Collection: CPJ Joel Simon

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Rise And Fall Of “Frank Sfarzo” And How Knox-Mellas PR Eagerly Propagated His False Claims

Posted by Ergon



[Frank Sfarzo, thinking of better days past…]

This post is also available here in Italian. It would be appreciated if the attention of Italian media could be drawn to that page.

My previous posts

Parts One and Two of this series on the increasingly erratic Francesco Sforza (called here Frank Sfarzo, his pseudonym) are here and here.

Summary of conclusions of investigation

1) The Knox/Mellas PR campaign, the Friends Of Amanda, and the activities of online commenters like Bruce Fischer and Frank Sfarzo are one and the same, coordinated to subvert the course of justice in the trial of Amanda Knox.

There is evidence of coordination of stories planted in various media, manipulation of Wikipedia, moneys paid to Frank Sfarzo; they post on his forums, he posts on theirs, and attempts to profit from the murder of Meredith Kercher.

2) The mercenary trickster Frank, who has other agendas and is flexible on the idea of guilt or innocence of the accused, inflames her gullible supporters with stories of ‘rotten’ Italian justice, and, by demonizing the prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, makes them unlikely to ever reasonably look at the concrete evidence of guilt presented in court and confirmed in several trials so far. 

3) A series of lies sourced by him and the campaign then makes it into Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s books, and from there into the media, which, thinking they have been confirmed by various sources, repeat them endlessly in an attempt to sway public opinion, without doing any fact checking of their own.



(Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, co-authors, The Monster Of Florence, first set attack on legal system in process.]

Introduction to Part Three

As someone who has long been fascinated by politics and the use of PR in political campaigns, it was interesting to see similar tactics used by the campaign that sprung up around the group known as the Friends Of Amanda Knox, or, FOA.

The group, formed to battle inflammatory descriptions of Knox and counter the negative media reports about ‘Foxy Knoxy’ “ was soon indulging in pretty inflammatory rhetoric themselves, mostly through the internet.

Many trial watchers, who were used to the normal progression of murder cases, were shocked to see the virulent online campaign become the story, and translate into a wholesale attack on a foreign country’s judicial system, and an attack on one prosecutor, Dr Giuliano Mignini, and the police force of the city in which the murder took place, Perugia, Italy.

These attacks soon got picked up and repeated by a hostile media, often without the simplest fact checking, but more to do with feeding the public with an endless titillation effect of sex and violence.

Analyzing this wall of noise became an interesting pursuit for many of us. Was there truth to the allegation that these were two ‘innocent kids’ railroaded by a rogue prosecutor with an obsession with Satanism and sex, and was there widespread public support for them, or, just the semblance of it?



[Edda and Chris Mellas. Only picture of them at an FOA event, which Frank Sfarzo claims “they have no connection with”.]


And how and when did Frank Sfarzo become such a big part of the picture? Make no mistake, he was central to the PR effort, as “the only Italian reporter to attend every trial date for the two accused” and apparently a victim of “a prosecutor with an enemies list” who sent police goons to kill him (Frank Sfarzo) which only served as back story for quasi-journalists, to play out their own prejudices and excuse two people already convicted of murder.

This series of articles on the activities of Frank Sfarzo and the FOA was based on the simple philosophical equation: if some should set themselves up as watchers and experts of a murder trial conducted in a foreign language, in a country thousands of miles away, and create reams of ‘expert’ opinion that never was to be tested in court, well, who would watch the watchers?

And how important was Frank Sfarzo, as the only Italian in the mix, to give them credibility by simple parroting and agreeing with their conclusions? Who was Frank Sfarzo, anyway? (For that, see parts One and Two)

Who are the “Friends Of Amanda”?

And how did they come across Frank Sfarzo?

The FOA was originally a “group of parents whose children went to Seattle Prep School with Amanda Knox” included Tom Wright, a filmmaker, Jim Lovering, a marketing specialist, David Marriott, of the PR firm, Gogerty Marriott, and King County Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey, with attorney and CNN legal specialist Anne Bremner as their spokesman.

Seattle Resident and New York Times columnist Tim Egan fired off a series of xenophobic posts, which portrayed the 1st instance trial as an exercise in anti-Americanism. A sentiment regrettably echoed by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell.



[Many well known FOA members are seen here with Frank Sfarzo]


Here is Frank Sfarzo, fully converted to Amandaism by January 19, 2009, and on board on his blog Perugia-Shock: “Friends for Amanda…. A different kind of marines”

Hate and contempt, people judging, people lynching, profiteers, and jackals. But there are as well a few nice stories around the Meredith Kercher case.

There’s Meredith’s family who have not had a word of hate for who ever stolen their daughter’s life. There’s a guy like Rudy—guilty of having killed Meredith or of just not having called the 118? never mind—who lives today in repentance, and had thoughts of sorrow for the angel that we lost.

There are Rudy’s lawyers, Walter Biscotti and Nicodemo Gentile, able to fight with all their strength and not exactly for a fortune. There’s Rudy’s elementary teacher and her son who run to the court to testify for this unlucky guy.

There are people who go work into the jails, keeping inmates busy with any sort of activities. There are Amanda’s guards, first rough but who treat her now like a queen.



[Professor Chris Halkides, “the DNA Guy” who writes many misleading pieces on DNA evidence, with Amanda Knox and her friend Madison Paxton]


Frank Sfarzo, continuing:

There were already people in Seattle helping Amanda’s family. Now we have Anne Bremner and Amanda’s friends. They didn’t stay there just watching and complaining. They chosen to show to the world that the girl they know, the gentle and creative young woman who loves music, the outdoors and children can’t be a killer and today friendsofamanda.org, the website they built for the purpose, is ready.

“Amanda should never have been arrested,” said Anne Bremner, a Seattle attorney and TV legal analyst:

“She’s on trial because Italian officials made a series of serious investigative mistakes and didn’t realize it until they had already leveled false charges. They got themselves in so deep that they refuse to get out.

Private criminal investigator Paul Ciolino used stronger words in a CBS 48 Hours interview last year: “It’s a railroad job from hell.”

The Friends of Amanda is not associated in any way with Knox’s family or her legal defense team. It includes members from the U.S. legal and judicial systems, an internationally renowned criminal investigator, a best-selling author, and other professionals and friends who believe unequivocally in Knox’s innocence.

“Many of us are parents who would be grateful for the support of a similar group if our own child was locked up 6,000 miles away in a stranger-than-fiction nightmare,” Bremner said. “Our mission is to present the international public and the Italian justice system with the solid facts and evidence that irrefutably prove Amanda’s innocence, and bring her home.”

“The killer is serving his time,” said Bremner. “He acted alone. Neither Amanda nor Raffaele was at the scene at the time. Zero evidence connects them to this homicide. We are absolutely certain that neither of them had anything to do with Kercher’s tragic death.”

“Italian authorities and the international media have presented a lurid and utterly false image of Amanda, accompanied by fantastical references to sex games and occult rituals,” Bremner added. “Everyone who knows Amanda says these stories are beyond ludicrous.”

Not really “the marines” Amanda’s lawyer was joking about but a nice story of friendship and solidarity. “America as I like it.”



[There’s a picture of Meredith to the back here, along with her accused killers’. FOA and Knox revel in phony ‘tributes’ and ‘honor’ to Meredith, knowing it will pain the Kerchers]


Of course, as we now know, Sfarzo already had been receiving moneys from OGGI, from American networks, and, very likely, the Sollecito family.

I do not agree that he changed his mind about guilt at some point along the way.

It is my opinion, that, having known Mario Spezi from his time in Florence, he returned to Perugia to find ways to attack PM Mignini, and his primary goal was to attack his credibility and affect his Monster Of Perugia investigation through a full bore attack on his handling of the Meredith Kercher Murder case.

My opinion, as I say, but there simply is too much evidence of collusion with Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston, and financial inducements via Bruce Fischer’s gullible membership, as reported earlier.

The rest of his story, and the main point made, that the FOA had no connection with Amanda Knox’s family, (or Frank to the FOA) we know to be an outright lie, as FOA>Chris Mellas>Bruce Fischer. Note Sfarzo’s nearly two month stay with the Mellases.

Judge Heavey and others making regular donations amounting to tens of thousands of dollars to Frank Sfarzo and his never ending demands to them for more.



[Bruce Fischer, center, long chained to Sfarzo, now the toothless ‘attack dog’ of the FOA campaign]


The stories sourced from Frank about ‘Mignini’s Goons’ found its way into the CPJ, Committee to Protect Journalists, who never retracted their claim after finding out that Sfarzo lied to them, that he had assaulted police who were called by his sister when he attacked them for trying to take her away from his clutches. Maybe this had something to do with it: 

CPJ 2009 Donors

Douglas & Christine Preston

Julia Preston

Even his stories about not receiving any commissions from newspapers turned out to be a lie, he directed the RCS Group to send royalties for all the previous photos and stories to Seattle, and his pleas to send donations to another PayPal account (controlled by his aunt) were not because PayPal was creating problems for him, but because he was trying to avoid taxes. (I saw copies of his e-mails, and he was traveling with copies of his aunt’s ID).



[Frank with Judge Michael Heavey, shortly after his arrival in Seattle.]

Judge Michael Heavey

He is an interesting subject in himself, as one of the most fervid FOA.. Not having been very successful in his political ambitions, and admonished by the Judicial Ethics Council for his advocacy for Amanda Knox, he seemed to have some sort of emotional connection to the case, and maybe, like Bruce Fischer, wanted a springboard for his next venture, which now, grandly, is called Judges 4 Justice.

Here is our full investigation of him along with a video and transcript of his pro-Knox presentation repeated at numerous Rotary Club venues. He even took Frank Sfarzo and Dr. David Anderson to one in Yakima, WA on July 25, 2012.

At one of them (transcript) he repeats the claims of ‘corrupt and dishonest police’, ‘they planted evidence’, ‘kangaroo court’, ‘14 hour all night long interrogation’ canards. He also says elsewhere: “I used to think he (Mignini) was evil incarnate” and, shockingly, says:

The criminals are those who perpetuated a false accusation against two good young people. These police and prosecutors lied, cheated, and stole the innocence of two good young people. They are the criminals.

Why did the Supreme Court of Italy send this case back? Here is the answer

. In an effort to save face, the Italian Supreme Court joined the prosecution and the police of Perugia, and perpetuated these false accusations. The Italian Supreme Court has become criminals themselves. They continue the abuse of two good young people.

My prediction, this goes back for a third trial, there won’t be too much fanfare, and the verdict will be not guilty, insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court, the Court of Cassation, does this to save face, but in reality, in my opinion, they have disgraced themselves as jurists, they continue to disgrace their country. Is this justice? I think not.

Is Judge Heavey unhinged? You can decide here..



[Frank, the loony Dr. David Anderson, and Judge Heavey at the Yakima Rotary. Anderson still attacks the victim’s family]

Bruce Fischer

Now we all have Bruce Fischer’s M.O. of intimidation and bullying behavior down pat. He is not simply an advocate for Amanda Knox, he is Chris Mellas’s surrogate in the online wars.

His enemies list, his attempts to “out” any anonymous individual who got in his way of building an Innocence-Anywhere-for-hire advocacy group. He promised to apply for charitable status, but became for profit.

His ballistic threats to expose the leakers who came forward on Frank Sfarzo’s behavior showed how important Frank Sfarzo was to their cause, there was no level he would not sink to, this has all been reported previously, in Parts I and II. The relevance, also, of the SfarzoGate Papers is that it sank Bruce Fischer.

But it was in his using of a very few volunteers to create the impression of widespread support that he undid himself. He even patently allowed the use of sock puppet accounts to out people, and to attack PM Giuliano Mignini.

And it was in his use of sock puppets to write articles for Wikipedia, and control the Meredith Kercher, Giuliano Mignini, and Candace Dempsey entries, that he exposed himself, and even, inadvertently, showed collusion with FBI agent Steve Moore.

Here is our investigation, in part on his methods.

But where Bruce really out-did himself was where FOA friends wrote numerous articles on the poorly editorially controlled (plus active collusion with the editors) Ground Report to write numerous libels about their favorite target, Dr Giuliano Mignini. (I also once got the ‘special treatment’. No biggie, I knew when I got involved this would happen, and this cause is worth it.)

Here is one comment written by an anonymous commenter “JLS1950” to another, “Heisenberg”:

JLS1950 > Heisenberg −

Sounds to me like Mignini seeks to protect the real traffickers from “competition”. I wonder if that might help shed some light on his connections to Guede…”

And who do you think was the source for this? Frank Sfarzo.

Note: “JLS 1950” is Joe Starr, a Seattle resident who was identified as being Chris Mellas’s best friend, and whose syntax, repeated libels and foul language for the last six years in various forums marks him as being one single awful person, regardless of how many ID’s he appropriates.



[Joel Simon of the now discredited CPJ, which did not fact check Frank’s allegations, then refused to retract after it turned out he lied.]

Example of major false Sfarzo allegation

this is Frank Sfarzo on Perugia Shock:

“MIGNINI WAS THERE AND THE INTERROGATION WAS VIDEO RECORDED” January 31, 2012

“I gave the order, to bring them both in together” –Giobbi revealed at the trial. “So, as soon as the room was ready, with the camera set up and everything, she was called in”

“I was in a room together with the prosecutor Mignini” –Giobbi adds– “We were watching the interrogation, so to study her reactions”.

“So, Giobbi reveals that Mignini was present! He is responsible, then, for everything that happened that night.”

But in the court transcript Dr Giobbi says nothing of the kind. The only other observer was Dr Profazio, the head of the Flying Squad. Dr Mignini was at home in bed.

And in his testimony there was zero mention of any camera. There was no recording. They were merely puzzling over Sollecito’s and Knox’s behavior.

So here’s a legal quiz.

After an investigation into a certain Perugian Blogger’s Blog is concluded, and someone wades through three years of slanderous shite, they find posts that accuse an officer of the court of consorting with drug traffickers, and protecting them, and lying about whether Amanda Knox’s interrogation was recorded, amongst many other false allegations.

In short, if he accuses said officer of the court of committing crimes.

Is that worthy of being sued for defamation, or is it not?

Steve Moore

Shortly after ex-FBI agent became convinced by his wife to look at the case in 2010, he started running illegal background checks on prominent commenters for guilt, as he admitted on his blog. His presentations on the case were uniformly, laughably, unprofessional.

There are more than a dozen posts on TJMK debunking him.

Chris and Edda Mellas

Not only do they organize and coordinate the FOA and Bruce Fischer wings of the Amandic Party, they have made it very clear that they approve and support their activities 100%.

And then they threw a party for the troops, but hid when the infamous group photo was taken, to hide their involvement. Luckily (see image of them above) we do have a picture of them there.

I blame them for their lack of respect and thinly disguised hostility towards the Kercher family, and for allowing their surrogates to attack the Kerchers as being motivated by “greed” when it was the Massei court that awarded the damages! The people who made such comments on their behalf were at that party, and they know that! The Kerchers, with their grace and perseverance, are the polar opposites of the classless Mellases.



(David Marriott, of the Marriott PR firm, who quickly lost control of the campaign as the FOA got into attack mode.)

Frank Sfarzo, again

This is before he realized it might be better to keep his mouth shut and disappear for a while:

“Damn, I’ve heard that pmfrs are slandering me seriously through one of their members, a certain “Tamale”, a certain ”Ergon and various other anonimous (sic, I am not anonymous) slanderers (people so ashamed of themselves that they don’t even have the courage of appearing with their own name and face).  Good for my lawsuit. Hey, I didn’t know I was in jail… Thank you “Michael”, hope you got valuable properties…”

No, I’m not ‘anonimous’. My photo and name’s been published on IIP since 2011, and when Sfarzo ran in to me at Cassazione in Rome on the afternoon of March 25, he couldn’t even make eye contact. He spent the whole day texting away (maybe he took a picture of me with his Blackberry? smile. Then the last I saw of him was on the Porto Umberto I bridge that night at 10:00 PM, driving away in his little Smart Car, hunched down and still texting at the stop light.

On December 16, the lawyers for the Kercher family presented their arguments, in the Appeals court of Florence. They were there, as they had been since the beginning of the trial in Perugia, to speak for the real victim, Meredith Kercher, above all.

