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Monday, April 06, 2015

Columbia University Journalism School Blasts Fabricated Story - But What Of Hundreds In Our Case?

Posted by Peter Quennell


1. The Damage From False Media Reports

Once a false meme is put out there it can do immense harm and be almost impossible to turn around.

Public relations houses try to propagate memes, and if they are false that is sleazy and unethical but usually does not contravene criminal law.

But serious media spreading such memes have a very strong moral mandate and at times a legal mandate to check, double-check, and check again.

Often the real damage extends way beyond immediate victims and witnesses and families and friends. It can chill and distort right across law enforcement and the justice system and deeply affect paranoia-prone minds.

2. The Rolling Stone Article Report

What was misreported in the fortnightly Rolling Stone is described chronologically today by Rolling Stone itself here.

Essentially, an experienced reporter with a valid story did not go the extra mile to check if her highly inflammatory flagship claim was true.

There seems no question now that it was not.

The first report that the story did not smell right was posted by a respected reporter here. A week later, the Washington Post reported serious discrepancies here and here.

A few days later Rolling Stone itself cautiously began to ‘fess up. The story was indeed untrue. Neither the reporter nor the editor had checked, double-checked, and checked again.

Its owner Jann Renner contracted with the Columbia University Graduate Journalism School to publish an in-depth report.  The supposed victim was increasingly contradicted by her own friends and shown to have changed stories a lot. On 23 March local police reported that their investigation turned up no sign of a crime.

Yesterday the journalism school published their conclusions on “What Went Wrong” and they will make available and summarise the full version of their report on April 8th.

Damage has rippled on and on not least to women who have a huge interest in being taken seriously when they have a complaint.

The University of Virgina is in full damage control mode (that campus is about one hour’s drive southwest of Washington). Who could now be charged or sued is discussed here in the Washington Post. Many reputations have come out looking worse.

3. Relevance To Meredith’s Case?

On 27 June 2011 (right in the middle of the Hellmann appeal) Rolling Stone published one of the least accurate and most damaging and defamatory of literally hundreds of inaccurate reports.

Nathaniel Rich reported only in English, of course, from safely across the Atlantic, and there was zero due diligence by the editor at Rolling Stone (the same editor as today). His false claims were very widely quoted elsewhere. See here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

Rolling Stone inflamed public opinion through false claims.  It added to the perception that an extradition battle could drop two governments in the soup. That may have impacted the Supreme Court.

Yes, this case of mass misreporting seems every bit as bad. 

Posted on 04/06/15 at 04:59 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contextsN America contextReporting, media, moviesV bad reporting
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Did The State Department Really Offer Assurances To Amanda Knox She Never Would Be Extradited?

Posted by Ergon



US Sec of State Kerry (foreground, on Edward Snowden) really needs extraditions to work

1. The Current Italy/US Extradition Treaty

As repeatedly explained here by posting lawyers the Italy/US treaty is deliberately written to exclude any politics.

If either nation has arrived at a guilty verdict of someone currently in the other nation by following its own laws, then the other nation deliberately has no legal option but to extradite them to serve their term.

So far neither nation has ever refused to do what the treaty says and so far politics has never intervened. That helps both nations in pursuing other extradition cases around the world.

2. Claims By An Anonymous Source

“Will Amanda Knox Be Dragged Back to Italy in Murder Case?” This was by Nina Burleigh in a cover story in Newsweek on March 19, 2015 quoting an anonymous source.

A State Department source tells Newsweek that diplomats in both Italy and the U.S. expect an extradition request to be denied: “I don’t think either Italy or the U.S. wants a major burr under our saddle in terms of relationships between our countries, and this would be that, if the Italians pushed it.” If they do, the source adds, there “is not any way” the U.S. will arrest Knox, nor will it have her declared a fugitive.

The elected Italian government in Rome is separate from the judiciary, and traditionally the two branches do not have warm relations. “I know the Italian government was rolling its eyes” over the prospect of the case reaching this phase, the State Department source says, adding that Rome faces “a real political problem” if the judiciary requests extradition. The American diplomat predicts the Italian court won’t ask to extradite.

It seems that ever since Amanda Knox was wrongfully acquitted by the Hellmann appeals court of Perugia in 2011 we have been inundated with unsourced reports that “the United States would never extradite Amanda Knox.

Going back several years to the Daily Mail, Guardian, The Express and various American media, they all seemed to be reading from the same script:

  • She hadn’t received a fair trial.

  • American public opinion would ‘never allow her to be sent back’.

  • The Secretary of State would quietly prevail upon his counterpart in Italy to not request extradition.

And, as the final appeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito came up to the last stretch it seemed that these same hacks were repeating the same talking points, even though much has changed since 2011.

These were the basic points, reported over and over in the main stream media till it almost seemed like a guarantee. So I have been looking for the last three years to verify the truth of that. And, who made that promise, if any were made? These were the basic parameters of my search, and I had to tune out the background noise of ‘double jeopardy’ and ‘dueling extradition experts’.

Then I had to look for the ‘unnamed source’ quoted in all the news reports.

These possibilities came up: 

  • WA US Senator Maria Cantwell spoke to her colleague Sen. John Kerry of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who spoke to his brother in law David Thorne, the former US Ambassador to Rome, who passed on a quiet message to the Italian Foreign minister. But would they ever speak on or off the record to reporters or like it very much if it was going to be bruited about?

  • Mid-level Friends Of Amanda Knox like Anne Bremner and Judge Heavey had received vague assurances from Senator Cantwell; somehow extrapolated as iron clad guarantee that Knox would never be extradited, never mind there has not been any precedent I can find that would apply to a similar case like this.

  • Someone in the Department of Justice and/ or State is feeding them shite.

  • The FOA are making it all up. That last was my favourite, given that they are led around by people like Steve Moore, Bruce Fischer, and J. Michael Scadron.


3. My Search For The Truth

This has been an interesting journey, and as always, things seem to just come together at the last moment. It has helped that I have been watching diplomatic activity up-close all my life.

My father was in the Pakistani Foreign Service stationed in London, so, shortly after I was born, lived in the UK from age 0-3, then with the Pakistan Embassy in Tokyo from age 3-8. We were a cosmopolitan group of embassy brats going to St. Mary’s International School. My friends were American, Iranian, Turk, Indian, East German, Canadian, New Zealand, points all over. Their parents were all diplomats and I made lifelong friends. My father could have received a posting as assistant to the ambassador to Washington D.C. after that but fate prevailed as he’d been stationed out 8 years and had to be rotated back to Pakistan.

Since that time I kept in touch with my friends and also developed this passion for International Relations and Geopolitics. Travelling to the US and other countries but also meeting over the internet, made many more friends at various levels of the State Department. Saw the changes there as respected career diplomats got replaced by interest groups and major donors to political parties. Such only went to choice postings, of course, but not second or third world countries, so I had many interesting discussions with them over the years.

The Wikileaks cables were a revelation as Embassy intercepts showed the thousand different ways diplomacy led to but also tried to prevent, war. I’d been reading them ever since they first came out so started searching for links to secret discussions with Amb. Thorne. Couldn’t find anything except what already was reported, so reporter Andrea Vogt’s FOI request find was a goldmine:

NEWLY RELEASED EMBASSY CABLES SHED LIGHT ON STATE DEPT HANDLING OF AMANDA KNOX CASE

By Andrea Vogt

FEBRUARY 13 “Newly released state department documents show the U.S. Embassy in Rome declared the Amanda Knox matter “Case Closed” in a cable to Washington just days after the American’s clamorous 2011 acquittal.  The memo reveals wishful thinking on the part of some U.S. diplomats, who were only too eager to see the thorny case come to a clean close.”

In Update March 23, 2015 posted today, Andrea Vogt says this:

In a 2011 Italian embassy cable released as part of several Freedom of Information Act requests I’ve filed on this case (first published Oct 11, 2011) [US] diplomats in Italy mistakenly thought Knox’s acquittal in 2011 would bring to a close this complex and divisive international case. Italy’s Court of Cassation would prove them wrong, overturning her Perugia acquittal and ordering a second appeal in a different venue (Florence) which ended last year with a guilty verdict.

So is a political fix being attempted or already in? See my Conclusion, Part II to be posted tonight.

Posted on 03/23/15 at 11:08 AM by Ergon. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Hoaxes KnoxKnox book hoaxesOther main hoaxersKnox-Mellas teamMore of the sameOther legal processesExtradition issuesReporting, media, moviesV bad reporting
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rogue Juror Genny Ballerini, Translated: She Misled, Oggi Misled More, UK Media Misled Even More

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Interpretations Of The Interview

In reading the translation by Miriram these points may be worth bearing in mind. They are largely based on advice from Yummi in Italy.

Genny Ballerini comes across to Italians as someone not especially educated who is more than a bit lost on the law and the case. She herself admits she may be naive and had not followed Meredith’s case. She was surprised to end up on the jury for Knox’s and Sollecito’s “trial”. She voices no concern for Meredith or her family.

A former factory worker, she had been unemployed for some months, and she appreciated the small fee the court paid her for jury duty and apparently also a fee that Oggi paid her for the interview. She had to be persuaded by Oggi to do the interview, and she seems unaware that it may have been illegal.

The lead judge and side judge, the professionals, remained neutral and impartial and promoted no particular outcome. There were no arguments among the jury. She seems to be drawn toward Sollecito without any very logical reason. (Hmmm. Sollecito had addressed her and the others directly and he was standing right in front of her looking at her.)

She repeatedly refers to a “trial” and to previous “trials” for example “when the trial started” and “I formed my beliefs studying the three files of the previous trials. Not only. During the trial I kept a diary for every hearing”. She never once uses the word for “appeal” or wonders why there were no prosecution exhibits and witnesses.

The Oggi headline is misleading. Almost of her doubts are described in the past tense and she admits she voiced them to the other jurors early in the “trial” because things were not clear to her. She had folders of evidence to poke though; these may have related only to the appeal points the defenses had filed.

At one point she says “we discussed to reach an agreement” and at another point she says she voted against the verdict. It is not clear in what order, and she may finally have joined in a total consensus. She seems to connect the punishment to the supposed amount of evidence rather than the barbaric nature of the attack.

Please see Part 3 below for how the UK media has managed to report this even more confusingly.

2. The New Translation By Miriam

Miriam has carefully translated the original interview in Oggi for us.

“Not Enough Evidence For Such A Heavy Sentence”

On January 30th of last year, the appeal Court of Florence sentenced Amanda Knox to 28 years and 6 months of imprisonment and Raffaele Sollecito to 25 years for the murder of Meredith Kercher. 12 hours of deliberation were needed for the eight judges - two professional judges (the President Alessandro Nencini and Doctor Liliana Cicerchia)  and six Lay Judges - to wrap up that decision.  Among the lay judges was Genny Ballarini, a 48 year old,  worker from Prato. After long negotiations and courteous refusals, on the eve of the decision by Corte di Cassazione, she accepted to speak to Oggi.

Twelve hours, half a day: a lifetime for who judges and for who is judged. Without entering into detail, as not to violate the secrets of the “camera del consiglio”, what can you tell us?

We went through all the documents, drew the conclusions, in order to arrive at an agreement.

And then?

I certainly had many doubts about the guilt of the two young people. I wasn’t an upholder the defendant’s innocence, but I thought and said to the others: “The evidence we have is not enough to inflict all these years of prison. Where is the evidence to send them to prison? Maybe I was naïve, but before pronouncing such a heavy sentence I wanted to see clearly. There was not enough, according to me, to justify a such a heavy sentence: questionable proof, odd testimony and uncertain evidence”. 

And of the motive, what ideas did you arrive at?

“That of the inadequate cleaning of the house? Nonsense. You do not massacre a girl because she complained about a bit of a smell in the bathroom. Anyway, at the end of every hearing we would sit down and discuss, we would reconstruct the facts on the basis of the timing, the cell phones, the statements of the accused that indicated how Amanda and Raffaele could be at the scene of the crime. I would ask “ But is it enough to convict them?” Against Raffaele, beyond the hypothesis, remained the discussed trace on Meredith’s bra clasp. How could you not have doubts? “What was the motive that could have pushed Raffaele to participate in the massacre of that poor girl”?  I asked.

The prosecutor in the first trial described Sollecito as “depraved”, putting him inside of the erotic game ending in a tragedy and he was depraved, argued the prosecutor, because he was a fanatic of Manga, the Japanese comics that mix eroticism and violence. 

“But if he is a murderer you need to prove it!” I noted. “It is not enough to read comics or watch cartoons. And then it was the same prosecutors that reminded that Amanda was not a tranquil young lady because she once received a fine for nocturnal racket. It seemed to be, excuse me, more nonsense”.

One of the controversial points is that in that small room in which Meredith was murdered, there was not even one trace of Knox. How do you explain that?

“They claimed that Knox had removed her traces by cleaning. Who knows! Today when I think about it again I have even more doubts”, she said. When the trial started the atmosphere in the “camera del consiglio” was accusatory. Maybe I am naïve, but I had doubts. I thought: what we have in our hands it’s not enough to send them to prison for all those years.  May be Amanda was there, but she didn’t participate. I listened to Raffaele and he seem to me a fine young man, he seemed to me sincere… At the beginning I had no opinion: I have never liked crime news and I had read just a bit on the case. I formed my beliefs studying the three files of the previous trials. Not only. During the trial I kept a diary for every hearing. I wrote down everything that was happening and at the end I would add my impressions.

How did you interact with the Court’s President?

He and the side Judge did not express an opinion till the end. During all those months I never managed to understand what they thought about the case.

So they did not influenced the Lay Judges?

Absolutely not. They would explain only the things that we could not understand. I understood what they thought only when the verdict was decided, but my doubts remained. At a certain point, I stressed that Rudy Guede left on the crime scene more traces than Raffaele and Amanda and yet he was given 16 years instead of 25. They explained to me that he was judged through a fast track trial, that provides a reduction of the sentence. 

And what do you think of Guede?

I think that he gave three different versions of the facts and he never said that Amanda and Raffaele were with him. How can you take into consideration Rudy to establish the guilt of the other two?

What did you think when the verdict was decided?

Right away I said that I did not agree and it was noted. On the increasing on the sentence even other Lay Judges did not agree, but it was explained to us that it could not be any different.

Did you ever fight among yourselves?

No, never.

You said that you do not like crime news and the speculations on blood related crimes? Why than did you accept to became part of the Lay Judges of a trial so complicated and a such media driven event?

I was drawn. I could only refuse only for health reasons. I accepted even for economic reasons since at that time I was on unemployment check. On the other hand they had told me that in that session, from July to September, usually the “Corte d’Assise” has scheduled trials of less importance. I would have never imagined that we were going to end up with Meredith’s murder.

You implied to economic reasons. You worked seven months from July to January with burdensome hearings. How much did you received?   

In all 1.500 Euro: 200 Euro a month! I received them from the Department of Justice seven months after the conclusion of the trial. Not much, but needed: I spent them for a sensitive surgery.

3. How The UK Press Reported This

The Mirror and Daily Mail cherrypick the most sensational claims, make them sound current rather than nearly 18 months old,  and dont publish the whole interview.

In effect they leave out almost all of the context in Par 1 above, dont explain why Italians are unmoved, and omit the essential point that this was NOT a new trial and the jury did NOT hear the case presented in depth with exhibits and witnesses as the trial jury did.

Posted on 03/22/15 at 11:38 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Appeals 2009-2015Florence 2014+Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingItalian justice hoaxNo-evidence hoax
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Rogue Juror Genny Ballerini: A Sign Oggi Sees Its Conviction For Parroting Knox As Inevitable?

Posted by Peter Quennell



Umberto Brindani, the editor of the weekly Italian magazine Oggi

1. Explaining The Broad Context

A rogue juror has mischaracterized the outcome of the Nencini appeal in Oggi.

Very odd, as the consequence of this very unusual action is that she could be charged with vilipendio, with an illegal action to poison public opinion to lean upon a court process to affect its outcome. To help explain what may be going on here, think of Italy as two factions.

  • A very large faction which is comparatively very law-abiding and very forgiving and which greatly admires Italian law enforcement and judges and prosecutors.

  • A relatively tiny faction consisting of such unsavory elements as corrupt politicians and businessmen, the mafias, rogue masons, satanists (yes there are some) and others who, by any means fair or foul, seek unfair breaks for themselves and their associates.

The Perugia courts, being close to Rome, and the Florence courts, being very large and very competently staffed, have particular roles in matters of national-level justice. Anyone who manages to throw sand in the wheels of those court systems may have won one for some in the small and unsavory faction at the cost of the very large pro-justice faction.

MP Rocco Girlanda is a great example of how this works. The member from Gubbio once of Berlusconi’s party used his parliamentary privilege to “check Knox’s conditions” in Capanne dozens of times. Apparently even the Knox-Mellases found Girlanda’s advances pretty creepy, and someone from the family is said to have headed for Italy in a hurry.

Girlanda not only wrote a creepy book about Knox and took a creepy position on panels of the Italian-American Society in Rome which he once headed. He also tried to monkey with Meredith’s case by petitioning the President, and by attempting to reduce the national Department Of Justice budget. But some of his closest political colleagues from Gubbio are on trial now and may entangle him, and see Andrea Vogt’s tweet the other day that Florence prosecutors are investigating Girlanda, for corruption at a national level.

The Sollecitos also incline toward murky incitement outside the courtroom. Think of the bag of cash the witness Aviello said was offered. Think of conversations caught on tape discussing the capturing of politicians who might lean on the Perugia justice officials. For this Vanessa lost her job and the Sollecitos may still face charges.

The Sollecitos seem to have made a beeline in 2008 for Giulia Bongiorno, a longtime defender of some of those in the smaller faction, for her political clout, although some of her actions in handling the case, such as shrieking at Judge Nencini with a knife in her hand (the same judge who will execute Cassations decisions) seem daft in the extreme.

The Sollecitos may - may - now be a party to some strange media developments in Italy, such as the fawning Porta a Porta show of a few days ago. 

2. The Court Pressure Oggi Faces

The editor of Oggi Umberto Brindani seems to take malicious glee in Oggi’s reports to its weekly readership that put Italian justice in a bad light, perhaps to bring Italian justice down a peg and win one for some in the small faction.

Now although no other Italian media would risk repeating in Italian the lurid conspiracy theories of the Knox PR in English in the United States, Oggi did choose to go there - and was slapped with charges as a result.

Our posts here and here explain how Brindani’s taunting has bitten him in the tail. Oggi quoted defamatory and inaccurate claims from Knox’s book which are a magnet for diffamazione and vilipendio charges, as Brindani found out.

If Brindani goes down against the Bergamo prosecutor for this, as seem inevitable, both the Oggi house of cards and the Knox-Mellas-Sollecito house of cards are put at risk. Oggi may face fines and civil damages for a lot of Euros. More especially, Oggi’s credibility and future would take a knock.

3. Enter The Rogue Juror

This Daily Mail report is in fact 100% quoting the latest edition of Oggi. (Gee, thanks, Daily Mail; for obvious reasons Oggi try hard never to put their own scurrilous stories online.)

Essentially Genny Ballerini is complaining that it was an unfair “trial” and she didnt see a case being made or a motive explained.

On the face of it, this makes absolutely zero sense.

What happened in Florence just over a year ago was an APPEAL by RS and AK, not a new trial, and it was tightly focused on a couple of points the defenses wanted to quibble about (unsuccessfully, as it happened).

The prosecution presented next to nothing of its own case as already presented in great detail in 2009. There were no similar summations, no recreations of the attack on Meredith, no witnesses of its own examined in court, and almost no exhibits.

And guess what? Genny Ballerini didnt even set eyes on Amanda Knox or Rudy Guede!!

Working under strict instructions from Cassation, Judge Nencini guided his lay judges to examine and vote on ONLY the points the defense had tried to prove to their advantage.  They all knew, or should have known, even this rogue juror Genny Ballerini, that any attempt to act as a second trial jury on the lines of the Hellmann appeal jury would be illegal, and was not why they were sitting there.

Unless she is seriously daffy the surprise surfacing of Genny Ballerini in Oggi of all places only makes sense in the light of what Part 1 above explained. Genny Ballerini seems to be being used to muddy the waters to the hoped-for advantage of some in the smaller faction. 

4. The Guts Of Ballerini’s Claims  

Our main poster Chimera checked out Genny Ballerini’s individual claims, and at that level also shows that Genny Ballerini is either out to lunch or working as a tool for Oggi and by extension some in the small faction.

(1) The juror did not ‘‘help convict’’ Knox/Sollecito at the 2013/2014 Florence appeal.  The court merely confirmed the trial verdict of Giancarlo Massei (2009).

(2) ‘‘She slams the prosecution’s case, citing questionable proof, flimsy evidence, and bizarre testimony’‘.  This was only a defence appeal, which is a HUGE detail to omit.

When the defense files an appeal, essentially they are saying there is something wrong with the prosecution’s case as presented back at trial.  The prosecution PROVED their case, they don’t have to again.  So yes, the burden is on the defense.

If she does not know this (and these comments may be deliberately misquoted), then Ms. Ballerini doesn’t understand the purpose of an appeal or her role in it.

(3) Knox was 20 at the time of the murder, not 19.

(4) The article says they served 4 years before being freed on appeal, but it leaves out the fact that they had been convicted at trial.  While technically correct, it implies something that is not the case.

(5) The article says that Knox rebuilt her life finding love with Colin Sutherland, and working as a journalist.  While true, they were only recent developments (late 2014).  Knox had been released 3 years prior to that.

(6) The appeal court reinstated the guilty verdict?  Wrong.  Again, the March 2013 Cassation ruling annulled Hellmann’s ruling, but it left Massei’s trial conviction intact. The appeal court actually confirmed it.

In other words, AK and RS weren’t forced back to Florence for a new trial.  They themselves chose to redo their own appeal, rather than accept the 26 and 25 year sentences.  Big difference.

(7) ‘‘The evidence is not there to inflict all these years in prison’‘?  Frightening, if she actually made these statements.  The appeals court is ONLY to look at errors, not to retry the case.  Did she not read her job description?

(8) Ms. Ballerini says of Sollecito: What possible motive could he have for participating in that murder? 

A better question would be: why he did refuse Judge Nencini’s invitation to testify?  Come on, he just did a freaking book tour.  And Ms. Ballerini was there in court ... did she not have an urge to ask him questions?

(9) ‘‘She insisted that the 2 professional judges had not tried to sway the jury.’’  Can you think of why that may have done so? Perhaps back in late 2011?

Part of me thinks this story is a plant, her words and conclusions sound almost verbatim from the FOAK crap that has been coming out for years.

If it is true (a big if) it is frightening that someone so limited could be on a appeal jury.  Either she does not understand the purpose of an appeal, or she is being used as a sockpuppet.


5. Present Conclusions

This aint over. Investigators will already be checking out Genny Ballerini to see what makes her tick and decide if she should face charges. We will keep you posted.


Genny Ballerini is the lay-judge on the left

Posted on 03/20/15 at 06:14 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Appeals 2009-2015Florence 2014+Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingItalian justice hoaxNo-evidence hoax
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Paul Ciolino Hit With A $40 Million Suit For Real Railroad Job From Hell

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Paul Ciolino And Meredith’s Case

Investigator Paul Ciolino provides expertise for the CBS Network’s 48 Hours crime unit.

The staffing of that unit are all obsessively supportive of Amanda Knox and all unquestioningly channel the PR. Despite claims such as “16 months of investigation” they seem to have never settled down to do reality checks or due diligence of their own.

They include the talking head Peter Van Sant (from Seattle), producers Doug Longhini, Sara Ely Hulse, and Joe Halderman (fired for attempted blackmail) and the serial fabricator Doug Preston who with major CBS help has perpetrated various damaging hoaxes

In late 2008 Paul Ciolino helped to get the Perugia reporting by CBS off to a very unpromising start.

As Kermit showed Ciolino made a huge mistake in a gotcha attempt upon witness Nara Capezzali.

She had reported to the police that she heard footsteps on gravel by the house and directly below her window on the top deck of the parking facility and then clanging footsteps on the steel stairs a few yards to her right. She also reported seeing several figures on the run.

She would not talk with Ciolino, who got the locations very wrong and also ignored altogether what Madame Nara saw. His replication of the footsteps was by runners down on the bitumin street, which is about three times as far away as Madame Nara heard some steps, with a surface nothing like the gravel drive by the house. Then Ciolino reported that he couldnt hear anything. Hardly a surprise.

In 2009 Ciolino was the main speaker at the infamous Knox fundraiser at Salty’s in West Seattle. His presentation was shrill even by their standards. He was apparently the first ever to describe the case as a “railroad job from hell”.

That inspired this extended rebuttal by Kermit.

Included in Ciolino’s presentation at Salty’s was an angry demonizing rant about Dr Mignini’s sanity. This rant was widely reported, not least in Italy.

In Perugia Knox’s own legal team protested the PR thrust. The BBC interviewed Dr Mignini and in a report on their website concluded the precise opposite to Ciolino’s claim.

In April 2009 CBS 48 Hours with biased takes by Ciolino and Preston aired American Girl, Italian Nightmare, the most misleading major US TV report as of that point, and Peter Van Sant aired his own misleading take.

Later still in 2009 CBS 48 Hours Producer Joe Halderman was arrested and charged with blackmail. Halderman had to resign after pleading guilty and is long gone.

In 2011 CBS 48 Hours aired the so-called untold story of Knox. CBS 48 Hours also aired numerous other short segments (you can find them on YouTube) simply regurgitating the tales by Knox and her PR gang whole, absent any checking of facts.

CBS attempt no balance, nobody with a deep knowledge of the case ever appears. No Italians are ever interviewed. PR shills repetitively appear without being introduced as such. Almost all hard facts are simply left out; the lies by omission are huge.

CBS has done zero translation of major documents, or even reported on them in summary when released. Peter Van Sant and Doug Longhini have posted several dozen of the nastiest and least truthful analyses of the case on the CBS website. A really huge effort, simply channeling the PR.

Although quieter now, Paul Ciolino didnt quite dry up on the case. After the Nencini appeal in Florence he was quoted as saying:

Amanda is a political football, and not so much a murder suspect….They know she didn’t do it. Anyone with half a brain knows she and Raffaele weren’t involved in this thing. This is about national pride, about showing who’s boss in Italy. They are sending the message that, ‘You cannot bigfoot us. You can’t outspend us. We’re going to show you who runs this country and it’s not some little American twit from Seattle.

Italy really awoke to the Knox PR and the biased reporting of CBS etc only late in 2011 in conjunction with the highly evident hijacking of the Hellmann appeal and moreso in 2012 with the defamatory Sollecito book.

2. The $40 Million Lawsuit Against Ciolino And Protess

The news video above and this Chicago Sun-Times report explain the main thrust of the $40 million lawsuit which Ciolino along with Northwestern University’s journalism school and a former professor now faces.

Prosecutors in 2014 in releasing an innocent man after 15 years in prison blamed that group for false evidence and a false confession and for letting the real murderer walk free. Here thanks to our main poster Jools is the lawsuit document itself, an amazing read if you need more proof of how sleazy Amanda Knox’s help can be.

Here are the lawsuit’s opening paragraphs.

1. In 1999, Plaintiff Alstory Simon was wrongfully incarcerated for a double-murder he did not commit. Arrested at the age of 48, Simon spent more than 15 years in prison before he was ultimately exonerated on October 30, 2014.

2. The horrific injustice that befell Simon occurred when Defendants, Northwestern University Professor David Protess, Northwestern University private investigator Paul Ciolino, and attorney Jack Rimland, conspired to frame Simon for the murders in order to secure the release of the real killer, Anthony Porter.

3. As part of a Northwestern University Investigative Journalism class he taught in 1998, Protess instructed his students to investigate Porter’s case and develop evidence of Porter’s innocence, rather than to search for the truth. During that investigation, Northwestern, through its employees and/or agents Protess and Ciolino, intentionally manufactured false witness statements against Simon and then used the fabricated evidence, along with terrifying threats and other illegal and deceitful tactics, to coerce a knowingly false confession from Simon.

CBS is mentioned half a dozen times. It helped in the framing with nationally broadcast segments. In paragraph 85 we are told CBS got an exclusive. What a real surprise THAT is…  The lawsuit document paints Ciolino’s behavior as dishonest and ruthless and possibly criminal as well.

Protess, Ciolino and Northwestern Medill students repeatedly attempted to get the eyewitness to change his testimony, with Protess offering him $250,000 and 20% in “upfront” money for his rights in a book and movie deal;

Protess also told the eyewitness that he could have sex with either of two Northwestern Medill students if he would change his testimony.

Quoted in the lawsuit is this about Ciolino. It is actually written by Protess.

On March 15, Charles McCraney’s appearance was anxiously awaited at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kankakee, Illinois. Paul Ciolino’s hair was slicked back. The private investigator wore a sharkskin suit and white-on-white shirt with gold cuff links, his tie secured by an ornate pin. Sitting opposite him were David Protess and Rene Brown, dressed down for the occasion…  Protess introduced himself [to McCraney] and then Brown. ‘And this is Jerry Bruckheimer, the Hollywood producer I was telling you about,’ said Protess as Ciolino extended his hand….

In paragraph 94 Ciolino’s alleged threatening of Simon into a confession is described as follows. .

Ciolino and a fellow private investigator “bull rushed” (in the words of Ciolino) Simon in his home with their guns drawn; 

Ciolino told Simon that he was a police officer;

Ciolino showed Simon a videotape of a man, who is now known to be an actor, falsely claiming that he saw Simon commit the murders;

Ciolino threatened Simon that they could do things the “easy way or the hard way” and mentioned that he would hate to see Simon have an accident;

Ciolino showed Simon what Ciolino described as a “devastating” five minute CBS-TV broadcast of Protess and Inez claiming Simon committed the murders;

Ciolino falsely told Simon that he was facing the death penalty and that the Chicago police were on their way to Simon’s house to arrest him;

Ciolino told Simon he could avoid the death penalty by providing a statement that he shot the victims in self defense but that Simon had to act quickly because Ciolino could no longer help him once the police arrived;

Ciolino promised Simon that he would be provided a free lawyer if he agreed to give a statement;

Ciolino promised Simon that Protess would ensure he received a short prison sentence if he agreed to give a statement;

Ciolino promised Simon would receive large sums of money from book and movie deals about the case if he agreed to give a statement.

Believing he had no other viable option, and acting under extreme duress and the influence of narcotics, Simon was knowingly and intentionally coerced into providing a false statement implicating himself in the murders.

It is this supposedly forced confession that above all cost Simon 15 years.

There is so much more. This may be a very tough lawsuit for Ciolino to beat as well as a career-killer. Northwestern University is no friend of Ciolino and may choose to go hard against him.

They do have a favorable track record.  The students of the journalism school had for years been questionably used by Protess’s arm of Barry Sheck’s Innocence Project to gather defense evidence slanted to getting supposed innocent prisoners released.

Protess was fired for this by the university several years ago as hangers-on tried to defend him.

The Innocence Project again… This is all too reminiscent of Greg Hampikian in Boise, Idaho, who corrupted Hellmann’s DNA consultants to try to frame people, and misrepresented hard evidence to try to allow guilty people to walk free.

And all broadcast by your local CBS station. 

Posted on 02/26/15 at 12:35 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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.
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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Another Highly Misleading Associated Press Report Already Appears on 700 Media Websites

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



{Above: the AP headline. At bottom: the AP reporter, Colleen Barry; will she correct the report]


Read here what Colleen Barry of the Associated Press (image below) falsely claims.

How exactly does a second proven DNA trace of Amanda Knox on the knife prove that Meredith’s proven DNA on the knife wasn’t there?  The correct facts on the three DNA samples were posted here.

Nothing - nothing - that was said yesterday in court affected that. Two samples of Knox and one sample of Meredith on the knife are confirmed. All three are there.

In fact, Judge Nencini leaned hard on the bumbling Amanda Knox lawyer Dalla Vedova to make him stop. Dalla Vedova was repeatedly trying to trap the Carabinieri experts Dr Barni and Dr Berti into saying that Dr Stefanoni did something wrong in her test of Meredith’s DNA.  Judge Nencini had not even instructed the Carabinieri labs to look into that.

Dalla Vedova and Colleen Barry of the AP have apparently forgotten that defense observers were there at the Scientific Police labs test and testified that they saw Dr Stefanoni do nothing wrong. Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Giuesppe Novelli, Professor Francesca Torricelli, Luciano Garofano, Elizabeth Johnson and Greg Hampikian all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was indeed found on the blade of the knife..

Judge Nencini clearly believes that firm evidence of Meredith’s DNA is there in front of his court, and that Dr Stefanoni and Judge Massei got it right. Meredith’s DNA really was proven to be on the knife. He would not allow a clumsy red-herring argument from Dalla Vedova which lacked the slightest bit of proof.

Unlike Reuters, the Associated Press is not a public company. It issues no stock.

It is instead a co-operative jointly owned by about 1000 media groups, and its reports are carried on up to 1000 sites. It is financially not very well off, and many of its media owners are in the same boat. The AP and many of its owners are increasingly cutting corners to save a buck. Increasingly they are under-researching, failing to check, and so their viewers and their readers are ending up misled.

Does financial strain excuse the AP for hyperbole and seriously wrong claims, for reprinting of false public relations handouts and false lawyer claims as hard fact? As it has too often done before?

Would it not be better when facts are in doubt and justice on the line to not report at all?


{Below: Colleen Barry of AP Germany was the writer of the misleading piece]

Posted on 11/07/13 at 06:15 PM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Very Appropriate Casting Of Doug Preston As The Fredo Corleone Wannabe

Posted by Kermit




Preston as Fredo

In the image above, from the first Godfather movie, Michael’s brother Fredo watches his father Don Corleone get into a Mafioso tussle.

Fredo, after fumbling, juggling, and dropping his revolver without firing a single shot, proves himself useless and incapable of achieving the basic objective of taking care of his kindred souls.

In the same manner, as Douglas Preston fumbles about protecting the interests of his “Family” (and taking care of his own income), he shows the public that the sci-fi writer can’t load his own pen with Truth - or even Believable Lies.

Whenever I see an article published by the sci-fi thriller novelist and pro-Amanda Knox “point-of-view journalist” (his own words) concerning either the murder of Meredith Kercher or the Monster of Florence case, I can’t avoid being reminded of “Fredo” the bumbling brother who lets his family down.

Whoever set Douglas Preston up for his histrionic defense of Amanda Knox, or his attacks against the personal and professional integrity of Deputy Prosecutor General Giuliano Mignini, or his defense of his hapless friend Mario Spezi’s curious “investigative” techniques in uncovering “dirt” on the decades old “Monster of Florence” case should have found a much better soldado than Preston.

Preston’s histrionic pamphlet

Douglas Preston has recently posted an article on The Slate website, promoting a pamphlet that in the end he had to self-publish through Kindle since no one else would publish it (he had told me at the end of last year in an unsolicited email that he was hoping The New Yorker or The Atlantic would print it as an article).

I seriously thought of writing this TJMK post as a self-published Kindle article that could be downloaded for 99 cents, but I refrained from doing so for two reasons:

    1) I wanted it to get more exposure than Preston’s nickel-and-diming effort has

    2) I will never want to earn any blood money off the backs of crime victims, even if it’s only the grand total of 99 cents from the Kindle copy my mother buys

Preston’s The Slate article and Pamphlet are basically an attempt to undermine the PMF and TJMK websites which have taken a pro-victim posture in the online discussion concerning the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007.

As such he stumbles and fumbles with the Truth in promoting his “Family” causes, with as much dexterity and morality as the low-grade Mafioso “Fredo” from The Godfather, unable to load his writer’s gun properly, in a comic show of futility.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #1: Tell Favorable, Out-of-Date news from the Past

Novelist Preston starts telling his unconvincing twisted half-truths before he even finishes the title and subtitle of The Slate promotional article:

Burn Her at the Stake - Amanda Knox was acquitted of murder. Why do so many people still hate her so much? (Source: The Slate)

That title has as much truth as Preston writing another self-promotional article today announcing to the world “I turned 21 years old” … it may be true that years ago in the past he was 21 years old, but that is hardly a current truth for readers.

While it may be the case that accused murderer Amanda Knox was acquitted of that charge in 2011, it is now an old truth, after the Supreme Court of Italy in March chastised the appeals verdict of Judge Hellman (now forcibly retired from the judiciary) and annulled that acquittal, putting her status back to the conclusion of her initial murder trial.

(Later in the article Preston makes a brief mention that she will be retried, barely associated with the headline message he sends to the world in the title to his article. Knox’s current situation is the polar opposite of being acquitted; rather, she is still fully charged with murdering Meredith.)

Preston, the public wants you to start broadcasting the truth, the current, real truth, in messages that are for once free of highly misleading insinuations.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #2: Use Weak Statistics To Support Insinuations

Preston does a number of Google searches and becomes shocked, shocked that he gets hundreds of thousands of hits with combinations like “Amanda Knox” and “pervert”, or “Amanda Knox” and “slut”.

Preston knows full well, as do the readers of The Slate (and the handful of persons who have read the long version of The Slate article, paying 99 cents for the 10 minute read), that you always get hundreds of thousands or millions of Google hits for just about any Google search, however shocking the search terms may be.

Preston says “The extreme viciousness of the anti-Amanda commentariage is startling”.

Let’s do a fast test, and do the same Google searches that Preston did, replacing “Amanda Knox” with “Hillary Clinton”. Here are the results:


Here are two public figures: Knox on the left has been in the news for 6 years … she would probably be a forgotten figure, just another semi-anonymous American abroad with problems if it hadn’t been thanks to the expensive corporate PR campaign that her own family has waged. That PR campaign has propelled the number of overall appearances of her name, and has pushed Internet commenters of all types to opine on her.

Hillary Clinton on the right has been in the news for 3 decades or so, as reflected in the proportionally higher number of Google hits on her name. In spite of not being accused of sexual assault and murder, she still receives a relatively high number of sexual/sexist descriptors.

Knox is not in the news because she has worked on public health reform, or because she has been a Secretary of State, or because she lived in the White House with her husband. Knox is accused of sexual assault and murder. She is also a convicted felon, having served 3 years in an Italian prison (no further appeals) for falsely accusing her boss of murdering Meredith, in Knox’s presence.

Knox outdoes Hillary in percentage of hits for “bitch” and “slut”, but Hillary betters her for “pervert”. Who cares? In Internet, any public person can get Google hits for just about any descriptor, especially if you are accused of a sexual crime.

Let’s extend our test a moment, and do an additional Google search: “Douglas Preston” “slut” –“Knox”  . By eliminating references to “Knox” we eliminate any testing contamination from Amanda’s Perugia murder charges and the ensuing online discussion and reporting. Preston shouldn’t be surprised to learn that compared to Amanda Knox’s 380,000 “slut” hits, Preston has 73,400 of his own “slut” hits. Not bad. Of course, all of these results require analysis, which is exactly what Preston doesn’t provide in his pamphlet.

Here’s one of Preston’s “slut” Google returns, his own sci-fi novel texts:

“The town slut. She was in this cell just last month, wasn’t she, on a drunk and disorderly. Like mother, like daughter. Guess the apple never falls far from the tree. Or in your case, the shit never falls far from the asshole … the murderer might be local. Maybe a devil worshiper. You fit the bill, with that fucked-up purple hair and black eye makeup. Is that what you do at night? Go out and do mumbo-jumbo? … Bitch,’ Brad muttered … ‘no man would ever want to screw you, you freak.’” …  (Poor tormented Preston; that’s from his book Still Life with Crows that he curiously dedicated to Mario Spezi.)


Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #3:  Tell Contrasting Stories About Personal Suffering at the Hands of An Abusive Prosecutor

In an interview in The Atlantic in 2006, well before Meredith’s murder, Douglas Preston was asked about Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini:

Question: “Judge Giuliano Mignini, the public prosecutor who interrogated you, is another important player in the case. Was Mignini just doing his job? How much weight do you give to the idea that Mignini had it in for Spezi and you?”

Preston: “…. As for Mignini himself, I think he’s a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge. I don’t think that he’s a bad man …. I think he was doing his job the best he could. I think in many ways he was badly misled by Giuttari, the police officer who was running the investigation.”

Source: The Atlantic

At that point in time, the Bad Guy for Spezi and Preston had been and still was Police super-inspector Michele Giuttari. But that didn’t seem to sell. They needed something to spice up their tales about the Monster of Florence, which weren’t achieving whatever objective they may have set themselves. The breakthrough for Preston and Spezi came with Meredith’s murder. Preston today with his Pamphlet admits to being recruited early on by the pro-Amanda Knox movement just after Meredith’s murder:

A few days after Amanda Knox was arrested for murder, I got a call from a man named Tom Wright … a well-known filmmaker … (who) knew her family … (he) begged (Spezi and me) for help …. I felt like I had to become involved.” (Source: Preston’s Pamphlet on Kindle)



[Image above: Thomas Wright’s “famous” screenplay skills seem to rival only Preston’s writing skills that we’ve seen.]

Preston has never admitted this early recruitment contact before. In his Afterword to the English-language version of their tale The Monster of Florence, Preston writes about a different call that he got just after Meredith’s murder:

A few days after the crime, I got a call from Niccolò Capponi … ‘My dear Douglas … I bet you a bottle of ’97 Chianti Classico that before the week is out someone will connect this poor girl’s murder with Monster of Florence’”.

Capponi, whose relation with Spezi and Preston deserves its own tome, couldn’t have been more astute. The Friends of Amanda movement didn’t need anyone other than Douglas Preston to crow out to the world that Mignini wasn’t actually a benign, “sincere”, “honest” and “incorruptible judge”  (Preston’s own prior words up until then). Instead, Preston rewrote his own storyboard and retroactively turned the Mignini of early 2006 into one really nasty guy:

The police then picked me up on the streets of Florence and hauled me in before Mignini, where he interrogated me for hours, with no attorney or interpreter present. He demanded I confess to a string of crimes, including being an accessory to murder, and when I refused, he indicted me for perjury and obstruction of justice and suggested I leave the country.”  (Source: Preston’s Pamphlet, on Kindle)

Preston has changed his tune about how his Perugian questioning in 2006 was arranged. In his earlier book from five years ago he described a different ambience that pleasant day on his way to Perugia, with a notable absence of jackboots “hauling him in”, originally stating that it was actually a family-outing:

…. “The next day I drove to Perugia with Christine and our two children, passing the shores of Lake Trasimeno on the way. Perugia, a beautiful and ancient city, occupies an irregular rocky hill in the upper Tiber valley ... Christine planned to sightsee with the kids and have lunch while I was interrogated”. (Source: Preston and Spezi, The Monster of Florence)

Driving down to Perugia with your wife and family contrasts with being “hauled in” after being picked up in the streets of Florence, yet Preston, it seems, adapts the truth and insinuations to the required needs and circumstances.

By the way, Mr. Preston, what murder did Prosecutor Mignini accuse you of being an accessory to?  You keep repeating it, and we’re still waiting to hear. What murder?

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #4:  Use illogical deduction and dodgy Internet sources for your facts

Preston makes some amazing logic relationships in his pseudo-scholarly study of pro-victim Internet voices. When describing a book that the pro-Knox forces seem to find against their interests, Preston says:

“While the book included no footnotes or bibliography, it appears to have used information sourced from anonymous bloggers — identifiable as such because it was incorrect.”  (Source: Preston’s 99 cent pamphlet)

I don’t think that the reasonable public out there requires any analysis of this fatally flawed “if-then” logic. Preston-Fredo needs to go back to school, either to grade school to do basic maths, or to the Daisy Hill School of Influencing People and Spreading Convincing Propaganda.

This is an important lesson for Preston, who often relies on the daisy-chaining, circular, internal feeding of “facts” amongst pro-Knox promoters. Preston himself, like a post-modern journalistic alchemist, turns wishful opinion into “fact”, using as raw material the opinion posts of “Friends of Amanda” anonymous bloggers who use various identities.

Let’s take a look at three of the most active and factually flawed pro-Knox bloggers who people like Preston have helped turn into Knox-Urban-Legends, dragging along their pro-Knox fictions.

The photo below comes from a FOA-Fest last summer on Vashon Island where Amanda could thank all her limited number of close supporters for their help in springing her from prison. On the left is Bruce Fisher, or Bruce Fischer (depending on the day). One of his most hilarious affirmations which he vehemently defended until it was impossible to continue to do so, was that a box of Dixan detergent that he spotted in a photo of Sollecito’s sink would explain why Sollecito’s cutlery may have smelled of bleach … except that Dixan is clothes washing detergent!


The hilariousness of Fisher/Fischer’s Internet postings can also take on sinister results when passed on to the hands of either an inexperienced or ethically challenged journalist or a “point-of-view” journalist. Preston refers to a post by Fischer as if it were fact when he publishes in his 99 cent Kindle pamphlet that a prominent pro-victim blogger “had a restraining order placed against him” for a non-existent harassment of a ballet dancer.

Why doesn’t Preston also say that the web-site where this post was placed by Fisher/Fischer quickly removed it when it received the corresponding complaint? Why didn’t Preston ask Fisher for any proof of the “restraining order”? Why didn’t he cross check his facts/falsehoods?

Why should a best-selling sci-fi novelist stoop so low? Money? Anger? Envy?

Another of Preston’s anonymous or multi-alias bloggers whom he has quoted or protected is Francesco (“Frank”) Sfarzo / Sforca / Sforza. Take your pick of the last name as he has used them all in public documents.

“Frank’s” supposed beating at the hands of a squad of goon cops beholden to Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini was curiously covered by the Committee to Protect Journalists in prominent website posts and a public letter to the President of Italy, with no effort whatsoever to investigate the claims or speak with the local Italian authorities.

CPJ’s reputation remains tarnished as they refuse to this day to recognize their massive screw up. Shame on Joel Simon, director of the CPJ! Is there no governance in that organization?

Should a financial contributor to CPJ such as Preston also be permitted to be a figure in the anti-Italian judicial lobbying that CPJ has consciously or unconsciously ended up participating in?

Preston’s role in this laughable attempt to frame Mignini is only made all the more tragic by the fact that “Frank’s” arrest in Italy (which Mignini had nothing to do with) was related to a complaint of domestic violence.

He left Italy, and – staying at Amanda’s family home in Seattle for a couple of months, then travelling to Canada, Hawaii, then back to a shared residence in Seattle - racked up an impressive set of arrests and police interviews related to further domestic violence complaints during his travels.

He currently has an arrest warrant issued, and Preston has suddenly stopped talking about his and Spezi’s prized asset who was supposed to be the living demonstration of the Bad Mignini.


[Image above: Preston’s pet blogger “Frank” is not at all a victim of violence, but rather to the contrary, has an arrest warrant out to face charges for instigating it]

Amongst “Frank’s” contribution to the “point-of-view” journalism supporting Amanda Knox has been his visit to Piazza Grimana, the square near the cottage crime-scene, where “Frank” took a photo that supposedly demonstrated that Knox and Sollecito could not have monitored the entrance to the cottage from there on the night of the crime, since you can’t see the cottage gate according to “Frank”.


Any person who goes to Piazza Grimana in Perugia knows perfectly well that if you step just a couple of metres to the left, you have a perfect view of the cottage gate, barely hidden in “Frank’s” photo behind the corner of the house on the right.

Yet another case of the danger of Preston using pro-Knox bloggers and friends as sources of unreliable information is that of the G-Man, ex-FBI agent and ex-college security guy, Steve Moore.

In the sake of honesty, of the three pro-Knox bloggers referred to in this post (we could go on forever about the menagerie of Knox Internet personalities), Moore is the least anonymous, although it should be said that his “G-Man” aura he promotes is perhaps self-deprecating humour (think of an adult guy using a nickname like “GI Joe”).

G-Man has developed an elaborate tale of how he became interested in the case and began to study detailed documentation and images to come to the forensic conclusion in his living room that the Italian investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder was flawed and that Amanda Knox was innocent. (Moore’s experience before he left the FBI as far as I’m aware is escorting suspects to court, sniper training, and flying helicopters … I don’t believe he has worked as a forensic specialist.)

Like in the case of Bruce Fisher/Fischer, there are semi-comical aspects to G-Man’s appearances on the Internet supporting Amanda Knox. This happens when you get someone who is not a forensics specialist looking at photos and making conclusions:


Unfortunately, Steve Moore was analyzing an image that was not “Amanda and Meredith’s sink”! This example of errors in G-Man’s contributions to FOA finding Amanda innocent is far from being the only one.

