The prosecutor is a powerful figure in Italy connected to the judiciary, not elected or appointed. While there is a career separation between judges and prosecutors, the qualifying examination and training are common, That has made judges and prosecutors close both culturally and professionally.

In the U.S., prosecutors are appointed in federal system and typically elected in the state system, hence it is common to hear cases referred to as The State vs. X.

In Italy, protections were put in place precisely to prevent the state from pursuing or persecuting, hence the independence of prosecutors.

As a result, prosecutors haven’t shied away from taking on politicians. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, for example, faces a series of criminal procedures in the courts.

That independence , some argue, is precisely the protection needed as a check against government power, and without it, corruption could not be exposed, said Maffei. But others argue that prosecutors wage their own political battles. using their independence to attack political opponents.

Another major difference: the prosecutor supervises the investigation rather than letting police handle it.

Further, he or she also has no discretion over the decision to seek charges. There is a constitutional principle of mandatory prosecution. If there is sufficient evidence to build a case against a defendant, a prosecutor must seek an indictment.

In the U.S. prosecutors can and do drop cases for such reasons as workload or because the defendant has agreed to help with a criminal investigation.

Was it legal for Knox not to have an attorney present when police questioned her?

Yes and No.

Amanda Knox’s interrogation falls into a gray area of the law because she came voluntarily to the police station and was being interviewed in the beginning as someone who could become be a witness, not a suspect.

Then, in the course of questioning by police in November 2007, she blamed Patrick Lumumba for the slaying, and said she was present at the scene of the crime. Lumumba was innocent. Knox has since denied she knows anything about the slaying and says she wasn’t in the flat the night Kercher was killed. Limumba is suing Knox for slander.

The law is very clear: A suspect must not be interrogated without a lawyer.

Once a suspect, an interrogation must be interrupted, the suspect read his or her rights to remain silent and be provided a lawyer. Italian law does not allow waiver of one’s right to counsel. Even if a suspect doesn’t want a lawyer, the authorities are required to appoint one.

If a suspect’s freedom of movement is hindered, the interrogation must be videotaped.

In Knox’s case, a video or audio recording of the entire police interrogation (authorities have denied that any such recordings exist) could identify when police began treating Knox as a suspect and what procedures were followed.

In fact, Italy’s Supreme Court has already said that some of her early statements may not be used against her because they were made without an attorney present.

 

Posted on 11/30/09 at 08:38 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+Cassation 2013Florence 2014+News media & moviesGreat reportingItalian system
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rudy Guede Appeal: Yes Guede Testimony Does Sound Far From The Full Truth

Posted by Tiziano



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1) La Stampa runs essentially the same story as Nicki translated and posted jut below, but with this addition.

In court this morning there was also the psychiatrist Alessandro Meluzzi, who together with the criminologist Vincenzo Mastronardi, provided expert testimony for the defence on the behaviour of the accused after the crime.

Guede fled and was arrested in Germany. This was behaviour of “flight and avoidance”, according to Meluzzi, linked to “traumatic stress syndrome” which struck him after the crime.


2) Corriere della Sera also has essentially the same story but with these additions.

The defence of the young man intends to ask for the partial reopening of the trial debate to hear new witnesses and to hear from others already heard by the prosecution, but who - according to the lawyers - could give a different version from the initial one.

The lawyers also are putting their hopes on the possibility of a new expert report on the towels found next to the English student’s lifeless body, which Guede claims to have used in an effort to help Meredith, staunching the wound to her neck.

The aim of the defence is to show that it was not Rudy to kill Meredith that evening, because as the young man has always claimed, he was at the house at Via della Pergola on the night between November 1st and 2nd, 2007, but when the crime happened he was in the bathroom. 

Once he came out, he clashed with Mez’ assassin for a moment.  He tried to help the girl but then, overcome with fear, he took flight. 

To specifically evaluate this thesis, the defence of the Ivorian has had an expert report done by the criminologist Vincenzo Mastronardi and the psychiatrist Alessandro Merluzzi, who were both in court. 

