Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Series 20 No-PR hoax

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.   


Friday, March 19, 2010

Rome Panel On Meredith’s Case: Seems To Have Been Shallow, But Of No Comfort To Knox Apologists

Posted by Cesare Beccaria



[Above: IAF president Rocco Girlanda - a wannabe Italian David Marriott?]


The outrage that directly led to the creation of TJMK late in 2008 was the deliberate attempt to disappear Meredith and to replace her as the “real victim”.

Reversing that horrible trend and ensuring Meredith is revered, and at the end of the day granted her true justice, has always been our main mission. We have also worked to reverse the horrible sliming of Italy (a country Meredith loved and so looked forward to) and the officials and the trial process.

As far as we can see no English-language media have better explained the impressive Micheli Report and the impressive Italian system and the powerful evidence of guilt. Or for that matter lately shown Italy in such a positive light.

Ideally, if it had wanted to spread actual understanding, the Italian American Foundation Rome panel yesterday should have covered much of that same ground.

As far was we can see, it didn’t. And there seems to have been little mention of Meredith.

But at least the panelists seem to have come up with no new criticisms. Today Italy looks no worse, and Knox’s position looks no better. And the panel was inconclusive on what might have happened differently in the United States. (We reckon the outcome would have been identical but the sentences would have been Life.)

Andrea Vogt reports for the Seattle P-I on yesterday’s doings. Key excerpts below.

1) On the Italian American Foundation panel

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

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

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

“Trial outcomes are unpredictable. You really can’t guess what the outcome would be,” Arcabascio, who is co-director of the Florida Innocence Project, told the crowd. “But reasonable doubt is a standard of proof we use in both countries.”

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

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

2) On Amanda Knox in prison

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

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

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

There are also some must-read paragraphs by Andrea Vogt on the very fishy commercial aspects of IAF president Rocco Girlanda’s role in the case. Is he seeking a PR contract?

Rocco Girlanda, who is also a parliamentarian and PR consultant, has been criticized before for raising false hopes for Knox apologists, and yesterday he did it again.

Andrea Vogt also reports on the state of Seattle-Perugia relations (with links to some Facebook pages), on the new books on the case, and on a new pro-Sollecito website, apparently created by a certain Chris Mellas.

What a surprise.

Low-traffic low-traction and generally highly inaccurate apologist websites, all with a nasty sneering tone, seem to be springing up like wildflowers these days.

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

Below: IAF president Rocco Girlanda at right with fellow parliamentarians outside Capanne Prison, after visiting Amanda Knox.



Wednesday, March 03, 2010

La Repubblica’s Riccardo Stagliano Reports On The Seattle End of The Case (2)

Posted by The 411



This below is a translation of this excellent report by La Repubblica’s Riccardo Stagliano which was widely watched on Italian television.

Like the article below it also follows the typical mould of Italian reporting on Seattle - polite but seemingly doubting of the FOA claims about Amanda and the case.

AMANDA KNOX SPONTANEOUS STATEMENT: “In these days, I’ve reflected a lot about what I’ve wanted to say and what came into my mind. I wrote a question that maybe still puzzled a lot of people.”

ITALIAN ANNOUNCER VOICE-OVER: But it was the entire Meredith Kercher murder story that leaves many people puzzled in spite of the triple first-degree conviction of Rudy Guede, Raffaele Sollecito, and Amanda Knox.

We went to Seattle to try to see if we could enter into the world of the American 20-something girl - angel for her family, devil according to the judges.”

The obligatory first stop is the office of David Marriott, spin doctor these past two years, who has handled media relations for the family. You can’t enter into the inner circle of the girl without passing by him first.

The first interviews are with the mother and father, separated [i.e., divorced] for 20 years.

CURT: “Amanda is a person who’s always been extremely real. As her parents, it wasn’t always pleasant to hear what was said. But, she wasn’t able to hide the truth. She’s someone who takes care of others, honest, as a study habit she has an intellectual approach to things.”

“With Raff, they met for the first time at a classical music concert. They went out for about a week, before Meredith was found dead. In such a brief period, you don’t transform a beginning relationship in to [the type of] scenario made up by the judges. You don’t go from zero to an orgy. It doesn’t happen in nature…. It’s not started out in an orgy manner.”

EDDA: “Amanda and Meredith were friends. She only said good things about her. They spent their time together, going to bookstores, or hanging out around town, reading and discussing books. Everyone will say that Amanda is a type of person who couldn’t hurt a fly. She couldn’t even do aggressive sports, because she doesn’t like violence. She’s affectionate with the elderly and children. She’s a kind human being.”

“The only direct contact we have now is 10 minutes every Saturday morning, in which we all try to tell her we love her and we all say “hi” quickly because there’s such little time. And then there are the letters. She’s written a lot of them to us, and we try to do the same.”

VOICE OVER: An important turning point for Amanda’s life was high school - attended at Seattle Prep, a Jesuit school attended by all the offspring of the upper middle class, which, later, would mobilize for The Cause.

We met Kris Johnson, her Literature teacher for two years, who let us see in the classroom where she taught, a letter, in very childish handwriting, that she sent from prison.

KRIS JOHNSON: “Amanda was an enthusiastic student who loved to learn..It really affected her. She sent me a lot of emails after class. She was simply excited by learning. She was fascinated by characters and people because she wanted to become a writer….as if she wanted to train for it, continuously.  It is not at all possible that the person I knew in class could even THINK of the things that the media has portrayed.”

VOICE OVER: Before coming to Italy, Amanda studied at Washington University and she lived near campus. There she met and became friends with Madison Paxton, the official friend, the only one Marriot lets journalists come close to.

MADISON: “One of the reasons that we became such good friends is that we had opposite views of life and people. She’s a very trusting person, while I’m not. In the end, we balanced out each other.”

“As for her man-eater reputation, when she came to college, she had less romantic experience than the average student. In high school, she hardly went out with anyone, and in college, she had a total of two boyfriends.”

VOICE OVER: Not all of Seattle, however, is so united in their outraged defense of their famous fellow citizen. Among the despised critics of the family is Peggy Ganong, a doctoral student in French at the University, who moderates the forum “Perugia Murder File” where information is gathered about leading stories on the case.

PEGGY: “One of the things that aroused my suspicions was that the family issued a press release the day after the arrest. I found it strange- and interesting. And then I discovered that a Public Relations firm was recruited to manage the Amanda image - a firm known to use techniques, I don’t want to say unethical, but let’s say unconventional,  in order to reach their objective.”

“I think that the incredibly one-sided coverage of the case in the American media is the result of this massive PR activity that cost more than a million dollars. What Marriott and the family have done was to say from the moment that the tabloids demonized Amanda, we’ve painted her as an angel. That’s why they’ve constructed an image of a typical American girl, which is probably just as false as the demonized image of her, which the tabloids have perpetuated.”

VOICE OVER: Ms. Ganong is not the only one to think that way, and to say it publicly. Among the skeptics, there’s Charles Mudede who’s in charge of the cultural pages of “The Stranger,’ a popular weekly newspaper…. We meet him at the Quarter Lounge, near his workplace.

CHARLES: “She didn’t grow up as the classic American girl. She played soccer, which isn’t a national sport here. In fact, it’s fairly non-traditional. And then, yoga, which speaks of a Far Eastern influence, rather than of praying.”

“You might expect from a classic American girl that she’d be very focused on the Christian side [of things]  —she on the other hand did a mixture of different things, typical of the liberal cosmopolitan girls of Seattle.”

PEGGY: “The reason why many of our well-known local people have mobilized in her defense, organizing fund-raising dinners, putting together groups of people on her behalf all goes back to Seattle Prep.”

“People who pay $13,000 a year to send their children to high school so they can prepare them to go to the best colleges do not want to see the value of that investment go down, as a result of that type of scandal. Seattle Prep was the school where Judge Mike Heavey’s daughter went, [a girl] who was quite friendly with Amanda. As were the children of Tom Wright.  I believe worrying about saving the good name of the school is a good part of the [motivation behind the] ‘Innocentisti Movement’ in Seattle.

“Although it’s important that these influential people on her side have made a big splash, they don’t really represent the entire city.”

VOICE OVER: Anne Bremner, former prosecutor and current TV legal commentator is the spokeswoman for the Friends of Amanda, a site where counter-information regarding trial facts is continually updated.

ANNE: “An injustice in any part of the world is an injustice in all of the world.  I personally felt it was important to lend a hand, to expose the absolute lack of evidence. In other words, someone who has absolutely nothing to do with this horrendous crime. What has happened since the verdict? Nothing, except to increase the passion, that much more. We will never, ever abandon Amanda.”

SUBTITLES OF STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS CONFERENCE - A REPORTER ASKS: “Today Senator Cantwell spoke of contaminated evidence… of unsequestered jurors and a questionable prosecutor… additionally, we’ve seen jurors wearing tri-colored sashes… and there was anger in the Italian press and all this indicates that there hasn’t been a fair trial…and all of you in the State Department claim the opposite…”

VOICE OVER: In the meantime, they continue their tireless lobbying activity, recruiting the most varied of advocates. Senator Maria Cantwell has expressed such serious doubts about the judicial system, that Anti-Americanism contaminated the case, also making Hillary Clinton more aware of the case.