Then on December 17, the lawyers for Amanda Knox presented their case, which amounted to more than a rehash of false arguments. It was livened only by an e-mail from Knox, to which as the judge said, if she wants to defend herself, she can present herself in court.

Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyers will present their arguments January 09, and then the prosecution rebuttal January 10. From now on, nothing the few remaining FOA does will make any difference to the verdict, due January 15 approx.

The end

Who knew when I first commented on the case in 2010 where it would lead me? Yes, the case brought together all sorts of people, but in the end, it was the nastiest PR campaign I have ever observed. Amanda Knox, Chris Mellas, Frank Sfarzo, Douglas Preston, Michael Heavey, Bruce Fischer and Steve Moore all seemed to revel in this dirty fight.

One day, they may look back and ask “Was it worth it? Did it help the cases at all? The Monster Of Florence, Knox/Sollecito, against Mignini?” But somehow, I feel they are, and always will be, singularly unaware.



(Outside Cassazione, Aula No. 1, Rome, waiting for the court to return. 8:30 PM, Mar. 25, 2013. This is when the wheels fell off the PR bus.)

Acknowledgement

Much of the background is based on research on the principals conducted and reported in the pages of the PMF dot net forum,, the PMF dot org forum,, and TJMK here..

I want to mention Nell and guermantes, Kermit and James Raper, The Machine, jools, Mr. and Mrs. Fly By Night, Yummi, Peter Quennell, and brmull (who sadly is no longer commenting on the case), and many more. The rest, too many to list here, but gratefully acknowledged.

And also I was fortunate to be entrusted with information from many confidential sources about Frank Sfarzo, and to obtain more when I went to Rome to attend the hearing at Cassazione March 25-26, when the Italian Supreme Court accepted the appeal of the Umbrian prosecutor general Dr. Galati and annulled the acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

This was a collaborative effort, and my thanks to all of you.

Posted on 12/18/13 at 02:13 AM by Ergon. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Monday, April 01, 2013

Alarm Bells Ignored: Overconfident PR And Lawyers May Have Led To That Shock At Cassation Outcome

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





Amanda Knox has seemed to us more stunned than confident since she got out of Capanne. Her father mentioned that she was not given the whole picture there.

But we have been surprised in recent weeks at how the defense lawyers and spokesmen and especially Raffaele Sollecito and Giulia Bongoirno and Carlo Dalla Vedova and the PR flunkies were seemingly seeing the Supreme Court appeal as a forgone conclusion in their favor, a blip requiring no change in the end game.

Here are 20 warning bells that we think they might have missed or heard wrongly which contributed to a shocked and ill-prepared reaction to the Cassation ruling, and each of which a team of hard-nosed lawyers not befuddled by PR might have heard and responded to quite differently. 

    1. The Italian media in 2007-2008 in fact did not blow the case and Knox herself out of all proportion. Most of the lurid headlines appeared in the UK press where they had zero effect on the 2009 jury. There really was a hard case to answer.

    2. The British and American media mostly came to be manipulated on the lines Barbie Nadeau’s book described, which meant a big contrast opened up between hard Italian reporting and fantastical UK and US reporting.

    3. The Knox and Sollecito teams shrugged off a short-form trial in October 2008 at which point they might have pleaded that Meredith’s murder was not intended and drugs and mental quirks had resulted in a terrible but unintended outcome, perhaps providing relief both for themselves and Meredith’s family. 

    4. The prosecution part of the trial in 2009 was in fact, contrary to frequent illusory claims, fast and comprehensive and decisive, and it may have been at the end of that phase that the jury was already ready to vote guilty. 

    5. The defense part of the trial was far less successful with Amanda Knox on the stand suggesting to Italians that she was cold-blooded and uncaring, and from then on the defenses were desultory and dispirited with no strong points ever landed. Several days one or other of them failed to show.

    6. The prosecution summation at end of trial was extremely powerful and included in it was a very convincing 15-minute crime-scene recreation video (never released to the public) which accounted for all the marks and stains in Meredith’s room and on her body by an attack group of three.

    7. The Massei report, again contrary to frequent illusory claims later, was considered by those familiar with such reports a model of good logic and reasonable assumptions. It laid out and connected hundreds of evidence points which in a normal appeal process would have been unassailable.

    8. The 2011 appeal did not happen because Massei was riddled with legal errors and wrong assumptions, which would have been the criteria for any British or American judge to agree to such an appeal. It happened solely because, unique to Italy, such appeals are automatic if demanded, resulting in a huge number of appeals on weak grounds. 

    9. Italy does not have a terrible record of trial reversals as some claim. It has a record of fine-tuning and adjustments of thousands of appeals by appeal juries seemingly wishing to prove that they are being diligent. Cassation is aware of this quirky systemic effect, and it often bounces back appeal outcomes to dead center. 

    10. It had appeared that the PR effort was joined by a lot of influential “heavies” including MP Girlanda, Judge Heavey, Senator Cantwell, Joel Simon of CPJ, and the billionaire Donald Trump. Most had limited positive effect in the US and less in Italy, and have been quiet since the Cassation ruling.

    11. Judge Hellmann was a surprise replacement for Judge Chiari, then the able and experienced head of the criminal division. (He resigned over this.) Judge Hellmann, a good civil judge, had very limited criminal-case experience. Chief Judge De Nunzio has not explained why he replaced Chiari .

    12. The scope of appeals is carefully laid out in the Italian judicial code, and they are not to be repeat trials with overall reconsideration of all evidence and al witnesses only absent the careful presentation process and cross-examination at trial. In the US or UK the defense grounds for appeal might simply have been rejected. 

    13. Prosecutor Mignini was provisionally convicted in March 2011 of abuse of office, but careful examination would have revealed that the grounds were spurious and he had no need of a conviction in this case. Cassation in the past month has killed his own case terminally and chastized those who brought it. 

    14. Incriminating DNA was found in Meredith’s room and also outside it in many locations, and also on a knife in Sollecito’s apartment. DNA consultants were “illegally” appointed who muddied the waters but decisively disproved none of it. 

    15. The Supreme Court is on record as deciding that three perpetrators attacked Meredith. The defenses never set out to prove Guede was a lone wolf attacker, for a long list of reasons, and they failed to prove that jailhouse witnesses Alessi and Aviello had pointed out credible alternatives.

    16. The Hellmann-Zanetti report surprised a majority of Italian lawyers who read it for its passion and broad scope and tendentious logic, and for misunderstanding certain key legal concepts. Some instantly saw it as having feet of clay, and a pretty sure candidate for reversal.

    17. The significance of Chief Prosecutor Dr Galati in the process seemed seriously discounted.  UK and US media mostly ignored his appointment and where he came from, which was in fact Cassation in Rome where he was a highly effective Deputy Chief Prosecutor.

    18. The Galati appeal itself was extremely competent and hard line and targeted the Hellmann appeal outcome in several levels or layers in a total of ten points. It is one of the toughest and most sweeping appeals ever filed in Italy, and in the US or UK alarm bells really would have gone off at this one. 

    19.  Sollecito’s book was seemingly okayed by his lawyers, although it causes them major complications in three respects: it introduces new “facts” which contradict his own defense; it derides Italian officials and accuses them of crimes; and it looks like a seedy attempt to make money out of a crime for which the writer is still on trial.

    20. While Sollecito had been acting happily oblivious and super-confident in recent months, he has added to Amanda Knox’s own problems by semi selling her out in his book, and by waking the new 800 pound gorilla of contempt of court prosecutions for not respecting the judicial process.

It may not surprise you to learn that Giulia Bongiorno has not had a very winning record at Cassation, and as far as we know the other lawyers have no experience of winning there at all.


Monday, March 04, 2013

Disarray And Decay In The Pro-Knox Parade: #2 Key Knox-Mellas Flunkie Now AWOL On 2 Continents

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Click the image above for Frank Sforza’s first posts in November 2007 - scroll down for English]


Foolish False Allegations Against Italian Officialdom Sparking Increasingly Tough Legal Reaction

That was the header of our post of 19 December. This is the excerpt on Perugia Shock blogger “Frank Sfarzo” who like Bruce Fischer is unwillingly outed under his real name (Frank Sforza) and found to be exceedingly mundane. 

Sforza hides behind the name Frank Sfarzo as an intemperate and rarely accurate blogger on the case. He brings no known professionals skills to the task. He is reported to be the target of criminal charges relating to alleged abuse of the sister and mother with whom he lives. His unsavory reputation and desperate finances mushroomed openly the other day, when he was reported in personal confrontations while visiting Canada and Hawaii.

Sforza now faces a defamation suit as well, for claiming to the whole world via Doug Preston and Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York that he was being persecuted by a prosecutor back in Perugia. The prosecutor was not even involved. Seems to us an open and shut case.

While on the west coast of the United States and Canada and Hawaii late last year, Sforza attracted the attention of the police in three cities.

Charges in two were dropped but he was a no-show for the court case Kermit elegantly described here. The judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Meanwhile his legal trouble in Perugia escalated. He failed to show for court hearings in Perugia in December and January and his lawyer walked. He was to face charges of violence against the police when they were called to quell a rampage. They were called by his mother and sister.

Now Frank Sforrza has again failed to show up in court, this time in Florence, and police will be actively looking for him. This case concerns one of his craziest “scoops” which was that Mignini was in cahoots with drug dealers, whereas exactly the opposite is true, Perugia drug dealers fear Mignini and he has taken a number of them down.   

Sfrorza was initially cocksure (like Sollecito) on his return to Italy late 2012 and made taunting posts on Facebook and Fischer’s Misinformation Forum (like Sollecito) early 2013 but he has since gone very quiet and fled the internet (like Sollecito) as the deep legal trouble he is in slowly seeps in.

Back in 2007 and 2008 those of us who were here then followed Frank’s Perugia Shock postings and it was only late in 2008 that for murky reasons he jumped the shark and switched his sweaty attentions over to Amanda Knox.  Read his first posts here. Scroll down for English.

They were actually at times accurate - and he clearly did think Sollecito and Knox were up to their ears in it.  Read his headline on the last image below. On 10 November 2007 he even penned this satire.

A: Shit, my roommate is dead, do you mind if I sleep at your place?
R: Sure, so we can have another couple of joints. The guy just supplied me.
A: Greaat!
R: Hey what are those cellpones?
A: Oh, it’s her cellphones. Do you think I should hide them?
R: Give them to me… Uuuuhuuuh! (he throws the cellphones away).
A: Oh my goood, what have you done? You’ve thrown them in that garden! They gonna find them!
R: Naaa, don’t worry. My sister is Carabiniere, I know how to handle such things.
A: Hey, you should throw away your knife too.
R: What? Throw my knives away? I’m from Puglia, you know? I always have a knife with me.
I can’t believe you just said that. You know what? You better sleep at your place.
A: Oh no, please, don’t make me sleep at my place. There’s blood in the bathroom. I’ve already got my sweater dirty. I had to throw it away, can you believe it? I don’t’ wanna loose another sweater.
R: Oh right, good, ok, sorry, you can sleep at my place. By the way what happened to your roommate?
A :She made everything dirty with her blood, and then she stopped moaning about one hour ago.
R :Hey I was there with you at that time.
A: Are you sure?
R:Yes, don’t remember? We were… you know?
A: What?
R: We were having sex. Did you already forget?
A: I’m not sure.
R: Actually I’m also not sure too, now, I’m too smoked.
A: We should do something than. They’ll come to take us.
R: Naaa. Are you kidding? I’m from Puglia. There’s mafia in Puglia, you know? My sister is Carabiniere! And My father is a doctor, you know? DOCTOR! He makes a call and I’m not gonna have any problem.
A: What about me? Well, if you save me too I’m gonna give you anything you want. You can have me anytime, no problem.
R: Actually I’d prefer some joints. By the way, no problem. Now we break the window and they’ll think was some thieves.
A: What if they don’t buy it?
R: Don’t worry, I know how this things go.
A: Yes, your sister is Carabinieri. Well, anyways, I’ve sent a message to Patrick so they can still think was Patrick.
R: Fine. He’s such a perfect suspect. Now let’s go to sleep. I’ll set the alarm so tomorrow I’m calling my sister.
A: Are you gonna remember that?
R: I’ll put a note on the fridge.
A: However… Are you sure that wasn’t us to hurt her with your knife?
R: To hurt who?













Saturday, December 29, 2012

One Of The Serial Defamers of Italian Justice Must Face Some Hard Truths Of American Justice

Posted by Kermit





This has not been a good year at all for the increasingly beleaguered Knox and Sollecito campaigns.

As interest in Amanda Knox and her case dwindles precipitately in the United States, her image handlers seem to realize that a major final push effort must be made for their final challenge to be successful: a profitable sales kickoff for Knox’s “tell-it-all” book now promised for April 2013.

At this point, the tough prosecution appeal in the case against Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher seemingly hardly interests the PR campaign, apart from any market “churn” that it can help to develop for the book..

Raffaele’s own US book promotion tour three months ago was little short of a complete disaster. On the one hand, his heated text has provided massive new defamatory material against innocent persons, and on the other he has introduced new affirmations that totally contradict his defence team’s posture throughout the murder trials.

Now, the Perugian Blogger known variously as “Frank Sfarzo”, “Francesco Sforza” and “Francesco Sforca” (real name Sforza) has been arrested and has spent time confined in Hawaii and Seattle jails, in addition to being questioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada. In Seattle he may face more time.

These arrests and questionings are in addition to his arrest and charging in Perugia for attacking police officers coming to investigate a complaint for alleged domestic violence phoned-in by a female member of his own family. That trial is now pending.



[“Frank Sfarzo” with his fellow serial belittlers of Italian justice, Bruce Fischer and Steve Moore]


Frank’s Canadian Caper and his Hawaiian Punch adventure were of thematic note. In one case, it was an elderly Canadian gentlemen who was acting as Frank’s host who made the phone call in the wee hours to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, because he feared that the often scantily clad and more-and-more argumentative “Frank” was a real physical threat to him. In the other case, a woman had Hawaiian police alerted and had claimed that she was pushed around by “Frank” in the hotel where she had put him.

What is really surprising is that in both cases the victims of alleged aggressions were fervent supporters of Amanda Knox! And in both cases, the victims had given “Frank” substantial monetary gifts: $5,000 by the Canadian man, and air tickets to Hawaii by the American woman.

In both cases, the victims were followers of the absurdly named “Injustice in Perugia” blog run by the beleaguered pro-Knox Chicago-suburbs blogger Bruce Fisher/Fischer. Fischer is actually a mall store assistant and wannabe sleuth who like “Frank” makes use of more than one name in grandly presenting a faux front to the world.

Back when he claimed online to be the upscale “Bruce Fisher of New York”, Bruce carried out many nasty and in-effect anonymous attacks on individuals, mostly women, who did not share his point of view. The “Fischer of Chicago”, now exposed, continues more cautiously in public, but in his little private forum he continues to rant against anyone who doesn’t share his untethered take on Amanda Knox’s total innocence and a vast Italy-wide conspiracy. This authentic Fischer has a fairly unexotic lobbying base and Internet connection for promoting his pro-Knox cause: the suburban-mall fur-shop where he works.

Fisher/Fischer is now maintaining that the plea on his blog for the “Frank Sfarzo Fund Drive” is to help the Perugia Shock blog and not “Frank” the blogger who runs it – however, that’s not what the Fund Drive description says:



[Above: Amanda Knox advocate Bruce Fisher/Fischer has been a key enforcer of donations to the Perugian Blogger]


As is often the case of persons who suffer domestic physical and psychological abuse at the hands and mouth of someone they implicitly respected, it must have taken a major act of self-questioning and doubt before the Hawaiian and Canadian victims were able to make themselves step forward and decry the abuse they allegedly suffered and were humiliated by.

Both of those cases were talked about a lot on several web discussion boards. Not surprisingly, Fisher/Fischer, who has invested heavily in the particular versions of the crimes against Meredith that he promotes to “save” Knox (and, as a necessary side-effect, Raffaele Sollecito) could only try and explain/justify the Perugian Blogger’s behavior, while at the same time directly accusing the two real victims of provoking the Blogger’s “quirky” personality. Fisher/Fischer’s take on Knox and his related income stream would otherwise be at stake.

Perhaps Fischer should be more worried about the potential liability for wrong claims he makes about third parties in this case, especially those in Rome and Perugia, and about the potential for the Perugian Blogger to cause further cases and more victims of domestic violence, given the blogger’s alleged record.





