Subject area: Hoaxes against Italy

Monday, January 21, 2013

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

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my translation of the article from this point:

[…](p.66 line 17):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…. ]



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

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






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

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

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

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

Written by Nicola Bossi – Jan 4. 2013  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

By Valentina Cervelli -  6. Jan 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



[Above: the Florence Palace of Justice]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, January 12, 2013

How Much Or How Little To Blame Rudy Guede? The Defenses’ Immense Headache Coming Up

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Photo by Andrea Vogt as in December 2010 Supreme Court decides that Rudy Guede didnt act alone]


On a scale of 0% to 100% how much of the blame for the crime against Meredith has been heaped on Rudy Guede?

Well, it sure varies.

In trial court and first-appeal court it was never ever 100%. Seemingly very scared of the harm Guede could do to their clients, if they provoked him into telling all, defense lawyers have acted consistently since 2008 and more-so since December 2010 as if they walk on eggshells around him.

In fact among the defendants and their teams only ONCE was Guede ever blamed 100%. 

Sollecito’s bizarrely-titled Honor Bound 2012 book, the factually unchecked one which now is causing him and his defense team so much trouble, was the first instance ever among those accused to try to blame Guede for the crime 100%.

Our next post will look at the categoric claims against Guede in that book. Meanwhile, here, let us start at the beginning.

Commencing from when they were arrested, Amanda Knox pointed decisively at a black man, but of course she pointed at the wrong one: Patrick Lumumba. Make that 0%. Not long after they were arrested, Knox and Sollecito were strongly questioning the role of one another. So 100% against each other, but still a zero against Mr Guede.

In his messages from Germany Guede blamed two hasty intruders though he had no choice but to say he was there. Perhaps 33% at this point.  After Guede was captured, Sollecito implied that they were at the crime scene together because he was worried that Guede would implicate him. Make that 50%.

At Guede’s short-form trial In October 2008, Judge Micheli blamed Guede 33% too. In sending Knox and Sollecito to full trial he dismissed the lone wolf theory (never really to be revived in court again) and he tentatively believed the evidence pointed to their being equally guilty.

In fact Judge Micheli tentatively blamed Knox for instigating both the attack on Meredith and the rearrangement of the crime scene.  In effect he allocated 50% of the blame to Amanda Knox and 25% each to Guede and Sollecito. 

Throughout trial in 2009 the Knox and Sollecito defense teams seemed to take great care not ever to blame Guede 100%, perhaps because (for murky reasons not made public) Rudy Guede had refused to testify against their clients.

Judge Massei assigned Guede 33% of the blame as he concluded that Guede had initiated the attack but that Knox and Sollecito had wielded the knives and that one of them had struck the final blow. 

During trial and thereafter, the defense lawyers for the three were often on Italian TV and as our main poster the Italian lawyer Cesare Beccaria exhaustively charted in a four-part series, each “gently” blamed the other two.

We can assume that is either 33% or 50% but never more than that.

On February 24. 2011, in the Supreme Court report, on its rejection of Guede’s final appeal of his sentence for involvement in killing Meredith, blamed Rudy Guede and two others equally. Some 33% of the blame each.

The Supreme Court relied upon three facts: the physical evidence of Guede’s presence at the flat, Guede’s actual admission of his presence, and Guede’s implicit admission of shared-guilt in his documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 (“I was scared that they would say I was the only guilty person”).

In a nutshell, the situation at the start of the Sollecito and Knox appeal before Judges Hellmann and Zanetti in 2011 was this:

  • The Supreme Court had decided that Rudy Guede acting ALONE could not have attacked Meredith with several knives over an estimated 15 minutes, left so little physical evidence upon her, staged the break-in via the absurd route of Filomena’s window while leaving zero DNA in her room, placed Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, engineered several traces of Knox’s and Sollecito’s footprints outside the room, and placed the mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox in several different locations outside Meredith’s locked door.
  • But there remains zero evidence that perps two and three which the physical evidence strongly pointed to were anyone other than Knox and Sollecito. There’s really not one speck of hard evidence to the contrary. Defenses somewhat desperately tried to engineer some at first appeal from the seemingly perjured testimony of jailbirds Alessi and Aviello and some smoke-blowing over the DNA testing, but in terms of HARD evidence came up empty-handed. Alessi did a meltdown on the stand, while Aviello turned completely cuckoo, and Judges Hellmann and Zanetti had to invent arguments frantically to dig Knox and Sollecito out of that hole.

I have done a series of posts (to be read from the bottom upward) on the Hellmann-Zanetti outcome covering many other aspects of their strange arguments.

Back in late 2010 some of us at TJMK were impressed at the alacrity with which Judge Hellman selected Conti and Vecchiotti.

We were thinking that “he had already thought it all out” [we seem to have got that-much right], and that he was “being prudently responsive to the legal and political pressures bearing down on him, and knows the ruling also calls the defendants’ bluff.”

I had posted that the defenses of Knox and Sollecito seemed to be trying to exclude evidence that they themselves tried to destroy, essentially on the grounds that their destructive attempts failed to destroy all of it, and left behind only some of it.  Their argument had boiled down to whether the disputed DNA evidence is more unfairly prejudicial than probative.

It was my opinion that because it was the defendants’ deliberate conduct that nearly succeeded in extinguishing all their DNA, any US and UK courts would admit this highly relevant evidence, and let the participants duke out its fairness, in open court, in front of a jury.

I had thought that was what the Massei Court had already done, and was what the Hellmann/Zanetti court was then doing. The Hellmann/Zanetti court was doing that - but that was not all it was doing, as we now know and regret.

I had believed that the defendants would bitterly regret their petition for such DNA Expert-Opinion Review.  We should know in March 2013 if they regret it at all, let alone ‘bitterly’. So far they may not, but Sollecito’s current venture into special-pleading journalism in his book seems likely to accelerate their journey to a bitter and regretted destiny.

We were less impressed with how Judge Zanetti started the appeal hearings.

To his eternal discredit Judge Zenetti uttered words to the effect that “the only thing that is ‘certain’ in Meredith’s case is that Meredith is dead.” Nothing else. In effect, illegally promising a whole new trial at appeal level - very much frowned on by the Supreme Court.

Unless the word ‘thing’ is a mistranslation, that is not the only thing that was already certain in Meredith’s Case; Many Things were then certain in her case. 

For example, it is certain that the first-ever documented references to Meredith’s scream just before she was killed had already come both from the mouth of Amanda Knox herself, and from the hand of Amanda Knox, in the case of her contemporaneous personal hand-written notes.

Guede, himself, had certainly already made a documented reference to Meredith’s scream.

It was also certain that Guede had made documented references to his actual presence when Meredith screamed.

Some of these already-certain facts inconveniently undermined Hellmann’s and Zanetti’s already-assumed conclusions, so they then proceeded in-turn to undermine the ‘reliability’ of those facts, e.g. ‘it is not certain that the scream was Meredith’s scream; it could have been someone-else’s scream’; or even Amanda’s scream?

The Massei court had exhaustively presented the evidence from all sources in their conclusion that Knox and Sollecito were the ones who shared Guede’s guilt. But Hellmann/Zanetti then contradicted ALL the previous finders-of-fact with regard to Guede, essentially using five ploys in arguing:

  • That Guede was Unreliable: “for example, in the questioning before the Prosecutor, he denies being known by the nickname of Baron, ….so as to result in a version completely incompatible with the reality of the facts as perceived and heard…” [Is that ever giving birth to a mouse?], and
  • That the Supreme Court had “held Rudy Guede to be an Unreliable person”, and
  • That “therefore, among the evidence against the two accused, the testimony given at the hearing of June 27, 2011 by Rudy Guede cannot be included because it is Unreliable, nor can the contents of the letter written by him and sent to his lawyers”, and
  • That concerning Guede’s documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 “… the contents of the chat between Rudy Guede and his friend Giacomo Benedetti on the day of November 19,  2007,  also listened to by the Police,  can be considered in favour of the two accused”, because “he would not have had any reason to keep quiet about such a circumstance,”
  • And that “So, in the course of that chat with his friend….. Rudy Guede does not indicate in any way Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as the perpetrators…..” and “…..he would not have had any reason to keep quiet about such a circumstance….. he being…. certainly the perpetrator….. of the crimes carried out in via della Pergola, that if Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had also participated, that he would at that moment have revealed this to his friend.”

So, summarising Hellmann and Zanetti, they have absurdly argued a contradiction:

  • Because of Guedes notoriously unreliability, the public evidence in which he did accuse Knox and Sollecito cannot be considered as evidence of their guilt, but
  • In spite of Guede’s notorious unreliability, because Guede did not accuse Knox and Sollecito in a private conversation this must be considered as conclusive evidence of their innocence.

We are not the audience to which Dr Galati’s appeal against Hellmann and Zanetti to the Supreme Court is directed. Most of us probably have some difficulty with its legalese, translated into English, so bear with it.

Dr Galati’s appeal against Hellmann and Zanetti refers to Guede’s documented Skype InstaMessage to Giacomo Benedetti on Nov. 19, 2007 as follows:

The Hellmann/Zanetti court, “has… made …. completely anomalous use of the Skype call, accepting it for the time of Kercher’s death, but not for other circumstances which are also extremely relevant for judgment purposes, but which have been totally ignored.

In fact, in the call, Guede recounts having heard Meredith complaining about her missing money and of her intention of asking Ms Knox, with whom she had quarrelled, for an explanation (p. 10 of the call [transcript]), of having seen Meredith look in vain for the missing money in her drawer (p. 18), then of having seen Meredith look, still in vain, for her missing money in Amanda’s room (pp. 18-19 of the call [transcript]), and of having heard a girl enter the house, who could have been one of the roommates, thus Amanda (p. 11 of the call [transcript]), while the Ivorian found himself in the bathroom, just before hearing Meredith’s terrible scream which would have caused him [59] to exit the bathroom, about five minutes after the girl’s ingress (p 12 of the call [transcript])”... .

The Court has, in practice, without reason thrown the responsibility onto Guede for throwing the rock and clambering in (see pp 121-122 of the appealed judgment): in the same Skype call, Guede, however, repeatedly denies having seen the broken window in Romanelli’s room during the whole time in which he was in the house at Via della Pergola on that evening (pp 8, 20, 34 of the call [transcript]). Not only that: Rudy Guede also said that he was at Knox’s many times‛ (pp 88 of the call [transcript]).

If the Court held the Ivorian citizen to be sincere in the tele-conversation with his friend Benedetti, then why not also believe him when he denies having broken in, or when he recounts Meredith having it out with Amanda, or when he says that he had been at the latter’s place many times‛?

Dr Galati’s appeal to the Supreme Court argues that the Hellmann/Zanetti appeal judgment, apart from being manifestly illogical, is manifestly contradictory with respect to the contents of the case file referred to (Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code). Here is what it says about their tortured interpretations of Rudy Guede.

And in the Skype call with Benedetti, intercepted unbeknownst to him, there emerge circumstances that confirm Guede’s court declarations. The Court takes the Skype call with his friend Benedetti into examination, valuing it ‚in favour of the two accused‛ both for what it does not say and also for what it does say, and this it does building from one, not only unexplained, datum but which would have taken little to deny: since Rudy was outside of Italy, he was in some sense safe‛ and thus could well have been able to tell the whole truth (p 40 of the judgment).

Not in the least does the Court depart from the presupposition that in this call Rudy would have been telling the truth and, because in this call he would not have named the current defendants, these have got nothing to do with the homicide. The Court does not explain, though, that even in this call Rudy was tending to downplay his responsibility and, if he had named his co-participants, that would have easily allowed, by means of investigations and subsequent interviews, the bringing out of his causal contribution and of his responsibility.

[91] Of the things said in this Skype call, the Court seems at one moment to want to value the chronological datum from 9:00 PM to 9:30 PM to affirm that this would therefore have been the time of death of Meredith; successively, though the appeal judges, following the principle of plausible hypothesis, in relation to the outgoing calls on the victim’s English handset, have moved it to 10:15 PM, but they have not altered the reliability of the time indicated by Guede.

In truth, during the course of the conversation, Rudy recounts having heard Meredith complain about the missing money and of her intention to ask Knox, with whom she had argued, for an explanation (p 10 of the call); of having seen Meredith look in vain for the missing money in her drawer (see p 18); of having seen her search, again in vain, for the missing money in Amanda’s room (pp 18 and 19 of the call) and of having heard a girl enter the house – who must have been one of the flatmates, thus Amanda (p 11 of the call), – while he was in the bathroom, a little before hearing Meredith’s terrible scream which would have induced him to exit the bathroom, about five minutes after the ingress of the girl (p 12 of the call).

And also, on the subject of the break-in in Romanelli’s room – thrown without explanation onto Guede’s back (see the judgment being appealed from, at pp 121 and 122) – can remarks by the Ivorian citizen be found in the transcription of the intercept. Guede repeatedly denies having seen the broken window in Romanelli’s room for the whole time in which he was in the house at Via della Pergola that evening (pp 8, 20, 34 of the call).

If the [Appeal Court] had held as reliable what Rudy narrated in the Skype call relating to the time in which Meredith was killed, it supplies no reason at all, on the other hand, for why it does not believe him as well when he denies [92] having committed the break-in or when he recounts the quarrel of Meredith with Amanda.”

None of this changes my own beliefs that there are even many more things in evidence that are ‘beyond any reasonable doubt’.  For example:

  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that Meredith was restrained by hands other than the knife-wielding hand(s); and that Meredith was restrained by the hands of two, or three persons as she was killed.
  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that steps were taken to clean away smears made by Meredith’s blood in the place where she was killed, and tracks of Meredith’s blood transferred by her killers to other places.
  • It is beyond any reasonable doubt that steps were also taken to simulate a break-in that never-was.

In the next post, we examine Dr Galati’s appeal further and the strident claims against Guede made in Sollecito’s own book which contradict some of the positions of HIS OWN LAWYERS. Note that Dr Galati has argued in the appeal that it was ILLEGAL for Hellmann and Zanetti not to have taken the Supreme Court’s ruling on three perps fully into account and having innored it or brushed past it. 

Verrrry tough situation for defense counsel to be in.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Simon & Schuster Seem To Be Seriously Rattled Over Lack Of Due Diligence On Sollecito’s Book

Posted by Peter Quennell





See this emailed exchange which took place late today.

What Simon & Schuster’s agent is complaining about was a chronological reordering (behind the scenes and not linked to from the front page) of these many corrections here. Our Kindle and hardcover copies were legally purchased. Simon & Schuster put about 1/4 of the book on the front of their own website, and Google Books also carries about 1/4 of the book to read free.

Admittedly, our corrections may have been quite a shock. However, we didnt cause the book sales to tank. All of our past posts on Raffaele Sollecito’s book can be seen here.


*******


Mr Eraj Siddiqui
119 South B Street Suite A,
San Mateo, CA 94401

Dear Mr Siddiqui

Thank you for your “Verified DMCA Removal Request from Attributor” copied below.

The book you refer to appears to contain up to 30 instances of criminal defamation under Italian law and literally hundreds of wrong and injurious statements that are hurtful to many fine officials in Italy.

We have full legal rights to point out the myriad mistakes in the book. In fact a defamation of a prosecutor in the book has ALREADY been admitted on Italian national TV by the writer’s own father in Rome.

That Simon & Schuster apparently failed to do their legal and factual due diligence on the book prior to publishing seems to us to be absolutely nobody’s fault but their own. They are hardly new at this game.

Nice try, but sorry, no cigar.

Peter Quennell


*******


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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Click Why The Prosecutors In Italy Are Relatively Popular.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Click Understanding Why The DNA Is On The Knife.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Click That Widely Watched LA7 TV Interview With Giuliano Mignini

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

    Click Full CNN Interview With Mignini That CNN SHOULD Have Reflected

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

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

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

    Click Powerpoints #13: We Now Examine The Compelling Evidence For The REAL Railroading From Hell

Friday, October 19, 2012

Exploding Nightmare For Lawyers Of The Defense: Torrent of “Mistakes” In Sollecito’s Hapless Book

Posted by Sara





More and more and more wrong facts and libels are being turned up in Sollecito’s pathetic book, both by us here and by an irritated officialdom in Rome and Perugia.

Amanda Knox is rumored to perhaps be mentally unstable and figuratively locked in the attic in Seattle. Now Sollecito seems to have been disappeared back in Italy for his own good as well.

Sollecito’s own lawyers (who have in the past threatened to walk) and his own family have already thrown him to the wolves on Italian TV over just one highly libelous claim and there are an estimated two dozen more still to surface.

Not really a good idea to write a shrill “I’m the real victim here” book unchaperoned, when you have the smug mentality of a 12-year-old. The facts strongly against you. A very bright prosecutor. And a ghost writer whose slobbering over a laughably fictional Sollecito suggests he has a something of a boy-crush.

Raffaele Sollecito has made many stupid claims in his book, but perhaps none is so obvious and more idiotic than his claims about the “lost” emails.

What is it with this guy and the emails? He seems to think (or perhaps, thinks that the readers are stupid enough to believe) that if a computer or a hard drive is destroyed, all the emails in it are lost as well. Come on already, surely they taught him the mechanisms of email in his computer classes.

Look at his statements regarding emails. In chapter 2 (Love and Death) of his book, he describes the morning after the murder -

I’d been up several times in the night—listening to music, answering e-mail, making love—and wanted only to go back to sleep

Right, so he got up many times in the night to answer e-mails. You’d think that this would be his biggest alibi for the night of the murder, right? No, wrong. Raffaele could not prove his alibi because, in his own words -

I did not yet know that the Polizia Postale—supposedly experts in handling technology issues—had seized two of my computers along with Amanda’s and Meredith’s and somehow wrecked three of the four hard disks while trying to decipher them. The bottom line was that the damaged disks were now deemed unreadable. That left just my MacBook Pro to provide an alibi for the night of the murder.

But modern emails DON"T EVEN RESIDE on local hard drives unless one DELIBERATELY downloads them. And even if one does (and hardly anyone ever does) there rarely is reason to completely delete the original, and here there seems about zero reason to do that.

And even if the original IS deleted Facebook and email services have shown under legal pressure that they maintain complete backups going back many months. No way Sollecito’s supposed emails on the night could have been made to simply no longer exist.

Again, when he talks about Amanda and Meredith’s friendship, he says -

If either Meredith’s or Amanda’s computer had survived the police examination, there might have been photographs, emails, and other evidence to point to a more meaningful interaction

Here we go with the elusive emails again. Will someone explain the point of email to this guy? What difference would the local computers surviving or not surviving make to any emails residing on his host’s servers?

He actually has the nerve to criticize the Polizia Postale’s technical competence after making a statement to the effect that he and Amanda could not retrieve their emails as the hard disks were damaged.

Whether the hard disks were destroyed or not, whether it was the Polizia Postale’s fault or not is hardly important here. Admittedly, Amanda is not a “technical genius” (After all, she does not know how to delete messages from her sent items).

But what is stopping this resident technical genius from simply accessing his email box from some other computer or iphone, and printing out a copy from his sent items? Why doesn’t he ask even one of the happy recipients of his emails - by the way, who were they? - to forward it back to him?

Did all of them delete his mails from their in boxes and trash too? Even if we defy all logic and accept that they did, what’s stopping at least one of them from coming forward and testifying that they received a mail from him that night? Did all of them get selective amnesia at the same time too?

Similarly, if any emails that proved the “close friendship” between Amanda and Meredith existed wouldn’t they still be retrievable from Amanda’s mailbox? She could have printed a copy any time. Did she go around deleting all of Meredith’s mails the minute they arrived as well as her own replies to them, and clearing her trash box and all her host’s backups as well, just to be doubly sure they can’t be retrieved?.

Ok, let’s say the emails were deleted. What about the photographs? If there had been any photographs that would establish their “close” friendship, wouldn’t they be there on the camera or phone from which they were taken? Or wouldn’t either Meredith or Amanda have sent them to someone or posted them on their Facebook?

How did EVERYTHING vanish without a trace? If neither of them ever sent the photos to anyone or posted them online anywhere, or even kept them on file, you really have to wonder what was the point of taking them at all.

No one is claiming that Amanda and Meredith were at loggerheads all the time, they might even have gotten along initially. Meredith was not a person who judged people harshly. By all accounts, she did try her best to get along with Amanda, trying to include her in outings and defending her when she got into trouble.

It was Amanda who pulled away saying she wanted to socialize only with Italians. But the fact is that there were clashes and there were differences between them.  Trying to make out that they were the best of friends by claiming the destruction of non-existent proofs is not only unbelievable but also utterly stupid.

Like our main poster Hopeful summarized it: this claimed computer genius has never in four years been able to prove he sent an email? Ridiculous.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

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

Posted by Peter Quennell



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

The Sollecito/Gumbel book is an “own goal”

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

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

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

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

Analysis Of 3 Claims Of Criminal Conduct

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

1. A deal was sought by prosecution to frame Knox

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Deliberately wrong reasoning in the Galati appeal

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

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

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

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

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

1. What The Sollecito/Gumbel book claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Correctly explaining Cassation’s reasoning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Dr Galati cites and explains further:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This translation is kindly provided by main poster ZiaK.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, September 21, 2012

CNN’s Jane Velez Mitchell Has A Nervous Sollecito And Then TWO Guests Who Think He Did It

Posted by Peter Quennell



A lively debate! CNN Headline News tonight around 7:30. No “I wuz beaten up by meanie policemen” claims this time by Sollecito.

Mistakes were made by all the speakers, but super-lawyer Wendy Murphy and the crime blogger Levi Page gave the case for guilt their best shot. Even the third commentator thinks the timing of the book is insane.

Wendy Murphy didnt know about the Meredith book, but it was published only in England and transgressed no Italian law. She did vigorously get across just how much evidence there is, and not for the first time. See her tough article here and tough interview here where she assesses Knox as dangerous.

Jane, Mignini is NOT in a ton of trouble and never was. No satanism, repeat, no satanism. Your senior CNN colleague Nancy Grace believed Knox did it. Your CNN colleague Drew Griffen set Mignini up. See here and also here.

There were no leaks - at least not by Mignini. He never leaks. There were no tabloids, at least not in Italy. The only 2-3 were in the UK, and they affected no jury. There was no invented Foxy Knoxy - that was her own Internet presence.

Sollecito couldnt get his story out? But he maintained a code of total silence for four years - could THAT have been the problem? And Sollecito did NOT support Amanda’s alibi - he sold her down the river in a heartbeat when a policeman looked at him funny (kidding - just a little).

And what’s with your squealing, Jane?! He isnt THAT adorable. Not if you are at the wrong end of a knife.


Friday, May 04, 2012

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

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[Left, editor Chris Blackhurst of the Independent, right, editor Tony Gallagher of the Daily Telegraph]


1. Examine first some key happenings at the Knox/Sollecito trial

Throughout the trial which began back in January 2009 the defense teams often seemed down or depressed or distracted or floundering.

Reports surfaced in Italy that one or two of them might even have considered walking. Knox defense counsel Luciano Ghirga was reported as nodding off or distracted. Sollecito defense counsel Giulia Bongiorno was photographed seemingly showing some exasperation with Sollecito and at zero notice she missed several days in court.

Amanda Knox’s testimony over two days on the stand in June 2009 was widely seen in Italy as a disaster. From then on many in the court and throughout Italy believed this seemingly callous, evasive, forgetful girl had to have had a role in Meredith’s death.

Having failed to attend to observe any of the key forensic tests at the Scientific Police labs in Rome, the defenses were able to introduce some forensic witnesses who testified that there might, possibly, somehow, be contamination in the collection and tests which they chose not to witness, but they never came close to showing how.

By the summations in November 2009 both defenses seemed to be seriously floundering. 


2. Fast forward to Friday 20 November 2009

What happened on 20 November might well have made it the defenses’ very worst day.

On that day during their summation the prosecution BEHIND CLOSED DOORS devoted an entire day to reconstructing how Meredith died and the events in the few hours before and since.

The presentation was closed because Judge Massei had ruled in favor of Meredith’s family to close the court to the media when any upsetting material was being presented. For example the results of the autopsy had been presented in closed court.

This resulted in the Massei judges and jury receiving a much more disturbing picture than the Italian public and especially the foreign publics ever did.

The Italian media pieced together what had been presented behind the closed doors on 20 November and Il Messagero and several other Italian newspapers published it several days later. You can read a combined summary in this post here.

To our knowledge none of that summary of events ever appeared in the US or UK media, so the full impact of the reconstruction felt by the jury and to a lesser extent by the Italian public was never felt at all by the US or UK publics.

This excerpt is from that post:

We have left out the depiction of the final struggle with Meredith, which is extremely sad and disturbing. In the evidence phase this was testified-to behind closed doors at her family’s request and we have never posted anything from those sessions….

23:21 - Amanda and Raffaele go into Meredith’s bedroom, while Rudy goes into the bathroom.

23:25 - A scuffle begins between Amanda, helped by Raffaele, and Meredith. The English girl is taken by the neck, then banged against a cupboard. Rudy Guede enters and joins in.

23:30 - 23:45 Depiction in the timeline and computer simulation of a horrific struggle with Meredith

23:50 - Amanda and Raffaele take Meredith’s mobile phones and they leave the apartment. Guede goes into the bathroom to get several towels to staunch the blood, then puts a cushion under Meredith’s head.

That simulation video was a second-by-second depiction of what the crime-scene specialists from the Scientific Police in Rome had concluded, from the position of Meredith’s body in the room, evidence traces and the placing of various objects, and the many wounds described in the autopsy.

It was extremely difficult and laborious to get just right, and every tiny movement of the four that it depicts in three-dimensional space had to be able to stand up unchallenged - as they did.

The fight with Meredith took a horrific fifteen minutes. It only ended when she was lying bleeding on the floor, her hands grasping her neck. She was locked in her room to die, with her keys and phones removed to make sure she could not save her own life.

This was not a minute or two of hazing and a slipped knife. The evident intention was to see her dead - and in the reconstruction it required THREE ATTACKERS to explain all the evidence points.

The prosecution never entered the video into evidence so it could not be leaked to the public (the Sollecito family already stood accused of leaking one video)  but the effect on the jury seems to have been profound and the defenses could do nothing to blunt it.

The lone wolf theory was well and truly dead in that courtroom and a perception of three attackers was well and truly alive. The defenses did what they could in their summations but they were unable to shake the perception of a depraved three-against-one attack.

A few days later a verdict was announced. By a UNANIMOUS verdict Sollecito and Knox were found guilty.


3. Fast forward to the first-level appeal before Judge Hellman in 20011

Judge Sergio Matteini Chiari, the most senior judge in the criminal division, was appointed to preside over the appeal.

He was very experienced at presiding over murder trials and appeals. What happened next surprised many among the judges and prosecutors and Italian reporters and the Italian public generally. From the Italian Wikipedia:

Although the Assize Court of Appeal was to be chaired by Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari, Chairman of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal in Perugia, in circumstances not well understood Dr. Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, who chairs the Labor Chamber of the Court, has been called on to preside over the appeal court,

The judge to the side of the main judge, Dr. Massimo Zanetti, came from the Civil Section, and both had had limited experience with criminal trials both rather remote in time (only the cases of Spoleto and Orvieto).

Judge Hellman readily consented to the defense requests. First to re-examine several witnesses previously heard on the stand during trial (primarily Mr Curatolo) and two new ones (Alessi and Aviello) intended to show that Guede or Aviello’s missing brother could have attacked Meredith with unknown others.

And second to appoint two independent experts who would re-examine the DNA on the large knife found in Sollecito’s apartment and the DNA for which traces were collected in Meredith’s room and the methods used for processing them.

The examination of the witnesses seemed to end indecisively, but the vague suggestions of the independent consultants that there COULD have been DNA contamination - never proven - was accepted readily by Judge Hellman.

The reconstruction and the showing of the simulation which the trial jury sat through in later 2009 was not repeated by the prosecution at the first appeal in late 2011. Judge Hellman showed no inclination to sit through the full depiction of the day or the horrific 15-minute attack on Meredith.

So the explanation of all the evidence points in the room and on Meredith’s body was never solidly brought home solidly to Judge Hellman or his jury. In his verdict he overturned the outcome of the first trial, provisionally pending any Supreme Court ratification, and he handed Amanda Knox a three-year sentence for framing Patrick Lumumba.

Having refused to see the reconstruction, he could very torturously argue that the attack on Meredith could have been carried out by a single person. If he and his jury had actually watched the video, they could never have argued that.


4. Fast-forward to the grounds of Dr Galati’s appeal to the Supreme Court

The Umbria Chief Prosecutor’s grounds for appeal were spelt out by him at a new conference in Perugia on Monday 13 February 2012. The PMF translation team will soon have the full document ready in English.

The summary of the grounds for appeal below is translated from the Umbria24 report and to our knowledge NO English-language website except this one and PMF has ever reported what are the full grounds.

Meredith case: the prosecution appeals to Cassation: the acquittal verdict should be “nullified”.

For the Chief Magistrates of the [Umbria] Prosecution, “it was almost exclusively the defence arguments which were taken heed of”

By Francesca Marruco

The first-level conviction verdict was “complete and thorough” while the verdict of the second-level is “contradictory and illogical”.  For this reason, the General Prosecution of Perugia asks the Cassation to revoke or invalidate it.

“We are still extremely convinced that Amanda and Raffaele are co-perpetrators of the murder of Meredith Kercher” said the Chief Prosecutor of Perugia, Giovanni Galati and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola.

Verdict that should be revoked “The second-level verdict should be annulled/revoked….  There are precise reasons for revoking it”, Mr Galati went on to say. In the Hellman reasoning report on the verdict with which the second-level judges acquitted the ex-boyfriend and girlfriend “there are so many errors, and many omissions. There is inconsistency in the grounds for judgement, which brings us to nothing.”

“It is as if they had ruled ex novo [anew] on Meredith’s murder” added the Deputy Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola, “basing their decision solely on the arguments of the defence.”

“Normally the appeal judge evaluates the reasoning procedure of the first-instance judge and compares it to new elements. But this one missed that out altogether: there is no comparison between the checks carried out in the first and second instances. Only what was carried out during the appeal was evaluated.”

Only defence arguments were taken heed of For the magistrates, in fact, the second-level judges “took heed, almost exclusively, of the arguments of the defence consultants or the reconstruction hypotheses that were largely to the benefit of the defense theses”.

The prosecutors who authored the appeal [to Cassation] also criticized the “method used”. “The first-instance verdict”, they wrote, “was summarized in just a few lines”,

“The verdict [which we] challenge completely ignored all the other aspects which corresponded with the accusation’s hypothesis, all the aspects which, on the contrary - as was seen in the reasoning report of the first-instance verdict - had been rigorously pointed out and considered by the Assizes Court [trial court] in its decision.”

“In examining the individual [items of] evidence, the challenged sentence has fallen into consistent procedural error in the weaknesses and evident illogicality of the grounds for its decision.”

Prejudice For the General Prosecution magistrates, the second-level [first appeal] judges appear to have shown “a sort of prejudice” with the “infelicitous preamble of the judge [the author], who is supposed to be impartial”, when he declared that “nothing is certain except the death of Meredith Kercher”, which to the others [Mr Galati and Mr Costagliola] is nothing more than “a resounding preview/forecast of the judgement” and a “disconcerting” affirmation.
 
The ten points The reasons for the appeal to Cassation which Perugia’s General Prosecution presented today against the acquittal verdict of Amanda and Raffaele are based on ten points of the second-level verdict.

The first is the lack of grounds for the decision, in the decree of 18 December 2010, to allow the forensic testimony/expert witness in the appeal judgement.

The second, in contrast, concerns a contrary decision: the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.

The other points deal with the decision by the Appeal court of Assizes of Perugia to not hear the witness Aviello, also the definition of “unreliable” [in the Hellman Report] with reference to the witnesses Roberto Quintavalle and Antonio Curatolo, also the time of death of Meredith Kercher, also on the genetic investigations.

As well as the analyses of the prints and other traces, also the presence of Amanda and Sollecito in via della Pergola, also the simulation of a crime [the staged break-in], and also the exclusion of the aggravating circumstance of the crime of “calumny”.

Missing assumption/acceptance of decisive evidence In the appeal to Cassation there is also mention of the “missing assumption/acceptance of a decisive proof”

In other words, of that proof [presented at trial court] which consisted of “the carrying out of the genetic analysis on the sample taken from the knife by the experts appointed by the Court during the appeal judgement, who did not carry out the analyses of that sample, thus violating a specific request contained in the [orders given to them] when they were assigned to the expert-witness post”

“In the second-level [Hellman] verdict”, the magistrates said, “the judges sought to refer to this in their own way, by speaking of an “experimental method” by which these tests/checks could be carried out.

But this is not the case”, said Deputy Chief Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola: “Dr Novelli [the prosecution’s DNA consultant at appeal] spoke of cutting-edge technology, not of experimental methods”.

So Dr Galati, himself formerly a deputy chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court who for years handled nothing but Supreme Court cases and knows what constitutes a sound appeal argument, argued that Judge Hellman had made ten serious mistakes. (Aviello claimed in court that he had been bribed; instead of investigating, Judge Hellman very quickly move on.)

But even worse, that Judge Hellman had illegally vastly expanded the scope of the appeal. And he had illegally appointed the independent DNA experts.

Because of Hellman’s alleged sloppiness and overreach, the defenses now stood to lose EVERYTHING they thought they had gained - and had been so noisily jubilant about, especially to the media in the US. An arrogance not taken kindly to in Italy at all.


5. Fast forward to English language press reports of the past few days.

Nick Squires may have been the first to carry the report quoting unnamed sources in the Daily Telegraph.

Two prosecutors in Perugia, where Miss Kercher was murdered, face accusations of wasting 182,000 euros (£150,000) of public money by commissioning a controversial 3D video which purported to show how the murder unfolded.

The contentious video, which defence lawyers said was based on circumstantial evidence, showed Miss Kercher being held down and stabbed to death by Miss Knox and her two co-accused.

The Leeds University student and her alleged murderers were represented in the 20 minute film by animated ‘avatars’. It was played on a big screen to the judge and jury in the original trial in 2009.

The National Audit Office is now investigating the prosecutors, Giuliano Mignini and his deputy, Manuela Comodi, on whether the video was a necessary part of their case.

If found culpable they could have to pay the money back to the prosecutors’ office.

Really? Accusations? Wasting? Controversial? Purported? Contentious? Now investigating?

Note that Nick Squires didnt name his sources. He didnt explain why he claimed the video simulation was controversial. (It wasn’t at all controversial at trial in 2009.) He didnt seem to know who had made the accusations or how or when they had been made or to who. 

He failed to mention that the video was played behind closed doors, and that the defenses had no comeback to it. He said it depicted Knox, though in fact it deliberately didn’t. He didn’t explain that the depiction of the fight lasted 15 minutes. He didn’t explain that the depiction of three attackers was overwhelmingly convincing to Judge Massei and his jury.

Nick Squires’s report was nevertheless comparatively brief and restrained in contrast to that of Michael Day which came next. His very much embroidered version was published in the UK Independent.  The accusatory tone and serious charges in Nick Squires’s and Michael Day’s reports were then picked up without checking by a large number of American and European media outlets.

See the reports here and here and here and here and here and here and here .

Note that not one of these reports was checked out in Italy, and that all these reports slam Mr Mignini (yet again) and indicate that this was an OFFICIAL accusation of “wasting public funds”.  Many US reports wrongly state that the British audit office is investigating.

Michael Day claimed that “Agostino Chiappiniello has said he suspects the two of inappropriately spending €182,000 (£148,000) on a crude and cartoonish 20-minute video,” 

Really? Agostino Chiappiniello, did you tell Michael Day precisely that?

Michael Day then states that “In both trials [Mr Mignini’s ] interventions were notable for the outlandish motivations and personality traits he attributed to the defendants. He promoted the idea that the murder was the result of a sex-game that got out of control, despite having little or no evidence to support the theory.”

Really? Actually Guede and Knox and Sollecito were all CONVICTED of a sex crime at trial, because to their judges and juries that is what the evidence inescapably pointed to.

And Michael Day concludes with yet another misleading statement (see above on Dr Galati’s appeal for the correct facts which he seriously garbles here.):

Judges at the Cassation court may only overturn the first-appeal verdict on technical grounds. Thus, no new evidence may be introduced and the prosecution’s room for manoeuvre is limited. The pair could not be retried for the same crimes.

Really? But nobody is talking about the pair being retried for the same crimes. This does not arise. Under Italian law they STILL stand accused of the same crimes as they were before trial back in 2009 until the Supreme Court signs off on their case.


6. Fast-forward to the ITALIAN reports of the past two days

Translation by our main poster Jools from an Umbria24 report, posted on Wednesday, which tells a very different story. 

[There was several months ago]… a complaint from “a group of private citizens” who did not sign their names and surnames about an alleged misuse of public money….

No comment from the two prosecutors of Perugia, no comment on this news.

As we have learned the prosecutors have not received any legal papers regarding the investigation and they heard of the news from the press.

Who will pay? To decide if the expense was adequate for the State coffers will be the task of the prosecutor at the Court of Audits of Umbria.

Meanwhile if the Supreme Court were to overturn the judgment of the Perugia appellate court, the costs would be paid by the two accused [Knox and Sollecito].

If instead the Supreme Court were to confirm the acquittal, the bill for 182 thousand euros would be borne by the Italian State.



7. In summation

Quite a fizzle. The prosecutors are NOT quaking in their boots. They didnt even know about it.  And the full force of Italian justice does NOT have them under the microscope. 

  • The anonymous complaint was filed over two months ago.  Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
  • If the enquiry is actually pursued (not at all certain)  then it is Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito who could in fact be stuck for the costs (plus VAT) of producing the video. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
  • The Corte dei Conti is not the equivalent of a criminal or civic court, it is essentially an investigating tribunal. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
  • The Corte dei Conti has so far not accused anyone of anything, and it may never do so. It sure doesn’t seem to regard the matter as urgent. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
  • In fact it has taken over two months to, well… not even assemble the evidence or bother to get in touch with Mr Mignini or Ms Comodi. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.

On the same basis Judge Hellman could in theory be accused of incurring TWO huge cost over-runs.

  • One for running his appeal court only on saturdays to suit just one defense lawyer, when the overtime costs to Italy became huge - substantially more than the cost of the video. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.
  • And one for (according to Dr Galati) illegally appointing the two DNA consultants - the costs of that investigation to Italy became much more than the cost of the video. Nick Squires and Michael Day sure did not make that clear.

The reconstruction video is so powerful and accurate that it could,  if it is watched by the Supreme Court in Rome or a new appeal court in Perugia, be quite devastating to the defense of the two accused. This is because it depicts the full cruelty of the attack on Meredith - and it shows that THREE people had to have attacked her.

So who filed the anonymous complaint against Mr Mignini and Ms Comodi? And who used Nick Squires and Michael Day as puppets to make a private claim look official, and make that hoax go viral?  We are sure Dr Galati will have all the answers before many days go past. Calunnia charges might apply.

Someone must REALLY fear that Sollecito and Knox will be cooked if that video reconstruction ever gets shown again. Case closed? At one stroke.


[Below: Knox and Sollecito, who could be billed over $300,000 for the reconstruction video]


Monday, April 30, 2012

Does ANY Competent Lawyer Believe RS And AK Are 100% Innocent? If So See These Questions

Posted by James Raper



[Above: Knox defense legal advisor Ted Simon increasingly seems to have some explaining to do]

After 3 days and growing, unfortunately no sign that pro-innocence lawyers (if any) want to respond.  Mr Simon? Mr Barnett? Ms Nancy Grace? (Well perhaps not you)

The Italian, US and UK lawyers who guide TJMK (of which I am one) look around and wonder: why are genuinely-convinced pro-Knox lawyers (if any) still not comprehensively answering all the open questions?

I contrast this with the various media talking heads who have offered drive-by comments without a really deep understanding of the facts of the case or Italian law.

In the law of all three countries, defense lawyers don’t need to KNOW either way whether their client is guilty or innocent. They don’t have to come out with a complete scenario to account for all the facts and point to innocence that would be the counterpart to my scenario (powerpoints - wait a few seconds to load) seemingly accounting for all the facts, which is still an unchallenged case for guilt.

But a comprehensive rebuttal would do the hard-pressed Sollecito and Knox factions a big favor, and provide a much-needed framework for the media (which is posting many incorrect legal claims), and make the Cassation appeal and the book-writing by Knox and Sollecito so much easier.

Consider the ups-and-downs of the defense legal teams on the case,

It was clear in 2008 that her lawyers absolutely didnt like Knox speaking out, offering different versions that between them made her look distinctly guilty. They didnt like the anti-Mignini campaign run from Seattle and they publicly said so - when Mr Mignini was attacked by a main speaker at an event at Salty’s they actually spoke up and publicly defended him.

In December 2008 NBC TV aired an excellent Dateline report. The main legal talking head, Ted Simon, explained that this was a really tough prosecution case to beat, and that whacking down individual points of evidence would not win the case in the public eye (justice would not be seen to be done) and that only a complete alternative explanation of the crime would do.

At trial in 2009 the defense teams did what they could with a torrent of facts and two unpredictable clients. The cross-examination of Amanda Knox on the stand mid-year in the context of Patrick Lumumba’s alleged framing must have seemed a real low-point for them, as she came across as rather flippant and chilling, and she said a number of things that all defense lawyers would probably prefer that she hadn’t.

Through the publication of Judge Massei’s report the defenses seem to have been faced with an uphill battle.

In 2011 an experienced criminal-case judge was initially appointed to preside over the first appeal. But quite suddenly, to the surprise of many in Italy and the alleged unhappiness of the judge himself, he was removed from the case, and Judge Hellman was appointed in his place. 

Defence counsel would of course have had no role in that surprise change of lead judges for the first appeal, but from Day One of the appeal (spaced out to one session a week by Judge Hellman to suit one of them) the defenses seemed much happier.

The prosecution were now on occasion publicly hinting that they were now stuck with the uphill battle. The defenses now seemed the side energized and confident. But please note these three things which suggest that they knew they were not all-powerful.

    1)  They appealed on very narrow grounds, essentially on some witness testimony and a small part of the forensic evidence, and they kept well away from the multiple alibis, mobile phones and computers, and forensic evidence in the hallway, bathroom, and Filomena’s room.

    2) They never argued that Rudy Guede was the lone-wolf killer in the case (the surprise preference in his report of Judge Hellman) and even put their own witnesses Alessi and Aviello on the stand to in effect try to prove otherwise.

    3) Knox legal advisor Ted Simon was reduced to arguing on TV that there was no evidence of Knox and Sollecito IN the bedroom, while never accounting for the mishmash of alibis or all the mixed-blood and footprint evidence just outside the door.

As Dr Galati’s appeal and public opinion in the three countries are showing, the defences may have mostly won the second battle, with Judge Hellman’s interim verdict and sentence (Knox was still sentenced to three years), but they seem to be falling far short of winning the war for the two clients.

Now the defences again face an uphill battle.

So here we go. An opportunity for any good pro-innocence lawyer to help to win the war for Knox and Sollecito. Forget the forensics for now. I offer these several dozen questions for you and/or Amanda Knox which, truthfully answered, might put many concerns to bed.

I will be happy to post here any real attempt at answering all of these questions by any qualified lawyer who is thoroughly on top of the case - or of course any attempt by Amanda Knox herself.   

    1. Why did you not mention the 16 second 12.07 phonecall to Meredith’s English phone on the 2nd November in your e-mail?  When explaining why you made this call, please also explain why it was to the English phone rather than Meredith’s Italian phone which you knew Meredith used for local calls?

    2. Why did you not mention this call when you phoned Filomena immediately afterwards?

    3. Why did you make so little effort to contact Meredith again after being told by Filomena to do so. Remember the logged 3 and 4 second phone calls?

