The Sollecito Trial For “Honor Bound” #5: Gumbel Really A Cowardly Defamatory Shill?
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
1, Today In The Florence Court
Lately many of the chest-thumping PR shills have whined a lot more about themselves as victims than done anything to boost Sollecito and Knox.
Think of Preston, Burleigh, Dempsey, Sforza, Fisher, Moore, and a whole lot of other serial complainers. Now chest-thumper Andrew Gumbel seems to want to join their ranks. That is if the claim that he was ONLY a ghostwriter was made by his lawyer with his consent to the Florence judge.
2. Signs Gumbel Really Is A Shill
Note that Sollecito gave many signs during his US book promotion tour late in 2012 that he really didn’t know much about what was in his own book.
So did Gumbel really only hang on Sollecito’s every word? Or did he talk to a lot more people than that, and get very invested in nasty, dishonest propaganda to deny justice for Meredith via the courts?
Here’s Andrew Gumbel on 1 May 2014, providing the first media opinion in the UK on Judge Nencini’s appeal report. The nasty false claims highlighted suggest Gumbel has a very strong investment in Sollecito and Knox and not a little contempt for the Italian courts.
One truth in Gumbel’s article which he must really regret? That sentence in the thitrd paragraph: “Disclosure: I am the co-author with Sollecito on his memoir about the case.”
The longer the Italian courts consider the Meredith Kercher case – and we have now had three trials, six presiding judges, two hearings before the Italian high court and a third on the way – the more the country’s institutions of justice have covered themselves in shame.
Judge after judge has twisted the available evidence into extraordinary contortions of logic to assert, at different times, that Kercher – a British exchange student stabbed to death in her room in Perugia in 2007 – was the victim of a premeditated attack; that her murder happened spontaneously; that the motive was sexual; that the motive was a dispute over housework with Amanda Knox, the star defendant; that the trigger for the murder was the unseemly appetite Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, had for sex and drugs; that the trigger for the murder was Rudy Guede, the Ivorian-born drifter everyone agrees was involved, knocking on the door to use the toilet.
By now, Knox and Sollecito have been convicted, acquitted and convicted again, and the underlying forensic evidence has been both exposed as a sham and, mystifyingly, reinstated. (Disclosure: I am the co-author, with Sollecito, on his memoir about the case.)
Still, the latest judicial document in the ongoing battle, a 337-page justification of the most recent convictions made public on Tuesday, marks a new low. Not only has Alessandro Nencini, the presiding judge of the Florence appeals court, apparently resorted to the same tortured logic as his predecessors; he has also stated things as fact that are manifestly and provably wrong.
That may be more than even the Italian justice system can stomach; judges, after all, aren’t supposed to do things like that. And it may provide Knox and Sollecito with unexpected – if still slim – grounds for hope at the very moment when Kercher’s death had seemed settled, at last, according to the law.
To read the new conviction report in detail is to enter a kind of alternate reality, where concrete facts appear ignored and alternate facts are seemingly plucked from the air. Kercher’s murder is reduced to a parlor game and all roads lead to the inevitable, if not also foregone, conclusion that Knox and Sollecito are guilty. For instance:
- On page 63, Judge Nencini claims that a partial shoeprint found at the murder scene comes from a size 37 women’s shoe and must therefore belong to Amanda Knox. But this is not based on the available evidence. In the early days of the case, the prosecution sought to show that the shoeprint was from Sollecito’s Nikes; the pattern of concentric circles on the sole was later proven to come from a different pair of Nikes belonging to Guede.
- On page 81, Nencini grapples with the question of how Knox and Sollecito could have participated in the murder but left no more than a single, hotly disputed trace of themselves at the scene. Extraordinarily, Nencini argues that Knox and Sollecito must have wiped the place clean of their DNA (but left an abundance of Guede’s) because no traces of Knox’s DNA were found anywhere in the apartment that she shared with the victim. But multiple samples of Knox’s DNA were found and presented at trial; they just weren’t found in the room where the murder took place.
