Breaking news. Guede appeal decision due from Cassation tomorrow wednesday against the Florence court refusing him a retrial. More about this in Comments under top post. A retrial could hammer home once and for all to misled Americans that there WERE three attackers - which even the defenses accepted, hence calling Aviello as defense witness.

Subject area: Hoaxes against Italy

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 & then top left for all my posts;
Archived in Evidence & witnessesOther witnessesHoaxes against Italy306 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, April 06, 2011

The Seattle University Panel: Some Of The Ways In Which Steve Moore Got His Analysis Wrong

Posted by James Raper


I have watched the clip of Steve Moore’s address at the University of Seattle seminar.

1.  Scenario of the crime

Steve Moore starts with the assertion that it is obvious what happened. Guede broke in via Filomena’s window and went to the loo.

Meredith comes home and is attacked, raped and murdered by him. Naturally he did not show a photo of Filomena’s window from outside the cottage. I wonder why?

Meredith came home at 9.30pm. She died some time after 11pm. Steve Moore does not elaborate as to what Guede was doing all the time in between. He sat on the loo for a long time and/or the sexual attack went on for a long time?  Both unlikely hypotheses.

2.  Concerning bleach

Then Steve Moore turns to what he states is “The Lie over the Bleach Cleaner”.

Whether or not the police/prosecution ever said that they thought bleach cleaner had been used is not clear to me.  Whether or not they had, it was not something that they continued to insist on. No one smelt bleach at the cottage on the 2nd November.

In any event Steve Moore has his own argument (which, to be fair, I did follow) to demonstrate from the pictures of the luminol traces that there could have been no bleach used as a cleaning agent.

“No bleach, no clean up!” The fact that one can wipe away relatively recent blood/bodily fluids without bleach escaped him. 

Having established that there was no bleach used he explains the luminol glow as being due to ..yes.. bleach!

3.  The luminol footprints

Drawing on his claimed considerable FBI experience (yet to be validated by anybody) he asserts that luminol reacts to bleach as strongly as blood.

Experienced forensic experts say that they can often tell the difference because the strength of a reaction all depends on the concentration in bleach – bleach which was not used in a clean up and which no one detected by sense of smell.

He then goes on to say that bleach is commonly used as a household cleaner. Yes, the main constituent of bleach is chlorine or chloride, commonly used, diluted with other ingredients, in some household cleaning fluids, though of course bleach can be bought as bleach.

Steve Moore says that Amanda Knox took a shower on the morning of the 2nd November, standing in the shower basin in diluted bleach (very diluted after a shower, one would think) and then traced that around, accounting for the luminol glow.

You do not have to be terribly clever to see that if that was the case then the luminol glow would not be all that bright due to the dilution. One can see from the photos that the glow was in fact very bright.

One also has to wonder why straight from the shower she stepped in Meredith’s invisible blood (in fact she says she scooted from the bathroom to her room on the bathmat) without the diluted bleach degrading Meredith’s DNA.

4.  Concerning TMB tests

Steve Moore asserts that Stefanoni lied about TMB tests. TMB is tetramethylbenzadine and it is used to establish whether a detected trace is blood or not.

The reactive process is the same as with luminol which has to be used to detect a trace in the first place. It is to do with the peroxadase-like activity of heme. The results look different however, TMB produces a change of colour whilst luminol produces a glow in the dark.

Steve Moore was initially appalled to think that Stefanoni did not use the TMB test on the luminol revealed traces, but then it was discovered that she had and the results were negative as to blood.

Conclusion : she lied about the TMB tests. Why?  According to Steve Moore because she knew the luminol test did not reveal blood. And was trying to conceal this fact.

I would be surprised if Steve Moore has read the trial records.  What does Massei say?  All I can find are the following:

Stefanoni did say that she could not be positive that what the luminol revealed was blood. Here I think that she was speaking very carefully as a scientist and leaving others to their conclusions. 

I do not see that she was specifically asked about TMB tests re luminol so I cannot comment on that.

However Massei quotes Amanda Knox’s expert, Dr Gino, in the following terms :

With respect to the luminol positive traces found in Romanelli’s room, in Knox’s room and in the corridor, she (Gino) states that by analysing the SLA cards “we learn, in contradiction to what was presented in the technical report deposited by the Scientific police, and also to what was said in court, that not only was the luminol test performed on these traces, but also the generic process for the presence of blood, using tetramethylbenzadine .. and this test … gave a negative result.

On being asked as to why generic tests like luminol and TMB might produce different results:

She added that in her own experience, analyses performed with TMB on traces revealed by luminol give about even results : 50% negative, 50% positive.

I would have thought that Gino’s statement is statistically meaningless unless we assume that we are talking about blood traces revealed by luminol. 

So, in other words, the fact that the TMB tests were negative does not establish that the luminol-revealed trace was not blood.

From which I assume, since luminol and TMB have the same reactive process, that the prior luminol test takes precedence, be it that of course the trace might be vegetable or fruit juice, or bleach!- none of which, of course, are capable of producing a human DNA read out, whereas blood does.

Also I would have thought that if the reactive process is the same for both then the reactive process engendered by the luminol may not leave much for a subsequent TMB test – but then that’s just speculation.

I am no scientist, but then neither is Steve Moore really qualified to talk of the actual scientific process despite being in the FBI for 25 years ( he says). I think that the closest he gets to science is how to use an aerosol can.

5. Other claims

The following topics were also then discussed by Steve Moore : Bathroom photos, staged break in, murder weapon versus knife mark, and contamination. More of the same.


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.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Elisa Benedetti: Another Sad And Unneccesary Death Of A Young Woman Living In Perugia

Posted by catnip


About our series

This is another in our occasional series of posts on crimes involving young women in Perugia.

It shows how trouble and death so easily overwhelmed the vivacious Elisa, how drugs and drug dealers may have played a role, how the authorities handled Elisa’s disappearance, and how caring Perugia yet again rallied round.

Who was Elisa?

Elisa Benedetti was a 25 year old student and call-centre operator and lived in Città di Castello with her father Osvaldo, 51, and younger brother. Her mother had died two months previously.

The disappearance

On Saturday night, 29 January 2011, Elisa Benedetti, 25, out drinking with friends, disappeared into the dark wilderness north of Perugia. The car she was driving became bogged down on a muddy track.

She called the emergency number. She was lost, confused and frightened.

Eventually, the phone batteries gave out. It was icy cold and wet, mud everywhere. Around midday on the following Monday, her body was found about a kilometre from the abandoned car.

She had died from exposure to the cold.


Click here for more


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 & then top left for all my posts;
Archived in Evidence & witnessesDNA and luminolHoaxes against Italy105 No firm DNA
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

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

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[St Peter’s and the Vatican in background; Palace of Justice, large white building by river in left foreground]

What is the biggest headache for the defenses?

That their areas of appeal, already circumscribed by Judge Hellman, could all explode in their faces? The low-credibility witnesses Alessi and Aviello? The limited DNA retesting? The re-examination of the witness in the park who had no cause to make anything up?

Or that Rudy Guede gets totally ticked off by Alessi’s claims that Rudy Guede said he did it with one or two others, and so Guede tells the court all that REALLY happened?

No, it looks to us that the defenses’ biggest headache by far is that the court of final appeal in Rome (the Supreme Court of Cassation, which is superior to the Perugia appeals court and will hear the second and final appeal) has ALREADY accepted that Rudy Guede’s sentencing report of January 2009 holds up.

And that all three of them attacked Meredith.

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.
  • For the defenses, just those few areas the defenses want to challenge which have been allowed by Judge Hellman NONE of which are sure things.

Really not very much going for the defenses here. No wonder they already seem to be phoning it in.

Our meticulous summaries of the Micheli Report by main posters Brian S and Nicki were based on our own translation. A huge amount of work. They were posted nearly two years ago. Periodically we link to them in other posts or we point to them in an email.

Those who do read those posts fresh are often stunned at their sharpness, and for many or most it becomes case closed and the verdict of guilty is seen as a fair one.

We think those posts on Micheli are so key to a correct grasp of Knox’s and Sollecito’s appeal prospects that they should now be reposted in full.



[St Peter’s and the Vatican in foreground; Palace of Justice, large white building in left background]

Understanding Micheli #1: Why He Rejected All Rudy Guede’s Explanations As Fiction

By Brian S

Judge Micheli has had two very important roles. He presided over Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing, and he presided over the final hearing that committed Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox to trial.

A week ago, just within the three-month deadline, Judge Micheli made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. This is a public document, and in the enviable Italian legitimizing process, the public is encouraged to get and read the report and to understand the full rationales. Excellent analyses have already appeared in Italian in Italy, but no English-speaking sources on the facts of the case have either put the report into English or published more than the most superficial analysis.

These posts will examine several very key areas of the report so that we too may choose whether to buy into the rationales. The translations into English here were by native-Italian speakers and fellow posters Nicki and Catnip. The next post will explain why Micheli ruled out the Lone Wolf Theory, and why he concluded that Knox and Sollecito appeared to be implicated in Meredith’s murder and should therefore be sent to trial.

Judge Micheli maintained that from the moment Meredith’s body was discovered until his arrest in Germany on November 19th, Rudy Guede was in a position to compile a version of his involvement in events at the cottage which would minimise his reponsibilities and point the finger of guilt elsewhere.

He was able to follow the course of the investigation in newspapers and on the internet. He would know of the arrests of Amanda, Raffaele and Patrick. He would know that the investigators had found biological evidence which would sooner or later connect him to the murder, and he would know of other discoveries and evidence which had been publicised in the media.

His story as told in Germany was compiled with all the knowledge about the crime and investigation he would have sought out. On his return to Italy in December he was interviewed by the investigating authorities and gave version 2. He was interviewed again in March which resulted in version 3, and later still made a spontaneous statement to change one or two facts including the admission that the trainer footprint in Meredith’s room could be his. Judge Micheli said:

    Analyzing the narratives of the accused…he is not credible, as I will explain, because his version is (1) unreliable, and (2) continuously varying, whether on basic points or in minor details and outline.

Micheli then examined the details of Rudy’s claimed meeting with Meredith which resulted in his invitation to the cottage on the evening of November 1st.

He noted there were substantial differences between his versions of December and March, particularly with regard to the location of his meeting with Meredith on the night of Halloween and his movements in the early evening of November 1st.

He considered it likely that Rudy had made these changes as he became aware of evidence which contradicted his December version. Notably, in December Rudy claimed to have had his meeting with Meredith which resulted in her invite at a Halloween party given by Spanish students.

By March it was well known that Meredith had spent her entire Halloween in the company of friends, first in the Merlin pub before they later moved on to Domus disco. In March Rudy changed the location of his meeting with her from the Spanish party to Domus, which by chance Rudy had also attended following the party. However, neither Meredith’s friends who were continuously in her company nor those who accompanied Rudy to the Domus witnessed any meeting between the two. Judge Micheli commented:

    On 26 March 2008, instead, Rudy explained to the Prosecution, drawing a picture, that the group invited to the Spaniards’ house actually moved wholus-bolus to the “Domus” club, but it was right in that nightclub that he met Kercher, and not before; offering up a tour-guide description from the chair, saying, “there’s a bar for the drinks and then there’s a room, there’s an arch and a room. I walking [sic] around there, and that’s where I met Meredith”. On the facts of the meeting and the subject of the conversation, he elaborated: “I started talking to Meredith …talking anyway I gave her a kiss.. after which I told her how much I liked her and asked her if the next day, in all the confusion anyway, if we were going to meet the next day and she said yes (…), we met in the evening around half eight, like that. While not intending to explore the question, basically irrelevant, of whether the pair had agreed to a more or less specific time (his confirmation of the suggestion of 8.30 pm in both verbal statements however allows the inference that according to Guede they had an appointment), the patent contradiction between the two versions jumps out. One context, of a room between two bathrooms, in an apartment, is completely different to that of a drinks-bar and an arch, in a pub; one might concede, perhaps, the possibility of forgetting which place it was where they last bumped into a friend, but hardly the first time there was a kiss with a girl towards whom one was attracted.

With regard to his movements in the early evening of November 1st, Rudy’s friend Alex failed to corroborate Rudy’s December claim to have visited his flat. He said he didn’t see Rudy either before or after his meeting with Meredith at her cottage.


In March, Rudy changed his story and claimed to have risen at 6pm(following the all-nighter at Domus) before wandering around town for an hour or so. He then said he went to Meredith’s cottage but received no answer so he carried on to Piazza Grimana in the hope he might see people he knew. He thought he arrived in the Piazza at around 7:30pm. He claimed that some time later he left Piazza Grimana and called at the Kebab shop before returning to Meredith’s cottage and arriving some time between 8:30 and 9:00pm.

He said he then waited until her arrival some time just after 9:00pm. It was noted that in both his December and March versions Rudy said he had arranged to meet Meredith at 8:30pm. Micheli noted that this didn’t sit well with another arrangement Rudy had made to meet Carlos (from the Spanish party) between 9:00 and 10:00pm.

