Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Summary Of The Cassazione Ruling On Annulment Of The Knox-Sollecito Appeal

Posted by Machiavelli

[Above and below: justice-themed artwork in Cassazione; motifs are used all over the world]

1. Introduction

On June 18, 2013 the Supreme Court of Cassazione issued the official rationale for the sentence of annulment of the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict.

That verdict acquitted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito on the charge of murder and sexual violence, while finding Knox guilty of the crime of calunnia (obstruction of justice by maliciously placing false accusation against a person you know is innocent).

Previously I posted here a summary of the recourse to the Cassazione by the Umbria Prosecutor-General Dr. Galati and Prosecutor Dr. Costagliola which demanded an annulment of the appeal verdict. I also posted here a first summary report, from the March 25-26 Supreme Court hearing, when the Hellmann verdict was annulled and thus prosecution recourse was won.

The 74-page motivation report states clearly that Cassazione “accept the points of the recourse” from both the Prosecution and the Kercher parties, while they reject the Knox defense recourse.

While you will realize it yourself in reading it, I can say in advance that what the Supreme Court points out in the appeal verdict is a pattern of manifest violation of an unprecedented gravity. All those I know in the law professions have never seen, throughout their professional lives, a Cassazione bashing portraying such a concentration of flaws in one verdict.

Mostly written by Judge M. S Caprioglio (possibly including parts by Judge Severo Chieffi) the document features a sophisticated Italian language and a formal style.

The first half of the report is a summary of judicial events and arguments made by the parties through the previous instances. The second part basically dismantles all the points of reasoning of the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict, without spending too many words for each one of them.

2. A premise about the concept of legitimacy judgment

The second part is introduced by an explanation about what a “legitimacy judgment” is, about its scope and boundaries. The Court is called to assess 1) whether the judges of merit indicated reasons for their decisions, and 2) if reasons are logically argued and legally founded.

The meaning of “logically argued” is that the Court shall verify that the lower judge actually did take into consideration the evidence included in the trial file (“principle of completeness”), and if reasoning is consistent with them, and with the law. The Court “being a “court of legitimacy” [decides on legitimacy of the process that lead to conclusions, not on the merit] “does not assess directly the existence or the quality of the pieces of evidence, but may well assess the quality of reasoning about it and its actual consistence with the evidence in the file”.

So the legitimacy judges staying within their boundaries are not prevented from assessing whether the lower court followed logical criteria, meaning assessing if arguments used by the lower courts are plausible, as well as if their reasoning is “complete” and truthful with respect to the evidence file. The Supreme Court is also allowed to access the evidence trial documents for the parts that may conflict with the verdict conclusions.

The Court states that the present case is obviously based on circumstantial evidence, but points out how circumstantial evidence is not less powerful or logically less valuable than direct evidence.

While remaining within the boundaries of the legitimacy judgment, the Court notes anyway that at first sight in the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict there is an obvious “parceling out” of the pieces of circumstantial evidence. This means a lack of assessment also of each piece of circumstantial evidence, since the judge failed to check whether the possible flaws and lacks in the logical value of each single piece of evidence could be filled by crossing them and taking in account the whole set of them.

The Court also notes however that the judges’ conclusions also openly contradicted some of the pieces of evidence: they neglected or “overlooked” them in some cases, or dismissed some pieces on which the previous reasoning was based without offering adequate reasons. Moreover the pieces of evidence were also not “adequately elaborated”, and the pieces of reasoning about them were “not coordinated”.

3. The Amanda Knox calunnia

Reversing the order of topics from the Galati-Costagliola recourse, the Court deals first with the charge of calunnia for which Knox was convicted twice [obstructing justice by accusing a person who you know is innocent] (p. 41-44), since on this topic there is a converging of all recourses and unanimity by all judges. The appeal court had dismissed a possible link between the calunnia and the murder charges, but the explanation provided for that appears obviously illogical.

The Hellmann-Zanetti scenario - by which, they say, Knox may have voluntarily accused an innocent man just because she was pressed by investigators, thus for a purpose totally independent from the intent of obstructing the investigation on the charge of murder “is argued in a way that conflicts with and neglects the actual evidence documents”.

While Hellmann-Zanetti argue solely based on a police interrogation scenario as if the false accusation was an event confined within it, the Cassazione does not see Knox’s calunnia as a single event nor as a behavior limited to the situation of the interrogation, but rather as a prolonged behavior extending over a time of many hours and days (“perduranza in atteggiamento delittuoso”). Basically Knox goes on implicating Lumumba repeatedly, and she repeatedly provides false evidence, such as through her hand-written note “where she stands by what she declared” and by her subsequent behavior.

The Court also observes the evidence file contains evidence that was overlooked by Hellmann-Zanetti indicating Knox was aware that Lumumba was innocent, such as the recording of prison dialogues with her mother, where she says she feels guilty for having accused Patrick “a feeling of guilt implies an assumption that he was innocent”.

So the appeal court made mistakes because they lacked inference from pieces of evidence, mainly neglecting to argue elements like the discussion with her mother, her written memoir including the repetition of pieces of false testimony and her court admissions that she wrote her memoir voluntarily.

It points out (p.42) that Knox albeit young was a “mature” person meaning she had an adequate cultural level and education and would be able to regain control of herself afterward even if she had suffered a coercion or a moment of emotional breakdown. Knox would be basically able to understand the gravity of her declaration over a period of time.

If only one single event, such a false accusation caused by pressure, breakdown and stress could have been argued “in the abstract” in the way Hellmann-Zanetti did, considering the calunnia as a choice resulting from an episode of emotional breakdown, but the Hellmann-Zanetti reasoning neglects the actual documents and is not fit to explain the persisting and repeated false testimony.

The Supreme Court reminds that “information about commission of a crime” can be derived also from the interrogation of a police suspect, even from information released by a suspect who had not be read their rights under Art. 64, even from statements that are not usable for lack of defensive rights, and even that in the event the interrogation is to be nullified.

In all these cases the suspect commits a calunnia whenever he/she voluntarily and falsely accuses someone to defend himself/herself (so there can’t be any consequential link between the legal status of the interrogation, and the charge of calunnia or the collecting of information about a crime).

The Cassazione also points out that the Hellmann Zanetti rationale is illogical when it states that “the easiest way out” for one guilty “would have been to accuse the real author of the crime”. The inference obviously does not consider that she may be herself among the real authors of the crime (especially since she lived there and had access to the scene of crime).

The Court also points out the failure to properly address the importance of the details contained in the Knox false testimony (the detailing of this is in subsequent chapter).

4. The crime scene staging

The Cassazione accepts the Prosecution General point of recourse complaining about the failure to consider the evidence of staging a burglary, and says the recourse is “founded”. The pieces of physical evidence suggesting a staging are not satisfactorily argued or refuted by Hellmann-Zanetti.

The Hellmann-Zanetti appeal court also argued in favor of the “lone perpetrator scenario” by introducing some assertions which are unacceptable since they openly “collide” with the trial documents or are unfounded. Basically their reasoning was hinging on elements such as speculations about Guede’s personality, they introduced allegations like a purported habitual burglar profile, not backed by any evidence.

On the other hand they bring in arguments “like that about a glass shard in Meredith’s room” which have zero implications in their scenario (because they are equally good to argue in favor of a staging).

They should have argued “in favor or against” about evidence of burglary/staging based on the assessment of the pieces of physical evidence found on the scene, like argue against Massei’s reasoning about the ones mentioned in the first trial, say why it was not good. On the other hand the break-in scenario, as described by Hellmann-Zanetti, is affected by “multiple logical ruptures”, details are not explained consistently.

Moreover the Court says a scenario involving the issue of burglary/staging should be argued based on the overall evidence about Rudy Guede, meaning a scenario involving the whole of what he had done, like explain all the traces that show his movements, for example the trail of bloody shoe prints showing that he left the murder room straight away.

There are aspects of the reasoning that are “tautological” (circular and begging the question).

The Hellmann-Zanetti reasoning on the same point is also neglectful of part of the file sources (is based on a “partial access to information”), for example it overlook testimonies concerning wounds on Guede’s hands, dismissal of glass on top of items. To sum up, the rationale employs inadequate inferential principles and incorrect information.

5. Man in the park Curatolo’s testimony

Hellmann-Zanetti had dismissed the testimony of Antonio Curatolo.

Their statement about the reliability of Curatolo is totally “censurable”, since it is “apodictic” [assumed as a premise “true in advance” without explanation], and not based on thorough analysis of the data. In particular when they state that he tends to confuse days dates: such assertions are both unfounded and illogical since conflicting with the testimonies of himself and of others witnesses. The Court does not assess the reliability of Curatolo as a witness, but notes that the reasons brought by Hellmann-Zanetti are unacceptable.

The possibility to explain elements of the testimony by mistake of date by the witness, so placing his testimony possibly on Oct 31. is conflicting with the other evidence, namely the testimonies showing the defendants were elsewhere on the 31st. Moreover the elements used for the argument are logically weak compared to the strength of the elements showing Curatolo correctly “anchoring” his testimony to real events.

Then the lower court introduced “as further basis of reasoning” assertions in order to “jump” across the whole of Curatolo’s testimony: they based their conclusion on the asserted “decaying intellectual faculties”, on his use of heroin, and on his modus vivendi.

However they do not offer any element of evidence about the alleged mental decay, they fail to show this through analysis of his testimony, and in fact they completely fail to analyze the actual content and consistence of his testimony (lack of “completeness”). The use of heroin and his modus vivendi (as a “bum”) is also not acceptable as a reason for dismissing reliability of a witness, this would be an arbitrary judgment that violates the principles of witness assessment.

Since the witness was very assertive, consistent and felt certain about his testimony, the court would need a logically strong argument “based on some other finding or certainty” in order to dismiss his reliability (dislikes about his lifestyle or disproven speculations about date mistakes are not).

6. Shopkeeper Quintavalle’s testimony

The Court pretty quickly dismisses the Hellmann-Zanetti conclusions about Quintavalle, on grounds that they are based on a “cherry picking” and twisting of information from the documents, basically they misinterpret and neglect to consider the actual content of the Quintavalle’s testimony.

In fact the summary description of Quintavalle’s testimony that was offered by Hellmann-Zanetti is basically a misrepresentation based on incomplete parts of the testimony and overlooking of others, and flatly contradicts the content of actual testimony (it is not what Quintavalle and witnesses actually said).

It is not true that Quintavalle remembered about recognizing Knox one year later, documents show that he was sure about her identity from the early investigation - the Cassazione quotes some of Quintavalle’s statements where he remarks her circumstances and features.

Hellmann-Zanetti reported some bits of information in a fragmentary fashion without taking into account the explanations of Quintavalle and the answers he actually had given through the investigation.

The appeal court should have analyzed the whole of what the witness actually said, and crossed the statements with the existing information, instead of selecting cherry- picked bits and pinned on them a meaning out of context.

The Cassazione is not interested in assessing the reliability of the witness Quintavalle, but they find “intolerable” that Hellmann-Zanetti give a false picture of the testimony, in a way disjointed from the true content of the trial documentation.

7. The failure to consider implications of Knox’s memoir

The Prosecutor General was right in blaming the Hellmann-Zanetti court for neglecting to evaluate the hand written note written by Amanda Knox as a piece of circumstantial evidence. The appeal court dismissed the memoir as useless on the sole basis that it does not have a substantial meaning (actually: that it did not represent the truth).