In Preston’s Pamphlet, he presents the anecdote of a pro-victim Internet commenter who made what Preston claims is a “threatening” comment concerning the quality of G-Man Steve Moore’s daughter’s song lyrics. In the light of honesty and telling all the truth, Preston should have stated that after Mom and Dad Moore, the next most prolific pro-Knox poster of the Moore family is their daughter, who has made posts on both pro-Knox and pro-victim sites, on Twitter and on Facebook, including posts with coarse language.

She seems to be an adult, but if she isn’t, then Mom and Dad Moore should start acting like better parents, being aware of their offspring’s internet activity, putting a filter on their home router and telling her to not make posts on sites that deal with a sexual assault and murder case. Nor should they allow their daughter to leave her own pages open for comments and or to post videos about the murder. And if their daughter is an adult, then Preston shouldn’t insinuate to his few readers otherwise.

By the way, the “threatening” post was a return of a phrase used by a pro-Knox poster that “Steve Moore plays for keeps” after a playful criticism of the quality of lyrics written by Miss Moore.

This is a lesson to Douglas Preston: any journalist, even that special lobbyist category of “point-of-view journalist” such as himself, is only as credible as his sources.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #5:  Claim That You Have Already Made Any Needed Explanations

Preston says in his Slate article: “Like a fool I waded into the (Internet) fray, defending Amanda and myself. I attacked my attackers and countered their criticisms.”

(Why does Preston have to “defend” Amanda? I thought he was now presenting himself as a journalist. Oh, I forgot, he wrote that he now considers himself a “point-of-view journalist” – his terminology - which sounds a lot like “lobbyist”.)

Actually, Preston has never countered any serious criticism. I ask readers to take a fast look at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ comment page concerning the CPJ’s fiasco accusing Prosecutor Mignini of directing a vicious, violent attack on “Frank” the blogger by a squad of rogue police beholden to the prosecutor.

Preston went wacko when he saw the Internet world laughing out loud at the CPJ’s allegations, and when he saw that the Internet provided different proofs to show that the now fugitive blogger was at best making up his story, or had other persons close to the action making it up for him.

Take a look at Preston’s emotional replies to CPJ readers’ comments.


[Image above: on the left we see CPJ’s director Joel Simon, who accused Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini of sending a police squad to beat up “Frank” the blogger (second from left). “Frank” is a family friend of the Knox-Mellas families, taking care of much of their logistics in Perugia, setting up photo shoots, etc. “Frank” stayed at the Mellas home (Chris Mellas, second from right) for a couple of months during his arrest-ridden trip out of Italy, when his domestic violence trial started up there. On the right, Preston, the glue that links “Frank” to the CPJ.]

On the web pages of CPJ, we see that not only does Preston not reply to the contradictions and lies that the Internet world points out in his words and actions, but he also puts conditions on doing so.

The best “countering” of criticism that Preston provides online is pretty pathetic. He says that the demonstrated errors in his and the CPJ’s texts “are distortions, falsehoods, and crackpot opinion presented as settled fact.”  Period. No explanations of why he says one thing in one place and something completely different in another. No transparency concerning his documented relationship with the CPJ. No honesty concerning the real, sad domestic violence case that “Frank” has had before him, brought on by his own family in Italy (in addition to his U.S.A. problems).

We’re still waiting for any real clarifications of Preston’s serious problems with the truth, the whole truth, the current truth and nothing but the truth.

I personally don’t need to see more verbiage from Preston, but I would have thought that he would be concerned about the public’s view of his credibility. It will probably help future “True Story” book sales if he were to clear up the confusion he causes about both the Monster of Florence case and aspects of the investigation and trials related to the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #6:  Write Any Incorrect Gibberish That Doesn’t Get Error-Checked If You Think that Unknowledgeable People Will Swallow Your Errors

Preston once crowed concerning the quality of his texts:

Before publication, it was minutely vetted by no less than five attorneys in two languages in Italy, the U.K., and the United States. Since publication, it has been read by millions of people in many European languages. In all that time, and with all the millions who have read the book, not one significant error of fact came to light. Mario Spezi and I stand by every single assertion of fact in that book today just as strongly as we did when it was first published three years ago.”  (Source: Preston on CPJ)

I once suggested to Preston that he ask his five error-checking lawyers for his money back, after the multiple mistakes and falsehoods of The Monster of Florence came to light and it became apparent that it should be reclassified to “Fiction”.

It seems that both Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox used the same error-checking lawyers in their memoirs, and that once again Preston and Spezi have employed them for their underwhelming, unknown tome in German Der Engel Mit Den Eisaugen (The Angel With Icy Eyes). No other market seems to have wanted to hear more from the Dynamic Duo of murder “point-of-view journalism”. As you can expect, their book about the murder of Meredith Kercher is not about the victim, but about the star, from their point of view, Amanda Knox.

I believe that never in the history of “True Story” lobbying, has a book taken so little time to rack up so many factual errors.


[Image above: Preston and Spezi are sure bets for winning The Novelists’ Error Marathon, especially given the finish line they’ve set for themselves. (By the way, I will state the obvious here, that this satirical image is the only photo that has been “photoshopped” in this TJMK post)]

In the Forward to their limited market book, Preston kicks off the marathon, asserting first of all that Perugia is surrounded by … the hills of Tuscany (“In der schoenen alten Stadt Perugia, umgeben von del Huegeln der Toskana”). Where’s a smiley when you need one? To all readers of this post, I ask you that we keep the secret, and let Preston and Spezi figure out by themselves what’s wrong with their statement. I guess the Duo were in a hurry to get the book to market.

Slightly further down the same first page, Preston falsely asserts that the Prosecutor Office (“Staatanwaltschaft”), understood to be Mignini, called a triumphant press conference where “case closed” was victoriously declared to the microphones of the Press.

Of course, neither Mignini nor any other prosecutor held such a press conference, nor was he present at any other press conferences at that time. My only explanation for this error by Preston is that he is so obsessed to assign just any supposed bad behavior to Mignini that he sees visions of the prosecutor doing wrong and turns those visions into “True Story” words.

The problem with that explanation of “visions” is that it is how Amanda Knox justified her false accusation against Patrick Lumumba for murdering Meredith, and that false accusation got her three years in the Capanne Prison Spa.

Just another 4 lines below that, Preston claims that within those immediate days after the arrests, Prosecutor Mignini put forward a scenario of Satanic sexual rites for describing the human dynamics on the night of the crime (“das eine amerikanische Studentin namens Amanda Knox mit zwei anderen Personen in den Mord verwickelt sei, den die Staatsanwalt als eine Art sexuelles-satanisches Ritual unter Drogeneinfluss bezeichnete”).

Again, Preston got confused. Or, maybe he wrote exactly what he was wanting to write, even if it was wrong.

Let’s not leave Mario Spezi out of the Novelists’ Error Marathon. Spezi tries to keep up with Preston in the home stretch, in Chapter 1: when emphasizing how isolated he feels that Perugia is from the outside world, he describes Umbria as “the only Italian region that does not border with the sea”. Spezi must have had a football scholarship at school, because it seems that he forgot about Lombardia, Piemonte, Val d’Aosta and Trentino & South Tirol. These regions account for about a quarter of Italy’s population and include large cities such as Milan and Turin.

We’ve barely started looking at their Icy Eyes book, but we’ll leave a more exhaustive review for the future.

Maybe Preston and Spezi hope that the few German readers of the book (who may have received their copies as free review copies) won’t know or care. It’s possible that they won’t even finish the book.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #7:  Apply Your Own Words to Others in Order to Distract from the Central Issue

Preston claims in The Slate article about pro-victim Internet posters: “Almost all the nasty comments about (Knox) follow a pattern. Even though she did nothing to them, they are all demanding her punishment.”

Personally, I don’t “demand Knox’s punishment”. Preston and the rest of FOA know that by now. What the pro-victim Internet posters want is for the Italian Justice system to be left to do its job, without any outside interference by a corporate, multimillion dollar public relations campaign, or – if we get to the point where Italy asks for Knox’s extradition – non-juridical or non-treaty political interventions to interrupt this normal administrative procedure.

Of course, those persons who are found guilty of sexually attacking and murdering Meredith should get the punishment that the Italian legal system foresees in such cases.

The pro-Knox camp has been outraged that Rudy Guede may be released from prison as early as 2014, insinuating that he has struck a deal to frame Knox. Any honest and informed opiner on this case would know that Rudy has only followed the well established legal and penitentiary procedures in Italy that apply to all convicts, and had Knox followed the fasttrack trial as he did, she also could have been looking at early freedom.

If the pro-Knox camp is so outraged that Guede may get free in 2014, I would suggest that they lobby that sentence reduction procedures be changed so that murder convicts serve their whole prison sentence. Somehow, I don’t think that the pro-Knox camp will undertake such lobbying.

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #8:  Don’t be transparent or precise

Preston describes in his Pamphlet how in 2000 he moved to Italy with his family and soon after became fascinated with the Monster of Florence serial killings case and teamed up with journalist Mario Spezi to investigate the case and write a book.

“Giuliano Mignini did not like our investigation”, he states as the start of a series of supposed abuses they suffered at the hands of the prosecutor.

Maybe Preston should state that after moving to Italy in 2000, he didn’t meet Spezi until 2001, and up until 2004, over the course of three years, it seems he drank a lot of coffee with Spezi, drove to a couple of the decades old Monster crime sites in the country roads around Florence, spoke to the mother of one of the victims, kept a scrap book of what the real, active reporters on the case were doing … and not much more.

Only after almost four years following his arrival in Italy, does it seem that Preston’s active “investigation” suddenly started and kicked into high gear in January of 2004 when Spezi’s friend Francesco Calamandrei, the pharmacist of San Casciano, was drawn into the Monster of Florence investigation. Spezi woke up on the Monster case, did an interview with Calamandrei, and got it published in La Nazione within 24 hours on 23 January 2013. Without mentioning that he was a friend of Calamandrei.


It should be noted that the prosecutor who ordered this “wake-up call” for Spezi wasn’t Prosecutor Mignini from Perugia, but rather Prosecutor Paolo Canessa from Florence, the central prosecutor for the Monster of Florence case.


Preston’s rewriting of history and intertwining fiction and half-truths related to the Monster of Florence case and fiction and half-truths related to Meredith Kercher’s murder in Perugia has brought him time and time again to present Mignini as the key figure in the Monster of Florence case:

Mignini theorised that this satanic cult consisted of powerful people – noblemen, pharmacists, journalists and freemasons – who ordered the Monster killings because they needed female body parts to use as the blasphemous wafer in their black masses. Putting himself in charge of the investigation, Mignini became so obsessed that he crossed the line of legality, wiretapping journalists and conducting illegal investigations of newspapers. (Source: The Guardian)

(It should be said that Preston really should clean up his old message, and tell readers that any and all abuse of office accusations against Mignini were thrown out: he has neither been found, nor now even been accused of any wrongdoing in relation to the Monster of Florence case - quite the opposite, the rogue Florentine prosecutor who initiated the cancelled proceedings against Mignini may have some questions to answer).

Again, Preston’s own words belie his transformation of Prosecutor Mignini. Remember that before Meredith’s murder, Preston’s Bad Guy with satanic theories wasn’t Mignini, but Police Inspector Michele Giuttari.

You can imagine that had Mignini not been the prosecutor of Meredith’s murder case, but Giuttari had been involved in the police investigation into Meredith’s murder, that Preston and Spezi could have saved their whole effort in demonizing Mignini, because they were already halfway there with Giuttari.


Why did Spezi and Preston suddenly get on the case and start sculpting their Monster of Florence tale in early 2004 following Calamandrei getting caught up in the police investigation? I would love to know.

Why did they apply a pre-existing Monster of Florence theory developed by English fiction writer Magdalen Nabb many years before?

Nabb was referred to as “Ethel”, a Belgian writer, in the Italian version of Spezi and Preston’s tale, while Nabb was still alive.  Preston simply eliminated Nabb completely by the time they translated and published the tale in English, after Nabb’s death. In an eerie and weird manner, some of the years-old Nabb-Spezi, Master-Apprentice conversations in the Italian version of MoF seem to be transformed into current Spezi-Preston Master-Apprentice conversations in the English version of their “True Story” tale, almost as if they took on her personality.

I guess they weren’t too worried about presenting as their own, current “investigation”, ideas and theories (correct or not) that had been floating around for a decade and developed by other – now unacknowledged - much better writers.


[Image above: In Preston’s and Spezi’s English language book The Monster of Perugia they morphed English author Magdalen Nabb’s Carabinieri contacts, as well as Nabb’s theories and conversations concerning the MoF into their own, with neither direct nor indirect recognition of Nabb’s existence, nor her work done nearly 10 years earlier. Maybe they felt that since she had passed away, the world wouldn’t notice their intellectual theft.]

Preston’s Weird “Truths” and Fumbling Propaganda – Technique #9:  Use corporate media as a means to legitimize false claims

The CPJ’s false and unverified accusation against Mignini for supposedly sending a goon squad to beat up the Perugian blogger is exactly the sort of feed that the Friends of Amanda and the Gogerty&Marriott corporate PR campaigns needed. These groups repeated the invented injustice wherever they could within the ongoing campaign.

That’s where we find a link between the PR campaign and the “mainstream” American media and showmen. If you Google “Doug Longhini” and go to the CBS News site associated with him, you’re not quite sure at first glance if he’s an ethical traditional journalist, a “point-of-view” journalist, a CBS producer, or an external businessman. What is clear is that it seems that most of whatever it is that he does at CBS is dedicated to Amanda Knox and, in second place, in general the crime in Perugia.

However, when you start reading some of his articles or news reports, like the one below, you realize that he’s not a traditional journalist who checks his facts and tries to get all angles on a news story.


I used to be impressed with the effort that went into the 48 Hours type of investigative programs. Not any more. Describing “Frank” Sforca/Sforza/Sfarzo as an “independent journalist” when this pro-Knox blogger acted as the logistics manager for the Knox-Mellas clan in Perugia, including organizing photo shoots for the daughters, stayed with the Knox-Mellas family a couple of months in Seattle, and was the beneficiary of ongoing funding from pro-Knox circles even after he was a no-show for his latest court session last December in Seattle, is stretching the definition of “independent”.

This Longhini article almost reads as if Douglas Preston had written it …  I would have hoped that Longhini might have made some reference to his sources for his description of “Frank” being handcuffed and beaten, or that Longhini would have looked into the true reports of “Frank” being arrested, not on orders of Mignini, but simply because he bit a police officer who was responding to a domestic violence complaint.

Doug Preston is no stranger to Longhini’s CBS 48 Hours pro-Knox shows, having appeared together with another shared acquaintance, a certain Paul Ciolino. Paul’s role in the Knox CBS shows was supposed to be the implacable investigator who knows the truth that the Italian authorities want to hide.

However, Ciolino’s on-screen antics for many viewers are in detriment to the argument he tries to make.

For example, what serious television detective in the world, not speaking the local language, would go calling at the door of unsuspecting murder witnesses at nighttime, vehemently exhorting them to reply to questions? Paul did:


Where does this leave the state of modern megamedia journalism in America? It has been transformed into entertainment, into a vaudeville show. The confirmation comes in Paul Ciolino’s own self-advertising:


The only thing missing is Liza Minnelli singing “Cabaret” in her black stockings.

Back in America, Preston’s friend Ciolino smears the good name of Signora Nara Capezzali, the elderly lady who he tried to interview under the cloak of darkness (if he really needed to interview her, couldn’t he have arranged to meet her through prior arrangement, during the daytime?):


After describing Prosecutor Mignini as a “convicted felon”, Paul Ciolino speaks of Signora Capezzali at the 1h42’47” mark of a Seattle University pro-Knox forum on 4 April 2011:  “The crazy woman (Capezzali) who had ... I don’t think she ... did she ever testify? They never did bring her in because she is crazy.”  (Source: Seattle University FOA panel video.)  Ciolino’s speech was notable if only for the almost complete absence of any truths.

In fact, yes, Signora Capezzali did testify in court in Knox’s and Sollecito’s murder trial, two years earlier in March 2009 (Source ABC News ).  It’s not necessary to add that in spite of Ciolino’s vaudeville show affirmations, witness Signora Capezzali is not crazy.

My Concluding Suggestions

1. To Joel Simon, the director of the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Rather than doing false posts that are never retracted or corrected about benign regional Italian prosecutors in Italy, the CPJ should realize that there is a much, much greater, real and true threat to journalists and journalism due to the transformation of the profession in America into a concentration of commercial enterprises with links to lobbying groups, who use vaudeville-style “entertainers” to wake up murder witnesses in the dark of night and then publicly call them “crazy”.

Mr. Simon, really, it’s time for you to implement some governance in your organization. Here are some common sense suggestions that I humbly submit:

    1) Don’t allow your financial benefactors to be part of the cases that you take special interest in, except with independent review of your analysis and claims.

    2) If you’re a journalism organization, follow basic journalistic ethics by checking your facts and contrasting allegations, especially when you are making claims that seriously affect the reputations of persons.

    3) When you realize that you have made a terrible mistake and have falsely accused someone of sending a goon squad to beat up someone else, then be man enough to admit it and correct your false accusation. Start now and apologise to Prosecutor Mignini for the slanderous gift you made to Amanda Knox PR campaign.

    4) Take some time as a collective representative organization, to consider and reconsider whom you represent and why … are self-described “point-of-view journalists” (lobbyists) part of the body of professionals you wish to represent? Will they cause you a conflict of professional or moral interest at any point? Do you want these people giving money to your organization?


2. To Douglas Preston, an amateur crime fighter obviously out of his league.

My impression from what we’ve seen is that your attempts at playing in the big lobbying leagues have all ended up with pie in your face, or a “kick-me, I’m stupid” yellow Post-It on your back:

    1) As we have seen in this post, ethical, traditional journalism gives way in your recent The Slate post and Kindle 99 cent pamphlet, to obvious and ineffective pro-Knox lobbying. In my opinion, the propagandistic shots you’ve fired have neither been convincing nor contain real, true facts unfettered from insinuation and half-truths and falsehoods.I

    2) In prior TJMK posts, we’ve seen how you have told two completely different beginnings to your Monster of Florence tale, complete with quoting different persons at different times in different places. You have ended the story with a confusion of errors and falsehoods. See my posts on this here and here.

    3) It seems you’re famous in Italian judiciary circles for having lost control of your sphincter in your questioning in Perugia years ago. Is that one of the reasons you’re so mad at Prosecutor Mignini and say just about anything about him, regardless if the message to your readers is true?

    4) Like Fredo, you were always the last member of the gang to find out what was going on. Your supposed “5 year” investigation with Spezi into the Monster of Florence seems more like a rehash of old theories developed by others, done in a short period of time by Spezi only from 2004 onward (notwithstanding your scrapbook of other reporters’ work), who would inform you at the last minute of his larvae studies, his TV appearances, or of his “A-Team” investigative squad comprising an ex-con and an ex-cop, who you realized existed only when their months of work had finished.


Fumbling Fredo’s handlers in The Godfather realized the terrible damage he was doing to the Corleone Family’s interests. Is Preston damaging the true, long-term interests of Amanda Knox? 

What about his other interests, in the Monster of Florence case … is he truly aware of all of the interests in that case, beyond his own – repeatedly voiced – hope of seeing George Clooney play Preston?


Posted on 05/23/13 at 01:48 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingFrancesco SforzaMore of the same
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Monday, April 01, 2013

One Final Word On Nina Burleigh In Response To Those Saying She Got It Right And We Wrong

Posted by The Machine





Actually Burleigh didnt get very much right. I’ve dipped into the book and read various articles and they all stray from the truth.

Here is our review of one major aspect of the book which shows what damage to the truth it does.

Many of the pro-Burleigh commenters on the Time website and also many reviewers on Amazon dont seem to realise just how hard and fast Burleigh played with the facts.

Poor understanding of the evidence, poor grasp of the law, terrible fact checking, emotions run wild, and zero grasp of the Italian language, account for her very inaccurate work. This really is her Achilles heel.

As our responses scroll fast in comments at Time and we have only so many hours in the day, here below are ten quick examples for Burleigh supporters of how easily she screws things up.

The book is being officially examined and Nina Burleigh will surely in due course be confronting a much longer list.

    1. She falsely claimed in her book The Fatal Gift of Beauty that Meredith Kercher was born on 28 December 1986 (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, Dramatis Personae).

    According to the Massei report, her actual birthday is 28 December 1985 (p23).

    2. She falsely claimed in her book that Rudy Guede was on 26 December 1983 (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, Dramatis Personae).

    According to Rudy Guede’s sentencing report, he was born on 26 December 1986 (p2).

    3. She falsely claimed that Rudy Guede’s DNA was inside Meredith’s purse (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, p14).

    According to the Massei report, his DNA was found on Meredith’s purse (p43). The Micheli report specifies that his DNA was found on the zip.

    4. She falsely claimed that Rudy Guede’s prints were on Meredith’s walls (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, p14).

    The Scientific Police were unable to identify any fingerprints on Meredith’s walls. Guede was identified by a bloody palm print on a pillow case. (Micheli report, pages 10-11, The Massei report, p43, Rudy Guede’s sentencing report, p5).

    5. She falsely claimed on the Sound Authors website that Mignini charged Knox with participating in a satanic rite.

    Mignini has never claimed Meredith was killed during a satanic rite. In fact, he has specifically denied ever claiming this. In his letter to LInda Byron, he stated the following:  “On the “sacrificial rite” question, I have never said that Meredith Kercher was the victim of a “sacrificial rite”.

    Mignini told Drew Griffin the following in an interview on CNN:  “I have never said that there might have been a satanic rite.”

    6. She falsely claimed that Amanda Knox described a “vision” in her handwritten note to the police (The Fatal Gift of Beauty, XXIV Timeline).

    Amanda Knox never claimed she had a “vision” in her handwritten note or any of her witness statements.

    7. She falsely claimed in an article for Time that there were only two elements of “material evidence” against Knox and Sollecito - Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp and Meredith’s DNA on Sollecito’s kitchen knife.

    According to the prosecution’s experts, there were five instances of Knox’s DNA or blood mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations in the cottage. Even Amanda Knox’s lawyers conceded that her blood had mingled with Meredith’s blood.

    In other words, Meredith and Amanda Knox were both bleeding at the same time.

    According to the imprint experts, the bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot, but couldn’t possibly belong to Guede.

    Knox’s and Sollecito’s bare bloody footprints were revealed by Luminol in the hallway.

    8. In the same article, she falsely claimed that the knife was picked at random.

    Armando Finzi was the police officer who bagged the knife. He testified that he thought it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound on Meredith’s neck.

    9. Another false claim from the article was that Rudy Guede left fingerprints at the crime scene.

    He didnt. None at all.

    10. In an article for the Columbia Chronicle  she falsely claimed that freedom of speech doesn’t exist in Italy.

    Pretty bizarre. She should learn to read some Italian. They have as many freedoms as those in the US and UK. And the incarceration rate is 1/7 that of the US.

    11.She falsely claimed in a Time article that the prosecutors painted Amanda Knox as an “angel-faced she-devil”.

    It wasn’t prosecutors who painted who Amanda Knox as a “she-devil”, it was Carlo Pacelli, the lawyer who represents Diya Lumumba, at the trial in 2009.

    Carlo Pacelli’s comments were widely reported by numerous good journalists who were present in the courtroom, so this would have been really easy to check. .

    Barbie Nadeau describes the moment he referred to Knox as a she-devil in some detail in Angel Face: “Who is the real Amanda Knox?” he asks, pounding his fist in the table. “Is she the one we see before us here, all angelic? Or is really a she-devil focused on sex, drugs, and alcohol, living life on the edge?”

    “She is the luciferina-she devil.” (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, page 124).

 

Posted on 04/01/13 at 06:59 PM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamNina Burleigh
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Unmasking What Is Behind The Angry Virulence Of Bruce Fischer And False Claims Of Elina Miettinen

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. What TJMK Is All About

TJMK came online late in 2008 nearly a year after the rabid pro-Knox vilification of the case, the justice officials, and especially the real victim and her family began.

TJMK essentially does what the crimeshows do on CNN and other cable-news channels: explain the case from the point of view of “the people”. You can see Nancy Grace and Wendy Murphy doing the same any night of the week, though usually in much more fiery terms.

Here it matters much more, because the case was tried in Italy under Italian law, and US and UK media have failed to translate vast tracts that explain the case. With several fine exceptions they never interview justice officials, and often impugn a great justice system and Italy itself.

The theory of the crime we lean toward is simply the official one - that all three were involved, with Knox starting and finishing the attack - held by all the Italian courts except for the Knox & Sollecito appeal before the Hellmann court in 2011 which was meddled with by the defense.

It is also held by 90% at least of Italians who could follow the case in Italian on the excellent Italian media. We have posted taking down many posturing wannabees at length, but attacks on purely personal grounds is something we avoid.

So in systematically laying out the truth, we came to be demonized too, along with many fine reporters and experts who attempted to present the overwhelming case for guilt.  This post rebuts one instance of that.

2. Who Knox supporter “Bruce Fisher” really is

“Bruce Fisher” is notorious for rabid demonizing, even among his own people. Lately he has lost many supporters he demonized after he misled them about Frank Sforrza who has a whole row of trials in his future. 

Fisher’s real name, hidden with great effort for more than two years so that he could defame freely, turned out on professional investigation to be Bruce Fischer and he was recently laid off as a floor assistant at York Furriers, a store in a mall 35 miles north-west of Chicago. 

We are told his education is very basic and his professional skills relevant to elaborating on the Perugia are zero. Also that Fischer had declared personal bankruptcy twice and now possibly has done so a third time to try to escape big debts. His sole income is from his wife’s family and what he panhandles from his naive group..

We are also told that when his house was repossessed for default on mortgage payments he was reduced to taking his family to live with his mother. Also that from his schooldays he has been known as a hothead with poor people skills and thinking skills.

When “reporter Bruce Fisher of New York” first surfaced online in obsessive support of Amanda Knox in the year after trial (which he appears not to have followed or know much about) eyebrows of all our psychologists went up at the blatantly obvious perversion.

We are told that he called himself “Bruce Fisher” to attempt to hide this from his wife and that our “outing” his real name and identity did a lot to push him to the deep end. He doesn’t seem to have any friends willing to say that they respect him. Some regard him as a rather dim and very angry redneck who has yet to make any positive contribution in life.

Fischer along with Frank of Perugia Shock has duped many others into thinking there is no case against Knox - only a huge conspiracy in which half of Italy is involved. David Anderson, Karen Pruett, Saul Kassin, Michele Moore, Steve Moore, Michael Wiesner, on and on.

3. The correct facts about help to Elina Miettinen

As many have remarked, “Bruce Fisher” is notorious for rabid demonizing, even among his own people. One of the main ways he has demonized is to lie about about the histories and credentials of those who stand for the truth - all a lot better qualified and successful than Fischer himself.

My wife and I have helped many in ballet over the years and all the other help went well. In this case a Russian dancer who walked off with $15,000 highly misrepresented a business relationship that was about to come right which would have set her up nicely for life and provide a success model for many others.

Did Fischer in turn misrepresent that? Judge for yourself.  In essence his meddling cost Miettinen a very possible $1 million or more.

Miettinen’s desperate situation

A few years ago three Swiss girls staying with us and I were at the stage door of the American Ballet Theater company in New York watching the dancers come out. They saw the Russian dancer Elina Miettinen emerge and tried to talk. She seemed so panic-stricken she could hardly stand up.

I wrote her a note later merely saying “Whats up”? She wrote back immediately that she had just been told she was laid off (as the ABT was close to broke) with no money and no visa to work in the US. She would not be able to pay rent or feed herself or, in fact, stay in the US.

Assistance we provided

We met and agreed that a promotional website could be her best bet. She would provide videos and stories and it would be hers to keep. I might use it as a model for others down the road. No money was talked about at the time.

Right after she went back to Helsinki where her parents lived and stayed for a month. We met after she came back and again she was almost paralysed with fear. After an hour she finally told me she had been unable to tell her family and friends she had been laid off and she was still broke. She had literally almost nothing on which to keep going. Could I help?

I immediately got her $500 out of an ATM and said sure I could consider helping her further subject to the website project which would be our way out. Her parents and seven in New York (my wife, the Swiss girls, her teacher, another dancer, and her roomie/best friend plus her own parents all knew all about this.

Business loans I advanced her eventually totaling $15,000 allowed her to (1) stay on in the United States, (2) pay her rent and keep rehearsing, (3) find two interim dance assignments, (4) become featured on a highly popular website, (5) activate interest in NBC in reporting her life story, and (7) eventually be available when the ABT’s finances came right at years end, when they could offer her a new contract.

She has never repaid any of the $15,000 back, despite numerous of promises to do so. To repeat: without the money we loaned her (for various work requirements all of which she skipped out of) Mietteinen would not even be in the US now.

She and I talked for many hours about the problems of dancer promotion. We decided to try a new “personalizing” website and we worked out a plan and a contract over several meetings for which we both kept copies in ring binders.

I didnt go looking for her in particular for this experimental dancer site, an intended model for many others, so she may not have been the best potential candidate of whom there were many others. A senior staff member of her former company wrote saying she was a poor choice as they did not see her going far in her career.

But she just came along and was desperate and interested and seemed to show promise, so I tried work with what she was.

Her initial promising start

When I first met her, she was hyper-anxious about almost everything, her future, her men (or lack of them), her dance and her looks included.

She was very cooperative for the first four months, attending our meetings 1-2 times a week, telling me her stories for the site, providing video and shots of herself, and meeting in San Francesco to accumulate more and apply for gigs.  We both worked on the design of the site which for its purpose looked cool and professional, and she suggested such ideas as bringing in her best friend and teacher on the project, and also a photographer back home. .

Her teacher, her room-mate and some others all saw us getting along just fine. They were willing to join the project so I had several separate meetings with the teacher and best friend to gather material on them too. I pressed her to consult her parents on the site and the contract and several weeks later she told me they said it should really be her site.

Her emerging troubled personality

She increasingly revealed a strange habit, of ranting on at agents and photographers and so on who she endlessly supposed wanted to rip her off. (Actually they did - she had never got paid for any modeling done.)

In direct response I made quite sure to involve my wife and four Swiss girls who were staying with us at the time. They had all seen her dancing and it was one of them that first pointed her out. For the record they were all smarter (they all have good college degrees now), taller and prettier than Mietttinen (they all dance and model). In Geneva I know all of their parents and we all get along really well.

Also she shared a number of personal concerns especially about boy friends and I tried to give her the best advice. We were good friends in a business sense, and there was nothing more as everybody involved in the project could see.

I email all my business partners about the rate I emailed her, and we set up a separate email account so she only needed to read when she wanted. The emails the Swiss girls send me and vice versa are no different in tone or subject. She was fully aware that at any time at a moment’s notice she could arrange something different or stop the emails or meetings or contract.

The agreed pioneering website

So within three months the website was created. She provided all the materials we posted and repeatedly promised many more, especially videos. As agreed in the business plan the website (“Exciting Arrivals”) was intended

(1)  to give Miettinen a shot at new ballet gigs and long term contracts and a ballet future, and also at promoting herself commercially as a model, and to be able to stay on in the US for which she had only a dance viza,

(2) to personalize her rather than to glamorize her, telling her stories which are in fact very interesting (she was born in deep poverty on the edge of the Arctic circle in the terrible economic era of Gorbachev);

(3) to be a pioneering model website to help many other dancers to promote themselves career-wise and financially also. The company and web property to that end would become hers and I keep the model and cover my costs only.

By the autumn of 2009 the website already showed we had got it right. It rose up to be briefly the most popular dancer website in the world. The story approach clearly worked. We already had offers on the horizon equivalent to maybe one million dollars factored forward.

Her breaking of contract

The only demands I was making were for video and shots and interviews for the site and for her to follow up on our leads. I thought she would give our project 3-4-5 months of work for that money, but it actually only added up to maybe two weeks.

Instead of following up our excellent leads with NBC TV (who may have profiled her life) and the Finnish Embassy (who may have sponsored her) she increased her classes (which was fine), danced several roles in the Staten Island Nutcracker (which was fine), and began to spend many days with photographers (not so fine, they paid her nothing, and we got nothing new for the site which was still only half complete.).

In November her ballet company, the ABT, found they could take her back on contract and even offered her a raise. We were with her teacher when she told us and her teacher didnt seem to think this was entirely for Miettinen’s best.

Teacher gives strong warning

Miettinen wanted the project to go on but her increasing narcissim and suspicion were evident. Her teacher at two separate meetings, and her room-mate at one, warned me she had an extraordinary knack for misunderstanding people and becoming paranoid and ranting on.

Her teacher was so unhappy at this attitude, which she saw at the start of every class, that she refused to say on the site that Miettinen would have a great future as a dancer.

Miettinen promises not to defraud

With $15,000 at stake, my wife and the Swiss girls who followed everything now began to suspect her. We found out that young Russians had been running a series of scams in Manhattan, acting desperate and getting hep and money, and then turning nasty and walking off.

She promised she was not part of a scam or planning to walk off. Right up to our last meeting in mid December, when we put the project on hold while she returned to work, she agreed the site should stay up. It remained way short of done, of course, and never ever became that model that so many dancers needed.

Miettinen walks off with $15,000

The deal between us, a generous one, was always that we would keep the site up as a model and work on it when we could, and take it down only if she paid me back half the money which would be around $7500 now. It was never agreed that she could simply have all the money and I would end up with nothing.

Final exchanges show relationship fine

There were a few emails and Facebook messages in 2010. She sounded okay and there was no evident problem. This exchange below is the one and only time Miettinen ever asked to have the website taken down. She hardly sounds in wild-eyed terror. It is dated 16 June 2010 exactly six months after we had last met.

1) My message to Miettinen

Subject: Ashton Ballets tonight

Tonight was absolutely amazing.  I liked the Birthday and Awakening and loved the Thais and the Dream. So did everybody around me. I just posted this on my Facebook + the ABT Facebook.

“American Ballet Theatre dancers LOVE Ashton! Tonight they could hardly stop grinning. DH and HC and GM did grin! Ashton presses them to absolute limits, theres NO WAY they could keep that up for one big ballet. Corps too was pressed way beyond normal. Plus we got to see half the principals and soloists.”

2) Miettinen’s response

Subject: Ashton Ballets tonight

“Good that you are enjoying our season and having fun in creating websites about abt! I think the website of me doesn’t make much sense anymore because I’m not working for it with you. Maybe it’s better for you to concentrate on the other sites. I’m sure people are more interested in reading about the whole company than just about one dancer.

Have fun with the sites and have a great summer.”

3) My response

[There is no copy. I wrote back on Facebook and Miettinen has deleted that message. Presumably because I reminded her of the deal. I gently repeated the purpose and pluses of the model site, and observed the site was still doing her and the company a lot of good. But if she wanted to pay 1/2 the money back as often agreed, then we could be done.]

Then there were just 1-2 quick messages between us in the next eight months, not about this. She did not ask again. The project was extremely promising for her and for others and I hoped she’d resume - it is very common for people experiencing rapid change and jealousy from others to sit it out on the side for a while.

Fischer prompts false accusation to police

And then, on the prompting of Fischer and Steve Moore, a NYPD detective phoned us in March 2011.  He was angry to find that he had been misled (as he has agreed with our lawyers) into thinking the site represented extortion and stalking.

He didnt know that Mietinen was in the US only because of our funding. He didnt know that we had a contract and business plan. He didnt know that she had provided all material for the site. He didnt know that she owed me half of $15,000. He didnt know that she is known to have a paranoid tendency to rant on.

Still, I took the site down, and decided to wait till Miettinen returned to Planet Earth. I am in no hurry. Will she, one day? Miettinen continues to owe us the $15,000 that we loaned her to allow her to stay on in the US and to get back on her feet and rebuild confidence.

The emails Fischer posted and misrepresented give no idea of what was really going on, what Miettienen was saying at our many meetings, or what others who observed were saying and in several cases warning about.

She has since joined in substantial harrassment online. She posts as “Jane”. Many people who know her only as “Jane” despise her. Many women who have read the emails have observed “what the hell?!”

Fischer misrepresents the project, and is unaware of the contract.  That Fischer is a disaster in his own business deals is no reason for him to damage others. Inciting false reports to the police is a crime, of course.

In essence Fischer’s meddling cost Miettinen a very possible $1 million or more, and legally we could easily take her down, though at a probable cost of leaving her jobless.

Posted on 04/01/13 at 01:20 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Other main hoaxersKnox-Mellas teamBruce FischerReporting, media, moviesV bad reporting
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

More On The Ill-Considered Campaign of Vilification By The Sour Knox PR Shill Nina Burleigh

Posted by Peter Quennell





REALLY not a good time for the sour PR shill Nina Burleigh to be entering into attack mode. Much better to be covering her tail.

One book is already being investigated by the chief prosecutor of Florence (the same one that will oversee the repeat appeal) for contempt of court in attempting to interfere with an ongoing legal process.

Sollecito and his team might face years in court and millions in awards - and Burleigh’s defamation-riddled The Fatal Gift Of Beauty which flatly accuses many Italian officials of crimes is already a candidate for a similar outcome. 

Good luck with that one. She could be paying out for years. Nina Burleigh now seems to me a tad delusional - making things up, not for the sake of lying for an advantage, but simply because her mind sorta works that way, and so she shoots herself in the foot.

Skeptical Bystander of PMF has already rebutted Burleigh’s claims against her, in this post immediately below. This was my own experience with Nina Burleigh.


Request for assistance from Nina Burleigh

Burleigh really didnt have any good cause to pick a fight with me as I have always treated her extremely well.  I met her personally only once - in August 2009 - but we emailed frequently though most of 2009.

The meeting grew out of this post.  I emailed the link to that post to Nina Burleigh via her blog;  and also to John Follain, who thanked me politely.

She emailed back that she was surprised to have landed the assignment, as she had no expertise in that area, but her publisher had recommended it. She said she could use any help. I said I would see if our contacts in Rome and Perugia could help her.

She moved to Perugia in the spring for a month or two and as she has no Italian some arrangement was made for an interpreter. She attended some of the court sessions. As agreed, I emailed various contacts asking if they might want to help her.

The reaction across the board however was no. 

Burleigh was being seen constantly in the Knox-Mellas entourage and was already regarded as a doubtful reporter at best, one who had already lost her cool.


Burleighs request for a meeting

She returned to New York, after Knox had been two days on the stand, to rustle up more money and take her family back with her. She emailed me for a meeting to share tips and information, and was hoping we might open a way to the Kerchers. (We never do.)

I asked her if she was neutral and independent, or working for the PR scheme. I would not have met with her if she hadn’t promised by return that her mingling with the Knox-Mellas crowd was for show, just an act, really she was secretly neutral.

Based on that guarantee, she and I met for an afternoon and evening at her summer place in the Delaware gorge two hours west of New York.

We had lunch in the village, when she presented me with a signed book, and then we moved to the kitchen of her house, a converted schoolhouse. Her children were playing in there so we moved upstairs to sit at a table in her bedroom.


Burleigh says Knox seemed psychopathic

I explained the case from the prosecution side and she seemed to do her best to follow along, busily generating notes. She VOLUNTEERED that she had concluded that Knox was a psychopath during Knox’s stint on the stand. She said the realization had kept her awake at nights some.

I didnt prompt her or make that up - how would I have possibly known? In fact until then I didnt even know she’d been in the court.

She did tell me this assignment would be a financial strain. None of her books had covered their costs. The publishers’ advance was a small one, Italy is expensive, and she joked that she might have to give up her Manhattan apartment.

Oddly, she managed to stay in Perugia for most of a year. Wonderful how those savings stretched out so.


Subsequent emailing between us

We kept in touch for a few months after she went back to Perugia with her family. She asked me for some more help in making contacts. Here below is an email exchange late in October - ten weeks after we had met.

This is also six week after she claims she questioned the bucket and mop claims on this site and concluded we had facts wrong and were not to be trusted (she never actually emailed a question, and we never did make the “bucket and mop” claim she invented). 

1 MY EMAIL 21 OCTOBER

>>    Long time no talk. I still owe you some stuff and my knowledge seems to grow daily. I just drove to Seattle, and had nearly a week getting in deeper there.
>>
>>    Are you staying on there in Italy until the whole thing is done?  The other publishers’ publicists have been emailing me, and we have talked several times.
>>
>>    I could be in London soon and if so in Perugia.
>>
>>    Pete

2. BURLEIGH REPLY 21 OCTOBER

>> Hey {Pete
>>
>> I’ll definitely be here for the verdict! Send me any stuff you want to share. I am still hoping to talk to the British friends at some point, but only if they want to, I don’t want to bother them.

>> cheers,
>> n

3. MY REPLY 21 OCTOBER

> Thanks Nina! How nice.
>
> How much do you actually have on Meredith? Its not just (I hope!) only all about La Knox? The friends might talk but I’d need assurances on this angle.
>
> And what is the title and the publish date now? We foresee now three okay books coming out in January with no firm date on John Kercher’s about Meredith.
>
> Pete

4. BURLEIGH REPLY 21 OCTOBER

> Meredith. Not much at all! Really just what’s been in the press and that’s not good because I want to bring her character into the story, who she was, what the world has lost. It is a big hole in my repoirting. Anything you can do would be so appreciated.

> As for date, its really dependent on when I get key interviews. I am more interested in getting the good, true story than beating quickie crime book competition in january.

> So grateful to you for keeping up with me, and it will be really nice to see you here.

> All best
> Nina



Rebutting claims in Burleighs Time attack

Actually it has never had a down day: the Knox-hating websites have been passing along innuendo and cherry-picked factoids for six years now.

What innuendo and cherrypicking? What hate? Let us see some examples. We deal in hard facts and key documents and Italian translations here. Dozens of reporters and lawyers read. And TJMK was created only four and a half years ago, in direct response to the hyper-aggressive PR scheme. 

The other acronym you will encounter is TJMK, which stands for “True Justice For Meredith Kercher”—the young British woman murdered in this case–and is run by a New Jersey-based Englishman who claims that at one time he consulted at the United Nations.

I dont claim that. I was on the permanent staff of UN development for over 20 years, and then I left to consult with governments on growth directly. Burleigh KNEW that by the way. An example of this supremely under-qualified womans’ attempts in her article at personal put-downs of others.

These sites host extremely active avatars, many proclaiming to be lawyers, forensic experts, criminologists, but who never reveal their true identities.

Anyone can tell at a glance that real names are used here where they can professionally tolerate personal put-downs like Nina Burleigh’s.  They ARE lawyers and experts, they state their experience, and nobody else questions this. They all have better qualifications than Burleigh’s.

In 2009, I sat down with TJMK founder Peter Quennell, who has always claimed he started the site to make sure that no one forgot the victim.

We sat down only at her pleading request. There was really little in it for me. And TJMK DID make sure Meredith is not forgotten. I didnt just claim that.

A stout, ruddy Englishman living in New Jersey, he had been holding out the carrot of introducing me to the elusive Kercher family.

I am not stout, ruddy or English, and I live looking across to Manhattan. What carrot? She hoped for contact with Meredith’s family, and I offered and promised nothing.

After a month in Italy doing reporting, however, I realized that some of the “facts” on Quennell’s website didn’t seem to be in the police record in Italy. I emailed him to ask where he had found out that Knox and Sollecito met police standing outside the murder house with a mop and bucket in hand. That damning incident was nowhere in the record, not even the prosecutor would confirm it, nor had Italy’s Polizia Scientifica ever tested such items, which would surely have offered up some useful DNA evidence, had they been used to clean blood.

So where is that famous email? This would be two months BEFORE the emails quoted above. Does she sound questioning or suspicious or rejecting in those?

Try searching “bucket” on this site and see what you find. Did we really make the bucket a big deal? There is ONE mention in a media report of someone’s evidence of a bucket having been at the door. All the other mentions are of the bucket in Sollecito’s flat.

Quennell then accused me by email of being on the Knox family payroll, informed me that his sources in Perugia had seen me consorting with Amanda’s mother (I had in fact met with her once, in a public place, by then) and eventually started writing about how he was going to “train his scope” on my apartment in Manhattan, and closing emails with “how are the kiddies?”

That joke email preceded all of those emails above. I didnt accuse Burleigh then of being on the Knox payroll. She is presumably thinking of the question I put to her months ago, before we ever met.

To which she had promised me she WAS neutral. Not just a PR shill.

Posted on 03/30/13 at 05:51 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamNina Burleigh
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Friday, March 29, 2013

What’s Nina Burleigh Got Against Women? A Bizarre Time Report Suggests Deep Problems In Her Psyche

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





We depart from our scheduled posting for a few hours to contend with a bizarre attack by Nina Burleigh. 

I get up quite early because my clients have a nine-hour head start on me.

Today I woke up to the usual flurry of work-related emails plus a message directing me to Nina Burleigh’s Time blog post devoted to the “haters” – i.e., the many people around the world who have expressed their support for the family of Meredith Kercher and who are convinced that Italy’s first instance court got things right when it convicted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their role in Meredith’s brutal murder.

Italy’s highest court has just overturned the acquittal and definitively upheld Knox’s conviction for the felony offense of falsely accusing an innocent man of murdering Meredith Kercher. In that false accusation, Knox placed herself at the scene of the crime. 

In her blog post, Burleigh once again misquotes an off-the-record conversation with me, though I set her straight the first time she did it and asked her to cease. She also wrongly asserts that I am a “housewife” and “former” translator.

For those who may have missed them the first time around, the two blog posts I wrote that got Nina Burleigh all riled up can be found at TJMK or at my personal blog (http://skepbystander.blogspot.com/), under 2011 posts.

First, a bit of background: Burleigh spent a lot of time in her book maligning two of the best reporters covering the case, one of whom, like Burleigh, wrote a book about it. Since I wrote my review of Burleigh’s book and then pointed out that the New York Times was critical of her advocacy masquerading as journalism, time has passed.

According to her online news site (thefreelancedesk.com), which focuses on current events in Italy, where she lives, Andrea Vogt has been working as a reporter for 20 years and writes for, among others, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Seattle Times and The BBC.

As for Barbie Latza Nadeau, in addition to her frequent reporting for Newsweek/The Daily Beast, she is also a regular contributor for CNN. Both are excellent journalists whose work speaks for itself.

But what’s up with Nina Burleigh? I honestly don’t know what she was thinking when she decided to belittle their accomplishments in print, not to mention her decision to misrepresent my own rather more modest ones. Is she just angry because she got this case so wrong? Is this a simple case of sour grapes from a sore loser?

It probably doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things. But I would caution anyone who talks to a reporter off-the-record to beware. I have talked to many reporters off-the-record, and they have all respected this agreement, except for Nina Burleigh. In addition to breaking a promise, she misrepresented what I said.

And now that she has had her public snit, may I suggest that the focus now shift from these petty personality clashes - between Knox’s fan base and anyone who doesn’t share their views - and onto the facts? I think the tone needs to change as well: facts are best discussed rationally, calmly and respectfully.

And for the record, I have nothing at all against women who choose to be homemakers.

In the final analysis, however, Nina Burleigh has done Meredith Kercher and the truth a huge favor by attacking her supporters as “haters” and, in doing so, giving our efforts a plug. It is too bad that she could not resist plugging Knox’s upcoming book as well, and thus proving the point made by the New York Times: that Ms. Burleigh has been treading what she must know - as a seasoned reporter - to be a very dangerous line, that which separates journalists and advocates

She seems to have lost her way and, instead of figuring out how to get back on track, has decided to lash out at those advocating for truth in reporting.

Posted on 03/29/13 at 09:08 PM by Skeptical Bystander. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamNina Burleigh
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Powerpoints #20: On Contradictions, Here Preston Contradicts Preston

Posted by Kermit



[James Frey, Stephen Glass and Clifford Irving; writers caught playing fast-and-loose with the truth]


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

In the first question that we posed to fiction thriller writer (and now, self-described “point-of-view journalist”, whatever that euphemism means) Douglas Preston a few days ago, we asked him about his and Spezi’s Afterword to their book The Monster of Florence.

It appears to be full of errors and insinuations in linking the MoF to the Meredith Kercher murder case. A book that is based on a “True Story” should not be found to be derelict in presenting errors or fiction as true fact, neither at its end, nor in its beginning, nor in any other point between.

In this, the second question that we pose to Preston (and Spezi, if he’s available for replies), we go to the start of the story, where Preston recalls how he met Spezi, in the smoky haze of a backroom of the Caffè Ricchi in the centre of Florence and first learned of the existence of the monster … or did he? 

