Series 1 Ital justice hoax

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Summary Of The Cassazione Ruling On Annulment Of The Knox-Sollecito Appeal

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)



[Above and below: justice-themed artwork in Cassazione; motifs are used all over the world]

1. Introduction

On June 18. 2013 the Supreme Court of Cassazione issued the official rationale for the sentence of annulment of the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict.

That verdict acquitted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito on the charge of murder and sexual violence, while finding Knox guilty of the crime of calunnia (obstruction of justice by maliciously placing false accusation against a person you know is innocent).

Previously I posted here a summary of the recourse to the Cassazione by the Umbria Prosecutor-General Dr. Galati and Prosecutor Dr. Costagliola which demanded an annulment of the appeal verdict. I also posted here a first summary report, from the March 25-26 Supreme Court hearing, when the Hellmann verdict was annulled and thus prosecution recourse was won.

The 74-page motivation report states clearly that Cassazione ‘accept the points of the recourse’ from both the Prosecution and the Kercher parties, while they reject the Knox defense recourse. 

While you will realize it yourself in reading it, I can say in advance that what the Supreme Court points out in the appeal verdict is a pattern of manifest violation of an unprecedented gravity. All those I know in the law professions have never seen, throughout their professional lives, a Cassazione bashing portraying such a concentration of flaws in one verdict.   

Mostly written by Judge M. S Caprioglio (possibly including parts by Judge Severo Chieffi) the document features a sophisticated Italian language and a formal style.

The first half of the report is a summary of judicial events and arguments made by the parties through the previous instances.  The second part basically dismantles all the points of reasoning of the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict, without spending too many words for each one of them. 

2. A premise about the concept of legitimacy judgment

The second part is introduced by an explanation about what a ‘legitimacy judgment’ is, about its scope and boundaries. The Court is called to assess 1) whether the judges of merit indicated reasons for their decisions, and 2) if reasons are logically argued and legally founded.

The meaning of “logically argued” is that the Court shall verify that the lower judge actually did take into consideration the evidence included in the trial file (“principle of completeness”), and if reasoning is consistent with them, and with the law. The Court – being a ‘court of legitimacy’ [decides on legitimacy of the process that lead to conclusions, not on the merit] – does not assess directly the existence or the quality of the pieces of evidence, but may well assess the quality of reasoning about it and its actual consistence with the evidence in the file.

So the legitimacy judges within their boundaries are not prevented from assessing whether the lower court followed logical criteria, meaning assessing if arguments used by the lower courts are plausible, as well as if their reasoning is ‘complete’ and truthful with respect to the evidence file.  The Supreme Court is also allowed to access the evidence trial documents for the parts that may conflict with the verdict conclusions.   

The Court states that the present case is obviously based on circumstantial evidence, but points out how circumstantial evidence is not less powerful or logically less valuable than direct evidence.

While remaining within the boundaries of the legitimacy judgment, the Court notes anyway that at first sight in the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict there is an obvious “parceling out” of the pieces of circumstantial evidence.  This means a lack of assessment also of each piece of circumstantial evidence, since the judge failed to check whether the possible flaws and lacks in the logical value of each single piece of evidence could be filled by crossing them and taking in account the whole set of them. 

The Court also notes however that the judges’ conclusions also openly contradicted some of the pieces of evidence: they neglected or ‘overlooked’ them in some cases, or dismissed some pieces on which the previous reasoning was based without offering adequate reasons. Moreover the pieces of evidence were also not “adequately elaborated”, and the pieces of reasoning about them were “not coordinated”.

3. The Amanda Knox calunnia

Reversing the order of topics from the Galati-Costagliola recourse, the Court deals first with the charge of calunnia for which Knox was convicted twice [obstructing justice by accusing a person who you know is innocent] (p. 41-44), since on this topic there is a converging of all recourses and unanimity by all judges. The appeal court had dismissed a possible link between the calunnia and the murder charges, but the explanation provided for that appears obviously illogical.

The Hellmann-Zanetti scenario - by which, they say, Knox may have voluntarily accused an innocent man just because she was pressed by investigators, thus for a purpose totally independent from the intent of obstructing the investigation on the charge of murder – is argued in a way that conflicts with and neglects the actual evidence documents.
 
While Hellmann-Zanetti argue solely based on a police interrogation scenario as if the false accusation was an event confined within it, the Cassazione does not see Knox’s calunnia as a single event nor as a behavior limited to the situation of the interrogation, but rather as a prolonged behavior extending over a time of many hours and days (perduranza in atteggiamento delittuoso).  Basically Knox goes on implicating Lumumba repeatedly, and she repeatedly provides false evidence, such as through her hand-written note – where she stands by what she declared – and by her subsequent behavior.

The Court also observes the evidence file contains evidence that was overlooked by Hellmann-Zanetti indicating Knox was aware that Lumumba was innocent, such as the recording of prison dialogues with her mother, where she says she feels guilty for having accused Patrick – a feeling of guilt implies an assumption that he was innocent. 

So the appeal court made mistakes because they lacked inference from pieces of evidence, mainly neglecting to argue elements like the discussion with her mother,  her written memoir including the repetition of pieces of false testimony and her court admissions that she wrote her memoir voluntarily. 

It points out (p.42) that Knox albeit young was a “mature” person – meaning she had an adequate cultural level and education and would be able to regain control of herself afterward even if she had suffered a coercion or a moment of emotional breakdown.  Knox would be basically able to understand the gravity of her declaration over a period of time.

If only one single event, such a false accusation caused by pressure, breakdown and stress could have been argued – in the abstract – in the way Hellmann-Zanetti did, considering the calunnia as a choice resulting from an episode of emotional breakdown, but the Hellmann-Zanetti reasoning neglects the actual documents and is not fit to explain the persisting and repeated false testimony. 

The Supreme Court reminds that ‘information about commission of a crime’ can be derived also from the interrogation of a police suspect, even from information released by a suspect who had not be read their rights under Art. 64, even from statements that are not usable for lack of defensive rights, and even that in the event the interrogation is to be nullified.

In all these cases the suspect commits a calunnia whenever he/she voluntarily and falsely accuses someone to defend himself/herself (so there can’t be any consequential link between the legal status of the interrogation, and the charge of calunnia or the collecting of information about a crime).

The Cassazione also points out that the Hellmann Zanetti rationale is illogical when it states that “the easiest way out” for one guilty “would have been to accuse the real author of the crime”. The inference obviously does not consider that she may be herself among the real authors of the crime (especially since she lived there and had access to the scene of crime). 

The Court also points out the failure to properly address the importance of the details contained in the Knox false testimony (the detailing of this is in subsequent chapter). 

4. The crime scene staging

The Cassazione accepts the Prosecution General point of recourse complaining about the failure to consider the evidence of staging a burglary, and says the recourse is “founded”. The pieces of physical evidence suggesting a staging are not satisfactorily argued or refuted by Hellmann-Zanetti.
 
The Hellmann-Zanetti appeal court also argued in favor of the “lone perpetrator scenario” by introducing some assertions which are unacceptable since they openly “collide” with the trial documents or are unfounded. Basically their reasoning was hinging on elements such as speculations about Guede’s personality, they introduced allegations like a purported habitual burglar profile, not backed by any evidence.

On the other hand they bring in arguments – like that about a glass shard in Meredith’s room – which have zero implications in their scenario (because they are equally good to argue in favor of a staging).

They should have argued – in favor or against – about evidence of burglary/staging based on the assessment of the pieces of physical evidence found on the scene, like argue against Massei’s reasoning about the ones mentioned in the first trial, say why it was not good. On the other hand the break-in scenario, as described by Hellmann-Zanetti, is affected by “multiple logical ruptures”, details are not explained consistently.

Moreover – the Court says – a scenario involving the issue of burglary/staging should be argued based on the overall evidence about Rudy Guede, meaning a scenario involving the whole of what he had done, like explain all the traces that show his movements, for example the trail of bloody shoe prints showing that he left the murder room straight away.

There are aspects of the reasoning that are ‘tautological’ (circular and begging the question).

The Hellmann-Zanetti reasoning on the same point is also neglectful of part of the file sources (is based on a ‘partial access to information’), for example it overlook testimonies concerning wounds on Guede’s hands, dismissal of glass on top of items. To sum up, the rationale employs inadequate inferential principles and incorrect information. 

5. Man in the park Curatolo’s testimony

Hellmann-Zanetti had dismissed the testimony of Antonio Curatolo.

Their statement about the reliability of Curatolo is totally ‘censurable’, since it is ‘apodictic’ [assumed as a premise ‘true in advance’ without explanation], and not based on thorough analysis of the data. In particular when they state that he tends to confuse days dates: such assertions are both unfounded and illogical since conflicting with the testimonies of himself and of others witnesses. The Court does not assess the reliability of Curatolo as a witness, but notes that the reasons brought by Hellmann-Zanetti are unacceptable.
 
The possibility to explain elements of the testimony by mistake of date by the witness, so placing his testimony possibly on Oct 31. is conflicting with the other evidence, namely the testimonies showing the defendants were elsewhere on the 31st. Moreover the elements used for the argument are logically weak compared to the strength of the elements showing Curatolo correctly “anchoring” his testimony to real events.

Then the lower court introduced – as further basis of reasoning – assertions in order to ‘jump’ across the whole of Curatolo’s testimony: they based their conclusion on the asserted “decaying intellectual faculties”, on his use of heroin, and on his modus vivendi.

However they do not offer any element of evidence about the alleged mental decay, they fail to show this through analysis of his testimony, and in fact they completely fail to analyze the actual content and consistence of his testimony (lack of “completeness”).  The use of heroin and his modus vivendi (as a “bum”) is also not acceptable as a reason for dismissing reliability of a witness, this would be an arbitrary judgment that violates the principles of witness assessment. 

Since the witness was very assertive, consistent and felt certain about his testimony, the court would need a logically strong argument – based on some other finding or certainty – in order to dismiss his reliability (dislikes about his lifestyle or disproven speculations about date mistakes are not).



6. Shopkeeper Quintavalle’s testimony

The Court pretty quickly dismisses the Hellmann-Zanetti conclusions about Quintavalle, on grounds that they are based on a ‘cherry picking’ and twisting of information from the documents, basically they misinterpret and neglect to consider the actual content of the Quintavalle’s testimony. 

In fact the summary description of Quintavalle’s testimony that was offered by Hellmann-Zanetti is basically a misrepresentation based on incomplete parts of the testimony and overlooking of others, and flatly contradicts the content of actual testimony (it is not what Quintavalle and witnesses actually said).

It is not true that Quintavalle remembered about recognizing Knox one year later, documents show that he was sure about her identity from the early investigation – the Cassazione quotes some of Quintavalle’s statements where he remarks her circumstances and features. 

Hellmann-Zanetti reported some bits of information in a fragmentary fashion without taking into account the explanations of Quintavalle and the answers he actually had given through the investigation.

The appeal court should have analyzed the whole of what the witness actually said, and crossed the statements with the existing information, instead of selecting cherry- picked bits and pinned on them a meaning out of context. 

The Cassazione is not interested in assessing the reliability of the witness Quintavalle, but they find “intolerable” that Hellmann-Zanetti give a false picture of the testimony, in a way disjointed from the true content of the trial documentation.

7. The failure to consider implications of Knox’s memoir

The Prosecutor General was right in blaming the Hellmann-Zanetti court for neglecting to evaluate the hand written note written by Amanda Knox as a piece of circumstantial evidence. The appeal court dismissed the memoir as useless on the sole basis that it does not have a substantial meaning (actually: that it did not represent the truth). 

But this argument is insufficient (and circular); it is also ‘structurally’ inconsistent because the same Hellmann-Zanetti court used the very same note as a piece of evidence in the calunnia charge, and cannot be logically linked to pressure because she wrote it alone on her own initiative and not during an interrogation.

The Court details the content of the note pointing out that in the hand written memoir there is a repetition of some of the details from her previous ‘spontaneous statements’, which are now only set in an oneiric [dream-like, surreal] frame (they ‘seem unreal’) but yet they are the same peculiar details from the false accusation.

The Court also highlights the new ‘sibylline’ [ambiguous and threatening] accusation by Knox against Sollecito (remembering blood on his hands, but probably from fish).

The next appeal court will need to build some actual arguments to explain these features, taking in account that – as for Hellmann-Zanetti – she wrote that while she was fully capable to understand and without any pressure from authorities.

The contradictory nature of the appeal court reasons on this point is ‘obvious’.           

8. Failure to consider judicial files from Guede’s definitive sentencing

The Court spends a bit more than one page to explain why the prosecution recourse is correct in their complaint on this point as well.  In fact Hellmann-Zanetti did accept the Guede verdict as a piece of circumstantial evidence, but argued that that piece was ‘particularly weak’.

However, the problem is that in reality they did not assess it at all in order to come to that conclusion, but they rather just completely ignored the whole content of the Guede verdict reports.

The court is not authorized to dismiss a piece of evidence which they formally entered without assessing it, just on ‘in limine’ reasons. Therefore the decision openly ‘violates the law’ (p. 55).

The Rudi Guede verdict motivations theoretically might be found ‘particularly weak’ as a piece of circumstantial evidence, but it can’t be ruled ‘particularly weak’ on the reasons declared by Hellmann-Zanetti. 

The appeal court did not try to argue the logical passages of the Guede verdict in order to assess it and explain why conclusions were weak, instead they decided to ignore it, not based on the analysis of its content but instead based on the legal nature of the document.  This is a patent violation of the law, and a conflict with the trial documents.

Thereafter the Hellmann-Zanetti court steered the discourse onto the alleged ‘habitual criminal’ profile of Guede (an interpretation based on speculation) without explaining the reasons for building a scenario about Guede so far-fetched compared to the findings in the trial’s files about Guede.
   
Moreover the appeal court adds a further, false and illogical argument when they state that, even if Guede was proven to be guilty of concurring with others, this does not have implications for Knox and Sollecito at all because those accomplices could have been other people.  The alleged lack of implication is false under logic, because determining that Guede acted together with others would additional information on the crime, which could be crossed with other information (such as about who had access to the apartment etc.).

The Court also remarks that the trials had found and explicitly declared Guede innocent of the crime of burglary, and the appeal court also fails to deal with this in their alternative scenario.

The appeal court also failed to consider other information from the findings of the Guede trial, and explicitly contradicted it without justification, for example they neglected to consider how the courts had determined through multiple witnesses that Guede actually did not have any injury on his hands on the night after the murder [Guede had cuts on his hand, but many days later, not the night after the murder]. 

9. Declarations of Rudy Guede at the Knox-Sollecito appeal

There is an open violation of the law in the Hellmann-Zanetti motivations, in the particular statement where they assert that Guede’s declarations in the courtroom were unreliable for the reason that he refused to undergo a questioning.
 
The reason brought by Hellmann-Zanetti to rule unreliability is illegitimate when referring to the specific declarations of Rudy Guede in the Knox-Sollecito appeal, and legally not true.

First, the Cassazione notes that the decision to refuse a questioning pertaining to a crime is within the rights of a witness who is implicated in the same crime. If the witness decided to invoke this right, the courts and the parties are bond to enforce it and limit their questions within topics unrelated to the crime,  and under the law, no conclusion about reliability/unreliability can be drawn solely from the witness’s decision to refuse to answer about a topic in which he was implicated as a defendant.

No court could conclude that a witness is unreliable on the sole ground that he enforces his rights.

Moreover, preventing an interrogation of the witness on such topics is just a duty of the Prosecution and the Court, not a ruling ‘in favor’ of the witness (and co-defendant).

The Prosecutor General had summoned Guede to testify only about the topic of things he said during conversation with inmates and letters he wrote from prison, and since the witness invoked his right as an ex co-defendant the Prosecutor General had the duty to enforce the limitations on his questioning.

It was the Sollecito-Knox defence attorneys who attempted to place questions directly on the topic of the events of Nov. 2, 2007, and they asked Guede to confirm the content of his letter directly pertaining the Kercher murder.  The defence asked him to confirm if one particular statement of the letter he wrote was true, and the statement of Rudy Guede confirming his Knox and Sollecito implication and accusing them of murder was only in response to this, stemming from the defence question.
 
The declaration of Rudy Guede might be considered irrelevant as a piece of circumstantial evidence; and the witness might be assessed as unreliable by a court, but this cannot be done based on the illegitimate grounds brought by Hellmann-Zanetti. You cannot have, as an argument for unreliability, the fact that Rudy Guede chose the legal option of not undergoing a questioning about the murder. 

The Cassazione also notes how the Hellmann-Zanetti report details some of Guede’s declarations in order to argue for his unreliability. However the cited statements from the Skype conversation with Giacomo Benedetti are used by Hellmann-Zanetti just to build an illogical argument: they say Rudy should have logically indicated the true culprits in that call, the fact that he does not accuse them is an indication that they were not there.

This argument is flawed (besides contradicting the very same claim about Guede’s unreliability). The Cassazione sees the weakness of reasoning about the Skype call as ‘symptomatic’ of the lack of logical consistence of the appeal court on the topic of Rudy reliability, and it also reveals that the criteria they are following are not compatible with logic.
 
The appeal reasoning is also contradictory on further points, as Hellmann-Zanetti consider some declarations of Guede ‘reliable’ without logical reason - like about the timing of death, where the appeal court considers Rudy’s statement reliable without considering that he had an obvious logical interest and an attitude of misleading the accusations by providing details that were conflicting with evidence. 

Paradoxically, had the Hellmann-Zanetti court followed the same criteria on other declarations, they should have considered Guede’s declarations ‘reliable’ when he says “Amanda is not implicated”, as well as when he says - talking about Sollecito -  “I don’t know, I think it’s him” . The appeal court did not follow the principle of completeness and they did not consider these. 

The Hellmann-Zanetti report also fails to consider that Guede was assessed as ‘totally unreliable’ by his trial judges (they could have used such finding in documents to argue unreliability of his statements instead; if they had only read the Guede verdict). In other words they worked inconsistent arguments out of on an incomplete set of data. 

10. The refusal to listen to the whole testimony of witness Luciano Aviello

The appeal trial was procedurally flawed also by the refused to call Luciano Aviello before the court again, as he was supposed to complete what was left out of his testimony. 

Luciano Aviello was called as a witness by the court in accepting a defence request; after his hearing, during the course of the trial, new elements emerged – new witness declarations – that created a necessity to put some further questions to the witness. 

The Hellmann-Zanetti court refuse to call back the witness to complete the questioning, despite that he had already been accepted as a witness by the same court. So the witness was basically prevented from completing his testimony.

The Cassazione does not argue about the reliability of Aviello as a witness (nor about the relevance of his testimony) but points the finger against the inconsistency of Hellmann-Zanetti’s ruling, which causes their decision to be illegitimate.

The refusal to call back the witness to complete his testimony at a second hearing was manifestly inconsistent, since that violates the principle of completeness (once you call a witness, you need to be ready to listen to all that he has to say).

The court’s decision was “unacceptable” (p. 58) also because it was based on arbitrary criteria – as Hellmann-Zanetti said “another hearing of the witness is not indispensable” on the ground that minutes of his interrogation were entered in the file: the decision violates the principles of usability of documents and the rules of witness hearing.

The appeal court completely ignored the reasons for and the new content of the topics Aviello was to be questioned about, and did not assess them. Instead, they violated articles 511, 511bis and 512 of the procedure code by ‘replacing’ it with non-usable minutes of his interrogation. 

