Collection: Italian unrelated

Saturday, March 05, 2016

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

Posted by Peter Quennell




The Italian Justice System

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Votes Of Approval

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

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

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

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

The CIA Operatives Case (Resumed)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Operative Sabrina de Souza

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

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

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

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

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

Our Own Learning Experience

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

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

Posted on 03/05/16 at 09:46 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
Archived in Justice systemsItalian systemOther legal processesItalian unrelatedExtradition issues
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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

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

Posted by Peter Quennell





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 02/02/16 at 12:01 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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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.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

An Overview From Italy #3 Dr Michel Giuttari Speaks Out About The Trumped Up Florence Case

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)



[Dr Michele Giuttari, former head of the Mobile Squad in Florenece and prominet authoer]


Dr Giuttari and Dr Mignini are connected because they both investigated the Monster of Florence case - and because a nasty case trumped up in Florence in retaliation has just been killed by the Supreme Court. .

The erratic Mario Spezi and his timid colleague the sniper from afar Doug Preston have blown up that case to gigantic proportions, as have the Knox and Sollecito forces, and most recently (very foolishly and ill-timed, as his claims may constitute contempt of court) Raffaele Sollecito himself.

Some important background can be found in Overview #2 and Comments here.

Michele Giuttari started his police career in the 1970s’ as a mobile squad detective in Calabria; after 15 years of “Calabrian “ experience he was appointed to the Anti-Mafia Division of Naples, and subsequently became the head of the Mobile Squad in Florence.  During his Florentine service time, following investigation guidelines under the direction of prosecutor Piero Luigi Vigna, he produced a solution to the ‘Monster of Florence’ case, but also brought the investigation to an unexpected turning point.



[Former Florence chief prosecutor Piero Luigi Vigna created the “monster of Florence” term]


As Vigna deduced, the MoF was not really one serial killer, but rather the manifestation of the killing activity carried on by a small group of people, at least three.  In fact three people were found guilty for taking part to the murders;  but both prosecutor and judges were not entirely satisfied: because there was evidence – so the court concluded – that someone else was involved too, who remained unknown.

The investigation into the death of Dr Francesco Narducci was opened in Perugia in 2005 as a routine cold case, because of Narducci’s wife’s and relatives’  doubts about the “official” version of his “accidental” death in Lake Trasimeno. 



[Former Perugia doctor Francesco Narducci found drowned in Lake Trasimeno]


Points of contact between Narducci and the MoF emerged independently from two directions, from the Perugia investigation, and from Giuttari’s findings from the previous Florence investigation.

Crossed analysis with the data bank collected by Michele Giuttari showed that several people were common witnesses both in the Narducci and the MoF case, while many things in the Narducci case were not adding up (for example, the unburied body was found to have died by strangulation, not by drowning, his trachea and hyoid bone were crushed). 

Something even more unexpected was that the investigation into the Narducci case revealed - and partly itself triggered - a network or other collateral crimes. A number of people were caught engaged in criminal activities with the purpose of plotting cover-ups and obstruction of justice on this cold case.  Among them were law enforcement officers and lawyers. 

But most surprising and peculiar, there was a fierce reaction from some magistrates among the Florence judiciary, in an attempt to stop the Perugia investigation. 

The first wild accusations launched by a Florentine prosecutor against Perugia offices were proven false, so the most serious charges were dropped by a preliminary judge as obviously unfounded. 

But a second wave of legal action followed, alleging that Giuttari and Mignini’s wiretapping recordings were false;  this accusation was also proven false in a trial, as expert technicians demonstrated the authenticity of all material.

But after ignoring the objection about territorial competence the judge managed to let one accusation stand – that of abuse of office, a charge less serious than the previous ones, which was not formulated on points of facts but only on points of law – at the first degree trial.

After some years,  this charge was canceled, as the courts finally declared the whole investigation illegitimate, and they nullified both the first degree trial, and the investigation and indictment itself.

A last attempt by the Florentine prosecution to further delay closure was ended by the recent, final Supreme Court verdict.  Meanwhile, a couple of Florentine magistrates were successful in stopping the investigation into the Narducci case, for a total of seven years.   

Unfortunately these happenings are not entirely new to the Italian judiciary. This one resembles other happenings – possibly more serious – that affected the system in recent Italian history (the most famous examples are the Elisa Claps, or the plots known as “Toghe Lucane” targeting known magistrates such as Luigi De Magistris and Henry John Woodcock). 

The system shows symptoms of stress from the whole extreme political instability of the country, but so far it still manages to fiercely resist those drifts.

Michele Giuttari is also an author.  Albeit he is not the top crime fiction novelist for sales in Italy (the Italian market has top-class masters in the genre), yet he is the top-selling Italian crime writer in the English speaking world. Curiously, the best-seller among all his titles published in Italy – the non-fiction book about the history of the true MoF investigation – is the only one in his books which has so far been rejected by American publishing houses.   



[The top-selling Michele Giuttari book, the non-fiction Il Mostro]


His last book bears the title “The Evil Dreams of Florence” [image of cover at bottom] and he might have chosen it as a metaphor of what he was drawn into by some people within the Florentine authorities and some in high positions.

After the final Supreme Court verdict on Feb 8., he posted a long comment about it in Italian on his Facebook page, in which he addresses his criticism mainly toward the head of police Antonio Manganelli . 



[Chief of Italy’s civil police Antonio Manganelli]


I agree with Giuttari about the shame police chief Antonio Manganelli brought on his administration through the terrible handling of the case of the Genoa G8 violence.  In 2001 some police corps attacked and tortured peaceful demonstrators in Genoa, following political inclinations, in what was called by Amnesty International “the most serious violation of civil rights committed by police forces in Western Europe” after WW2.

The leader of the Democrats (the main opposition party) at the time called it “state violence with a fascist mark”. Recently Cassation definitively called the event a “shame”, and prominent journalist Marco Travaglio wrote an open letter to Antonio Manganelli, saying “I beg you to kick out from your police force the authors of such henious crimes” . 



[Police violence against peaceful protestors at Group of 8 meeting Genoa 2001]


Yet Manganelli (ironically his name means “batons” in Italian, and the Diaz School night assault is now remembered as “la notte dei manganelli”) –  a man who apparently has the quality of being friends with many high-profile politics – had chosen to “help” them, to defend and protect from prosecution the proven authors of political violence, while at the same time, apparently he didn’t care about what was going on in Florence and quietly pulled a curtain of silence on a “politically uncomfortable” issue. 

I add that Manganelli was recently found to be the most paid public employee of the Italian State (with a wage of 621,000 euros per year).

Dr Giuttari expressed his outrage against Manganelli in a comment on his Facebook page which I translate below: 

Seven years of deafening silence by the head of State Police Manganelli

On February 8. 2013 the Supreme Court of Cassation, by declaring them inadmissible, put the final seal on the investigations that the Florentine prosecution had “illegitimately” carried on against myself, on the basis of mere accusatory theories about absurdly formulized charges of abuse of office which, allegedly, I committed concurring together with Perugia Public Minister Giuliano Mignini in the course of official activity, during my enactment of the written orders of a PM [supervising magistrate] at the time when I was responsible for a special team which had been created by the head of the police through a Ministry decree. 

And this [Supreme Court] decision confirms, in a certain and incontrovertible way, on the one hand the “instrumental” nature of the judicial events, and on the other hand the fact that we should not ever have been investigated; and, what’s worse, that we should not ever have been tried in Florence by magistrates who weren’t impartial at all: and this is exactly what Cassation has asserted, addressing the investigators with a clear message, even if they did it by using the available legal formula of territorial incompetence (functional rectius)! 
     
So ended a case of Italian miscarriage of justice, which, besides causing damages to we the defendants, it also caused – and this is even more serious and absolutely unforgivable – the stopping in 2006 of the ongoing investigation into the death of the medical doctor Francesco Narducci in Lake Trasimeno, which was believed to be connected to the serial murders of couples around Florence (the so-called monster of Florence). 

It was seven long years of bitterness.  Seven long years of blocked investigation.  Seven long years of denial of justice to the victims’ relatives.

Seven long years during which the head of State Police held to deontologically [ethically] reprehensible behavior, which was especially serious since we are talking about a man [Manganelli] supposed to be an institutional point of reference for many people who put their lives at risk on a daily basis – who was appointed to occupy a top post (by the way, as we recently learned, a financially very, very well paid post), and he simply abandoned to his fate one police officer [myself] who had a professional history not inferior to his own, though not to his predecessor who held the same post before him.

This officer – leaving aside the solving of the monster of Florence case – was

(1) honored in the fight against the ‘ndrangheta [the Calabrian mafia] (on July 10. 2009 the Chief Prosecutor of Reggio Calabria declared publicly that Giuttari as a detective “created a turning point in the history of fight against ‘ndrangheta”);

(2) honored in the fight against the camorra (when responsible for the judiciary police department of the Anti-Mafia Division of Naples, I was appointed on request of the national Anti-mafia prosecutor Bruno Siclari for travel to South America for an important and dangerous investigation about an international drug traffic and an impressive series of murders);

(3) honored in the fight against the Cosa Nostra, and in particular the investigation of the 1993 mafia massacres of Florence, Rome and Milan (chief prosecutor Vigna, as he concluded the preliminary investigation, sent a letter to the head of the Anti-mafia Division – letter #8/95, sent on 2.2.1995 – where he stressed the officer’s important contribution);     

I could go on.

They were all “pure” investigation , with no contribution from mafia turncoats or cooperators!

And what about the head of the state police?