Micheli said that neither version of Rudy’s movements could be treated as true because he changed his story to fit facts as they became known and there was absolutely no corroborating witness evidence.

Rudy claimed two situations evolved following his entry with Meredith into the apparently empty cottage:

Whilst he was having a drink of fruit juice from the fridge, he claims Meredith found that 300 euros (her rent money) was missing from her bedside cabinet. Meredith was naturally upset by this discovery and straight away blamed “druggy Amanda”. Rudy said they both checked Amanda’s room to see if the money was there. However, it couldn’t be found and Rudy sought to console her.

He says that this consolation developed into an amorous encounter which proceeded to the stage where “Meredith asked him” if he had a condom. He told he didn’t and since she didn’t either they stopped their lovemaking.

Judge Micheli had a real problem with this story as told by Guede. He found it unlikely that Meredith would be interested in lovemaking so soon following the discovery that her money was missing. He found it unlikely that it was Meredith who was leading the way in this amorous encounter as Rudy was suggesting with his claim that it was “Meredith who asked him” if he had a condom.

Surely, Micheli reasoned, if Rudy was hoping to indulge in a sexual encounter with Meredith following the previous night’s flirting, he would, as any young man of his age, ensure that he arrived with a condom in anticipation of the hoped for liason. But even if he didn’t, and it was true that events had reached the stage where Meredith asked him, then surely given his negative response, Meredith would have again gone into Amanda’s room where, as she had told her friends, condoms were kept by her flat mate. Judge Micheli simply didn’t believe that if they had got to the stage of lovemaking described by Rudy, and following his negative response to her question, they just “STOPPED”. Meredith would have known she had a probable solution just metres away.

Rudy claimed he then told Meredith he had an upset stomach because of the kebab he had eaten earlier. She directed him to the bathroom through the kitchen.

Rudy put on his i-pod and headphones as he claimed was his habit when using the toilet. In his December version Rudy said the music was so loud he heard the doorbell ring but he made no reference to hearing any conversation. A perfect excuse, Judge Micheli says, for not hearing the disturbance or detail of Meredith’s murder. However, in his March version he claims he heard Amanda’s voice in conversation with Meredith. When Rudy did eventually emerge from the bathroom he says he saw a strange man with a knife and then a prone Meredith. Micheli commented:

    ...it is necessary to take as given that, in this case, Kercher did not find anything better to do than to suddenly cross from one moment of tenderness and passion with him to a violent argument with someone else who arrived at that place exactly at the moment in which Rudy was relieving himself in the bathroom. In any case, and above all, that which could have been a surprise to the killers, that is to say his presence in the house, was, on the other hand, certainly not put into dispute: Meredith, unlike the attackers, knew full well that in the toilet there was a person who she herself allowed in, so for this reason, in the face of someone who had started raising their voice, then holding her by the arms and ending with brandishing a knife and throwing her to the floor, why would she not have reprimanded/reproached/admonished him immediately saying that there was someone in the house who could help her? …Meredith didn’t shout out loudly for Rudy to come and help …There was a progression of violence …The victim sought to fight back If it is reasonable to think that a lady living 70 metres away could hear only the last and most desperate cry of the girl – it’s difficult to admit that Guede’s earphones, at 4-5 metres, would stop him hearing other cries, or the preceding sounds.

Micheli was also mystified as to why Amanda (named in Rudy’s March version) would ring the doorbell. Why wouldn’t she let herself in using her own key? He supposed it was possible Meredith had left her own key in the door which prevented Amanda from using hers, but the girls all knew the lock was broken and they were careful not to leave their own key in the door. Perhaps, Meredith wanted some extra security/privacy against someone returning and had left her key in the lock on purpose. Maybe Amanda was carrying something heavy and her hands weren’t free. Or, maybe, Rudy was just trapped by his December story of the doorbell when he didn’t name anybody and an anonymous ring on the doorbell was plausible.

The judge then took issue with Rudy’s description of events following the stabbing of Meredith. Rudy claimed that when he emerged from the bathroom he discovered a man with a knife standing over Meredith. In the resultant scuffle he suffered cut wounds to his hand. armed himself with chair to protect himself. before the attacker fled when he fell over because his trousers came down around his ankles. Micheli said that those who saw Rudy later that night didn’t notice any wounds to Rudy’s hands although some cuts were photographed by the police when he was later arrested in Germany.

Micheli found Rudy’s claim that the attacker ran from from the house shouting “black man found, black man guilty” unbelievable in the situation. In the panic of the moment it may be conceivable that the attacker could shout “Black man…, run” following the surprise discovery of his presence in the house, but in the situation Rudy describes, blame or expressions of who the culprit thought “the police would find guilty” made no sense. It would be the last thing on an unknown attackers mind as he sought to make good his escape.

Micheli considers the “black man found, black man guilty” statement an invention made up by Rudy to imply a possible discrimination by the authorities and complicate the investigation. Micheli also saw this as an excuse by Rudy to explain away his failure to phone for help (the implication being that a white man could have made the call). It was known by her friends and acquaintances that Meredith was never without her own phone switched on. She kept it so, because her mother was ill and she always wanted to be available for contact should her mother require help when she was on her own

Judge Micheli regarded Rudy’s claimed efforts to help Meredith impossible to believe, given the evidence of Nara Capezzali. Rudy claimed to have made trips back and forth to the bathroom to obtain towels in an attempt to staunch the flow of bood from Meredith’s neck. He claimed to have leaned over her as she attempted to speak and written the letters “AF” on the wall because he couldn’t understand her attempted words. His described activities all took time and Rudy’s flight from the house would have come minutes after the time he alleged the knife-man ran from the cottage.

Nara Capezzali maintained that after she heard Meredith’s scream it was only some seconds (well under a minute) before she heard multiple footsteps running away. Although she looked out of her window and continued to listen for some time because she was so disturbed by the scream, she neither heard nor saw any other person run from the house. That Rudy had run wasn’t in doubt because of his collision on the steps above with the boyfriend of Alessandra Formica. Micheli therefore considered it proven that “all” of Meredith’s attackers, including Rudy, fled at the same time.

Earlier in his report Micheli considered character evidence on Rudy given by witnesses for both prosecution and defense. Although he had been seen with a knife on two occasions, and was considered a bit of a liar who sometimes got drunk, the judge didn’t consider that Rudy had previously shown a propensity for violence, nor behaviour towards girls which differed markedly from that displayed by many other young men of his age.

However, because of the wealth of forensic evidence [on which more later] and his admitted presence in the cottage, combined with his total disbelief in Rudy’s statements, Micheli found Rudy guilty of participation in the murder of Meredth Kercher.

He sentenced him to 30 years in prison and ordered him to pay compensation of E2,000,000 each to Meredith’s parents John and Arline Kercher, E1,500,000 each to Meredith’s brothers John and Lyle Kercher plus E30,000 costs in legal fees/costs + VAT. Also E1,500,000 plus E18,000 in legal fees/costs + VAT to Meredith’s sister, Stephanie Kercher.


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

By Brian S

And so decided that Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox should face trial.

First, just to recap: Judge Micheli presided over both Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing to 30 years and the final hearing that committed the two present defendants to trial.

Ten days ago, Judge Micheli made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. This is a public document, and in the enviable Italian legitimizing process, the public is encouraged to get and read the report and to understand the full rationales. Excellent analyses have already appeared in Italian in Italy, but no English-speaking sources on the facts of the case have either put the report into English or published more than the most superficial analysis.

These posts are examining several very key areas of the report so that we too may choose whether to buy into the rationales. The translations into English used here were by native-Italian speakers and fellow posters Nicki and Catnip.

Right at the outset of his Sentence Report on the conviction of Rudy Guede, Judge Micheli stated that it was neither the place nor his intention to make the case against either Raffaele Sollecito or Amanda Knox. He said he must necessarily involve them to the extent that they were present at the discovery of Meredith’s body. He said he must also examine evidence against them where he saw it as indicating that Rudy Guede was not a lone wolf killer and implicated them as his possible accomplices in Meredith’s murder.

Judge Micheli described the sequence of events laid out by the prosecution which lead to the discovery of Meredith’s body:

Early on the morning of November 2nd, Signora Lana Biscarini received a bomb threat call made to her home at 5A Via Sperandio. (This later transpired to be a hoax.)

Some time later Signora Biscarini found a mobile phone in her garden. She “had heard” that bombs could be concealed in mobile phones and so she took it to the police station arriving at 10:58am as recorded by ISP. Bartolozzi

The postal police examined the phone and following removal of the SIM card, discovered at 11:38am that it belonged to a Filomena Romanelli who lived at the cottage at 7 Via della Pergola. Following a call by Signora Biscarini to check with her daughter who was still at home, it is in the record at 11:50am that neither say they know the Filomena in question. At around noon Signora Biscarini’s daughter rings her mother at the police station to say she has found a second phone.

The second phone (Meredith’s) is collected from Via Sperandio and taken to the police station. Its receipt there is logged by ISP. Bartolozzi at 12:46pm. During its examination Meredith’s phone is also logged as connecting to the cell of Strada Borghetto di Prepo, which covers the police station, at 13:00pm. At 13:50pm both phones, which have never left the police station following their finding, are officially seized. This seizure is entered in the log at 14:00pm.

Separately, as part of the bomb hoax investigation, agents of the postal police are dispatched to make enquiries at Filomena’s address in Via della Pergola.

They are recorded in the log and filmed on the car park camera as arriving at 12:35pm. They were not in possession of Filomena’s phone, which remained at the police station, nor of Meredith’s which at this time was being taken from Via Sperandio to the police station for examination as part of the bomb hoax enquiry.

Judge Micheli said that some confusion was created by the evidence of Luca Altieri (Filomena’s boyfriend) who said he saw two mobile phones on the table at the cottage. But, Micheli said, these two phones either belonged to the others who arrived, the postal police themselves or Amanda and Raffaele. They were NOT the phones of Filomena or Meredith.

On their arrival at the cottage, the agents of the postal police found Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox standing outside the front door.

The two seemed surprised to see them (the postal police had come to talk to Filomena about a bomb hoax which potentially involved her phone, plus they had recently been informed of the discovery of second phone in the same garden), but then they explained they had discovered suspicious circumstances inside the cottage.

Raffaele said he had already phoned the police and they were awaiting their arrival in connection with that. Elsewhere in his report Micheli points out that Raffaele did, in fact, make a call to his sister at 12:50pm, followed by two calls to “112” reporting a possible burglary at 12:51 and 12:54pm, 15 minutes after the arrival of the postal agents.

Judge Micheli said the postal police were shown into the cottage by Raffaele and Amanda. They pointed out the traces of blood around the apartment, the state of the toilet and the disturbance to Filomena’s room. They said they didn’t think anything had been taken. They pointed out that Meredith’s door appeared to be locked, Raffaele said he had tried to open it, but Amanda said Meredith used to lock the door even when she was going to the bathroom to shower.

Shortly afterwards Luca Altieri and Marco Zaroli arrived. Luca said he had just been contacted by his girlfriend Filomena, who in turn had just been contacted by Amanda Knox about the possible break in. A few minutes later, Filomena herself arrived with Paola Grande. Micheli noted that Filomena had immediately contradicted what Amanda had told the postal police and she said that Meredith never locked her door. She also told the postal police that the phone found with a SIM card in her name was in fact Meredith’s 2nd phone, that she had given Meredith the SIM as a present. The postal police said that they didn’t have the authority to damage property and so the decision was made that Luca would break down the door.

This he did. The scene when the door flew open was instantly obvious, blood everywhere and a body on the floor, hidden under a duvet except for a foot and the top of Meredith’s head. At that point ISP Battistelli instantly took charge. He closed the door and forbade anyone to enter the room before contacting HQ.

Following his description of the events which lead to the discovery of Meredith’s body, Micheli then dedicates quite a few pages of his report to detailing the exact locations, positions, descriptions and measurements of all the items, blood stains, pools and spots etc.etc. found in her room when the investigators arrived. He also goes into precise details on the injuries, marks, cuts and bruises etc. which were found by Lalli when he examined Meredith’s body in situ at the cottage before she was moved. Despite their extent, it is obvious these details are only a summary of the initial police report and also a report made by Lalli on the 2nd November.

It is these details which allowed the prosecution to lay out their scenario for the events which they say must have happened in the room. It is also these details which convince Micheli that it was impossible for this crime to be carried out by a single person. In his report, he dismisses completely the scenarios presented by the defences of Amanda and Raffaele for a “lone wolf killing”. Micheli says that he is convinced that Meredith was sexually assaulted and then murdered by multiple attackers.

Judge Micheli also explains in his report how the law will decide on sexual assault or rape where the medical report (as was Lalli’s) is somewhat inconclusive. Else there would be no point in a woman reporting rape unless she had serious internal injuries. His conclusion: Meredith was raped by Rudy Guede manually.

So why does Judge Micheli believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollicto were possible accomplices of Rudy Guede and should be tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher?

In his report, he doesn’t look at the evidence which involves just them, nor does he analyze their various stories in his report. He doesn’t look at events involving them which occurred between the 2nd and 5th November. He does note a few items here and there, but these aren’t given as the major reasons for his decision to indict them.