But this argument is insufficient (and circular); it is also “structurally” inconsistent because the same Hellmann-Zanetti court used the very same note as a piece of evidence in the calunnia charge, and cannot be logically linked to pressure because she wrote it alone on her own initiative and not during an interrogation.

The Court details the content of the note pointing out that in the hand written memoir there is a repetition of some of the details from her previous “spontaneous statements”, which are now only set in an oneiric [dream-like, surreal] frame (they “seem unreal”) but yet they are the same peculiar details from the false accusation.

The Court also highlights the new “sibylline” [ambiguous and threatening] accusation by Knox against Sollecito (remembering blood on his hands, but probably from fish).

The next appeal court will need to build some actual arguments to explain these features, taking in account that “as for Hellmann-Zanetti” she wrote that while she was fully capable to understand and without any pressure from authorities.

The contradictory nature of the appeal court reasons on this point is “obvious”.

8. Failure to consider judicial files from Guede’s definitive sentencing

The Court spends a bit more than one page to explain why the prosecution recourse is correct in their complaint on this point as well. In fact Hellmann-Zanetti did accept the Guede verdict as a piece of circumstantial evidence, but argued that that piece was “particularly weak”.

However, the problem is that in reality they did not assess it at all in order to come to that conclusion, but they rather just completely ignored the whole content of the Guede verdict reports.

The court is not authorized to dismiss a piece of evidence which they formally entered without assessing it, just on “in limine” reasons. Therefore the decision openly “violates the law” (p. 55).

The Rudi Guede verdict motivations theoretically might be found “particularly weak” as a piece of circumstantial evidence, but it can’t be ruled “particularly weak” on the reasons declared by Hellmann-Zanetti.

The appeal court did not try to argue the logical passages of the Guede verdict in order to assess it and explain why conclusions were weak, instead they decided to ignore it, not based on the analysis of its content but instead based on the legal nature of the document. This is a patent violation of the law, and a conflict with the trial documents.

Thereafter the Hellmann-Zanetti court steered the discourse onto the alleged “habitual criminal” profile of Guede (an interpretation based on speculation) without explaining the reasons for building a scenario about Guede so far-fetched compared to the findings in the trial’s files about Guede.

Moreover the appeal court adds a further, false and illogical argument when they state that, even if Guede was proven to be guilty of concurring with others, this does not have implications for Knox and Sollecito at all because those accomplices could have been other people. The alleged lack of implication is false under logic, because determining that Guede acted together with others would additional information on the crime, which could be crossed with other information (such as about who had access to the apartment etc.).

The Court also remarks that the trials had found and explicitly declared Guede innocent of the crime of burglary, and the appeal court also fails to deal with this in their alternative scenario.

The appeal court also failed to consider other information from the findings of the Guede trial, and explicitly contradicted it without justification, for example they neglected to consider how the courts had determined through multiple witnesses that Guede actually did not have any injury on his hands on the night after the murder [Guede had cuts on his hand, but many days later, not the night after the murder].

9. Declarations of Rudy Guede at the Knox-Sollecito appeal

There is an open violation of the law in the Hellmann-Zanetti motivations, in the particular statement where they assert that Guede’s declarations in the courtroom were unreliable for the reason that he refused to undergo a questioning.

The reason brought by Hellmann-Zanetti to rule unreliability is illegitimate when referring to the specific declarations of Rudy Guede in the Knox-Sollecito appeal, and legally not true.

First, the Cassazione notes that the decision to refuse a questioning pertaining to a crime is within the rights of a witness who is implicated in the same crime. If the witness decided to invoke this right, the courts and the parties are bond to enforce it and limit their questions within topics unrelated to the crime, and under the law, no conclusion about reliability/unreliability can be drawn solely from the witness’s decision to refuse to answer about a topic in which he was implicated as a defendant.

No court could conclude that a witness is unreliable on the sole ground that he enforces his rights.

Moreover, preventing an interrogation of the witness on such topics is just a duty of the Prosecution and the Court, not a ruling “in favor” of the witness (and co-defendant).

The Prosecutor General had summoned Guede to testify only about the topic of things he said during conversation with inmates and letters he wrote from prison, and since the witness invoked his right as an ex co-defendant the Prosecutor General had the duty to enforce the limitations on his questioning.

It was the Sollecito-Knox defence attorneys who attempted to place questions directly on the topic of the events of Nov. 2, 2007, and they asked Guede to confirm the content of his letter directly pertaining the Kercher murder. The defence asked him to confirm if one particular statement of the letter he wrote was true, and the statement of Rudy Guede confirming his Knox and Sollecito implication and accusing them of murder was only in response to this, stemming from the defence question.

The declaration of Rudy Guede might be considered irrelevant as a piece of circumstantial evidence; and the witness might be assessed as unreliable by a court, but this cannot be done based on the illegitimate grounds brought by Hellmann-Zanetti. You cannot have, as an argument for unreliability, the fact that Rudy Guede chose the legal option of not undergoing a questioning about the murder.

The Cassazione also notes how the Hellmann-Zanetti report details some of Guede’s declarations in order to argue for his unreliability. However the cited statements from the Skype conversation with Giacomo Benedetti are used by Hellmann-Zanetti just to build an illogical argument: they say Rudy should have logically indicated the true culprits in that call, the fact that he does not accuse them is an indication that they were not there.

This argument is flawed (besides contradicting the very same claim about Guede’s unreliability). The Cassazione sees the weakness of reasoning about the Skype call as “symptomatic” of the lack of logical consistence of the appeal court on the topic of Rudy reliability, and it also reveals that the criteria they are following are not compatible with logic.

The appeal reasoning is also contradictory on further points, as Hellmann-Zanetti consider some declarations of Guede “reliable” without logical reason - like about the timing of death, where the appeal court considers Rudy’s statement reliable without considering that he had an obvious logical interest and an attitude of misleading the accusations by providing details that were conflicting with evidence.

Paradoxically, had the Hellmann-Zanetti court followed the same criteria on other declarations, they should have considered Guede’s declarations “reliable” when he says “Amanda is not implicated”, as well as when he says - talking about Sollecito - “I don’t know, I think it’s him” . The appeal court did not follow the principle of completeness and they did not consider these.

The Hellmann-Zanetti report also fails to consider that Guede was assessed as “totally unreliable” by his trial judges (they could have used such finding in documents to argue unreliability of his statements instead; if they had only read the Guede verdict). In other words they worked inconsistent arguments out of on an incomplete set of data.

10. The refusal to listen to the whole testimony of witness Luciano Aviello

The appeal trial was procedurally flawed also by the refused to call Luciano Aviello before the court again, as he was supposed to complete what was left out of his testimony.

Luciano Aviello was called as a witness by the court in accepting a defence request; after his hearing, during the course of the trial, new elements emerged “new witness declarations” that created a necessity to put some further questions to the witness.

The Hellmann-Zanetti court refuse to call back the witness to complete the questioning, despite that he had already been accepted as a witness by the same court. So the witness was basically prevented from completing his testimony.

The Cassazione does not argue about the reliability of Aviello as a witness (nor about the relevance of his testimony) but points the finger against the inconsistency of Hellmann-Zanetti’s ruling, which causes their decision to be illegitimate.

The refusal to call back the witness to complete his testimony at a second hearing was manifestly inconsistent, since that violates the principle of completeness (once you call a witness, you need to be ready to listen to all that he has to say).

The court’s decision was “unacceptable” (p. 58) also because it was based on arbitrary criteria - as Hellmann-Zanetti said “another hearing of the witness is not indispensable” on the ground that minutes of his interrogation were entered in the file: the decision violates the principles of usability of documents and the rules of witness hearing.

The appeal court completely ignored the reasons for and the new content of the topics Aviello was to be questioned about, and did not assess them. Instead, they violated articles 511, 511bis and 512 of the procedure code by “replacing” it with non-usable minutes of his interrogation.

The judgement of “non-indispensable” was also unfounded, manifestly so compared to the importance of the topic which referred to the explanation and completeness of Aviello’s testimony. A plot concerning a secret agreement in order to offer false declarations in court is obviously a topic with some relevance.

There is also a violation of the principle of confrontation, because Aviello was a defence witness and the Prosecutor General had the duty of carrying on an assessment of the witness within the appeal trial by cross examination (Hellmann-Zanetti’s decision allowed only the piece of testimony that could be favorable to the defence, and they cut off the part that could be unfavorable).

The motivation is also incomplete as Aviello is ruled “unreliable” a priori because of his retraction (which Hellmann-Zanetti apparently considered reliable) and irrelevant as a piece of evidence without actually listening to the content of his testimony, to what he had to say.

The testimony of Aviello could not be “cut off” that way and could not be considered unreliable a priori without listening to it.

11. The re-framing of the time of death

The Court devotes four pages to explaining how Hellmann-Zanetti’s reasoning about re-location of the time of death is illogical.

The appeal court refused to anchor the timing (and further features, noises etc.) of the screaming, to the time frame offered by two witnesses, Nara Capezzali and Antonella Monacchia. They also dismissed the testimony of Mrs. Dramis. Instead they accepted the defence idea of determining the time of death based on the statements by the “unreliable” Rudy Guede. They put the time of death in relation to the phone calls, around 9pm.

As for the Cassazione, such an argumentation path is woven through with “conjecture and illusions” (p. 61). The bases chosen for inference are devoid of any factual validity, as opposed to the elements of evidence which were discharged, which are instead extremely relevant.

The Hellmann-Zanetti report refutes the elements (testimonies of Capezzali, Damis, Monacchia) with arguments which are riddled with obvious, multiple inconsistencies [like the claim that a half-an-hour error would make the testimony unreliable, or that Nara’s looking unsure between the dates of Nov. 1. or 2. makes the scream attributable to something else, as if she was used to hearing blood-curdling screams every other day and as if the Monacchia confirmation testimony didn’t exist].

So the Hellmann-Zanetti rationale dismisses as “unreliable” or “useless” some very relevant and consistent testimonies (from witnesses they declare “credible”), while on the other hand, it accepts as “reliable” a dictum by Rudi Guede and builds a theory of the time of death on it - despite the defence itself having pointed out how Guede was totally unreliable and was also very able at changing and twisting every detail of his story, all the time and on any occasion, from the earliest stages of the investigation.

The Cassazione states - without any possibility of question - that it is manifestly obvious that things Guede consciously stated on the Skype conversation could never be used as the main credible source to build an inference about the time of death.

Moreover the Court points out that in fact the appeal court cherry picked just one statement by Guede, regarding the time of death, and considered it “credible”, while neglecting to note how within the same Skype conversation Guede also made a number of assertions about Knox

These included statements that place evidence against Knox and Sollecito. While in the same conversation Guede says “Amanda was not implicated”, he also states that Amanda was in the house; he states remembering that in Romanelli’s room the window appeared intact, and denied having broken it, he inferred that Knox and Sollecito must have done it; he also assumed that they must have altered the scene of the crime and the victim’s body; he also said he thought the man he saw was probably Sollecito.

The Hellmann-Zanetti court simply neglects to consider and deal with the whole information from the Skype call, which they instead elect to reliably source solely regarding Guede’s declaration about the time; so “besides illogicality in the unfounded dismissal of other testimonies” their method of processing information violates completeness and consistency.

The appeal court is also extremely weak where they try to fill the logical gap by drawing further inference from Meredith’s phone records. The attempt to link a mistaken phone call with the time of death is simply inherently implausible, a wrong call is a trivial event and there is no reason to make such link; also the delay by Meredith who did not call her mother again within the next half an hour is a trivial element which doesn’t have a specific implication upon the time of death.

