Why At Next Session Of Florence Book Trial Raffaele Sollecito Could Be Frogmarched In

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Outcome Of Thursday Session In Court

That image above is of Sollecito arriving from his cell in Capanne Prison back in 2008.

The next session of the trial of Sollecito and Gumbel will be in open court for the first time. All Italy will finally KNOW some of what the pair claimed. Finally they will be able to judge the heated claims - seemingly intended to illegally inflame American public opinion to lean on the Italian court.

And as the next court session will fall after Cassation rules finally on his appeal against his lost Florence appeal for the murder of Meredith, we could see Sollecito once again arrive in court from behind bars.

This slight delay in the book trial beyond the Supreme Court ruling due late March (25th or thereafter) was the only real outcome from the final closed session yesterday of the Florence court.

Sollecito’s lawyer Brizioli, in creating a pretty meaningless fuss over the translation of passages where the malicious intent to inflame American public opinion is almost impossible to miss, even with Google Translate, simply bought Sollecito time beyond Cassation’s cold gaze on 25th March. 

2. Selection Of Passages The State Disputes

Picking passages in the book against which to lodge diffamazione and villipendio charges is like shooting fish in a barrel, as we showed in this post in April last year. That was twenty inflammatory charges in a mere half a dozen pages.

Targeted for the moment are the seven passages quoted in Part 3 below. They might be the first of several waves of passages against which diffamazione and villipendio charges are brought, as only one complainant (Dr Mignini) has so far asked the court to act, as he was required to do.

Many other people are talked about highly disparagingly in the Sollecito and Gumbel book too. See these examples, out of dozens, which are not yet the subject of a charge:

Our interrogators resorted to time-honored pressure techniques practiced by less-than-scrupulous law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world. They brought us in at night, presented us with threats and promises, scared us half senseless, then offered us a way out with a few quick strokes of a pen.

Napoleoni was in the room for this part of the conversation. Without warning, she turned on me with venom in her voice. “What did you do?” she demanded. “You need to tell us. You don’t know what that cow, that whore, got up to!”

“Don’t I have the right to a lawyer?” I asked.  They said no. “Can’t I at least call my father?” “You can’t call anyone.” They ordered me to put my cell phone on the desk.

At one point, I found myself alone with just one of the policemen. He leaned into me and hissed, “If you try to get up and leave, I’ll beat you into a pulp and kill you. I’ll leave you in a pool of blood.”

The rounds of questioning began all over again: “Tell us what happened! Did Amanda go out on the night of the murder? Why are you holding out on us? You’ve lost your head per una vacca—for a cow!”

As Amanda’s questioning continued, Prosecutor Mignini himself decided to take charge. He arrived at the Questura in the dead of night, apparently after being informed that Amanda had “broken,” and pressed her for a full confession. Again, Amanda was in floods of tears. Again, she was gesticulating with her hands and bringing them to her head—a detail that seemed particularly fascinating to Mignini, perhaps because hitting oneself in the head is sometimes associated with Masonic initiation rites.

Regarding that last claim Dr Mignini was not even there.

3 The Current Targets Of The Florence Court

Phrases of Sollecito and Gumbel (probably all or mostly of Gumbel) that look especially inflammatory and dishonest and very unlikely to be true are highlighted here.

Passage 1: Page 75

The main evidence Mignini had to take into the preliminary hearing was my Nikes, and he did everything he could to make them as incriminating as possible. Hours after my interrogators ordered me to take the shoes off, they were examined by a forensic team from Foligno. But the Foligno police were relatively cautious: in the official report they produced that same day, they said they could make no more than a partial comparison with the clearest of the prints left in blood in Meredith’s room and could comment only on the rough size and shape of the shoe, nothing more. Still, they concluded that my shoes “could have” created the footprints found at the crime scene.