He notes Raffaele’s apparent lies about the time he made the 112 phone calls. He dismisses Raffaele’s defense claim that the disposal of Meredith’s phones didn’t allow time for Raffaele to get to the cottage after watching his film, kill Meredith, and then dispose of the phones in Via Sperandio before the aborted call to Meredith’s bank. He noted that the cell which picked up the brief 10:13 call to Meredith’s bank also picked up most of Meredith’s calls home.

He asked whether it was possible for anybody to believe that each time Meredith wanted to phone home, she walked down to Via Sperandio to make the call. He notes that the police found Amanda and Raffaele’s behaviour suspicious almost straight away. He notes that Filomena said that the relationship between Amanda and Meredith had deteriorated by October. He says he doesn’t believe at all that cannabis caused any loss of Amanda’s and Raffaele’s memories.


Judge Micheli says he bases his decision on the following points of evidence:

[Note: The following paragraph numbers form no part of Micheli’s report. They are used in the context of this summary to identify the points of evidence contained in his report which will be examined and summarised in greater detail in follow-up posts]

1) Judge Micheli, after hearing both prosecution and defense arguments about Meredith’s and Amanda’s DNA on the knife and Raffaele’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, accepted the prosecution argument that that both were valid evidence. He did note, however, that he fully expected that the same argument would be heard again at the full trial. In his report, Micheli dedicates several pages to explaining the opposing arguments and how he made his decision to allow the evidence. It is a detailed technical argument, and it is not proposed to examine it any closer in this post.

2) Judge Micheli explains that blood evidence proves that Meredith was wearing her bra when she was killed. Nor is it just the blood on her bra which demonstrates this. It’s also where the blood isn’t on her body. He says that Meredith was wearing her bra normally when she laid in the position in which she died, and she was still wearing it for quite some time after she was dead. Her bra strap marks and the position of her shoulder are imprinted in the pool of blood in that position. Meredith’s shoulder also shows the signs that she lay in that position for quite some time.

He asks the question: Who came back, cut off Meredith’s bra and moved her body some time later? It wasn’t Rudy Guede. He went home, cleaned himself up and went out on the town with his friends. Judge Micheli reasons in his report that it could only have been done by someone who knew about Meredith’s death and had an interest in arranging the scene in Meredith’s room. Seemingly who else but Amanda Knox?

She was apparently the only person in Perugia that night who could gain entry to the cottage. And the clasp which was cut with a knife when Meredith’s bra was removed was found on November 2nd when Meredith’s body was moved by the investigators. It was right under the pillow which was placed under Meredith when she was moved by someone from the position in which she died. On that clasp and its inch of fabric is the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. Micheli reasons in his report that Raffaele and Amanda seemed to have returned to the cottage some time after Meredith was dead, cut off her bra, moved her body, and staged the scene in Meredith’s room.

3) Judge Micheli explains his reasoning on the method of Rudy’s entry into the cottage. He says that Rudy’s entry through the window is a very unlikely scenario and the evidence also indicates otherwise. He says the height and position of the window would expose any climber to the full glare of traffic headlights from cars on Via della Pergola. He asks, why wouldn’t a thief choose to break in through a ground floor window of the empty house? He says the broken glass and marks on the shutter both demonstrate the window was broken from the inside, some of the glass even falling on top of Filomena’s clothes which had been thrown around the room to simulate a robbery.

But his major reasoning for believing Rudy’s entry was through the front door are the bloody bare footprints which show up with luminol and fit Knox’s and Sollecito’s feet. These suggest that they entered Filomena’s room and created the scene in there after Meredith was killed. Allessandra Formica witnessed Rudy run away shortly after Meredith was stabbed. Someone went back later, left those footprints and staged the scene.

This, when considered in combination with the knowledge that person demonstrated of Rudy’s biological involvement with Meredith when they also staged the sex assault scene in Meredith’s own room indicates that that person was present when Meredith was assaulted and killed. He said it also demonstrated an attempt by someone who had an interest in altering the evidence in the house to leave the blame at Rudy’s door. Micheli reasoned, the only person who could have witnessed Rudy’s earlier sex assault on Meredith, could gain entry via the door and had an interest in altering the crime scene in the house appeared to be Amanda Knox. In his report, Micheli states that this logic leads him to believe that Amanda Knox was the one who let Rudy Guede into the cottage through the front door.

4) Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Antonio Curatolo. He says that although Curatolo mixes up his dates in his statement, he does have a fix on the night he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana sometime around 11:00 to 11:30pm. Curatolo is certain it was the night before the Piazza filled up with policemen asking if anyone had seen Meredith. In his evidence, he says they came into the square from the direction of Via Pinturicchio and kept looking towards the cottage at Via della Pergola from a position in the square where they could see the entrance gate.

Judge Micheli reasons in his report that their arrival from Via Pinturicchio ties in with the evidence from Nara Capazzali that she heard someone run up the stairs in the direction of that street. He also reasons that they were likely watching the cottage to see if Meredith’s scream had resulted in the arrival of the police or other activity.

5) Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Hekuran Kokomani and finds him far from discredited. His says the testimony is garbled, his dates and times makes no sense but…. that Hekuran Kokomani was in the vicinity of the cottage on both 31st Oct. and 1st Nov isn’t in doubt. Furthermore, Micheli says that when he gave his statement, the details which he gave of the breakdown of the car, the tow truck and the people involved weren’t known by anyone else. He must have witnessed the breakdown in Via della Pergola. The same breakdown was also seen by Allessandra Formica shortly after Rudy Guede collided with her boyfriend.

This places Hekuran Kokomani outside the cottage right around the time of Meredith’s murder and he in turn places Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda Knox and Rudy Guede together outside the cottage at the same time. His evidence also places all three outside the cottage at some time the previous night.

Judge Michelii found that all this evidence implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as accomplices of Rudy Guede in the murder of Meredith Kercher.


Understanding Micheli #3: How Damning Is The DNA Evidence Coming Up?

By Nicki

Probable answer? Pretty damning.

Judge Micheli has had two very important roles. He presided over Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing, and he presided over the final hearing that committed Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox to trial.

Late January, Judge Micheli made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. These posts are examining several very key areas of the report so that we too may choose whether to buy into the rationales.

The trial to establish the truth about the murder of Meredith continues next Friday. As we’ve reported, various human witnesses have already been heard from: the Postal Police who discovered Meredith’s body, Meredith’s two Italian roommates, and her seven British friends.

Coming up soon is a more silent witness, one very important to both the prosecution and the two defenses: the DNA evidence.

Specifically the DNA belonging to Meredith, Knox, Sollecito, and Guede which was found at the scene of the crime, and on the suspected murder weapon found, apparently hidden, in Raffaele Sollecito’s house.

Traces of Meredith’s DNA have been found on a knife compatible with the wounds that caused her death. Amanda Knox ‘s genetic material was identified on the knife handle. DNA belonging to Sollecito has been found on the clasp of the victim’s bra. And more DNA showing Rudy Guede’s genetic profile was found on the victim’s body and elsewhere in the house.

In summary, the biological sources and locations where DNA belonging to the three defendants was found are these:

  • Guede’s DNA (from epithelial cells) was found inside Meredith, on toilet paper, on the right side of Meredith’s bra, mixed with Meredith’s DNA on the her purse zip, and on the left cuff of Meredith’s light blue sweater
  • Sollecito’s DNA (from epithelial cells) was found on Meredith’s bra clasp, mixed with Meredith’s DNA, and on one cigarette butt found in the kitchen
  • Knox’s DNA (from epithelial cells) was found on the knife sheath, and close to the blade junction. It was not possible to ascertain both the haematic and epithelial source of Meredith’s DNA on the knife blade, due to the scarcity of the sample. But Judge Micheli noted that reasonable doubt persist that blood could have been present also.
  • Other significant biological traces belonging to Meredith - for example, DNA originating from the blood-trace footprints revealed by luminol found in Filomena’s bedroom, as already reported at trial.

Claims of contamination and “poor matches” of the DNA samples were raised by the Sollecito and Knox defenses, although not by Guede’s. The DNA expert Dr. Stefanoni’s arguments in reply to the defenses’ claims are summarized in Judge Micheli‘s report.
 
Dr Stefanoni reported that the locus ascribable to Meredith and identified on the knife blade shows readings of 41 and 28 RFU. Conventionally, RFU values lower than 50 can be defined as low. But she maintained that the profile matched Meredith’s by explaining that there is no immediate correlation between the height of the peaks obtained by electropherogram and expressed in RFU, and the reliability of the biological investigation.

In fact “even if statistically - in most cases - the RFU data is directly proportional to the possibility of a certain interpretation of the analysis result, on the other side many cases of high peaks of difficult interpretation exist (because of background noises), as well as low peaks that are objectively unquestionable, hence the need to proceed to the examination of data that is apparently scarce, but that mustn’t be considered unreliable per se.”

*The use of multiplex PCR and fluorescent dye technology in the automated detection and analysis of short tandem repeat loci provides not only qualitative information about the profile - i.e. which alleles are present - but can provide also quantitative information on the relative intensities of the bands, and is therefore a measure of the amount of amplified DNA.”

So if on one side Dr Stefanoni admits that the RFU readings are low, on the other her experience suggests that many cases of unquestionable matches exist showing readings lower than 50 RFU, and this appears to be the case with Meredith’s DNA sample on the knife.


Contamination in the laboratory is categorically excluded by Dr Stefanoni. The samples were processed with maximum care in order to avoid any contamination during lab procedures. Contamination during the collection phase is excluded by Judge Micheli, as the samples were collected by different officers at different times in different places (example Via della Pergola at 9:40am on Nov 6. 2007, and Sollecito’s apartment at 10:00am, on the same day, by a different ILE team).

As for Sollecito’s DNA found on the bra clasp, the match is unquestionable, according to the lab reports. Samples from crime scenes very often contain genetic material from more than one person (e.g. Rudy Guede’s DNA has been identified in a mixture with the victim’s DNA in a few places), and well-known recommendations and protocols exist in order to de-convolute mixed samples into single genetic profiles.

So if the lab reports indicate that unquestionable biological evidence of Sollecito’s DNA was found on the bra clasp, at the present time we have no reason to believe that these recommendations weren’t followed and that therefore the reports are not to be trusted.

As to cells “flying around” depositing themselves – and their DNA content - here and there around the murder scene, there have been some imaginative theories advanced, to say the least.

The reality though is that although epithelial cells do shed, they don’t sprout little wings to flock to one precise spot, nor grow feet to crawl and concentrate on a piece of evidence. There needs to be some kind of pressure on a surface in order to deposit the amount of biological material necessary to yield a reliable PCR analysis result. A simple brushing will not do. 

As a matter of fact, Dr Stefanoni agreed with Guede’s defense that Guede‘s genetic material found on the left sleeve of Meredith’s blouse was minimal; and this was because the DNA found there belonged to the victim and was not a mixture. In the situation where there is a clear disproportion between quantitative data of two DNA’s coexisting in a biological trace, the PCR will amplify the most abundant DNA.

As agreed by Dr. Stefanoni and Guede’s defense, the conclusion here was that on the left sleeve there was plenty of Meredith’s DNA but very little of Guede’s. (This was used by his defense to deny that Guede had exerted violence on Meredith’s wrist).

After listening to the arguments of the prosecution and the defenses, Judge Micheli provided reasons why he rejected the contamination claims and ruled that all the biological traces identified as reflecting Sollecito’s and Knox’s DNA are admissible as evidence. He arrived at the conclusion that the DNA evidence is sound and, considered along with the non-biological proof, he decided there was more than enough evidence to order Knox and Sollecito to stand trial. 

Regarding the biological significance of the traces, we are now looking forward to hearing the Knox and Sollecito defenses’ counter-arguments.  But as we understand it now, the DNA evidence for the trio having all been involved in the murder seems pretty damning.


Understanding Micheli #4: The Staged Scene - Who Returned To Move Meredith?

By Brian S

Please be warned that this is sad and hard-going, although many other passages from the Micheli report we will never post on here are even more harrowing.

Just to recap. Judge Micheli presided over Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing and the final hearing that committed Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox to trial.

Late January he made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. These posts are examining key areas of the report so that we too may decide on the rationales.

This post is about the final position of the body. Why this matters so much is that if the evidence holds firm, all by itself it will prove that there was a major rearrangement of the crime scene, to try to throw investigators off the trail.

This is as near to an 80,000 pound gorilla in the room as we are likely to see in this trial. And it may even be on the trial agenda for this coming Friday and Saturday.

Reports by the crime-scene investigators and Dr Lalli are summarised in Judge Micheli’s report. They describe the detail of the scene discovered in Meredith’s room. The investigators measured and photographed the position and state of everything, including blood, as it was in the room before anything was moved.

Amongst the items noted was a white bra. Some parts were soaked in blood, particularly the right shoulder strap and the outside of the left cup. They also noted that a portion of the backstrap with its clasp fixings was missing. Meredith herself was lying on her back midway between the wardrobe and the bed, without her jeans, a pillow under her buttocks and her top rolled up to reveal her chest.