He didn’t do what he was supposed to in his function as the police chief:

(1) protect his officer, from risks including those deriving from the important police activities accomplished; answer – or make someone answer for his office – the explanatory letters that were sent to him, very detailed letters which had a judicial corroboration today (letters were sent directly to him on 2.20.2010 and 5.20. 2010);

(2) protect him from professional and economical damage (for example by paying in advance, as was his duty, the legal expenses)  since he knew very well that the officer operated in an institutional role, in the name of and on behalf of his administration.

He remained deaf to the various requests which were forwarded by the Minister of Interior himself at that time, he didn’t do anything. Inexplicably, he ignored everything. 

And further, I cannot keep quiet about the punishments against the cooperators in my working team.

None of them was allowed to go back to the Mobile Squad, they were all appointed to totally unrewarding duties such as guard work.  All these humiliations were offenses to the personal dignity of hard working people, as humble servants of the state let alone being police officers. And moreover it was true professional competences that were lost. 

A deafening silence.

I might go on but I want to recall instead what Manganelli did – even at the cost of his own public exposure – in favor of those colleagues who were involved in the Genoa G8 events, the saddest page in the history of Italian police to my memory!

They were actually promoted in their rank and functions! I think about what he did for them, even paying thousands and thousands of euros in advance for their legal expenses and for the provisional damage payments, as reported in newspapers (Il Secolo XIX of 5. 22. 2010, p.6).

A deafening silence.

These of the head of police are conducts reasonably leading anyone to conclude that he used a double standard, he considered his employees, involved in different cases, as divided between “sons and stepsons” (the Genoa case ended with definitive convictions of all on all charges, the case where I was involved was shown to be a judicial flop). 

Or even better put (it is incorrect to call his behavior a “double standard” or a different treatment for “sons and stepsons”)  it was actually two opposite policies, on situations that were opposites to each other.

No, that’s really not good at all. That’s not how it should be. 

And you should not ignore your own employees while you listen to those who are criminally indicted, you have your personal secretary call to fix a hearing at the Ministry with them, and you listen to them while they complain against others who were investigating them by written orders of the Public Minister ! (in the trial papers – no longer officially secret – there are phone call recordings with unequivocal meaning).

the head of police Manganelli was utterly disappointing to me, since he revealed himself to be light-years distant from the man and the officer I happened to know at the beginning of the eighties, before his drift into pernicious “political” things.

Hopefully, soon or later, a parliament inquiry on the Perugia and Florence judicial events will be appointed, to search into the behavior of some institutional personalities. I’ll be ready to offer my contribution to that.

And I’m sure Dr. Mignini will do the same too.

I conclude with a twofold question:  Will the head of police now feel some guil, at least morally as a person? Doesn’t he think he should respond – if not to an ordinary court – to the most severe tribunal of his own conscience, within his internal judgment?

Michele Giuttari,  ex-head of the Florence Mobile Squad

 



[Cover of Michele Gittari’s book “The Evil Dreams of Florence ”]


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some Homework For Curt Knox/Marriott/FOA: How Leaning On Italian Judiciary Can Seriously Misfire

Posted by Peter Quennell





Nicolo Pollari (above) has just been sentenced to ten years and Marco Mancini to nine.

Mr Pollari was the supreme head of Italy’s intelligence agencies - its top spy - and Mr Mancinin was one of his deputies. They were sentenced by a court in Milan.  They were found to be complicit in an act now illegal both in Italy and now the US.

Under the George Bush and Berlusconi regimes, an Egyptian called Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and dispatched to be tortured elsewhere. Revealed not to be a terrorist, he was later released.

Some 26 Americans, mostly CIA, were previously sentenced in Milan for the same crime in absentia. Italian warrants for their arrest are out and those warrants could be submitted to Interpol to be applied worldwide.

These were the outcomes DESPITE elements of the US and Italian governments putting up a tremendous rearguard fight. To their credit the US State Department and Rome Embassy dont seem to have been proactive in this (State was even sued for not providing one CIA operative with diplomatic cover) but bets are they would have hit a wall if they had. .

In an amazing new behind-the-scenes expose of the sordid history of the political strong-arming in The Guardian, in which he praises Italian justice a lot, Glenn Greenwald includes this:

This prosecution was possible in the first instance only because a single Italian magistrate, Armando Spataro, insisted on pursuing it despite all sorts of attacks against him.

This 2009 Der Spiegel article reports that, as a result of his pursuit of the case, “his communications were monitored, the Italian intelligence service placed him under observation and there were even investigations into whether he had betrayed state secrets.

The government tried again and again to silence him. But the magistrates ignored those repressive efforts, eventually even seizing [chief CIA operative] Robert Lady’s retirement villa in Italy to cover court costs.

Numerous cables show Italian officials, especially Berlusconi himself, attacking the Italian magistrates and assuring the US that Italian courts would eventually stop them.

One 2005 US cable celebrates that Minister of Justice Roberto Castelli “took the unusual step of publicly criticizing a member of Italy’s highly independent magistracy” over this case, specifically that he “called Armando Spataro a “militant’. meaning a communist”...

That public denunciation of the magistrate happened, recounted the US cable, after he “presented Castelli with requests for the provisional arrest in contemplation of extradition for 22 Americans involved in the alleged rendition of Egyptian Imam Abu Omar from Milan.”

Does this sound at all familiar?! There seem to be good lessons here for Curt Knox, David Marriott and the FOA.

Italian justice may take its sweet time (deliberately so, because of the Post World War II constitution) but all important cases are an opera in three acts - and no perp should think he or she is home free (and start writing books) at the end of Act II.

And prosecutors should never ever be leaned on because they invariably push back and most have the firm support of powerful colleagues - not the hapless Judge Hellmann, though, who the Council of Magistrates has made quite sure is gone.

Note that under Italian law criminal defamation suits by officialdom can be brought in Italy even if the serial slimers are across the Atlantic and believe distance or a helpful government is on their side.

The first of the suits against Sollecito for the multiple defamation in his book could be filed any day now, and Andrew Gumbel and Simon & Schuster executives might find targets on their own backs.

Roll on, the Amanda Knox interview and book!  We’ll see if anyone by then grew a brain.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Barbie Nadeau Reports On A Mystery Disappearance That Is Now Gripping Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell





This MAY be a kidnapping. It concerns Italian fashion house head Vittorio Missoni.

Missoni and several others took off for a short flight from a Caribbean island to Venzuela where he was to board a plane to Italy. One main problem is that so far in clear though very deep water there is absolutely no sign of any wreckage.

Usually in light aircraft crashes in water a few things remain on the surface or soon float to the top. How Barbie Nadeau describes the second main problem.

But more disturbing is a series of cellphone anomalies. On Jan. 6, according to Italian wire service ANSA, more than 48 hours after the plane disappeared, the cellphone belonging to fellow passenger Guido Foresti sent a message to Foresti’s son indicating that the phone was back in range after being out of that zone since earlier that day. Calls made later to both Foresti and his wife’s number indicated that the phones were off.

A day later, calls to Foresti’s wife’s phone rang 10 times before automatically transferring through to the phone’s answering service, indicating that her phone was also momentarily on or back in cell-tower range. According to several Italian newspapers, a list of calls registered by the local Venezuelan telephone carrier the Italians’ phones were roaming through showed that both the Foresti phones made a series of calls at noon on Jan. 4, several hours after the plane disappeared.

The search continues. As with so many Italian fashion houses (see image at bottom) there is an elegant store in Manhattan.



















Posted on 01/19/13 at 11:10 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Giulia Bongiorno Loses A High Profile Case Watched All Over Europe And May Soon Lose Another

Posted by Peter Quennell





Crime fascinates Italians but unfortunately (or fortunately) there isnt that much of it in Italy.

The real national pasttime is soccer as the thousands of YouTubes and Google images and news reports and hundreds of blogs attest. The case Giulia Borngiorno has just so publicly lost concerns the coach Antonio Conte (image below) of the crack Turin club Juventus. 

The Juventus coach Antonio Conte is set to miss the whole of the Serie A season with the defending champions after losing his appeal against a 10-month ban over a match-fixing scandal.

Conte, who led an undefeated Juventus to the Italian title in his first season in charge, was banned on 10 August for failing to report two incidents of match-fixing in the 2010-11 season when he was coach of Siena.

The Italian federation (FIGC) said in a statement on Wednesday that Conte, whose hearing was heard on Monday, had lost his appeal.

Giulia Bongiorno seems to have a tendency to be a sore loser. La Gazetta del Sporto quotes her “the dog ate my homework” excuse thus:

Giulia Bongiorno said — “We were not given the opportunity to defend ourselves to the full. This is a violation of constitutional rights which go far beyond these issues. Negotiating sentences is becoming very attractive for those who falsely turn state’s evidence,” said Giulia Bongiorno, Antonio Conte’s legal representative.

“If you examine Carobbio and find him not credible, and if you take one of his crutches away (the charges regarding Novara v Siena, Ed), the other one will collapse too, because Conte is being charged with the same thing for Siena v AlbinoLeffe. Carobbio is a bit like Jessica Rossi at the Olympics, and the only clay-pigeon missed is Novara v Siena. And our intention was not to obtain a reduction in the sentence, if it had been we would have negotiated.”

This is the most public case Bongiorno has lost since the Andreotti mafia-connection appeal in 2002. She was on the defense against Prosecutor Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari.

This is the same Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari who as the highly competent head of the Umbria courts’ criminal division was first nominated to preside over the Sollecito-Knox appeal.

Giulia Bongiorno, who did some very odd things during the trial and appeal to ensure winning, at least one of which is being investigated, is also the powerful head of the justice committee in the parliament.

Is that the mother of all conflicts of interest or what?! We know of no parallel in any other country and it seems highly unconstitutional. Nevertheless, despite all the caution of the Italian justice system, this conflict is allowed to persist.