The judgement of ‘non-indispensable’ was also unfounded, manifestly so compared to the importance of the topic which referred to the explanation and completeness of Aviello’s testimony. A plot concerning a secret agreement in order to offer false declarations in court is obviously a topic with some relevance.

There is also a violation of the principle of confrontation, because Aviello was a defence witness and the Prosecutor General had the duty of carrying on an assessment of the witness within the appeal trial by cross examination (Hellmann-Zanetti’s decision allowed only the piece of testimony that could be favorable to the defence, and they cut off the part that could be unfavorable).

The motivation is also incomplete as Aviello is ruled ‘unreliable’ a priori because of his retraction (which Hellmann-Zanetti apparently considered reliable) and irrelevant as a piece of evidence without actually listening to the content of his testimony, to what he had to say.

The testimony of Aviello could not be ‘cut off’ that way and could not be considered unreliable a priori without listening to it.


11. The re-framing of the time of death

The Court devotes four pages to explaining how Hellmann-Zanetti’s reasoning about re-location of the time of death is illogical. 

The appeal court refused to anchor the timing (and further features, noises etc.) of the screaming, to the time frame offered by two witnesses, Nara Capezzali and Antonella Monacchia. They also dismissed the testimony of Mrs. Dramis. Instead they accepted the defence idea of determining the time of death based on the statements by the ‘unreliable’ Rudy Guede. They put the time of death in relation to the phone calls, around 9pm.

As for the Cassazione, such an argumentation path is woven through with ‘conjecture and illusions’ (p. 61). The bases chosen for inference are devoid of any factual validity, as opposed to the elements of evidence which were discharged, which are instead extremely relevant.

The Hellmann-Zanetti report refutes the elements (testimonies of Capezzali, Damis, Monacchia) with arguments which are riddled with obvious, multiple inconsistencies [like the claim that a half-an-hour error would make the testimony unreliable, or that Nara’s looking unsure between the dates of Nov. 1. or 2. makes the scream attributable to something else, as if she was used to hearing blood-curdling screams every other day and as if the Monacchia confirmation testimony didn’t exist]. 

So the Hellmann-Zanetti rationale dismisses as ‘unreliable’ or ‘useless’ some very relevant and consistent testimonies (from witnesses they declare ‘credible’), while on the other hand, it accepts as ‘reliable’ a dictum by Rudi Guede and builds a theory of the time of death on it - despite the defence itself having pointed out how Guede was totally unreliable and was also very able at changing and twisting every detail of his story, all the time and on any occasion, from the earliest stages of the investigation. 

The Cassazione states - without any possibility of question – that it is manifestly obvious that things Guede consciously stated on the Skype conversation could never be used as the main credible source to build an inference about the time of death.

Moreover the Court points out that in fact the appeal court cherry picked just one statement by Guede, regarding the time of death, and considered it ‘credible’, while neglecting to note how within the same Skype conversation Guede also made a number of assertions about Knox

These included statements that place evidence against Knox and Sollecito. While in the same conversation Guede says “Amanda was not implicated”, he also states that Amanda was in the house; he states remembering that in Romanelli’s room the window appeared intact, and denied having broken it, he inferred that Knox and Sollecito must have done it; he also assumed that they must have altered the scene of the crime and the victim’s body; he also said he thought the man he saw was probably Sollecito.

The Hellmann-Zanetti court simply neglects to consider and deal with the whole information from the Skype call, which they instead elect to reliably source solely regarding Guede’s declaration about the time; so – besides illogicality in the unfounded dismissal of other testimonies – their method of processing information violates completeness and consistency.   

The appeal court is also extremely weak where they try to fill the logical gap by drawing further inference from Meredith’s phone records. The attempt to link a mistaken phone call with the time of death is simply inherently implausible, a wrong call is a trivial event and there is no reason to make such link; also the delay by Meredith who did not call her mother again within the next half an hour is a trivial element which doesn’t have a specific implication upon the time of death.
   
The worst Hellmann-Zanetti did on this topic is the downplaying and underestimation of the testimonies of the three witnesses – Capezzali, Monacchia and Dramis.

In fact Capezzali described the scream in detail, picturing it with a number of features - “harrowing“, “unusual”, “long”, “isolated” – and stressed its uniqueness and added additional information about noises (gravel path etc.) unequivocally linked to the cottage, she made clear that she never heard something similar before.

Monacchia was even more precise about the timing, since she went to sleep at 10.00 pm and slept for a while; Dramis came home back from the cinema at 10:30 pm. Their timings converge in placing the timing of an isolated scream later than 10:30 pm.

On the basis of Nara Capezzali’s testimony, it is absolutely unreasonable for the appeal court to assume that Nara could confuse the scream with the usual other “noises” of “junkies”. 

Dramis as well referred to having been awaken by some noise of a kind she never heard before. Hellmann-Zanetti ruled out the time frame offered by the testimonies of Monacchia and Dramis for no reason except that they gave their testimony one year later; this is a totally insufficient and illogical reason.

As for considering Rudy as a reliable source, instead it is acknowledged that Guede was obviously lying and following a pattern of behavior/strategy of providing a flow of false details to muddle investigation.
 
The Court adds that neglecting the importance of information about the scream seems even more stunning when you consider the fact that the scream coincides with a detail that was mentioned in an early testimony of Knox [and even in declarations of Guede]. 

12. The court appointing of new experts and their management

This point may be the most interesting because it is the only topic on which the Supreme Court doesn’t agree entirely with the Prosecution General.

The Prosecution’s complaint was ‘partly’ correct about objecting to the legitimacy of the appeal court appointing new experts.

The point of recourse is founded insofar as the appointing was insufficiently motivated in the rationale: the reason expressed –  basically addressing just the judge’s lack of scientific knowledge –  is inconsistent, and also inadmissible because it violates the principle of non-delegation of judgment. 

However, the judge’s decision of appointing experts itself should supposedly always be based on assessments of the merits of the evidence. The Cassazione cannot decide on the merits, so the decision about whether more expertise is necessary or not, which was supposedly taken based on the evidence available, is an exclusive competence of the judge of merit and the High Court can’t discuss it. 

The absence of consistent motivations for the appointing reveals an insecurity of the appeal court about the evidence, which they (rightly or wrongly) attributed to incomplete information.  However, the peculiar way the appeal court subsequently managed the experts is censurable.

The experts decided to not test the new DNA sample, despite the fact that the amount was 120 picograms [so much more than ‘5 picograms’ as declared by Vecchiotti in court, ed.], on an arbitrary decision by only one of the experts, on the ground that it was a ‘Low Copy Number’. Such a decision – itself unlawful – was subsequently subscribed to by the appeal court.

When the Prosecution General and consultant Prof. Novelli requested to go on testing the sample, since it was perfectly possible to do so, the court denied, arguing on the false assumption obtained by misquoting Novelli as saying the required techniques were “in the experimental phase”.

This was a misquote, a misinterpretation of a statement by Novelli, and the Court finds it to be false in the documentation: Hellmann-Zanetti incurred a gross misrepresentation of reality as they called the new technology “experimental”  and “unreliable”.

Beside this false claim, it was on principle unacceptable that the expert Carla Vecchiotti refused to carry out a test, and that the judge accepted such a decision.

The expert’s decision violated the judge’s previous ordnance, because the written order said that they must require the court’s opinion before taking any decision, not after; the judge’s change also violated their own ordnance, because it withdrew from the previous tasking. 

The modus operandi of the court therefore was to let an expert make decisions about their own mandate, based on their own judgment about the subsequent value of their finding in court.

But the experts had no authority to reduce or re-frame their own mandate, it is not up to them to preemptively decide whether their finding is reliable or not and anyway they cannot refuse to accomplish an order or to bring a finding into court; no matter if their finding is unreliable as a piece of evidence, they have to bring it anyway to court discussion, and its value will be determined through court discussion.

Hellmann-Zanetti were incomplete on documenting Novelli’s positions which were expressed during the experts’ testing and are in conflict with the Vecchioti-Conti decisions. They could have chosen Vecchiotti’s positions, but only after having dealt with the arguments expressed by the other side too.

The decisions by which Hellmann-Zanetti managed the experts’ work is also in violation of the principle of equality and the right of all parties to bring evidence, since they ordered a perizia [experts investigation] but then they prevented it from being fully accomplished: they only allowed the research activity by which the defence was seeking evidence, while they prohibited those activities requested by the accusation parties.   

Once they ordered new scientific tests, the order should have been completed without any a priori unjustified preclusion. Their unbalanced modus operandi was an alteration of the evidence information set, and a violation of the law (p.66), and cause their motivations to be manifestly illogical.


13. The DNA evidence

The appeal court passively accepted the new experts’ conclusions, while ignoring the opinions of the witnesses Novelli and Torricelli. Their arguments had a comparable degree of importance, and the witnesses had at least the same degree of expertise and authority than the judge appointed experts.

As the judges chose to believe the conclusions of some experts in disagreement with others, they are not obligated to demonstrate themselves that such conclusions are true, but nonetheless they are required to report the arguments made by the other side and they need to deal with them in a reasoning. 

This is especially necessary if the expert witnesses have a great expertise and credibility, at least comparable to that of the judge-appointed experts. 

Hellmann-Zanetti accepted the C&V report entirely and passively, without confronting it with the opposite arguments and objections. Such procedure is illegitimate, since objections and arguments were not even mentioned.

The Casssazione recalls, among the not-mentioned and not-dealt-with arguments, that Prof. Novelli had calculated a probability of misinterpretation of the alleles on the bra-clasp; and Dr. Torricelli analyzed the Y-haplotype on 17 loci and found no match except Sollecito. 

Novelli also testified that recommendations and protocols do exist, but the operator’s competence and common sense in scientific assessment is more important. He also said that the researcher should be always allowed to depart from standard procedures when single situations suggest so.

The judge-appointed experts themselves ruled out laboratory contamination. Novelli analyzed the series of samples from all 255 items processed and found not a single instance of contamination, and ruled out as implausible that a contaminating agent could have been present just on one single result. 

Also Dr. Stefanoni testified that the knife was tested 6 days after an alleged contaminating and Vecchiotti confirmed that the time interval would lead to rule out laboratory contamination.

Hellmann-Zanetti also ignored or twisted information regarding the crime; it ignored the finding that no instance of Sollecito’s DNA was found on the scene as a possible contamination source despite may environmental samples; the High Court labels as false – going by the evidence file - Hellmann Zanetti’s statement saying that “everybody had walked around into the house”. 

Also Cassazione notes that deterioration of an evidence scene due to time would normally cause a loss of DNA information, not an appearing of new information not found elsewhere.

So Hellmann-Zanetti did not take in account nor cite a huge part of the credited opinions and information; the total failure to mention such a major chunk of information by Hellmann-Zanetti makes their judgment about the topic illegitimate, and shows their ‘unacceptable’ modus operandi. 

However the most surprising point of Hellmann-Zanetti – in the Cassazione’s view – is their uncritical accepting of the theory that contamination is “possible”, without linking the scenario of likeliness of contamination to any factual finding or datum. They actually built an axiom on a straining, a cherry picking and a falsifying of information.

The Court also reminds how Novelli testified that, in order to have a plausible scenario of contamination, you need to prove the existence of a source, of a vehicle of it. 

They note from the documentation that negative control did exist, and that Vecchiotti & Conti were ‘superficial’ in assuming they did not exist just because they were not included in the technical report.

The Supreme Court then points out that: 

(1) the collection of items was performed correctly contrarily to Hellmann’s suggestions, all activities of collection and laboratory tests were done before the eyes of defence experts, the environments were not contaminated, and the defence experts that were assisting did not raise any objection, they complained about things only much later;

(2) the arguments and explanations dr. Stefanoni subsequently gave were not adequately refuted;

(3) the picture of correctness in procedure causes the burden of proof in order to claim likeliness of contamination to rest squarely on the shoulders of those who claim it.

The law does not admit to set out the reasoning from a sheer “falsification” paradigm (meaning: it is wrong to assume that the prosecution has any burden to demonstrate the absence of contamination). Such an assumption would make it impossible to collect any piece of circumstantial evidence or do any scientific test at all.

The argument that the evidence should be dismissed as unreliable because contamination is ‘possible’ is totally illogical. You can’t dismiss pieces of evidence on the ground of a mere ‘possibility’ (or we should dismiss all pieces of evidence collected on all cases).

An alleged contamination event needs not to be only ‘possible’ (everything is possible), it needs to be ‘credible’. In order to consider if contamination was likely on a specific instance, some factual evidence of the specific causal circumstance is needed. 

To bring a claim about ‘contamination’, while you don’t need to actually prove that the event of contamination occurred, you do need to prove a factual and scientific datum that would cause that specific contamination event to be ‘credible’ (probable).

In order to claim a contamination likely occurred, pointing at issues about professionalism of forensics is not enough. The factual existence of a specific ‘vehicle’ of contamination needs to be proven [like presence of a source, evidence of contamination in other results, explanation of the dynamic etc.]. 

To refute the scientific finding you need something much logically stronger than a complaint referring to ideal practice and protocols and the absolute generic concept of ‘possible’.  The claim about a fact such as a specific instance of contamination requires ‘factual’ circumstances and data, ‘specific’ and ‘real’.

14. Analysis of prints and other traces

The objections by the Prosecution General on this topic are correct.  The appeal court motivations manifestly lacks logical rigor in multiple instances.

The Court cannot object about the attribution of the bathmat print since the topic is strictly in the merit. But the implied scenario where Guede’s left shoe comes off after he walked on the pillow is implausible: it doesn’t explain why an Adidas shoe would come off, and it doesn’t reconcile with the evidence documentation.

Guede using the small bathroom to wash himself, and then locking Meredith’s door, is in conflict with the trail of shoeprints only showing him walking straight out. It makes no sense to assume that he lost a shoe just because there are blood prints of the right shoe alone. 

About the luminol foot prints, it is implausible to assume that those prints were left on some other occasion, since – in the Court’s view - luminol basically indicates blood (and in no other circumstance could someone produce such a set of prints in blood). The Cassazione notes that the Massei scenario to explain the footprints was far more plausible, and Hellmann-Zanetti bring no reason to refute it.

The scenario described by the first instance trial court was also more complete, since it was able to connect the dots on several other details, including the ‘mixed traces’ of blood in the small bathroom, on the light switch, etc.

The only argument brought by Hellmann-Zanetti was the absence of Sollecito’s DNA from the blood/luminol stains. For the rest it was an “apodictic” assumption, so that they did not deal with the logical points that were made on the first instance.     

15. The declarations of Ms. Knox

The Hellmann-Zanetti verdict was ‘critically’ flawed, as claimed by the Prosecution General, also on this point. This topic area falls into the big picture of parceling out of the pieces of evidence which was done by the appeal court.

The Supreme Court notes that Hellmann-Zanetti just assumed that there was no circumstantial evidence in Knox’s declarations, but they falsely implied that it was about behavioral and emotional evidence. Instead it was about Knox’s revealing a knowledge of details from the crime scene. 

The Court mentions some of Knox’s statements conflicting with evidence and testimonies: she told Meredith’s friend of having found the body, she said it was before ‘a closet’, that it was covered, that Meredith had her throat cut and that she suffered a great blood loss. The first degree court reports Knox saying she didn’t see into the room, that she was far away in the corridor when it was opened.   

Hellmann-Zanetti fail to mention this set of elements or clues, and they also neglect to consider the issue of Amanda’s phone call to her mother in the middle of the night and subsequent calls.

The Cassazione observes that Knox was unable to ‘remember’ the 12:47 phone call and did not explain its content; but Hellmann-Zanetti mistakenly considered such a phone call as occurring ‘at the same time’ of Sollecito’s calls to her sister and to the Carabinieri. In fact – the Court notes – Knox called her mother three minutes before Sollecito called his sister, she was first person to make any phone calls.

So Knox’s ‘downplaying’ of her phone call – her suggesting a total vague content, a sense of confusion and nothing important – and the early time of it, are not considered details worth of mention by the Hellmann-Zanetti court, and they are not put in relation to Knox’s inside knowledge about details of the crime (if she didn’t know anything at all, why does she call her mother to express vague confusion, worried about something she doesn’t know?).
 
What the Court finds objectionable is that Hellmann-Zanetti simply made assertions and steered on, talking about the subjective emotional reactions, without confronting any logical argumentation made by the lower court, and they failed to do anything to demolish the first instance reasoning. 

16. Final indications

The Hellmann-Zanetti verdicts are annulled. The new appeal court will have to fix all the critical legitimacy flaws pointed out following the Cassazione indications.

The new appeal Judges will have to assess the pieces of circumstantial evidence in a global an unitary way, to assess whether the relative ambiguity of each piece of evidence can be overcome by the overall system between them.

The result of such an assessment will have to lead to a decision not only about the presence of Knox and Sollecito on the murder scene, but also about their possible roles in the crime, and to decide among an array of possible scenarios: from a premeditated intent to kill to possible scenarios that may involve a non-premeditated decision to murder as a departure from an original plan to have a non-consensual sex game, or involve a forced sex game that run out of control, or a similar situation.

The recourse submitted by Knox on the point of her conviction for calunnia is rejected. All points of recourse 1-10 by the Prosecution General are accepted, the appeal trial is annulled on grounds of manifest illogicality, inconsistence and violation of law for all conclusions of acquittal; instead, the conviction for the charge of calunnia stands, but the denial of aggravation in finding it not-linked to the murder is annulled.

Knox is condemned to pay the legal expenses sustained by the State and by Lumumba. If found guilty, Knox and Sollecito will have to pay also the expenses sustained by the Kerchers. 


17. Considerations arising from the report

My final thoughts. Since the appeal verdicts were annulled, the legal situation is that Knox and Sollecito stand currently convicted in first degree and awaiting the appeal, which they had launched against their convictions. 

They had already got a fair trial, before a court presided over by Massei; now they are appealing the verdict in a Florentine court. An appeal – under the Italian criminal procedure – can take the shape of a new trial – usually, partly – and so open again sessions where witnesses are heard and evidence are entered. 

However, in many cases this doesn’t happen, and the appeal doesn’t look like a full trial. Anyway, even if the trial phase is re-opened,  what may look like a trial de novo is in fact only an extension of the previous one; meaning: the trial de novo in fact doesn’t start from scratch, but starts from the documentation already existing and incorporates the previous proceedings. 

The main piece of documentation now incorporated is the 2013 Supreme Court verdict.

Whatever appeal court deals with the Knox-Sollecito proceedings,  they will have to set it within the guidelines, limitations and indications established by the Cassazione.

The Cassazione has dismantled and declared illegitimate all the procedural points by which Hellmann-Zanetti had come to verdicts of acquittals on the charge of murder. This shows how the appeal judgment was obtained only thanks to a dreadful series of procedure errors. 
 
Unfortunately, actually not all errors in the Hellmann-Zanetti rationale could fall under the radar of the supreme court.  The appeal court didn’t make only legitimacy errors, they also committed obvious mistakes in the merit of evidence assessment (and, not even all legitimacy issues were actually brought to the attention of the Supreme Court of Cassazione). 

Examples of mistakes in the merits by Hellmann-Zanetti:  they attributed the bathmat footprint on two unproven assumptions:

(1) The first was that the person who left it must have got his foot wet with blood by walking on a hard, flat surface smeared with blood; an obviously unfounded assumption, actually proven false since there was no hard flat surface covered in blood where anyone had walked (blood got on the murderers feet from soaked towels).