    4. Why did you tell Filomena that you had already phoned the police when neither you, nor Raffaele, had.

    5. Can you and will you explain the contradiction between your panic at the cottage (as described in the e-mail) and the testimony of all the witnesses who subsequently arrived that you appeared calm, detached and initially unconcerned as to your friend’s whereabouts or safety?

    6. Why did you tell the postal police that Meredith often locked her bedroom door, even when it came to taking a shower, when this was simply not true, as Filomena testified?

    7. Can you and will you explain why you did not try either of Meredith’s phones at the cottage if you were indeed in such a panic about Meredith’s locked door?

    8. Can you and will you explain how you knew that Meredith’s throat had been cut when you were not, according to the witnesses’s testimony, a witness to the scene in Meredith’s bedroom after the door had been kicked in and, with the exception of probably a postal police officer or the ambulance crew, no one had looked underneath the duvet covering the body when you were there?

    9. What made you think that the body was in the cupboard (wardrobe) when it was in fact to the side of the wardrobe? Were you being flippant, stupid, or what, when you said that? Do you think it just a remarkable coincidence that the remark bears close comparison to the crime scene investigators conclusions, based on the blood at the scene, that Meredith had been shoved, on all fours, and head first,  at the door of the wardrobe? She was then turned over on the floor and moved again. How did you know that there was any position prior to her final place of rest?

    10. Will you ever be able to account for the 12.47 pm call to your mother in Seattle ( at 4.45 am Seattle time)? Do you remember this now because it was not mentioned in your e-mail nor were you able to remember it in your court testimony?

    11. Why do you think Raffaele told the police – contrary to your own alibi that you had spent the whole time with Raffaele at his apartment – that you had gone out at 9 pm and did not return until 1 am?

    12. Did you sleep through the music played for half an hour on Raffaele’s computer from 5.32 am?

    13. Were you telling the truth when you told the court that you and Raffaele ate dinner some time between 9.15 and 11 pm? Can you not narrow it down a bit more? The water leak occurred, you said, whilst washing up dishes after dinner. Why then did Raffaele’s father say that Raffaele told him at 8.42 pm about the water leak whilst washing up dishes?

    14. What was the problem about using the mop, rags, sponges etc already at Raffaele’s apartment, to clear up a water spill? Why was the mop from the girl’s cottage so essential and if it was, why not collect it immediately since it was just a short distance away?

    15. Why, when you knew that you were going to Gubbio with Raffaele on the 2nd November, did you not take a change of clothing with you, if needed, when you left the cottage on the afternoon of the 1st?

    16. Why did you need a shower at the cottage when you had already had one at Raffaele’s apartment the previous evening?

    17. If you had needed one again why not have it at his apartment, in a heated apartment, before you set off, or on your return, rather than have a shower on a cold day, in a cold flat?

    18. Why did you not notice the blood in the bathroom, and the bloody footprint on the bathmat, until after your shower? If the blood you then observed was already diluted and faded, how do you explain this?

    19. Do not ignore your blood on the faucet. In your own testimony you said that there was no blood in the bathroom when you and Raffaele left the flat on the afternoon of the 1st.  What is your considered take on this now? Did your ear piercings bleed when having that shower or drying afterwards? If so, why were you not perfectly clear about the matter in your e-mail?  But then again you said that the blood was caked dry, didn’t you?

    20. Why did Raffaele say that, on entering the flat with you, Filomena’s door was open and he saw the damage and mess inside, but you said, in your e-mail, that Filomena’s door was closed when you returned at 10.30 am? Did you subsequently look inside on that occasion, or not? It’s just that if you did, then why did you not mention the break in to Filomena prior to you and Raffaele returning to the cottage?

    21. You are a creative writer so please explain. What is the point of the word “also” in the following extract from your e-mail? “Laura’s door was open which meant that she wasn’t at home, and Filomena’s door was also closed”.

    22. In your trial testimony you mentioned shuffling along the corridor on the bathroom mat after your shower. From the bathroom to your room.  Because there was no towel in the bathroom. You had left it in your bedroom. Then back again. Why is this not mentioned in your e-mail?

    23. In your e-mail you stated that you changed for your shower in your bedroom, and then afterwards dressed in your bedroom. That makes sense. What you don’t explain is why, if you towelled and dressed in your bedroom, there was any need to shuffle back to the bathroom on the bathmat. Why not just carry it back?

    24. But why, in the same testimony, did you then change your mind as to where you had undressed for your shower? Not in your bedroom - saying so was a mistake you said - but you did not say where. Some people might think, uncharitably, that your change of mind was necessary to incorporate the double bathmat shuffle.

    25. Were there any things that you disliked about Meredith? Be honest because we know from her English friends and other sources that there were things that she disliked about you.

    26. Why are pages missing from your diary for October?

    27. Once again, and this time so that it makes some sense, please explain why you permitted the police, on your say so, to believe that poor Patrick Lumumba was involved in Meredith’s murder.  Clearly, had you been at the cottage you would have known that he was not, and had you not been there you could not have known that he was.



There are actually over 200 open questions on this site, and I can think of others, but I consider these between them to be the core several dozen that relate to the quirks,contradictions, omissions and inconsistencies in Amanda Knox’s own account and behaviour. Answer all of these and in the public eye Amanda Knox really could be home free.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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

Posted by Peter Quennell





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mignini’s And Giuttari’s Florence Convictions Are Annulled: No Evidence, And No Jurisdiction

Posted by Peter Quennell





The ANSA news service is reporting that Giuliano Mignini’s and Michele Giuttari’s 2010 convictions have been annulled.

The Florence appeal court ruled scathingly that no evidence exists and also that the Florence trial court did not have jurisdiction. The case might be looked at again by the prosecutors in Turin or Genoa, which Mignini and Giuttari favor to get the spurious case against them more than just annulled. They’d like its root causes brought out. .

Mignini had caught the exact-same Florence prosecutor on tape, with a judge’s consent, bewailing the fact that the Monster of Florence cabal was tying his hands. That trial was simple a panicky attempt to get himself out from under which will hurt his career and the trail judge’s too.

It wasn’t Mignini who invented the Florence cabal (or satanic sect) notion, and he is suspicious of people (like Preston and Spetzi) who work so hard to deny it.  Many of the Italian Monster of Florence books also argue 180 degrees away from Preston. Hmmm. What hold does the Monster of Florence sect have over Preston? Is he a secret satanist?! The world really wants to know…

Mignin’s quoted remarks outside the appeal court make it sound like he would like to resume the investigation of why Dr Narducci died suspiciously in Lake Trasimeno. That had to be halted because the Florence prosecutor seized all the papers on the case.

We have posted several times as much on Mignini as most of the UK and US media combined, and we translated a long email from him, and two long and very revealing interviews.

Kermit’s contrast of Preston’s satanic obsessions with Mignini’s really very mundane interests are an absolute must-view.


Friday, October 28, 2011

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

Posted by Peter Quennell




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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








Friday, September 16, 2011

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

Posted by Peter Quennell





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, September 02, 2011

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

Posted by Peggy Ganong





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I almost forgot to mention the pièce de résistance in Burleigh’s sliming of the two female journalists who did not roll over for the Knox family PR supertanker. Burleigh also asserts that these two small-town American imposters, after acquiring their polished “style” and “craft” by living in Europe, were “appalled” by the way AK and her family “flouted” Italian mores, implying that this snobbery tainted their reporting.

While I recall both journalists providing good analysis of how and why some of the antics of AK and her family were not good strategy under the circumstances – for example, AK’s decision to turn up in court one day wearing an over-sized “all you need is love” t-shirt or her sister Deanna’s choice of courtroom attire on July 4 (red-white-and-blue hotpants outfit) – I have never read anything suggesting they personally disapproved of or were appalled by the American and her family.

Since this snide and non-sourced aside appears on the same page as Burleigh’s claim that Nadeau tried to hide her “rural” accent with a “cosmopolitan speech affect”, it is fair to say that Burleigh’s real goal is to discredit them as objective reporters. It is almost as if she - Burleigh - were taking dictation from Doug Preston! And if Burleigh finds this to be a sexist remark, then I suggest she take a long, hard look in the mirror.

In the same section of the book, Burleigh describes John Kercher as a tabloid reporter and notes that neither he nor his family even “attempted” to learn Italian, relying instead on their lawyer to tell them what was going on.

Yes, you read that right: Burleigh thinks that the grieving Kercher family should have set aside their grief and contacted Berlitz straight away! And she implies that it is a mistake to rely on their legal counsel for information or advice. (At least Italy gives the victim’s family a legal voice.) I guess Burleigh would prefer that the Kercher family turn to people like Amanda’s stepfather Chris Mellas, or the various profiteers riding the PR supertanker: David Marriott and Doug Preston to name just two. This is apparently what Burleigh did.

It is clear from what I have read that Burleigh is not concerned with the victim Meredith Kercher or her family. She seems more interested in passing judgement on those she considers inferior in station to herself (just about everyone),complaining about life in Italy and taking pot shots at other journalists. My guess is that deep down she likes Italy about as much as she liked France, which is to say not much, maybe not at all. Burleigh is that quintessential Ugly American. I saw early signs of it in her reporting on this case for Time.

Incidentally, she did not begin until June of 2009, when the trial was well under way and almost two years after the murder itself. I had never heard of Burleigh, so I decided to have a look at her earlier work, especially that on life in France. I truly was flabbergasted by her utter inability to cope in a strange land.

She took an instant dislike to the French in general and was unable to understand the culture, in part because she was unable or unwilling to learn the language. I find it ironic – and appalling – that she faults the Kerchers, of all people, for not learning the language of the country where their daughter/sister was murdered when she herself could or would not learn the language of the country she was residing in under happy circumstances.

Is it class or gender or nationality that Burleigh most has a problem with?

Hard to say, since she seems to have a sense of superiority that encompasses all three. Speaking of disapproval, Burleigh treats the Knox women and Meredith’s British friends in the same haughty, catty manner as she treats her professional peers. In fact, she refers to the Knox clan collectively as “a hair on the low side of middle class”. I guess from the throne upon which she has placed herself, Burleigh is able to make these fine distinctions and, in addition, finds it necessary.

And how about this fine value judgement on page 33? “Amanda was the sole member of the gaggle of menstruating, jealous, bitchy, angry, loving, needy females around Curt who could keep her emotions in check”. I’m not making this up; Burleigh actually wrote those words. One pictures hapless Curt surrounded by the seven dwarves (Jealous, Bitchy, Angry, Loving, Needy, Bloody and Amanda).

While I believe that Amanda Knox was rightly convicted for her role in Meredith Kercher’s death, and though I have been critical of her family’s decision to hire a PR firm that has attempted to manipulate public opinion, I certainly think they are entitled to a little more respect and empathy than this. Speaking of entitled, that is how Burleigh herself comes off throughout this book.

Moving on to Meredith’s British friends, Burleigh dismisses them en masse with this tightly packed bundle of sexism and stereotyping: “tweedy peaches-and-cream complected sylphs who moved as a pack”. How Burleigh would even know how they moved is beyond me, since she was not covering the case in the days or even months that followed this brutal murder. Perhaps, if they did stick together, it was for mutual comfort. That’s what the little people do, Nina.

Italian women are not spared either. In addition to her fixation on a local reporter’s boots (perhaps because she could not read her work?), Burleigh describes Police Chief Monica Napoleoni’s style as “part dominatrix, part donatella Versace with a badge” and another Italian policewoman as a “thick-bodied woman”. Nina’s motto: When in Rome and unable to follow what’s going on, focus instead on making disparaging comments about the way other women look.

Burleigh pretentiously dedicates her book to the victims of sexual violence, an odd choice since she does little more here than perpetuate the sexist and sexual stereotypes that underlie this phenomenon. I am all for supporting the victims of sexual violence and will do so by not buying Burleigh’s nasty piece of work, which adds nothing to our knowledge of the case anyway.

Anyone who really wants to read a good book on the murder of Meredith Kercher should try Darkness Descending and/or Angel Face, both out for some time now. In addition to these works, John Follain, who has lived in Italy since the mid-90’s and covered the case from the outset, has a book coming out soon. I seriously doubt he will be focusing on women’s boots.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Powerpoints #17: Why The Totality of Evidence Suggests Knox And Sollecito Are Guilty Just As Charged

Posted by James Raper With Kermit





Please load Powerpoint Viewer if not on your system, and click here for the slides. The Powerpoints consist of 150 slides, the outcome of many hours of work, and should open in 30 to 60 seconds. 

Impartial lawyers like myself tend to look at a tough case like this and think, “Now what would I have done differently?” The problem for the defences here is that there are literally hundreds of evidence points, many created by the appellants themselves as they behaved erratically both on the night Meredith died and subsequently.

The Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon (who in our view was brought in far too late to be of real help after all the bull-in-a-china-shop damage of the PR) himself recognized this, on Dateline NBC late in 2008, when he said that a whack-a-mole approach to creating reasonable doubt would fall short in this case. (Whack-a-mole is a popular fairground game where “moles” keep popping up out of various holes, and you win if you can whack them all.)

Judge Micheli set out a big picture for the conviction of Rudy Guede in October 2008 and the remitting of Knox and Sollecito to stand trial. Judge Massei clearly created a big picture in all of the fine detail he neatly tied together in his 425-page report. The Supreme Court of Cassation understood the big picture in declining Guede’s final appeal.

The defences have never really managed to respond with their own big-picture approach. Nitpicking of a few evidence points, which is really all the defence and the campaign have done, will only very rarely destroy such an edifice. At the end of the DNA rebuttal this September, the DNA collection and analysis is unlikely to be fully discounted, and already it seems that more ethical and competence question marks hang over the independent consultants than over Dr Stefanoni and her team.

This for your consideration is an overview of all of the main evidence. Check it out as you go through and you will see that after the nine long months of the appeal process it is all almost entirely left standing. If they really want to see Knox and Sollecito released, the defence lawyers now need to bite the bullet and prepare their clients properly and let them try to explain from the stand.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Witness Tampering By Defenses? Two Investigations Apparently Already Launched In Rome And Perugia

Posted by Peter Quennell





Sources tell us they believe Vanessa Sollecito and her family are once again under investigation, this time possibly with Sollecito’s defense lawyers.

The investigation was apparently sparked by the specific claims yesterday under oath before a magistrate in Perugia of Luciano Aviello (a serial defamer and perjurer whose credibility never has ranked high) that Vanessa Sollecito paid him 30,000 Euros for his testimony on June 18 with Sollecito’s counsel in the loop.

First, here is a summary of what Luciano Aveillo testified to on 18 June by our main poster Will Savive:

Another prison inmate Luciano Aviello [42] who has served 17 years in jail after being convicted of being a member of the Naples-based Camorra, testified today that his brother Antonio and his colleague had killed Meredith while attempting to steal a “valuable painting.”

Aviello said that the Albanian—who offered his brother “work” in the form of a robbery—had inadvertently jotted down the wrong address, and they instead went to the house where Kercher and Knox were living, and they were surprised by Meredith’s appearance. According to Aviello, his brother and the Albanian man then committed the murder and fled.

Aviello is from Naples, but was living in Perugia at the time of the murder. He claims that his brother, who is currently on the run, was staying with him in late 2007 and on the night of the murder he returned home with an injury to his right arm and his jacket covered in blood.

Flanked by two prison guards, Aviello described how his brother had entered the house Meredith shared with Knox and had been looking for the painting when they were disturbed by a woman “wearing a dressing gown.” So many convicts, which one to believe, if any?

“My brother told me that he had put his hand to her mouth but she had struggled,” Aviello testified. “He said he got the knife and stabbed her before they had run off. He said he had also smashed a window to simulate a break in.” Aviello said his brother had hidden the knife, along with a set of keys his brother had used to enter the house. “Inside me I know that a miscarriage of justice has taken place,” he asserted. Consequently, Aviello had been in the same jail as Sollecito and had told him: “I believe in your innocence.”

Luciano Aviello now claims that all of this above was fiction. There were no hidden keys or knife, and his brother was not living in Perugia at that time.

Here is a translation by our main poster ZiaK of one of the most comprehensive reports of what Luciano Aviello testified to yesterday under oath in Perugia. We have added the emphasis to key passages..

Meredith, Aviello: «I lied following agreement with Sollecito’s lawyers in exchange for money »

Aviello claims he received 30 thousand euros in exchange for his testimony

Scritto il 27/7/11 • Categoria: Cronaca

by Francesca Marruco

After having received notice that investigations had been completed by the Perugia prosecutor, the ex supergrass (state’s evidence), Lucian Aviello, requested and was granted a hearing with the Perugia prosecutors. Last Friday in Capanne prison, the witness who had been brought into the court case by Amanda Knox’s defence team admitted – in a roundabout way - to Dr Manuela Comodi that everything he had declared was false: that it was false and had been agreed with Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyers in order to create confusion in the case.

He denied all the statements he had made in court. Luciano Aviello, who had told the judges of the Assize court that Meredith had been killed by his brother and that he himself had hidden the knife with which she was killed as well as the keys of the via della Pergola house, told the assistant prosecutor, Manuela Comodi – who, together with her collegue Giuliano Mignini, was in charge of the investigations into the death of Meredith Kercher – that he recanted everything he had previously declared. His brother had nothing to do with it, he had never hidden any knife nor any bunch of keys. Just as he had never lived in Perugia – as he had stated in court before the judges.

Aviello: «Nothing is true, and it was all by agreement» As to why he had told this sea of whoppers, he gave his explanation in fits and starts in over 80 pages of court records. From the desire to help someone he had met in jail, and whom he loved – Raffaele Sollecito – by means of his lawyers, some of his family, and one of Amanda Knox’s lawyers who apparently went to the Alba jail to hear him in order to deflect suspicion from Sollecito’s team. Aviello heavily accused Sollecito’s lawyers and sister. He said that it had been she [the sister] who had delivered the 30 000 euros to an acquaintance of his in Naples, who was to act as a go-between. The money was to be found in an apartment in Turin which the Perugia police will check. Aviello declared himself as being willing to appear in court and repeat everything before the appeal judges of the court of Assizes.

His first motives and his current ones The reasons for which he had agreed to tell these lies was that, according to what he told the prosecutor, he had been assured that the Perugian prosecutors would not investigate him – contrary to what had in fact happened – and that he was fond of Raffaele Sollecito, and also because he was to receive in counterpayment those 30 000 euros which he would use for a sex-change operation, as he himself had declared several times. But now that he had received notice that the investigations were finished, and since (he claims) he no longer hears from Raffaele any more because otherwise no-one would believe him [translator’s note: I assume Aviello means he doesn’t hear from Raffaele because Raffaele is concerned that if he stayed in touch with Aviello no-one would believe Raffaele any more], he no longer has any reason to continue lying, whereas he has plenty of reasons to try and lighten his own position as someone under investigation for calunnia (slander).

Aviello: Raffaele told me that it was Amanda and that he was also there Around the middle of the interrogation, Aviello said – referring to something that Raffaele apparently told him – that «the murderer, in fact, was not him: it was Amanda, during an erotic game». Raffaele apparently also declared «I actually know that it’s true that Amanda did it, but I didn’t do it: it wasn’t me that did the murder; I didn’t do it». This is what [Aviello] declared between one allegation and another, and he also declared that he was prepared to repeat everything before the judges. Before those very judges to whom, on 18 June last, he so shamelessly lied.

What has changed? The repercussions which these new declarations – made by a man who has already been convicted 8 times previously for slander [calunnia] – might have cannot be conjectured. Or at least, not all of them. The lawyer Giulia Bongiorno has already declared that she will defend her honour in court against anyone who might accuse her of having paid a convict to create confusion in the case. It is foreseeable that Luca Maori and Carlo Dalla Vedova will take the same stance. What the Prosecution will do is more difficult to determine. The investigations on Aviello’s slander against his brother may have ended, but how many others may be instigated as a result of these declarations? In the meantime, everyone will return to court on Saturday to discuss the genetic evidence, which might truly decide the path that this case will take.

Presumably a beeline is now being made to that apartment in Turin where the 30,000 Euros if it exists might be hidden. Early announcements might also be expected from the Sollecito family, who did meet with Aviello in prison, and from Giulia Bongiorno who chose to put Aviello on the stand.

There is also a second investigation, we are told. Several sources understand that the independent DNA consultants Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti might now be under investigation for possible contact or collaboration with one or several defense DNA experts.

Our main poster Fly By Night already suggested that the geographical location and published views of experts quoted by Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti looked pretty fishy. And the lawyer for the family of Meredith, Francesco Maresca, complained on Monday that a request endorsed by Judge Hellman for them to make sure to use European resources on the state-of-the-art of low-count DNA testing had been ignored.

A note on Italian law here. If the prosecution or defense come to believe that an element of the appeal is not being thoroughly and objectively examined they are entitled to appeal instantly to the Supreme Court of Cassation for a ruling.

Amanda Knox’s defense already took that route, before she ever went to trial, to request that her statement made without counsel present in the wee hours of November 6 2007 should be put aside. The Supreme Court so ordered.

We are sure Judge Hellman will want only the full truth and he may put all parties back on the stand. Still, the power of upward appeal is available to the prosecution in both these instances.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

A Deeply Ugly, Inaccurate And Callous Piece Of Junk By Nathaniel Rich In “Rolling Stone”

Posted by The Machine





Who is Nathaniel Rich?

According to Wikipedia, Nathanial Rich is an American author and essayist.

He is also the son of the New York Times columnist Frank Rich, and various online commentaries about him credit that.and not talent or ethics or hard work for any success he might have had.

Still, you would think that being the son of a high-profile journalist, Nathaniel Rich would try hard to write a fair, factually accurate and balanced report. One carefully checked out, with the Italians he impugns and with no sign of obsessive pro-female-perp bias. 

But instead Nathaniel Rich and his editor Sean Woods (image below) have come out with an xenophobic, defamatory,  highly inaccurate report..

In this piece Rich comes across like the notorious Stephen Glass who simply made stories up and whose editors never cross-checked until it was too late. Except Stephen Glass that never actually showed bigotry or defamed.

It does not seem too much to ask to expect anybody writing an article about the shocking sexual assault, torture and murder of Meredith Kercher for them to have done their due diligence? And to made sure that every single claim presented has been verified by the official court documents or independently corroborated by objective and reliable sources?

And for Sean Woods and other New York-based Rolling Stone editors even in their decline to check out their writers’ claims, especially with those impugned?

In this piece we analyze just some of the numerous wrong claims by Nathaniel Rich in his article The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox and compare them (as he should have done) to official court documents such as the Micheli report, the Massei report, Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report by the Supreme Court, and testimony at 2009 trial and 2011 first appeal [later annulled].




Above: Nathaniel Rich’s editor at Rolling Stone Sean Woods

Claim 1: There were bloody fingerprints all over the apartment

Wrong. Nathanial Rich gets his first basic fact wrong in just the second sentence of his article with his claim that Guede left bloody fingerprints all over the apartment.

There was in fact not even one. According to the Micheli report, the Massei report and Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report, Guede was identified by a single bloody palm print, not a whole lot of bloody fingerprints:

b) traces attributable to Guede: a palm print in blood found on the pillow case of a pillow lying under the victim’s body – attributed with absolute certainty to the defendant by its correspondence to papillary ridges as well as 16-17 characteristic points equal in shape and position…  (page 5, Rudy Guede’s final sentencing report).

It is confirmed that Guede was identified by a bloody palm print in the Micheli report (pages 10-11) and the Massei report (page 43). There was not a single fingerprint of his or Sollecito and almost none of Knox at the crime scene - which consists of the entire apartment.

Rich’s “her killer” in his opening implies there was only one killer but FOUR courts including the Supreme Court insisted there had to have been three. The lone wolf theory has long been dead. This is why the defense had to drag Alessi and Aviello into court two weeks ago, to try to prove Knox and Sollecito were not the other two.


Claim 2: A provincial police force botched one of the most intensely observed criminal investigations in Italy’s history

Wrong. A Knox cult myth. Nathaniel Rich attempts to disparage the investigation in Meredith’s murder with the smearing claim that it was seriously botched (it wasn’t) and by a provincial police force. Nathaniel Rich is trying to insinuate that that the police officers involved in the investigation were unsophisticated. However, again he only succeeds in revealing his ignorance of even the most basic facts of the case.

Two separate police departments from the Italian equivalent of the FBI in Rome were heavily involved in the investigation into Meredith’s murder: a forensic team from the Scientific Police led by Dr. Stefanoni, and the Violent Crimes Unit, led by Edgardo Giobbi.


Claim 3: Sollecito finally stated that Knox could have left his apartment for several hours on the night of Kercher’s murder while he was asleep

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich’s claim that Sollecito said that Knox “could” have left his apartment for several hours while he was sleeping is simply not true. You can read Sollecito’s various alibis here. Sollecito categorically stated in his witness statement that Knox DID leave his apartment, while he was wide awake. He said she went to Le Chic at 9:00pm and she came back at about 1.00am.

“At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner.”(Aislinn Simpson, The Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2007

“Police said Raffaele Sollecito had continued to claim he was not present on the evening of the murder. He said: “I went home, smoked a joint, and had dinner, but I don’t remember what I ate. At around eleven my father phoned me on the house phone. I remember Amanda wasn’t back yet. I surfed on the Internet for a couple of hours after my father’s phone call and I stopped only when Amanda came back, about one in the morning I think.” (The Times, 7 November 2007).

So Sollecito never said Knox “could” have left his apartment “while he was asleep”. The source for Nathaniel Rich’s embarrassing factual error is almost certainly the conspiracy theorist Bruce Fisher, who has repeatedly made the same false claim on his conspiracy website, a site riddled with invented claims.

Shame on Nathaniel Rich for gullibly believing another Knox cult myth, propagated by the likes of Moore and Fisher, and for being too lazy to independently verify this information.


Claim 4: Amanda Knox was slapped on the back of the head

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. Nathaniel Rich employs the same tactic as the conspiracists Bruce Fisher and Steve Moore who are trying by all possible means to rescue Amanda Knox from those dastardly Italians.

Namely, to give what appears to be a very detailed eyewitness account of what happened at the police station on 5 November 2007 despite the fact he wasn’t even there.  He makes all of this up, including “verbatim” quotes from some unnamed police officers.

Two female officers, who had been chatting informally with Knox, invited her to an interrogation chamber.

“Let’s go back over what you did that night,” they asked her. “Start with the last time that you saw Meredith.”

“Again?”

“Again.”

But they went slower this time.

“What did you do between 7 and 8 p.m.?” they asked. “What about between 8 and 9?”

“I don’t know the exact times,” said Knox. “But I know the general series of events. I checked my e-mail, I read a book, we watched a film, we ate dinner….”

More officers kept entering the room. An interpreter showed up. The tone sharpened.

“But Raffaele says that you left his house that night.”

“What? That’s not true. I was at his apartment all night.”

The interrogators became angry.

“Are you sure? Raffaele said you left his house.”

“I didn’t.”

“If that’s a lie, we can throw you in jail for 30 years.”

“I’m not lying.”

“Who are you trying to protect? Who were you with? Who was it? Who was it?”

This bit went on for hours.

There was now chaos in the room. The Italians were shouting at her, arguing with one another, calling out suggestions.

“Maybe she really can’t remember.”

“Maybe she’s a stupid liar.”

“You’re either an incredibly stupid liar,” said Knox’s translator, who was sitting right beside her, “or you’re someone who can’t remember what you know and what you did.” The translator, changing tactics, explained that she had once been in a gruesome car accident in which she broke her leg. The event was so traumatic that she suffered amnesia.

“Amanda,” said the translator, “this is what happened to you. You need to try to retrieve those memories. We’ll help you.”

Knox, ever-credulous, started to ask herself what she might have forgotten.

“C’mon,” said the interrogators. “You were going to meet Patrick that night.” “Remember. Remember. Remember.”

“We know it was him.”

Knox shook her head.

“Remember.”

Boom — someone slapped her on the back of the head.

So Nathaniel Rich includes the false claim that Knox was slapped on the back of the head. All the witnesses who were present when she was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at trial in 2009 that Amanda Knox was NOT hit even once.

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

Nathaniel Rich should have pointed out that Knox claimed this hitting only long after, when she was trying to explain why she had framed Patrick Lumumba. He should not have repeated it as if it were incontrovertible truth.

And he should have pointed out that both Amanda Knox herself and both her parents are enmeshed in separate trials for doing that. 




Above: Rolling Stone aggravates defamation - this tweet was sent March 2013

Claim 5: Amanda Knox finally broke down and accused Diya Lumumba of murder at 5.45am

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich clearly does not know the chronology of events at the police station on 5 November 2007. His false claim that Knox finally broke down at 5.45am gives the impression that she had been subjected to a continuous all-night interrogation.

In fact Amanda Knox very rapidly “broke down” and claimed that Lumumba was “bad” and had murdered Meredith when she was still only a witness, not a suspect, and was told Sollecito had pulled the rug from under her alibi. She signed a statement at 1.45am, not at 5.45am, when she repeated the claim voluntarily. (She also repeated it later that same day in writing.)

Amanda Knox’s questioning was stopped at 1.45am when she became a suspect. She wasn’t actively questioned again that evening. However, several hours later she decided to make an unsolicited spontaneous declaration. Mignini was called at 3.30am and he observed her declaration. Knox makes it explicit in her witness statement that she was making her statement spontaneously:

“I wish to relate spontaneously what happened because these events have deeply bothered me and I am really afraid of Patrick, the African boy who owns the pub called “Le Chic” located in Via Alessi where I work periodically.” (Amanda Knox’s 5.45am witness statement).

Claim 6:  The knife was selected at random by a detective from Sollecito’s kitchen drawer

Wrong. Nathaniel Rich regurgitates another prevalent Knox-cult myth with his claim that the double DNA knife was selected purely at random. However, the person who actually selected the knife, Armando Finzi, testified in court that he chose the knife because it was the only one compatible with the wound as it had been described to him.

“It was the first knife I saw,” he said. When pressed on cross-examination, said his “investigative intuition” led him to believe it was the murder weapon because it was compatible with the wound as it had been described to him. (Seattle PI,



Claim 7: The confession, in violation of Italian police policy, was not recorded

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. The police weren’t required to record Amanda Knox’s interrogation on 5 November 2007 because she was being questioned as a witness and not as a suspect. Mignini explained that Amanda Knox was being questioned as a witness in his letter to reporter Linda Byron:

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

She came in to the central police station voluntarily and unasked that night when Sollecito was summoned for questioning, and police merely asked her if she could also be questioned as a witness. She did not have to agree, but she did. No recording of witnesses is required, either in Italy or the United States.


Claim 8: Amanda Knox refused to leave Perugia

Wrong. This Knox cult myth is actually contradicted by Amanda Knox herself. In the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007 she said she was not allowed to leave.

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

Knox actually knew on 2 November 2007 that she couldn’t leave Italy. Amy Frost reported the following conversation.

” I remember having heard Amanda speaking on the phone, I think that she was talking to a member of her family, and I heard her say, No, they won’t let me go home, I can’t catch that flight’” (The Massei report, page 37).





Above: Rolling Stone aggravates defamation - this tweet was sent September 2013

Claim 9: Mignini suggested that the victim had been slaughtered during a satanic ritual

Wrong. Another Knox cult myth. He did no such thing. Mignini has never claimed that Meredith was slaughtered during a satanic or sacrificial ritual, and that’s the reason why neither Nathaniel Rich - or anybody else for that matter - has been able to provide a verbatim quote from Mignini.

Mignini specifically denied claiming that Meredith was killed in a sacrificial rite, in his letter to the Seattle reporter Linda Byron:

“On the “sacrificial rite” question, I have never said that Meredith Kercher was the victim of a “sacrificial rite”.

Mignini also made it quite clear that he has never claimed that Meredith was killed as part of a satanic rite in his interview with Drew Griffin on CNN:

1’03” CNN: You’ve never said that Meredith’s death was a satanic rite?

1’08” Mignini: I have never said that. I have never understood who has and continues to say that. I read, there was a reporter – I don’t know his name, I mention it because I noticed it – who continues to repeat this claim that, perhaps, knowing full well that it’s not like that.

I have never said that there might have been a satanic rite. I’ve never said it, so I would like to know who made it up.

In fact Mignini has zero history of originating satanic-sect claims despite Doug Preston’s shrill claims. The notion of a secret satanic sect in Florence goes way back into history and many had declared the Monster of Florence murders satanic because of the nature of the mutilation long before Mignini assumed a (minor) role.


Claim 10: Mignini referred to Knox as a sex-and-drug-crazed “she-devil”

Wrong. Another laughable wrong fact. It wasn’t Mignini who called Amanda Knox a “she-devil”, it was Carlo Pacelli, the lawyer who represents Diya Lumumba, at the trial in 2009.

Carlo Pacelli’s comments were widely reported by numerous journalists who were present in the courtroom. Barbie Nadeau describes the moment he referred to Knox as a she-devil in some detail in Angel Face: 

“Who is the real Amanda Knox?” he asks, pounding his fist in the table. “Is she the one we see before us here, all angelic? Or is really a she-devil focused on sex, drugs, and alcohol, living life on the edge?”

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



Conclusion

Nathaniel Rich has published a sloppy callous error-ridden piece of pure propaganda straight out of the Knox cult handbook, complete with a gushy fawning reference to Amanda Knox in the title.

The piece includes an inflammatory mischaracterization of the extreme caution of the Italian justice system and the various officials working on the case.

There is no mention at all of the never-ending nightmare of Meredith’s family or the fact that she is NEVER coming back. Rich doesn’t seem to have the requisite emotional intelligence or reporter skills to realise that he may have been duped and used by the money-grubbers and killer-groupies of the Knox-cult campaign.


Monday, June 27, 2011

The BBC Reports Rudy Guede For The First Time Accuses Knox And Sollecito Face To Face

Posted by Peter Quennell


See at bottom for the BBC report. It refers to Guede’s letter of March 2010 in the post directly below this one.

Guede was in the witness stand as his letter was read to the court on Monday. “This splendid, marvelous girl was killed by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox,” the letter said.

This also for the first time on Guede’s side (but not on Knox’s or Sollecito’s side) crosses a public boundary between the three of them which the Italian lawyer Cesare Beccaria described starting here.

The Supreme Court has in effect already given Rudy Guede’s credibility an edge. Also this in the report in the Seattle PI report by Andrea Vogt.

As if the appeal wasn’t bizarre enough, two convicts were called by the prosecution as counter witnesses Monday to contradict several inmates called by the defense earlier this month. They maintained they had overheard in prison conversations about a plot among other inmates to testify in exchange for money and benefits, such as reduced prison time.

The person they heard was arranging things, they said, was Sollecito’s attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, who heads up Italy’s parliamentary justice committee. She forcefully denied the corruption accusations in the break afterwards and vowed to file charges and take legal action against her accusers.

One claim by the inmates was that she offered a sex change operation to Luciano Aviello. It would be helpful if some of this if it exists emerged on tape. What possible reason would they have to lie?

****************

Here is the full BBC report in case it scrolls from their website.

Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend did kill Meredith Kercher, a man who was also convicted of the 21-year-old’s murder has told an appeal court.

After Rudy Guede confirmed he believed the US student killed her British housemate, Knox jumped to her feet saying she was “shocked and anguished”.

The hearing in Perugia is the first time that all three defendants have given evidence on the same day.

Knox, 23, and Raffaele Sollecito, 26, are appealing their convictions.
Child killer

Miss Kercher, of Coulsdon, Surrey, was found with her throat cut at her Perugia flat after what prosecutors claimed was a sex game taken to the extreme.

Knox is serving a 26-year sentence for Miss Kercher’s murder while her Italian co-defendant and ex-boyfriend, Sollecito, was sentenced to 25 years.
Image caption Guede admits being in the house at the time of the Miss Kercher’s murder but denies any involvement

Guede told the court that claims by a fellow prison inmate that he thought Knox and Sollecito were innocent were not true. He said he never made that claim to the inmate.

On 18 June, convicted child killer Mario Alessi told the appeal Guede had confided that Knox and Sollecito were innocent.

According to Alessi, Guede said he and a friend went to the house Miss Kercher shared with Knox with the intent of having sex with Miss Kercher and that when she refused, the scene turned violent and his unnamed accomplice slit her throat.

Drug-dealer Guede was jailed for 30 years for the sexual assault and murder of Miss Kercher after a separate fast-track trial. His sentence was reduced to 16 years on appeal.

Guede was in the witness stand as a letter he had written in response to Alessi’s claims was read to the court on Monday.

“This splendid, marvellous girl was killed by Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox,” the letter said.

Guede has previously admitted being in the house at the time of the murder, but denies involvement in Miss Kercher’s death.

After cross-examination by the defence, Guede said he had always believed Sollecito and Knox were behind the murder.

“I’ve always said who was there in that house on that cursed night,” he told the court.

Knox stood up after Guede’s evidence and denied his claims.

“The only time that Rudy Guede, Raffaele and I were in the same space has been in court. I’m shocked and anguished.

“He knows we weren’t there and have nothing to do with it,” she said.

Sollecito said Guede was always talking “about a shadow that could be me and a voice that could be Amanda’s… we’ve been fighting shadows for four years. Our lives have been destroyed in a subtle and absurd way.”

Speaking before Monday’s hearing, Knox’s mother Edda Mellas told reporters she hoped that Guede would have the “integrity to stand up and tell the truth”.

She said her daughter was “always very anxious and nervous but I think she’s glad things are moving along. She feels things are going well,” but that it is, “hard to get too hopeful, especially after the first trial.”

Two other witnesses were called to counter claims made by another defence witness, a member of the Mafia named Luciano Aviello, who had told the court earlier this month that his brother - who is on the run - had killed Miss Kercher during a botched burglary.

The two witnesses - two inmates at the same prison as Aviello - testified that Aviello had said he had been contacted by Sollecito’s defence team to stir up confusion in the trial in exchange for money.

Witness Alexander Ilicet said Aviello had wanted the money for a sex-change operation.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Call To Editors Of London Magazine To Check Facts Before Propagating Crazy Nigel Scott Theories

Posted by Kermit



[Above: Lib-Dem Haringey Town Councillor Nigel Scott, the writer of Liberator’s conspiracy theory piece]

Liberator Magazine
24 Alexandra Grove
London   N4 2LF

Attn: the Editors

Dear Sirs,

Before you accept an article concerning a far away murder investigation and trial (well, Italy is farther away than the Channel Islands), you should ensure that your writers,

1) have correct facts, and

2) are not being used by a foreign lobby which has basically stated that it will try to force an extra-judicial solution to said trial.

I have read the version of Nigel Scott’s Liberator article as is reproduced on a conspiracy theory website

I have no idea what brought Scott to become interested in this case, nor who briefed him on the content of his article, but he breezily and frivolously brushes over the very wide and heavy set of evidence against American Amanda Knox in the murder of her English roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in 2007 (Scott doesn’t hide very well the fact that his article has little to do with Kercher’s murder, and much to do with the defence of convicted murderer - pending appeal - Knox).

When Scott says, “When Knox, who was by then locked out of her flat because it was a murder scene, bought clean knickers, this was interpreted as casual disregard for her dead friend”, well that’s not the whole truth. Knox was joking with her boyfriend in the policestation, hugging and kissing him, and also performing cartwheels there. While she has not been convicted for showing “casual disregard” for her roommate, if you are looking to talk about Knox’s casual disregard for her dead friend, it would be better to cite the best examples.

Scott says, “When police learned that Knox’s mother was on her way to Italy to support her, they arranged an all night interrogation session to break the pair”. This is absolutely not true. Only Knox’s boyfriend was invited to the policestation on 5 November 2007, not Knox. She voluntarily accompanied him and was in a public waiting room. Shortly after he admitted that Knox’s alibi did not coincide with his, police interviewed her since she was there, and she soon admitted (not in an overnight interrogation session) that she indeed had been at the scene of the crime.

Scott says (repeating well-known pro-Knox talking points): “Mysteriously, they (the 5-11-2007 interviews) were not recorded, although they seem to be the only interviews that were not recorded during the whole case.”  In fact, I believe that no witness interviews were recorded of any of this case’s witnesses. As soon as Knox and her boyfriend incriminated themselves and they turned from witnesses into suspects, the 5-11-2007 interviews were stopped due to their lack of legal representation. I believe that all suspect interviews were recorded from then onwards (the few that occurred .... both Knox and Sollecito quickly invoked their rights as suspects to not respond to questioning during the investigation).

Scott continues by deriding the DNA evidence. Contrary to what Scott writes in your magazine, the bra clasp contains abundant DNA of Knox’s boyfriend Sollecito. No special testing procedures were required to detect that. The “Double DNA Knife” which contains both the victim’s and Knox’s DNA did require special procedures, and independent specialists are currently reexamining the knife. Until they return their report, there is no reason to sell the idea that LCN DNA evidence - which is used in other jurisdictions - is inacceptable.

Pro-Knox writers have slimed prosecutor Giulano Mignini, not questioning his legal processes, but describing him as “mentally unstable” and other such personal accusations. When as a citizen (not in his role as a prosecutor) he has tried to defend his honour, the pro-Knox lobby seems to have arranged for the US-based “Committee to Protect Journalists” to write to the Italian authorities criticising the fact the Mignini defends himself.

Scott writes about “the real murderer”, Rudy Guede, as if Guede was a person totally unrelated to Knox and Sollecito. The same investigation and the same body of evidence which convicted Guede in his trial (he opted for the fast-track version, instead of participating with Knox and Sollecito in the long trial), is the body of evidence which convicted the two lovers. Although Scott holds up US private detective Paul Ciolino as some sort of holder of truth, even as Ciolino announced on CBS in the USA that Amanda Knox had never met Guede and didn’t know him (which for some time was the “official” Knox media posture), Knox was admitting in the courtroom what was already widely known to followers of this case: that she knew Guede, had smoked drugs with him and been to a party with him in the flat below hers.

The unsubstantiated accusations and garbage that Scott writes continues, mostly following the pro-Knox camp’s exact template to blow fog over this case.

Knox and Sollecito (together with co-accused Guede) were all found guilty of murder and sexual assault. Knox and Sollecito are in the middle of their mult-level appeals. Knox’s Italian lawyers have apologised for the vilifying noise which comes from the American lobby and which they state hurts her (it should be said that probably most Americans don’t care about this case, or if they have followed it, many believe that Knox is guilty). The only reason that the American people around her continue to partake in this campaign must be because they know the purely legal strategy is lost and an extrajudicial solution must be sought (i.e., the intervention of the State Department). Not-so-independent Paul Ciolino stated as much at a recent pro-Knox event in Seattle. Another explanation are the growing commercial profits arising from this case as pro-Knox personalities write books and sell screen rights. Either way, it’s sad that a magazine with a political vocation such as Liberator gets associated with such antics.

Scott writes: “The Kercher family employed their own prosecutor, as is permitted in Italy, who has joined in cross examinations and also briefed the media.”  It is indeed dreadful when a representative of the British public such as Nigel Scott suggests in Liberator that a berieving London family, the Kerchers, should refrain from representing themselves as a private party to this case as is their right, given that it was their daughter and sister who was brutally murdered. What has come over this man? Does he want the Kerchers to just go away and get over their grief?

Most importantly, does the editorial board of The Liberator want to be associated with the sort of gibberish that Scott repeats from the “Friends of Amanda” US-based lobby group?

I wish you well with your magazine. I hope that you are able to find the right sort of content in the future for the readership you really care about. I hope you do get concerned about your magazine being referred to on the “injusticeinperugia.blogspot.com” site and being associated with a text-book case of media manipulation (do a google search on: marriott “amanda knox” “paid media”

... Gogerty Marriott is the US marketing company running the Knox PR campaign. In fact, on their website, Gogerty Marriott use the Amanda Knox campaign as commercial example of their services).

Please, get worried. Please feel free to contact me with any issue concerning this email.