Speaking to journalists before the hearing began, Merluzzi explained how Rudy, after the facts, was overcome by “post traumatic stress syndrome” in which a ” gentle, weak but mild personality like Rudy’s was able to put into action the flight behaviour, which certainly did nothing for his credibility but which we believe is completely understandable and explained from the psychological point of view, clinical psychology and psycho-dynamics.” 

Merluzzi explained, “We believe that our evaluation will give the judges an element of evaluation which is new and different not only in the facts which have emerged from the supporting proceedings, but also on the reasons and motivations which incited Rudy.”



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Posted on 11/18/09 at 09:31 AM by TizianoClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Appeals 2009-2015Guede appeals
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Next-Day Press: A Good Profile Of Guede, Now Starting His 10,950 Days

Posted by Peter Quennell



By Nick Squires in Perugia

9:09AM GMT 29 Oct 2008

Within days of Meredith Kercher’s half-naked body being found in Perugia last November, key suspect Rudy Hermann Guede, 21, fled the Umbrian hill town and jumped on a train to Germany.

His flight across the Alps sparked an international manhunt. Italian police wanted him in connection with Miss Kercher’s brutal killing, having found his bloody hand print on a pillow at the scene of the crime.

During a desperate few days on the run, he slept rough in empty train carriages and on a barge on the Rhine.

At one point he was contacted on Facebook by journalists, including the Daily Telegraph’s correspondent, and engaged in an online chat in which he protested his innocence.

On November 20, nearly three weeks after the murder, he was stopped on a Frankfurt-bound train near Mainz after a conductor found him without a ticket.

He was arrested, held for two weeks in a German prison and extradited back to Italy to face charges of murder and aggravated sexual assault.

It was all so different from the life of opportunity his immigrant father had envisaged when he left his native Ivory Coast in the early 1990s with five-year-old Rudy in tow.

Leaving his wife behind, Pacome Roger Guede settled in Perugia, Umbria’s provincial capital, and found work as a building site labourer.

He put down roots in the university town but after a decade decided to return to West Africa, leaving the teenage Rudy in the care of an Italian family, who looked after him as their own son.

For all their good intentions, he developed into a troubled youth, skipping school, dabbling in drugs and dropping out of courses in accountancy and hotel management.

He lived for a time in Milan and proudly posted on his Facebook site a photograph taken of him with Giorgio Armani in the fashion guru’s bar.

His adoptive father, wealthy local entrepreneur Paolo Caporali, 63, told the Italian national newspaper La Repubblica: “It is pointless to hide the fact that for me, Rudy was a disappointment. I hoped to help him build a future. I thought I had given him an opportunity. But as the months passed I understood I was mistaken, that my hopes were all met with delusion.

“He said he was at school, but he skipped class. He preferred to spend the day in front of the television or with video games. He had little wish to study, and even less to work.”

Rudy was thrown out – cut loose from those who cared for him for the second time in his life - and drifted into a rootless existence of part-time work, petty crime and drug dealing.

In the evenings and at weekends he mingled with the thousands of students who are drawn to Perugia each year to learn Italian at the town’s University for Foreigners.

He played basketball on the concrete court just up the hill from the house which Miss Kercher shared with Miss Knox and two other students, becoming friendly with the people living in a basement flat.

Through them he met Miss Kercher in a bar at a Halloween party, the night before the murder.

Four days before the party, he was in Milan and broke into a nursery school so that he could spend the night there.

He was armed with an 11-inch kitchen knife, telling police he had to “protect” himself against thieves.

In a 25-page handwritten note he gave to police after his arrest, Guede said he regretted leaving Miss Kercher to die from her injuries. “Had I been a man, I would have saved Meredith”. Instead, he fled the scene and did not call the emergency services.

He described the scene he came across in chilling terms. “When I closed my eyes, I could only see red. I have never seen so much blood. All of that blood on her beautiful face.”

And the inevitable bluster about appealing. Good luck on that one, Rudy.

Posted on 10/29/08 at 09:53 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedTrials 2008 & 2009Appeals 2009-2015Guede appealsThe wider contextsPerugia contextItalian contextRudy Guede
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