Fortunately, she [Hillary] was too busy dealing with Afghanistan and Iran to offer an opinion on the matter. [There are] even VIPs, like Donald Trump, who proposed a boycott of Italy, until the girl comes home.

SUBTITLE OF STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS CONFERENCE: “Italy has its own justice system, different than our own.”

VOICEOVER: No one remembers one detail—that at least Italy doesn’t have the Death Penalty.

Nor does anyone seem to remember the many cases when America made great efforts to collaborate with Italian judges, including such times as [after] the Disaster of Cermes, and the [after] the killing of Agent Nicola Calferi by [American] soldier Mario Lozano.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

La Repubblica’s Riccardo Stagliano Reports On The Seattle End of The Case

Posted by Nicki



[click for larger image]

La Repubblica’s cool and objective reporter Riccardo Staglione visited Seattle recently to meet all the parties, and he filed this balanced and unequivocating report.

Seattle, In The World Of Amanda

By Riccardo Stagliano

Seattle. The fabulous world of Amanda Knox is a catalog of goodwill skits. Amanda, whose worst fault is to trust everyone. Amanda, so sincere as to become self-damaging. More about Amanda, comforting a lonely child and pampering her old zen master. All she wants to do is work and study more and more. She finds love at a classical music concert, not at a Black Sabbath rave.

Such a mirrored biography tends to become dazzling, to the point that it seems to have been rinsed in Photoshop. Only the end doesn’t add up. A retroactive, corny and sanctifying portrait to the point that one finds it natural to look for the scriptwriter’s signature. But the end doesn’t add up.

She has been convicted of murdering someone of her same age, stabbed in the house that they shared . A devilish tail springing out of her angelic body. As if the first part of the movie had been directed by Federico Moccia [an Italian writer and movie maker specialized in corny, sentimental plots] and the second part by Dario Argento [Italian horror movies director].

At the beginning of March, the first degree judges [judges for 2009 trial] will explain in the motivations of their sentence why they believe that this 20 year old from Seattle who went to Perugia for a student exchange is guilty. The Court of Appeal judgment will confirm or deny.

Here we ‘ll talk about the environment where the girl was born and grew up, and why in her city and starting from the same premises, some people have reached opposite conclusions about her, and how this event has put the US and Italy up against each other.

This low intensity war started in newspapers. With a scandalized Timothy Egan asking on the New York Times “In which century are we? Haven’t Jeanne d’Arc, the Inquisition and witch hunts taught a couple of things to civilized nations relatively to sexual hysteria with devilish nuances?”. Needless to say [according to Egan] we are the uncivilized hysterics.

Next it was the VIP’s turn, such as tycoon Donald Trump, who has recently proposed a boycott of Italy until the girl will be freed. And politicians such as Senator Marie Cantwell, who has expressed “serious doubts on the Italian judiciary system and the circumstance of anti-americanism that may have contaminated the process” and who has tried to involved Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, luckily too busy with Afghanistan and Iran to look into it.

This is the climate and it is the second thing to be noted upon arrival in this city after the scenographic skyscraper Space Needle: the direction of the reconstruction of this nasty story, very professional and entrusted to a proven spin doctor, whose fees according to local sources are about $ 100,000 a year. David Marriott is the journalists tamer that has been managing the family’s relations with the press for two years.

His first question is if one has spoken with anyone else and if so who they are. His black list has grown long with time. In order to finish up on this list, it’s enough not to go with the official tales, or to raise doubts or point out inconsistencies.

In his posh PR offices even the paintings speak eloquently. On a poster from the 40’s a soldier warns against the risks of espionage : “Someone has talked”. There, it’s important that only authorized people speak, and that they have been instructed about what to say.

The first to arrive in the meeting room is Kurt Knox, relaxed in his black leather jacket. After about 10 minutes Edda Mellas rushes in, breathless.

Mom and Dad, separated for 20 years, seem to only have in common the white plastic bracelets claiming “free Amanda”. And some key words that we’ll hear from the mouths of the other witnesses carefully selected by the PR people. “Amanda? Her main characteristic is to always say the truth, even when it is not convenient” they say, first the father and then the mother, his eyes dry, her eyes shedding tears. It’s the woman giving more details about how Amanda cannot simply restrain from commenting if she didn’t like a dress or a hair cut , how she is not capable to say those white lies that make life easier. A problem for a shrewd manipulator such as she has been described.

In the same way, how could she be a knife wielding murderer, she who is “incapable of violence?”. She didn’t even enroll in the kickboxing course that all her friends were attending, her mother recalls. ” If she found a spider in the house what would she do?” her father asks, with the expression of one who is holding a royal flush. “Well, Amanda would never squash one”.

The third quality of Amanda that is once again discussed is her being booksmart, more comfortable with books that with real life. Is such a girl capable of killing someone? Absolutely not.


Parents are clearly doing their job, a tough job nowdays, and that deserve respect. They meet only on Saturday mornings, just for the 10 minutes weekly call from the prison. Then, they stick to the defense line agreed upon with the communication strategist, and they are very careful and ready to bite their tongue when there’s something to say about Giuliano Mignini who has already sued them for some declarations believed to be slanderous

They are emotionally and financially devastated, says Kris Johnson, who taught Amanda English at Seattle Prep, the exclusive Jesuit high school which costs about $ 20,000 a year. She is number one on Marriot’s approved list. In the tiny cafe near the school where they serve cappuccino in cups as big as soup bowls she pulls out an envelope sent from the Capanne prison and sealed with a drawing of a laughing heart.

“Do you see the handwriting? How could do someone with such a handwriting harm anybody?” . In the two pages the ex student reasons with melancholy about the grey colors of winter she sees during her daily two hours outside her cell, with many more spelling errors than what one would expect from an honor student, as she has been depicted.

But the teacher tells me instead about the boldness of some Italian males when in 1972 in Florence they were proposing her to become their umpteenth lover. It’s not a casual memory and she explains: “Italian men have strange ideas about American females”. She is thinking about the jurors, the prosecutor, the public opinion that are all seeing a witch instead of the sensitive youngster that she knows. “She reads a lot of books, she thinks a lot. She could only attend one course but she was following two. She was writing me emails to comment on the classes. It was a pleasure to teach her”

The fourth word that she introduces is the adjective that Amanda university mates will use: “trusting”, even too much. Madison Paxton is the kosher friend, the one that the careful Marriot casting has approved. I met her at the Cafe on Ave, a couple of blocks from campus, very close to the dorms where she met Amanda in 2005.

“The main difference between us, what was really fascinating is I was very wary, she was the opposite.” An attitude that during the year and a half they were socializing was never a problem. This petite photography student, with honey colored hair and wearing dark shades, seem not to possess an ounce of malice. She would seem the ideal character witness, one everybody could believe. She tells of when Amanda was waiting outside the darkroom because she was afraid to return home alone at night. She is laughing thinking about Amanda as a man eater, she only dated a couple of boys when she was in college “actually a number below the average “.

And if the Italian public have remarked how she didn’t seem contrite during the trial, it’s only because they don’t know “the girls from the North West, they are raised not to cry in public and to behave like guys”. In a letter from jail, Amanda wrote to her not to despair: “even if I’ll be locked in here until I am 46, I’ll still have a big chunk of life ahead” .

If she’ll be freed earlier, one who is ready to hire her right away is Rick Kirsten. She worked for this art gallery owner for two months. but he’s betting on her qualities, as if he has known her forever. “I put an ad, I had 31 applications and I chose her. She used to finish her work in half the time and she would ask for more. And she knew how to deal with people”. His favorite episode-that Amanda’s parents recommended he tell me is about a 8-10 years old girl that seemed to be lost in the crowd at the gallery.

“I was getting ready to go to take care of her, but a client stopped me, and Amanda was there already and the child was happily laughing.” Not to speak of Amanda’s kindness to his father, a 90 years old painter and zen meditative that was often at the gallery

The beatification front is coherent and uniform. If the tabloids, especially the British ones. depicted during the first months after the murder the image of a heartless, shrewd and bad girl, the Foxy Knoxy from MySpace, then the American counteroffensive is aiming at an immaculate picture. Amanda Santa Subito (Amanda Saint Now).

One who definitely doesn’t tolerate it, breaking the city chain of solidarity is Peggy Ganong, a doctoral student in French at the university, a translator who has lived for 20 years in Paris, she is the spoiler who has taken up the task to dismantle the “consensus machine” on her internet forum perugiamurderfile.org.  “I don’t know if the girl is guilty I only know that this rabid activity of image management to bleach her reputation is not convincing, actually, it is suspicious”

[Amanda’s] family - that between airplanes, lawyers, press offices appears to have spent more than $ 1,000 000, and claims it is deep in debts - is only partially responsible for the operation, as several local potentates whose path have crossed Amanda’s in the classrooms of the Jesuit high school have taken action to defend the future possible convict. It seems that Amanda was very fond of the daughter of judge Michael Heavy. He was the first one to write an outraged letter to the Italian magistrates and to inspire the group Friends of Amanda, together with Tom Wright, a tycoon with interests in the movies industry whose children were at Seattle Prep.