In November 2002 Prosecutor Chiari won his prosecution appeal, and the ex-PM Mr Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years (later reversed by the Supreme Court).

Giulia Bongiorno was widely reported as collapsing in court at the verdict, and seemed to take it very hard.

Fast forward to 2010.  Suddenly Giulia Bongiorno is about to face Dr Chiari once again, as a judge in what was to be a very tough appeal. Under UK and US law, she would have had to be the one to step aside, or not even take the case back in 2008.

But she didn’t step aside.

Instead, all of a sudden, lo and behold, her nemesis back in 2002 is yanked off the 2011 appeal trial, and seemingly demoted to head the childrens’ branch of the court. Meanwhile, labor judge Hellmann is in effect promoted, into being the lead judge in the murder appeal.

Who made the call from Rome that fixed this suspicious judge rearrangement? Rumors around Perugia suggest that maybe it was made or inspired by the head of the justice committee in the parliament. 

True or not, the seriously out-of-his-depth labor judge Hellmann joined the seriously out-of-his-depth civil judge Zanetti - and produced an appeal verdict and reasoning the chief prosecutor of Umbria Dr Galati sees as a complete fiasco.

Contending with the myriad illegalities of this reasoning is for Dr Galati like shooting fish in a barrel. Bongiorno may soon be facing yet another big loss if Cassation accept his prosecution arguments.

As they say, always be careful what you wish for. Wishing for Hellmann might have been a bridge too far.



Friday, May 25, 2012

Italy Works With Australia On A Complex And Possibly Precedent Setting Case

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Above: Australian Broadcasting Corporation report from Brisbane posted 3 days ago]


Italy has the reputation of being among the more diligent of countries in respecting international law and conventions. So does Australia.

But now they find themselves in a strange kabuki dance fraught with international tension, courtesy of two divorced parents.

The image below with the faces disguised appeared yesterday on Facebook. It shows an Italian father and his four daughters on the coast near Brisbane in Australia. With one newspaper exception which could result in a heavy fine, no Italian or Australian newspapers are publishing their names.

The reason is that this is a battle over illegal child abduction and both countries have laws shielding the minors. The mother is an Australian who married an Italian in Italy and they had the four children there. When they were divorced the mother and father were awarded joint custody so the father would get to see his daughters half of the time.

Two years ago the mother took off back to Australia with the girls. The Australian authorities were starting to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which says cases must he handled speedily and the country of origin has sole rights over matters of custody.

The mother missed a court-ordered deadline of 15 May for a return of the children to the father who had flown to Australia to get them. They went into hiding but were tracked down by police to a house or hotel on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. 

It now appear that the four girls want to remain in Australia, and although under the Hague Convention they dont as minors have separate rights, majority Australian sympathy may be on their side. The mother has just made claims about the father which he has denounced and hence the image of himself and the girls below which he posted on Facebook.

The precedent is in whether the children should have a say, the resolution of which could affect future abduction cases world-wide.  Australia’s High Court will decide the case one way or another this August.

Here’s a past post on a remarkably similar case. Liam is still in Italy.



Posted on 05/25/12 at 09:48 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Italy Continues The Search For True Justice In A 30 Year Old Case

Posted by Peter Quennell





Nothing if not tenacious, those Italian prosecutors and police - and Italian TV on which the victim’s family never stopped pressing.

This is the case of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican citizen, who disappeared in 1983.  At the time the Vatican was much in the news because of a banking scandal that spread to London and because of an attempt made on the Pope’s life.

The Vatican is back in the news now because finally it stopped blocking for unclear reasons the exhumation of a crime gang leader who for unclear reasons was buried under a Vatican basilica in Rome.  The exhumation has now been done and there were some extra bones and pending tests may show that they are Emanuela’s.

The New York Times says there are at least three theories that could explain the disappearance and probable murder of Emanuela.

In 2005, an anonymous phone call to a television program about the disappearance added a piece to the puzzle:

“To find the solution to the case go and see who’s buried in the crypt of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare,” an unidentified man said, referring to the tomb of the local mob boss, Enrico De Pedis, known as Renatino, who was gunned down in Rome in 1990.

The caller also implied that Emanuela had been kidnapped as a favor to Cardinal Ugo Poletti, who in 1983 was the vicar general of Rome.  Cardinal Poletti died in 1997, and Archbishop Marcinkus in 2006.

Questions remain about why Mr. De Pedis, a member of the Magliana crime gang, was buried in a church owned by the Holy See. His tomb is in a small locked room in a crypt under the church…

To lay rumors to rest that the Vatican had obstructed investigations into Emanuela’s disappearance, last month the Holy See agreed to the opening of Mr. De Pedis’s tomb.

Whether the police can now narrow down to a single theory we soon shall see. After 30 years they are still doing what they can for the real victim. And her family never rests.

Below: images of Emanuela’s brother Pietro, a Vatican protest, and the exhumation yesterday of Mr De Pedis.














Posted on 05/15/12 at 07:59 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Italy Handles Wrongful Death of An American With Usual Efficiency And Real Respect For The Victim

Posted by Peter Quennell





This story has had great play in Italy - there are dozens of video reports - but little play in the US and almost none elsewhere.

San Giovanni Valdarno is a small town one hour’s drive north of Perugia, about two-thirds of the way to Florence in Tuscany which is one of the most visited areas in Italy. Many foreigners have villas there.

Allison Owens. aged 23, from Columbus in Ohio, was a tour guide there. She was last seen alive on Sunday 2 October. Worried for her safety, her friends stirred up a manhunt of the area, which came to include over 100 police with dogs.

After three days of searching, her body was found in a pond on the other side of a crash barrier from a busy highway. She was wearing jogging clothes, and her IPod headphones were still around her head.

The autopsy on her body confirmed that she had been hit by a vehicle, and with lots of publicity the search was on for a hit-and-run driver.

Local resident Pietro Stefanoni turned himself in to the San Giovanni Valdarno police on 7 October after he had already had the damage to his Volvo repaired.

He claimed that he fell asleep at the wheel and only woke when his car side-swiped the crash barrier. He claimed that he went back to the same spot a day or two later to see if he had caused any damage, but did not see any.

Stefanoni did not report the accident. He claimed that it was only several days later that he heard on the news that the police were looking for a hit-and-run driver. Thereupon, in the company of the Florence lawyer Francesco Maresca, he went to the police and was arrested.

He requested the abbreviated fast-track trial procedure (which Rudy Guede also took advantage of in 2008) but which nevertheless resulted, for manslaughter, in a tough sentence: 39 months behind prison bars, and an interim award of nearly $400,000 payable to the Owens family.

The prosecutor had cast Stefanoni’s actions subsequent to his knowingly or unknowingly hitting Allison in a very bad light, and the judge appeared to have concluded that he handed himself in only when he became convinced he would be caught.

Not much is published about the life of Allison Owens, but she is very sunny in all her images. Her family and friends clearly loved her and miss her, and through very careless driving Pietro Stefanoni has made havoc of their world.

Her hard-hit family from Ohio were in court. Thankfully, the case was efficiently and sensitively handled by the Italian authorities, with great support from the Italian media and the public. 

Zero sign a pretty American was resented.



















Friday, March 02, 2012

The Irony In A Legal Standoff Between Italy And (Normally Its Good Friend) India

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Cantilevered fishing nets. There are hundreds of these along the ocean shore and harbor of Kochi.]


Images here are of the beautiful and comparatively wealthy south-west India city of Cochin (Kochi).

Also of an Italian oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, which was ordered into the Kochi port mid-February by the Indian coastguard. Two Italian marine snipers guarding the tanker en route from Singapore to Egypt had shot two Indian fishermen on a small tuna boat assuming they were pirates.

The marines do seem to have been rather quick on the draw, and in contravention of a new IMO law of the sea saying violence during such incidents must be kept to a minimum. The tanker had apparently already been attacked once that day; shots had apparently been fired then too.

Indian accounts say India has behaved reasonably. The incident was in an area the Indian navy makes a serious effort to keep safe (images also below) even though most ships cruising along the busy sea-lane off Kochi (map below) don’t touch base in India and provide no benefit to the Indian economy. 

The Italian tanker has been released now and is on its way, but the two Italian marines are still under house arrest in the house shown below, while a discussion between the two governments continues over where they should be put on trial.

The Italian government is arguing that as the marines are military personnel therefore Italian military law trumps Indian civil law and they must be put on trial in Italy.

Okay. Now for the irony. Read the posts here and here. The US government made the same argument twice against Italy, and to say the least Italy was not too happy.

Pssst. Don’t tell India.

At bottom: Another Italian ship in trouble in the Indian Ocean. This is the fire-stricken Carnival cruise line ship Costa Allegra (yes that Carnival cruise line) unloading its disconsolate passengers in the Seychelles.






























Posted on 03/02/12 at 11:02 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Learning Experiences Emerging From The Carnival Ship Disaster Off Italy’s West Coast

Posted by Peter Quennell





Value migrations force better systems upon us, and so the human race progresses…

Check out first what seems to be happening to value as a result of the Costa Concordia wreck, as reflected in the stockmarket chart just below.  Stockmarkets and currency exchange rates constitute the value votes of a lot of watchful people trying to decide where to put their money.

Italy has no independent currency any more, so Italy sorely lacks that other very useful value indicator and safety valve.  But stockmarket behavior is telling us a lot both about Italy and about the Carnival cruise line.

In the past three months during which the main American index, the Dow-Jones (red curve), gained an okay 8 percent, the Italian stockmarket index (green curve) gained a very impressive 30 percent.

The main news out of Italy in those three months was (1) the austerity plan, which in theory is setting the stage for future growth (toward which there was some cynicism), and (2) the recovery from the wreck of the Costa Concordia (toward which the doubts were even greater).