(2) The second – idiotic – ‘reason’ was the observation that Sollecito’s toe in the sample print looked more triangular (!) than the bathmat print’s (it is actually obvious that any object would leave a print with slightly more rounded shape on the bathmat compared to the sample paper, since the bathmat is a soft surface). 

Another one was the claim that the pattern of footprints in luminol could be found in any apartment and be produced in any innocent situation (in a non-blood substance) but somehow they ‘forgot’ to mention what kind of likely substance that could be, and what plausible dynamic - except shuffling on rags or mat – could have produced them. 

Flaws in the rationale and procedure are surreal, like maintaining that Knox’s written memoir is not evidence that she lied because its content is false. Or appointing experts to test DNA samples, then refusing to test the sample despite it’s being more than 120 picograms.

Even kids could spot the obvious logical errors on evidence assessment in the Hellmann-Zanetti rationale. 

The refrain of factual errors and legitimacy/procedure violations is so serious that I can hardly believe any Magistrate of the Republic can make such errors in good faith. 

Despite the sophisticated and formal language,  as you may have understood from this summary, the Cassazione arguments are actually very simple. In fact the errors were very clear and obvious from the beginning - to quote PMF poster Popper “even a child would notice them immediately”  - that in fact the Supreme Court looks like pointing the finger at a naked emperor.
 
The present Cassazione ruling does not leave any realistic hope for Knox and Sollecito to be acquitted on appeal. They have a right to appeal under Italian law. Though their appeal, when carried on within the rules and principles of law, looks – like most appeals – basically desperate.

Their actual chances of being acquitted by a Florentine court look essentially zero, because the court won’t be allowed to employ the key arguments and the path of reasoning followed by Hellmann-Zanetti to come to an acquittal verdict; all these logical tools are illegitimate, and hardly any judge could fix them,  nor come to a ‘not guilty’ verdict by following other logical ways. 
 
The only positive legal outcome in realistic terms for Knox and Sollecito now consists in seeking leniency or lesser charges based on claiming minor roles, maybe even by attempting to accuse each other.

Either that or testifying to the truth, seeking mitigating factors like psychological state and age, or showing remorse.


Friday, March 08, 2013

FBI Reporting Close Co-operation With Italy In Arresting And Soon Extraditing A Fugitive Swindler

Posted by Peter Quennell





A new FBI report in the news.

It is still more confirmation in line with many previous posts here that US and Italian crime-fighters respect one another and work closely together - and don’t turn a hair at requests for extradition.

The fugitive fund manager Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm could face 25 years in prison. The FBI explains what he is accused of: 

Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm, a German hedge fund manager who was on the run for more than five years, has been arrested in Italy on federal fraud charges that accuse him of orchestrating a market manipulation scheme designed to artificially improve the performance of his funds, a fraud that led to at least $200 million in losses to investors around the world….

Homm was the founder and chief investment officer of Absolute Capital Management Holdings Limited, a Cayman Islands-based investment advisor that managed nine hedge funds from 2004 until September 2007. The criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Homm directed the hedge funds to buy billions of shares of thinly traded, United States-based “penny stocks.” Homm caused many of the purchases of penny stocks to be made through Hunter World Markets Inc., a broker-dealer in Los Angeles that Homm co-owned. Homm also allegedly obtained shares of the penny stock companies through various businesses he controlled.

And the FBI credits the role in arresting Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm of the Italian authorities.

Homm, 53, was arrested at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Friday (local time). Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles obtained an arrest warrant on Wednesday, March 6, after filing a criminal complaint that charges Homm with four felony charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud. Homm was arrested by Italian authorities after the United States submitted a request for a provisional arrest with officials in Rome.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reasonable Doubt In Italian Law: How Sollecito, Hellmann, And Zanetti Seriously Garbled It.

Posted by James Raper





Above: Sollecito’s lawyers. Is he too thick to understand them? Or are they incompetent and giving him bad advice?

Certainly as compared to the incredibly high legal standard of the Galati Appeal, it appears that the accused, their lawyers, and Hellmann & Zanetti are all seriously outclassed.

Hellmann and Zanetti at first appeal trial, and Sollecito in his absurd book, all seriously garbled one fundamental concept in Italian law that they ABSOLUTELY need to get right if they are to have any sway with the Supreme Court.

Incredibly Sollecito’s own lawyers Bongiorno and Maori are listed as assisting him with the book and allowed this lunacy to fly.

Here is Raffaele Sollecito in Honor Bound.

For reasons deeply embedded in the country’s history, the concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt scarcely exists in Italy.

What he is implying (in a manner gratuitously insulting to the intelligence of his compatriots) is that were the above statement not true then he, and Amanda, would have been acquitted in the first instance.

Oh, really?

It seems that we are also being asked to believe that Sollecito and his ghostwriter, Gumbel, are historians of Italian jurisprudence. So, let’s quickly examine what substance there is to the claim.

It will be seen that the concept of “reasonable doubt” is understood well enough in the courts of Italy, though unfortunately less well understood by the former Umbria Appeal Court judges Hellmann and Zanetti.

Not only that but those two judges made pointed remarks at the outset of the appeal also garbling the concept, which were very disturbing. I shall look into that in a moment.

Sollecito‘s remark does have some context but it is wildly inaccurate and unfair. 

We know that the Italian legal system is based on the inquisitorial system common to continental Europe, whereas the anglo-saxons amongst us are used to the adversarial system. It is also true that the specific expression “beyond reasonable doubt” was not introduced into the Italian criminal procedure code until 2006.

It is Article 533 of the Criminal Procedure Code: “The judge pronounces sentence of conviction if the accused is guilty of the offence charged beyond all reasonable doubt.”

Now let me defer to our Italian poster Yummi who can explain the historical context. He writes -

The current Italian system is the result of a procedure code reform introduced in 1989. This reform introduced several features of the adversarial system into a new criminal procedure code. One of the features of the new code was the abolition of the “not proven” verdict. This factually had been working very effectively as the version of “reasonable doubt” in the Italian system.

In an inquisitorial system the court is a council headed by professional judges and it’s task is not just to deliver a verdict, but to deliver a written rationale or dossier aimed to provide “a judicial truth”.  Typically “reasonable doubt” is a formulation coming from systems where juries do not issue a written rationale while systems that have motivation reports on verdicts usually don’t have it: it was commonly agreed that the absence of doubt should be understood from the rationale. Absence of doubt is not a quality that is inherent in the internal conviction of a juror, but instead is understood to be a feature of the logical proof provided by the written rationale. It was believed that the absence of doubt in the judge’s mind should be shown by the fact that a motivation report is logical.

No Italian scholar would ever maintain that the “reasonable doubt” standard is a recent introduction in the Italian system.  Only the acknowledgement of it’s wording is relatively recent.  In the Italian system the formulation “reasonable doubt” was starting to be used explicitly in Supreme Court jurisprudence in the early nineties; a change of wording in honour of the adversarial reforms, but in fact a continuation of the long jurisprudence tradition of the “not proven” standard.”

In fact in the adversarial system “beyond reasonable doubt” is really an instruction to the jurors that they must arrive at a certain evidentiary standard if they are to convict. Any system that would produce a “not proven” verdict would mean that the standard has not been met.

In the adversarial system no written rationale for a verdict is required to accompany the verdict. That the Italian system retains this requirement is very much a safeguard for the accused as well as for the State both being thereby protected from perverse or capricious convictions or acquittals.

Second here is Judge Zanetti at first appeal:

The only certain and undisputed fact is the death of Meredith Kercher.

So said Judge Zanetti on the opening day of the appeal. It was a statement that brought gasps of astonishment from those in court, particularly from the reporters present who deemed it to be an admission that reasonable doubt existed.

In fact, of course, there were a lot of certain and undisputed facts. No one denied that there was evidence, most of it undisputed. What was disputed was the interpretation of that evidence.

That, being so, why did not Zanetti say that? Clearly the remark was injudicious, and cogent only in its intended impact.

What of the Massei Motivations Report one might ask? is it toast?

That remark not only helped to set the tone for the entire appeal - what was said soon after by his senior colleague was even worse. 

Compliance with article 533 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Judgement of conviction only if the defendant is guilty of the offence complained of beyond a reasonable doubt) does not allow (us) to share fully the decision of the Court of Assize of First Instance.

(In Italian: il rispetto dell’articolo 533 del Codice di procedura penale (pronuncia di condanna soltanto se l’imputato risulta colpevole del reato contestatogli al di la ogni ragionevole dubbio) non consente di condividere totalmente la decisione della Corta d’Assize di primo grado”)

That was said by Judge Hellmann on the third day of the appeal before even the evidentiary and discussion stage had opened. And thanks again to Yummi for the above quote.

It seems that the presiding judge had felt compelled to expand upon his colleague’s stark opening remark but in doing so he had opened a can of worms. He had just made things even worse. Unfortunately the prosecution decided not to challenge the remark and the appeal proceeded. They should have done so.

Article 533 relates to verdict. The verdict (to be) is not to be hinted at or discussed at the opening of any trial or appeal and certainly not as pointedly as this. So serious is this faux pas that I have it on good authority that the prosecution considered impeaching the presiding judge for incompatibility and incompetence. It seems that they did not because of the furore this might have caused and perhaps also because they were confident of the strength of the case in any event. In retrospect a grave mistake.

What in fact was Hellmann saying? Let us consider.

“Compliance with article 533.…..…does not allow us to share fully the decision of the Court of Assize of First Instance.” 

I believe that what we see here is the first indication of the judges’ manifest misunderstanding of what should have been the correct approach to an evaluation of the evidence in the case and the application of the “reasonable doubt” standard.

I do not intend to deal with that in any detail. It is set out cogently in the Galati appeal.

Suffice to say that the “reasonable doubt” standard applies only to the culpability of the accused for the offence with which he/she is charged. Article 533 makes this abundantly clear and this is no different from how our own adversarial system deals with it. It is not a standard to be parcelled out to each item of evidence or inference drawn. That the appeal judges thought they could do (and did) precisely that is implicit in Hellmann’s remark.

How can one not “share fully the decision of the lower court”?

Hellmann could have said that he did not fully share the decisions of the lower court as regards each element of evidence rather than “the decision“, which can only be a reference to the actual verdict. But “the decision” is what he says, linking it specifically to article 533 where only the singular use of the noun would have any meaning. So on the face of it this can only be about the verdict of the lower court. And yet, how can one not fully share a verdict? A verdict cannot be parcelled out. One either agrees or disagrees with it.

Despite it’s manifest inappropriateness, no doubt the remark was meant to acknowledge that there was some doubt about the validity of the verdict in their minds. Well at least that’s honest but in that case, was it not incumbent on them to specify what it was that concerned them? I would have expected that. True, it was already clear that the DNA on the knife and bra clasp, and Curatolo’s credibility, were specific issues, as they had allowed these to be examined, but beyond that there was no disclosure as to what other doubts on the evidence they had in mind. We know now from the Motivations that there were others and what these were ( Quintavalle and the staged break-in, just for example) - and I think it would be pretty disingenuous of them to pretend that they did not exist at the time.

Already one sees elements of confusion, incompetence, mis-procedure, misleading the prosecution and coded messages (for the media and politicians?) to the effect that the appeal judges had already rationalized an acquittal in the appeal.

And if, with their doubts, they had in fact done so then what, pray, was the point of :-

1. Ordering a review of the DNA evidence on the knife and the bra clasp

2. Re-hearing Curatolo

3. Hearing from Aviello and Alessi

……other than that they were seeking that elusive “reasonable” element of doubt.

It is almost as if the entire appeal was tailored to suit and a sham. It certainly looks that way in retrospect, particularly as the element of reasonable doubt still remains elusive on close examination.

Yet it may just be that the appeal judges were just incompetent and that their incompetence (with the incompetent assistance of Conti & Vechiotti) infected the entire proceedings.

We shall see what Cassation thinks of the garbling of this fundamental concept when the prosecution appeal is entertained on 25 March.

Posted on 01/24/13 at 10:22 PM by James RaperClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, January 21, 2013

An Overview From Italy #2: Current Perceptions In Italy, Justice Perverters Fail, Mignini Vindicated

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)





My previous report on the bad news remorselessly building here for the defense was on the Procura Generale appeal to the Supreme Court.

One year ago – between the end of December 2011 and beginning of January 2012 – there were only rare idle comments in the Italian press about the Meredith Kercher case, more or less sarcastically noting the “suspicious” circumstances of the Appeal trial.  I recall how a mention of the topic was dropped into the last number of “ll Venerdì” of 2011.

“Il Venerdì di Repubblica” is the weekly magazine issued together with the newspaper “La Repubblica” (thus probably the most read magazine in Italy).

The cover theme of that week was provincialism – or better “the provincials” - the adjective used to assemble a sample of seven little cities (Cuneo, Voghera, Rimini, Jesi, Perugia, Benevento, Partinico), picked from different regions, and taken as examples on the theme, that is stories of “local colour”;  what goes on in small “provincial places”.  A few characters and stories are brought in to depict the local life of each place, and the voices of local authors adds something about the places.

The article about Perugia (at pages 62-68) was by Luca Cardinalini. In that number of Il Venerdì, having stories of “local colour” as weekly theme, there were shades of ironic tones for each city, often through the voice of local intellectuals. As Perugia is described, the Meredith trial is quickly recalled among its local stories; the reader can’t miss how this is viewed as in connection with another most remarkable feature of the city, that is Masonry.

According to Luca Cardinalini and Enrico Vaime, Masonry is called a “Specialty” of Perugia, like chocolate. Local author Enrico Vaime intends to convey the people’s perception about shady powers existing in the city, about a local environment saturated by plots and informal powers, as something behind recent strange judicial decisions such as the Hellmann verdict and the apparent dropping of the Narducci case.  The widespread belief of Perugians that the Public Minister (prosecutor) is the righteous one shines through the words of Enrico Vaime.

Also notice how racism appears to be another key perception about the verdict. Quality media press in Italy has a typical style of understatement.  This comment hints that it seems obvious that the Appeal was a racist verdict - and it was “expected” that they would find a way to blame the black one and the outcast. 

Some of Perugian “provincialism” seems to include a very narrow localism of Perugian identity: a person from Orvieto is reported to be called “a foreigner” ; but this is because the cultural viewpoint is based on the assumption of a personal knowledge of all people.  In among this, there is Vaime’s knowledge about how rooted Masonic tradition and power is in the city, in a scenario of “brotherhoods” and “tribes” (the article includes a photo of the most known “Masonic” monument in Perugia: the gryphon or griffen – the emblem of Perugia – grabbing a toppled Pope’s Tiara in a sign of rebellion). 

The report by Vaime is objectively correct : the concentration of members of Masonic lodges in Perugia is the highest in the world, about 5 times the national average of Italy (which is anyway very high). 

In Vaime’s wording decent people in Perugia are ‘Christians’ or ‘Communists’ – these are the names he uses to address the main categories he sees as “good” people, two transparent moral systems.  He devolves skepticism toward the less transparent allegiances, the murky and informal connections to powers. 

I believe these perceptions from one year ago, in this colorful article about Perugia, should be most interesting to the readers of this site.

The first part of the article on Perugia is not that interesting - it speaks mostly about a local character named Ivano Massetti, nicknamed “Savonarola of Umbrian football”,  the director (“boss”) of a local TV network and leading showman of his own soccer talk show. I skipped this first part with depictions of local folks, and get to the point at p.66 where the Kercher case is first mentioned. 

This is my translation of the article from this point:

[…](p.66 line 17):

As Enrico Vaime – a 100% Perugian, a writer, and among many other things fiercly provincial – already knows: “Only in Perugia do you hear people saying “actually Tizio [random guy] was not a native from Colombella, but from Piccione”, which is three times further”. And when his grandfathers (farther of his father) bearing the same name Enrico Vaime, moved his formal place of residence [to Perugia] from Spello, on the official documents they wrote “emigrated to Perugia and married to a foreigner from Orvieto”.

The roots are extremely deep. “Still today” Vaime says “when I say to my family “we go back home”, I mean here, in Perugia, where I have not owned a house for decades. And I still call the roads and shops with the names they had when I was a child, even if now the owners are foreigners, from Shangai or, as I say, from Terni”.

Vaime is cross with the bad reporters who described Perugia, in the Meredith murder case, as a capital of corruption and vice: “An invasion of charlatan journalists who, as they believed they were visiting a remote and lost province, they painted it as a sort of Chicago on the Trasimeno Lake”.

[The fact] that no Perugian was involved in that sad story, to them that was an irrelevant detail. And the trial ended just the way many Perugians expected: a black guy first wrongly put in jail, another black one convicted, the two white, good-looking, wealthy and well defended young people, free.

So it was that the Public Minister Giuliano Mignini became a target. He’s a Perugian whom the Perugians know as the dominus of the other judicial case – this also is, yes, entirely local – about which everybody talks and knows, but always in a low voice: the death of doctor Francesco Narducci,  the one suspected of having ties to the crimes of the Monster of Florence. From the judicial point of view that was - by half – just another hole-in-the-water [a failure] for which some critics have hastily put the blame on some alleged lunacy of the public minister.

But…  however… meanwhile, this [Naducci] corpse-swap was indeed found to have been for sure, a kind of unique case in the criminal history of the country. And, for what concerns the recent acquittals of those characters involved in this death, well, after almost a year and a half we are still waiting for the verdict motivations. All of the suspects were esteemed high-class professionals. That’s a perfect mix of strange deaths, sex, lead-astray investigations, and Masonry; this is in the city with the highest number of Masonic lodges in Italy.

Vaime sighs: “Masonry is something alien from me, but I have many friends who are in it. In Perugia it works as a compensation chamber for various powers, but also as an effort for the surge of the spirit to many decent people. Masters, masons and “33”, but all of them decent Perugians”.  Masonry is considered a local specialty, just like the bruschetta or the Etruscan arch.

“One day you find out that that mediocre employee of your acquaintance, or the one who performed an incredible career in the public administration or in politics, is a ‘son of Horus’. Then you either laugh, or you slap yourself on the forehead just like saying to yourself “Wow! [how could I ] think about it!”. “That travet* [*a generic mediocre opportunist employee], too” 

Vaime says “to me it is a strange Perugian, with little interest for the Egyptian god compared to his covet for entering inner circles of a certain world. Their internal motivation is “I want to see how the lords sit at the table”. But in there [Masonry], you see, there are also good Christians and good Communists; as has always happened in this province, which has the art of living together in its genes”.

[…. ]



This month – Jan 2013 – the Italian press returned to the topic of the case again in a few brief articles. This time it was because of Sollecito’s book.

After Maurizio Molinari’s report from New York on the book in September, and the busting by Bruno Vespa on Porta a Porta of Francesco Sollecito, who ended up openly contradicting his own son’s statements, another hint appeared in the local press about what is cooking up backstage. 






This article in Perugia Today has a neutral take, but the same understatement and kind of vagueness as it anticipates that something very likely will happen.

What I find most delightful is the quotation marks in the title around the word “author” – journalist Nicola Bossi doesn’t believe for a moment that Sollecito actually wrote the book: 

Meredith Case: “author” Sollecito at risk of criminal lawsuit

The recounts about an alleged negotiation in order to pin the main charges on Amanda Knox, and unproven violence by the Perugia Police are under target. Mignini is considering criminal lawsuit.