“In order to defend the reputation of an institution that prepares the local ruling class” Ganong explains, “they have organized fund raisers to pay some of the costs necessary to sell the image of the typical naive American girl which, regardless of how things went, it’s totally false”.

“We are not in Wisconsin, Kansas, Georgia nor in any other puritan area of the US. The middle class here is liberal, open, cosmopolitan…. Amanda was practicing yoga, she played soccer and was studying abroad. Not really typically American, but rather a Seattle behavior”, Charles Mudede from the weekly magazine the Stranger explains: “But it was more convenient to present her like a standard girl because this would have triggered national solidarity and the suspicion derived from the ignorance that America nurtures towards everything situated outside its border”.

Thus also subduing diffidence toward that other foreign land, adolescence, that for the average American is the dungeon of evil. Mudede is not ideologically a colpevolista, he has been to Perugia, followed the case and objects to the patriotic critics against the Italian judiciary system: “They had Lumumba, a black from Congo and Amanda, a white American. If they wanted a murderer at any cost, which of the two was the easiest target?


The FOA don’t see it this way. Their spokeperson Anne Bremner, a sort of super-blond and sharpened Crudelia Demon that was a prosecutor and TV commentator, cites Martin Luther King: “An injustice in any place is a threat to justice everywhere else”. She claims that with such scarce evidence nobody would have been found guilty anywhere else in the world. She promises that they won’t stop, they will get to the White House.

Meanwhile, they keep recruiting witnesses that describe us [Italians] as the savages of jurisprudence. But have these people who are pointing their sharp little fingers ever heard of the Cermis deaths [details here], and of the US marine Lozano who killed Nicola Calipari [details here] just to name a couple of cases of “lack of judiciary collaboration between Washington and Rome”?

If there is something besides our national health service about which we do not feel inferiority complexes towards the USA it is our justice, slow, at times fallible, but at least without the death penalty. Amanda knows it and in fact she writes to her friend Madison that in the worst case she will be out by the time she is 40. Her lawyers know it too, and so do the spin doctors who hope to shake the fragile probatory evidence on appeal. For her the outcome is still to be determined.

The one for whom is definitely closed is Meredith Kercher, in this grim drama the least quoted protagonist by the Seattle guarantists.

Posted on 03/02/10 at 12:39 PM by NickiClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxes Knox & team20 No-PR hoaxHoaxers from 2007Knox-Mellas teamMore hoaxersThe wider contextsSeattle context
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (8)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Most Important Italian Paper Balks At The Attempts In US At Intimidation

Posted by Commissario Montalbano



[Above: The Corriere Della Sera building in Milan]

The Corriere Della Sera is the Italian equivalent of the New York Times and the London Times.

It wields huge influence throughout Italy and reflects the popular mood in its reporting. It does NOT like the campaign of vilification against the trial and its outcome. Here is a translation of today’s blast by Beppe Severgnini.

The do-it-yourself verdicts and that wrongful U.S.A. cheering

Many Americans criticize the ruling, but have never followed the case. Why do they do that?

Judicial nationalism and media justice, when put together, form a deadly cocktail. We also have Reader-patriots and journalist-judges ourselves, but what is happening in the United States after the conviction of Amanda Knox, is embarrassing. Therefore it is highly worth pondered upon.

American television, newspapers and websites are convinced that Amanda is innocent. Why? No one knows. Did they follow all of the trial? Did they evaluate the evidence? Did they hear the witnesses who, moreover, testified in Italian? Of course not! They just decided so: and that’s enough.

Like Lombroso’s*** proselytes: a girl that is so pretty, and what’s more, American, cannot possibly be guilty. No wonder Hillary Clinton is now interested in the case: she’s a politician, and cannot ignore the national mood.

There are, as I wrote at the beginning, two aspects of the issue. One is judicial nationalism, which is triggered when “a passport is more significant than an alibi” as noted in yesterday’s Corriere’s editorial by Guido Olimpio. The United States tend to always defend its citizens (Cermis tragedy, the killing of Calipari) and shows distrust of any foreign jurisdiction (hence the failure to ratify the International Criminal Court). In the case of Italy, at play are also the long almost biblical timespans of our justice, for which we’ve been repeatedly criticized at the European level.

But there is a second aspect, just as serious as the first: the media justice operation. Or better: a passion for the do-it-yourself trial. It’s not just in the United States that it happens, but these days it is precisely there that we must look, if we want to understand its methods and its consequences.

Timothy Egan - a New York Times columnist, based in Seattle, therefore from the same city of Amanda - writes that the ruling “has little to do with the evidence and a lot with the ancient Italian custom of saving face.” And then: “The verdict should have nothing to do with medieval superstitions, projections sexual fantasies, satanic fantasies or the honor of prosecuting magistrates. If you only apply the standard of law, the verdict would be obvious “. 

But obvious to whom? Egan – I’ll give it to him - knows the case. But he seems determined, like many fellow citizens, to find supporting evidence for a ruling that, in his head, has already been issued: Amanda is innocent. In June - the process was half-way - he had already written “An innocent abroad” (a title borrowed from Mark Twain, who perhaps would not have approved this use).

To be sure, among the 460 reader comments, many are full of reasonable doubt and dislike journalists who start from the conclusion and then try in every way to prove it.

I did not know if Amanda Knox was guilty. In fact, I did not know until Saturday, December 5, when a jury convicted her. I do have the habit of respecting court judgments, and then it does not take a law degree – which I happen to have, unlike Mr. Egan - to know how a Court of Assizes works.

It is inconceivable that the jurors in Perugia have decided to condemn a girl if they had any reasonable doubt. We accept the verdict, the American media does not. But turning a sentence into an opportunity to unleash dramatic nationalistic cheering and prejudice is not a good service to the cause of truth or to the understanding between peoples.

A public lynching, a witch hunt trial? I repeat: what do our American friends know? How much information do those who condemn Italy on the internet possess? How much have those who wrote to our Embassy in Washington, who accused the magistrates in Perugia, and who are ready to swear on Amanda’s innocence, studied this case for past two years?

Have they studied the evidence, assessed the experts’ testimony, or heard the witnesses of a trial that was much (too) long? No, I suppose. Why judge the judges, then?

They resent preventive detention? We don’t like it either, especially when prolonged (Amanda and Raffaele have spent two years in prison before the sentence). But it is part of our system: in special cases, the defendant must await trial while in jail.

What should we say, then, about the death penalty in America? We do not agree with it, but we accept that in the U.S. it is the law, supported by the majority of citizens. A criminal, no matter which passport he has in his pocket, if he commits a murder in Texas, knows what he risks.

Before closing, a final, obligatory point: I also did not like the anti-Amanda crusade in the British media, for the same reasons. The nationality of Meredith, the victim, does not justify such an attitude.

For once - can I say it? - We Italians have behaved the best. We waited for and now we respect the ruling, pending further appeal.

I wish we Italians behaved like that with all other high profile crimes in our country - from Garlasco’s case and on - instead of staging trials on television and spewing verdicts from our couch.

***Note: Cesare Lombroso, was a 19th century Italian criminologist who postulated that criminality was inherited, and that someone “born criminal”’ could be identified by physical defects.

[Below: the distinguished Italian columnist Beppe Severgnini of Corriere]


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Powerpoints #16: We Now Examine The Compelling Evidence For The REAL Railroading From Hell

Posted by Kermit




1. How To Open The Show

Click here if you have Powerpoint or the Powerpoint Viewer program loaded. If not here is the Viewer download.

2. Huge Fail In Public Relations

As we approach the closing arguments and the verdict late in 2009, what strikes me is the lack of information which any of the three suspects have directly contributed to the proceedings.

  • In the case of Rudy, since his trial followed the fast-track procedure, justice was served principally on the basis of the investigation report.

  • In the case of Raffaele, he maintains the same silence ever since stating two years ago that Amanda had made him tell a crock of lies, and that she had left his apartment for four hours on the night of the crime.

  • In the case of Amanda, there had been some early hope after her arrest that she may be more forthcoming in her explanations and replies to questions posed by the investigation. However, those hopes were dashed after the mid-December 2007 interview with her lawyer by her side, when at one point she decided to invoke her constitutional right to no longer reply to questioning, a posture she maintained until the 2009 trial was well underway.

My opinion is that this decision and attitude is due in part to explicit and / or implicit pressures to follow a public posture established by a series of concentric rings of advisers and hangers-on around her.

These start with her immediate family, the Public Relations team hired by her family, a semi-formalised group of supposed well-wishers and supporters called the Friends of Amanda, and then a larger cloud of other supposed supporters who aren’t necessarily part of the Knox Mellas family or the Friends of Amanda, whose motives for supporting Amanda are wide and varied, and whom I call in general terms “The Entourage”.