You can see a slight blip down in the green curve immediately after the wreck, but then Italy continued with speedy value migration inward.  It seems fair to say “Well done Italy. You’ve received votes of international confidence on both fronts.”

Carnival, however, rather less-so.. The blue curve is the stock price of Carnival Cruise Lines and it’s still down about 12 percent since the wreck happened which is about $3 billion off Carnival’s market valuation. All cruise lines seem to have taken something of a hit and are likely to encounter other heat to make sure they all keep improving.


Check out now what is happening to systems.

It seems clear that the captain was steering the ship while he was a bit tiddly while showing off to what increasingly appears to have been his girlfriend by his side. By international and Carnival rules (1) the captain should not have been drinking, (2) he should not have been five miles off course, (3) the Moldovan dancer should not have been on the bridge, and (4) the captain should have been a lot more careful in his navigating.

So four systems at least were violated.

Then when the ship was beached - there is some uncertainty as to whether this was deliberate or whether the captain was just putting the ship in shallow water -  (5) damage to ship bulkheads was much more than expected, adding to the high number of deaths, (6) the lifeboats were almost impossible to launch, and (7) the evacuation procedures almost totally broke down - in part because there had been no evacuation drill before the ship left the port of Rome, and in part because the captain went awol and was already standing on the beach.

That is far from an exhaustive list and systems changes implemented after the 9/11 attack numbered up in the hundreds - military responses, building techniques, city preparedness, corporate distribution of their people and physical assets. We will see the same happen here. 

Right now we are watching what appear to be two very efficient systems cutting in and doing their work. One is the recovery of the oil from the ship and then the ship itself. And the other is the Italian legal system, which is going to be kept busy with this one for years.

There is increasing evidence that the single Moldovan dancer and the married captain were having some sort of affair.  She briefly admitted as much, telling a court she loved him, and the searchers and divers may have found her effects in his cabin.

He may now face 2,500 years in prison to reflect on the importance of respecting systems and the value of peoples’ lives. . 





Posted on 02/10/12 at 11:31 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Did The Captain Being Drunk Delay Evacuation And Cause The Probable 30-Plus Deaths?

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the passengers and apparently somewhere here the captain standing on Port Giglio’s beach at midnight]


Airline pilots have been accused of drunk flying and the worst incident seems to have caused 88 deaths.

Systems changes were implemented to try to stop this ever happening again. We may now be about to see the same thing happen in the cruise ship industry. There are multiple Italian and UK reports that in the two hour period after the ship left the port of Rome, the captain drank maybe a whole carafe of wine, and became distinctly the worse for wear.

Survivors from the shipwreck have claimed that when the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, stood up from his table in the ship’s exclusive Club Concordia restaurant, approximately half an hour before the ship ran on to the rocks, he was in a particularly jolly mood.

La Repubblica suggests that Capt Schettino (52) was not in a fit state to drive a moped let alone pilot a 114,000-tonne cruiser, asserting he would almost certainly have failed a breathalyser test.

The Wall Street Journal reported this bizarre claim from a cook.

About a half-hour after the ship struck the rock…Rogelio Barista, the ship’s cook, said he and other kitchen staff members spotted the captain and a woman ordering food, including drinks and dessert—a sign of apparent nonchalance that left kitchen staff puzzled.

“I asked myself why he was still there waiting for his companion’s dessert with what was happening,” Mr. Barista said in an interview with Italian television.

The Associated Press reported the confusion caused for the shipping company, crew and passengers as a seeming direct result:

The cruise captain who grounded the Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast with 4,200 people on board did not relay correct information either to the company or crew after the ship hit rocks, the cruise ship owner’s CEO said Friday as the search resumed for 21 missing passengers.

CEO Pierluigi Foschi told Italian state TV that the company spoke to the captain at 10:05 p.m. some 20 minutes after the ship ran aground on Jan. 13, but could not offer proper assistance because the captain’s description “did not correspond to the truth.”

Capt. Francesco Schettino said only that he had “problems” on board but did not mention hitting a reef.  Likewise, Foschi said crew members were not informed of the gravity of the situation.  Passenger video shown on Italian TV indicates crew members telling passengers to go to their cabins as late as 10:25 p.m. The abandon ship alarm sounded just before 11:00 p.m.

“That’s because they also did not receive correct information on the gravity of the situation,” Foschi said.

In the most cutting English-language report, the Daily Mail claims that the presence of the Moldovan dancer alongside the captain seemingly throughout may have played a deadly role.

And that the very extensive delay in evacuating the ship may have cost all or most of the 30-plus lives lost - most of those still missing are believed to have jumped into the cold sea.

Costa’s president Pierluigi Foschi admitted in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere Della Serra yesterday, that the alarm had been raised too late by Schettino.

‘Too late. I can’t sleep at night. If we had abandoned it earlier then we would not have lost any lives.’

He said Schettino had always been considered ‘technically able’ but had ‘character issues’. ‘He liked to be at the centre of it.’

The company has now announced it will not pay the captain’s legal fees. Although cruise ships are already very safe, mandatory system change at ship and company levels seem in store. Hopefully including compulsory brain scans of captains and all top crew.

Yesterday the captain finally - finally - expressed some contrition. The sad tales of the dead including a six year old girl are only now starting to come out.


Below: The Concordia, the first supersized Carnival ship, was built in Palermo Sicily in this yard in 2006.

Below: The ship headed out of Rome’s port (Civitavecchia) about two hours before it hit the rocks.

Below: The route the cruise ship was to take. Its unauthorized cruise by Giglio was several miles off authorized course.

Below: The ship hit the rocks at bottom and tilted to the left as it took on water, and is seemingly deliberately beached.

Below: The La Scole rocks (which are not a reef) which the ship hit; there is still confusion over its precise course.

Below: Various charts seem to show all the rocks correctly, and also very deep water a few meters to the east.

Below: The ship picked up the rock that it hit and the rock can be seen here still embedded in the side.

Below: The ship as it was yesterday precariously perched on the highest of several underwater shelves.

Below: The search divers are mostly Carabinieri. Most lost bodies are probably down in very deep water.

Below: The captain is confined to his home in this town across the bay from Naples and Vesuvius to the left.

Below: The captain’s house. Reporters are hanging around outside to record him, but he has not emerged.

Below: One of Carnival Cruise Corp’s two global headquarters, this is in Miami; the other is in London

Below: US Carnival Cruise Corp President and CEO Christine Duffy wants a global cruise systems review

Below: Carnival’s current market capitalization ($24 billion) seems low, but in recent years its stock (blue curve) beat the US average.

Below: Carnival’s stock (blue curve) has not been so hot in recent weeks; it just dropped $4-5 billion. 

Below: The UN’s International Maritime Org in London where global maritime systems are agreed.

Below: A BBC animation that aired last monday on what happened to the ship on the night..

Posted on 01/21/12 at 09:20 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Italy Hails An Unlikely Hero Who Tried To Talk The Captain Back On The Ship He Abandoned

Posted by Peter Quennell

You probably already know the broad outline of this story.

Last Friday the Carnival cruise ship Costa Concordia ran onto some rocks by an island off the west coast of Italy and it semi-capsized. Some 35 passengers are declared dead or missing, the ship could slide further or sink any time, and the fuel-oil is all still on board.

This video is the BBC’s translation of the coastguard captain Gregorio De Falco (left below) trying to talk the cruise ship captain Francesco Schettino (right below) out of a lifeboat and back on board his ship to facilitate the rescue of the 4,000 passengers and crew.

Captain De Falco is not mincing any words. It seems that Italians cannot get enough of that stern talk. The tape is being played again and again on Italian radio and TV with Captain De Falco being likened to various great Italian leaders of the past - and Captain Schettino to the vain and ultimately disastrous Mr Berlusconi.

This report is from American National Public Radio.

“You’ve abandoned ship! I’m in charge now,” De Falco rages at Schettino, who was apparently in a rowboat at this time. “Go back and report to me how many passengers [are still onboard] and what they need. ... Perhaps you saved yourself from the sea, but I’ll make you pay for this, dammit!”

Schettino can be heard trying to refuse the order. “You don’t understand, it’s dark here. Can’t see anything,” he says.  “What is it, you want to go home Schettino?” De Falco spits out. “It’s dark and you want to go home?”  Eventually De Falco demands: “Go back onboard, dammit!”

De Falco’s Italian expletive is actually much harsher than “dammit” — but the line [“Torni a bordo, cazzo!”] has become a national catchphrase, and is Italy’s top trending hashtag or keyword on Twitter.

Minutes after that audio was posted online, Italians had a new hero.  Within hours, a Facebook page created in De Falco’s name had 10,000 friends. By Wednesday morning, his words were a national slogan, with T-shirts being sold online with the words, “Go back onboard, dammit.”...

One tweet from a woman named Sofia Rosada said, “It’s men like De Falco who should be governing, instead we are full of men like Schettino.”

The governing politicians dithered and looked after their own main chance for far too long. But the various stories we have followed on this site have thrown up at professional levels a number of unlikely and unsung heroes.


















Posted on 01/18/12 at 10:06 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #6

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: 1 June to Parolisi’s arrest 19 July

Previous posts on the Melania Rea case here which in many ways is comparable to Meredith’s.

By the end of this seven-week period, to 19 July, during which the Italian media coverage is extremely intense, several of the main theories of the crime have surfaced (some 2-3 more are still to come) and the police and prosecutors are being praised for a job well done.

Ascola and Teramo prosecutors have not had to contend with their Perugia counterparts’ giant headaches: three warring perps, their conflicting alibis, three teams of lawyers, a CSI effect, defense-witness pyrotechnics, short-form and long-form trials, a demonizing million dollar PR campaign, and a quirky process and judge in the first appeal.