The problem is that in equally emphatic terms, you can also hear Preston on an NBC Dateline documentary describe how a few months earlier (I calculate) than the Caffè Ricchi tête-a-tête, he describes hearing about the Monster of Florence for the first time from his neighbours in the town he lived in in Italy.

And this, in an interview with Stone Philips of NBC with a camera crew and their equipment on-site in Italy in front of his old rented house. At a time when Preston was already telling the rest of the world that he couldn’t return to Italy, banned by Mignini! In my opinion, things can’t get much more cynical than that.

The contrast between Preston’s two clear, explicit and totally mutually-exclusive descriptions of how he learned of the Monster of Florence may seem like a trivial point, but it really is not.

Every writer knows that the key factor at the start of a book is engaging and maintaining the reader’s interest so that it lasts to the very end. A fiction writer is free to use whatever mechanism he may need to make that engagement. However, authors who describe their tale as a “True Story” as do Preston and Spezi should realize that reader trust is – poof! – lost if you load the start of the True Story with something that isn’t so.

Recent history has seen a number of writers who push and cross the limit of the Truth and rush headstrong into Truthiness, Mistruth, or Lies, peddling stories that attract our interest and are human, daring .... yet end up being exposed as blends of truths and half-truths.  Together with insinuations and a lot of out and out fibs:

  • Clifford Irving went to jail for his unauthorised and totally false “autobiography” of Howard Hughes, see the Richard Gere movie poster below..
  • The New Republic magazine fired Stephen Glass after determining that at least 27 of 41 stories written by Glass for the magazine contained fabricated material.
  • James Frey’s publisher has had to reimburse those purchasers of “A Million Little Pieces” who bought it believing it true (it was commercialized as such).

Where will Spezi and Preston take us with The Monster of Florence? All it takes is for one reader to question: could this really have happened as they are making us think it happened? Why when I read the Italian version of the book do I understand something completely different? Why in Italy is Il Mostro considered the better, much more accurate book?

From there the truth in the story starts to unravel. As we already see in the Powerpoint presentations, the start and end of the English-langage MoF book don’t exactly encourage us to take any of its contents at face value.

Now that the Meredith Kercher murder case approaches its final appeal, it looks like Preston and Spezi are moving to develop some sort of MoF sequel that could be titled The Monster of Florence: The New Generation starring Amanda Knox and of course Preston and Spezi. And including fresh new “True Stories” by the pair. 

Personally, I feel that they could spare both us and Amanda’s cause their “truth” – Amanda and her legal team have more than enough to think about right now, with the Supreme Court appeal and the mess the Raffaele Sollecito book dams them in.

I believe that the shrillness of Preston’s and Spezi’s tales of “truth” will increase its pitch as we approach the March final appeal of Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as suspects in the murder of Meredith (Knox has already been found guilty of one crime and has served her prison sentence for falsely accusing Patrick Lumumba of murdering Meredith). 

This is going to be a very tough appeal – I urge readers to take a look at the English translation of Prosecutor Galati’s request for the appeal. It is surprising in its strength and balance. The Knox and Sollecito legal teams must be busy (will either defendant dare to be in Italy at that time?) and they know they are going to have a rough time of it in March.

How nice for all concerned if all the fictions now drop dead.



Posted on 10/25/12 at 11:11 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Overviews PowerpointCrime hypothesesThe wider contextsReporting, media, moviesV bad reportingFlorence MOF hoax
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Doug Preston’s Wrong Claims In His MOF Afterword Were Often Contradicted In The Past

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Above: Said to be Doug Preston’s nice workshop in coastal Maine where he apparently makes his stuff up]


This is our own “afterword” to Kermit’s Powerpoint post below on Preston’s Afterword in which Kermit quoted original sources to back up all his claims.

Our profuse quoting of original sources, including many translated ONLY by PMF and TJMK from the original Italian, is what gives PMF and this site such strength as points of reference used regularly by media on both sides of the Atlantic.

Preston doesn’t really seem to be able to provide references for his own work.

In his deeply anti-Italy MOF book, he offers no bibliography, no footnotes, no overview of key documents, few sourced quotes, and interview quotes that often seem stretched and maybe flat-out wrong (as with the one with Madame Bene in the Afterword, about the claimed non-investigation of the screaming drug addict in the square). 

In a rather self-congratulatory comment Preston posted on the CPJ website 18 months ago, he claimed this.

Before publication [The Monster of Florence] was minutely vetted by no less than five attorneys in two languages in Italy, the U.K., and the United States. Since publication, it has been read by millions of people in many European languages. In all that time, and with all the millions who have read the book, not one significant error of fact came to light. Mario Spezi and I stand by every single assertion of fact in that book today just as strongly as we did when it was first published three years ago.

Really? Well, without sources to check, what exactly did all those lawyers do?  The Afterword claims were published only in English, so that very few Italians who do know Italy and the case ever got a chance to provide alternative points of view - a few did, though, and there are several sarcastic Italian reviews on Amazon. In Italy, the more credible Guittari version outsells it 10-to-1. 

Preston’s lurid and under-researched claims then of course went viral.

You can see his claims about Rudy Guede and the “14 hours” interrogation and the meanie Mignini and junk Italian reporting and the incompetent Italian justice system and anti-Italianism generally disseminated all over the web. Read things by Candace Dempsey and Nina Burleigh and Michael Heavey and Saul Kassin and Bruce Fischer and Nigel Scott and Joel Simon and you will see the Preston claims parroted there.

Even in Raffaele Sollecito’s book we are turning up some of the claims!

And yet literally dozens of correct statements of fact that contradict Preston’s MOF Afterword have been posted on PMF and TJMK and other sites and in various books over the past four years. These are just a few on the 14-page Afterword posted on this site alone.

1) Contradicting Preston’s claims about the incompetence of the Italian System.

    Click “They Were Held For A Year Without Even Being Charged!!”

    Click Why The Italian Judiciary’s Probably Less Prone to Pressure Than Any Other In The World.

    Click Why The Prosecutors In Italy Are Relatively Popular.

    Click The Chief Enforcer Of The Constitution And The Rule Of Law is Wildly Popular Throughout Italy.

    Click Italian Campaigner For Victims And Their Families Says The System Is Denying Them Justice.

    Click A Token Balance In The Italian System: The Voice In The Court For The Victim

    Click Compared To Italy, Say, Precisely How Wicked Is The United States?

    Click Why The Totality of Evidence Suggests Knox And Sollecito Are Guilty Just As Charged.

    Click An Overview From Italy Of The Galati-Costagliola Appeal To The Supreme Court Of Cassation


2) Contradicting Preston’s claims about the Knox “14 hours” interrogation

    Click Our Take On The Case For The Prosecution: #3 Raffele Sollecito’s Multiple Conflicting Alibis.

    Click Our Take On The Case For The Prosecution: #4 Amanda Knox’s Multiple Conflicting Alibis.

    Click This Testimony Does Not Seem To Have Gained Much Traction Here In Italy.

    Click Italy Shrugs: Why The Defendant’s Testimony Seems To Have Been A Real Flop.

    Click Dr Galati: Note An Example Of How Curt Knox’s Campaign Is Misleading American Experts And Audiences.

    Click Dr Galati: Attacks On Prosecution By Curt Knox’s Hatchet Men Becoming Shriller, More Fictional #1


3) Contradicting Preston’s claims about Rudy Guede and his central role in the events

    Click Understanding Micheli #2: Why Judge Micheli Rejected The Lone-Wolf Theory.

    Click A Visual Guide To The Staged Break-In Via Filomena’s Window.

    Click Powerpoints #6: Trace Evidence Seems To Confirm More Than One Perpetrator At Scene.

    Click Powerpoints #7: Forced Entry Via Filomena’s Window Fails The Giggle Test.

    Click Powerpoints #10: Telling Evidence Against Sollecito The Experts Seem To Have Got Absolutely Right.

    Click Powerpoints #12: The Telling Case Of The Doctored Footprint

    Click The New 80,000 Pound Gorilla In The Room Introduced By The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation.


4) Contradicting Preston’s claims about the large knife and DNA in the house

    Click Understanding Why The DNA Is On The Knife.

    Click What We Believe Are The Hard Facts On The Double DNA Knife.

    Click Setting Out What We Know About The Mixed Blood Evidence Samples From The Massei Report.

    Click Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Is Weak, Tendentious, Cites Non-Existent Standards

    Click An Overview From Italy Of The Galati-Costagliola Appeal To The Supreme Court Of Cassation


5) Contradicting Preston’s claims about an evil Mignini and satanic illusions

    Click BBC Interview: Mignini Comes Across As Fair, Decent, Funny, And Quite Sane.

    Click Prosecutor Mignini Offers Some Helpful Advice To A Factually Challenged Reporter

    Click New Mignini Interview Makes Doug Preston Look Increasingly Incompetent And Vindictive.

    Click What His Florence Conviction Means For Giuliano Mignini And The Case.

    Click That Widely Watched LA7 TV Interview With Giuliano Mignini

    Click Open Letter To CNN Head Ken Jautz: Reports As Terrible As Drew Griffin’s….

    Click Full CNN Interview With Mignini That CNN SHOULD Have Reflected

    Click Mignini’s And Giuttari’s Florence Convictions Are Overturned As Florence Court Had No Jurisdiction.

    Click Dr Galati: Please Check Out What Looks Like A Mischievous Defense-Inspired Global Hoax.

    Click A Ten Part Series Showing How Mignini Was Misrepresented By Preston, Sforza and CPJ.

    Click Powerpoints #13: We Now Examine The Compelling Evidence For The REAL Railroading From Hell
Posted on 10/23/12 at 07:02 PM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Powerpoints #19: Placing The Noisy Claimant Doug Preston In The Hot Seat

Posted by Kermit





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

This curious incident instigated this series:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 10/22/12 at 12:23 AM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Strong Trend: Increasingly The Good Lawyers Are On One Planet And The PR Shills Are On Another

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Prominent lawyer Wendy Murphy reflects many in saying the evidence is very strong] 


In the post below Jane Velez Mitchell of CNN can be watched staking her legal reputation on Sollecito.

This may surprise you. Jane Velez Mitchell is not herself a lawyer. In fact, she has only a possible journalism degree awarded by New York University.

She claims she was hooked after she “read his book until 2:30” and encountered him in some elevator - we have been puzzling over which elevator and when, for if it was an elevator in the Time Warner building in New York why was he not right there in the studio?

Of the three lawyers she had on the show, the two who did know the case (Wendy Murphy and the crime blogger Levi Page) came down very decisively against Sollecito. The third (Joey Jackson) knew nothing about the case, though even he thought the book was terribly timed.

In effect, Jane Velez Mitchell was carrying on like another PR shill. She really wasn’t any less amateurishly invested than Saul Kassin. Another non-lawyer - Saul Kassin is actually a psychologist.

Where ARE the lawyers for Knox-Sollecito?

All of them seem to have gone awol. Our main poster James Raper, himself a lawyer, sent out this invitation to speak up. In the five months since he posted that, not ONE lawyer has come forward.

Well, except for one strange burble from Anne Bremner, about RS and AK watching Amelie and that being their alibi - though the watching of Amelie took place three to four hours earlier. Even RS and AK didnt claim that.

Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon sounds rattled every time he talks, which he hasnt done since late in 2011. And poor lost Michael Heavey still can’t get to grips with the facts.

In contrast, we now have two of the foremost legal talking heads in the US - Wendy Murphy (a former prosecutor) and Nancy Grace (a former prosecutor) - saying the evidence is overwhelming.

In Italy the Sollecito lawyer Giulia Borngiorno, in face of the Galati appeal and possible legal trouble of her own over Aviello and judge-shopping, has become seriously silent. And Sollecito lawyer Luca Maori just had to distance himself from Sollecito, in conceding that Sollecito in his book had been lying.

Where are the PR shills for Knox-Sollecito?

Though they seem to have shadow-written much of the Sollecito book ostensibly shadow written by the real shadow writer, Andrew Gumbel, Curt Knox’s hatchet men have become so nasty and so distanced from the real facts that they now repel classy media company.

To her great credit, a week ago Katie Couric was repelled - and she showed it. 

However there are still a few out there shilling for Knox and Sollecito. We would include in the active shill group Andrew Gumbel, Sollecito book agent Sharlene Martin, and maybe the publisher’s own promoters (if any).

Also Jane Velez Mitchel of course now. Saul Kassin (a flagship shill who may have gone silent). And the shrillest of all the shills, David Anderson, Bruce Fischer, Frank Sforza, Nina Burleigh, and Candace Dempsey.

They all seem to have big chips on their shoulders, and of course financial stakes. Maybe that is what it takes to be a shill here? Sort of the opposite of a degree in law?


[Below Two Sollecito shills: ghost writer Andrew Gumbel and literary agent Sharlene Martin]

Posted on 09/24/12 at 04:43 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Correcting Saul Kassin’s Massively Inaccurate Description Of Amanda Knox’s So-Called Confession

Posted by brmull




Conflicts between Kassin’s academic and court personas

Saul Kassin is a psychologist with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He tries to advance the notion academically and in court that many confessions are coerced by the police and thus false.

In writing about American cases of confessions, Kassin would normally be very sure to interview all the parties to the confession. Police would not simply be sidelined, and the confessor’s tale would not be the only narrative he pays attention to. His academic pieces would normally be peer-reviewed and any claims which were questionable would be examined by the academic peers or the readership.  False claims by Kassin could result in criminal complaints and civil lawsuits.

It is quite clear from online postings that Saul Kassin was taken on as a hired gun for the Knox defense in the Knox/Sollecito trial in Perugia. He was being paid NOT to simply be academic and objective, he was being paid to give the police witnesses and prosecution as hard a time as possible.

Although he seems to have flown to Perugia at one point he definitely did not encounter let alone interview even one police officer, even one prosecutor or even one judge. He made no visit to the questura where the Knox questioning took place. He doesnt speak or read Italian so he would not be able to get to grip with original evidence.

He does not reveal if and when he interviewed Amanda Knox herself. She makes no mention of any meeting with Kassin in her book. Kassin was definitely not in court in mid-2009 when Amanda Knox was cross-examined for two days on the witness stand about her false allegations against Patrick Lumumba. Her stint on the stand was regarded as a disaster for her by most of those present.

Conflicts consequentially plaguing Kassin’s academic judgments

During the Hellmann appeal in 2011 [subsequently annulled by the Supreme Court in 2013] Kassin started to use his academic standing and ostensible objectivity to propagate to American and later global audiences his hired-gun take for the defense. He had still not interviewed anyone in the Perugia police or prosecution.

He never made clear that his description of Knox’s interrogation was already UNIVERSALLY discredited in Italy - and that even Knox had admitted that the police treated her fairly. He never explained what peer review process his many pieces went through. Not one police officer or prosecutor in Perugia was contacted by any peer reviewer seeking confirmations. This suggests either that there was no peer review or it was unethically cooked in some way.

Our own peer reviews of Kassins proliferating claims

One month ago my fellow poster the Machine took apart ten claims which Saul Kassin made last year in a Seattle radio interview. As the Machine showed, every one of those claims fall apart once one refers to official documents and the more objective case books and websites. 

Another post one month ago by my fellow poster Fuji showed that Amanda Knox is NOT likely to issue false confessions in the heat of an interrogation moment.

That is Kassin’s key claim here, and in effect Fuji used Kassin’s own “science” against him.

Then we were warned by a John Jay colleague critical of Kassin that he had repeated these same spurious claims live on television - and that Kassin had made even more wrong claims in a keynote speech to a conference of the elite John Jay College in June in New York, in front of an influential international audience.

And he did so again in a paper, possibly peer-reviewed, which the respected journal American Psychologist has placed online. This post provides the truth on the Knox-related claims at the front and back ends of that American Psychologist paper.

Saul Kassin still appears to want to argue that Amanda Knox was convicted ONLY based on a false confession (as the Machine and numerous posts on TJMK show, she wasn’t - and in fact, Knox didn’t even confess) and he now makes almost 50 erroneous assertions about the case.

You can see highlighted in the first box-quote below those misleading and erroneous passages of PR shill Kassin which I correct in the second box-quote below.

(1) SAUL KASSIN’S ORIGINAL VERSION WITH WRONG STATEMENTS HIGHLIGHTED


As illustrated by the story of Amanda Knox and many others wrongfully convicted, false confessions often trump factual innocence. Focusing on consequences, recent research suggests that confessions are powerfully persuasive as a matter of logic and common sense; that many false confessions contain richly detailed narratives and accurate crime facts that appear to betray guilty knowledge; and that confessions in general can corrupt other evidence from lay witnesses and forensic experts—producing an illusion of false support. This latter phenomenon, termed “corroboration inflation,” suggests that pretrial corroboration requirements as well as the concept of “harmless error” on appeal are based on an erroneous presumption of independence among items of evidence. In addition to previously suggested reforms to police practices that are designed to curb the risk of false confessions, measures should be taken as well to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions…. 

Meredith Kercher was found raped and murdered in Perugia, Italy. Almost immediately,  police suspected 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student and one of Kercher’s roommates—the only one who stayed in Perugia after the murder. Knox had no history of crime or violence and no motive. But something about her demeanor—such as an apparent lack of affect, an outburst of sobbing, or her girlish and immature behavior— led police to believe she was involved and lying when she claimed she was with Raffaele Sollecito, her new Italian boyfriend, that night. 

Armed with a prejudgment of Knox’s guilt, several police officials interrogated the girl on and off for four days. Her final interrogation started on November 5 at 10 p.m. and lasted until November 6 at 6 a.m., during which time she was alone, without an attorney, tag-teamed by a dozen police, and did not break for food or sleep. In many ways, Knox was a vulnerable suspect—young, far from home, without family, and forced to speak in a language in which she was not fluent. Knox says she was repeatedly threatened and called a liar. She was told,  falsely, that Sollecito, her boyfriend, disavowed her alibi and that physical evidence placed her at the scene. She was encouraged to shut her eyes and imagine how the gruesome crime had occurred, a trauma, she was told, that she had obviously repressed. Eventually she broke down crying,  screaming, and hitting herself in the head. Despite a law that mandates the recording of interrogations, police and prosecutors maintain that these sessions were not recorded. 

Two “confessions” were produced in this last session,  detailing what Knox called a dreamlike “vision.” Both were typed by police—one at 1:45 a.m., the second at 5:45 a.m. She retracted the statements in a handwritten letter as soon as she was left alone (“In regards to this ‘confession’  that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”). Notably, nothing in the confessions indicated that she had guilty knowledge. In fact, the statements attributed to Knox were factually incorrect on significant core details (e.g., she named as an accomplice a man whom police had suspected but who later proved to have an ironclad alibi; she failed to name another man, unknown to police at the time, whose DNA was later identified on the victim). Nevertheless, Knox, Sollecito, and the innocent man she implicated were all immediately arrested. In a media-filled room, the chief of police announced: Caso chiuso (case closed). 

Police had failed to provide Knox with an attorney or record the interrogations, so the confessions attributed to her were ruled inadmissible in court. Still, the damage was done. The confession set into motion a hypothesis-confirming investigation, prosecution, and conviction. The man whose DNA was found on the victim, after specifically stating that Knox was not present, changed his story and implicated her while being prosecuted. Police forensic experts concluded that Knox’s DNA on the handle of a knife found in her boyfriend’s apartment also contained Kercher’s blood on the blade and that the boyfriend’s DNA was on the victim’s bra clasp. Several eyewitnesses came forward.  An elderly woman said she was awakened by a scream followed by the sound of two people running; a homeless drug addict said he saw Knox and Sollecito in the vicinity that night; a convicted drug dealer said he saw all three suspects together; a grocery store owner said he saw Knox the next morning looking for cleaning products; one witness said he saw Knox wielding a knife. 

On December 5, 2009, an eight-person jury convicted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of murder. The two were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively. Finally, on October 3, 2011, after having been granted a new trial, they were acquitted. [Actually they still stand accused - and facing a tough fact-based prosecution appeal] Ten weeks later, the Italian appeals court released a strongly worded 143-page opinion in which it criticized the prosecution and concluded that there was no credible evidence, motive, or plausible theory of guilt. For the four years of their imprisonment, this story drew international attention (for comprehensive overviews of the case, see Dempsey, 2010, and Burleigh, 2011).1

It is now clear that the proverbial mountain of discredited evidence used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito was nothing but a house of cards built upon a false confession. The question posed by this case, and so many others like it, is this: Why do confessions so often trump innocence? ...

Third, it is important to realize that not all evidence is equally malleable or subject to corroboration inflation. Paralleling classic research indicating that expectations can color judgments of people, objects, and other stimuli that are ambiguous as opposed to those that compel a particular perception, forensic research indicates that ambiguity is a moderating condition. Asked to report on an event or make an identification decision on the basis of a memory trace that cannot be recovered, eyewitnesses are particularly malleable when confronted with evidence of a confession (Hasel & Kassin, 2009). This phenomenon was illustrated in the case against Amanda Knox. When police first interviewed Knox’s British roommates, not one reported that there was bad blood between Knox and the victim. After Knox’s highly publicized confession, however, the girls brought forth new “memories,” telling police that Kercher was uncomfortable with Knox and the boys she would bring home (Burleigh, 2011). ... 

In recent years, psychologists have been critical of the problems with accuracy, error, subjectivity, and bias in various types of criminal evidence—prominently including eyewitness identification procedures, police interrogation practices, and the so-called forensic identification sciences,  all leading Saks and Koehler (2005) to predict a “coming paradigm shift.” With regard to confessions, it now appears that this shift should encompass not only reforms that serve to minimize the risk of false confessions but measures designed to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions—as in the case of Amanda Knox and others who are wrongfully convicted.


(2) MY REPLACEMENT VERSION WITH CORRECT FACTS AND CONTEXT NOW INCLUDED


On November 2, 2007, British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found sexually attacked and murdered in Perugia, Italy. The next day, 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student and one of Kercher’s roommates, became a person of interest, along with Meredith’s downstairs neighbors and several of her other acquaintances. Interviewing close contacts is a cornerstone of police work. Two of Meredith’s close English friends, who were so scared they couldn’t sleep alone, left Perugia in the immediate aftermath of the murder. Everyone else stayed on.

Months before arriving in Perugia, Knox received a citation for a noise violation when a going-away party she’d thrown for herself in Seattle got out of hand. One of the officers described it as a “scene from Baghdad.” Within about three weeks of moving into the cottage in Perugia, Knox was ejected from a nightclub for pouring her glass on the head of a disc jockey.

It’s often said that Knox had no motive to kill Meredith, but it was Knox’s claim of drug use which indicated a possible motive: a drug-fuelled assault. There are various others, though a motive is not actually required for conviction. In crime scene videos from the day Meredith’s body was discovered, Knox can be seen outside the cottage glancing furtively around. Still, it was not this and other odd behavior, but rather the many conflicting witness statements by Knox and her new Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, that led police to believe Knox was involved and lying when she claimed she was with Sollecito at his home continuously on the night of November 1.

Police interviewed dozens of witnesses in the days after the murder, some more than once. All witness statements were written down and signed for, not recorded. The police interviewed Sollecito for the third time beginning at 10:40pm on November 5. Knox later testified that she voluntarily accompanied her boyfriend to the station, because she didn’t want to be alone. The police did not summon her. To the interviewers’ surprise, Sollecito repudiated his earlier alibi when shown phone records, and now said Knox had left his apartment for much of the evening. Some time after 11:00pm the police asked if they might interview Knox. An interpreter was called and by 1:45am Knox had given a signed statement that she had witnessed the sounds of her employer, bar owner Patrick Lumumba, murdering Meredith at the cottage.

In that statement she acknowledged that she had been given an interpreter, and that she herself was now officially a suspect. Knox later testified that she was treated well. She was offered snacks and drinks during the interview and afterward. Made aware that she could not be interrogated without a lawyer, but still anxious to put out as much information as possible, she then requested a chance to make a spontaneous statement without any questioning. Dr Mignini, the magistrate on duty, was called from his home, and she gave a statement in front of him very similar to her witness statement from hours earlier. He asked no questions.

Knox and the police gave different accounts of how the 11:00 to 1:45 am interview was conducted. Police said Knox was told Sollecito now no longer confirmed her alibi and he had called her a liar. She now had no alibi. Sympathetic to her because Knox was freaking out, the interpreter urged her to try to remember at least something.  Shown a text she had sent to Lumumba at 8:35pm saying “See you later. Have a good evening!” she was asked to explain this. The police describe how Knox started to cry and burst out, “It’s him! It’s him!”

Both Knox’s witness statement at 1:45 a.m and her voluntary suspect statement at 5:45am were written out in Italian and translated back to her before she signed. After Knox was formally taken into custody at midday on November 6, she asked for paper and wrote a slight modification of her earlier statements, adding: “In regards to this ‘confession’ that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”

Lumumba was arrested along with Knox and Sollecito. Knox and her mother held out on his non-involvement for weeks, but he was eventually determined to have a solid alibi. Another man, Rudy Guede, was identified through a hand print in Meredith’s bedroom. Knox appeared to have substituted Lumumba for Guede in her statements, and several details of the crime in her so-called confession were later corroborated by witnesses.

Because police had not needed to provide Knox with an attorney at the impromptu witness interview after 11:00, the Supreme Court ruled that statement inadmissible in the murder case against her. However both statements were ruled admissible in court for the purpose of establishing the crime of defamation against Patrick Lumumba. Knox’s November 6 letter was also ruled admissible.

Guede, the man whose DNA was found on the victim, told a friend while he was still on the run that he had found Meredith stabbed and that Knox had nothing to do with the murder. However, in the same conversation, which was recorded by police, he speculated that Knox and Sollecito might have been at the cottage. In a letter dated March 7, 2010, while his sentence was awaiting final confirmation by the Supreme Court, Guede wrote that Knox and Sollecito murdered Meredith. He reiterated this claim as a witness during Knox and Sollecito’s appeal.

Forensic police from Rome concluded that a kitchen knife found in Sollecito’s apartment had Knox’s DNA on the handle and Meredith’s DNA on the blade. Sollecito’s DNA was on the victim’s bra clasp in Meredith’s locked bedroom.

Several eyewitnesses came forward. Three neighbors testified that they heard a disturbance around 11:30pm in the vicinity of the cottage. A homeless man who at appeal admitted heroin use was reading a newsmagazine at the basketball court near the cottage. He testified that he saw Knox and Sollecito four or five times that night. An Albanian, a possible drug dealer. who the Massei court deemed unreliable after the Micheli court accepted him, said he had seen all three suspects together, and that Knox had accosted him with a knife. A grocery store owner testified he saw Knox at his shop early on the morning after the murder.

The conflicting alibis of the two were never resolved during trial. On December 4, 2009, an eight-person panel consisting of two professional judges and six lay judges found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder aggravated by sexual assault, simulation of a burglary, unlawful carrying of a knife and, in Knox’s case, criminal defamation of Patrick Lumumba. The two were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively….

Knox’s mother later described her daughter as “oblivious to the dark side of the world.” Knox herself wrote that, on the night of the murder, she and Sollecito were talking about his mother’s suicide. She told him her philosophy was “life is full of choices and that these choices are not necessarily between good and evil, but between what’s better and what’s worse.”...

Results of our own peer-group analysis

Kassin asserted that the witnesses in this case imagined “new memories” unfavorable to Knox because of her highly-publicized confession. He referenced an experiment in which an unknown actor walked into a classroom and stole a laptop. The students were asked to try to identify the thief from a line-up. Two days later, the students were told which person in the line-up had confessed. Many changed their minds when told of the confession, although in truth the thief was never in the line-up at all.

Obviously this contrived scenario has nothing at all to do with Amanda Knox or people who had met her.

In his book, Meredith, the victim’s father John Kercher recalls his daughter complaining about Knox’s poor hygiene and how she brought home strange men several weeks before the murder. Numerous witnesses recounted specific anecdotes of Knox’s sharp-elbowed and offputting behavior. Her circle of friends quickly diminished only to Sollecito.

Really, could all these be “new memories”?

Psychologists studying eyewitness testimony, interrogation techniques and false confessions need to be circumspect. Even DNA testing, considered the best of the forensic sciences, requires a thorough understanding of circumstances in order to be interpreted correctly.

Kassin’s continued stonewalling and legal risks

I really wonder who agreed to publish him. I work in a science-based field. When I first learned Kassin had been recruited by Curt Knox’s hatchet men as a PR shill, had been put directly in touch with Knox herself, and had been provided with pre-selected reading materials, I wrote to ask him why he hadn’t disclosed all this to his readers.

Still no reply.

It’s true that numerous talking heads have exaggerated their qualifications and concealed their conflicts of interest and financial stakes when speaking in support of the defense. Judge Mike Heavey abused his oath of office to try to sway the process.

What’s different about Kassin is that, using his John Jay College aura, he has corrupted the scientific record with misinformation.

And he has done this, at least in part, with the goal of misleading an Italian court.  These dirty tricks are especially dangerous because most people, including judges, expect that what’s stated as fact in prominent academic journals is objective and true.

Kassin looks to us nothing like an academic here. He looks instead like a defense hired gun who (only in English and only in America) has repeatedly falsely accused police officers of serious felonies in how they questioned Knox as a witness.

If even a single complaint is lodged in Italy and Kassin cannot prove his 50 or so seemingly-spurious and very damaging claims, he could find himself facing years in an Italian prison for attempted obstruction of justice.

Kassin’s peers need to press him for the truth once and for all, and to stop him using his academic mantle illegally and academically unethically as a cloak for a sleazy defense campaign.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Saul Kassin: An Example Of How The Knox Campaign Is Misleading American Experts And Audiences

Posted by The Machine





It has happened again and again.

Seemingly good, well-qualified lawyers and experts in police science have repeatedly been made to surface to spout inanities and wrong “facts” put out courtesy of Curt Knox’s “public relations” campaign.

It seems that Dr Saul Kassin is yet another of these naive dupes.


Who is Dr Saul Kassin?

The Social Psychology Network website states that he is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the John Jay Criminal Justice College in New York City. The website outlines his impressive academic credentials which include a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.

Curt Knox’s chief hatchet man Bruce Fischer, himself notoriously unqualified in every field relevant to the case who for a long time masqueraded pompously under a false name, claimed on his website that Saul Kassin gave help to Amanda Knox’s lawyers in Perugia.

Also that his work was presented to the court during the 2011 Hellman appeal.

Many may not know this but Sarah was instrumental in bringing Kassin in to analyze Amanda’s interrogation. His work was presented during the appeal..

The family had asked that we not release Kassin’s work to the public until they received clearance from the attorneys. I know I often state that this case is over but the attorneys rightfully want to keep everything professional until the Italian Supreme Court confirms Hellmann.

Last October, Saul Kassin did speak at length about Amanda Knox’s interrogation in an interview with John Curley on Radio Kiro FM.

In this post we’ll examine ten of the false claims which have long been circulated by Curt Knox’s campaign, with Bruce Fischer’s site as the central clearing house, and which were regurgitated by Saul Kassin in that interview.


False Claim 1: They brought her in for that final interrogation late at night.

No they didn’t.

Neither the police nor the prosecutors brought Amanda in for questioning on 5 November 2007. Amanda Knox herself testified in court that she wasn’t called to come to the police station on 5 November 2007.

Carlo Pacelli: “For what reason did you go to the Questura on November 5? Were you called?”

Amanda Knox: “No, I wasn’t called. I went with Raffaele because I didn’t want to be alone.”

Amanda Knox went with Raffaele Sollecito because she didn’t want to be alone. Kassin’s false claim is the first red flag that Saul Kassin is very confused or has been seriously misled when it comes to this well-documented and well-handled case.


False Claim 2: The so-called confession wasn’t until 6:00am.

No it wasn’t.

If Saul Kassin had actually read Amanda Knox’s first witness statement, he would have known that it was made at 1:45am. Knox had admitted that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed some time before this.


False Claim 3: She was interrogated from 10:00pm to 6.00am.

No she wasn’t.

According to the Daily Beast Amanda Knox’s questioning began at about 11:00pm.

Since Knox was already at the police station [in the company of Raffaele Sollecito] the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m.

After Amanda Knox had made her witness statement at 1:45am, she wasn’t questioned again that evening. That was it.

However, Amanda Knox herself then wanted to make further declarations and Mr Mignini who was on duty on the night sat and watched while Knox wrote out her declarations.

Mr Mignini explained what happened in his email letter to Linda Byron, another who was factually challenged.

All I did was to apply the Italian law to the proceedings. I really cannot understand any problem.

In the usual way, Knox was first heard by the police as a witness, but when some essential elements of her involvement with the murder surfaced, the police suspended the interview, according to Article 63 of the penal proceedings code.

But Knox then decided to render spontaneous declarations, that I took up without any further questioning, which is entirely lawful.

According to Article 374 of the penal proceedings code, suspects must be assisted by a lawyer only during a formal interrogation, and when being notified of alleged crimes and questioned by a prosecutor or judge, not when they intend to render unsolicited declarations.

Since I didn’t do anything other than to apply the Italian law applicable to both matters, I am unable to understand the objections and reservations which you are talking about.

In Amanda Knox’s written witness statement, she explicitly states that she’s making a spontaneous declaration:

Amanda Knox: “I wish to relate spontaneously what happened because these events have deeply bothered me and I am really afraid of Patrick, the African boy who owns the pub called “Le Chic” located in Via Alessi where I work periodically.



False Claim 4: They banged her on the back of the head.

No they didn’t.

All the numerous witnesses who were actually present when Amanda Knox was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at trial in 2009 that she wasn’t hit. She has never identified anyone who hit her and on several occasions confirmed that she was treated well.

Even one of Amanda Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that Amanda Knox had not been hit: “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”  He never ever lodged a complaint.


False Claim 5: All the other British roommates left town.

No they didn’t.

The police also told Sophie Purton that they needed her to stay on in Perugia on precisely the same basis as Amanda Knox. In chapter 19 of Death in Perugia, John Follain states that Sophie Purton was questioned by Mignini and Napoleoni in the prosecutor’s office on 5 November 2007.

Sophie had been counting on leaving Perugia to fly back home as soon as her parents arrived, but the police called to tell her they needed her to stay on; they would let her know when she could leave.



False Claim 6 : Amanda Knox stayed back to help the police.

No she didn’t.

This claim is flatly contradicted by Amanda Knox herself. In the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007 she categorically stated she was not allowed to leave Italy.

i then bought some underwear because as it turns out i wont be able to leave italy for a while as well as enter my house

Knox actually knew on 2 November 2007 that she couldn’t leave Italy. Amy Frost reported the following conversation (The Massei report, page 37),

I remember having heard Amanda speaking on the phone, I think that she was talking to a member of her family, and I heard her say, No, they won’t let me go home, I can’t catch that flight.

It’s not the first time that the myth that Knox chose to stay behind rather than leave Italy has been claimed in the media. And incidentally, lying repeatedly to the police isn’t normally considered to be helping them.


False Claim 7: Amanda Knox had gone 8 hours without any food or drink.

No she hadn’t.

Reported by Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009

Ms Napoleoni told the court that while she was at the police station Ms Knox had been ‘treated very well. She was given water, camomile tea and breakfast. She was given cakes from a vending machine and then taken to the canteen at the police station for something to eat.’

Reported by Richard Owen in The Times, 15 March 2009.

Ms Donnino said that Ms Knox had been “comforted” by police, given food and drink, and had at no stage been hit or threatened.

John Follain in his meticulous book Death in Perugia, page 134, also reports that Knox was given food and drink during her questioning:

During the questioning, detectives repeatedly went to fetch her a snack, water, and hot drinks including camomile tea.



False Claim 8: The translator was hostile towards Amanda Knox.

No she wasn’t.

Saul Kassin offers no evidence that the translator was hostile towards Amanda Knox and there is no evidence that this was the case. Nobody at the questura has claimed this. Amanda Knox’s own lawyers have not claimed this.

Even Amanda Knox herself has never ever claimed that Anna Donnino was hostile towards her although she had every opportunity to do so when being questioned on the stand.


False Claim 9: The translator was acting as an agent for the police.

No she wasn’t.

Saul Kassin offers no evidence to support this claim, which by the way in Italy is the kind of unprofessional charge that incurs calunnia suits. Do ask Curt Knox.


False Claim 10: The police lied to Amanda Knox.

No they didn’t.

The police didn’t mislead Amanda Knox. They told her quite truthfully that Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi, and that he had just claimed in the next interrogation room that that she wasn’t at his apartment from around 9:00pm to about 1:00am.

This also is the kind of unprofessional charge that incurs calunnia suits


Some Conclusions

Saul Kassin clearly hasn’t been directed to any of the official court documents like the Massei report, available in accurate English on PMF and TJMK, or the relevant transcripts of the court testimony.

Worse, he clearly hasn’t even studied Amanda Knox’s own witness statements before claiming to the media that they were coerced.

What he seems to have done is to fall hook line and sinker for the fantasy version of Amanda Knox’s interrogation which has been propagated in the media by Amanda Knox’s family.

He has then mindlessly regurgitated this false information in this interview. For somebody with Saul Kassin’s academic qualifications and educational background, it’s inexcusable that he gets so many facts wrong.

He needs to use much more reputable sources or, as so many other dupes before him have done, simply shut up. Of course, it would be professional for him to admit his mistakes.

He is welcome to do that right here.


[Below: Dr Jeremy Travis the president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC]




Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lord Justice Leveson: In Fact MANY Press Errors Were Made In The Reporting On Meredith’s Case

Posted by Peter Quennell





The enquiry in London by Lord Leveson (above) is looking into press phone hacking and extreme coziness with politicians and police.

A few days ago, Lord Leveson’s lead lawyer grilled Martin Clarke, the Mail Online’s editor, about a story that briefly showed on the Mail Online website last October. It stated that the Hellman appeal court had confirmed that Knox was guilty.

Actually neither Martin Clark nor Lord Leveson’s lead counsel got it right - nor for that matter any other media in the UK. Judge Hellman had simply issued another INTERIM and PROVISIONAL verdict not yet ratified by the Supreme Court.

Under the Italian justice system,  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito STILL stand accused of the crime, until the Supreme Court finally signs off. There is a very strong prosecution appeal now in front of the Supreme Court, and Judge Hellman’s not-guilty verdict will very likely be reversed.

As this has rarely if ever been correctly reported in the UK almost every interested British observer now has it seriously wrong. Take a look here at how the BBC got it wrong at great and effusive length.

It starts with this:  “For one family from Seattle, a four-year nightmare is over….”  The BBC didn’t even mention the four-year nightmare of Meredith’s family.

The myriad wrong facts in that BBC report were not simply technical mistakes on the same lines as the Mail Online’s. They were talking reports supplied by Curt Knox’s abusive and misleading PR campaign which the BBC then parroted in a pandering and highly unprofessional report. One revealing zero attempt at checking or balance.

Which, really was worse? A technical mistake by the Mail or a deliberate selling-out by the BBC?

As Mr Clarke observed on the stand, this is not an easy case for UK media to report. But newspapers and TV networks and their websites carrying resident reporters Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau and the ABC’s Anne Wise (now yanked persumably for being too honest) and Richard Owens and John Follain of Rupert Murdoch’s London Times group always manage to get it right. So for the most part does the the freelance Nick Pisa who we also often quote.
 
In contrast the erratic Nick Squires and the erratic Michael Day of respectively the Telegraph and the Independent just two weeks ago reported very misleadingly - and no correction and apology has yet appeared.

If the Leveson enquiry wants to explore DELIBERATE media mistakes we have highlighted dozens on this site.

Posted on 05/17/12 at 02:53 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dear CEO Gary Pruitt: Could The Associated Press Try To Report Right A Little Harder?

Posted by Peter Quennell





The New York-based Associated Press (headquarters shown at bottom) bills itself as the world’s oldest and largest news-gathering organization.

[From the AP website] More than one billion people look to The Associated Press (AP) for news each day. Founded in 1848, the AP is the world’s foremost information resource with more than 3,700 employees at 242 bureaus worldwide serving 121 countries 24 hours a day, seven days a week via newspaper, radio, television and the Web.

The AP is a co-operative owned by over 1,000 newspapers and, like most of the mainstream media it serves, the AP rather has its back against the wall. From the Wikipedia entry:

The AP lost $14.7 million in 2010 as revenue plummeted for a second consecutive year. 2010 revenue totaled $631 million, a decline of 7% from the previous year. This is despite sweeping price cuts designed to bolster revenues and help newspapers and broadcasters cope with declining revenue.

That image above is of Gary Pruitt. A lot is riding on him to sustain a quality service and deversify in any way he can to pump those revenues back up. Right now, he is a senior media executive in Sacramento, California, but he will become the president and CEO of the AP in two months.

Most Americans hear far more about Meredith’s case from the AP than they do from any other source. Typically the AP sends out a story every few days when the case is live in Perugia. Typically these stories then get posted on 200 to 2,000-pus media websites in the US and around the world.

The AP also sends out many video reports, which are broadcast by the many member TV stations, and the AP also posts them on YouTube. If you search Google Video for “associated press meredith kercher” you will get 30,000 hits, and if you search “associated press amanda knox” you will get ten times that amount.

The AP reports on the case have at times veered to the deeply trivial. Here is a post about Amanda Knox’s 2008 Christmas in prison which included only a single sentence about the real victim Meredith and her family. Within hours it was up on 800 websites.

The AP reports have also at times included seriously wrong facts.  Sometimes it corrects them, sometimes not. Here is a post about a correction of a mistake which appeared on about 2,000 websites. The apology has been removed but the story when posted was inaccurate and it has been re-written to hide that. .

But the real gut problem in AP reporting on the case is one of deep superficiality and of leaving an awful lot unsaid.

Here is a report by the AP cultural and publishing correspondent Hillel Italie (image below) in New York.  It is essentially correct so far as it goes, but it is a good example of the republishing of press releases while leaving an awful lot unsaid.

Here are just three examples of what the AP could have covered in this report and its many other reports but so far hasn’t.

  • All trials and appeals have concluded with a sentencing report in Italian explaining what the reasons of the judges were. The AP has not only done no translation (it has bilingual reporters in Italy); of the reports’ very existence, the AP audience would never know.

  • There is a lot of legal activity just ahead in the Supreme Court appeal against RS and AK and the calunnia and perversion of justice trials. The once-convicted perps are now looking at a formidable new prosecutor, though the AP audience would never know.

  • There has been a costly, huge and highly onesided PR effort which has been unfairly hard on Italy and its justice system and its police and prosecutors and experts, to the point often of defamation, but the AP audience would never know.

Anyone who gets their news on the case only from the AP would essentially know NOTHING of the facts we have advanced in all the recent posts on the books and shortly before that in all the recent facts on the appeal and family trials. They would know only a tiny fraction of the full universe of facts and much of what they do “know” is flat-out wrong. 

Nice going, Associated Press. Your worst performance ever, perhaps? But then, why bother, when only an entire very civilized country and hundreds of its officials and truth and justice are being slimed?

What most Italians know of the details of the case is maybe ten times more detailed and comprehensive and fair and accurate than what most Americans and many Brits know. Italian reporting and interviews and media investigations are very fair. In contrast the AP is proving lazy and sloppy and inaccurate. Not to mention very dishonest.

Mr Pruitt, please ensure that AP reporting learns something from this? Right now, they are falling seriously short. 

[Below: the Associated Press cultural and publishing reporter Hillel Italie in New York]

[Below: part of the main AP press room located on 33rd Street on the west side of Manhattan]

[Below: the AP occupies space in that large square dark building immediately behind the Hudson Rail Yards]

Posted on 03/27/12 at 04:43 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Media Starting To Take A Closer Look At The Knox PR Shills, Starting Out With Nina Burleigh

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





Click on the image above for the report on the PR role of Nina Burleigh by the New York Times’s Kate Zernike.

In the news media’s frenzy surrounding an Italian court’s decision last week to free Amanda Knox, the American exchange student convicted of killing her roommate in Perugia, the journalist Nina Burleigh was a near-constant television presence. Her face looped in and out of shows like “Today,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20” and “Anderson Cooper 360.” She made appearances on NPR, the BBC and MSNBC.

With her emphatic defense of Ms. Knox (criticizing the “appalling” treatment of her by the Italian courts and news media, insisting “the evidence didn’t exist,” that the “jury rubber-stamped a conviction”), Ms. Burleigh seemed at times to move from journalist to advocate, treading what she knew, as a longtime reporter and author, was a dangerous line.

Nina Burleigh has certainly had a busy, busy week - playing advocate for Amanda Knox, plugging Burleigh’s own book on the case, and helping CBS sell the first of many (many more than anyone wants to see) pre-packaged Knox pieces that dutifully toe the Marriott Party line.

Those looking for facts are advised to watch major league baseball on Sunday night.

Burleigh found herself facing a dilemma before she penned the first paragraph of her book: Team Marriott, firmly in place by then, would only allow access to advocacy journalists. So Burleigh took that path, a disastrous one for everything but television exposure and perhaps book sales.

Burleigh jumped on board late, does not speak Italian, attended only a handful of trial sessions, and even got the birthdate of the victim, Meredith Kercher, wrong. Worse, she used the Knox’s friendly translator as her interpreter! That trail is a loop that leads to a predictable place.

For authors claiming to be journalists, this excellent NY Times piece should serve as a warning: Advocacy is not journalism. It leads to conflict of interest and turns journalists into shills. And this is bad for all of us.

This book should be on the bedside table of anyone who aspires to be a journalist.


Posted on 10/10/11 at 06:30 PM by Skeptical Bystander. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamNina Burleigh
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Slate’s Katie Crouch Comes Across Like A Callous And Ill-Informed Sock Puppet

Posted by Peter Quennell





Slate’s sneering self-promoter Katie Crouch seems to forget that there is a real victim here. Like Lis Wiehl she seems to find Meredith’s death one huge joke.

For a slightly trapped Umbrian tourist with a 16-month-old on her hands, this case seemed a gift. Finally, something to talk about in my broken Italian with the locals! Do you think she’s guilty? My pension owner, a jolly man with two kids, said yes, definitely. Hadn’t I been to college? It was an orgy with a knife! An American expatriate friend over cappuccinos at Sandri’s: Guilty. It’s a known fact that the girl had sex with three men in two months. Need we say more?

She seems to rely only on ill-informed gossip from bar-flies to conclude that Amanda Knox is innocent and, yes, she should be set free. Even a remotely competent reporter would have managed to find out and report on these basic facts.

  • Italy’s is one of the most cautious and painstaking justice systems in the world. It is so careful and so reluctant to conclude guilt that its incarceration rate is less than one-sixth that of the United States. Italy has less than 100,000 prisoners behind bars. The US with a population less than five times that of Italy has 2.7 MILLION.

  • Part of every trial and appeal process in Italy as required by the constitution is an exhaustive report explaining every verdict and sentence. In this case there are FOUR such documents amounting to nearly 700 pages. Two for two trials and two for Guede’s two appeals. One of those is by the Supreme Court and it confirms three people attacked Meredith on the night.

Had Katie Crouch read Judge Micheli’s sentencing report for Rudy Guede (linked to in our right column) and Judge Massei’s sentencing report for Knox and Sollecito (linked to in full and summary above) here’s betting she would never have concluded as she did.  These claims for example would never have been made.

After naming Knox and Sollecito as co-killers, Guede’s time was reduced to 16 years.

Rudy Guede has never named Knox and Sollecito as “co-killers”. He named them as the only two killers, only once, to their faces, in the appeal. His sentence was automatically reduced solely because he opted for the fast track process which Italy allows. It was not a reward and he did not testify at Knox’s and Sollecito’s trial.

During the trial, Knox and Sollecito were accused of planning and carrying out a sex crime that ended in the slow sawing open of the victim’s throat…. Then there was the prosecutor’s theory of a bullying four-way sex game gone wrong.

The sex crime idea is not so farcical as Katie Crouch suggests. Meredith had been sexually molested, and her body had been re-arranged some time after her death to point to a sex attack. It was reasonable that the prosecutor put this to the court. Judge Micheli named Knox as the probable initiator in sending her to trial. Judge Massei named Guede as the probable initiator. Guede, Knox and Sollecito were all convicted of a sex crime. Two trials and two appeals have all concluded that three people had to have participated in Meredith’s attack.

For one thing, during her interrogation, Amanda named her boss, a bar owner named Patrick Lumumba, as the killer, and herself as present in the cottage. But Lumumba had an airtight alibi of tending his bar, Le Chic, that night. Why this bogus accusation implicating herself?

This is fully explained by Judge Massei. The interrogators were checking Knox’s recent calls and Lumumba’s name came up. Knox was in an apparent panic at the time as she had just been told that Sollecito had just destroyed her first alibi. Naming Lumumba (which she did not recant until he was released) was an apparent panic attempt to create another.