In spite of the statement of “Probable Cause” by the arresting police officer in Hawaii (see image above), in the end, under a great deal of heat, charges were not pressed by the victims against “Frank” in Canada or in Hawaii.

However, what Fisher/Fischer and other pro-Knox PR assets did not reveal in what I consider to be their hypocritical justification of “Frank’s” known violence in his North American travels is that he actually had one further legal case, still going forward in Seattle at this date.

It started to receive public scrutiny only when it was unearthed by Internet commenters on the pro-victim side.

Following his problems in Canada and Hawaii, on November 27 “Frank” was arrested yet again, in Seattle, after allegedly having a physically violent encounter with the persons with whom he had arranged a room when he returned to Washington State after his disastrous emergency exit from Hawaii. He spent over 24 hours in a Seattle jail before being bailed out thanks to donated funds.

The Seattle police report concerning this most recent incident and the arrest of “Frank” states thus:

“(VI – Victim1) said that he was sitting on the couch talking to the District Attorney’s Office when S/Sforza became agitated and slapped the phone out of his hand. S/Sforza then jumped on top of him and punched him in the face approximately four times. V I was able to push S/Sforza off of him and stand up but S/Sforza pushed him back on the couch causing pain to his right shoulder. S/Sforza then jumped on top of V II (Victim 2) and began slapping in the face and scratched him on the temple. While V II struggled to get away he scraped his left knuckle but was able to get to his room. While in his room he grabbed his phone to call 9-1-1. As he was walking out of his room S/Sforza tried to push him back in the room and grabbed him by the throat using both of his hands. S/Sforza then left the house and 9-1-1 was called. V II had a visible red scrape to his right temple, a visible scrape to his left knuckle and redness around his neck. Both victims declined medical attention at the scene.

[ed note. Sforza called 911, informing police that he would meet them] ... at 36th Ave W and W Mcgraw where he said he would be waiting. S/Sforza said that both V I and V II had been giving him a hard time since he returned from his trip. He said they told him that he wasn’t able to leave his room. He stated that V II had tried to force him to leave the house and choked him. S/Sforza did not have any visible signs of assault and did not have any redness around his neck. S/Sforza said the police were called to the house yesterday for a disturbance. A report was written on that incident (12-403658).

S/Sforza was placed under arrest and transported to the West Precinct… Persons took pictures of the injuries to V II and sent them for processing to the SPD Photo Lab via the Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS). 2 Domestic violence Supplemental forms were completed by Officer… S/Sforza has a passport from Italy and requested Consular notification.”

“Frank” has hinted in online conversations that he may be coming to Seattle for the purpose of celebrating New Year’s Eve. He has even gently jibed Amanda’s co-murder suspect (pending final appeal) Raffaele Sollecito for not being sure if it’s worth it to go to Seattle for just a few days at year’s end:





However, if The Perugian Blogger, a man of at least three aliases and now a number of arrests relating to domestic violence, is going to be in Seattle on December 31, it will actually be because he has a court hearing on New Year’s Eve for two counts of Assault 4 – Domestic Violence. 

This time, it seems that the alleged victims won’t hold back or be humiliated into letting the crime go unchallenged and have the charges withdrawn.

“Frank” has been a central figure to the pro-Knox forces ever since a few months after the murder of Meredith he decided instead to advocate for Knox in conjunction with other elements of the Knox PR campaign. This was a shocking and sudden 180 degree U-turn for someone who had up until then been strongly pro-Meredith and favorable to the prosecutor. Mr Mignini, on the case.

What incentive did he have to make such a rapid, stunning, radical change? Leaving many former followers behind?

I don’t know, but do note that nobody can account for how he paid his bills these past 4 years since he claims that no Italian media buys his articles. With “Frank” seemingly living off of the kindness of others and/or the PR campaign, and seemingly not having a particular long-term address of his own… Does the term “drifter” come to mind?

In time, the integration of “Frank’s” Perugia Shock blog with the Knox PR campaign was openly evidenced – before its current aesthetic makeover after it briefly was forced down – by the incorporation of key Knox lobbyist Jim Lovering into the blog credits thus:



[Above: Will “Frank’s” campaigner colleague and local resident Jim Lovering appear in court next Monday to support him?]


The Perugian Blogger has been useful to the pro-Knox campaign. In spite of American thriller novelist Douglas Preston’s strange affirmations that Italy has been coming over to Amanda’s side in her legal battle, the truth is that few non-American and specifically no Italian faces have come out strongly in favour of Knox, except for her own lawyers of course.

“Frank” quickly became a local enabler for the Knox-Mellas clan in Perugia, helping out with the most mundane activities, from revealing secret insider “knowledge” or “facts” on his blog, to babysitting the younger Knox-Mellas girls, or involving the girls in paid-for photo shoots.

In return, he was often referred to in pro-Knox circles as a “journalist”. This faux title was certainly a step up from “Frank’s” prior life of maintaining a website dedicated to selling truffles or capitalizing on the Italian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.



[Image above: “Frank” before Meredith’s murder: a mundane life of waiting for his 10 minutes of fame]

.
Following Meredith’s murder, and with the Knox-Mellas clan desperately in need of a facilitator for their everyday logistics in Perugia, “Frank” became their handyman and, in time, almost part of the Knox-Mellas clan.



[Image: Perugian Blogger “Frank” and Chris Mellas, Amanda Knox’s stepfather.]


“Frank”, however, was not merely a passive enabler. He asserted himself, and he pushed his envelope of fame and ownership of knowledge, even though he was mostly a receiver of the tidbits of information the Knox-Mellas clan would throw him when convenient.

His particular claim to “ownership” of information given to him got to the ridiculous point of claiming copyright to court documents that he received and posted on his blog. Court officials might find that pretty cheeky!





The official image of the knife later resurfaced in a great video by ViaDellaPergola here.

It seems that befriending “Frank” became the “in” thing to do, for a brief moment anyway, with many FOA-types and Knox Entourage hangers-on. He must have seemed quite exotic, and also, surprisingly, on their side. After all, the rest of Italy was clearly not.

Bruce Fisher/Fischer the blogger and Knox lobbyist has increasingly isolated himself in supporting “Frank”, and has been working around the clock to justify “Frank’s” string of domestic violence arrests and police questionings, after having published and vouched for “Frank’s” need for financial assistance.

Will Fisher/Fischer and Steve Moore continue to befriend and support “Frank” the blogger? Moore once stated that he would trust Amanda Knox as a roommate to his own daughter. Would he trust “Frank” to spend time alone overnight with his own daughter, now that Moore is aware of Frank’s arrest record for domestic violence? Does he approve of “Frank’s” way of living … is it simply “‘Frank’ being ‘Frank’”, or something that a father might be worried about?

Another of “Frank’s” close confidantes in the US has been Candace Dempsey, a person with a personal food blog on the Seattle Post Intelligencer website who hastily erased most of her culinary blogging past in order to get on with her new found life as a pro-Knox writer.



[Food blogger Candace Dempsey has attempted to recycle her professional focus in parallel with “Frank”]


Dempsey continues to dedicate herself – for the moment at least – to writing about Amanda Knox’s involvement in the Meredith Kercher murder case from a pro-Knox point of view.  Will Candace be at Frank’s hearing in the Municipal Court of Seattle on December 31? It would be a fine way of supporting someone she has shared so much fellowship with.

Followers of Meredith’s murder case all remember how Dempsey’s man-in-Perugia “Frank” stalwartly supported her affirmation that it would have been impossible for Amanda and Raffaele to stake out any movements of persons entering or leaving the cottage following Meredith’s murder, due to the entrance to the cottage grounds supposedly not being visible from the Piazza Grimana … in spite of every eye-witness observation and evidenciary photo to the contrary.

Another pro-Knox asset who has been supportive of “Frank” in many ways is Seattle’s King County Judge Michael Heavey. Heavey once received a stern official reprimand for sending, on State of Washington stationary, private accusations of judicial negligence to Italian authorities, where he accused Prosecutor Mignini of grave mismanagement of the Meredith Kercher murder investigation, without providing any evidence to support his wild and defamatory claims. Heavey continues his pro-Knox support in a vocal manner, with appearances at university forums that are prepackaged to support Knox, or speaking at local Rotary Club meetings (luckily we saved the video).



[“Frank” the Perugian Blogger and host Judge Michael Heavey pose together.]


Will Judge Heavey be present at “Frank’s” hearing for charges of domestic violence on December 31? Will he use his good offices to help Frank bear the state of Washington’s justice in the lightest manner possible?

Anti-Mignini novelist Douglas Preston, a patron funder of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), appeared (how coincidental) in a strange CPJ open letter to the world by Joel Simon to Italian authorities, complaining that a mysterious police squad that supposedly reports to Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini had beaten up “Frank” and had him arrested on trumped up charges.



]Novelist Douglas Preston – now a self-described “point-of-view journalist”]


Preston was a central source in a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) open letter which transformed the domestic violence complaint of a female member of the Perugian Blogger’s family into a case of harassment by Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. It’s hard to make up crazier tales, yet the CPJ stands by the unsubstantiated claims fed to it.  In most jurisdictions that’s called defamation.

Now is a good time for the CPJ’s Executive Director Joel Simon to show his face and admit his embarrassing error by recognizing that “Frank’s” arrest for violence against police officers in Perugia while resisting arrest was under the responsibility of Prosecutor Paolo Abbritti and his team.

Mr Mignini who “Frank” and Preston and Simoin smeared globally had no role at all and may well have not even have known about it. “Frank’s” domestic and anti-authority violence in Italy is consistent with his domestic violence related arrests in North America.

No one, not even CPJ’s Joel Simon could ever have seriously considered that the provincial civil servant Mr Mignini has a private goon squad of rogue policemen who report to him and beat up persons on his request.

By recognizing his error, Joel Simon would be making a positive gesture to classic journalistic standards (not gonzo point-of-view journalism standards) of correcting errors, and he would also be doing a great service to victims of domestic violence around the world. Joel, I ask you please to finally do what is right, and not what a financial benefactor of your organization wants you to do.





It is also important to hear what Preston’s response if any is to “Frank’s” current legal woes in the US. So far, no word from him. Will Preston continue to see the long arm of Mignini in all these arrests? Or will he distance himself from a person Preston considers a fellow “point-of-view journalist” in the Meredith Kercher case?

Preston recently contacted this writer, saying he was writing an Afterword to a book by Mario Spezi about what he calls the “Amanda Knox case”. He said this chapter would be dedicated to the key online players on both sides of the case. (Preston was first invited, see here and here and here, to correct some of his previous error-laden work.)

There is probably no other online personality more prominently associated with the Amanda Knox PR campaign than the blogger who goes by the nickname of “Frank Sfarzo”.

If Preston can’t make it to Seattle to support “Frank”, I guess we will have to wait for his new Afterword in Spezi’s book or his magazine article to catch his angle on “Frank’s” travails with the law, or at least what he thinks about “Frank” after they appeared together in the CPJ open letter - after which, Preston wrote some vigorous followup emails about the CPJ’s open letter concerning “Frank”.

If it had not been for Preston the fictionalist and “Frank” the recycled truffle blogger, there would have been no inaccurate and highly unfair demonizing of Prosecutor Mignini, and that would have taken the air out of Bruce Fisher/Fischer’s own very nasty campaign.

In addition, the pro-Knox books written by would-be opinion benders Nina Burleigh and Candace Dempsey would have been very different or impossible to develop as they are.

It goes on and on. The list of pro-Knox PR assets who have used “Frank” in their own particular contributions to Amanda’s cause is extensive.  Will any of them be in Seattle Municpal Court [image below] with the Perugian Blogger this Monday at 10:00 am?





A pro-Knox commenter who goes by the penname of “KayPea” is trying to rally the pro-Knox troops who are now starting to back off in a very natural manner from “Frank” and the string of domestic violence incidents that “Frank” seems to have been involved in. On the “IIP” blog, she exhorts them to remain in the fold. If we believe her, she is speaking for herself - and remarkably, also the Knox and Mellas families:

“several of you good people [she’s referring to pro-Knox readers] seem to be trying to make up your mind about Frank’s credibility as the author of Perugia Shock as it is juxtaposed on his personal life and this crazy mess with Bettina, Peter and the nutters at the boarding house [ed note: these are respectively the pro-Knox Hawaiian, Canadian, and Seattlietes who are now non-grata … it seems that if you want to make sure that you are allowed to be a groupie, don’t let yourself to get into a situation where “Frank” the Perugian Blogger can abuse you].

Please know that the people who know him the best, Amanda’s family and friends, have been at his side throughout the past few months. COME. WHAT. MAY. They, and I, accept all of Frank’s personality quirks ...” (IIP, 27/12/2012)

However, the owner of the blog, Bruce Fisher/Fischer, seems to be trying frantically to isolate the impact of “Frank’s” “personality quirks” on the IIP emporium. Fischer has stated thus:

“lets lay this out in simple terms. Amanda and Raffaele are free. Nothing that happens in Frank’s life at this point has anything at all to do with anything that took place in the past with regard to the case. Nothing happening in Frank’s life has anything at all to do with Meredith Kercher.”

(Bruce Fisher/Fischer – IIP blog – 27/12/2012)

It’s as if Fischer in his surreal bubble is claiming that “Frank” never really ever existed. Never fought tooth-and-nail for years to deny Meredith and her family their justice.

If I were “Frank”, I would be thinking that maybe not very many of my once long list of FOA friends will be showing support during the New Year’s Eve court appearance.

Will they be joining him for drinks later after the court hearing is done? Or maybe further contact would put them at risk of being pushed into being the next “Bettina” or “Peter” in Canada, more victims of domestic violence.

Does anyone reading believe any longer the wild, uninvestigated claim of Douglas Preston’s friends at the CPJ? That the Italian Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini was behind the complaint placed by female members of “Frank’s” family in Italy? Which eventually led to his arrest there after attacking police officers?

Or is that simply another falsehood from the pro-Knox PR myth factory?

Domestic violence is a terrible, terrible issue in our society. We should never try to explain it away, or blame the victim or any third parties who had nothing to do with the violence.  To do so only degrades the victim, and distances yet further the perpetrator from correcting his criminal behavior.

Let’s hope that if someone shows up at the Perugian Blogger’s court hearing this Monday December 31, even if all of his erstwhile FOA friends have disappeared, that victims of domestic violence are there with true supporters, demonstrating that they have no fear of decrying this degrading, despicable criminal behavior.





Final question. Will the Knox-Mellas families really continue to support Frank? Will they let him stay at their homes? Would Amanda let him sleep at her apartment or even visit without her boyfriend or anyone else present?

In fact will any of the Knox-Mellas clan members be at “Frank’s” court hearing at the Seattle Municipal Court at 10:00 am this Monday December 31?  In particular, will Amanda be there? Or does Frank, as is rumored, have her freaked?








Wednesday, December 19, 2012

False Allegations Against Italian Officialdom Sparking Increasingly Tough Legal Reaction

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





David Marriott? Chirs Mellas? Doug Preston? Curt Knox?

Maybe none of the above. But whoever came up with the hairbrained idea that a pedal-to-the-floor assault on the officlals handling the case would lead to a tranquil outcome for the accused was maybe not thinking very well on that day.

The Italian System

We have gone over the impressive characteristics of the Italian justice system again and again. It is THE most popular and trusted institution in Italy - and by a wide margin.

It is a very fair, carefiul and painstaking system, staffed by well-trained professionals all the way up from cops through investigators through prosecutors through judges through the Supreme Court to the President of the Italian Republic himself.

The Italian system may be the least likely justice system IN THE WORLD for rogue police or rogue prosecutors or rogue judges to hijack it and bend things their way. Even ex-PM Berlusconi tried but his charges still plague him.

Prosecutors again and again see their cases tested in front of administrative magistrates, and those magistrates make all of the decisions. Everything is very public, and judges explain how they decided (ask a typical US or UK jury to do that!) and how they arrived at their theory of the crime.

In the Perugia case the judge for Guede developed one theory of the crime, the judges for Knox and Sollecito at trial a second, and the the judges for knox and Sollecito at first appeal a third. In fact none of them swallowed the tentative prosecution theory wholesale, though many of our lawyers found it quite sound.