Following this survey, Meredith’s body was then turned and moved by the investigators. This revealed the other items on which her body had lain. A tennis shoe, a white sheet from the bed and a blue zipped top, all with blood stains. Also a green bath towel and an ivory bath towel, both soaked in blood, and underneath the pillow was the missing clasp section of the bra back-strap.

Judge Micheli notes that Amanda’s defence claimed that “the small round spots of blood” apparent on Meredith’s chest indicated that she was not wearing her bra when she was killed. He agreed that it was likely that these spots fell from Meredith’s gasps for breath as she lay on her back after she had been stabbed. However, he could not agree with their conclusion that her bra had been removed before this time, as similar small round spots were also found on Meredith’s bra.

Micheli reasoned that this indicated that Meredith was still wearing her bra as she gasped for breath, but that her top was rolled up and the bra moved also. Thus indicating the sexual nature of the original attack, but also allowing the small round spots to fall on both chest and bra. Furthermore, other blood evidence involving the bra indicated that it wasn’t removed until some time after Meredith had died.

He said that Meredith’s bra was found by investigators away from other possible blood contamination on the floor, near to her feet. Photographs of Meredith’s body show clear white areas where the bra prevented blood from falling onto Merediths body. These white areas corresponded to those areas where blood was found on her bra. This was particularly true in the area of the right shoulder strap which was soaked from the wound to Meredith’s neck.

Micheli said that evidence showed that Meredith had lain on one shoulder near the wardrobe. She lay in that position long enough for the imprint of her shoulder and bra strap to remain fixed in the pool of blood after she was moved to the position in which her body was finally found. Photographs of blood on her shoulder matched the imprint by the wardrobe and her shoulder itself also showed signs that she had remained in that position for some time.

Based on all this, Judge Micheli concluded that there could be no doubt that Meredith’s body was moved away from the wardrobe and her bra removed quite some time after her death.

Neighbor Nara Capezzali had testified that people fled from the cottage within a minute of Meredith’s final scream. There was no time for any alteration of the crime scene in those very few moments.

Judge Micheli asks in his report, who could have returned later and staged the scene which was found? Who later moved Meredith’s body and cut off her bra? He reasons it could only be someone who had an interest in changing what would become a crime scene found at the cottage. Who else but someone who lived there, and who wanted to mislead the coming investigation?

It couldn’t have been Laura, she was in Rome. It couldn’t have been Filomena, she was staying with her boyfriend. It was very unlikely that it was Rudy Guede, all proofs of his presence were left untouched.


The culprits ran from the cottage in different directions and there is no reason to believe they met up again before some or one of them returned. Judge Micheli stated that, in his opinion, this just left Knox who would seem to have an interest in arranging the scene the police would find.

Bloody footprints made visible with luminol in Filomena’s room contain Meredith’s DNA. This indicated to Judge Micheli that the scene in Filomena’s room was also staged after Meredith was killed.

In Micheli’s opinion the scene in Meredith’s room was probably staged to point the finger at Rudy Guede. All evidence related to him was left untouched, and the pillow with a partial palm print was found under Meredith’s repositioned body.

But whoever later arranged that scene in Meredith’s room also unwittingly indicated their own presence at the original sexual assault. Who else could have known that by staging an obvious rape scene, they would inevitably point the investigators towards Rudy’s DNA which they knew could be found in Meredith?

Micheli asks: Seemingly, who else could it have been but Amanda Knox? And this in part is why she was committed to trial, for her defense to contend this evidence.


Friday, December 03, 2010

The Toxic Pro-Knox PR Campaign And Media Circus That John Kercher So Rightly Complained About

Posted by Hammerite





The following is a personal observation on the state of play of the Seattle driven PR campaign and resultant Media involvement in the first appeal stage of dear Meredith’s murder trial.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were unanimously convicted of involvement in her barbaric torture and murder by the Court in Perugia in December 2009.

As far as I am aware nether the Court of Assisi or the Kercher family (or their agents) are actively engaged in presenting any PR information whatsoever on the part of the ongoing trial process to any media outlets anywhere.

On the other hand, we know for a fact that the Knox/Mellas faction have engaged in and continue to use the services of a national brand public relations firm to “put their spin ” of events into the public arena.

Their areas of focus have primarily been the USA electronic and print media with secondary efforts attempted with the UK media.

What the USA and UK public are witnessing in the present media output therefore is the culmination of the intense and bought (paid for if you like) “reporting” solely on behalf of and in the interest of Amanda Knox (they are not bothered for now to include that waste of media space Raffaele).

The USA and UK media have little to zero interest in this case as a newsworthy story and consequently will not get off their seats to report on it. It was a seven day wonder that dragged on too long and now no longer sells newspapers.

They will however accept handouts in the present form of biased and prejudiced propaganda press releases from the Knox/Mellas camp and print it as “reporting”. It fills column inches and can be “tarted up” to a degree of sensationalism for occasional use and increased circulation.

The PR campaign would have us believe that the AK/RS appeals submissions have debunked the existing evidence and discredited the witnesses.

This of course is what they are paid to say even when it is not the case. It may have an agreeable ring to it for the accused supporters but holds little sway with the eight person judicial adjudicating panel comprising two professional Judges and six lay volunteers..

It is the job of the defence legal team to say that they have turned a corner in terms of exonerating their clients. However turning a corner is not such a big deal when you are right bang in the middle of a maze.

The sheer volume of evidence that exists and the undeniable interconnections that links it all to AK & RS constitutes that maze; someone should remind their supporters that you can turn many corners in a maze and still not get out.

It must be remembered that holding this appeal is an automatic function under the Italian Judicial system.

The PR campaign would (wrongfully) have its audience believe that this appeal is happening as a result of faults in the prosecution case uncovered during the first trial; because this is the practice in the USA and UK where an appeal would only be granted if there were discernible strong grounds and on merit.

The spin is capitalising on the (wrongful) perception by the media and the public in the USA and UK that there must be strong grounds for an appeal.

This is not the case here. It is an automatic appeal.

The prosecution case was solid and the conviction was unanimous in the first trial. Nothing has changed. The prosecution case is still the same and the outcome is therefore likely to be the same.

Make no mistake; the Judges involved in the appeal process are not fickle or weak-minded individuals that are easily swayed by media spin, insults or bullying attempts. Neither are they bought or in the pocket of the Knox/Mellas PR apparatus.

It is likely they are unaware of much or indeed any of the “spin” that is being generated by the Knox/Mellas faction in the media outlets in the USA and UK.

Most likely they have real lives to get on with themselves and see (rightfully) this appeal trial as simply another task they will perform correctly out of hundreds of others they come across in the course of their career; it is no more or no less important than every other case they have or will work on.

This is likely the same scenario that the Judges in the initial trial undertook when they carried out their duty in a fair and honest fashion.

They came to a unanimous decision based entirely on the evidence presented to them that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were guilty of compliance in the murder of dear Meredith. The same can be stated for every Professional judge that sat on every AK&RS court appearance since dear Meredith’s murder.

Just because a blog or PR fed news outlet in the USA or the UK proclaims that the tide is turning in favour of the accused doesn’t mean that the Judges in Italy are even aware that there is a tide there in the first place at all; not to mention even considering that it is turning.

These Judges by their very nature are genuine and conscientious people.

They will not favour PR fed media coverage and disregard the evidence presented before them in court. And they certainly are not in anyone’s pockets. They will do their duty in the same upright manner and with the same exemplary scruples as was carried out by the Judges in the first trial.

Based on the case presented in the first trial and now to be re-presented in the appeal (and once you remove the PR hype) there is every reason to believe the convictions of AK&RS will stand. This is how I see this second trial going.

Rest in Peace dear Meredith.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report: The Timeline For Events Before, During, And After The Night #1

Posted by catnip




The Masssei Timeline To Midnight 1 Nov

These two posts list all of the events precisely timed in the Massei Report. Page numbers shown in brackets are those in the original Italian version.

This timeline will be reposted over on the TJMK Massei Report summaries and highlights page as we populate that page further starting this week.

There are plenty of mentions of imprecise occasions and general time periods, such as when Rudy told Giorgio Cocciaretto about liking Amanda (p26) or when lawyer Palazzoli found out their stolen computer had been recovered in Milan (p33), but they are not listed here.

nts_before_during_2/”>Post #2

Click here for more


Friday, November 12, 2010

Report Students Studying Abroad on Average Double Or Triple Their Alcoholic Intake

Posted by Peter Quennell


American embassies and other nations’ embassies abroad get to hear of hundreds of cases a year of students who got in over their heads.

In the past couple of years, there have been TWO notorious murders by foreign students in Florence alone. Florence is about one hour’s drive north of Perugia. The embassy simply shrugged and moved on as Italian justice worked its careful process through.

Both perps happened to be American, and both were high. There were no cries in those cases of anti-Americanism. Howvever, there was some troubled talk in Italy of the excesses foreign students go to.

And a lot of tightening up by the colleges who send a lot of students abroad, including the University of Washington (Amanda Knox’s college) and Pepperdine University (Steve Moore’s former college - this helped to seal his firing.)

Amanda Knox is one of the rare ones who shrugged off all home-college supervision, presumably with the okay of her parents. Meredith was closely watched over by the Erasmus scheme, which sadly did not save her life.

Now the University of Southern California’s student newspaper carries this report on one root cause of students facing foreign judges.

Students traveling abroad can keep glass half full

By Kelsey Clark of the Daily Trojan

According to researchers at the University of Washington, American college students who study abroad are likely to increase — even triple — their alcohol consumption while traveling internationally.

Students over the age of 21 doubled their intake of alcohol from an average of four drinks per week on campus to eight drinks per week abroad, according to a study published in the October issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The overall increase in surveyed students’ alcohol consumption was 105 percent, while those underage students tripled their drinking with an increased consumption of 170 percent….

By consuming alcohol in excess, particularly in an unfamiliar country, the risks for students are greater than those traditionally associated with a night of drinking at USC.

Though instances of injury, crime and sexual abuse do occur as a result of binge drinking at USC, such severe ramifications are comparatively rare within the university’s party culture. Some of the more prevalent woes are students who slept through class because of a hangover or ruined a cell phone by jumping in a pool.

But students who travel abroad must take additional precautions as the heightened risks include becoming lost, getting pick-pocketed or otherwise taken advantage of.

And of course bumping some poor innocent person off.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ten Examples Of How The Former Campus Cop Steve Moore Serially Mischaracterizes The Case

Posted by The Machine





A couple of weeks ago Steve Moore was frogmarched out of his workplace on the campus of Pepperdine University and told not to come back.

Although Pepperdine apparently offered him a deal for his resignation, he refused, and so he probably departed with only the minimal severance entitlements in his contract. Now he is suing Pepperdine, presumably to see if he can get a little bit more. 

Steve Moore has been rather plaintively claiming since the firing that he did nothing wrong, except to avidly support the innocence of Amanda Knox in his own time.

Well, good luck with that one.

We suspect that a lot of things about his confused, hurtful and ebullient campaign reached the front office of Pepperdine University, and that some or many of these things may come out in the open when Steve Moore’s suit goes to court. Our next post will contemplate what some of these things may be.

Not a secret at all to those involved in handling the case in Perugia and Rome (where Moore is much ridiculed) and presumably now at Pepperdine (which has a very good law school capable of CORRECTLY absorbing the Massei report) is how Steve Moore seems serially unable to get the facts of the case right.

His media interviews have followed the very familiar PR script. The presenter or journalist begins by really talking up Steve Moore’s 25-year career with the FBI as one of the FBI’s really big stars, and then going to to emphasize how Steve Moore has REALLY done his homework on this case. On the NBC Today Show, for example, it was claimed that Steve Moore has studied “every iota of evidence,” and reporter Linda Byron stated on Seattle’s King 5 TV that he had obtained the trial transcripts and the police and autopsy records and had all of them translated into English.

The intended message is clear: Steve Moore is an exceptionally credible professional expert in all the relevant fields, and he knows this case inside out because he has researched it absolutely meticulously.

In this piece, we will compare just a few of the many claims that Steve Moore has made - here in interviews with Frank Shiers on Seattle’s Kiro FM Radio, with Ann Curry on the NBC Today Show, with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News, and with Monique Ming Laven on Seattle’s Kiro 7 TV - with the real facts of the case, as described in the Massei report and the witness testimony from the trial.


False Claim 1: The large knife doesn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

Steve Moore has repeatedly claimed in interviews with for example Frank Shiers, Ann Curry and Monique Laven that the double DNA knife doesn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

But the prosecution experts, multiple defence experts and Judge Massei in his report have all agreed that the double DNA knife DID match the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

On these matters, the considerations already made must be recalled, which led this Court to evaluate the outcome of the genetic investigation as reliable, and this knife as absolutely compatible with the most serious wound. (The Massei report, page 375).

Barbie Nadeau reported directly from the courtroom in Perugia that multiple witnesses for the defence, including Dr. Carlo Torre, conceded that the double DNA knife was compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck.