The worst Hellmann-Zanetti did on this topic is the downplaying and underestimation of the testimonies of the three witnesses - Capezzali, Monacchia and Dramis.

In fact Capezzali described the scream in detail, picturing it with a number of features - “harrowing”, “unusual”, “long”, “isolated” and stressed its uniqueness and added additional information about noises (gravel path etc.) unequivocally linked to the cottage, she made clear that she never heard something similar before.

Monacchia was even more precise about the timing, since she went to sleep at 10.00 pm and slept for a while; Dramis came home back from the cinema at 10:30 pm. Their timings converge in placing the timing of an isolated scream later than 10:30 pm.

On the basis of Nara Capezzali’s testimony, it is absolutely unreasonable for the appeal court to assume that Nara could confuse the scream with the usual other “noises” of “junkies”.

Dramis as well referred to having been awaken by some noise of a kind she never heard before. Hellmann-Zanetti ruled out the time frame offered by the testimonies of Monacchia and Dramis for no reason except that they gave their testimony one year later; this is a totally insufficient and illogical reason.

As for considering Rudy as a reliable source, instead it is acknowledged that Guede was obviously lying and following a pattern of behavior/strategy of providing a flow of false details to muddle investigation.

The Court adds that neglecting the importance of information about the scream seems even more stunning when you consider the fact that the scream coincides with a detail that was mentioned in an early testimony of Knox [and even in declarations of Guede].

12. The court appointing of new experts and their management

This point may be the most interesting because it is the only topic on which the Supreme Court doesn’t agree entirely with the Prosecution General.

The Prosecution’s complaint was “˜partly’ correct about objecting to the legitimacy of the appeal court appointing new experts.

The point of recourse is founded insofar as the appointing was insufficiently motivated in the rationale: the reason expressed ““  basically addressing just the judge’s lack of scientific knowledge ““  is inconsistent, and also inadmissible because it violates the principle of non-delegation of judgment. 

However, the judge’s decision of appointing experts itself should supposedly always be based on assessments of the merits of the evidence. The Cassazione cannot decide on the merits, so the decision about whether more expertise is necessary or not, which was supposedly taken based on the evidence available, is an exclusive competence of the judge of merit and the High Court can’t discuss it. 

The absence of consistent motivations for the appointing reveals an insecurity of the appeal court about the evidence, which they (rightly or wrongly) attributed to incomplete information.  However, the peculiar way the appeal court subsequently managed the experts is censurable.

The experts decided to not test the new DNA sample, despite the fact that the amount was 120 picograms [so much more than “˜5 picograms’ as declared by Vecchiotti in court, ed.], on an arbitrary decision by only one of the experts, on the ground that it was a “˜Low Copy Number’. Such a decision ““ itself unlawful ““ was subsequently subscribed to by the appeal court.

When the Prosecution General and consultant Prof. Novelli requested to go on testing the sample, since it was perfectly possible to do so, the court denied, arguing on the false assumption obtained by misquoting Novelli as saying the required techniques were “in the experimental phase”.

This was a misquote, a misinterpretation of a statement by Novelli, and the Court finds it to be false in the documentation: Hellmann-Zanetti incurred a gross misrepresentation of reality as they called the new technology “experimental”  and “unreliable”.

Beside this false claim, it was on principle unacceptable that the expert Carla Vecchiotti refused to carry out a test, and that the judge accepted such a decision.

The expert’s decision violated the judge’s previous ordnance, because the written order said that they must require the court’s opinion before taking any decision, not after; the judge’s change also violated their own ordnance, because it withdrew from the previous tasking. 

The modus operandi of the court therefore was to let an expert make decisions about their own mandate, based on their own judgment about the subsequent value of their finding in court.

But the experts had no authority to reduce or re-frame their own mandate, it is not up to them to preemptively decide whether their finding is reliable or not and anyway they cannot refuse to accomplish an order or to bring a finding into court; no matter if their finding is unreliable as a piece of evidence, they have to bring it anyway to court discussion, and its value will be determined through court discussion.

Hellmann-Zanetti were incomplete on documenting Novelli’s positions which were expressed during the experts’ testing and are in conflict with the Vecchioti-Conti decisions. They could have chosen Vecchiotti’s positions, but only after having dealt with the arguments expressed by the other side too.

The decisions by which Hellmann-Zanetti managed the experts’ work is also in violation of the principle of equality and the right of all parties to bring evidence, since they ordered a perizia [experts investigation] but then they prevented it from being fully accomplished: they only allowed the research activity by which the defence was seeking evidence, while they prohibited those activities requested by the accusation parties.   

Once they ordered new scientific tests, the order should have been completed without any a priori unjustified preclusion. Their unbalanced modus operandi was an alteration of the evidence information set, and a violation of the law (p.66), and cause their motivations to be manifestly illogical.

13. The DNA evidence

The appeal court passively accepted the new experts’ conclusions, while ignoring the opinions of the witnesses Novelli and Torricelli. Their arguments had a comparable degree of importance, and the witnesses had at least the same degree of expertise and authority than the judge appointed experts.

As the judges chose to believe the conclusions of some experts in disagreement with others, they are not obligated to demonstrate themselves that such conclusions are true, but nonetheless they are required to report the arguments made by the other side and they need to deal with them in a reasoning. 

This is especially necessary if the expert witnesses have a great expertise and credibility, at least comparable to that of the judge-appointed experts. 

Hellmann-Zanetti accepted the C&V report entirely and passively, without confronting it with the opposite arguments and objections. Such procedure is illegitimate, since objections and arguments were not even mentioned.

The Casssazione recalls, among the not-mentioned and not-dealt-with arguments, that Prof. Novelli had calculated a probability of misinterpretation of the alleles on the bra-clasp; and Dr. Torricelli analyzed the Y-haplotype on 17 loci and found no match except Sollecito. 

Novelli also testified that recommendations and protocols do exist, but the operator’s competence and common sense in scientific assessment is more important. He also said that the researcher should be always allowed to depart from standard procedures when single situations suggest so.

The judge-appointed experts themselves ruled out laboratory contamination. Novelli analyzed the series of samples from all 255 items processed and found not a single instance of contamination, and ruled out as implausible that a contaminating agent could have been present just on one single result. 

Also Dr. Stefanoni testified that the knife was tested 6 days after an alleged contaminating and Vecchiotti confirmed that the time interval would lead to rule out laboratory contamination.

Hellmann-Zanetti also ignored or twisted information regarding the crime; it ignored the finding that no instance of Sollecito’s DNA was found on the scene as a possible contamination source despite may environmental samples; the High Court labels as false ““ going by the evidence file - Hellmann Zanetti’s statement saying that “everybody had walked around into the house”. 

Also Cassazione notes that deterioration of an evidence scene due to time would normally cause a loss of DNA information, not an appearing of new information not found elsewhere.

So Hellmann-Zanetti did not take in account nor cite a huge part of the credited opinions and information; the total failure to mention such a major chunk of information by Hellmann-Zanetti makes their judgment about the topic illegitimate, and shows their “˜unacceptable’ modus operandi. 

However the most surprising point of Hellmann-Zanetti ““ in the Cassazione’s view ““ is their uncritical accepting of the theory that contamination is “possible”, without linking the scenario of likeliness of contamination to any factual finding or datum. They actually built an axiom on a straining, a cherry picking and a falsifying of information.

The Court also reminds how Novelli testified that, in order to have a plausible scenario of contamination, you need to prove the existence of a source, of a vehicle of it. 

They note from the documentation that negative control did exist, and that Vecchiotti & Conti were “˜superficial’ in assuming they did not exist just because they were not included in the technical report.

The Supreme Court then points out that: 

(1) the collection of items was performed correctly contrarily to Hellmann’s suggestions, all activities of collection and laboratory tests were done before the eyes of defence experts, the environments were not contaminated, and the defence experts that were assisting did not raise any objection, they complained about things only much later;

(2) the arguments and explanations dr. Stefanoni subsequently gave were not adequately refuted;

(3) the picture of correctness in procedure causes the burden of proof in order to claim likeliness of contamination to rest squarely on the shoulders of those who claim it.

The law does not admit to set out the reasoning from a sheer “falsification” paradigm (meaning: it is wrong to assume that the prosecution has any burden to demonstrate the absence of contamination). Such an assumption would make it impossible to collect any piece of circumstantial evidence or do any scientific test at all.

The argument that the evidence should be dismissed as unreliable because contamination is “˜possible’ is totally illogical. You can’t dismiss pieces of evidence on the ground of a mere “˜possibility’ (or we should dismiss all pieces of evidence collected on all cases).

An alleged contamination event needs not to be only “˜possible’ (everything is possible), it needs to be “˜credible’. In order to consider if contamination was likely on a specific instance, some factual evidence of the specific causal circumstance is needed. 

To bring a claim about “˜contamination’, while you don’t need to actually prove that the event of contamination occurred, you do need to prove a factual and scientific datum that would cause that specific contamination event to be “˜credible’ (probable).

In order to claim a contamination likely occurred, pointing at issues about professionalism of forensics is not enough. The factual existence of a specific “˜vehicle’ of contamination needs to be proven [like presence of a source, evidence of contamination in other results, explanation of the dynamic etc.]. 

To refute the scientific finding you need something much logically stronger than a complaint referring to ideal practice and protocols and the absolute generic concept of “˜possible’.  The claim about a fact such as a specific instance of contamination requires “˜factual’ circumstances and data, “˜specific’ and “˜real’.

14. Analysis of prints and other traces

The objections by the Prosecution General on this topic are correct.  The appeal court motivations manifestly lacks logical rigor in multiple instances.

The Court cannot object about the attribution of the bathmat print since the topic is strictly in the merit. But the implied scenario where Guede’s left shoe comes off after he walked on the pillow is implausible: it doesn’t explain why an Adidas shoe would come off, and it doesn’t reconcile with the evidence documentation.

Guede using the small bathroom to wash himself, and then locking Meredith’s door, is in conflict with the trail of shoeprints only showing him walking straight out. It makes no sense to assume that he lost a shoe just because there are blood prints of the right shoe alone. 

About the luminol foot prints, it is implausible to assume that those prints were left on some other occasion, since ““ in the Court’s view - luminol basically indicates blood (and in no other circumstance could someone produce such a set of prints in blood). The Cassazione notes that the Massei scenario to explain the footprints was far more plausible, and Hellmann-Zanetti bring no reason to refute it.

The scenario described by the first instance trial court was also more complete, since it was able to connect the dots on several other details, including the “˜mixed traces’ of blood in the small bathroom, on the light switch, etc.

The only argument brought by Hellmann-Zanetti was the absence of Sollecito’s DNA from the blood/luminol stains. For the rest it was an “apodictic” assumption, so that they did not deal with the logical points that were made on the first instance.     

15. The declarations of Ms. Knox

The Hellmann-Zanetti verdict was “˜critically’ flawed, as claimed by the Prosecution General, also on this point. This topic area falls into the big picture of parceling out of the pieces of evidence which was done by the appeal court.

The Supreme Court notes that Hellmann-Zanetti just assumed that there was no circumstantial evidence in Knox’s declarations, but they falsely implied that it was about behavioral and emotional evidence. Instead it was about Knox’s revealing a knowledge of details from the crime scene. 

The Court mentions some of Knox’s statements conflicting with evidence and testimonies: she told Meredith’s friend of having found the body, she said it was before “˜a closet’, that it was covered, that Meredith had her throat cut and that she suffered a great blood loss. The first degree court reports Knox saying she didn’t see into the room, that she was far away in the corridor when it was opened.   