Written by Nicola Bossi – Jan 4. 2013  

The Meredith case is not closed, and this despite books and movies almost tend to drop it after the acquittal in second instance of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito - who were convicted in first degree for the murder of the English girl that took place in Via della Pergola.

On upcoming March the 25th the Court of Cassation of Rome will have to decide on the request for a re-opening the trial, submitted by the Procura with the authorization of Public Minister Giuliano Mignini.

In the environment of the magistrates there is confidence about a [guilty] verdict that many – in Italy and in the USA - have heavily attempted to discredit. But from the same environments around them, they talk about a greatly serene Mignini making assessments about the next strategic moves, following the attacks directed against him – and against those in Law Enforcement who cooperated with him – contained in the book by Raffaele Sollecito.

An upcoming criminal defamation lawsuit is becoming more and more likely every day, especially about some particular paragraphs. The material published by Sollecito has already resulted in discussions and clamor above all about claimed negotiations [with the prosecution]  aiming to shift the blame onto Amanda alone, to be rewarded with his immediate release.

But there are also accusations against the Police about violence during his interrogations. “If you dare get up and walk, I beat you up in a bloody pulp and I kill you. I leave you in a pool of blood”. This is what you read in the book ‘Honour Bound’ issued in the US, as what Sollecito attributes to the Perugian officers.

“They wanted me to lie so they could frame Amanda”: this is the premise of the claimed negotiations claimed to indirectly involve Mignini too, which he always denied. Allegedly this would have been enough to get [Sollecito] out from prison soon, leaving the American woman in trouble.

So, these are grave accusations which Mignini apparently does not intend to let go unpunished. The criminal lawsuit is likely to be filed earlier than the date of Cassazione [25 March].

 

Another small piece of news is this article below published in Leonardo and written by Valentina Cervelli: 

It seems basically a “commented” version of the Perugia Today article. Cervelli adds a few polite lines on her own thoughts in this piece, published on the Bbooks page of Leonardo,it; this is my translation:

Is Raffaele Sollecito going be sued soon for “Honor Bound”?

By Valentina Cervelli -  6. Jan 2013

Are there troubles in sight for Raffaele Sollecito? His “Honour Bound” book is going well in the United States in terms of sales, but here in Italy it might be soon result for him in a lawsuit for defamation by the Law Enforcement forces and by the Public Minister Giuliano Mignini.

As we know already, in Honor Bound – My journey to hell with Amanda Knox and return Raffaele Sollecito has reconstructed the whole judiciary story from his point of view, telling in his autobiography what [he says] is his own truth.

On March 25 Cassation in Rome will decide on the [prosecution] request for the re-opening of the trial submitted by the Procura authorized by Giuliano Mignini, after the acquittal in the second instance of the two main accused, Sollecito and Amanda Knox.

The young woman has returned back to her country and we bet it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to get her back in our country even in case of retrial after Cassation and a possible conviction. But lets leave aside this possible dispute and lets focus on the book. In Raffaele’s book Mignini is iimplicated because he reportedly comes out discredited. In the material published by Sollecito in his book he even talks about alleged negotiations in order to blame Knox alone, obtaining in reward a quick release.

And what about the allegations of Police violence during interrogations? Of course we don’t get into the merits, but it seems obvious that parties that may be considered offended would tend to launch a counter-attack to defend their dignity and their work. At the moment no lawsuit has been submitted. But with much probability that will be done before the decision of Cassazione.

By now we can only wait for the publishing of the book in our country, in order to assess with our minds what Raffaele Sollcito has written and the “hot” material published in his made-in-the-US autobiography.

By the way; one thing Valentina Cervelli might get wrong is the purported good sales of Sollecito-Gumbel’s book.

The Amazon.com site is reliable as quick indicator of a product’s success;  the price of a new copy of “Honor Bond” on Amazon.com is now $ 3.51 (last week it was 3.76; the cover price is $ 24). It suggests sales are not quite as expected.  The drop speed is significant if you consider that the book has been out for only four months.



[Above: the Florence Palace of Justice]


While many honest magistrates seem to be working in Florence, there is still some strange behavior by one or two people in the Florence prosecution office.

Iin particular by the chief prosecutor there were some unexplainable decisions.  As people reading this site know, Giuliano Mignini and Michele Giuttari were convicted (of some of the charges) in the first degree trial in Florence. 

The motivations document was disconcerting because: besides the proof of their innocence on the main charge, what was described as the evidence on the remaining charge constituted extremely weak and vague arguments for what was claimed about Giuttari, while they were totally non-existent about Mignini. 

In the second instance appeal as we know the court completely crushed the trial case.

The case against them collapsed not because of a technicality, as the FOAs falsely claimed. In the figment of their imagination the Knox supporters erroneously thought that the Florence court had an “option” to overturn the case, to find Mignini and Giuttari innocent, but that they instead decided to pass the judgment on to some other tribunal.

The pro-Knox believers are probably also ready to believe blindfolded that there was some kind of evidence against Mignini.

The Knox believers are wrong. What in fact happened in Florence is something almost unique in a judge’s career. The first remarkable event was the decision by the Florence court of nullifying the first degree verdict. They did not simply overturn the verdict (neither change, or “reform” it as we say) since an overturning would imply acceptance that a previous verdict actually existed and was legitimate.

The cancellation was in fact an in limine act about the validity , which does not require an assessment about it correctness. The court went way beyond. In fact they nullified the whole trial, not only the previous one in terms of judgment, but also the preliminary hearing, and the indictment; and even the request of indictment. 

It is a legal outcome not comparable to a simple change or overturning because it is a ruling that the whole proceeding was illegitimate from the very roots. The investigation itself of Mignini and Giuttari was declared illegitimate. 

If elements were found for the opening of an investigation, the prosecutor would be entitled to carry on their duties, though the investigators should be from another territory.  This is important because the Florence court found evidence that people from the same office were involved in cases against Giuttari and Mignini, both as offended parties and as prosecutors. 

Because of a basic conflict of interest, the local prosecutors were incompatible and the Procura of Florence had no jurisdiction. Not even Genoa would be compatible.

Florentine prosecutors therefore had no right to bring cases against Mignini and Giuttari. The investigation files now must now be sent to the competent jurisdiction – where they should have been sent from the beginning – which is Turin; there other legitimate prosecutors will decide if and how there is anything to investigate about, and if there are any charges to bring against anyone.  The Florentine trials should have never taken place. The court ordered that the legitimate investigators are the Procura of Turin. 

In addition, they also ruled that the court of Florence would be an incompetent jurisdiction in any further possible case that stems from that investigation: since the competent prosecution is Turin, in case elements for the indictment of anyone for any charge are found, in the future, everything should go to a court in Turin – this, only if there will be any charge to bring to court . 

This decision in Florence was a total debacle for the Florence prosecutors.  It is in fact “politically” much worse than an overturning of a verdict. It is not just a like a different conclusion on the merit, it is the decision to take away even the investigation from them, a kind of implicit censure of their work as highly illegitimate.

But at this point in the procedings, something even worse and even more strange happened.  The Procura of Florence did something even more unusual, in fact unprecedented as far as I know. 

Apparently the Florence prosecutors are not happy at all to pass the investigation file on to Turin. For some reason they seem instead to want to do unnecessary and irrelevant hard work instead.  The Florentine prosecutors impugned the decision and revisited this at the Supreme Court against the Florentine judges.

This step is almost unheard of because the decision of the Florence appeal court is of a type that manifestly cannot be impugned at the Supreme Court. The recourse is obviously going to be declared inadmissible. If that submission was done by a private citizen, they would get a heavy fine for that.

Here it is a power in the Florence judiciary branch making this inadmissible move; for unknown reasons. 

I’d like to know the real motive behind the latest Florence move, the only effect of which can be a waste of time (and money), a delay, of at least one or maybe two more years, which only makes the failure of the whole proceeding against Mignini and Giuttari more likely due to lapse on an expiration terms.

I say “I’d like to know” but in fact one motivation stands out as obvious:  the whole proceeding against Giuttari and Mignini, from the first bringing of the charges at the lower courts, appeared as having a wasting of time among its purposes. 

One practical effect - maybe a practical purpose - of pushing the charges against Mignini, was taking the file about the Monster of Florence case links with the Narducci case away from Perugia. By this move, the Florentine prosecutors managed to factually put their hands on the Narducci-MoF file and remove it from the investigating powers in Perugia.

Another effect of this was delay. Now this latest move looks as if its purpose were to delay, as much as possible, the transfer of the legal documents to Turin.   

What is the ultimate event that, by all this, they seem to be seeking to delay?  I can’t know for sure, I can only guess; in fact, I have only one answer, which also stands out as something obvious for those who know a bit of the backstage: 

Giuliano Mignini is not an ordinary magistrate, he belongs to the Anti-Mafia Territorial Division of Umbria, and recently was selected for a further promotion by the Supreme Council of Magistrates.

In fact what is delayed is the advancing of Mignini’s career:  in fact he has been already promoted to a directive function; but, by the rules, his taking the post was frozen while awaiting the outcome and conclusion of the Florentine prosecution. 

Prosecutor Mignini is de facto already functioning as a prominent Magistrate in Perugia and considered as such; but formally he has not been given the directive power.  Several people – among them Spezi and a number of his journalist friends, but possibly also other much more important people too – are likely not at all eager to see Mignini awarded further power.

About the latest endeavor by Raffaele Sollecito, who became liable for criminal defamation by writing false allegations about Mignini and others in his book, I expect - as logically unavoidable – that several powers and subjects will basically have no option but taking legal against him.

There will be a strategic necessity to doing this in order to prevent extradition issues in the future, but also, above all, on principle, because Sollecito made false claims about public institutions that needt to have their names cleared.  Considering the kind of allegations against the judiciary as an institution, and considering that Mignini is a judge of the Anti-Mafia Division, this is the kind of lawsuit that I see as likely to be submitted on a national level, in Rome. 

If that is the case, it would not be the only strange thing that the courts of Rome will deal with.

It seems like there is a kind of “curse”  on proceedings related to the Narducci case. All sections of the Supreme Court which have been asked seem to have attempted to declare themselves ‘incompetent’ about re-opening the cases related to the Perugian doctor. The Cassazione is a huge office with a hundred judges working there, but maybe not so many of them are eager to deal with this case.

This could be only a coincidence. It only brings up to my mind, through a free association of thoughts, a more generic question – a personal question of mine – that is whether the words “Masonry” and “Politics” have an echo in Roman corridors too.

*****

Finally I want to add another significant piece of Italian news. 

The news a week ago was that the Procura of Florence is investigating a possible corruption/mafia plot involving construction enterprises and politicians that revolves around the building of a new high speed railway in Florence.

Some 31 people are being investigated and among them is the former governor of Umbria. A huge drilling machine – nicknamed the “Mona Lisa” – used to dig subway tunnels in Florence was sequestrated by the Procura. 

In the last couple of years Perugia’s prosecution office had a main role in fighting political corruption, but it seems that the Florence Anti-Mafia division is also active, just as it was in the times when the prosecutor Vigna worked with them.

Vigna was the one who first evolved the “secret sect” scenario in the Monster of Florence case, raising unexpected problems among the Procura staff.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Translation Of Dr Mignini’s Interview After Takedown Of Sollecito Book On Porta a Porta

Posted by Ziak.





This is my translation from the original In Affaritaliani

Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor in the Meredith case, speaks: “No bargaining with Sollecito”

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

It has been claimed that Dr Mignini had seemingly bargained with Raffaele Sollecito in order that he would accuse Amanda Knox in exchange for a lighter sentence.

But now the prosecutor in the Meredith case, Giuliano Mignini, has chosen Affaritaliani.it as the forum to break his silence: “No bargaining. It suffices to read the book attentively to understand that I have nothing to do with it. I am disconcerted by this distortion of the facts.”

And further: doubts about Amanda’s guilt? “If I had them [doubts], I would ask for absolution. I have always believed in the responsibility of both of them.”

The pressure while awaiting the sentence was enormous: “I believe that trials should take place in the halls of justice, not outside”. Both Amanda and Sollecito have written books about the murder: “These are choices that each person makes, and for which they are responsible”.

THE INTERVIEW

by Lorenzo Lamperti

In the past few days, Prosecutor Mignini, it has been written that you apparently bargained with the family of Raffaele Sollecito, offering a lighter sentence in return for testimony against Amanda Knox.

“I must say at this point that I am disconcerted [dismayed] by this distortion of the facts. It suffices to read what Sollecito has written in his book in order to understand that I have absolutely nothing to do with it.

Furthermore, Raffaele’s father has denied the existence of any bargaining.

However, I continue to see newspapers which publish these things. Let’s forget about the American newspapers, over which it would be best to draw a pitying veil, however it surprises me that even here in Italy facts are talked about which have never been checked.

Sollecito’s father denied this live on television, and yet there weren’t even any starting points to support something [claims] of this sort.

Thus there was an exploitation is Sollecito’s account?

“That seems clear to me. And yet the event of the Kercher process was preceded by that of the Monster of Florence [the Cassation Court will deliver its verdict on 22 November, editor’s note]. That was what started everything: I never said anything, but I’m fed up, sick and tired at this point. There has been too much superficiality on the Meredith story.”

Raffaele Sollecito speaks of a lawyer who apparently bargained/negotiated with his family…

“These are merely conjectures on conjectures. And yet, I don’t understand how Sollecito’s account can have been interpreted as referring to me. Looking carefully at things, it could almost be said that it is me who is the person offended by a boast.”

Are you considering legal action?

“I have 90 days. I will consider it. Certainly, I must take note of Dr Sollecito’s denial.

What his son wrote, or at least, what the newspapers report, has not been libelous with regard to me. The problem lies in the interpretation of his text that has been made. It would suffice to read [the book] correctly in order to understand that we are talking of simple impressions, not of facts.

The only concrete references are made to a few persons who are not me.”

Therefore you rule out the existence of a secret bargain?

“Indeed! in the most absolute manner possible. What for, why after the conviction and the appeal request for life sentencing, would I seemingly started to negotiate?!  What would I negotiate about?

Thus you have never had any doubts about Amanda’s guilt?

These doubts don’t exist. If I had doubts, I would have asked for absolution. I have always believed in the responsibility of both these two.”

The Cassation appeal is also based on Amanda’s conviction for calunnia.

“This is one of the fundamental aspects of the appeal [our appeal against Hellman] which is moreover based on numerous other reasons. The appeal has been made very well. We’ll see what the Cassation decides on 25th March next year.”

The fact remains that a striking situation has been created, in which Rudy Guede has been convicted for contributing to a murder, but according to the courts there are no [other] contributors, or at any rate, Amanda and Raffaele are not contributors…

“Yes, yes. Indeed. Rudy Guede is convicted as having participated. Sollecito and Knox were acquitted. Furthermore, Rudy Guede, as we have seen, was not even convicted of having carried out the simulated break-in…

These are problems that arise with the fast-track trial system, when one part of the case is separated from the other part. This case, on the contrary, is a unitary whole [a single case].

There was very considerable pressure brought to bear on the trial process. Do you believe that it might in any way have had an influence on the sentence?

“I don’t know if it influenced it. I know that the Court had that idea, that conviction, which I don’t share. Certainly the pressure brought to bear was extreme. I believe that trials should take place in the halls of justice, not outside.”

You rashly spoke of an “almost predicted” sentence.

“Those who followed the appeal process can make their own assessments. According to us, the first instance sentence was correct and complete. We’ll see what Cassation decides, but, over and above the process I cannot accept certain insinuations.

I was exclusively made the butt of attacks. I remain dismayed, for example, when reference is still made to comments I denied having made years ago, in which I reportedly linked Meredith’s murder to satanic rites. This is something I never said, but which is still continuously written.”

Is it a case of errors, superficiality, or of something more?

It is no longer possible to talk of errors, because it has been years since I disclaimed those comments. At this point, the thing confounds me.”

Many people, faced with Sollecito’s book and the one by Amanda which will come out shortly, turn up their noses and consider it wrong to profit from a tragedy such as the murder of Meredith. What do you think?

“These are choices that each person makes, and for which they are responsible. I will limit myself to saying that the process is still under way, and we must await Cassation.”


Sollecito’s Book Honor Bound Hits Italy And Already Scathing Reactions And Legal Trouble

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Sollecito’s father Francesco on Italian national TV being made to admit the book lied]

The Sollecito/Gumbel book is an “own goal”

In Italy the extremely inaccurate and hyper-aggressive book has already set themselves up for two kinds of trouble

The Gumbel and Sollecito book was released in English on 18 September 2012 and within ten days all of Italy knew that the book was a crock.

Sollecito’s own father and own lawyers Bongiorno and Maori have already been forced to admit the book contains serious lies.

Already the prosecution has indicated that they are weighing whether there might be new charges lodged against Sollecito.

Analysis Of 3 Claims Of Criminal Conduct

We focus on three claims by Sollecito and Gumbel of criminal behavior which have already been widely repudiated by the Italian press.

1. A deal was sought by prosecution to frame Knox

Sollecito’s own father Francesco was made to concede by the host and all other guests on the popular Porta a Porta TV show last week that Sollecito lied in claiming that the prosecution had sought a deal under which Sollecito would frame Amanda.

Such a deal would be illegal so Sollecito was falsely accusing prosecutors of a very serious crime. Francesco Sollecito backed down even more in some interviews later. One of Sollecito’s own lawyers, Luca Maori, immediately denied in obvious frustration that the offer of any deal either way ever happened, and Giulia Bongiorno soon publicly agreed. .

2. A long brutal interrogation on 5-6 November 2007

Sollecito has suddenly claimed in the book, nearly five years after he said it happened, in face of vast evidence including his own writings to the contrary, that police interrogated him over 10 hours, and abused and threatened him.

But he was demonstrably not ever interrogated over 10 hours, and he folded fast when they showed him his phone records, which contradicted his earlier alibis, and so he promptly laid the blame on Amanda.

The English translations of the lengthy court transcripts of those many who were present at the central police station on the night all coincide, and damn the version cooked up by Sollecito and Gumbel..

3. Deliberately wrong reasoning in the Galati appeal

All this trouble flows from half a dozen pages of Sollecito’s book made public in Italy!  Here now are several more pages not yet known about there (we will have many more) which our poster ZiaK has translated into Italian to help everybody to read. Sollecito ridicules both Dr Galati and his appeal. Let’s see:

  • Dr Galati is recognised as one of the most brilliant lawyers in Italy, and he is a former Deputy Chief Prosecutor at the Supreme Court, specially assigned to Perugia because cases involving the central government are handled there when they are too hot to handle in Rome.
  • Solllecito is of course a 28-year old student with a cocaine record and a long history of parental supervision who has never held a job in his life. He failed the entrance exam in virtual reality for the University of Verona but still has delusions of a career in computer games.

And surely Gumbel would never have got the job if Bongiorno and Maori had the opportunity to size up how wildly incompetent about the law and the case and and twisted in his mind about Italy he seems to be.

These ill-advised pages below show Sollecito’s and Gumbel’s profound ignorance of Italian jurisprudence, a total incomprehension of the wide scope of the appeal, and their contempt toward the advice from his lawyers.

Passages highlighted are wrong on the hard facts as shown in part 2 below.