I remain, yours sincerely,

Kermit


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 1 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander




Why This Long Summary

The full Massei Report can be found here.

The wiki page controversy surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher rages on in a tiny corner of the online universe, here is our own contribution to the debate.

It is a 4-part summary of the Massei report, the document that sets forth and explains the Court’s reasons for unanimously convicting Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for their role in the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox’s roommate, after a long, thorough and fair trial.

Click here for more


The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 2 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

4. Morning of November 2

Accounts of the events of the morning of 2 Nov do not agree. According to Knox’s statement, she and Sollecito slept until around 10-10:30 am.[67] After a while, she decided to go back to her house to take a shower and change her clothes, and to fetch a mop to clear up some water from a leaking pipe in Sollecito’s kitchen.[65] Her intention was that when she returned they would leave for a planned trip to the nearby town of Gubbio.[70]

When she arrived at her apartment, she was surprised to see that the front door was open. She entered the house, leaving the door open in case it had been deliberately left ajar by one of her flatmates, who might have gone out briefly, to get some cigarettes for example. She then went to her own room, undressed and went into the bathroom that she shared with Meredith. She took out her earrings and cleaned her ears - a regular necessity because the piercing in one ear had become infected. She noticed drops of blood in the sink, and thought this strange but continued to take a shower. Getting out, and not having remembered her towel, she decided to use the bath mat to shuffle into her own room. At that moment, she noticed the blood stain on the mat but thought it might be from some menstrual problem that hadn’t been cleaned up.[70]

Having returned the bathmat, she put her earrings back on, brushed her teeth, dressed in clean clothes and then went in the other bathroom (the one used by Romanelli and Mezzetti) and dried her hair with their hairdryer. She then noticed that there were feces in the toilet, which was strange as Romanelli and Mezzetti were very clean. She left her apartment, locking the front door, and went back to Sollecito’s, where they made breakfast and she told him what she had seen.[70]

In contrast to this account, forensic examination of Sollecito’s computer showed that it had been used for about half an hour from 5:32am to listen to music. After this, he turned on his mobile phone and, at 6:02 am,  received an SMS message which had been sent to him by his father the previous evening when the phone was switched off. Phone records also confirmed a call made at 9:30am to Sollecito by his father. There was no mention of any of this activity in Amanda’s statement.[82]

According to the testimony of Marco Quintavalle, the owner of a small supermarket, he opened his shop at 7:45am on the morning of November 2 and almost immediately a young woman, whom he identified as Amanda Knox, went into the store department that had groceries, detergents and toilet paper on sale. He saw her leave again but did not know if she bought anything. Quintaville did not present this information to the police until some months after the crime and explained that, although he had previously been questioned about the morning after the murder, he had not been specifically asked about Knox. Another of the shop’s employees stated that she had not seen Knox in the store.[83-84]

The court highlighted the discrepancies between Knox’s account and the evidence of the computer and phone records and the testimony of the shop owner. It also doubted the credibility of Knox going back home to change her clothes, take a shower and fetch the mop to dry the floor. Since Knox and Sollecito had planned a trip to Gubbio that morning, she could well have brought the clothes with her that would be needed. It was also noted that Knox had already showered and washed her hair at Sollecito’s house, the previous evening: there was no obvious need for her to repeat those actions and, if there were such a need, there was no reason why she couldn’t do so at Sollecito’s. Fetching the mop to dry the floor was also deemed to be scarcely credible, considering that Sollecito employed a cleaner and, in any case, everything needed to clean up some water was already there.[85]

What is certain is that, around midday, Knox called Filomena Romanelli to say she had arrived at the apartment and had found the door open: she had taken a shower and it had seemed to her that there was some blood in the apartment. She said that she was going to Sollecito’s place but did not know the whereabouts of Meredith. Romanelli rang Knox back and Knox (now at Sollecito’s) told her that the window in Romanelli’s room was broken, everything was in a mess, and that she should come back home.[30]

Knox and Sollecito went back together to the house in Via della Pergola. According to their accounts, they looked in Romanelli’s room where there had apparently been a burglary, and checked the other rooms, but found nothing missing. They were worried that Meredith’s door to her room was locked and, when she was called, there was no answer. Sollecito made an attempt to force open Meredith’s door (described by the court as a ‘timid’ attempt, given that it was easily forced open later).[31] After that, they left the house, partly to look at the broken window from the outside.

Earlier that morning, two mobile phones had been discovered in the garden of a house located in Via Sperandio, a short distance from 7 Via della Pergola (the shortest route would be distance of about 5-7 minutes on foot, according to one witness).[25] The owner of the house had contacted the Communcations Police with regard to a telephoned bomb threat which she had received and then discovered the two phones. One of the phones was registered to Romanelli (although both were in fact Meredith’s phones - one given to her by Romanelli for use in italy).[26][30]

The Communications Police traced Romanelli’s address and arrived at the girls’ apartment some time between 12:30pm and 1pm. Outside the house, they found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito – who said that they were waiting for the carabinieri, whom they had called because they had been away for the night and had come back to find the entrance door open and then a window broken.[28]

Romanelli, her friend Paola Grande and their boyfriends, Marco Zaroli and Luca Altieri arrived around 1pm.[28] Romanelli made a quick check of her room, discovering that, although it was in a complete mess with the windowpane broken and clothes thrown around the floor, nothing was missing.[31] Nonetheless, she was concerned that the front door had been found open, bloodstains had been found in the small bathroom, and there was no news of Meredith. Furthermore, Meredith’s bedroom door was locked.[31]

The significance of this fact subsequently became a point of disagreement, with Knox saying that even when she went to the bathroom for a shower Meredith always locked the door to her room (the fact that she said this being confirmed by Zaroli and Altieri). Romanelli, on the other hand, said she was aware of only one occasion when the door had been locked and this was when Meredith had returned to England for a few days.[31]

The Massei report notes Knox’s apparent lack of concern at the locked door, both in the presence of the Communications Police and in her earlier telephone conversation with Romanelli. This was at odds with an email that Knox sent to her friends and family a few days after the murder (November 4, 2007) in which the locked door acquired a central importance and Knox described herself as “panicking” when she first discovered it.  Massei concludes that panic at the locked door would be a logical reaction if Knox had been uninvolved in the murder, but according to Romanelli and the Communications Police, there was no such panic.

Knox and Sollecito, in fact remained in the living room, some distance away from Meredith’s room, while Romanelli and her friends were so concerned that they decided to force the door open. One of Romanelli’s friends broke down the door and the bloody body of Meredith Kercher was found.[32] The Communications Police sealed the area and called the Carabinieri, who arrived a short time later.[33]

5. Pathology: Injuries, time and cause of death and Conclusions

Massei observes that the injuries Meredith Kercher sustained were the subject of intense analysis and speculation in the courtroom, yet his summary and conclusions are clear and concise.  Many of Meredith’s injuries appear to have been caused by the actions of restraining, whereas some were obviously inflicted by a knife or knives and showed great diversity in both dimensions and overall harmfulness.  Massei found that one point was particularly significant: the knife wounds from the attack to Meredith’s neck came from both the right and the left sides.[371]

Massei believes Meredith’s injuries lie at the heart of the debate over the single attacker versus the multiple attacker scenarios.  The hypothesis of a single attacker requires that the single attacker continually modify their actions, first by exercising a strong restraining pressure on her, producing significant bruising, and then for some reason switching to life threatening actions with a knife, thereby changing the very nature of the attack from that of subjugation to that of intimidation with a deadly weapon, and finally to extreme violence by striking first from the right penetrating to a depth of 4cm (1.5 inches) and then from the left to a depth of 8cm (3 inches) into the neck.[371]

Massei describes the first knife blow coming from the right by saying that it was apparently halted from going any deeper by hitting the jawbone. The Court considered that this blow was an effort to force Meredith to submit to an action against her will. The Court also considered that the penetrating knife wound from the left was preceded by the action of running the knife over the surface of the skin on the same part of Meredith’s neck, just a few centimeters below the eventual strike zone where the serious, deeper second wound was inflicted.[371]

What surprised Massei about Meredith’s wounds was that in spite of all the changes in approach during the attack she somehow remained in the same vulnerable position, leaving the same part of her neck fully exposed to an attacker.  If this were a solo attacker then this person released a firm restraining grip on Meredith to somehow bring a knife into play, then striking her first from the right and then switching the knife-holding hand to somehow float a knife in an intimidating manner across her neck on the left, before finally stabbing her in that same location on the left with a final debilitating blow.[371-372]

Massei concludes that throughout the attack Meredith remained virtually motionless, and he cites the almost nonexistence of defensive wounds on other parts of her body in comparison to the number, distribution, and diversity of impressive bruises and wounds to her face and neck.  Massei finds this disproportion to be a significant factor, particularly when considering Meredith’s physical and personality characteristics.[370,371]

Meredith’s physical build was described as being slim and strong; possessing a physique that would have permitted her to move with agility.  In addition, Meredith was described as being athletic and one who practised football, karate, and boxing.[369]  Therefore, the court found it unlikely that only one person performed the attack against her, and inevitable that several people had acted together against Meredith; a group who forcibly restrained Meredith in movement so that she could not defend herself in any way nor shield herself with her hands in order to avoid the repeated attacks to her neck.[371]

Meredith’s defensive wounds were found to be minimal and consisted of a 0.6cm (quarter inch) long superficial slice on the palm of her right hand showing only a trace of blood and another 0.6cm (quarter inch) slice on the second finger of her left hand, along with several highly superficial cuts to the fingertip of the index finger.  Massei finds this remarkable considering that the normal and instantaneous human reaction to that first violent knife stab to the neck would have been to protect the area of attack, along with a strong desire to escape even if it meant receiving a blow to another part of the body.  However, Meredith remained in the same standing position while continuously offering her exposed neck to the actions of the person(s) striking her, with the peculiar distinction of striking first from the right and then from the left.  Massei believes that a scenario as such seemed inexplicable, unless one accepts the presence of more than one attacker who, as a group, forcibly restrained the athletic Meredith’s movements while intimidating and striking her from multiple angles.[369]

Massei also believes that evidence demonstrated Meredith was still dressed and awake when the attack began on her and that the violence against her could not have taken place as it did if Meredith were lying on her bed.  Massei concludes that Meredith was sober and fully conscious since no traces indicating either the use of drugs or the abuse of alcohol were found; all of which, if present, might have contributed an inability to firmly resist an attack.[369]

Furthermore, Massei finds it impossible to imagine a scenario in which a single person could have removed the clothes that Meredith was wearing (shoes, pants and underwear) while inflicting the sexual violence revealed by the vaginal swab.  Massei finds it highly unlikely that one person could have caused all of the resulting bruises and wounds cited above in addition to removing her sweatshirt, pulling up her shirt, and bending her bra hooks by force before finally tearing and cutting the bra. The actions on the bra alone, during which a small piece of material with hooks was cut off and thrown to the floor, were necessarily conducted from behind Meredith and required the attention of both hands of an attacker, and thus Meredith would have had her own hands free to attempt actions of self-defense.[370]

Massei concludes there was very little evidence of any defensive maneuvers on the part of Meredith, which to him was a strong indication that several attackers were present, each with a distribution of tasks and roles: either holding Meredith and preventing her from any significant defensive reaction, or actually performing the violent actions.  Massei concludes that the rest of the body of evidence came in full support of such a scenario, recalling that a biological trace of Rudy was found on one of the cuffs of Meredith’s sweatshirt indicating a gripping in order to prevent any reaction.  In drawing together all of the elements mentioned above, both circumstantial and forensic, Massei concludes that the diverse morphology of the injuries, their number, and their distribution mandated that the violence against Meredith was performed by multiple attackers.[370-371]

Summary of pathology findings

Massei describes the significant injuries discovered during the post-mortem examination and states that there were no noticeable injuries in the chest or abdomen areas, two areas of slight bruising on one elbow, small wounds on the hands indicative of a minimal defensive response, very slight bruising on the front of the left thigh, minor bruising on the front middle of the right leg, and a slight area of bruising just below the top of the head.[111-112]

Massei cites compelling evidence of recent sexual activity having the characteristics of non-cooperation on the part of the female participant.  Non-spermatic biological material belonging to Rudy Guede was discovered during the course of a gynecological examination of the corpse. This, in conjunction with a distinct pattern of abrasions, was interpreted by the court as being strong evidence of sexual violence.[157-158]

The head and neck injuries were the most significant and included small spots inside the eyelids indicative of asphyxiation, a bruise to the cheek possibly caused by a knife point, bruising on the nostrils and trauma to the lips suggestive of silencing or suffocation efforts, biting injuries to the tongue, bruising and abrasions on the lower jaw indicative of a hard compression by hand, and neck swelling and hemorrhaging with pools of blood left inside the lungs as a result of two significant knife wounds.[111]

Dr. Lalli, the Perugia Coroner, who performed the autopsy on Meredith at the morgue of the Perugia Polyclinic, reported that the hyoid bone, located at the back of the tongue muscle had been “severed”.[145: Professor Torri quotes Dr. Lalli’s comment]

The most significant wounds Meredith sustained were inflicted by knife-stabs and thrusts occurring very quickly from the right and from the left, severing the right superior thyroid artery and the hyoid bone.[139] The largest of these was inflicted by a knife high on the left side of the neck near the jawbone which penetrated to a depth of 8cm (3 inches).[111]

Another significant knife wound, 4cm (1.5 inches) deep, was noted on the right side of the neck, above which were found superficial parallel scratches.  The wound from the right crossed the path, inside the neck, of the wound from the left. The Court concluded that these knife wounds were made by single-bladed, pointed cutting tools and that Meredith’s injuries might be consistent with a virtually infinite number of instruments, provided they had a blade with only one sharpened edge that was not serrated.[111-113]

The Court held that it is self evident that should one conclude during forensic pathology investigations that a knife is not compatible with any of the wounds inflicted on the victim, it would be pointless to give that knife further consideration, including DNA testing.[166]

The experts and consultants who were examined during the course of the trial, taking into examination the various wounds present on the neck, did exclude the compatibility of Raffaele’s knife with the smaller stab wound inflicted on the right side of the neck, and the Court agreed.  However, the Court did not agree with arguments that the knife confiscated from Raffaele’s flat was incompatible with the deep wound on the left.  The Court concurred with expert testimony proclaiming that the knife presented by the prosecution as the murder weapon, with the DNA of both Meredith and Amanda on it (ie the “double DNA knife”), is clearly compatible with the large fatal neck wound.[169-173]






Cause of death

The Court found that the death of Meredith Kercher was asphyxia caused by the neck-wound which severed both the hyoid bone and the right superior thyroid artery. The severing of the hyoid bone opened Meredith’s airway directly through the skin to the atmosphere, and the severed right superior thyroid artery was the main source of the blood which asphyxiated her when she then inhaled blood directly through her severed airway down into her lungs.[162]

Time of death

In order to preserve the crime scene, a thorough examination of the corpse was not performed until approximately 11 hours after the body was discovered.  Relying upon the criterion of body temperature and the influences of various other factors such as blood loss, the corpse being covered with a duvet, and other environmental conditions the time of death was initially placed approximately between 8:00 pm November 1, 2007 and 04:00 am November 2, 2007.  An intermediate value for such a time range is considered of value, and the actual time of death was suggested by the coroner as being approximately 11.00 pm on November 1, 2007.  The combined criteria of temperature, hypostatic stains, and rigor mortis all supported this range for the time of death, but for a variety of reasons were unable to accurately define a more narrow time of death range.[113-116]

Massei notes that the state of digestion of Meredith’s stomach contents provided significant additional information towards establishing a more accurate estimate for the time of death.  Meredith’s stomach contents included apple, cheese, and floury fragments of the apple crumble she ate while visiting friends, which had not yet entered into her the small intestine.  In addition, a piece of mushroom was also found in Meredith’s esophagus.  This could not have been consumed during the meal with friends, which did not include mushrooms, since it was in a different less digested state.[115, 178-179]

Testimony during the trial established that an emptying of the stomach into the small intestine under typical conditions starts between two and four hours after the start of a meal.  A complicating factor is that Meredith apparently ate additional food at home after her earlier meal which, according to statements made by the British friends of Meredith, occurred sometime between 6 pm and 8 pm.  Nevertheless, it becomes possible to propose a time of death as being 3 to 4 hours beyond the time frame of the initial eating event: therefore, this could reasonably range between 9pm (around the time she arrived home) and midnight of November 1, 2007.  This timeframe remains consistent with all other indicators.  It is important to note that the beginning of the attack would have been a moment of tremendous stress for Meredith that may have arrested her digestive process. However, Massei notes that this, like many other variables concerning the behavior of the digestive tract, remains in the realm of speculation.[178-179]

The various consultants and experts heard in court regarding the time of death all emphasized the difficulty of establishing a precise time.  Regarding time of death, there can be no doubt that Massei relied upon the evaluations of a variety of evidentiary sources, including the consideration that Meredith would not have been able to make any vocalizations following the final fatal stab wound to her neck, which lends importance to witness statements regarding when they may have heard a scream on the night of the murder.  However, the Court concluded that testimony regarding the pathology alone made it possible to suggest that the time of death that was, in fact, within a range of tens-of-minutes either before or after 10:50 pm November 1, 2007.[131]

6. Forensic investigation

The forensic evidence included the analysis of DNA in various samples taken, of footprints revealed by Luminol, and of foot prints and shoe prints.

Meredith Kercher

The fatal wound was swabbed in order to obtain the profile of her DNA for comparison with other samples. [190] One of two swabs of her vagina produced genetic material, the DNA of the Y chromosome of Rudy Guede. [189] Samples taken from under her fingernails yielded only her own DNA. The court noted that her finger nails were very short and probably would not inflict significant scratches on an attacker. [190]

Rudy Guede’s Y chromosome was also found mixed with Meredith’s blood on Meredith’s handbag and on the left cuff of her sweatshirt.[192]

The Small Bathroom

Blood was found in seven locations in the small bathroom that Knox shared with Meredith. [192]

• The Door Frame: blood was found on the right, inside door frame containing Meredith’s DNA. [192]
• The Light Switch Plate: Meredith’s blood was also found on the light switch. [192]
• The Sink: Blood was found in two places. There was dried blood near the faucet that had the DNA of Knox. [192] A streak from the left part of the sink toward the drain containing Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[192]
• The Bidet: Meredith’s blood was found mixed with the DNA of Knox.[192]
• The Toilet Lid: Meredith’s blood.[192]
• Q-tip Box: Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[192]
• The Bathmat: Three samples taken from the bathmat yielded Meredith’s blood.[192] The bloodstains on the bathmat were studied and compared with footprints taken of the right foot from Knox, Sollecito, and Guede, and found to be that of Sollecito. [351-355]

The Large Bathroom

Toilet paper and faeces were found in the toilet. Testing the toilet paper found the DNA of Rudy Guede.[192]

Traces Revealed by Luminol

Various surfaces were sprayed with Luminol, which fluoresces brightly when applied to blood. The fluorescence was then swabbed and tested for DNA. Nine traces were found; two were Meredith’s, three were Knox, and two were mixed DNA of Meredith and Knox.[281-286]

• Romanelli’s Bedroom: One sample of Meredith, and one of Meredith’s blood mixed with DNA of Knox.[282]
• Hallway: Three footprints matching, based on measurements, Knox’ right foot were found, two facing the exit, and one oriented toward the doorway of Meredith’s room.[247]
• Knox’ Bedroom: Footprint of Amanda Knox’ right foot, also identified by measurements.[247]

Shoeprints

Shoeprints made in Meredith’s blood and visible to the naked eye led from Meredith’s bedroom to the exit, becoming fainter toward the exit. [193] These were determined to be incompatible with Sollecito’s shoe size 9, and to be compatible with a Nike Outbreak 2, size 11.[334-336]

Although the shoes were never found, a box for Nike Outbreak 2, size 11 was found in Guede’s apartment.[334]

A left shoe print was found on Meredith’s pillow, estimated to be between size 36 and 38.[342]

Knox wears a size 37.[343] A defense expert made a comparison of the sole pattern with Guede’s right shoe, and argued that the print could have been made by him. The court noted the conflicting theories without expressing a specific opinion,[343-344] and noted that Knox seemed to have been moving about the scene in her bare feet.[344]

Other Evidence

• A small trail of drops of Meredith’s blood from the small bathroom to the kitchen/living room.[193]
• A cigarette butt found in the kitchen had mixed DNA of Sollecito and Knox.[197]
• A jack knife belonging to Sollecito was found to have the DNA of Sollecito and Knox, but no blood.[195]

The Court’s Analysis:

The defense did not contest the mixed DNA test results, but instead argued that they were irrelevant: that mixed DNA would be expected since Meredith and Knox lived in the same house and shared the small bathroom. [378] They suggested that Knox’s DNA could be exfoliated skin cells. Dr. Stefanoni (for the prosecution) testified that exfoliated skin cells are keratinized and contain no DNA. [202]

The court concluded that Knox’ DNA became mixed with Meredith’s blood from vigorous scrubbing of the hands and feet, and that this is how the mixed DNA sampled came to be found in the sink and the bidet.[279]

DNA testing cannot, by itself, determine when biological material has been deposited, or in the case of mixed DNA, which was deposited first or whether it was simultaneous. [211] However, the court noted that Knox told the court in her answer to questioning that the bathroom was clean when she left the house on the afternoon of November 1.[278]

The court concluded that Meredith’s killers had gotten blood on their hands and elsewhere on their bodies, and that they needed to clean off the blood. Accordingly, they tracked blood on their feet to the small bathroom, where Meredith’s blood was transferred to the doorframe and light switch plate when they turned the light on in order to use the bathroom.[279] Sollecito tracked Meredith’s blood into the bathroom, leaving a partial print of his right foot in blood.[379]

Knox was not wounded.[280] The trace of her blood on the tap was different in appearance from the mixed DNA samples, and was explained by her as having come from her own ear having been pierced. [280] The mixed trace in the sink and the bidet appeared to have been diluted with water, constituting a single trace placed there by Knox when she was cleaning Meredith’s blood from her hands and feet.[378]

The defense experts did not specifically attack the accuracy of the findings on the trace evidence revealed by Luminol.[285] Dr. Gino noted that a generic test for blood was negative on the sample, and that the DNA test was low copy number. She also noted that substances other than blood can cause Luminol to fluoresce.[282]

The court observed that there was an abundant quantity of Meredith’s blood on the floor of the bedroom to be tracked around the house.[279] The fact that DNA testing revealed the presence of genetic material in the samples indicates the presence of biological material that reacts with Luminol. The court said that attributing the fluorescence to fruit juice, rust, bleach, vegetables, etc. could not explain the presence of reactive trace in so many parts of the house, whereas the walking in blood and subsequent cleanup easily accounts for the findings.[283-285]

The defense’s “low copy number remark” was rejected because Dr. Stefanoni had testified that the sample had been processed according to standards and procedures necessary for international quality certification, and noted that the certification was granted by the international certifying body in 2009; the quality certificate was an acknowledgement of what already existed, and had already been done.[285]  Further, the court noted that the criticisms of Dr. Gino and Dr. Tagliabracci were hypothetical, and all concerned specific findings and a small portion of the specimens.[285]

The footprint on the bathmat was partial, missing the heel. [339] Based on the dimensions of the big toe, the plantar arch, and the shape and location of various “bumps”, Inspectors Rinaldi and Boemia concluded that the print was made in Meredith’s blood by Sollecito’s right foot, that it was consistent with Sollecito’s wider foot and inconsistent with Guede’s longer, narrower foot, and well as being inconsistent with Knox.[339-342]

The measurements from the bathmat: big toe–33mm wide, 39mm long. Metatarsus–99mm wide, 55mm long. [339]

Footprints taken with printer’s ink resulted: Big Toe—Sollecito: 30mm wide, 37mm long. [339] Guede: 23mm wide, 43mm long. Knox: 22mm wide, 41.8mm long.[339] Metatarsus–Sollecito: 99mm wide[339]

Rinaldi and Boemia used the so-called L.M. Robbins grid, which is marked in centimeters, lining the vertical axis with right-hand outline of the foot, and the horizontal axis with the tip of the big toe. [340] By comparing the samples with the bathmat, they concluded that the shape of Guede’s plantar arch and the alignment of his “bumps” could not be reconciled with the print on the bathmat, whereas Sollecito’s bumps align consistently between his sample and the bathmat. [340-341] The primary distinctions between Guede’s right foot and Sollecito’s are: the width of the big toe, the shape of the metatarsus, differences in the plantar arch, and the shape of the left side of the foot.[341]

Professor Vinci, Sollecito’s expert attempted to show that the foot print was actually that of Guede. He argued that the morphology of Sollecito’s foot was such that his second toe made no contact with the paper, but that a portion of the mark on the right side of the big toe print on the bathmat is actually from the second toe. He thus measured the big toe print as being 24.8 mm wide.[352]

The court rejected this theory. It noted that the photograph appeared to show the opposite of what was claimed, i.e., it showed the blood had been deposited as a single unit on a decorative flourish of the mat. Moreover, the court noted that, by comparison, Guede’s foot is generally longer and more tapered, and that the second toe print falls quite far from the big. [354] Finally, the court discounted the idea that Guede had ever been in his bare feet that evening. The visible shoe prints clearly showed that he walked directly from Meredith’s room, down the hallway, and out the door.[379]

Part Three is here.


The Massei Sentencing Report For Knox And Sollecito: Part 4 Of A Summary In 4 Parts

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





The full Massei Report can be found here. Continuing on with our summary:

9. Conclusions reached by the court

The court concluded that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had colluded with the main protagonist, Rudy Guede, in murdering Meredith Kercher and that this was in the context of a sexual assault.[390-393]

The evidence that Guede was involved in the murder included his bloody handprint found on a pillow in Meredith’s room, and his DNA found on a vaginal swab taken from Meredith, as well as on the cuff of Meredith’s sweatshirt and on a strap of her bra and on her purse. Further biological traces of Guede were found on the toilet paper in the larger bathroom. His bloody footprints were found in the corridor leading out from Meredith’s room to the front door of the apartment. All this evidence pointed to Guede having been in the apartment, crossing the living room to the larger bathroom (where he used but did not flush the toilet), passing back through the living room and the corridor to Meredith’s room, where he committed the murder, then exiting directly along the corridor and through the front door.[43-44]

The court next considered whether Guede had entered the apartment through the broken window in Romanelli’s room.[45] The defense had argued that Guede had previously been found uninvited inside a Milan nursery school and had been in possession of items stolen from a Perugia law office which had been burgled by someone who broke a window with a rock. He had also been identified as the person who had broken into a house and threatened the occupant with a knife. The court noted this evidence but also highlighted some marked differences from the current case, and also the fact that there was no direct evidence that linked Guede to the law office burglary. In addition, the court made a detailed analysis of the evidence of the ‘break-in’ and concluded from many pieces of evidence (see section 8) that the ‘break-in’ had been staged and that no-one had entered the house through the broken window. In fact, the conclusion drawn by the court from this staging was that it had been done in order to throw suspicion onto a supposed intruder who did not have a key to the front door.[46-55]

The court next considered whether Guede might himself have staged the break-in, which might have happened if Meredith had let him in through the front door and he intended to throw suspicion onto a supposed burglar. The court rejected this hypothesis: if Guede was alone in the apartment, following the murder, it is improbable that he would have stayed longer than necessary, faking a break-in, when the other occupants, who would recognise him, might return at any moment. Further doubt is cast on this scenario by the fact that some aspects of the ‘break-in’ are superficially similar to other crimes associated with Guede, so might lead investigators directly to him. Finally, the court doubted that Meredith, alone in the apartment, would have let Guede, whom she barely knew, in through the front door, let alone waited in her own bedroom while he used the bathroom.

The conclusion of the court was that Guede was let into the apartment by somebody, other than Meredith, who had a key to the door and that the ‘break in’ was likewise staged by someone who had a door key. Laura Mezzetti was away from Perugia on the night of the murder and Filomena Romanelli was staying elsewhere, at a birthday party. This left Amanda Knox who had a key to the front door and lacked an alibi for the time of the murder. She, according to the court, was the only person who could have let Guede into the apartment and who also would have a motive for staging the ‘break-in’ to simulate the forced entry of an intruder.[56-58]

The court noted the ‘intense’ relationship between Knox and Sollecito, and the fact that they were both using drugs.[365] After Patrick Lumumba sent Knox a text, shortly after 8 pm on November 1, 2007, telling her that there was no need for her to go to work that evening, the pair of them were free of any commitment that evening. By 9:15pm they had eaten dinner and washed up (as witnessed by Sollecito’s father’s earlier phone call), turned off their mobile phones and made no further use of Sollecito’s computer. The court’s conclusion was that this point, they both left Sollecito’s apartment and were seen by the witness Curatolo, several times, around the Piazza Grimana.[359]

Guede already knew Knox and was attracted to her. The court believed that around 11pm, on the night of the murder, Knox, accompanied by Sollecito, let Guede into her apartment, possibly having first met him in the nearby square.[361] The reason for Guede’s visit to the apartment could not be known for certain: perhaps he was going to spend the night there as had happened on another occasion, although in the downstairs apartment; perhaps to hang out with Amanda and Raffaele for a while and to use the bathroom; maybe he had come to look for his friends in the downstairs apartment, and finding them absent, called on the upstairs apartment.[363] What is certain is that Guede used the toilet in the larger bathroom.[364]

Meredith had arrived home, alone, earlier in the evening and was most likely reading or studying in her own bedroom. The court found it probable that, having used the bathroom, Guede went into Meredith’s room, intent on making sexual advances, which were rebuffed. It was probably at this point that Knox and Sollecito joined Guede.[365-366]

The court concluded from the presence of Guede’s DNA in her body, that Meredith’s attack involved a sexual assault: the evidence that it was not consensual sex was deduced from other specific injuries as well as the obvious violence. Based on factors such as Meredith’s strength and physical fitness, and the way she had been undressed, they believed that she was the victim of multiple attackers.[369-372]

Based on the forensic evidence, the court believed a sequence of events in which Meredith refused to accept an invitation of an erotic-sexual nature and was then grasped by the neck by her assailants, for the purpose of intimidating her. When this intimidation was unsuccessful, it led to an escalation of violence, which involved the small stab wound to the neck.[164]

It is likely that it was at this point that Meredith’s trousers and underwear were removed by her assailants and that she was sexually assaulted. Her top was lifted up and rolled up towards her neck and there was an attempt to unfasten her bra which, despite her resistance, was eventually cut off. A pillow was placed under Meredith to allow further sexual activity: from Guede’s bloody hand print on the pillow, it was deduced that Meredith was already bleeding at this point. Part of the bra, including the clasp which bore Sollecito’s DNA, was found under the pillow, which indicates that this was cut off before the pillow was placed.[164-165]

It was, the court believed, around this time that Meredith screamed loudly, as confirmed by the evidence of Nara Capezzali and Antonella Monacchia, which placed the time around 23:30 pm. The response of the assailants was the compression of the upper airways, by pressing a hand over Meredith’s mouth and nose, and then inflicting the deep knife wound to the right side of the neck. Their conclusion was that death occurred a few minutes later, and was caused by asphyxia resulting from the major neck wound from which there was bleeding into the airways, impeding respiratory activity. This was exacerbated by the severing of the hyoid bone – also attributed to the knife wounds.[165]

In the court’s opinion, the initial attempt had not been to kill Meredith, but there was “a crescendo of violence” in which the assailants simply accepted the risk of death, constructively transforming their initial non-homicidal intent into a pro-homicidal intent characterised by reckless malice.[171]






Regarding the murder weapon, the court found it difficult to accept that the wounds of various sizes were all made by the same assailant and the same knife. Their conclusion was that the smaller wounds were made with a pocket knife that has never been identified, but the largest (and fatal) wound was made with the knife which was subsequently recovered from a drawer in Sollecto’s house and which bore traces of Meredith’s DNA on its blade and Knox’s on the handle (the “double DNA knife” discussed in section 7.1).

The court believed that, following the murder, the murderers went into the smaller bathroom to wash off some of the blood as witnessed by the traces of blood found there. They rejected the possibility that these were older traces, left from some previous incident, as Knox had testified that that bathroom was clean when she left on the afternoon of November 1.[278] In the process of cleaning themselves, the murderers must have touched the door and the light switch, leaving a dribble of blood on the former and stains on the latter.[281] The bloody footprint on the bathmat (which matched the size of Sollecito’s foot), indicates that whoever went into this bathroom was barefoot, and must also have been barefoot in Meredith’s room.[279] While in the bathroom, it was deemed likely that the murderers scrubbed their hands, thus leaving mixed traces of Meredith’s blood and their own DNA in the sink and the bidet.[279] The court noted that the traces found in the small bathroom not only tested positive for blood, but also included a mixture of Knox’s and Meredith’s DNA. They concluded it was Knox who, on the night of the murder, had washed off Meredith’s blood in the sink and in the bidet.[280]

The court considered the traces shown up by Luminol tests in Romanelli’s room, Knox’s room and the corridor. Luminol tests positive for blood but can give false positive readings for other substances, including fruit juice, rust and bleach. Other tests for blood were applied to the same traces and proved negative, but were noted to be less sensitive than Luminol. The court considered the alternative interpretations of the Luminol results: it found it improbable that the traces were caused by such things as fruit juice or rust - particularly as there was no explanation for why such substances would be in all three locations. The possibility of bleach having been spread through the three rooms was more feasible, but in that case, the court wondered why it would not appear elsewhere in the apartment. Also there was no evidence (smell for example) that bleach had been used.

Furthermore, the traces contained biological material, although it could not be proved to be blood. Considering all the possibilities, and the fact that there were copious amounts of blood at the murder scene, the court believed that the Luminol traces were indeed blood. They noted that the traces tested positive for Knox’s DNA and, in two cases, also included Meredith’s DNA. Their conclusion was that Knox had washed her bare feet in the bathroom, but some residue of Meredith’s blood had remained on the soles, and she had then walked into her own room, into Romanelli’s room and passed through the corridor, leaving the traces which were discovered.[281-286]

The conclusion of the court was that Guede had left immediately, but Sollecito had then brought in a big stone from the surrounding area and he and Knox had broken the window in Romanelli’s room with it and attempted to fake a break-in. They had gone back into Meredith’s room, covered her body with a duvet, then locked her door.[381] The court believed that the murderers took Meredith’s mobile phones, left the apartment and dumped the phones in a nearby garden. This must have happened before about half past midnight, as can be deduced by the phone records.[383] Knox and Sollecito returned to his apartment where he made a very brief (4 second) use of his computer at about 1am.

Contrary to the statements of Knox and Sollecito, his computer was in use for half an hour from about 5:30am the following morning, and he turned on his mobile phone at about 6am. The court believed that Knox and Sollecito returned to the murder scene that morning, with Knox perhaps having bought cleaning materials from Quintavalle’s shop at about 07:45.[384] There was evidence that cleaning had taken place: for instance the bath mat marked with a bloody footprint could only have been reached by taking steps that should also have left other footprints. None were found, so the logical conclusion is that they had been cleaned up. Even the drip of blood left on the internal edge of the bathroom door was said to seem like the remainder of a much larger trace.[384]

In conclusion, the court stated that all of the elements put together, and considered singularly, create a comprehensive and complete framework without gaps or incongruities and lead to the inevitable and directly consequential attribution of the crimes to both the accused.[388]


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Current Court Reporting: Seattle Post Intelligencer Still Posts The Best, Least Bias, Most Detail

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Seattle waterfront just north of downtown - Seattle PI building is at front center with globe]

Witness Andrea Vogt’s excellent report on the proceedings today in Appeal Court.

1). On the assorted criminals testifying today. 

The dramatic day of testimony, requested by the defense, brought together a gang of criminals of whom Hollywood scriptwriters could only dream, including a convicted rapist and childkiller, a mafia snitch and other hardened long-timers with little to lose.

Their riveting testimony (complete rubbish or explosive and key new revelations, depending on your point of view) led jurors down some of Italy’s darkest alleys, from the desperate gangster neighborhoods of Naples to the powerful masonic lodges of Umbria and tough Italian prison wards with their own code of honor….

Only one of the five had no connection to Sicily or Naples and that was a Romanian who claimed on the stand that his signature had been forged on a document presented by the defense and that he knew nothing about anything….

2) On the testimony of Mario Alessi

Alessi took the stand around noon, after a sharp drop in his blood pressure required a nurse’s attentions (the stress of testifying had caused him to lose 15 pounds over he last 10 days, his lawyer told seattlepi.com). Alessi said he earned Guede’s trust while they were incarcerated together.

One day, Guede took him by the arm and led him to a corner of the prison yard where they would be out of view of closed-circuit cameras, he said. Then, Guede told him that the real truth was that a drunkard who had gone to Kercher’s flat with Guede from the disco had sexually assaulted her and then killed her to avoid “rotting in prison” for the rape….

Toward the end of Alessi’s story, the lawyer for Meredith Kercher’s family, Francesco Maresca, branded him a repeat liar. Maresca held up a photo of “Tommy,” whose high-profile disappearance and slaying in 2006 shocked Italy….  In response to the photo of Tommy, Alessi said no, he didn’t recognize the boy, to which Maresca said, “That’s OK, we do.”

3) On the testimony of Luciano Aviello:

But on the night of Kercher’s murder, Nov. 1, 2007, Aviello testified, his brother came home with a ripped, bloodied jacket and was covered in scratches on his arms. He eventually said he had stabbed a young woman after surprising her during a break-in to steal a painting, Aviello said…

The brothers had then hidden the murder weapon and keys to the house in a nearby wall and covered the hole with mortar. “Go and see for yourselves. Verify it! You’ll find I am telling the truth,” said Aviello. “Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent.”  Police and prosecutors have never publicly confirmed that such a search was done. Aviello’s brother’s whereabouts are unknown.

When prosecutors asked him about his connection to Alessi and the other cons, Aviello took offense, saying he had nothing to do with those “pedophiles and rapists,” but was rather just an “honest” gangster from Naples doing time for routine organized crime.

Toward the end, Aviello’s testimony grew increasingly aggressive toward prosecutors and police with whom he had collaborated. At one point guards held his shoulders as he yelled accusations through the gap where two front teeth should be. “You are a klan, not the judiciary!” he yelled.

4) And on the prosecution’s many new rebuttal witnesses.

... the court agreed to call a number of counter-witnesses requested by the prosecution, including two more prisoners and two police officials. The court also agreed to hear Giacomo Benedetti, the friend of Rudy’s whose Skype conversation with Guede while Guede was on the lam in Germany led to his arrest, as well as Guede himself.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dear Ken Jautz Of CNN: Full CNN Interview With Mignini That CNN SHOULD Have Reflected #3

Posted by Skeptical Bystander


The previous post is here.

CNN’s report is downloadable here. The first hour is here and the second hour here..  Our translators were PMF posters Clander, Yummi, Jools, Thoughtful, TomM and Catnip.

0’28’’ CNN: you certainly made no secret about intimidating Preston and Mario Spezi

0’49’’ Mignini: Well, I do not understand what intimidation. So, well look. For starters, this proceeding near Florence has nothing to do with this issue. So this is a non-issue. So, as for Mario Spezi, and I’ll come to Preston later, Mario Spezi was subjected to an investigation that, in relation to this matter is not closed yet since it is still pending, and following [in relazione a] this investigation, a precautionary measure was requested, which the investigating judge granted. Then the re-examination Court [Tribunale del Riesame] instead reversed the decision. While, in Amanda’s case, [the precautionary measure] was confirmed. As you can see, in Spezi’s case, the re-examination Court [Tribunale del Riesame] canceled the precautionary measure on grounds of default. In the Court’s view, there were not enough serious indications of guilt on the subjective aspect [of the crime].There were [indications of guilt] on the objective aspect of the crime of calunnia [false accusation], the crime for which he was being prosecuted. On the subjective aspect, i.e. the bad faith, there were not. And thus the court, the re-examination Court, reversed this measure.

But during the investigation, even before a measure against Spezi had been requested, a relationship between this writer, Douglas Preston, and Mario Spezi had emerged. And Preston, a writer, was summoned as a “person informed about the facts”, I do not remember, I think it was February 2006. And he was, just like many other people “informed about the facts”, he was interrogated by me. During the interrogation, this time he was questioned by me as if he were, let’s say, a witness, during the examination as a person informed about the facts, evidence of guilt emerged against Preston. And, in particular, Preston’s answers were not consistent. They appeared to me, in that moment, they did not appear to be true. So at that point I stopped the examination. Look, the examination lasted approximately twenty minutes, not more. I met Preston only on that occasion. About twenty minutes ... I told him: “I must suspend this examination.” Just like the Police did with Amanda, always according to art. 63. “I must suspend your hearing because evidence of guilt has emerged in relation to the crime under art. 371 bis of the Penal Code”. Now, pay close attention to this [missing words]. “And thus you must appoint a lawyer”.

He signed. Present in my office, which was not the one you saw this morning but it was another one, also on that floor, were my assistant, the clerk, Dr. Daniela Severi, there was the captain of the Carabinieri, Antonio Morra, there was a police [woman] officer from Florence, and I think there was a magistrate in training that I think was training with me, I do not remember this now. However, there was the captain, a police officer and the clerk. He signed [the statement]. I accompanied him to the door and to try to explain to him, he had told me that he spoke Italian but, in my opinion, but he did not [missing word] Italian. He believed he could speak Italian but he did not fully understand this procedural aspect. I told him, I remember we were by the door, “you must now appoint an attorney. This process that I am now opening against you for making false statements to the prosecutor, Article 371-bis, will remain suspended by the law, because the law provides that this offense, if one makes false statements to the prosecutor in a criminal case, this process that has been opened for false declarations will remain suspended until the main proceeding in which these statements were made is defined”. He did not understand this detail and he, I was really surprised and amazed by this fact, he thought that I was encouraging him, and he then said that I had encouraged him to flee, that I would arrest him. I never said such a thing because this charge does not provide for arrest. And that’s all.

Then I followed what he said throughout this matter which is completely [..missing word.. ] .. completely misrepresenting what happened, and then I dismissed the case because there was no… I decided to terminate the proceeding and there was nothing else. It’s all there, the Preston matter ends there.

07’37’’ CNN: I interviewed Preston and, according to him, this is not true. He said the interrogation lasted two hours. And (reading what Preston said): “I started to sweat, the prosecutor began to ask again the same questions, worded in a different way” he insisted with his secretary for [having her] repeat what he had said, which is the truth? “I started to feel that I was looking like a liar by the way my voice was trembling”. He had to write a statement in Italian, he had to do it several times because the person who was writing it did not understand well. Is he lying?

09’20’‘Mignini: Well, you have listened to Preston, I had the assistants, I did not think to bring them with me, but they can tell you everything. I do not remember now how long the interview was, I think about twenty minutes, perhaps half an hour, perhaps, perhaps, I do not know, an hour or so, I do not know, I have to look at the record.

However, what is certain is that when you make a statement, a few things are asked and the person must tell the truth and I challenged some of the things he said. I do not remember now in detail because it is of no [word missing], I have had other things to deal with [and] I do not even remember it. I challenged some of the things he said, I remember that I made him listen to a few phone calls that had been intercepted, phone calls in which he was speaking with Spezi, and what he was saying was not credible, it did not seem to be credible to me. I put it on record, because I had to dictate the statement to the assistant, who wrote the statement, and Mr. Preston signed [it] and he therefore recognized the validity of the statement, because he signed it, he did not refuse to sign it. Therefore an interrogation was made and a few statements were challenged.