Mignini was not satisfied, no doubt because the finding was couched in all sorts of caveats; the Foligno police stressed that the match was a theoretical possibility only. So the next day Mignini went to the Polizia Scientifica in Rome for a second opinion. They had even less information to go on than the Foligno team because they had only photographs of my shoes, not the shoes themselves. Somehow, though, they came to the much more definitive conclusion that my Nikes were the same make, model, and shoe size as the print on Meredith’s floor. No question about it.

Dr Mignini had no vested interest in the outcome of the shoe. There was a ton of other evidence which was accepted by the Matteini court and Cassation to keep Sollecito locked up.

Passage 2: Pages 101-102

The prosecution’s tactics grew nastier, never more so than when Amanda was taken to the prison infirmary the day after Patrick’s release and told she had tested positive for HIV.

She was devastated. She wrote in her diary, “I don’t want to die. I want to get married and have children. I want to create something good. I want to get old. I want my time. I want my life. Why why why? I can’t believe this.”

For a week she was tormented with the idea that she would contract AIDS in prison, serving time for a crime she did not commit. But the whole thing was a ruse, designed to frighten her into admitting how many men she had slept with. When asked, she provided a list of her sexual partners, and the contraceptive method she had used with each. Only then was she told the test was a false positive.

To the prosecution, the information must have been a disappointment: seven partners in all, of whom four were boyfriends she had never made a secret of, and three she qualified as one-night stands. Rudy Guede was not on the list, and neither was anyone else who might prove useful in the case. She hadn’t been handing herself around like candy at Le Chic, as Patrick now alleged. She’d fooled around with two guys soon after arriving in Italy, neither of them at Patrick’s bar, and then she had been with me. Okay, so she was no Mother Teresa. But neither was she the whore of Babylon.

To compound the nastiness, the list was eventually leaked to the media, with the erroneous twist that the seven partners on the list were just the men she’d had since arriving in Perugia. Whatever one thought of Amanda and her free-spirited American attitude toward sex, this callous disregard for her privacy and her feelings was the behavior of savages.

It was in fact Knox’s idea to write the list of partners, and her own team’s idea to do the malicious leak. Police and prosecution had zero role.

Passage 3. Page 146-147

When my defense team examined the official paperwork, they noticed that the analysis of the footprints - including extensive inquiry into the length and shape of the foot likely to have produced them - had been conducted by two members of the Polizia Scientifica in Rome, working not in their official capacity but as private consultants charging thousands of euros to Mignini’s office. One of the analysts, Lorenzo Rinaldi, was a physicist, not a specialist in anatomy, and the other, Pietro Boemia, was a fingerprint technician with no further scientific credentials. That begged the question: if Mignini’s office felt it needed to contract the job out to private consultants, why wouldn’t it go to people with more pertinent qualifications? The whole thing stank.

We were stunned, too, to discover that some of the most important parts of the evidence were not handed over at all. We were given a document detailing the Polizia Scientifica’s conclusions about the DNA evidence on the knife and the bra clasp, but we had none of the raw data, nothing that would enable us to make our own independent evaluation. We put in a request for the data and, when it was rejected, filed another. The DNA evidence was now the bedrock of the case against me. What possible motivation could there be to withhold it?

The defenses had witnesses present at every single test. They made no complaints. And the Hellmann court record showed that all DNA data was in fact handed over, as the consultants C&V had to conceed.

Passage 4: Page 176-177

One of the reasons our hearings were so spread out was that Mignini was fighting his own, separate legal battle to fend off criminal charges of prosecutorial misconduct. He and a police inspector working on the Monster of Florence case stood accused of intimidating public officials and journalists by opening legal proceedings against them and tapping their phones without proper justification.

To Mignini, the case smacked of professional jealousy because the prosecutors in Florence resented his intrusion on a murder mystery they had struggled for so long to resolve. But Mignini’s behavior had already attracted international condemnation, never more so than when he threw the journalist most indefatigably devoted to following the Monster case, Mario Spezi, into jail for three weeks. Spezi had ridiculed Mignini’s theories about Francesco Narducci, the Perugian doctor whom Mignini suspected of being part of a satanic cult connected to the killings.