Meredith Kercher’s blood was on the murder weapon, a knife found in Sollecito’s kitchen. But no it wasn’t, the experts who testified at the appeals said.

This is simply incorrect. The scientific police expert who conducted the original test invited defense experts to be present. One did appear, and he witnessed Meredith’s DNA profile emerging from the machine.  One prosecution witness at the appeal said there was enough material for a retest and the prosecution asked Judge Hellman for this. After a consultation with the jury he said what they had heard already was enough.

OK, well, what about the fact that Knox bought bleach at 7 in the morning after the murder? Wait, but she didn’t. A witness later said her co-worker was coerced into saying that by a reporter. (Plus, after a violent diaper emergency, I myself can tell you that no store in Perugia is open at seven in the morning.)

This is an absurd mis-statement of the relevant evidence. The manager of the Conad testified that Knox was waiting for the store to open when he arrived. Nobody testified that she bought bleach. The real significance of this evidence is that it destroys Knox’s claim that she slept in until after 10:00.

I got up at 5 in the morning and crept to the cottage where the murder happened, staring in the window that the prosecutor argued no one could climb into, meaning the killer had to have keys. But the window didn’t look that high. I could probably climb up there.

A tall and very agile defense staff member tried this and after getting his hands up to the windowsill he had to give up. Judge Massei describes extensively the evidence below the wall, on the wall, on the window sill, and in the room itself to prove that nobody entered by that route. The only DNA found in the room was Knox’s mixed with Meredith’s DNA. No DNA of Guede or any other possible perpetrator was found there.

Knox and Sollecito turned off their phones that night not so they couldn’t be tracked, but because they didn’t want their parents bothering them during sex.

They had never simultaneously turned off their phones before. Sollecito’s final alibi has it that Knox was away from his place for four hours which is hardly conducive to a claim that they were having undisturbed sex.

Knox named Lumumba as the murderer because it was 5 in the morning and she’d been interrogated all night in a language she didn’t, at the time, understand very well.

It was not 5 in the morning. She made the claim soon after midnight and then repeated it in writing at her request for Mr Mignini. At the witness interview (which she volunteered for and could have refused) she had a translator present. Knox mentioned the translator in her testimony at trial.

She had only been in Italy about six weeks, and she hadn’t had any food or water for hours.

Knox herself confirmed at trial that she was given refreshments and treated well. Her own lawyers have never backed up such claims or filed an official complaint. For making claims of abuse against the interrogators both Knox and her parents face calunnia suits by those who consider themselves defamed.

Amanda’s DNA is mixed with Meredith’s blood on the bathroom sink because she brushed her teeth every day.

Not even Knox herself made that absurd claim. Katie Crouch should read this post on the various traces of mixed blood which the defenses have kept well away from disputing.

The knife the police had didn’t match Meredith’s wounds because it wasn’t the right one.

A defense witness at trial conceded that the large knife did match one of Meredith’s wounds. Good grief. Is there ANYTHING that Katie Crouch did get right?

Posted on 09/16/11 at 07:21 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, September 02, 2011

Nina Burleigh: View From A Broad Who Doesn’t Seem To Like Broads Or Being Abroad

Posted by Peggy Ganong





In Burleigh’s shoddy book on the murder of Meredith Kercher, she gets the victim’s birthday wrong. But that’s not all she gets wrong. From what I can tell, Burleigh simply skips over much of the key evidence in favor of gossiping about and criticizing other journalists who have covered the case.

She is particularly hard on female journalists, which is odd given that she prides herself on being a modern feminist. I find it very telling, for example, that she indicates what Barbie Nadeau and Andrea Vogt’s husbands do for a living (one works for the UN and one is a university professor), but does not see fit to provide us with any information on what the wives of any of the male journalists do.

The implication is clear: these two “females” took up writing as a sort of hobby after trailing behind their menfolk to Europe. Worse, Burleigh notes that though they are both American born, they are more European in “style” and “craft” which, aside from being absolute nonsense, remains unsubstantiated by any analysis whatsoever. It amounts to saying “they’re sooooo European”. What does that mean?

Well, once you know that Burleigh is a relentless and mindless cheerleader for the superiority of all things American, it becomes clear that what she means is that they are inferior journalists because all things European are inferior to all things American. Burleigh also claims that what she calls Nadeau’s “cosmopolitan speech affect” is an attempt to hide her Middle American roots (in Burleigh’s words, her “rural South Dakota accent”). She says the “statuesque redhead” Vogt looks like she could play the role of Brenda Starr.

In other words, Burleigh is trying to suggest that these two are imposters, merely playing at journalism by dressing up like a cartoon journalist or putting on airs and trying to talk like a big city slicker instead of a sharecropper.

In fact, Vogt has been a working reporter for fifteen years, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in journalism, is trilingual and has published in English, German and Italian. I don’t know much about Nadeau’s academic training, but she currently writes on a variety of topics for both Newsweek and the Daily Beast. And the excellent Christopher Dickey thinks quite highly of her.

Meanwhile, back to Burleigh and her seemingly endless supply of sour grapes. At one point in her book, she mentions an Italian female reporter, but only to comment on her boots! One starts to wonder what she has against women, especially her professional peers.

Her male peers do not get a free pass, either, at least those who work in that dreadful country Italy where, according to Burleigh, freedom of speech does not exist. She criticizes foreign journalists based in Italy, basically calling them a bunch of cowards, so fearful of the Mafia that they confine themselves to writing about la dolce vita—food, wine and bunga bunga. This is absolute bollocks, of course.

John Follain, who has covered the case for the Times, has written two books about Italy in the fifteen or so years he has lived there: one is about the Mafia, while the other takes on the Vatican. Vogt investigated the White Supremacy movement in Idaho and has written an excellent book about it, not without exposing herself to danger. As for Nadeau, she has covered Italy’s garbage crisis, and in one gritty, unforgettable article for Newsweek describes walking through some of the most dangerous Mafia neighborhoods.

All three have been viciously attacked by Knox supporters. Meanwhile, Nina Burleigh is happy to fixate on what her fellow journalists are wearing and eating and drinking. Come to think of it, when she was a correspondent in France, she was obsessed with complaining about and criticizing French women, probably for not instantly recognizing her innate superiority.

It is too bad Burleigh opted to focus on this kind of crap instead of actually discussing much of the real evidence against Knox and Sollecito. Frankly, hers is the most disappointing and surely the nastiest book on the tragic murder of Meredith Kercher that has been published to date. After reading what Burleigh wrote about Nadeau and Vogt, I was left wondering why she has such an ax to grind with them.

Is it because they are at least a decade younger than she is? Is it because they live in Europe and she doesn’t? Is it because they are fluent in foreign languages and she isn’t? I really don’t know, but the book sure has a bitter stench to it.

The good news is I didn’t even have to buy it. In fact, I don’t want to be seen reading it in public. Thanks to Google books, I was able to find many of the offending passages on line. In addition, I can discreetly skim at my local bookseller’s. All in all, I have found it a pretty dull exercise. The book is glib, superficial and gossipy. One walks away feeling dirty and sad, wondering where one would be placed within Burleigh’s social and class hierarchy. Hopefully at least a hair above middle class.

I almost forgot to mention the pièce de résistance in Burleigh’s sliming of the two female journalists who did not roll over for the Knox family PR supertanker. Burleigh also asserts that these two small-town American imposters, after acquiring their polished “style” and “craft” by living in Europe, were “appalled” by the way AK and her family “flouted” Italian mores, implying that this snobbery tainted their reporting.

While I recall both journalists providing good analysis of how and why some of the antics of AK and her family were not good strategy under the circumstances – for example, AK’s decision to turn up in court one day wearing an over-sized “all you need is love” t-shirt or her sister Deanna’s choice of courtroom attire on July 4 (red-white-and-blue hotpants outfit) – I have never read anything suggesting they personally disapproved of or were appalled by the American and her family.

Since this snide and non-sourced aside appears on the same page as Burleigh’s claim that Nadeau tried to hide her “rural” accent with a “cosmopolitan speech affect”, it is fair to say that Burleigh’s real goal is to discredit them as objective reporters. It is almost as if she - Burleigh - were taking dictation from Doug Preston! And if Burleigh finds this to be a sexist remark, then I suggest she take a long, hard look in the mirror.

In the same section of the book, Burleigh describes John Kercher as a tabloid reporter and notes that neither he nor his family even “attempted” to learn Italian, relying instead on their lawyer to tell them what was going on.

Yes, you read that right: Burleigh thinks that the grieving Kercher family should have set aside their grief and contacted Berlitz straight away! And she implies that it is a mistake to rely on their legal counsel for information or advice. (At least Italy gives the victim’s family a legal voice.) I guess Burleigh would prefer that the Kercher family turn to people like Amanda’s stepfather Chris Mellas, or the various profiteers riding the PR supertanker: David Marriott and Doug Preston to name just two. This is apparently what Burleigh did.

It is clear from what I have read that Burleigh is not concerned with the victim Meredith Kercher or her family. She seems more interested in passing judgement on those she considers inferior in station to herself (just about everyone),complaining about life in Italy and taking pot shots at other journalists. My guess is that deep down she likes Italy about as much as she liked France, which is to say not much, maybe not at all. Burleigh is that quintessential Ugly American. I saw early signs of it in her reporting on this case for Time.

Incidentally, she did not begin until June of 2009, when the trial was well under way and almost two years after the murder itself. I had never heard of Burleigh, so I decided to have a look at her earlier work, especially that on life in France. I truly was flabbergasted by her utter inability to cope in a strange land.

She took an instant dislike to the French in general and was unable to understand the culture, in part because she was unable or unwilling to learn the language. I find it ironic – and appalling – that she faults the Kerchers, of all people, for not learning the language of the country where their daughter/sister was murdered when she herself could or would not learn the language of the country she was residing in under happy circumstances.

Is it class or gender or nationality that Burleigh most has a problem with?

Hard to say, since she seems to have a sense of superiority that encompasses all three. Speaking of disapproval, Burleigh treats the Knox women and Meredith’s British friends in the same haughty, catty manner as she treats her professional peers. In fact, she refers to the Knox clan collectively as “a hair on the low side of middle class”. I guess from the throne upon which she has placed herself, Burleigh is able to make these fine distinctions and, in addition, finds it necessary.

And how about this fine value judgement on page 33? “Amanda was the sole member of the gaggle of menstruating, jealous, bitchy, angry, loving, needy females around Curt who could keep her emotions in check”. I’m not making this up; Burleigh actually wrote those words. One pictures hapless Curt surrounded by the seven dwarves (Jealous, Bitchy, Angry, Loving, Needy, Bloody and Amanda).

While I believe that Amanda Knox was rightly convicted for her role in Meredith Kercher’s death, and though I have been critical of her family’s decision to hire a PR firm that has attempted to manipulate public opinion, I certainly think they are entitled to a little more respect and empathy than this. Speaking of entitled, that is how Burleigh herself comes off throughout this book.

Moving on to Meredith’s British friends, Burleigh dismisses them en masse with this tightly packed bundle of sexism and stereotyping: “tweedy peaches-and-cream complected sylphs who moved as a pack”. How Burleigh would even know how they moved is beyond me, since she was not covering the case in the days or even months that followed this brutal murder. Perhaps, if they did stick together, it was for mutual comfort. That’s what the little people do, Nina.

Italian women are not spared either. In addition to her fixation on a local reporter’s boots (perhaps because she could not read her work?), Burleigh describes Police Chief Monica Napoleoni’s style as “part dominatrix, part donatella Versace with a badge” and another Italian policewoman as a “thick-bodied woman”. Nina’s motto: When in Rome and unable to follow what’s going on, focus instead on making disparaging comments about the way other women look.

Burleigh pretentiously dedicates her book to the victims of sexual violence, an odd choice since she does little more here than perpetuate the sexist and sexual stereotypes that underlie this phenomenon. I am all for supporting the victims of sexual violence and will do so by not buying Burleigh’s nasty piece of work, which adds nothing to our knowledge of the case anyway.

Anyone who really wants to read a good book on the murder of Meredith Kercher should try Darkness Descending and/or Angel Face, both out for some time now. In addition to these works, John Follain, who has lived in Italy since the mid-90’s and covered the case from the outset, has a book coming out soon. I seriously doubt he will be focusing on women’s boots.

Posted on 09/02/11 at 03:21 PM by Peggy Ganong. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamNina Burleigh
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Sunday, July 03, 2011

A Deeply Ugly, Inaccurate And Callous Piece Of Junk By Nathaniel Rich In “Rolling Stone”

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





Who is Nathaniel Rich?

According to Wikipedia, Nathanial Rich is an American author and essayist.

He is also the son of the New York Times columnist Frank Rich, and various online commentaries about him credit that.and not talent or ethics or hard work for any success he might have had.

Still, you would think that being the son of a high-profile journalist, Nathaniel Rich would try hard to write a fair, factually accurate and balanced report. One carefully checked out, with the Italians he impugns and with no sign of obsessive pro-female-perp bias. 

But instead Nathaniel Rich and his editor Sean Woods (image below) have come out with an xenophobic, defamatory,  highly inaccurate report..

In this piece Rich comes across like the notorious Stephen Glass who simply made stories up and whose editors never cross-checked until it was too late. Except Stephen Glass that never actually showed bigotry or defamed.

It does not seem too much to ask to expect anybody writing an article about the shocking sexual assault, torture and murder of Meredith Kercher for them to have done their due diligence? And to made sure that every single claim presented has been verified by the official court documents or independently corroborated by objective and reliable sources?

And for Sean Woods and other New York-based Rolling Stone editors even in their decline to check out their writers’ claims, especially with those impugned?

In this piece we analyze just some of the numerous wrong claims by Nathaniel Rich in his article The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox and compare them (as he should have done) to official court documents such as the Micheli report, the Massei report, Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report by the Supreme Court, and testimony at 2009 trial and 2011 first appeal [later annulled].




Above: Nathaniel Rich’s editor at Rolling Stone Sean Woods

Claim 1: There were bloody fingerprints all over the apartment

Wrong. Nathanial Rich gets his first basic fact wrong in just the second sentence of his article with his claim that Guede left bloody fingerprints all over the apartment.

There was in fact not even one. According to the Micheli report, the Massei report and Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report, Guede was identified by a single bloody palm print, not a whole lot of bloody fingerprints:

b) traces attributable to Guede: a palm print in blood found on the pillow case of a pillow lying under the victim’s body – attributed with absolute certainty to the defendant by its correspondence to papillary ridges as well as 16-17 characteristic points equal in shape and position…  (page 5, Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report).

It is confirmed that Guede was identified by a bloody palm print in the Micheli report (pages 10-11) and the Massei report (page 43). There was not a single fingerprint of his or Sollecito and almost none of Knox at the crime scene - which consists of the entire apartment.

Rich’s “her killer” in his opening implies there was only one killer but FOUR courts including the Supreme Court insisted there had to have been three. The lone wolf theory has long been dead. This is why the defense had to drag Alessi and Aviello into court two weeks ago, to try to prove Knox and Sollecito were not the other two.


Claim 2: A provincial police force botched one of the most intensely observed criminal investigations in Italy’s history

Wrong. A Knox cult myth. Nathaniel Rich attempts to disparage the investigation in Meredith’s murder with the smearing claim that it was seriously botched (it wasn’t) and by a provincial police force. Nathaniel Rich is trying to insinuate that that the police officers involved in the investigation were unsophisticated. However, again he only succeeds in revealing his ignorance of even the most basic facts of the case.

Two separate police departments from the Italian equivalent of the FBI in Rome were heavily involved in the investigation into Meredith’s murder: a forensic team from the Scientific Police led by Dr. Stefanoni, and the Violent Crimes Unit, led by Edgardo Giobbi.


Claim 3: Sollecito finally stated that Knox could have left his apartment for several hours on the night of Kercher’s murder while he was asleep

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich’s claim that Sollecito said that Knox “could” have left his apartment for several hours while he was sleeping is simply not true. You can read Sollecito’s various alibis here. Sollecito categorically stated in his witness statement that Knox DID leave his apartment, while he was wide awake. He said she went to Le Chic at 9:00pm and she came back at about 1.00am.

“At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner.”(Aislinn Simpson, The Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2007

“Police said Raffaele Sollecito had continued to claim he was not present on the evening of the murder. He said: “I went home, smoked a joint, and had dinner, but I don’t remember what I ate. At around eleven my father phoned me on the house phone. I remember Amanda wasn’t back yet. I surfed on the Internet for a couple of hours after my father’s phone call and I stopped only when Amanda came back, about one in the morning I think.” (The Times, 7 November 2007).

So Sollecito never said Knox “could” have left his apartment “while he was asleep”. The source for Nathaniel Rich’s embarrassing factual error is almost certainly the conspiracy theorist Bruce Fisher, who has repeatedly made the same false claim on his conspiracy website, a site riddled with invented claims.

Shame on Nathaniel Rich for gullibly believing another Knox cult myth, propagated by the likes of Moore and Fisher, and for being too lazy to independently verify this information.


Claim 4: Amanda Knox was slapped on the back of the head

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. Nathaniel Rich employs the same tactic as the conspiracists Bruce Fisher and Steve Moore who are trying by all possible means to rescue Amanda Knox from those dastardly Italians.

Namely, to give what appears to be a very detailed eyewitness account of what happened at the police station on 5 November 2007 despite the fact he wasn’t even there. He even includes “verbatim” quotes from some unnamed police officers.

Nathaniel Rich goes on to claim that Knox was slapped on the back of the head. All the witnesses who were present when she was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at trial in 2009 that Amanda Knox was NOT hit even once.

Even Amanda Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that Amanda Knox had not been hit: “There were pressures from the police, but we never said she was hit.”  He never ever lodged an official complaint.

Nathaniel Rich should have pointed out that Knox claimed this hitting only long after, when she was trying to explain why she had framed Patrick Lumumba. He should not have repeated it as if it were incontrovertible truth.

And he should have pointed out that both Amanda Knox herself and both her parents are enmeshed in separate trials for doing that. 




Above: Rolling Stone aggravates defamation - this tweet was sent March 2013

Claim 5: Amanda Knox finally broke down and accused Diya Lumumba of murder at 5.45am

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich clearly does not know the chronology of events at the police station on 5 November 2007. His false claim that Knox finally broke down at 5.45am gives the impression that she had been subjected to a continuous all-night interrogation.

In fact Amanda Knox very rapidly “broke down” and claimed that Lumumba was “bad” and had murdered Meredith when she was still only a witness, not a suspect, and was told Sollecito had pulled the rug from under her alibi. She signed a statement at 1.45am, not at 5.45am, when she repeated the claim voluntarily. (She also repeated it later that same day in writing.)

Amanda Knox’s questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect. She wasn’t actively questioned again that evening. However, several hours later she decided to make an unsolicited spontaneous declaration. Mignini was called at 3.30am and he observed her declaration. Knox makes it explicit in her witness statement that she was making her statement spontaneously:

“I wish to relate spontaneously what happened because these events have deeply bothered me and I am really afraid of Patrick, the African boy who owns the pub called “Le Chic” located in Via Alessi where I work periodically.” (Amanda Knox’s 5.45am witness statement).

Claim 6:  The knife was selected at random by a detective from Sollecito’s kitchen drawer

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich regurgitates another prevalent Knox-cult myth with his claim that the double DNA knife was selected purely at random. However, the person who actually selected the knife, Armando Finzi, testified in court that he chose the knife because it was the only one compatible with the wound as it had been described to him.

“It was the first knife I saw,” he said. When pressed on cross-examination, said his “investigative intuition” led him to believe it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound as it had been described to him. (Seattle PI,



Claim 7: The confession, in violation of Italian police policy, was not recorded

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. The police weren’t required to record Amanda Knox’s interrogation on 5 November 2007 because she was being questioned as a witness and not as a suspect. Mignini explained that Amanda Knox was being questioned as a witness in his letter to reporter Linda Byron:

“In the same way, Knox was first heard by the police as a witness, but when some essential elements of her involvement with the murder surfaced, the police suspended the interview, according to Article 63 of the penal proceedings code.”

She came in to the central police station voluntarily and unasked that night when Sollecito was summoned for questioning, and police merely asked her if she could also be questioned as a witness. She did not have to agree, but she did. No recording of witnesses is required, either in Italy or the United States.


Claim 8: Amanda Knox refused to leave Perugia

Wrong. This Knox cult myth is actually contradicted by Amanda Knox herself. In the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007 she said she was not allowed to leave.

“i then bought some underwear because as it turns out i wont be able to leave italy for a while as well as enter my house”

Knox actually knew on 2 November 2007 that she couldn’t leave Italy. Amy Frost reported the following conversation.

” I remember having heard Amanda speaking on the phone, I think that she was talking to a member of her family, and I heard her say, No, they won’t let me go home, I can’t catch that flight’” (The Massei report, page 37).





Above: Rolling Stone aggravates defamation - this tweet was sent September 2013

Claim 9: Mignini suggested that the victim had been slaughtered during a satanic ritual

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. He did no such thing. Mignini has never claimed that Meredith was slaughtered during a satanic or sacrificial ritual, and that’s the reason why neither Nathaniel Rich - or anybody else for that matter - has been able to provide a verbatim quote from Mignini.

Mignini specifically denied claiming that Meredith was killed in a sacrificial rite, in his letter to the Seattle reporter Linda Byron:

“On the “sacrificial rite” question, I have never said that Meredith Kercher was the victim of a “sacrificial rite”.

Mignini also made it quite clear that he has never claimed that Meredith was killed as part of a satanic rite in his interview with Drew Griffin on CNN:

1’03” CNN: You’ve never said that Meredith’s death was a satanic rite?

1’08” Mignini: I have never said that. I have never understood who has and continues to say that. I read, there was a reporter – I don’t know his name, I mention it because I noticed it – who continues to repeat this claim that, perhaps, knowing full well that it’s not like that.

I have never said that there might have been a satanic rite. I’ve never said it, so I would like to know who made it up.

In fact Mignini has zero history of originating satanic-sect claims despite Doug Preston’s shrill claims. The notion of a secret satanic sect in Florence goes way back into history and many had declared the Monster of Florence murders satanic because of the nature of the mutilation long before Mignini assumed a (minor) role.


Claim 10: Mignini referred to Knox as a sex-and-drug-crazed “she-devil”

Wrong. Another laughable wrong fact. It wasn’t Mignini who called Amanda Knox a “she-devil”, it was Carlo Pacelli, the lawyer who represents Diya Lumumba, at the trial in 2009.

Carlo Pacelli’s comments were widely reported by numerous journalists who were present in the courtroom. Barbie Nadeau describes the moment he referred to Knox as a she-devil in some detail in Angel Face: 

“Who is the real Amanda Knox?” he asks, pounding his fist in the table. “Is she the one we see before us here, all angelic? Or is really a she-devil focused on sex, drugs, and alcohol, living life on the edge?”

“She is the luciferina-she devil.” (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, page 124).



Conclusion

Nathaniel Rich has published a sloppy callous error-ridden piece of pure propaganda straight out of the Knox cult handbook, complete with a gushy fawning reference to Amanda Knox in the title.

The piece includes an inflammatory mischaracterization of the extreme caution of the Italian justice system and the various officials working on the case.

There is no mention at all of the never-ending nightmare of Meredith’s family or the fact that she is NEVER coming back. Rich doesn’t seem to have the requisite emotional intelligence or reporter skills to realise that he may have been duped and used by the money-grubbers and killer-groupies of the Knox-cult campaign.

Posted on 07/03/11 at 04:15 PM by The TJMK Main Posters. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamMore of the same
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

It Seems Mignini Demonizer + Knox Fawner Judy Bachrach Learned Nothing In The Past Year

Posted by The Machine


Most of the real journalists have learned a lot about the case since the trial, hundreds have read the report by Judge Massei, and many of them now keep quiet or talk sense . .

Not apparently Vanity Fair’s Judy Bachrach though. She was the muddled and rather nasty main reporter last Friday on ABC’s shallow superficial 10 minute report on its shallow superficial crime show 20/20.

As Judy Bachrach said absolutely nothing new except for some weird tangled interpretation of where the DNA reviews Judge Hellman ordered stand now, let us repeat May 2010’s post below in full.

If a clip of the 20.20 segment is posted online, we will embed that at the top here so that we can hear Judy Bachrach’s latest muddled diatribe in her own words.




Hmmm. Isn’t Mr Mignini already suing people for hurtful claims about him not unlike those made very dogmatically in the video above?

And the similar hurtful claims made very dogmatically in the two videos down below here? Certainly Mr Mignini would seem to have what you might call a not-unstrong case.

  • First, the numbers of police, investigators and judges hoodwinked would have to have been truly huge. This case has a VAST cast of characters in Italy seeking true justice for Meredith - a jury, for example, and twenty judges by present count, and a nationally known and respected co-prosecutor.

  • And second, nothing in the judges’ sentencing report, which PMF and TJMK are in the final laps of translating into English, appears to back up her claims. Judge Micheli’s report a year ago, which explained Guede’s conviction and the reasons for sending Knox and Sollecito to trial, was already an almost unassailably tough document. And the report by Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani? It is even tougher.

Judy Bachrach has popped up repeatedly to straighten out us lesser beings on the case. For her, it appears to be almost a small industry. She is perhaps the most vehement and impervious of all the proponents of the notion that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are somehow being railroaded, by a corrupt prosecutor, Mr Mignini, and an incompetent legal system.

Wouldn’t you expect Judy Bachrach, as a professional journalist and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair,  to research her articles more meticulously? And to verify every single one of her claimed facts? In the same way that the Italy-based reporters we like to quote have incessantly managed to do - really quite brilliantly?

We have been analyzing Judy Bachrach’s many, many articles and TV commentaries about the case, and they all seem to point to the following conclusions. 

  • That she hasn’t ever read the Micheli report and doesn’t seem to have actually ever mentioned it.

  • That she hasn’t had full access to the prosecution’s 10,000-plus pages file of evidence, and maybe she has had no access at all.

  • That she didn’t attend the key court sessions in which highly incriminating forensic and circumstantial evidence was presented.

  • That she hasn’t absorbed the numerous factual newspaper and magazine reports about the key forensic and circumstantial evidence.

  • That she seems to rely either a lot or totally on sources with vested interests who feed her wrong theories and false information.

  • And that she comes across to us as the reporter most often showing on US media outlets the most complete ignorance of the case.

Quite a track record. We wonder if she is really very proud of it. She seems to sound so. Now to examine the details of some of her small jungle of wrong claims.

First false claims…

Judy Bachrach made the following claims in an article entitled “Perugia’s Prime Suspect” for for Vanity Fair.

Rudy Guede’s DNA would be found all over her dead body the next day….“His DNA was found not only all over the British girl’s body but also in his bloody fingerprint staining one of her cushions and on the straps of the bra she wore the night of her death.

Judy Bachrach’s claims that Rudy Guede’s DNA was all over Meredith’s body have long been demonstrably false. According to the Micheli report here quickly translated here there was only ONE instance of Rudy Guede’s DNA on Meredith.

Where exactly did Judy Bachrach get that false information from? It clearly wasn’t from the DNA results from the tests carried out by Dr. Stefanoni and her team, or any official court documents, or the Micheli report.

And why exactly did she propagate it? Was she perhaps deliberately trying to exaggerate the evidence against Rudy Guede? Whilst playing down or completely ignoring the forensic and circumstantial evidence against Knox and Sollecito?

Another false claim…

In the same Vanity Fair article, Judy Bachrach makes the claim that “Amanda had tried three times to reach Meredith by cell phone, without success.”

If Judy Bachrach had examined the mobile phone records which are part of the prosecution’s 10,000 page report, as the court did and as we have done, she might have concluded otherwise - that Amanda Knox never ever made even one genuine attempt to contact Meredith.

Two of Knox’s phone calls lasted only 3 seconds and 4 seconds.

Judy Bachrach would have also realised that Knox’s claim that Meredith’s Italian phone “just kept ringing, no answer” was in fact a lie. And that Knox’s e-mail version of events at the house on 2 November is totally contradicted by what is in those mobile phone records.

Our poster Finn MacCool rather brilliantly drew attention a year ago now in this post here to how very, very incriminating those phone records are. (They also seem to incriminate Amanda Knox’s mother. Why doesn’t a good reporter actually ask her about this?)

Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani certainly don’t believe that Knox made a genuine attempt to contact Meredith. And they provide a very detailed explanation of why they don’t, in the sentencing report we are now translating.

And as you will soon see in that report, they also pull totally apart Knox’s email version of the events on 2 November to her friends and family in Seattle.


Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach has claimed that the bra clasp in Meredith’s bedroom was “discovered” only in January 2008.

But to complicate matters, a forensics team took a second look around the House of Horrors in January; this time they discovered a clasp that had been cut off the same bra. On that clasp they found Raffaele’s DNA.

House of Horrors? A callous way to refer to the sad place where a remarkable girl with a grieving family and many grieving friends was tortured and then deliberately left to die.

And in actual fact, Dr. Stefanoni was fully aware that the bra clasp was missing from the time she reviewed in the Rome labs the evidence collected from the crime scene - early in November. The clasp couldn’t be collected until the defense experts had agreed upon a date.

There was no other cause to the delay, and the bar clasp was never simply “discovered” at the second evidence visit in January. The forensic team went there specifically to get it. And it was actually recovered on 18 December 2007.

Another false claim…

Perhaps the reason why Judy Bachrach gets so many of the basic facts like those above wrong is that she seems to rely very heavily on sources who feed her false information. One example:

But three legal sources in Perugia (two unfriendly to Amanda) tell me the injuries sustained by Meredith were inconsistent with the blade of that knife.

All of Judy Bachrach’s “three legal sources”  provided her with wrong facts.

The double DNA knife found in Sollecito’s apartment is fully compatible with the deep puncture wound on Meredith’s neck. This has been widely reported by a number of journalists in the British and American media. For example “According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau in Newsweek).

The sentencing report of Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani also now confirms that the knife is absolutely compatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach claims that when Knox and Sollecito changed their versions of events they did so because things got rough.

Simultaneously, in a separate room, Raffaele, too, was questioned by police. Like Amanda’s, his version of events seemed to change whenever things got rough.

Raffaele Sollecito actually changed his version of events most dramatically on 5 November 2007 when he was confronted with the telephone records that proved that he and Knox had lied. It was then that he in effect threw Knox under the bus, and he has never really backed her versions of events on the night fully ever since.

And Amanda Knox in turn changed her version of events most dramatically when she was informed that Sollecito had admitted that they had both lied, that he was wrong to go along with her version, and that he was in effect no longer providing her with any alibi.

Knox and Sollecito’s multiple conflicting alibis did NOT happen because “things got rough”. They actually happened because Sollecito and Knox were both repeatedly caught lying. And they changed their stories periodically merely to fit the new information as it became known - and at pretty well no time after they were first caught out in their lies did the stories of the two ever match. .

By the way, wait for something of a bombshell. Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani in their sentencing report expose more lies and contradictions by Knox and Sollecito which haven’t as yet been reported in any of the English-language the media.

Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach wrote an article about the case for the website Women on the Web headlined Amanda Knox’s Abusive Prosecutor.. (Hmmm. Smart title.)

Amanda was also told if she didn’t confess she would get the maximum – 30 years in prison. And – oh yes – at a time when, having just arrived in Italy, she spoke pitifully little Italian, she wasn’t provided with a translator.

Judy Bachrach clearly wasn’t in the courtroom when Amanda Knox’s interpreter, Dr. Anna Donnino, gave her evidence as to all the work she did on the night of the interrogations. And Judy Bachrach clearly hasn’t read the numerous articles that actually describe the interpreter’s testimony.

Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach claims that an Italian reporter was thrown into prison for being critical of Mignini. She is clearly referring to Mario Spezi.

Mignini is no special friend to journalists. One Italian reporter who especially upset the prosecutor a while back was thrown into prison — in isolation. An American journalist who was that reporter’s friend was interrogated so harshly that, fearing incarceration himself, he hopped the next plane back to the United States, where he started a campaign (ultimately successful) to free his friend. Their crime? They were critical of Mignini.

Spezi is currently on trial for disrupting the investigation into the Narducci case. He has NOT been charged with criticising Mr Mignini.

Judy Bachrach has made a number of television appearances on CNN and other networks in which she was scathing towards Mr Mignini and the Italian legal system. As with her articles, Judy Bachrach makes many wild and inaccurate claims.

Another false claim…

She incorrectly asserts that the defence teams weren’t allowed to produce evidence of their own DNA experts - despite the fact that the Knox and Sollecito defenses each had large teams of DNA experts testify. From the videos in this post:

The defence wasn’t even allowed to produce evidence of their own DNA experts.

Gino Professor, Carlo Torre and Walter Patumi were some of the DNA experts who testified at the trial on behalf of Amanda Knox. Professor Vinci, Adriano Tagliabracci and Francesco Introna were some of the DNA experts who defended Raffaele Sollecito.

Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach has repeatedly claimed (you can see her do so in these videos) that Amanda Knox was kept in prison for two years before her trial.

They kept her in jail for two years even before trial [although] there isn’t an ounce of real hard evidence against her” And “It was decided to keep Amanda Knox in jail for two years prior to her trial.

If Knox and Sollecito had been kept in prison for two years before their trial as someone “decided” their trial would have started in November 2009. The reality is that their trial started in January 2009 and it was originally scheduled for December 2008, just two months after Guede’s. 

Judy Bachrach is not the only American journalist who is ignorant of the basic facts of the case, and responsible for some of the serious misinforming of the American public, both about the crime and about Italy.

But she sure does seem to be the only one to have made it into a little industry..

By the way, we sure look forward to the YouTubes of Candace Dempsey and Nina Burleigh propagating their own books on the case when those books are released. Will they now finally be describing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but?

Don’t hold your breath.

Posted on 06/08/11 at 05:35 PM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Michael Wiesner Of Hawaii: Ten Major Mistakes In His Ill-Researched And Malicious Claims

Posted by The Machine

[If video “disappears” because of considerable legal liabilities download this version here.]


Who is Michael Wiesner?

Michael Wiesner is actually a social studies teacher at the Mid-Pacific Institute High School in Honolulu in Hawaii. 

Principal Grace Cruz (image at bottom here) is the supervisor of the staff of the school who presumably supervises Michael Wiesner and makes sure that her students are taught the truth - and to stay far away from drugs. Real estate broker James Kometani is the chair of the institute’s board of trustees.

Wiesner is the latest and hopefully the last of the Knox sockpuppets intent on heading up that bizarre parade of middle-aged white knights and snake oil salesmen and commercial opportunists which Knox and her lawyers say they could do better without.

It is unclear if he has ever been to Italy or talked to anyone directly concerned with the case.

So far, he has worked hard to mislead a group of his high-school students as to the real Amanda Knox and the hard evidence in her case, he has posted a YouTube of some of his fabricated claims (above), and he has enmeshed himself in the conspiracy website run by the serial defamer “Bruce Fisher” who (surprise surprise) is now so desperate for adult attention.

To bolster Michael Wiesner’s credibility there “Bruce Fisher” attempts to draw attention away from Michael Wiesner’s irrelevant background, par for the course for that group, by claiming his “speciality” is “critical analysis of sources and media literacy”.

This is an analysis of ten of the claims made by Michael Wiesner in that YouTube. Smart students in Hawaii and smart parents of smart students in Hawaii would do well to absorb this before listening to any more shrill claims from this addled pretender.


False Claim 1: Amanda Knox had never been in trouble in her entire life (minute 0.44)

Amanda Knox had a reputation for being a heavy user of drugs in Seattle long before she ever headed for Perugia and the use of drugs in the US is an indictable crime.

Amanda Knox was charged for hosting a party that got seriously out of hand, with students high on drink and drugs, and throwing rocks into the road forcing cars to swerve. The students then threw rocks at the windows of neighbours who had called the police.

The situation was so bad that police reinforcements had to be called. Amanda was fined $269 (£135) at the Municipal Court after the incident - Crime No: 071830624. She was also warned about the rock throwing.


False Claim 2: Everyone who knew her swear she never could have committed that kind of violence (minute 0.48)

Many who knew her back in Seattle went ominously silent after she first was implicated, and several who claimed to have encountered her there posted on the web that they were not entirely surprised.

Meredith’s boyfriend, Giacomo Silenzi, and her British friends certainly did not swear that Amanda Knox could not been involved in Meredith’s murder. On the contrary, after witnessing her bizarre and oddly detached behaviour at the police station on 2 November 2007, they all told the police that her behaviour was suspicious.

“Giacomo then talked with Meredith’s British friends, who all agreed that Amanda was oddly detached from this violent murder. One by one, they told the police that Amanda’s behaviour was suspicious.” (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, page 62).



False Claim 3: Raffaele Sollecito had never been in any kind of trouble in his life (minute 1.11)

If Michael Wiesner had bothered to read the Massei report on the sentencing of Knox and Sollecito, he would have known that Raffaele Sollecito was considered a drug addict, he had unnatural sexual proclivities, and he had a previous brush with the police.

Sollecito was monitored at his university residence in Perugia after hardcore pornography featuring bestiality was found in his room.

“…and educators at the boy’s ONAOSI college were shocked by a film “very much hard-core…where there were scenes of sex with animals” at which next they activated a monitoring on the boy to try to understand him. (p.130 and 131, hearing 27.3.2009, statements by Tavernesi Francesco). (The Massei report, page 61).

Sollecito had the previous brush with the police in 2003.

“…Antonio Galizia, Carabinieri [C.ri] station commander in Giovinazzo, who testified that in September 2003 Raffaele Sollecito was found in possession of 2.67 grams of hashish. (The Massei report, page 62).

Raffaele Sollecito was clearly already a drug addict. Four years after this incident, numerous witnesses testified that Sollecito was using drugs.

“Both Amanda and Raffaele were using drugs; there are multiple corroborating statements   to this effect…” (The Massei report, page 62).

It seems that Sollecito was not just using hashish. Amanda Knox claimed in her prison diaries that Sollecito had taken dangerous drugs like heroin and cocaine.

“According to Amanda’s prison diaries, Raf been reminiscing about his incredible highs on heroin and cocaine…” (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, page 163).

Mignini stated at the trial that Sollecito and Knox ran with a crowd who often used stupefying drugs.

“He also hinted that Knox and Sollecito might have been in a drug-fueled frenzy when they allegedly killed Kercher. He outlined the effects of cocaine and acid, and told the judges and jury how Knox and Sollecito ran with a crowd that often used these “stupificante,” or stupefying drugs.” (Barbie Nadeau, The Daily Beast, 20 November 2009).

Amanda Knox was in contact with a convicted drug dealer before and after Meredith’s murder. According to this Italian news report, the drug dealer’s name was on Knox’s contact list on her mobile phone.

“The young man defended by [lawyer] Frioni, on the basis of a service report by the police, he appears to be among the list of contacts within the cell phone of Amanda Knox.” (Translated into English by PMF poster Jools).

Knox and Sollecito both admitted that they had taken drugs on the day of Meredith’s murder. Michael Wiesner makes no mention of this in his YouTube video, presumably because it undermines the falsely wholesome portrait of them that he’s trying so hard to sell..


False Claim 4: After the murder Amanda refused to leave Italy (minute 1.26)

This claim is flatly contradicted by Amanda Knox herself. In the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007 she said she was not allowed to leave.

“i then bought some underwear because as it turns out i wont be able to leave italy for a while as well as enter my house”

Amanda Knox’s e-mail to her friends on 4 November 2007 can be found here.  Knox actually knew on 2 November 2007 that she couldn’t leave Italy. Amy Frost reported the following conversation.

” I remember having heard Amanda speaking on the phone, I think that she was talking to a member of her family, and I heard her say, No, they won’t let me go home, I can’t catch that flight’” (The Massei report, page 37).



False Claim 5: The police called her in at 11.00pm (1.31 minute)

Michael Wisener’s claim is contradicted by Amanda Knox herself who testified in court that she wasn’t called to the police station on 5 November 2007.

Carlo Pacelli: “For what reason did you go to the Questura on November 5? Were you called?”

Amanda Knox: “No, I wasn’t called. I went with Raffaele because I didn’t want to be alone.”

The transcripts of Amanda Knox’s testimony in court can be read on Perugia Murder File.  Michael Wiesner is clearly totally unfamiliar with any of her court testimony.




False Claim 6: The police began a brutal interrogation (1.33 minute)

Michael Wiesner speaks with great authority about what what happened to Amanda Knox at that witness interview, despite the facts that he wasn’t present and that Knox herself is being sued for false claims she made about it.

All the witnesses who were actually present when she was questioned including her interpreter (Mr Mignini was not there) testified under oath during her trial that she was treated well and wasn’t hit.

“Ms Donnino said that Ms Knox had been “comforted” by police, given food and drink, and had at no stage been hit or threatened.

The newspaper Corriere dell’ Umbria said that Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor, would bring an additional charge of slander against Ms Knox, since all police officers and interpreters who have given evidence at the trial have testified under oath that she was at no stage put under pressure or physically mistreated.” (Richard Owen, The Times, 15 March 2009).

She is actually being sued by those who were present (again, Mr Mignini was not.) Even Amanda Knox’s own lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that she had not been hit, at Rudy Guede’s fast-track trial:

“There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”  Mr Ghirga had every opportunity to lodge a complaint if he believed her story to be true. He never has.

The judges and jury had to decide whether to believe the corroborative testimony of numerous upstanding witnesses, or the word of a someone who had provably repeatedly lied. It would not have been a hard decision to make.


False Claim 7: They coerced from her an accusation from a person who was innocent (1.42 minute)

According to the corroborative testimony of multiple witnesses, including her interpreter, Amanda Knox voluntarily and spontaneously accused Patrick Lumumba of murdering Meredith.

Judge Massei noted the following about Amanda Knox’s false and malicious accusation against Patrick Lumumba:

It must also be pointed out that Patrick Lumumba was not known in any way, and no element, whether of habitually visiting the house on Via della Pergola, or of acquaintance with Meredith, could have drawn the attention of the investigators to this person in such a way as to lead themselves to ‘force‛ Amanda’s declarations. (The Massei report, page 389)



False Claim 8:  Amanda immediately released a statement retracting the accusation (1.55 minute)

Amanda Knox didn’t retract her accusation as soon as she got some food at all. In fact, she reiterated her allegation in her handwritten note to the police later on 6 November 2007 which was admitted in evidence:

[[Amanda] herself, furthermore, in the statement of 6 November 2007 (admitted into   evidence ex. articles 234 and 237 of the Criminal Procedure Code and which was mentioned above) wrote, among other things, the following: I stand by my - accusatory - statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrick…in these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrick as the murderer…”.

This statement which, as specified in the entry of 6 November 2007, 200:00pm, by the Police Chief Inspector, Rita Ficarra, was drawn up, following the notification of the detention measure, by Amanda Knox, who “requested blank papers in order to produce a written statement to hand over” to the same Ficarra. (The Massei report, page 389).

The Massei court took note of the fact that Amanda Knox didn’t recant her false and malicious allegation against Patrick Lumumba during the whole of the time he was kept in prison.


False Claim 9: Rudy Guede’s DNA was inside Meredith’s handbag (3.05. minute)

According to the Micheli report, which was made available to the public in January 2008, Rudy Guede’s DNA was found on the zip of Meredith’s purse and not inside it.

Guede’s DNA was not in fact found all over Meredith’s room. Guede left no hairs, no saliva, no sweat, no blood, and no other bodily fluid at the scene of the crime, considered to be the entire house. Knox and Sollecito left substantial proof of their presence, including both their footprints, Knox’s blood, and Sollecito’s DNA.


False Claim 10: Rudy Guede pleaded guilty (3.39 minute )

Rudy Guede did not plead guilty at his fast-track trial in late October 2008 which Judge Micheli presided over. He claimed that he was on the toilet when Meredith was murdered. Anyone with even a superficial knowledge of the case is aware of this basic fact.


Extensive evidence Wiesner simply ignores

For example in the YouTube video above, Michael Wiesner does not provide a plausible innocent explanation for the numerous lies that Knox and Sollecito told before and after 5 November 2007.

  • He doesn’t explain why Raffaele Sollecito has refused for three-plus years and at trial to corroborate Amanda Knox’s alibi that she was at his apartment when Meredith died.
  • He doesn’t explain how Meredith’s DNA got lodged into a microscopic groove on the blade of the knife sequestered from Sollecito’s kitchen.
  • He doesn’t explain how an abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA ended up on Meredith’s bra clasp.
  • He doesn’t explain why Amanda Knox was bleeding on the night of the murder, or explain how her blood got mixed with Meredith’s blood in several spots in the cottage.

Michael Wiesner might not think the mixed blood evidence is important, but jurors at the first trial clearly thought it was. One sample was in Filomena’s bedroom, especially incriminating considering the simulated break-in there. 

“The defense’s other biggest mistake, according to interviews with jurors after the trial, was doing nothing to refute the mixed-blood evidence beyond noting that it is common to find mingled DNA when two people live in the same house.” (Barbie Nadeau, Angel Face, page 152).

He doesn’t account either for the visible bloody footprint on the blue bathmat which matched the precise characteristics of Sollecito’s foot,  or the bare bloody footprints of Knox and Sollecito in the corridor in the new wing of the cottage which were revealed by Luminol.

In short, he doesn’t address the vast bulk of the evidence which is detailed at great length in the Massei report, let alone in any way refute it. In fact, it’s quite clear that Michael Wiesner hasn’t even read the Massei report.

The only thing he has really proved is that he’s ignorant of the basic facts of the case.


Wiesner’s use of manipulative images

Michael Wiesner uses the manipulative tactic, which is an old favourite of CBS’s 48 Hours and now of CNN, of flashing images of Knox and Sollecito as children throughout the video as if that is some kind of proof of their innocence.

Childhood photographs of other notorious sex killers, such Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, and Fred and Rosemary West, are readily available on the web. The only thing these kind of photographs prove is that convicted sex killers were children once. Nothing more than that.


Summing up

The principal and parents and trustees of the Mid Pacific Institute High School should be very concerned that one of its teachers is championing the cause of two people unanimously convicted of sexual assault and a vicious murder by making demonstrably false claims.

It was not only the judges and jurors who thought the evidence against Knox and Sollecito was overwhelming. Legal expert Stefano Maffei made the following observation.

“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 parents and the trustees of the Mid Pacific Institute High School should also be concerned at the fact that Michael Wiesner is shamelessly trying to manipulate the public by using photographs of Knox and Sollecito as children, and by sweeping under the rug any inconvenient facts about them, such as their extensive drug-taking and their previous brushes with the police.

Michael Wiesner needs to do now what the judges and jury did starting over two years ago. Namely, to look at all of the hard evidence against Sollecito and Knox, and stop regurgitating the many false claims which are a small industry on “Bruce Fisher’s” website.

[Below: Mid-Pacific Institute High School principal and supervisor of Michael Wiesner Grace Cruz]

Posted on 06/01/11 at 06:25 PM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Dear Ken Jautz Of CNN: Full CNN Interview With Mignini That CNN SHOULD Have Reflected #1

Posted by Skeptical Bystander


Introduction: Judgment and credibility

Candace Dempsey recently claimed that viewers would be able to “judge the credibility of Mignini […] when CNN airs Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story”. In support of her claim, Dempsey provided an excerpt of the interview at end of her reader blog entry of May 6, 2011.

Viewers who managed to sit through the Drew Griffin/Doug Preston/CNN treatment of the Meredith Kercher case saw bits and pieces of what CNN risibly tried to pass off as an exclusive: access to one of the prosecutors, Giuliano Mignini, who indeed agreed to answer questions. What CNN failed to mention was that Mignini was actually interviewed for two-plus hours, and that he answered Mr. Griffin’s questions openly and without hesitation, not knowing that his answers would be severely and ruthlessly edited and cherry-picked to reflect something very different from what he actually said.

Not only did CNN fail to reveal this fact, Drew Griffin actually said (according to Dempsey) that “Mignini doesn’t really answer questions,” adding that Mignini “…talks and talks, going round and round and returning to certain things. I had to keep bringing him back to the evidence, to what’s actually being presented in court.”

This post and the next two to follow contain the original Italian transcript, authored by Turner Broadcasting and apparently then transcribed by a human being or by software (perhaps CNN will clarify). Whichever it was, the resulting document, which we obtained in the form of a word file, was clearly not subsequently corrected for errors, as readers of Italian will see. Presumably, the “three different interpreters” who “looked at Mignini’s interview to make sure that he was quoted correctly” did not read this transcript version of the interview.