The person, Preston, made a few statements that were not [missing word], that did not appear to be at all credible to me. I made him listen to, to prove that according to me he was not telling the truth, a few intercepted phone calls and I do not recall seeing him particularly [missing word]. Then if he was in a state of mind that a person is in when interrogated by a magistrate, if he felt troubled, I do not know. If that were to be the case, I am sorry but I’m afraid that it is like this in my line of work. Interrogations are made, one must hear [missing word], the person must tell the truth. And if [a person] does not tell the truth then objections must be raised. What is clear is that I challenged these facts, we put [everything] on record. Others were present: the assistant, the clerk, the Carabinieri captain, the police woman, therefore there is no point in discussing this, there is nothing more than what has emerged, than what came out in the statement. Preston signed the statement.

12’02’’ Then, the thing that struck me is that I subsequently received a few requests asking me, and I read this on a few Internet websites as well, if certain statements had been made. I really do not wish to comment on those statements because I do not wish to get into an argument here. I would like to try to explain that, if he had come back, because he had to flee because he would have been arrested if he had come back to Italy: this is a pure fiction, a total fabrication, non-existent. Furthermore, I dismissed his case and therefore I do not see how [missing words]. While the other proceedings, the proceedings against Spezi, are still pending.

13’00’’ This is the situation, I remember that I [missing words], subsequently he [Preston?] even asked me for an interview, to which I, to this request, did not respond.


14’16’’ CNN: it sounds very similar to what Amanda Knox described.

14’22’’ Mignini: It is completely different because I interrogated Preston [while] Amanda was interrogated by the Police. In Amanda’s case, her interrogation was halted by the Police. In Preston’s case, his interrogation was stopped by me. Preston was not arrested, Amanda was [arrested]. The two things are completely different. They have absolutely nothing in common apart from the fact that I was the prosecutor in both cases. But this is all. Just like in many other proceedings. There is not the slightest element in common.

15’23’’ CNN: you have just said that your job is to make sure that a witness tells the truth but at the same time you did not verify what was said by the homeless man and by the two neighbors…

Mignini: A person tells me that he saw her, he tells me that he saw what they did, he tells me the times, and he tells me things that no one has denied. If Mrs. Capezzali, Capezzali I think, relates what she heard and the thing is confirmed by another witness who lived below her and no one denies this. And that’s not all… there are two Calabrian girls who lived in [missing words], almost where the metal staircase ended, the one that was presumably used by one of the young people. These two girls as well say that they heard running. Therefore, there is the scream, heard by two people, the repeated footsteps that were heard, the scream and the footsteps that were heard by Capezzali and by these two Calabrian girls.

Whereas in Preston’s case there were the telephone calls that contradicted his statements. In that moment I had the telephone calls and if someone says something [missing words], this is contradicted by these telephone calls. I do not remember now in detail because I did not, I do not remember in detail these aspects but they were documented. In that case, I therefore had the elements to say: “you are telling me things which are not true”. In the other case, there were never any [contradictory elements]. The homeless man, the two Calabrian girls, Mrs. Capezzali and the teacher Monacchia were heard, they were subject to examination and cross-examination and they confirmed everything. This means that their statements became evidence, witness evidence. Whereas Preston made those statements that were contradicted by the intercepted telephone calls and I challenged those statements. It emerged immediately there, I objected, it’s very clear. There is no [missing word].

18’41’’ CNN: In your opinion, do you believe that Narducci was involved in the Monster of Florence murders?

18’50’’ Mignini: This matter was the subject of a criminal proceeding, proceeding number 1845 0821, which was dismissed, for those were investigated, due to lack of evidence [formula dubitativa] in the case of the murder and due to the statute of limitations for the other crimes. This means that the crimes had been committed, they had been attributed to certain people but too much time had gone by and the offences had become statute-barred. In this proceeding, the GIP fully sustained the Prosecutor’s (that was me) request, which was: the three fundamental points were that Narducci had been murdered because the autopsy that was performed demonstrated that there was a fracture of the left superior cornu of the thyroid cartilage which cannot be caused by accidental impacts but it can only be caused by a restricted, localized and increasing pressure because it is [in] a protected location and the medical examiner determined the cause of death to be strangulation; the GIP acknowledged that the body pulled out of the water, which had been officially established as being that of Narducci, was not Narducci after all; and that Narducci was involved, the GIP said, in the case of the double homicide murders of the couples. This order was appealed by Narducci’s relatives, not by his wife but by his relatives. However the Supreme Court of Cassation rejected the appeal as inadmissible. Therefore, the matter is now closed at this point.

20’48’’ CNN: Yes, but the question is if you think…

20’50’’ Mignini: It is what I maintained. I maintained it and the GIP acknowledged it. He accepted these aspects. Then, regarding the whole matter, since there is another pending proceeding, it will not add anything more. I will only say that this aspect was the subject of a proceeding in which I maintained these things and the GIP acknowledged them. He accepted the whole accusatorial framework [impianto accusatorio].

21’55’’ CNN: The body in the lake was not Narducci’s?

22’00’’ Mignini: let me explain. The coroner who performed the autopsy is Prof. Giovanni Pierucci of the University of Pavia, head of the Forensic Medicine department at the University of Pavia, and other consultants, among them Brigadier General Luciano Garofano, who determined, from different points of view, the following things: the corpse that was pulled out of the lake on October 13, 1985, was that of a person who was almost bald, size 60, which means that it was in a state of bloating decomposition, was wearing specific clothing and was in such a state that the coroner, before he opened the coffin, thought he would be in the presence of a corpse that could no longer be effectively examined. Conversely, once he opened the coffin, he found Narducci’s body, with thick hair and it was wearing size 48/small belted pants. Around the waist the body was in excellent cadaver condition. In particular, the encephalon did not contain any diatoms which would have been present in a drowning case.

Therefore, the consultant who performed the autopsy stated that this situation, the dimensions of the corpse, the different clothing and the different state of cadaver preservation, indicated that the correspondence between the corpse that had been at the time recovered from the lake, as described by witnesses, and Narducci’s body was at best uncertain. To further ascertain whether or not the body recovered from the lake was Narducci’s, an anthropometric examination was conducted by a Pavia Forensic Medicine assistant, Dr. Cristina Carlesi, and then by the Parma RIS Commander, General Garofano, at that time a colonel. [The examination] confirmed that the corpse [recovered from the lake] had dimensional characteristics that made it incompatible with Narducci’s body examined [rinvenuto] during the autopsy. These aspects have been subject to multiple tests.


25’39’’ CNN: Dr. Mignini, do you like a good conspiracy theory?

25’42’’ Mignini: AHA! Here comes the conspiracy… Listen, there is no conspiracy here, I do not know what that means. A size 60 person does not fit in a pair of size 48/small pants. There is no conspiracy here!

26’08’’ Mignini: There is not a conspiracy. This is reality. Fairy tales are another matter but this is reality. The reality is that one must examine the reality. Unfortunately, the reality is that when I started these investigations, which are different from the ones we discussed now, I did not have, I said: “let’s see what there is”. And the medical examiner told me these things. A corpse that has been under water for five days and that is in an advanced state of decomposition is in the emphysematous phase when it surfaces again which means that there is also abdominal bloating and a pair of size 48 pants cannot fit. And this one had hair, the other one did not. The point is that [missing words] if one drowns, you have diatoms but this one did not have any. And then there is the matter of the hyoid bone fracture… This is not a conspiracy. I do not know what you mean by conspiracy.

27’16’’ CNN: Or rather a very imaginative reconstruction, one says, sorry, let me be clearer: in English one uses a lot [missing words]

27’31’’ Mignini: Look, there would have been a conspiracy if I had led with this idea. But I did not start off with this idea. I took note of, I always say this, take note of what is reality, of what can be touched, of what can be seen. That is, I cannot make up reality. If reality tells me that that person is wearing a pair of size 48 pants and it is preserved in perfect condition, eh! Forensics tell us that there is something that does not make sense.

0’11” Mignini: Pardon, if I might add, it’s the exact opposite of what he said. It is exactly because I take notice of the outcomes, I don’t have a predetermined idea. And so I take notice of what is there. And so if they say, ‘Look, that can’t be so’, his wife tells me, ‘he was wearing other clothes when I saw him leave for the last time. I’ve never seen these clothes before that I can see here in the photo of the recovered body’. Ah, so there is no conspiracy, it’s reality and it needs to be taken note of.

1’03” CNN: You’ve never said that Meredith’s death was a satanic rite?

1’08” Mignini: I have never said that. I have never understood who has and continues to say that. I read, there was a reporter, – I don’t know his name, I mention it because I noticed it, – who continues to repeat this claim that, perhaps, knowing full well that it’s not like that. I have never said that there might have been a satanic rite. I’ve never said it, so I would like to know who made it up. This is a conspiracy, a fantasy, to my detriment though, to my detriment. Simply a sexual act. And maybe I have always said, I maintained this in the first-instance trial, there was a relationship which deteriorated between the two girls. I’ve always maintained that. I’ll tell you this because…

2’54” CNN: The discussion of the news that came out yesterday, of the non-DNA that they found on the knife…

3’03” Mignini: Well, then I’ve said that I would prefer not to speak about the current phase of the case. Although I’ll tell you this, that when the tests were carried out by Forensics at the time, Forensics used, with cross-checking of the parties involved, all the genetic material present on the knife and the [bra-]clasp. That is, on the clasp there was a lot of it, so a part of it was used, but on the knife all the material that was there was used. It was an unrepeatable test, that exactly why it was unrepeatable [was] because all the material was used, because, taking all of it, a more reliable finding could be made, unable to be repeated. And so it came to be done with cross-checking of the parties involved. If this material was collected up three and a half years ago, what could have remained of this material? Nothing. The material on the clasp turned out then, I believe, to have deteriorated due to the presence of rust. And the rust could not have been prevented because, if one uses an anti-rust product, it would have burned the genetic material that remained. So I, I won’t enter into the merits of this discussion although, the test that was done at the time, was a definitive test, unrepeatable. The Court ruled that it was admissible to try and see if there was the possibility, to see if there were some material, some portion of material remaining. Probably there’s none left because it was used to do the tests at the time. That’s it. So it’s quite simple.


5’48’’ Help me to understand how is it possible that there was none found (DNA) in the room?

5’57’’ Mignini: How is it possible? It is possible, to begin with on the knife. The knife was in the room, means it was used. If the knife is the murder weapon, the knife was in the room. If that genetic material [is] like Dr. Stefanoni said, the genetic material of the victim on the blade and that of Amanda on the handle was in the room. The bra clasp contains the genetic material of Sollecito, and it was in the room. It was moved by one meter, because police can’t…. this can happen when there are so many items in these checks, but the bra clasp was in the room. There was genetic material of Sollecito there, of Rudy, and of the victim. So it is not true that there was no genetic material in the room, there was genetic material belonging to Sollecito, for example. And then if the knife is the murder weapon, as we found in the investigation process, the knife was on the scene of crime.

7’04’‘And then, anyway at one meter [distant] from the scene of the crime, in the corridor and in the small bathroom, there was: the mixed blood of Amanda… how is that possible? And so now I put the question to you, I return the question: how is it possible that there is mixed blood of Amanda, that mixed blood of Amanda and the victim was the small bathroom, which is very near, next to the murder room? That in the bathroom there is a footprint on the little mat dirty with blood, which is attributed to Sollecito? That in the corridor in front of the door of the crime room there are bloodied footprints attributed to Sollecito and Amanda? How is it possible to find these elements if they were not there? [That is a] question. I would like an answer from you but I’ll tell you.

Only a question – but I would like an answer to that – I ask you this:

08’52” Mignini: but that blood…., Amanda says that she did not see it on the night of the first; she saw it in the morning [of the 2nd] when she says she went into the room. How is it possible, if they stayed the night in Sollecito’s house, they spent the night in Sollecito’s house, that there can be mixed blood victim/Amanda in the little bathroom?

Sollecito’s blood-stained footprint on the bath mat? And the prints of Amanda and Sollecito in the corridor? Eh eh, we always come back to that?

09’42” Mignini: In any case, the law is not an exact science, as you can see, because it is capable of being appraised, the pieces of evidence are capable of being evaluated in various ways. The day there is a centralized computer, we will have fewer trials, we will feed the data into the computer and it will give an answer. Although it is clear that there are differing evaluations because the facts can be evaluated in different ways, the testifying, this happens in all trials.

10’40’’ CNN: is it possible for a prosecutor, who is facing problems on his own, to take this opportunity, of a so sensational case…

10’58’’ Mignini: I have not taken any opportunity, since that day I was [on duty] on my shift. We have a one-week long shift, so I have not taken this opportunity. I had been on duty since the previous Monday, and my shift would end on the following Monday, which was the 5th. I think, and since the crime was discovered on the 2nd it was me who had to intervene. Then if you tell me: how is it that there is a procedure of this type, in which there is an acquittal which I would like to be talked about, because, I notice, that nobody speaks about this acquittal. And instead the whole truth must be told, because [in] this procedure against us which, let me tell you the whole truth, this as a process is a bit strange, anyway there is an acquittal. A full acquittal of which no one has spoken. The conviction instead is temporary and is undergoing appeal.

Now, the Italian procedure provides that whenever there is a disciplinary proceeding against a magistrate, when disciplinary action would be, as in this case, merely related to a criminal proceeding, i.e., you have a criminal proceeding, there is automatically disciplinary procedure, the disciplinary procedure is suspended until the determination of the criminal proceeding. So, for one part there was a full acquittal, not “doubtful acquittal” [insufficient proof] but full, ascertained objectively. For another part there is an ongoing appeal, in which we have objected to the jurisdiction of the court of Florence. That is, the court of Florence shall not judge in this process because prosecutors in Florence were involved in the case in various ways. They could not deal with the proceeding in Florence because you can’t have a trial in your own home.

13’53’’ Mignini: after that I would like to add one more thing, if it helps. During the trial, I never [*avoided questioning], I have always undergone examination. That is, I said: ‘just put questions, I have no problem’. Because I have no problem about this case, I have done the investigations that were needed to be done. So, there was no attitude of intimidation, in the most absolute way, because, among other things, I explain to you, you can’t put pressure on a person by performing activities that will remain secret for that person, even a child understands this. Maybe my children [little girls], even the smaller ones would understand this. So I cannot intimidate a person if I try to put pressure on that person through an activity that the person knows nothing about; I am not intimidating anyone, you see, this thing is just unrealistic. Thus I never [*avoided] I have always undergone questioning and I have the utmost confidence in [*justice] because I always had the utmost confidence in the judiciary activity. I was always ready to undergo examination, I said ‘ask me what you want’, I have put all the acts at their disposal.

Those are investigations that require you to understand them, because they are complex investigations and a judicial authority that didn’t do these investigations won’t understand them. So much that I had a confirmation - now I won’t say much about this, I won’ explain in detail this aspect - I had a confirmation that, about this case that I dealt with, the magistrates who have dealt with did not grasp the range of it, and they assessed that these acts were acts unrelated to this case. I may add to this, since this is for the purpose of explaining the picture the Italian legal system [ .?. ]: ‘the crime of abuse of office’ [...] I’ve seen many times when they were explaining “convicted” [repeats “convict” in English] I think, of “abuse of power” [in English in text]. It is not abuse of power.

The “abuse of office” is a misdemeanor in Italy, that is, before the 1997 reform, it was a very indeterminate crime, and then one could even, giving a wrong interpretation, even configure a charge of this type. Today, in order to configure a charge of abuse of office, conditions are required such that the charge is unlikely to be configured because it requires a breach of the law in real time ... that is a law that has to be immediately “preceptive”, which means not a procedural violation, such as those that have been charged against me. This violation must have resulted in unjust harm as a direct result of that violation of the law. And the subject who committed the violation must have accomplished this action with willful malice. That is, they must have done it primarily in order to harm another person. But I cannot harm or intimidate someone by performing an activity that will remain unknown to the person. This I… it is just logic, not a matter of [ .?.]


18’16’’ CNN: Don’t you have even the slightest doubt that perhaps you accused two people who maybe are innocent?

18’32’’ Mignini: Look, I want to make you a [ .?. ], I want to be, I am very sincere, so, I’m very, very fair and very sincere when talking. I have the [.?. *certainty?], since I made some requests I had the absolute certainty that they were responsible. Thus, otherwise, if I had a doubt, this is my assessment, I would have asked for an acquittal with dubitative formula. I tell you another thing, though I was told this, I have not seen the movie, I do not know [if] this movie will be aired in Italy, about how is that one of the Life Time movie like… I was told that in that film the actor who plays me was smiling when Amanda was convicted. I was told that, I haven’t seen it, I don’t know if it’s true. Is it true, did you see it?

CNN: No.

Mignini: I was told that the actor smiles. I did not smile instead because it was a duty to make this request, but a judge who makes a request of conviction does not do it, let’s say, lightly, far from that. Because they are two young people whose families I can see and hence the suffering of these families. But I do it because it is my duty, I deemed to do it, so I did not have the slightest doubt. But it’s not true that I was happy. I mean that I was [not] like the actor that I was told about who smiles, because asking for the sentencing of two youths who could be my children, in short, is not something that makes you happy. This I would like to make it clear. That is I did it because I was sure, I did it but .... These are weighty matters. Because the judge who asks for a conviction does it with a, how to say it, a feeling of necessity It is a duty, but it’s not that one is happy about it. This is, I would like to make this clear. (...)

22’45’’ CNN: But at the same time, can you sleep at night thinking you did the right thing?

22’53’’ Mignini: I have a clear conscience, yes. You, I remember you were present when I made the request for conviction, the sentencing request, I have ... I explained it, it happened to me because I was the most senior judge, that was not the colleague, my colleague had carried out her work, her scope: the matter relating to genetic testing, cells phones, computer investigation. I had to do the investigative part, let’s say that by the event, the part dealing with the evidence collection. And then at the end I had to make the final request, I tell you, I have four daughters, so I know what it means, I am… I have a clear conscience because I asked, and I did, what I deemed [it had to] be done. I asked what I deemed and this is my assessment, I am ... who knows me knows that there is a way to persuade me: to convince me rationally. I am ... and those who know me know it, one who, when faced with a rational assessment, I often happened to concede that the person who has proven it to me was right. But I must be convinced. If I am not convinced, I am not convinced and I have my position. My position [is one] that I draw from the analysis of the elements, never by a preconceived or conspiracy-oriented assessment, anyway from the facts, from facts alone absolutely.

25’32’’ Mignini: I hope that, I do not know if it’s over, think it’s over, I hope that there was a [..?.. *question] ..., there is one, a lot of different views, including the interpretation of events that occurred, that are very different. I tried, I didn’t have means because the judge is not allowed to speak much, and not much freely. I had read many times, I also received messages that were not exactly pleasant. Then also I read a lot of things that were totally unfounded and I hope I made a contribution. That means, you can have different opinions. I [think]… Sure, you can have different opinions, I, as the magistrate who works as a prosecutor; it was me in the investigation at the first instance trial and now as an assistant on appeal. You can have different opinions, I respect opinions but I expect that you do not put into question the good faith and intellectual honesty of the investigators, because there are no [*prejudices? reasons?] towards those young people who were totally unknown.

We did what we deemed [was right] doing, what we found, which one may not subscribe to. I respect all opinions, but the ones who were responsible for conducting the investigation and supporting what is called the accusation, that anyway, let’s repeat it, is not an accusation but an organ of justice, [those ones] are us. And we took the responsibility for doing what we asked for. There is a colleague who worked with me, she was very useful because she helped me on some issues, from a biological standpoint, she is a colleague with whom we work together in the executive council of the National Association of Magistrates. So I hope that, I don’t know, but I wish, just hope, that at least I have been able to help in clarifying [the matter]. That is, that at least something could be said [missing words] that is not exactly what we thought. This is what I would like, at least I hope.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dear Ken Jautz Of CNN: Full CNN Interview With Mignini That CNN SHOULD Have Reflected #2

Posted by Skeptical Bystander


The previous post is here.

CNN’s report is downloadable here. Our contexting and the first hour are posted here..  Final post Tuesday. Our translators were PMF posters Clander, Yummi, Jools, Thoughtful, TomM and Catnip.

0’40’’ English question [Translator’s note: These words are in English in the Italian transcript of which this document is a translation.]

0’48’’ CNN: You didn’t interrogate Amanda?

0’50’’ Mignini: Oh, the police interrogated her. I was told about it. I wanted to explain this. I remember that I had gone to sleep and the director of the flying squad, Dr. Profazio, called me, because he tells me: “There are developments; Raffaele in fact has denied what he had said before”. So I went down and the head of the flying squad told me what had happened. At some point they tell us that Amanda has made this statement.

And thus her interrogation as a person informed of the facts was suspended by the police in compliance with Article 63 of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure [c.p.p. - Codice di Procedura Penale], because if evidence appears that incriminates the person, the person being questioned as a person informed of the facts can no longer be heard, and we must stop. “Everyone stop! There must be a defense attorney [present]”. And thus the police stopped and informed Amanda, who had placed herself on the scene of the crime and who said that she had accompanied Lumumba and let him in and that then Lumumba, in the other room, allegedly committed a sexual act and killed Meredith. This is what she said.

2’11’’ Then I was called, I was informed about this, I went to Amanda who, I remember how she was, what she looked like, I remember her very well, she remained imprinted in my memory, I still remember then two things about Amanda that struck me at the time: first, she looked like she was relieved of a burden and second, she was like, and this is another detail that was impressive, it seemed as if she was terrified of Lumumba.

20’48’’ Then I, as I had in some way to, let’s say… this police interrogation had been suspended. At that point I remember that… they made me notice that Amanda, because she wanted to go on talking, I remember she had, like a need to. So I told her: “you can make statements to me; I will not ask questions, since if you make a spontaneous statement and I collect it, I will collect your statement as if I were in fact a notary”. She then repeated [her story] to the interpreter, who was Mrs. Donnino, I remember there was a police woman officer who wrote the statement down [verbalizzava], I did not ask questions. She basically repeated what she had told the police and she signed the statement. Basically I didn’t ask Amanda questions. Not before, since the police asked them and I was not there, and not after, since she made spontaneous statements. Had I been asking her questions, a defense attorney should have been there. This is the procedure.

05’24 CNN: She had an interpreter during the whole time?

05’26’’ Mignini: Yes.

05’29’’ CNN: She says no.

05’32’’ Mignini: Look the interpreter was there, when I heard her there was the interpreter. The interpreter Anna Donnino, who is an interpreter for the police; she was hired by the police.

Just like I believe that there was [before], I do not have the minutes now, but yet now this is a fact, it is undisputed that there was an interpreter.

06’02’’ CNN: Amanda Knox says she was interrogated for 14 hours…

06’11’’ Mignini: No, look, absolutely not. At 1 a.m., the minutes of Nov 6th has started at 1 a.m. and I arrived, 14 hours that cannot be, we are really… that’s absolutely impossible. So the minutes were done at one o’clock, then the minutes of the spontaneous declaration was taken at 5.45, it maybe lasted half an hour because no questions were asked. She made her statements; they were translated; then at around 8 a.m., I think, at approximately 8, I drew up the detention order. Thus it is… well, she had been heard earlier, so she had been questioned as a person informed of the facts at around one forty-five a.m. She had previously been heard by a female police officer, but [that’s] because she had gone voluntarily to the police and she reported that, she said things quite relevant to the investigation of Raffaele and was heard by the inspector [Rita] Ficarra. However this [event] ... I was not there, I do not know [about it]. But remember, there are the minutes. Then the minutes in which she was questioned as a person informed of the facts starts at 1:45 of November 6, and cannot have lasted 14 hours ... in no way whatsoever. Then she was arrested at around 8 a.m. or at about 9 a.m. or so.

08’16’’ Mignini: Look, I remember what I saw when I saw her personally, because she said, I told her: “you can make, if you deem it [necessary], a spontaneous statement, because Italian law provides for this. If a person is aware that he/she is suspected [under investigation], may request to speak before a magistrate, it happened many times, they came also to me, and they say “I want to make a statement”. Very well, I listen. If I listen, I wanted this to be highlighted…. to be clear, I listen and that’s all, and I ask no questions, the defense attorney may be not present. But if I ask questions and I object to the facts [of your answers], it is like an interrogation and thus we would need a defense attorney.

09’10’’ CNN: was [Amanda Knox] scared?

09’11’’ Mignini: Well, I recall this feeling that I had in that moment which, [as] I am explaining to you, in the spirit in which I am doing this interview, to explain to you the acceptance [adozione] of our requests [provvedimenti], what was, why the trial went in a certain way. [Translator’s note: The Italian in the CNN transcript is nearly incomprehensible. We have provided the foregoing on a best effort basis.]

09’36’’ She was, she seemed to me like she was uplifted, freed of a weight, and terrified of Lumumba. That’s an impression that has stayed with me, yet I don’t understand. I remember that there was a policeman who was called, from the SCO [Servizio Centrale Operativo] in Rome, who made an impression on me because he was very fatherly. She was crying as though freed of a great weight, and he was trying to console her. I remember there was also a policewoman who, well, she…[missing word?] and I’m sure that.. [missing word?] .. well, all that picture how it was described later… at that moment it wasn’t like that. Right then, there was a situation in which I was trying to console her, to encourage her, because actually we believed that she had told the truth.

11’03’’ CNN: No one hit her?

11’06’’ Mignini: No, look, absolutely not. I can state this in the most positive way, and then, let’s say… I wasn’t there when she was being questioned by police, the rooms are quite far away… you don’t know but I was… it’s quite far, there’s a corridor, and I was with the director, Dr. Porfazio, and she was being questioned in a different place. I also remember that passing through, I also saw Sollecito who was alone in a different room; he was also being questioned, as I recall. I don’t exclude…well…it’s clear that I wasn’t there, but I don’t believe that anything whatsoever happened, and in my presence absolutely not.

11’55’’ On the contrary, there was an attitude of… I mean they gave her [some] ... [missing word?] then she was like, you know, like someone crying from a sense of liberation, as though she had been freed. That was the attitude.


12’51’’ CNN: Why wasn’t there any video or transcript of those hours?

13’00’’ Mignini: Look, that’s, I was at the police station, and all the…let’s say…when I made investigations in my own office, I taped them. I taped them, we have an apparatus for that, and I transcribed them. For example, there’s the interrogation of the English girls, Meredith’s friends, it was all taped. The interrogations of Amanda in prison were taped, and then transcribed, and we have the transcripts of… But in a police station, at the very moment of the investigation it isn’t done, not with respect to Amanda or anyone else. Also because, I can tell you, today, even then, but today in particular, we have budget problems, budget problems that are not insignificant, which do not allow us to transcribe. Video is very important…I completely agree with you that videotaping is extremely important, we should be able to have a video recording of every statement [verbale di assunzione di informazioni] made Because what is said is very important, but it’s maybe even more important how it is said, the non-verbal language. Because from the non-verbal language you can [missing words].

15’14’’ Mignini: It isn’t only Amanda, it’s always like that. But I wanted to say that I agree with him that it’s fundamental, only there’s a problem, especially when the witnesses are so numerous, and in fact just recording, I mean recording the sound, isn’t enough according to me.

15’38’’ CNN: It doesn’t cost much, he says.

15’40’’ Mignini: Well we have significant budget problems, that’s what it is.

15’38’’ CNN: So in the end, you did get a confession. But then, everything that was written in the confession became a lie?

16’16’’ Mignini: But then, there was the fact that she placed herself at the scene of the crime, and Lumumba wasn’t there, together with the three of them, the two of them, but Rudy was there, according to the facts that emerged later. But the fact of having accused…and she’s even accused of calumny in regard to Lumumba, was an element that was very important from the point of view of her legal position at the trial. Why accuse someone of participating in a crime, placing yourself at the scene of a crime? Because with those declarations, she placed herself at the scene, at the place of the crime. And she placed someone there who was a complete stranger to it. Why did she do that? There is one detail that’s particularly significant. Above all when Lumumba was arrested and no one – if it hadn’t been for the Public Prosecutor’s Office that conducted the investigation, and that is mandated to seek elements in favor of the accused, Lumumba would have stayed in prison. But we investigated, and we saw that Lumumba wasn’t involved, that he was the object of calumny and so he was freed and the case against him was archived.

18’15’’ CNN: Was she asked to imagine what might have happened?

18’24’’ Mignini: No, absolutely not. Either you saw a person or you didn’t. I can’t ask someone what they imagine because it would be a question that doesn’t mean anything, that I even don’t understand.

18’44’’ CNN: Do you think Amanda Knox is bad?

18’46’’ Mignini: Look, by the way we did make some personality assessments, we usually do make them, but they are only for investigative purposes. About Amanda I can tell you that she is a very, extremely intelligent girl, I always said so, about being bad, I don’t .... I wouldn’t, I couldn’t say anything. It seems to me that going beyond this would be a personal judgment, devoid of significance. What is important is the fact, what is important is why an event takes place which is a crime, a crime accomplished without premeditation. So I don’t… any… I mean, I don’t want to do it, I don’t think it would be right to say that someone is good or bad, absolutely not.

20’09’’ This means the assessments that we did make were made only in order to ascertain responsibility, but what someone’s personality is, the personality of the accused, that deserves great respect and we don’t, the evaluations that we do we only make them to ascertain responsibility and then for the sentencing. At that stage in fact the personality of the criminal is taken into account, for the purpose of establishing penalty, in Italian law, but we did that in the request for a guilty verdict. There, there was one element that has some relevance to the psychological aspect; it was the fact that a crime was alleged that was committed for futile motives, which is an aggravating circumstance. And we did hold that this was an aggravating circumstance, but it was only for this purpose that we made personality assessments, not for any other purpose.

21’26’’ During the investigation, I heard them being made, and I read articles, they kept attributing judgments to the investigators that were never made; certainly I never made judgments like that. I have the greatest respect for the persons of the accused.

22’30’’ CNN: The accusation [Translator’s note:  non-grammatical question] is like: once it was proven that Lumumba was basically a lie of Amanda’s, you should have started again from scratch. Once all the DNA evidence of Rudy Guede came out, you should have said we’ve found the culprit, because of the fact that there just wasn’t any trace at all inside the room, and then, according to the defense, the defense says that you became fixated on Amanda and Raffaele, almost obsessional.

23’19’’ Mignini: No, absolutely not. I did what I did and now I’m talking about the past, about what the investigation showed, about what happened at the first instance trial, because I am, I was and I am, I did what I did because I’m convinced, on the basis of the evidence collected, that they were responsible, in the most absolute way. There isn’t…how was Rudy involved? Rudy was one element, but the crime, I repeating, one can’t say any longer that this crime was committed by a single person. Now we have a judgment from the Court of Cassation, the Supreme Court, saying this crime was committed by Rudy together with other people, and it then indicates, by confirming the verdict and sentence of the Court of Appeal which condemned Rudy, that it is incidentally speaking of Amanda and Raffaele. So from now on, this crime must be seen as having been committed by more than one person, one of whom is Rudy.

24’36’’ So what has been assessed was held, I want this to be clear, precisely for the purpose of reconstructing the facts: I am called[C1] , I issue the warrant of arrest, for the arrest of Amanda, Sollecito and Lumumba, it goes in front of the Judge for the Preliminary Investigations who rules on the grounds of the warrant for arrest, so there’s a request to validate the arrest and permit a precautionary measure; the judge for the preliminary investigation validated the arrest and allowed the precautionary measure. Then Lumumba was removed from the picture because we conducted our investigation and saw that he wasn’t involved, so he was out. So, when we had collected the elements that convinced us, me in particular since I was the one who made the request, the archiving request, first his release and then the archiving of the proceeding against him.

25’37’’ If that had been, but I don’t accept that attribution, there isn’t any, there isn’t any [missing word?]. If the magistrate, if that attribution were true, having started with Lumumba I would have had to continue with Lumumba. But in fact, it isn’t that way because Lumumba had nothing to do with it. So, the precautionary measure was challenged before the re-examining tribunal, where three judges preside for each of the accused. On the order of the re-examining tribunal, Sollecito, Rudy and Amanda appealed the precautionary measure to the court of Cassation, but the court of Cassation confirmed it [Translator’s note: i.e., denied the appeal]. The measure was also taken for Rudy, and the court of Cassation confirmed it.

Then there was the judge of the preliminary hearing who sent the case to trial, condemned Rudy, rejected a request to revoke the measure, and finally the first instance trial ended with a guilty verdict. Here, eight judges, i.e., two magistrates [giudici togati] and six lay judges, recognized that the accusations were well-founded. So, when there are elements that had to be archived, we did request that they be archived. So there is no such attitude [Translator’s note: i.e., obsession], absolutely not. This is what I can [do?]. If there were, if there were some true or even just credible elements, because I would need something like that, which hypothetically could prove that they had nothing to do with the crime, I would take account of it and would act accordingly, I would have acted accordingly. In the most absolute way.

27’48’’ I’ll tell you what happened, and please believe me, because around this event there have been a lot of things which are unfounded, to say the least. According to me, intellectual honesty is the main quality in a magistrate.


29’53’’ CNN: Is Antonio Curatolo a trustworthy witness?

29’59’’ Mignini: But the witness takes an oath and assumes his responsibility, if he says something false then he is committing the crime of perjury and calumny, at the limit, if he’s explicitly accusing an innocent person of a crime, so in our, in Italian law, the witness is considered to be trustworthy, authentic, until the point at which you can’t prove he said something false. Unfortunately, however, or fortunately, we don’t know, the person who was in the piazza, who has lived in that piazza for ten years, at least ten years, who knew everything about that piazza, was this homeless guy. So the homeless guy is a bum so that’s no good. But that’s not right, he’s a witness like the others. The woman what’s her name, the witness who lived there, near the house, the one who heard the scream, is a totally credible person, a very normal lady who told what she had heard coherently. The school teacher, the one who lived nearby, is a totally credible, trustworthy witness.

With witnesses, it’s not that we can choose their testimony. Witnesses are the people who are, by chance, able to give some indications. And for that matter, Curatolo is someone who actually lived there, and his declarations are altogether pretty credible, and confirmed by other people. Other witnesses were also heard, who were, I don’t know, for example Gioffredi, a perfectly normal person. So I don’t see…basically, it’s the testimony of a perfectly normal person which has to be weighed according to what it says, and its coherence with a reconstruction [of the events, translator’s note], and we have to believe it unless it’s proven wrong.

32’26’’ Because if he says that he saw something, he exposes himself, he’s under oath so he exposes himself to an accusation of perjury if he’s not telling the truth, so we have to believe him. Otherwise justice, without witnesses…it’s not as though we had a film of the crime, if only that could be the case.

33’30’’ CNN: Was Toto being investigated [sotto inchiesta] when he gave his testimony?

33’42’’ Look, I know that at the moment in which he gave it, I believe that there were some lawsuits against him, but in the stage of appeal, I think he had been condemned but was appealing, so, then later the sentence became definitive, but he gave his testimony when the sentence wasn’t definitive yet. I don’t know, those are details that I wouldn’t know about exactly…but I know for certain that the sentence was not definitive, so was still being contested.

34’34’’ CNN: Did Toto give his testimony hoping to obtain some kind of favor?

34’36’’ Mignini: Non, there was no favor, absolutely no favor. This didn’t happen…the witness presented himself and made his declarations, that’s all. We took note of them, because they were relevant declarations.

35’17’’ CNN: So, you believed the testimony of a heroin-addict bum?

35’25’’ Mignini: Well, on let’s say the legal position of this person, I have nothing to say because he was judged for something different, for a true and totally different fact, having nothing to do with the present one. For this one, he was a witness. And it’s true that it’s completely different in that he was heard as a witness, with no lawyer. If it had been a related fact, he would have had to be assisted by a lawyer and he would have had the choice to abstain from making declarations. But for this event, he is a plain and simple witness. Then, also, I wouldn’t want to, because the witness, it’s not that we ask the witness if he has a previous record, previous condemnations. We can ask that to the accused, to the accused, amongst the other questions that we ask the accused, we ask him if he has a previous record, but we don’t ask witnesses this question, except during the defense’s investigations. This is the…so he’s just a witness who made declarations. His declarations have remained quite, rather credible.

There’s also for example the fact that, well, take for example the rain. Curatolo remembers that the evening during which he saw the two young people, it wasn’t raining, and it’s true that on the evening of the crime it wasn’t raining. Vice versa, and they say this, also other witnesses say this, on the previous night, only in the town of Perugia, there was a limited weather phenomenon; in the late afternoon of October 31, it rained. And even I remember that, because I remember that the street was wet. So, this is to say that this is a detail which was confirmed by…there. I’m giving an example to tell you that also a person who has a criminal record…and then, one would have to go see all the witnesses who were heard at the first degree trial, all of them, to see if they had them. We don’t do it because it isn’t relevant.


38’45’’ CNN: From the response of the bum, I assume that you took the responses of the two ladies as valid, and never went to check in their apartments if it was possible to hear footsteps with the shutters closed.

39’04’’ Mignini: So, the question of Curatolo is one thing, the declaration of Mrs. Capezzali, what’s her name, I think Capezzali, is something else. You say, she’s quite an elderly woman, she said she heard a scream, the scream that… She lives, I don’t know if you know the area, but, I don’t think you know it, she lives above the garage and looks over the house on via della Pergola, where there’s a kind of, something like an amphitheater. So the sounds coming from below can be heard with particular clarity and she heard the scream perfectly. She said so. And that same scream was heard by a very young teacher who lives lower down, in a street in the direction of, towards, let’s say towards via Pinturicchio. And around the same time, she also heard a scream like that. Then she went down to her parents who were in a different part of the house and they said they hadn’t heard anything.

40’26’’ CNN: He wants to know if you went to the house.

40’28’’ Mignini: Did I go? I have taken note of this witness’s statement and also of the other and, being two statements from persons who had no reason to lie and being these statements entirely credible since they are very similar to each other, the houses are very close to Via della Pergola, this statement was deemed fully reliable. There was then a request for an expert opinion, now I will not go into the merits of the trial events, but this thing was assessed during the investigation, by the Gup, and by the Assize Court that heard this person, who was cross-examined, she said, she repeated what she said. An absolutely believable person, who obviously [missing words]...further, as here [missing words]…an experiment on the possibility of hearing was not done. We are, we took note of the fact that she told about this, about the scream that she heard. She confirmed it, she gave her, her, we say word, that she took an oath in court, to have heard this scream.

The same thing was said by another witness. What should we have done? Have an expert [perizia] ascertain, under different, not repeatable conditions, that which was heard at the time? The witness said what she heard. And, then, neither I nor the Court of Assizes considered submitting [missing words]. The Assize Court decided instead to do something very important. And this is a detail which I consider [missing words]. When I inspected the house on Via della Pergola, which in my opinion was a very important initiative, very crucial for the decision. That is, that was an opportunity to make an inspection to see that house as it was, how was this window through which this unknown subject would have climbed, which then would have been Rudy. And the court was aware that this reconstruction was, in my opinion, unlikely.

43’35’’ CNN: Would it have been easy to conduct [fare] the experiment?

43’38’’ Mignini: But let’s say if a person has made these statements and it was this way. Because, you see, I’ve listened to this person, she was recorded, among other things, she was cross-examined during the trial. She was very precise. She said that she constantly used to hear, even during other nights, that she used to hear the noises of the youngsters who made quite a noise in the garage, in the parking lot. So. ... These things, these noises, she was used to hearing them. She stated this. There was no reason, she did not know the victim, she did not know the accused, what reason could she have had to [missing words]?

44’44’’ CNN: not that she lied but this is a fundamental question for your work. Is your job finding the truth and solving the problem or is it following your intuition and trying to incriminate the first person you find suspicious?

45’16’’ Mignini: Well this is, in the Italian legal system, the prosecutor is not a lawyer for the accusation. He/she is an organ of the judiciary who must also seek evidence in favor of the suspect. Which we have done, particularly in the case of Lumumba. And all the people, all the witnesses who were suggested by the accused, were heard in cross-examination. A very long preliminary investigation was made, extremely thorough, verifications of all kinds were made, [including] verifications on the phone cells. I have not spoken of the phone cells, for example, but that is another point that showed people’s movements, people’s location, that were confirming the accusatory hypothesis, as we say. So, [after] all these evaluations, the prosecutor, made a few requests. I did nothing. I made an order of detention, I asked for [its] confirmation. Then the judges had to confirm everything. And the Preliminary Hearing judge should have considered, he would have had to, if there had been any grounds of non-credibility of witnesses, they should have been pointed out, they should have highlighted this. But the Preliminary Hearing judge evaluated the indictment request, I asked for an indictment but is was the GUP Micheli who [actually] indicted the defendants.

There was the trial before the Assize Court, which took place, it was a proceeding that lasted a year, a trial that lasted a year, during which the case was examined thoroughly from every possible angle and therefore this is the [missing words]. The magistrate, the prosecutor has an obligation, let’s say, in the current legal system, to seek, he is an impartial body, that has the obligation to seek the truth and if new elements emerge which make [a person] appear to be credible, which make a person appear to be unrelated to a crime, [then the prosecutor] has the obligation to request that all charges be dropped or, if during the trial, [to ask for an] acquittal. I myself have come across many times, during a trial, in light of witnesses, new witnesses, who were produced again in other cases, I asked for an acquittal. Anyone who knows me knows that this has occurred many times. But in this case I had, let’s say, during the investigation phase and during the trial, I made, we made our requests, we explained them, we justified them, and the court gave, acknowledged the validity of this case. Then there is an instance of appeal. There is the appellate level. Now, I will not discuss this because it is on-going.

49’11’’ Mignini: The phone call, for example, another thing that had a considerable influence on the investigation was the phone call that Amanda had with her mother in the middle of the night in Seattle, even before [the body] was discovered. This is another element that comes to mind, even before the body was found.

49’52’’ There is a call that is made in an hour, now I do not remember, it was I think, I do not remember exactly, I think it was 3 AM in Seattle, I think.


50’58’’ CNN: In 2006, you were found [missing words], let’s move on now to the other case, the prosecutor of Florence said that you would do anything to defend yourself in front of those who criticize the way you investigate…

51’43’’ Mignini: Well, I will not comment on this statement, I do not know when it was made. The proceeding that this person brought against me and Dr. Giuttari, ended in part with a full acquittal because no crimes had taken place [i fatti non sussistono], for one part. And this is a final acquittal because the prosecution did not appeal. So, this part of the allegations that were made, which were formulated, which was the most important part and led to the searches in the offices of the prosecution and also in Giuttari’s police offices, this part has totally collapsed. A search was carried out, a seizure was made, which had already been annulled by a court in Florence.

Then the court of Florence acquitted us because no crimes had been committed, with a full acquittal. And this acquittal is final. A part of the charges formulated against us remains, that I honestly find hard to understand, because they say [si dice], we were accused of having carried out investigations that had no relevance according to the theory [impostazione] of the Florence prosecutor’s office, I make this distinction, they had no bearing on the investigation we were conducting. I say that they had a full relevance and among these files there were interceptions that were all authorized by the competent magistrate. So this conviction was based on alleged offences [ipotesi di reato] to which we object, we have appealed, objecting to the jurisdiction of the prosecutor of Florence that conducted a trial although magistrates from the very same Florence Public Prosecutor’s office were involved in this very trial. And this cannot be done.

54’26’’ Because when there is a magistrate who is involved for different reasons in a matter, the trial must be moved [to another city]. So, if there is a magistrate from Perugia, the trial is moved [si va] to Florence, but if there is a magistrate from Florence, one goes to Genoa. And if there is a magistrate from Genoa involved as the offended party, as it was in this case, you go to Turin. And this is not what they did in Florence. We have objected to the jurisdiction of the Court of Florence for the violation of article 11 of the c.p.p. and if this jurisdiction should be recognized, everything comes to be nullified, and everything goes to Turin.