In response, Mignini accused Spezi himself of involvement in Narducci’s murder - even though the death had been ruled a suicide. It was a staggering power play, and the international Committee to Protect Journalists was soon on the case. Spezi was not initially told why he was being arrested and, like me, was denied access to a lawyer for days. Even Mignini, though, could not press murder charges without proving first that a murder had taken place, and Spezi was eventually let out.

I firmly believe that our trial was, among other things, a grand diversion intended to keep media attention away from Mignini’s legal battle in Florence and to provide him with the high-profile court victory he desperately needed to restore his reputation. Already in the pretrial hearing, Mignini had shown signs of hypersensitivity about his critics, in particular the handful of English-speaking investigators and reporters who had questioned his case against us early on. He issued an explicit warning that anyone hoping he would back off the Meredith Kercher case or resign should think again. “Nobody has left their post, and nobody will,” he said. “Let that be clear, in Perugia and beyond.”

Just as he had in the Monster of Florence case, Mignini used every tool at his disposal against his critics and adversaries. He spied on my family and tapped their phones. He went after Amanda not just for murder, but also for defaming Patrick Lumumba - whom she had implicated under duress and at the police’s suggestion. He opened or threatened about a dozen other legal cases against his critics in Italy and beyond. He charged Amanda’s parents with criminal defamation for repeating the accusation that she had been hit in the head while in custody. And he sued or threatened to sue an assortment of reporters, writers, and newspapers, either because they said negative things about him or the police directly or because they quoted others saying such things.

Mignini’s volley of lawsuits had an unmistakable chilling effect, especially on the Italian press, and played a clear role in tipping public opinion against us. We weren’t the only ones mounting the fight of our lives in court, and it was difficult not to interpret this legal onslaught as part of Mignini’s campaign to beat back the abuse-of-office charges. His approach seemed singularly vindictive. Not only did we have to sit in prison while the murder trial dragged on; it seemed he wanted to throw our friends and supporters - anyone who voiced a sympathetic opinion in public - into prison right alongside us.

Dr Mignini was facing mild charges for what in fact judges had okayed and for which prison or a career fall were never in the cards. Over a year before the book was written, Dr Mignini’s total rebound and promotion after Cassation sharply repudiated a rogue prosecutor and judge in Florence had been widely reported upon. It is also widely known now that Spetzi and Preston were mounting a malicious self-serving hoax.

Passage 5: Page 185

One other strange thing: Amanda and I were on trial for sexual assault, yet Stefanoni confirmed that a stain on Meredith’s pillowcase that looked a lot like semen was never tested in her lab. She made all sorts of excuses about how testing it might compromise the lab’s ability to use the pillowcase for other things. The semen might well be old, she added, the result of Meredith’s consensual sexual relations with Giacomo Silenzi.

This seemed extraordinary to my defense team, so much so that we asked for - and obtained - permission to inspect the pillowcase ourselves and soon discovered signs of semen on one of Guede’s shoe prints. How could the prosecution have missed this? If the semen was fresh when Guede stepped on it, that meant it must have been produced on the night of the murder. We thought long and hard about demanding a full analysis, but we did not trust the Polizia Scientifica as far as we could spit and were deathly afraid they might choose to construe that the semen was mine. So we held back.

The is hardly what the Scientific Police - a much-trusted collaborator of the FBI - are known for. All tests are done with defense witnesses there.

Passage 6: Page 216-217

As it turned out, Massei may not have been entirely correct to say there was no evidence that DNA results were used to fit a predetermined story line. Giuliano Mignini, of all people, had given a television interview a couple of months earlier in which he stated quite openly that he was looking for a certain result from the kitchen-knife analysis.

Mignini was asked by a special correspondent for the show L’altra metà  del crimine (The Other Half of the Crime) how he could be so sure my knife was the murder weapon when the DNA readings had come back “too low” and did not appear to conform to international standards. Mignini stuttered and danced around the question before replying in gloriously convoluted Italian, “Ho ottenuto di farlo risultare.” I managed to get it to come out right.