A strong case against Melania’s husband Salvatore for her violent murder as described below comes together late in July. However (future posts) the roller coaster ain’t done careening yet.





This again is Stefania Dorinzi, Melania’s close friend and neighbor who lived in the same apartment block. Early in June, she gave a long interview on TV about her times with Melania, and what Melania and he husband had been doing in the past few days, and what they intended on 18 April.

She pointed out that the trip that day was very strange. Melania did not take her usual things along including a bag of supplies she always carried for the baby. Melania certainly never talked about going to Casermette park. Very quickly Stefania and her husband began to suspect Salvatore.





This is Salvatore’s family home east of Naples and north of Vesuvius, where he retreated for all of May and for parts of June and July. Below he is seen walking nearby with his sister Francesca.






This is one of several images of Salvatore’s now-outed girlfriend at the regimental barracks, Ludovica Perrone, which flooded Italian websites and TV reports in June. She is an ambitious college graduate who is originally from Turin.

She and her parents came under heavy fire for aggressively working to break up Melania’s marriage even after Melania confronted her by phone several times. Late June Ludovica finally gave an interview downplaying the affair.

In retrospect it did not come across as very truthful. It was contradicted by phone conversation transcripts and Facebook messages filed with the court by the prosecution late in July which showed the affair to be long-standing and very intense.

Those same messages however also served to suggest that she was not a party to Melania’s murder and that she was gradually dropping to the fact that Salvatore probably was the main perpetrator in her death.

In October she was interviewed for a full day at a secret location west of Teramo (which leaked anyway and the media arrived after it was all over) and will be a star witness at any trial. Present state of mind unknown. 





This is the eminent Italian criminologist Francesco Bruno who appeared on TV several times in June to argue forcefully that Salvatore could not have done it (“they were too much in love… wrong psychological profile.. wrong method… no motive”).

His theory was that the modus operandi was that of a serial killer, and he suggested one (image below) who was then in the news. For various reasons the theory was not accepted by the police and it rapidly faded. 






This is Paolo Ferraro, a Rome prosecutor, who was put on forced leave in June for suggesting that there may be satanic cells in the army. Salvatore’s barracks at Ascoli might be one of those locations.

We discussed this possible satanism in detail in the comments under Post #3. Not much more has leaked out about this so far, though there is a strange tale of a female soldier at Ascoli who was tied to her bed with candles or other flames around her.





This is Laura Titta. She was a soldier at the barracks and along with about ten others was arrested in June for aiding the flight of a convicted Naples Comorrah killer. Again not very much has leaked out.

She certainly knew Salvatore and it has been suggested they had a brief affair. She is considered a very hard case despite her sweet looks and was thought to maybe have been the one who helped Salvatore.

On the two mornings after Melania disappeared on 18 April Salvatore visted the barracks, including once with his daughter, and it has not yet been made public why he did this or who he saw there.





The regiment rushed out the second of at least three waves of media releases to try to show the public that in fact the place is alright. The notice in the image below is a code of behavior for male and female soldiers.






On 16 June a young guy who lived in the same village as Salvatore and Melania reported that a few days before he had seen someone going behind the changing rooms (building at left-center) and apparently hiding something.

When he went to look, he found that it was a mobile phone wrapped up to look like trash. Salvatore admitted it was a secret second phone he had used for secret chats with Ludovica. He denied trying very hard to hide it.

He pointed out that the SMS chip was still inside and the pay-as-you-go phone might be traced back to him. He said he was simply done with it and wanted it out of the way. Two images below show its location. 







This again is Imma Rosa. She was probably Melania’s best friend and had known her for around twelve years. On 19 April after Melania was reported missing Imma was quite startled to receive a phone call from Salvatore.

In the three or four years she had been acquainted with Salvatore through Melania she had never been called by Salvatore. He was now telling her how much he loved Melania and told her was nervous the police would harass him if she did not turn up soon.

Imma was instantly suspicious and contacted the Ascoli investigators right away. Prosecutor Umberto Monti immediately went to the supervising magistrate Georgio Ciccone and requested a tap of both their phones. On 21 April it was approved.

Not all the transcripts have been released, but one of a long rambling call on 1 May between Ludovica and Salvatore, where she ranted tearfully at him and he didn’t say very much, was released upon his arrest on 19 July. 





On 23 June Salvatore was required to come to the Ascoli questura (police hq) for questioning. For several hours, he refused to answer any questions from Umberto Monti and his team on the advice of his new lawyers - Walter Biscotti and Nicodemo Gentile from Perugia.

You can see them here as they all exit. The same lawyers had represented Rudy Guede in Meredith’s case and, interestingly, arranged for Guede to choose the short-form trial. In this case, the Italian internet is noticeably critical of them.





This image and the two below are of Salvatore packing up and moving out of the apartment the army had rented for himself and Melania. The army decided not to renew the lease beyond June. Melania’s family came separately to claim her effects.







This is a transsexual or crossdresser who calls himself Alessandra in his online videos. This image is from one of those videos and you can see Alessandra holding the camera and capturing the video while he dances.

Alessandra suddenly became very famous in Italy late in June when some of his videos and those of some other transsexuals or crossdressers were reported as having been found on Salvatore’s seized computer.

This led to the creation of yet another main theory of the crime - that Salvatore himself is sexually out of the mainstream, and that this was the terrible secret Melania told her friend Sonia Viviani she had uncovered two days before she died. 

If such an orientation is revealed as true, it could be considered enough to collapse his marriage and his affair with Ludovica and his standing at the barracks and probably his job. So far, no innocuous explanation has been advanced. 





This is Salvatore at his last TV studio appearance in Rome late in June. As usual it was a mix of his love for Melania, his downplaying of Ludovica, and his anger at the harrasing investigators and the media.

During the on-air segment two videos were aired, one of Melania’s wedding and one of a memorial procession at her hometown just before her funeral. Salvatore had copies of both videos, and he appeared to be exploiting them to manipulate public opinion.

Such cynical use of these videos deeply upset Melania’s family, who had not been asked and received no warning. Melania’s brother Michele forcefully emphasized that all personal videos are the private property of Melania’s family.

Italian media have respected that since. Melania’s family seems to have allowed both videos to remain online. They show Melania in a very endearing light at her wedding and how much she was missed after she died.





In the first three weeks of July all of the emerging evidence seem to be converging and breaking hard against Salvatore.

This shows the San Marco park again. In July a woman witness came forward to tell the investigators she had not seen any man or woman or child at the playground in the key one hour 2:30 to 3:30 on 18 April.

Her presence was confirmed by mobile calls she made and by the CCTV camera at the refreshment kiosk which is behind the camera and to the right.





This is the view down from the Casermette park where Melania’s body was found on the 20th of April toward Civitella where the nearest mobile phone tower is located.

It was now revealed that both Melania’s and Salvatore’s main phones were proven to have been pinged there on 18 April so both of them were seemingly up there. Salvatore’s phone was also pinged at the San Marco park an hour later.





This is from a video taken by an investigator which was aired late in 2011. It briefly showed Melania’s body at a distance in a different place and facing the other way to the officially released police graphics.

Somehow Salvatore knew the correct place and position when late in April he demonstrated them to a reporter on TV. He claimed his friend Raffaele Paciolla who identified Melania’s body took a video and then showed him.

But Raffaele denied that he did so. The image below (in front of the flowers) shows where Melania’s body was “wrongly” depicted as having been found. The depiction “wrongly” showed her facing off to the right.






This above is the Teramo coroner Adriano Tagliabracci (who was a defense witness for Sollecito at Meredith’s trial) who in mid July released the findings of his second autopsy on Melania carried out mid-May.

He depicted what the wounds and blood traces told him of Melania’s final struggle. Her mouth was held closed from behind (in what commenters later noted is a military mode of attack) as Salvatore’s DNA in her mouth suggested while she was stabbed very fast repeatedly.

She broke away but fell down because her pants were down at her ankles, and then the stabbing continued. Some of the stabs reached her internal organs and she died painfully as much as one hour later.





This is the Palo Alto California headquarters of Facebook. The prosecutors requested founder and CEO Mark Zuckerman to unerase some erased messages between Salvatore and Ludovica prior to Melania’s death. He kindly obliged.

Salvatore had phoned Ludovica in late April on the secret phone to make sure that she would erase any such messages on her computer. One unerased message was released at time of arrest. It showed how intense the romance had become.. 





These two images show the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case Umberto Monti at the San Marco park with Salvatore late in April. He was trying to understand the claimed kidnapping of Melania being described for him by Salvatore. 

On 19 July he filed charges for murder and Salvatore was arrested. Officially regarded as dangerous, he has been locked up ever since despite two lawyers’ motions to release him on bail pending any trial.






This is Salvatore Parolisi arriving at the Ascoli palace of justice to be arrested and imprisoned and told of the reasons why. His lawyers Walter Biscotti and Nicodemo Gentile supported him at the arrest hearing before Judge Carlo Calvaresi.





This is the supervising magistrate for the case in Ascoli, Judge Calvaresi, who ordered Salvatore to be arrested and locked up. He issued a 20-page written explanation of his reasoning.

The case now had to go through a change of jurisdiction as there were no signs of a kidnapping from the Ascoli park. Judge Giovanni Cirillo of Teramo wrote a longer 60-page report in two days, and added “cruelty” to the charges.

The Teramo prosecutors Greta Aloisi and Davide Rosati (images of them in the May post) took the lead now from the Ascola prosecutor Umberto Monti.






This is Teramo prison above and below where Salvatore has been held since late July. Salvatore will be formally arraigned for trial next month. He may be moved soon to a prison near Naples so he can see his daughter Victoria once a month. 