Perhaps CNN can be persuaded to clarify the process or even to provide the actual audio and/or video of the interview. In the meantime, our translators demanded that we issue this translation with a giant red flag to signal that the transcript authored by Turner Broadcasting does not appear to be in complete and correct Italian. There are missing words, repeated words, and clearly wrong words. This may be because it was compiled by a non-native speaker. Again, only the folks at CNN can shed light on the process.

As you read the transcript or the translation of it, which was done by a team of volunteers (PMF posters Clander, Yummi, Jools, Thoughtful, TomM and Catnip), it is important to keep this in mind.

Also keep in mind that, according to Dempsey (based either on what Griffin told her or the cherry-picked interview snippets in the CNN program; perhaps Dempsey will clarify) “…instead of talking about hard evidence, Mignini kept returning to Amanda’s odd behavior; her relationship with Raffaele Sollecito, her Italian ex-boyfriend; and even her eyes (which, since they are blue, the Italian press called “icicle eyes”)”.

Griffin to Dempsey: “He truly believes she was the criminal mastermind behind the murder and that Raffaele was infatuated and under her spell.”

More Griffin to Dempsey: “Prosecutor Giuliano Miginini [sic] is, in my opinion, a rambling, confused individual.” (Drew Griffin to Candace Dempsey).

Dempsey:  “Griffin was surprised by Mignini’s willingness to say all sorts of things about Amanda that were not part of the trial.”

Griffin: “The kind of things that, if a prosecutor came to court in the U.S. and put before a judge, would get his whole case thrown out.”

And don’t forget what Candace Dempsey told potential viewers: that they would be able to make their own judgment calls when the documentary aired on Sunday, May 8, 2011.

We beg to differ. We think that the viewers will have a much better basis on which to make a judgment call if they take the time to read the complete transcript and/or our translation of it. Then ask yourselves these questions:

Is Prosecutor Mignini evasive?

Does he give unclear responses?

Does he ramble?

Does he seem confused?

Compare the full interview with what viewers were shown. Then make your judgment call. Like us, you might be more tempted to make one about the people who did the cherry-picking, the packaging and the publicity for this hatchet job.

The remaining hour and a half will be posted in two more posts, one after saturday’s appeal session report, and one after the weekend.





First hour of the interview

4’09’’ CNN: There have been many stories about this crime, about what people think happened. What do you think really happened?

4’20’’ Mignini: Well, I am a magistrate for the Public Prosecutor’s Office who found himself ... I was on duty at the time and thus I happened to be dealing with this matter randomly. For me it is a criminal proceeding that I dealt with, and I am currently working on it today at the appeal level.

4’49’’ What happened was that a crime was committed for which we conducted an investigation in the best way considering the situation. And there was a trial which, in the first instance, resulted in conviction with full acknowledgement of the theory of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. I know there have been books, there were also films on the subject, but this is something for which I have limited interest. My job is to be a prosecutor for the Public Prosecutor’s Office who dealt with this case. I am interested in it from this point of view, nothing else.

6’30’’ CNN: But exactly how was the crime like, what you and your assistants, I do not say [missing words: *what happened?] ... but [what] you understood, who are the murderers, and the reason for this murder?

6’46’’ Mignini: I can tell you our impression when I arrived on the scene. I arrived basically, I believe, I think around 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 2, and I found myself facing a crime that obviously looked like - this is the impression I got in the first place and it was subsequently confirmed by the investigations and the proceeding - a murder of a sexual nature, in which there was this girl who was undressed or nearly so, a young woman who was covered with this, with this quilt. And the other thing which struck us, which was of immediate interest, I said this on other occasions and I repeat it because I’ve said it also at the first trial, was the break-in. And it appeared immediately – the climbing, the simulation of climbing, with a stone thrown through the window, through two shutters that were there, that left open quite a narrow space, rather limited room between them – immediately that appeared to us to be a simulation.

8’38’’ So there was this crime of a sexual nature and a simulated burglary. That is, the perpetrators or perpetrator, at that moment we were making a preliminary assessment, was someone who attempted, that appeared to be the situation to us, he had attempted [missing words] So that appeared to be the situation, an investigation of unknown persons; whereas instead the house, the house door was completely intact, there had not been a been a breaking open, and this made us think, then, as the investigations progressed, because as investigations go, by approximation you slowly get closer to it, to the ascertaining of the facts, it was, we thought it was someone who knew the victim and had an interest in orienting the investigation toward strangers.

09’44’’ Then the investigation went on. There were other important issues ... [missing word: *facts?] that have occurred [missing words]; they remained as key aspects of ... of what is called the basis of the charge. Which, by the way, for us is not the side of the accusation; we are an office that also has the task of ascertaining facts in favor of the suspect during the investigation.

10’19’’ What struck us besides the issue of the simulation was a series of endless contradictions, of inconsistencies, in the story of the two young people, the two young people who later became suspects and then defendants. And then, in particular, the calunnia [false accusation], then, what turned out to be such, a false accusation, made by the accused against her employer, a black man, Lumumba, Patrick D. Lumumba.

10’53” Here it is, this is it. Then, the elements of which there is much talk today, the elements which consist of forensic evidence, there was also evidence. There are the fingerprints, the [foot] prints, the phone cell records. These elements are ..., especially the forensics, they arose at a later time. This means, from the beginning what oriented the investigations toward these people, and later toward the black subject, Rudy, Rudy Herman Guede, who ... [missing word?] they were, that of Herman Guede was identified through the forensic material that was found.

The two youths were, let’s say they became objects of…[missing words?] the perpetrators of the murder, based on the findings that emerged at the beginning of the investigation, namely the simulation, the contradictions found especially in Amanda’s story, especially when she tells of having spent some time in the house, having taken a shower, in spite of everything. And then the call, the behavior that they maintained, especially the girl, upon the arrival of the postal police. And then the accusation, which was obviously a false accusation against Lumumba. So all these factors then they have, they led to the formulation of these accusations against them, which were later substantiated by the results of forensic tests, scientific evidence, were made by the scientific police, that is, the scientific police, which is that at the top of the national scientific police, which operates directly under the department of Public Security of the Ministry of the Interior. We also had the local scientific police, but the one which operated was the scientific police placed under the command of Public Safety, thus at the central level.

16’34’’ CNN: Before there was the evidence from the forensic police, did you arrive at your conclusions with respect to Amanda Knox by instinct?

17’00’’ Mignini: The scientific elements were coming in, as I recall, they were coming in gradually. Now, I would not be able to tell you [missing words] ... I think, for example, that the issue of the knife, and then the sample, the genetic profile of the victim on the blade and the genetic profile of the defendant on a spot where the handle of the knife is close to the insertion of the blade, I think that was entered quite later compared to the initial investigation. But in fact the order of detention, ... which I ... which is the act by which, under which the two young people and, at the time, also Lumumba who was later released, were taken to the house of preventive detention, that is in prison. In this detention order, there was no mention of any DNA analysis [indagini genetiche], obviously.

18’08’’ There is, in the detention order and in the hearing before the Judge of the Preliminary Investigation [GIP] on the validity of the detention and then in the first months, the first weeks of investigation, that is our belief, mine and the flying squad, that the behavior of two young people and in particular, this actually is [missing words]... it was a detail that was even more obvious regarding Amanda, [we thought] was such that the two were considered involved in the crime. Thus before that, it was an initial assessment of those elements that we had at the beginning to orient the investigation toward them. Then confirmations came. And there were many elements of corroboration at the end; they were very significant, very numerous. But at the beginning we had these elements, again, in particular the issue of simulation.





20’13’’ CNN: And what was the proof, because from what we understand the scientific evidence does not point to them ... the two of them?

20’25’’ Mignini: Well, then: so now I,  to list all the evidence [elementi] that was found, it would be [missing words] on the other hand they have been mentioned in the First Instance sentence report by the Court of Assize. Mmm, then ...

20’50’’ The issue of the simulation ... The issue of the simulation, in that house just in those days, i.e. 1, 2 November, the second was a Friday, the third was a Saturday, the fourth was a Sunday, on that weekend in 2007 there was only Meredith and Amanda in the house in Via della Pergola. Since the two Italian girls were away from home: Filomena Romanelli was with her boyfriend in another part of town, she was staying there overnight, while Laura Mezzetti was in the province of Viterbo.

21’36’’ So in the house that night there was only Amanda and the victim. Amanda said she was in Sollecito’s house, which is actually a five-minute walk from the house of Meredith. Because of the distance, we must take into account the distance, you shall go to see these places, you see that the distances are very short, very limited. So who might have an interest in simulating intrusion by a stranger? Only a person who might be worried about being implicated in the crime.

There was no sign of forced entry through the front door, so this is an extremely significant element. Then we have again the inconsistencies that can be detected in the statements. There is the fact, then during the investigation the homeless man, the homeless man came in, who very precisely identified the two young people, he said he saw the two basically the night between the 1st and 2nd, a few meters from the house where the crime happened, in which it was committed, presumably at a time compatible with the crime. While instead the two young people stated they had remained all the time at Raffaele’s home. There is another detail which at the beginning of the investigation [was] something that has, let’s say, intensified the elements for us; it was the fact that Raffaele at the beginning had attempted, let’s say he attempted to state that he stayed at home while Amanda had been out and she returned to Raffaele’s house I think at about two a.m.

Then this approach has been kept by Raffaele during the hearing for validation of arrest, and afterwards was abandoned as Sollecito’s defense line became more, let’s say, supportive of Amanda. But at an earlier stage Raffaele stated this position of separation between the two.

Then other elements are given by the fact, were given by the fact that the homeless man saw them on the night of the crime in a location a few steps, a few meters away from the crime and at a time shortly before the murder occurred.

There is a statement of the neighbor lady who lived nearby, who heard a scream at a time compatible with that specified, with what we thought could be the time of death of Meredith, that is between 23.30 and midnight. And this, this lady, heard footsteps, there is a whole description that now I will not repeat because it has been explained ... rather, it was described at length in the first trial, she heard the footsteps of some people who are moving, running, along the clear ground facing the house of the crime, others were running up the stairs, almost simultaneously, running on the metal stairs which are above the garage and basically end up in via Pinturicchio. I do not know if you are familiar with the city of Perugia, but I guess not. So this scream the lady heard, a terrible scream and also another neighbor heard it, at a consistent time, I repeat, and this simultaneous running of subjects on opposite sides, from different, distant areas, basically corroborated the fact that there were multiple murderers.

26’09’’ Rudy himself, in his questioning has, while remaining vague, more or less vague with respect to Sollecito, however later during the various interviews he more or less indicated quite clearly that Amanda was present.
Then [we had] the questioning, then there were questionings that were done. I remember one of them, that of Amanda in prison which was an interrogation that has made me… you asked what elements did I use to let’s say support the charge, saying in quotes the prosecution, there was also an interrogation in prison, Amanda, in inverted commas let’s say the accusation in the presence of the defense attorneys of course, and which confirmed the profound shock in which she always fell every time she had to tell what happened that night.

And then there were the results… well, fingerprints ... footprints, the footprints on the rug of the bare foot stained with blood, an especially important detail which I see many have not talked about but which is extremely important, is the mixed stains of blood in the small bathroom close the scene of crime, those of the defendant and the victim.

31’00’’ CNN: In the room [missing words]

31’05’’ Mignini: But let’s say I may reverse the issue: how do you explain the DNA, the genetic profile of the victim on the knife found in Sollecito’s house, together with the genetic profile of the defendant located at the area of the blade [possibly meaning: handle] where force is applied, not where you cut…

31’40’’ CNN: Are you sure that one was the knife?

31’44’’ Mignini: That it was for us, I can say this: first you have to start from a premise: Amanda and Sollecito knew each other only since October 25. That is, we think, because this detail is very significant with respect to the relevance of this finding, since we [may just] think it was a relationship, usually we don’t think of the fact that actually they had known each other for a week. And thus this knife was never touched in conditions ... I tell you what we found in the investigation, I am talking about what we ascertained during the investigation - this knife was never touched by Meredith under normal circumstances. It was never brought to Meredith’s home, this is what the two Italian housemates say, and so why, [since] Meredith had never been to Sollecito’s house, why was Meredith’s genetic material found on the blade by the forensic police, and the genetic profile of the defendant on the spot of the handle that is where the hand would press not as you apply pressure from top down, but from back to the front, that is in a condition similar to that when you strike a blow, like this. So this…

And I have… during the first trial I tried to show very clearly that this knife, the witness, the inspector I think whose name was Armando Finzi, he’s the one who conducted the search at Sollecito’s and found this knife. And I asked: did you put on your gloves at the time, was it the first pair of gloves you were using, in that search that was the first pair of gloves, he went [there], he started the inspection, he had not touched anything else, he opened the… the cupboard where this knife was. I do not remember if he took away several, but he picked up this knife that was immediately - and thus with the gloves that he was wearing in that moment – it was immediately closed and sealed, was brought to the flying squad, where another police officer, the superintendent, I think, Gubbiotti, using the same technique, put it into a sealed container which was then carried to… was then analyzed. So this was, let’s say because I wanted this to be highlighted and I think the Assize Court says so, I wanted to show that there was no possibility of contamination by the police, by the flying squad, with regard to this item.

35’04’’ Also because, I would like this to be noted, from the perspective of Italian law, evidence of contamination must be given by the person who invokes it. This means: I found the genetic profile, you as defense attorney say ‘there could be contamination’, you must prove it. That is, the burden of proof is reversed: it is you, the one who invokes the contamination, the one who has to give evidence of it. And this evidence was never given and cannot, I think, it cannot be given. That is, the one who claims a fact must prove it, onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat. [Translator’s note: This sentence was spoken in Latin and translates as “the burden of proof is on those who assert something, not on those who deny it”.]





36’50’’ CNN: Was it certain the genetic material was that of Meredith, and not genetic material that might be consistent with that of Meredith?

37’01’’ Mignini: No, no, it was like that. It was ascertained as such by the scientific police.

37 ‘20’’ CNN: So your detectives went into the apartment ...

37’28’’ Mignini: No, the knife was collected, then it was brought to the scientific police, it was sent to the scientific police in Rome.

37’ 40’’ CNN: Yes but your detectives entered the apartment and they selected right this very knife…

37’49’’ Mignini: I believe samples were taken from several, that is, not only that particular knife. I think, if I’m not mistaken. I think more knives were tested; however, one of those was definitely exhibit 36, the famous exhibit 36. And on this exhibit is where [a sample] was recovered from, and here it’s the scientific police that did the evaluation of that evidence and I retain, I digress. About [case] aspects, at the end of the investigation phase I asked, given the complexity of the case, the resonance of the case, I felt it was appropriate to have a colleague join me, a deputy [public prosecutor] like myself. Let me clarify, I’m not the chief prosecutor; I am a deputy prosecutor, since I’ve been presented as the chief prosecutor, but I am not the chief prosecutor. Then I requested the assistance of a colleague, Manuela Comodi, and we divided up the tasks. She has remarkable aptitude for these aspects of a genetic nature.

And so in this regard, I don’t know if you notice it in the first instance trial, my colleague did the questioning regarding the genetic aspects. I instead handled the more generic aspects of the case and aspects of a more investigative nature. This is why I remember all the details of the investigation, because I carried out the investigations of people. But for these aspects of genetics and scientific nature, we rely on the scientific police and we retain that the scientific police acted with utmost professionalism. I can recall, for example, going to the crime scene, I was at the place, and I also had to wear overalls, shoe-covers and a kind of cap, not just once but several times, at the same time when we did the inspections, ... I remember having worn many times, for example, the shoe-covers. And I had to… also because, those who worked on the scene did have their DNA samples taken as well, so there is also my DNA [sample]. Dr. Stefanoni took DNA samples of everyone to rule out in case, there could be DNA discovered belonging to some operator who had nothing to do with this matter.

40’38’’ Therefore, I have the utmost confidence in the scientific police because the top of the scientific police in Italy, especially Dr. Stefanoni who acted with great professionalism and these findings on the biological material were carried out in cross-examination with consultants for the defense team, always. The defense consultants, as I recall, and I was present, as far as I can remember, they had no objections if not in later analysis; they had no objection to anything at all at the time. For example, when the famous bra clasp was discovered, the defense consultants were there, for Sollecito there was a consultant who afterwards was replaced, I don’t remember his name, he was quite good, and I remember that he did not make any objections. Therefore, all these findings were carried out in cross-examination and the other parties had the opportunity to challenge what the scientific police biologist was doing, the scientific police expert in forensic genetics.

42’06’’ So I think. I distinctly remember that, in the first trial, I tried to prove that the knife had been collected with the utmost correctness. And I believe that afterwards the same thing happened in the scientific police laboratory when it was analyzed.

44’16’’ CNN: I still have trouble understanding how you can have a crime so horrendous and so bloody without two of the suspects leaving any trace.

44’30’’ Mignini: Look I should then add, it must be also said, at the time. In the bathroom of the two foreign girls, that is Meredith and Amanda, which is attached, next to the room of the murder, blood material was discovered of Amanda and Meredith, mixed. Why is this material important? It is important because in her own account told, in her own deposition Amanda makes in, I think, in early June of 2009, during the first instance trial, she says that when she left the house on the afternoon of November 1st, those spots were not there. She says so herself. So she returns in the morning, says she went back in the morning and sees those spots of blood. Those spots of blood are mixed Amanda and victim.

Also, in the small bathroom, there is a blood stained footprint, which the scientific police attributed to Raffaele, on the bath mat next to the murder room. On the corridor leading to the murder room, [and] leading to Amanda’s room, there are footprints, I’m not sure now, there are even in Amanda’s room, I think, there are footprints that were attributed to the two youngsters by the scientific police, of feet stained in blood. And, by elements, there is also a print of shoe and that one, was inside the murder room. Elements there are, that is, how to explain the presence of these elements if the two youngsters were not involved in the murder, [and] stayed at home? And another detail: it is a crime, this was established at the time by the Supreme Court, then we can no longer put into question at this point, it is a crime committed by several persons. I have, during the first instance trial, I heard this line of approach, and I also opposed this approach, which extended to holding that Rudy was the only one responsible.

The “only one responsible” is not one person, but [transcription error] they are several persons and Rudy is among them. This is now procedurally beyond dispute.





48’48’’ CNN: He also wants to know if you also found [missing words], that is, Sollecito perhaps, had a few cuts, did you check to see if he had any cuts?

48’56’’ Mignini: The…yes. Well, now: Laura Mazzetti, that is the Italian girl from Viterbo, [said] that it was a scratch, however, she remembers having seen on Amanda’s neck, she told this account and afterwards was also heard [as a person informed], it’s sort of a scratch just few days later, I think it was three or four days, she remembers seeing this scratch on Amanda’s neck that had been also seen, I think, by one of the boys from the Marches region. And in one of the photos taken during the house search by police, I think it shows something. Nevertheless, Laura Mazzetti indicates the presence of a scratch or something like a scratch. That is, she remembers seeing that Amanda had this little injury to the neck.

50’20’’ CNN: None of your investigators noticed it?

50’25’’ Mignini: The investigators did not notice it, because at the time, Amanda kept herself covered, she was, as described by the shopkeeper Quintavalle, covered up. However, Laura Mazzetti saw it and it was also seen, I think if I’m not mistaken or was said, by the young guy from the Marches who was living downstairs.

This girl saw it [the scratch/mark] and she stated this later in the courtroom. Moreover there is even a photo.

51’44’’ CNN: Knox was in contact with the police for several days after the murder. She was interrogated. Was she always wearing something that covered her neck?

52’00’’ Mignini: I think so, to be fair, this was a mark that it was not very visible. Laura Mazzetti said she saw it well. Keep in mind also that we did not focus on it automatically, because it was not like a visually striking mark. She was questioned like Raffaele Sollecito and like all the people who were more or less, that had to be questioned in those days, after the murder, a long series of people were questioned, among which the [girl] friends of Meredith, the English girls she was with the evening of Nov 1 and the night before Oct 31. And, among these people who had been questioned, also several times, Amanda and Sollecito were questioned, Amanda in particular was questioned several times: the evening of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and then on the evening of 5th and the morning, or early hours of the 6th. But look, what I wanted that [??], just for the purposes of explanation, that under Italian law, we must take into account the totality of the findings.

Therefore there is the scientific evidence, there are statements made by people, examination of witnesses, there is the formal interrogation, there’s the conduct of the accused. All of these elements, it is not only the genetic aspect that comes into consideration. The genetic aspect [is], together with many others, must be altogether; it is a whole spectrum of various findings, which should converge towards an affirmation of a reality that is undisputable. This is how it should be, this is important from a judicial point of view. So it is not that the proof consists of the genetic evidence; it is not like that. There are items of proof from witnesses, there is the fact that there couldn’t be only one perpetrator, and this is now indisputable, and one of the positions of the defense of the two suspects always tended to say there was only one murderer who committed the deed, who climbed through in that totally absurd way, [that’s] not credible.

56’10’’ CNN: About Amanda’s interrogation, on the fifth day, what was it is that triggered you, made you begin to feel suspicious, and led you to conduct a more aggressive interrogation?

56’26’’ Mignini: I see you don’t… so, I’ll repeat to you what happened. On the evening of November 5th, the police were going to question Sollecito, and on the evening of the 5th, as I was saying before, the attitude of Sollecito at the beginning was an attitude of, let’s say, different than the one he would assume later, meaning a defense line supportive with Amanda’s; at that moment, he had a different position. That is, on the evening of Nov 5th. Sollecito made a statement saying “I was at home, Amanda wasn’t”. Amanda at that time had followed; she had accompanied Sollecito to the police station and she waited outside [of the room]. As the police heard this version of Sollecito’s, who basically, Sollecito ... with that statement, also this approach by him in practice more or less had become part of the process too, as Sollecito made this statement, the police became suspicious.

That is: why did Sollecito tell us this, and why is he now telling us that Amanda was not home with him? So then they called Amanda, and Amanda was heard by the police as a person not under investigation, thus with no defense attorney, because the person… the witness, the person informed of the facts during the investigation – is not called a witness, he is called a person informed of the facts - she was heard by the police who pointed out to her, they confronted her with this question: why is Raffaele saying something else? Now you say you were with him and Raffaele says you were not there, that he was at home and you were not there? This is the point.

58’44’’ So she did, she was heard in a way, let’s say for long enough, I cannot remember for how long, in the earliest morning hours of November 6, 2007. I was not there when Amanda was interviewed by the police. I was, perhaps I was coming, because I had been called by the director of the flying squad that night. I do not remember what time I arrived at the flying squad, but I think that… I think I got there, maybe I arrived when Amanda’s questioning had already started. But the flying squad is pretty big; I was not in the room where Amanda was being questioned, but rather in the office of the director of the flying squad. We were talking about the investigation and were trying to plan the investigation for the coming days. So now, at some point, they call me, if I remember correctly, they inform me that Amanda had given the name of Lumumba, she had basically confessed that she was at the crime scene in the company of, with Lumumba, whom she had let into the house, that is it. Now I go on, I wanted to explain how I operate. So it’s not me, I did not do the questioning.

[Translator’s note: the transcript in Italian contains these words in English at this point: Starts with ****’* translation. This notation suggests that there is either a second journalist, who does not directly understand the answers, or that **** is using a translator, human or automatic. **** is used in the place of the individual’s name, which elsewhere is given as CNN. This is the only change that has been made to the transcript as delivered.]

The next post is here.

Posted on 05/20/11 at 04:59 AM by Skeptical Bystander. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contextsReporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamFlorence MOF hoax
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Open Letter To CNN Head Ken Jautz: Reports As Terrible As Drew Griffin’s Risk Destroying CNN

Posted by James Raper




Attention Of Mr Ken Jautz
Executive Vice President Of Time Warner Inc For CNN
CNN Headquarters
Atlanta Georgia


Dear Mr Jautz:

Concerning Drew Griffin’s CNN report on Amanda Knox viewable or downloadable here with a transcript here.

As a practicing lawyer with a deep knowledge of the case, I watched your report two sundays ago (Murder Abroad – The Amanda Knox Story) with a growing sense of disbelief.

So when I watched the report I really expected that CNN might have very sensibly turned over a new leaf. Instead, Drew Griffin presented what seems to me to have been the most unprofessional report on the case ever done.

It was as if the expensive and relentless Knox PR campaign had phoned in the entire script, and as if Drew Griffin’s sole role was to parrot it. 

If it had been an openly avowed and paid-for public relations exercise on behalf of the Knox/Mellas camapign, it might have won a few points. But the report was promoted as a new investigation. That was a fundamental misdirection. It was in fact the most extraordinarily biased and one-sided presentation that I and I expect many others have encountered.

There were so may errors, omissions, sneers and blatantly misleading suggestions - all leading to a complete lack of balance -  that no viewer, other than those who would already be knowledgeable about the case, had a hope of being able to form an impartial and informed view of the case.

One could write a book about the omissions made by the programme, but I will enumerate just some of these, and the errors and blatantly misleading suggestions, as I go through the repprt here below.


Quick summary of the report

First, here is the thrust of the Griffin report. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are the victims of a rush to judgement by an obsessive prosecutor, some circumstantial evidence,  a discredited star witness, wrong media reports, and limited scientific evidence that is inconclusive and unreliable.

Oh and there was some nasty behaviour, inducing a false confession, by the police towards Amanda which mirrored the nasty behaviour that had terrified the novelist Doug Preston whilst he was in Italy preparing for his book “the Monster of Florence”. 

And most, if not all, of this was the fault of the Public Prosecutor, Mignini.  The foregoing is also the basic thrust of the Amanda Knox PR campaign which has been repeated over and over again elsewhere.

There were a mere poor fleeting cursory images of the real victim, Meredith Kercher, and maybe three or four dozen highly manipulative images of Knox and her siblings (see several here) going back to when they were tots.

Apart from Dr Hampikian of the Idaho Innocence Project, Doug Preston, and Mignini, and a cameo non-contentious appearance from Meredith’s lawyer, all of the contributors were family or close family friends. None of the defence lawyers partook, perhaps expecting the embarrassing worst, which was duly delivered.

Meredith’s family and friends were not even mentioned, let alone interviewed by Drew Griffin.



Reactions of the prosecutor of the case

CNN interviewed many, with almost endless montages of a young Knox, to attempt to undermine the case.

Although there are dozens of lawyers and experts and reporters that could explain why in the first round Knox and Sollecito were unanimously found guilty, Griffin unprofessionally chose to interview only ONE for that side of the case. He was Mr Giuliano Mignini, one of the two prosecutors on the case, who speaks no English and was thus easy for Griffin to condescend to and seriously mischaracterize.  (A full transcript of that interview, translated, will be our next post; be prepared for surprises Drew Griffin clearly wanted to hide.) 

I thought that Mr Mignini dealt with Drew Griffin’s unbelieving and cynical stare and his loaded and intentionally unsettling questions ( to which I shall later refer) quite well in the circumstances, since it was obvious right from the start that the unprofessional Drew Griffin was setting him up. At least he dealt with the situation gracefully, and at times even with a little amusement.

As a taster, the first question thrown at him was “Is Amanda Knox evil?”  The prosecutor shifted in his seat, thought about this philosophical question for a bit, and then wisely decided to ignore it.





Points of error and omission in the report in the order in which they arise

(1) The most vital document on the case of all, a 427 page judgment on Knox and Sollecito known as the Massei Report, which can be viewed via the link at the top here, was not mentioned at all.  It seems that neither Drew Griffin nor any of the programme’s producers have ever cast an eye over this document. If they have, they have blithely ignored it. 

The Report contains a detailed resume of the evidence presented at Amanda’s trial and the jurors’ evaluation of it.  It does not cover all the evidence that was heard by the court, which was huge, but certainly that sufficient to warrant the verdicts that were handed down.

There are also at least two other vital documents, also ignored, which all set the stage for the present mandatory appeal. They are the Micheli report on Rudy Guede’s judgment, and a recent Supreme Court report endorsing that report and accepting that there were THREE perpetrators of the crime.


(2) There was a photograph of the cottage. In fact, in all there were seven still shots of the cottage, and two showings of a film of the cottage, taken from a vehicle approaching along the road outside from right to left, from east to west.

All had one glaring omission in common.

None showed the west side of the cottage with Filomena’s bedroom window through which Rudy Guede is supposed to have broken in. That this was blatantly intentional was demonstrated by the editing of the film which cut out just as the side of the cottage with the window was coming in to view.


(3) The staging of the break in was a crucial piece of evidence against Amanda Knox dealt with at some considerable length in the Massei Report. Quite apart from that, it is evident from a simple inspection that the climb up to the window would have been extremely difficult and dangerous for even an athletic burglar and indeed there is much evidence that this was not attempted (Massei).

It would have been far simpler for Rudy Guede, a frequent visitor to the boy’s flat on the lower floor of the cottage, to have broken into the girls’ flat via the balcony (as seen in the still shots) on the other side of the cottage. He could have done that unseen and unheard in well under one minute.

The glass window was not shattered by a rock thrown from the outside, because the clothing tossed inside the bedroom had glass on top of it, which in itself is hard evidence that the break-in was staged.  That such a break-in was highly improbable was demonstrated by an attempt by the defence to reconstruct the climb up to the windowt that failed miserably. 

The only person who could have had an interest in staging a burglary would be one of the occupants of the flat. This is a sore point for Amanda’s supporters, amongst whom I must now assume are Drew Griffin and the producers of Murder Abroad.





(4) It was good to hear from Dr Hampikian that the “police did a good job in processing the crime scene and collecting evidence”.  Unlikely that on the basis of this observation he will be making any submissioms to the two independent DNA experts appointed by the court to review the DNA evidence concerning the knife and the bra clasp. Particularly as his other observations were quite ludicrous or fell outside his field of expertise.

Consider this: “They didn’t like the way Amanda behaved, whatever that means, and so they wanted to investigate her, and Raffaele and her boss. When the DNA is finally processed it is not any of their suspects. And so what do you do? What would you do?  [laughing] You let them go.”

Really?

Can he, you, or anyone else, think of a police force anywhere in the world which would want to release a suspect in circumstances where a staged burglary, inappropriate behaviour and language pointing to an insider’s knowledge as to the circumstances and manner of the victim’s death, an alibi that no longer held up, and the framing of an innocent man for murder, clearly points to her involvement. 

In addition there was early evidence of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom next to the Meredith’s bedroom, as a drop on the sink faucet and mixed with Meredith’s blood elsewhere. Contrary to Dr Hampikian’s contention (and he is not a lawyer) there was sufficient evidence to charge or at least prefer a holding charge pending further investigation. This happens frequently in the USA and UK. In addition Dr Stefanoni was aware that there was further evidence to be collected from the crime scene.

In murder cases suspects are very rarely released on bail for fear that they may abscond. Particularly a suspect who is not resident in the country.

A question for Dr Hampikian.  How would you like it if a suspect in the murder of your daughter was granted police bail and skipped the country to return home and evade justice? Make no mistake about it. That is what would have happened.


(5) The DNA evidence was not finally processed, as Dr Hampikian knows, until after the final DNA evidence was collected on the 18th December, weeks after Amanda’s arrest. That was when the bra clasp was collected together with samples from traces identified by luminol. That delay was entirely attributable to the necessity of having to arrange for the defence lawyers and experts to be present to collect further samples, and not incompetence on the part of police or prosecution.

“Forensic expert Greg Hampikian says finding DNA (Amanda’s and Meredith’s) but no blood makes it highly unlikely that the knife was used in a bloody murder. He also says it is surprising that the prosecutor was even allowed to admit such a small unexplainable sample (Meredith’s on the blade) as evidence.” “Would this have made it into a US court? I don’t think it would have made it into a US lab report”.

Not make it into a lab report? Is he trying to be funny?


(6) Well there is the evidence of the police that the knife smelt heavily of bleach which, with its particular size and the fact that it looked so clean, was what made them interested in it. How many people wipe down an item of kitchen cutlery with bleach? I do not know but in my lifetime I have never known anybody do this. Washing up liquid works just fine for me.

Dr Hampikian is of course referring to the Low Copy Number (cell count) DNA reading but the fact is that the graph produced by the DNA electropherogram was a clear match for Meredith’s DNA profile.

Dr Hampikian might be interested to know that LCN DNA is admissible in evidence in at least one jurisdiction in the USA and there is growing support for it with the advances in DNA forensics. The majority of the experts who testified at the trial said that it was clearly Meredith’s DNA.


(7) Furthermore Raffaele explained the existence of the sample by saying that he had accidently pricked Meredith with the knife whilst cooking at his flat. Untrue.  Amanda herself testified that Meredith had never been to Raffaele’s flat, and there was no evidence that she had. Nor was there any evidence or suggestion that, prior to the murder, the knife had been to the girl’s cottage.This evidence would in most courts make the DNA evidence admissible.


(8)  Dr Hampikian again, on the bra clasp (with Raffaele’s DNA on it) – “If that’s all there is it’s a very weak piece of evidence”. “And it’s inconsistent with every other piece of evidence in the case”.

Well, there is the bloody footprint on the bathroom mat which the trial court accepted as being consistent with Raffaele’s footprint rather than Rudy Guede or, for that matter, Amanda. As to the DNA on the bra clasp this was, in forensic terms, an abundant amount, and no one, but no-one, has disputed that this was Raffaele’s DNA.

Perhaps Dr Hampikian can explain how Sollecito’s DNA comes to be there considering that his DNA was not found anywhere else in the flat (other than on a cigarette stub in the kitchen and on Meredith’s door handle) in a quantity even close to the amount found on the bra clasp?

He was clearly advancing the lone wolf theory espoused by Amanda knox supporters given that Guede’s DNA was found in Meredith’s room and on her person. Funny how that DNA evidence is accepted by them but the bra clasp DNA is not. As a forensic biologist perhaps he might also want to comment on the fact that –


(9) There was not one single trace of evidence, DNA, fingerprint, footprint or otherwise, relating to Guede found on the window sill, window, glass, or any item located in, or anywhere else in, Filomena’s room. And yet a mixed sample of Amanda’s and Meredith’s DNA was found on the floor there. Explain that! 

Without question Dr Hampikian’s soundbite contributions to the program were scientifically very inept for someone in his position, but I am sure that he knew what he was doing.




(10) Drew Griffin’s loaded, error strewn and unsubstantiated commentary continued -

  • DG: Amanda was “confronted (by the police) with evidence of criminal activity which the police didn’t have.”

Amanda was questioned by the police as a witness in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the murder along with others such as her flatmates Filomena and Laura, and Raffaele and three of Meredith’s English girlfriends. These were not interrogations. The questioning of Amanda for 52 hours (suggesting intensive interrogation) as mentioned by her father at the beginning is an exaggeration if not a fabrication. 

Amanda was questioned (interrogated, if you like) at the police station on the 5th November from around 11.30pm to 1.45 am when the questioning stopped because she had become a formal suspect due to her disclosure that she had been at the cottage when Meredith was being murdered by Patrick Lumumba. She was not questioned again other than in court.

A question for Drew Griffin.  “During the aforesaid period what evidence was she presented with that the police did not already have?” I, for one, do not know what he is talking about.

  • DG: “The case against Amanda Knox appears to be falling apart.”

Really?  News to me.

  • DG: “The tabloid press is beginning to tell a different story.”

Well, they are reporting (and sensationalising in some cases) developments (such as they are)  in the appeal.  But a different story?  Again news to me.

  • DG: “The case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito seems to be hanging on two very small pieces of DNA evidence.”

Actually Drew, that’s what you would like people to think. It would be far more accurate to say that it is the validity of any defence that is hanging on this evidence, and that what crumbs they may be thrown as a result of the review will not really damage that evidence nor alter the soundness of the convictions.

There is plenty of other evidence, all omitted in this biased documentary.

(11) Drew Griffin next remarks: “Curatolo’s evidence was laughable”.

Really? In what way? He seems to have got the date and times and identifications right. Explain that. In fact whatever the appeal court now makes of his testimony there was nothing laughable about his evidence. He was indeed confused in parts but very clear that he saw Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito arguing together in Grimana Square the night before the police and forensic teams arrived in the square and at the cottage.

The confusion that arose was that he introduced elements of Halloween (the night before that) including a costume he saw in his recollection of the said night. However he was also certain that it was not raining when he saw the two together. It did not rain on the night of the 1st November whereas it did on the night of the 31st October.

  • DG – “He revealed that he was under investigation by Mignini’s office at the exact moment he became his star witness.”

I sensed several slurs coming up and I was not wrong.

  • DG – “Did he get any favours?

Like what? The promise of a reduction in sentence? It looks like he didn’t.

  • DG – “So you believe the testimony of a homeless heroin dealer?”

Yes, for the reasons given. Drew, it does not matter what Mignini really believed or believes now. Testimony is heard and evaluated by the court not by prosecutors. Mignini is not heading the prosecution team on the appeal and he certainly has no influence otherwise on judges and jurors anyway.


(12) Another fatuous claim. “But almost immediately after the arrests Mignini had a problem. The third suspect, Patrick Lumumba had an airtight alibi. He was in his crowded bar that night. He could not have been involved.”


Actually the bar was not so crowded. Pretty empty really.  Patrick was fortunate that of the few customers who turned up one was a Swiss professor, Roman Mero, who travelled all the way back from Zurich to give police Lumumba’s airtight alibi. But for that Lumumba might have stayed in the frame-up longer thanks to Amanda. She did not ever admit to the police that she had lied about him.


(13) Another fatuous claim. “Knox stated that she was denied a translator when referring to her interrogation/arrest.”

Knox testified on the stand in June 2009 that she DID have a translator at that time, by the name of Anna Donnino.

(14) We then had the introduction of Doug Preston, co-author of “The Monster of Florence” (another inadvertent plug – sorry) whose book is in the planning stage for a movie with a star role for this financial donor to The Committee to Protect Journalists. Preston is to be played by George Clooney in the movie.

I do not intend to dwell on this section. It is irrelevant to the Murder of Meredith Kercher and to do so would be to give this pompous individual more of the self publicity he craves It’s sole purpose was to portray the Perugia police and in particular Mignini as arch villains. It might occur to many that Doug Preston has a financial interest in doing this.

We were treated to the following gems –

“Police interrogated people brutally and extracted suspect confessions from them” (in the Monster of Florence case – sorry, another plug)

“I was terrified. I thought these people have the power to put me in prison for the rest of my life.”

Mr Preston obviously does not like having to answer questions or to have to account for himself. Well nobody does really but we are in wimp territory with Preston.

George Clooney could not possibly play such a wimp. Instead the scene in the movie will have to be “sexed up” with Mignini being portrayed as overbearing, obsessive, corrupt and demented.

Hardly the picture he presented in his interview - that is, the two hour long interview that was not shown.

It is not accurate to say the Preston has never returned to Italy as a result of his brush with Mignini. He has been back with Dateline NBC to tape a show on the Monster of Florence (4th and last plug!).





The following are some of the other facts omitted - all pursuant to testimony at the trial or verifiable from other easily obtainable sources. Take note first that there were extensive investigations by experts of cellphone and computer activity and their findings were admitted as evidence. Also it may be helpful to know that Meredith Kercher had two mobile phones, an Italian phone given to her by Filomena and her own UK phone.

These were stolen by her killers and discarded elsewhere. However they were found and handed in to the Postal Police who ascertained that the Italian phone was registered to Filomena and consequently two officers were dispatched to the cottage where they found Amanda and Raffaele.


(15) the fact that Amanda claimed that she returned to the cottage on her own at 10.30 am before the discovery of Meredith’s body to have a shower and collect a mop to clear up a spill of water at Raffaele’s flat the night before– which Massei found unlikely given that by her own testimony she had arranged with Raffaele to visit Gubbio that day and had testified that she had already had a shower at Raffaele’s the evening before; and furthermore that Raffaele employed a cleaner who kept a mop and cleaning equipment at his apartment block.


(16) the fact that cell phone records show that Amanda called Filomena at 12.08 pm (on the 2nd November) to report the front door being open, blood on the bathroom mat and Meredith’s door being locked.  She was at Raffaele’s flat at the time.  Filomena tells her to try Meredith’s phones. Records corroborate that Amanda did call each of Meredith’s phones in turn,

But these two calls lasted just 3 seconds and 4 seconds respectively. Does this sound like a genuine attempt to get hold of Meredith?  One also has to wonder why she did not attempt to call Meredith’s phones again once she and Raffaele had arrived together at the cottage when she might have assumed that they would be heard ringing in Meredith’s bedroom.


(17) the fact that Amanda and Raffaele claimed that Raffaele had called the carabinieri to report a burglary before the postal police arrived. This 112 call was later discovered as timed at 12.51 pm after the arrival of the postal police.


(18) the fact that Amanda told the postal police that Meredith always locked her bedroom door even when she went to the bathroom. This was flatly contradicted by Filomena who said that the only occasion when Meredith had ever locked her door was when she returned to visit her mother in England.


(19) the fact that when the postal police looked into Filomena’s bedroom Raffaele told them that nothing had been stolen. That was true - but why had he been so certain?


(20) the fact that Amanda telephoned her mother from the cottage at 12.47 pm (around 4 am in the morning Seattle time), before the discovery of the body. Why did Amanda wake her mother up in the middle of the night? Edda was subsequently puzzled as to why Amanda was unable to remember this call when, as she put it “Nothing had really happened”.

Amanda persisted even with her parents in denying the existence of the call, but then eventually said that she could not remember it. 

Edda says that Amanda mentioned in the call that there appeared to have been someone in the cottage, and that she told Amanda to call the police. Amanda did not mention, according to Edda, that the postal police were already there.


(21) the fact that in her 2,900 word e-mail home of the 4th November she professes to have been in a panic about Meredith’s locked door and her whereabouts (calling out her name, banging on her bedroom door, and running out on to the balcony and leaning over the rail and trying to look through Meredith’s bedroom window), but according to the witnesses exhibited no particular concern about Meredith when the postal police arrived, nor raised any concerns with them, rather quite the opposite, before the discovery of Meredith’s body.


(22) the fact that in the same e-mail she says that during her 10.30 am visit to the cottage she noticed the blood “smeared” on the sink faucet, drops in the sink and the bloody foot print on the bathmat. “Ew! but nothing to worry about” she says. She attributes the blood to perhaps Meredith having menstrual issues.Does that really make sense? A footprint in menstrual blood? Meredith? who was always so clean and tidy and who had admonished Amanda for her uncleanliness in the bathroom.


(23) the fact that she claims in the e-mail that Raffaelle tried to force Meredith’s door before the arrival of the postal police and failed, despite the fact that one of the other witnesses forced it quite easily.


(24) the fact that (if Amanda’s account of returning to the cottage at 10.30 am is to be believed) notwithstanding blood in the bathroom (which by Amanda’s own admission was not there when she left the cottage the day before), the front door being open, Meredith’s bedroom door being locked (when it was usual for it to be unlocked),and unflushed feces in the large bathroom toilet (which,she says, made her feel uncomfortable about the situation), Amanda did not think of attempting to contact Meredith by phone (on the assumption that she had gone out that morning) nor take a decision to notify anyone other than Raffaele for up to an hour and a half, until a 12.07 call to Meredith and the 12.08 phone call to Filomena. Does this seem credible?


(25) the fact that the 12.07 call was to Meredith’s UK phone and lasted 16 seconds but oddly she does not mention this call to Filomena seconds later. Nor, before calling Filomena, does she try Meredith’s italian phone. The italian phone was, Amanda knew, the phone Meredith used to make and receive local calls. Massei infers that there was no need to try Meredith’s italian phone because Amanda knew that both phones had been disposed of together. This explains why the first call (immediately prior to calling Filomena) was 16 seconds long (to check whether or not both phones had been found), and why the subsequent two calls (after the call to Filomena) were both very short.


(26) the fact that Filomena was worried enough to call Amanda twice at 12.12 (36 seconds) and at 12.20 (65 seconds) without Amanda picking up the calls.  Amanda did pick up the final call at 12.34. Why did she not answer the first two calls?


(27) the fact that Amanda told Meredith’s English friends at the police station details of the body and wounds, although but for a foot it was covered by a quilt and despite her not being in line of sight when the body was discovered, and not having been told any of these details by anyone afterwards.


(28) the fact that when 3 days after the murder Amanda, Filomena and Laura were requested by the police to accompany them to the cottage to check out some details, Amanda, on being shown a drawer of knives in the kitchen, appeared to have had a psychotic incident, putting her hands over her ears and trembling.


(29) the fact that Raffaelle told a British Sunday newspaper in an exclusive interview that on the night of the murder he was at a party with Amanda and not at his flat. He also said that Amanda had gone back to her own flat the next day at midday, and not at 10.30am as she claimed.


(30) the fact that having told the police that she had been with Raffaele all night on the 1st November, sleeping with him until 10.00 am the next morning, Raffaele then proceeded to destroy this alibi on the evening of the 5th November by telling the police that on that night Amanda had gone out and had not returned to his flat until 1 am.




(31) the fact that Raffaele’s own alibi was not corroborated by computer evidence. He claimed to have spent the night indoors, using his computer until late and then going to sleep. In fact all human interaction with the computer ceased at around 9.15 pm and the computer was not re-activated by him until 5.32 am the next morning when it was used for half an hour for music to be played.


(32) the fact that both Amanda’s and Raffaele’s mobiles were switched off sometime shortly after 8.42 pm and were not switched back on again until after 5.32am in the case of Raffaele who activated a text message his father had sent him late the previous night.


(33) the fact that Raffaele’s father had telephoned Raffaele at 8.42 pm and had testified that during the conversation his son told him that while he was washing the dishes he had noticed a leak of water on the floor. This times the dinner Amanda and Raffaele had together as being prior to this whereas Amanda had claimed first that dinner was a liitle after 9.15 pm and then again that it was quite late, perhaps 11 pm (close to the time that Meredith died).


(34) the fact that Amanda’s claim that she slept in until 10 am does not fit easily with the fact that Raffaele was playing music on his computer from 5.32 am nor with the evidence of Mr Quintaville, the food store owner, who says he saw Amanda when he was opening up his store at 7.45 am.


(35) the fact that Amanda and Raffaele were both using drugs. There were multiple corroborating statements to that effect.


(36) the fact that Amanda and Raffaele were constantly together – in a symbiotic relationship as Massei put it.


(37) the fact that Raffaele was a knife aficionado in the habit of carrying a pocket penknife. Indeed he was carrying one on him when he was interviewed at the police station on the 5th November.


(38) the fact that Raffaele watched animal porn videos and this so concerned his university that his subsequent behaviour was monitored.


(39) the fact that Raffaele posted a picture of himself on Facebook dressed up as a mummy carrying a butchers’ chopper.


(40) the fact that Amanda had also written a bizarre short story about the drugging and raping of a young girl which she had posted on her web page.


(41) the fact that Amanda and Raffaele have both suggested that the other might have committed the crime.


(42) the fact that when Rudy Guede was arrested Raffaele did not celebrate his pending imminent release but wrote in his diary that he worried that this man, whom he says he had never met, “might make up strange things about me”.


(43) the fact that there are two instances of Amanda’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s identified by luminol (a powerful presumptive test for blood); in the corridor and in Filomena’s bedroom.  The luminol also identified three footprints, one in Amanda’s bedroom and two in the corridor which tested positive for Meredith’s DNA, the footprints being comparable to the shape and size of Amanda’s right foot.


(44) the fact (as mentioned by me before but not in your programme) that Amanda’s blood was found in the bathroom. Amanda’s blood was on the washbasin faucet, and the mixed blood of Amanda and Meredith was in the washbasin, the bidet, and on the cottonbud box.


(45) the fact that not only was Raffaele’s DNA found on the bra clasp but that in the electropherogram chart there were ten out of sixteen loci having peaks corresponding to Amanda’s profile. Though this is not as decisive as the DNA result for Raffaele, it does give rise to the hypothesis that Amanda touched the bra clasp as well. Amanda’s defence team may consider themselves fortunate that the bra clasp can not be re-tested.


(46) the fact that a shoeprint on Meredith’s pillow was estimated in the area of size 37, or 38.  Amanda’s shoe size, not the other two.


(47) the fact that (according to Massei) the nature of the wounds and injuries sustained by Meredith ( who was a fit girl and who had trained in karate) meant that more than one attacker had to be present to inflict those ( knife wounds, strangulation, bruising to her lips and inner thighs) and to subdue her and attempt sexual intercourse.


(48) the fact that Massei also concluded from the wounds that there were at least two different knives used and that exhibit 36 (the knife on which Amanda’s and Meredith’s DNA was found) was compatible with the wound that ultimately caused her death through blood loss and asphyxiation.