I don’t include her Italian lawyers in these groups, as their legal advice to her does seem to be based almost entirely on good professional criteria (as good as it can be in the circumstances). In addition, her Italian legal team has even gone to the point of stating that The Entourage’s activities in bad-mouthing the investigation and the prosecution’s actions could cause negative results for Amanda in her trial.

These circles of advice - especially the innermost ones - I believe will be responsible for making it impossible for Amanda to ever make an opening to the need for answers to many outstanding questions. Indeed, she is being pushed, guided and chaperoned along an inflexible path of limited participation in the legal process around her.

One of the fervent supporters of Amanda, Chicago Private Eye Paul Ciolino, coined the expression that Amanda is being “railroaded”. Indeed, when you look at the results of the expensive PR campaign captained by Seattleite Public Relations professional David Marriott, of the Public Relations firm Gogerty Marriott, you can not agree more.

I believe that the concentric shields around Amanda prevent any progress along a road of ensuring her maximum contribution to clarifying the crime against Meredith Kercher, and only allow Amanda to cocoon herself further into a limited space of denial. 

The Gogerty Marriott web page says:

“For more than three decades, Gogerty Marriott has been building communication strategies for clients involved in public affairs issues. These issues range from behind-the-scenes to highly controversial, but invariably are crucial to the client’s financial success or mission ... At Gogerty Marriott we apply campaign-style strategies and tactics to communicate in ways that help clients achieve their goals. Based on our experience, we believe this research-based campaign model is the most effective way to develop compelling communications. Of vital importance is developing messages that intersect with the values of the audience receiving them.” 

Translation: the Gogerty Marriott firm is all about spin. This Powerpoint tries to examine some of the human elements of PR campaign at this crucial point in the trial, and the wider activities supposedly in support of Amanda Knox. Thei presentation reflects personal opinion, often expressed through satire. I urge any viewers to get a broad set of information and further opinions on the following excellent discussion boards, and in general through quality international press:

Any irony or sarcasm which may be encountered in the presentation or our discussions is not meant by any means to trivialise the pain and suffering, and butal senseless murder of Meredith, nor to reduce her memory. (Since she has no means to reply to any comments herein or scenarios described in other presentations, and the repeated use of her name in this context would only further hurt anyone close to her, in some circumstances I sometimes refer to Meredith simply as “the victim”.)

I can only hope that there will be one single ending, that justice is served to those responsible for each of the crimes which have been determined by the Italian judiciary.

3. More Commentary After Watching

Rudy Guede has already been sentenced for the maximum allowed (30 years) under “abbreviated” form of trial which he chose. And in ten days or so, Amanda Knox and Raffaele may be found guilty and be sentenced to the maximum punishment allowed (life in prison) under their own form of trial.

Rudy Guede did not show the slightest true repentance, contribute anything respectful to the memory of Meredith, or provide anything close to a credible explanation for the night of Meredith’s attack.

Raffael Sollecito and Amanda Knox seem to have managed only to muddy the waters, insult the memory of Meredith, and do themselves much harm with their own various widely differing explanations.

I believe that all three have shown an attitude which approaches arrogance at times. And in the case of Amanda Knox, in the days after Meredith’s murder and in her second day on the stand, she seemed at times almost gleeful.

Had Knox not felt so egged-on and overly-confident, she might never have taken the stand - which was possibly when she cooked her own goose.  Who actually encouraged Knox and Sollecito to take these seemingly disastrous positions?

I find it hard to believe that their Italian lawyers did. All I have ever heard about the lawyers for Knox and Sollecito (and for that matter about the prosecutors) is that they despise the antics engineered from the US. 

The impression gaining ground now amongst court observers is that the main factor in Knox’s attitude has been the many participants - some there as part of a plan and some seemingly self-appointed - in one of the most disastrous defense-support campaigns in legal history.

The concentric rings of participants that seem to have been busy appear to me to be these four following:

  • The immediate families. The Sollecitos did less than the Knoxes and Mellases to raise a storm, but they have already received negative payback in three ways: investigation of the whole family for releasing a video showing an uncovered Meredith to a Bari TV station; Sollecito’s sister losing her job as a carabinieri, and Sollecito distinctly no better off.
  • Gogerty Marriott, Inc. The Seattle public relations outfit hired by Knox’s family, which seems to have allowed or at least not stopped continued denigration of the prosecutor, the investigators and Italian justice generally, and repeated mis-statements and severe under-statements of the small mountain of evidence against Knox. Believed not to get along well with the group below.
  • The Friends of Amanda. A semi-formalized and shadowy group of supposed well-wishers and supporters organized with spokeswomen Anne Bremner, most of whom are in what seems a cowardly manner still unnamed and lurking in the shadows. Believed not to get along well with the prior group.
  • Finally, a group know on the discussion boards as The Entourage. A larger cloud of supposed supporters who aren’t necessarily part of the Knox Mellas family or the Friends of Amanda, and whose motives for supporting Amanda are wide and varied but often seem to revolve around money.

The outer circles of meddlers have seemed to want to prevent normal Italian processes to provide true justice for Meredith from ever playing out. Even very recently, one loudly threatened to take a guilty verdict straight to the top ranks of the US State Department (good luck with that one).

They seem to have antagonized just about every case-watcher in Italy, definitely the prosecution and police services in the case, and quite possibly the judges and jury. In fact, they seem to want to prevent the judges and jury from watching the media, presumably so that they don’t get affected by this train-wreck of a campaign.

These circles of advice may now be making it impossible for Amanda Knox if guilty to show any penitence or remorse, or to plead psychological impairment, or even come out with a truthful story that, if guilty, might actually get her some time off.

For a long time Knox has seemed to be pushed, guided and chaperoned along an inflexible path of limited options in which she seems to have no direct control herself or over the legal process playing out around her.

  • Why does an American woman on trial for murder in Italy need an expensive public pelations campaign aimed principally at an American audience?
  • Having decided to go ahead with this expensive PR campaign, why does Amanda’s family then complain about their financial woes on prime time television?
  • Why is this expensive PR campaign maintained when Amanda’s Italian legal team has stated that it is counterproductive?
  • Has the expensive PR campaign produced “positive” personal results for some of its participants in such a way that they may carry out actions or make statements which are neither here nor there for Amanda’s cause, but which benefit them?
  • Has the expensive PR campaign made it impossible (or too late) for Amanda to open up, contribute further information to the body of knowledge of what happened on the night of 1 November 2007, provide some closure to the Kercher family, and possibly ensure some leniency in any guilty verdicts which she may possibly receive for any of the charges against her?

One of the fervent supporters of Amanda, Chicago Private Eye Paul Ciolino, coined the expression that Amanda is being “railroaded”.

The true railroading to Hell of Amanda Knox seems to have been done by her own supposed supporters.

Posted on 11/26/09 at 10:31 AM by KermitClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Overviews PowerpointCrime hypothesesHoaxes Knox & team20 No-PR hoax
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (28)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Vilification Of Prosecutor Mignini Clearly Continues To Misfire

Posted by Peter Quennell


In this recent post we included an amazing statement from Mr Mignini.

A number of sources then confirmed that he and we had it exactly right in that post and that the claims of the American writer of the lurid “Monster Of Florence” are nasty, mischievous, and simply don’t check out.

Sources tell us Mr Mignini may have sharp elbows - but he is also very fair and careful, rarely leaks or does anything just for the publicity, does a great job for Perugia (where he is rather popular), and really respects the victims of crimes and and their families - in this case, Meredith and her family who repeatedly sound like they respect him.

Now La Nazione is reporting that Mr Mignini is again aggressively fighting back against the so-far-fruitless campaign to vilify him. 

He is planning to sue a Joe Cottonwood, seemingly a publicity-hungry carpenter and occasional journalist in California whose knowledge of the case would apparently not even cover a postage stamp. And who seems to feel he has a license to shoot his mouth off slanderously in Italy, regardless of who actually gets hurt.

The publisher of his uninformed take on the case in Il Giornale will apparently also be sued,

From La Nazione:

According to the American writer [Cottonwood] among other things, “perhaps in Italy there is a hatred of American college students who give joy to madness. Amanda will pay not for her guilt or innocence, but because of popular resentment towards rich and superficial Americans. The murder of Meredith Kercher is one of those mirrors that reflect the prejudices of the investigators.”

The last time that the prosecutor had moved for legal action was in January, when the West Seattle Herald described him as “inadequate” and “mentally unstable”. In that case, in a move that many had regarded as completely understandable as well as justified, the prosecutor saw fit to start concrete legal action.

And now the same judge [Mr Mignini] is preparing for a new legal battle after suffering yet another attack from the disparaging “‘stars and stripes”. Mr Mignini and his colleague Manuela Comodi are preparing an indictment for after the conclusion of the trial, which resumes in mid-month this month.

Nice going by the fatuous Joe Cottonwood. For those of a less xenophobic frame of mind here actually is the evidence. A series still far from complete.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

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

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Doug Preston’s Nasty Ant-Italy Anti-Mignini Campaign To Stir Bigotry Hits A Wall

Posted by Skeptical Bystander



[click for larger image]

The Daily Beast has an excellent article on the unrelated case against Mr Mignini.