“According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).

He (Dr. Carlo Torre, defence expert) conceded that a third larger wound could have been made with the knife, but said it was more likely it was made by twisting a smaller knife. (Barbie Nadeau, The Daily Beast).

For someone who has allegedly “studied every iota of evidence”, it seems that Steve Moore is doing nothing more than regurgitating a familiar FOA myth that has long been completely debunked. He clearly hasn’t studied every iota of evidence.

Monique Ming Laven has a copy of the English translation of the Massei report and she claimed that she was going to read it. Warning bells should have gone off in her head as soon as Moore claimed the double DNA knife didn’t match the large wound on Meredith’s neck, and yet she didn’t challenge him.


False Claim 2: They want you to believe that Amanda Knox inflicted all three wounds on Meredith’s neck

Moore erroneously stated in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News that “they” claimed that Knox caused all three wounds on Meredith’s neck.

“What they’re having you, what they want you to believe is that in the middle of a life and death struggle, holding a girl who is fighting for her life. Amanda stabbing someone for the first time in her life, takes two stabs with a very small knife, throws it away and says give me the other one” (5.48 -  6.05)

Neither the judges and jury nor the prosecution have EVER claimed that Amanda Knox inflicted all three wounds on Meredith’s neck:

“Elements which lead one to consider that the 4cm in depth wound was inflicted by Raffaele Sollecito with the pocket knife that he was always carrying around with him, and was inflicted immediately after having cut the bra…” (The Massei report, page 374).

The following extract is from Mignini’s timeline, which was presented at the trial on 20 November 2009 by the prosecutors:

23.30 ...At this point, the two knives emerge from the pockets of Amanda and Raffaele: one with a blade of four to five centimetres, the other however a big kitchen knife. Meredith tries to fend off the blades with her right hand. She is wounded.

23:40 ...The three become more violent. With the smaller knife, Sollecito strikes a blow: the blade penetrates 4 centimetres into the neck.

The timeline presented by the prosecutors during their summation was published in Il Messagero and other Italian newspapers. It was translated by main poster Tiziano and our other Italian speakers and posted on PMF and TJMK here.


False Claim 3: Meredith had no defensive wounds on her hands

Steve Moore told Frank Shiers on Kiro FM that Meredith had no defensive wounds on her hands. Moore clearly hadn’t read the autopsy report or its summary in the Massei Report.

“They consist also in some tiny defensive wounds: one on the palm of her [396] right hand of a length of .6cm showing a tiny amount of blood; another on the ulnar surface of the first phalange of the second finger of the left hand, also of length .6cm; another on the fingertip of the first finger with a superficial wound of .3cm, and another tiny wound corresponding to the fourth radius.” (The Massei report, pages 369-370).


False Claim 4: Rudy left his hair and fluid samples on Meredith’s body.

Steve Moore has made this false claim in interviews with Frank Shiers and George Stephanopoulos.

Rudy Guede did not leave any hair or fluid samples on Meredith’s body. There is no mention of Rudy Guede leaving his hair or fluid samples on Meredith’s body in either the Micheli report or the Massei report.

Steve Moore is simply making things up or relying on false information.


False Claim 5: Amanda and Raffaele didn’t step in blood and that can’t be avoided

In his interview with Frank Shiers, Steve Moore claimed that Knox and Sollecito didn’t step in Meredith’s blood. The Massei report completely contradicts this claim.

It notes that Amanda Knox stepped in Meredith’s blood and tracked the blood with her feet into her own room, the corridor, and Filomena’s room:

Even the traces highlighted by Luminol therefore show the existence of evidence against Amanda, making [the Court] consider that she, having been barefoot in the room where Meredith was killed and having thus stained her feet, had left the traces highlighted by Luminol (which could have resisted the subsequent action of cleaning, on which more will follow) and found in the various parts of the house which she went to for the reasons shown above (her own room, the corridor, Romanelli’s room). (The Massei report, page 382).

Judge Massei attributed the visible bloody footprint on the bathroom mat to Raffaele Sollecito and categorically ruled out the possibility that it could have belonged to Rudy Guede:

“Also from this viewpoint it must be excluded that the print left on the sky-blue mat in the little bathroom could be attributable to Rudy.  A footprint that, for what has been observed in the relevant chapter [of this report] and for the reasons just outlined, must be attributed to Raffaele Sollecito…” (The Massei report, page 379).

The bare bloody footprint in the corridor, referred in the Massei report as trace 2, was attributed to Raffaele Sollecito:

In this particular case, they lead to an opinion of probable identity with one subject (Sollecito with respect to trace 2, Amanda Knox with respect to traces 1 and 7) and to the demonstrated exclusion of the other two. (The Massei report, page 349).


False Claim 6: None of the luminol prints or stains contained Meredith’s DNA

Steve Moore told Frank Shiers that Meredith’s DNA wasn’t found in any of the luminol prints or stains.

Meredith’s DNA was found in the luminol traces in the corridor and in Filomena’s room.

Amanda (with her feet stained with Meredith’s blood for having been present in her room when she was killed) had gone into Romanelli’s room and into her [own] room leaving traces [which were highlighted] by Luminol, some of which (one in the corridor, the L8, and one, the L2, in Romanelli’s room) were mixed, that is, constituted of a biological trace attributable to [both] Meredith and Amanda…” (The Massei report, page 380).


False Claim 7: The prosecutor through fierce interrogation coerced Amanda into implicating someone else in the case

Steve Moore has made this claim on a number of occasions

The prosecutor wasn’t even present when Amanda Knox first accused Diya Lumumba. Mignini was called to the police station after she had ALREADY admitted that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed and she had ALREADY made her false and malicious accusation against Lumumba.

Her implication of Lumumba was clearly triggered by the news that Sollecito had just destroyed her alibi. She had an interpreter with her at all times, and she had a lawyer present at all times after her first relatively brief (and unscheduled) interrogation on the night as a witness.

Her lawyers never ever claimed the interrogation was anything out of the ordinary or that for a suspect she was treated less than kindly, and they never filed any complaint, making her situation at her slander trial in November one that is dire and untenable  


False Claim 8: Amanda Knox wasn’t given food or drinks when she was questioned by the police.

Steve Moore falsely claimed on the Today Show and ABC News that Amanda Knox wasn’t given food or drinks when she was questioned. However, Monica Napoleoni testified that Amanda Knox was given something to eat and drink.

“Ms Napoleoni told the court that while she was at the police station Ms Knox had been “treated very well. She was given water, camomile tea and breakfast. She was given cakes from a vending machine and then taken to the canteen at the police station for something to eat.” (Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009).

Amanda Knox even herself confirmed during her testimony at the trial that she was given something to eat and drink.


False Claim 9: Amanda Knox was interrogated in Italian on 5 November 2007

Steve Moore stated in his interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News that Amanda Knox was interrogated in Italian, a language he says she barely knew, on 5 November 2007.

Amanda Knox was provided with an interpreter, Anna Donninio, on 5 November 2007 who translated all the police officers’ questions into English for her and translated her answers back.

In Amanda Knox’s own testimony on the stand in June 2009, she even referred to this interpreter - she claimed the interpreter seemed to give her some advice at one point.


False Claim 10: Amanda Knox recanted her accusation against Diya Lumumba as soon as she got some food

Amanda Knox didn’t retract her accusation as soon as she got some food at all. In fact, she reiterated her allegation in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007 which was admitted in evidence:

[Amanda] herself, furthermore, in the statement of 6 November 2007 (admitted into   evidence ex. articles 234 and 237 of the Criminal Procedure Code and which was mentioned above) wrote, among other things, the following: I stand by my - accusatory - statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrick…in these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrick as the murderer…”.

This statement which, as specified in the entry of 6 November 2007, 200:00pm, by the Police Chief Inspector, Rita Ficarra, was drawn up, following the notification of the detention measure, by Amanda Knox, who “requested blank papers in order to produce a written statement to hand over” to the same Ficarra. (The Massei report, page 389).

The Massei court took note of the fact that Amanda Knox didn’t recant her false and malicious allegation against Diya Lumumba during the whole of the time he was kept in prison.

***

Steve Moore’s various surfacings smack of a Walter Mitty character making things up as he goes along, with an expression and a tone of voice that suggests he is thinking “Yes, folks, really this is all about me.” 

He will save Knox! He will save Knox! Come what may!

Steve Moore has never ever addressed smoking-gun issues like Knox’s and Sollecito’s many lies before and after 5 November 2007. It seems that perhaps he’s not even aware of them - he certainly seems to think Amanda Knox only lied on 5 November 2007.

Italian authorities worked hard and professionally in Perugia and Rome to get this case right. If he is ever to speak up again with any credibility at all, Steve Moore needs to read and actually understand the Massei report in its entirety. It’s unforgivable for him to get so many facts wrong on so many occasions in front of a large audience, and then use those wrong facts to make multiple highly unprofessional accusations against the authorities in Perugia and Rome.

And the journalists who get to interview him REALLY should have alarm bells going off when he comes out with his many fictions. It was very remiss of Monique Ming Laven and Ann Curry not to challenge Moore over any of his false claims, such as the double DNA knife being incompatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck. (George Stephanopolous did at least make some small attempt.)

Steve Moore is not only oblivious to many facts about the case. He seems totally oblivious to the real hurt that his cowardly, dishonest, self-serving campaign from across the Atlantic is inflicting on Meredith’s family and her friends.

[Everything in this post applies equally to the ludicrously inaccurate claims of ex FBI “mindhunter” John Douglas in his books and lobbying at the State Department.] 


Monday, September 06, 2010

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

Posted by Peter Quennell





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

Now everybody seems to be doing it.

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

The lone wolf theory Steve Moore is trying retroactively to espouse was first ridiculed by our poster Kermit in his much-viewed Spiderman Powerpoints late in 2008. And then it was methodically demolished early in 2009 by Judge Micheli, and again demolished by Judge Massei in his own report released in Italian last March (link to English version at top of page here).

Our legal and law enforcement supporters in New York and Washington who have long followed Meredith’s case are also scratching their heads over Steve Moore’s claims. Why did he fail to master the Massei Report (which all of them have now read - and admire) before so vehemently going live?

Several also wonder about the professional ethics and legal widsom of accusing THE ITALIAN COUNTERPARTS TO THE FBI without hard proof of having fabricated some evidence to prove their case. 

And in Italy, there have been several rather sarcastic rebuttals.

The latest comes from Walter Biscotti as reported by Ann Wise for ABC. Mr Biscotti is the very effective lead lawyer for Rudy Guede - who, it should be noted, ended up with a sentence of only 16 years for acting smart and somewhat penitent, while Amanda Knox may eventually face more than thirty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Italian news agency ANSA, which also reported the news of Moore’s support for Knox, was told by Knox’s Perugia lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, that he did not know Moore “and therefore I prefer not to comment on his statements.”

“Criticism of the investigation is not new,” Ghirga told ANSA, “and I will limit myself to taking note.”

Mr Moore is very welcome to download the Massei Report in English by way of the link at the top here. We know of not even ONE similarly qualified person who is not impressed and convinced by that report.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Why The Media Are Wrong To Rely On Amanda Knox’s Family For Impartial and Accurate Information

Posted by The Machine


1, False claim-making is endemic in support of Amanda Knox.

Soon we will have a new TJMK page online simply listing all the false claims and malicious claims that now number up in the hundreds.

And here are 150 questions for the two perpetrators posted by our great Powerpoint creator, Kermit, just prior to their conviction. If reporters had sought answers to all of those, they might have once and for all nailed down the truth from the two, and made clear what REALLY happened.

Edda Mellas is already charged along with Curt Knox with making things up, in that pending case about slandering Amanda Knox’s interrogators. And as Finn MacCool seems to have got all the facts right in this post on Amanda Knox’s calls with Edda Mellas, it seems surprising that she is not also charged with perjury.

It’s a great pity that not more media people have put aside their emotions, and actually analyzed the numerous wild claims that come pouring out of Edda Mellas. The fact that so many professional journalists have given her a free pass and never challenged, cross-checked, or probed her claims is especially shameful.

Why has Edda Mellas been able to make so many false claims in the media without being challenged? 

One primary reason according to the Daily Beast is because journalists are required to give certain guarantees about positive coverage in order to gain any access to Amanda Knox’s family: “Of the handful of American journalists in Perugia in late 2007 and early 2008, none got access to the Knox family without certain guarantees about positive coverage.”

And another reason why Edda Mellas has been able to get away with repeatedly propagating the same core false claims is that the journalists in the US who have interviewed Edda Mellas are almost completely ignorant of the basic facts of the case. They haven’t bothered to find out enough about the case to be in a position to challenge what she says.

In fact any journalist - in fact, anyone interested in the case - can check the veracity of her claims against the official court documents, including the Micheli Sentencing Report of January 2009 (summarised on TJMK in English) and the Massei Sentencing Report of March 2010 (very soon available on PMF and TJMK in English).