Those Who Attack

Now we have three Italians either already facing charges or soon to face charges - Mario Spezi, Frank Sforza and Raffaele Sollecito, each in several suits. These are in addition to the three Americans who have already been charged - Amanda Knox, Edda Mellas, and Curt Knox.

So the present total is six.

Mario Spezi

Spezi is the Italian sleuthing partner of the American fictionalist Doug Preston who for his uninvited interference in what was an ongoing police investigation of the Monster of Florence case has faced legal woe after legal woe in recent years.

Spezi has already lost one defamation suit to the former MOF investigator and prominent novelist Michele Giuttari, he must in February face another, and he may have to face up to another half dozen more after that. We don’t expect Spezi’s losing streak to end any time soon.

Frank Sforza

Sforza hides behind the name Frank Sfarzo as an intemperate and rarely accurate blogger on the case. He brings no known professionals skills to the task. He is reported to be the target of criminal charges relating to alleged abuse of the sister and mother with whom he lives. His unsavory reputation and desperate finances mushroomed openly the other day, when he was reported in personal confrontations while visiting Canada and Hawaii.

Sforza now faces a defamation suit as well, for claiming to the whole world via Doug Preston and Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York that he was being persecuted by a prosecutor back in Perugia. The prosecutor was not even involved. Seems to us an open and shut case.

Raffaele Sollecito

Sollecito still stands accused in Meredith’s death unless and until the Supreme Couirt signs off. It may not do that any time soon.

Flowing from his new book, Sollecito will apparently face a ton of defamation woes in the next few weeks. These may come to ensnare his defense team (who are credited with helping put together the book) and his shadow writer, his Seattle supporters, and his publishers Simon & Schuster of New York.

Our emerging book corrections page shows how riddled with wrong claims we find Sollecito’s book. We estimate up to 300 wrong claims.  If and when Sollecito sees all the defamation charges filed, we will know from court filings who among Italian officialdom claims passages in the book defame them.

What Next?

Maybe the cases against these six could eventually all dry up and then there will be no more. But we sure wouldn’t lay any bets. Do an Internet search and you’ll instantly turn up plenty more defamatory idiocy. Many media sites may be very vulnerable and may be sued to retract and pay up.

Italian anger is riding high - and it sure ain’t against the prosecutors or cops.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Click Why The Prosecutors In Italy Are Relatively Popular.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Click Understanding Why The DNA Is On The Knife.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Click That Widely Watched LA7 TV Interview With Giuliano Mignini

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

    Click Full CNN Interview With Mignini That CNN SHOULD Have Reflected

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

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

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

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Friday, May 13, 2011

CPJ Accusation #4 Against Italian Justice Officials: Mr Mignini Sues For Defamation Without Cause?

Posted by Kermit


Overview. In our Second Open Letter to Joel Simon and world leaders we noted that NOT ONE of the accusations against Italian officials on close examination stands up. This is Attachment Four to that letter. More investigative posts are to come. 

CPJ Accusation 4:  “[CPJ] an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities’ harassment of journalists and media outlets …. CPJ is particularly troubled by the manifest intolerance to criticism displayed by Perugia Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who has filed or threatened to file criminal lawsuits against individual reporters, writers, and press outlets…. [Editor of]  the national weekly newsmagazine Oggi, received an official notification that Mignini had started legal action against him in response to an Oggi article…. the U.S. weekly newspaper West Seattle Herald… published an article that … contained a reference to unnamed legal experts who reportedly believed Mignini to be “mentally unstable.” …. swift reaction by Mignini … (who) file a defamation claim against the West Seattle Herald…  Joe Cottonwood, another U.S. writer Mignini has threatened with a criminal defamation lawsuit ... the action stems from a … comment (where) Cottonwood described Mignini as an “intellectually dishonest bully.”  (Source: CPJ Letter to 21 World Leaders 19-04-2011 )  “What we are concerned about is that the press - domestic and international - is free to report and comment on the case without fear of reprisal.”  (Source: CPJ followup explanatory note 28-04-2011. )

First a clarification. Joel Simon presumably means the press should be free to report accurately and without unfounded libelous smears. Let’s hope that he doesn’t really maintain reporters’ rights to defame without basis, to provoke unhinged ranters on the web who channel hate against the Perugia officials and those who support them day-in and day-out.

Forensics Method for Test 4: Common sense and a little Google

Line of Investigation for Test 4: Let’s get this straight: here the CPJ is concerned that reporters and news media will not freely report or express opinions in the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher. The CPJ believes that this is happening because of threats by Mr. Mignini.

I think that we should check to what extent the press actually feels threatened, and to what extent they are modifying their comportment due to Mr. Mignini’s supposed inappropriate actions which the CPJ considers go beyond what could be reasonably expected.

Test 4a, Step 1:

Google:  judge sues newspaper defamation (enter)

You get 1,750,000 results, so it’s clear that the fact that members of the judiciary sue the press is not something that Mr. Mignini invented. You probably see where I’m going, so I’ll save us the effort of doing a few additional seconds of Googling different combinations like:

  • Google: judge sues radio slander (enter)
  • Google: judge sues media defamation (enter)

And so on. You end up with many, many millions of Google responses.

Since I’m trying to limit the execution of this test to a matter of seconds, let me take one of the mundane examples from the first page of Google results: this spring, the Voice of Richmond, a small local newspaper in Richmond, Virginia, was sued for the second time in two years, by the judge and a lawyer in the first case.




Above:  A defamation suit by a member of the judiciary or any other citizen is the most normal thing in the world. Most examples – like this case involving the Voice of Richmond, which I selected simply because it was one of the first Google results – are related to questioning the appropriateness of courtroom procedures. 

Other defamation suits, like Mignini’s claims against the West Seattle Herald’s reporter Steve Shay’s article (“mentally unstable”) or Joe Cottonwood (“intellectually dishonest bully”) are not against incursions limited to question the procedures in a legal case , but against open and baseless personal attacks, as seen from the point of view of the victim.

Is the CPJ concerned about the defamation suit against the Voice of Richmond? Has it published a letter to political leaders and pasted it prominently on its site, claiming that the judge in Richmond should just sit back and take criticism of his courtroom procedures?

If the Voice of Richmond newspaper, instead of being critical of courtroom procedures in a potentially defamatory manner, had associated the judge’s good name with the expression “mentally unstable”, or if the paper had called him an “intellectually dishonest bully”, only then would the CPJ have jumped in to defend the Voice of Richmond’s right to do such name calling?

The conclusions to this test, I must say, are pretty obvious.

My point is that while most people will agree with CPJ that public officials should put up with criticism of their work, we all agree that personal smears (or what the alleged defamation victim and the public could see as a personal smear) certainly should give way to the right to defend one’s honour.

This should be the case not only in the thousands of cases documented in Google that the CPJ doesn’t seem to get worried about (which is good news), but also in the case of Mr. Mignini, whom someone in or very close to the CPJ seems to be especially nervous about (which is disturbing news).

Test 4b, Step 1:

With just the results of Test 4a, I could already proceed to update the Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations as regards the example of Mignini suing certain persons or news outlets for personal attacks against his honour.

However, let’s take a fast look at each of those persons or news outlets to see if there are any factors which could change in one direction or another our conclusion that it’s perfectly normal for a person in the judiciary to sue for defamation, in particular when the alleged defamation does not concern his professional activity but his personal characteristics.

Without further ado, let’s carry out another search.

Google: site:oggi.it “oggi.it” amanda knox OR edda OR chris OR mellas (enter)

Each reporter, newspaper and magazine out there has their own view on the personalities in the Meredith Kercher murder case. There are a couple of outlets, like OGGI magazine which for some unknown reason have taken a particular liking to the Knox Mellas family, resulting in the members of this family and their travails getting special coverage, as the Google results show (use the Google translator if need be).


[Above: The Knox-Mellas clan find one corner of ongoing support and sympathetic coverage in Italy in OGGI magazine.]

The fact that this magazine takes a particular view to Amanda Knox’s family is a question of how they want to focus their coverage of this case. Quite another thing are their insinuations about certain elements of the prosecution’s case.

For example, in recent weeks there seems to be an all out attack on the hearing capacity and the mental faculties of Signora Nara Capezzali, a neighbour who on the night of Meredith Kercher’s murder heard the running of multiple persons near the cottage, just after a piercing scream (the danger of this testimony for pro-Knox forces is that it points to more than one person being involved in the crime, including Amanda Knox).

Just for interest’s sake, to see how Amanda Knox friendly voices have latched onto this issue, do another fast Google search: “amanda knox” “nara capezzali” deaf OR crazy OR psychiatric (enter)

OGGI and reporter Giangavino Sulas participated in the attack on Signora Capezzali, and by extension on prosecutor Mignini’s case:

“The witnesses … suffer from sufficiently serious problems of deafness, of physical and also mental health,  to be hospitalized in a psychiatric ward (as in the case of Nara Capezzali).”  (Source:  Giangavino Sulas , OGGI Magazine, April 2011)

This test and the ones that follow are not meant to prove anything in particular as regards Mr. Mignini’s right to defend his honour (which we saw clearly in Test 4a).

However, these additional tests do put some perspective on those who decry Mignini as threatening (or whom CPJ has dug up as “victims” of Mignini – I’m not aware that either OGGI, Steve Shay or Joe Cottonwood were searching for the CPJ to ask it to put together its Letter to 21 World Leaders, not even a junior reporter from the diminutive West Seattle Herald could have been able to dream that up).

In addition, if what CPJ is concerned about is “that the press—domestic and international—is free to report and comment on the case without fear of reprisal”,  (Source: CPJ followup explanatory note 28-04-2011 ) it is more than evident by consulting recent reporting by OGGI and in particular by Giangavino Sulas, that that magazine and reporter are not holding back in examining and opining on all elements of the prosecution and conviction of the murderers (pending appeal) of Meredith Kercher.

Test 4c, Step 1:

Let’s go to a popular pro-victim discussion board concerning the murder of Meredith Kercher, such as TJMK or the Perugiamurderfile.org. Do a search for Steve Shay, and you will see references to examples on other sites which demonstrate how this reporter swims like a fish amongst pro-Knox social networking friends.


Above:  When West Seattle Herald reporter Steve Shay infiltrates Internet social groups to gather information for his next story, he sure does a good job of appearing to be like-minded with his fellow posters, in this case, the Friends of Amanda lobby Facebook group. 
(Source:  Facebook, image on Perugiamurderfile.org)

Steve Shay’s own social networking postings and his ongoing reporting in the West Seattle Herald demonstrate that Mignini’s potential lawsuit has not made him or his newspaper wither (my personal opinion is that he takes it as a sort of medal that he wears proudly on pro-Knox discussion boards and at FOA money making events).

The CPJ itself states explicitly that “in an email interview with CPJ, West Seattle Herald Editor Ken Robinson said … that the paper does not fear repercussions from Mignini …. he and his newspaper were not perturbed by the prosecutor’s actions”.

So why all the fuss in the CPJ Letter to the World about reporters and newspapers holding back in having a go at the Meredith Kercher murder case? 

The CPJ itself shows that some reporters like Steve Shay can have their cake and eat it too.

Test 4d, Step 1:

I feel a little sorry for Joe Cottonwood, as he appears to have haplessly stepped into an international scene of attacks against Mr. Mignini. However, if the Italian law says that you can’t call someone an “intellectually dishonest bully”, then you should be careful.

Let’s do a fast test on Mr. Cottonwood.

Type Google: joe cottonwood (enter)

From the Google search results, you can take a look at Cottonwood’s own site, or see a summary of his activity in the Wikipedia page on him: “Joe Cottonwood is an American author of fiction and poetry for adults and children. He was born in 1947 and lives in La Honda, California.” (Source: Wikipedia )

Cottonwood not only doesn’t report on the Meredith Kercher murder case, he isn’t even a reporter, nor even calls himself a blogger or a freelancer or journalist.

You can hardly say that Mignini’s legal action to defend his personal honour will affect Cottonwood’s coverage of the case, which is what CPJ’s Letter to 21 World Leaders is all about as CPJ stated in its clarification commentary on its Open Letter..

The fact that Cottonwood is included in an international missive of a journalists’ sectorial association when that isn’t even his profession makes me think that CPJ (or whoever really prepared the Letter to the World) was scraping the barrel for examples.

Approximate time required to obtain material to be analysed: less than 1 second for Google searches, a few minutes to enter and search discussion forums.

Tests 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d Step 2: Conclusions

If American judges can sue for defamation in situations which are less personally insulting than what Mr. Mignini has had to put up with, and this defamation in America doesn’t provoke CPJ’s intervention, then Mr. Mignini’s personal legal actions can’t be worth a Letter to 21 World Leaders.

In addition, simple observation of your examples of three defamation suits shows that it is not true that Mignini’s legal actions to defend his personal honour have affected news reporters’ coverage of the Amanda Knox case.

It is strange and worrying that the Committee to Protect Journalists for some reason wants to deny Mr. Mignini his constitutional right as an Italian and European citizen to not be the subject of abusive attacks.

Let’s do one final exercise: search Google for Mignini and various hate terms like “mentally unstable” and you could conclude that reporters and anonymous bloggers have made Giuliano Mignini into the second most hated man on the planet after Bin Laden - who now, of course, is dead.

Hate remarks against Mignini are now up in the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. The BBC looked into just some of the shrill claims made by reporters whom Joel Simon wants to keep supporting in their anti-Mignini drive and actually found nothing there.

We’re moving along, and as usual, the best is yet to come. Let’s update the Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations with our latest findings. I fear that the CPJ is not doing well:

[below::The results of the fourth set of credibility tests of the anti-Mignini accusations gives us the feeling that the CPJ has no basis whatsoever for the accusations, nor does it have justification for sending a Letter to 21 World Leaders.]

Posted on 05/13/11 at 02:44 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Hoaxes against ItalyEvil Mignini hoaxHoaxes by KnoxKnox no-PR hoaxHoaxers - main mediaCPJ Joel SimonHoaxers - main peopleMore hoaxersThe wider contexts
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CPJ Accusation #3 Against Italian Justice Officials : Was Anon Blogger Arrested On MIGNINI’S Orders?

Posted by Kermit


Overview. In our Second Open Letter to Joel Simon and world leaders we noted that NOT ONE of the accusations against Italian officials on close examination stands up. This is Attachment Three to that letter. More investigative posts are to come. 

Accusation 3:  This anti-Mignini accusation is even more startling than numbers one and two.  The harassment reached its peak on September 28, 2010, when five officers of Squadra Mobile forcibly entered “Sfarzo’s” apartment. They did not produce a warrant or show their badges, “Sfarzo” (real name Sforza) told CPJ. Four of the five shoved Sforza to the ground, struck him, handcuffed him, and climbed on top of him, crushing his air supply … etc. etc. etc. The officers refused Sforza’s requests to call his lawyer or his relatives, and put him in a cell for the night.” (Source: CPJ Letter to 21 World Leaders )

Well, I’m still surprised that CPJ didn’t ask the Perugian blogger for his lawyer’s name, or for information about the hospital and the doctors who attended him.

I’m also surprised that CPJ didn’t ask both the blogger and the police headquarters about why the accused policemen (with or without a warrant) originally went to his home. It all sounds like a story that is extremely full of holes of information which should be filled (unless if you prefer not to fill them in).

I don’t know if the CPJ realized it, but with this accusation, the organisation has ratcheted up the grave accusations against Mignini. If up until now the anti-Mignini crowd’s accusations were limited to describing Mignini’s alleged bothersome provocations, the CPJ has now appeared on the anti-Mignini stage, and is claiming that he has opened a qualitatively higher level of menace: one of physical violence causing bodily harm. The only thing missing is for Mignini to be called a drug-dealer and a drifter.

Since the CPJ didn’t ask the blogger nor include in its Letter to the World why the police went to the blogger’s home, the CPJ’s insinuation is that Mignini’s goon squad simply went to the blogger’s home under that prosecutor’s orders, and with no justification.
I see no evidence that:

  • Mignini sent anyone anywhere that day,
  • the police weren’t there (if they were) on police business related to the Perugian blogger’s real-life persona,
  • the altercation with the blogger (if there was one) had something to do with Mignini,
  • the injuries suffered by the blogger were noticeable (if there were any),
  • the blogger’s neighbour was contacted the CPJ, as a first hand eye-witness.