55’14’’ In addition there are other aspects that I do not wish to, well, you asked me the question about Preston, then I spoke, and I would like a moment

56’05’’ Mignini: Then I would add one thing, listen well to this. If I want to do something intimidating, meaning that I want to do an investigation that has an intimidating purpose [carattere] against a person because that person speaks against [me], no? If I want to do an act of intimidation, I have to do an act which that person feels, that that person understands, knows, perceives. I must, hypothetically, carry out a search, make a seizure, do an inspection ... Instead, I performed [faccio] a wiretap that was secret, I heard a witness who remained secret. How can I intimidate a person if I carry out an investigation that remains secret? Because the investigation must be secret. This activity is not like a search that is immediately known by the person. If I want to intimidate a person do you think that I carry out an investigation that remains secret? And how can I intimidate him? It’s a contradiction in terms. So someone will have to explain to me the meaning of this accusation.

57’32’’ The problem is that at the origin of these proceedings there was [missing words], I do not mean the whole Florence Prosecutor’s office with which I have very good relations. I’m talking about a time when [missing words] I talk about a conflict between offices, a conflict that has ended up in front of the Supreme Court Prosecutor General’s Office because the Prosecutor General of Florence. That is, the Florence Prosecutor’s Office wanted us to hand over to them a case we had,  the one regarding the death of doctor Narducci. We said no, the competence is ours. The prosecutor general of the Supreme Court, Dr. Febbraio, on July 29, 2005, agreed with Perugia.

So at the origin of this matter there is a conflict of jurisdiction and there is an indictment brought by us, I would like to make this clear, the Perugia Prosecutor’s Office had indicted the Florence Chief Prosecutor at that time, and this proceeding, at the origin of this proceeding, there is this fact. And this person also filed a civil lawsuit against me and Dr. Giuttari. This is the ... there is a contrast between offices, there was.

The next post is here.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dear Ken Jautz Of CNN: Full CNN Interview With Mignini That CNN SHOULD Have Reflected #1

Posted by Skeptical Bystander


Introduction: Judgment and credibility

Candace Dempsey recently claimed that viewers would be able to “judge the credibility of Mignini […] when CNN airs Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story”. In support of her claim, Dempsey provided an excerpt of the interview at end of her reader blog entry of May 6, 2011.

Viewers who managed to sit through the Drew Griffin/Doug Preston/CNN treatment of the Meredith Kercher case saw bits and pieces of what CNN risibly tried to pass off as an exclusive: access to one of the prosecutors, Giuliano Mignini, who indeed agreed to answer questions. What CNN failed to mention was that Mignini was actually interviewed for two-plus hours, and that he answered Mr. Griffin’s questions openly and without hesitation, not knowing that his answers would be severely and ruthlessly edited and cherry-picked to reflect something very different from what he actually said.

Not only did CNN fail to reveal this fact, Drew Griffin actually said (according to Dempsey) that “Mignini doesn’t really answer questions,” adding that Mignini “…talks and talks, going round and round and returning to certain things. I had to keep bringing him back to the evidence, to what’s actually being presented in court.”

This post and the next two to follow contain the original Italian transcript, authored by Turner Broadcasting and apparently then transcribed by a human being or by software (perhaps CNN will clarify). Whichever it was, the resulting document, which we obtained in the form of a word file, was clearly not subsequently corrected for errors, as readers of Italian will see. Presumably, the “three different interpreters” who “looked at Mignini’s interview to make sure that he was quoted correctly” did not read this transcript version of the interview.

Perhaps CNN can be persuaded to clarify the process or even to provide the actual audio and/or video of the interview. In the meantime, our translators demanded that we issue this translation with a giant red flag to signal that the transcript authored by Turner Broadcasting does not appear to be in complete and correct Italian. There are missing words, repeated words, and clearly wrong words. This may be because it was compiled by a non-native speaker. Again, only the folks at CNN can shed light on the process.

As you read the transcript or the translation of it, which was done by a team of volunteers (PMF posters Clander, Yummi, Jools, Thoughtful, TomM and Catnip), it is important to keep this in mind.

Also keep in mind that, according to Dempsey (based either on what Griffin told her or the cherry-picked interview snippets in the CNN program; perhaps Dempsey will clarify) “…instead of talking about hard evidence, Mignini kept returning to Amanda’s odd behavior; her relationship with Raffaele Sollecito, her Italian ex-boyfriend; and even her eyes (which, since they are blue, the Italian press called “icicle eyes”)”.

Griffin to Dempsey: “He truly believes she was the criminal mastermind behind the murder and that Raffaele was infatuated and under her spell.”

More Griffin to Dempsey: “Prosecutor Giuliano Miginini [sic] is, in my opinion, a rambling, confused individual.” (Drew Griffin to Candace Dempsey).

Dempsey:  “Griffin was surprised by Mignini’s willingness to say all sorts of things about Amanda that were not part of the trial.”

Griffin: “The kind of things that, if a prosecutor came to court in the U.S. and put before a judge, would get his whole case thrown out.”

And don’t forget what Candace Dempsey told potential viewers: that they would be able to make their own judgment calls when the documentary aired on Sunday, May 8, 2011.

We beg to differ.

We think that the viewers will have a much better basis on which to make a judgment call if they take the time to read the complete transcript and/or our translation of it. Then ask yourselves these questions:

Is Prosecutor Mignini evasive?

Does he give unclear responses?

Does he ramble?

Does he seem confused?

Compare the full interview with what viewers were shown. Then make your judgment call. Like us, you might be more tempted to make one about the people who did the cherry-picking, the packaging and the publicity for this hatchet job.

The remaining hour and a half will be posted in two more posts, one after saturday’s appeal session report, and one after the weekend.





First hour of the interview

4’09’’ CNN: There have been many stories about this crime, about what people think happened. What do you think really happened?

4’20’’ Mignini: Well, I am a magistrate for the Public Prosecutor’s Office who found himself ... I was on duty at the time and thus I happened to be dealing with this matter randomly. For me it is a criminal proceeding that I dealt with, and I am currently working on it today at the appeal level.

4’49’’ What happened was that a crime was committed for which we conducted an investigation in the best way considering the situation. And there was a trial which, in the first instance, resulted in conviction with full acknowledgement of the theory of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. I know there have been books, there were also films on the subject, but this is something for which I have limited interest. My job is to be a prosecutor for the Public Prosecutor’s Office who dealt with this case. I am interested in it from this point of view, nothing else.

6’30’’ CNN: But exactly how was the crime like, what you and your assistants, I do not say [missing words: *what happened?] ... but [what] you understood, who are the murderers, and the reason for this murder?

6’46’’ Mignini: I can tell you our impression when I arrived on the scene. I arrived basically, I believe, I think around 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 2, and I found myself facing a crime that obviously looked like - this is the impression I got in the first place and it was subsequently confirmed by the investigations and the proceeding - a murder of a sexual nature, in which there was this girl who was undressed or nearly so, a young woman who was covered with this, with this quilt. And the other thing which struck us, which was of immediate interest, I said this on other occasions and I repeat it because I’ve said it also at the first trial, was the break-in. And it appeared immediately – the climbing, the simulation of climbing, with a stone thrown through the window, through two shutters that were there, that left open quite a narrow space, rather limited room between them – immediately that appeared to us to be a simulation.

8’38’’ So there was this crime of a sexual nature and a simulated burglary. That is, the perpetrators or perpetrator, at that moment we were making a preliminary assessment, was someone who attempted, that appeared to be the situation to us, he had attempted [missing words] So that appeared to be the situation, an investigation of unknown persons; whereas instead the house, the house door was completely intact, there had not been a been a breaking open, and this made us think, then, as the investigations progressed, because as investigations go, by approximation you slowly get closer to it, to the ascertaining of the facts, it was, we thought it was someone who knew the victim and had an interest in orienting the investigation toward strangers.

09’44’’ Then the investigation went on. There were other important issues ... [missing word: *facts?] that have occurred [missing words]; they remained as key aspects of ... of what is called the basis of the charge. Which, by the way, for us is not the side of the accusation; we are an office that also has the task of ascertaining facts in favor of the suspect during the investigation.

10’19’’ What struck us besides the issue of the simulation was a series of endless contradictions, of inconsistencies, in the story of the two young people, the two young people who later became suspects and then defendants. And then, in particular, the calunnia [false accusation], then, what turned out to be such, a false accusation, made by the accused against her employer, a black man, Lumumba, Patrick D. Lumumba.

10’53” Here it is, this is it. Then, the elements of which there is much talk today, the elements which consist of forensic evidence, there was also evidence. There are the fingerprints, the [foot] prints, the phone cell records. These elements are ..., especially the forensics, they arose at a later time. This means, from the beginning what oriented the investigations toward these people, and later toward the black subject, Rudy, Rudy Herman Guede, who ... [missing word?] they were, that of Herman Guede was identified through the forensic material that was found.

The two youths were, let’s say they became objects of…[missing words?] the perpetrators of the murder, based on the findings that emerged at the beginning of the investigation, namely the simulation, the contradictions found especially in Amanda’s story, especially when she tells of having spent some time in the house, having taken a shower, in spite of everything. And then the call, the behavior that they maintained, especially the girl, upon the arrival of the postal police. And then the accusation, which was obviously a false accusation against Lumumba. So all these factors then they have, they led to the formulation of these accusations against them, which were later substantiated by the results of forensic tests, scientific evidence, were made by the scientific police, that is, the scientific police, which is that at the top of the national scientific police, which operates directly under the department of Public Security of the Ministry of the Interior. We also had the local scientific police, but the one which operated was the scientific police placed under the command of Public Safety, thus at the central level.

16’34’’ CNN: Before there was the evidence from the forensic police, did you arrive at your conclusions with respect to Amanda Knox by instinct?

17’00’’ Mignini: The scientific elements were coming in, as I recall, they were coming in gradually. Now, I would not be able to tell you [missing words] ... I think, for example, that the issue of the knife, and then the sample, the genetic profile of the victim on the blade and the genetic profile of the defendant on a spot where the handle of the knife is close to the insertion of the blade, I think that was entered quite later compared to the initial investigation. But in fact the order of detention, ... which I ... which is the act by which, under which the two young people and, at the time, also Lumumba who was later released, were taken to the house of preventive detention, that is in prison. In this detention order, there was no mention of any DNA analysis [indagini genetiche], obviously.

18’08’’ There is, in the detention order and in the hearing before the Judge of the Preliminary Investigation [GIP] on the validity of the detention and then in the first months, the first weeks of investigation, that is our belief, mine and the flying squad, that the behavior of two young people and in particular, this actually is [missing words]... it was a detail that was even more obvious regarding Amanda, [we thought] was such that the two were considered involved in the crime. Thus before that, it was an initial assessment of those elements that we had at the beginning to orient the investigation toward them. Then confirmations came. And there were many elements of corroboration at the end; they were very significant, very numerous. But at the beginning we had these elements, again, in particular the issue of simulation.





20’13’’ CNN: And what was the proof, because from what we understand the scientific evidence does not point to them ... the two of them?

20’25’’ Mignini: Well, then: so now I,  to list all the evidence [elementi] that was found, it would be [missing words] on the other hand they have been mentioned in the First Instance sentence report by the Court of Assize. Mmm, then ...

20’50’’ The issue of the simulation ... The issue of the simulation, in that house just in those days, i.e. 1, 2 November, the second was a Friday, the third was a Saturday, the fourth was a Sunday, on that weekend in 2007 there was only Meredith and Amanda in the house in Via della Pergola. Since the two Italian girls were away from home: Filomena Romanelli was with her boyfriend in another part of town, she was staying there overnight, while Laura Mezzetti was in the province of Viterbo.

21’36’’ So in the house that night there was only Amanda and the victim. Amanda said she was in Sollecito’s house, which is actually a five-minute walk from the house of Meredith. Because of the distance, we must take into account the distance, you shall go to see these places, you see that the distances are very short, very limited. So who might have an interest in simulating intrusion by a stranger? Only a person who might be worried about being implicated in the crime.

There was no sign of forced entry through the front door, so this is an extremely significant element. Then we have again the inconsistencies that can be detected in the statements. There is the fact, then during the investigation the homeless man, the homeless man came in, who very precisely identified the two young people, he said he saw the two basically the night between the 1st and 2nd, a few meters from the house where the crime happened, in which it was committed, presumably at a time compatible with the crime. While instead the two young people stated they had remained all the time at Raffaele’s home. There is another detail which at the beginning of the investigation [was] something that has, let’s say, intensified the elements for us; it was the fact that Raffaele at the beginning had attempted, let’s say he attempted to state that he stayed at home while Amanda had been out and she returned to Raffaele’s house I think at about two a.m.

Then this approach has been kept by Raffaele during the hearing for validation of arrest, and afterwards was abandoned as Sollecito’s defense line became more, let’s say, supportive of Amanda. But at an earlier stage Raffaele stated this position of separation between the two.

Then other elements are given by the fact, were given by the fact that the homeless man saw them on the night of the crime in a location a few steps, a few meters away from the crime and at a time shortly before the murder occurred.

There is a statement of the neighbor lady who lived nearby, who heard a scream at a time compatible with that specified, with what we thought could be the time of death of Meredith, that is between 23.30 and midnight. And this, this lady, heard footsteps, there is a whole description that now I will not repeat because it has been explained ... rather, it was described at length in the first trial, she heard the footsteps of some people who are moving, running, along the clear ground facing the house of the crime, others were running up the stairs, almost simultaneously, running on the metal stairs which are above the garage and basically end up in via Pinturicchio. I do not know if you are familiar with the city of Perugia, but I guess not. So this scream the lady heard, a terrible scream and also another neighbor heard it, at a consistent time, I repeat, and this simultaneous running of subjects on opposite sides, from different, distant areas, basically corroborated the fact that there were multiple murderers.

26’09’’ Rudy himself, in his questioning has, while remaining vague, more or less vague with respect to Sollecito, however later during the various interviews he more or less indicated quite clearly that Amanda was present.
Then [we had] the questioning, then there were questionings that were done. I remember one of them, that of Amanda in prison which was an interrogation that has made me… you asked what elements did I use to let’s say support the charge, saying in quotes the prosecution, there was also an interrogation in prison, Amanda, in inverted commas let’s say the accusation in the presence of the defense attorneys of course, and which confirmed the profound shock in which she always fell every time she had to tell what happened that night.

And then there were the results… well, fingerprints ... footprints, the footprints on the rug of the bare foot stained with blood, an especially important detail which I see many have not talked about but which is extremely important, is the mixed stains of blood in the small bathroom close the scene of crime, those of the defendant and the victim.

31’00’’ CNN: In the room [missing words]

31’05’’ Mignini: But let’s say I may reverse the issue: how do you explain the DNA, the genetic profile of the victim on the knife found in Sollecito’s house, together with the genetic profile of the defendant located at the area of the blade [possibly meaning: handle] where force is applied, not where you cut…

31’40’’ CNN: Are you sure that one was the knife?

31’44’’ Mignini: That it was for us, I can say this: first you have to start from a premise: Amanda and Sollecito knew each other only since October 25. That is, we think, because this detail is very significant with respect to the relevance of this finding, since we [may just] think it was a relationship, usually we don’t think of the fact that actually they had known each other for a week. And thus this knife was never touched in conditions ... I tell you what we found in the investigation, I am talking about what we ascertained during the investigation - this knife was never touched by Meredith under normal circumstances. It was never brought to Meredith’s home, this is what the two Italian housemates say, and so why, [since] Meredith had never been to Sollecito’s house, why was Meredith’s genetic material found on the blade by the forensic police, and the genetic profile of the defendant on the spot of the handle that is where the hand would press not as you apply pressure from top down, but from back to the front, that is in a condition similar to that when you strike a blow, like this. So this…

And I have… during the first trial I tried to show very clearly that this knife, the witness, the inspector I think whose name was Armando Finzi, he’s the one who conducted the search at Sollecito’s and found this knife. And I asked: did you put on your gloves at the time, was it the first pair of gloves you were using, in that search that was the first pair of gloves, he went [there], he started the inspection, he had not touched anything else, he opened the… the cupboard where this knife was. I do not remember if he took away several, but he picked up this knife that was immediately - and thus with the gloves that he was wearing in that moment – it was immediately closed and sealed, was brought to the flying squad, where another police officer, the superintendent, I think, Gubbiotti, using the same technique, put it into a sealed container which was then carried to… was then analyzed. So this was, let’s say because I wanted this to be highlighted and I think the Assize Court says so, I wanted to show that there was no possibility of contamination by the police, by the flying squad, with regard to this item.

35’04’’ Also because, I would like this to be noted, from the perspective of Italian law, evidence of contamination must be given by the person who invokes it. This means: I found the genetic profile, you as defense attorney say ‘there could be contamination’, you must prove it. That is, the burden of proof is reversed: it is you, the one who invokes the contamination, the one who has to give evidence of it. And this evidence was never given and cannot, I think, it cannot be given. That is, the one who claims a fact must prove it, onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat. [Translator’s note: This sentence was spoken in Latin and translates as “the burden of proof is on those who assert something, not on those who deny it”.]





36’50’’ CNN: Was it certain the genetic material was that of Meredith, and not genetic material that might be consistent with that of Meredith?

37’01’’ Mignini: No, no, it was like that. It was ascertained as such by the scientific police.

37 ‘20’’ CNN: So your detectives went into the apartment ...

37’28’’ Mignini: No, the knife was collected, then it was brought to the scientific police, it was sent to the scientific police in Rome.

37’ 40’’ CNN: Yes but your detectives entered the apartment and they selected right this very knife…

37’49’’ Mignini: I believe samples were taken from several, that is, not only that particular knife. I think, if I’m not mistaken. I think more knives were tested; however, one of those was definitely exhibit 36, the famous exhibit 36. And on this exhibit is where [a sample] was recovered from, and here it’s the scientific police that did the evaluation of that evidence and I retain, I digress. About [case] aspects, at the end of the investigation phase I asked, given the complexity of the case, the resonance of the case, I felt it was appropriate to have a colleague join me, a deputy [public prosecutor] like myself. Let me clarify, I’m not the chief prosecutor; I am a deputy prosecutor, since I’ve been presented as the chief prosecutor, but I am not the chief prosecutor. Then I requested the assistance of a colleague, Manuela Comodi, and we divided up the tasks. She has remarkable aptitude for these aspects of a genetic nature.

And so in this regard, I don’t know if you notice it in the first instance trial, my colleague did the questioning regarding the genetic aspects. I instead handled the more generic aspects of the case and aspects of a more investigative nature. This is why I remember all the details of the investigation, because I carried out the investigations of people. But for these aspects of genetics and scientific nature, we rely on the scientific police and we retain that the scientific police acted with utmost professionalism. I can recall, for example, going to the crime scene, I was at the place, and I also had to wear overalls, shoe-covers and a kind of cap, not just once but several times, at the same time when we did the inspections, ... I remember having worn many times, for example, the shoe-covers. And I had to… also because, those who worked on the scene did have their DNA samples taken as well, so there is also my DNA [sample]. Dr. Stefanoni took DNA samples of everyone to rule out in case, there could be DNA discovered belonging to some operator who had nothing to do with this matter.

40’38’’ Therefore, I have the utmost confidence in the scientific police because the top of the scientific police in Italy, especially Dr. Stefanoni who acted with great professionalism and these findings on the biological material were carried out in cross-examination with consultants for the defense team, always. The defense consultants, as I recall, and I was present, as far as I can remember, they had no objections if not in later analysis; they had no objection to anything at all at the time. For example, when the famous bra clasp was discovered, the defense consultants were there, for Sollecito there was a consultant who afterwards was replaced, I don’t remember his name, he was quite good, and I remember that he did not make any objections. Therefore, all these findings were carried out in cross-examination and the other parties had the opportunity to challenge what the scientific police biologist was doing, the scientific police expert in forensic genetics.

42’06’’ So I think. I distinctly remember that, in the first trial, I tried to prove that the knife had been collected with the utmost correctness. And I believe that afterwards the same thing happened in the scientific police laboratory when it was analyzed.

44’16’’ CNN: I still have trouble understanding how you can have a crime so horrendous and so bloody without two of the suspects leaving any trace.

44’30’’ Mignini: Look I should then add, it must be also said, at the time. In the bathroom of the two foreign girls, that is Meredith and Amanda, which is attached, next to the room of the murder, blood material was discovered of Amanda and Meredith, mixed. Why is this material important? It is important because in her own account told, in her own deposition Amanda makes in, I think, in early June of 2009, during the first instance trial, she says that when she left the house on the afternoon of November 1st, those spots were not there. She says so herself. So she returns in the morning, says she went back in the morning and sees those spots of blood. Those spots of blood are mixed Amanda and victim.

Also, in the small bathroom, there is a blood stained footprint, which the scientific police attributed to Raffaele, on the bath mat next to the murder room. On the corridor leading to the murder room, [and] leading to Amanda’s room, there are footprints, I’m not sure now, there are even in Amanda’s room, I think, there are footprints that were attributed to the two youngsters by the scientific police, of feet stained in blood. And, by elements, there is also a print of shoe and that one, was inside the murder room. Elements there are, that is, how to explain the presence of these elements if the two youngsters were not involved in the murder, [and] stayed at home? And another detail: it is a crime, this was established at the time by the Supreme Court, then we can no longer put into question at this point, it is a crime committed by several persons. I have, during the first instance trial, I heard this line of approach, and I also opposed this approach, which extended to holding that Rudy was the only one responsible.

The “only one responsible” is not one person, but [transcription error] they are several persons and Rudy is among them. This is now procedurally beyond dispute.





48’48’’ CNN: He also wants to know if you also found [missing words], that is, Sollecito perhaps, had a few cuts, did you check to see if he had any cuts?

48’56’’ Mignini: The…yes. Well, now: Laura Mazzetti, that is the Italian girl from Viterbo, [said] that it was a scratch, however, she remembers having seen on Amanda’s neck, she told this account and afterwards was also heard [as a person informed], it’s sort of a scratch just few days later, I think it was three or four days, she remembers seeing this scratch on Amanda’s neck that had been also seen, I think, by one of the boys from the Marches region. And in one of the photos taken during the house search by police, I think it shows something. Nevertheless, Laura Mazzetti indicates the presence of a scratch or something like a scratch. That is, she remembers seeing that Amanda had this little injury to the neck.

50’20’’ CNN: None of your investigators noticed it?

50’25’’ Mignini: The investigators did not notice it, because at the time, Amanda kept herself covered, she was, as described by the shopkeeper Quintavalle, covered up. However, Laura Mazzetti saw it and it was also seen, I think if I’m not mistaken or was said, by the young guy from the Marches who was living downstairs.

This girl saw it [the scratch/mark] and she stated this later in the courtroom. Moreover there is even a photo.

51’44’’ CNN: Knox was in contact with the police for several days after the murder. She was interrogated. Was she always wearing something that covered her neck?

52’00’’ Mignini: I think so, to be fair, this was a mark that it was not very visible. Laura Mazzetti said she saw it well. Keep in mind also that we did not focus on it automatically, because it was not like a visually striking mark. She was questioned like Raffaele Sollecito and like all the people who were more or less, that had to be questioned in those days, after the murder, a long series of people were questioned, among which the [girl] friends of Meredith, the English girls she was with the evening of Nov 1 and the night before Oct 31. And, among these people who had been questioned, also several times, Amanda and Sollecito were questioned, Amanda in particular was questioned several times: the evening of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and then on the evening of 5th and the morning, or early hours of the 6th. But look, what I wanted that [??], just for the purposes of explanation, that under Italian law, we must take into account the totality of the findings.

Therefore there is the scientific evidence, there are statements made by people, examination of witnesses, there is the formal interrogation, there’s the conduct of the accused. All of these elements, it is not only the genetic aspect that comes into consideration. The genetic aspect [is], together with many others, must be altogether; it is a whole spectrum of various findings, which should converge towards an affirmation of a reality that is undisputable. This is how it should be, this is important from a judicial point of view. So it is not that the proof consists of the genetic evidence; it is not like that. There are items of proof from witnesses, there is the fact that there couldn’t be only one perpetrator, and this is now indisputable, and one of the positions of the defense of the two suspects always tended to say there was only one murderer who committed the deed, who climbed through in that totally absurd way, [that’s] not credible.

56’10’’ CNN: About Amanda’s interrogation, on the fifth day, what was it is that triggered you, made you begin to feel suspicious, and led you to conduct a more aggressive interrogation?

56’26’’ Mignini: I see you don’t… so, I’ll repeat to you what happened. On the evening of November 5th, the police were going to question Sollecito, and on the evening of the 5th, as I was saying before, the attitude of Sollecito at the beginning was an attitude of, let’s say, different than the one he would assume later, meaning a defense line supportive with Amanda’s; at that moment, he had a different position. That is, on the evening of Nov 5th. Sollecito made a statement saying “I was at home, Amanda wasn’t”. Amanda at that time had followed; she had accompanied Sollecito to the police station and she waited outside [of the room]. As the police heard this version of Sollecito’s, who basically, Sollecito ... with that statement, also this approach by him in practice more or less had become part of the process too, as Sollecito made this statement, the police became suspicious.

That is: why did Sollecito tell us this, and why is he now telling us that Amanda was not home with him? So then they called Amanda, and Amanda was heard by the police as a person not under investigation, thus with no defense attorney, because the person… the witness, the person informed of the facts during the investigation – is not called a witness, he is called a person informed of the facts - she was heard by the police who pointed out to her, they confronted her with this question: why is Raffaele saying something else? Now you say you were with him and Raffaele says you were not there, that he was at home and you were not there? This is the point.

58’44’’ So she did, she was heard in a way, let’s say for long enough, I cannot remember for how long, in the earliest morning hours of November 6, 2007. I was not there when Amanda was interviewed by the police. I was, perhaps I was coming, because I had been called by the director of the flying squad that night. I do not remember what time I arrived at the flying squad, but I think that… I think I got there, maybe I arrived when Amanda’s questioning had already started. But the flying squad is pretty big; I was not in the room where Amanda was being questioned, but rather in the office of the director of the flying squad. We were talking about the investigation and were trying to plan the investigation for the coming days. So now, at some point, they call me, if I remember correctly, they inform me that Amanda had given the name of Lumumba, she had basically confessed that she was at the crime scene in the company of, with Lumumba, whom she had let into the house, that is it. Now I go on, I wanted to explain how I operate. So it’s not me, I did not do the questioning.

[Translator’s note: the transcript in Italian contains these words in English at this point: Starts with ****’* translation. This notation suggests that there is either a second journalist, who does not directly understand the answers, or that **** is using a translator, human or automatic. **** is used in the place of the individual’s name, which elsewhere is given as CNN. This is the only change that has been made to the transcript as delivered.]

The next post is here.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Open Letter To CNN Head Ken Jautz: Reports As Terrible As Drew Griffin’s Risks All CNN’s Credibility

Posted by James Raper




Attention Of Mr Ken Jautz
Executive Vice President Of Time Warner Inc For CNN
CNN Headquarters
Atlanta Georgia


Dear Mr Jautz:

Concerning Drew Griffin’s CNN report on Amanda Knox viewable or downloadable here with a transcript here.

As a practicing lawyer with a deep knowledge of the case, I watched your report two sundays ago (Murder Abroad – The Amanda Knox Story) with a growing sense of disbelief.

So when I watched the report I really expected that CNN might have very sensibly turned over a new leaf. Instead, Drew Griffin presented what seems to me to have been the most unprofessional report on the case ever done.

It was as if the expensive and relentless Knox PR campaign had phoned in the entire script, and as if Drew Griffin’s sole role was to parrot it. 

If it had been an openly avowed and paid-for public relations exercise on behalf of the Knox/Mellas camapign, it might have won a few points. But the report was promoted as a new investigation. That was a fundamental misdirection. It was in fact the most extraordinarily biased and one-sided presentation that I and I expect many others have encountered.

There were so may errors, omissions, sneers and blatantly misleading suggestions - all leading to a complete lack of balance -  that no viewer, other than those who would already be knowledgeable about the case, had a hope of being able to form an impartial and informed view of the case.

One could write a book about the omissions made by the programme, but I will enumerate just some of these, and the errors and blatantly misleading suggestions, as I go through the repprt here below.


Quick summary of the report

First, here is the thrust of the Griffin report. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are the victims of a rush to judgement by an obsessive prosecutor, some circumstantial evidence,  a discredited star witness, wrong media reports, and limited scientific evidence that is inconclusive and unreliable.

Oh and there was some nasty behaviour, inducing a false confession, by the police towards Amanda which mirrored the nasty behaviour that had terrified the novelist Doug Preston whilst he was in Italy preparing for his book “the Monster of Florence”. 

And most, if not all, of this was the fault of the Public Prosecutor, Mignini.  The foregoing is also the basic thrust of the Amanda Knox PR campaign which has been repeated over and over again elsewhere.

There were a mere poor fleeting cursory images of the real victim, Meredith Kercher, and maybe three or four dozen highly manipulative images of Knox and her siblings (see several here) going back to when they were tots.

Apart from Dr Hampikian of the Idaho Innocence Project, Doug Preston, and Mignini, and a cameo non-contentious appearance from Meredith’s lawyer, all of the contributors were family or close family friends. None of the defence lawyers partook, perhaps expecting the embarrassing worst, which was duly delivered.

Meredith’s family and friends were not even mentioned, let alone interviewed by Drew Griffin.



Reactions of the prosecutor of the case

CNN interviewed many, with almost endless montages of a young Knox, to attempt to undermine the case.

Although there are dozens of lawyers and experts and reporters that could explain why in the first round Knox and Sollecito were unanimously found guilty, Griffin unprofessionally chose to interview only ONE for that side of the case. He was Mr Giuliano Mignini, one of the two prosecutors on the case, who speaks no English and was thus easy for Griffin to condescend to and seriously mischaracterize.  (A full transcript of that interview, translated, will be our next post; be prepared for surprises Drew Griffin clearly wanted to hide.) 

I thought that Mr Mignini dealt with Drew Griffin’s unbelieving and cynical stare and his loaded and intentionally unsettling questions ( to which I shall later refer) quite well in the circumstances, since it was obvious right from the start that the unprofessional Drew Griffin was setting him up. At least he dealt with the situation gracefully, and at times even with a little amusement.

As a taster, the first question thrown at him was “Is Amanda Knox evil?”  The prosecutor shifted in his seat, thought about this philosophical question for a bit, and then wisely decided to ignore it.





Points of error and omission in the report in the order in which they arise

(1) The most vital document on the case of all, a 427 page judgment on Knox and Sollecito known as the Massei Report, which can be viewed via the link at the top here, was not mentioned at all.  It seems that neither Drew Griffin nor any of the programme’s producers have ever cast an eye over this document. If they have, they have blithely ignored it. 

The Report contains a detailed resume of the evidence presented at Amanda’s trial and the jurors’ evaluation of it.  It does not cover all the evidence that was heard by the court, which was huge, but certainly that sufficient to warrant the verdicts that were handed down.

There are also at least two other vital documents, also ignored, which all set the stage for the present mandatory appeal. They are the Micheli report on Rudy Guede’s judgment, and a recent Supreme Court report endorsing that report and accepting that there were THREE perpetrators of the crime.


(2) There was a photograph of the cottage. In fact, in all there were seven still shots of the cottage, and two showings of a film of the cottage, taken from a vehicle approaching along the road outside from right to left, from east to west.

All had one glaring omission in common.

None showed the west side of the cottage with Filomena’s bedroom window through which Rudy Guede is supposed to have broken in. That this was blatantly intentional was demonstrated by the editing of the film which cut out just as the side of the cottage with the window was coming in to view.


(3) The staging of the break in was a crucial piece of evidence against Amanda Knox dealt with at some considerable length in the Massei Report. Quite apart from that, it is evident from a simple inspection that the climb up to the window would have been extremely difficult and dangerous for even an athletic burglar and indeed there is much evidence that this was not attempted (Massei).

It would have been far simpler for Rudy Guede, a frequent visitor to the boy’s flat on the lower floor of the cottage, to have broken into the girls’ flat via the balcony (as seen in the still shots) on the other side of the cottage. He could have done that unseen and unheard in well under one minute.

The glass window was not shattered by a rock thrown from the outside, because the clothing tossed inside the bedroom had glass on top of it, which in itself is hard evidence that the break-in was staged.  That such a break-in was highly improbable was demonstrated by an attempt by the defence to reconstruct the climb up to the windowt that failed miserably. 

The only person who could have had an interest in staging a burglary would be one of the occupants of the flat. This is a sore point for Amanda’s supporters, amongst whom I must now assume are Drew Griffin and the producers of Murder Abroad.





(4) It was good to hear from Dr Hampikian that the “police did a good job in processing the crime scene and collecting evidence”.  Unlikely that on the basis of this observation he will be making any submissioms to the two independent DNA experts appointed by the court to review the DNA evidence concerning the knife and the bra clasp. Particularly as his other observations were quite ludicrous or fell outside his field of expertise.

Consider this: “They didn’t like the way Amanda behaved, whatever that means, and so they wanted to investigate her, and Raffaele and her boss. When the DNA is finally processed it is not any of their suspects. And so what do you do? What would you do?  [laughing] You let them go.”

Really?

Can he, you, or anyone else, think of a police force anywhere in the world which would want to release a suspect in circumstances where a staged burglary, inappropriate behaviour and language pointing to an insider’s knowledge as to the circumstances and manner of the victim’s death, an alibi that no longer held up, and the framing of an innocent man for murder, clearly points to her involvement. 

In addition there was early evidence of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom next to the Meredith’s bedroom, as a drop on the sink faucet and mixed with Meredith’s blood elsewhere. Contrary to Dr Hampikian’s contention (and he is not a lawyer) there was sufficient evidence to charge or at least prefer a holding charge pending further investigation. This happens frequently in the USA and UK. In addition Dr Stefanoni was aware that there was further evidence to be collected from the crime scene.

In murder cases suspects are very rarely released on bail for fear that they may abscond. Particularly a suspect who is not resident in the country.

A question for Dr Hampikian.  How would you like it if a suspect in the murder of your daughter was granted police bail and skipped the country to return home and evade justice? Make no mistake about it. That is what would have happened.


(5) The DNA evidence was not finally processed, as Dr Hampikian knows, until after the final DNA evidence was collected on the 18th December, weeks after Amanda’s arrest. That was when the bra clasp was collected together with samples from traces identified by luminol. That delay was entirely attributable to the necessity of having to arrange for the defence lawyers and experts to be present to collect further samples, and not incompetence on the part of police or prosecution.

“Forensic expert Greg Hampikian says finding DNA (Amanda’s and Meredith’s) but no blood makes it highly unlikely that the knife was used in a bloody murder. He also says it is surprising that the prosecutor was even allowed to admit such a small unexplainable sample (Meredith’s on the blade) as evidence.” “Would this have made it into a US court? I don’t think it would have made it into a US lab report”.

Not make it into a lab report? Is he trying to be funny?


(6) Well there is the evidence of the police that the knife smelt heavily of bleach which, with its particular size and the fact that it looked so clean, was what made them interested in it. How many people wipe down an item of kitchen cutlery with bleach? I do not know but in my lifetime I have never known anybody do this. Washing up liquid works just fine for me.

Dr Hampikian is of course referring to the Low Copy Number (cell count) DNA reading but the fact is that the graph produced by the DNA electropherogram was a clear match for Meredith’s DNA profile.

Dr Hampikian might be interested to know that LCN DNA is admissible in evidence in at least one jurisdiction in the USA and there is growing support for it with the advances in DNA forensics. The majority of the experts who testified at the trial said that it was clearly Meredith’s DNA.


(7) Furthermore Raffaele explained the existence of the sample by saying that he had accidently pricked Meredith with the knife whilst cooking at his flat. Untrue.  Amanda herself testified that Meredith had never been to Raffaele’s flat, and there was no evidence that she had. Nor was there any evidence or suggestion that, prior to the murder, the knife had been to the girl’s cottage.This evidence would in most courts make the DNA evidence admissible.


(8)  Dr Hampikian again, on the bra clasp (with Raffaele’s DNA on it) – “If that’s all there is it’s a very weak piece of evidence”. “And it’s inconsistent with every other piece of evidence in the case”.

Well, there is the bloody footprint on the bathroom mat which the trial court accepted as being consistent with Raffaele’s footprint rather than Rudy Guede or, for that matter, Amanda. As to the DNA on the bra clasp this was, in forensic terms, an abundant amount, and no one, but no-one, has disputed that this was Raffaele’s DNA.

Perhaps Dr Hampikian can explain how Sollecito’s DNA comes to be there considering that his DNA was not found anywhere else in the flat (other than on a cigarette stub in the kitchen and on Meredith’s door handle) in a quantity even close to the amount found on the bra clasp?

He was clearly advancing the lone wolf theory espoused by Amanda knox supporters given that Guede’s DNA was found in Meredith’s room and on her person. Funny how that DNA evidence is accepted by them but the bra clasp DNA is not. As a forensic biologist perhaps he might also want to comment on the fact that –


(9) There was not one single trace of evidence, DNA, fingerprint, footprint or otherwise, relating to Guede found on the window sill, window, glass, or any item located in, or anywhere else in, Filomena’s room. And yet a mixed sample of Amanda’s and Meredith’s DNA was found on the floor there. Explain that! 

Without question Dr Hampikian’s soundbite contributions to the program were scientifically very inept for someone in his position, but I am sure that he knew what he was doing.




(10) Drew Griffin’s loaded, error strewn and unsubstantiated commentary continued -

  • DG: Amanda was “confronted (by the police) with evidence of criminal activity which the police didn’t have.”

Amanda was questioned by the police as a witness in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the murder along with others such as her flatmates Filomena and Laura, and Raffaele and three of Meredith’s English girlfriends. These were not interrogations. The questioning of Amanda for 52 hours (suggesting intensive interrogation) as mentioned by her father at the beginning is an exaggeration if not a fabrication. 

Amanda was questioned (interrogated, if you like) at the police station on the 5th November from around 11.30pm to 1.45 am when the questioning stopped because she had become a formal suspect due to her disclosure that she had been at the cottage when Meredith was being murdered by Patrick Lumumba. She was not questioned again other than in court.

A question for Drew Griffin.  “During the aforesaid period what evidence was she presented with that the police did not already have?” I, for one, do not know what he is talking about.

  • DG: “The case against Amanda Knox appears to be falling apart.”

Really?  News to me.

  • DG: “The tabloid press is beginning to tell a different story.”

Well, they are reporting (and sensationalising in some cases) developments (such as they are)  in the appeal.  But a different story?  Again news to me.

  • DG: “The case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito seems to be hanging on two very small pieces of DNA evidence.”

Actually Drew, that’s what you would like people to think. It would be far more accurate to say that it is the validity of any defence that is hanging on this evidence, and that what crumbs they may be thrown as a result of the review will not really damage that evidence nor alter the soundness of the convictions.

There is plenty of other evidence, all omitted in this biased documentary.

(11) Drew Griffin next remarks: “Curatolo’s evidence was laughable”.

Really? In what way? He seems to have got the date and times and identifications right. Explain that. In fact whatever the appeal court now makes of his testimony there was nothing laughable about his evidence. He was indeed confused in parts but very clear that he saw Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito arguing together in Grimana Square the night before the police and forensic teams arrived in the square and at the cottage.

The confusion that arose was that he introduced elements of Halloween (the night before that) including a costume he saw in his recollection of the said night. However he was also certain that it was not raining when he saw the two together. It did not rain on the night of the 1st November whereas it did on the night of the 31st October.

  • DG – “He revealed that he was under investigation by Mignini’s office at the exact moment he became his star witness.”

I sensed several slurs coming up and I was not wrong.

  • DG – “Did he get any favours?

Like what? The promise of a reduction in sentence? It looks like he didn’t.

  • DG – “So you believe the testimony of a homeless heroin dealer?”

Yes, for the reasons given. Drew, it does not matter what Mignini really believed or believes now. Testimony is heard and evaluated by the court not by prosecutors. Mignini is not heading the prosecution team on the appeal and he certainly has no influence otherwise on judges and jurors anyway.


(12) Another fatuous claim. “But almost immediately after the arrests Mignini had a problem. The third suspect, Patrick Lumumba had an airtight alibi. He was in his crowded bar that night. He could not have been involved.”


Actually the bar was not so crowded. Pretty empty really.  Patrick was fortunate that of the few customers who turned up one was a Swiss professor, Roman Mero, who travelled all the way back from Zurich to give police Lumumba’s airtight alibi. But for that Lumumba might have stayed in the frame-up longer thanks to Amanda. She did not ever admit to the police that she had lied about him.


(13) Another fatuous claim. “Knox stated that she was denied a translator when referring to her interrogation/arrest.”

Knox testified on the stand in June 2009 that she DID have a translator at that time, by the name of Anna Donnino.

(14) We then had the introduction of Doug Preston, co-author of “The Monster of Florence” (another inadvertent plug – sorry) whose book is in the planning stage for a movie with a star role for this financial donor to The Committee to Protect Journalists. Preston is to be played by George Clooney in the movie.

I do not intend to dwell on this section. It is irrelevant to the Murder of Meredith Kercher and to do so would be to give this pompous individual more of the self publicity he craves It’s sole purpose was to portray the Perugia police and in particular Mignini as arch villains. It might occur to many that Doug Preston has a financial interest in doing this.

We were treated to the following gems –

“Police interrogated people brutally and extracted suspect confessions from them” (in the Monster of Florence case – sorry, another plug)

“I was terrified. I thought these people have the power to put me in prison for the rest of my life.”

Mr Preston obviously does not like having to answer questions or to have to account for himself. Well nobody does really but we are in wimp territory with Preston.

George Clooney could not possibly play such a wimp. Instead the scene in the movie will have to be “sexed up” with Mignini being portrayed as overbearing, obsessive, corrupt and demented.

Hardly the picture he presented in his interview - that is, the two hour long interview that was not shown.

It is not accurate to say the Preston has never returned to Italy as a result of his brush with Mignini. He has been back with Dateline NBC to tape a show on the Monster of Florence (4th and last plug!).





The following are some of the other facts omitted - all pursuant to testimony at the trial or verifiable from other easily obtainable sources. Take note first that there were extensive investigations by experts of cellphone and computer activity and their findings were admitted as evidence. Also it may be helpful to know that Meredith Kercher had two mobile phones, an Italian phone given to her by Filomena and her own UK phone.

These were stolen by her killers and discarded elsewhere. However they were found and handed in to the Postal Police who ascertained that the Italian phone was registered to Filomena and consequently two officers were dispatched to the cottage where they found Amanda and Raffaele.


(15) the fact that Amanda claimed that she returned to the cottage on her own at 10.30 am before the discovery of Meredith’s body to have a shower and collect a mop to clear up a spill of water at Raffaele’s flat the night before– which Massei found unlikely given that by her own testimony she had arranged with Raffaele to visit Gubbio that day and had testified that she had already had a shower at Raffaele’s the evening before; and furthermore that Raffaele employed a cleaner who kept a mop and cleaning equipment at his apartment block.


(16) the fact that cell phone records show that Amanda called Filomena at 12.08 pm (on the 2nd November) to report the front door being open, blood on the bathroom mat and Meredith’s door being locked.  She was at Raffaele’s flat at the time.  Filomena tells her to try Meredith’s phones. Records corroborate that Amanda did call each of Meredith’s phones in turn,

But these two calls lasted just 3 seconds and 4 seconds respectively. Does this sound like a genuine attempt to get hold of Meredith?  One also has to wonder why she did not attempt to call Meredith’s phones again once she and Raffaele had arrived together at the cottage when she might have assumed that they would be heard ringing in Meredith’s bedroom.


(17) the fact that Amanda and Raffaele claimed that Raffaele had called the carabinieri to report a burglary before the postal police arrived. This 112 call was later discovered as timed at 12.51 pm after the arrival of the postal police.


(18) the fact that Amanda told the postal police that Meredith always locked her bedroom door even when she went to the bathroom. This was flatly contradicted by Filomena who said that the only occasion when Meredith had ever locked her door was when she returned to visit her mother in England.


(19) the fact that when the postal police looked into Filomena’s bedroom Raffaele told them that nothing had been stolen. That was true - but why had he been so certain?