Investigations now if anything accelerated into some sensational aspects, all main witnesses were interviewed again more deeply, and Melania’s family and friends were speaking out.

Salvatore got some messages to the public out of prison and his lawyers Biscotti and Gentile threw a few curve balls. Several new possible motives including money (Salvatore had a 100,000-plus Euros hoard which would have to be split in a divorce) were soon to be worked on. 





Finally in our series for now these are the headlines on a couple of the arrest stories. With Italy’s murder rates among the lowest in Europe and only a very small fraction of the US’s such headlines as these do not appear very often.



Posted on 12/07/11 at 08:23 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Friday, December 02, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #5

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: events in May 2011

These CCTV images above and below are the last known shots of Melania Rea still alive. She is with her husband Salvatore and baby daughter Victoria and it is the day after Palm Sunday.

Melania would be dead approximately five hours later. She is entering a supermarket here. Then she goes to a clinic for a quick check of a health condition, and then back home to call her mom.

They talk for about seven minutes. She tells her mom that her little family was heading for the afternoon to the playground at the San Marco plateau about ten minutes drive to the west.

Although Salvatore and Victoria were seen there about two hours later, there is zero trace of her having ever arrived. Her body was found in another park 10 kilometers south two days later.








This is the Carabinieri office in Ascoli. They have helped with major arms of the investigation including the tracking of cell phones and the blood and DNA work where Melania’s body was found.





This is Umberto Monti who was the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case through to Salvatore being charged in July in Teramo. Teramo has jurisdiction over the Casermette park.

He prepared a detailed report for the overseeing judge in July which outlines all the evidence already assembled against Salvatore. This led to a judge labeling him dangerous and locking him away pending charges.





These are the Teramo prosecutors, Greta Aloisi and Davide Rosati, who have also been working on the case all along. They assumed the lead from July once Salvatore was locked away. Teramo is about 20 kilometers south of Ascoli.

If and when the case against Salvatore Parolisi for killing Melania goes to trial, they will be the lead prosecutors in the court.





Salvatore Parolisi was prominent and outspoken on Italian TV for a number of weeks. He appeared on several national interview shows like these above and below. He explained his version of events - Melania’s supposed kidnapping.

He often cried on camera,  and said often how much Melania and he were in love. He looked or assumed a look of being haggard. He urged the police to find the real killer, and he became more and more prickly as his credibility fell.






This is Father Don Carlo Lupi, the Catholic priest at Melania’s and Salvatore’s local church. He had spoken with them after the Palm Sunday service the previous day, and they always seemed to him good together and in love.





This is the Villa San Marco clinic in Ascoli where Melania was checked three hours before her death for a small gynaecological condition. She had been advised to abstain for a short while from sex, a fact which came to matter later.





In these images above and below, we can see Salvatore and his sister Francesca with a reporter in the Casermette park right where Melania died. In this documentary report, he identified precisely where Melania’s body was found.






This is Melania’s friend Sonia Viviani who tried twice to call Melania mid-afternoon and also sent her several text messages. Melania did not pick up, although her mobile phone had a loud ring tone and the vibration was also switched on.





This is Melania’s friend Immacolata (“Imma”) Rosa who talked with Melania two days before her death. Melania told Imma she had just found out something really shocking and did not want to describe it over the phone.

Two main theories of what this shocking secret could be emerged in June and July (see later posts), both bizarre, and both possibly the real main motive behind the crime against Melania.





This is Raffaele Paciolla, a prison guard, who lived in the same building as Melania and Salvatore. They were very good friends. Raffaele was taken up the mountain by the police to do the first identification of Melania’s body.

When Salvatore was challenged about knowing where Melania’s body was found (see images above) he said Raffaele had taken shots with his phone. But Raffaele said he took no shots, a fact very damaging to Salvatore.





This is Raffaele Paciolla’s wife Stefania Dorinzi who lived with Raffaele in the same building. She knew that Melania was struggling to hold onto Salvatore and said after the crime Salvatore emerged as a very nasty person.





This is Colonel Alessandro Patrizio who was the commandant of the Clementi regimental barracks where Salvatore was a trainer. The barrack trains almost exclusively girls, some 330 every three months. Then they decide if they want to continue.

He moved fast to try to shore up the reputation of the barracks and to demonstrate that growing suspicions of major breaches of rules were taking place were wrong. He was reassigned within three months. It was said to be long-planned.
 




This is Krizia Sardella who completed the course but decided not to become a soldier. She still lives locally. She trained with Salvatore and said her group found him to be upstanding, serious, polite, and seemingly safe to be alone with. 





This is a soldier colleague of Salvatore at the barracks who would not give his name or show his face on camera, but said he found Salvatore’s behavior in the barracks to be okay and nothing out of the ordinary.





This is Melania’s friend Valentina Esposito who like her other friends knew from Melania that something was amiss in her marriage. Melania had talked of taking the baby back to her hometown for kindergarten.





This is the Samsung model of mobile phone that Melania had on her that day. She last used it to talk with her mother. The police remotely switched it to GPS mode to try to find approximately where Melania was lying.

They then did a great deal of signal measurement with similar phones in both parks (full details in the prosecutor’s report) and concluded that there was no proof that Melania had ever been to the first park as Salvatore had claimed.





This map is from the report on the cell towers in the wider area to which Melania’s phone would respond with a ping. One tower near where Melania’s body was found documented a strong signal from her phone all afternoon.





This is the town of Civitella several kilometers south of Ascoli and east of the mountain on which Melania was found. From a call box (shown below) at the bus station, somebody called in a report on her body two days after she disappeared.

He seemed to be authentically someone in his sixties with a strong regional dialect. He has never been traced, but that is said to be not uncommon for such calls. He may be a wild-mushroom picker in the forest. 







Late in the month, rumors of Salvatore having a longtime girlfriend at the barracks grew to a crescendo, and his fellow soldier trainer Ludovica Perrone, about three years younger than Melania, was publicly outed.

Phone calls in the next several weeks that they both thought were secret (Salvatore used a secret second phone) were recorded by the police, and long excerpts appeared in the prosecutor’s report in July.

Salvatore had led Ludovica to believe that his leaving Melania was just around the corner, and so she had arranged for her parents to meet him the following (Easter) weekend at a hotel on the Amalfi Coast south of Naples.

He had apparently not said as much to Melania. She knew about the affair and was outraged. Twice in the three days before she died she called Ludovica at the barracks to warn her to stop breaking up their marriage.

Ludovica was dismissed after the case opened up and has since disappeared, though the police know where she is and still interview her. She sounded outraged after Melania’s death at hearing Salvatore on-air saying how much he loved Melania. 






This is the Teramo coroner Adriano Tagliabracci who in mid May did a second autopsy on Melania and concluded she had not been moved after her death. He reconstructed the horrific final fight that she went through.

He also concluded that the body had been stabbed a dozen more times the day after Melania died, and that the body was inscribed and a syringe inserted to throw investigators off the trail. 





This is Michele Rea, Melania’s brother, who attended the second autopsy with Salvatore and his brother Rocco. Nearly a month after the murder both families were still getting along well, though they bitterly split soon after. 





These next few shots are of Melania’s funeral at Summa Vesuvio, her home two, three days after the coroner released her body for burial. Believe it or not, the shot above is of Salvatore hugging Melania’s father Gennaro; both were crying.








Salvatore moved back to his own home town near Vesuvius after his forced release from the army at the start of May. His car and the entrance to the yard of his family’s apartment were watched by reporters up to late July when he was put in prison.






Meanwhile little Victoria lives with Melania’s parents at Summa Vesuvio and she is not old enough yet to understand anything that is going on.  As in Perugia, cold callous unrepenting narcissism reigns, while there is more and more heartbreaking damage.

Open questions

These are not make-or-break, but they do show that as in Perugia there will always be loose ends. Why were there so many small cuts on Melania’s body? Why did she have her back turned, seemingly trustingly with her pants down? Why did she agree to go to the Casermette park when that was not what they’d intended? Who mutilated Melania’s body on the Tuesday? Was it possible for Salvatore to get back there on Tuesday unnoticed? Or could that have been Ludovica, or another woman? Why did he visit the barracks on Tuesday and Wednesday? What was Melania’s dark secret that she had told no-one? And if Salvatore wanted to marry Ludovica, why did he not simply ask Melania for a divorce?

Posted on 12/02/11 at 06:40 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #4

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: events in April 2011

Above is Melania Rea’s husband, army corporal Salvatore Parolisi, with his sister Francesca, when he was riding a national wave of sympathy back in April and May.

Could this equally prominent case not so far from Perugia in turn come to impact upon the final appeal outcome of Meredith’s case? There seems a distinct chance of this. 

What may become obvious as we illustrate events starting from April is that, given a level playing field and no vigorous PR campaign, the dedicated work of the different components of the Italian police is impressively good.

They come across as highly trained, competent and well-organized, and they leave very few stones unturned. Here four arms of the Italian police - the Carabinieri, the Scientific Police, the Ascoli police, and the Teramo police - have worked together notably smoother than say the FBI and the CIA before the New York trade towers came down.

This has been in face of a pro-defendant justice system, possible attempts at intimidation, two main motives and scenarios and several others, a confusing crime scene re-arrangement, a time-and-resources-consuming alibi, little DNA, no fingerprints, no weapon, four or more mobile phones to be analyseds, Facebook messages erased (and un-erased when Facebook HQ in California obliged), a possible charming psychopath, hints of a possible satanic sect, and no eye-witnesses at all.

Tough case. Still, this has lead to an approval rating for the investigators now through the roof, and the endorsement (post directly below) of the Supreme Court. 