Hellmann-Zanetti fail to mention this set of elements or clues, and they also neglect to consider the issue of Amanda’s phone call to her mother in the middle of the night and subsequent calls.

The Cassazione observes that Knox was unable to “˜remember’ the 12:47 phone call and did not explain its content; but Hellmann-Zanetti mistakenly considered such a phone call as occurring “˜at the same time’ of Sollecito’s calls to her sister and to the Carabinieri. In fact ““ the Court notes ““ Knox called her mother three minutes before Sollecito called his sister, she was first person to make any phone calls.

So Knox’s “˜downplaying’ of her phone call ““ her suggesting a total vague content, a sense of confusion and nothing important ““ and the early time of it, are not considered details worth of mention by the Hellmann-Zanetti court, and they are not put in relation to Knox’s inside knowledge about details of the crime (if she didn’t know anything at all, why does she call her mother to express vague confusion, worried about something she doesn’t know?).
What the Court finds objectionable is that Hellmann-Zanetti simply made assertions and steered on, talking about the subjective emotional reactions, without confronting any logical argumentation made by the lower court, and they failed to do anything to demolish the first instance reasoning. 

16. Final indications

The Hellmann-Zanetti verdicts are annulled. The new appeal court will have to fix all the critical legitimacy flaws pointed out following the Cassazione indications.

The new appeal Judges will have to assess the pieces of circumstantial evidence in a global an unitary way, to assess whether the relative ambiguity of each piece of evidence can be overcome by the overall system between them.

The result of such an assessment will have to lead to a decision not only about the presence of Knox and Sollecito on the murder scene, but also about their possible roles in the crime, and to decide among an array of possible scenarios: from a premeditated intent to kill to possible scenarios that may involve a non-premeditated decision to murder as a departure from an original plan to have a non-consensual sex game, or involve a forced sex game that run out of control, or a similar situation.

The recourse submitted by Knox on the point of her conviction for calunnia is rejected. All points of recourse 1-10 by the Prosecution General are accepted, the appeal trial is annulled on grounds of manifest illogicality, inconsistence and violation of law for all conclusions of acquittal; instead, the conviction for the charge of calunnia stands, but the denial of aggravation in finding it not-linked to the murder is annulled.

Knox is condemned to pay the legal expenses sustained by the State and by Lumumba. If found guilty, Knox and Sollecito will have to pay also the expenses sustained by the Kerchers. 

17. Considerations arising from the report

My final thoughts. Since the appeal verdicts were annulled, the legal situation is that Knox and Sollecito stand currently convicted in first degree and awaiting the appeal, which they had launched against their convictions. 

They had already got a fair trial, before a court presided over by Massei; now they are appealing the verdict in a Florentine court. An appeal ““ under the Italian criminal procedure ““ can take the shape of a new trial ““ usually, partly ““ and so open again sessions where witnesses are heard and evidence are entered. 

However, in many cases this doesn’t happen, and the appeal doesn’t look like a full trial. Anyway, even if the trial phase is re-opened,  what may look like a trial de novo is in fact only an extension of the previous one; meaning: the trial de novo in fact doesn’t start from scratch, but starts from the documentation already existing and incorporates the previous proceedings. 

The main piece of documentation now incorporated is the 2013 Supreme Court verdict.

Whatever appeal court deals with the Knox-Sollecito proceedings,  they will have to set it within the guidelines, limitations and indications established by the Cassazione.

The Cassazione has dismantled and declared illegitimate all the procedural points by which Hellmann-Zanetti had come to verdicts of acquittals on the charge of murder. This shows how the appeal judgment was obtained only thanks to a dreadful series of procedure errors. 
Unfortunately, actually not all errors in the Hellmann-Zanetti rationale could fall under the radar of the supreme court.  The appeal court didn’t make only legitimacy errors, they also committed obvious mistakes in the merit of evidence assessment (and, not even all legitimacy issues were actually brought to the attention of the Supreme Court of Cassazione). 

Examples of mistakes in the merits by Hellmann-Zanetti:  they attributed the bathmat footprint on two unproven assumptions:

(1) The first was that the person who left it must have got his foot wet with blood by walking on a hard, flat surface smeared with blood; an obviously unfounded assumption, actually proven false since there was no hard flat surface covered in blood where anyone had walked (blood got on the murderers feet from soaked towels).

(2) The second ““ idiotic ““ “˜reason’ was the observation that Sollecito’s toe in the sample print looked more triangular (!) than the bathmat print’s (it is actually obvious that any object would leave a print with slightly more rounded shape on the bathmat compared to the sample paper, since the bathmat is a soft surface). 

Another one was the claim that the pattern of footprints in luminol could be found in any apartment and be produced in any innocent situation (in a non-blood substance) but somehow they “˜forgot’ to mention what kind of likely substance that could be, and what plausible dynamic - except shuffling on rags or mat ““ could have produced them. 

Flaws in the rationale and procedure are surreal, like maintaining that Knox’s written memoir is not evidence that she lied because its content is false. Or appointing experts to test DNA samples, then refusing to test the sample despite it’s being more than 120 picograms.

Even kids could spot the obvious logical errors on evidence assessment in the Hellmann-Zanetti rationale. 

The refrain of factual errors and legitimacy/procedure violations is so serious that I can hardly believe any Magistrate of the Republic can make such errors in good faith. 

Despite the sophisticated and formal language,  as you may have understood from this summary, the Cassazione arguments are actually very simple. In fact the errors were very clear and obvious from the beginning - to quote PMF poster Popper “even a child would notice them immediately”  - that in fact the Supreme Court looks like pointing the finger at a naked emperor.
The present Cassazione ruling does not leave any realistic hope for Knox and Sollecito to be acquitted on appeal. They have a right to appeal under Italian law. Though their appeal, when carried on within the rules and principles of law, looks ““ like most appeals ““ basically desperate.

Their actual chances of being acquitted by a Florentine court look essentially zero, because the court won’t be allowed to employ the key arguments and the path of reasoning followed by Hellmann-Zanetti to come to an acquittal verdict; all these logical tools are illegitimate, and hardly any judge could fix them,  nor come to a “˜not guilty’ verdict by following other logical ways. 
The only positive legal outcome in realistic terms for Knox and Sollecito now consists in seeking leniency or lesser charges based on claiming minor roles, maybe even by attempting to accuse each other.

Either that or testifying to the truth, seeking mitigating factors like psychological state and age, or showing remorse.


Great work, just great.  Thank you so very much.

Posted by Miriam on 06/23/13 at 09:00 PM | #

Thank you M/Y!!!  Awesome summary & analysis.

Posted by all4justice on 06/23/13 at 09:42 PM | #

Thank you Yummi, as usual a excellent and a very well presented post.

Cheers, Jeff

Posted by Jeffski1 on 06/23/13 at 09:48 PM | #

Golly! I’ve read rumours of bribes of H-Z to come out with a ‘suitable’ result but this is beyond what I’d imagined.

Looking forward to studying the translation and as ever, grateful to those giving up their time to make the translations available.

If the Kerchers are reading this, again, know that you are not alone. Surely there is an end in sight; surely the truth will bubble to the surface - now.

May thunder roll on their heads (H-Z, AK, RS). RIP Meredith. The sheer pointlessness, cruelty and abhorence of your death will stay with me forever; truth always come up for air.

Thank you Yummi; powerful and deeply disturbing.

Posted by TruthWillOut on 06/23/13 at 11:28 PM | #

My God, Yummi, your summary of the Cassazione report that voids the appeal verdict allows us to see just how devastating it is for the Knox and Sollecito defence teams, and in particular the legal situation of Amanda and Raffaele.

Without going into why Hellman and Zanetti could have consciously stepped time after time into gross violations of legal procedure (baksheesh? incompetence? favours owed to scarey friends? ...) all I can say is that both of those defence teams now have an opportunity/ necessity to tell the corporate and “grass roots” PR campaigns to shut down, as the contents of the Knox and Sollecito books and media appearances have been digging their legal holes only deeper.

I will be sending a link to this page out to newspapers and I hope the rest of the regular TJMK readers do so as well. The world has to start to understand what the true state of Knox’s and Sollecito’s legal affairs is (and that, I should say, is dreadful).

Posted by Kermit on 06/23/13 at 11:44 PM | #

Yummi - thank you very much for this devastating summary. I only hope the Knox/Sollecito fan club stumble across this page (I bet they visit this site more than they’d like to admit).

Barring any future Hellmann-Zanetti type “judicial ineptitude” (to be charitable, and avoiding a more sinister explanation) it certainly looks like just desserts might be served in the not too distant future.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/24/13 at 12:13 AM | #

This will take a few days to digest properly but once again Yummi presents us with a splendid and accurate summary - as he has always done - and I am indebted to him for the superb work. Make no mistake it takes time and effort to put something like this together. It is something of an art form.

Indeed I think it probably makes easier reading than the original report. There will, I am sure, be many comments; some perhaps critical of the Supremes in just a few instances but I am sure that all will be constructive. Over on IIP there will be much gnashing of teeth and sharpening of knives, but who cares? Cassation has got so much, if not all of it, right.

Just one observation at this stage with regard to Yummi’s final considerations - relating to the first of the two unproven assumptions by H&Z.

“(1) The first was that the person who left it must have got his foot wet with blood by walking on a hard, flat surface smeared with blood; an obviously unfounded assumption, actually proven false since there was no hard flat surface covered in blood where anyone had walked (blood got on the murderers feet from soaked towels).”

True, but had someone stepped in blood on a flat surface in his bare feet (we can exclude Amanda because the print on the mat could not be hers anyway) then the footprint(s) this would have left has/have been removed. I am talking in Meredith’s room. It would be thus logical for H&Z to follow through in their argument to conclude that -

(a) they have just produced, logically, the rationale for a clean up, and

(b) since Guede left evidence of himself, including his own shoe prints exiting, the most rational explanation for the removal of that or those footprints must be that Sollecito (or less likely, Amanda) removed them, and therefore had been in Meredith’s room.

Posted by James Raper on 06/24/13 at 12:15 AM | #

“The riddle of factual errors and legitimacy/procedure violations is so serious, that I can hardly believe any Magistrate of the Republic can make such errors in good faith.”

Nice one.

Posted by James Raper on 06/24/13 at 12:20 AM | #

@ James Raper

Yes, yours is a very intelligent logical corollarium. Hellmann-Zanetti assuming footprints on flat surface is illogical to the point of providing a logical demonstration of cleanup, and to attribute it to the housemate, if you just take his arbitrary assumption as true.

Posted by Yummi on 06/24/13 at 12:40 AM | #


Your point A above has left goose bumps. It’s so bloody obvious! How the hell did H-Z reach THAT conclusion?

Posted by TruthWillOut on 06/24/13 at 12:43 AM | #

Thanks Yummi for this brilliant summary of the Supreme Court report. It’s quite clear that Knox and are Sollecito going to lose their appeals and the Supreme Court will confirm the verdicts.

Posted by The Machine on 06/24/13 at 01:10 AM | #

This is a fantastic report, I was waiting to read this. Thank you so much!

Posted by Sara on 06/24/13 at 03:08 AM | #

These reports are only getting better. Excellent

Posted by Bettina on 06/24/13 at 05:55 AM | #

What a brilliant report, thank you Cassazione,
and thank you Yummi.

Posted by Spencer on 06/24/13 at 07:29 AM | #

Thankyou very much indeed Yummi. Very clear.
At last, the Alice-in-Wonderland logic has been refuted….