And they can check the claims against the objective reporting of the various respected Rome-based journalists who speak fluent Italian and who actually attended the trial - the only Rome-based English-language reporter who has ever filed biased reports was Peter Popham, who seemed reflexively anti-Italy, and who was withdrawn two years ago.


2. Eighteen Of The False Claims

This analysis focuses on the claims that Edda Mellas has made in interviews with Larry King on CNN, Chris Wragge on CBS, Linda Byron on King 5, and The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone. There are other videos and text interviews that we could have drawn examples from.

We start with Edda Mellas on CNN’s Larry King Live.

Edda Mellas and Curt Knox appeared on Larry King Live shortly after the verdict last December. You can see them in the videos above and below. The timing here corresponds to the time counter at bottom-left of the video.


False claim 1 “The prosecution had changed the motive four times during the trial. and at the end they finally had to say we don’t have a motive but it doesn’t matter.” (minute 4.22 above)

Barbie Nadeau pointed out that the prosecutors had changed their theory, but only rather slightly:

“The prosecution lawyers began their case in January 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. When it came time for closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred” A sex attack was still involved.

Prosecutor Mignini also suggested that a hards drug like cocaine might have been involved, and certainly never said that they didn’t have a motive. Co-Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said that she didn’t know precisely what the motive was, but certainly never claimed that there was none.


False claim 2:  “He (Rudy Guede) all of a sudden had money that he didn’t have earlier in the day” (minute 3.22 above)

Edda Mellas is plucking “facts” out thin air with this claim. No evidence was presented at any court hearing that showed that Rudy Guede suddenly had money that he didn’t have earlier in the day on 1 November 2007.


False claim 3:  “There is no murder weapon.” (minute 4.32 above)

Judge Massei indicates in the sentencing report that Amanda Knox’s judges concluded that the double DNA knife, the larger of the two indicated by Meredith’s autopsy, is indeed the murder weapon.

It is totally compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck, and according to a number of independent forensic experts, it contained Meredith’s DNA on the blade..


False claim 4:  “The Italian Supreme Court found the interrogation illegal” (minute 7.54 above)

Though this claim has been repeated in different ways, the Italian Supreme Court has NEVER ruled that Amanda Knox’s interrogation either as a witness or a suspect was illegal. In the suspect interview, she had both a lawyer and interpreter present.


False claim 5:  “They admit to the fact they really have no physical evidence” (minute 7.54 above)

As it took the prosecutors four or five months to present it, they have never admitted that they have no physical evidence. The stop-start-stop nature of the defense phase of the trial showed how very telling the evidence was.


False claim 6:  “They believe Meredith was killed at about 9.30pm” on Larry King Live (minute 0.54 here)

The prosecutors didn’t claim this at the trial. According to Mignini’s timeline, which he used when presenting his scenario for what happened to the judges and jury at trial, Meredith was killed at about 11.50pm.


False claim 7:  Amanda Knox didn’t know Rudy Guede (minute 1.02 here)

Unbelievably, Edda Mellas claimed that Amanda Knox didn’t know Rudy Guede despite the fact that Amanda Knox testified IN COURT that she had met Rudy Guede on several occasions.

Here’s the actual court transcript:

Carlo Pacelli (CP), Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer: In what circumstances did you meet him (Rudy)?

Amanda Knox (AK): I was in the center, near the church. It was during an evening when I met the guys that lived underneath in the apartment underneath us, and while I was mingling with them, they introduced me to Rudy.

CP: So it was on the occasion of a party at the house of the neighbors downstairs?

AK: Yes. What we did is, they introduced me to him downtown just to say “This is Rudy, this is Amanda”, and then I spent most of my time with Meredith, but we all went back to the house together.

CP: Did you also know him, or at least see him, in the pub “Le Chic”, Rudy?

AK: I think I saw him there once.

CP: Listen, this party at the neighbors, it took place in the second half of October? What period, end of October? 2007?

AK: I think it was more in the middle of October.


False claim 8:  Rudy Guede’s DNA was in Meredith’s purse (minute 3.16 here

Edda Mellas’s claim that Rudy Guede’s DNA was in Meredith’s purse is completely untrue. According to the Micheli report, which was made available to the public in January 2008, Guede’s DNA was found on the zip of Meredith’s purse and not inside it.


False claim 9:  “Even the Italian Supreme Court ruled that her rights were repeatedly violated.” (minute 5:32 here)

The Italian Supreme Court has NEVER ruled that Amanda Knox’s rights were repeatedly violated. Not even her own lawyers claimed that, and no complaint was ever lodged.

The first of Knox’s two written statements couldn’t be used against her simply because she wasn’t represented by a lawyer when she made it - and she volunteered that statement, in a seeming state of panic, when she was told Sollecito was no longer supporting her alibi..

We continue next with Edda Mellas making claims in an interview for the CBS Early Show.

Whilen Edda Mellas was in Perugia, she was interviewed by CBS’s Chris Wragge. (Embedding of this CBS video YouTube on sites like TJMK is disabled, which suggests that CBS might be worried that the claims made were wrong and they should have been challenged on-air.) 


False claim 10:  The double DNA knife is incompatible with the wounds on Meredith’s body. (minute 0.16 above)

In the interview Edda Mellas made the following claim: “The knife they think is the murder weapon is way too big and demonstrated how it had to have been a much smaller knife that caused all the wounds.”

Edda Mellas’s claim above is simply not true.

Barbie Nadeau reported directly from the courtroom in Perugia that multiple witnesses for the defence, including Dr. Carlo Torre, conceded that the double DNA knife was compatible with the deep puncture wound in Meredith’s neck.

“According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek).

“He (Dr. Carlo Torre) conceded that a third larger wound could have been made with the knife, but said it was more likely it was made by twisting a smaller knife.” (Barbie Nadeau, The Daily Beast).

Judge Massei categorically states in the judges’ sentencing report that the double DNA knife was compatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck.


False claim 11:  Meredith’s room was so tiny, there wasn’t enough room for four people in some kind of tussle. (minute 0.27 above)

In the same interview with Chris Wragge, Edda Mellas asserts that there couldn’t have been an attack on Meredith involving three assailants.

“The space available this crime happened is so tiny you can’t have had four people in that room in some kind of tussle.”

The Violent Crimes Unit itself used detailed images at the trial (this is one below) to show that there was more than enough room for an attack involving three attackers.






False claim 12:  There is no evidence of Amanda Knox at the actual crime scene. (minute 2.06 above)

“Its the fact at the actual crime scene there is no physical evidence of Amanda; not a hair, not a fingerprint, not a nothing.”

The crime scene involves the whole cottage and it isn’t limited to Meredith’s room. Knox and Sollecito were both CONVICTED of staging the break-in and tampering with the crime scene.

Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence actually placing Amanda Knox in Meredith’s room on the night of the murder: the double DNA knife, and the blood she tracked into the bathroom, the hallway, Filomena’s room, and her own room.

According to two imprint experts, there was a woman’s bloody shoeprint on the pillow under Meredith’s body which matched Knox’s foot size.

Even Sollecito’s forensic consultant, Professor Vinci, claimed that he had found Amanda Knox’s DNA on Meredith’s bra.


False claim 13:  “The DNA is so insignificant. It’s this tiny spot. It’s not blood.” (minute 2.16 above)

Three independent DNA experts -  Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, and Professor Francesca Torricelli - confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was definitely on the blade of the double DNA.

The DNA charts themselves show a clear and unmistakable match. Edda Mellas doesn’t seem to understand that DNA evidence almost always involves only microscopic traces of DNA.

Dr. Stefanoni testified at the trial that the DNA on the blade could indeed have come from Meredith’s blood.

We continue next with Edda Mellas in an Interview with Linda Byron on Seattle TV station King 5.


False claim 14:  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito maintained the same story (minute 3.17)

Edda Mellas claimed in this interview with Linda Byron that Amanda Knox had maintained the same story for over a year when she was asked whether her daughter had lied.

In another interview with Linda Byron in November 2009, Edda Mellas bizarrely claimed that Amanda Knox hadn’t changed her story. KING 5 Investigator Linda Byron asked her: “Did she change her story?”

Edda Mellas responded: “No, no. For this whole year they have maintained the story - what they did that night. They stayed at Raffaele’s, they made dinner, they watched a movie. That’s it, that’s the story.”

Edda Mellas’s statement that Amanda Knox didn’t change her story and that she and Sollecito maintained the same story is yet another incorrect and misleading claim.

Knox and Sollecito both gave three different alibis. The posts on their alibis are linked-to up at the top here. Knox gave at least three different times for when she and Sollecito had dinner on the night of the murder.

Knox gave different reasons for writing her handwritten confession, and she gave different accounts of seeing the blood in the bathroom which contradict each other.

And most devastating of all, Sollecito stopped providing Knox with an alibi on 5 November 2007.

Sollecito is STILL nearly three years later refusing to corroborate her alibi. He clearly hasn’t maintained that Knox was with him at his apartment - actually he claimed that she went out for four hours.


False claim 15 : Amanda Knox wasn’t provided with an interpreter (minute 2.37)

Edda Mellas made this false claim, which has been widely propagated by Knox groupies, in an interview with Linda Byron on King5.

It’s not difficult to prove that this claim is completely false. Knox’s interpreter on 5 November 2007, Anna Donninio, even testified at the trial. And Amanda Knox herself spoke about her interpreter when she gave testimony at the trial.

We continue next with the claims of Edda Mellas on ABC TV.


False claim 16:  “Amanda Knox is incredibly honest” (minute 11.25)

In an interview with ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas (ABC have rendered this video not embeddable) Edda Mellas claimed that her daughter is “incredibly honest”.

And Edda Mellas told The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone that “Amanda doesn’t know how to lie.”

In fact, Amanda Knox’s mobile phone records, data recovered from Sollecito’s computer, and corroborative testimony of numerous witnesses, provide irrefutable proof that Amanda Knox has lied - again and again.

For example, her lies about him directly led to Diya Lumumba, an innocent man, spending two weeks in prison - even though as recorded in prison she told her mother Edda Mellas that her claims were not true. .


False claim 17 : Amanda Knox could have left Italy, but she chose to stay and help the police.

In an earlier interview with Larry King in October 2009, Edda Mellas told him that Amanda Knox could have left Italy, but she chose to stay and help the police:

“After the murder, Mellas said, friends and family told Knox to leave Italy—to either come home or stay with relatives in Germany—but Knox refused because she wanted to help find the killer and prove that she had nothing to do with it.”

“Many people asked her to leave, but she said no. ‘I’m going to stay. I’m going to try and help. I’m going to try and finish school,’ ” Mellas said.”

Edda Mellas’s claim is flatly contradicted by Amanda Knox herself, in the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007:

“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”

And along with one of Meredith’s friends who walked home with Meredith on the night, the police told Amanda Knox pretty promptly that as her status was (then) a primary witness, she was not to go anywhere.

The fact that Knox did stay was of little help to the investigation - in fact, she seemed to work hard to derail it - and one of her main concerns at the time, a pretty callous one, was whether she would be staying or moving out of the house and getting a rent refund.


False claim 18:  Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were not under the influence of drugs on the night of the murder (BBC Radio)

In an interview with BBC Radio after the verdict, Edda Mellas apparently stated that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were not under the influence of drugs on the night of the murder.

This is despite the fact that both Knox and Sollecito had both themselves actually claimed they had smoked cannabis. The prosecution believed they might have been on a hard drug like cocaine, which also seems the general belief around Perugia.


3. And Some Conclusions

The fact that Edda Mellas has been able to propagate so many wrong claims in the media for so long without being challenged seems to speaks volumes about the naivety and unprofessionalism of her interviewers, and of the media organisations they work for.

As they usually do,  ABC News, CBS News, CNN, King 5, and other media outlets should have interviewed objective crime-case professionals, who don’t have a vested interest in the case.

Instead they have relied again and again on Amanda Knox’s mother and other family members as primary sources.

Amanda Knox is not an innocent political prisoner who was railroaded in some Third World country for some very murky reason. She was unanimously convicted after a lengthy trial at which the evidence was absolutely overwhelming. 

As the Christian Longo and Scott Peterson cases that we posted on below go to prove, seemingly quite normal people commit horrific murders. Probably the vast majority of murders are committed by people who to many seemed normal.

It seems downright perverse that some of the journalists who have interviewed Edda Mellas treat Amanda Knox as a victim, and with cloying sympathy ask “How is Amanda doing?”  They wouldn’t dream of asking Charles Manson’s mum how the Manson girls are doing.

It is time for the sake of the truth, the legitimacy of the verdict, the relations between the US and Italy, and the peace of mind of Meredith’s family and friends, that from now on they hold Edda Mellas’s feet to the fire.. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

That Widely Watched LA7 TV Interview With Giuliano Mignini - Herewith A Full English Translation

Posted by ziaK

This is a translation of the YouTube video posted by my fellow poster True North two weeks ago.

Many readers asked for a translation of what Mr Mignini said in that interview, and True North, who has pretty good Italian but is not a professional translator, requested some help from the translation team. The sound of the video is not always crystal clear but this appears to accurately reflect what was said. 