A final verdict has now been postponed, pending testimony from four other witnesses. This charge has been a huge part of the US PR campaign waged by Marriott and the FOA (of which Doug Preston is a member).

I came away from the article thinking that Doug Preston’s limited knowledge of Italian and excessive reliance on Spezi have not helped matters.

For example, in his Monster of Florence book - to which Preston has added an afterword about Meredith Kercher’s murder, even though the two cases are unrelated except for the fact that the prosecutor in both is Mignini - Preston relates that the crazy bloodied man in the square on Nov 2 was shouting “I killed her”, when in fact witnesses have testified that he shouted “I will kill her” (he was referring to his girlfriend and it was determined that he had nothing to do with the murder of Meredith).

In addition, Preston has claimed that Mignini told him he could not come back to Italy when in fact Mignini says he said no such thing, though he did suggest that Preston get an attorney, in part because his understanding of the Italian language (and certainy Italy’s laws) was limited.

It is also important to note that Mignini has been cleared of the illegal wiretapping of journalists charge. The pending trial is not about this at all, as the article explains quite clearly. The Daily Beast article actually provides invaluable facts for anyone who really wants to put the abuse of power charge against Mignini into perspective. I say “really wants” because I sometimes suspect that this is the last thing those stuck in “delirium” mode want.

Although the article only touches on the financial stakes - mentioning that Tom Cruise has optioned the MOF book - I came away feeling that there is a ferocious battle going on behind the scenes, and that the battle itself is part of the money-making drama.

The murder of Meredith Kercher has been caught up in this vortex, and I believe we have mainly Doug Preston to thank for that.

Poor Meredith.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Italy Shrugs: Why Amanda Knox’s Testimony Seems To Have Been A Real Flop

Posted by Nicki





Posting from Milan (image below) where we also have been watching Knox testify in Italian.

Here are just three of the disbelieving headlines on the testimony that have been appearing in the Italian press.

  • All of Amanda’s wrong moves (La Stampa)

  • Amanda growls but Patrick bites (Il Giornale)

  • Amanda: I am innocent. But many “I don’t remembers” start popping up (ANSA)

As many of us were expecting, Amanda’s testimony has backfired. She came across not as confident but arrogant, not as sweet but testy, not as true but a fake who has memorized a script, an actress who is playing a part but not well enough to fool the public.

It is true that the Italian media and public opinion in general have not been very benign with Knox. But not for the reasons that the American media seem to want to push.

Let’s make it clear, Amanda Knox is not on trial because Italians are unaccustomed to or even “jealous” of her freedom and lifestyle… The first time we read these “explanations” we found them quite laughable.

But for many or most Italians the initial amusement has now given way to a profound irritation. Amanda Knox’s lifestyle is shared by hundreds of thousands of Italian girls, who like partying and sex as much as she does - or even more - and they live a happy carefree life with no fear of being perceived as “bad girls.” They behave no differently from any other girl of the same age in America or in any other Western country.

Dear American media, welcome to the 21st century and to globalization!  Please put aside pseudo-romantic and passè vision of a country where all men chase American girls because Italian women are not as approachable for “cultural” reasons: Italian men are into foreign girls no more but no less than Italian girls are into foreign boys.

They generally greatly like Americans because of their great interest and curiosity for a country and its people that many Italian youngsters have only known through books or movies. Amanda Knox is not on trial because she is American and therefore too “emancipated”. She could even be from the North Pole as far as Italians are concerned.

What really matters to them is to find the truth about Meredith’s murder and to do real justice for her terrible death. Italians don’t much like Amanda primarily because they perceive her as a manipulative liar, who is suspected of having committed a heinous crime for which there is a whole stack of evidence - and they perceive this even more-so after this last week’s court hearings.
 
In addition, the US media’s seemingly endless bashing of the Italian justice system, and of the whole country, most recently by CBS and ABC, has definitely made things worse.

The Italian police are NOT known to be particularly violent - although, agreed, it may happen when they’re dealing with violent males suspects from Eastern Europe or Africa, or in the streets when they have to deal with a riot. Violence is NEVER used with white, female college students from Italy, America or elsewhere.

And Italy is a sovereign state with a great juridical tradition. Receiving condescending lectures by the media of a country where the death penalty is still applied in many states comes across as more than insulting - it is utterly ridiculous. Before you judge the “backwardness”  of the Italian justice system, you should at least first read Cesare Beccaria’s amazingly humane Of Crimes And Punishments (written in 1764) and perhaps you’ll reconsider.

If the American media just cannot understand that there are alternatives to the “American way ”, that may not be so bad after all. But they should at least show some respect for a foreign, sovereign state and its people.

If the media can’t even manage to do so - and they really want to help Amanda - the best thing to do now is to go quiet and let the Italian justice work at its pace and according to its own principles. If Amanda is only guilty of arrogance, callousness and narcissism, she will be free soon.

Dear American followers of Meredith and, for that matter, also friends of Amanda Knox. May I speak right to you, and right past the media?

There has been no character assassination, no demonization, no great wave of hate and revenge, no mad prosecutor, no Satan theory of the crime, no invented evidence, and no massive bumbling.

What there has been is a whole stack of evidence and a VERY careful process. Kernit in effect described all the evidence in his extraordinary 150 questions.

And on Friday and Saturday, Amanda Knox for better or worse chose to answer NONE of them.



Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Damage That Is Now Flowing From A Needlessly Hard-Line PR Campaign

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for Andrea Vogt’s extraordinary report in today’s online Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Added: Also, in case it scrolls away, this valuable take is copied here.

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. The report names Mellas, but he is not a suspect.

According to the report, the tactics include “veiled threats” and attempts to disable a Web site dedicated to the criminal case in Perugia, Italy.

The development marks an escalation in a ferocious “blog war” that has been brewing for more than a year as Knox faced a murder charge, then went on trial. The blog war has recently become particularly vicious and personal in Knox’s hometown of Seattle.

The battle in the blogosphere has divided the online community into two factions: those who question Knox’s innocence, and those who do not. In Italy, the media have dubbed them “innocentisti and colpevolisti,” or “the innocents and the guilties.”

Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are currently standing trial in Perugia for the slaying of Meredith Kercher. Kercher, a college student from England, was studying in Italy, as was Knox, a University of Washington student. The two shared an apartment.

Seattle police Sgt. Mark Worstman has confirmed that an investigation into cyber-harassment is still open and cautioned those who are concerned for their security to consider avoiding online debates and community forums where aggressive behavior is being allowed.

When seattlepi.com interviewed him, Mellas denied any involvement and said he is not connected to and does not know the person named in the complaint. In fact, he said he and his family also have been harassed online.

“I have not approved or disapproved because I don’t have any part to play in it,” said Mellas, who is a computer-network manager at Bellevue-based real estate development company.

“There’s a bunch of idiots on both sides of this whole silly blogworld. It has degenerated beyond belief, and frankly an article that is going to highlight this is only going to make it worse. But I don’t really care, because I don’t pay attention to it,” Mellas said.

Seattlepi.com is not naming the suspect because he has not been charged with any crime. He did not respond to seattlepi.com efforts to reach him by phone or by the e-mail addresses listed in the police report.

West Seattle resident and professional translator Peggy Ganong, who moderates the discussion site Perugia Murder File under the online name “Skeptical Bystander,” complained to police two months ago, saying she was being harassed for her involvement and for comments she has posted on sites that question Knox’s innocence.

“I am supposed to somehow get behind the home team. It is as simple as that,” said Ganong, who lives just a few blocks from the Mellas and Knox families. “But I had ongoing doubts, I continued to express that opinion, and that’s when I became a target. But the fact that it has spilled over into real life, well there’s something scary and terribly wrong about it.” The sites that question Knox’s innocence and defend court proceedings in Perugia are Perugia Murder File, a discussion board co-moderated by Ganong, and True Justice for Meredith Kercher, founded last September by New Jersey financier Peter Quennell.

“The True Justice site was created because Kercher had become so intensely forgotten, as the huge and well-funded effort gathered speed to paint Knox as the ‘real’ victim,” Quennell said. Quennell said more than 20,000 people have visited his site.

A number of individual bloggers also write about the case. There are two main blogs in defense of Knox. One is Italian Woman at the Table, a seattlepi.com reader blog by Seattle freelance writer Candace Dempsey. Dempsey’s blog was initially about cooking but added true crime to its menu as the debate picked up steam.

Dempsey was one of the first U.S. bloggers to post key court documents. She is now writing a book on the case. The other defense site is Perugia Shock, the first blog about the case, which started Nov. 2, 2007. Perugia Shock’s comment threads are home to some of the most heated Knox-related exchanges online.

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” (a stage name, real name Sforza).

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 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.

“Sometimes I briefly let my guard down, but I try to cancel when the comments are offensive or if people request it,” he told seattlepi.com.

While Italian Woman at the Table and Perugia Murder File require registration to post, Perugia Shock allows anonymous postings. There, people who leave anonymous comments have launched threats and accusations that cut both ways. A number of women associated with this case have been attacked online, not only for their opinions, but also for real or imagined physical traits.