1. What The Sollecito/Gumbel book claims

Judge Hellmann’s sentencing report was magnificent: 143 pages of close argument that knocked down every piece of evidence against us and sided with our experts on just about every technical issue. It lambasted both the prosecution and the lower court for relying on conjecture and subjective notions of probability instead of solid evidence. And it launched a particularly harsh attack on Mignini for casting aspersions on the very concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mignini had dismissed it in one of his court presentations as a self-defining piece of linguistic trickery. Hellmann pointed out that reasonable doubt was now—belatedly—part of the Italian criminal code. A case built on probability alone, he said, was not sufficient and must necessarily lead to the acquittal of the defendant or defendants.

The prosecution’s rebuttal of the sentencing report, filed a couple of months later, was little short of astonishing.

It accused Hellmann of indulging in circular arguments, the old rhetorical fallacy known to the ancients as petitio principii—essentially, starting with the desired conclusion and working backward. The criticism applied much more accurately to what the prosecution and Judge Massei had done themselves; everything, even the absence of evidence, had been a pretext for them to argue for our guilt. But the author of the prosecution document, Giovanni Galati, chose not to dwell on such ironies. Instead, he attacked Hellmann—I wish I were joking about this—for resorting to deductive reasoning. Making yet more allusions to grand rhetorical principles, Galati said he had a problem with the appeals court taking the available evidence and seeking to make each piece follow on logically from the last. I take it he is not a fan of Sherlock Holmes.

Galati seemed incensed that Hellmann had found the “superwitnesses” unreliable. He argued that Hellmann’s problem with Antonio Curatolo, the heroin addict in Piazza Grimana, was not his failure to be consistent about the details of when and where he had supposedly seen us but rather Hellmann’s own “unwarranted prejudice against the witness’s lifestyle.” Galati even dared to embrace Curatolo’s argument that heroin is not a hallucinogen to insist he must have been telling the truth.

These arguments, to me, made a mockery of civilized discourse. I don’t honestly know how else to characterize them.

From my experience, I also know they are the bread and butter of the Italian legal system, the peculiar language in which arguments and counterarguments are formed every day. Not only do innocents go to prison with shocking regularity, while guilty people, equally often, win reprieve or acquittal; magistrates and judges who make the most howling errors rarely pay for their mistakes.

See Part 3 below for an Italian translation of the above, kindly supplied by main poster ZiaK.

2. Correctly explaining Cassation’s reasoning

Read all the posts here. Also read all the posts linked to here.

Italy’s excellent justice system is in fact exceptionally pro defendant, and prosecutors have to jump through more hoops than any other system in the world. Major errors and framings of innocent parties never make it through to a final guilty verdict.

Correctly understood in light of that system, there was nothing magnificent about the Hellman-Zanetti outcome. The Hellmann court is KNOWN to have been hijacked.

And these posts by Cardiol and James Raper show the report was written by two biased and wrongly qualified judges way out of their depth on both the evidence and the law.

Here is main poster Machiavelli’s explanation of what Sollecito.doesn’t get. The required logic Sollecito is ridiculing is intrinsic to Italian jursprudence (and US and UK jurisprudence) and is REQUIRED by the Supreme Court. 

In plain English, Dr Galati is saying that Hellmann-Zanetti ignored that requirement.

Instead, they illegally went cherrypicking, with an extreme pro-defendant bias up-front. Bold text here is to emphasize that.

2.  The failure to apply the inferential-inductive method to assess circumstantial evidence. This is a key point based on jurisprudence and is in fact a devastating general argument against Hellmann-Zanetti:

The appeal to Cassation’s jurisprudence on the circumstantial case originates from the fact that the Assize Appeal Court did not deploy a unified appreciation of the circumstantial evidence and did not examine the various circumstantial items in a global and unified way.

With its judgment it has, instead, fragmented the circumstantial evidence; it has weighed each item in isolation with an erroneous logico-judicial method of proceeding, with the aim of criticizing the individual qualitative status of each of them ..


Dr Galati accuses the appeal court of focusing on the quality of some pieces of circumstantial evidence, instead of their correlation to each other as the Supreme Court always requires. .

The appeal judges, in actual fact, deny that the probative reasoning and the decisive and cognitive proceeding of the court is to be found in the circumstantial evidence paradigm of the hypothetico-probabilistic kind, in which the maxims of experience, statistical probability and logical probability have a significant weight.

The court must reach a decision by means of the “inductive-inferential” method: it proceeds, by inference, from individual and certain items of data, through a series of progressive causalities, to further and fuller information, so arriving at a unification of them in the context of [13] the reconstructed hypothesis of the fact.

This means that the data, informed and justified by the conclusions, are not contained in their entirety in the premises of the reasoning, as would have happened if the reasoning were of the deductive type … (..) A single element, therefore, concerning a segment of the facts, has a meaning that is not necessarily unambiguous.

Dr Galati cites and explains further:

The Perugia Court of Appeal has opted, instead, precisely for the parceled-out evaluation of individual probative elements, as if each [14] one of them must have an absolutely unambiguous meaning, and as if the reasoning to be followed were of the deductive type.

This error emerges from the text of the judgment itself, but the gravity of the error committed by the Court in its decision derives from the fact that even the individual elements had been acquired by the cognitive-decisioning process in a totally partial manner, isolating the sole aspect that allowed the recognizing of doubts and uncertainties in the element itself..

So Galati-Costagliola concludes – and this by now is obvious – that the Hellmann-Zanetti court followed a “deductive only” paradigm on pieces in isolation, instead of the “inferential-inductive” paradigm prescribed by Supreme Court requirements (1995).

Moreover, Hellmann-Zanetti applied a deductive paradigm of assessment only to some cherry picked aspects of the single isolated pieces of evidence, overlooking other qualities of the single piece (an example – my own – is the possible “contamination” of the bra clasp found on the floor in the murder room.) Ordering an assessment of the quality of any element as if it was a proof in isolation from the rest of the evidence is itself unlawful.

But Hellmann–Zanetti also picked out of the evidence one aspect alone, for example it points to the theoretical possibility of contamination by touching from gloves, but does not consider the negative check results from the possible contamination sources. The interpretation of X-DNA from the bra-clasp by Vecchiotti in the conclusion is worded as if to ignore the results on the Y-haplotype, and so on.

So even single aspects/qualities of isolated items are further isolated from other aspects by Hellmann-Zanetti, and are assessed without looking for a relationship to the context. This is a core violation of the basics of jurisprudence in cases based on circumstantial evidence.

3. Italian Version of the passage on the Cassation appeal from Sollecito’s book

This translation is kindly provided by main poster ZiaK.

Il rapporto di motivazioni del giudice Hellmann fu magnifico: 143 pagine di ragionamenti serrati che demolirono ogni singolo pezzo di prova contro di noi, e che con riferimento a quasi ogni questione tecnica presero le parti dei nostri esperti. Il rapporto strigliò sia la pubblica accusa, sia la corte di prima istanza per il loro affidamento ai congetture e ai nozioni soggettivi di probabilità invece di dipendere su prove solide. Perdipiù, il rapporto sferrò un attaco particolarmente severo su Mignini per aver denigrato il concetto stesso di prova oltre ogni ragionevole dubbio. Mignini aveva già scartato questo concetto come un inganno linguistico auto-determinante nel corso di uno delle suoi presentazioni alla corte. Hellmann fece notare che il dubbio ragionevole fa ormai - tardivamente - parte del codice penale italiano. Una causa stabilita unicament su probabilità, disse Hellmann, non é sufficiente e deve necessariamente condurre all’assoluzione del imputato o degli imputati.

La confutazione del rapporto della parte dell’accusa, presentato in appello un paio di mese dopo, fu quasi una cosa sbalorditiva.

Accusò Hellmann di abbandonarsi a argomentazioni viziosi, in quella vecchia falsità retorica conosciuta dagli antichi come petitio principii - cioè,sostanzialmente, partire dalla conclusione desiderata per poi andare a ritroso. Questa critica potrebbe essere applicata con molto più precisione a ciò che fecero l’accusa e il giudice Massei stessi: tutto - compresa anche la mancanza di prove - gli é servito di pretesto per dare appiglio agli loro argumenti sostenendo la nostra colpevolezza. Ma l’autore di quel rapporto della pubblica accusa, Giovanni Galati, scelse di non soffermarsi su queste ironie. Al contrario, preferii attacare Hellmann - io desideri davvero fossi solo scherzando su questo punto - per il suo aver ricorso al ragionamento deduttivo. Perdipiù, facendo ancora altre allusioni a grandi principi retorici, Galati si dichiarò insoddisfatto del fatto che la Corte d’appello avesse preso prove disponibili e avesse cercato di far seguire in modo logico un pezzo dopo l’altro. Devo supporre che Galati non sia un tifoso di Sherlock Holmes.

Galati sembrò furibondo che Hellmann avesse trovato inaffidabili gli “supertestimoni”. Sostenne che la difficoltà che Hellman terrò a proposito di Antonio Curatolo, il tossicomane della Piazza Grimana, non fu la sua incapacità di ricordarsi con coerenza i dettagli su quando e dove fossimo presumibilmente visti, ma piuttosto il “pregiudizio ingiustificato contro il modo di vivere del testimone” mantenuto del stesso Hellmann. Galati osò persino cogliere l’argomento di Curatolo, secondo il quale l’eroina non é un allucinogeno, per sostenere che Curatolo avesse dovuto dire la verità.

Tali argomentazioni, al mio parere, svuotino il discorso progredìto di tutte le sue valori. In onestà, non saprei descriverli in modo diverso. Nella mia esperienza, so anche che sono il fondamento del sistema giuridico italiano, e della la lingua particolare nella quale gli argumenti e controargumentazioni sono formulati ogni giorno. Non solo gli innocenti vengono incarcerati con preoccupante frequenza, mentre le persone colpevoli con altrettanto frequenza ottengono sospensione o assoluzione, ma anche i magistrati ed i giudici che fanno gli più strepitosi errori pagano raramente per i loro sbagli.

[Below: Sollecito’s lead lawyer Bongiorno. Still in shock? She has made no statement yet on his book]


Thursday, March 22, 2012

No, Book Agent Sharlene Martin, Your Client Raffaele Sollecito Really IS A Hot Potato

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: Verona in north Italy where Sollecito is accepted by the university for a masters degree]


Los Angeles book agent Sharlene Martin posted this gung-ho comment on a Daily Telegraph thread (presently page seven) late Sunday night UK time.

I couldn’t be happier for Amanda Knox getting $4M for a book deal.  What happened to her and Raffaele is a sin.  BTW, I represent Raffaele for his book that we’re working on. 

There is no restitution for wrongful conviction and both families incurred absorbent costs to help exonerate them so good for them if they help recoup the lost monies.  They’ll never recoup the lost time of 4 years in prison.

She posted that at just about the same time we posted (post below) on the various hot-potato qualities of Raffaele Sollecito.  Since then… no further word.

In terms of the book’s sale to a publisher she may not have much to worry about.

For this reason the deal is probably set in stone: Simon and Schuster are a fully owned subsidiary of CBS Broadcasting, which has gone to eye-popping lengths (post on this soon) to remain in bed with the Knox-Mellases.

The content of this ill-considered book might be a lot more problematic. Sharlene Martin might still believe that there are just a few open questions, easily accommodated to by the FOA talking points. In actual fact there are hundreds.

And the FOA have studiously stayed away from creating the alternate-universe scenario that Sollecito and Andrew Gumbel must now create, if they don’t want to end up as the laughing-stock of the western world.

This is a road-map of the Sharlene Martin-Andrew Gumbel-Simon & Schuster minefield.

Hmmm. Lotta questions to be answered in a hurry, if the book is to stir a wave of sympathy or outrage to stop the Italian Supreme Court punting the case back to Perugia to get it right this time around.

Above and below are images of the northern Italian city of Verona. It has the largest and best preserved intact Roman ampitheater in the world. It also has a very good university.

Possibly legitimately or possibly by way of strings pulled by his father, Raffaele Sollecito had gained a place in a graduate class at the university there for the Department of Computer Science’s masters degree in computer engineering. 

In January Sollecitos father made several statements from Bari to the effect that Raffaele really was done with Amanda and dreams of visiting Seattle and would soon be headed for Verona to complete that postgraduate degree.

Rather suddenly, less than two months later, Raffaele is headed for Seattle, with his father and sister seemingly in hot and unexplained pursuit. Microsoft is suddenly mentioned as a firm which will interview him, masters degree or no masters.

So what happened? Well possible one explanation might be found in the comments area of every recent Italian report which allows them, which suggests that just about 100 percent of those posting don’t really like him.

That Italians dont really like him and are even inclined to physically take after him is also well illustrated in this story which we posted 18 months ago.

Sollecito was in the very modern solar-heated Terni prison for most of last year.  He was moved back to Capanne this year just before the trial, amidst his loud complaints that Capanne lacks the internet connections for his computer-science homework.

Sollecito has just received word that he failed the virtual-reality entrance exam that he took at Verona University last March.

When he was being transported there in a police van for the exam, he was yelled at by an angry crowd when the van stopped at an autostrada rest-stop for what Americans call a bathroom break.

He was bundled back in, and the police van took off in a hurry. No bathroom break? That must have rattled his exam-taking composure, that is for sure. 

Another possible explanation is that Sollecito is putting half a world between himself and Italy, because the Sollecito-Knox-Mellases realize that in light of Dr Galati’s formidable appeal that legally they are cooked.

Lots of good interview questions for Microsoft above. And a suggested new subtitle for “Presumed Guilty: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox” ?

“Oops. This book idea really wasn’t very smart.”


[Below: A Verona audience waits in ampitheater for Sollecito to be fed to the lions, if they’ll have him]


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sollecito Ghost Writer Andrew Gumbel Reveals To MedaBistro How Ill-Informed He Is About His Client

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above left: Sollecito ghost writer Andrew Gumbel; above right, Sollecito agent Sharlene Martin]


Right now Sollecito ghost writer Andrew Gumbel is making loud, silly claims like many other writers who came upon the case and first fired from the hip.

And then “mysteriously” went silent and have not been heard from again.  We have helped to edge back from the brink several dozen such reporters. Perhaps they ought to thank us - oh, actually in several instances they did.

Here on Media Bistro Andrew Gumbel gives a shoot-from-the-hip interview in which he seems to display a terrible batting average on the hard truths. The interview is being smartly ridiculed in the comments below it by among others TJMK’s own well-informed pro-Meredith campaigner Bucket Of Tea.

Here, to help set Mr Gumbel straight before it is too late, is our own informed commentary on what he said.

A: It’s a rule of thumb that prosecutors dictate media coverage in a criminal trial. They are the ones who bring the charges, and are either vindicated or successfully challenged in court; the texture and the substance of the defendants’ stories tend to get lost. And so it was here. The media coverage focused largely on the yes/no question of whether Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were guilty.

Untrue.

The mechanics of the case from the inside — how they were interrogated, why they were prosecuted even after the most obvious perpetrator, Rudy Guede, was caught and convicted, the behind-the-scenes haggling between lawyers, defendants, expert witnesses, court officials and others — have been revealed only in glimpses, if at all.

Untrue.

Both Amanda’s book and Raffaele’s book are sure to shed light on how and why this grotesque miscarriage of justice arose. I would venture to say Raffaele’s story is even more absorbing than Amanda’s, because it was his family which orchestrated the detective work that made it possible to dismantle the case against both of them piece by piece. It was a high-wire act from beginning to end, and it’s a thrilling tale.

Untrue.

Amanda and Raffaele can’t bring Meredith back, but they can give everyone the benefit of the truth. It’s an important story to tell. And after all they have gone through — including the huge hit their families took to their reputations and their pocket books — they certainly deserve both vindication and compensation….

Untrue.

Not only will the book leave no doubt about Raffaele’s innocence; everything Raffaele and his family have to tell, backed by previously unpublished documents in the case, suggests that his incarceration had almost nothing to do with the actual evidence but had another motivation entirely — to be revealed when the book comes out…..

And untrue.Absurdly so.

Thirty plus judges who reviewed the case had no “other motivation entirely”. Please drop the smears of Italy and Italian justice. It isn’t becoming and there are already enough calunnia suits for felony defamation in the works.

And Sollecito’s family orchestrated no amazing detective work that showed that all the evidence was at fault. The defenses had every opportunity to do so in 2009 at trial and they did a truly terrible job. The Supreme Court already knows this so in what way exactly have they won?

In fact the main thing the Sollecito family is famous for right now is that they all face a trial in Bari. The charges are (1) illegally releasing video evidence to a TV network and (2) illegally attempting to subvert the police and prosecution by political means.

Now that’s true. Its seems two serious laws may have been broken. Andrew, read up about your Dear Clients here and especially here. They haven’t even attempted to “explain” all that as yet, and are almost certainly going to go down at trial.

And by the way, the evidence that the Sollecito family leaked to Italian TV? Video images of the naked body of Meredith. Very nice clients? You’ve been conned.


Friday, October 28, 2011

A Famous Black Widow Confirms What MP Girlanda Told Us First: Italian Prisons Are Pretty Nice Places

Posted by Peter Quennell




Florence is 70 miles north of Perugia along a winding roller coaster of an autostrada which everyone drives at great speed.

If you take more than 1/2 an hour you are a sissy. (Just kidding.) The global luxury goods empire House of Gucci with stores in New York, Shanghai, and many other main cities was founded in Florence in 1921.

In 1998 Maurizio Gucci the grandson of the founder who was then aged 46 was executed by a hit man in Milan.

He had sold financial control of the empire he had managed to greatly expand to a Bahrain group in 1993 and then turned to doing other things. That included several girlfriends or mistresses which greatly distressed his wife.

Patrizia Reggiani was subsequently tried for initiating the hit and she was sentenced to 29 years which was reduced on appeal to 26. Nick Squires in the Daily Telegraph picks up the story from there.

Patrizia Reggiani has been in jail ever since being convicted of the killing in 1998. More than a decade later, she was the prospect of day release from Milan’s San Vittore prison, if she will accept a menial job such as working as a waitress.

But the 63-year-old, whose extravagant tastes included spending 10,000 euros a month on orchids, told a court in Milan: “I’ve never worked in my life and I’m certainly not going to start now.”

Her peremptory refusal of the day release deal echoed one of her more famous quotes: “I would rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.”

Instead she intends to serve the rest of her 26-year sentence in her jail cell, where she reportedly lavishes affection on a collection of pot plants and a pet ferret.

She will continue to be allowed to make twice-monthly visits to her ageing mother, who lives in a lavish palazzo in central Milan – a reminder of the cosseted lifestyle Mrs Reggiani used to enjoy.

A not-unpopular figure in Italy, she may soon be depicted by Angelina Jolie in a new Ridley Scott film to be called “Gucci” with Leonardo di Caprio as the hapless Maurizio. 

The description of Patrizia’s prison life comes with no surprises. If you are going to be a prisoner anywhere in the world, Italy does seem the place of choice. .

The prison population is very small (proportionally only 1/6 that of the US) and prisoners often get their own bathroom and even a kitchen attached to their cell. They can watch TV and walk outside (in many prisons cell doors are kept open all day) and get their hair done professionally and attend rock concerts and plays. They can learn a trade if they lack skills, study for a degree, and even work on a computer all day.

Knox and Sollecito are believed to have done all of these things. Not least because the Italian MP Rocco Girlanda often visited Knox in Capanne and publicly told us all so. Mr Girlanda regularly visited to inspect conditions and then he declared Knox to be very well off. (He in return ended up with enough material for a book which nowhere depicted prison life as hell.)