(20) the fact that Amanda telephoned her mother from the cottage at 12.47 pm (around 4 am in the morning Seattle time), before the discovery of the body. Why did Amanda wake her mother up in the middle of the night? Edda was subsequently puzzled as to why Amanda was unable to remember this call when, as she put it “Nothing had really happened”.

Amanda persisted even with her parents in denying the existence of the call, but then eventually said that she could not remember it. 

Edda says that Amanda mentioned in the call that there appeared to have been someone in the cottage, and that she told Amanda to call the police. Amanda did not mention, according to Edda, that the postal police were already there.


(21) the fact that in her 2,900 word e-mail home of the 4th November she professes to have been in a panic about Meredith’s locked door and her whereabouts (calling out her name, banging on her bedroom door, and running out on to the balcony and leaning over the rail and trying to look through Meredith’s bedroom window), but according to the witnesses exhibited no particular concern about Meredith when the postal police arrived, nor raised any concerns with them, rather quite the opposite, before the discovery of Meredith’s body.


(22) the fact that in the same e-mail she says that during her 10.30 am visit to the cottage she noticed the blood “smeared” on the sink faucet, drops in the sink and the bloody foot print on the bathmat. “Ew! but nothing to worry about” she says. She attributes the blood to perhaps Meredith having menstrual issues.Does that really make sense? A footprint in menstrual blood? Meredith? who was always so clean and tidy and who had admonished Amanda for her uncleanliness in the bathroom.


(23) the fact that she claims in the e-mail that Raffaelle tried to force Meredith’s door before the arrival of the postal police and failed, despite the fact that one of the other witnesses forced it quite easily.


(24) the fact that (if Amanda’s account of returning to the cottage at 10.30 am is to be believed) notwithstanding blood in the bathroom (which by Amanda’s own admission was not there when she left the cottage the day before), the front door being open, Meredith’s bedroom door being locked (when it was usual for it to be unlocked),and unflushed feces in the large bathroom toilet (which,she says, made her feel uncomfortable about the situation), Amanda did not think of attempting to contact Meredith by phone (on the assumption that she had gone out that morning) nor take a decision to notify anyone other than Raffaele for up to an hour and a half, until a 12.07 call to Meredith and the 12.08 phone call to Filomena. Does this seem credible?


(25) the fact that the 12.07 call was to Meredith’s UK phone and lasted 16 seconds but oddly she does not mention this call to Filomena seconds later. Nor, before calling Filomena, does she try Meredith’s italian phone. The italian phone was, Amanda knew, the phone Meredith used to make and receive local calls. Massei infers that there was no need to try Meredith’s italian phone because Amanda knew that both phones had been disposed of together. This explains why the first call (immediately prior to calling Filomena) was 16 seconds long (to check whether or not both phones had been found), and why the subsequent two calls (after the call to Filomena) were both very short.


(26) the fact that Filomena was worried enough to call Amanda twice at 12.12 (36 seconds) and at 12.20 (65 seconds) without Amanda picking up the calls.  Amanda did pick up the final call at 12.34. Why did she not answer the first two calls?


(27) the fact that Amanda told Meredith’s English friends at the police station details of the body and wounds, although but for a foot it was covered by a quilt and despite her not being in line of sight when the body was discovered, and not having been told any of these details by anyone afterwards.


(28) the fact that when 3 days after the murder Amanda, Filomena and Laura were requested by the police to accompany them to the cottage to check out some details, Amanda, on being shown a drawer of knives in the kitchen, appeared to have had a psychotic incident, putting her hands over her ears and trembling.


(29) the fact that Raffaelle told a British Sunday newspaper in an exclusive interview that on the night of the murder he was at a party with Amanda and not at his flat. He also said that Amanda had gone back to her own flat the next day at midday, and not at 10.30am as she claimed.


(30) the fact that having told the police that she had been with Raffaele all night on the 1st November, sleeping with him until 10.00 am the next morning, Raffaele then proceeded to destroy this alibi on the evening of the 5th November by telling the police that on that night Amanda had gone out and had not returned to his flat until 1 am.




(31) the fact that Raffaele’s own alibi was not corroborated by computer evidence. He claimed to have spent the night indoors, using his computer until late and then going to sleep. In fact all human interaction with the computer ceased at around 9.15 pm and the computer was not re-activated by him until 5.32 am the next morning when it was used for half an hour for music to be played.


(32) the fact that both Amanda’s and Raffaele’s mobiles were switched off sometime shortly after 8.42 pm and were not switched back on again until after 5.32am in the case of Raffaele who activated a text message his father had sent him late the previous night.


(33) the fact that Raffaele’s father had telephoned Raffaele at 8.42 pm and had testified that during the conversation his son told him that while he was washing the dishes he had noticed a leak of water on the floor. This times the dinner Amanda and Raffaele had together as being prior to this whereas Amanda had claimed first that dinner was a liitle after 9.15 pm and then again that it was quite late, perhaps 11 pm (close to the time that Meredith died).


(34) the fact that Amanda’s claim that she slept in until 10 am does not fit easily with the fact that Raffaele was playing music on his computer from 5.32 am nor with the evidence of Mr Quintaville, the food store owner, who says he saw Amanda when he was opening up his store at 7.45 am.


(35) the fact that Amanda and Raffaele were both using drugs. There were multiple corroborating statements to that effect.


(36) the fact that Amanda and Raffaele were constantly together – in a symbiotic relationship as Massei put it.


(37) the fact that Raffaele was a knife aficionado in the habit of carrying a pocket penknife. Indeed he was carrying one on him when he was interviewed at the police station on the 5th November.


(38) the fact that Raffaele watched animal porn videos and this so concerned his university that his subsequent behaviour was monitored.


(39) the fact that Raffaele posted a picture of himself on Facebook dressed up as a mummy carrying a butchers’ chopper.


(40) the fact that Amanda had also written a bizarre short story about the drugging and raping of a young girl which she had posted on her web page.


(41) the fact that Amanda and Raffaele have both suggested that the other might have committed the crime.


(42) the fact that when Rudy Guede was arrested Raffaele did not celebrate his pending imminent release but wrote in his diary that he worried that this man, whom he says he had never met, “might make up strange things about me”.


(43) the fact that there are two instances of Amanda’s DNA mixed with Meredith’s identified by luminol (a powerful presumptive test for blood); in the corridor and in Filomena’s bedroom.  The luminol also identified three footprints, one in Amanda’s bedroom and two in the corridor which tested positive for Meredith’s DNA, the footprints being comparable to the shape and size of Amanda’s right foot.


(44) the fact (as mentioned by me before but not in your programme) that Amanda’s blood was found in the bathroom. Amanda’s blood was on the washbasin faucet, and the mixed blood of Amanda and Meredith was in the washbasin, the bidet, and on the cottonbud box.


(45) the fact that not only was Raffaele’s DNA found on the bra clasp but that in the electropherogram chart there were ten out of sixteen loci having peaks corresponding to Amanda’s profile. Though this is not as decisive as the DNA result for Raffaele, it does give rise to the hypothesis that Amanda touched the bra clasp as well. Amanda’s defence team may consider themselves fortunate that the bra clasp can not be re-tested.


(46) the fact that a shoeprint on Meredith’s pillow was estimated in the area of size 37, or 38.  Amanda’s shoe size, not the other two.


(47) the fact that (according to Massei) the nature of the wounds and injuries sustained by Meredith ( who was a fit girl and who had trained in karate) meant that more than one attacker had to be present to inflict those ( knife wounds, strangulation, bruising to her lips and inner thighs) and to subdue her and attempt sexual intercourse.


(48) the fact that Massei also concluded from the wounds that there were at least two different knives used and that exhibit 36 (the knife on which Amanda’s and Meredith’s DNA was found) was compatible with the wound that ultimately caused her death through blood loss and asphyxiation.


(49) the fact that there were blood spots (from coughing up blood as a result of the fatal knife wound to the throat) on Meredith’s chest and bra. This and other evidence shows that her body was moved, and her bra and some other clothing removed after she had died or at least as she lay dying.This suggests that the evidence of a sex attack is, in part at least, staged.


(50) the fact that there was a footprint (Raffaele’s)  in Meredith’s blood on the bathmat but none leading from Meredith’s room to the bathroom. Highly suggestive, if not proof, that there had been a clean up operation.


(51) the fact that the discovery of Amanda’s arced reading lamp in an upright position on Meredith’s bedroom floor (as if for close inspection) is also highly suggestive of a staging or clean up operation.


(52) the fact that Meredith’s stolen mobile phones were found in a garden within a few hundred yards of Guede’s and Raffaele’s apartments. The apartments are within 30 seconds walking distance of each other, much closer to each other than either are to the girl’s cottage.


(53) the fact that the other two girl occupants with keys to the flat had rock solid alibis whereas Amanda had not.


(54) the fact that according to witnesses the relationship between Meredith and Amanda had started out well enough but had started to deteriorate, be it over petty things.


(55) the fact that the placing of a duvet over Meredith’s corpse is indicative of some relationship between Meredith and her killer.





Some conclusions on the case and Griffin report

Most of the foregoing may be circumstantial evidence, but taken together it is powerful circumstantial evidence, more than enough to secure a conviction in any court in the USA.


Who would have the motive to stage a break in, stage further evidence of sexual assault for an invesigator’s benefit, carry out a partial clean up, and lock the victim’s bedroom door? 

Curatolo’s evidence that he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Grimana Square, a few metres away from the cottage, having what appeared to be a heated argument,  at various times between 9.30pm and 11.pm, is helpful to the prosecution case but by no means essential.

All the emphasis on the admittedly unhelpful and salacious tabloid newspaper reporting is irrelevant. It is a distraction.

In addition Rudy Guede, in his evidence, did indeed implicate Amanda Knox (starting well before the Italian police got their hands on him), and all the evidence from his fast track trial and appeals is now part of the evidence to be considered in the current appeal.

I think that the Italian Justice system would resent the insinuation in the programme that Guede received a reduced sentence because he was co-operative with the police and prosecution in implicating Amanda.

It should be noted that if Mignini, in his alleged rush to judgement, got things seriously wrong, then he would have had to manipulate the evidence of the prosecution witnesses to fit his erroneous hypothesis. A grand conspiracy! -  a laughable hypothesis. The following is a list of such witnesses. It is indicative, not exhaustive.

Filomena Romanelli, Marco Zarelli, Paola Grande, Laura Mezetti, Luca Altieri, Inspector Battistelli (Postal Police), Monica Napoleoni (Head of Perugia Murder Squad), Sophie Purton, Robyn Butterworth, Amy Frost, Jovana Popovic, Antonio Curatolo, Marco Quintavalle, Nara Capezzali, Antonella Monacchia, Inspector Finzi, Superintendent Gubbiotti, Commissioner Bartolozzi, Marco Trotta, Claudio Trifici, Gregory Mirco, Dr Luca Lalli, Chief Inspector Latella, Dr Profazio, Dr Patrizia Stefanoni (Police Forensic Service in Rome and prosecution DNA expert), and Dr Torricelli (DNA expert for the Kercher family).

This particular murder case is unusual not just in the interest it has generated worldwide but also to the extent to which it has been discussed and argued over on the internet and in the manner in which on occasions it has been presented (rather than reported on) in the media. It is also unusual that the family of one of the accused has not only taken part in such activity but has hired a public relations firm to help bring this about.

There have been a number of books already but I predict that in future a number of these, and the media generally, will also deal with these additional features of the case in some detail.

Sadly for CNN I expect that “Murder Abroad – The Amanda Knox Story” will often be quoted and held up as an example of how bad things got.

I dare say you are free to broadcast what you like and perhaps Drew Griffin’s presentation wrought an overpowering sense of injustice in viewers and improved ratings.

With hindsight, however, I am sure that CNN will regret this shoddy little “documentary”.

It would be nice to think, when Amanda’s conviction is upheld, that CNN will broadcast a detailed corrective documentary. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours etc

James Raper

c/o True Justice for Meredith Kercher


Friday, May 13, 2011

CPJ Accusation #4 Against Italian Justice Officials: Mr Mignini Sues For Defamation Without Cause?

Posted by Kermit


Overview. In our Second Open Letter to Joel Simon and world leaders we noted that NOT ONE of the accusations against Italian officials on close examination stands up. This is Attachment Four to that letter. More investigative posts are to come. 

CPJ Accusation 4:  “[CPJ] an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities’ harassment of journalists and media outlets …. CPJ is particularly troubled by the manifest intolerance to criticism displayed by Perugia Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who has filed or threatened to file criminal lawsuits against individual reporters, writers, and press outlets…. [Editor of]  the national weekly newsmagazine Oggi, received an official notification that Mignini had started legal action against him in response to an Oggi article…. the U.S. weekly newspaper West Seattle Herald… published an article that … contained a reference to unnamed legal experts who reportedly believed Mignini to be “mentally unstable.” …. swift reaction by Mignini … (who) file a defamation claim against the West Seattle Herald…  Joe Cottonwood, another U.S. writer Mignini has threatened with a criminal defamation lawsuit ... the action stems from a … comment (where) Cottonwood described Mignini as an “intellectually dishonest bully.”  (Source: CPJ Letter to 21 World Leaders 19-04-2011 )  “What we are concerned about is that the press - domestic and international - is free to report and comment on the case without fear of reprisal.”  (Source: CPJ followup explanatory note 28-04-2011. )

First a clarification. Joel Simon presumably means the press should be free to report accurately and without unfounded libelous smears. Let’s hope that he doesn’t really maintain reporters’ rights to defame without basis, to provoke unhinged ranters on the web who channel hate against the Perugia officials and those who support them day-in and day-out.

Forensics Method for Test 4: Common sense and a little Google

Line of Investigation for Test 4: Let’s get this straight: here the CPJ is concerned that reporters and news media will not freely report or express opinions in the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher. The CPJ believes that this is happening because of threats by Mr. Mignini.

I think that we should check to what extent the press actually feels threatened, and to what extent they are modifying their comportment due to Mr. Mignini’s supposed inappropriate actions which the CPJ considers go beyond what could be reasonably expected.

Test 4a, Step 1:

Google:  judge sues newspaper defamation (enter)

You get 1,750,000 results, so it’s clear that the fact that members of the judiciary sue the press is not something that Mr. Mignini invented. You probably see where I’m going, so I’ll save us the effort of doing a few additional seconds of Googling different combinations like:

  • Google: judge sues radio slander (enter)
  • Google: judge sues media defamation (enter)

And so on. You end up with many, many millions of Google responses.

Since I’m trying to limit the execution of this test to a matter of seconds, let me take one of the mundane examples from the first page of Google results: this spring, the Voice of Richmond, a small local newspaper in Richmond, Virginia, was sued for the second time in two years, by the judge and a lawyer in the first case.




Above:  A defamation suit by a member of the judiciary or any other citizen is the most normal thing in the world. Most examples – like this case involving the Voice of Richmond, which I selected simply because it was one of the first Google results – are related to questioning the appropriateness of courtroom procedures. 

Other defamation suits, like Mignini’s claims against the West Seattle Herald’s reporter Steve Shay’s article (“mentally unstable”) or Joe Cottonwood (“intellectually dishonest bully”) are not against incursions limited to question the procedures in a legal case , but against open and baseless personal attacks, as seen from the point of view of the victim.

Is the CPJ concerned about the defamation suit against the Voice of Richmond? Has it published a letter to political leaders and pasted it prominently on its site, claiming that the judge in Richmond should just sit back and take criticism of his courtroom procedures?

If the Voice of Richmond newspaper, instead of being critical of courtroom procedures in a potentially defamatory manner, had associated the judge’s good name with the expression “mentally unstable”, or if the paper had called him an “intellectually dishonest bully”, only then would the CPJ have jumped in to defend the Voice of Richmond’s right to do such name calling?

The conclusions to this test, I must say, are pretty obvious.

My point is that while most people will agree with CPJ that public officials should put up with criticism of their work, we all agree that personal smears (or what the alleged defamation victim and the public could see as a personal smear) certainly should give way to the right to defend one’s honour.

This should be the case not only in the thousands of cases documented in Google that the CPJ doesn’t seem to get worried about (which is good news), but also in the case of Mr. Mignini, whom someone in or very close to the CPJ seems to be especially nervous about (which is disturbing news).

Test 4b, Step 1:

With just the results of Test 4a, I could already proceed to update the Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations as regards the example of Mignini suing certain persons or news outlets for personal attacks against his honour.

However, let’s take a fast look at each of those persons or news outlets to see if there are any factors which could change in one direction or another our conclusion that it’s perfectly normal for a person in the judiciary to sue for defamation, in particular when the alleged defamation does not concern his professional activity but his personal characteristics.

Without further ado, let’s carry out another search.

Google: site:oggi.it “oggi.it” amanda knox OR edda OR chris OR mellas (enter)

Each reporter, newspaper and magazine out there has their own view on the personalities in the Meredith Kercher murder case. There are a couple of outlets, like OGGI magazine which for some unknown reason have taken a particular liking to the Knox Mellas family, resulting in the members of this family and their travails getting special coverage, as the Google results show (use the Google translator if need be).


[Above: The Knox-Mellas clan find one corner of ongoing support and sympathetic coverage in Italy in OGGI magazine.]

The fact that this magazine takes a particular view to Amanda Knox’s family is a question of how they want to focus their coverage of this case. Quite another thing are their insinuations about certain elements of the prosecution’s case.

For example, in recent weeks there seems to be an all out attack on the hearing capacity and the mental faculties of Signora Nara Capezzali, a neighbour who on the night of Meredith Kercher’s murder heard the running of multiple persons near the cottage, just after a piercing scream (the danger of this testimony for pro-Knox forces is that it points to more than one person being involved in the crime, including Amanda Knox).

Just for interest’s sake, to see how Amanda Knox friendly voices have latched onto this issue, do another fast Google search: “amanda knox” “nara capezzali” deaf OR crazy OR psychiatric (enter)

OGGI and reporter Giangavino Sulas participated in the attack on Signora Capezzali, and by extension on prosecutor Mignini’s case:

“The witnesses … suffer from sufficiently serious problems of deafness, of physical and also mental health,  to be hospitalized in a psychiatric ward (as in the case of Nara Capezzali).”  (Source:  Giangavino Sulas , OGGI Magazine, April 2011)

This test and the ones that follow are not meant to prove anything in particular as regards Mr. Mignini’s right to defend his honour (which we saw clearly in Test 4a).

However, these additional tests do put some perspective on those who decry Mignini as threatening (or whom CPJ has dug up as “victims” of Mignini – I’m not aware that either OGGI, Steve Shay or Joe Cottonwood were searching for the CPJ to ask it to put together its Letter to 21 World Leaders, not even a junior reporter from the diminutive West Seattle Herald could have been able to dream that up).

In addition, if what CPJ is concerned about is “that the press—domestic and international—is free to report and comment on the case without fear of reprisal”,  (Source: CPJ followup explanatory note 28-04-2011 ) it is more than evident by consulting recent reporting by OGGI and in particular by Giangavino Sulas, that that magazine and reporter are not holding back in examining and opining on all elements of the prosecution and conviction of the murderers (pending appeal) of Meredith Kercher.

Test 4c, Step 1:

Let’s go to a popular pro-victim discussion board concerning the murder of Meredith Kercher, such as TJMK or the Perugiamurderfile.org. Do a search for Steve Shay, and you will see references to examples on other sites which demonstrate how this reporter swims like a fish amongst pro-Knox social networking friends.


Above:  When West Seattle Herald reporter Steve Shay infiltrates Internet social groups to gather information for his next story, he sure does a good job of appearing to be like-minded with his fellow posters, in this case, the Friends of Amanda lobby Facebook group. 
(Source:  Facebook, image on Perugiamurderfile.org)

Steve Shay’s own social networking postings and his ongoing reporting in the West Seattle Herald demonstrate that Mignini’s potential lawsuit has not made him or his newspaper wither (my personal opinion is that he takes it as a sort of medal that he wears proudly on pro-Knox discussion boards and at FOA money making events).

The CPJ itself states explicitly that “in an email interview with CPJ, West Seattle Herald Editor Ken Robinson said … that the paper does not fear repercussions from Mignini …. he and his newspaper were not perturbed by the prosecutor’s actions”.

So why all the fuss in the CPJ Letter to the World about reporters and newspapers holding back in having a go at the Meredith Kercher murder case? 

The CPJ itself shows that some reporters like Steve Shay can have their cake and eat it too.

Test 4d, Step 1:

I feel a little sorry for Joe Cottonwood, as he appears to have haplessly stepped into an international scene of attacks against Mr. Mignini. However, if the Italian law says that you can’t call someone an “intellectually dishonest bully”, then you should be careful.

Let’s do a fast test on Mr. Cottonwood.

Type Google: joe cottonwood (enter)

From the Google search results, you can take a look at Cottonwood’s own site, or see a summary of his activity in the Wikipedia page on him: “Joe Cottonwood is an American author of fiction and poetry for adults and children. He was born in 1947 and lives in La Honda, California.” (Source: Wikipedia )

Cottonwood not only doesn’t report on the Meredith Kercher murder case, he isn’t even a reporter, nor even calls himself a blogger or a freelancer or journalist.

You can hardly say that Mignini’s legal action to defend his personal honour will affect Cottonwood’s coverage of the case, which is what CPJ’s Letter to 21 World Leaders is all about as CPJ stated in its clarification commentary on its Open Letter..

The fact that Cottonwood is included in an international missive of a journalists’ sectorial association when that isn’t even his profession makes me think that CPJ (or whoever really prepared the Letter to the World) was scraping the barrel for examples.

Approximate time required to obtain material to be analysed: less than 1 second for Google searches, a few minutes to enter and search discussion forums.

Tests 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d Step 2: Conclusions

If American judges can sue for defamation in situations which are less personally insulting than what Mr. Mignini has had to put up with, and this defamation in America doesn’t provoke CPJ’s intervention, then Mr. Mignini’s personal legal actions can’t be worth a Letter to 21 World Leaders.

In addition, simple observation of your examples of three defamation suits shows that it is not true that Mignini’s legal actions to defend his personal honour have affected news reporters’ coverage of the Amanda Knox case.

It is strange and worrying that the Committee to Protect Journalists for some reason wants to deny Mr. Mignini his constitutional right as an Italian and European citizen to not be the subject of abusive attacks.

Let’s do one final exercise: search Google for Mignini and various hate terms like “mentally unstable” and you could conclude that reporters and anonymous bloggers have made Giuliano Mignini into the second most hated man on the planet after Bin Laden - who now, of course, is dead.

Hate remarks against Mignini are now up in the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. The BBC looked into just some of the shrill claims made by reporters whom Joel Simon wants to keep supporting in their anti-Mignini drive and actually found nothing there.

We’re moving along, and as usual, the best is yet to come. Let’s update the Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations with our latest findings. I fear that the CPJ is not doing well:

[below::The results of the fourth set of credibility tests of the anti-Mignini accusations gives us the feeling that the CPJ has no basis whatsoever for the accusations, nor does it have justification for sending a Letter to 21 World Leaders.]


CPJ Accusation #3 Against Italian Justice Officials : Was Anon Blogger Arrested On MIGNINI’S Orders?

Posted by Kermit


Overview. In our Second Open Letter to Joel Simon and world leaders we noted that NOT ONE of the accusations against Italian officials on close examination stands up. This is Attachment Three to that letter. More investigative posts are to come. 

Accusation 3:  This anti-Mignini accusation is even more startling than numbers one and two.  The harassment reached its peak on September 28, 2010, when five officers of Squadra Mobile forcibly entered “Sfarzo’s” apartment. They did not produce a warrant or show their badges, “Sfarzo” (real name Sforza) told CPJ. Four of the five shoved Sforza to the ground, struck him, handcuffed him, and climbed on top of him, crushing his air supply … etc. etc. etc. The officers refused Sforza’s requests to call his lawyer or his relatives, and put him in a cell for the night.” (Source: CPJ Letter to 21 World Leaders )

Well, I’m still surprised that CPJ didn’t ask the Perugian blogger for his lawyer’s name, or for information about the hospital and the doctors who attended him.

I’m also surprised that CPJ didn’t ask both the blogger and the police headquarters about why the accused policemen (with or without a warrant) originally went to his home. It all sounds like a story that is extremely full of holes of information which should be filled (unless if you prefer not to fill them in).

I don’t know if the CPJ realized it, but with this accusation, the organisation has ratcheted up the grave accusations against Mignini. If up until now the anti-Mignini crowd’s accusations were limited to describing Mignini’s alleged bothersome provocations, the CPJ has now appeared on the anti-Mignini stage, and is claiming that he has opened a qualitatively higher level of menace: one of physical violence causing bodily harm. The only thing missing is for Mignini to be called a drug-dealer and a drifter.

Since the CPJ didn’t ask the blogger nor include in its Letter to the World why the police went to the blogger’s home, the CPJ’s insinuation is that Mignini’s goon squad simply went to the blogger’s home under that prosecutor’s orders, and with no justification.
I see no evidence that:

  • Mignini sent anyone anywhere that day,
  • the police weren’t there (if they were) on police business related to the Perugian blogger’s real-life persona,
  • the altercation with the blogger (if there was one) had something to do with Mignini,
  • the injuries suffered by the blogger were noticeable (if there were any),
  • the blogger’s neighbour was contacted the CPJ, as a first hand eye-witness.

The CPJ letter quotes the Perugian blogger:  “The next day, the officers brought Sfarzo (real name Sforza) before a local judge, who validated his arrest and indicted him on several articles of Italy’s penal code …. ‘The police can count on the complicity of judges,’ Sfarzo told CPJ”.

If Joel Simon of the CPJ ratcheted up the level of the attack on Mignini by claiming that physical bodily-damaging violence is now part of MIgnini’s media relations program, our astonishment is increased with the new and confusing element of the judges’ complicity. If Mignini is the ringleader, shouldn’t he be the one who has the complicity of the judges, instead of the national policemen, who up until now seem to be footsoldiers of Mignini?

You tell a tale in the Letter to 21 World leaders which is confusing. Please provide us with a believable link between Mignini, police officers and judges in this violence. Who’s the leader?

Well, we’re here to do a check on the third Anti-Mignini Accusation of the CPJ. There is no direct evidence of this strange supposed attack available for me to go on, so I think I’ll have to do a credibility check on the Perugian blogger’s words and photos in other situations where Mignini is present, such as regards the Meredith Kercher murder investigation.

Forensics Method for Test 3: Google, and reading up on the murder of Meredith Kercher

Line of Investigation for Test 3: Since the Perugian blogger’s blog is sometimes difficult to understand for me, due to English language expression issues, or due to his particular sense of humour, we need to contrast his credibility in a direct, visual and non-verbal manner.

Test 3, Step 1: 

Step 1a: Talk with someone familiar with the online discussion of this case. Ask about situations where the Perugian blogger has undermined his own credibility in a obvious, relevant and conscious way, comparing these situations to the credibility he needs to support his colourful description of a Mignini directed police commando which storms into the house of the blogger for no reason whatsoever other than to beat him up (a qualitative change from the other accusations that the blogger has made against Mignini, and which haven’t stood up to scrutiny) and make it look like the blogger attacked them, all in order to try him and send him to jail.

I’m not looking for situations of the typical silly comments which we may make at one time or another due to human foible, but where a direct, explicit decision or affirmation is made which undermines one’s overall credibility.

Today we’ll look for just one situation to analyse. However, I’m open to examine other such events or declarations, especially if the CPJ finally decides to start to do basic checking behind the details of its recent attack on Mr. Mignini. We can hopefully work together on this in the future.

Step 1b: Take the key elements of the above situations commented on where the Perugian blogger is involved, and follow the development of the discussion.

Google:  perugia shock via della Pergola from where raffaele amanda checking house (enter)

Approximate time required to obtain material to be analysed: minutes/few hours

Analysis:

Let’s go back in time to the end of November and start of December of 2008. There was an open debate then on a pro-Knox cooking blog based in Seattle which has since become dedicated to the Amanda Knox case. At that point one of the many Internet forum debating issues concerning the crime committed against Meredith Kercher was whether it is possible from Piazza Grimana to see the gate of the cottage where Meredith lived together with Amanda Knox, her now convicted murderer (pending appeal), and two other Italian girls.

Piazza Grimana is a park/pedestrian square with a basketball court, carved into a downhill slope just outside of Perugia’s ancient Etruscan Arch. The prosecution maintained a theory that following the murderous act for which they have been convicted, Knox and Sollecito could have waited in the Piazza Grimana, looking towards the access ramp of the cottage to see who might arrive (perhaps, for example, emergency vehicles).

Obviously, the cooking blog curator didn’t manage to clear up this debate in her favour, but the Perugian blogger, who was already on excellent terms with pro-Knox forces “came to the rescue” on his blogspot pages with this image which seems to demonstrate that the view of the cottage access ramp from Piazza Grimana is blocked by the building on the right:


Above: The Perugian blogger provided momentary pressure release for the cooker, by posting this image with the accompanying text to emphasize that you can’t see the cottage gate from Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s alleged perch on the raised edge of the Piazza Grimana. The logic of the argument is that if neither you nor I can see the cottage gate (in that photo), then neither could Knox nor Sollecito, and therefore the prosecution theory was not applicable.

The Perugian blogger’s photo from Piazza Grimana was perfect for the requirements of the cooking blogger, and a grateful post soon went up on her site:


Above:  A pro-Knox Seattle food blogger with a personal blog on the Seattle PI site was relieved to have visual support for her theory that the view of the cottage gate from Piazza Grimana is “clear as mud”.  (Source:  Seattle PI amateur blog  Note:  this comment and other followup ones were cleansed – erased – a long time ago. )

The online blog discussion could have drifted on to other topics if it weren’t for the fact that many of us knew perfectly well that you can see the cottage gate from Piazza Grimana. Even a person not familiar with this case, upon examining the apparent proof provided by the Perugian blogger that the building on the right might negate the possibility of two murderers staking out the cottage entrance ramp, could come up with an effective answer :


Above: It’s just a jump to left, that’s all that is required to gain the line of vision needed to watch the access to the cottage. (Source: Rocky Horror Picture Show)


Above: Let’s try something extremely obvious that the Perugian blogger seems to have avoided in evaluating whether you can see the cottage gate from Piazza Grimana … what will happen if we move a little to the left? 


Above: Luckily, the TJMK editor had been in Perugia and came back with an extensive collection of photos of the things he had seen, including the view of the cottage access ramp from Piazza Grimana.


Above:  Even Italian television was providing the view that Knox and Sollecito may have had from Piazza Grimana of the cottage gate. Why would the Perugian blogger and his pro-Knox lobby group associates want to deny this view from the English-language debate on the case?

If from just a couple of metres to the left you get a completely different story compared to the shadows to the right, and that makes plausible one element of a prosecution theory, I would have thought that a real freelance reporter would not avoid reporting on the obvious.

Test 3, Step 2: Conclusion

This test has been a credibility check. My opinion is that if the Perugian blogger applies the Jump-to-the-right book of extra-judicial lobby blogging, instead of the Jump-to-the-left book of journalistic reporting – to the detriment of the prosecution of a criminal case – then it is within the realm of reason that such a tendency toward misinformation / incomplete information about Mignini could also be applied by the blogger in describing to CPJ a Mignini-directed violent attack by rogue policemen loyal to Mignini and not their superiors, and who had no other reason to appear at the home of the real person behind the Perugian blogger’s screen-name other than to threaten him into not writing about a case that was already long out of the hands of said prosecutor.

Let’s update the Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations and see where things stand:

[below: The results of the third test of credibility in the anti-Mignini accusations only serve to worsen the state of the CPJ’s own credibility.]

Lets continue to the next.

 


CPJ Accusation #2 Against Italian Justice Officials : Did Court Officials Hassle The Anon Blogger?

Posted by Kermit


Overview. In our Second Open Letter to Joel Simon and world leaders we noted that NOT ONE of the accusations against Italian officials on close examination stands up. This is Attachment Two to that letter. More investigative posts are to come. 

CPJ Accusation #2:  The CPJ letter makes a second accusation against Mr. Mignini concerning supposed (yet unsubstantiated) abuse that Mr. Mignini has organized against this blogger: “When the trial of Knox and Sollecito began that December, Squadra Mobile continued to harass him. They regularly tried to prevent him from entering the court; seized his cellphone and went through his contacts and text messages; mouthed insults at him from across the courtroom; and stared over his shoulder as he took notes. “This was done in the presence of the judge, the Carabinieri [the military police], and the court guards, but they would do nothing,” Sfarzo (real name Sforza) told CPJ.”  (Source: CPJ’s Letter to the World 19-04-2011)

Line of Investigation for Test 2: For many of these cases of supposed abuse and threats, the best source for contrasting the grave accusations which the CPJ heaps rather flippantly on Mr. Mr. Mignini, are the words and images that the supposed victims themselves post on Internet.

The Perugian blogger didn’t take photos or video of the entrance controls to the courthouse. I can imagine that in this day and age of terrorism and security controls, it would have been normal for the guards to have asked the blogger’s purpose in entering the courthouse, and if he said he was a member of the press (promoted to “local freelance reporter” by the CPJ), it would have been normal for them to expect him to produce a press pass, accreditation, media business card, or any other professional identification.

And if he didn’t have press identification and if he wasn’t a member of the families of the defendants, or there as a guest of the Kerchers or the prosecution, I can imagine that he would have had some difficulty initially getting access to the courtroom.

Anyway, let’s assume that the credibility of the first part of this accusation (being hassled when entering the courthouse) has the same level of credibility of the second half of this accusation (being insulted and spied on within the courtroom).

If you agree, let’s first of all take a fast look at the general news agency photos of the courtroom which you saw in my first letter a couple of weeks ago.  The test will be to contrast those photos with the blogger’s own photos from court sessions, in order to understand the possibility that such harassment occurred.




[At top and above: The Perugian courtroom where Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were tried, and where the CPJ claims that the Perugian blogger was yet a further victim of this trial.]

To the right of the upper photo, and at the back of the lower photo is the press pen, where members of the press are crammed in and must remain between a railing and a back wall.

In front of the press pen railing are the defendants’ family members and other authorized parties. 

In front of family members, guards separate the defendants and their legal teams from their families. (To the left of the legal defence teams are the prosecution and private plaintiffs.)

Opposite the prosecution and defence legal teams, facing them at the front, are the judge and the members of the judicial jury.

Test 2, Step 1:  Google:  site:blogspot.com perugia shock court (enter)

(Please note that even though the Perugian blogger’s site has been removed, you can still get photos and text through Google caches.)

Approximate time required to obtain material to be analysed: less than 1 second

Analysis:

The pro-Amanda Knox lobbyist blogger’s blogspot lobby pages (or, if you prefer, the “local freelance reporter’s” news publishing page) are chock full of photos in the court sessions of the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
Let’s make a collage of them:


[Above: A jammed pack collage of photos from the Perugian blogger’s blogspot “freelance reporting” page:  http://perugia-shock.blogspot.com/  (I never knew that by having a blogspot page you became a freelance reporter. Neat.) Double click on the above image to see a larger resolution version. ]

I have indicated each individual photo with a letter. From my point of view, the Perugian blogger was where he should have been in all instances, which is behind the railing of the press pen, near the back wall of the courtroom. This is clearly the case in photos “B”, “C” and “D”, where you can actually see the railing which separates the press pen from the rest of the courtroom.

In the rest of the photos, especially when the zoom function is obviously in use, such as in photos “H”, “J” or “ K”, or simply by gauging perspective, such as in the case of photo “L”, it’s safe to say that the Perugian blogger in all cases was behind the railing of the press pen.

Let’s place on a sketch of the courtroom, the location from which the Perugian blogger took those photos in Amanda Knox court sessions he attended:


Now, if the blogger was in the press pen, any police officer who would have stepped into the crowded, fenced off area and wandered around behind the backs of the journalists, reporters, and blogger - especially making a noticeable attempt to look over shoulders - would have been noticed by the journalists in addition to the blogger who has accused Mignini of sending these spies out.

I realize that these photos may not represent all of the court sessions that the blogger attended.  The possibility exists that in some other session he wasn’t in the press pen, but sitting with the Knox-Mellas family, with whom he has a personal relationship, or in some other non-press location in the courtroom.

Since the CPJ calls the Perugian blogger a freelance reporter, I would assume that the CPJ would also situate the blogger in the press pen and assume that if he wasn’t attending as a member of the press but as a friend of some defendant, then he shouldn’t be afforded the protection of the CPJ (in any case, I doubt this scenario occurred).

As for the “mouthing of insults”, in general, everybody faces forward in the courtroom, except for the judge and the members of the judicial jury. Any police officer or carabinieri agent or prison/court guard present would have been mouthing to the whole press corps plus the blogger, not just him.


[Above: As we see from this photo, everyone in the courtroom faces forwards, except the judge and the jury … and the Perugian blogger (I think that’s him there on the left looking backwards). Golly, maybe he was spied on over his shoulder after all.]

It requires a Friends of Amanda Leap of Faith to imagine the alleged spying happening without anyone else detecting it, other than the blogger.

I won’t comment on the possibility that Judges Micheli, Massei or Hellman condone or are accomplices to such behavior. I honestly think that the CPJ should think twice before it spreads so much conspiracy around, on the basis of a verbal statement by a blogger whose real name the CPJ didn’t even know when they spoke to him (you did speak to him, right? Or did someone else do the phone interview on your behalf?).

If the CPJ honestly thinks that this behavior occurred, since the presiding judge has responsibility for what goes on in the courtroom, why didn’t the CPJ Letter to the World accusing Mignini not make nominal reference to the judges who pull rank over Mignini and include them in this specific accusation?

Test 2, Step 2: Conclusion

Having seen in a more detailed way the layout of the courtroom and the normal positioning of the Perugian blogger, it is difficult to imagine how he may have been spied upon by policemen looking over his shoulder.

As for the mouthing of insults, as a rule, the guards face forwards and are located in front of the family members and other invited persons. For a guard to turn towards the Perugian blogger and mouth an insult, not only the other journalists would have seen it, but also the guests and probably lawyers as well.

If any insults were mouthed at the Perugian blogger during the course of the Amanda Knox trial, or the start of the subsequent appeal, it is difficult to believe that this could have occurred with only the presiding judge (in addition, of course, to the ringleader Mignini) realizing what was going on.

It’s time to go back to the Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations and update it:

[Below: Click image for larger image.. The second test of credibility in the anti-Mignini accusations could only be passed if the person who formulated it took a giant Friends of Amanda Leap of Faith.]

Let’s continue to the next.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Barbara Benedettelli: Campaigner For Victims And Families Says Italian System Denies Them Justice

Posted by Peter Quennell



You can see the problem. Many Italians now think that their justice and penal systems lean too far in the direction of perpetrators getting every possible break.

We have posted often on how tough things are for Italian police and prosecutions, and how many hurdles they have to jump through. There is great caution built into the process before cases ever go to trial, and then there are two compulsory rounds of appeal.

There are proportionally very few perpetrators in Italians prison by global standards, and when there in prison they are given quite a nice time, trained to perform usefully when released, and very often get out of prison early.

Seemingly very humane. But this does carry very high costs. There are often almost unbearable pressures on victims’ families, as Meredith’s father John Kercher has several times described. On top of all this, there is the growing western fascination with perps, and in many cases their elevating to popular cult-worship status.

Barbara Benedettelli is a writer and columnist and the editor of the popular “Top Secret” program on Rete4 TV…  Her latest book (only in Italian) is called “Victims Forever”. She talks of various prominent perps and the enormous and unrequiting pressures on victims’ families. In polls a large majority of Italians detest this. They want much less stress on “fairness” and MUCH more compassion for victims families and, if still alive, for the victims.

Barbara Benedettelli has been interviewed by Maria Rosaria De Simone for Italia Magazine

Barbara, tell me about your latest book, “Victims Forever.”

In this book, I put all my soul into it. I was completely absorbed, I have worked tirelessly. It’s the outcome of numerous interviews that I made with the relatives of those who were torn from life prematurely. Life is the greatest gift that we possess and it is important that we learn to respect it. We can not devalue it, treat it as waste paper. We can not despise it. Life must be defended. That ‘s what I tried to highlight.

Who are the ‘victims forever’ you speak of?

The victims are always the relatives of those who were killed. Killing a person is to kill an entire world, destroying the lives of family members who are sentenced to a life of pain. The murderer after serving his sentence can still have a future. Relatives of the victims do not.

They are sentenced to a life in pain. In the book I wanted to give voices to these victims. It covers eight stories.

I saw that the book contains interviews with relatives of the victims.

Yes, the book includes dialogues spoken in confidence, and the correspondence I received from relatives who live a life torn apart. They are trying to make their voices heard in order to receive justice, and instead they feel forgotten, mistreated and poorly tolerated by our justice system.

I approached them only to discover a world that I not even remotely imagined. I came into their lives on tiptoe, I saw their pain, the disillusionment of discovering that the murderer, in the process, is transformed from a ruthless criminal into a “poor victim” who is well treated, carefully supported, and spoiled to give him, after a detention not adjusted to the brutality of the crime, a new life, a new possibility for the future and a rehabilitation.

In the Italian criminal justice system, the victims and the relatives of the victims, who have lost their greatest asset, matter very little.

It cares far more for the wellbeing of the murderer, his recovery, his return to the social system. And with this mindset, I found that victims and their relatives do not receive justice.

We have a ‘system of rewards’ and if the murderer demonstrates a desire to involve themselves in re-education, we reduce by forty-five days every six months of the sentence. And we add a number of other benefits.

The book denounces a system that does not respect the victims in their need for recognition of their dignity, their value.

The penalties that are imposed on the offenders should be proportionate to the offense. A man who committed a murder, resulting in a final death, a road of no return, should receive an appropriate sentence, because what he did can not be erased, nor can there ever be reparation.

Instead, our Constitution, with the intent of an educational purpose and the rehabilitation of prisoners into society, has since 1975 triggered a series of benefits for good behavior, leading to numerous reductions of sentences for those convicted.

This is pervasive. It results in assurances for the inmate that leads to a serious imbalance. A murderer is often out of prison very soon, not having fully served his sentence, often emerging unaware of the seriousness of the crime he committed.

Relatives of the victims not only feel that their loved one is killed for the second time by a justice that they consider unjust, but often have to live with the terror of meeting the murderer on the streets of their country, proud and with the eyes of those who got away and without any gesture or sign of repentance.

In my book, the relatives of the victims complained that today in our justice system there does not exist any certainty of punishment.

Can you give some examples?

Take the case of four young boys, Alex Luciani, Daniela Traini, David Corradetti, and Eleonora Allevi.  In 2007, they were going to get ice cream.

A Rome boy who was drunk while driving a minibus mowed them down.

Well, consider how much pain, how many people were destroyed that night: the boys, their friends, their parents, their brothers, all those who loved them. Yet all this could all have been avoided. The murderer, Marco Ahmetovic, the previous year had attempted a robbery at a post office. Should he not have been in prison?

Of course, he should have been in prison. And how did it work out?

The taker of four young lives, Ahmetovic, was given six years and six months in prison. He was initially under house arrest in a residence by the sea with a friend, and then released because the house did not meet the standards.


There is no certainty of punishment, as you say. Not only is the sentence not appropriate for the offense that was committed, but even that is not properly served.

Yes, this is an insult to the relatives of the victims. I’ll give you another example. Remember little Tommaso Onofri? [The baby murdered near Parma, Sicily, by Mario Alessi.]

How could I forget? His case has been watched throughout Italy with bated breath ...

I interviewed his mother, Paola. She is a woman destroyed. The closer you get to her, the more you feel her pain and are overwhelmed. Paola calls for justice, justice before any thoughts of re-education, to punish, to emphasize that the life of a child has value.