Ganong and Seattle trial lawyer Anne Bremner have been targeted with a particular zeal, although Bremner said the positive feedback she has received has far outweighed the catty remarks. Ganong chalks it up to the fact that they are both outspoken, albeit on different levels. Bremner has appeared regularly on national television as a legal analyst for high-profile cases such as Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson and Mary Letourneau. On this case, she has been a vocal supporter of Knox, posted a letter on Perugia Shock and often represents the ad hoc Friends of Amanda group in media appearances.

“I am not a public personality,” Ganong said, “but I do somehow represent the other side—this whole other class of people in Seattle who are not on the bandwagon and are not buying the ‘railroad job from hell”’ argument that Knox is being wrongly prosecuted. Ganong told seattlepi.com that it wasn’t just months of targeted, rude remarks that pushed her to file the report. She finally went to police after posters published her husband’s first and last name, the approximate location of their home, information about their family life, as well as shopping and personal habits, much of which had been gleaned from public-records searches, Facebook and other online portals.

Before filing the report, she repeatedly requested that the profane comments and posting of personal information stop. Her exasperated husband, a Seattle accountant, even met Mellas for a beer in a Seattle tavern to talk face-to-face about various messages that had been posted.

But Mellas said he had no control over the blogosphere and actually had much bigger things to worry about.

“I told him I have nothing to do with it. I said proceed with whatever it is you are doing, find out who it is and at that point you’ll know I am not doing anything, and it is not coming from my network either, as far as I know,” said Mellas, who helps manage a network with more than 400 computer users. “Granted, I don’t sit around all day and audit all the network traffic.”

“Those people are not going to get the answer until they get the authorities involved and get some logged ISPs and find out where it is really coming from. I hope that when they do that they make that known.”

It is not the first time Mellas’ name has surfaced in a blogging controversy, however.

Before Perugia Murder File existed in its current form, it was moderated as a message board called The True Crime Weblog Message Board by one of the nation’s foremost true crime bloggers, Steve Huff. Huff now blogs professionally for the Village Voice Media’s True Crime Report. At one point the posts became so aggressive that Huff decided to do something he rarely does—post the IP address of the person commenting. The IP traced to a block of IP addresses managed by Mellas, and Huff took him to task publicly, claiming he had written or authorized the comments himself. Mellas, however, says that his work as a network manager overseeing an IP gateway means several hundred people are using computers (and IP addresses) that are linked to his name. He said someone could easily be impersonating him, pretending he or she is associated with him or writing messages without his knowledge, since several hundred people could access the Internet using the block of IP addresses he manages. An Internet Protocol address is an identifying number assigned to computers participating in an internet network.

Huff said one of the intimidating private messages accusing him of slander was sent to him via the contact form by “Mr. Anonymous,” who claimed to own the e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The contact form captured the IP address of the sender and was traced to a block of Internet Protocol addresses managed by Mellas, Huff said. While the message could have from anyone within his large network, Huff said he believes it was sent or approved by Mellas.

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.”

According to Ganong, the threats online and to her own personal inbox are originating from the same Hotmail and Gmail addresses.

Another Seattle area couple, Kathleen and Randy Jackson, are also considering filing police reports. Both post under aliases on the Perugia Murder File site and have been criticized for attending a recent fund-raiser for Knox. Jackson, who said she is a former victim of sexual assault, said she went to the event because she felt Kercher’s memory was being overlooked in the effort to raise money for Knox.

“It had been announced everywhere as this high-profile fund-raiser, so I wanted to go where this big news was happening and show a different side of Seattle, because I grew up there, and I was embarrassed,” Kathleen Jackson said.

But after the couple did an interview on a local Seattle television station covering the event, the negative attention grew fiercer, but oddly, just toward Kathleen, who posts on Perugia Murder File as “Professor Snape.” Randy, an educational technology professional at the University of Washington who posts as “Fly By Night,” is just as active on the forum. “Both Kathleen and I talked to the reporter, but only she’s been called out,” Randy Jackson said. “These individuals seem to more frequently target women.”

Kathleen Jackson said using an anonymous online identity allowed her to express her strong views on the case. But when other anonymous posters began speculating about where she lived and worked, she began having second thoughts.

“Now that they want to find out who we are and tell the whole world, well, why do they want to do that?” she said. “I think they are trying to intimidate us to stop posting.” Supporters of Knox also have been targeted. Participants at Italian Woman at the Table spar, but controversial comments are often resolved briskly with Dempsey’s delete key. Until she began requiring commenters to register, she says, she received chilling death threats from anonymous posters certain of Knox’s guilt. Posters have inaccurately described her credentials, said Dempsey, and “outed” personal information about her family.

After seeking advice from local police, she implemented behind-the-scenes safety measures, but has not filed a formal report. Dempsey warned that those who blog using their real name should expect to have their privacy violated on the “no-rules Internet.” “Anybody who writes about a murder case will attract angry posters who are sure they know who did it,” she said.

That is exactly what happened to Huff, who decided it wasn’t an online community he wanted to court. “I’ve been a little shocked—but not that shocked—all along at the way the Knox/Kercher case has broken down to something more akin to a pitched political argument than a debate about a terrible, violent crime and the possible guilt of one of the accused,” Huff told seattlepi.com in an e-mail. He’s 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.

A number of individual bloggers also write about the case. There are two main blogs in defense of Knox. One is Italian Woman at the Table, a seattlepi.com reader blog by Seattle freelance writer Candace Dempsey. Dempsey’s blog was initially about cooking but added true crime to its menu as the debate picked up steam.

Dempsey was one of the first U.S. bloggers to post key court documents. She is now writing a book on the case. The other defense site is Perugia Shock, the first blog about the case, which started Nov. 2, 2007. Perugia Shock’s comment threads are home to some of the most heated Knox-related exchanges online.

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 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.

“Sometimes I briefly let my guard down, but I try to cancel when the comments are offensive or if people request it,” he told seattlepi.com.

While Italian Woman at the Table and Perugia Murder File require registration to post, Perugia Shock allows anonymous postings. There, people who leave anonymous comments have launched threats and accusations that cut both ways. A number of women associated with this case have been attacked online, not only for their opinions, but also for real or imagined physical traits.

Ganong and Seattle trial lawyer Anne Bremner have been targeted with a particular zeal, although Bremner said the positive feedback she has received has far outweighed the catty remarks. Ganong chalks it up to the fact that they are both outspoken, albeit on different levels. Bremner has appeared regularly on national television as a legal analyst for high-profile cases such as Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson and Mary Letourneau. On this case, she has been a vocal supporter of Knox, posted a letter on Perugia Shock and often represents the ad hoc Friends of Amanda group in media appearances.

“I am not a public personality,” Ganong said, “but I do somehow represent the other side—this whole other class of people in Seattle who are not on the bandwagon and are not buying the ‘railroad job from hell”’ argument that Knox is being wrongly prosecuted. Ganong told seattlepi.com that it wasn’t just months of targeted, rude remarks that pushed her to file the report. She finally went to police after posters published her husband’s first and last name, the approximate location of their home, information about their family life, as well as shopping and personal habits, much of which had been gleaned from public-records searches, Facebook and other online portals.

Before filing the report, she repeatedly requested that the profane comments and posting of personal information stop. Her exasperated husband, a Seattle accountant, even met Mellas for a beer in a Seattle tavern to talk face-to-face about various messages that had been posted.

But Mellas said he had no control over the blogosphere and actually had much bigger things to worry about.

“I told him I have nothing to do with it. I said proceed with whatever it is you are doing, find out who it is and at that point you’ll know I am not doing anything, and it is not coming from my network either, as far as I know,” said Mellas, who helps manage a network with more than 400 computer users. “Granted, I don’t sit around all day and audit all the network traffic.”

“Those people are not going to get the answer until they get the authorities involved and get some logged ISPs and find out where it is really coming from. I hope that when they do that they make that known.”

It is not the first time Mellas’ name has surfaced in a blogging controversy, however.

Before Perugia Murder File existed in its current form, it was moderated as a message board called The True Crime Weblog Message Board by one of the nation’s foremost true crime bloggers, Steve Huff. Huff now blogs professionally for the Village Voice Media’s True Crime Report. At one point the posts became so aggressive that Huff decided to do something he rarely does—post the IP address of the person commenting. The IP traced to a block of IP addresses managed by Mellas, and Huff took him to task publicly, claiming he had written or authorized the comments himself. Mellas, however, says that his work as a network manager overseeing an IP gateway means several hundred people are using computers (and IP addresses) that are linked to his name. He said someone could easily be impersonating him, pretending he or she is associated with him or writing messages without his knowledge, since several hundred people could access the Internet using the block of IP addresses he manages. An Internet Protocol address is an identifying number assigned to computers participating in an internet network.

Huff said one of the intimidating private messages accusing him of slander was sent to him via the contact form by “Mr. Anonymous,” who claimed to own the e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The contact form captured the IP address of the sender and was traced to a block of Internet Protocol addresses managed by Mellas, Huff said. While the message could have from anyone within his large network, Huff said he believes it was sent or approved by Mellas.

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.”