These sob-stuff stories on torrid life at Capanne suddenly emerging from Seattle sure smack of an instant rewrite of history. Perhaps Angelina Jolie could check them out.


[Image at bottom: the Gucci museum in Florence which recently had a celebrity opening]








Friday, October 07, 2011

US And UK Media: Make RS & AK Answer The HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS Of Open Questions

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





It seems Judge Hellman has begun sweating.

Maybe Judge Hellman already sees as much of the Italian public and commentators do that he’ll have a REALLY tough time answering all the open questions in his December sentencing report as he is required to.

Constitutional requirement of Ministry of Justice never met?

That so many questions exist but are not generally even known about, especially in the US and UK, is because a key requirement of the usually very careful Italian justice system seems to have been (illegally) ignored.

The key requirement is built into the justice system by the Italian constitution. It is that trial and appeal sentencing reports MUST be made available to the maximum extent, so that the general public (usually only the Italian public) can readily check on the legitimacy of trial outcomes.

Italy is the only country in the world that has that public check and balance on trials.  Under that requirement, if it existed in the US, Barry Scheck of the US’s Innocence Project would likely find that most of the travesties of justice his team uncovers would never have happened in the first place.

Here is how things are meant to work. 

Back when the Micheli Report on the Rudy Guede sentence was released in January 2009 with Judge Micheli’s reasons for remitting Knox and Sollecito to trial it was released in THREE formats.

    1) It was released digitally (in a Word Doc) to the media with the one requirement that it not be posted in full. We translated most of our copy and posted an extensive summary (scroll down) in English in four parts (three by Brian and one by Nikki) in September 2009.

    2) It was released in printed document form by the Ministry of Justice in Rome and anyone in Italy could buy a copy.

    3) It was also posted on the website of the Ministry of Justice in text and Acrobat document format. It appears that this Internet version was checked out by hundreds of thousands and quite possibly even by millions.

Now when the Ministry of Justice in Rome released the Massei sentencing report for Knox and Sollecito (links at top of this page) in March 2010, they released it in only ONE format.

The Ministry of Justice released it ONLY on paper, and it was obtainable ONLY by the press and by those in the general public who managed to figure out how to buy a copy of the book-sized document from the Ministry.

To our knowledge the Ministry of Justice never ever posted the required Internet version.

The effect of this serious and seemingly illegal shortfall by the Rome Ministry has been that even in Italy few people have ever read the Massei Report. The number of Italian readers might be only in the hundreds and at most in the low thousands. Way, way less than ever read Micheli.

As a result only very few people in Italy may have ever realized how powerful, logically complete and conclusive that report is. Probably few or no peers of the lay judges in Perugia have ever read it. The most important document in the entire case is essentially unread.

In August 2010 a PMF team finished translating the Massei Report and made available the Masssei report in English in Acrobat format on the PMF forum and on TJMK.

In June 2011 Skeptical Bystander and a PMF team posted a Massei summary in text on TJMK and PMF.

This English language version has been downloaded close to 30,000 times and there are many people in the US and UK who are very well informed on the conclusions.  Every lawyer we know who has read the report has agreed that it arrived at the right conclusions. Many say and several do right here in these posts (scroll down) that the case would have been way more than enough for a US or UK conviction.

A slam dunk in effect. Evidence overkill.

But few of the busy people in the US and UK media have read the Massei Report and no one in the media to our knowledge has extensively analyzed or quoted from it. None of the books out so far go into the Massei Report in depth.

WHY did the Italian Ministry of Justice fail to fully distribute the Massei Report, and in particular not post it on their website? And is the Supreme Court of Cassation aware of this huge shortfall in its distribution?

This is such a serious mistake that our Italian lawyers believe that the Supreme Court or even the President of the Republic of Italy if he is petitioned could throw out the entire Hellman proceedings, verdict and sentence.

The hundreds and hundreds of open questions

Arising from the Massei Report are literally hundreds of questions for the released defendants and their teams. They have been around since early 2010. The defense teams and PR campaign have never ever tried to answer these questions, or for that matter to produce a convincing alternative scenario that hangs together implicating Guede but not Knox or Sollecito.

Here are four lists of the many, many outstanding questions.

Here from the Daily Beast are those ten questions with the Beast’s annotations showing how they are STILL unanswered:

1. Why did you and Raffaele Sollecito turn off your cell phones at the same time the night of Nov. 1, 2007, and on again at the same time the next morning? You told the police that you and Raffaele slept late the morning of Nov. 2, 2007, but phone records show that you both turned your phones back on very early that morning. How could that be? This question was never addressed fully in the appellate process except when Giulia Bongiorno for Sollecito said that perhaps the cat stepped on the phone and turned it on. At that time the prosecutor Manuela Comodi quipped, “I’ve got a dog and he has never done that.”

2. Why were you bleeding? Your lawyers agree with the prosecution’s findings that at least one of the spots of Meredith’s blood found in the house where she was killed had your blood mixed with it. Your mother told me that you had your period. Your stepfather told others that your ear piercings were infected. Which was it? Even if this mixed blood drop is contentious in its genetic makeup (all blood or blood mixed with DNA), the appellate court was shown a picture of a drop of blood attributed entirely to Knox on the faucet.

3. Once you realized your mistake in blaming Patrick Lumumba for Meredith’s murder, why didn’t you tell the authorities? You told your mother that you felt bad about it, so why didn’t you alert an official so Patrick could be set free?

4. Why did you go with Raffaele to the police station on Nov. 5, 2007? You were not called in for questioning. Did you realize at that time that you were both under suspicion?

5. Why weren’t your and Raffaele’s fingerprints found in your house after the murder if the two of you had spent time there that morning and the day before? Only one half-print on a glass in the kitchen has been attributed to you, yet you have claimed that you took a shower there that morning. How did you spend so much time there and leave virtually no trace? Much of the crime scene has since been determined to have suffered from sloppy investigative work, meaning the absence of fingerprints in any room of the house may be due to that rather than any sort of cleanup.

6. Why did you take the mop and bucket from your house over to Raffaele’s house? You told the prosecutor during your testimony in June 2009 that you took the mop and bucket to his house to clean up a leak under his kitchen sink. But by your own testimony, the leak was minuscule and could have been easily cleaned up without it. What were you really doing with the mop?

7. What would you do differently if you had a chance to rewind the clock back to Nov. 3, 2007? Would you go to the memorial service for Meredith? Would you still have gone to the police station with Raffaele? Would you have left for Germany when your aunt asked you to?

8. What do you think happened the night Meredith was killed? You have professed your innocence. Who do you think killed her and under what circumstance? Your supporters say Rudy Guede was the lone killer. Do you agree? Or do you think there are still others out there who were involved in your roommate’s murder?

9. What do you really think of the Italian justice system? You told an Italian parliamentarian that you got a fair trial, and you even thanked the prosecutors for trying to solve the mystery of Meredith’s death, but your supporters at home in Seattle maintain that the Italian system is corrupt and unfair. In your appellate hearing you said you lost faith in justice and the police. Now that you are out, what do you really think of the system that has both convicted and acquitted you?

10. Is there anything you wish you would have said in court during your (initial) trial (in which you were convicted)? You talked about your vibrator and about how you did not want an assassin’s mask forced on you. But in your final appeal after the closing arguments on Dec. 4, 2010, why didn’t you say the words, “I did not kill Meredith Kercher”? Raffaele did when it was his turn to speak. Why didn’t you? You have said on many occasions during the appellate trial that you did not kill her and you have never hurt anyone. This question has been addressed with your denials. What about the rest?

Judge Hellman may be able to answer all of these unanswered questions AS HE MUST under Italian law in his sentencing report. He cannot simply address points defense raised about small parts of it. He must be able to explain the totality of the evidence or his report risks being thrown out by Cassation and a retrial at the first appeal level ordered.

Possibly Judge Hellman might be able to achieve this. But why do we seriously doubt it?


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

One Good Take On Italian Justice: Interesting Thought Not Neccessarily Entirely Ours

Posted by Peter Quennell





Click above for Tobias Jones’s take in the Guardian which seems to be trying to report evenly on the case..

Here are our most-read posts on first trials by Italian poster Nikki and the two appeals by Italian poster Commissario Montalbano and often-overlooked victims’ rights about Italian campaigner Barbara Benedettelli.

All explain better than Tobias Jones does the many hoops that prosecutors have to jump through for victims’ interests to come out ahead..

We can agree with Tobias Jones on this below - the elaborate, expensive and slow automatic first appeals complete with lay judges who don’t see the first pass of the evidence at first trial and often act as a wildcard in the process.

It’s one of the many failings of Italian justice that it never delivers conclusive, door-slamming certainty. What usually happens is that the door is left wide open to take the case to the next level, first to appeal and then to the cassazione, the supreme court. The score in the public imagination, at the moment, is simply one-all.

It’s always been that way. There’s barely one iconic crime from the post-war years that has persuaded the country that, yes, justice has been done: the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini, the Ustica crash, the Bologna railway station bombing, the Piazza Fontana atrocity, the Monster of Florence murders, the murder of Luigi Calabresi, the “caso Cogne” … none has ever been satisfactorily, convincingly resolved. Instead the country seems to split into innocentisti and colpevolisti (those who believe in the innocence or guilt of the accused) and the heated debates continue for decades.

But we’d agree less-so, at least from an American perspective, with the Italian uniqueness of this below.

Dietrologia – literally “behindery” or conspiracy-theorising – is a national pastime precisely because the courts don’t offer convincing verdicts. It allows every journalist, magistrate and barfly to try their hand. The result is that everyone with an active imagination has a go at explaining the truth behind the mystery, and inevitably the truth only gets further buried beneath so many excited explanations. The media plays an active role in keeping the circus going: in no other country are cronache nere – “black chronicles” – so much the mainstay of the evening news. There’s always a case on the go.

Tobias Jones should watch the urbane elegance of the Porta a Porta shows, which are reminiscent of human games of chess, and then visit the US and watch all the cable news channels devoting many hours a day to legal talking heads debating one another over high-profile crime cases. CNN and MSNBC could probably not survive without them (Casey Anthony was a godsend) and they go back to the OJ Simpson trial when it seemed half the country joined in.

He probably has a good point about subjudice (blackouts on court news in the UK) but there’d seem more chance of a wrong outcome driven by public opinion in the US with its elected judges and police chiefs and prosecutors angling for news exposure than in Italy. (Judge Michael Heavey is an elected judge.)

Local public opinion in the US is very much behind the high execution rate in several American states and the difficulties non-whites often have in getting off.


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Million Dollar Campaign And American Media Come Under Intense Ridicule By An Influential Italian

Posted by Tiziano





Vittorio Zucconi is the US editor of the major daily La Republicca and lives in Washington. He has more influence over Italian perceptions of America than any other. This is translated from the Italian.

A few hours from the verdict, America is in a trance over Baby Amanda - she is the girl from the golden west, an innocent victim of the wicked witches of the east, the ones wearing the robes of the Perugian judges - now awaiting the happy ending that everyone is expecting, which legions of correspondents and American TV cameras talk about and recount, as if the fate of the west depended upon her release from prison on appeal or on the confirmation of the guilty verdict

By Vittorio Zucconi per la Repubblica

She is the “Girl from the Golden West”, the innocent victim of the wicked witches of the east, the ones who wear the robes of the judges from Perugia. It is a melodrama, sung, played and staged for an American audience which relishes it and avidly follows it like a soap opera or one of those legal thrillers which have made the fortune of of authors like Grisham, Turow and before them Earl Stanley Gardner.

Amanda like Puccini’s Minnie, is the snow-white, naive, extremely innocent girl imprisoned on the wild frontier of the Italian justice system, now awaiting the happy ending which everyone expects, which legions of correspondents and TV cameras tell of and which are preparing to recount as if the fate of the West depended on her release form prison on appeal or on the confirmation of her guilty verdict. And which networks like the ABC are already selling for $7.99 to be downloaded to I-pads and tablets.

Such a show of strength, such a shelling out of money on the part of “news organisations”, all now very careful down to the last cent in bad times, about a legal case the like of which has probably not been seen on the other side of the Atlantic since the trial of historic importance of Adolf Eichmann.

Yes, the monster of the SS, the brain and the accountant of the Jewish genocide. Live satellite coverage is expected for the imminent sentence to be pronounced by the Appeal Court and daily services will broadcast, especially those for the morning shows, those desperate housewives, for mothers who have children anxious to escape from the boredom of suburbia, the same old routine of high school parties to fly far away for new experiences, as Amanda dreamed.

The one whom the British tabloid press straight away stained with the nick-name given to her by her soccer team friends, in the football she played as a little girl: Foxy Knoxy, in which foxy means agile, cunning, escaping tackles and not for that “foxy” which, as in Fellini’s Amarcord evokes the arts of an enchantress and insatiable desires. Because while the USA was barracking for Knox, the English cousins were against her.

As well, other than those irresistible ingredients thrown into the cauldron of the morbidity which gains circulation and titillates the worst in every consumer of garbage TV with bombs and horror reconstructions, sex, blood, satanism, the woman with sacrificial lamb and the butcher, in the fury of the American media who throw themselves against this “court peopled with provincial lawyers” (still Rolling Stones which dedicated an extremely lengthy inquest) there is a great repressed and secret desire for vengeance.

There is the repressed rage against that Europe which is always ready with finger raised to accuse American justice of monstrous errors, of inexplicable acquittals (the O J Simpson case), of “puritanical” persecution as is said precisely on our shores, (Clinton crucified for oral sex), of horrible shows, like the arrest and the world-wide shame of Strauss Khan, or the details of the “panties cover-up” - inside or outside? - of the victim of Willy Kennedy Smith, raped on the beach of the Kennedy villa in Florida.

American justice which triumphantly boasts that it is the best in the world, but refuses to recognise that it has sent, and still sends, innocent people defended by useless bar-room lawyers to be executed.

Now swallow this, you supercilious and presumptuous Italians and Europeans. The frenzy of the specials about Amanda is pursued by the satellite nets which have to recuperate their expenses.

CNN, once the authoritative queen of the satellite, yesterday showed a long special on the four years of torments and injustice, with Amanda on show on the site, with her face in the shadow, her fresh-face and prison profile, the “girl next door”, quite different from the she-devil, the satanic female painted by the “baroque” closing arguments (here is another expression which appears in all the reports on the prosecutor, next to “mediaeval”, all that is missing are the Borgias and Machiavelli.)

On the site her face figures in double format in respect to the pallid and sinister image of the jihadist Anwar al-Awaki, killed yesterday, one of the infinite number of aspiring candidates for the succession of Osama Bin Laden. The number of listeners and hits motivates CNN: Amanda is in first place and is beating the terrible terrorists, as well as news on the economy and the stock market, disastrous again.

We are possibly on the way to a second recession, but there is no match, in the ratings, for that travesty, that parody of justice, put in place against the girl from the golden west, martyred in Perugia.

It is a thought that will print books, burn DVDs, work video-recorders to see once more the specials of CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, local broadcasters, which have exalted as a hero,  the blogger from Perugia who was sceptical from the first day. And the first network which succeeds in obtaining - or buying - the truth from Amanda, the “accidental murderer” who was dreaming of the view of Umbrian cypresses and who saw the prison bars of Italian justice, will be transported to the stars.

‘Is it true that you are always dreaming of sex?” the prison guards would ask the girl, according to her diaries, also printed greedily by Time. True, false, it doesn’t matter. Amanda is a victim, a woman, a little girl, and the verdict has already been issued here. An America, year in year out accused of being an executioner by anti-Americanism, even when its own symbols are collapsing, can finally call itself, this time, the victim. Today, here, we are all Amanda.Knox.


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?


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why The FOA’s Increasingly Hapless Steve Moore Should Probably Stay Well Away From TV

Posted by SomeAlibi

 

Steve Moore’s presentation in the recent Case for Innocence forum in Seattle to a small bunch of undergrads and other parties left me nearly speechless. 

I consider that the number of errors in Moore’s presentation were so numerous that it was quite astonishing that this was the work of a man who claims he has been involved on this case for a year and who claims he has professional experience in law enforcement. 

A big statement but it’s not one that’s hard to justify.  Steve Moore will be our principal witness.  He will repeat for you, if you watch the above youtube video, at least six absolute howlers of misstatement, misunderstanding and exaggeration and many other medium sized ones.

Worst of all of these, he states a core aspect of the prosecution case (proof of the staged break-in at the cottage due to broken glass being on-top of clothes that had already been tossed on the floor) completely upside down. 180 degrees wrong and back to front… and he does it repeatedly in a way that makes it impossible to conclude anything else than he doesn’t actually understand central and important points of evidence against the person he would seek to help.  For a law enforcement or legal professional, that is a serious issue.

Let’s begin:

Steve opens by asserting he has been involved with sticking away nine people to a sentence of life without parole. Crassly, and I think he thinks it is humorous, he states that “two of them have completed that sentence” (think about it - he means they are dead and is seeking to have a laugh about it) “..and seven remain in prison.” He is met with not a single titter. Steve gets really crass by having another go at the same joke: “Actually the other two remain in prison too, they’re just not aware of it.” Deafening silence.

Remember Steve is the guy who positioned a bible, an ammo clip and a mortgage statement behind him in interview (seriously) and whose wife Michelle likes to remind people he’s a sniper? All part of the tough-god-fearing-guy image.  The dead-convicts thing is part of the same swagger. I’m really impressed myself. How about you?

In passing, shall we reflect that if you’ve been in the FBI for nearly 25 years and were a “supervisor”, nine sentences of life without parole is really rather surprisingly low?

At 41:20 of the YouTube clip, we start to see an old line used before: “Just prior to the conviction my wife said ‘I’ve seen some things that concern me’”. Steve goes on to say that he said to Michelle “I will prove within a day that she’s guilty” but that this turned into two months of investigation where he concluded “she” *(Amanda) was not. Three issues with this:

  • I don’t know a single law enforcement professional or lawyer who would ever say to you that they could prove someone was guilty or not guilty in a single day review of a capital crime case. It’s just not feasible and anyone who does this for a living knows this. The hyperbole is off the charts, as per usual.

  • Steve’s story about Michelle’s challenge and the “one day” proof doesn’t match anything he wrote on the Injustice in Perugia website where instead he said “But then I began to hear statements from the press that contradicted known facts” which led him to investigate.  Which one is it?  A one day challenge or a gradual accumulation of knowledge and investigation? 

  • In fact, as we know, Michelle herself let slip that the Moores were “approached” by Bruce Fisher, a pseudonym for the person who runs Injustice In Perugia, and when this was pointed out on PMF.org that it flatly contradicted the previously announced statement (a wifely challenge to a husband with no prior contact), that same day, she deleted her entire “Michellesings” blog from the web – all of it – to remove what she had said in what bore a remarkable resemblance to a panicked action.

It was further underlined when Michelle subsequently re-created her blog with just a single letter difference in the title.  That give away on the internet undermines the whole story of how Steve Moore, from LA, got involved in this case which he has told many times (in various versions admittedly) in public. 