Male interviewer: In the biological evidence, is there any one item which is the one which you consider, especially in terms of the trial, to have had the most value?

Giuliano Mignini: I think that, in terms of the trial, the most important were the knife, the bra hook and also the biological traces in the bathroom. From the point of view of the trial, the knife certainly links the two defendants and the victim. Therefore it was (interrupted).

Andrea Vogt: There was low copy number, and that’s not normal, is it, to use DNA when there’s low copy number?

Giuliano Mignini: However, I hold that those traces were nonetheless indisputable traces. That is, there was not an absolute huge amount, in terms that are perhaps more understandable [ndt: to an Italian speaker, “low copy number” is not necessaryily understandable, because it is an English term]. The trace might be really high, with a high quantity, or it may be very low, but however the trace may be, it was never reasonably explained in any other way. That knife was never touched by the victim. She was never (inaudible: possibly “at Raffaele’s”] during the period that the two young folk, the two defendants, knew each other. It was a very short period: we think the relationship was (inaudible) or a week.

Male interviewer: Certainly. However, (inaudible) limited, either a contamination in the place of the crime or a contamination in the laboratory? This is not meant as a criticism of the work, however it is a danger that we technicians have which we must confront.

Giuliano Mignini: Yes. Well, that point about the knife comes from the specific questions of Professor Finsi himself, and of the Superintendant (Parebiochi?), and it was clearly shown that that knife was collected with absolute… that is, there was no possibility of exposure to contact [with the victim?]. Because it was found in Raffaele’s house and it was take with all precautions. This was shown in (inaudible). I was keen to show that (inaudible) that knife.

Andrea Vogt: Also the hook was very controversial because you found it 46 days after.

Giuliano Mignini: Yes, yes. I know. I understand. This, alas, can happen when there are places that are so full of objects, full of… When one is doing an analysis of this type, it can happen that (inaudible) is moved. However, it remained within that room. And (Andrea Vogt interrupts). And then, if there is contamination, that means that Sollecito’s DNA was somewhere within that room. We’re still there (i.e. at the same conclusion). I think that all the evidence was limited [ndt: to the one place?], and the first findings were of an investigative nature. In particular, that includes the numerous contradictions made by Knox. Which were then repeated during the investigation, during the interrogation in jail, and in my opinion also during the questioning and counter-questioning in court.

Andrea Vogt: I want to talk a bit about the motive.

Giuliano Mignini: As a first impression of the [inaudible: crime?] it was clearly, it appeared clearly to be a crime of a sexual nature. It was extremely clear. A young woman, killed in that way, and almost completely stripped/naked.

Male interviewer: Excuse me, but on the contrary, at times I have heard attributed (inaudible) a different reason, a fight which ended badly, and then instead a transformation of the crime to put forward the idea that it was a sexual murder. Also because, in fact, the position of Rudy, who was however found guilty, also from the beginning changed a bit. There’s his responsibility.

Giuliano Mignini: Also Rudy gave indications which then changed a bit. Rudi too, for example, said that there was an appointment with Meredith. Then in later interrogations he said that Meredith had asked for him to be there, and (Male interviewer interrupts: The reconstruction [by Nabil?]: what could have happened?). Yes, according to me, there was a situation, a progressive situation of disagreement between the two girls. That seems undeniable to me.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

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

Posted by Peter Quennell


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

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

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



Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Calunnia Claims At The Core Of The Problem For Amanda Knox - And Her Parents

Posted by Peter Quennell



Here is Amanda Knox claiming mistreatment as the reason why she falsely fingered Patrick Lumumba.

This was the court CCTV camera feed to the press-room on 12 June 2009. It was legitimate for the reporters there to capture it.

Our Italy-based Italian-speaking posters Fiori and Nicki both observed that to many or most Italians. Knox’s two days on the stand rang pretty hollow. She apparently needed to come across as a lot more fragile for the claims in the video to ring true.

Yesterday at the first hearing to set the date for Knox’s new trial, the number of police interrogators who are considered to have been targets of calunnia Amanda Knox was stated as twelve.

They will presumably all be testifying both at Knox’s new trial in October, and at the trial of Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, who allegedly repeated Knox’s claims on TV, and for whom the first hearing is coming up on 7 July.

They could face prison time and/or fines.

Judge Claudia Matteini observed that her presiding over the early hearings into Meredith’s case in 2008 (and denying Knox house arrest, a denial believed based in part on a psychological profile never made public) was not automatically a reason for her being replaced as a judge in this new case.

Knox had not made the claims you can see in the video at the time Judge Matteini was presiding. However, she agreed with what seems a reasonable defense request that a higher court should take the question of a possible conflict of interest under review.

She stated that the appeals court will issue a decision on who should be the judge for the new trial on 17 June.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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

Posted by Tiziano


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Transcript Of Today’s Online Chat Session With Barbie Nadeau Of The Daily Beast

Posted by Peter Quennell


Lucas Wittmann:
Hi, I’m the Books Editor at The Daily Beast and I’m delighted to welcome Barbie Latza Nadeau and our readers to discuss her new book, Angel Face…

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I’m Barbie Latza Nadeau. Welcome.

[Comment From kcolorado: ]
how was your sense of who she is affected by seeing her in court everyday? Have you spoken with her directly?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Seeing Amanda Knox walk into the courtroom every day was very important in understanding how she interacted with her lawyers and her family, and in understanding how the jury perceived her. Amanda has not yet given any one-on-one interviews so no, I have not spoken to her directly.

Lucas Wittmann:
Just so you know we see your comments and will publish them live as Barbie is ready so please keep them coming…

[Comment From Kevad: ]
You have also stated in tv coverage that “we still do not really know what happened in that room”, is that how you still feel?

[Comment From stint: ]
Great job with book, Barbie. I really enjoyed it.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Yes, after over two years following this case, none of us know exactly what happened in Meredith’s bedroom that fateful night. No one has confessed to the crime, so until someone does, we will not have a clear understanding of the exact dynamic of the murder.

[Comment From Guest: ]
How do you think your journalism during the trial affected its outcome?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Thank you. I’m glad you liked the book. My hope is that it provides perspective of this complex case.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I don’t think that any of us who covered this trial as journalists had a direct impact on the jury’s decision. We were not in the deliberation room.

[Comment From Wade: ]
Why in your opinion did the seattle media frame the events as they did

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that many of my colleagues in the Seattle market did the best job they could with the information they had. Their primary source was the Knox family, so their coverage was affected by that. When members of the Seattle press came to Perugia, they did not speak Italian and had a difficult time following the court sessions because there was no translator. Those of us who live and work here in Italy often helped the American press as best we could.

[Comment From stint: ]
Regarding earlier comment. Since Knox Family PR firm *very* closely controls any and all media contact with themselves, and they have reportedly blackballed any reporters even seen *near* you, do you really think you might interview Amanda in the future

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I have hope that Amanda might want someone objective who understands Italian to conduct an interview with her at some point down the road. But because I have been skeptical, I am fairly sure I am not high on the list of interview candidates.

[Comment From mnh12121887:
But why did the American media take the Knox family version so much on face value without even trying to look deeper?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that the economic crisis has played a role. Many bureaus have been closed across Europe and it would have been a major expense to send a correspondent to Italy for such a long trial. I think that had there been a larger Italian based press corp it would have made a difference in coverage.

Lucas Wittmann:
Let’s explore now the facts of the case.

[Comment From Guest: ]
Do you believe Knox’s assertion that she was abused during her final interrogation?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think it depends how you define “abused.” If you mean to ask if she was flicked on the back of the head (which is a cultural norm here in schools and in criminal investigations), then yes, that very likely happened. If you mean to ask if she was abused in the way the American police have been caught on CCTV abusing detainees, then no, I do not think she was abused.

[Comment From Guest: ]
You seem to have made some strange claims in your book - about AK and RS actually NOT remembering what happened. How on earth did you reach that conclusion?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I gave my hypothesis about the crime based on sitting through 11 months of a trial. I believe that if Amanda and Raf would have remembered exactly what happened, whether they were involved or not, their explanation of the evening of November 1 would have been more clear. A lie is often very black and white. Their confused responses seemed to me to be more consistent with a hazy memory or no memory at all.

[Comment From hattie: ]
I still believe that Amanda Knox is innocent, and I read your book to get another point of book. Thank you for that. My concern is that there is so much more DNA evidence against Rudy. How was Amanda able to clean up and not leave more DNA evidence in Meredith’s room?

Lucas Wittmann:
Don’t have Angel Face yet? Order it now as an e-book or paperback: http://bit.ly/chDjIX

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think it is important to remember that the same scientific police and laboratories tested the DNA for all three suspects. That is to say, if the DNA matches Rudy and is accepted, then the DNA that matches the other two should also be accepted. How she may have left so little DNA if she was actually in the room is very hard to square. Whether some of the 14 unidentified fingerprints belong to her is a big question in this case. There were very few fingerprints on any flat surfaces belonging to Rudy either. Is it possible to pick and choose how to clean up DNA? Maybe not, but it is possible to wipe up fingerprints and footprints that you know are your own.

[Comment From Guest: ]
If they didn’t remember then why did they do the clean up? They clearly knew they had ‘something’ to hide!

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
That is a very good question. Perhaps waking up in a house with a dead body makes one act irrationally. Perhaps because they might not have remembered what they did the night before, they panicked. We do not know, but that is one question I will ask Amanda if I ever get a chance.

[Comment From Guest: ]
After 11 months viewing the trial, do you believe that Amanda joined in any sort of sex game with Meredith? It seems that Amanda did, bt then went to her room BEFORE and DURING the murder.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
There is no forensic evidence that Amanda had sexual relations with Meredith. I have a hard time accepting that it started as a sex game. I believe that if they were involved it was because they could not stop themselves from an aggravated escalation of violence. In essence, they could not tell agony from ecstasy and did not realize that Meredith needed their help. Instead, they may have helped Rudy and that is when things got out of control.

[Comment From Lisa: ]
I see that some folks her responded to the question “Who Killed Meredith Kercher” with “Amanda and Raffaele” only. No Rudy. How could that be? Do you think journalism had anything to do with that?

Lucas Wittmann:
We’re going to wrap this up in 10 minutes so please contribute any final questions now.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that the fact that Rudy’s trial was sewn up before Amanda and Raffaele’s began is the reason many people separate them in this crime. But Rudy was convicted for his role in the murder, not as a lone assailant. His judge’s reasoning clearly states that he felt Rudy acted in tandem with Amanda and Raffaele.

[Comment From mhm12121887: ]
What is happening now—in Italy?

[Comment From Noel: ]
How do you see the appeal going?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Right now lawyers for both Amanda and Raf are preparing their appeal briefs. Those will be filed within a few weeks and then the date will be set for the appeal hearing, likely in the fall.

[Comment From Kermit: ]
Hi Barbie. Your journalism has opened up transparency and debate from an Iron-Curtain situation of control in the American press. Where do you see each of the three convicted (pending appeal) murderers 10 and 20 years from now?

[Comment From stint: ]
Thanks so much for this opportunity, and again thanks for all your objective coverage in “Angel Face”.... great read.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that the appeal will result in a few years taken from the sentences of both Amanda and Raffaele.

[Comment From Guest: ]
hasn’t her real beauty complicated this hugely from day one?

[Comment From hattie: ]
Thank for an excellent book. I read it in one day, and it gave me a different side of the story. I hope that both pro- and anti-Amanda sides will take an opportunity to read this book.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that it is very likely that all three of the convicted murderers of Meredith Kercher will return home one day.

Lucas Wittmann:
Here is the link if you’d like to order the Angel Face e-book and paperback: http://bit.ly/chDjIX

[Comment From mhm12121887: ]
Thanks also for the book and for the “on the spot” reporting and objectivity

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that Amanda’s beauty has increased the interest in this case, but I do not think that it dictated the outcome.

[Comment From Patty: ]
Thanks for answering questions Barbie.

Lucas Wittmann:
Down to our final question…

[Comment From somealibi: ]
(For the end) Compliments on the presentation and technology with the poll-type questions

[Comment From Patty: ]
Do you think any of them will ever confess?

[Comment From Guest: ]
You’ve been a real heroine in this case Barbie. Well done for your objective reporting.

Lucas Wittmann:
Thanks for answering the polls!

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I think that one day we will have a confession, yes. But not while they are in prison.

Lucas Wittmann:
Wait…one more!

[Comment From Guest: ]
Can you give your reactions to the 2 op-ed pieces in the NYTimes (Seattle writere)?

[Comment From Guest Guest: ]
Can we have another session please????

Lucas Wittmann:
Re: another session. So many great comments and questions, we’ll keep it in mind.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
I was in Perugia when those op-ed pieces came out and they were not helpful to Amanda. The prosecutor was angry, the jury members were insulted and Amanda’s own lawyers were not happy. Op-ed pieces are by nature controversial, but they should be weighed to see whether they will impact the topic. That sort of journalism likely had more impact on this case than what anyone wrote with a Perugia dateline.