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/24/13 at 08:29 AM | #

Excellent summary, Yummi.  Among the key points I had always thought would be rejected are the time of death determination (avoiding corroborated witness statements) and testimony, provided both by Curatolo and Quintavalle, placing Knox or Sollecito or both at places that refute their alibis.

And then, of course, there’s the inability of H-Z to place the statements against Lumumba into the context of the crime.

Witness statements and proof of lies to the police would be sufficient to convict Knox and Sollecito.

Posted by Stilicho on 06/24/13 at 09:46 AM | #

I meant the H-Z version of Curatolo’s and Quintavalle’s statements above.  I didn’t mean that the SC would accept the rejection of their testimony.  Sorry for any confusion.

Posted by Stilicho on 06/24/13 at 09:47 AM | #

It is more than an open secret that the selection of the appeal judges was bent, it’s more or less out in the open in Italy, and the scathing Cassation subtext indicates they saw what had gone down.

The Umbria Chief Judge De Nunzio after illegal discussion with defense replaced the highly qualified Judge Chiari with the exceptionally ill-qualified Judge Hellmann (he was a business judge, now forced out, who made a similar hash of another murder trial years ago). Judge Chiari (who resigned over this) came out and said so.

There has been a certain caution - a lower profile - in the defenses in recent weeks, as they so seriously lost the Cassation appeal in late March and are in effect ascribed in the AK and RS books as being party to the lies about the evidence and the false accusations of crimes.

Now (1) they could face a few legal troubles of their own over the books (they are named as witnesses), (2) their weakness at the appeal rerun in Florence will be pervasive and damning, and (3) they are using AK and RS as media surrogates - both AK and RS are making daft claims when they really ought to shut up.

Pretty amazing seeing lawyers using their own clients in effect to save their own skins. If Curt Knox and Chris Mellas and Francesco Sollecito were not so churned up with rage they would realize this, and move over to fresh legal teams who might be more certain to prevent two sentences of life.

None of the four lead lawyers has won a case at Cassazione, in fact Bongiorno is the only one to fight a case at that level and she lost. Years ago she lost big to Chiari (then a prosecutor) by coincidence at court in Perugia, and collapsed in court at the outcome. She cannot have been wanting to face him again.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/24/13 at 01:32 PM | #

The guts of the media defense of Knox in the US has been the claim that she was banged around in the (impromptu and unscheduled) witness interrogation.

That angle now seems to be toast and it is hard to see how it is brought up in appeal court or any extradition hearing. We thought we covered all bases in nailing the claim of a false coerced confession in this post last week:

However Casattion without even mentioning Kassin’s daft claims shoots down the coerced confession claim from another angle - that she stuck with it and added bells and whistles to it over several weeks. What of that, Kassin?

It was her stridency and sarcasm on the stand in mid 2009 when she was cross-examined over this (and only this) that seemed to have the entire court and much of Italy thinking “Really, this tough character claims coercion?”

Cassation could also have pointed to the timid weepy nun-like character that was carefully dolled up to work the heartstrings of the appeal judges in 2011. Verrry suspicious. Will we see that weepy act again? Dont bet against it.

This from Cassation via Yummi could help explain why even H&Z thought reversing Massei’s calunnia finding would be a bridge too far.

The Supreme Court reminds that ‘information about commission of a crime’ can be derived also from the interrogation of a police suspect, even from information released by a suspect who had not be read their rights under Art. 64, even from statements that are not usable for lack of defensive rights, and even that in the event the interrogation is to be nullified.

In all these cases the suspect commits a calunnia whenever he/she voluntarily and falsely accuses someone to defend himself/herself (so there can’t be any consequential link between the legal status of the interrogation, and the charge of calunnia or the collecting of information about a crime).

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/24/13 at 02:15 PM | #

I have three points:

1. The scream: like the money, AK never explained how she knew the details of “her friend’s” death?

2. The money: The defense and the experts (perhaps the judges too) appears too close to be comfortable: did anybody investigate the money trail?

3. The foot print was not made in raw blood: this clears up a lot more than it may appear in first sight.

Yummi, you should have dealt in some more details about the “balance of evidences” vs “individual evidences taken in isolation” which the favorite pastime of the FOA fan club.

I still remember what one judge once mentioned: “fabricated lies are so perfect and fit so nicely…”

Thanks for the great work.

Posted by chami on 06/24/13 at 11:11 PM | #

Hopefully this can put Sollecito where he belongs but Knox will never be extradited:-/

Posted by Admire on 06/25/13 at 03:41 AM | #

For people who believe Knox won’t be extradited, I disagree.  After an initial flurry of objections, there has been silence on this issue from NW politicians - and for good reason.  Michael Heavey used his reputation and his position as a judge early on to get people riled up.  Now Heavey has been disciplined and Washington State politicians have been made aware that the case against Knox is strong.

What’s fascinating is that Heavey’s basis for being so pro-Knox is that his daughter described Knox as a “nice person.”  It’s reminiscent of the NY Times’ Timothy Egan writing multiple columns about Knox because she reminded him of his daughter - - if his daughter couldn’t commit murder, how could Knox?

The interesting media angle here is how rampant the sexism is in this case.  And here, sexism means “if she reminds me of my daughter, she can’t possibly be guilty.”

It’s fertile ground for a brave journalist who doesn’t mind telling some “Dads” how unprofessional and sexist they really are.

Here is a link to an article about Heavey where he describes why he championed Amanda’s case.

Posted by Media Watcher on 06/25/13 at 04:41 AM | #

Agreed. She’ll be on her way. Hard to see who will risk going to bat for Knox any more.

Senator Cantwell seems to have been quiet ever since we posted several open letters organized by Fly By Night which spooked her Washington staff. David Wu had to resign.

Even though PMF is starting to resemble a squaky wheel on extradition the legal issues are very clear.

The State Department and Rome Embassy despise Curt Knox’s and Chris Mellas’s xenophobic ill-effect on foreign policy where there are 1000 more important issues. Knox may as well go back and give it her best shot. Show remorse as Yummi suggests.

Otherwise she will be broke and essentially friendless all her life except for the unsavory FOA.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/25/13 at 05:58 AM | #

Hi Chami

“Yummi, you should have dealt in some more details about the “balance of evidences” vs “individual evidences taken in isolation” which the favorite pastime of the FOA fan club.”

Good one. I hope Yummi spots this. He reflected in a number of places above what Cassation insists it wants: connecting of all the dots. We have touched on this issue a lot, see for example here:

Might you quote what those in the FOA argue on this? Their attacking evidence points in isolation seems to me to have left them looking amateur, powerless, and irrelevant.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/25/13 at 06:11 AM | #

Media Watcher - Don’t underestimate how well the PR campaign worked in the US…..Just go to a random news site that allows comments and check out any article about this case….

Her supporters will fight tooth and nails and american politicians won’t extradite her out of her for backlash….

I have to admit that Ive never been so emotionally invested in a murder case ever….The aquittal was almost impossible to take. I literally vomited when I heard it. I really, really hope for justice but I just can’t see it happen. Maybe im too negative, but sometimes it feels like they have already gotten away with it.

Posted by Admire on 06/25/13 at 07:30 AM | #

Wow, a devastating report by the Supreme Court on the appeals court judgement.  This has really opened my eyes as to the weaknesses in the defense case, and linked together the various points in the evidence.  Yummi, I don’t know how you were able to summarize that long document so well.  It must have taken you hours.  You made most of that legal jargon clear to a layperson. 

I really wonder what facts of this are going to be presented in the media.  It’s been incredibly slanted so far. 

Thanks to all the regular posters for the excellent writing.

It’s hard to believe five years have passed since I started following this case.

Posted by believing on 06/25/13 at 07:59 AM | #


I could be wrong but as I understand it even if she’s not extradited she may still be found guilty in absentia. Not perfect, but at least it’ll be some justice done.

I’ll happily be corrected if I’ve misunderstood the situation.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/25/13 at 12:04 PM | #

Excellent Yummi. Thank you.

Posted by jhansigirl on 06/25/13 at 12:44 PM | #

Sollecito has tried a rebuttal of sorts on his Facebook page. A couple of Italian media websites have captured it and reposted it without comment or analysis.

It may have come from an email from Bongiorno as there are two different writing styles. 

Miriam kindly translated this version from the Leggo website.

Raffaele Sollecito against the Cassazione. On FB: on my case written many horrors

Saturday, June 22nd 2013

ROME. For the first time after the sentencing of the Corte di Cassazione that annulled the acquittal verdict of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the trial for the homicide of Meredith Kercher, the Bisceglie engineer challenges point by point the decision of the Supreme Court. To do so, he chooses his Facebook page, in which he asks the many who support him to spread his thoughts. “The ruling of the Cassazione is not appealable and so therefore I believe that it is incumbent for the judges of the Supreme Court to emit verdicts that are more cautious and detailed,” begins Sollecito.  “In our case numerous errors, that would be more appropriately called horrors, have been written.”

The Defence
The first challenge is on the defense role: “In all the sentencing there is nothing written about the defense contribution in the search of the truth and even less the contribution of our consultants that have been completely ignored, as if they didn’t even exist”.

Traces of DNA
“It is not true that the Independent Experts have ever asserted that in the mixed traces of DNA there was Raffaele’s profile: they declared otherwise, that because there was a mixed trace and not a genuine single trace, with different allele for each of the seventeen loci of the profile, you can find anyone, even the DNA of the President of the Court, if he would be available for a comparison.  It is not true that on the traces there was only the Y that corresponded to Raffaele, but at least two other Y, that were not possible to allocate because there were not profiles available to confront with and besides of these two neither corresponded with those of Guede. Therefore the other two are of persons that up today are still unknown”.

The Position of The Traces
“It is not true that the trace of DNA isolated by the Independent Experts was situated close to the point in which the biologist of the Polizia Scientifica had found a small trace of DNA that was conferred to Meredith. This trace was where the blade of the knife inserts into the handle, an area in which it is easy to find organic or inorganic material on which the Polizia Scientifica inexplicably did not carried out any test.  This is the reason for which the Independent Experts ask to take apart the knife, authorization that was not granted by the Appeal Court because of the staunch and, according to me, unmotivated opposition from the Procura Generale di Perugia and of the civil party”.

The Decision of the Expert
It is not true that the Independent Expert Professor Vecchiotti decided by herself and not complying to the assignment received from the Appeal Court to not to proceed with the analysis of those traces of DNA: In an OFFICIAL meeting with ALL the Experts of all the parties involved with the presence of Prof. NOVELLI and Dott. STEFANONI, the Court clearly expressed the motive for the intention to not proceed with the analysis, for the minute quantity and for the impossibility to proceed with a a second amplification and in that occasion ALL were in agreement with the Independent Expert SIGNING the minutes with no objections.

The Surveys  
“ It is not true that between the first and second survey the house remained protected by the seals. Instead the contrary is true, seen in those 46 days were three searches, of which one was not even recorded (therefore no one can know who and how many persons enter the house and if precautions were taken) during this time the house was literally put up side down with furniture and ornaments taken apart and carried around the house, so that the famous piece of cloth with the hooks of the bra was in a different place, compared with the first recovery and under a small rug, that was found roll into a ball under the desk in Meredith’s room, so it could easily have happened that during the three searches it could have more than once been around the house under the feet of one of the persons that participated in the searches”

The Glass Fragments
“ It is not true that the fragments of glass in the room of Romanelli were on top of the clothes, but it is true that they were ALL on the floor, on a small carpet on the side of the bed and UNDER the clothes as shown by the numerous pictures and footage taken by the Polizia Scientifica of Rome during the first day of the first search therefore at a time when there couldn’t be any alteration of the crime scene”.