Destroying that has a price: that of freedom. This price, the price of liberty, must be paid by the murderer. In 2006 Paul had a family and that now no longer exists.

Two men kidnapped Baby Thomas, who was seventeen months old, and they killed him without mercy. Mario Alessi and Salvatore Raimondi, these are the names of the killers.

And Antonella Conserva [Alessi’s wife and] was their alleged accomplice. Alessi was sentenced to life imprisonment. Raimondi, he was given twenty years, he has benefited from the fast-track trial [same as Guede’s] despite the brutality of the crime.

We keep waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeal in Bologna. [The Supreme Court of Cassation referred the wife’s case back to them.] The woman’s defense team seeks to demonstrate that she was not involved despite the evidence.

“I declare myself innocent,” she says. Meanwhile there is only one certainty, that the family will never see again Tommy Onofri that they killed.”

Mario Alessi had already had trouble with the law.

Indeed, this is another important point.

Alessi had a conviction for first and second-degree sexual assault. In 2000 a young couple in their rural home was attacked by two unknown men armed with a gun and a knife. The girl was brutally raped. And the rapist was the very same Alessi, who was arrested but released after only nine months after expiry of the period of detention.

After two convictions for rape, Mario Alessi was turned out and free to go and kill the little Tommaso Onofri.

This is the scandal of the Italian justice ...

Yes, a scandal and you could tell a long sequence of stories like that.

How did you feel to spend so much time with the relatives of the victims?

It ‘s hard. Their pain becomes your own, you’re totally involved.

However there is one thing you can say. Relatives of the victims asked for the certainty of punishment for the murderers through my book, but I have not read in them hatred, resentment and fury. Only pain and grief.

I remember that you entered into politics ...

I went into politics. I was full of projects, I thought I could change the world. I thought I could help those who are weakest, those who are less fortunate.

Unfortunately, I encountered the harsh realities of politics. I found myself alone in my battles. I am too idealistic, I do not go over well with this policy.

And in all this your husband Claudio Brachino [the host of Top Secret, image below] helped you?

Claudio is a wonderful man. Always over the years we worked together. He has always supported me. He’s also a loving father. He respects my work and my need to carry out my work in complete independence.

Claudio is not only a true professional, but he is also very sensitive and is proud of what I’m doing. Even my two sons are, who I love with all my heart, and who I have rather neglected during the writing of this book. Especially in the final stages. I was very busy and unbearable.

*********

Maria Rosaria De Simone adds: I read her book, “Victims forever.” Barbara Benedettelli’s work is valuable not only for the way she conducted the interviews and the reflections of high compassion, but also she uses the Italian language fluently and is full of interesting styles. Very nice also is the foreword to the book by Rita Dalla Chiesa, who recalls the day when she learned of the murder of her father, Carlo Alberto. An excerpt.

This is for More Victims. A book in which the soul of the writer shows through and seems naked, stripped at times. Pages that reflect strong feeling, the passion of civil pain but also the love for life, interspersed with the complaints toward a system that allows double, triple, endless injustices. These make these people, in fact, Victims Still.

Not only once, but whenever a court fails to follow up, a murderer intrudes again in those lives that are torn, injured, deprived of any human right. Every time we, the people, public opinion, politicians, judges, writers, forget that the effect of a murder does not end with the death of a human being irretrievably “deleted”, but continues in those who survive the death. Because a human being is an entire world. A world full of meaning, history, and other people.


Posted on 04/30/11 at 09:22 AM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
Archived in Evidence & witnessesOther witnessesHoaxes against ItalyThe Alessi hoax
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Committee To Protect Journalists Responds, But Provides No List Of Sources Or Interview Transcripts

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the response by Nina Ognianova. Comments are open below that CPJ post and both Kermit and Doug Preston have taken advantage, Kermit gracefully, Preston petulantly..

Nina Ognianova does not address Kermit’s contentions, though she did link to TJMK, and really responds only in broad generalties. She still leaves standing the smears of Giuliano Mignini and other Italian officials that the Committee to Protect Journalists chose to broadcast globally. 

We can find zero evidence that CPJ interviewed anyone in Perugia, except presumably for the strenuously anonymous blogger “Frank Sfarzo”  (real name Sforza) who the CPJ may actually realize now is not a real journalist and who posts mostly mischievous nonsense under an assumed name. 

Nina Ognianova does not explain why neither Mr Mignini not anyone in the police or judiciary were interviewed before the CPJ smeared Mr Mignini in an open letter sent to Italy’s President and a number of other notables worldwide.

There’s been good commenting starting about here about this already on PMF where some are warming to the idea of a public hearing in Perugia (“Frank Sfarzo” goes on trial early in May)

Maybe “Frank Sfarzo” and Doug Preston can be made to finally put up or shut up. This may not be the result the hornswoggled Joel Simon was intended to deliver..


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done #2

Posted by Kermit

Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom (#2)




[Above: Knox lawyer Luciano Ghirga stated on 21 October 2008: “Amanda wasn’t hit. There were pressures from the police, sure, but we never said she was hit.” Well into Amanda’s trial, and shortly after her stepfather’s arrival in Perugia, she unexpectedly stated in court that she had been hit by police during her questioning. Watch the whole video yes at the Perugian blogger’s site.]



From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Sfarzo (real name Sforza) was released pending a trial in May. He faces up to six years in prison if convicted. ‘The police can count on the complicity of judges,’ Sfarzo told CPJ”

Now I’m confused: I thought that it was Mignini who utilized and had the complicity of the national police in his nefarious actions against the Perugian blogger. Now it seems that the blogger (or CPJ) is saying that the national police manipulate the judiciary to advance some terrible agenda, with the complicity of judges. Please clarify, for the sake of sanity, is it Mignini or the national police who are the source of the harassment that the blogger suffers?



[Above: Now let me get this straight: Amanda Knox hearing and trial judges such as Paolo Micheli (left), Giancarlo Massei (centre), or Claudio Pratillo Hellman (right) are beholden to members of the national police? Where will the Evil Conspiracy stop?]


Although motive is not necessary to any crime, having one helps to understand a criminal action. This alleged harassment makes no sense. Mignini presented his investigation report three years ago.  A guilty conviction was obtained, and the defendants are now in appeals, with different judges and new legal processes.

The case has for some time been out of Mignini’s investigative hands and is following its natural progression through different courts, under the guidance of the corresponding judges.

In the case of the national police, they don’t have any particular relation with the blogger as regards the Meredith Kercher murder case. Quite another possibility is that he has some other legal problem. Have you asked the blogger if he has any other legal question open, under his real name?

One question: if the blogger had been abused by Mignini or the Italian national police between October 2008 and September 2010, why is it only now that noise is being made about it?

In order to check out the blogger’s emotional state in the time frame of the alleged police attack, I took a look at his blogspot page for posts and comments in that time period.

The blogger’s last post before the alleged attack was on 10 September 2010. This post generated 586 comments, mostly before, but also some following the supposed attack on 28 September 2010 including comments by the blogger himself.

His first post following the alleged police attack was just a couple of days later on 1 October 2010. He writes “The mini media circus around the Meredith Kercher case materialized again in Perugia, surprisingly, for a closed door hearing …. Luciano Ghirga described her as showing a shorter haircut and as being concerned …”

In the 361 comments which this post generated, including comments by the blogger, I didn’t detect any indication that he had been through a harrowing experience at the hands of police officers who in some yet-to-be-defined-manner are remotely controlled by the prosecutor Mignini.



[Above: Business as usual. It’s 1 October 2010, just 48 hours after the supposed brutal attack which required the blogger to receive medical attention in the hospital. Yet his recovery is swift, and his texts don’t reflect the suffering he has gone through.  (Image: Perugia Shock blog)]


From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Oggi editor Umberto Brindani also received two “notices of investigation” that year—dated July 24 and September 2—in relation to the magazine’s coverage of the Monster of Florence case, CPJ confirmed.”

If the CPJ was able to confirm a couple of notices of investigation against the well established national magazine Oggi, why didn’t the CPJ also try to confirm any of the alleged abuse against the vulnerable Perugian blogger who is the main point of the CPJ text? You indicate that you had direct contact with him.

For example, you could have asked the blogger to show you a copy of a complaint concerning the alleged attack by national policemen on 28 September 2010. Or the CPJ could have spoken with the hospital psychiatrist who supposedly examined the blogger following that alleged attack.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Preston, Spezi’s co-author who suffered harassment by Mignini himself in 2006—and eventually was forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment—told CPJ he was still afraid of going back. He has been unable to clarify his legal status in Italy. In the summer of 2008, Mignini told third parties that he would have Preston arrested if the writer returned, Preston writes in the Afterword to The Monster of Florence paperback edition, published in 2009.”

If Preston was “forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment” in February of 2006,  then why did Preston go to Italy with an NBC “Dateline” filming crew in October 2006, just months after leaving under an alleged “threat” by Mignini, and four months after his interview in The Atlantic where he called Mignini “a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge”.



[Above: Many people are led to believe that Preston hasn’t been to Italy since his hasty departure after meeting Mignini in early 2006. In fact, he has returned with Dateline NBC to tape a show on The Monster of Florence. (Photo credit: Original source. And an alternative link to same story.]

Barbie Nadeau, an excellent and recognized reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, wrote in a well researched article on Preston that he “also says that Mignini ordered him to leave Italy. Mignini says that he never asked Preston to leave the country, but instead suggested that Preston didn’t understand Italian and that he should get a lawyer.”

If you do further Googling, you will see that it appears that the only person who says that Preston can never go back to Italy (in spite of having gone back to Italy) seems to be Preston himself.

What Preston says he hasn’t been able to clarify, Mignini has repeated in a number of articles in the Italian and English-speaking press.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“We ask you to ensure that the politically motivated lawsuit against Perugia blogger Frank Sfarzo is immediately scrapped and that outside investigators are assigned to conduct an investigation into the September 28-29, 2010, abusive actions of Squadra Mobile officers against him.”

On what basis can you affirm that the alleged abuse suffered by the Perugian blogger is “politically motivated”? What link is there between the national police officers who allegedly committed said abuse and the prosecutor of the first trial against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito which ended almost a year prior to said abuse?

Who is this Perugian blogger, if he isn’t “Frank Sfarzo”?  Is he a journalist? Or in fact is he closely associated with “opinion-makers” for the Amanda Knox cause?

I have no interest in knowing the Perugian blogger’s real-life name, but I would hope that as part of its investigation, the CPJ would have ascertained whether the blogger’s real life persona may explain why the event of 28 September 2010 occurred (and what motivated the visit of the national police) better than linking it without any real proof to the prosecutor who so enraged Doug Preston (at least from the end of 2007 onwards, following Meredith Kercher’s murder and the intense media coverage of this sad event).

One of the most well known members of the Amanda Knox on-line lobby is an American, Jim Lovering. He appears on many websites where the case against Knox is discussed, sometimes posting in his own name and sometimes under the pseudonym “Charlie Wilkes” (a 19th century American naval explorer linked to Puget Sound).

It is telling that Lovering-Wilkes is cited as one of the two collaborators that the Perugian blogger works with on his site.



[Above: The Perugian blogger counts on Jim Lovering (also known on-line as “Charlie Wilkes”) as one of his two collaborators. Lovering is one of the most prominent figures in the “Friends of Amanda” pro-Knox activist group.]


If you do some basic Google research (“Jim Lovering” “Friends of Amanda”), you will find that Jim Lovering is the moderator of the “Friends of Amanda” website.

Here below is the Perugian blogger and Chris Mellas, presenting the Friends of Amanda website:



[Above: The Perugian blogger and Chris Mellas – Amanda Knox’s stepfather – presenting the Friends of Amanda website.]


Lovering/Wilkes has made himself famous in the pro and con discussion boards of this case for his anything-goes pro-Amanda stand.

This includes the manipulation with a Photoshop-type program of an image of a footprint of Rudy Gudy, found guilty together with Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of Meredith Kercher’s murder.

The manipulation adjusted the size of the Guede print taken in prison to the dimensions of a footprint made in blood found on the bathmat of the cottage where Meredith was brutally murdered (the matching of the footprints would support the “lone-wolf” theory of the Knox defence, that only Rudy was involved of the group of three young people found guilty, and therefore that Amanda should go free).

A simple gauging of the size of the print seems to show that when Lovering/Wilkes resized it, the print ended up much smaller than what it should be.

For further information consult this presentation with the satirical title: “Mr. Marriott, I Shrank the Black Kid”. Or review the on-line discussion of the issue by Googling: Rudy Guede “hobbit foot”.

Although the Friends of Amanda Knox group declares on its webpage that “We are not affiliated with her family”, some of its most prominent members are close friends to the Knox-Mellas family, as they themselves publish on Internet sites such as Facebook.



[Above: In this Facebook posting from September, poster “Charlie Wilkes” (Knox activist Jim Lovering) writes of his photo: “At the table are (Washington State Judge) Mike Heavey, Mark (Waterbury) and Michelle (Moore, wife of ex-FBI / ex-university security man / screenwriter Steve Moore). Chris (Mellas) is seated at the table in the background. I’m not sure who he is talking to. Christina Hagge and Edda (Mellas – Amanda’s mother) are standing on the right …. It was a very enjoyable gathering”. (Photo credit: Facebook – Perugiamurderfile.org)]


Judge Michael Heavey of the Superior Court of the State of Washington is a neighbour of the Knox-Mellases and has been involved with lobbying efforts for the family from early on (he now seems to not be a formal activist of FOA, although informally – as we see in this photo – he continues to support the cause).

In August of 2008, he wrote a letter to the Italian judicial council that regulates the activity of the country’s judiciary, decrying:

“….On June 16, 2008, Judge Giuliano Mignini, The Public Minister of Perugia, closed his investigation concerning the horrific murder of Meredith Kercher.

…. Since November 6, 2007, the conduct of the prosecutor, police and prison employees has been to supply false information to the press to inflame public opinion against Amanda Knox, Rafaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba.

…. the prosecutor’s office (Kermit: ie. Mignini’s), police and prison employees have made illegal and false statements to the press.

…. Amanda Knox’s lawyers have no knowledge of my request to the distinguished and honorable members of the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura.”


The English text and Italian original were published for a number of weeks in 2008 on Seattle celebrity lawyer Anne Bremner’s webpage. Bremner is another original member of the Friends of Amanda group.  Source: this webpage which has since been redesigned)
 

[Above: Heavey wrote a neither substantiated nor proven extra-judicial opinion of grave illegalities he ascribed to the investigators of the murder of Meredith Kercher, naming specifically the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini. His opinion was sent to Nicola Mancino, vice-president of the Italian Judicial Council, and four other persons, including Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Berlusconi.]


This unofficial, private lobbying done on Washington State Superior Court stationery didn’t go over well, as you can imagine, with the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which proceeded to charge Heavey:

“[Mr. Heavey is charged with] violating Canons 1, 2(A)and 2(B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct by writing letters on official court stationary to Nicola Mancino, Judge Claudia Matteini, and Giuliano Mignini (members of the Italian judicial system) on behalf of criminal defendant Amanda Knox; utilizing court staff to type those letters; and speaking publicly on several occasions about that same pending criminal case in an attempt to influence the proceeding.” (Source: Washington CJC)

The CJC’s investigation later concluded that Heavey had violated the judicial code by:

using his status as a judge to attempt to influence a criminal proceeding in another country, thereby exploiting his judicial office for the benefit of another.

…. Respondent agrees he will not retaliate against any person known or suspected to have cooperated with the Commission, or otherwise associated with this matter; that he will not repeat such conduct in the future; and that he will promptly read and familiarize himself with the Code of Judicial Conduct in its entirety.”(Source: Washington CJC)




[Above: In spite of his reprimand in 2010 from the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct for - amongst other things - “speaking publicly” about the Amanda Knox case, it seems that Judge Michael Heavey has found a way to make this sort of activity compatible with the sentence of the Commission, and he continues to appear on her behalf (on his own time?). Recently on 4 April 2011 he appeared at Seattle University with other speakers aligned with the Amanda Knox cause to present the case for her innocence.] (Source: Youtube video uploaded by West Seattle Herald)

 
What is curious is Heavey stating in his letter to the Italian authorities that he was doing this without the knowledge of Amanda Knox’s Italian lawyers.

She has two heavyweights as her main lawyers: Luciano Ghirga – a well–known and experienced Perugian lawyer – and Carlo Dalla Vedova – also experienced, and suggested by the American Embassy in Rome. In addition, there are all the experts in a number of areas that these two lawyers have introduced to the case as it has proceeded.

They will know what’s best for Amanda, and if she or her family have any questions about the legal strategy, then they should change the team. It’s inconceivable of persons close to her family taking extra-judicial measures to “help” her when those measures aren’t vetted first by her legal team beforehand in order to decide if it really does help or hinder the cause.

But that does seem to be the case here.

Between actions like Heavey’s and the not-stop media onslaught with programs such as the CBS 48 Hours series produced by Doug Longhini (starring Private Investigator Paul Ciolino who travelled to Perugia and tried to get a witness to the crime to open her door at night to talk to him – he has recently called that witness “crazy” from the safe distance of a Seattle auditorium) which questioned the correctness of the investigation, there was so much noise coming from America that Knox’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga actually had to go to prosecutor Mignini’s office and disassociate himself and Amanda’s defence from these opinion-making actions:

“There are people around the figure of Amanda who have no formal role in the student’s defence team, which is formed by myself together with my colleague Carlo Dalla Vedova. These people are not only not helping our client in the difficult judicial process in the Corte d’Assise in which we have to defend her, but on the contrary, they are harming her judicial position.”

(Source: La Nazione 3 February 2009- Alternate translation link here.)

Why in the world would anyone participate in an extrajudicial strategy of attacking a legal process, unapproved by the defendants own lawyers? The first answer that comes to my mind is that the party involved doesn’t have much faith in being successful in the legitimate legal process.

Paul Ciolino, the Private Eye who went to Perugia for Doug Longhini’s 48 Hours, recently participated in a seminar in Seattle University dedicated to Amanda Knox (co-speakers included Friends of Amanda founder Tom Wright, ex-FBI / ex-university security officer / screenwriter Steve Moore, and … State of Washington Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey).

Mr Ciolino, I believe, more or less sums up the extra-judicial strategy for dealing with Amanda’s predicament by stating:

“She’s not going to come out of there because the Italians are nice guys and they’re going to admit that they made a horrible mistake and that the prosecutor yes indeed he is crazy but ... she may come out, she’ll come out in a year or two, that’s my best guess, okay, but she’s going to come out because the State Department is going to get involved, it’s going to become political.”

(Source: At 1:48:23 in the Youtube video uploaded by the West Seattle Herald)

I’m not saying that the Perugian blogger is a member of the Friends of Amanda group (which in any case doesn’t seem to be a “card-carrying” type of association … it’s more a question of who wants to be publicly associated with it. Judge Heavey was “publicly” with the group until he decided to not be publicly associated with it.)

But it would be hard for the blogger to deny that he’s very, very, very close to this influence/lobby group, what with blog bed fellows such as his blog’s main collaborator Jim Lovering - the Friends of Amanda Knox website moderator - and what appears to be a personal relationship with members of the Knox-Mellas family.

I honestly believe that the Committee to Protect Journalists does fine and commendable work protecting journalists, who risk so much all around the world trying to do their work and keep people informed through a free press.


[Above: Truly threatened journalists around the world benefit from the support and awareness activities of CPJ. Bravo. (Photo credit: Committee to Protect Journalists)]

However, I encourage the CPJ to do further research concerning the news and blog personalities surrounding the Meredith Kercher murder case, and the alleged injustices they may have suffered.

Particularly worrisome for the preservation of balanced reporting by independent journalists is the hiring by the Knox family of the Gogerty Marriott public relations firm. This contract has been so successful that this PR firm uses their Amanda Knox campaign as a case study on their website.

At Gogerty Marriott we apply campaign strategies, disciplines and tactics to public affairs problems to help our clients achieve their goals …. We consider every project individually and assemble a team to suit the client’s specific needs. We then develop and implement a plan; usually integrating a range of tactics such as earned and paid media, community outreach, ally development, and government relations among other ways of reaching important audiences.”  (Source:  Gogerty Marriott website.)

It is ever so important for the CPJ to protect journalists around the world who are struggling in dangerous situations to maintain their independent voice and to promote free press.

However, a PR campaign which uses “earned and paid media” could perhaps, be analysed further before sending alarmist communications to high-profile international authorities and potentially wasting the scarce resources of your organisation.


 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“It is unacceptable that journalists, bloggers, and writers on both sides of the Atlantic should censor themselves by staying away from subjects of public interest such as the Meredith Kercher murder case and the Monster of Florence killings because of Prosecutor Mignini’s inability to tolerate the scrutiny that comes with public office.”

If you read the thousands or tens of thousands of articles and blogposts written on the Meredith Kercher murder case, you will quickly find that few persons censor themselves or hold back in their comments, starting off with the Perugia blogger.

Please do go to the blogger’s site. Compare it to this True Justice for Meredith Kercher site, which has a different, victim oriented focus, or to any other of the many sites, and newspaper articles which have been dedicated to this case.

Each one has its angle which it has freely developed. You’ll see that the only censoring carried out is the prudent censoring of unsubstantiated libelous claims which once in a while must be done to guarantee the ongoing unhindered success of the sites.

A study of the Perugian blogger’s posts and his own comments (in addition to the people who comment on his site) doesn’t lend credence to the belief that his voice has been somehow repressed or threatened.

Let me wind up with the words of Andrea Vogt, an objective, bilingual reporter who has been providing great coverage on the Meredith Kercher case, writing about both things positive and negative for Amanda Knox:

“In real life, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is not at all as he’s been portrayed in the mainstream American media. He’s been vilified as a conspiracy theorist out to get anyone who dares criticize him. I’ve done it (in print and in person) and he’s been professional and dignified, even when he heartily disagreed.”

(Source: the New York Post.)

You can not imagine the abuse received by that reporter (and other valiant journalists who dare have an open opinion on the Knox-Sollecito-Guede trials) from certain pro-Knox sectors of the online world. In a separate story, this same reporter provides us with insight concerning threats pervading the discussion of this case:

“Police are investigating complaints from a Seattle woman who says she was intimidated and threatened online because of comments she made about the Amanda Knox case.

The unredacted Seattle Police Department report, obtained by seattlepi.com, names a primary suspect and quotes the woman as saying that that the suspect ‘is engaging in tactics meant to intimidate,’ along with ‘the tacit consent’ of Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas.
…. Perugia Shock is hosted on a California server and financed by an American firm, according to the Perugia-based blogger who covers the case and operates the site under the alias ‘Frank Sfarzo.’

While fans say his blog poses alternative theories rarely discussed in the mainstream media, critics say his minimalist moderation results in an out-of-control comment section where posters “out” those who wish to remain anonymous, track their ISP addresses to reveal their physical locations, pose as people they are not—someone posted as Meredith Kercher, the victim, once—and make threatening posts about each other, as well as about the major players in the case, including Knox, her family, journalists, lawyers and prosecutors.

…. A similar address, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), which is cited in the police report, was also used to send two vulgar messages to a Newsweek reporter covering the case in Perugia. The message, sent from a Blackberry device, ended with the postscript, ‘You sound like you were abused as a child.’

…. (True Crime blogger Steve Huff) has been particularly surprised by the network newsmagazines’ ‘pro-active efforts’ to smear the prosecutor while painting Knox as ‘some innocent pixie college girl.’ ‘There’s some larger statement afoot in that about American views and our culture of looks over authenticity, in my opinion,’ Huff said. Huff said his opinion about guilt or innocence in the case is still flexible—he can see both sides and thinks the case could go either way, but the vicious online harassment—present from the onset but particularly intense just prior to the start of the trial—prompted him to dial back his participation.

‘It was so pervasive and distasteful to me that as a blogger and now as a journalist I’ve all but washed my hands of covering the case,’ Huff said.”

Read more on the Seattle PI website.

Now that surely is interesting. Maybe you should talk to longtime professionals like Steve Huff, and learn why the threatening environment of this case – specifically from the pro-Knox camp – made him decide not to continue covering it.

Contact independent, credentialed, widely read, knowledgeable, bilingual (English-Italian) journalists such as Andrea Vogt (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, New York Post and other publications) and Barbie Nadeau (Newsweek, The Daily Beast) who have been at most or all of the Amanda Knox trial sessions.

Read their work and you will see balance in the information provided, including both that which supports Amanda’s cause and that which is not favourable. Ask them about their take on the judicial and reporting scene in Perugia concerning this trial. Ask them about the threats or abuse they have received. Consider offering them protection if they request it (I have not contacted them on this, take it as a tip).

Beyond these two journalists in particular, you will be able to find more.

I think you will see that you will have to rectify your letter of last 19 April 2011, or at least comment that in the media circus surrounding this sad, sad case of a bright young English girl beloved by her family who was brutally murdered, there is more than meets the eye.

I will conclude by stating that:

  • In spite of collaborating on his website with Jim Lovering, one of the prominent leaders of the Friends of Amanda opinion-making lobby group, the Perugia blogger isn’t necessarily a member of that group, if the group actually has formal membership. I am in no position to state that (nor deny it). However, with Lovering/Wilkes by his side on his own blog, the Perugian blogger is very, very, very close to them.
  • nor is there evidence that the Perugia blogger is an element of the Gogerty Marriott pro-Knox PR campaign, a campaign which may use “tactics such as earned and paid media”.
  • However, in case that the Perugian blogger is an opinion-maker, or is simply caught up in an opinion-making framework, is he still to be protected by the CPJ? Can journalists – if the blogger claims to be a journalist – be lobbyists, or associated with lobbies and still benefit from the protection of the CPJ, if they actually are threatened? Would the CPJ protect FOA leader Jim Lovering / Charlie Wilkes who helps the Perugian blogger with his posts,  if Lovering/Wilkes claimed that Mignini had sent police to beat him up due to writings on the blogger’s Perugia Shock blog where Lovering/Wilkes is a collaborator?
  • of the examples you gave in the CPJ text concerning the supposed threats and abuse suffered by the Perugian blogger, the blogger’s own video of the event on 28 October 2008 seems to contradict your description of several national policemen approaching him and hitting him and pushing him (in front of Meredith Kercher’s family and preserved by the cameras of the press in the media scrum?). The example of national policemen looking over his notes in the press area at the back of the courtroom doesn’t seem to jive with the physical layout of the courtroom. The example of the Perugian blogger supposedly being beat up by policemen on 28 September 2010 may have happened (or it may have happened in another manner), but there is information lacking as to why these policemen showed up at the blogger’s door and which superior of theirs in the national police sent them. I see no link to Mr. Mignini there nor have you shown any. As far as motive is concerned, Mignini closed his investigation case file on the murder of Meredith Kercher three years ago. The case is out of his hands and now is at different levels of appeals in the courts. Why would he send a goon squad after the blogger?  (If anyone tells you that Mignini is an evil, satanic-obsessed, rogue prosecutor, then please tell them that they are mistaken, that role was assigned by a famous American writer years ago to an Italian policeman who the famous writer doesn’t talk about anymore.)
  • the insinuations that Mr. Mignini has some sort of private police force at his beck and call don’t fit in with the procedure-based workings of the relations between the Italian judiciary and the different police forces.

I would ask you that you reopen your investigation of this matter. I would exclude contact with persons who have a financial or any other interest in Mignini being painted in a specific light. And – as a good journalist – I would seek out “the other side” of this story.

I thank you for your time and attention. Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or if I may be of assistance as you become more familiarized with this case.

Very sincerely,

Kermit

A Main Poster on TJMK (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

Copied to:

His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic
Angelino Alfano, Ministro della Giustizia
José Manuel Barroso, Presidente della Commissione Europea
Herman Van Rompuy, Presidente del Consiglio Europeo
Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Alto Rappresentante dell’EU per gli
Affari Esteri e la Politica di Sicurezza
Viviane Reding, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per Giustizia, Diritti
Fondamentali e Cittadinanza
Neelie Kroes, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per la Digital Agenda
Jerzy Buzek, Presidente del Parlamento Europeo
Heidi Hautala, Presidenza del Sottocomitato sui Diritti Umani del Parlamento Europeo
Jean-Marie Cavada, Presidenza dell’Intergruppo per i Media del Parlamento Europeo
Thomas Hammarberg, Commissario del Consiglio d’Europa per i Diritti Umani
Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso l’EU
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Philip H. Gordon, U.S. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
John Kerry, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democratic Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Ambasciatore Italiano presso gli Stati Uniti
David Thorne, U.S. Ambassador to Italy



[Above: Joel Simon of the CPJ, left, with “Frank Sfarzo”, Chris Mellas, and Doug Preston]


Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done

Posted by Kermit

Attn. Mr. Joel Simon
Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001


Dear Mr. Simon,

Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom

One week ago the Committee to Protect Journalists emailed an open letter to the President of Italy on press freedom in the Meredith Kercher case. This letter was copied to a number of other notables worldwide and also it was put online. 

I believe this letter is factually highly inaccurate, is ill-researched, and is very unfair and possibly libelous to the officials in Rome and Perugia that it criticises. It is likely to do a lot more harm than good, and may come to blemish the CPJ’s fine reputation.

I am extremely familiar with this case. I live in Europe and visited Perugia very soon after Meredith Kercher’s sad death. I have long participated in online discussions seeking justice for Meredith and some closure and peace for her suffering family. I post under the name of Kermit. You can see my 13 TJMK posts here which have received many media mentions. I use Kermit as an online ID to maintain my personal life separate from my on-line life. I am NOT a journalist and so my real name is a minor issue.

Your open letter was dedicated to a large extent to detailing supposed abuse suffered by an anonymous blogger who you appear to believe is an impartial and credentialed journalist. You say this was at the hands of Italian national police officers who you seem to indicate follow illicit orders of an Umbrian prosecutor, Mr Giuliano Mignini, instead of their own superiors in the national police (Polizia di Stato). You also accuse Mr. Mignini of being the source of various threats to this anonymous blogger and real journalists, citing what you think are valid examples.

In fact, as we will see, all of the supposed threats in your examples are either vague or cannot be associated with Mr. Mignini. In some of your cases the “reporting” Mr Mignini takes exception to is the publishing of unsubstantiated accusations, for example concerning his state of mental health.

I’m surprised that in investigating one specific alleged case of abuse against a local Perugian blogger, that you haven’t noticed a massive, very nasty, highly misleading and well oiled campaign to malign and vilify Perugian and Rome authorities and to some extent Italy in general. Nowhere do you mention that specific persons directly and indirectly associated with that campaign seem to have something to gain by taking down Mignini and by setting free the convicted murderers of Meredith Kercher (pending appeal). Nowhere do you mention that REAL journalists like Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau have received enormous heat and online libels for simply trying to report facts impartially from the court and from Seattle.

I would make a request that the staff of the Committee to Protect Journalists research further the points I bring up, and I would ask that if this research paints a picture different from what has been described in your text of last April 19, then you issue a followup letter to clarify these points, sending the followup email to the same 21 receivers of the first text.

Perhaps most importantly, you could contact Mr. Mignini himself and get his side of it. Others including the BBC have managed to do so and you should be aware of this BBC report. Mr Mignini has already publicly denied through Italian and international press publications some of the accusations which you are making in your letter, such as that Douglas Preston will be arrested if he returns to Italy. He states clearly that is not true. 



[Above: The forgotten fact in the CPJ text: When did this journalistic organisation contact Mr. Mignini, in order to contrast the accusations against him by a blogger who lives behind a pseudonym? (Photo credit: BBC)]


In the rest of this open letter I intend to examine below one by one the disputed points in the CPJ letter to the President of Italy. This statement is the first.

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Dear President Napolitano,

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities’ harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation into the November 2007 brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in the central Italian city of Perugia.”

The international network of followers of the Meredith Kercher case and its pre-trial investigation are not aware of any harassment of journalists by Mr. Mignini (or police agents who may have received instructions from him when the investigation was underway), from the moment of the crime, until the investigative report was delivered to the court in June 2008.

The allegation of harassment is news to us, in a case which over the course of almost four years has already gone through the lower court (three suspects each convicted of murder and other crimes) and is currently in the appeals stage.

The legal action taken by Mignini (or threatened action) in the case cited of the West Seattle Herald reporter Steve Shay writing that “some in both the American and Italian legal field believe Mignini is mentally unstable” doesn’t surprise me. Most people would see that not as a legitimate criticism of the official murder investigation as the CPJ states in its letter to the President of Italy, but rather as an unsubstantiated low blow without any professional journalistic contrasting of that claim. Mignini’s response is not an aggression to silence the West Seattle Herald, but rather a question of defending one’s personal honour and reputation. Mignini’s legal action would be taken on a personal level, not as an element of the Meredith Kercher murder case.

Or are legal professionals’ personal freedom and constitutional rights suspended in the light of unsubstantiated press claims? Is Mr. Mignini unable to defend himself against false accusation? Can the press make unsubstantiated and uncontested claims about anyone’s state of mental health without being subject to redress?


[Above: The Perugia blogger dispatching with Prosecutor Mignini, at a date believed to be after the start of the alleged harassment supposedly carried out under orders of Mignini. They seem to be interacting without any problem. (Photo credit: UK Channel 4)]


From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The Kercher murder investigation was headed by Mignini and conducted by a Perugia police unit known as the Squadra Mobile. Mignini was also in charge of the latest investigation into the unsolved murders of eight couples in Tuscany between 1968 and 1985, collectively known as the Monster of Florence killings”

Out of three affirmations in the preceding paragraph, only one is true, the first. Mr. Mignini was indeed the head of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The second affirmation is partially true. The Italian national police (Polizia di Stato - not “Perugia police” as you state) in Perugia was substantially involved in the Meredith Kercher murder investigation, be it Squadra Mobile units, medical examiners, local forensic and technical experts, as well as specialist forensic units brought in from Rome. These people report to their own chiefs and superiors in the hierarchical structure of the national police, although they would have carried out specific approved investigative actions within the framework of this investigation under the instructions of Mr. Mignini (and the next day they would be carrying out investigative actions for other prosecutors in other cases).

The third affirmation is false. Mr. Mignini is a prosecutor in Perugia, in the region of Umbria. As the nickname indicates, the “Monster of Florence” killings were carried out around Florence, in the region of Tuscany with the same .22 Beretta pistol between 1968 and 1985 (it is debatable whether the first crime of 1968 was done by the same perpetrator of the following string of murders, but they are clearly decades old crimes).

Various Florentine prosecutors participated in the investigations and trials related to the murders done by the Monster of Florence.  Mr. Mignini was never “in charge” nor even involved in those investigations. It was a different time and different place.

The last of the police investigators in this Florentine case (so important and complex that instead of having a prosecutor control the case, there was a sort of super-cop who oversaw and directed all investigations, requesting prosecutors to authorize certain investigative actions) was called Michele Giuttari. It was under his analysis and investigation that the theory relating the Monster of Florence killings to occultism was developed.



[Above: The Monster of Florence’s Beretta pistol killed 8 couples between 1968 and 1985. Mr. Mignini was uninvolved in the main investigations and trials of these decades old crimes, as he lives and works in Perugia, in a different location and in a different time frame. (Photo credit: Insufficienzadiprove)]



In a separate action, years later in 2001, Mignini reopened the investigation into the death of Dr. Francesco Narducci, initially thought to have drowned in a lake near Perugia. There were potential links between Narducci’s death and the perpetrators of the Florence murders.

Actually, if you want to understand better the Narducci case (from it being reopened in 2001) and understand its relation to the Monster of Florence case, please read the Perugian blogger’s summary on his blogspot page. 

This mixing up of the facts of the Monster of Florence case is not new. I fear that American author Douglas Preston – who has substantial financial interest in the book sales and movie royalties related to his book The Monster of Florence (and who is also a financial supporter of CPJ ) - may have had direct or indirect input into the sculpting of this imprecise CPJ missive, which doesn’t really link Mignini to any of the events the Perugian blogger in question is supposed to have suffered (this is just an opinion).

Why? Preston is exploiting his own run-in with Mignini years ago, when the latter interviewed him concerning his activities and knowledge relating to shared elements and suspects of the Narducci and Monster of Florence cases.

For authors Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston researching the Monster of Florence case in Florence, super-cop Michele Giuttari was the source of much of their criticism of the case. In spite of being shaken up in early 2006 due to his interview with Mignini, Preston said a few months later in an interview with The Altantic:

Question: “Do you think that the investigation has become personal for (police investigator Michele) Giuttari?”

Preston: “I think even more than for Mario and me …. Giuttari really doesn’t have anything beyond the Monster case. His entire career rides on this case and solving it—or at least not making a fool of himself while he investigates …. So yes, it is personal. I think that everyone in Italy acknowledges that Giuttari seems to carry a great personal animosity against Spezi.”

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

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

(Source: The Atlantic)

Now there’s something I don’t understand. All the bad things we’re hearing about Giuliano Mignini since late 2007, in particular from Doug Preston seem to have been cut and pasted from Preston’s comments about Michele Giuttari, the chief investigator in the last legs of the Monster of Florence investigation, and these bad characteristics have been assigned to Mignini.

Preston has simply “cut” (not pasted!) the name Michele Giuttari from any mention – the once bad-ass investigator of the Monster of Florence as a larger-than-life persona is gone from his recent writings on the case.

And Mignini has been reassigned Giuttari’s nefarious role, even though Mignini is from Perugia and he investigated the Narducci death.  The link (albeit important link) to the Monster of Florence, is that since Narducci could have been associated – according to initial investigative data in 2001 – with persons related to Giuttari’s old Monster of Florence theory, therefore Mignini assumed the Monster of Florence occultism theory developed in the Florence investigations.

Preston’s switch-a-roo has happened even though Preston had good words for Mignini in 2006 after his questioning at the hands of this prosecutor.

What happened? Well my opinion is that with literally dozens of books out about the Monster of Florence, someone realized that yet another book by Preston and Spezi would need some commercial umpah, especially if it was to be taken to the English-speaking market (Spezi had already written one book on the case, now he was writing another – Giuttarri had also written books on the case, in addition to many other authors).

The terrible murder of Meredith Kercher, and the fact that Giuliano Mignini was on duty as prosecutor on that All Saints long-weekend was what was needed. The English-speaking press has covered the murder on an on-going basis since then. Amanda Knox’s family hired a PR firm which uses that PR contract as a case study on their website, explaining proudly how “Gogerty Marriott’s work for the (Knox-Mellas) family has brought them in touch with all major U.S. news networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News, as well as independent programs such as Oprah Winfrey and a host of national and international magazines and newspapers”. (Source: Gogerty Marriott website.)

My theory is that with Amanda Knox being arrested and tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher, the latest book on The Monster of Florence had found a great, long-term PR strategy to latch on to. All that was required was to change the hated satanic-obsessed, rogue investigator figure of Giuttari into the civil servant Mignini, a prosecutor in the sleepy town of Perugia who has never published a book in his life. This focus requires that one stops talking about Giuttari. Done. And that one talks a lot about Mignini and his satanic theories, Perugian Mignini the lead prosecutor of the Monster of Florence (well, if you say it loud enough and long enough and put it into a Hollywood film, that’s what people will remember). Done.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The anti-press actions of Squadra Mobile under Mignini’s supervision, coupled with Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists who criticize his conduct on the job, cause the press to stay away from sensitive subjects, including important developments in the Kercher case such as the appeal of two defendants in the case.”

Who told you that the Squadra Mobile police unit is under Mr. Mignini’s supervision? You would do well to consult sources other than those who helped you draft your text.

The investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher lasted from the moment of discovery of her body by the Italian telecommunications police who appeared at the victim’s home to inquire about a lost mobile phone on 2 November 2007, until Mr. Mignini presented his investigative report in June 2008.

As previously mentioned, different police investigative and forensic units would have received specific and / or ongoing instructions during the course of the investigation to carry out individual tasks in gathering evidence, but outside those tasks and in particular since the closing of the investigation in June 2008 the national police work at the central police station (“Questura”) and report in their daily work to other police officers, while Mr. Mignini works in his magistrate’s offices and has his own reporting hierarchy.

According to the CPJ the alleged harassment of the Perugian blogger started in October 2008, long after the close of the investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder. (It should be underlined that since then, the only driving force behind advancing the legal proceedings against the three persons accused and convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher is not the prosecution – specifically Mr. Mignini - but rather the judges who are hearing the different levels of trial and appeals.)

The CPJ seems to be insinuating – no, more than that, it is accusing Mr Mignini of having extra-official links to police officers who allegedly harass a local Perugian blogger, as if Mignini had some sort of personal “hit squad” or goons at his beck and call.



[Above: These are some of the police investigators whom Mignini was able to use as a part of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher. CPJ may want to pass this photo to the Perugia blogger, to see if he is able to identify some of the police officers who allegedly attacked him three years after the crime, two years after Mignini’s investigation ended, and almost one year after the first level trial ended and Judge Massei and the judicial jury found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder.]


The CPJ letter to the President of Italy also refers to “Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists”. CPJ probably acted correctly within its terms of reference when it sought to bring attention to the plight of Mario Spezi in 2006 when he was arrested by Mignini (whether that arrest was justified or not). What other examples of does CPJ have of Mignini’s historical “record” of supposedly harassing journalists?  Suing because reporter Steve Shay writes an unsubstantiated mention of Mignini being mentally unstable?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“CPJ is particularly concerned about the impact Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers, who lack the support and backing of major publications”.

“CPJ is particularly concerned” …  Why did the CPJ get concerned? Can I ask how the CPJ became aware of the supposed harassment of the Perugian blogger by Mignini, and who has developed the “case” presented against Mignini in the CPJ letter? 

Has the CPJ questioned the motives of the person(s) who helped develop this document and their potential “stake” in having the CPJ accuse Mignini of harassment? Will they gain by further book sales or movie royalties by creating a media interest in a supposedly rogue Italian prosecutor?

“Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers” …  Please be clear: are there other Perugian authorities beyond Mignini involved in this harassment , i.e. is there a conspiracy involved?  Or is the situation the opposite, that the “Perugia authorities” are individual policemen who may have bothered the blogger in question, and so someone in CPJ decided to make a dotted-line to Mignini – if so, on what basis is this dotted line made? Who made it?

You refer to “local reporters”. Beyond the blogger, who are the local reporters who have suffered at the hands of Mignini?  Is there anyone?

On one hand, have any local reporters, or on the other hand has the blogger in question made any formal complaint about the alleged abuses suffered?  If he (or they) haven’t felt comfortable presenting a complaint in Questura in Perugia, they could go to the Carabinieri or other locations to present such a complaint. If no formal complaints have been made by the blogger in two and a half years of harassment, why not?

I agree with you that in general terms, news outlets that are limited in circulation and critical mass are more at risk to suffer harassment from authorities. In this regard, I encourage you to contact a couple of the local newspapers in Perugia such as Il Giornale dell Umbria (editor: Giuseppe Castellini) or Corriere dell Umbria (director: Anna Mossuto).

Ask them about possible harassment by Mr. Mignini. Even better, while you’re at it, why don’t you do a peer check,  and ask them about the local blogger you have become concerned about?



[Above: The CPJ should make immediate contact with local newspapers in Perugia such as these, in order to evaluate in situ the possible harassment of local reporters by Mr. Mignini.]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Of the cases that have come to CPJ’s attention, one stands out because of the abusive actions employed by members of Squadra Mobile to punish a critic of the official Kercher murder inquiry. Local freelance reporter Frank Sfarzo (real name Sforza) created his English-language blog Perugia Shock in 2007, days after Kercher’s gruesome murder.”

You say that it was Squadra Mobile police officers who “punished” this critic of the investigation. Can those Squadra Mobile officers be identified? (I imagine so). What is the link between those Squadra Mobile officers and Mr. Mignini? Do the direct superiors of those officers in the national police know of this supposed secret relation? Or are those direct superiors of the national police part of the conspiracy too?