The CPJ letter quotes the Perugian blogger:  “The next day, the officers brought Sfarzo (real name Sforza) before a local judge, who validated his arrest and indicted him on several articles of Italy’s penal code …. ‘The police can count on the complicity of judges,’ Sfarzo told CPJ”.

If Joel Simon of the CPJ ratcheted up the level of the attack on Mignini by claiming that physical bodily-damaging violence is now part of MIgnini’s media relations program, our astonishment is increased with the new and confusing element of the judges’ complicity. If Mignini is the ringleader, shouldn’t he be the one who has the complicity of the judges, instead of the national policemen, who up until now seem to be footsoldiers of Mignini?

You tell a tale in the Letter to 21 World leaders which is confusing. Please provide us with a believable link between Mignini, police officers and judges in this violence. Who’s the leader?

Well, we’re here to do a check on the third Anti-Mignini Accusation of the CPJ. There is no direct evidence of this strange supposed attack available for me to go on, so I think I’ll have to do a credibility check on the Perugian blogger’s words and photos in other situations where Mignini is present, such as regards the Meredith Kercher murder investigation.

Forensics Method for Test 3: Google, and reading up on the murder of Meredith Kercher

Line of Investigation for Test 3: Since the Perugian blogger’s blog is sometimes difficult to understand for me, due to English language expression issues, or due to his particular sense of humour, we need to contrast his credibility in a direct, visual and non-verbal manner.

Test 3, Step 1: 

Step 1a: Talk with someone familiar with the online discussion of this case. Ask about situations where the Perugian blogger has undermined his own credibility in a obvious, relevant and conscious way, comparing these situations to the credibility he needs to support his colourful description of a Mignini directed police commando which storms into the house of the blogger for no reason whatsoever other than to beat him up (a qualitative change from the other accusations that the blogger has made against Mignini, and which haven’t stood up to scrutiny) and make it look like the blogger attacked them, all in order to try him and send him to jail.

I’m not looking for situations of the typical silly comments which we may make at one time or another due to human foible, but where a direct, explicit decision or affirmation is made which undermines one’s overall credibility.

Today we’ll look for just one situation to analyse. However, I’m open to examine other such events or declarations, especially if the CPJ finally decides to start to do basic checking behind the details of its recent attack on Mr. Mignini. We can hopefully work together on this in the future.

Step 1b: Take the key elements of the above situations commented on where the Perugian blogger is involved, and follow the development of the discussion.

Google:  perugia shock via della Pergola from where raffaele amanda checking house (enter)

Approximate time required to obtain material to be analysed: minutes/few hours

Analysis:

Let’s go back in time to the end of November and start of December of 2008. There was an open debate then on a pro-Knox cooking blog based in Seattle which has since become dedicated to the Amanda Knox case. At that point one of the many Internet forum debating issues concerning the crime committed against Meredith Kercher was whether it is possible from Piazza Grimana to see the gate of the cottage where Meredith lived together with Amanda Knox, her now convicted murderer (pending appeal), and two other Italian girls.

Piazza Grimana is a park/pedestrian square with a basketball court, carved into a downhill slope just outside of Perugia’s ancient Etruscan Arch. The prosecution maintained a theory that following the murderous act for which they have been convicted, Knox and Sollecito could have waited in the Piazza Grimana, looking towards the access ramp of the cottage to see who might arrive (perhaps, for example, emergency vehicles).

Obviously, the cooking blog curator didn’t manage to clear up this debate in her favour, but the Perugian blogger, who was already on excellent terms with pro-Knox forces “came to the rescue” on his blogspot pages with this image which seems to demonstrate that the view of the cottage access ramp from Piazza Grimana is blocked by the building on the right:


Above: The Perugian blogger provided momentary pressure release for the cooker, by posting this image with the accompanying text to emphasize that you can’t see the cottage gate from Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s alleged perch on the raised edge of the Piazza Grimana. The logic of the argument is that if neither you nor I can see the cottage gate (in that photo), then neither could Knox nor Sollecito, and therefore the prosecution theory was not applicable.

The Perugian blogger’s photo from Piazza Grimana was perfect for the requirements of the cooking blogger, and a grateful post soon went up on her site:


Above:  A pro-Knox Seattle food blogger with a personal blog on the Seattle PI site was relieved to have visual support for her theory that the view of the cottage gate from Piazza Grimana is “clear as mud”.  (Source:  Seattle PI amateur blog  Note:  this comment and other followup ones were cleansed – erased – a long time ago. )

The online blog discussion could have drifted on to other topics if it weren’t for the fact that many of us knew perfectly well that you can see the cottage gate from Piazza Grimana. Even a person not familiar with this case, upon examining the apparent proof provided by the Perugian blogger that the building on the right might negate the possibility of two murderers staking out the cottage entrance ramp, could come up with an effective answer :


Above: It’s just a jump to left, that’s all that is required to gain the line of vision needed to watch the access to the cottage. (Source: Rocky Horror Picture Show)


Above: Let’s try something extremely obvious that the Perugian blogger seems to have avoided in evaluating whether you can see the cottage gate from Piazza Grimana … what will happen if we move a little to the left? 


Above: Luckily, the TJMK editor had been in Perugia and came back with an extensive collection of photos of the things he had seen, including the view of the cottage access ramp from Piazza Grimana.


Above:  Even Italian television was providing the view that Knox and Sollecito may have had from Piazza Grimana of the cottage gate. Why would the Perugian blogger and his pro-Knox lobby group associates want to deny this view from the English-language debate on the case?

If from just a couple of metres to the left you get a completely different story compared to the shadows to the right, and that makes plausible one element of a prosecution theory, I would have thought that a real freelance reporter would not avoid reporting on the obvious.

Test 3, Step 2: Conclusion

This test has been a credibility check. My opinion is that if the Perugian blogger applies the Jump-to-the-right book of extra-judicial lobby blogging, instead of the Jump-to-the-left book of journalistic reporting – to the detriment of the prosecution of a criminal case – then it is within the realm of reason that such a tendency toward misinformation / incomplete information about Mignini could also be applied by the blogger in describing to CPJ a Mignini-directed violent attack by rogue policemen loyal to Mignini and not their superiors, and who had no other reason to appear at the home of the real person behind the Perugian blogger’s screen-name other than to threaten him into not writing about a case that was already long out of the hands of said prosecutor.

Let’s update the Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations and see where things stand:

[below: The results of the third test of credibility in the anti-Mignini accusations only serve to worsen the state of the CPJ’s own credibility.]

Lets continue to the next.

 

Posted on 05/13/11 at 02:41 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Hoaxes against ItalyEvil Mignini hoaxHoaxes by KnoxKnox no-PR hoaxHoaxers - main mediaCPJ Joel SimonHoaxers - main peopleFrancesco SforzaMore hoaxersThe wider contexts
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CPJ Accusation #2 Against Italian Justice Officials : Did Court Officials Hassle The Anon Blogger?

Posted by Kermit


Overview. In our Second Open Letter to Joel Simon and world leaders we noted that NOT ONE of the accusations against Italian officials on close examination stands up. This is Attachment Two to that letter. More investigative posts are to come. 

CPJ Accusation #2:  The CPJ letter makes a second accusation against Mr. Mignini concerning supposed (yet unsubstantiated) abuse that Mr. Mignini has organized against this blogger: “When the trial of Knox and Sollecito began that December, Squadra Mobile continued to harass him. They regularly tried to prevent him from entering the court; seized his cellphone and went through his contacts and text messages; mouthed insults at him from across the courtroom; and stared over his shoulder as he took notes. “This was done in the presence of the judge, the Carabinieri [the military police], and the court guards, but they would do nothing,” Sfarzo (real name Sforza) told CPJ.”  (Source: CPJ’s Letter to the World 19-04-2011)

Line of Investigation for Test 2: For many of these cases of supposed abuse and threats, the best source for contrasting the grave accusations which the CPJ heaps rather flippantly on Mr. Mr. Mignini, are the words and images that the supposed victims themselves post on Internet.

The Perugian blogger didn’t take photos or video of the entrance controls to the courthouse. I can imagine that in this day and age of terrorism and security controls, it would have been normal for the guards to have asked the blogger’s purpose in entering the courthouse, and if he said he was a member of the press (promoted to “local freelance reporter” by the CPJ), it would have been normal for them to expect him to produce a press pass, accreditation, media business card, or any other professional identification.

And if he didn’t have press identification and if he wasn’t a member of the families of the defendants, or there as a guest of the Kerchers or the prosecution, I can imagine that he would have had some difficulty initially getting access to the courtroom.

Anyway, let’s assume that the credibility of the first part of this accusation (being hassled when entering the courthouse) has the same level of credibility of the second half of this accusation (being insulted and spied on within the courtroom).

If you agree, let’s first of all take a fast look at the general news agency photos of the courtroom which you saw in my first letter a couple of weeks ago.  The test will be to contrast those photos with the blogger’s own photos from court sessions, in order to understand the possibility that such harassment occurred.




[At top and above: The Perugian courtroom where Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were tried, and where the CPJ claims that the Perugian blogger was yet a further victim of this trial.]

To the right of the upper photo, and at the back of the lower photo is the press pen, where members of the press are crammed in and must remain between a railing and a back wall.

In front of the press pen railing are the defendants’ family members and other authorized parties. 

In front of family members, guards separate the defendants and their legal teams from their families. (To the left of the legal defence teams are the prosecution and private plaintiffs.)

Opposite the prosecution and defence legal teams, facing them at the front, are the judge and the members of the judicial jury.

Test 2, Step 1:  Google:  site:blogspot.com perugia shock court (enter)

(Please note that even though the Perugian blogger’s site has been removed, you can still get photos and text through Google caches.)

Approximate time required to obtain material to be analysed: less than 1 second

Analysis:

The pro-Amanda Knox lobbyist blogger’s blogspot lobby pages (or, if you prefer, the “local freelance reporter’s” news publishing page) are chock full of photos in the court sessions of the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
Let’s make a collage of them:


[Above: A jammed pack collage of photos from the Perugian blogger’s blogspot “freelance reporting” page:  http://perugia-shock.blogspot.com/  (I never knew that by having a blogspot page you became a freelance reporter. Neat.) Double click on the above image to see a larger resolution version. ]

I have indicated each individual photo with a letter. From my point of view, the Perugian blogger was where he should have been in all instances, which is behind the railing of the press pen, near the back wall of the courtroom. This is clearly the case in photos “B”, “C” and “D”, where you can actually see the railing which separates the press pen from the rest of the courtroom.

In the rest of the photos, especially when the zoom function is obviously in use, such as in photos “H”, “J” or “ K”, or simply by gauging perspective, such as in the case of photo “L”, it’s safe to say that the Perugian blogger in all cases was behind the railing of the press pen.

Let’s place on a sketch of the courtroom, the location from which the Perugian blogger took those photos in Amanda Knox court sessions he attended:


Now, if the blogger was in the press pen, any police officer who would have stepped into the crowded, fenced off area and wandered around behind the backs of the journalists, reporters, and blogger - especially making a noticeable attempt to look over shoulders - would have been noticed by the journalists in addition to the blogger who has accused Mignini of sending these spies out.

I realize that these photos may not represent all of the court sessions that the blogger attended.  The possibility exists that in some other session he wasn’t in the press pen, but sitting with the Knox-Mellas family, with whom he has a personal relationship, or in some other non-press location in the courtroom.

Since the CPJ calls the Perugian blogger a freelance reporter, I would assume that the CPJ would also situate the blogger in the press pen and assume that if he wasn’t attending as a member of the press but as a friend of some defendant, then he shouldn’t be afforded the protection of the CPJ (in any case, I doubt this scenario occurred).

As for the “mouthing of insults”, in general, everybody faces forward in the courtroom, except for the judge and the members of the judicial jury. Any police officer or carabinieri agent or prison/court guard present would have been mouthing to the whole press corps plus the blogger, not just him.


[Above: As we see from this photo, everyone in the courtroom faces forwards, except the judge and the jury … and the Perugian blogger (I think that’s him there on the left looking backwards). Golly, maybe he was spied on over his shoulder after all.]

It requires a Friends of Amanda Leap of Faith to imagine the alleged spying happening without anyone else detecting it, other than the blogger.

I won’t comment on the possibility that Judges Micheli, Massei or Hellman condone or are accomplices to such behavior. I honestly think that the CPJ should think twice before it spreads so much conspiracy around, on the basis of a verbal statement by a blogger whose real name the CPJ didn’t even know when they spoke to him (you did speak to him, right? Or did someone else do the phone interview on your behalf?).

If the CPJ honestly thinks that this behavior occurred, since the presiding judge has responsibility for what goes on in the courtroom, why didn’t the CPJ Letter to the World accusing Mignini not make nominal reference to the judges who pull rank over Mignini and include them in this specific accusation?

Test 2, Step 2: Conclusion

Having seen in a more detailed way the layout of the courtroom and the normal positioning of the Perugian blogger, it is difficult to imagine how he may have been spied upon by policemen looking over his shoulder.

As for the mouthing of insults, as a rule, the guards face forwards and are located in front of the family members and other invited persons. For a guard to turn towards the Perugian blogger and mouth an insult, not only the other journalists would have seen it, but also the guests and probably lawyers as well.

If any insults were mouthed at the Perugian blogger during the course of the Amanda Knox trial, or the start of the subsequent appeal, it is difficult to believe that this could have occurred with only the presiding judge (in addition, of course, to the ringleader Mignini) realizing what was going on.

It’s time to go back to the Balance Sheet for Testing CPJ’s Anti-Mignini Accusations and update it:

[Below: Click image for larger image.. The second test of credibility in the anti-Mignini accusations could only be passed if the person who formulated it took a giant Friends of Amanda Leap of Faith.]

Let’s continue to the next.

Posted on 05/13/11 at 02:37 PM by Kermit. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Committee To Protect Journalists Responds, But Provides No List Of Sources Or Interview Transcripts

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the response by Nina Ognianova. Comments are open below that CPJ post and both Kermit and Doug Preston have taken advantage, Kermit gracefully, Preston petulantly..

Nina Ognianova does not address Kermit’s contentions, though she did link to TJMK, and really responds only in broad generalties. She still leaves standing the smears of Giuliano Mignini and other Italian officials that the Committee to Protect Journalists chose to broadcast globally. 

We can find zero evidence that CPJ interviewed anyone in Perugia, except presumably for the strenuously anonymous blogger “Frank Sfarzo”  (real name Sforza) who the CPJ may actually realize now is not a real journalist and who posts mostly mischievous nonsense under an assumed name. 

Nina Ognianova does not explain why neither Mr Mignini not anyone in the police or judiciary were interviewed before the CPJ smeared Mr Mignini in an open letter sent to Italy’s President and a number of other notables worldwide.

There’s been good commenting starting about here about this already on PMF where some are warming to the idea of a public hearing in Perugia (“Frank Sfarzo” goes on trial early in May)

Maybe “Frank Sfarzo” and Doug Preston can be made to finally put up or shut up. This may not be the result the hornswoggled Joel Simon was intended to deliver..


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done #2

Posted by Kermit

Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom (#2)




[Above: Knox lawyer Luciano Ghirga stated on 21 October 2008: “Amanda wasn’t hit. There were pressures from the police, sure, but we never said she was hit.” Well into Amanda’s trial, and shortly after her stepfather’s arrival in Perugia, she unexpectedly stated in court that she had been hit by police during her questioning. Watch the whole video yes at the Perugian blogger’s site.]



From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Sfarzo (real name Sforza) was released pending a trial in May. He faces up to six years in prison if convicted. ‘The police can count on the complicity of judges,’ Sfarzo told CPJ”

Now I’m confused: I thought that it was Mignini who utilized and had the complicity of the national police in his nefarious actions against the Perugian blogger. Now it seems that the blogger (or CPJ) is saying that the national police manipulate the judiciary to advance some terrible agenda, with the complicity of judges. Please clarify, for the sake of sanity, is it Mignini or the national police who are the source of the harassment that the blogger suffers?



[Above: Now let me get this straight: Amanda Knox hearing and trial judges such as Paolo Micheli (left), Giancarlo Massei (centre), or Claudio Pratillo Hellman (right) are beholden to members of the national police? Where will the Evil Conspiracy stop?]


Although motive is not necessary to any crime, having one helps to understand a criminal action. This alleged harassment makes no sense. Mignini presented his investigation report three years ago.  A guilty conviction was obtained, and the defendants are now in appeals, with different judges and new legal processes.