Guede’s wounds
“ It is not true that Guede did not have wounds on his right hand: these wounds (superficial and healing) are evident on the fingers on the inside of his hand as seen on the pictures taken by the German Police right after his arrest in Germany.

The contamination argument wont ever fly again, as Cassation emphasized there was no vehicle or sample of Sollecito’s DNA elsewhere.

The court record shows the prosecutor Comodi asked for a test of the sample Stefanoni had put aside, and it was refused.

And Cassation did say Guede had a wound in Germany; it notes that witnesses said they saw none in Perugia.  Nothing new. More cherry picking.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/25/13 at 01:08 PM | #

Hi Admire and Odysseus

Yes the appeal can continue without them though their absence is a form of contempt of court and arrest warrants are likely.

Admire, please check out commenta above at 9:41 and 9:58 pm. Extradition is strongly in the cards. The PR may still be organizing website comments, but they wont have any effect at the macro level. Cassation’s ruling is exceptionally good law explained in great detail, and no court in the US will dare to say it isn’t.

Numerous extraditions between Italy and the US proceed smoothly (we have posted on some examples) and apart from the CIA operatives and Dolomite pilots who have some special legal protections, there have been no refusals.

Italy is in a strong position, as the US really needs this tradition to continue. The US is in a weak position to refuse, as over the past five years there has been close monitoring but there is still no paper trail suggesting anyone in the government saw any mishandling.

Dont be surprised if both perps turn up in Florence simply on the strong urging of their lawyers. This is a sort of Prisoners Dilemma. The one who doesnt make it gets dumped on. Plus it seems impossible to work out a financial scenario that would allow either to stay on the run for the rest of their lives.

Right now what is in the books is essentially unrebutted except on PMF and TJMK so confusions and false claims continue but soon the contempt of court investigations will conclude and they are expected to nail those false claims once and for all.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/25/13 at 01:51 PM | #

@ Peter

The only case I know of a refusal of extradition between the US and Italy, was Italy refusing to extradite an Italian citizen who was being indicted for murder in the US, on the ground that he would face the death penalty (the Italian Constitution prohibits extradition in this event).

Yet, Italy tried and sentenced the man under its laws. It was the only case I know about. 

The Carmis pilots were never requested for extradition, because they were military and were tried by military tribunals under the effects of the Nato treaty.

On the CIA agents, extradition was never requested. Italian law does not allow to request extradition if prison time to serve is below 4 years; due to amnesties, only one US officer could be requested for extradition, but he was pardoned by the President of Italy.

So there is no case of refusal of extradition on ground of alleged miscarriages of justice.  On the contrary, a number of US citizens are extradited from Italy to the USA every year.

Posted by Yummi on 06/25/13 at 02:52 PM | #

So now Sollecito would have the people who criticized the fund he set up for his defense, to ask our government to stop spending money against 2 innocents, and end this once and for all.

Sure Sollecito, we will start immediately!
What an ass!!

Posted by Miriam on 06/25/13 at 03:57 PM | #

Yummi, thanks so much for your comprehensive Summary, and your extradition-Comment:

“...there is no case of refusal of extradition on ground of alleged miscarriages of justice.  On the contrary, a number of US citizens are extradited from Italy to the USA every year.”

Posted by Cardiol MD on 06/25/13 at 05:30 PM | #


You said - “The court record shows the prosecutor Comodi asked for a test of the sample Stefanoni had put aside, and it was refused.”

As I understand it this was about a new DNA sample found on the blade near the handle, and not the sample taken from a scratch lower down the blade and analysed by Stefanoni.

As to the latter Stefanoni claimed at the first instance trial that it was 120 picograms but it seems could not provide the actual record of quantification.

Now, at least, we have a quantification for the new sample of 120 picograms. As I understand it whilst there is no clear and agreed threshold for Low Copy Number, below 100 picograms is accepted as definitely Low Copy Number territory where there is certainly a need for specialised LCN techniques. Even then clear profiles have been consistently extracted from just 20 picograms.

If this is right then I don’t see why H&Z refused a test on the new sample which at 120 picograms is not obviously LCN territory.

Posted by James Raper on 06/25/13 at 06:05 PM | #


Agreed, what an ass. Is he deliberately trying to be irritating or does he know no other way? Dad must sit down at night with his head between his hands!

Posted by Odysseus on 06/25/13 at 06:25 PM | #

“The Supreme Court then points out that:

(1) the collection of items was performed correctly contrarily to Hellmann’s suggestions, all activities of collection and laboratory tests were done before the eyes of defence experts, the environments were not contaminated, and the defence experts that were assisting did not raise any objection, they complained about things only much later.”

I suppose if one were to be critical - just for the sake of being critical - one could argue that stating that the collection of items was performed correctly and that environments were not contaminated does rather go to a finding of fact on the merits and that this was overstepping the mark for Cassation.

Posted by James Raper on 06/25/13 at 06:58 PM | #

Didn’t Sollecito say just a few weeks ago that that Supreme court’s decision is something that is not to be taken seriously and not important or significant or something on those lines (I don’t remember his exact words). So why all the rebuttals and defense funds now? Looks like the time has come to start eating your words.

Posted by Sara on 06/25/13 at 07:06 PM | #

This kind of thinking has in the past obviously worked for Sollecito. That method is to be irritating and whine therefore he has been given everything by his family by being the spoilt brat that he is. Knox is a different case however. In her psychosis I am of the firm belief that she actually thinks that she is innocent. If you watch her demeanor all you will see is blankness.

On another note Miriam asked me sometime ago “What has racism got to do with it?” Well it’s because In some parts of the USA Knox is considered Innocent by virtue of her skin colour rather then Meredith who is not American and is half white is of less consequence than an American white girl. That is the thinking in some parts of the USA. My experience of Seattle is that in that city there is a racist undertone which is quite strong hence my comment regarding racism.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 06/25/13 at 09:30 PM | #

@ James Raper

It sounds like a “finding of fact” probably because of my summary - I needed to summarize. The SC, talking about laboratory tests, intends to say that contamination was ruled out as for documentation during the trial itself, and by the witnesses in Hellmann’s trial - including the cross-questioned C&V.

The collection of the bra clasp was done properly procedurally - that was an incidente probatorio, there were defence experts present, video-cabled in a van parked outside the cottage (this is why they pick up the item and they show it around). The fact is defense experts always attended and agreed to procedures, the same procedures were documented, and documentation about environment (laboratory, and places) was also taken.

Posted by Yummi on 06/25/13 at 10:20 PM | #

Hi Grahame,

Thanks for explaining. Your actual comment was:  “Why? Because some in the USA particularly the South and parts of Europe are racist. “

I don’t agree, first because Seattle is not in the south, second because I believe thatthe aggressive PR tactics were aimed mostly at the American media, thus most Americans just fell in line with what the media told them. I do believe that on the site it is good for all of us to be able to exchange our thoughts and views.

As for Sollecito, I can’t understand what he hopes to accomplish. On one hand he seems hell-bent on making the courts and all associated with them mad, on the other maybe he is trying to gather media interest in himself, for whatever reason.

Posted by Miriam on 06/25/13 at 10:55 PM | #

Hi Miriam I guess I’m not being clear. I have lived all over the place due to a military career of over 43 years. Seattle being one of my postings as are others in the Southern US. I found rampant racism everywhere. I didn’t go looking for either. The point is what is considered acceptable behavior in one part of the world is not in another. Example is Paris or Rome or just about anywhere in Europe where people mostly get along regardless of race.

Mind you it crops up in the most unlikely places. Halifax in Nova Scotia Canada where I found discrimination towards black people which still goes on. There was a place in Halifax called Africa Ville which was leveled by the local government one morning about 2AM with no warning to the black community in order to make way for a bridge. This kind of behavior is considered to be the norm in many places. It’s not called racism by the local community but just accepted as a normal way of looking at things.

ie “She’s black therefore inferior.” “She’s white therefore she’s of a superior race.” What I’m saying is that Knox’s family including Amanda Knox herself have this point of view which is manifest by Knox blaming Lamumba then letting Guede take the fall as has anyone who believes Knox is innocent. ie The black guy did it, but what can you expect. Anyway hope that clarifies things somewhat.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 06/25/13 at 11:15 PM | #

What a heroic effort went into translating this Supreme Court document. Thank you, Machiavelli. I had to wait a day to read it when my brain wasn’t tired from weekend, to barely do it justice.

The SC seems to raise Prof. Novelli to new heights of integrity. The return of common sense is applied to the luminol prints, with a staunch avowal they were made in blood. If the bathmat footprint is Sollecito’s, then he is cooked. If Raf was there, his Siamese twin was there, Amanda Knox. It was her apartment and the key hers, with no sign of a break in by others making her prime suspect.

I see Raf is blasting the bra clasp alleles and Y haplotypes in his Facebook rebuttal and I admit I don’t like the sound of there being other male DNA on the clasp. Still it doesn’t undo the fact that Raf’s is on there, given the other evidence of his foot in blood.

I had no idea there was any “unfinished business” with Aviello’s testimony, not sure what significance that has. It seems the ear witnesses being 3 in number and able to confirm one another are back in, thus slamming the fantasy time of death the defense needed.

All in all, this summary strongly suggests it’s so over for the loving jailbirds. They’re plucked and cooked. Poultry is on the menu, maybe turkey.

There is very much in this report, it is daunting, as if everything that the defense and wily FOA tried to handwave away for years behind the smoke of doubt has risen far above it like a Roman candle.

Posted by Hopeful on 06/26/13 at 01:57 AM | #

IF there is other male DNA on the clasp, could it not be dated from a separate occasion / day ?

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/26/13 at 03:31 AM | #

Yummi, an excellent summary of a super-strong Cassazione ruling. Thank you.

Cassazione is thorough and damning. And not before time, either. It should never have come to this and I do wonder how H&Z got away with such wildly illegitimate judicial activity.

The result of the next round is certain and the right judgement should stand. It will be very ineresting to see how this plays out if R ends up back in prison whilst A is out fighting extadition.

Posted by thundering on 06/26/13 at 03:37 AM | #

Peter - damn man, I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate your explanations…. Its really cool that you take the time to explain..

I have no problem admitting that my knowledge of the legal aspects are lacking so my worries are found based mostly on my knowledge about politics…..

But if there have been zero refusals, that really changes things. There is no way she and her supporters has enough influence, unless they somehow manage to make this a huge national conversation with the help of some of the convinced media in the us (which I doubt they can)

Have there ever been made a rebuttal of all the normal pro Knox talking points? Would be useful for the media.

Posted by Admire on 06/26/13 at 03:56 AM | #

Grahame & Miriam re: racist undertows helping to explain why people buy the AK b.s. sold by the media:

- racism (& sexism) is a reality - all over the world & for millennia; this is not a controversial or unproven statement

- racism is not typically binary (pun intended); there are degrees & flavours of it, except for the neo-nazi types (of any race); just because it can be demonstrated by one person or culture (or whatever) inconsistently does not mean it never happened

- AK committed calunnia against a black man who hired her (the only employer she had there, as far as I know) was decent to her (she didn’t quit), had zero involvement with Mez’s murder; he is the only person she has blamed for Mez’s murder & sexual assault - ever

- the only person besides RS & herself who was proven to be there/involved in Mez’s murder was RG, perhaps the only other black person she knew (& hung out with, and smoked cannabis with in the guys’ apt. downstairs, at least once; though I think there is proof they met more than once) in Perugia

- there were no black friends of Amanda mentioned, or in the trial as witnesses from either AK’s, RS’s, or Mez’s circle(s) - so the two stand out

- consider AK’s culture/home/climate - look at the conviction & incarceration rates of blacks in the US, & the disproportionate # on death row

- it was no accident or coincidence that she selected Patrick to throw under the bus & repeatedly drive over

If the races of the 3 killers were flipped, you would not see the US or any other Western media succeeding with the b.s. that’s being swallowed whole.