According to Ganong, the threats online and to her own personal inbox are originating from the same Hotmail and Gmail addresses.

Another Seattle area couple, Kathleen and Randy Jackson, are also considering filing police reports. Both post under aliases on the Perugia Murder File site and have been criticized for attending a recent fund-raiser for Knox. Jackson, who said she is a former victim of sexual assault, said she went to the event because she felt Kercher’s memory was being overlooked in the effort to raise money for Knox.

“It had been announced everywhere as this high-profile fund-raiser, so I wanted to go where this big news was happening and show a different side of Seattle, because I grew up there, and I was embarrassed,” Kathleen Jackson said.

But after the couple did an interview on a local Seattle television station covering the event, the negative attention grew fiercer, but oddly, just toward Kathleen, who posts on Perugia Murder File as “Professor Snape.” Randy, an educational technology professional at the University of Washington who posts as “Fly By Night,” is just as active on the forum. “Both Kathleen and I talked to the reporter, but only she’s been called out,” Randy Jackson said. “These individuals seem to more frequently target women.”

Kathleen Jackson said using an anonymous online identity allowed her to express her strong views on the case. But when other anonymous posters began speculating about where she lived and worked, she began having second thoughts.

“Now that they want to find out who we are and tell the whole world, well, why do they want to do that?” she said. “I think they are trying to intimidate us to stop posting.” Supporters of Knox also have been targeted. Participants at Italian Woman at the Table spar, but controversial comments are often resolved briskly with Dempsey’s delete key. Until she began requiring commenters to register, she says, she received chilling death threats from anonymous posters certain of Knox’s guilt. Posters have inaccurately described her credentials, said Dempsey, and “outed” personal information about her family.

After seeking advice from local police, she implemented behind-the-scenes safety measures, but has not filed a formal report. Dempsey warned that those who blog using their real name should expect to have their privacy violated on the “no-rules Internet.” “Anybody who writes about a murder case will attract angry posters who are sure they know who did it,” she said.

That is exactly what happened to Huff, who decided it wasn’t an online community he wanted to court. “I’ve been a little shocked—but not that shocked—all along at the way the Knox/Kercher case has broken down to something more akin to a pitched political argument than a debate about a terrible, violent crime and the possible guilt of one of the accused,” Huff told seattlepi.com in an e-mail. He’s 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.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

CBS Reporter’s Bizarre Claims About Prosecutor And Reporters

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





Peter Van Sant of CBS is the slightly confused-looking reporter in the images above and below.

In promoting his “48 Hours” report tonight, which by all accounts seems intent on equaling CBS’s record for worst report on the case, Mr Van Sant has come out with an interview which is an absolute classic for how not to do such things.

First, consider Mr Van Sant’s remarks about one of the prosecutors in the case. 

As for the accusation that Kercher was killed over a sex game, Van Sant cites an Italian blogger for putting that notion into the prosecutor’s mind. Van Sant said the blogger claims that she speaks to a dead priest who tells her what happened at crime scenes.

The blogger told the main prosecutor in the Knox trial, Giuliano Minnini (sic), that this was a satanic sex game and that’s how the theory started, Van Sant said.

Sliming of a prosecutor in this fashion has already been strongly protested against by Amanda Knox’s own defense team.

And the prosecutor in question, one of two (real name: Mignini), many weeks ago made clear that he had NOT listened to the Rome blogger (had locked her up in fact), is NOT especially pushing any particular theory of motive for the crime, is NOT especially central to the continued momentum of the trial - and has actually started a lawsuit against PRECISELY this kind of libel!

Second, consider Mr Van Sant’s remarks about the reporting of the case.

Among the many (actually rather neutral and non-inflammatory) journalists on the case that Mr Van Sant seems intent on sliming is of course Andrea Vogt of the Seattle PI. He all but refers to her by name and it seems rather obvious who he had in mind.

Ms Vogt is the reporter from the Pacific Northwest who is based in Bologna, Italy and who has been covering this case for the Seattle PI for over a year. Many observers have been impressed with her thorough, objective and factual reporting, particularly since the trial phase began.

Anyone who has been following the case knows how non-objective and pro-defense much of the reporting has been in the US, and how much fluffy air time has actually been arranged by the family-hired PR firm Marriott and company.

So the particular focus of Mr Van Sant’s criticism is really surprising. After claiming that Italy has the most irresponsible tabloid press on the planet and that local Seattle papers like the Times and the PI can’t afford to send reporters to Italy to cover the story, he explained that they hire “stringers”. Apparently these stringers simply translate articles from the Italian tabloids into English and, via the local newspaper circuit which publishes them, they get recycled and become legitimate news.

Mr Van Sant actually uses the terms “filtered” or “laundered”, as if he were talking about Mafia money being invested in life insurance policies.

The Seattle PI has enough problems without having to deal with this irresponsible and possibly defamatory remark. And Andrea Vogt, who to our knowledge is the only “stringer” working on this case who is filing stories for the PI, has been providing some of the best coverage of this case to US readers.

There are many good reasons for this: Ms Vogt is fluent in Italian and lives in Italy for much of the year; and she is a talented writer and an intelligent reporter. But most important, she has been making the trek from Bologna to Perugia and back, and spending Fridays and Saturdays in the courtroom for hours on end.

She recently wrote a piece on the mood in Seattle for Panorama, an Italian publication. For that article, she interviewed people in Seattle—including friends of Amanda Knox.

I would imagine that as soon as each daylong court session ends, she sits down - like the other serious reporters covering this case - and tries to turn out a fair and accurate report of the day’s event under very tight deadlines. Her reporting for the PI has been excellent and fair.

It is not only unfair, it is also dishonest to imply that Andrea Vogt is translating Italian tabloids and trying to pass it off as original reporting. If this interview with Mr Van Sant is any indication, then CBS viewers tonight may be in for an evening of fiction.

In which case, I think I’ll watch “The Greatest Story Ever Told” or “The Sound of Music” instead. Closer to reality than is CBS….



Monday, March 16, 2009

Outcome Of Back-Seat Driving: Defense Lawyers Pulling Their Hair Out? Again?

Posted by Peter Quennell




1) Stepfather Chris Mellas

Mr Mellas as reported on Saturday:

He had spoken to Ms Knox on the eve of the hearing. “I told her she’s innocent and she needs to speak up for herself.”

2) Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini

Dr Mignini as reported on Sunday.

The newspaper Corriere dell’ Umbria said that Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor, would bring an additional charge of slander against Ms Knox, since all police officers and interpreters who have given evidence at the trial have testified under oath that she was at no stage put under pressure or physically mistreated.

3) Stepfather Chris Mellas as reported on Monday:

Ooops. Did I just cost her 6 more years? Maybe her lawyers really can advise Amanda better than an amateur who doesn’t speak the language. 

I’m on the next plane outta here. Sorry, kid, and all that. Still friends, though, right?

Okay, we made that last one up. But maybe even Amanda Knox is now thinking this way?

4) Times Report - Full Quote

The [UK] Times

Richard Owen, Rome

March 15, 2009

Amanda Knox, the American student charged with the murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher, faces an additional charge of slander for claiming that police struck her while she was being questioned.

At the latest hearings in her trial in Perugia, Ms Knox claimed that police had put her under psychological and physical pressure to admit that she was present at the murder.

Ms Knox, who has the right to address the court at any time during her trial, was reacting to evidence from Anna Donnino, a police interpreter who claimed that Ms Knox had behaved “as if a weight had been lifted from her” when she admitted that she had been at the scene of the crime and accused Patrick Diya Lumumba, a Congolese bar owner for whom she worked part-time, of the killing. Ms Knox told police that she had covered her ears in the kitchen to block out Ms Kercher’s screams.

Ms Donnino said that when questioned after Ms Kercher’s body was found, Ms Knox walked up and down nervously at the police station, “hitting her head with her hands”. She had denied responding to an SMS message from Mr Lumumba telling her there was no need to come to work because there were few customers, leaving her free for the evening. But she broke down when police said phone records showed that she had done so, Ms Donnino said.

“She showed extreme emotional involvement – she was crying and visibly shocked, saying ‘It was him, it was him. He’s bad’,” Ms Donnino added.

Ms Knox, speaking in fluent Italian, said police had called her a “stupid liar” during “hours and hours” of questioning during which she had stuck to her story that she spent the night of the murder at the flat of Raffaele Sollecito, her former boyfriend and co-accused.

She said that Ms Donnino had suggested to her “that probably I didn’t remember well because I was traumatised, so I should try to remember something else”. There had been an “aggressive insistence” on the text message she had received from Mr Lumumba, Ms Knox said. She insisted she had been slapped on the head by police, adding “I’m sorry, but it’s true”.

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

The newspaper Corriere dell’ Umbria said that Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor, would bring an additional charge of slander against Ms Knox, since all police officers and interpreters who have given evidence at the trial have testified under oath that she was at no stage put under pressure or physically mistreated.

Ms Kercher’s semi-naked body was found under a duvet on the floor of her bedroom in November 2007, at the hillside cottage in Perugia she shared with Ms Knox and two Italian women. She had been stabbed in the throat.