The case has for some time been out of Mignini’s investigative hands and is following its natural progression through different courts, under the guidance of the corresponding judges.

In the case of the national police, they don’t have any particular relation with the blogger as regards the Meredith Kercher murder case. Quite another possibility is that he has some other legal problem. Have you asked the blogger if he has any other legal question open, under his real name?

One question: if the blogger had been abused by Mignini or the Italian national police between October 2008 and September 2010, why is it only now that noise is being made about it?

In order to check out the blogger’s emotional state in the time frame of the alleged police attack, I took a look at his blogspot page for posts and comments in that time period.

The blogger’s last post before the alleged attack was on 10 September 2010. This post generated 586 comments, mostly before, but also some following the supposed attack on 28 September 2010 including comments by the blogger himself.

His first post following the alleged police attack was just a couple of days later on 1 October 2010. He writes “The mini media circus around the Meredith Kercher case materialized again in Perugia, surprisingly, for a closed door hearing …. Luciano Ghirga described her as showing a shorter haircut and as being concerned …”

In the 361 comments which this post generated, including comments by the blogger, I didn’t detect any indication that he had been through a harrowing experience at the hands of police officers who in some yet-to-be-defined-manner are remotely controlled by the prosecutor Mignini.



[Above: Business as usual. It’s 1 October 2010, just 48 hours after the supposed brutal attack which required the blogger to receive medical attention in the hospital. Yet his recovery is swift, and his texts don’t reflect the suffering he has gone through.  (Image: Perugia Shock blog)]


From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Oggi editor Umberto Brindani also received two “notices of investigation” that year—dated July 24 and September 2—in relation to the magazine’s coverage of the Monster of Florence case, CPJ confirmed.”

If the CPJ was able to confirm a couple of notices of investigation against the well established national magazine Oggi, why didn’t the CPJ also try to confirm any of the alleged abuse against the vulnerable Perugian blogger who is the main point of the CPJ text? You indicate that you had direct contact with him.

For example, you could have asked the blogger to show you a copy of a complaint concerning the alleged attack by national policemen on 28 September 2010. Or the CPJ could have spoken with the hospital psychiatrist who supposedly examined the blogger following that alleged attack.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Preston, Spezi’s co-author who suffered harassment by Mignini himself in 2006—and eventually was forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment—told CPJ he was still afraid of going back. He has been unable to clarify his legal status in Italy. In the summer of 2008, Mignini told third parties that he would have Preston arrested if the writer returned, Preston writes in the Afterword to The Monster of Florence paperback edition, published in 2009.”

If Preston was “forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment” in February of 2006,  then why did Preston go to Italy with an NBC “Dateline” filming crew in October 2006, just months after leaving under an alleged “threat” by Mignini, and four months after his interview in The Atlantic where he called Mignini “a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge”.



[Above: Many people are led to believe that Preston hasn’t been to Italy since his hasty departure after meeting Mignini in early 2006. In fact, he has returned with Dateline NBC to tape a show on The Monster of Florence. (Photo credit: Original source. And an alternative link to same story.]

Barbie Nadeau, an excellent and recognized reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, wrote in a well researched article on Preston that he “also says that Mignini ordered him to leave Italy. Mignini says that he never asked Preston to leave the country, but instead suggested that Preston didn’t understand Italian and that he should get a lawyer.”

If you do further Googling, you will see that it appears that the only person who says that Preston can never go back to Italy (in spite of having gone back to Italy) seems to be Preston himself.

What Preston says he hasn’t been able to clarify, Mignini has repeated in a number of articles in the Italian and English-speaking press.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“We ask you to ensure that the politically motivated lawsuit against Perugia blogger Frank Sfarzo is immediately scrapped and that outside investigators are assigned to conduct an investigation into the September 28-29, 2010, abusive actions of Squadra Mobile officers against him.”

On what basis can you affirm that the alleged abuse suffered by the Perugian blogger is “politically motivated”? What link is there between the national police officers who allegedly committed said abuse and the prosecutor of the first trial against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito which ended almost a year prior to said abuse?

Who is this Perugian blogger, if he isn’t “Frank Sfarzo”?  Is he a journalist? Or in fact is he closely associated with “opinion-makers” for the Amanda Knox cause?

I have no interest in knowing the Perugian blogger’s real-life name, but I would hope that as part of its investigation, the CPJ would have ascertained whether the blogger’s real life persona may explain why the event of 28 September 2010 occurred (and what motivated the visit of the national police) better than linking it without any real proof to the prosecutor who so enraged Doug Preston (at least from the end of 2007 onwards, following Meredith Kercher’s murder and the intense media coverage of this sad event).

One of the most well known members of the Amanda Knox on-line lobby is an American, Jim Lovering. He appears on many websites where the case against Knox is discussed, sometimes posting in his own name and sometimes under the pseudonym “Charlie Wilkes” (a 19th century American naval explorer linked to Puget Sound).

It is telling that Lovering-Wilkes is cited as one of the two collaborators that the Perugian blogger works with on his site.



[Above: The Perugian blogger counts on Jim Lovering (also known on-line as “Charlie Wilkes”) as one of his two collaborators. Lovering is one of the most prominent figures in the “Friends of Amanda” pro-Knox activist group.]


If you do some basic Google research (“Jim Lovering” “Friends of Amanda”), you will find that Jim Lovering is the moderator of the “Friends of Amanda” website.

Here below is the Perugian blogger and Chris Mellas, presenting the Friends of Amanda website:



[Above: The Perugian blogger and Chris Mellas – Amanda Knox’s stepfather – presenting the Friends of Amanda website.]


Lovering/Wilkes has made himself famous in the pro and con discussion boards of this case for his anything-goes pro-Amanda stand.

This includes the manipulation with a Photoshop-type program of an image of a footprint of Rudy Gudy, found guilty together with Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of Meredith Kercher’s murder.

The manipulation adjusted the size of the Guede print taken in prison to the dimensions of a footprint made in blood found on the bathmat of the cottage where Meredith was brutally murdered (the matching of the footprints would support the “lone-wolf” theory of the Knox defence, that only Rudy was involved of the group of three young people found guilty, and therefore that Amanda should go free).

A simple gauging of the size of the print seems to show that when Lovering/Wilkes resized it, the print ended up much smaller than what it should be.

For further information consult this presentation with the satirical title: “Mr. Marriott, I Shrank the Black Kid”. Or review the on-line discussion of the issue by Googling: Rudy Guede “hobbit foot”.

Although the Friends of Amanda Knox group declares on its webpage that “We are not affiliated with her family”, some of its most prominent members are close friends to the Knox-Mellas family, as they themselves publish on Internet sites such as Facebook.



[Above: In this Facebook posting from September, poster “Charlie Wilkes” (Knox activist Jim Lovering) writes of his photo: “At the table are (Washington State Judge) Mike Heavey, Mark (Waterbury) and Michelle (Moore, wife of ex-FBI / ex-university security man / screenwriter Steve Moore). Chris (Mellas) is seated at the table in the background. I’m not sure who he is talking to. Christina Hagge and Edda (Mellas – Amanda’s mother) are standing on the right …. It was a very enjoyable gathering”. (Photo credit: Facebook – Perugiamurderfile.org)]


Judge Michael Heavey of the Superior Court of the State of Washington is a neighbour of the Knox-Mellases and has been involved with lobbying efforts for the family from early on (he now seems to not be a formal activist of FOA, although informally – as we see in this photo – he continues to support the cause).

In August of 2008, he wrote a letter to the Italian judicial council that regulates the activity of the country’s judiciary, decrying:

“….On June 16, 2008, Judge Giuliano Mignini, The Public Minister of Perugia, closed his investigation concerning the horrific murder of Meredith Kercher.

…. Since November 6, 2007, the conduct of the prosecutor, police and prison employees has been to supply false information to the press to inflame public opinion against Amanda Knox, Rafaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba.

…. the prosecutor’s office (Kermit: ie. Mignini’s), police and prison employees have made illegal and false statements to the press.

…. Amanda Knox’s lawyers have no knowledge of my request to the distinguished and honorable members of the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura.”


The English text and Italian original were published for a number of weeks in 2008 on Seattle celebrity lawyer Anne Bremner’s webpage. Bremner is another original member of the Friends of Amanda group.  Source: this webpage which has since been redesigned)
 

[Above: Heavey wrote a neither substantiated nor proven extra-judicial opinion of grave illegalities he ascribed to the investigators of the murder of Meredith Kercher, naming specifically the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini. His opinion was sent to Nicola Mancino, vice-president of the Italian Judicial Council, and four other persons, including Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Berlusconi.]


This unofficial, private lobbying done on Washington State Superior Court stationery didn’t go over well, as you can imagine, with the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which proceeded to charge Heavey:

“[Mr. Heavey is charged with] violating Canons 1, 2(A)and 2(B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct by writing letters on official court stationary to Nicola Mancino, Judge Claudia Matteini, and Giuliano Mignini (members of the Italian judicial system) on behalf of criminal defendant Amanda Knox; utilizing court staff to type those letters; and speaking publicly on several occasions about that same pending criminal case in an attempt to influence the proceeding.” (Source: Washington CJC)

The CJC’s investigation later concluded that Heavey had violated the judicial code by:

using his status as a judge to attempt to influence a criminal proceeding in another country, thereby exploiting his judicial office for the benefit of another.

…. Respondent agrees he will not retaliate against any person known or suspected to have cooperated with the Commission, or otherwise associated with this matter; that he will not repeat such conduct in the future; and that he will promptly read and familiarize himself with the Code of Judicial Conduct in its entirety.”(Source: Washington CJC)




[Above: In spite of his reprimand in 2010 from the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct for - amongst other things - “speaking publicly” about the Amanda Knox case, it seems that Judge Michael Heavey has found a way to make this sort of activity compatible with the sentence of the Commission, and he continues to appear on her behalf (on his own time?). Recently on 4 April 2011 he appeared at Seattle University with other speakers aligned with the Amanda Knox cause to present the case for her innocence.] (Source: Youtube video uploaded by West Seattle Herald)

 
What is curious is Heavey stating in his letter to the Italian authorities that he was doing this without the knowledge of Amanda Knox’s Italian lawyers.

She has two heavyweights as her main lawyers: Luciano Ghirga – a well–known and experienced Perugian lawyer – and Carlo Dalla Vedova – also experienced, and suggested by the American Embassy in Rome. In addition, there are all the experts in a number of areas that these two lawyers have introduced to the case as it has proceeded.

They will know what’s best for Amanda, and if she or her family have any questions about the legal strategy, then they should change the team. It’s inconceivable of persons close to her family taking extra-judicial measures to “help” her when those measures aren’t vetted first by her legal team beforehand in order to decide if it really does help or hinder the cause.

But that does seem to be the case here.

Between actions like Heavey’s and the not-stop media onslaught with programs such as the CBS 48 Hours series produced by Doug Longhini (starring Private Investigator Paul Ciolino who travelled to Perugia and tried to get a witness to the crime to open her door at night to talk to him – he has recently called that witness “crazy” from the safe distance of a Seattle auditorium) which questioned the correctness of the investigation, there was so much noise coming from America that Knox’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga actually had to go to prosecutor Mignini’s office and disassociate himself and Amanda’s defence from these opinion-making actions:

“There are people around the figure of Amanda who have no formal role in the student’s defence team, which is formed by myself together with my colleague Carlo Dalla Vedova. These people are not only not helping our client in the difficult judicial process in the Corte d’Assise in which we have to defend her, but on the contrary, they are harming her judicial position.”

(Source: La Nazione 3 February 2009- Alternate translation link here.)

Why in the world would anyone participate in an extrajudicial strategy of attacking a legal process, unapproved by the defendants own lawyers? The first answer that comes to my mind is that the party involved doesn’t have much faith in being successful in the legitimate legal process.

Paul Ciolino, the Private Eye who went to Perugia for Doug Longhini’s 48 Hours, recently participated in a seminar in Seattle University dedicated to Amanda Knox (co-speakers included Friends of Amanda founder Tom Wright, ex-FBI / ex-university security officer / screenwriter Steve Moore, and … State of Washington Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey).

Mr Ciolino, I believe, more or less sums up the extra-judicial strategy for dealing with Amanda’s predicament by stating:

“She’s not going to come out of there because the Italians are nice guys and they’re going to admit that they made a horrible mistake and that the prosecutor yes indeed he is crazy but ... she may come out, she’ll come out in a year or two, that’s my best guess, okay, but she’s going to come out because the State Department is going to get involved, it’s going to become political.”

(Source: At 1:48:23 in the Youtube video uploaded by the West Seattle Herald)

I’m not saying that the Perugian blogger is a member of the Friends of Amanda group (which in any case doesn’t seem to be a “card-carrying” type of association … it’s more a question of who wants to be publicly associated with it. Judge Heavey was “publicly” with the group until he decided to not be publicly associated with it.)

But it would be hard for the blogger to deny that he’s very, very, very close to this influence/lobby group, what with blog bed fellows such as his blog’s main collaborator Jim Lovering - the Friends of Amanda Knox website moderator - and what appears to be a personal relationship with members of the Knox-Mellas family.

I honestly believe that the Committee to Protect Journalists does fine and commendable work protecting journalists, who risk so much all around the world trying to do their work and keep people informed through a free press.


[Above: Truly threatened journalists around the world benefit from the support and awareness activities of CPJ. Bravo. (Photo credit: Committee to Protect Journalists)]

However, I encourage the CPJ to do further research concerning the news and blog personalities surrounding the Meredith Kercher murder case, and the alleged injustices they may have suffered.

Particularly worrisome for the preservation of balanced reporting by independent journalists is the hiring by the Knox family of the Gogerty Marriott public relations firm. This contract has been so successful that this PR firm uses their Amanda Knox campaign as a case study on their website.

At Gogerty Marriott we apply campaign strategies, disciplines and tactics to public affairs problems to help our clients achieve their goals …. We consider every project individually and assemble a team to suit the client’s specific needs. We then develop and implement a plan; usually integrating a range of tactics such as earned and paid media, community outreach, ally development, and government relations among other ways of reaching important audiences.”  (Source:  Gogerty Marriott website.)

It is ever so important for the CPJ to protect journalists around the world who are struggling in dangerous situations to maintain their independent voice and to promote free press.

However, a PR campaign which uses “earned and paid media” could perhaps, be analysed further before sending alarmist communications to high-profile international authorities and potentially wasting the scarce resources of your organisation.


 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“It is unacceptable that journalists, bloggers, and writers on both sides of the Atlantic should censor themselves by staying away from subjects of public interest such as the Meredith Kercher murder case and the Monster of Florence killings because of Prosecutor Mignini’s inability to tolerate the scrutiny that comes with public office.”

If you read the thousands or tens of thousands of articles and blogposts written on the Meredith Kercher murder case, you will quickly find that few persons censor themselves or hold back in their comments, starting off with the Perugia blogger.

Please do go to the blogger’s site. Compare it to this True Justice for Meredith Kercher site, which has a different, victim oriented focus, or to any other of the many sites, and newspaper articles which have been dedicated to this case.

Each one has its angle which it has freely developed. You’ll see that the only censoring carried out is the prudent censoring of unsubstantiated libelous claims which once in a while must be done to guarantee the ongoing unhindered success of the sites.

A study of the Perugian blogger’s posts and his own comments (in addition to the people who comment on his site) doesn’t lend credence to the belief that his voice has been somehow repressed or threatened.

Let me wind up with the words of Andrea Vogt, an objective, bilingual reporter who has been providing great coverage on the Meredith Kercher case, writing about both things positive and negative for Amanda Knox:

“In real life, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is not at all as he’s been portrayed in the mainstream American media. He’s been vilified as a conspiracy theorist out to get anyone who dares criticize him. I’ve done it (in print and in person) and he’s been professional and dignified, even when he heartily disagreed.”

(Source: the New York Post.)

You can not imagine the abuse received by that reporter (and other valiant journalists who dare have an open opinion on the Knox-Sollecito-Guede trials) from certain pro-Knox sectors of the online world. In a separate story, this same reporter provides us with insight concerning threats pervading the discussion of this case:

“Police are investigating complaints from a Seattle woman who says she was intimidated and threatened online because of comments she made about the Amanda Knox case.