At 43:22 Moore makes a baseless overstatement – “[Rudy Guede] was a known burglar who had 5 to 6 burglaries in the last month”. We have to stop the clock here and be very serious: this is an exaggeration which neither I nor anyone I know who has a good handling of the facts of this case has ever stated.  It was once stated by a Daily Mail journalist many moons ago, the same Daily Mail the Friends of Amanda revile for other articles but *it never made it into evidence* because of course it wasn’t true.  And by this time, in 2011, one needs to know the *evidence* not repeat baseless conjecture because it supports “your” case.  Please reflect for a second…

Guede is accused of being in a school without permission for which the police didn’t even bother to prosecute, so it wasn’t a burglary. Bzzt. We all know he handled a stolen laptop but there was no suggestion of a burglary related to it, as much as one can see the hypothesis.

We know that another witness said someone like Guede was in his house but he was discounted as unreliable.  I am a vociferous critic of Guede but one cannot take a law enforcement professional seriously who massively inflates evidence. “5 or 6 burglaries in a month”? NO-ONE in the case, in the official body of evidence, has ever suggested that.

Such a suggestion from a law enforcement professional is hugely undermining if it can’t be proven, and it can’t.  Nor has it been ever suggested by Amanda or Raffaele’s own legal counsel. If this was stated in court without proof (and, again, there is none), we would all rightly expect that to destroy the credibility of that law enforcement professional. Baseless assertion is a serious issue.

Moore then suggests that Meredith came home after Guede broke in. Sounds prima facie reasonable, but again, anyone who knows the evidence and is familiar with the scene knows that the green outer shutters were open and the gate and the walk up the drive faced that window. And Meredith didn’t see the broken-into window? Oh really? 

Rudy Guede, a burglar standing directly in front of an open window apparently half-pulled one shutter to, but left the other open three open and himself clearly visible from the drive when “tossing” Filomena’s bedroom - without taking anything? Then how about Amanda Knox, walking in day-light up to the house the next morning who claims she didn’t see the open shutters. 

It is over one hundred feet from the gate to that window, and on the 2nd of November, the shutters were open on the left as we look in and marginally more shut on the right.  This is consistent with the police statements at the time and it is trite to say, no, they haven’t been opened by the police. 

The left hand one (right as Massei relates from a direction of looking *out* from the house) is “half-closed in the sense that fully open is with it pushed against the outside wall.  The right hand one as you can see is marginally more shut. 

Can you really imagine a burglar who has climbed up to the shutters to open them, then climbed down and gone up to the drive to find a rock, then climbed down under the window and up again before miraculously getting in without a scratch, nick or spot of DNA would turn round inside and partially close the right hand shutter but not close the left hand one?  It makes literally no-sense.

Amanda Knox asks you believe that as she walked 100+ feet up the drive she didn’t notice it either.  That’s the first time.  The second time she returned to the cottage she was already “panicked” about the open door, the evidence of blood and unknown faeces and was returning to the cottage.  And she walked up the hundred feet again and didn’t notice… again.  Nor did Raffaele who was so concerned he suggested they return notice?

I suggest to you there’s more than enough reason Amanda has her hand to her face looking at the open shutters in this picture taken on 2nd November!  (Please note, this image has IBERPress logo on it.  I am linking it on another website, not created by us, which is publicly available and presumably asserts fair-use, but all rights are acknowledged by this site).

You’d leave that open as a burglar would you, facing the gate and the road?  Total nonsense.  And no, again, it hasn’t been moved.

Steve then suggests, in contravention of every banking security protocol I’ve ever heard of, that Guede, while having just murdered someone and held two towels to her neck in panic at that, then completely relaxed and phoned Meredith’s bank with her own mobile phone to try to get an ATM number *while still in the cottage* based on the mobile cell records.

Have you ever heard of a bank that will give you your pin number over the phone without substantial cross-checking of private passwords / other information that Guede couldn’t possibly know about Meredith?  Moore also neglects to mention that Rudy would also have to have phoned Meredith’s voicemail two minutes before, something the call records show.

The reason for this suggestion is that Steve is trying to support the defence case for a time of death for Meredith that is incompatible with Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s involvement. Steve neglects to mention that Amanda and Raffaele tried to establish an alibi for a time of *11pm* for their dinner at Raffaele’s flat which was destroyed by Raffaele’s own father who stated that Raffaele mentioned matters relating to having completed dinner at around 8.30pm.  No-one at this panel talk ever heard of *that*...

Steve and others suggest Amanda and Raffaele dated for 2 weeks. The only people who disagree with this are Amanda and Raffaele’s team, who state one week. Ho hum.  Not really important.  Just sloppy.

Steve suggests that what the prosecution alleged in the trial was that Amanda and Raffaele “Decided for the first time that they are going to do a threesome” with Rudy Guede. Again, anyone with the slightest knowledge of this case knows the prosecution never alleged this “threesome”.  They alleged a sexually aggravated murder of Meredith Kercher.  A threesome? Where does Moore get this stuff from?

Again, totally undermining of his credibility. How many black marks are we up to? I’ve lost count. To be fair, Paul Ciolino the P.I. who has worked on the case and belongs to the FOA started covering his mouth during Steve’s presentation.  In body language terms, that’s not terribly supportive… 

On this topic of the threesome he’s invented in his head that no-one else mentioned, Steve states: “They decide to choose a burglar whom they don’t know real well – they’ve only met once. Raffaele had only met him that day. Raffaele said ‘that’s a great idea, lets bring this guy who is a burglar whom I don’t know and he can have sex with my girlfriend’”.

Rather inauspicious logic, Steve. If they didn’t know him, they would not have known he was a burglar? Yet you transplant those words into the mouth of a fictional Raffaele Sollecito to make a cheap, but ultimately beautifully self-defeating, point. Amanda, of course, says she met Rudy many times in passing, as did Rudy about Amanda. I’m very interested that Steve also stated “Raffaele had only met him that day” because of course Raffaele and Amanda never admitted that. Where does that come from? Please tell…. Bzzt, bzzt, bzzt.

Moore then states that the prosecution case is that “Rudy goes in first and then Meredith screams. Then Amanda comes in and sides with the rapist.” Again, anyone with a perfunctory knowledge of this case knows that is not the prosecution case. This is hugely undermining because once again he is misinforming a public gathering on the case presented against Knox.

You can disagree with the case against Knox, but actually fundamentally misstating it?  At this point, with so many marks on the board, I started asking myself… how is it possible that he doesn’t know all this? 

And that question I still don’t have an answer to. 

But it gets worse…

Now we get to one of the most egregious sections of the whole presentation and misleading of the audience: concerning the blood spattered apartment, Moore makes a major case that Perugian police released the picture of the vividly pink Phenolphthalein stained bathroom as being the *blood* stained bathroom where Amanda Knox showered.

Please watch the video and see how nakedly this is suggested. He juxtaposes the picture of the sink as it was on November the 2nd with the post-phenolphthalein shot and says that the prosecution alleged “that’s what Amanda saw, that’s it.. that’s what was really there. That’s when you start saying ‘oh my god’. Knowing that the jurors are not sequestered… they released this and said ‘that’s blood’”.

Here’s how Moore presented it:


The fact that the ACTUAL pictures of the scene *he himself uses on the left* were in the core evidence bundle in front of the jury as prime exhibits as any lawyer or serious law professional should immediately appreciate is ignored. It must be ignored because of course otherwise no-one could come up with such a patently incoherent line of logic. I’m losing count of the pieces of lack of knowledge and logic by now. How about you? 

Re the staged break in – “one of the most incredible lies I have ever seen in a court-room outside of Iran.” Have you been involved in an Iranian court proceedings Steve? No. Mo(o)re hyperbole.

Next, a baffling and possibly funny line of reasoning if the matter wasn’t so serious. Moore proceeds to state that it was “very obvious the stone was thrown from outside and busted the shutter open.” So far so normal as an FOA meme – no issue. Except he then goes on to state more than once “The Perugian police said that a rock was thrown inside the house [to] outside the house.”

Huh? To “outside the house”? Are you perchance suggesting that the prosecution were saying the rock was thrown from “inside to outside” the house, then they went down and recovered it and replaced it in the bedroom where it was found and photographed which you would have seen if you had a sound knowledge of the case? Because no-one else has ever said that ever Steve! Not once! Huh? Outside the house? My head hurts. Does anyone have any pills?

Then Steve makes a point of highlighting some embedded glass in the wooden frame of the interior shutter as evidence of a rock thrown from the outside-in, when, again, it is blindingly obvious to anyone that the broken window could have been actioned from inside with exactly the same result. He’s so carried away with himself that he doesn’t even notice. It’s not that unsurprising I guess because he hasn’t noticed the legion other mistakes he’s made so far.

Next statement “Anyone who thinks the rock was thrown from inside out is either an idiot or lying”. It’s simply not logical Steve; as anyone can see it would have been possible to smash the window from inside, whether you actually agree that happened or not. Again, baseless exaggeration. You don’t have to agree but stop with the hyperbole!

56 minutes in we get to a huge howler where Moore completely misstates the prosecution case on the staged break-in and doesn’t appear to have even thought about it enough to see the obvious logical hole in what he is about to say.  In my original notes to this talk I jotted down “Amazing and astounding – doesn’t understand the clothes / glass point:”.

Moore says:

They [the prosecution] say that the reason they know that this was staged is because when they got there, there was clothes on top of the glass, the broken glass in the room. Well you’d think that the glass would be on top of everything wouldn’t you? Unless a burglar came in and started throwing things on the floor after the glass was broken. If you look on the bed you’ll see a purse. You’ll see the contents of the purse all over the floor, all over the bed. You will see that he went through her clothes hamper there, her clothes cabinet there, threw everything on the floor. That is why there are clothes on top of the glass. Why is that so hard?

Steve, you’ve stated this 180 degrees completely wrong.  The prosecution case is that both the police and Filomena, Amanda’s flatmate, stated there was glass on top of clothes which had been apparently tossed by a burglar (not vice versa) and on top of a laptop that was closed but which had previously been open.  The point is that it shows that the room was ransacked and *then* the glass was broken, proving the staging of the burglary. 

In any court of law I have seen, if you can show a supposedly authoritative witness, who shall we not forget has been on this case for a *year*, has such a bad handle on the evidence, you can get a jury laughing and that witness completely discounted.  This is, in my opinion, what Moore did to himself somewhat prior to this point, but by the end of this point, absolutely comprehensively.  How is it possible to misunderstand the case so clearly?  Ciolino and Waterbury both look very uncomfortable at this point.

Next point: a pearly Steve quote: “When is a murder weapon not a murder weapon? When the Perugian police say it is.”

Uhhh… think about it…. That’s not actually what you meant to say, is it? What you meant is “When is a non-murder weapon, a murder weapon? When the Perugian police say it is”. Given Steve’s penchant for getting things upside down and arse-backwards, perhaps we should not be surprised, but call me a stickler for suggesting people get their arguments right.  Steve compounds this 180-degree misstatement in the Q&A session by stating that the defence will try and throw a million things against the wall in the appeal and see if something will stick.  The defence?  Like those representing Amanda Knox, Steve?  Huh?  With the glass, the “murder weapon” and “defence” points, Moore appears to not be able to listen to what he himself is saying.  It’s just… bizarre…

Steve then makes a big point about the Raffaele cooking knife being the wrong shape for the mark on the bedsheet without mentioning the fact that two knives were posited in the case. Nice and misleading. Still not representing the basics of the case to those assembled.

As we approach the end of this car-crash, Moore makes a big point that “they say Amanda was in front of her and stabbed her like this”. He then mimics a vertical stabbing motion and makes a distinction of the lateral cut compared to vertical method of attack. But no-one ever said this definitively in court and Massei clearly states the blood spurts on the wardrobe (i.e. facing away from the attackers) are from the neck injury. Mo(o)re fabrication. How many is it now?

There is a chuckle-worthy moment where Moore uses the different exposures of pictures of the bra-clasp on the original investigation versus that taken on December 16th as clear evidence of “contamination”. A 2 second glance shows this is an exposure issue unsubstantiated by other pictures which again are in front of the jury.

Unsurprisingly, he then goes on to make the standard declaration that the gathering of the bra-clasp with Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on it on December 16th “delay” as “apparently not important” to the prosecution.  He neglects to mention that it was a sealed crime scene where the passage of time can have no effect on the forensic value of evidence *if no-one is within the sealed crime-scene*.  He also neglects to mention the delay was due in substantial part to the requirement to invite the defence to attend…

To finish, a damp whimper after these major trumpetings of lack of knowledge and/or understanding: a statement about a pillow under Meredith’s body: “Guess what they found on there – semen and the police refused to test it”. It has been suggested but without testing, we obviously can’t know it’s semen. Again, serious legal professionals don’t make absolute statements like this about unproven evidence.

Amanda Knox is incarcerated for 26 years.  As someone who has been involved in many defences of individuals charged with serious criminal matters, it is unacceptable to me that people willing to hold themselves out as prominent supporters of an imprisoned person who have experience in the law or law enforcement show that they don’t know, appreciate, or are able to process core aspects of the case against that person.

In my opinion, this performance was inexcusably weak and must raise serious questions about the judgement of those seeking to help Amanda.  Would you want this sort of standard of knowledge held out as adequate, as representing a member of your core Home team?  I sincerely hope not.  Only the lack of knowledge of the case and the partisan support in the room stopped Moore from being extremely badly shown up in the Q&A session. 

There’s a meme in the supporters of Amanda camp that says that pro-prosecution commentators cost Moore his job at Pepperdine.  It’s nonsense. Moore got himself removed before most of us had ever heard of him.

Neither I nor anyone else I am aware of ever wrote to his *former* employer before he was fired.  Nor did I write to them afterwards either because I considered they had a simple case against him and he’d like it if we were involved. Once I did write that I wanted to take down Steve Moore, by which I meant stop him posting misleading statements about the Meredith Kercher case using his career as credentials. 

But following this performance at the Case for Innocence forum, in my opinion, it is quite evident that Steve Moore has done it comprehensively and totally to himself.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Steve Moore Is Baffling Informed Case Observers On Both Sides Of The Atlantic

Posted by Peter Quennell





We posted a week ago querying claims first made by Steve Moore to Seattle investigative reporter Linda Byron.

Now everybody seems to be doing it.

Our own well-informed posters have been going through the various claims made to Linda Byron and reporters on the morning shows in the light of the Micheli and Massei Sentencing Reports. They have apparently not yet encountered even one Moore claim that can credibly be considered legitimate.

The lone wolf theory Steve Moore is trying retroactively to espouse was first ridiculed by our poster Kermit in his much-viewed Spiderman Powerpoints late in 2008.

And then it was methodically demolished early in 2009 by Judge Micheli, and again by Judge Massei in his own report released in Italian last March.

Our legal and law enforcement supporters in New York and Washington who have long followed Meredith’s case are also scratching their heads over Moore’s claims.

Why did he fail to master the Massei Report (which all of them have now read - and admire) before so vehemently going live?

Several also question the professional ethics and legal wisdom of accusing THE ITALIAN COUNTERPARTS TO THE FBI without hard proof of having fabricated evidence to prove his case. 

And in Italy, there have been several sarcastic rebuttals.

The latest comes from Walter Biscotti as reported by Ann Wise for ABC.

Mr Biscotti is the effective lead lawyer for Rudy Guede - who, it should be noted, ended up with a sentence of only 16 years for acting smart and somewhat penitent, while Sollecito and Knox may eventually face up to thirty.

After former FBI agent Steve Moore came forward in the United States last week, appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and other U.S. shows to defend Knox’s innocence, Italian newspapers picked up on the interviews with banner headlines.

“Amanda, new accusations from the U.S.,” read the leading daily Corriere della Sera Saturday. “A former FBI agent, who carried out a private investigation, tells American TV: ‘Rudy Guede is the murderer and evidence was manipulated to make her [Knox] look guilty,’” according to the subtitle.

That was too much for Walter Biscotti, a lawyer representing Rudy Guede, the third person—along with Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito—convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007.

An indignant Biscotti contacted ABC News in Rome today in response to the headlines.

First of all, he said, he wanted to speak in defense of the Italian judicial system.  “I think it is only right that I speak out in favor of the Italian justice system, of which I am a part,” Biscotti said, “and of the courts of Perugia in particular….

Biscotti took offense with statements made by Moore, a 25-year FBI veteran with international experience, implying that evidence was planted during the crime scene investigation.

“He said that investigators manipulated the evidence, an affirmation that would get you arrested in a minute, if you said it in Italy,” Biscotti told ABC News.

“It is a serious accusation against the Italian legal system and, as a man of the law, I cannot accept this,” Biscotti added…

Biscotti also took issue, as he has done repeatedly in the past three years, with attempts to put the blame for the murder solely on his client, Guede, whom, he says, he is defending pro bono.

He said lawyers for Knox and Sollecito told the media after every hearing in their year-long trial “there is no point holding this trial because these two are innocent, the only guilty person is Rudy,” and he criticized a list of U.S. legal experts who have spoken out about the case in the United States.

We know of not even ONE similarly qualified person who has READ the Massei Report and is not impressed and convinced by it.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oprah Winfrey Still Snowed: Still Helping To Advance The Fiction That A BLACK Guy Did It Alone

Posted by Peter Quennell


Sad but true. A black commentator helping to revile Rudy Guede. Certainly a historic first for Oprah - though the US media is unlikely to notice.

Oprah’s emotional fawning over the Knoxes and the Mellases (with copious shots of their kids, and some misleading statements by Ted Simon) is being rebroadcast on the ABC network this afternoon.

Click here for our previous comment - plus plenty by our insightful readers.



Sunday, May 30, 2010

Questions For Knox And Sollecito: Ten From Daily Beast As Knox Calunnia #2 Trial Starts

Posted by Peter Quennell





This Daily Beast report indicates that the cancelled jailhouse TV interview with Amanda Knox was a lot more firmed-up than Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas, seems to have claimed.

And it outlines the first phase of Knox’s Calunnia #2 trial which is based on charges brought by the interrogating police, all of whom testified at her trial that she was treated well during her interrogations as a witness and suspect. .

Click the image or link above above for the fine reporter Barbie Nadeau’s full article on some issues Knox has never been able to account for, including Knox’s callous skipping of Meredith’s memorial service.

The ten questions are all very tough, and each would also have been asked by the jury. Here they are:
.:

It’s back to court for Amanda Knox, the 22-year-old Seattle native currently serving 26 years in prison in Italy for sexually assaulting and murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.

This week, Knox is expected to attend a preliminary hearing on slander charges lodged against her for accusing Perugia police of abuse. During her testimony at her murder trial last June, she accused the cops of slapping her on the back of the head during an interrogation just days after Kercher’s body was discovered in November 2007.

The police deny hitting her, and Knox’s own lawyers have never filed charges for the alleged abuse. If she is convicted of slander, a judge could add six years to her sentence….

Knox’s resurgence in the headlines was to coincide with a joint jailhouse interview she had granted to ABC News and the Italian broadcaster Mediaset’s Matrix program. But the bureau of prisons denied the interview in the final hour, effectively silencing Knox indefinitely.

A high-profile jailhouse interview with Knox is considered the Holy Grail by journalists covering the case, and the American and Italian networks have been vying for a chance to ask Knox a few questions on camera. Now it is unlikely anyone will get an interview before Knox’s appeal hearings this fall.

But if we did, there are a few questions we’d want her to put to rest.

1. Why did you and Raffaele Sollecito turn off your cell phones at the same time the night of November 1, 2007 and on again at the same time the next morning? You told the police that you and Raffaele slept late the morning of November 2, 2007, but phone records show that you both turned your phones back on very early that morning. How could that be?