(49) the fact that there were blood spots (from coughing up blood as a result of the fatal knife wound to the throat) on Meredith’s chest and bra. This and other evidence shows that her body was moved, and her bra and some other clothing removed after she had died or at least as she lay dying.This suggests that the evidence of a sex attack is, in part at least, staged.


(50) the fact that there was a footprint (Raffaele’s)  in Meredith’s blood on the bathmat but none leading from Meredith’s room to the bathroom. Highly suggestive, if not proof, that there had been a clean up operation.


(51) the fact that the discovery of Amanda’s arced reading lamp in an upright position on Meredith’s bedroom floor (as if for close inspection) is also highly suggestive of a staging or clean up operation.


(52) the fact that Meredith’s stolen mobile phones were found in a garden within a few hundred yards of Guede’s and Raffaele’s apartments. The apartments are within 30 seconds walking distance of each other, much closer to each other than either are to the girl’s cottage.


(53) the fact that the other two girl occupants with keys to the flat had rock solid alibis whereas Amanda had not.


(54) the fact that according to witnesses the relationship between Meredith and Amanda had started out well enough but had started to deteriorate, be it over petty things.


(55) the fact that the placing of a duvet over Meredith’s corpse is indicative of some relationship between Meredith and her killer.





Some conclusions on the case and Griffin report

Most of the foregoing may be circumstantial evidence, but taken together it is powerful circumstantial evidence, more than enough to secure a conviction in any court in the USA.


Who would have the motive to stage a break in, stage further evidence of sexual assault for an invesigator’s benefit, carry out a partial clean up, and lock the victim’s bedroom door? 

Curatolo’s evidence that he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Grimana Square, a few metres away from the cottage, having what appeared to be a heated argument,  at various times between 9.30pm and 11.pm, is helpful to the prosecution case but by no means essential.

All the emphasis on the admittedly unhelpful and salacious tabloid newspaper reporting is irrelevant. It is a distraction.

In addition Rudy Guede, in his evidence, did indeed implicate Amanda Knox (starting well before the Italian police got their hands on him), and all the evidence from his fast track trial and appeals is now part of the evidence to be considered in the current appeal.

I think that the Italian Justice system would resent the insinuation in the programme that Guede received a reduced sentence because he was co-operative with the police and prosecution in implicating Amanda.

It should be noted that if Mignini, in his alleged rush to judgement, got things seriously wrong, then he would have had to manipulate the evidence of the prosecution witnesses to fit his erroneous hypothesis. A grand conspiracy! -  a laughable hypothesis. The following is a list of such witnesses. It is indicative, not exhaustive.

Filomena Romanelli, Marco Zarelli, Paola Grande, Laura Mezetti, Luca Altieri, Inspector Battistelli (Postal Police), Monica Napoleoni (Head of Perugia Murder Squad), Sophie Purton, Robyn Butterworth, Amy Frost, Jovana Popovic, Antonio Curatolo, Marco Quintavalle, Nara Capezzali, Antonella Monacchia, Inspector Finzi, Superintendent Gubbiotti, Commissioner Bartolozzi, Marco Trotta, Claudio Trifici, Gregory Mirco, Dr Luca Lalli, Chief Inspector Latella, Dr Profazio, Dr Patrizia Stefanoni (Police Forensic Service in Rome and prosecution DNA expert), and Dr Torricelli (DNA expert for the Kercher family).

This particular murder case is unusual not just in the interest it has generated worldwide but also to the extent to which it has been discussed and argued over on the internet and in the manner in which on occasions it has been presented (rather than reported on) in the media. It is also unusual that the family of one of the accused has not only taken part in such activity but has hired a public relations firm to help bring this about.

There have been a number of books already but I predict that in future a number of these, and the media generally, will also deal with these additional features of the case in some detail.

Sadly for CNN I expect that “Murder Abroad – The Amanda Knox Story” will often be quoted and held up as an example of how bad things got.

I dare say you are free to broadcast what you like and perhaps Drew Griffin’s presentation wrought an overpowering sense of injustice in viewers and improved ratings.

With hindsight, however, I am sure that CNN will regret this shoddy little “documentary”.

It would be nice to think, when Amanda’s conviction is upheld, that CNN will broadcast a detailed corrective documentary. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours etc

James Raper

c/o True Justice for Meredith Kercher

Posted on 05/17/11 at 04:15 AM by James Raper. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contextsReporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamFlorence MOF hoax
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Open Letter #2 To Joel Simon Of CPJ: Not Even One Anti-Mignini Accusation Withstands Careful Testing

Posted by Kermit

Attn. Mr. Joel Simon
Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001


Dear Mr. Simon,

More on your potentially libelous open letter, sent unchecked to 21 world leaders, and your first attempt at a response.

As previously with Open Letter #1 of April 26, this will have to occupy several posts, because the evidence against your unsubstantiated or misleading accusations against Umbrian Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is so voluminous. 



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above:  Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists is stepping into the same slippery terrain of unsubstantiated accusations against Mr. Mignini as Friends of Amanda activists such as Judge Michael Heavey have done in the past, and which Amanda Knox’s lawyers have had to disassociate themselves from. Is this just a procedural slip-up by Mr. Simon which he will quickly seek to correct, or is he consciously introducing himself and his organisation as a proxy player in a potential attempt to pervert the course of justice?]

As a public notice, your own open letter definitely has a potential impact on his reputation and career in the professional realm, and on his good name and honour as a person. No demonstrative proof was offered for those accusations. My own skepticism concerning the soundness of your accusatory text was underlined by what seemed to be the only and entire basis for this splashy letter, an aggressive international PR campaign fraught with risk for the CPJ’s reputation:

  • Sfarzo told CPJ …
  • Preston told CPJ … 
  • Cottonwood told CPJ … 
  • Editor Ken Robinson said …

There was no apparent fact-finding, no contrasting of opinion, no double checking, no collecting of documents.  Not even evidence of the slightest, minimal effort to contact the subject of these grave accusations, Mr. Mignini (not even a “he didn’t reply to our email” or a “we tried to call his office at midnight but no one answered”).

This is shameful coming from a journalistic organisation, in an industry where every professional worth his salt checks a source before publishing to avoid credibility and legal problems further along.

My letter raised a number of questions about how and why your open letter to the world was prepared, and I made a number of requests or suggestions in order to understand better the basis for the accusations against Mignini.

Some of the red flags which result from my questions are:

  • Did the CPJ simply accept the accusation of certain persons against Mr. Mignini without even minimal, Google-based fact checking? 

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Having realized that basic fact checking was not carried out, has the CPJ proceeded to do so?

    -> If not, then Red Flag

  • Does the tipster who set you on this issue also stand to gain something by painting Mr. Mignini in a certain light?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Is the tipster or one of the subjects of the letter a financial backer of your organisation?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Could one or more of the subjects that the CPJ sought to protect in its missive be less a journalist seeking to report news freely, and more an element of a lobby group in an open criminal case?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Do you know that the principal subject who you sought to “protect” in your Letter to the World is actually a screen name, used by the blogger?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Having realized (thanks to our first reply to you here on TJMK) that you were seeking to protect a screen name, did you proceed to identify the real-life person behind the screen name, and check what provoked a police visit to his home and what he is actually charged with, and if said charges can be in any way linked to Mr. Mignini, who closed his investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher almost three years ago? 

    -> If not, then Red Flag

  • Upon realizing that your accusations are neither substantiated nor relevant, is it possible that the CPJ could be used as a party to pervert the course of justice in two open criminal cases? 

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • Have you included as justification for action in your letter to the world the supposed threat to persons who aren’t journalists or reporters?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

  • As a result of the CPJ Letter to 21 World Leaders, could the until now untarnished reputation of the Organization to Protect Journalists be put into question, favouring the abuse perpetrated against journalists by those in power around the world who actually do threaten the work of journalists?

    -> If so, then Red Flag

With the acknowledgement that just one of these red flags (any one of them) is raised, the CPJ should have taken a step back and thought through how and why it ended up issuing its Letter to the World of 19-04-2011, identified internal control issues and external damage caused (both to the organisation’s reputation and to third parties), and taken steps to correct the cause of the red flag and ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future.

There is negative impact that has already occurred to the Committee to Protect Journalists. However, it will continue to grow as more as more journalists, public agencies and the public in general become aware of and concerned about what is fast becoming the CPJ’s Abusive Accusations Against the Perugian Prosecutor Affair.

Instead of stepping back and reflecting on how to resolve this problem elegantly, only two days after publishing our first reply to you the CPJ posted a note, not on its front page but revealingly hidden away on the institutional blog page on its site.

Frankly, I was astounded that the CPJ seemed to sweep the questions I raised in my first letter under the CPJ’s own carpet by stating that “we stand by” the first Letter to 21 World Leaders on 19-04-2011.

Instead of trying to de-construct what it has created, the CPJ seems to be making the monster grow.

I should say that we – the international followers of progress in the case concerning the murder of the English student Meredith Kercher in Perugia on 1 November 2007 - recognize and are thankful that at least the CPJ did give the reply to our letter, and that comments have been open on that page. We do thank you for that.

However, to some extent, both your reply and some of the comments posted on the CPJ site actually increase our concern surrounding the CPJ’s recent actions and the obvious lack of due diligence applied in the preparation and sending of your Letter to the World. Had it occurred because of a procedural slip up, the normal reaction of an organisation such as yours would be to suspend the Letter to the World and perform detailed (or even basic) fact checking.

But you haven’t.



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above: CPJ coordinator Nina Ognianova takes the heat on behalf of Joel Simon, admitting that the Letter to 21 World leaders was only written on the basis of accusatory statements offered or requested of “victims” of Mignini, with no fact checking whatsoever.]

The CPJ reply to our letter states: “CPJ has received a number of emails in reaction to our April 19 letter … which details cases of harassment”.

What details? Your April 19 letter didn’t detail anything.

The CPJ reply to our letter states: “CPJ takes no position as to the alleged guilt or innocence of either of the defendants in the Kercher case”

This comment has nothing to do with either your original letter or our response, and I don’t know why you have included it in your reply. We all assume a priori that the CPJ has no position on the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher. What we are concerned about is that CPJ does not provide any detail or checking to its grave accusations against Mr. Mignini.

The CPJ reply to our letter states: “Those in positions of power must understand that scrutiny and criticism, including the harshest of kind, comes with the office.” 

We could not agree more with that no-brainer. What is missing in the framework of your open letter to world leaders about Mr. Mignini is what must be said in the next breath, the missing second half of that equation, which is that in addition, the Press (from individual reporters to the sectorial press associations which represent them such as yours) must act in a responsible manner, striving to publish and communicate truthful facts which have been thoroughly contrasted. To not achieve that level of responsibility means a drift towards the Press publishing news and “facts” à la Janet Cooke and Jimmy’s World.



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above:  Let’s hope that the CPJ can help avoid a 21st century Jimmy’s World. Does the CPJ have an Ombudsman service when regular channels of complaints provide no adequate reply?]

In my opinion (and that of many persons who have written me, and I’m sure many persons who have written you), that is exactly how the Committee to Protect Journalists is appearing.

When you say that in spite of the extremely serious issues that we raise about your document accusing Mignini “We stand by it”, you are really saying two things:

1) you continue to support the highly doubtful veracity of the unsupported accusations against Mignini

2) you are not planning to do any further checking of the facts, as effortless as that may be. (Instead of “further” checking of the facts, it’s really a question of “initial, basic” checking of the facts)

If that is what you stand by, then the overall reputation of CPJ is called into question, and those who truly should respond for the abuse of real journalists in tough situations around the world know that they can ignore your calls of support for personal freedom and freedom of press, calling into question the integrity of your organisation.



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above: World leaders on all continents who are directly responsible for the abuse of journalists and the free press in general, or who are in a position to improve the conditions of journalists have their life made easier when organizations such as the CPJ are seen as frail or lacking in the very principles that they promote.]

I can understand that from the CPJ’s point of view, you are in a tight position. Your reputation is at stake. You have published a high-profile letter containing grave accusations, which as it actually gets examined beyond the words of the accusers starts to unravel very quickly and evaporate, and by no means justifies a letter of alert to world leaders.

At the same time, the most visible of the persons who supposedly has suffered at the hands of Mignini is on the list of the CPJ’s significant financial benefactors. “Preston … suffered harassment by Mignini himself in 2006 – and eventually was forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment – told CPJ ….”

And Douglas Preston is now going his own way promoting and “improving” your letter and claiming that you have carried out an “independent investigation”, when that seems to not be the case. Preston has said in the last few days:

“the Committee to Protect Journalists … has made public the results of their own, independent investigation into the actions of Mignini and the police, prosecutors, and judges in Perugia, Italy.

Their conclusions are shocking. The report details what appears to be an organized campaign to harass, intimidate, and physically threaten Italian and American journalists covering the case. CPJ discovered that in at least on case police in Perugia assaulted a journalist who had criticized Mignini, trumped up charges against him, and then tried to get him certified “insane”—all with Mignini’s knowledge and cooperation.

The CPJ investigation also detailed how Perugian authorities extended their harassment campaign into the United States, threatening American journalists, writers, and newspapers with criminal charges in a gross attempt to extend Italian criminal laws on to American soil and interfere with the freedoms we enjoy in our own country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists was so concerned with their findings that yesterday they sent a strong letter of protest to the President of the Italian Republic, asking for action to end this abuse and calling on him to take steps to protect journalists in Perugia.  The letter reads like a horror novel.”

(Source: Doug Preston promoting something he calls The Monster of Perugia)

Mr. Simon, I have highlighted certain expressions of Preston in bold. Is it of your opinion that this financial backer of the CPJ is using expressions and style that actually reflect the content of the CPJ letter which you signed, and how you prepared that letter? If not, what do you think explains the gap?

Could it be the close proximity of the genesis of the 19-04-2011 letter to Preston himself, to him promoting “my nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, written with Italian journalist Mario Spezi, and currently being made into a movie” that Preston claims will star George Clooney?



[Click above for a larger image]

[Above: In the name of transparency, it would be appropriate for the CPJ to reveal the financial contributions that Douglas Preston has made to the organisation, as well as to detail the communications and attached documents that Preston has exchanged with the CPJ with regard to the Letter to the World of 19-04-2011. This is what honest Governance is all about.]

I have received a number of emails in the last few days, as I’m sure you have too, and the message people are telling me is that something has gone amiss with the CPJ letter to 21 World Leaders about a local Italian prosecutor in the hills of Umbria.

Let me help you out.

I want CPJ to work. I am not looking for it to be humiliated, as it is a very needed organisation which has done great work. However, respect must not just be earned but it must be maintained. In the case of the CPJ letter of 19-04-2011, I honestly believe that something went wrong in the internal control procedures of the CPJ. Those should be relatively easy to review, revise and use in the future to improve the quality of your activity.

However, in addition to correcting its internal procedures with regard to the future, a wrong committed must be righted. Journalism is not about sweeping things under the carpet.

As regards the latter, it is the CPJ who should decide the action it will take. I suppose that writing a new open letter copied to 21 world leaders, admitting that the CPJ got bamboozled (which is honestly what I think happened), is expecting too much.

However, why don’t you contact Mr. Mignini’s office and give him fair time to respond on your webpage? That would be just, fair and elegant, especially after the lack of elegance shown in your world letter.

Are you even aware if he knows about the supposed incident of 28-09-2010 suffered by the Perugia blogger? My bet is that he learned about it on 19-04-2011 upon reading your letter about what a bad guy he is, and that whatever reason that the police may have gone to the home of a guy who uses the screen-name “Frank Sfarzo” (real name Sforza) has more to do with that blogger’s real-life persona than his blog posts related to the Meredith Kercher case.

Did you even know that “Frank Sfarzo” is only a screen-name?  Please, please tell me that you didn’t first learn that fact only once the critical emails started to arrive after your 19-04-2011 post.

If so, that would be a serious pie-in-your-face: a letter to the world to protect a screen name against totally unsubstantiated accusations of physical abuse by police, which even if they occurred show no dotted line to a prosecutor whom some unrevealed OPJ tipster has decided to denounce (although we all have a pretty good idea of who that tipster is).

Let me help out by working to set things straight, and shed some contrasting and revealing light on the grave accusations poured on Mignini in the CPJ’s letter.

Thanks to Google, we are able to contrast the accusers’ words against .... their own words, photos and deeds as documented on Internet. These are mostly made available by themselves in their own posts and comments.

It is truly shocking that the CPJ didn’t exert the minimal effort which I present below in the Annex to this letter, and which allowed me to get a completely different understanding of how shallow the recent attack is against Mignini. To be honest, the CPJ should have seen the bamboozle coming a mile away.

If the CPJ won’t do a basic, minimal, obvious, fast, easy, needed-to-avoid-a-libel-accusation, beginner journalist’s exercise of checking the facts in a high-profile accusation with international repercussions, then I will.

Let’s do a fast “Balance” of facts as we are able to gather them. I’ve set up a Balance Sheet which we’ll use to perform some checking and tests on some of the accusations which appear in the CPJ letter. I would have performed these tests and included them in my first letter a week ago, however, I was hoping that the CPJ would have spent literally, just a few minutes to do the checking.

Here’s the format of our Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations. We’ll fill it out as we go along.



[Click above for a larger image]

Given the length of the indicative results that we have obtained, today we will post this letter, and shortly we will post the Annex with our findings with the complete Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations.

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or if I may be of assistance as you become more familiarized with the complex forces which are out to turn Mr. Mignini into an evil, rogue prosecutor.

However, what’s good for some people’s business is not good for yours.

I hope that with this second TJMK letter the CPJ will finally realize the delicate, weak state of your 19-04-2011 letter and will take the appropriate measures. 

In your own words to the 21 World Leaders, “thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.”

Sincerely,

Kermit

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


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

Posted on 05/10/11 at 07:26 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesMedia newsV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamFrancesco SforzaMore of the sameFlorence MOF hoax
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Monday, May 09, 2011

Questions For Knox: The Questions That Drew Griffin On CNN Tonight SHOULD Have Asked

Posted by The Machine




Drew Griffin’s CNN report on Amanda Knox (replete with dozens of basic errors) can be read in transcript here.

Welcome to migrants from CNN. If you want to form a seriously fact-based opinion, please read this group of posts and especially the one by the very smart lawyer SomeAlbi at the top.

Amanda Knox’s family and friends are notorious for running a mile rather than ever facing any hard questioning. This is unique in crime reporting on American TV where strong suspects and convicted felons otherwise invariably get roasted - heard of CNN’s own Jane Velez Mitchell and Nancy Grace?

So it’s a pretty safe bet that we have got right in advance (see previous posts below) what Drew Griffin’s report for CNN will be like.

It will undoubtedly be very biased and one-sided, with the vast majority of the interviews featuring members of Amanda Knox’s family and supporters being tossed a number of soft ball questions.

The program will no doubt shamefully try to manipulate the emotions of the viewers, with the seemingly obligatory footage of Edda Mellas crying and numerous images of Amanda Knox as a baby and child. None of this has anything to do with the evidence that led to her unanimous conviction.

And it will babble on ignorantly about Mr Mignini without an ounce of impartial investigation..

Don’t expect to see any images of Amanda Knox that undermine her carefully crafted girl-next-door image. Such as the footage of her kissing Raffaele Sollecito outside the cottage whilst Meredith’s mutilated body was still inside, and such as the CCTV images of Knox laughing and kissing Sollecito in the boutique as if she didn’t have a care in the world.

I have listed below a number of tough questions that Drew Griffin should, but its a very safe bet won’t, ask Amanda Knox’s family. First, a couple of vital context facts.

The various alibis

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito both gave at least three different alibis, all of which have turned out to be false. Nobody has ever provided a plausible innocent explanation for the numerous lies that Knox and Sollecito told before and after 5 November 2007.

Amanda Knox told Filomena that she had already phoned the police. Knox’s mobile phone records proved that this was untrue.

She told the postal police that Meredith always kept her door locked. Filomena strongly disagreed with her, and told the postal police the opposite was true.

And in her email to friends in on 4 November 2007, Amanda Knox says she called Meredith’s phones after speaking to Filomena. Knox’s mobile phone records prove that this was untrue and that she had called Meredith’s phones first.

Question for Knox: Why did Amanda Knox lie to Filomena and the postal police on 2 November 2007 and to her friends in her e-mail on 4 November 2007?

Sollecito’s alibi lies

On 5 November 2007, Raffaele Sollecito admitted to the police that he had lied to them and said that Amanda Knox had asked him to lie for her. He claimed that Amanda Knox had left his apartment at around 9.00pm and returned at about 1.00am on the night of the murder.

Question for Knox: Why did Sollecito stop providing Amanda Knox with an alibi and why does he still refuse to corroborate her alibi?

Sollecito’s further alibi lies

After admitting he had lied, Sollecito was given another opportunity to tell the police the truth. However, he decided to tell the police even more lies. These lies were exposed by his computer and mobile phone records.

Sollecito claimed that he had spoken to his father at 11pm. Phone records show that there was no telephone conversation at this time. Sollecito’s father called him a couple of hours earlier at 8.40pm.

He claimed that he was surfing the Internet from 11pm to 1am. There was no human interaction on his computer between 9.10am and 5.32am.

He claimed that he had slept until after 10.00am on 2 November 2007. However, he used his computer at 5.32am and played music for about 30 minutes. He turned on his mobile phone at about 6.02am and received three phone calls at 9.24am (248 seconds long) and at 9.30am and at 9.29am (38 seconds long).

Question for Knox: Why do you think Sollecito deliberately chose to tell the police more lies? 

The DNA on the bra clasp

An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on Meredith’s bra clasp. His DNA was identified by two separate DNA tests. Of the 17 loci tested in the sample, Sollecito’s profile matched 17 out of 17.

Question for Knox: Bearing in mind that DNA doesn’t fly, how would you account for the abundant amount of Sollecito’s DNA being on Meredith’s bra clasp?

The DNA on the large knife

Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo and Professor Francesca Torricelli - categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade.

Question for Knox: How would you account for Meredith’s DNA being on the blade of the double DNA knife?

The traces of mixed blood

A number of criminal biologists testified at the trial that Amanda Knox’s blood was mixed with Meredith’s blood. Independent DNA expert Luciano Garofano stated that this was undoubtedly the case and even Amanda Knox’s lawyers conceded that her blood was mixed with Meredith’s blood.

Question for Knox: Why was Amanda Knox bleeding on the night of the murder and why was her blood mixed with Meredith’s blood in four different parts of the cottage?

Sollecito claims to cut Meredith

Sollecito claimed in his diary that he had accidentally pricked Meredith’s hand whilst cooking.

Question for Knox: Why do you think Sollecito lied about accidentally pricking Meredith’s hand whilst cooking?

Sollecito on Filomena’s room

Sollecito told the police that nothing had been stolen from Filomena’s room.

Question for Knox: How did Sollecito know nothing had been stolen from Filomena’s room?

Knox accuses Patrick

According to the corroborative testimony of multiple witnesses, including Knox’s interpreter, she voluntarily accused Diya Lumumba of murdering Meredith.

Question for Knox: Why did Amanda Knox voluntarily accuse an innocent man of murder?

Knox refusal to recant

She acknowledged that it was her fault that Diya Lumumba was in prison in an intercepted conversation with her mother on 10 November 2007, but she didn’t retract her allegation against Diya Lumumba the whole time he was in prison.

Question for Knox: Why didn’t Amanda Knox recant her false and malicious allegation against Diya Lumumba when he was in prison?

Knox at crime scene

Amanda Knox state on four separate occasions that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed

Question for Knox: Why did Knox repeatedly claim to be there?

Knox’s Seattle call

Amanda Knox called her mother at 4.47am Seattle time before Meredith’s body had been discovered.

Question for Knox: Why did she phone her mother when it was in the middle of the night in Seattle and before anything had happened?

Knox forgets that call

Knox told her mother and the court that couldn’t remember making this phone call.

Question for Knox: Do you think Amanda Knox can’t genuinely remember phoning her mother at in the middle of the night?

Knox involvement

Amanda Knox voluntarily admitted her involvement in Meredith’s murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007.

Question for Knox: Why did Amanda Knox voluntarily admit that she was involved in Meredith’s murder?

Knox calls Meredith

Knox claimed that when she called Meredith’s Italian phone it “just kept ringing, no answer”. Her mobile phone records show this call lasted just three seconds.

Question for Knox:  Question for Knox: Do you think Amanda Knox made a genuine attempt to contact Meredith on 2 November 2007?

Posted on 05/09/11 at 12:42 AM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Explaining Why CNN Is So Desperate For A Hit And Quaint Niceties Like “Truth” Be Damned

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Jeffrey Bewkes, the head of CNN’s owner Time Warner, with the actress Hayden Panetierre]


A top-rated night-time show on the American TV frontrunner network CBS will pull in over 10 million viewers.

Fast-tanking CNN is lucky if it pulls in over FIVE PERCENT of that audience on any average day. A typical audience is just over 1/2 a million. Here is the story from last September.

Jonathan Klein, president of CNN’s US network, leaves his post today after a sudden announcement that he has been replaced by Ken Jautz, the head of CNN’s downmarket but more popular sister channel HLN.

Klein’s departure comes after a disastrous year for CNN, as its daily ratings slumped by 36% to an average of 640,000 weekday viewers, putting it in third place behind Fox News and MSNBC among cable news channels.

Fox News averages 2.4m viewers while MSNBC has nearly 850,000. HLN averages around 550,000 on weekdays.

The American stock market knows of this CNN fiasco, and it values all three accordingly. You can see this in the 3-year chart just below - the period shown is about half that.

  • The red curve below is for the US stock market average (the Dow Jones Index and you can see that it GAINED about 10 percent.
  • The green curve below is for Viacom Corp, which is the owner of CBS, and you can see that it GAINED about 50 percent.
  • The blue curve below is for Time Warner, the owner of CNN, and you can see that it LOST about 30 per cent in the same period.

We have no beef with CNN overall. But to try to boost its viewer ratings and stockmarket price with appalling reports on the back of the very sad death of Meredith? That seems to us to be in very sick territory.

Ironically CBS’s owner, Viacom, has seen its impressive recent gains since the CBS network STOPPED airing biased and misleading reports on the case and reacquired some integrity

The Meredith Effect?


Posted on 05/08/11 at 03:08 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, May 06, 2011

Drew Griffin Report This Sunday At 8:00 Seems Intent On Sustaining CNN’s Persistent Extreme Bias

Posted by Peter Quennell





CNN and CNN International have aired more biased reporting and inaccurate commentary on Meredith’s case than all other US networks - combined.

At bottom here is a video of a typically biased CNN panel.

Jingoism, defamation and xenophobia remain pervasive throughout, though the videos for the worst of the worst - an entire CNN panel baying for Italian blood - have been mysteriously disappeared.

Larry King, Elliott Spitzer, Nancy Grace, Jane Velez Mitchell, Jeffrey Toobin, and so on and on, have all helped to seriously mislead CNN viewers about the real evidence, and about the very strong case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

The Micheli Report and the Massei Report and the recent very hardline Supreme Court ruling on Rudy Guede stating that three people did it - all of those reports comprehensive, meticulous, and very damning - don’t even seem to have simply been MENTIONED yet on CNN.

CNN never seems to have had a competent legal reporter actually present in the courtroom. There is a very conspicuous lack on CNN of any Italian interviewees or legal analysts. CNN has seemingly never ever presented an accurate description of how cautious the Italian justice system really is, or how many hoops Italian prosecutors have to jump through.

No mention ever on CNN that the US State Department and Rome Embassy observed the trial and found absolutely nothing wrong. No mention ever on CNN that not one human rights and prisoners rights organization such as Amnesty International has ever shown interest in this case.

Here are about three dozen CNN headlines taken from CNN’s own website. Do you notice any suggestive pattern?

  • Amanda Knox’s family speaks out
  • Amanda Knox’s parents say their daughter is no killer
  • Knox innocent, parents say
  • Murder case brings ‘Foxy Knoxy’ infamy in Italy
  • Knox scared but insists on innocence, Italian lawmaker says
  • Sollecito: Amanda Knox ‘incapable of killing’
  • Knox aunt: Italians supportive
  • Is Amanda being railroaded?
  • Amanda Knox tells Italian jury she’s not an ‘assassin’
  • Lawyer: Vague theories and bias, but no evidence in Knox murder trial
  • U.S. student testifies Italian police pressured her
  • Amanda Knox’s parents hope acquittal is near in murder case
  • Disputed evidence in spotlight as Amanda Knox trial nears end
  • Amanda Knox lawyer makes emotional plea for acquittal
  • Amanda Knox sobs as guilty verdict read
  • Knox’s parents react to conviction
  • Knox’s parents blame media
  • Knox’s parents: ‘huge mistake’
  • Amanda Knox: Court has made ‘huge mistake’
  • Knox jury, prosecutor decried
  • Knox ‘ready to fight on,’ parents say
  • Knox family, friends react
  • Amanda Knox’s aunt says hearing verdict was ‘gut-wrenching’
  • Knox verdict leaves many questions unanswered
  • Judge allows appeal in Amanda Knox case [actually it’s automatic]
  • Jailed mobster claims he can prove Amanda Knox is innocent
  • Knox’s mother reacts to libel case
  • Knox’s mom: This feels personal
  • Toobin: Knox libel charge ‘very strange’

Notice any bias in that list? You think CNN took the same position on the convicted brutal murderer Scott Peterson now on Death Row for whom there was actually much LESS evidence?

This sunday at 8:00 US east coast time, on CNN and CNN International, the aimiable and lightweight CNN investigative reporter Drew Griffin (image at top) will seemingly present an hour more of the same.

CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reveals new details that cast doubts upon controversial blood, knife, DNA, and other evidence presented in Knox’s original trial….

Griffin also has a rare television interview with the chief prosecutor in the case, Giuliano Mignini, and reveals a pattern of prosecutorial behavior that raises questions about the original conviction.

He debriefs viewers on Knox’s now-disputed confession – obtained after days of unrelenting questioning, and according to Knox, even physical abuse by police interrogators.

Pattern of prosecutorial misbehavior? Really? A confession obtained after days of unrelenting questioning? Really? Which days precisely? And exactly what confession was that?

No mention at all that both Amanda Knox and her parents Curt and Edda now face separate calunnia trials in Perugia for serious wrong charges that were pretty well exactly like these. 

Drew Griffin’s normal beat is aimiable, lightweight political muckraking. He apparently has not previously reported on crime or on court cases, or for that matter on Italy.

No matter. He simply gets told to follow the CNN party line - and like a robot, he does so.

Posted on 05/06/11 at 05:21 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Committee To Protect Journalists Responds, But Provides No List Of Sources Or Interview Transcripts

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the response by Nina Ognianova. Comments are open below that CPJ post and both Kermit and Doug Preston have taken advantage, Kermit gracefully, Preston petulantly..

Nina Ognianova does not address Kermit’s contentions, though she did link to TJMK, and really responds only in broad generalties. She still leaves standing the smears of Giuliano Mignini and other Italian officials that the Committee to Protect Journalists chose to broadcast globally. 

We can find zero evidence that CPJ interviewed anyone in Perugia, except presumably for the strenuously anonymous blogger “Frank Sfarzo”  (real name Sforza) who the CPJ may actually realize now is not a real journalist and who posts mostly mischievous nonsense under an assumed name. 

Nina Ognianova does not explain why neither Mr Mignini not anyone in the police or judiciary were interviewed before the CPJ smeared Mr Mignini in an open letter sent to Italy’s President and a number of other notables worldwide.

There’s been good commenting starting about here about this already on PMF where some are warming to the idea of a public hearing in Perugia (“Frank Sfarzo” goes on trial early in May)

Maybe “Frank Sfarzo” and Doug Preston can be made to finally put up or shut up. This may not be the result the hornswoggled Joel Simon was intended to deliver..

Posted on 04/29/11 at 05:26 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contextsReporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamFrancesco SforzaMore of the sameFlorence MOF hoax
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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

Posted by Kermit

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




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



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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

But that does seem to be the case here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: the New York Post.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more on the Seattle PI website.

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

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

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

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

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

I will conclude by stating that:

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

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

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

Very sincerely,

Kermit

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

Copied to:

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



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

Posted on 04/26/11 at 07:00 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done

Posted by Kermit

Attn. Mr. Joel Simon
Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001


Dear Mr. Simon,

Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom

One week ago the Committee to Protect Journalists emailed an open letter to the President of Italy on press freedom in the Meredith Kercher case. This letter was copied to a number of other notables worldwide and also it was put online. 

I believe this letter is factually highly inaccurate, is ill-researched, and is very unfair and possibly libelous to the officials in Rome and Perugia that it criticises. It is likely to do a lot more harm than good, and may come to blemish the CPJ’s fine reputation.

I am extremely familiar with this case. I live in Europe and visited Perugia very soon after Meredith Kercher’s sad death. I have long participated in online discussions seeking justice for Meredith and some closure and peace for her suffering family. I post under the name of Kermit. You can see my 13 TJMK posts here which have received many media mentions. I use Kermit as an online ID to maintain my personal life separate from my on-line life. I am NOT a journalist and so my real name is a minor issue.

Your open letter was dedicated to a large extent to detailing supposed abuse suffered by an anonymous blogger who you appear to believe is an impartial and credentialed journalist. You say this was at the hands of Italian national police officers who you seem to indicate follow illicit orders of an Umbrian prosecutor, Mr Giuliano Mignini, instead of their own superiors in the national police (Polizia di Stato). You also accuse Mr. Mignini of being the source of various threats to this anonymous blogger and real journalists, citing what you think are valid examples.

In fact, as we will see, all of the supposed threats in your examples are either vague or cannot be associated with Mr. Mignini. In some of your cases the “reporting” Mr Mignini takes exception to is the publishing of unsubstantiated accusations, for example concerning his state of mental health.

I’m surprised that in investigating one specific alleged case of abuse against a local Perugian blogger, that you haven’t noticed a massive, very nasty, highly misleading and well oiled campaign to malign and vilify Perugian and Rome authorities and to some extent Italy in general. Nowhere do you mention that specific persons directly and indirectly associated with that campaign seem to have something to gain by taking down Mignini and by setting free the convicted murderers of Meredith Kercher (pending appeal). Nowhere do you mention that REAL journalists like Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau have received enormous heat and online libels for simply trying to report facts impartially from the court and from Seattle.

I would make a request that the staff of the Committee to Protect Journalists research further the points I bring up, and I would ask that if this research paints a picture different from what has been described in your text of last April 19, then you issue a followup letter to clarify these points, sending the followup email to the same 21 receivers of the first text.

Perhaps most importantly, you could contact Mr. Mignini himself and get his side of it. Others including the BBC have managed to do so and you should be aware of this BBC report. Mr Mignini has already publicly denied through Italian and international press publications some of the accusations which you are making in your letter, such as that Douglas Preston will be arrested if he returns to Italy. He states clearly that is not true. 



[Above: The forgotten fact in the CPJ text: When did this journalistic organisation contact Mr. Mignini, in order to contrast the accusations against him by a blogger who lives behind a pseudonym? (Photo credit: BBC)]


In the rest of this open letter I intend to examine below one by one the disputed points in the CPJ letter to the President of Italy. This statement is the first.

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

“Dear President Napolitano,

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities’ harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation into the November 2007 brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in the central Italian city of Perugia.”

The international network of followers of the Meredith Kercher case and its pre-trial investigation are not aware of any harassment of journalists by Mr. Mignini (or police agents who may have received instructions from him when the investigation was underway), from the moment of the crime, until the investigative report was delivered to the court in June 2008.

The allegation of harassment is news to us, in a case which over the course of almost four years has already gone through the lower court (three suspects each convicted of murder and other crimes) and is currently in the appeals stage.

The legal action taken by Mignini (or threatened action) in the case cited of the West Seattle Herald reporter Steve Shay writing that “some in both the American and Italian legal field believe Mignini is mentally unstable” doesn’t surprise me. Most people would see that not as a legitimate criticism of the official murder investigation as the CPJ states in its letter to the President of Italy, but rather as an unsubstantiated low blow without any professional journalistic contrasting of that claim. Mignini’s response is not an aggression to silence the West Seattle Herald, but rather a question of defending one’s personal honour and reputation. Mignini’s legal action would be taken on a personal level, not as an element of the Meredith Kercher murder case.

Or are legal professionals’ personal freedom and constitutional rights suspended in the light of unsubstantiated press claims? Is Mr. Mignini unable to defend himself against false accusation? Can the press make unsubstantiated and uncontested claims about anyone’s state of mental health without being subject to redress?


[Above: The Perugia blogger dispatching with Prosecutor Mignini, at a date believed to be after the start of the alleged harassment supposedly carried out under orders of Mignini. They seem to be interacting without any problem. (Photo credit: UK Channel 4)]


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

“The Kercher murder investigation was headed by Mignini and conducted by a Perugia police unit known as the Squadra Mobile. Mignini was also in charge of the latest investigation into the unsolved murders of eight couples in Tuscany between 1968 and 1985, collectively known as the Monster of Florence killings”

Out of three affirmations in the preceding paragraph, only one is true, the first. Mr. Mignini was indeed the head of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The second affirmation is partially true. The Italian national police (Polizia di Stato - not “Perugia police” as you state) in Perugia was substantially involved in the Meredith Kercher murder investigation, be it Squadra Mobile units, medical examiners, local forensic and technical experts, as well as specialist forensic units brought in from Rome. These people report to their own chiefs and superiors in the hierarchical structure of the national police, although they would have carried out specific approved investigative actions within the framework of this investigation under the instructions of Mr. Mignini (and the next day they would be carrying out investigative actions for other prosecutors in other cases).

The third affirmation is false. Mr. Mignini is a prosecutor in Perugia, in the region of Umbria. As the nickname indicates, the “Monster of Florence” killings were carried out around Florence, in the region of Tuscany with the same .22 Beretta pistol between 1968 and 1985 (it is debatable whether the first crime of 1968 was done by the same perpetrator of the following string of murders, but they are clearly decades old crimes).

Various Florentine prosecutors participated in the investigations and trials related to the murders done by the Monster of Florence.  Mr. Mignini was never “in charge” nor even involved in those investigations. It was a different time and different place.

The last of the police investigators in this Florentine case (so important and complex that instead of having a prosecutor control the case, there was a sort of super-cop who oversaw and directed all investigations, requesting prosecutors to authorize certain investigative actions) was called Michele Giuttari. It was under his analysis and investigation that the theory relating the Monster of Florence killings to occultism was developed.



[Above: The Monster of Florence’s Beretta pistol killed 8 couples between 1968 and 1985. Mr. Mignini was uninvolved in the main investigations and trials of these decades old crimes, as he lives and works in Perugia, in a different location and in a different time frame. (Photo credit: Insufficienzadiprove)]



In a separate action, years later in 2001, Mignini reopened the investigation into the death of Dr. Francesco Narducci, initially thought to have drowned in a lake near Perugia. There were potential links between Narducci’s death and the perpetrators of the Florence murders.

Actually, if you want to understand better the Narducci case (from it being reopened in 2001) and understand its relation to the Monster of Florence case, please read the Perugian blogger’s summary on his blogspot page. 

This mixing up of the facts of the Monster of Florence case is not new. I fear that American author Douglas Preston – who has substantial financial interest in the book sales and movie royalties related to his book The Monster of Florence (and who is also a financial supporter of CPJ ) - may have had direct or indirect input into the sculpting of this imprecise CPJ missive, which doesn’t really link Mignini to any of the events the Perugian blogger in question is supposed to have suffered (this is just an opinion).

Why? Preston is exploiting his own run-in with Mignini years ago, when the latter interviewed him concerning his activities and knowledge relating to shared elements and suspects of the Narducci and Monster of Florence cases.

For authors Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston researching the Monster of Florence case in Florence, super-cop Michele Giuttari was the source of much of their criticism of the case. In spite of being shaken up in early 2006 due to his interview with Mignini, Preston said a few months later in an interview with The Altantic:

Question: “Do you think that the investigation has become personal for (police investigator Michele) Giuttari?”

Preston: “I think even more than for Mario and me …. Giuttari really doesn’t have anything beyond the Monster case. His entire career rides on this case and solving it—or at least not making a fool of himself while he investigates …. So yes, it is personal. I think that everyone in Italy acknowledges that Giuttari seems to carry a great personal animosity against Spezi.”

Question: “Judge Giuliano Mignini, the public prosecutor who interrogated you, is another important player in the case. Was Mignini just doing his job? How much weight do you give to the idea that Mignini had it in for Spezi and you?”

Preston: “…. As for Mignini himself, I think he’s a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge. I don’t think that he’s a bad man …. I think he was doing his job the best he could. I think in many ways he was badly misled by Giuttari, the police officer who was running the investigation.”

(Source: The Atlantic)

Now there’s something I don’t understand. All the bad things we’re hearing about Giuliano Mignini since late 2007, in particular from Doug Preston seem to have been cut and pasted from Preston’s comments about Michele Giuttari, the chief investigator in the last legs of the Monster of Florence investigation, and these bad characteristics have been assigned to Mignini.

Preston has simply “cut” (not pasted!) the name Michele Giuttari from any mention – the once bad-ass investigator of the Monster of Florence as a larger-than-life persona is gone from his recent writings on the case.

And Mignini has been reassigned Giuttari’s nefarious role, even though Mignini is from Perugia and he investigated the Narducci death.  The link (albeit important link) to the Monster of Florence, is that since Narducci could have been associated – according to initial investigative data in 2001 – with persons related to Giuttari’s old Monster of Florence theory, therefore Mignini assumed the Monster of Florence occultism theory developed in the Florence investigations.

Preston’s switch-a-roo has happened even though Preston had good words for Mignini in 2006 after his questioning at the hands of this prosecutor.

What happened? Well my opinion is that with literally dozens of books out about the Monster of Florence, someone realized that yet another book by Preston and Spezi would need some commercial umpah, especially if it was to be taken to the English-speaking market (Spezi had already written one book on the case, now he was writing another – Giuttarri had also written books on the case, in addition to many other authors).

The terrible murder of Meredith Kercher, and the fact that Giuliano Mignini was on duty as prosecutor on that All Saints long-weekend was what was needed. The English-speaking press has covered the murder on an on-going basis since then. Amanda Knox’s family hired a PR firm which uses that PR contract as a case study on their website, explaining proudly how “Gogerty Marriott’s work for the (Knox-Mellas) family has brought them in touch with all major U.S. news networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News, as well as independent programs such as Oprah Winfrey and a host of national and international magazines and newspapers”. (Source: Gogerty Marriott website.)

My theory is that with Amanda Knox being arrested and tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher, the latest book on The Monster of Florence had found a great, long-term PR strategy to latch on to. All that was required was to change the hated satanic-obsessed, rogue investigator figure of Giuttari into the civil servant Mignini, a prosecutor in the sleepy town of Perugia who has never published a book in his life. This focus requires that one stops talking about Giuttari. Done. And that one talks a lot about Mignini and his satanic theories, Perugian Mignini the lead prosecutor of the Monster of Florence (well, if you say it loud enough and long enough and put it into a Hollywood film, that’s what people will remember). Done.

 

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

“The anti-press actions of Squadra Mobile under Mignini’s supervision, coupled with Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists who criticize his conduct on the job, cause the press to stay away from sensitive subjects, including important developments in the Kercher case such as the appeal of two defendants in the case.”

Who told you that the Squadra Mobile police unit is under Mr. Mignini’s supervision? You would do well to consult sources other than those who helped you draft your text.

The investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher lasted from the moment of discovery of her body by the Italian telecommunications police who appeared at the victim’s home to inquire about a lost mobile phone on 2 November 2007, until Mr. Mignini presented his investigative report in June 2008.

As previously mentioned, different police investigative and forensic units would have received specific and / or ongoing instructions during the course of the investigation to carry out individual tasks in gathering evidence, but outside those tasks and in particular since the closing of the investigation in June 2008 the national police work at the central police station (“Questura”) and report in their daily work to other police officers, while Mr. Mignini works in his magistrate’s offices and has his own reporting hierarchy.

According to the CPJ the alleged harassment of the Perugian blogger started in October 2008, long after the close of the investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder. (It should be underlined that since then, the only driving force behind advancing the legal proceedings against the three persons accused and convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher is not the prosecution – specifically Mr. Mignini - but rather the judges who are hearing the different levels of trial and appeals.)

The CPJ seems to be insinuating – no, more than that, it is accusing Mr Mignini of having extra-official links to police officers who allegedly harass a local Perugian blogger, as if Mignini had some sort of personal “hit squad” or goons at his beck and call.



[Above: These are some of the police investigators whom Mignini was able to use as a part of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher. CPJ may want to pass this photo to the Perugia blogger, to see if he is able to identify some of the police officers who allegedly attacked him three years after the crime, two years after Mignini’s investigation ended, and almost one year after the first level trial ended and Judge Massei and the judicial jury found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder.]


The CPJ letter to the President of Italy also refers to “Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists”. CPJ probably acted correctly within its terms of reference when it sought to bring attention to the plight of Mario Spezi in 2006 when he was arrested by Mignini (whether that arrest was justified or not). What other examples of does CPJ have of Mignini’s historical “record” of supposedly harassing journalists?  Suing because reporter Steve Shay writes an unsubstantiated mention of Mignini being mentally unstable?

 

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

“CPJ is particularly concerned about the impact Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers, who lack the support and backing of major publications”.

“CPJ is particularly concerned” …  Why did the CPJ get concerned? Can I ask how the CPJ became aware of the supposed harassment of the Perugian blogger by Mignini, and who has developed the “case” presented against Mignini in the CPJ letter? 

Has the CPJ questioned the motives of the person(s) who helped develop this document and their potential “stake” in having the CPJ accuse Mignini of harassment? Will they gain by further book sales or movie royalties by creating a media interest in a supposedly rogue Italian prosecutor?

“Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers” …  Please be clear: are there other Perugian authorities beyond Mignini involved in this harassment , i.e. is there a conspiracy involved?  Or is the situation the opposite, that the “Perugia authorities” are individual policemen who may have bothered the blogger in question, and so someone in CPJ decided to make a dotted-line to Mignini – if so, on what basis is this dotted line made? Who made it?

You refer to “local reporters”. Beyond the blogger, who are the local reporters who have suffered at the hands of Mignini?  Is there anyone?

On one hand, have any local reporters, or on the other hand has the blogger in question made any formal complaint about the alleged abuses suffered?  If he (or they) haven’t felt comfortable presenting a complaint in Questura in Perugia, they could go to the Carabinieri or other locations to present such a complaint. If no formal complaints have been made by the blogger in two and a half years of harassment, why not?

I agree with you that in general terms, news outlets that are limited in circulation and critical mass are more at risk to suffer harassment from authorities. In this regard, I encourage you to contact a couple of the local newspapers in Perugia such as Il Giornale dell Umbria (editor: Giuseppe Castellini) or Corriere dell Umbria (director: Anna Mossuto).

Ask them about possible harassment by Mr. Mignini. Even better, while you’re at it, why don’t you do a peer check,  and ask them about the local blogger you have become concerned about?



[Above: The CPJ should make immediate contact with local newspapers in Perugia such as these, in order to evaluate in situ the possible harassment of local reporters by Mr. Mignini.]

 

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

“Of the cases that have come to CPJ’s attention, one stands out because of the abusive actions employed by members of Squadra Mobile to punish a critic of the official Kercher murder inquiry. Local freelance reporter Frank Sfarzo (real name Sforza) created his English-language blog Perugia Shock in 2007, days after Kercher’s gruesome murder.”

You say that it was Squadra Mobile police officers who “punished” this critic of the investigation. Can those Squadra Mobile officers be identified? (I imagine so). What is the link between those Squadra Mobile officers and Mr. Mignini? Do the direct superiors of those officers in the national police know of this supposed secret relation? Or are those direct superiors of the national police part of the conspiracy too?

(If you don’t mind a slightly ironic comment on my part, if you go all the way up the national police structure, you may find that President Napolitano as well as parliamentary judicial committees where one of Raffaele Sollecito’s defense lawyers is present are also part of the irregular reporting lines of the Mignini conspiracy.)

By the way, it’s not important to this question, but just to be clear, I believe that the Perugia Shock blog page was established just prior to the murder of Meredith Kercher, and may have been destined for some other purpose when the murder occurred and the blogger in question decided to reorient the blog. The blogger in question also has web pages dedicated to buying Italian products such as truffles, not to mention a blog devoted to the Italian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

In fact, while the blogger writes under the name of “Frank Sfarzo”, this appears to not be his real name. He seems to have indicated different backgrounds to different persons, including to newspaper reporters who have had contact with him. For example, he has described himself as a film professor to reporter Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times. 