There is also sexism assisting AK’s media blitz, and xenophobia in general (anti-foreigner re Italy’s policing, scientific, & justice systems & personnel) at play with the PR campaign & FOA line that’s been swallowed by too much Western media.

Does anyone think Jodi Arias would have avoided the death penalty (so far) if she hadn’t been white (& female) (& “attractive”) ?  Layers of bias working the other way.

As Grahame said, “Blame the black man.”  Let’s hope RG is not the only guilty party to be found culpable & held accountable.

Posted by all4justice on 06/26/13 at 05:13 AM | #

I do not know how to put it, but there is discrimination against blacks in their own countries. As if skin color is great indicator of quality!

Many in India implicitly act and behave as if people with white skins are intellectually superior; they are not. Many in the US also think, even today, along similar lines.

IMHO, racism and sexism are children of low quality education. Educated people are slowly moving away from these sick traits. I admit that it is slow but the trend is clear and visible.

Examples only show that the disease has not gone away.

Let us not forget that Italy has welcome many black people in recent times. Perhaps the largest in Europe. They are far greater integrated (let us not forget the constrains) compared to the other countries in the “Old Europe”.

That AK or MK do/did not have any black friends is incidental and does not prove anything. Like mindedness has a far greater power over most of us. We can see clear examples of “think alike” in the FOA fan club!

Posted by chami on 06/26/13 at 09:02 AM | #

Well said chami.

There is a long history of darker skinned people being treated differently. For many years in Africa the brown skinned people used the black skinned people as slaves. Look at the history of Ghana for example - such warm hearted people, too.

In how many cultures is there a seemingly indelible association between ‘white and black’ ‘good and evil’, ‘light and dark’, ‘right and wrong’? Of course I am not saying it is right, just that these have been common metaphors. We use words like ‘enlightened’ too. So there is still work to be done on our consciousness…  education, as Chami says.

We have already noted that in certain pathologies persons are unable to admit mistakes or guilt - they can never be ‘wrong’, and the blame is sought to be shifted onto the victim, from ‘they shouldn’t have been there’ to elaborate scenarios.

Psychologically speaking they only identify with ‘the Light’, and disown their ‘Shadow’.

So from this unhealthy position, it is a small step to blame a black man. The blaming of Rudy Guede as a sole perpetrator has been the main point in FOA up till now.

Am so glad this aspect has been brought to common sense analysis again. Thanks Yummi again for making this Cessation report available.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/26/13 at 10:28 AM | #

I don’t think that AK fingered Patrick because he was black per se. She named a person she felt physically resembled the person they’d committed the crime with, who happened to be black. If they had committed the murder with say a ‘bald guy’, I think she would have fingered a local bald guy instead.

When she accused Patrick, she might have been assuming that a witness could come forward who remembers seeing a black man covered in blood running away from the cottage that night, and so she offered up Patrick, the only other black man she knows, en lieu of that evidence.

Posted by Spencer on 06/26/13 at 12:07 PM | #

@Spencer, yes I agree things are not that simplistic. I would think it is likely to be an unconscious aspect anyway.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/26/13 at 12:48 PM | #

Hi Hopeful

“I had no idea there was any “unfinished business” with Aviello’s testimony, not sure what significance that has.”

The “unfinished business” was very serious and possibly pointed to the worst of all the defense dirty tricks, of which there have been dozens. It could have incurred (may still incur) stiff penalties against RS counsel Giulia Bongiorno and even ex-judge Hellmann.

Aviello was the mafioso snitch in a prison up north who testified with his face hidden. He was a Sollecito defense witness and he claimed his missing brother and one other did it and he knew where a knife was buried.

Bongiorno and the prosecution both interviewed him in prison, and his own lawyer said publicly he was in danger of perjuring himself.

On the stand he repeated his claim, but under cross-examination he did a dramatic u-turn and said his testimony was all made up and the defense had been offering bribes in prison. Bongiorno freaked then and later.

Hellmann pushed on hurriedly without any attempt to stop the proceedings and find out from Aviello or Bongiorno if there had been a felony. That was the unfinished business.

What Cassation said must make Hellmann and Bongiorno sick to their stomachs because it wants that business finished, possibly proving that there WERE bribes offered, and that Hellmann was somehow in cahoots with the defenses.

A post on this is pending because Aviello has just been back in the news, and not in a good way. Here’s betting he wont be on the defense witness list for appeal #2 in Florence, though he sure could be on the prosecution’s.

In his book, Sollecito babbles about Aviello’s amazing subtle help, and said he sent him an embroidered handkerchief (yeah, right, all spiffy mafioso would not be seen dead without one… ) but if Aviello is the route to impeaching Bongiorono and Hellmann, it’s game over for RS and AK.

Of all people on earth Aviello is the most worrisome to them, even more than Guede.  Watch your back Luciano.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/26/13 at 01:31 PM | #

On Guede and racism, many of the FOA hatchet men who AK is joined at the hip to do sound pretty racist, piling on him as a drifter and serial burglar and knife wielder with a record and a police stooge (and want him re-sentenced to more than 16 years).

Despite Nina Burleigh’s bitter ranting at Guede (original source for many other rants) none of those things about him are proven. 

In October 2008 at the Guede trial (where RS and AK were remanded for trial) Judge Micheli came down very strongly against attempts to demonize Guede, and made clear he never threatened anyone with a knife, though he still gave Guede both barrels for a very cruel murder, and a very long prison sentence.

In 2009 Judge Massei was more feeble and ambivalent, and without any special evidence of this in his scenario he assigned Guede the lead role in the attack. That helped Massei to lop 5 years off the RS and AK sentences, which maybe explains it.

In 2011 in court and especially in their report Judges Hellmann and Zanetti sounded outright racist in their contempt for Guede and revisited the lone wolf theory.

Now Cassation has taken things full circle, and in effect is insisting that Judge Micheli got him right, in not being a habitual criminal or occasional burglar, and insisting Judge Massei got it right to the extent that there is no way Guede acted alone.

Like many things in this ruling including what I mentioned just above about Aviello, this forced end to the demonization of Guede and the end of the lone wolf theory leaves the defenses in an impossibly deep hole.

With the contempt of court being stirred by Knox and especially Sollecito in their books and the media, there is a chance no judges in the future will take Massei’s soft line (or Hellmann’s even softer line that allowed him to do what was expected of him and spring them).

They might be re-ascribed in Florence as the ringleaders responsible for initiating the attack against Meredith as well as for rearranging the crime scene. Maybe no five years would be lopped off any new sentence.

A very admirable rebalancing Cassation has struck, between Guede and the other two. Like Micheli, Cassation is clearly against any racism. Just about every sentence of what Yummi has summarised opens up (or closes off) whole universes.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/26/13 at 03:24 PM | #


It just gets better and better, no wonder Sollecito can’t seem to shut up!

Posted by Miriam on 06/26/13 at 06:49 PM | #

Latest from Andrea Vogt Twitter,

” Media sources say Perugia Chief Prosecutor Galati is holding presser today on implications of #amandaknox cassation ruling.”

Posted by True North on 06/26/13 at 09:03 PM | #

Can some body translate, please?
Still have trouble typing.

Posted by Miriam on 06/26/13 at 10:45 PM | #


Posted by Miriam on 06/26/13 at 10:54 PM | #

Posted by Miriam on 06/26/13 at 10:59 PM | #

So, (according to the Telegraph), Hellman complains that Cessation has considered the merits of evidence instead of points of law.
Yet in Yummi’s summary, which appears to be both precise in detail and factual, it is full of points of law which have been considered and found in error.

One wonders what Hellman means.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/27/13 at 12:23 AM | #

In “The Telegraph” link above from Miriam,  Zanetti says:

“I was not in the bedroom when the crime happened. I cannot exclude anything ... but for me, it was not Knox and Sollecito who killed Kercher.”

Why is THAT thought to be important at this stage? We may never know whose hands were actually on the knife/knives that dealt the fatal blow(s). Surely the important question is whether our star-crossed lovers were involved or not? I think poor old Zanetti has lost the plot, if he ever had it. Someone should have briefed the silly sod beforehand on what the parameters were, what exactly he had to decide. Then led him to bed.

He’s actually very similar to our senescent judges here in the UK.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/27/13 at 12:44 AM | #


I don’t pretend to understand law - especially Italian law - but James Raper seems to be referring to this issue in a comment above:

“I suppose if one were to be critical - just for the sake of being critical - one could argue that stating that the collection of items was performed correctly and that environments were not contaminated does rather go to a finding of fact on the merits and that this was overstepping the mark for Cassation”.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/27/13 at 12:57 AM | #

Don’t know if it’s good that Hellmann keeps talking or a bad sign.

Posted by Miriam on 06/27/13 at 01:16 AM | #

Yes, that’s true, I’d noticed that…but it’s one example, against how many? Of the definitely non-valid points of law…

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/27/13 at 01:17 AM | #

Hi Odysseus (and SeekingUnderstanding )

Re your second comment, Yummi had a response to James on that at 3:30 yesterday.


@ James Raper

It sounds like a “finding of fact” probably because of my summary - I needed to summarize. The SC, talking about laboratory tests, intends to say that contamination was ruled out as for documentation during the trial itself, and by the witnesses in Hellmann’s trial - including the cross-questioned C&V.

The collection of the bra clasp was done properly procedurally - that was an incidente probatorio, there were defence experts present, video-cabled in a van parked outside the cottage (this is why they pick up the item and they show it around). The fact is defense experts always attended and agreed to procedures, the same procedures were documented, and documentation about environment (laboratory, and places) was also taken.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/27/13 at 01:18 AM | #

Ex judge Hellmann isn’t the brightest bulb, everybody here and especially in Perugia knows that. He often lost control of his own court. He is doing Knox and Sollecito no favors in encouraging a judicial hard line.

Those falsely accused of crimes in Knox’s book have made complaints to the Chief Prosecutor in Bergamo, where Oggi HQ is located.

In a heartbeat Hellmann can be added to the list of those with significant information for the court. Meaning he could be interrogated almost immediately and then required to face cross examination and maybe charges over what he has just said.

This also may provoke ex judge Chiari to speak up. He was the one yanked by Chief Judge Di Nunzio and replaced by Judge Hellmann for obscure reasons. Chiari was very mad at this - he resigned, and may now point to De Nunzio and Hellmann as corrupt.

[Amended] As Machiavelli said in effect, don’t aim at the king unless you are quite sure you kill him dead. One day Hellmann may be muttering that.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/27/13 at 01:35 AM | #

As far as the racism theory goes, leave Seattle out of it.  Knox and Sollecito are guilty as hell.  The accusation of Lumumba may be more a matter of convenience or desperation more than planning to pin the crime on a black guy.

As for Knox’s hometown, Seattle, being some kind of rascist haven, that is crazy.  Seattle is one of the most politically liberal (I am a conservatve), culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the US.