The prosecution accuses Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito of murdering and sexually assaulting Ms Kercher with Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast immigrant who was given a 30-year sentence last October for the crime under fast-track procedures. He began his appeal last week, claiming Ms Knox had killed Ms Kercher in a row over stolen cash.

The all-night interrogation in which Ms Knox accused Mr Lumumba and described blocking her ears was ruled inadmissible by Italy’s Supreme Court because no lawyer was present. However a voluntary statement written by Ms Knox in English repeating this scenario has been accepted as court evidence despite defence protests. The defence claims Ms Knox was not at the cottage during the murder but at Mr Sollecito’s flat.

Mr Lumumba, who was arrested but later released without charge, is suing Ms Knox for defamation. He is also seeking damages for wrongful imprisonment.

Aida Colontane, another police interpreter, told the court that she had noticed a red mark on Ms Knox’s neck which “leapt out” from her “extraordinary pallor”. Laura Mezzetti, one of the Italian flatmates of Ms Knox and Ms Kercher, has also testified that Ms Knox had a red mark on her neck. Curt Knox, Ms Knox’s father, has suggested the mark was a love bite.

Fabio D’Astolto, an English-speaking police officer who helped to question Ms Knox, told the court that she and Mr Sollecito had behaved strangely, kissing and cuddling and talking together in low voices. A number of other witnesses have given the same testimony.

Mr D’Astolto said he had ensured that Ms Knox understood procedures and questions at all times. Daniele Moscatelli, another police officer, said officers had confiscated a long knife from Mr Sollecito, who had explained to them that he collected knives as a hobby. Mr Sollecito appeared confused and nervous during questioning, he said.

At the last hearings two weeks ago the court was told that Ms Knox had done cartwheels and the splits while waiting to be questioned by police. However Chris Mellas, her stepfather, who is attending the trial, said that his stepdaughter was doing yoga exercises and a police officer had asked her to do gymnastics, remarking “You look rather flexible”.

Oreste Volturno, the police officer who led a search of Mr Sollecito’s flat, said he had been struck by “the powerful smell of bleach”. The prosecution says the kitchen knife found at the flat which is presumed to be the murder weapon had been scrubbed with bleach in an attempt to erase blood and DNA traces.

The court was told that police investigating Ms Knox had tapped her phone calls and intercepted her correspondence before and after her arrest, including an email to friends in Seattle in which she claimed that she had found Ms Kercher’s body. She had written and received around 600 letters over a six-month period, all of which were intercepted and then translated by a team of four police interpreters. Her conversations with prison visitors were also recorded.

Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the Kercher family, said that the suspects’ alibi that they had spent the night of the murder at Mr Sollecito’s flat had collapsed after Marco Trotta, a police computer expert, said that tests on Mr Sollecito’s computer showed that nobody had used it on the night that Ms Kercher was stabbed to death. Mr Sollecito claims he was at his flat working on his computer at the time of the murder.

Mr Trotta said tests his team had carried out on Mr Sollecito’s computer showed “no human interaction” between 9.10pm on November 1 and 5.32am on November 2, 2007. Ms Kercher’s body was found in the late morning of November 2 but she is believed to have died between 9pm and 11pm the night before.

Mr Sollecito says that he downloaded and watched the film Amelie during the night. However, Mr Trotta said that the film had been watched at around 6.30pm. Ms Kercher returned to the cottage she shared with Ms Knox at about 9pm.

Ms Knox’s Italian language teacher in Perugia, Antonella Negri, told the court that as a class exercise Ms Knox had written a letter to her mother, after the discovery of her flatmate’s body but before her arrest. “In it she said she worried and confused and she wanted her mother to travel to Perugia so she could distract herself and they could go shopping together,” Ms Negri told the court. She said Ms Knox had referred to the murder at the start of the class. “She leaned forward on to the desk and lay her head in her arms.”

The trial resumes next Friday, when the six jurors are expected to tour the murder scene in an inspection requested by lawyers acting for Mr Sollecito. The prosecution claims Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito broke a window at the cottage to simulate a burglary, but the defence contests this.

The court was shown grainy CCTV images said to be of Ms Kercher returning to the house shortly before her death. The images were taken by a surveillance camera at the car park above the cottage. Defence lawyers said that the footage was of such poor quality that it should not be admitted as evidence.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cartwheels Or No Cartwheels? You Be The Judge

Posted by Peter Quennell



[above: examples of cartwheels, not by Amanda Knox]

The ever-careful and supremely objective Steve Shay has another scoop!

This below is Mr Shay’s report to gullible Seattleites (if there are any left) in the, ah, very well-edited West Seattle Herald:

“Amanda accompanied Raffaele to the station where he was then interrogated by Monica Napoleani, the Perugia chief of homicide. Amanda was there to support him, as he had supported her before, when she was interrogated,” said Chris Mellas. Chris Mellas is the husband of Edda Mellas, Amanda’s mother. Both live in West Seattle.

“She was actually sitting alone in a separate room waiting for her boyfriend, and Napoleani said in court Friday (Feb. 27) that when she went to get some water she walked by the room where Amanda was and saw Amanda ‘doing the splits.’ She said she thought this was ‘odd behavior,’ and that Amanda should have instead appeared to be mourning the loss of Meredith.

The tabloid press further sensationalized her statement by changing ‘the splits’ to ‘cartwheels,’ and the mainstream press ran with that. ”

“Amanda does yoga to calm herself down and relieve stress, and she told her father and me that’s why she was doing the splits. Also, in those four days she was in mourning over Meredith, which followed her outrage. Six hours after the discovery (of the body) she was like, ‘Let’s find the bastard who killed her.’”

Meanwhile, back here in the real world….  This was the actual report from the BBC News:

Meredith Kercher murder suspect Amanda Knox “turned cartwheels” in the police station after the killing, a police witness told a court in Perugia, Italy.

Former flying squad chief Domenico Profazio said he had to tell Ms Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito their behaviour was “not appropriate”.

From Seattle’s own Post-Intelligencer

They were always together, Napoleoni said, and did not want to be separated. While police questioned Sollecito, Knox waited in a side room where policewoman Lorena Zugarini, also present at Knox’s questioning, said she saw Knox doing a cartwheel and the splits. Zugarini said she told Knox it was “not the right place” for such activities.

From the UK’s Sky News:

Ms Napoleone also described Knox’s unusual behaviour at the police station where she had been taken for questioning. She said: “She had complained that she was feeling tired and at that stage I told her that she could go if she wanted.” “She said she wanted to stay, Sollecito was also at the station at the time and she said she wanted to wait for him.

“A few minutes later I walked past a room at the police station where she was waiting and I saw Amanda doing the splits and a cartwheel. It was around 11am on November 5th.

From the UK’s Daily Express:

The exchange came as Inspector Ficarra, of the city’s Flying Squad, described 21-year-old Knox’s bizarre behaviour after her arrest following the killing in 2007.

“I was in the elevator and when I got to the floor where the Flying Squad department is the door opened and I saw Amanda doing floor exercises,” he said.

She was doing the splits, cartwheels and arching herself backwards, pressing her hands on the floor. I said to her, ‘What on earth are you doing? Is this the right way to behave?’

From the UK’s Independent:

Chief Inspector Monica Napoleoni told the court where the pair are on trial for murder how, at the police station as they waited to be first questioned, Mr Sollecito and Ms Knox “appeared completely indifferent to everything, lying down, kissing, pulling faces and writing each other notes. They were talking to each in low voices the whole time – it was impossible that they were behaving like this when there was a dead body in their house. It seemed strange to everybody”. Ms Knox had also “turned cartwheels and done the splits,” she said.

From the UK’s Daily Telegraph:

Ms Napoleoni recalled thinking that Miss Knox and her boyfriend seemed “indifferent to everything” when they were called to a police station in Perugia for questioning on Nov 5, 2007. It was there that the American turned cartwheels and did the splits.

And the last word, as always, from the London Times:

Ms Napoleoni said she and other officers had seen Ms Knox “doing cartwheels and the splits” while Mr Sollecito was being questioned and she was waiting her turn. Ms Napoleoni said she found this “very strange”. She said Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito “had a bizarre attitude throughout - they were laughing, kissing and pulling faces at each other.

Pehaps Chris Mellas and Steve Shay and Ken Robinson of the West Seattle Herald should discover the tubes of the internet.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Daily Mail’s Jan Moir Wants Due Process Respected By Parents

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for influential Jan Moir’s full column.

It is mainly about UK cases of parents not respecting the process, but the Knox campaign also gets a mention.

When Amanda Knox was arrested in Italy in connection with the murder of Meredith Kercher, her family began an incantation of her innocence and a blaring defence of her character that continues to this day

The defense PR campaign here seems to be unique in recent United States legal history. Also TV networks paying out very big bucks for exclusives with defendants’ relatives, as was just reported about ABC, seems something of a first here.

Typically the situation is that it is the victim and their relatives who get all the attention. Often on steroids. So it’s perhaps not surprising that Jan Moir is surprised.

The name of the victim here is Meredith, of course.


Page 6 of 7 pages « First  <  4 5 6 7 >