2. Why were you bleeding? Your lawyers agree with the prosecution’s findings that at least one of the spots of Meredith’s blood found in the house where she was killed had your blood mixed with it. Your mother told me that you had your period. Your stepfather told others that your ear piercings were infected. Which was it?

3. Once you realized your mistake in blaming Patrick Lumumba for Meredith’s murder, why didn’t you tell the authorities? You told your mother that you felt bad about it, so why didn’t you alert an official so Patrick could be set free?

4. Why did you go with Raffaele to the police station on November 5? You were not called in for questioning. Did you realize at that time that you were both under suspicion?

5. Why weren’t your and Raffaele’s fingerprints found in your house after the murder if the two of you had spent time there that morning and the day before? Only one half-print on a glass in the kitchen has been attributed to you, yet you have claimed that you took a shower there that morning. How did you spend so much time there and leave virtually no trace?

6. Why did you take the mop and bucket from your house over to Raffaele’s house? You told the prosecutor during your testimony in June 2009 that you took the mop and bucket to his house to clean up a leak under his kitchen sink. But by your own testimony, the leak was miniscule and could have been easily cleaned up without it. What were you really doing with the mop?

7. What would you do differently if you had a chance to rewind the clock back to November 3, 2007? Would you go to the memorial service for Meredith? Would you still have gone to the police station with Raffaele? Would you have left for Germany when your aunt asked you to?

8. What do you think happened the night Meredith was killed? You have professed your innocence. Who do you think killed her and under what circumstances?

9. What do you really think of the Italian justice system? You told an Italian parliamentarian that you got a fair trial, and you even thanked the prosecutors for trying to solve the mystery of Meredith’s death, but your supporters at home in Seattle maintain that the Italian system is corrupt and unfair. What is your real view?

10. Is there anything you wish you would have said in court during your trial? You talked about your vibrator and about how you did not want an assassin’s mask forced on you. But in your final appeal after the closing arguments on December 4, 2010, why didn’t you say the words, “I did not kill Meredith Kercher?” Raffaele did when it was his turn to speak. Why didn’t you?

Our posting soon of the judges’ sentencing report will open up dozens of new questions for Knox. Such as: “How did you track Meredith’s blood into your own room and leave three traces revealed by luminol?”


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

La Stampa Headline Reads: “This Is The Way That Amanda Subjugated America”

Posted by Tiziano


There’s an excellent review in Italian of “Baby Face” by Glauco Maggi in Italay’s most influential paper, La Stampa. This is the translation.

The Accusation of an American Journalist: the Family Is Spreading Misinformation.

The dense wall of the believers in her innocence, which sprung up in the USA in defence of Amanda Knox, 20 years old, during the trial in Perugia for the murder of her English friend, Meredith Kercher, 22 years old, has been subjected to the first blow from the American side. 

In the book Angel Face (Angel Face, the true story of the student killer Amanda Knox), the journalist from Newsweek, Barbie Latza Nadeau, accuses the family of the girl, condemned to 26 years for the voluntary murder, of having created “an innocentista media machine” which has tried to cancel out the heavy body of clues which built up during the trial.

“They have simply chosen to ignore the facts which were coming to light in Italy”, writes Nadeau, who has been the Rome correspondent for Newsweek and other American newspapers since 1996, from the site of the Daily Beast to major television networks (CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN). 

The accusations of the journalist are based on her direct experience as a witness, in Italy, of the conduct of the American media.  According to Nadeau, access to sources close to Amanda depended on the feelings expressed by the correspondents: the family, essentially, cooperated only with the believers in Amanda’s innocence, to the extent of the payment of travel expenses in exchange for exclusive interviews. 

An example of the climate created by the Knox family is the affair of lawyer Joe Tacopina.  Having arrived in Perugia as a “legal expert” for the ABC TV channel, at first he played the role of an unofficial of the defender of the interests of the Knoxes.  However, when he confided to Nadeau that he could not declare himself to be 100% sure of Amanda’s innocence, having studied the trial documentation, he was excluded from the family circle, which from that moment curled up like a porcupine and actively operated so that their own version would be the only one to reach the USA.

From the moment of the arrest, Nadeau writes, “Amanda and Raffaele were a pushover for the sales of Italian newspapers and of the English tabloids.  The local press reported the gossip of the lawyers and the magistrates to liven up the crime story and very soon labelled Amanda as Angel Face, encouraging a morbid fascination. 

The British newspapers, ardent in the defence of the English victim’s honour, dug into the details which Amanda had inadvertently put on the Internet, starting from her name on MySpace, Foxy Knoxy.  Phone calls to teachers and friends in Seattle provided the description of a studious, intelligent and athletic young girl.  But the social networking sites told another story.”

Nadeau unveils the video on YouTube of Amanda drunk at a party, but she strikes the most serious blow to “good girl” when she adds: “Other appearances suggest a more enigmatic and a darker personality.  Baby Brother, a film which Amanda had put
on MySpace, is not totally disturbing but contains a rather irresponsible reference to rape.” 

The investigators took the stories which emerged about her past “as proof that she had at least daydreamed about it, that this was in her mind.  Add drugs and alcohol, was their reasoning, and not much was needed for these hidden thoughts would lead to action.  The picture was being formed of a shrew who was in thrall of dark impulses and the family struggled to control the storm.”  For those who did not accept the reconstructions of the Knoxes as pure gold there was ostracism: 

“The TV crews learnt to be careful in letting themselves be seen with people like me, the family would have cut them out of the circle.”


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tomorrow In Rome: Italian American Foundation Panel - May Be Tilted Anti Truth

Posted by Cesare Beccaria



The venue Palazzo Marini above and at bottom

1. Notice Of The Panel

[See at bottom for a report]  Strange panel. Perhaps we are wrong, but none of these names seem to have surfaced before in connection with Meredith’s case.

Nobody seriously acquainted with the facts to be there? The introducer and organizer Rocco Girlanda blatantly pro-Knon?

This is the notice of the panel posted on the Italian American Foundation website. And these are the experts who will speak.

  • Anthony Sistilli, lawyer, Novastudia Law Firm

  • Catherine Arcabascio, Dean of Nova Southeastern University Law Center of Fort Lauderdale FL, and a co-founder of the American organization The Innocence Project

  • Rebecca Spitzmiller, Faculty of Law University Roma Tre

  • Patricia Thomas, Associated Press

The chairman will be Moreno Marinozzi, Sky Tg24 journalist. And the meeting will be introduced by the President of Italy-USA Foundation Hon. Rocco Girlanda.

2. Andrea Vogt Reports

Excerpts from the Seattle PI 18 March

In Rome, a discussion of Amanda Knox tries to improve U.S.-Italian relations

Amanda Knox sits in a prison in Italy, convicted of murdering her roommate, Meredith Kercher.

But in Rome on Thursday, lawyers and professors gathered to consider what would have happened if Knox, a Seattle native and University of Washington student, had been tried in the U.S.

The gathering was not so much an exercise in legal theorizing as one to smooth the hard feelings between Italy and the United States over the trial of one American college student. It’s a case that has spawned books, Websites and congressional involvement.

In fact, experts decided they couldn’t say what would have happened in an American trial.
globe

“The only answer is, it is impossible to answer this question,” lawyer Anthony Sistilli told the audience, according to ANSA Italian wire services that covered the forum. “We do not want to retry the case. We want to help bridge the gap of understanding, which is our mission for this meeting.”

The debate, held at a parliamentary annex in Rome, was sponsored by the Italy-USA Foundation. The panelists included Sistilli and two American law professors, Catherine Arcabascio, dean of the Nova Southeastern University Law Center in Fort Lauderdale and Rebecca Spitzmiller, who teaches at the Roma Tre University, as well as the American University in Rome.

“Trial outcomes are unpredictable. You really can’t guess what the outcome would be,” Arcabascio, who is co-director of the Florida Innocence Project, told the crowd.

“But reasonable doubt is a standard of proof we use in both countries.”

Arcabascio also noted that sequestered juries are still used in the United States, but less and less common due to the high cost.

The forum’s aim, organizers said, was to bridge the widening gap between observers of the case in Italy and in the United States, where Washington state politicians in particular have made their voices heard on the case.

“No-one had any intention of bringing up criticisms,” said Rocco Girlanda, president of the U.S.-Italy Foundation told seattlepi.com. “Our scope was simply to compare the judicial systems and trial processes of Italy and the U.S.”

Girlanda ended the evening on a light note, saying that perhaps after the case’s expected appeal, the association would even have the chance to have a “special honored guest,” meaning Knox.

He also mentioned that the association is continuing to meet regularly with Knox in prison. Italy-USA Association officials said that prison authorities have called Knox’s behavior in Capanne “exemplary.”

Though she had requested work in the prison laundry, she has been given a less menial task with the prison commissary. Her job, according to foundation officials who meet with her, is to take orders from the various cellmates about what they want from the prison store. Inmates are able to buy items such as candy, cheese, soda or other small shopping items….

The Italy-USA Association, which works closely with the U.S. Embassy in Rome, has waded into the Knox debate before.

When angry reactions criticizing the Italian justice system flared after Knox’s guilty verdict, Girlanda, the association’s current president, used his position in the Italian parliament to arrange for a visit to Knox in the Capanne prison.

Parliamentarians are able to request access to the prisons at any time to review prison conditions. Girlanda, is from a small Umbrian town of Gubbio, near Perugia.

Girlanda has spoken with Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini about concerns raised over the case. He works in public relations.

Behind the scenes, a few observers speculated that Girlanda might become the Italian version of David Marriott., the Seattle public relations expert who represents the interests of Amanda Knox and her family and who has coordinated media appearances of Knox’s family and friends in the U.S.

Marriott is also the gatekeeper for Italian journalists who have wanted to interview friends and family of Knox’s in Seattle.



Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Was Definitely Not A Close Or Indecisive Case - Reasonable Doubt Was In Fact Totally Eliminated

Posted by FinnMacCool




Trashing Of Hard Evidence Gets Worse

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. 

Click here for more


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.

This is not true. Knox paid for her trip abroad herself by working part-time jobs in Seattle. The University of Washington in Seattle had no role in her registration for the Perugia language school, and did not agree to accredit her scores. UW did not play a larger role. Her arrangements in Perugia look to have been under-organized, under-supervised and under-funded. She seems to have been running very low on funds, and had no work permit, 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 were in fact made at the police station on 5-6 Nov under no police pressure 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. She said in all that she went out on the night. And she didn’t just “suggest” that she and Raffaele were there, she categorically claimed that she was indeed 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”.

The defense never claimed that. There were many witnesses to the interrogations at the police station, including a senior police officer from Rome, and not one has corroborated this testimony. We have seen no evidence that any tapes were made or have disappeared. One statement 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 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. At issue was not “abusing his powers to question suspects” it was a taped recording approved by a judge that caught the prosecutor saying damning things.

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 misleading company.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Justice V Jingoism: UK’s Sky News Tells Us They Are Seeing Hypocrisy

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

Sky News (controlled from NYC when last we looked! by Rupert Murdoch, above, on Sixth Avenue) says what a lot of Europeans are thinking.

A lot of New Yorkers too. A mean-spirited and dishonest PR campaign and a lazy dishonest media have colluded for far too long on this case.  And on too many similar examples.

It is quite different in the US when it comes to foreign treatment of one of their own citizens.

Amanda ‘Foxy’ Knoxy, is the young American woman now on trial in Italy for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.

I was astonished to see her whole family, parents and children, invited on [ABC’s] Good Morning America and treated with cloying sympathy for all the world as if they were victims of a miscarriage of justice.

Sky News and the other Murdoch vehicles (the London Times, for example) have been among the MOST dispassionate about the case and among the MOST compassionate about Meredith.

Good on you, Rupert. For this, we salute you.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Honest, Accurate TV Coverage Has Been HIGHLY Overdue

Posted by The Machine



[Above: Anne Bremner blows smoke]

NBC have shown the other American television networks how to make an objective documentary about the case.

I know that a lot of work went into making the NBC Dateline programmes with over 40 hours of tape shot for both stories. I hope the the likes of CBS News and ABC News now follow suit.

And that they always - always - remember this: Meredith Kercher’s murder was exceptionally brutal and sadistic. Specifically:

  • She was sexually assaulted and viciously teased with a knife for many minutes before the final stab.
  • And after the torture, she died a slow and intensely painful death, clutching her neck with both hands.
  • She might still have been saved - but a conscious decision was made that she wouldn’t be.
  • And this was then followed by two days of apparent glee on the part of the two defendants.

The news channels have to get their coverage right from now on. The case is precedent-setting in several ways, and far too important for the media to play fast and loose with the facts.

Hints of anti-Italy xenophobia have abounded in the American commentary. Such abysmal coverage would never have happened if this was an all-American case - the real victim would be there front and center, not a defendant with a notably odd history.

The parents of the prime suspect should not be allowed to dictate the content of the documentaries and news reports. The media have a duty to report objectively and not be used as vehicles for the Amanda Knox PR campaign. Some of the documentaries on the case have been essentially free advertisements for Amanda’s PR company.

I hope any future documentaries don’t include an interview with Curt Knox talking with great authority about Amanda’s interrogation despite the fact he wasn’t actually present. Amanda’s lawyer has already stated for the record that Amanda wasn’t hit by the police, so Curt can’t repeat that false allegation.

Juju Chang of ABC won’t be able to repeat the wild claim that the double DNA knife has been essentially ruled out after Patrizia Stefanoni confirmed that Meredith’s DNA is on the blade of the knife and Judge Paolo Micheli accepted it as evidence.

Rudy Guede was convicted of the sexual assault of Meredith, which means that the deeply offensive and untrue claim that there was no evidence of sexual assault can’t be repeated.

Instead of Anne Bremner analysing the wrong crime scene and ranting about Italian incompetence in a desperate attempt to discredit the investigation, the documentary makers should interview somebody who is actually an expert in forensic investigations.

Renato Biondo would be the best person to interview. He provided independent confirmation that the forensic investigation was carried out correctly, following international protocol. The only person guilty of incompetence was Anne Bremner.

It is always highlighted in documentaries that Amanda’s confession was thrown out by the Italian Supreme Court. However, they never mention that one of Amanda’s statements in which she admits to being at the cottage when Meredith was murdered was not thrown out by the Italian Supreme Court.

Her note to the police on 6 November is almost identical in content to the statements that were not admitted as evidence.

And Amanda Knox was not given the nickname Foxy Knoxy by the European press. It was a nickname she used herself on her MySpace page.

It’s wrong that inconvenient and incriminating facts are airbrushed out of these programmes. There has been a deliberate attempt to mislead and manipulate the general public.

The media should always have an ethical commitment to the truth, and they should never forget that it was Meredith who was the real victim of this terrible crime.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been the case. Well done, NBC, for breaking the mould.

Now CBS News, ABC News, and other television networks owe it to Meredith and her poor family to get it right, the next time they cover the case.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

“They Were Held For A Year Without Even Being Charged!!” How Italian Justice REALLY Works

Posted by Nicki



[Above and at bottom: the Italian Supreme Court Of Appeals}

A misleading mantra

This frequently quoted claim above is maybe the most mindless and misinformed of all the mantras on the case.

Much of the US media and some of the UK media - sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes with reserve - has parroted the claim that Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox were “held without charges” for nearly a year.

Perhaps bringing to mind the notion of two innocent bystanders to the crime being arbitrarily arrested? Locked up in cockroach-infested jails by abusive police? Led on by an evil prosecutor with endless powers up his sleeve, and nothing at all to slow him down? Lost and forgotten by any judges in the case?

Well, good luck with that one, if it’s designed to sway the process.

It irritates just about everybody here in Italy, the judiciary and the media included. And it is doing the defendants no good at all.

Negative stereotypes like these really should not be applied to a country that is one of the founding members of the EU, of NATO, and of the European Council, and of the G-7, G-8, OECD, and United Nations (the non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2007-2008).

So for media reporters and commentators, please let us get the facts straight. Once and for all?!

Origin of Italian jurisprudence

Italian jurisprudence developed from Roman Law. It was shaped in the course of history to become a modern and very fair system. Judicial powers are subjected to a very complex and extremely pervasive set of checks and balances, which really assure maximum protection of every citizen’s rights.

Comparing the US and UK common law system - a model founded on non-written laws and developed through judicial proceedings - with this system which arose from the Roman Law model - based on a written civil code - is really like comparing apples to oranges.

They were both conceived to protect individual’s rights at a maximum level, while seeking justice for the victims. But with entirely different processes.

One is not necessarily better or worse. But there are legal experts who think the Italian system is distinctly fairer - much more weighted toward the defendants. In the US and the UK the prosecutor usually has to make it through only one pre-trial hoop. In Italy the prosecutor has to make it through a whole row of pre-trial hoops.

Legal status of a witness and a suspect

Let’s see what happens in Italy to the legal status of a person who, while considered a “persona informata dei fatti” which means “a person who could yield useful information” in relation to a brutal murder, suddenly becomes a suspect in the eyes of the police.

If while interviewing the “person who could yield useful information” the suspicion arises that such person could have played an active role in the crime, their status then turns into that of a suspect. The police can then detain that suspect up to 48 hours.

Those 48 hours are the period within which a prosecutor - if he believes that the evidence of guilt is meaningful - can request a validation of the arrest by the Judge of Preliminary Investigation (the GIP).

If the judge agrees with the prosecutor that a serious indication of guilt exists, a warrant for the arrest is issued by the judge, and the person’s detention is thus validated.

Immediately, as soon as the status of “person who could yield useful information” status changes into the status of a suspect, the suspect person has a right to legal counsel. This legal counsel normally immediately appeals for the release of the suspect.

Subsequent hearings by different judges

Thus setting in motion what can be a LONG sequel of hearings - for which in US and UK common law there is no such equivalent. Each hearing is headed by a different judge. This judge examines prosecution and defence arguments, and decides if the suspect may be released on any of these bases:

  • Seriousness of the clues presented by prosecution

  • Likelihood of repeating a similar crime

  • Likelihood of fleeing the country during the ongoing investigation

  • Danger of tampering with, or fabricating evidence

If every one of the defence appeals fails, in front of a number of different judges, in a number of different hearings, and the investigation is officially closed, the suspect then goes on to a pre-trial hearing.

Once again here, yet another judge rules either to clear and release the suspect by rejecting the submitted evidence, or to send the suspect to trial on the basis of that evidence, thus making the charges official.

Judicial decisions on bail, house arrest, or jail

Now that the charges are official, the judge can decide if the defendant must await trial under house arrest, or in freedom, of if the defendant must remain in jail.

If the judge, based on their knowledge of the crime and the defendants, estimates that the chances of re-offending or fleeing the country are high, the suspect must remain in jail.

So nobody in Italy can be detained without a reasonable suspicion, a long series of judicial hearings (any one of which could set them free) or eventual official charges.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have not in fact been incarcerated for over one year due to zealous police or a bizarre prosecutor or the complicity of a number of judges throughout the process.

They have been incarcerated because an articulate and balanced process of law has officially and very fairly established there are strong indications that they willingly participated in the vicious murder of Meredith Kercher.

Failure of defenses to persuade judges

Their own lawyers have put up a tough fight for Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox throughout the judicial process.  But they have simply failed to convince the judges throughout that process.

One that actually seems strongly weighted in their favor.




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