Rascism exists in many places in the US, but let us be frank here.  Rascism has plenty of adherents in Britain and in Italy. 

You don’t see Americans taunt black athletes with monkey chants like the do in many European stadiums, so please spare me the sanctimony.

Posted by Gonzaga on 06/27/13 at 02:24 AM | #

Good reminder, Pete, re Yummi’s response.

I am disappointed in the Telegraph here.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/27/13 at 02:30 AM | #

Well-spoken, Gonzago.

Posted by thundering on 06/27/13 at 03:34 AM | #

Hi Gonzago. Yes of course your right, but to each by their own experience. I was specifically talking about the Knox clan. Then again it all depends upon your interpretation of racism does it not? Seattle obviously is not some hot bed of anti social behavior. Of course not. But if you read anything concerning Knox and her supporters you will find in my opinion at least racism. This in my experience is not endemic to Seattle but it does exist. Oh by the way it’s not sanctimonious It happens to be a fact. Also it is not American bashing either. However it seems to me whenever anyone floats a negative opinion concerning the US people seem to get very defensive.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 06/27/13 at 04:37 AM | #

Last thing from me. Let’s leave this alone. We have far more important things to do than dissect whether one is or one is not.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 06/27/13 at 04:39 AM | #

Alan Dershowitz makes some excellent points about the case in this interview on The Voice of Russia:

Posted by The Machine on 06/27/13 at 10:19 AM | #

As to points of law -

Article 606 Cases of Appeal

1. Appeal to Cassation may be made for the following reasons:

(a)  ……
(b)  inobservance or erroneous application of the criminal law or other judicial rules which must be taken into account in the application of the criminal law.
©……(d)  ……and
(e) defect, contradictoriness or manifest illogicality of the judgement reasoning, when the error results from the text of the provisioning appealed or from other documents in the proceedings specifically noted in the reasons of encumberment.

Hellmann’s Motivation was ripe for annulment for the reasons set out in (b) and (e) above.

Posted by James Raper on 06/27/13 at 10:42 AM | #

@ The Machine

Thanks for the link to the Dershowitz interview.

Yes, I was surprised that the Italians allowed her to just fly back home but one could imagine the outrage in America had they forestalled that and indeed they had very little time in which to act.

I have always thought that Hellmann knew very well what would happen to his acquittal eventually.

Posted by James Raper on 06/27/13 at 11:08 AM | #

Hi SeekingUnderstanding

Agreed - it is nit-picking if Hellmann is just referring to that.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/27/13 at 11:18 AM | #

Although Dershowitz is very perceptive nevertheless he repeats a mistake that he has made before, namely that there is a double jeopardy bar in the extradition treaty. Rather surprisingly there is not, merely a provision that extradition can not take place if the person sought to be extradited has already been acquitted or is being processed on the same facts by the requested party i.e the USA. That does not apply to Knox.

Posted by James Raper on 06/27/13 at 11:24 AM | #


Thanks to Pete’s reminder I’ve just reread what Yummi said above:

“It sounds like a “finding of fact” probably because of my summary - I needed to summarize…”

So we still must wonder what Hellmann meant.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/27/13 at 11:40 AM | #

It demonstrates that even people like Dershowitz do not read documents carefully as the text of the treaty is very clear.

Posted by Popper on 06/27/13 at 01:00 PM | #

Posted by Miriam on 06/27/13 at 01:58 PM | #

@ Miriam
Oh dear more sloppy reporting in the UK…

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/27/13 at 02:37 PM | #

Ex judge Hellmann who I suggested above is really in CYA mode bases a lot on a wrong fact: that there was no physical proof of the two inside or outside the room. He didnt come close to explaining the bloody footprint on the mat other than as part of a failed clean-up, and he misinterpreted or ignored so much else.

Yummi links to two posts at the top of his post which summarize ways the Prosecutor General of Umbria states that Hellmann got it wrong.

We had our own posts on Hellmann as well and there was much more on PMF. Our posts are here:

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/27/13 at 02:39 PM | #

As someone in the UK, I think it’s worth pointing out that should extradition be requested and subsequently refused, this would undoubtedly be met with a wave of anti-American sentiment, over here, and probably on the Continent.

There is already substantial resentment over some cases where the extradition is to USA, so a refusal would be seen as unfair.  (I’m not making a personal comment here, just observing…)

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/27/13 at 04:37 PM | #

The translation of what Hellmann said is more correct on this article, but leaves out what Zanetti said.

Posted by Miriam on 06/27/13 at 04:48 PM | #

@ seekingUnderstanding
Hi Yes there was the case of an American pilot who flew threw the cables on a cable car causing it to drop which resulted in loss of life. In spite of requests for extradition this was denied because the US court martial found them innocent. of course this is not new but just a point of fact

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 06/27/13 at 07:13 PM | #

Hi Grahame.

No, check above. I made the same claim, but Yummi said extradition of the pilots was never requested. It did cause hard feelings though that the hotdog pilots were found not guilty of manslaughter by a US military tribunal.

However, they were fired, for destroying a videotape, and the US under a little NATO pressure paid about $1.5 million to the family of each victim.

Italy is a very valued and reliable military ally of the US, and the US works hard through its embassy and military liaisons to keep relations good. The bigotry okayed by Curt Knox has not helped.

The idea that Knox would get political protection, especially if she did not even return to defend herself at the appeal (after defaming all the police and prosecution in her very nasty book) is a real non starter.

She needs to defend herself in law. Nothing else.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/27/13 at 08:14 PM | #

I read the Daily Mail article which quoted Hellman. One thing comes across straight away. Heavey and Hellman must be joined at the hip…..

Or In this case ‘brain’ since they both obviously don’t have one. This is evident because of course they are both retired and are both feeling useless so therefore they want to defend their legacy such as it is.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 06/27/13 at 11:46 PM | #

I really appreciate all the Italian illustrations in the post above. Thanks…they remind one of long and noble traditions.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/27/13 at 11:57 PM | #

isn’t Aviello the same guy that said Rudy told him in prison that he was the only killer?

Posted by Terry on 06/28/13 at 12:06 AM | #

Wow - strong words from Alan Derschowitz - he sounds very convinced of her guilt.  I wonder why this interview was done on “Voice of Russia”?

Posted by believing on 06/28/13 at 05:12 AM | #

I wonder why Hellmann, and the rest of the Knox clan, continue to delude themselves over the facts of this case? In his recent statement Hellmann said “in that small room where Meredith was killed after a struggle and supposedly a sex game gone wrong, ... there was no biological trace of Knox and Sollecito”.

In spite of the obvious clean up, there was a VAST amount of RS’s biological material found in the room, on Meredith’s bra clasp, which was found underneath the body itself. How more incriminating can you get? 

Hellmann is a disgrace to the bench and an embarrassment to Italy. And I really hope they find the money trail that leads to his door.

Posted by Spencer on 06/28/13 at 05:54 AM | #

Hello all,

Just finished reading the interview on Oggi.
Laughable…...I have no other words for it.

Posted by Miriam on 06/28/13 at 11:47 AM | #

Miriam….how do you think the majority opinion in Italy is? Do they accept uncritically this Oggi writing for instance?

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/28/13 at 12:32 PM | #

Hi SeekingUnderstanding,

I have not seen this on the national newspapers.
Do not know how much readership Oggi has.
I would like to believe the majority of Italians,
don’t buy into this stuff.

Can you believe neither H or Z read the report?
Yet, they comment on it?

Posted by Miriam on 06/28/13 at 03:15 PM | #

From “The Independent” today:

“Moors murderer Ian Brady will not be returned to prison after failing to convince a tribunal of experts that he is no longer mentally ill.

In a statement the tribunal said that Brady, who suffers from a severe personality disorder and schizophrenia, continued to pose a threat to himself and others and would remain at Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside where he has been treated since 1985.

Brady, 75 ... was jailed in 1966 for the murder of three children and later admitted another two sadistic sex killings

...Under cross examination he repeatedly stonewalled at suggestions he had a personality disorder or that his five murders were evidence that he was “abnormal”. He suggested his crimes were “petty” compared with the actions of soldiers or politicians in war.”

This gives an insight into psychopathy/sociopathy - complete inability to recognise any wrongdoing (elsewhere he also claimed the murders were “existential exercises” and “recreational”).

When you see the smiling countenances of AK and RS and read between the lines you have to conclude that they too don’t think they have done anything wrong. They are truly “innocent” in their own minds. Given half a chance they’d probably say it was no big deal and they don’t understand the fuss. Family and legal advisors keep them on track, unfortunately.

Roll on justice.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/28/13 at 04:11 PM | #

A post on the Hellmann/Oggi development in due course, several others need to come first. A thumbnail of how it looks today.

1. On Oggi

The muckraker Oggi works semi-secretly in cahoots with some pretty unsavory characters and their real agenda is to deliver one in the eye to the justice system whenever they can. No other media in Italy does this. Spezi of Preston & Spezi fame has close links.

Oggi is already being investigated by the chief prosecutor in Bergamo where Oggi’s HQ is located for publishing excerpts from Knox’s book. The investigation must report within 2-3 months. Oggi would presumably love to knock that off-balance.

1. On Hellmann & Zanetti

I think its 100% CYA we are seeing and they dont give a damn about the pair. Reckless to go on Oggi but otherwise they dont have a lot going for them. Not only have they just been slammed in unique terms for incompetence and bias, but both could face legal action soon.

In fact Cassation more or less insists on it, as they had rushed on hurriedly in court in 2011 after Aviello said that defense had offered bribes, a felony that should have stopped the trial. Bongiorno also is in a huge fix over that. Plus all 4 lead lawyers who helped to persuade Di Nunzio to appoint Hellmann instead of Chiari could be in the soup - well, they are, over the 2 books.

3. On Perugia officialdom reaction

We are observing nothing but a relaxed amusement. In effect, let the guys squeal, that even more points to guilt and dirty tricks, and a real fear of a level playing field.

4. On the plight of AK and RS

They are the pawns of a lot of unsavory characters now and this does them no good at all. They will be tossed to the wolves if needs be, and anyway face increasingly tougher sanctions at the end, thanks in part to Hellmann’s “help”.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/28/13 at 04:45 PM | #

@Peter.  Thankyou
@Odysseus.    Yes, but their eyes don’t smile…
Unfortunately it is only too true that the more severe the personality disorder, the more the person will think ‘there is nothing wrong with me’ - that they are beyond criticism, and too, that normal laws and rules don’t apply to them.

It is so outrageous, because of the potential harm and destruction that can ensue from such belief. We really need as a society to better recognize, truthfully, personality disorders…in time if possible. It is good that you do, Odysseus.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/28/13 at 05:42 PM | #

No need to wonder why Knox and Sollecito are such sociopaths…all you have to do is look at their enablers.  That’s the weirdest aspect of this case for me, is the army of people trying to help Knox and Sollecito get away with murder.

Posted by Ceylon on 06/28/13 at 08:24 PM | #

No need to wonder why Knox and Sollecito are such sociopaths…all you have to do is look at their enablers.  That’s the weirdest aspect of this case for me, is the army of people trying to help Knox and Sollecito get away with murder.

Posted by Ceylon on 06/28/13 at 08:24 PM | #

“Wow - strong words from Alan Derschowitz - he sounds very convinced of her guilt.  I wonder why this interview was done on “Voice of Russia”?
Posted by believing on 06/27/13 at

You think american media would allow a non pro knox to speak?

Posted by Admire on 07/08/13 at 02:27 AM | #
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