Never happened. As Cassation noted these so-called “international standards” which the consultants C&V misled the court about are simply a myth. The C&V laboratory and methods were disparaged by the Carabinieri lab in 2013.

Passage 7: Page 219-222

My family was not beating up on Amanda entirely without cause. What I did not know at the time, because they preferred not to fill me in, was that they were exploring what it would take for the prosecution to soften or drop the case against me. The advice they received was almost unanimous: the more I distanced myself from Amanda, the better. The legal community in Perugia was full of holes and leaks, and my family learned all sorts of things about the opinions being bandied about behind the scenes, including discussions within the prosecutor’s office. The bottom line: Mignini, they were told, was not all that interested in me except as a gateway to Amanda. He might indeed be willing to acknowledge I was innocent, but only if I gave him something in exchange, either by incriminating Amanda directly or by no longer vouching for her.

I’m glad my family did not include me in these discussions because I would have lost it completely. First, my uncle Giuseppe approached a lawyer in private practice in Perugia - with half an idea in his head that this new attorney could replace Maori - and asked what I could do to mitigate my dauntingly long sentence. The lawyer said I should accept a plea deal and confess to some of the lesser charges. I could, for instance, agree that I had helped clean up the murder scene but otherwise played no part in it. “He’d get a sentence of six to twelve years,” the lawyer said, “but because he has no priors the sentence would be suspended and he’d serve no more jail time.”

To their credit, my family knew I would never go for this. It made even them uncomfortable to contemplate me pleading guilty to something I had not done. It was, as my sister, Vanessa, put it, “not morally possible.”

The next line of inquiry was through a different lawyer, who was on close terms with Mignini and was even invited to the baptism of Mignini’s youngest child that summer. (Among the other guests at the baptism was Francesco Maresca, the Kerchers’ lawyer, who had long since aligned himself with Mignini in court.) This lawyer said he believed I was innocent, but he was also convinced that Amanda was guilty. He gave my family the strong impression that Mignini felt the same way. If true - and there was no way to confirm that - it was a clamorous revelation. How could a prosecutor believe in the innocence of a defendant and at the same time ask the courts to sentence him to life imprisonment? The lawyer offered to intercede with Mignini, but made no firm promises. He wasn’t willing to plead my cause, he said, but he would listen to anything the prosecutor had to offer.

Over the late spring and summer of 2010, my father used this lawyer as a back channel and maneuvered negotiations to a point where they believed Mignini and Comodi would be willing to meet with Giulia Bongiorno and hear what she had to say. When Papà  presented this to Bongiorno, however, she was horrified and said she might have to drop the case altogether because the back channel was a serious violation of the rules of procedure. A private lawyer has no business talking to a prosecutor about a case, she explained, unless he is acting with the express permission of the defendant. It would be bad enough if the lawyer doing this was on my defense team; for an outside party to undertake such discussions not only risked landing me in deeper legal trouble, it also warranted disciplinary action from the Ordine degli Avvocati, the Italian equivalent of the Bar Association.

My father was mortified. He had no idea how dangerous a game he had been playing and wrote a letter to Bongiorno begging her to forgive him and stay on the case. He was at fault, he said, and it would be wrong to punish her client by withdrawing her services when I didn’t even know about the back channel, much less approve it. To his relief, Bongiorno relented.

My family, though, did not. Whenever they came to visit they would suggest some form of compromise with the truth. Mostly they asked why I couldn’t say I was asleep on the night of the murder and had no idea what Amanda got up to.

Sollecito himself had for years kept Knox at extreme arms length, mirroring his family, implying Knox was more guilty than he, though irrevocable evidence ties him to the scene of the crime too.  He was never ever seen to stand up for her like this. Mignini and Comodi had NOT ONE CONVERSATION on these lines.  Apart from the case against Sollecto being strong, no prosecutor in Italy has any power to “do a deal” or allow a perp to “cop a plea”. To prosecutors’ own great relief, for protection these powers reside ONLY in the hands of a judge.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/06/15 at 12:54 PM in

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