To the BBC’s Julian Joyce he described himself as a journalist.

It’s not a major issue for me, but does the CPJ protect anyone who says they are a journalist, or only journalists with credentials, or members of a professional organization with a code of conduct?  I just post comments on blogs and once in a while add my own research to the topics being discussed … could I too as Kermit request protection from the CPJ if I deemed it necessary, say I received threats from a certain persons involved in a court case I was discussing?

Would you write a big letter to presidents and cabinet ministers and senators around the world? Or do you only do that when a well-off, best-selling American author is part of a personal feud with an investigative magistrate?

Pro-victim blogger Skeptical Bystander and other posters of the Perugia Murder File board could potentially be in need of such assistance, given the sorts of threats that she has received and that often goes untouched for days or weeks when posted on the Perugia Shock blog comments page.

 

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

“Sfarzo told CPJ his troubles started on October 28, 2008, the day Knox and Sollecito were indicted and a third defendant was convicted of murdering Kercher. Several members of Squadra Mobile, Sfarzo told CPJ, approached him just outside the city court (Corte di Assise di Perugia) and started to push and hit him. “You are pissing us off!”—they told him, referring to his coverage.”

As mentioned, by October 2008, the investigation was out of Mignini’s hands and as a case was in the hands of the different judges who have tried Rudy Guede, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. No police officers would be receiving investigative instructions from Prosecutor Mignini, unless if he had an extra-official relation to them that bypassed normal communications channels between the judiciary and the police.

I am not in a position to say that the person who blogs under the name “Frank Sfarzo” wasn’t pushed by policemen on 28 October 2008. However, you say that this happened due to his “coverage” of the case.

If you read the Perugia Shock blog pages, especially from the fall of 2008, you will see that they are written in broken English, and that the blog’s following at the time was limited. Did Mignini or the police officers read the blogspot page in English?

Your description of the alleged events outside the Corte di Assise (“several members of the Squadra Mobile … approached (the blogger) just outside the city court and started to push and hit him”) bears little resemblance to the blogger’s own video of the event. I URGE YOU to view the video of the alleged aggression of the Perugian blogger (please click on link and scroll to end of post).

In the video, viewers see the family of the murder victim – Meredith Kercher – exiting the courthouse in the middle of a media scrum. There is jostling and pushing amongst the dozens of reporters on the scene.

The blogger struggles for a good angle and seems to be walking backwards as he tapes his video. Meredith’s sister is easily identifiable. The blogger tumbles. Was he pushed? Maybe. Was it a policeman or another reporter in the media scrum who bumped into him? Maybe one or the other, or maybe the blogger simply stumbled in his awkward backwards walk.

Did someone say something rude to him? Maybe. If something rude was said, was it due to his “coverage” of the case? Or simply because in the moving crowd the backwards walking blogger was getting in the way?

In any case, at no point do we see “several members of the Squadra Mobile” approach the blogger and “push and hit him”.



[Above: The Perugia blogger’s own video on 28 October 2008 of one example of the “aggression” which has provoked a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists to the Italian President and 20 other international figures. Moments afterwards, he falls backwards, into the media scrum. Were he to have been attacked by “several members” of the Squadra Mobile, Stephanie Kercher – Meredith’s sister pictured at front on the right – would have been a point-blank witness to the crime. He had his camera aggresively in her face.

In addition, all of the Italian and international news cameras following the Kercher family from behind would have taped the perpetrators of such an aggression, if any. CPJ could use its contacts with media outlets present that day (there were dozens of journalists) to obtain video of the aggression, filmed from just a couple of metres away.]

 

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

“When the trial of Knox and Sollecito began that December, Squadra Mobile continued to harass him. They regularly tried to prevent him from entering the court”

What are the requirements for entering a court session in Perugia? What priorities are assigned for press access? What press credentials have to be produced? What press credentials did the Perugian blogger have in December of 2008? Did he have any? Was this harassment witnessed by other journalists in Perugia to report on the trial?

Has the CPJ contacted other journalists covering the court sessions to inquire as to access procedures, or whether they saw the Perugian blogger being given a hard time (maybe he tried to access extra-early before other journalists – in order to get a good spot – and there were no other witnesses to the access harassment he suffered in these over-capacity court sessions).

 

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

“ . . . mouthed insults at him from across the courtroom; and stared over his shoulder as he took notes. ‘This was done in the presence of the judge, the Carabinieri [the military police], and the court guards, but they would do nothing,’ Sfarzo told CPJ.”

In all the images that I have seen of the courtroom in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the reporters are at the back, against the wall. Was there a “safety lane” which police officers patrolled behind the reporters and which they used to spy on the blogger over his back?

Did the police officers spy on any other reporters? Did any other reporters notice the alleged spying carried out on the blogger, or was it done in such a surreptitious manner that no one realized what was going on?

Please! Look at photos of the press area in the Perugia courtroom! It seems physically difficult for anyone but other reporters to be looking over reporters’ (or bloggers’) backs.



[Above: The Perugian courtroom where Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were tried. At the back behind the railing and against the wall: the press. In front of the railing: defendants’ family members and other authorized parties.  In front of family members: guards.  Finally, in the foreground, the defendants and their lawyers. For the national police to have looked over the blogger’s shoulder as he made notes, they would have to have elbowed their way through the press to an indiscrete and obvious positioning behind him (or, he would have had to been in a location not assigned to the Press, such as the defendants’ family zone, which could be a possibility). Have you asked the Perugian blogger about his relation to the Knox-Mellas family both in and outside of the courtroom? Is it limited to simply interviewing them from time to time, or is this relationship much closer with individual members of the family, beyond a traditional reporter-subject relationship?]


By listing the complicit passivity of the judges, the Carabinieri and the court guards in addition to the Polizia di Stato, CPJ does seem to have swallowed quite a large conspiracy, where Prosecutor Mignini not only is pulling the strings of three different police forces, but also the presiding judge of the case. The only way to make this bigger-than-life Evil Mignini Conspiracy into something bigger would be to turn it into a Hollywood movie.



[Above: The Monster of Florence movie rights have been purchased by Tom Cruise. Any and all ways of stirring up and mixing up the English-speaking press’s coverage of Mignini’s Narducci investigation from 2001 onwards, and linking it and the high profile trial of American Amanda Knox to the decades old 1970’s and 1980’s Monster of Florence murders is free publicity for the book and movie”  (Photo source: The Wrap)]

 

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

“The harassment reached its peak on September 28, 2010, when five officers of Squadra Mobile forcibly entered Sfarzo’s apartment. They did not produce a warrant or show their badges, Sfarzo told CPJ. Four of the five shoved Sfarzo to the ground, struck him, handcuffed him, and climbed on top of him, crushing his air supply, he told CPJ.”

Has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims of mistreatment? One thing I don’t understand is where is the link between the blogger’s alleged mistreatment and Mr. Mignini?

If any blogger in Perugia feels that he or she has been bothered by the police, can they get the CPJ to intervene against Mignini even if there is no direct link that we can see?

Has the CPJ contacted the Questura (main police station) of Perugia to inquire as to the reason the team of officers was sent to the blogger’s home? Who was the police chief who sent them? Did Mignini just pick up his phone in his magistrate’s office, call the Questura and ask his policeman friends to go over and rough up a local blogger?

 

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

“Next, the officers took Sfarzo to the Perugia city hospital, where they claimed he had attacked them; they persuaded a doctor to issue a medical report for the injuries Sfarzo was alleged to have caused. In addition, the Squadra Mobile officers brought Sfarzo before a psychiatrist, demanding that she issue him a certificate of insanity.”

Again, has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims? Has it been in contact with the doctors at the hospital who examined the blogger?

 

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

“From the hospital, the officers brought a handcuffed and injured Sfarzo to their headquarters, where, in the blogger’s words, they “displayed me as a trophy,” referring to him as “the bastard who defends Amanda [Knox].” The officers refused Sfarzo’s requests to call his lawyer or his relatives, and put him in a cell for the night.”

Has the blogger’s lawyer taken any action to sue the police officers who allegedly attacked him? The normal starting point would be a formal complaint: has the CPJ requested confirmation that this incident legally exists from the blogger’s point of view, specifically that a complaint was filed at the time it allegedly occurred? If it exists, has the CPJ examined this complaint and inquired with police authorities as to the progress achieved in resolving it?

The truth of the matter is that this is reminiscent of one aspect of the Meredith Kercher murder case, where Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, parents of convicted killer (pending appeal) Amanda Knox were interviewed by John Follain of The Times of London. “Curt says: ‘Amanda was abused physically and verbally’” during her questioning on the night of 5 November 2007.

Now it may be that the same standards that the CPJ applies to Mignini also apply to the police who questioned Amanda on that evening, namely that they can be accused of crimes (beating a suspect) without the accusers having to provide anything to substantiate the accusation. However, in reality, as you can imagine (and probably as you or I would do), those police officers are suing Amanda’s parents for slander. Alas, in the days (and weeks and years) after Amanda’s arrest, it seems that no complaint of police brutality was ever actually filed with the police.


Above: The Knox-Mellas family members have repeated claims that Amanda was physically abused in her interrogation which started after 11 p.m. on the night of 5 November 2007 and was stopped at 1:45 a.m. They are in their rights to do so, but the OPJ should also recognise that police officers who are the targets of such accusations have the right to respond using the law to defend their honour and reputation. Or is that not so?  (Source of posts: discussion board of the original Steve Huff True Crime Weblog)

In fact, Amanda’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga even denied at one point that she had been poorly treated, as the Perugian blogger informed the world on his site.


[LETTER CONTINUES below in the next post. Click here. Please post any comments under that post.]

Posted on 04/26/11 at 05:59 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contextsReporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamFrancesco SforzaMore of the sameFlorence MOF hoax
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again: In A Time Warp Linda Byron Is STILL Actively Misleading Seattle

Posted by Peter Quennell





Click above for the “scoop” by Linda Byron and an out-of-date and unrelated video.

Linda Byron has in fact had the extraordinary Massei Report on the evidence and the sentencing reasons for Knox and Sollecito for THREE WEEKS and she even acknowledged it with thanks and said she would be sure to read it.

But apparently not yet. Amazingly, Linda Byron does not even MENTION Judge Massei’s Report here.

Linda Byron’s “scoop” on an FBI agent turns out to be about (surprise, surprise)  a claimed ex-FBI agent “Steve Moore” who (if he actually exists) seems to have zero track-record and reputation among current federal and local law enforcement who are watching the case.

Precisely these same few shoot-from-the-hip claims were made by “Steve Moore” several months ago on a website. Nothing new, nothing corrected, and still riddled with errors and false claims. They are so easy to shoot down that the posters over on PMF hardly even bothered to laugh at them before moving back to their usual careful in-depth discussions.

The Massei Report that Linda Byron studiously ignores now contradicts in very great detail the same few claims that “Steve Moore” makes - the evidence collection, the possible motives, the scenario on the night, the physical evidence, and the true nature of the interrogations.

And he simply leaves out altogether huge areas. Perhaps 80 percent of the whole.

The multiple alibis that contradicted one another and STILL contradict one another. The allegations that Knox made IN WRITING against Patrick when alone in a cell. The extensive luminol evidence and the extensive mixed-blood evidence. The telling behavior on the several days after. The sad facts of Meredith’s autopsy. The very extensive and very damning mobile phone records and transcripts. The computer records and recorded times it was switched on and off. The various eye-witness accounts. The facts and the reasoning that showed that there is no way that Rudy Guede could have acted alone. 

The few supportive comments below Linda Byron’s piece seem desperately grateful, and ultra-shallow on the real facts.  More hate-speech about Italy, of course. “The italian government and (in)justice system is regarded as one of the most corrupt in the first world. she would have gotten a fairer trial in mexico.”  Both those claims are untrue. Also as usual, very heavy promotion of a tainted and misleading FOA website apparently paid for by Curt Knox.

Ex FBI agent “Steve Moore” really should download and read the Massei Report and see why ALL of his claimed former colleagues consider this case to be closed.

Posted on 08/31/10 at 07:31 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Judy Bachrach Appears THE Most Adamant That Mr Mignini Has Somehow Hoodwinked All Of Italy

Posted by The Machine




Hmmm. Isn’t Mr Mignini already suing people for hurtful claims about him not unlike those made very dogmatically in the video above?

And the similar hurtful claims made very dogmatically in the two videos down below here? Certainly Mr Mignini would seem to have what you might call a not-unstrong case.

  • First, the numbers of police, investigators and judges hoodwinked would have to have been truly huge. This case has a VAST cast of characters in Italy seeking true justice for Meredith - a jury, for example, and twenty judges by present count, and a nationally known and respected co-prosecutor.

  • And second, nothing in the judges’ sentencing report, which PMF and TJMK are in the final laps of translating into English, appears to back up her claims. Judge Micheli’s report a year ago, which explained Guede’s conviction and the reasons for sending Knox and Sollecito to trial, was already an almost unassailably tough document. And the report by Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani? It is even tougher.

Judy Bachrach has popped up repeatedly to straighten out us lesser beings on the case. For her, it appears to be almost a small industry. She is perhaps the most vehement and impervious of all the proponents of the notion that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are somehow being railroaded, by a corrupt prosecutor, Mr Mignini, and an incompetent legal system.

Wouldn’t you expect Judy Bachrach, as a professional journalist and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair,  to research her articles more meticulously? And to verify every single one of her claimed facts? In the same way that the Italy-based reporters we like to quote have incessantly managed to do - really quite brilliantly?

We have been analyzing Judy Bachrach’s many, many articles and TV commentaries about the case, and they all seem to point to the following conclusions. 

  • That she hasn’t ever read the Micheli report and doesn’t seem to have actually ever mentioned it.

  • That she hasn’t had full access to the prosecution’s 10,000-plus pages file of evidence, and maybe she has had no access at all.

  • That she didn’t attend the key court sessions in which highly incriminating forensic and circumstantial evidence was presented.

  • That she hasn’t absorbed the numerous factual newspaper and magazine reports about the key forensic and circumstantial evidence.

  • That she seems to rely either a lot or totally on sources with vested interests who feed her wrong theories and false information.

  • And that she comes across to us as the reporter most often showing on US media outlets the most complete ignorance of the case.

Quite a track record. We wonder if she is really very proud of it. She seems to sound so. Now to examine the details of some of her small jungle of wrong claims.

First false claims…

Judy Bachrach made the following claims in an article entitled “Perugia’s Prime Suspect” for for Vanity Fair.

Rudy Guede’s DNA would be found all over her dead body the next day….“His DNA was found not only all over the British girl’s body but also in his bloody fingerprint staining one of her cushions and on the straps of the bra she wore the night of her death.

Judy Bachrach’s claims that Rudy Guede’s DNA was all over Meredith’s body have long been demonstrably false. According to the Micheli report here quickly translated here there was only ONE instance of Rudy Guede’s DNA on Meredith.

Where exactly did Judy Bachrach get that false information from? It clearly wasn’t from the DNA results from the tests carried out by Dr. Stefanoni and her team, or any official court documents, or the Micheli report.

And why exactly did she propagate it? Was she perhaps deliberately trying to exaggerate the evidence against Rudy Guede? Whilst playing down or completely ignoring the forensic and circumstantial evidence against Knox and Sollecito?

Another false claim…

In the same Vanity Fair article, Judy Bachrach makes the claim that “Amanda had tried three times to reach Meredith by cell phone, without success.”

If Judy Bachrach had examined the mobile phone records which are part of the prosecution’s 10,000 page report, as the court did and as we have done, she might have concluded otherwise - that Amanda Knox never ever made even one genuine attempt to contact Meredith.

Two of Knox’s phone calls lasted only 3 seconds and 4 seconds.

Judy Bachrach would have also realised that Knox’s claim that Meredith’s Italian phone “just kept ringing, no answer” was in fact a lie. And that Knox’s e-mail version of events at the house on 2 November is totally contradicted by what is in those mobile phone records.

Our poster Finn MacCool rather brilliantly drew attention a year ago now in this post here to how very, very incriminating those phone records are. (They also seem to incriminate Amanda Knox’s mother. Why doesn’t a good reporter actually ask her about this?)

Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani certainly don’t believe that Knox made a genuine attempt to contact Meredith. And they provide a very detailed explanation of why they don’t, in the sentencing report we are now translating.

And as you will soon see in that report, they also pull totally apart Knox’s email version of the events on 2 November to her friends and family in Seattle.


Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach has claimed that the bra clasp in Meredith’s bedroom was “discovered” only in January 2008.

But to complicate matters, a forensics team took a second look around the House of Horrors in January; this time they discovered a clasp that had been cut off the same bra. On that clasp they found Raffaele’s DNA.

House of Horrors? A callous way to refer to the sad place where a remarkable girl with a grieving family and many grieving friends was tortured and then deliberately left to die.

And in actual fact, Dr. Stefanoni was fully aware that the bra clasp was missing from the time she reviewed in the Rome labs the evidence collected from the crime scene - early in November. The clasp couldn’t be collected until the defense experts had agreed upon a date.

There was no other cause to the delay, and the bar clasp was never simply “discovered” at the second evidence visit in January. The forensic team went there specifically to get it. And it was actually recovered on 18 December 2007.

Another false claim…

Perhaps the reason why Judy Bachrach gets so many of the basic facts like those above wrong is that she seems to rely very heavily on sources who feed her false information. One example:

But three legal sources in Perugia (two unfriendly to Amanda) tell me the injuries sustained by Meredith were inconsistent with the blade of that knife.

All of Judy Bachrach’s “three legal sources”  provided her with wrong facts.

The double DNA knife found in Sollecito’s apartment is fully compatible with the deep puncture wound on Meredith’s neck. This has been widely reported by a number of journalists in the British and American media. For example “According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau in Newsweek).

The sentencing report of Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani also now confirms that the knife is absolutely compatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach claims that when Knox and Sollecito changed their versions of events they did so because things got rough.

Simultaneously, in a separate room, Raffaele, too, was questioned by police. Like Amanda’s, his version of events seemed to change whenever things got rough.

Raffaele Sollecito actually changed his version of events most dramatically on 5 November 2007 when he was confronted with the telephone records that proved that he and Knox had lied. It was then that he in effect threw Knox under the bus, and he has never really backed her versions of events on the night fully ever since.

And Amanda Knox in turn changed her version of events most dramatically when she was informed that Sollecito had admitted that they had both lied, that he was wrong to go along with her version, and that he was in effect no longer providing her with any alibi.

Knox and Sollecito’s multiple conflicting alibis did NOT happen because “things got rough”. They actually happened because Sollecito and Knox were both repeatedly caught lying. And they changed their stories periodically merely to fit the new information as it became known - and at pretty well no time after they were first caught out in their lies did the stories of the two ever match. .

By the way, wait for something of a bombshell. Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani in their sentencing report expose more lies and contradictions by Knox and Sollecito which haven’t as yet been reported in any of the English-language the media.

Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach wrote an article about the case for the website Women on the Web headlined Amanda Knox’s Abusive Prosecutor.. (Hmmm. Smart title.)

Amanda was also told if she didn’t confess she would get the maximum – 30 years in prison. And – oh yes – at a time when, having just arrived in Italy, she spoke pitifully little Italian, she wasn’t provided with a translator.

Judy Bachrach clearly wasn’t in the courtroom when Amanda Knox’s interpreter, Dr. Anna Donnino, gave her evidence as to all the work she did on the night of the interrogations. And Judy Bachrach clearly hasn’t read the numerous articles that actually describe the interpreter’s testimony.

Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach claims that an Italian reporter was thrown into prison for being critical of Mignini. She is clearly referring to Mario Spezi.

Mignini is no special friend to journalists. One Italian reporter who especially upset the prosecutor a while back was thrown into prison — in isolation. An American journalist who was that reporter’s friend was interrogated so harshly that, fearing incarceration himself, he hopped the next plane back to the United States, where he started a campaign (ultimately successful) to free his friend. Their crime? They were critical of Mignini.

Spezi is currently on trial for disrupting the investigation into the Narducci case. He has NOT been charged with criticising Mr Mignini.

Judy Bachrach has made a number of television appearances on CNN and other networks in which she was scathing towards Mr Mignini and the Italian legal system. As with her articles, Judy Bachrach makes many wild and inaccurate claims.

Another false claim…

She incorrectly asserts that the defence teams weren’t allowed to produce evidence of their own DNA experts - despite the fact that the Knox and Sollecito defenses each had large teams of DNA experts testify. From the videos in this post:

The defence wasn’t even allowed to produce evidence of their own DNA experts.

Gino Professor, Carlo Torre and Walter Patumi were some of the DNA experts who testified at the trial on behalf of Amanda Knox. Professor Vinci, Adriano Tagliabracci and Francesco Introna were some of the DNA experts who defended Raffaele Sollecito.

Another false claim…

Judy Bachrach has repeatedly claimed (you can see her do so in these videos) that Amanda Knox was kept in prison for two years before her trial.

They kept her in jail for two years even before trial [although] there isn’t an ounce of real hard evidence against her” And “It was decided to keep Amanda Knox in jail for two years prior to her trial.

If Knox and Sollecito had been kept in prison for two years before their trial as someone “decided” their trial would have started in November 2009. The reality is that their trial started in January 2009 and it was originally scheduled for December 2008, just two months after Guede’s. 

Judy Bachrach is not the only American journalist who is ignorant of the basic facts of the case, and responsible for some of the serious misinforming of the American public, both about the crime and about Italy.

But she sure does seem to be the only one to have made it into a little industry..

By the way, we sure look forward to the YouTubes of Candace Dempsey and Nina Burleigh propagating their own books on the case when those books are released. Will they now finally be describing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but?

Don’t hold your breath.

Posted on 04/15/10 at 02:56 PM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Writer And Time Reporter Nina Burleigh Posting The Nastiest And Least Accurate Reports

Posted by The Machine



Nina Burleigh has the reputation of a careful and scholarly researcher and writer. Above, she describes one of her books.

So the absolute sloppiness and evident bias in her recent reports for Time magazine are coming as a real surprise.

We found out about her intended book on the case about a year ago and emailed her good luck. She told us then that this was her publisher’s idea and modern crime was new ground for her.

Next we heard that she was in Perugia and frequently or incessantly sitting with the Knox defense team and family. When she returned to New York she told us this was exaggerated, and also that her days in court hearing AK testify had really chilled her and had convinced her of Amanda Knox’s guilt.

Then she headed back to Perugia and again we began to hear that the AK crowd were working hard on her. She stopped communicating with us. And we began to see suggestive trends in her reports for Time which might also indicate the direction of her book.

Considering the time Nina Burleigh has spent actively researching the case - according to the Columbia Journal, so far seven months - it’s astonishing that she was able to write this paragraph in a report for Time on 30 November 2009, just a few days before the verdict, and after the prosecution had finished presenting all of its evidence:

The third person involved, Rudy Guede, left a mountain of physical evidence including fingerprints, footprints and DNA on Kercher’s body, but the material evidence against Knox and boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito consists of just two elements: a microscopic speck of Sollecito’s DNA on a bra clasp that was apparently sliced off Kercher’s back during the attack and another speck of biological substance compatible with Kercher on a kitchen knife picked by police at random from Sollecito’s drawers after his arrest, with Knox’s DNA on the handle.

And Nina Burleigh included this very similar set of claims in a Time report (“Did Amanda Get A Fair Trial?”) right after the verdict.

Guede’s footprints and handprints were on the bloody scene and his DNA inside the sexually assaulted victim, but almost no similarly incriminating evidence linked the two students to the crime scene.

The most serious material evidence against Knox and Sollecito came down to two elements: a microscopic speck of Sollecito’s DNA on a bra clasp that was apparently torn off Kercher’s back during the savage attack and another microscopic speck of biological substance compatible with Kercher on a kitchen knife picked by police at random from Sollecito’s drawers after his arrest, with Knox’s DNA on the handle.

There was in fact NOT a mountain of physical evidence against Rudy Guede in Meredith’s room. One of the real surprises of the case is how little evidence even Rudy Guede - who seems to have been the one most physically in contact with Meredith - left behind.

The delay in collecting the bra clasp was caused by the defenses - the investigators knew as soon as they assembled all the evidence components in the labs in Rome that the bra clasp was not among them. A negotiation to revisit the house then had to take place. 

And even people who have followed the case quite casually will know that Nina Burleigh’s claim that there are just two elements of material evidence, both of them suspect, against Knox and Sollecito is in fact utter nonsense.

1) Mixed Samples of Blood

Is it really possible that Nina Burleigh is ignorant of the mountain of mixed-blood evidence?  Its significance has been has been highlighted in the courtroom by Dr. Stefanoni and in articles by a number of journalists covering the case.

The Kerchers’ lawyer, Francesco Maresca, called the mixed blood evidence “the most damning piece” of evidence against Knox. And Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani paid particular attention to the mixed samples of blood in their sentencing report.

The reason why the mixed blood evidence is so damning is that Amanda Knox’s DNA wasn’t outlier DNA that had been left some time earlier.

Amanda Knox herself effectively dated the blood stains in the bathroom to the night of the murder at the trial when she conceded there was no blood in the bathroom the day before.

Apparently, three of the samples were “perfect”. Dr. Stefanoni said the most compelling forensic evidence against Knox was the mixed blood sample found on the drain of the bidet.

The mixed sample of Knox’s and Meredith’s blood in Filomena’s room left the criminal biologists involved in the case, and the judges and jury, in their report, in no doubt that Amanda Knox was in Filomena’s room after Meredith was stabbed and therefore involved in Meredith’s murder.

“A spot of Knox and Kercher’s mixed blood in one of the bedrooms, found using Luminol, and four additional spots in the small bathroom the girls shared also swayed the jurors.” (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).

Amanda Knox’s DNA was also found mixed with Meredith’s blood in the hallway.

2) Bloody and Luminol Footprints

Nina Burleigh also didn’t mention another key piece of forensic evidence against Knox and Sollecito in her article for Time: the bloody luminol-enhanced footprints.

It is quite clear that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito stepped into Meredith’s blood and tracked it around the house. They both left visible bloody footprints. Raffaele Sollecito left a bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom, and Amanda Knox left a bloody shoeprint on a pillow that was found under Meredith’s body.

Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito footprints were also found set in Meredith’s blood in the hallway of the new wing of the cottage. These bloody footprints were only revealed under luminol.

Perhaps Nina Burleigh was so busy researching the case elsewhere in Perugia that she was unable to attend the court sessions in which the mixed blood and footprint evidence was presented or read the numerous articles about this evidence that appeared in the American and British media.

3) Nasty smears of Italy

In an article for the Columbia Chronicle Nina Burleigh made the following comment:

The research was hard because no one spoke English over there, contrary to belief,” Burleigh said. “I took Italian classes and worked with a translator and I’ve learned what it’s like to work in a country where freedom of speech doesn’t exist.”

Freedom of speech doesn’t exist? Really? And it’s simply ridiculous to claim that no one speaks English “over there”. Presumably at the very least Giulia Alagna, Burleigh’s translator, speaks some English.

Nina Burleigh sounds here like an ugly American who has utter contempt for Italy, where of course everyone should really speak English.

4) More on Giulia Alagna

It should be noted that translator Giulia Alagna has worked with some of the people who were responsible for the horribly biased CBS documentaries about the case, which were riddled with factual errors.

She was Paul Ciolino’s interpreter when he performed his comical sound experiment for CBS. Apparently, Giulia Alagna has also worked as an interpreter for Curt Knox and Edda Mellas.

It seems that she was the person who erroneously informed Edda Mellas that Rudy Guede had talked to a priest and nun:  “I’ve heard two different reports now that there’s also a priest and a nun that had conversations, not confessions, conversations, where Rudy expressed the fact that he felt bad… that he was feeling some guilt about the fact that he had pointed the finger at these two (Amanda and Raffaele) when they were not there,” Mellas said.

Via a Webcam, Seattle’s KING 5 talked with a researcher who was in court throughout the long trial in Perugia and is closely watching the case.

In that report Giulia Alagna calls Guede’s alleged jailhouse confession “a huge bombshell.”

There is no credible evidence to support the claim that Rudy Guede ever made a jailhouse confession - in fact, ever even met Allessi, the murderer who was jailed for kidnapping and brutally murdering Tommaso Onofri, a 17-month-old baby.

5) Circumstantial Evidence

In her article for Time, Nina Burleigh also ignores the highly incriminating circumstantial evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as if it doesn’t exist.

  • There is no mention of Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s multiple conflicting alibis or the fact they still don’t have credible alibis despite three attempts each.
  • There is no mention of the pack of lies that Knox and Sollecito deliberately and repeatedly told the police, family and friends about the night and next day.
  • There is no mention of Knox voluntarily admitting that she was involved in Meredith’s murder, in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007. Knox’s lawyers knew this confession was highly incriminating and tried hard to get it thrown out - though it still stands.
  • There is no mention of Knox’s false and malicious accusation against Diya Lumumba, or the fact that she and her mother didn’t retract her allegation the whole time he was in prison despite knowing full well that he was completely innocent.
  • There is no mention of the various eyewitnesses who between them very convincingly described an ominous pattern that flatly contradicted the claims of Knox and Sollecito.
  • And there is zero explanation of who broke Filomena’s window, who cleaned up the apartment, and who rearranged Meredith’s body to make the scene look more like a sex crime

And perhaps the most damning evidence of all, the highly incriminating patter of phone calls, is also ignored in Nina Burleigh’s various shoddy and misleading accounts. 

6) Nasty smears against prosecutor Mignin

From the Sound Authors website

[An] extremely dark murder mystery involving a university of Washington exchange student accused of killing her British roommate. In a very mysterious circumstance; and the prosecutor in the case this Italian prosecutor has a very active imagination and has charged her with participating in an orgy or satanic rite and he believes there’s this satanic cult in Italy that’s existed there for centuries so its about this girl pitted against this prosecutor. 

The new world mountain climber in gortex and pot smoker basically and that’s how she got herself into trouble; pitted against this old world prosecutor who represents severe, rigid Catholicism Italian tradition, which really respects a great dark secret, and this fresh faced American girl looks like Mona Lisa.

Apart from quite possibly being libelous, this is wildly untrue. There is a mountain of evidence on TJMK - a real mountain, not one simply in Nina Burleigh’s imagination - that Mignini has done a fine job both in this case and in his small segment of the Monster of Florence case. He did NOT first raise the notion of a MOF satanic sect (that theory was out there SIX YEARS before he came to the case) and he has NEVER pointed to a satanic sect in Meredith’s sad case.

And the truth about Mignini and the key forensic and circumstantial evidence against Knox and Sollecito are not all that Nina Burleigh has forgotten to mention.

She didn’t mention Meredith even once on her website.

Apparently, Nina Burleigh’s “Knox book” will be published in 2011. If it is anything like her biased, muddled and inaccurate articles, it simply won’t be worth anything.

Posted on 03/29/10 at 07:21 PM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Reporting, media, moviesV bad reportingKnox-Mellas teamNina Burleigh
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

CBS Producer of Most Biased Perugia-Case Reports Pleads Guilty To An Unrelated Crime

Posted by The Machine



CBS 48 Hours producer Joe Halderman plead not guilty just a few months ago to a blackmail attempt against a popular late-night comedian.

Yesterday, as the report above shows, Joe Halderman really changed his tune.

He now pleads guilty as charged - and he is apparently very relieved to be receiving only 4 to 6 months behind bars, a fine, and community service.

Slimy ethics at play. Not to mention criminal behavior, and a nasty intent to hurt others.

Unsurprising, really, that he worked for 48 Hours.

The CBS production team of Halderman, Longhini and Ely Hulse have tried very hard for two years to sell the American public on the fiction of an innocent Amercian girl being railroaded by corrupt and incompetent foreigners.

The CBS documentaries on Perugia have been exceptionally biased and xenophobic, worse even than those of ABC, highly one-sided, pandering to the Knox family, ignoring of Meredith as the real victim, and absolutely riddled with factual errors.

In particular the CBS team went to town on Prosecutor Mignini, having Doug Preston in his predictably shrill and cowardly manner rant on at great length about him.

This has all been documented here on TJMK.

CBS have never apologized for their anti-victim bias, or their sliming of Italy and the official participants, or their misrepresenting of even the most basic of facts. And now in an example of real poetic justice, one of their lead producers is a convicted criminal, and he has to spend 4 to 6 months behind bars.

We hope that Halderman reflects on his crimes against the trusting American public while inside, as well as his bizarre crime against a CBS colleague.

Posted on 03/11/10 at 06:21 AM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Other legal processesOthers elsewhereThe wider contextsN America contextReporting, media, moviesMedia newsV bad reportingMore of the same
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Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Was Definitely Not A Close Or Indecisive Case - Reasonable Doubt Was In Fact Totally Eliminated

Posted by FinnMacCool


You can see from the posts directly below that the Knox-was-framed camp is, if anything, becoming more superficial with all those pesky facts rather than less.

Hard reality is that nobody has ever come within light-years of constructing an alternative scenario of the crime. Hard reality is that for Knox and Sollecito the totality of the facts, seen together as the judges and jury did, are extremely damning. Hard reality is that the verdicts were decisive and unanimous. And hard reality is that Judges Sentencing Report due out some time this week will apparently be quite definitive. 

But the nasty, trite and misleading dog-and-pony shows continue. Like that for Oprah’s audience, as described in the posts below. And like this post by a Washingon DC writer Matthew Harwood who apparently came lately to the case and whose grasp of it is flimsy and untethered.

Harwood’s post appeared on the site for the one apologist newspaper for Knox in the UK, the Guardian (is the Guardian editor on the Knox PR payroll? nah…!) in an area called “Comment Is Free”.  That title comes from CP Snow’s observation that “comment is free but facts are sacred.”  Harwood’s blog and the Guardian in general seem a lot stronger on the freedom of comment than they are the sacredness of the facts.

Harwood opens with the bizarre claim that “anyone who has followed the trial should have had a gnawing feeling that the bars closed on the wrong people” and then predictably goes on to argue that the “right person” was the black man, Rudy Guede, who was in fact, um, convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Nobody looking at the case thinks that the guilty parties are still out there. The two minority partisan views are, for Knox and Sollecito, that Guede acted alone; and for Guede, that Knox and Sollecito were the instigators and the main perpetrators of the crime.

The majority non-partisan view – ratified by an incredibly cautious and painstaking succession of court hearings and a really massive body of evidence – is that all three are guilty of the murder and sexual assault of Meredith, that reasonable doubt probably fled the courtroom about the time that Knox got on the stand and shot herself in both feet, and that the judges and jury were swayed only by what they saw in front of them, and so the verdicts and sentences are quite correct.

The facts-lite version of Harwood is very typical (some might say suspiciously typical) of the claims still occasionally made that there still is reasonable doubt. And that somehow the incredibly large number of fine Italian professionals daffily got it all wrong and the writer is the lone smart guy who got it right.

Let us dismember the few skimpy arguments Harwood advances to smugly declare “case closed and only Guede is guilty” and see if anything is left standing.

That the non-sequestering of the jury caused it to ignore what it saw in front of it

Harwood writes: “The jury in the Perugia sentenced Knox and Sollecito to prison for about a quarter of their lives, despite no motive, scant physical evidence, and no prior criminal histories.”

Meredith of course was deprived of 100% of the rest of her own life and she appears to have been a far finer person than all three. Let’s leave aside, for a moment, the choice of that flexible word “scant”, beyond observing that a succession of courts have found the physical evidence sufficient to proceed and ultimately to convict Guede, Knox and Sollecito.

Harwood goes on to make the claim (the same claim made on Oprah) that “[unlike in] the US, juries in Italy are not sequestered.”

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law makes the following observation about jury sequestration in the United States:

Jury sequestration is rare. Typically ordered in sensational, high-profile criminal cases, sequestration begins immediately after the jury is seated and lasts until the jury has delivered its verdict. It is unusual for juries to be sequestered longer than a few days or a week. Occasionally, however, jurors are sequestered for weeks. The 1995 trial of former football star O. J. (Orenthal James) Simpson for murder was highly unusual: the Simpson jury was sequestered for eight and a half months — half as long as the period Simpson was imprisoned while under arrest and on trial. The experience provoked protest from the jurors and calls for legal reform.

It is worth noting that the expensively sequestered jury in the OJ Simpson trial is far from universally believed to have arrived at a sound conclusion. The defense of “OJ Simpson got off, so why not me?” seems doomed to failure both legally and as a method of swaying public opinion.

The claim that Knox and Sollecito had no plausible motive for murdering Meredith Kercher also seems odd. Guede had no good reason to murder her either. But – and here’s a newsflash – Harwood and company think it is not acceptable to kill people for no good reason. In fact the reverse argument would seem more persuasive: those many murderers who kill without a good motive are and remain more of a menace to society than murderers who kill a specific person for a unique reason.

But behind the “no motive” argument is the implicit suggestion that Guede – being a young (black) male – needs no special motive for murdering a young woman. But even if we accept that uncomfortably racist-sounding premise, it still leaves Rudy Guede as the perpetrator of another motiveless crime: we have to believe that Rudy Guede staged a phony break-in at the house (and extensively cleaned-up traces of everyone except himself) where he had just murdered one of the residents.

How, precisely, does THAT help him?


That the break-in was real and that is how Rudy Guede entered the flat

There is no serious doubt that the break-in was staged. Everyone who saw Filomena’s room on the morning of November 2, 2007 (including Filomena herself) testified that the break-in looked fake.

The police officer who led the initial inquiry that morning testified that he pointed this out to Knox and Sollecito, and reported that they said nothing to counter this. For example, the broken glass was on top of the clothes that had been strewn on the floor, suggesting that the window was broken AFTER the clothes had been flung around.

Later investigation showed traces of glass from the window led from Filomena’s room, along the hall, and out to the front door. No such traces were found in the murder room itself. All of this suggests that whoever broke the window did NOT subsequently go into the victim’s room, but DID just walk straight out through the front door.

So why would Rudy Guede do this? He didn’t live in the house, so he had no reason to think that a break-in would deflect attention away from him. His own claim, that the victim herself let him into the house, is absurd, and conflicts with what we know of the victim’s movements and intentions that night. The prosecution’s theory, that all three perpetrators entered the house together, since one of them (Knox) had a key to the front door, seems trhe only one to really hold up.

Speaking of scant evidence, there is no evidence at all that Rudy Guede was ever in Filomena’s room.

If we ignore the evidence that the break-in was faked, and we suppose that he genuinely broke in to the house that way, then we have to believe that he did this while leaving no DNA traces of himself anywhere in the room (not even on the window that he would have had to climb through) although he went on to leave plenty of evidence in other parts of the house.

But forensic examination did show a trace of Knox’s DNA, mixed with the victim’s blood. In the room where the botched staging took place. (And, as we noted above, whoever broke the window seems to have gone from Filomena’s room straight out of the front door, shedding tiny particles of broken glass as they went.) 

What that leaves us with is a choice of two motiveless crimes. On the one hand, a lone killer accompanies a victim into her own home, kills her, and then fakes a break-in. On the other, three people – probably under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol – conspire to kill an innocent acquaintance, and then one of them (the one who is a resident of the house) fakes a break-in to make it look like an outside job.

Which is the more likely? The DNA evidence suggests that Knox, and not Guede, was a main party in staging the break-in.


That the crime was carried out solely by a black “drifter”

Harwood is surprised that the jury convicted Knox and Sollecito (who he wrongly claims have “no prior criminal histories”) despite having already convicted “a drifter and small-time drug dealer” called Rudy Guede.

If comment is free but facts are sacred, then the fact is that there is no indication whatsoever that Rudy Guede has ever been a drug dealer of any kind.

Such an accusation was never made in court, and formed no part of the detailed 105 page Micheli report that explained the reasons for his conviction.

Not only that, but as there is something of a weakness in the prosecution’s case (the tenuous connection between the three supposed conspirators) if there had been any indication that Guede had been a drug dealer, this could have helped the prosecution’s case immensely.

It would have provided Guede with a link to Knox and Sollecito (they admitted to being regular drug users at the time of the killing).

The “small-time drug dealer” accusation is one of the many fictions that are regularly stirred up in this PR-driven case. The term “drifter” is different, because (a bit like calling evidence “scant”) it’s flexible enough to mean whatever you want.

And Rudy Guede is, after all, a convicted murder, so we might think it acceptable to use the term “drifting” where innocent people would perhaps just be moving decisively with innocent purpose.

If we apply this rule, we can say that on the Friday before the crime, Guede “drifted” from Perugia to Milan, where he was questioned by the police after breaking into a nursery school to spend the night (as he claimed to the school owner who found him in her office the following morning). Guede was fingerprinted, released and then “drifted” back to Perugia. After the murder, he “drifted” to Germany, although a better phrase might be “attempted to escape”.

Applying the same rule to Amanda Knox, we can say that, after being fined $269 by the Seattle police in June 2007 for creating a public disturbance, she “drifted” to Europe, where in September the German branch of her family arranged for her to take up a week’s employment at the Bundestag (the German Parliament). She started this job on Monday September 10 and “drifted” out of it on Tuesday September 11.

By her own account, what she did next was this: “then i walked, and walked and walked and walked. all over berlin, for two whole days. it was great. i was supposed to pick up a bus on friday, so i spent wednesday and thursday wandering around berlin, seeing things, meeting people, drinking a glass of wine in a park near my apartment every night.”

Back in Hamburg, she discovered that her family was not happy with her for drifting off the Bundestag job and spending the week drifting about Berlin (the term is surely appropriate):

i was in trouble with my uncle who ahd landed me the job at the bundestag in the first place. aparently he had to go to a lot of trouble to get me my spot there and everyone was confused as to what had happened to me. so i talked to him today and explain ed the mess, but not before freaking out and crying a little becaue i was afraid i made my uncle look bad in front of these very importan people. oops. to say the least. [All spellings and punctuation are Knox’s own.]

That the hard evidence is very scanty

Three weeks after Knox walked out on the Bundestag job, she arrived in Perugia. Four weeks after that, Meredith Kercher was murdered in the house they both shared on Via della Pergola.

Some of the “scant” evidence against Amanda Knox includes Knox’s DNA, some of it mixed with the victim’s blood, in the bathroom and in the room where the break-in was faked; Knox’s DNA on the handle of a knife found in the kitchen of Knox’s new boyfriend Sollecito, with the victim’s DNA on the blade; and a woman’s shoeprint found on a pillowcase under the victim’s body – the shoe size is too big to be the victim’s, and too small to be Guede’s, but happens to be precisely the right size to be Amanda Knox’s.

What initially raised police suspicions about Knox and Sollecito was the fact that their alibis did not match up. In court, Knox gave her own (often self-contradictory) account of what happened that night, but it was impossible to compare this with that of Raffaele Sollecito, since Sollecito consistently refused to testify anew on his alibi since his final November 2007 version.

However, something that we do know is what Sollecito originally said about how the victim’s blood might have got on the blade of his kitchen knife.

He wrote in a letter to his family: “The fact that there is Meredith’s DNA on the kitchen knife is because once while cooking together at home, I stumbled while handling the knife. I had the point on her hand, and immediately afterward I apologized but there was no serious harm to her. So the only real explanation of the kitchen knife is this.”

Well, it’s one explanation. Comment is free, but facts are sacred, and the fact is that Meredith Kercher never set foot in Sollecito’s apartment, as we now know (from the trial testimony).


That the jury and Italy in general convicted because of the lives they led

Harwood concludes: “But for people who still believe in a reasonable doubt, there’s considerable unease that these two young people may be spending a good portion of their lives behind bars because the jury, the prosecution, and Italian society did not approve of the lives they led, especially Amanda Knox.”

Wow. That really nasty anti-Italy argument yet again? Don’t believe what Knox’s PR machine tells you, Matthew Harwood, and don’t slime Italy or its excellent justice system. Don’t in fact sound like a racist and xenophobic jerk. Try doing your own research, and go a great deal deeper than you just did.

There is no reasonable doubt left at all. Knox and Sollecito tortured and stabbed Meredith in a very depraved way, probably on a cocaine high with severe psychological underpinnings. Then they took away her phones while she was still alive, locked her door, and left her to die an agonizing death clutching her neck to stop her lifeblood running out. The autopsy report is OVERWHELMING that three people had to have been involved.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted not because of the lives they led, but because of the sheer weight of the evidence of the very gruesome cruel deeds they carried out against poor Meredith.

No reasonable doubt.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Common View In Legal Circles: Knox Campaign Often Talks Legal Nonsense - As On Oprah

Posted by Peter Quennell


(1) This is the position lawyer Theodore Simon took in December 2008 on NBC Dateline as an impartial commentator then being straight with the American public.

“Theodore Simon thinks the prosecutors evidence made public so far is daunting. The defense could argue a faked robbery, and a moved body, and contamination, but eventually it could become like whack-a-mole, and all of their arguments could lose force.”

(2) This is the position Theodore Simon takes on the Oprah Winfrey show in February 2010 now that he is on the payroll and seemingly trying hard to mislead the American public. “The case makes no legal sense.”

The recent appointment of Theodore Simon as the US legal adviser to the free-Knox campaign met with some ridicule in Italy.

We certainly begin to see why.

Ted Simon’s performance on the Oprah Winfrey show sounded to us a lot like the hapless John Q Kelly. How grounded in either the very hard evidence or the very-different Italian law really is he?

The highly-respected Spokane lawyer Bill Edelblute (who we have quoted before) now weighs in forcefully on the New York Examiner website on the many claims made on the Oprah Winfrey show.

He pretty well reflects here what many other good lawyers are telling us: Don’t take any legal advice from that campaign - not if you actually want to win some…

Concerning the callous uncaring attitude to the Kerchers

Mr Edelblute starts by examining an arrogant and almost pathologically callous remark made by Curt Knox about the family of Meredith.

The parents of Amanda Knox lament the limited contact they now have with their daughter due to her imprisonment, while awaiting the upcoming appeal.  Only near the end of at least the ABC news account of the interview do they give any mention of the victim and the Kercher family. 

Here’s what they have to say in comparing their loss with that of the relatives of the murdered beautiful British student.  In commenting on the fact that they would not welcome a call from the Kerchers, Curt Knox explains it this way:

“We still have a chance with Amanda, and they don’t with their daughter,” he said, and that any such discussion might be best to take place only if the Kerchers are positive Amanda is innocent. “We still have a chance with Amanda, and they don’t with their daughter.”  No, they don’t have a chance with Meredith Kercher, because someone murdered her.  Amanda Knox has been convicted of that murder, subject to appeal.

Let’s see - - the victim’s parents are supposed to believe Amanda is innocent before they ever dare speak to the parents of Amanda Knox.  Guilty or innocent, the parents of Amanda Knox did not murder anyone, so why would they place conditions on what the Kerchers have to believe before ever speaking to them? 

Hint - the reaction of the Kerchers to the verdict was one of believing justice has been done, not of believing the trial went horribly wrong.  Don’t expect them to change their belief anytime soon. 

The Kerchers did not make Amanda Knox turn cartwheels, make out with her boyfriend a few feet from where the body was just discovered, or to change her story several times, or to say that she heard Meredith scream, and that a black individual was in the bedroom with Meredith.  It was scientifically proven with DNA that a black man, Rudy Guede, was in that room, and he said Meredith was screaming, just like Amanda said.  Who is at fault for all that?  The victim’s parents, or Amanda’s sisters?

The chances that the Kerchers feel they need to speak to anyone about the murder of their completely blameless daughter who has not been shown to have done anything other than act like a normal college student, with normal boundaries on her behavior, are nil.

The Kerchers have nothing to explain, but deserve more than an apology from anyone who has made the rights of their daughter a non-issue. And the parents of an accused also have nothing to explain, but when they decide to conduct a media campaign, do they set conditions for the parents of the victim?

Concerning Amanda Knox’s sisters

Bill Edelblute contends with a couple of the often-loose claims of Deanna Knox, well worth reading in the original, and then has a long commentary on the use of young children as sockpuppets. He concludes “When comedy fundraisers for Knox don’t do the trick, try making a kid cry.”

Concerning Oprah’s performance

Next he assesses Oprah Winfrey as host - like us, he clearly believes Oprah was under-researched and under-briefed and fell into several traps. He commends her for not simply taking an “she’s innocent” stance and for asking a few blunt questions, concluding:

  • She aired a written statement by Lyle Kercher, brother of victim Meredith Kercher, who apparently was invited to appear or speak live, but declined.  However, this was at the end of the segment when it probably belongs right smack in the middle. A photo of Meredith was flashed only very briefly.