These shots pick up from the previous main post on the geography of the house, barracks and two parks and the layout of the San Marco park where Salvatore claims Melania disappeared. 

This shows the temporary operations headquarters set up in the Colle San Marco park on 19 April, the day after Melania disappeared, where her husband claimed he last saw her.

The investigators were first trying to find her, and then when her body was found in another park to the south trying to unearth any evidence that she was ever there. 





The police swept for fingerprints and DNA (no luck) the playground where Salvatore said he and Victoria were at play while Melania headed off for a restroom in a bar and to bring back two coffees.





The police used dogs trained in several kinds of search (no luck) to cover the whole park. They were initially looking for a body or a grave, and then any evidence proving Melania was there.

As we mentioned in the previous post. a large number of people in the park that afternoon were lined up for interrogation, and over the next month were called to police HQ in Ascoli. 





This is the road along the side of the mountain which is the short way to get from Colle San Marco park to Casermette park seven or eight miles south, where on the 20th a tip led to Melania’s body being found.





This is the east side of the “mountain of flowers” where in Casermette park, in the center of that dark green swathe near the top, Melania’s body was found. Salvatore’s regiment trains up there.





That park is used almost daily by the army trainees at the Ascoli barracks where Salvatore primarily trained newly enlisted women soldiers in among other things weapons techniques.





These two shots above and below show Meredith’s body being removed, to be transported to the morgue in the palace of justice several miles to the south in the large town of Teramo. 

Melania’s body was photographed and examined in the park, and then two autopsies were carried out. Salvatore never saw Melania in the park, though he later identified for a reporter the precise spot.






These three shots above and below show the large Carabineri and Scientific and local police presence on the mountain at Casermette park which remained there in force for most of the next week.







This is Colonel Luigi Ripani from Ascoli who was in charge of co-ordinating the police investigation in the two parks and issuing the few rather cryptic reports to the media of what was going on.





This shot above and the one below show the Casermette refreshment kiosk, not yet open for the summer season, next to which Melania’s body had been arranged.






This shot and the three below show evidence of a considerable struggle. Melania was a tall strong girl. She was attacked and stabbed from behind, it is now believed when she was relieving herself and unable to run.

That fact in particular which emerged at the second autopsy has incensed those in Italy who have been following the case.








A wedding ring was found lying in the dirt, the same one you can see here on Melania’s ring finger. Several other items were also found, but not (then) her bag or wallet or keys.




This is Teramo in Abruzzi province (larger than Ascoli in Marche province to the north) which now has primary jurisdiction. Since July Salvatore has been locked up in prison awaiting a possible trial there.





Melania’s first autopsy was carried out here at the palace of justice morgue in Teramo. A main interim conclusion was that Melania (later reversed) had been killed some place other than the park.





The police released this graphic and the one below when requesting leads. They show a syringe in Melania’s chest which had male and female DNA on it; and cuts like a swastika on Melania’s upper left leg.

The police graphic below is (perhaps out of kindness) misleading. Melania’s pants were down around her ankles, which prevented her running (she did get up, but then fall again) as it’s believed the killer intended.






This is an image of the Teramo coroner who carried out this autopsy and also a second one in mid May which put the place of death back by the kiosk in the park. He found two foreign DNAs on Melania’s body.

One was Salvatore’s DNA, inside her mouth, which was ruled as placed there maybe by a kiss, maybe only minutes before she died. The other was a small trace of an unknown woman’s DNA under the fingernails of one hand. 





This image above and the two below are of Melania’s family: mother Vittoria, father Gennaro, and brother Michele. All often appear on TV. They were very supportive of Salvatore early on.







This image above and the two below are of Salvatore’s family: mother Vittoria, loyal sister Francesca (a good friend of Melania who was very distraught), brother Rocco, and Francesca with Salvatore. 

Salvatore’s father has kept in the background, and he has made few or no willing appearances on TV. Early on, Rocco and Francesca often appeared on TV, supporting Salvatore but also lamenting Melania’s death.



Posted on 11/29/11 at 06:24 PM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #3

Posted by Peter Quennell





Next detailed post on this “parallel universe” case not far from Perugia late today. There are two breaking-news developments to report.

1) Today 28 November the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome should respond to a petition from defense lawyers Biscotti and Gentile (for yes, it is again they, the Rudy Guede defense team) to allow Melania’s husband Salvatore Parolisi out of Teramo prison on bail on the claimed grounds of a lack of hard evidence. If he gets out on bail he may fight for custody of his daughter, who is now with Melania’s parents near Naples..

If you read Italian, the Ascoli prosecutor who saw Parolisi confined to prison in July, Dr Umberti Monti (image below), pending more investigations and possible charges, offered the Ascoli magistrate this 68-page reasoning.

2) And the second magistrate on the case, Dr Marina Tommolini, in Teramo, the large town south of Ascoli and south-east where Melania’s body was found, had her Audi A6 doused in gasoline and set on fire. She was not in it. It’s not clear if the destruction of her car was case related, but strong suspicions are out there.

There is a huge volume of “known facts” on the case but also many unknowns and puzzles. All sides seem to have learned lessons from Perugia. The national and local police and prosecutors are playing a masterful game of seeping out info on this or that point to stir up leads. More surprises to come.

[Below: the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case, Dr Umberti Monti, who works with counterparts in Teramo]

Posted on 11/28/11 at 09:44 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #2

Posted by Peter Quennell





This photo series picks up from the first, overview post. Click on any images for larger versions.

Melania Rea came from Summa Vesuvio, a suburban town on the north slope of Vesuvius a few minutes east of Naples, and Salvatore Parolisi from nearby. You can see Summa Vesuvio here at bottom left.

Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, and one day will do so again. Beyond Vesuvius here is Pompeii (not visible) and also the Bay of Naples.and Sorrento (top right) and the mountains that on their other side form the Amalfi Coast. 





Melania and Salvatore were married in Summa about three years ago in the church where last April her funeral was held. At the end of both ceremonies, white balloons were released into the sky.





Melanie then moved to set up home with Salvatore outside the town of Ascoli Piceno which is almost directly opposite Summa on the east coast. She and Salvatore rented an apartment, which the army paid for, south of his barracks..





This is the Clementi army barracks at the east end of Ascoli where Salvatore was stationed until he was given a release from the army after Melania was murdered last April.

Rome investigators launched a confidential investigation into strange happenings at the barracks a few months ago. [See more on this now in Comments.] Not much information has been given out. It is possible that Melania stumbled on a dark secret; she told a friend that she had.





These are some of the women soldiers who were being trained at the barracks. They are all volunteer soldiers and 330 are stationed at the barracks at any one time. Salvatore was one of their instructors, and he had a heavy affair with at least one.





This is the apartment building south of the barracks, in the village of Folignano, where Salvatore and Melania were living. That is their car in front.





This is the same model and color of car as their car, a French-made four-door Renault Scenic. It was sequestered several times by the police for searches and traces of Melania’s blood were found inside. Salvatore claimed they were old. 





Here are Salvatore and Melania out walking with their baby Victoria who was born late in 2009. Melania suffered from post-partum depression, but her health at the end was mostly good.





[Click for larger image] This is looking south. Ascoli and the Clementi barracks are directly below. Casermette park in the distance is where Melania’s body was found.

Salvatore claims that on the afternoon of Monday 18 April he drove Melania and Victoria from their home (bottom left) about 10 kilometers west to a park with a playground on the Colle San Marco plateau (bottom right).





Salvatore claims that Melania and Victoria began playing on these swings, and that after a while Melania said she needed a restroom. As she headed off, he suggested she go to a nearby bar and to bring them back two coffees.

See that brown refreshments kiosk in the woods in the background? That becomes key, because people were sitting there watching and there is also a CCTV.





This is the restaurant and bar less than 200 meters away from the playground where Salvatore says he thought Melania was headed to, to use the restroom and purchase the coffee.





After nearly an hour of playing with Victoria (he says he lost track of time) as Melania had not returned Salvatore checked at the bar and called the local police and they brought along a tracker dog.





[Click for larger image] To Salvatore’s real or feigned great surprise, the tracker dog headed off at right angles, down the road along which he said they had driven up to the park. The scent went cold about 300 meters away from the swings.





Here is the playground in the background. If Melania walked that route she would have had to come by this portaloo and the refreshment kiosk with its outdoor seating, then mostly occupied.





This is the refreshment kiosk looking onto the road that Melania would have walked. The park was quite busy and people were seated in those chairs.





This is the access road to the park down which the police dog suggested Melania must have walked. The road descends here at just a slight slope.





After 250 meters the road above arrives at this intersection. Instead of turning left (yellow arrow) and back up another road to the bar, the dog turned right (blue arrow) and it lost Melania’s scent at the war memorial. 





This is the war memorial by the intersection where the dog lost Melania’s scent trail.





The police now arrive in force. This is the scene the next day when the police set up a base to search the park and to re-create what he says happened with Salvatore.





Salvatore is seen here with senior police officers and detectives explaining what he claims happened at the playground. Also in the two images below.







On the corner of the roof of the refreshment kiosk is a closed-circuity TV camera (CCTV) seen ringed here. Its recording was examined for an image of Melania walking by. No image was found.





The proprietor of the refreshment kiosk was interviewed by the police and later by the media. He did see a man in shorts with a small girl at the swings but he did not see Melania walking by.





This is the garden side of the bar where Salvatore said he thought Melania was heading to use the restrooms and pick up two coffees. Melania might have entered here.





This is the inside of the bar where Salvatore said he thought Melania was heading to use the restrooms and pick up two coffees. Melania would have had to walk through here.