(If you don’t mind a slightly ironic comment on my part, if you go all the way up the national police structure, you may find that President Napolitano as well as parliamentary judicial committees where one of Raffaele Sollecito’s defense lawyers is present are also part of the irregular reporting lines of the Mignini conspiracy.)

By the way, it’s not important to this question, but just to be clear, I believe that the Perugia Shock blog page was established just prior to the murder of Meredith Kercher, and may have been destined for some other purpose when the murder occurred and the blogger in question decided to reorient the blog. The blogger in question also has web pages dedicated to buying Italian products such as truffles, not to mention a blog devoted to the Italian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

In fact, while the blogger writes under the name of “Frank Sfarzo”, this appears to not be his real name. He seems to have indicated different backgrounds to different persons, including to newspaper reporters who have had contact with him. For example, he has described himself as a film professor to reporter Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times. 

To the BBC’s Julian Joyce he described himself as a journalist.

It’s not a major issue for me, but does the CPJ protect anyone who says they are a journalist, or only journalists with credentials, or members of a professional organization with a code of conduct?  I just post comments on blogs and once in a while add my own research to the topics being discussed … could I too as Kermit request protection from the CPJ if I deemed it necessary, say I received threats from a certain persons involved in a court case I was discussing?

Would you write a big letter to presidents and cabinet ministers and senators around the world? Or do you only do that when a well-off, best-selling American author is part of a personal feud with an investigative magistrate?

Pro-victim blogger Skeptical Bystander and other posters of the Perugia Murder File board could potentially be in need of such assistance, given the sorts of threats that she has received and that often goes untouched for days or weeks when posted on the Perugia Shock blog comments page.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Sfarzo told CPJ his troubles started on October 28, 2008, the day Knox and Sollecito were indicted and a third defendant was convicted of murdering Kercher. Several members of Squadra Mobile, Sfarzo told CPJ, approached him just outside the city court (Corte di Assise di Perugia) and started to push and hit him. “You are pissing us off!”—they told him, referring to his coverage.”

As mentioned, by October 2008, the investigation was out of Mignini’s hands and as a case was in the hands of the different judges who have tried Rudy Guede, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. No police officers would be receiving investigative instructions from Prosecutor Mignini, unless if he had an extra-official relation to them that bypassed normal communications channels between the judiciary and the police.

I am not in a position to say that the person who blogs under the name “Frank Sfarzo” wasn’t pushed by policemen on 28 October 2008. However, you say that this happened due to his “coverage” of the case.

If you read the Perugia Shock blog pages, especially from the fall of 2008, you will see that they are written in broken English, and that the blog’s following at the time was limited. Did Mignini or the police officers read the blogspot page in English?

Your description of the alleged events outside the Corte di Assise (“several members of the Squadra Mobile … approached (the blogger) just outside the city court and started to push and hit him”) bears little resemblance to the blogger’s own video of the event. I URGE YOU to view the video of the alleged aggression of the Perugian blogger (please click on link and scroll to end of post).

In the video, viewers see the family of the murder victim – Meredith Kercher – exiting the courthouse in the middle of a media scrum. There is jostling and pushing amongst the dozens of reporters on the scene.

The blogger struggles for a good angle and seems to be walking backwards as he tapes his video. Meredith’s sister is easily identifiable. The blogger tumbles. Was he pushed? Maybe. Was it a policeman or another reporter in the media scrum who bumped into him? Maybe one or the other, or maybe the blogger simply stumbled in his awkward backwards walk.

Did someone say something rude to him? Maybe. If something rude was said, was it due to his “coverage” of the case? Or simply because in the moving crowd the backwards walking blogger was getting in the way?

In any case, at no point do we see “several members of the Squadra Mobile” approach the blogger and “push and hit him”.



[Above: The Perugia blogger’s own video on 28 October 2008 of one example of the “aggression” which has provoked a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists to the Italian President and 20 other international figures. Moments afterwards, he falls backwards, into the media scrum. Were he to have been attacked by “several members” of the Squadra Mobile, Stephanie Kercher – Meredith’s sister pictured at front on the right – would have been a point-blank witness to the crime. He had his camera aggresively in her face.

In addition, all of the Italian and international news cameras following the Kercher family from behind would have taped the perpetrators of such an aggression, if any. CPJ could use its contacts with media outlets present that day (there were dozens of journalists) to obtain video of the aggression, filmed from just a couple of metres away.]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“When the trial of Knox and Sollecito began that December, Squadra Mobile continued to harass him. They regularly tried to prevent him from entering the court”

What are the requirements for entering a court session in Perugia? What priorities are assigned for press access? What press credentials have to be produced? What press credentials did the Perugian blogger have in December of 2008? Did he have any? Was this harassment witnessed by other journalists in Perugia to report on the trial?

Has the CPJ contacted other journalists covering the court sessions to inquire as to access procedures, or whether they saw the Perugian blogger being given a hard time (maybe he tried to access extra-early before other journalists – in order to get a good spot – and there were no other witnesses to the access harassment he suffered in these over-capacity court sessions).

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“ . . . mouthed insults at him from across the courtroom; and stared over his shoulder as he took notes. ‘This was done in the presence of the judge, the Carabinieri [the military police], and the court guards, but they would do nothing,’ Sfarzo told CPJ.”

In all the images that I have seen of the courtroom in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the reporters are at the back, against the wall. Was there a “safety lane” which police officers patrolled behind the reporters and which they used to spy on the blogger over his back?

Did the police officers spy on any other reporters? Did any other reporters notice the alleged spying carried out on the blogger, or was it done in such a surreptitious manner that no one realized what was going on?

Please! Look at photos of the press area in the Perugia courtroom! It seems physically difficult for anyone but other reporters to be looking over reporters’ (or bloggers’) backs.



[Above: The Perugian courtroom where Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were tried. At the back behind the railing and against the wall: the press. In front of the railing: defendants’ family members and other authorized parties.  In front of family members: guards.  Finally, in the foreground, the defendants and their lawyers. For the national police to have looked over the blogger’s shoulder as he made notes, they would have to have elbowed their way through the press to an indiscrete and obvious positioning behind him (or, he would have had to been in a location not assigned to the Press, such as the defendants’ family zone, which could be a possibility). Have you asked the Perugian blogger about his relation to the Knox-Mellas family both in and outside of the courtroom? Is it limited to simply interviewing them from time to time, or is this relationship much closer with individual members of the family, beyond a traditional reporter-subject relationship?]


By listing the complicit passivity of the judges, the Carabinieri and the court guards in addition to the Polizia di Stato, CPJ does seem to have swallowed quite a large conspiracy, where Prosecutor Mignini not only is pulling the strings of three different police forces, but also the presiding judge of the case. The only way to make this bigger-than-life Evil Mignini Conspiracy into something bigger would be to turn it into a Hollywood movie.



[Above: The Monster of Florence movie rights have been purchased by Tom Cruise. Any and all ways of stirring up and mixing up the English-speaking press’s coverage of Mignini’s Narducci investigation from 2001 onwards, and linking it and the high profile trial of American Amanda Knox to the decades old 1970’s and 1980’s Monster of Florence murders is free publicity for the book and movie”  (Photo source: The Wrap)]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The harassment reached its peak on September 28, 2010, when five officers of Squadra Mobile forcibly entered Sfarzo’s apartment. They did not produce a warrant or show their badges, Sfarzo told CPJ. Four of the five shoved Sfarzo to the ground, struck him, handcuffed him, and climbed on top of him, crushing his air supply, he told CPJ.”

Has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims of mistreatment? One thing I don’t understand is where is the link between the blogger’s alleged mistreatment and Mr. Mignini?

If any blogger in Perugia feels that he or she has been bothered by the police, can they get the CPJ to intervene against Mignini even if there is no direct link that we can see?

Has the CPJ contacted the Questura (main police station) of Perugia to inquire as to the reason the team of officers was sent to the blogger’s home? Who was the police chief who sent them? Did Mignini just pick up his phone in his magistrate’s office, call the Questura and ask his policeman friends to go over and rough up a local blogger?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Next, the officers took Sfarzo to the Perugia city hospital, where they claimed he had attacked them; they persuaded a doctor to issue a medical report for the injuries Sfarzo was alleged to have caused. In addition, the Squadra Mobile officers brought Sfarzo before a psychiatrist, demanding that she issue him a certificate of insanity.”

Again, has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims? Has it been in contact with the doctors at the hospital who examined the blogger?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“From the hospital, the officers brought a handcuffed and injured Sfarzo to their headquarters, where, in the blogger’s words, they “displayed me as a trophy,” referring to him as “the bastard who defends Amanda [Knox].” The officers refused Sfarzo’s requests to call his lawyer or his relatives, and put him in a cell for the night.”

Has the blogger’s lawyer taken any action to sue the police officers who allegedly attacked him? The normal starting point would be a formal complaint: has the CPJ requested confirmation that this incident legally exists from the blogger’s point of view, specifically that a complaint was filed at the time it allegedly occurred? If it exists, has the CPJ examined this complaint and inquired with police authorities as to the progress achieved in resolving it?

The truth of the matter is that this is reminiscent of one aspect of the Meredith Kercher murder case, where Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, parents of convicted killer (pending appeal) Amanda Knox were interviewed by John Follain of The Times of London. “Curt says: ‘Amanda was abused physically and verbally’” during her questioning on the night of 5 November 2007.

Now it may be that the same standards that the CPJ applies to Mignini also apply to the police who questioned Amanda on that evening, namely that they can be accused of crimes (beating a suspect) without the accusers having to provide anything to substantiate the accusation. However, in reality, as you can imagine (and probably as you or I would do), those police officers are suing Amanda’s parents for slander. Alas, in the days (and weeks and years) after Amanda’s arrest, it seems that no complaint of police brutality was ever actually filed with the police.


Above: The Knox-Mellas family members have repeated claims that Amanda was physically abused in her interrogation which started after 11 p.m. on the night of 5 November 2007 and was stopped at 1:45 a.m. They are in their rights to do so, but the OPJ should also recognise that police officers who are the targets of such accusations have the right to respond using the law to defend their honour and reputation. Or is that not so?  (Source of posts: discussion board of the original Steve Huff True Crime Weblog)

In fact, Amanda’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga even denied at one point that she had been poorly treated, as the Perugian blogger informed the world on his site.


[LETTER CONTINUES below in the next post. Click here. Please post any comments under that post.]


Sunday, April 24, 2011

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

Posted by SomeAlibi

 

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

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

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

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

Let’s begin:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it gets worse…

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

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

Here’s how Moore presented it:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moore says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: How Motive For The Crime Is Addressed By Judge Massei

Posted by James Raper





The Massei Report in the main I thought was excellent. He was incisive with his logic, particularly, though not exclusively, with regard to the staging of the break in and how that necessarily meant that Amanda was present at the scene when the murder was committed.

However, I thought that he was rather feeble in his coverage of the defendants’ motives as to the attack which led to this brutal murder. Perhaps he thought it better to stick with the indisputable evidence. Since this pointed to a sex attack he surmised that Guede had a go at Meredith first, and then - because the stimulation was too much for them - he was joined by Amanda and Raffaele. This works but does seem a bit weak.

Micheli, the judge who committed Amanda and Raffaele to stand trial, was more certain in his mind as to the roles played by these three. He said that there was “an agreed plan”, “to satisfy sexual instincts” with “murderous intent” and that effectively Amanda was the instigator and catalyst.

Motive is largely an area of speculation but it is surely possible to draw inferences from what we know?  As Micheli did.  The Appeal Court and ultimately The Supreme Court of Cassation may well adopt the same reasoning and conclusion – maybe go further.

And there were, to my mind, undoubtedly many factors at work, and it is these which I wish to address. I have always been interested in the possible dynamics of just how these three came to murder poor Meredith. Pro-Knox campaigners once made much of “No Motive”. Now not so much because the issue draws people in to a discussion of the evidence and of Amanda’s personality.

For instance, Massei asks, though he says we can not know, had Amanda egged Guede on as to the “availability” ( my word, not his) of Meredith during or prior to their presence at the Cottage?

Frankly the answer to that has to be “yes” since it is a bit difficult to figure out why Amanda and Raffaele would otherwise wish Guede to join them at the cottage. I doubt that Amanda and Raffaele would have wanted Guede around if they were just going there to have an innocent cuddle and sex and to smoke cannabis, as Massei implies. The evidence is that Raffaele hardly knew Guede and in the presence of Amanda was very possessive about her. If he had known of Guede’s interest in Amanda he would have been even less keen to have Guede around.

Also, if all was so innocent beforehand, then why would Guede have tried it on with Meredith and then pressed the situation in the face of her refusal to co-operate, knowing that there were two others there who could have come to her assistance?

The answer is of course that Guede knew full well in advance that there would be no problem with Amanda and Raffaele. He had been invited there and primed to act precisely in the way he did, at least initially. Why? Well there is plenty of evidence as to why Amanda, in her mind, may have been looking for payback time on Meredith. Come to that later.

What does not get much attention in the Massei Report, other than a terse Not Proven at the end, is the matter of Meredith’s missing rent money and credit cards and whether Amanda and Raffaele stole them. It is as if the Judge ( well the jury really) felt that this was a trivial issue that brought nothing much to the case and thus it was not necessary to give it much attention. And indeed there is no summation of or evaluation of that evidence.

Now that does surprise me. Of course there may have been some technical flaw with the charge and the evidence. But in the absence of any comment on this then we do not know what that may be.

What I do know is that the matter, if proven, is not trivial. A theft just prior to the murder significantly ups the stakes for Amanda and Raffaelle and produces a dynamic, which, threaded together with a sexual assault, makes for a far more compelling scenario to murder. It also leads one to conclude that there was a greater degree of premeditation involved : not premeditation to murder but as to an assault, rather than the more spontaneous “ let’s get involved” at the time of the sex attack as postulated by Massei.

What is the evidence? What evidence was before the court? I do not have access to trial records. Therefore I stand to be corrected if I misrepresent the evidence or if my interpretation of it does not met the test of logic.

There were two lay witnesses to whom we can refer. The first was Filomena Romanelli, the flatmate and trainee lawyer. If there was anyone who was going to ensure that the rent was paid on time, it would have been her. She gave evidence that the rent being due very soon she asked Meredith about her contribution of 300 euros and was told by Meredith that all was OK because she had just withdrawn 200 euros from her bank. Filomena assumed from Meredith’s reply that the balance was already to hand.

Is there a problem with this evidence? Is it hearsay and thus inadmissible under Italian law?

Perhaps it is not enough by itself because of course had Meredith not in fact withdrawn the money from her bank, or sufficient funds to cover the stated amount, then that would be a fatal blow to that part of the theft charge. Her bank manager was summoned to give evidence, essentially to corroborate or disprove Filomena’s testimony. I do not know what exactly that evidence was. One would assume that at the very least it did not disprove her testimony. Had it done so that would, as I have said, been fatal. It is also unbelievable that Massei would have overlooked this in the Report. I am assuming that Meredith did not tell a white lie and that the bank records corroborate this.

There may of course be an issue of timing as I understand that the bank manager told the court that transactions at a cash machine are not necessarily entered on the customer account the same day . However that does not seem to me to be significant.

One must also think that the bank manager was asked what other cash withdrawals had been made if the credit cards were taken at the same time as the money.

I understand that there is of course a caveat here: my assumptions in the absence of knowing exactly what the bank manager’s evidence was.

It would be useful also to know how and when the rent was normally paid. It sounds as if it was cash on the day the landlord came to collect.

We do know that the police did not find any money or Meredith‘s credit cards. Had Meredith, a sensible girl, blown next month’s rent on a Halloween binge? Unlikely. So somebody stole it. And the credit cards. Again, just as with the fake break in, when according to Amanda and Raffaele nothing was stolen, who and only who had access to the cottage to steal the money? Yes, you have guessed it. Amanda, of course.

Does the matter of missing rent money figure anywhere else? There is the evidence of Meredith’s phone records which show that a call was placed to her bank late on the evening of her murder just prior to the arrival of Amanda, Raffaele and Guede. Why? I have to concede that there is no single obvious reason and that it may be more likely than not that the call was entirely unintentional.

But if, as may seem likely, the credit cards were kept with her handbag, and the money in her bedroom drawer, then on discovering that her money was missing she may have called her bank in a funk only to remember that the cards were safe and that no money could be withdrawn from her account.

The missing money also figured in the separate trial of Guede. He made a statement which formed the whole basis of his defence. Basically this was that he had an appointment with Meredith at the cottage, had consensual foreplay with her and was on the toilet when he heard the doorbell ring etc, etc. What he also added was that just before all this Meredith was upset because her rent money had disappeared and that they had both searched for it with particular attention to Amanda’s room.

Now why does Guede mention this? Remember this is his defence. Alibi is not quite the right word. He had plenty of time to think about it or something better. His defence was moulded around (apart from lies) (1) facts he knew the police would have ie no point denying that he was there or that he had sexual contact with Meredith : his biological traces had been left behind, and (2) facts known to him and not to the police at that stage ie the money, which he could use to make his statement as a whole more credible, whilst at the same time giving the police a lead. He is shifting the focus, if the police were to follow it up, on to the person he must have been blaming for his predicament, Amanda.

If all three, Amanda, Raffaele and Guede, went to the cottage together, as Massei has it, then Guede learns about the missing rent money not in the circumstances referred to in his statement but because Meredith has already discovered the theft and worked out who has had it and challenges Amanda over it when the three arrive. Perhaps this is when Guede goes to the toilet and listens to music on his Ipod. After all he is just there for the sex and this is all a distraction.

Although Micheli thought Guede was a liar from start to finish, he did not discount the possibility that Guede was essentially telling the truth about the money. Guede expanded upon this at his appeal, telling the court that Amanda and Meredith had an argument and then a fight over it. It is a thread that runs through all his accounts from his Skype chat and initial statements in Germany to his final appeal.

Guede’s “evidence” was not a factor in the jury’s consideration at Amanda’s and Raffaele’s trial. Although he was called to give evidence he did not do so. Now his “evidence” and the findings and conclusion of the courts which processed his case come in to play in the appeal of Amanda and Raffaele.

When were the money and credit cards stolen?

I have to accept that as to the money at any rate a theft prior to the murder is critical to sustain the following hypothesis. The credit cards were in any event probably taken after the attack on Meredith.

According to Amanda and Raffaele they spent Halloween together at Raffaele’s and the next day went to the cottage. Meredith was there as was Filomena.  Filomena left first, followed by Meredith to spend the evening with her friends, and Amanda and Raffaele left some time afterwards.

So Amanda and Raffaele could have stolen the money any time after Meredith left and before she returned at about 9.30pm - the day of her murder. Incidentally Filomena testified that Meredith never locked the door to her room except on the occasions she went home to England. Meredith was a very trusting girl.

What motive had Amanda for wanting the money apart from the obvious one of profit?

There are numerous plausible motives.

To fund a growing drugs habit which she shared with Raffaele? Not an inconsiderable expense for a student. Both Amanda and Raffaele explained during questioning that their confusion and hesitancy was due to the fact that they had been going rather hard on drugs. Mignini says that they were both part of a drugs crowd.

Because her own financial circumstances were deteriorating and to fund her own rent contribution?  She was probably about to be sacked at Le Chic where she was considered by Lumumba to be flirty and unreliable and to add insult to injury would likely be replaced by Meredith. In fact Meredith was well liked and trusted by all whereas Amanda’s star was definitely on the wane. 

But maybe Amanda just also wanted to get her own back on Meredith.

Filomena testified that Meredith and Amanda had begun to have issues with each other.

Here are some quotes from Darkness Descending.

Filomena – “At first they got on very well. But then things began to take a different course. Amanda never cleaned the house so we had to institute a rota ….then she (Amanda) would bring strangers home….Meredith said she was not interested in boys, she was here to study”.

“Meredith was too polite to confront Amanda, but she did confide in her pal, Robyn Butterworth. Robyn winced in disbelief when Meredith said that the pair had quarreled because Knox often failed to flush the toilet, even when menstruating. Filomena began noticing that Amanda could be odd, even mildly anti-social.”

It seems that Amanda did not like it when she was not the centre of attention. It was observed that, comically if irritatingly, she would sing loudly if conversation started to pass her by and when playing her guitar would often strum the same chord over and over again.

On the evening of Halloween Amanda texted Meredith enquiring as to whether they could meet up. But Meredith had other arrangements. Meredith appeared to be having a good time whereas Amanda was not.

Indeed there has been much speculation that Amanda has always had deep seated psychological problems and that just after several weeks in Perugia her fragile and damaged ego was tipping towards free fall.


With Meredith’s money both Amanda and Raffaele could have afforded something a little stronger than the usual smoke and I speculate that they spent the late afternoon getting stoned.

Of course Amanda was still an employee of Lumumba and she was supposed to turn up that evening for work but perhaps she no longer cared all that much for the consequences if she did not.

Again I speculate that she, with or without Raffaele,  met Guede at some time -  perhaps before she was due at work, perhaps after she learnt that she was not required by Lumumba -  discussed Meredith’s “availability” and agreed to meet up again on the basketball court at Grimana Square.

The notion that Amanda and Guede hardly knew each other seems implausible to me. We know that they met at a party at the boys’ flat at the cottage. Guede was friends with one of those boys and was invited there on a number of occasions. He was an ever present on the basketball court in Grimana Square which was located just outside the College Amanda and Meredith attended, and just metres from the cottage. He was known to have fancied Amanda and Amanda was always aware of male interest.

What else did Amanda and Raffaele have in mind when arranging the meeting or when thinking about it afterwards? Guede was of course thinking about sex and that Amanda and Raffaele were going to facilitate an encounter with Meredith later that evening. However Amanda and Raffaele had something else on their minds. The logic of their position vis a vis Meredith cannot have escaped them. They had taken her money whilst she was out. Had she not already discovered this fact then she would in any event be back, notice the money was missing and would put 2 and 2 together.  What would happen? Who would she tell? Would she call the police? How are they going to deal with this? Obviously deny it but logic has it’s way and the situation with or without the police being called in would be uncomfortable.

They decided to turn the tables and make staying in Perugia uncomfortable for Meredith. Now the embarrassing, for Meredith, sexual advances from Guede were going to be manipulated by them in to a sexual humiliation for Meredith. Meredith was not going to be seriously harmed but as and when they were challenged by Meredith over the missing money, as inevitably they would be, she was to be threatened with injury or worse. Knives come in useful here. Amanda may have fantasized that Meredith would likely then give up her tenancy at the cottage, perhaps leave Italy. Whether that looks like the probable and likely outcome I leave you to judge, but the hypothesis is that they were starting to think and behave irrationally and that this was exacerbated by the use of drugs.

In the event there came a point when neither Amanda nor Raffaele had any other commitments anyway. They got to the basketball court. They waited for Guede.

We know Amanda and Raffaele were on the basketball court the evening of the 1st November. This is because of the evidence of a Mr Curatolo, the second lay witness. He was not precise about times but thought that they were on the basketball court between 9.30pm and 10pm and may have left around 11.00 – 11.30pm and then returned just before midnight. In any event he testified to seeing Amanda and Raffaele having heated arguments, and occasionally going to the parapet at the edge of the court to peer over. What were they looking at? Go to the photographs of Perugia on the True Justice for Meredith website and you will see. From the parapet you get a good view of the gates that are the entrance, and the only entrance as I understand it, to the cottage.

So why the behaviour observed by Mr Curatolo? They may have been impatient waiting for Guede to arrive. Were they actually to go through with this?  Was Meredith at home, alone, and had she found the money was missing and had she called the police or tipped off someone already? Who was hanging around outside the entrance to the cottage and why? There was, apparently, a car parked at the entrance, a broken down car nearby with the occupants inside awaiting a rescue truck, and the rescue truck itself, all present around 11.00pm. Amanda and Raffaele did not wish to be observed going through the gates with these potential witnesses around.

We, of course, cannot know for certain what went on in the minds of Amanda and Raffaele between the time of them leaving the cottage and their departure from the basketball court to return to the cottage. It has to be speculation but there is a logical consistency to the above narrative if they had stolen Meredith’s money earlier that day, and their meeting up with Guede just before leaving the basketball court does not look like a co-incidence.

From there on in to the inevitable clash between Amanda and Meredith over the money.

It is my opinion that at the cottage Amanda came off worse initially: that she got caught in the face by a blow and suffered a nose bleed.
Stefanoni and Garofano both say that there was an abundant amount (relatively speaking) of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom washbasin, and to a lesser extent the bidet.  Whereas most of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom was mixed with Meredith’s, the blood on the washbasin tap was Amanda’s alone. Both of a quality and quantity to discount menstrual (from washed knickers) or bleeding from ear piercing. Their conclusion was that Amanda bled fairly profusely though perhaps briefly at some stage.

Possibly Amanda may have cut her feet on glass in Filomena’s bedroom but if so it’s difficult to see how blood from that ends up as a blob on the basin tap and in the sink and cut feet are painful to walk on and she did not display any awkwardness on her feet the next day.

Amanda’s blood may have come from a nick by a blade to her hands. I think the nick would be obvious the next day .If so, she was not hiding it. She was photographed the next day outside the cottage waving her hands under the noses of a coterie of vigilant cops.

She might have got a bloody nose during the attack in Meredith’s bedroom save that there is no evidence of her blood there.

On the other hand if she got into a tussle with Meredith (say in the corridor outside their rooms and where there was little room for other than the two to be engaged) and was fended off with a reflex blow that accidently or otherwise connected with her nose, Amanda’s natural reaction would be to disengage immediately and head for the bathroom sink and staunch the flow of blood.

A nose bleed need not take too long to staunch especially if not serious and there is no cut (certainly none being visible the next day).  Just stuff some tissue up the offending nostril. A nose bleed is not necessarily something of which there would be any sign the next day.

Raffaelle fusses around her whilst Rudy briefly plays peacemaker. But Amanda is boiling. As furious with Raffaelle and Guede as she is with Meredith. She eggs Guede on and pushes him towards Meredith.  Raffaele proudly produces his flicknife, latent sadistic instincts surfacing.

Is a scene like this played out inside the cottage or outside? I think of the strange but sadly discredited tale told by Kokomani.

In any event motive is satiated and the coil, having been tensed, is sprung for the pre-planned, but now extremely violent, hazing of poor Meredith.

I am also thinking here of Mignini’s “crescendo of violence” and where a point is reached where anything goes – where there is (from their warped perspectives) almost an inevitability or justification for their behaviour. A “Meredith definitely needs teaching a lesson now!” attitude.

Psychology is part of motive and there is much speculation particularly with regard to Amanda and Raffaele. They have both been in prison for well over three years now and during this time psychological assessments will certainly have been carried out.

Based on specific incidents and and general patterns of behaviour, speech and language, and demeanour, some preliminary conclusions will have been reached correlated with the facts of the crime.

If their convictions are upheld these assessments may be relevant to sentence in so far as they shed light on mitigation and motive.


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Serious Felony Charge Of Deliberate HIV Leak Was In Fact A Knox Defense-Team Hoax

Posted by Michael



Above and below: images from the two misleading scenes

Movie Advances HIV & Sex Partners List Hoax

The Lifetime movie nicely depicted Meredith and Mignini, and was not tough on Knox, though it seemed to leave many viewers sensing the possibility of guilt.

However, there were some seriously wrong scenes in the Lifetime movie, and also in the following Lifetime documentary. Two advanced the HIV sex partners hoax.

In a first long and emotional scene, the film depicted Amanda Knox being told by the doctor at Capanne that in a routine test she tested positive for HIV. It implied the test was a form of pressure. It showed Knox being told she should write down a list of her previous partners.

In a second long and emotional scene, the film depicted a confrontation between an angry Amanda and the doctor when he told her she was all clear. And thereafter the sex partners list was leaked by the prosecution.

These implied criminal actions on the part of the Capanne Prison medical staff and the prosecutors, and may have aroused a lot of false sympathy for Amanda Knox.

Reality: The Routine HIV Test And First Results

Lifetime depicted Amanda Knox being told by the doctor at Capanne that she tested positive for HIV. It implied the test was unusual.

But on her admittance to Capanne Prison, Knox was simply routinely tested for HIV and some other possible conditions, as all prisoners are for their own good.

When the first result came back the doctor told Amanda that the first result of the test was probably a false positive.  She shouldn’t worry, and another test would be run. Her diary reads:

Last night before I went to bed I was taken down to see yet another doctor who I haven’t yet met before. He had my results from a test they took—which says I’m positive for HIV.

First of all the guy told me not to worry, it could be a mistake, they’re going to take a second test next week….

Reality: Knox Herself Creates Sex Partners List

Lifetime claimed Amanda Knox was told to write down her list of partners by the doctor.

But in Amanda Knox’s own words, you can read how it went down: She chose herself to create the sex partners list. The doctor never instructed Amanda to write out that list. Her diary reads:

Thirdly, I don’t know where I could have got HIV from. Here is the list of people I’ve had sex with in Italy general:...

Reality: There Was No Angry Confrontation

The film depicts a yelling, pointing Knox who has to be restrained.

The doctor merely conveyed the news of a negative results and Knox cheerfully went off. He had no ill intent, she did not get angry, and no accusations were made.

Reality: The Prosecutors Never Leaked That List.

Lifetime implied that Knox’s diary with the list of partners was leaked by the prosecutors to the public.

We know this to be false. We know that it was instead Amanda Knox’s own lawyers that leaked the diary with the sex partners list (to journalists like Barbie Nadeau).

And that the family effort leaked it to people like Frank Sforza (who duly published Amanda’s diary page on the previous sexual partners), and Candace Dempsey, and even tried to leak it to us!

Reality: Knox Forces All Know HIV Story Is Untrue

Amanda’ Knoxs family know the truth of this, but have not yet come out and corrected a seriously wrong pervasive impression.

And Lifetime repeated the lie of the sex partners list, leading millions to believe the ILE deliberately terrified, tricked and humiliated Amanda Knox.

But they didn’t. Even Amanda Knox herself showed it was not so. 


Above and below: the first partly imaginary scene




Above and below: the first partly imaginary scene




Below: the second very misleading scene




Below: the second very misleading scene


Friday, February 25, 2011

Very Hard Language Of Supreme Court In Rejecting Guede Appeal, Confirming Three Did It

Posted by Peter Quennell


The report of the Supreme Court of Cassation released on Thursday was foreshadowed in content in our post of 17 December:

Rudy Guede’s appeal is rejected on all ten grounds. His appeal grounds were ugly and dishonest and he has no further appeal. He will serve his 16 years, with maybe some time off, for being a savage willing party to the cruel stupid murder of Meredith.

Rudy Guede will go down in infamy for his sex crime against a defenseless victim, for being a party to a taunting torturing knife attack, for claiming Meredith invited him in for consensual sex, and for not calling for help for Meredith and maybe saving her life while it was still possible.

Cassation continues the fine Italian court tradition in this case of taking a firm and unblinking position, and for being utterly oblivious to the vile over-the-top campaign of Curt Knox, Edda Mellas and David Marriott which may now haunt Amanda Knox all of her life.

What really caught the Italian media’s attention and made this the second most widely reported development in the case after the Amanda Knox-Raffaele Sollecito verdict was the icy hard language, the pure contempt for the depraved pack attack, the total rejection of all Guede’s stories, including his oft-repeated and totally unbelievable claim that Meredith invited him in and wanted love-making, and the court’s conclusion once again that the evidence methodically described in the Micheli Report overwhelmingly proves that THREE perpetrators took part in the crime.

The Court of Cassation in this report made clear that Knox and Sollecito are not already formally nominated as the other two perpetrators and it does wait the referral of the outcome of the present appeal in Perugia. But unless the defense witnesses Alessi and Aviello can indeed convince Judge Hellman’s appeal court that Guede attacked Meredith with friends or that some other people entirely carried out the attack, there seems no way out for them. 

The court also indicated that it considered the motive of the attack on Meredith to be frivolous, which is precisely what the prosecution claims in the current Perugia appeal as grounds for rejecting Massei’s mitigating circumstances, and for increasing Knox’s and Sollecito’s prison sentences to life terms. 

This post of a month ago further explains Knox’s and Sollecito’s almost insurmountable problems.

The written report from Cassation on that December 2010 decision on Guede’s final appeal (due soon), plus Judge Micheli’s Sentencing Report for Rudy Guede of January 2009, plus all that associated evidence, now gets automatically ported by law straight into Knox’s and Sollecito’s appeal.

Judge Micheli took a hard line toward Rudy Guede, and he sentenced him to 30 years. He also remanded Knox and Sollecito to trial, and his report explains the basis for that remand.

Judge Micheli’s remorseless and tightly argued report (see summaries below) very comprehensively backed up his decisions. (Later reductions in sentence were automatic and they flowed from the terms of Guede’s short-form trial, and some controversial mitigating circumstances advanced by Massei for Knox and Sollecito.)

The prosecution’s appeal against the Knox and Sollecito sentences argues that the acceptance of mitigating circumstances by the Massei court should be thrown out, and that Knox and Sollecito should be subjected to a longer sentence. Remember that even in the case of Alessi’s wife, who was not even present when he beat the kidnapped baby to death, she received a sentence of 30 years.

So here is how it is stacking up:.

For the prosecution, four courts including the Supreme Court of Cassation have ruled that three people participated in the crime against Meredith, plus all of the evidence from both the Guede and Knox Sollecito trials now comes in, plus the prosecution is appealing for tougher sentences, which seems well justified based on precedents.

And for the defenses? Will they now feel they have no choice but to put Knox or Sollecito or Alessi or Aviello or for that matter Rudy Guede on the stand as a last-ditch manoeuvre?

Hard to see what further they have to lose.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: A Visual Guide To The Staged Break-In Via Filomena’s Window

Posted by pat az


Cross-posted from my own website on Meredith’s case at the kind invitation of TJMK.

The Massei Report on the trial and sentencing of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito (...1) looks into whether or not a break-in is supported by the evidence available in the room with the broken window.

It concludes that the broken window and room in disarray - Filomena’s bedroom - are an “artificial representation”, ie. that the break-in was staged. After seven pages of review of the evidence, the Massei Report states:

  …the situation of disorder in Romanelli’s room and the breaking of the window pane constitute an artificial representation created in order to orient the investigations towards a person who, not having the key to the front door, was supposed to have entered through the previously broken window and then effected the violent acts on Meredith which caused her death.

What follows is a look at the comments in the Massei report compared with crime scene and other photos. All quotes are from the english translation prepared by unpaid volunteers at PerugiaMurderFile.org. The section on the scenes in the bedroom begins on page 47 and continues to page 55. Some sentences in the paragraphs below have been omitted for brevity, and can be read in full in the original.

Amanda finds the scene:Then (Amanda) went into another room and noticed that the window had been broken and that there was glass inside. She told these things to her and the other girls present. Then she related that she had gone back to Raffaele’s house and had rung Filomena.(p38)(I)n one of the telephone calls to Romanelli,

Amanda spoke of that smashed window and of the possibility that someone could have entered the house through the broken place; she said this also in the telephone call to 112 and in the first declarations to the Postal Police. Also in the e-mail of November 4, 2007, sent by Amanda to 25 people in the US (…), she hypothesises that a burglar could have entered the house and says she looked around to see if anything was missing. (p45)


Filomena Romanelli, disturbed by this phone call, had rung Amanda back without receiving a reply and when, a little later, she had succeeded in speaking to Amanda, Amanda had told her that in her room (i.e., in Ms. Romanelli’s room) the windowpane was broken, everything was in a mess, and that she should come back home. (P30)

Filomena Romanelli had ascertained from a quick check of her room, even though (it was) in a complete mess with the windowpane broken, that nothing was missing. (p31)

It must be held that when Filomena Romanelli left the house in via della Pergola, she had pulled the shutters towards the interior of her room, although she did not think that she had actually closed them; furthermore, because they were old and the wood had swelled a bit, they rubbed on the windowsill; to pull them towards the room it was necessary to use some force (“they rubbed on the windowsill”); but in this way, once they had been pulled in, as Romanelli remembered doing, they remained well closed by the pressure of the swelled wood against the windowsill. (p48)

It cannot be assumed – as the Defence Consultant did – that the shutters were left completely open, since this contradicts the declarations of Romanelli, which appear to be detailed and entirely likely, considering that she was actually leaving for the holiday and had some things of value in her room; already she did not feel quite safe because window-frames were in wood (…) without any grille.

Also, the circumstance of the shutters being wide open does not correspond to their position when they were found and described by witnesses on November 2, and photographed (cf. photo 11 already mentioned).( p50)


Now, for a rock to have been able to break the glass of the window without shattering the outside shutters, it would have been necessary to remove the obstacle of the shutters by opening them up. (…2)

Consequently, since the shutters had been pulled together and their rubbing put pressure on the windowsill on which they rested, it would have first been necessary to effect an operation with the specific goal of completely opening these shutters.

The failure to find any instrument suitable for making such an opening (one cannot even see what type of instrument could be used to this end) leads one to assume that the wall would have to have been scaled a first time in order to effect the complete opening of the shutters,(…3) in order to enable the burglar to aim at the window and smash it by throwing a large stone – the one found in Romanelli’s room. (p48-49)

He would then have to have returned underneath Romanelli’s window for the second climb, and through the broken glass, open the window (balanced on his knees or feet on the outside part of the windowsill) otherwise he would not have been able to pass his arm through the hole in the glass made by the stone) and reach up to the latch that fastened the window casements, necessarily latched since otherwise, if the casements had not been latched, it would not have been necessary to throw a rock at all, but just to open the shutters and climb inside. (p49)


The “climber” (…4) would also need to rely on the fact that the shutters were not actually latched, and also that the “scuri”(..5) had not been fastened to the window-frame to which the broken pane was attached; otherwise it would not have been possible to open them from the outside; nor would it have been possible, even breaking the glass, to make a hole giving access to the house, (…) since if these inner panels had been closed, they would have continued to provide an adequate obstacle to the possibility of opening the window, in spite of the broken pane. (p49)


This scenario appears totally unlikely, given the effort involved (going twice underneath the window, going up to throw the stone, scaling the wall twice) and taking into account the uncertainty of success (having to count on the two favourable circumstances indicated above), with a repetition of movements and behaviours, all of which could easily be seen by anyone who happened to be passing by on the street or actually coming into the house.


But beyond these considerations, there are other elements which tend to exclude the possibility that a burglar could have entered the house through the window of Romanelli’s room.The double climb necessary to attain the height of three and a half metres would have left some kind of trace or imprint on the wall, especially on the points on the wall that the “climber” would have used to support his feet, all the more as both the witnesses Romanelli and Marco Zaroli gave statements indicating that the earth, on that early November evening, must have been very wet (..6) (p50)


In fact, there are no visible signs on the wall, and furthermore, it can be observed that the nail – this was noted by this Court of Assizes during the inspection – remained where it was: it seems very unlikely that the climber, given the position of that nail and its characteristics, visible in the photo 11, did not somehow “encounter” that nail and force it, inadvertently or by using it as a foothold, causing it to fall or at least bend it. (p50)


The next fact to consider is that the pieces of glass from the broken pane were distributed in a homogeneous manner on the inside and outside parts of the windowsill, without any displacement being noted or any piece of glass being found on the ground underneath the window.

This circumstance, as confirmed also by the consultant Pasquali, tends to exclude the possibility that the rock was thrown from outside the house to create access to the house through the window after the breaking of the pane. The climber, in leaning his hands and then his feet or knees on the windowsill, would have caused at least some piece of glass to fall, or at least would have been obliged to shift some pieces of glass in order to avoid being wounded by them.

Instead, no piece of glass was found under the window, and no sign of any wound was seen on the pieces of glass found in Romanelli’s room. It can moreover be observed that the presence of many pieces of glass on the outside part of the windowsill increases the probability of finding some small pieces of glass on the ground underneath, since there seems to be no reason that so many pieces of glass would all stop just at the edge of the windowsill without any of them flying beyond the edge and falling down to the garden below. (p51 & 52)


On this subject it is also useful to recall that at the hearing of April 23, 2009, the witness Gioia Brocci mentioned above declared that she had observed the exterior of the house, paying particular attention to the wall underneath the window with the broken pane, the window of the room then occupied by Filomena Romanelli.


She said: “We observed both the wall…underneath the window and all of the vegetation underneath the window, and we noted that there were no traces on the wall, no traces of earth, of grass, nothing, no streaks, nothing at all, and none [39] of the vegetation underneath the window appeared to have been trampled; nothing” (p. 142 declarations of Gioia Brocci). (51)

This situation, like all the other glaring inconsistencies, is adequately and satisfactorily explained if one supposes that the rock was thrown from the inside of the room, with the two shutters pulled inwards so that they blocked the pieces of glass from falling to the ground below. Once the glass had been broken from inside, the rock was set down at some place in the room, and the shutters were pushed towards the outside, being thus opened from within the room. (p51)


But the fact that all this was in fact just a simulation, a staging, can be deduced from further circumstances. From the photos taken by the personnel of the Questura (photos 47 to 54 and 65 to 66) one can perceive an activity which appears to have been performed with the goal of creating a situation of obvious disorder in Romanelli’s room, but does not appear to be the result of actual ransacking, true searching for the kind of valuable objects that might tempt a burglar.


The drawers of the little dresser next to the bed were not even opened (photo 51 and declarations of Battistelli who noted that Romanelli was the one who opened the drawers, having found them closed and with no sign of having been rifled: see p. 66 of Battistelli’s declarations, hearing of Feb. 6, 2009).


The objects on the shelves in photo 52 appear not to have been touched at all; piles of clothes seem to have been thrown down from the closet (photo 54) but it does not seem that there was any serious search in the closet, in which some clothes and some boxes remained in place without showing any signs of an actual search for valuable items that might have been there (photo 54).


It does not appear that the boxes on the table were opened (photo 65) in a search for valuable items. And indeed, no valuable item (cf. declarations of Romanelli) was taken, or even set aside to be taken, by the – at this point we can say phantom – burglar.

What has been explained up to now thus leads to the assertion that the situation of disorder in Romanelli’s room and the breaking of the window pane constitute an artificial representation created in order to orient the investigations towards a person who, not having the key to the front door, was supposed to have entered through the previously broken window and then effected the violent acts on Meredith which caused her death.

Footnotes

(...1) The Massei Report in English is readable and downloadable via the link at the top of this page. 

(..2) The consultant for the defence actually assumed that this had been done; in his exhibit, he assumed that the shutters were not present in front of the window

(..3): “if the shutters were closed, he could not have passed through, that is obvious”, cf. declarations of the consultant for the defence, Sergeant Francesco Pasquali, p. 22 hearing July 3, 2009.

(..4): (the window in Romanelli’s room is located at a height of more than three and a half metres from the ground underneath, cf. photo 11 from the relevant dossier)

(..5):,which are the wooden panels [scuri=non-louvered shutters in interior of room] that usually constitute the outer side (or the inner, depending on the point of view) of the window [attached to the outer edge of the inner side of the window-frame]


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Limited DNA Reviews - What We Believe Are The Hard Facts On The Double DNA Knife

Posted by ViaDellaPergola


Repeat of my December post as the knife is again back in sharp focus.

The wild claims of the conspiracy theorists have morphed back and forth. But the facts remain that Italy has a fine DNA lab system and Dr Stefanoni is internationally respected - and she had no vested interest in a particular outcome.

Sollecito coolly explained that Meredith’s DNA SHOULD be on the blade of the knife because he pricked her while he was cooking a fish at his place. She had never ever been to his place - in fact, she had only set eyes on him once or twice, very briefly, and had certainly not eaten his fish.

But Sollecito STILL lets that highly incriminating statement stand - one that is enough to secure a conviction in an American court all by itself. Sollecito never retracted or explained it. Why not? Why not?

The truth, obviously, is worse. Very, very much worse.

Posted on 01/24/11 at 12:37 PM by ViaDellaPergolaClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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