But much of how Oprah handled the show he clearly did not like - becoming mushy over Amanda, misleading her audience on the sequestering of juries, and making an anti-Italy crack.                                                                                                                                                                                         

  • Oprah made a unequivocal statement that the jury was not sequestered, as it would have been in America.  That is not true.  Even in murder cases, juries are not routinely sequestered throughout the trial.  It is possible a judge would grant such a request upon motion by attorneys.  It is possible a jury might have been sequestered during deliberations, but not during the trial, or both, or neither….
  •  
  • When Edda Mellas told Oprah that Amanda said in a phone call to “tell Oprah I love her” Ms. Winfrey displayed what was clearly a flattered smile.  You are just told that someone who has been convicted of murder, albeit subject to appeal, likes you, and you react as though someone’s puppy has taken an immediate liking to you, or have received a much sought after complement.  We don’t know what Meredith Kercher thinks of Oprah or her show, as her life was taken and she is not here to groom and manipulate others, as is Amanda Knox even from a prison cell.  (Nor would Meredith need to do so.)
  •  
  • For the banal statement, while turning to the audience: “If you want to be tried - you want it to be in the U.S.A.!”  Sure about that?  Amanda will get two levels of appeal as a matter of right in Italy.  In her home state of Washington, she would have only one. Oprah’s statement clearly implies the Italian system is not fair compared to that of the U.S., when there is no evidence of that, and implies there are more procedural protections, when there is no evidence of that.

We could have added this one: Oprah ignored the huge money-making operation and where all the money is going - for example, the very large sums that seem to be spent to mislead the American audiences.

Concerning Elizabeth Vargas

He then takes a look at the quality of the reporting of ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, who is notorious for repeatedly omitting key facts, muddling what the jury hears in court with what the media says outside, denigrating Italy and the Italian players, taking a very one-sided position (she is believed to have an exclusive deal with the PR campaign, one never made public on-air), and in general misinforming ABC’s viewers.

He judges her commentary as follows: “Ms. Vargas is loose with the facts.  There is almost no value of any kind in what Ms. Vargas had to offer, and negative value, when it comes to attacking a legal result with nothing to back it up, murdering the truth.” 

Concerning Theodore Simon

Bill Edelblute then has serious contention with many of the remarks of Ted Simon, again well worth reading in full.

On Knox pointing to a black man, Patrick Lumumba, now, as our post below underscores, replaced as the sole perp of choice by another black man, Rudy Guede.

Oprah asked him if the fact that Amanda “pointed at an innocent man” reflected on her integrity.  His answer: “Quite to the contrary.”  So it meant she had good integrity, being to the contrary of reflecting poorly upon it?  The tired old refrain that the police forced her to know that it was a black man in Meredith’s room does not mean Amanda was of good integrity, even if believed.  Simon’s answer just means his gun was cocked to say “to the contrary” to any evidence against Amanda.  Amanda would let an innocent man rot in prison, potentially for the 26 years she is doing, if he hadn’t been able to convince the court of his alibi. 

Yet it is “to the contrary” to suggest she has no integrity to allow Patrick to unjustly be deprived of his freedom, business, and reputation? Simon pointed out there had been no interpreter.  Knox didn’t say she had been misunderstood when accusing Lumumba.  She testified she made the false accusation only after being hit on the back of the head by a policewoman who she could not identify. What does lack of an interpreter have to do with the point of accusing an innocent man?  He was in prison two weeks.  Did Knox ever say during that time - no, he’s not involved, you’ve got an innocent man in prison?  His bar that employed Knox is now closed.  A product of Knox’s false accusations.

On Ted Simon on the physical evidence in the house.

Simon rattled off a list of things not found in the room where Meredith was found, such as Amanda’s hair, DNA, sweat, etc.  He did not mention that no murder weapon, which had to have once been in the room, was found in the room either. 

So is Meredith still alive? Simon did not mention the DNA of Amanda and the victim being on a knife where Amanda claimed at times she had spent the night of the murder.

He could have added - as our DNA experts here have often pointed out - that there was zero reason for Knox’s DNA to be in Meredith’s room if she was simply standing there with a knife, goading the men on and taunting Meredith. And that a bloody footprint of Knox’s size was found in the room, on a pillow. And that the mixed DNA of Knox and Meredith was found at five locations - and that mixed DNA had to have been deposited very recently.

And that it had to have been Knox who moved Meredith’s body - nobody else had a need to. And that Amanda Knox’s bedside lamp was found in Meredith’s locked room, presumably used in the cleaning up and rearranging of the crime scene - of which there is no doubt.

He continues on the physical evidence.

Simon does not identify any rule of law that says the sweat of the accused has to be found in the room where the the victim’s body is found.  Yet, he says the case “makes no legal sense.” 

This is a case in which there is an admission of being at the scene, of the DNA of the accused and a victim being on a knife, of knowledge that Meredith screamed while a black man was in a bedroom with Meredith. 

A black man was in a bedroom with Meredith, Rudy Guede, as shown by his DNA.  Guede, though denying murder, says he heard Meredith scream.  Knox said she screamed, before Guede was known by police to be involved.  How did she know what Guede knew?...

There is no legal element missing, it is more a question of the independent strength of certain pieces of evidence, all put together the jury was convinced, and that is their role in the system.

Hmmm. That seems to make a lot of legal sense.

And concerning Curt Knox and Edda Mellas

Finally Bill Edelblute questions many of the claims of Curt Knox and Edda Mellas of bias in the legal process and the Italian media. Please see his original post. He comments further on Curt Knox’s almost pathologically callous remark with regard to Meredith’s family.

While the comments above about the Kerchers could be construed as acknowledging their loss of their daughter, of having “no chance”, as worse than the situation of the Knoxes, I’m not so sure.  Because clearly Curt Knox then says that to speak to them, the Kerchers would have to acknowledge Amanda was innocent. 

That thinking is the product of a different kind of mind.  the Kerchers don’t have to do anything, it is not a question of why Curt Knox would not lower himself to talk to them, it is a question of why the Kerchers would bother.

In other words, why would Meredith’s family WANT to reach out to the family of a possible charming psychopath found guilty of killing their daughter, who still shows zero remorse? Especially when her family seem to display some chilling psychologies of their own.

Fine brave careful humane work by Bill Edelblute and the Examiner. which is helping to re-educate a huge component of the American public on the stark realities of the case.  Reader comments on the Examiner website and every other website we have looked at are running at least four or five to one against Oprah, Curt Knox, and Edda Mellas.

Something in their campaign must be broken. Perhaps they should just pack up and stay home.

Posted on 02/25/10 at 06:46 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Another Sockpuppet Gets A Splash Of Cold Water - From A Respected Washington State Lawyer

Posted by Peter Quennell


Seattle and Spokane are at opposite ends of Washington State.

Spokane is the second largest city in the state, some 280 miles to the east of Seattle, and it is nicely located and landscaped. These spectacular falls are just one block away from the downtown.

As our Seattle posters have been showing, a majority in Seattle seem to be settling now on some hometruths, such as that justice for Meredith has actually been rendered.

The “Knox framed by evil Italians” meme is looking like an imperiled species even there, where the PR campaign did its absolute darndest with the help of quite a handful of sockpuppets.

Spokane seems to have brushed off the PR campaign almost entirely, and it has never ever seen a strong “framed” constituency emerge.

Now a highly respected Spokane lawyer, Bill Edelblute, takes on the many ill-informed claims of Seattle-based blogger Timothy Egan - claims which among others may have swayed Senator Maria Cantwell.

Unlike many of the absurdists who posted once and then clearly felt, well, absurd, Timothy Egan posted several times, increasingly strained and defensively. How his contemptuous attitude toward Italy paid off was described in our posts here and here and here.

Mr Edelblute posts eleven reality checks in response to Egan’s various claims. His article starts as follows - questioning the attempt to make Maria Cantwell, Hillary Clinton and even Barack Obama into the ultimate sockpuppets for the cause. 

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA, was “saddened” by the verdict convicting Amanda Knox of the murder of Meredith Kercher.  Her spokesman later issued another statement about the lack of a fair trial in Italy, and Cantwell appeared on television reiterating that the proceeding was unfair.  And, she was going to enlist Hillary Clinton, apparently believing fair legal proceedings mean outside influence is exercised by non-judicial authorities.

Why does an elected official in high office like Cantwell believe this, what is she going on?  One of the often cited sources for the “railroad” job are the articles by Tim Egan, a best-selling author living in Seattle, who did not attend the trial.  Is it this type of American journalism that Cantwell has swallowed, hook, line and sinker?

The proliferation of writers who casually attack the Italian justice system, and its treatment of the Kercher murder case, such as Tim Egan, also focus on the supposedly unfair press in Europe. Imitation must be the sincerest form of flattery. Egan’s articles attack the Italian news treatment of the case as being factually inaccurate and sensational. Where did they learn it, from the U.S.? Witness the O.J. Simpson case, etc. Ever watch the Nancy Grace show? Are the supermarket tabloids in the U.S. imported from Italy?

Egan is loose with the facts, and makes assumptions about an entire populace with no need for the tedious obligation to back it up with any logic or truth

Mr Egan of course is not a lawyer, and Mr Edelblute of course actually is. Here is Mr Edelblute’s entire article. It is well worth reading in full.


 

Click here for more

Posted on 01/15/10 at 11:30 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fox News Analyst Lis Wiehl Seems to Think Meredith’s Murder Is One Terrific Great Joke

Posted by Peter Quennell



You can see the self-infatuation of the notoriously narcissistic Lis Wiehl leaking out here from her very first words.

When the rather disbelieving host, Don Imus, pulls her up for not knowing the facts, her smarmy response to him is to the effect that she knows them a lot better than he does.

Try again, Lis Wiehl.

In this six-minute segment, we did not count ONE fact you got right. Here are some corrections to your mean-spirited and wildly inaccurate claims to help you come back down to Planet Earth..

  • There was no 14-hour interrogation. Ever. There were two interrogations on the night of the 6th of November (see also here) each of them under two hours. One as a witness and one as a suspect. Knox had a lawyer present for most of the second. Before he arrived she spontaneously presented the prosecutor with a scenario indicating her involvement. This was disallowed, but later she helpfully wrote it out anyway, and that was entered into evidence.
  • Mr Mignin is NOT under indictment for a criminal offense. His one remaining charge which is likely to be tossed out soon relates to his seemingly guessing RIGHT in the Monster of Florence case - that there probably was a cabal, a fact which Doug Preston has suspiciously been trying hard to bury.
  • No sign of a cleanup? Of fingerprints having been wiped clean? The ONLY fingerprints of Amanda Knox in the entire house were found on a glass in the kitchen. Even in her own room there was not one print.
  • Amanda Knox was TOLD the day after the investigation commenced that she was not to leave Italy. As a material witness she had no choice but to stay. One of Meredith’s English friends was also told to remain in Perugia. She remained in effect trapped in Perugia for two months at her expense, and lost an entire year of study at university.
  • Despite Lisa Wiehl’s ugly sneering anti-Italianism at the end there, this trial was NOT about Italy or the judges or investigators or prosecutor saving face. The case was reviewed altogether by 19 judges and the caution adopted throughout was beyond anything American courts normally see.

And by the way, there pretty well was a smoking gun in this case.

Read this post and see if you disagree.

Posted on 12/10/09 at 09:38 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Dan Norder “Crime Historian” Makes Over A Dozen Mistakes In A Very Short Piece

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for all of Dan Norder’s offensive and wildly misleading post. Some excerpts below.

The commenters below his absurd piece pretty well nail him to the wall. He makes a couple of flustered responses that only dig him in deeper, and then he goes (hopefully forever) silent.

And so yet another Doug Preston sock-puppet bites the dust. Where does Preston FIND these suckers?!

Italian investigators formed a rather unusual theory to explain the murder. Amanda Knox — Kercher’s American roommate, who was then 20 — and Raffaele Sollecito — an Italian who was Knox’s 23-year-old boyfriend at the time — were accused of being sex maniacs who wanted Kercher to participate in an orgy, raping and killing her when she refused.

Police apparently came up with this explanation because they thought it was strange that the two, while being held for routine questioning, were seen cuddling and occasionally kissing. Somehow the public displays of affection went from being considered merely inappropriate behavior under the circumstances to evidence of a lust murder.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Giuliano Mignini, at first argued that Kercher was killed by Knox and Sollecito as part of a Satanic ritual [he didn’t] involving an orgy or sacrifice, but later decided to tone things down a bit and focus solely on the idea of extreme sexual perversion.

Mignini has made similar accusations in the past [he hasn’t] most notably in the Monster of Florence case. After American author Douglas Preston and Italian reporter Mario Spezi criticized him for blaming that unsolved series of murders on a shadowy group of devil worshippers, Mignini responded by accusing them of being part of this Satanic conspiracy. Spezi was imprisoned on suspicion of murder and Preston was driven out of Italy after being threatened with prosecution.

Mignini’s preoccupation with the idea of Satanic cults [he has none] is one that is shared by a number of people in various countries over the years. For example, in the 1980s the United States legal system was full of alleged incidents of groups of people engaged in sexual molestation and murders based upon shoddy and manufactured evidence…

Unfortunately these kinds of accusations often are accepted at face value. The moral outrage at the idea of such crimes is so overwhelming that things like lack of evidence and the sheer absurdities of the claims being made never sink in. Similarly, the idea that Knox and Sollecito were perverts capable of murder was leaked by the police to the press and took on a life of its own.

When Knox was unable to obtain her clothes after the cottage became a crime scene and went to buy new underwear, the news media painted it as inappropriately rushing off to buy lingerie after the murder. Tabloid papers in England and Italy have continually referred to her as “Foxy Knoxy” and “Angel Face,” reinforcing the idea that she is a siren instead of a student. Whenever a photographer captures Knox smiling at a family member or friend who she has not yet seen during the two years she’s been incarcerated, the public just sees that she’s always smiling in court and concludes that there’s something wrong with her.

But what evidence has been presented in court that would support the idea that Knox is a homicidal sex maniac? Kercher’s friends from England testified that she resented Knox for bringing men over to the house and for having condoms and a vibrator in a bag in the bathroom.

The actual evidence points to a more simple solution [actually it does’nt] . DNA tests show that Rudy Guede, a 20-year-old acquantance of the students who lived downstairs at the time of the murder, had sex with Kercher the night she was killed. His DNA was also found in the bathroom. Bloody shoe prints matching his foot size were discovered by the body. He fled to Germany shortly after the murder. In fact, he’s even already been convicted of the crime.

But apparently Mignini couldn’t let go of his theory. Guede gave conflicting stories after his arrest, originally claiming that Kercher and he had consensual sex, that she had been killed while he was in the bathroom, and that he saw an unknown Italian man over the body. But he eventually told the police what they wanted to hear: that Knox and Sollecito were responsible for the whole thing….

Posted on 10/09/09 at 05:52 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Report By Bob Graham In The Daily Express Close To Breaking New Record For Inaccuracy

Posted by The Machine


Here is a short list of the competition for most misleading reporter on the case: Peter Popham, Peter Van Sant, Simon Hattenstone, Steve Shay, Timothy Egan, Linda Byron, Candace Dempsey, and Jan Goodwin.

Typically after their report they disappear, hopefully shamed into never being heard from again (Popham, Egan, Van Sant, Goodwin, and Hattenstone). And the others seem to have become more innocuous and one or two close to strange mutterings (Byron, Shay, and Dempsey).

Now another hapless reporter, one Bob Graham, has floated an ill-conceived and ill-researched report, this time in the UK’s Daily Express. There is no Bob Graham who writes regularly for that paper, so the one reporting here might be an America freelancer - if not, apologies in advance. 

False claim 1

Endless leaks of court documents, private conversations, diaries and correspondence paint a picture of Amanda as a cold-blooded killer.

There is well over 10,000 pages of evidence. There have not been many leaks and almost all of those have come from the defenses. In fact Sollecito’s father may soon be under indictment, for leaking a video showing Meredith’s body to a Bari TV station. In the course of the trial there have been many small surprises which were never leaked in advance. And Edda Mellas here is blaming the prosecution and authorities for leaking documents when Knox’s family and team seem to have done much or more.

False claim 2

Yet if the prosecutors and gossips are wrong and Amanda was, as she claims, at Sollecito’s house at the time of the murder, she has been subjected to a staggering injustice.

Amanda Knox admitted that she was at the cottage on the night in question on four separate occasions (once to police officers now in evidence, twice to interrogators but ruled inadmissible, and once to the prosecutor in a handwritten note now in evidence). Sollecito has claimed she wasn’t there at his apartment for part of the night and he has never reversed that position. It’s not only the prosecutors and gossips who think she was at the cottage - Judge Micheli, who indicted her after reading the 10,000 pages of evidence, also thought so, and so did the scientific police.

False claim 3

They claim they took part in the murder in a tiny room, that after the murder they returned, still under the influence of drink and drugs, and managed to erase every trace of their own DNA and fingerprints without removing any of Guede’s DNA or fingerprints or other DNA that has not been identified. Is that credible? Of course not.

Edda Mellas seems to have told a deliberate lie. The prosecutors have never claimed the defendants removed every trace of their own DNA. Sollecito left an abundant amount of his DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp. Knox can be placed in the murder room by way of the double DNA knife and the woman’s bloody footprint on the pillow plus footsteps in blood outside. Professor Vinci also claimed he found Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra.

False claim 4

The name [Foxy Knoxy] has returned to haunt her, implying something altogether less innocent.

It is well-known that Knox herself pushed that nickname out on the internet. It rarely appears in a derogatory way in any of the reporting these days, and it is hard to see how the few mentions demonize her. Amanda Knox would have been aware from the age of four that Foxy has sexual connotations, especially as she was an “A-grade student”.

False claim 5

In September 2007 Amanda, then at the University of Washington, was awarded a year-long scholarship to further her Italian studies at Perugia’s university for foreigners.

We don’t believe that this is true. Knox is believed to have paid for her year abroad herself by working part-time jobs in Seattle, and although the University of Washington in Seattle possibly had a role in her registration for the Perugia language school, and possibly agreed to accredit her scores, UW did not play a larger role. Her arrangements in Perugia appear to have been under-organized, under-supervised and under-funded. She seems to have been running very low on funds just when Meredith may have been under consideration to replace her as a waitress at a bar.

False claim 6

Financially, it’s been devastating, the cost already in excess of $1 million.

Curt Knox and Edda Mellas chose to hire an expensive Seattle PR firm and two expensive Italian lawyers, and to fly large family presences to Perugia. Those were their choices to make, and it is suspected that at least some of the media have made payments in kind or cash to gain exclusive access. The PR campaign has been spinning its wheels for 18 months, and seems to us to have been a huge waste of money and quite damaging to Amanda Knox’s own best interests.

False claim 7

In the first hours after she was arrested she made a statement, later retracted, suggesting she and Raffaele had been present at the murder, and wrongly implicating Congolese barman Patrick Lumumba.

The statements that she was there were in fact made days later at the police station after Sollecito had whipped the rug out from under her first alibi. She made three statements categorically accusing Diya Lumumba and spelling out some imaginary details. And she didn’t just suggest that she and Raffaele were there, she categorically claimed that she was there.

False claim 8

Her defence team says she was threatened into making it. Amanda claims she was slapped around the head. Curiously, a tape-recording of the initial interviews have “disappeared”.

There were many witnesses to the interrogations at the police station, including a very senior police officer from Rome, and not one has corroborated this testimony. We have seen no evidence that any tapes have disappeared. A statement made under interrogation cannot be used against Knox not because she was banged around but because she didn’t have a lawyer at the time. She later repeated it in writing when she was certainly not being banged around - she was under no pressure to speak up at all.

False claim 9

No less bizarre is the fact that chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is facing criminal charges for allegedly abusing his powers to question suspects in a separate murder case. He denies the allegations.

This is not true and it is quite possibly libelous. There is plenty of information on TJMK here that points to Mr Mignini being a competent, popular and hard-working prosecutor, who only faces an administrative charge because he seems to have guessed right on some of the murky details of the Monster of Florence case.

Peter Popham, Peter Van Sant, Simon Hattenstone, Steve Shay, Timothy Egan, Linda Byron, Candace Dempsey, and Jan Goodwin? Please now welcome Bob Graham to your sleazy, misleading company.

Posted on 09/16/09 at 07:07 PM by The Machine. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Prosecutor Mignini Offers Some Helpful Advice To Factually Challenged Reporter Linda Byron

Posted by Peter Quennell


Linda Byron is an investigative reporter for a TV station in Seattle.

Her investigative exclusives seem almost exclusively to consist of long and unchecked quotes from the FOA camp together with two or three spaniel-eyed questions.

Which then become yet another shrill report on Seattle TV about what those dastardly Italians are doing to poor Knox. A typical report of hers can be seen here (try later if they are still hiding it).

These are a few of the facts of the case that Linda Byron seems NOT to have mastered.

  • That the Italian process of justice is actually very fair and very cautious, is tilted much more to the defense than in the UK and US, and requires prosecutors to jump through a number of hoops before they ever get their case to trial.

  • That a judge in Perugia last January issued an impressive 106-page report which explains in great detail why he decided Guede was guilty and why a great deal of evidence suggests that Knox and Sollecito might be too.

  • That there are TWO senior and respected prosecutors on this case, not just one, that the victim’s family has expressed full confidence in them, and that neither prosecutor has ever made any claims about a satanic motive here.

  • That the prosecution has just presented a formidable case with the help of Italy’s equivalent of the FBI and Scotland Yard, and the defenses seem to be gaining little traction in bringing it down or offering alternatives

  • That almost every prosecutor in Italy runs into administrative charges at some time in their career, they are so easy to file, and the charges against Mr Mignini always did look politically motivated and frivolous and likely soon to evaporate.

  • That the sliming of Mr Mignini has not been a success, that the FOA campaign in Italy has not been a success, and that Amanda Knox on the stand doesn’t seem to have been much of a success either.

And that above all there is a REAL victim here at the heart of this sad crime, known by the name of Meredith Kercher. And that her poor family is suffering for real here -  though of course many miles away from Linda Byron.

So. Instead of good journalism at long last in her latest report, what does Linda Byron have to offer?

No surprises here. Yet more of the sliming of Mr Mignini (this is an acrobat version).

“There are many parallels between the Monster of Florence case and the Knox case, I mean there are shocking parallels,” said American crime writer Doug Preston.

Preston says Mignini believes the monster was no lone psychopath, but part of a satanic sect. He suggested an eerily similar motive for Kercher’s murder, which took place on November 1, 2007.

“Which is right before the Italian day of the dead, and that this was some kind of satanic ritualistic ceremony that they were engaged in. That they killed Meredith Kercher as part of this satanic ceremony,” said Preston….

“He decides right up front with almost no evidence based on his gut feeling or intuition that you’re guilty and then sets out to prove it,” said Preston.

Actually, there seem to be no parallels whatsoever between the Florence and Perugia cases. For example Amanda Knox was interrogated only for two rather short periods - and Mr Mignini was not even present at the first of them.

And Mr Mignini was quite tangential to the Monster of Florence case. He was actually investigating a drowning to the west of Perugia. And when Preston and his partner interfered in Mr Mignini’s case in a particularly harebrained manner, a sharp response was inevitable.

Linda Byron invited Mr Mignini to provide a response to the heated claims in her piece. Either the response was completely over her head, or she did understand it and tried to bury it - it is ONLY only available in Italian, via a link, with a second link to Yahoo’s awful cut-and-paste translator.

Here now is Mr Mignini’s entire response put into good English, not by Yahoo, but by two of our own excellent native-Italian speakers.


Dear Ms Byron,

I hope we will be able to meet and discuss sometime in person, since some of the issues you have examined, specifically the Florentine proceedings against myself and Dr Giuttari, are way too complex to be described in just a few words. I will try to give a short answer here.

To begin with, there is no relationship between the events that are the subject of Spezi’s and Preston’s book and the murder of young Ms Kercher beside the fact that I am the one person dealing with both the Narducci proceedings (connected to the Monster of Florence case) and the Meredith Kercher murder.

These two are totally different events, as well as wholly unrelated to each other, and I am not able to see any type of analogy.

Furthermore, while the precautionary custody order for Spezi has been voided by the Tribunale del Riesame of Perugia, exclusively on the grounds of insufficient elements of proof, the precautionary custody order for Knox was firmly confirmed not only by the Tribunal of Riesame in Perugia,, but above all by the Sixth Section of the Court of Cassazione, which has declared the matter decided and closed.

About the “sacrificial rite” issue, I have never stated that Meredith Kercher was the victim of a “sacrificial rite”.

It should be sufficient to read the charges to understand that the three defendants have been accused of having killed Ms Kercher in the course of activities of a sexual nature, which are notoriously very different from a “sacrificial rite”.

The Monster of Florence investigations have been led by the Florentine magistrates Adolfo Izzo, Silvia della Monica, Pierluigi Vigna, Paolo Canessa and some others.

I have never served in Florence. I have led investigations related to the case since October 2001, but only with regard to the death of Dr Francesco Narducci, and just a superficial knowledge of those proceedings [Dr Narducci drowned or was drowned] would suffice to realize that I never spoke of a “sacrificial rite” which in this case doesn’t make any good sense.

About the defense lawyer issue.  Mr. Preston was heard as a person claiming information about the facts (in effect a witness), but after indications of some circumstances against him surfaced, the interview was suspended, since at that point he should have been assisted by an attorney, and since according to the law the specific crime hypothesis required the proceedings to be suspended until a ruling on them was handed down.

All I did was to apply the Italian law to the proceedings. I really cannot understand any problem.

In the usual way, Knox was first heard by the police as a witness, but when some essential elements of her involvement with the murder surfaced, the police suspended the interview, according to Article 63 of the penal proceedings code.

But Knox then decided to render spontaneous declarations, that I took up without any further questioning, which is entirely lawful. According to Article 374 of the penal proceedings code, suspects must be assisted by a lawyer only during a formal interrogation, and when being notified of alleged crimes and questioned by a prosecutor or judge, not when they intend to render unsolicited declarations.

Since I didn’t do anything other than to apply the Italian law applicable to both matters, I am unable to understand the objections and reservations which you are talking about.

Secondly, I have told you that explaining the nature of the accusations against me is a complex job.

In short, it has been alleged that I have favored Dr Giuttari’s position, who was investigated together with two of his collaborators for a (non-existent) political forgery of a tape recording transcription of a conversation between Dr Giuttari and Dr Canessa.

The latter was giving vent to his feelings, telling Dr Giuttari that the head prosecutor in Florence (at the time) was not a free man in relation to his handling of the Monster investigations.

A technical advisor from the prosecutor’s office in Genoa had tried to attribute that sentence to Dr Giuttari, without having previously obtained a sound test from him, only from Dr Canessa.

I decided, rightly and properly, to perform another technical test on that tape for my trial (I have a copy of it, and the original transcripts of the recording).

I had the technical test performed by the Head of the Sound Task Force of the RIS Carabinieri in Rome, Captain Claudio Ciampini.

If Giuttari had lied, Captain Ciampini would have certainly said so. But his conclusions from the analysis were that that sentence had been pronounced by Dr Canessa. And by the way, this is clearly audible.

I then deemed it appropriate to interrogate the technical adviser from Genoa, in the sphere of the investigations led by me, since the people under investigation were thoroughly but inexplicably aware of the development of the investigation of Dr Giuttari.

The technical advisor from Genoa had made some absolutely non-credible declarations, and I had to investigate him.

The GUP from Genoa, Dr Roberto Fenizia, by means of a non-contested verdict on 9 November 2006, acquitted Dr Giuttari and his collaborators, because the alleged crimes had never occurred.

Therefore, I am accused for doing a proper and due investigation, without even the consideration that I have spared some innocent people from a sentence. I leave any further evaluation up to you.

As for the phone tappings, they had been fully authorized or validated by the GIP. [Those charges are now thrown out.] Explain to me how they can be considered wrongful. I haven’t been able to understand this yet.

This is the story of that case in short, and I am certain the truth will prevail.

None of us is guaranteed not to be subjected to unjust trials, especially when sensitive and “inconvenient” investigations have been conducted.

When accusations are serious and heavy in Italy, a magistrate that has been investigated or charged suffers heavy consequences.

There are appropriate bodies in charge to intervene according to the current laws, but the Florentine penal proceeding so far hasn’t affected me at all, perhaps because everybody – and specifically those professionally working on the matter - have realized that such penal proceedings have been anomalous, to use a euphemism.

As to my possibility to appeal any conviction, the Italian law provides for it, and I don’t need to say more.

I will make some closing remarks on the different jurisdictions.

Indeed there are differences between the [UK and US] common law jurisdictions and those of continental Europe, including the Italian one, which like any other jurisdiction has its flaws but also its merits, of which I ‘m becoming more aware as I carry on.

Furthermore, both jurisdictions are expressions of the juridical culture of the Western world, and this is something that shouldn’t be disregarded.

I don’t think I need to add anything else, except that these issues would need to be discussed in a personal conversation in order to delve further into the matter.

Sincerely

Giuliano Mignini

No wonder Linda Byron seemed to want to bury this letter. Does anybody now not think that the charges against Mr Mignini are quite ludicrous?  Preston’s and the Florence prosecutor’s both? 

Mr Mignini seems to be suggesting to Linda Byron to hop on a plane to Italy and to try getting her facts straight once and for all. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that one.

Posted on 07/31/09 at 06:24 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Second Misleading New York Times Comment On The Case

Posted by Skeptical Bystander


No prizes for guessing that this is Italy’s wonderful Venice.

Timothy Egan of the New York Times came back with a follow-up justification to his first post.

The cat was out of the bag at that point, of course, and the first post was being widely ridiculed as untrue and unfair both in the US and in Italy.

Egan’s second post makes me wonder if he actually even read the comments under his first post before firing off his second round. It also makes me wonder if Egan has any idea of how badly his “contribution” was received in Italy, let alone why.

I posted a comment on that second post addressed at his first piece, lamenting the number of basic factual mistakes he made though without enumerating all of them. Frankly, I was surprised that a “Pulitzer prize winning” journalist would make these basic mistakes and write such a shockingly bad article to boot.

This is that comment.

From memory, there are at least five major errors in Egan’s blog entry still not corrected

    1. He claims that no translator was present for the Nov 5 questioning. This is false. Granted, Edda Mellas and others have made this false claim on the record, repeatedly, even after the Italian police formally challenged it. (Note to Egan: check the CNN world news website once in awhile.) Finally, Edda and others had to change their tune in light of the undisputed facts, but they did so by shifting the claim from no interpreter to no “professional” interpreter. This too turns out to be false. How can Egan continue to claim that no interpreter was present when at three were called upon by the prosecution to testify under oath as witnesses to the session of questioning where Egan wants us to believe there were no interpreters? Incidentally, they—like all of the other relevant witnesses—have stated under oath the Knox was not physically abused or maltreated. Conversely and as a reminder, Knox is not testifying under oath.

    2. Egan also claims that there is forensic evidence against Guede only, and not the other two suspects. This, as everyone else except official FOA spokespeople know, is false. For anyone who is interested in knowing what it is, this non-profit website would be a good place to start. It is too bad that Mr. Egan did not do more than just consult the new afterword to Doug Preston’s Monster of Florence book. In fact, Egan’s blog entry serves as a friendly review in a way.

    3. In Egan’s sweeping and sweepingly ignorant indictment of the Italian criminal justice system, he stated that a 6-person jury, with two judges among them, would decide the fate of Knox and Sollecito. In fact, the correct numbers are 6 lay jurors and 2 judges, for a total of 8 individuals. Does this make a difference? Only insofar as it is definitely better to demonstrate a grasp of the basics of the system one seeks to criticize. Instead of quoting Rachel Donadio, who was in fact talking about Italy’s Prime Minister, Egan would have been better off trying Wikipedia or, better still, a comparative law website. There are tons of them out there.

    4. Egan states that Amanda Knox only suggested that Patrick Lumumba killed Meredith Kercher. In fact, Knox did far more than that. She accused him of killing her roommate, both orally and then in writing. The written statement was not coerced, and testimony from half a dozen other people (again, under oath) refutes Knox’s claim that her oral accusation was coerced. An investigation is underway, ordered by one of the two prosecutors. In fact, Knox admitted on the stand that her written statement was not made because she was hit. She said it was a “gift” to the police who supposedly tortured her, whatever that means!

    5. Finally, although more an error of omission than anything else, Egan could have pointed out that two prosecutors are working side by side on this case. If Mignini has to step down because of the verdict in a pending matter, the case will go forward in the able hands of Manuela Comodi. I hear she is clean as a whistle: not so much as a slap on the wrist during her career. Instead of just repeating what Doug Preston writes, Egan could have told us in more detail about the charge pending against Prosecutor Mignini.

Allegedly, some individuals—like Paul Ciolino, whom Egan quotes in his rebuttal (?) entry—speak of a “pattern” of misconduct, but I have been unable to find any other example of possible “abuse of office” except for the one related to the Monster of Florence case. Wouldn’t it be great if an investigative journalist of Pulitzer prize caliber were to take the time to find out what the facts are in the longstanding feud between Mignini and Spezi, Doug Preston’s friend and associate? That would really add substance to this fake debate.

Speaking of Paul Ciolino, his paid work for 48 Hours on this very case has been laughably poor. Forgive me for not taking the time to count the ways. In a Seattle fundraiser for Knox he stated that legal experts in the US and Italy believe Mignini is “mentally unstable”. What this really boils down to is the following: one quote in Italian by an Italian judge that was taken out of context (that’s the Italian legal expert (singular)), and statements made by two people from the Seattle legal community who have never set foot in an Italian courtroom but who happen to be members of FOA (Friends of Amanda).

As everyone knows, I am referring to Anne Bremner and Judge Michael Heavey. Heavey, a neighbor of Knox’s, actually wrote a letter to the authorities in Italy asking for a change of venue. That letter – which incidentally was written on Heavey’s official Superior Court Judge letterhead—was so full of errors, and was so embarrassing to Knox’s own defense team, that Heavey is said to have written an apology.

The first letter, after being prominently displayed on Anne Bremner’s website, was then quietly removed. As if it had never existed. Never apologize, never explain, as Flaubert said. Where is that letter of apology? Why is it not displayed on Bremner’s website? Was it too written on official letterhead? As a King County taxpayer, I’d sure like to know.

Where are those Pulitzer Prize winning journalists when you need them?

Posted on 06/18/09 at 09:41 PM by Skeptical Bystander. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How The New York Times Caused Unneccesary And Unhelpful Anger In Italy

Posted by Miss Represented



[click for larger image]

Another beautiful view of Italy. This one is of Portofino.

How could THE NEW YORK TIMES of all papers enable the ridiculing of this civilized and humane country for its handling of the case?

The Times may deny it because Timothy Egan’s rancid piece was “just” a blog. But ask any good lawyer - all content is ultimately the Times’s. They presumably have rules, and if they don’t have them, then they should.

Let’s look in depth at the content of Egan’s piece, which a huge audience in Italy has now read and found wanting. 

Aside from the very suggestive title “An Innocent Abroad” what becomes immediately apparent is not only the lack of objectivity (surely an essential tool for any self respecting journalist), but also the lack of any in depth discussion about the actual basis of the prosecution’s case.

A case that has been presented in detail twice a week for nearly half a year now.

Instead of discussing the factors leading to the arrest and trial of the defendants, Egan brings up the old, clichéd and unsubstantiated “mad fanatical prosecutor” charge as a reason for the trial. He muses thus:

The case against Knox has so many holes in it, and is so tied to the career of a powerful Italian prosecutor who is under indictment for professional misconduct, that any fair-minded jury would have thrown it out months ago.

My, my, feeling ethnocentric today aren’t we? Egan continues to bandy the “this would never happen in America” claim and appoints himself judge, jury and excuser, in order to make the assertion that he alone knows what the outcome of this trial would be in good old USA.

Egan is clearly suggesting to his readers that the conviction of Amanda Knox would be tantamount to a miscarriage of justice. Can anyone say objective reporting? Nope? I really didn’t think so.

Egan fails to mention that both Knox and Sollecito had many court hearings prior to the trial, and were afforded many legal advantages and some excellent legal representation.

If even one of the judges who presided over the initial hearings had decided there was insufficient evidence to hold or charge them, they would have been released. Every single judge that heard the evidence suggesting their involvement in the murder denied their release - some in very sharp terms.

It’s hardly as if they were at a disadvantage or even in the position to be railroaded. Knox and Sollecito actually incriminated themselves long before the police even got a sniff of Rudy Guede by way of their repeated lying.

Egan also fails to mention neither Knox nor Sollecito have a firm alibi that holds up for the night of the murder. Rather telling.

It seems Egan has opted to pass on the option of providing his readers with an interesting and objective piece, in favor of bandying the PR agenda surrounding the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their possible role in the murder.

The victim here is of course an afterthought. Egan briefly gushes about Meredith being “high-spirited” before comparing how “high-spirited” (what?!) both girls were. Then he essentially explains that we should forget about Meredith, and focus on poor old Amanda whom this case obviously revolves around:

But it is also about Amanda Knox, an equally high-spirited student whose life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution – “the railroad job from hell,” as one outside expert hired by CBS News concluded.

Knox’s life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution? Most unfortunate. How inconvenient. Meredith of course now has no life to be interrupted.

Egan forgets to mention that the “outside expert” here is Paul Ciolino, a P-I for hire, whose objectivity and expertise have on several occasions been called into question. His several public forays into the case (Perugia for CBS and Salty’s for FOA) were disasters. 

The following statement is again pretty misleading:

Knox may not feel the same way. She spent nearly a year in jail without being charged. This, despite the fact that the only physical evidence found on the murder victim’s body was from someone else – a drifter with a drug problem named Rudy Guede.

Knox and Sollecito spent a year in jail whilst the police built a case, as they are legally entitled to do, while the accumulating evidence was gradually becoming massive.

There were repeated judicial hearings on the evidence, any of which could have released them.

The second statement, about Guede, is technically true, but Egan fails to go into any depth concerning the considerable other forensic evidence - something even the most banal reporter on the case has managed to do.

Equally telling is this:

After being questioned all night without an attorney or a professional translator, Knox said some things in response to a series of hypothetical questions. This was initially trumpeted as a contradiction, or worst – a confession. A higher court later threw out the most damning statements.

Egan at least fails to trumpet once again the accusation that Knox was hit by police, an accusation that has angered much of Italy (see several posts below) and got her into hot water with the Italian authorities.

Amanda was not questioned all night by Mignini, and she freely offered the police Patrick Lumumba’s name. She even made up details about how they had met and when they went to the cottage together.

Egan also attempts to gloss over the significance of the false confession with what is perhaps my favorite euphemism in the whole post:

Knox raised the possibility that a bar owner with an airtight alibi could have been involved.”

You don’t “raise the possibility” that someone was involved in a murder. You either accuse them or you don’t.

If the subject weren’t so serious and the potential for real harm and misinforming the public so great, it could almost be funny. In fact Knox accused Lumumba flat-out, in great detail, and later confirmed it in writing when certainly not under duress.

And Knox was certainly not questioned for 14 hours, it was four or five hours at most, between midnight and sunrise. She was offered refreshments, and she willingly signed a statement.

A lawyer was not present and therefore this statement cannot be used against her. But Egan forgets to mention a handwritten note Knox gave to police detailing her “confession” explaining how she would “stand by” her accusation of Patrick (that she knew was false) which, unlike her first statement, has not been thrown out of court and will be used as evidence in the slander case against her.

Egan further mentions (on details of Amanda’s sex life being leaked):

The Brits, in particular, had a field day. Locked from her house in the first days after it became a crime scene, Knox went to a store one day with Sollecito to buy emergency underwear. The British tabs bannered this as a g-string celebration of remorseless killers.

Emergency underwear that consists of a g-string and a camisole top? Hardly “emergency underwear” would you perhaps agree? Add this to the spectacular scene Amanda and Raffaele made in the Bubbly lingerie store, and it seems the British tabloids were perhaps not far from the truth.

The British papers were certainly not the only papers to have published details about Amanda’s sex life (which in the grand scheme of things is not important). But the press were always going to try and find out this sort of information about her because it’s what all of the press do.

Egan, as a journalist himself, should know this, and attempting to portray Amanda as a sweet and innocent ray of sunshine by criticising those who uncover evidence that she is in fact the opposite is a blatant attempt at shooting the messenger.

Some of you may be asking what the point of Egan’s article is? After all, it sheds no new light at all on the ongoing trial or the evidence that has come out over the last few months.

Well, hidden in Egan’s article is what seems a badly disguised advert for Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi’s book “The Monster of Florence” and as these little “promos” often are, the result seems a transparent endorsement written in extremely poor taste.

Has anyone noticed that whenever any criticism of the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito surfaces, the same name usually pops up? Often introduced by the synoptic tagline “the prominent best-selling American author” Douglas Preston?  I seriously rather doubt that Douglas Preston could give a fig about Amanda Knox.

Indeed, the only linking factor between Preston and Amanda Knox’s “plight” is the presence of Giuliano Mignini. Preston seems to harbor a grudge and to be using his “experience” of being questioned by Mignini to peddle his book.

Whilst people like Douglas Preston keep bleating on about the “backward” Italian justice system, the Italians have actually presented a very solid case. If people like Timothy Egan now choose to cover it irresponsibly and unethically, sadly, it’s up to them.

But there’s no reason at all for the New York Times to provide him with a vehicle.

Egan explains how ‘haunted’ he is by an observation made by a former Times colleague in Rome:

In Italy, the general assumption is that someone is guilty until proven innocent. Trials – in the press and in the courts – are more often about defending personal honor than establishing facts, which are easily manipulated.

I too am haunted by this statement.

Haunted by the fact that Egan has apparently based his entire article and his understanding of the complex and very fair Italian legal system on the opinion and hearsay of one other journalist.

And one who was absurdly in the wrong, as any observer with a brain can see.

Posted on 06/16/09 at 07:59 PM by Miss Represented. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

It Seems Italy’s Anger Only Grows: Read La Nazione’s Editorial Today

Posted by Nicki



[above: Lake Como north of Milan, click for a larger image]

Posting again from Milan. This looks like becoming an international incident. Perhaps the US State Department should step in.

Timothy Egan, a Seattle journalist, wrote an offensive and largely fact-free blog about the innocence of Amanda Knox on the New York Times website last Wednesday.

This blog by Egan was widely quoted in Italian television and print-media reports and dozens of Italian blogs are now acidly commenting.

We are sure the New York Times will be reporting on what they have provoked. Today La Nazione has this editorial.

Timothy Egan is a former journalist, currently accredited as an authoritative New York Times editorialist, a self-proclaimed “Honorary Italian Citizen” to the point of sending his children to school in our country - how kind of him - a true hero.

Sustained by this pandering premise, the day before his compatriot Amanda Knox’s first deposition, on trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Egan elaborated a sober editorial with a “balanced”  title “An Innocent Abroad” where Egan doesn’t show the slightest doubt when having to choose between national pride and his shaggy fondness for Italy and its democratic principles, let alone judicial.

Amanda is innocent, a victim of an obsessed, powerful and hotshot Italian prosecutor. She is been persecuted and ruined by “vulture journalism and a careless prosecution”.

If this is the balanced approach of someone who is not risking 30 years in jail and has retirement money stacked aside, it is no surprise that Amanda, a student supported by her family, and with a very uncertain future, is holding on to her defense line, and even claiming that she was beaten at the Questura

Leaving aside details of the trial development, in this event there are all the cultural contradictions of an unresolved national tendency to self-harm, which authorizes many foreign observers to look at Italy still wearing the blinkers of mafia, pizza and mandolin.

Shall we try for once to get rid of the oh-so-lovely parodies by Sordi and Villaggio [see explanation at bottom] and declare that we can’t take it anymore?

Prosecutor Mignini did well to decide not to react to the provocations. And the Police Union did even better in reacting, to announce legal action against Miss Knox.

Yesterday Florence woke up with the terrible nightmare of an eighteen year old student, another American, who during the night had reported having been raped next to Piazza della Signoria, furthermore right under the eyes of the city police.

The red alarm only lasted for a few hours. In the end the girl, after recovering from the last effects of the amounts of alcohol she had ingested, fell apart and retracted everything.

Far from wanting to indulge in stupid generalizations, as Egan in his furious attack against Italy does, the story of the young drunk Americans caught urinating in the Nettuno Fountain, right in Piazza della Signoria, has become an example of unbearable lack of respect.

If we really must accept lectures from the Americans, at least they should be lectures in civilization, and not in imported Wild West culture. Differently, we too may use a very, very sober title, in order to stress our reply to Egan’s patriotic reflections:

“An Indecent Abroad”

A.Sordi and P Villaggio are famous comedians known for satirizing Italy’s country’s social mores in pungent black comedies, farcical tales and grim drama in post-war cinema through the 80’s.

Posted on 06/15/09 at 07:28 PM by Nicki. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

CBS Reporter’s Bizarre Claims About Prosecutor And Reporters

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



[click for larger image]

Peter Van Sant of CBS is the slightly confused-looking reporter in the images above and below.

In promoting his “48 Hours” report tonight, which by all accounts seems intent on equaling CBS’s record for worst report on the case, Mr Van Sant has come out with an interview which is an absolute classic for how not to do such things.

First, consider Mr Van Sant’s remarks about one of the prosecutors in the case. 

As for the accusation that Kercher was killed over a sex game, Van Sant cites an Italian blogger for putting that notion into the prosecutor’s mind. Van Sant said the blogger claims that she speaks to a dead priest who tells her what happened at crime scenes.

The blogger told the main prosecutor in the Knox trial, Giuliano Minnini (sic), that this was a satanic sex game and that’s how the theory started, Van Sant said.

Sliming of a prosecutor in this fashion has already been strongly protested against by Amanda Knox’s own defense team.

And the prosecutor in question, one of two (real name: Mignini), many weeks ago made clear that he had NOT listened to the Rome blogger (had locked her up in fact), is NOT especially pushing any particular theory of motive for the crime, is NOT especially central to the continued momentum of the trial - and has actually started a lawsuit against PRECISELY this kind of libel!

Second, consider Mr Van Sant’s remarks about the reporting of the case.

Among the many (actually rather neutral and non-inflammatory) journalists on the case that Mr Van Sant seems intent on sliming is of course Andrea Vogt of the Seattle PI. He all but refers to her by name and it seems rather obvious who he had in mind.

Ms Vogt is the reporter from the Pacific Northwest who is based in Bologna, Italy and who has been covering this case for the Seattle PI for over a year. Many observers have been impressed with her thorough, objective and factual reporting, particularly since the trial phase began.

Anyone who has been following the case knows how non-objective and pro-defense much of the reporting has been in the US, and how much fluffy air time has actually been arranged by the family-hired PR firm Marriott and company.

So the particular focus of Mr Van Sant’s criticism is really surprising. After claiming that Italy has the most irresponsible tabloid press on the planet and that local Seattle papers like the Times and the PI can’t afford to send reporters to Italy to cover the story, he explained that they hire “stringers”. Apparently these stringers simply translate articles from the Italian tabloids into English and, via the local newspaper circuit which publishes them, they get recycled and become legitimate news.

Mr Van Sant actually uses the terms “filtered” or “laundered”, as if he were talking about Mafia money being invested in life insurance policies.

The Seattle PI has enough problems without having to deal with this irresponsible and possibly defamatory remark. And Andrea Vogt, who to our knowledge is the only “stringer” working on this case who is filing stories for the PI, has been providing some of the best coverage of this case to US readers.

There are many good reasons for this: Ms Vogt is fluent in Italian and lives in Italy for much of the year; and she is a talented writer and an intelligent reporter. But most important, she has been making the trek from Bologna to Perugia and back, and spending Fridays and Saturdays in the courtroom for hours on end.

She recently wrote a piece on the mood in Seattle for Panorama, an Italian publication. For that article, she interviewed people in Seattle—including friends of Amanda Knox.

I would imagine that as soon as each daylong court session ends, she sits down - like the other serious reporters covering this case - and tries to turn out a fair and accurate report of the day’s event under very tight deadlines. Her reporting for the PI has been excellent and fair.

It is not only unfair, it is also dishonest to imply that Andrea Vogt is translating Italian tabloids and trying to pass it off as original reporting. If this interview with Mr Van Sant is any indication, then CBS viewers tonight may be in for an evening of fiction.

In which case, I think I’ll watch “The Greatest Story Ever Told” or “The Sound of Music” instead. Closer to reality than is CBS….


Posted on 04/11/09 at 08:10 PM by Skeptical Bystander. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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