The unredacted Seattle Police Department report, obtained by seattlepi.com, names a primary suspect and quotes the woman as saying that that the suspect ‘is engaging in tactics meant to intimidate,’ along with ‘the tacit consent’ of Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas.
…. Perugia Shock is hosted on a California server and financed by an American firm, according to the Perugia-based blogger who covers the case and operates the site under the alias ‘Frank Sfarzo.’

While fans say his blog poses alternative theories rarely discussed in the mainstream media, critics say his minimalist moderation results in an out-of-control comment section where posters “out” those who wish to remain anonymous, track their ISP addresses to reveal their physical locations, pose as people they are not—someone posted as Meredith Kercher, the victim, once—and make threatening posts about each other, as well as about the major players in the case, including Knox, her family, journalists, lawyers and prosecutors.

…. A similar address, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), which is cited in the police report, was also used to send two vulgar messages to a Newsweek reporter covering the case in Perugia. The message, sent from a Blackberry device, ended with the postscript, ‘You sound like you were abused as a child.’

…. (True Crime blogger Steve Huff) has been particularly surprised by the network newsmagazines’ ‘pro-active efforts’ to smear the prosecutor while painting Knox as ‘some innocent pixie college girl.’ ‘There’s some larger statement afoot in that about American views and our culture of looks over authenticity, in my opinion,’ Huff said. Huff said his opinion about guilt or innocence in the case is still flexible—he can see both sides and thinks the case could go either way, but the vicious online harassment—present from the onset but particularly intense just prior to the start of the trial—prompted him to dial back his participation.

‘It was so pervasive and distasteful to me that as a blogger and now as a journalist I’ve all but washed my hands of covering the case,’ Huff said.”

Read more on the Seattle PI website.

Now that surely is interesting. Maybe you should talk to longtime professionals like Steve Huff, and learn why the threatening environment of this case – specifically from the pro-Knox camp – made him decide not to continue covering it.

Contact independent, credentialed, widely read, knowledgeable, bilingual (English-Italian) journalists such as Andrea Vogt (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, New York Post and other publications) and Barbie Nadeau (Newsweek, The Daily Beast) who have been at most or all of the Amanda Knox trial sessions.

Read their work and you will see balance in the information provided, including both that which supports Amanda’s cause and that which is not favourable. Ask them about their take on the judicial and reporting scene in Perugia concerning this trial. Ask them about the threats or abuse they have received. Consider offering them protection if they request it (I have not contacted them on this, take it as a tip).

Beyond these two journalists in particular, you will be able to find more.

I think you will see that you will have to rectify your letter of last 19 April 2011, or at least comment that in the media circus surrounding this sad, sad case of a bright young English girl beloved by her family who was brutally murdered, there is more than meets the eye.

I will conclude by stating that:

  • In spite of collaborating on his website with Jim Lovering, one of the prominent leaders of the Friends of Amanda opinion-making lobby group, the Perugia blogger isn’t necessarily a member of that group, if the group actually has formal membership. I am in no position to state that (nor deny it). However, with Lovering/Wilkes by his side on his own blog, the Perugian blogger is very, very, very close to them.
  • nor is there evidence that the Perugia blogger is an element of the Gogerty Marriott pro-Knox PR campaign, a campaign which may use “tactics such as earned and paid media”.
  • However, in case that the Perugian blogger is an opinion-maker, or is simply caught up in an opinion-making framework, is he still to be protected by the CPJ? Can journalists – if the blogger claims to be a journalist – be lobbyists, or associated with lobbies and still benefit from the protection of the CPJ, if they actually are threatened? Would the CPJ protect FOA leader Jim Lovering / Charlie Wilkes who helps the Perugian blogger with his posts,  if Lovering/Wilkes claimed that Mignini had sent police to beat him up due to writings on the blogger’s Perugia Shock blog where Lovering/Wilkes is a collaborator?
  • of the examples you gave in the CPJ text concerning the supposed threats and abuse suffered by the Perugian blogger, the blogger’s own video of the event on 28 October 2008 seems to contradict your description of several national policemen approaching him and hitting him and pushing him (in front of Meredith Kercher’s family and preserved by the cameras of the press in the media scrum?). The example of national policemen looking over his notes in the press area at the back of the courtroom doesn’t seem to jive with the physical layout of the courtroom. The example of the Perugian blogger supposedly being beat up by policemen on 28 September 2010 may have happened (or it may have happened in another manner), but there is information lacking as to why these policemen showed up at the blogger’s door and which superior of theirs in the national police sent them. I see no link to Mr. Mignini there nor have you shown any. As far as motive is concerned, Mignini closed his investigation case file on the murder of Meredith Kercher three years ago. The case is out of his hands and now is at different levels of appeals in the courts. Why would he send a goon squad after the blogger?  (If anyone tells you that Mignini is an evil, satanic-obsessed, rogue prosecutor, then please tell them that they are mistaken, that role was assigned by a famous American writer years ago to an Italian policeman who the famous writer doesn’t talk about anymore.)
  • the insinuations that Mr. Mignini has some sort of private police force at his beck and call don’t fit in with the procedure-based workings of the relations between the Italian judiciary and the different police forces.

I would ask you that you reopen your investigation of this matter. I would exclude contact with persons who have a financial or any other interest in Mignini being painted in a specific light. And – as a good journalist – I would seek out “the other side” of this story.

I thank you for your time and attention. Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or if I may be of assistance as you become more familiarized with this case.

Very sincerely,

Kermit

A Main Poster on TJMK (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

Copied to:

His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic
Angelino Alfano, Ministro della Giustizia
José Manuel Barroso, Presidente della Commissione Europea
Herman Van Rompuy, Presidente del Consiglio Europeo
Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Alto Rappresentante dell’EU per gli
Affari Esteri e la Politica di Sicurezza
Viviane Reding, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per Giustizia, Diritti
Fondamentali e Cittadinanza
Neelie Kroes, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per la Digital Agenda
Jerzy Buzek, Presidente del Parlamento Europeo
Heidi Hautala, Presidenza del Sottocomitato sui Diritti Umani del Parlamento Europeo
Jean-Marie Cavada, Presidenza dell’Intergruppo per i Media del Parlamento Europeo
Thomas Hammarberg, Commissario del Consiglio d’Europa per i Diritti Umani
Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso l’EU
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Philip H. Gordon, U.S. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
John Kerry, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democratic Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Ambasciatore Italiano presso gli Stati Uniti
David Thorne, U.S. Ambassador to Italy



[Above: Joel Simon of the CPJ, left, with “Frank Sfarzo”, Chris Mellas, and Doug Preston]


Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done

Posted by Kermit

Attn. Mr. Joel Simon
Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001


Dear Mr. Simon,

Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom

One week ago the Committee to Protect Journalists emailed an open letter to the President of Italy on press freedom in the Meredith Kercher case. This letter was copied to a number of other notables worldwide and also it was put online. 

I believe this letter is factually highly inaccurate, is ill-researched, and is very unfair and possibly libelous to the officials in Rome and Perugia that it criticises. It is likely to do a lot more harm than good, and may come to blemish the CPJ’s fine reputation.

I am extremely familiar with this case. I live in Europe and visited Perugia very soon after Meredith Kercher’s sad death. I have long participated in online discussions seeking justice for Meredith and some closure and peace for her suffering family. I post under the name of Kermit. You can see my 13 TJMK posts here which have received many media mentions. I use Kermit as an online ID to maintain my personal life separate from my on-line life. I am NOT a journalist and so my real name is a minor issue.

Your open letter was dedicated to a large extent to detailing supposed abuse suffered by an anonymous blogger who you appear to believe is an impartial and credentialed journalist. You say this was at the hands of Italian national police officers who you seem to indicate follow illicit orders of an Umbrian prosecutor, Mr Giuliano Mignini, instead of their own superiors in the national police (Polizia di Stato). You also accuse Mr. Mignini of being the source of various threats to this anonymous blogger and real journalists, citing what you think are valid examples.

In fact, as we will see, all of the supposed threats in your examples are either vague or cannot be associated with Mr. Mignini. In some of your cases the “reporting” Mr Mignini takes exception to is the publishing of unsubstantiated accusations, for example concerning his state of mental health.

I’m surprised that in investigating one specific alleged case of abuse against a local Perugian blogger, that you haven’t noticed a massive, very nasty, highly misleading and well oiled campaign to malign and vilify Perugian and Rome authorities and to some extent Italy in general. Nowhere do you mention that specific persons directly and indirectly associated with that campaign seem to have something to gain by taking down Mignini and by setting free the convicted murderers of Meredith Kercher (pending appeal). Nowhere do you mention that REAL journalists like Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau have received enormous heat and online libels for simply trying to report facts impartially from the court and from Seattle.

I would make a request that the staff of the Committee to Protect Journalists research further the points I bring up, and I would ask that if this research paints a picture different from what has been described in your text of last April 19, then you issue a followup letter to clarify these points, sending the followup email to the same 21 receivers of the first text.

Perhaps most importantly, you could contact Mr. Mignini himself and get his side of it. Others including the BBC have managed to do so and you should be aware of this BBC report. Mr Mignini has already publicly denied through Italian and international press publications some of the accusations which you are making in your letter, such as that Douglas Preston will be arrested if he returns to Italy. He states clearly that is not true. 



[Above: The forgotten fact in the CPJ text: When did this journalistic organisation contact Mr. Mignini, in order to contrast the accusations against him by a blogger who lives behind a pseudonym? (Photo credit: BBC)]


In the rest of this open letter I intend to examine below one by one the disputed points in the CPJ letter to the President of Italy. This statement is the first.

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Dear President Napolitano,

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities’ harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation into the November 2007 brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in the central Italian city of Perugia.”

The international network of followers of the Meredith Kercher case and its pre-trial investigation are not aware of any harassment of journalists by Mr. Mignini (or police agents who may have received instructions from him when the investigation was underway), from the moment of the crime, until the investigative report was delivered to the court in June 2008.

The allegation of harassment is news to us, in a case which over the course of almost four years has already gone through the lower court (three suspects each convicted of murder and other crimes) and is currently in the appeals stage.

The legal action taken by Mignini (or threatened action) in the case cited of the West Seattle Herald reporter Steve Shay writing that “some in both the American and Italian legal field believe Mignini is mentally unstable” doesn’t surprise me. Most people would see that not as a legitimate criticism of the official murder investigation as the CPJ states in its letter to the President of Italy, but rather as an unsubstantiated low blow without any professional journalistic contrasting of that claim. Mignini’s response is not an aggression to silence the West Seattle Herald, but rather a question of defending one’s personal honour and reputation. Mignini’s legal action would be taken on a personal level, not as an element of the Meredith Kercher murder case.

Or are legal professionals’ personal freedom and constitutional rights suspended in the light of unsubstantiated press claims? Is Mr. Mignini unable to defend himself against false accusation? Can the press make unsubstantiated and uncontested claims about anyone’s state of mental health without being subject to redress?


[Above: The Perugia blogger dispatching with Prosecutor Mignini, at a date believed to be after the start of the alleged harassment supposedly carried out under orders of Mignini. They seem to be interacting without any problem. (Photo credit: UK Channel 4)]


From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The Kercher murder investigation was headed by Mignini and conducted by a Perugia police unit known as the Squadra Mobile. Mignini was also in charge of the latest investigation into the unsolved murders of eight couples in Tuscany between 1968 and 1985, collectively known as the Monster of Florence killings”

Out of three affirmations in the preceding paragraph, only one is true, the first. Mr. Mignini was indeed the head of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The second affirmation is partially true. The Italian national police (Polizia di Stato - not “Perugia police” as you state) in Perugia was substantially involved in the Meredith Kercher murder investigation, be it Squadra Mobile units, medical examiners, local forensic and technical experts, as well as specialist forensic units brought in from Rome. These people report to their own chiefs and superiors in the hierarchical structure of the national police, although they would have carried out specific approved investigative actions within the framework of this investigation under the instructions of Mr. Mignini (and the next day they would be carrying out investigative actions for other prosecutors in other cases).

The third affirmation is false. Mr. Mignini is a prosecutor in Perugia, in the region of Umbria. As the nickname indicates, the “Monster of Florence” killings were carried out around Florence, in the region of Tuscany with the same .22 Beretta pistol between 1968 and 1985 (it is debatable whether the first crime of 1968 was done by the same perpetrator of the following string of murders, but they are clearly decades old crimes).

Various Florentine prosecutors participated in the investigations and trials related to the murders done by the Monster of Florence.  Mr. Mignini was never “in charge” nor even involved in those investigations. It was a different time and different place.

The last of the police investigators in this Florentine case (so important and complex that instead of having a prosecutor control the case, there was a sort of super-cop who oversaw and directed all investigations, requesting prosecutors to authorize certain investigative actions) was called Michele Giuttari. It was under his analysis and investigation that the theory relating the Monster of Florence killings to occultism was developed.



[Above: The Monster of Florence’s Beretta pistol killed 8 couples between 1968 and 1985. Mr. Mignini was uninvolved in the main investigations and trials of these decades old crimes, as he lives and works in Perugia, in a different location and in a different time frame. (Photo credit: Insufficienzadiprove)]



In a separate action, years later in 2001, Mignini reopened the investigation into the death of Dr. Francesco Narducci, initially thought to have drowned in a lake near Perugia. There were potential links between Narducci’s death and the perpetrators of the Florence murders.

Actually, if you want to understand better the Narducci case (from it being reopened in 2001) and understand its relation to the Monster of Florence case, please read the Perugian blogger’s summary on his blogspot page. 

This mixing up of the facts of the Monster of Florence case is not new. I fear that American author Douglas Preston – who has substantial financial interest in the book sales and movie royalties related to his book The Monster of Florence (and who is also a financial supporter of CPJ ) - may have had direct or indirect input into the sculpting of this imprecise CPJ missive, which doesn’t really link Mignini to any of the events the Perugian blogger in question is supposed to have suffered (this is just an opinion).

Why? Preston is exploiting his own run-in with Mignini years ago, when the latter interviewed him concerning his activities and knowledge relating to shared elements and suspects of the Narducci and Monster of Florence cases.

For authors Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston researching the Monster of Florence case in Florence, super-cop Michele Giuttari was the source of much of their criticism of the case. In spite of being shaken up in early 2006 due to his interview with Mignini, Preston said a few months later in an interview with The Altantic:

Question: “Do you think that the investigation has become personal for (police investigator Michele) Giuttari?”

Preston: “I think even more than for Mario and me …. Giuttari really doesn’t have anything beyond the Monster case. His entire career rides on this case and solving it—or at least not making a fool of himself while he investigates …. So yes, it is personal. I think that everyone in Italy acknowledges that Giuttari seems to carry a great personal animosity against Spezi.”

Question: “Judge Giuliano Mignini, the public prosecutor who interrogated you, is another important player in the case. Was Mignini just doing his job? How much weight do you give to the idea that Mignini had it in for Spezi and you?”

Preston: “…. As for Mignini himself, I think he’s a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge. I don’t think that he’s a bad man …. I think he was doing his job the best he could. I think in many ways he was badly misled by Giuttari, the police officer who was running the investigation.”

(Source: The Atlantic)

Now there’s something I don’t understand. All the bad things we’re hearing about Giuliano Mignini since late 2007, in particular from Doug Preston seem to have been cut and pasted from Preston’s comments about Michele Giuttari, the chief investigator in the last legs of the Monster of Florence investigation, and these bad characteristics have been assigned to Mignini.

Preston has simply “cut” (not pasted!) the name Michele Giuttari from any mention – the once bad-ass investigator of the Monster of Florence as a larger-than-life persona is gone from his recent writings on the case.

And Mignini has been reassigned Giuttari’s nefarious role, even though Mignini is from Perugia and he investigated the Narducci death.  The link (albeit important link) to the Monster of Florence, is that since Narducci could have been associated – according to initial investigative data in 2001 – with persons related to Giuttari’s old Monster of Florence theory, therefore Mignini assumed the Monster of Florence occultism theory developed in the Florence investigations.

Preston’s switch-a-roo has happened even though Preston had good words for Mignini in 2006 after his questioning at the hands of this prosecutor.

What happened? Well my opinion is that with literally dozens of books out about the Monster of Florence, someone realized that yet another book by Preston and Spezi would need some commercial umpah, especially if it was to be taken to the English-speaking market (Spezi had already written one book on the case, now he was writing another – Giuttarri had also written books on the case, in addition to many other authors).