Lucas Wittmann:
Thanks everyone for participating!
And thanks Barbie for answering all these great questions.

[Comment From ricardoricardo: ]
which ‘op-ed’ pieces > do you have a link ?

Lucas Wittmann:
Here is the link: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/10/an-innocent-abroad/

[Comment From Guest: ]
Cheers Barbie! Will raise a glass to you tonight…

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Thank you. I want to also thank Andrea Vogt, of the Seattle P-I who was a voice of reason in Seattle during the trial based in Italy. The op-ed pieces are by Timothy Egan.

[Comment From Guest:]
Thank you. This is nice technology and nice pace. Could have been twice as long smile

[Comment From somealibi: ]
Keep it going Barbie - thanks - we value an objective take

Lucas Wittmann:
Thanks again to everyone and we’ll definitely keep this in mind the next time.

[Comment From ricardo: ]
many thanks…

[Comment From Patty: ]
Thank you, and Andrea, for your coverage of the trial. Invaluable.

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU:
Thanks to everyone who sent question.

[Comment From Clander: ]
Ciao from Roma !! You ROCK Barbie !


Friday, April 02, 2010

How The Strongarm Public Relations Resulted in Most Of The Media Getting It Wrong

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the full excerpt from Barbie Nadeau’s new book.

This is surely one of the worst cases of misreporting and malicious bias in all of media history. It’d be very nice (though don’t hold your breath!) if journalism schools and media owners examined the firestorm to stop it ever happening again.

Consider just the US hall of shame.

And please remember: this is the SAME media that turned a blind eye to the Micheli sentencing report on Guede, and appears to be trying hard to do the same (not one of them is translating it) to the Massei sentencing report on Knox and Sollecito.

Here is Barbie Nadeau describing how the sharp-elbowed Knox/Marriott public relations bombardment warped Americans’ take on the case.

Coverage of the crime began to diverge on the two sides of the Atlantic. From the vantage point of Perugia, it seemed as though the Knox family’s American supporters were simply choosing to ignore the facts that were coming to light in Italy….

The American press hung back, at first, objective and somewhat disbelieving that such a wholesome-seeming girl could have any connection to such a sordid foreign crime, and then, as the family stepped up its defense, increasingly divided between two camps that would become simply the innocentisti—those who believed she was blameless—and the colpevolisti, those who did not. In Perugia, these labels governed access…

Of the handful of American journalists in Perugia in late 2007 and early 2008, none got access to the Knox family without certain guarantees about positive coverage. Within months, the family decided to speak on the record primarily to the American TV networks, often in exchange for airfare and hotel bills. Most of the print press was shut out. And the TV producers learned to be very cautious about being seen with people like me, lest the Knox family should cut them off.

But as interest in the case grew, an odd assortment of American talking heads attached their reputations to Amanda’s innocence. An aggressive support group called Friends of Amanda formed in Seattle, headed by Anne Bremner, a media-savvy criminal lawyer who had cut her teeth as a tough prosecutor in Seattle’s King County Court…

Very quickly, [PR manager David] Marriott lost control of the situation. As he spoon-fed the Knox-approved message to American outlets that couldn’t afford to send correspondents to Italy, those of us on the ground in Perugia began passing his contradictory e-mails around as entertainment during the long days in the court.

[We reporters in Rome] began what would be a two-year battle against the Seattle message machine, incurring personal attacks and outright threats.

.

We rather like the Daily Beast book, for its splash of cold water on the media, and for its highly accurate accounting of the court proceedings and of the voluminous evidence the judges also describe in their report.

We also believe that although Meredith’s family did not participate, Barbie Nadeau has strong compassion for them, and a sense of real loss over Meredith.   


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Three Communities Of Perugia And Why Some Students Tend To Run Wild

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image]

Perugia’s population these days is just short of 200,000 and of those about 20,000 are either visiting foreigners or foreign-born long-term residents.

Perugia’s population is growing at twice the Italian national average, and higher education and research is by far its largest industry. The University of Perugia is very old and it is the largest of a number of universities, colleges and institutes.

The numbers of people in town on any given day, week or month fluctuate far more than in most Italian cities. During the public holidays and university vacations, the old city can be extremely quiet - most of our Perugia shots here were taken in the quiet phases when almost nobody was around.

But when the colleges are all in session, and when there is a football match (Perugia has a very popular team), and when there is one of the frequent annual festivals (chocolate, jazz, and so on)  Perugia can be very hard to drive, park, or even walk in the main piazzas.

The three communities referred to here are (1) the long-term residents who, although far from outnumbered, seem to feel increasingly hard-pressed; (2) the large body of serious students, who work hard at their education to the excellent standards the Perugia institutions maintain, and (3) a smaller but less restrained element which tends to get into drugs and party loudly, and on football and festival days make the town seem to some threatening and out of control.

Incidents in Italy involving American students surface periodically in the news. The most notorious cases in the past couple of years were not in Perugia but in Florence, a couple of hours drive directly north. We don’t believe there is any blanket anti-Americanism in Italy but cases like this and also this do tend to get people ticked.

We posted nearly a year ago on a police clamp-down on the sale of drugs in Perugia. This drive seemed to have much accelerated after Meredith’s murder. A clear majority of those involved with illegal drugs - both in the selling and the using of the drugs - are said to be non-Italian.

This is an excerpt from Barbie Nadeau’s new book which shares her insights on this sometimes turbulent town.

It is 2 a.m. on a sticky September night, and Perugia is a cauldron of illicit activity. A thick fog of marijuana hangs over the Piazza IV Novembre. Empty bottles and plastic cups litter the cobbled square. The periphery is lined with North African drug dealers, selling their wares like the fruit vendors who occupy this spot in daytime hours. A group of pretty young British students giggle, easy prey to the Italian guys pouring their drinks. The American girls are more aggressive, eager to nab an Italian lover. Down an alley, a young man has lifted the skirt of his conquest and is having clumsy sex with her under a streetlamp while her drink spills out of the plastic cup in her hand. Dozens of students are passed out on the steps of the church. There is not a cop in sight.

This is the scene that greets the study-abroad crowd when they enroll at Perugia’s universities for foreigners. It comes as a shock to some and an irresistible circus to others, and it was the backdrop for tragedy in the case of two young women, Amanda Marie Knox, then 20, and Meredith Susana Cara Kercher, 22, who arrived in the fall of 2007 and enthusiastically joined the party. Less than two months later, Meredith was dead, and Amanda was in prison, accused of her murder.

These young women were not exactly innocents abroad. They had both done their share of college partying before they arrived in Italy. But that was hardly preparation for the nonstop bacchanalia that has made Perugia infamous on the international student circuit. Tina Rocchio is the Italy coordinator of Pennsylvania’s Arcadia University, which facilitates many study-abroad trips. “When they want to go to Perugia, my first question is always, ‘How much self-discipline do they have?’ before I can recommend it,” she says. “Perugia is not for the weak. The students who go there are of two veins—either they party or they study, and Perugia usually means a party.”

In the 1920s, Benito Mussolini established universities for foreigners in Perugia and nearby Siena, aiming to spread Italy’s “superior culture” around the world by recruiting foreigners to study cheaply in these lovely, walled cities. The Siena school remains relatively small. But the school in Perugia, in tandem with the city’s Università degli Studi, which also caters to foreigners but has a larger contingent of Italians, spawned dozens of smaller satellite campuses. There are so many that the town’s student population is now roughly 40,000, around a quarter of the city’s total population of 163,000. Perugia is popular among foreign students looking for something cheaper and cozier than Paris, Barcelona, or Florence, these last three cities being the top choices for well-heeled Americans. The academic offerings are wide-ranging, and the professors have a reputation for being forgiving. Sometimes, the college credits transfer back home as a simple pass-fail mark, when they should actually be given a grade-point score. All this attracts an eclectic mix of young people from around the globe. Most of the Italian kids come from wealthy families; in Italy, university students usually live at home, and it is a rare privilege to go away to school. The foreign students—the universities are accredited in Asia, Europe, and North America—are more likely to be scraping by on scholarships and second jobs. With very few dorm rooms available, the students usually live in the historic center in flophouses and apartments that have been partitioned into tiny rooms to accommodate multiple renters. The town is full of discos, clubs, and cheap restaurants that cater to a student clientele.

No surprise, Perugia is also a drug dealer’s paradise; the mostly North African merchants do a lively trade in everything from genetically modified hashish to cocaine and acid. It is very easy to get high in Perugia, and the police generally turn a blind eye. Perugia has a very low crime rate compared with the rest of Italy. Despite its reputation, drug arrests are rare, and the police are routinely lenient with the student population. The narrow, cobbled streets, some of which are built in steps, discourage car use, so the students stagger around the city center on foot, and the drunk driving offenses that usually dominate college-town crime dockets are not a problem. Murders are extremely rare—with one notable exception. The year before Meredith was killed, another young woman, Sonia Marra, who was studying medicine at the Università degli Studi, disappeared without a trace. The body has never been found, and it was only recently that her former boyfriend was arrested in connection with her murder—amid suspicions that the investigation into her death was neglected during the two-year circus following Meredith’s murder.

Perugia was home to the famous artist Pietro Vannucci, who went on to teach Renaissance great Raphael. It is also famous for the Perugina chocolate factory, now owned by Nestlé. But without the universities, Perugia would be just another postcard-perfect Umbrian hill town competing for the tourist dollar with Siena, Assisi, and St. Gimagnano. The local community looks askance at the wild student culture, but also knows better than to interfere much with the town’s economic mainstay. As one Perugian prosecutor told a reporter, with long-suffering tolerance, “This kind of intoxicating freedom gets into these kids so far away from home, this total lack of control, this hunger for experience rules these kids.” The universities and administrators of study-abroad programs contribute immensely to Perugia, and they expect the local community to be forgiving. They insist, too, that the party scene it is no worse here than any other college town.

Perhaps if someone had done their due diligence on the Perugia scene, Amanda Knox would not be where she is now. 

And of course Meredith would still be alive.



Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sentencing Report: Barbie Nadeau Quotes The Motive, Physical Evidence, And Alibis

Posted by Peter Quennell


Please click above for Barbie Nadeau’s full report on the Daily Beast website. Key excerpts.

1) The motive

“One can hypothesize that the bad decision came after the consumption of stupefying substances.”

But they disagreed on the motive. The prosecution lawyers began their case in January, 2009 by arguing that Kercher was killed during a sex game gone awry. By closing arguments, they had changed the theory slightly, trying to make the case that Knox resented her prissy British roommate and killed her in hatred. The jury rejected both theories, and the reasoning document declares that “the killing was carried out with no planning, no animosity and no revenge against the victim.

”The two young lovers, interested in each other and in the intellectual and cultural world around them, would not have made a conscious decision to kill Kercher. Instead, the judge wrote, they killed spontaneously under the influence of drugs. “One can hypothesize that the bad decision came after the consumption of stupefacente—stupefying substances—that Amanda verified in her testimony.”

As the jury saw it, Knox, Sollecito and Rudy Guede, the Ivory Coast native who was convicted for his role in Kercher’s murder after a fast-track trial in 2008, came to the house the two girls shared in order to get high. Guede used the toilet, then became aroused when he saw Knox and Sollecito making out. He went to Kercher’s room and made sexual advances toward her. The reasoning refers to evidence presented at Knox’s trial that Guede was the type of guy that “bothered women” when he was under the influence.

Then, according to the reasoning, Kercher cried out for help, but instead of helping her, Knox and Sollecito, their judgment impaired, decided instead to help Guede. The killing was based on “sexual-erotic violence” but not with Knox as the mastermind. The jury felt that it was Guede who led that attack, and the other two, too high to know better, joined in.

2) The physical and forensic evidence

The judge’s reasoning also underscores what the jury believed to be the most important elements of the prosecution’s forensic case. They believed that a kitchen knife with Knox’s DNA on the handle and a trace of Kercher’s on the blade was the weapon that made the large fatal wound in Kercher’s neck. They also referred to Sollecito’s “knife habits,” surmising that, as an admitted collector of blades, he likely used his own knife to make the second wound. The jury agreed that Sollecito and Knox conspired to stage a break-in in another bedroom to cover their tracks.

And they attributed an unidentifiable bloody shoeprint found on the pillow under Kercher’s body to Knox, even though the prosecution only implied that it was compatible with a woman’s shoe size. A spot of Knox and Kercher’s mixed blood in one of the bedrooms, found using Luminol, and four additional spots in the small bathroom the girls shared also swayed the jurors.

“These were left when Amanda was cleaning her hands and feet of Kercher’s blood,” the judge wrote.

3) The Knox and Sollecito alibis

The judge also wrote emphatically about the lack of credible alibi. Although Knox and Sollecito claimed to be at his apartment all night, “Not one phone call, not one meeting, no computer activity or any other element proved that they stayed at that apartment.” And the judge was particularly hard on Knox for accusing Patrick Lumumba, an innocent man, of the murder “knowingly and deceivingly.”

Overall, however, it appears that the jury was sympathetic to the two suspects, but ultimately felt that they committed a crime for which they must pay a hefty price.


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