The proprietor of the bar and restaurant was interviewed by the police and later the media. He saw Salvatore when he came checking, but he had seen no sign of Melania.
 




All the people who were sitting under the trees at the refreshment kiosk (two are seen here with a reporter) were interviewed. They had seen no sign of Melania walking by.





On wednesday an anonymous police call was made from this callbox (center at back) at a bus station in a town 15 kilometers south. The caller, disguising his or her voice, said there was a body in the Casermette park on the mountain high above the town.





The police headed in force for this park, which Salvatore knew well because his regiment trained there. They found Melania’s body beside the kiosk arranged like this..

There were around 32 stabs to Melania’s neck and upper back, some inflicted many hours after she was dead. Police profilers say this could be the payback of an extremely jealous other woman, and a jealous other woman (a fellow soldier) will appear.

Or maybe Salvatore alone could have made it look like this. Or other soldiers could have done it, if Melania for example stumbled onto the dark regimental secret the Rome police are now investigating.

Much of Italy now follows this cliffhanger, rooting as usual for the police, in part because Melania left behind a little girl. Also because Salvatore seems to have a terrible alibi, and yet nothing concrete ties him (yet) to Melania being found right here.

Open questions

These are not make-or-break, but they do show that as in Perugia there will always be loose ends. Who made the call from that booth? Was the dog fooled and if so how and by whom? What does the mobile-phone triangulation show? Why did Salvatore visit his barracks each of the next two days?


Posted on 11/24/11 at 06:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #1

Posted by Peter Quennell





In Italy the rates for murder are low by global and European standards. It has the second lowest murder rate in Europe, more than Norway’s but less than Britain’s, France’s, Sweden’s or Finland’s.

Puzzling murders are very rare. Only a very small fraction of Italian murders are of women and and at least two-thirds of those are simple, obvious crimes by by husbands or other relatives or boyfriends.

So at any one time few puzzling cases involving the deaths of young women, which seem to cause special outrage, are in the news or on Porta a Porta or the other TV talk shows. Meredith’s death was one of the rare exceptions, and that certainly drove the police and prosecutors to go the extra mile.

Melania Rea’s death is another. She was killed in April in very strange circumstances about 90 minutes south-east of Perugia. Her murder and investigation and Meredith’s seem to have several points in common, included the dogged sorting-out of an apparent cover-up.

Melania, 29, and her 30-year-old husband, Salvatore Parolisi, came from a town between Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples, where Melania now lies buried (image of her funeral below).

Corporal Parolisi was an instructor in the Clementi army barracks in the town of of Ascoli Piceno, where many female soldiers are trained. (Images of barracks and female soldiers training below).

Parolisis claimed to the police that on 18 April he was on a picnic with Melania and their 18-month-old daughter in a park on the south side of Ascoli Piceno,. He said Melania went off to look for a restroom and did not ever come back.

Two days later, an anonymous telephone tip from a phone-booth in a town nearby to a park called the the Mountain of Flowers, 10 kilometers south of Ascoli, led to the finding of Melania’s body in that park. The location is close to an army shooting range, and Parolisi later said that he and Melania had visited that park just 10 days before.

The police initially concluded that Melania’s body had been moved there after her death,  and so the jurisdiction for the case is the Carabinieri’s and local police’s back in Ascoli. 

The autopsy concluded that Melania had died slowly from loss of blood. She had suffered 32 stab wounds, some post-mortem, all of them shallow and possibly inflicted by someone not particularly strong.

There was extensive bruising to her face, and a syringe was stuck in her chest. There was no sign of sexual violence,

Self-infliction was immediately ruled out. A serial killer was briefly considered, as the nature of the victim and the crime and the condition of the body all resembled the vital facts of a serial killer’s victim called Rossella Goffo

No DNA or other physical evidence connected Melania’s husband to the crime. His story sounded sincere and it mostly hung together. After some initial questioning he was allowed to leave the barracks, and to return to his town near Vesuvius.

There both his own family and Melania’s family gave him a lot of public support. But then Parolisi (image in bottom two shots here) was recalled to Ascoli for more questioning, and the case began to get complicated.


























Posted on 11/18/11 at 08:37 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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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]








Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Italian Justice System Efficient And Uncontroversial In Other Prominent International Cases #2

Posted by Peter Quennell





Faux experts Doug Preston and Steve Moore and other Knox cultists don’t seem to realize it. But Italian and American law enforcement are smoothly co-operating on hundreds of cases at any one time.

Here is a good example. Italy’s role was absolutely crucial. The Italian police tracked down and apprehended in a tent high in the Alps an American fugitive who had been on the run for six years.

His name is Dr Mark Weinberger and he ran a clinic in Indiana. He got in seriously over his head and assembled debts up in the millions. While on his large powerboat in Greece’s Aegean Sea with his wife Michelle, also seen here, he disappeared.

Man overboard, hopefully presumed dead?

But both American and European law enforcement kept digging. Below the image from Indiana’s North West Times is an excellent timeline of events in the next six years.


September 2004: Dr. Mark Weinberger, a Merrillville-based sinus surgeon, heads to Greece on vacation on a yacht. He never returns from his regular 6 a.m. jog, taking thousands in emergency cash with him. Michelle Weinberger, his wife, is saddled with nearly $40,000 in dock fees and no means to get home. Her friends take up a collection to help her return.

Sept. 6, 2004: Weinberger patient Phyllis Barnes dies of throat cancer.

Oct. 5, 2004: With Weinberger missing, Robert Handler is appointed by Lake Circuit Court to manage Weinberger Sinus Clinic’s business affairs and settle $7 million in outstanding loans. Records indicate the clinic has about $7,000 in its coffers, which sits in stark contrast to Weinberger’s lavish lifestyle.

Oct. 13, 2004: Barnes’ estate files a lawsuit against Weinberger. He is accused of incorrect diagnosis and unnecessary treatment that prevented Barnes from getting treatment for her throat cancer.

Oct. 20, 2004: Twenty-three other patients, ages 7 to 60, file suit, accusing medical malpractice. They say Weinberger never considered nonsurgical options after diagnosing them. Ultimately, nearly 300 lawsuits will be filed, most saying Weinberger issued identical diagnoses and treatments.

Oct. 21, 2004: Valparaiso attorney Ken Allen says a private detective he hired believes Weinberger traveled to Israel aboard his yacht. Allen said Weinberger, who is Jewish, may have picked the country because American Jews can travel there without a passport and cannot be extradited.

Oct. 28, 2004: The Indiana Medical Licensing Board votes unanimously to suspend Weinberger’s license for 90 days.

Dec. 10, 2004: Michelle Weinberger says her husband’s credit cards were used to pay large sums in the French Riviera. She heads there to find him.

January 2005: Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter seeks to extend suspension of Weinberger’s medical license for another 90 days. He says 221 malpractice complaints have been filed with the Indiana Department of Insurance.

April 28, 2005: Weinberger’s license is permanently suspended.

July 12, 2005: Weinberger’s 14,000-square-foot surgical center and 10,000-square-foot condominium office building sell for about $2.4 million.

Also sold at auction are 1,000 pieces of medical equipment for $650,000.

March 2006: Weinberger’s wife, Michelle, divorces him.

March 30, 2006: Fred Weinberger files a lawsuit against his son, seeking repayment of a $1 million loan plus $417,043 in interest and expenses he claims his son owes him.

Dec. 8, 2006: Mark Weinberger is indicted on charges of fraud and malpractice.

The investigation shifts gears from a missing person search to a manhunt.

September 2008: The TV show “America’s Most Wanted” features a segment on Weinberger’s disappearance.

March 2009: Barnes’ estate wins its malpractice lawsuit.

Dec. 15: Weinberger is apprehended. The 46-year-old was found hiding in a tent some 6,000 feet above sea level at the foot of Mont Blanc in the Italian Alps. He stabs himself in the neck with a knife he hid while authorities were approaching, but he recovers and later is extradited.

Oct. 18: Weinberger agrees to plead guilty to each of the 22 federal fraud counts against him in exchange for a four-year prison sentence. He agrees to pay $366,600 in restitution to 22 patients he admitted defrauding. A judge still must accept the plea deal.

Michelle Weinberger (now Michelle Kramer) testified against him in detail. She later graduated with a doctorate in psychology. He was sentenced to spend years in prison (exact duration depends on the amount of fraud still being uncovered) and huge fines. And for botched surgeries he faces a huge number of suits. Here is another example.

So a lot flowed from that high-altitude Italian arrest..





Posted on 05/04/11 at 11:14 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Italian Justice System Efficient And Uncontroversial In Other Prominent International Cases #1

Posted by Peter Quennell


Going on right now is a trial of an alleged blackmailer’s accomplice at Pescara which is on Italy’s east coast about an hour south-east of Perugia.

In the dock is a rather strange Italian who assisted a Swiss gigolo to swindle at least six wealthy European women out of many millions. One of the women is a German divorced mother of three, Susanne Klatten (image above), who through her majority ownership of the chemical giant Altana and large stake in car manufacturer BMW is a multi-billionaire and Germany’s richest woman.

It was through her refusal to succumb to blackmail regardless of the personal embarrassment when she was shown sex shots of herself and the gigolo Helg Sgarb (image below) that the case was blown wide open. Helg Sgarb was tried in Munich in 2009 and sentenced to six years in prison.

A few days ago Susanne Klatten testified in Pescara against Ernani Barretta (image at bottom) who among other things is alleged to have done the secret filming of Ms Klatten at an exclusive spa in Germany. 

The case is going smoothly, Italian justice is looking good, and nobody connected to Barretta seems to think a hate campaign against Italian justice would do him any real good. 




Posted on 05/03/11 at 07:39 AM by Peter QuennellClick here to view all my past posts, via link at top left.
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