The terrible murder of Meredith Kercher, and the fact that Giuliano Mignini was on duty as prosecutor on that All Saints long-weekend was what was needed. The English-speaking press has covered the murder on an on-going basis since then. Amanda Knox’s family hired a PR firm which uses that PR contract as a case study on their website, explaining proudly how “Gogerty Marriott’s work for the (Knox-Mellas) family has brought them in touch with all major U.S. news networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News, as well as independent programs such as Oprah Winfrey and a host of national and international magazines and newspapers”. (Source: Gogerty Marriott website.)

My theory is that with Amanda Knox being arrested and tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher, the latest book on The Monster of Florence had found a great, long-term PR strategy to latch on to. All that was required was to change the hated satanic-obsessed, rogue investigator figure of Giuttari into the civil servant Mignini, a prosecutor in the sleepy town of Perugia who has never published a book in his life. This focus requires that one stops talking about Giuttari. Done. And that one talks a lot about Mignini and his satanic theories, Perugian Mignini the lead prosecutor of the Monster of Florence (well, if you say it loud enough and long enough and put it into a Hollywood film, that’s what people will remember). Done.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The anti-press actions of Squadra Mobile under Mignini’s supervision, coupled with Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists who criticize his conduct on the job, cause the press to stay away from sensitive subjects, including important developments in the Kercher case such as the appeal of two defendants in the case.”

Who told you that the Squadra Mobile police unit is under Mr. Mignini’s supervision? You would do well to consult sources other than those who helped you draft your text.

The investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher lasted from the moment of discovery of her body by the Italian telecommunications police who appeared at the victim’s home to inquire about a lost mobile phone on 2 November 2007, until Mr. Mignini presented his investigative report in June 2008.

As previously mentioned, different police investigative and forensic units would have received specific and / or ongoing instructions during the course of the investigation to carry out individual tasks in gathering evidence, but outside those tasks and in particular since the closing of the investigation in June 2008 the national police work at the central police station (“Questura”) and report in their daily work to other police officers, while Mr. Mignini works in his magistrate’s offices and has his own reporting hierarchy.

According to the CPJ the alleged harassment of the Perugian blogger started in October 2008, long after the close of the investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder. (It should be underlined that since then, the only driving force behind advancing the legal proceedings against the three persons accused and convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher is not the prosecution – specifically Mr. Mignini - but rather the judges who are hearing the different levels of trial and appeals.)

The CPJ seems to be insinuating – no, more than that, it is accusing Mr Mignini of having extra-official links to police officers who allegedly harass a local Perugian blogger, as if Mignini had some sort of personal “hit squad” or goons at his beck and call.



[Above: These are some of the police investigators whom Mignini was able to use as a part of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher. CPJ may want to pass this photo to the Perugia blogger, to see if he is able to identify some of the police officers who allegedly attacked him three years after the crime, two years after Mignini’s investigation ended, and almost one year after the first level trial ended and Judge Massei and the judicial jury found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder.]


The CPJ letter to the President of Italy also refers to “Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists”. CPJ probably acted correctly within its terms of reference when it sought to bring attention to the plight of Mario Spezi in 2006 when he was arrested by Mignini (whether that arrest was justified or not). What other examples of does CPJ have of Mignini’s historical “record” of supposedly harassing journalists?  Suing because reporter Steve Shay writes an unsubstantiated mention of Mignini being mentally unstable?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“CPJ is particularly concerned about the impact Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers, who lack the support and backing of major publications”.

“CPJ is particularly concerned” …  Why did the CPJ get concerned? Can I ask how the CPJ became aware of the supposed harassment of the Perugian blogger by Mignini, and who has developed the “case” presented against Mignini in the CPJ letter? 

Has the CPJ questioned the motives of the person(s) who helped develop this document and their potential “stake” in having the CPJ accuse Mignini of harassment? Will they gain by further book sales or movie royalties by creating a media interest in a supposedly rogue Italian prosecutor?

“Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers” …  Please be clear: are there other Perugian authorities beyond Mignini involved in this harassment , i.e. is there a conspiracy involved?  Or is the situation the opposite, that the “Perugia authorities” are individual policemen who may have bothered the blogger in question, and so someone in CPJ decided to make a dotted-line to Mignini – if so, on what basis is this dotted line made? Who made it?

You refer to “local reporters”. Beyond the blogger, who are the local reporters who have suffered at the hands of Mignini?  Is there anyone?

On one hand, have any local reporters, or on the other hand has the blogger in question made any formal complaint about the alleged abuses suffered?  If he (or they) haven’t felt comfortable presenting a complaint in Questura in Perugia, they could go to the Carabinieri or other locations to present such a complaint. If no formal complaints have been made by the blogger in two and a half years of harassment, why not?

I agree with you that in general terms, news outlets that are limited in circulation and critical mass are more at risk to suffer harassment from authorities. In this regard, I encourage you to contact a couple of the local newspapers in Perugia such as Il Giornale dell Umbria (editor: Giuseppe Castellini) or Corriere dell Umbria (director: Anna Mossuto).

Ask them about possible harassment by Mr. Mignini. Even better, while you’re at it, why don’t you do a peer check,  and ask them about the local blogger you have become concerned about?



[Above: The CPJ should make immediate contact with local newspapers in Perugia such as these, in order to evaluate in situ the possible harassment of local reporters by Mr. Mignini.]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Of the cases that have come to CPJ’s attention, one stands out because of the abusive actions employed by members of Squadra Mobile to punish a critic of the official Kercher murder inquiry. Local freelance reporter Frank Sfarzo (real name Sforza) created his English-language blog Perugia Shock in 2007, days after Kercher’s gruesome murder.”

You say that it was Squadra Mobile police officers who “punished” this critic of the investigation. Can those Squadra Mobile officers be identified? (I imagine so). What is the link between those Squadra Mobile officers and Mr. Mignini? Do the direct superiors of those officers in the national police know of this supposed secret relation? Or are those direct superiors of the national police part of the conspiracy too?

(If you don’t mind a slightly ironic comment on my part, if you go all the way up the national police structure, you may find that President Napolitano as well as parliamentary judicial committees where one of Raffaele Sollecito’s defense lawyers is present are also part of the irregular reporting lines of the Mignini conspiracy.)

By the way, it’s not important to this question, but just to be clear, I believe that the Perugia Shock blog page was established just prior to the murder of Meredith Kercher, and may have been destined for some other purpose when the murder occurred and the blogger in question decided to reorient the blog. The blogger in question also has web pages dedicated to buying Italian products such as truffles, not to mention a blog devoted to the Italian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

In fact, while the blogger writes under the name of “Frank Sfarzo”, this appears to not be his real name. He seems to have indicated different backgrounds to different persons, including to newspaper reporters who have had contact with him. For example, he has described himself as a film professor to reporter Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times. 

To the BBC’s Julian Joyce he described himself as a journalist.

It’s not a major issue for me, but does the CPJ protect anyone who says they are a journalist, or only journalists with credentials, or members of a professional organization with a code of conduct?  I just post comments on blogs and once in a while add my own research to the topics being discussed … could I too as Kermit request protection from the CPJ if I deemed it necessary, say I received threats from a certain persons involved in a court case I was discussing?

Would you write a big letter to presidents and cabinet ministers and senators around the world? Or do you only do that when a well-off, best-selling American author is part of a personal feud with an investigative magistrate?

Pro-victim blogger Skeptical Bystander and other posters of the Perugia Murder File board could potentially be in need of such assistance, given the sorts of threats that she has received and that often goes untouched for days or weeks when posted on the Perugia Shock blog comments page.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Sfarzo told CPJ his troubles started on October 28, 2008, the day Knox and Sollecito were indicted and a third defendant was convicted of murdering Kercher. Several members of Squadra Mobile, Sfarzo told CPJ, approached him just outside the city court (Corte di Assise di Perugia) and started to push and hit him. “You are pissing us off!”—they told him, referring to his coverage.”

As mentioned, by October 2008, the investigation was out of Mignini’s hands and as a case was in the hands of the different judges who have tried Rudy Guede, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. No police officers would be receiving investigative instructions from Prosecutor Mignini, unless if he had an extra-official relation to them that bypassed normal communications channels between the judiciary and the police.

I am not in a position to say that the person who blogs under the name “Frank Sfarzo” wasn’t pushed by policemen on 28 October 2008. However, you say that this happened due to his “coverage” of the case.

If you read the Perugia Shock blog pages, especially from the fall of 2008, you will see that they are written in broken English, and that the blog’s following at the time was limited. Did Mignini or the police officers read the blogspot page in English?

Your description of the alleged events outside the Corte di Assise (“several members of the Squadra Mobile … approached (the blogger) just outside the city court and started to push and hit him”) bears little resemblance to the blogger’s own video of the event. I URGE YOU to view the video of the alleged aggression of the Perugian blogger (please click on link and scroll to end of post).

In the video, viewers see the family of the murder victim – Meredith Kercher – exiting the courthouse in the middle of a media scrum. There is jostling and pushing amongst the dozens of reporters on the scene.

The blogger struggles for a good angle and seems to be walking backwards as he tapes his video. Meredith’s sister is easily identifiable. The blogger tumbles. Was he pushed? Maybe. Was it a policeman or another reporter in the media scrum who bumped into him? Maybe one or the other, or maybe the blogger simply stumbled in his awkward backwards walk.

Did someone say something rude to him? Maybe. If something rude was said, was it due to his “coverage” of the case? Or simply because in the moving crowd the backwards walking blogger was getting in the way?

In any case, at no point do we see “several members of the Squadra Mobile” approach the blogger and “push and hit him”.



[Above: The Perugia blogger’s own video on 28 October 2008 of one example of the “aggression” which has provoked a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists to the Italian President and 20 other international figures. Moments afterwards, he falls backwards, into the media scrum. Were he to have been attacked by “several members” of the Squadra Mobile, Stephanie Kercher – Meredith’s sister pictured at front on the right – would have been a point-blank witness to the crime. He had his camera aggresively in her face.

In addition, all of the Italian and international news cameras following the Kercher family from behind would have taped the perpetrators of such an aggression, if any. CPJ could use its contacts with media outlets present that day (there were dozens of journalists) to obtain video of the aggression, filmed from just a couple of metres away.]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“When the trial of Knox and Sollecito began that December, Squadra Mobile continued to harass him. They regularly tried to prevent him from entering the court”

What are the requirements for entering a court session in Perugia? What priorities are assigned for press access? What press credentials have to be produced? What press credentials did the Perugian blogger have in December of 2008? Did he have any? Was this harassment witnessed by other journalists in Perugia to report on the trial?

Has the CPJ contacted other journalists covering the court sessions to inquire as to access procedures, or whether they saw the Perugian blogger being given a hard time (maybe he tried to access extra-early before other journalists – in order to get a good spot – and there were no other witnesses to the access harassment he suffered in these over-capacity court sessions).

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“ . . . mouthed insults at him from across the courtroom; and stared over his shoulder as he took notes. ‘This was done in the presence of the judge, the Carabinieri [the military police], and the court guards, but they would do nothing,’ Sfarzo told CPJ.”

In all the images that I have seen of the courtroom in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the reporters are at the back, against the wall. Was there a “safety lane” which police officers patrolled behind the reporters and which they used to spy on the blogger over his back?

Did the police officers spy on any other reporters? Did any other reporters notice the alleged spying carried out on the blogger, or was it done in such a surreptitious manner that no one realized what was going on?

Please! Look at photos of the press area in the Perugia courtroom! It seems physically difficult for anyone but other reporters to be looking over reporters’ (or bloggers’) backs.



[Above: The Perugian courtroom where Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were tried. At the back behind the railing and against the wall: the press. In front of the railing: defendants’ family members and other authorized parties.  In front of family members: guards.  Finally, in the foreground, the defendants and their lawyers. For the national police to have looked over the blogger’s shoulder as he made notes, they would have to have elbowed their way through the press to an indiscrete and obvious positioning behind him (or, he would have had to been in a location not assigned to the Press, such as the defendants’ family zone, which could be a possibility). Have you asked the Perugian blogger about his relation to the Knox-Mellas family both in and outside of the courtroom? Is it limited to simply interviewing them from time to time, or is this relationship much closer with individual members of the family, beyond a traditional reporter-subject relationship?]


By listing the complicit passivity of the judges, the Carabinieri and the court guards in addition to the Polizia di Stato, CPJ does seem to have swallowed quite a large conspiracy, where Prosecutor Mignini not only is pulling the strings of three different police forces, but also the presiding judge of the case. The only way to make this bigger-than-life Evil Mignini Conspiracy into something bigger would be to turn it into a Hollywood movie.



[Above: The Monster of Florence movie rights have been purchased by Tom Cruise. Any and all ways of stirring up and mixing up the English-speaking press’s coverage of Mignini’s Narducci investigation from 2001 onwards, and linking it and the high profile trial of American Amanda Knox to the decades old 1970’s and 1980’s Monster of Florence murders is free publicity for the book and movie”  (Photo source: The Wrap)]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The harassment reached its peak on September 28, 2010, when five officers of Squadra Mobile forcibly entered Sfarzo’s apartment. They did not produce a warrant or show their badges, Sfarzo told CPJ. Four of the five shoved Sfarzo to the ground, struck him, handcuffed him, and climbed on top of him, crushing his air supply, he told CPJ.”

Has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims of mistreatment? One thing I don’t understand is where is the link between the blogger’s alleged mistreatment and Mr. Mignini?

If any blogger in Perugia feels that he or she has been bothered by the police, can they get the CPJ to intervene against Mignini even if there is no direct link that we can see?

Has the CPJ contacted the Questura (main police station) of Perugia to inquire as to the reason the team of officers was sent to the blogger’s home? Who was the police chief who sent them? Did Mignini just pick up his phone in his magistrate’s office, call the Questura and ask his policeman friends to go over and rough up a local blogger?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Next, the officers took Sfarzo to the Perugia city hospital, where they claimed he had attacked them; they persuaded a doctor to issue a medical report for the injuries Sfarzo was alleged to have caused. In addition, the Squadra Mobile officers brought Sfarzo before a psychiatrist, demanding that she issue him a certificate of insanity.”

Again, has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims? Has it been in contact with the doctors at the hospital who examined the blogger?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“From the hospital, the officers brought a handcuffed and injured Sfarzo to their headquarters, where, in the blogger’s words, they “displayed me as a trophy,” referring to him as “the bastard who defends Amanda [Knox].” The officers refused Sfarzo’s requests to call his lawyer or his relatives, and put him in a cell for the night.”

Has the blogger’s lawyer taken any action to sue the police officers who allegedly attacked him? The normal starting point would be a formal complaint: has the CPJ requested confirmation that this incident legally exists from the blogger’s point of view, specifically that a complaint was filed at the time it allegedly occurred? If it exists, has the CPJ examined this complaint and inquired with police authorities as to the progress achieved in resolving it?

The truth of the matter is that this is reminiscent of one aspect of the Meredith Kercher murder case, where Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, parents of convicted killer (pending appeal) Amanda Knox were interviewed by John Follain of The Times of London. “Curt says: ‘Amanda was abused physically and verbally’” during her questioning on the night of 5 November 2007.

Now it may be that the same standards that the CPJ applies to Mignini also apply to the police who questioned Amanda on that evening, namely that they can be accused of crimes (beating a suspect) without the accusers having to provide anything to substantiate the accusation. However, in reality, as you can imagine (and probably as you or I would do), those police officers are suing Amanda’s parents for slander. Alas, in the days (and weeks and years) after Amanda’s arrest, it seems that no complaint of police brutality was ever actually filed with the police.


Above: The Knox-Mellas family members have repeated claims that Amanda was physically abused in her interrogation which started after 11 p.m. on the night of 5 November 2007 and was stopped at 1:45 a.m. They are in their rights to do so, but the OPJ should also recognise that police officers who are the targets of such accusations have the right to respond using the law to defend their honour and reputation. Or is that not so?  (Source of posts: discussion board of the original Steve Huff True Crime Weblog)

In fact, Amanda’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga even denied at one point that she had been poorly treated, as the Perugian blogger informed the world on his site.


[LETTER CONTINUES below in the next post. Click here. Please post any comments under that post.]


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