- Then, on page 321, Nencini writes that the blade of the purported murder weapon – a large kitchen knife found in Sollecito’s apartment – bore traces of both Kercher’s and Sollecito’s DNA. Again, this is at variance with the evidence. The most the prosecution ever asserted was that Kercher’s DNA was on the tip of the blade. Sollecito’s DNA has never been found.
The defense teams have reacted with consternation: Knox issued a formal statement decrying the lack of “credible evidence or logic” in this latest document, which arrived just ahead of the three-month deadline following her latest conviction; Sollecito’s lead lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, denounced what she said were “at least ten clamorous mistakes per page”. (A Kercher family lawyer called the document “a version that we have always in some ways sustained”.)
This being Italy, however, the judicial errors are not necessarily a bad thing for Knox and Sollecito, because they give the Italian high court an opening – should the justices choose to take it – to overturn the latest conviction, and either dismiss the case, send it back to get the mistakes fixed, or order yet another trial in another court.
The high court justices will be aware, of course, that the longer the case drags on, the more suspect the process will look in the eyes of world opinion. Another trial would test the patience of even the most ardent believers in Knox and Sollecito’s guilt, and certainly of the Kercher family. But the process is starting to curdle – even without the spectacle of lawyers arguing, yet again, over the same controversies before a barrage of international TV cameras. That leaves the high court, which always has one eye on the integrity of the system, with a genuine dilemma.
Much has been written about Italian justice’s desire to save face in this much written-about case. To admit a miscarriage of justice, the argument runs, has become too difficult, because it would expose the mistakes of too many people, from the primary investigators to the Rome forensic lab to the prosecutors and judges.
However, as the case trudges toward the seven-year mark, one has to wonder how much appetite the institutions of justice still have to stand by what they have done. Will the high court really want to endorse Nencini’s report with all these evident flaws? Or will this finally be the moment when the justice system calls a halt to a travesty committed in its name and exonerates Knox and Sollecito, as it should have done years ago?
3. How Gumbel Got It Wrong
This letter was sent to the Guardian’s Reader Editor on 4 May 2014, and again on 3 June, 2014. The Reader’s Editor did not respond to either of the email submissions.
Gumbel’s May 1st, 2014 article in the Guardian is a thinly veiled advocacy piece for Sollecito and Knox. He left out a significant phrase from a Nencini passage he cites; this phrase he omitted undermines one of his main claims.
To the Guardian:
I’m writing to you about Andrew Gumbel’s “comment” on developments in the murder of Meredith Kercher case. Gumbel writes about the recently released Nencini court motivations document, which outlines the court’s reasoning for affirming Knox and Sollecito’s conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher.
Gumbel waits until the end of the third paragraph in his article to provide his disclaimer: that he is a co-author of the book by one of the defendants. Its hard to understand why Gumbel waited so long to disclose his vested financial interest in the innocence of one of the defendants on trial. By this time, Gumbel has already levied allegations of impropriety upon the Italian courts and judges. For example, he alleges “the country’s institutions of justice have covered themselves in shame.” He continues specific allegations that “judge after judge has twisted the available evidence […]”. If Gumbel had provided his disclaimer appropriately at the beginning of his letter, readers would have had a more appropriate understanding of Gumbel’s perspective and motivations for writing his letter.
Despite being a co-author of a book by one of the two still on trial for Meredith’s murder, Gumbel’s statements on the court process are wrong. Gumbel pushes the perspective that Knox’s reps have pushed in the US; that Knox and Sollecito have been “convicted again” after an acquittal. Gumbel leaves out any mention of the Italian Supreme Court ruling that overturned Knox and Sollecito’s acquittal and sent the case back to the appellate level. After the acquittal was annulled, the original 2009 conviction remained in place. Gumbel is no doubt aware that the Florence court is an appellate court. (Curiously, Sollecito’s co-defendant Knox also wrongly claims on her website that the Italian Supreme Court “annulled all previous verdicts”; ref: http://www.amandaknox.com/about-contact/?).
Gumbel’s omission of the Italian Supreme Court ruling is odd, because the entire point of his article is the integrity of the judicial decisions. Gumbel left out that the Italian Supreme Court has already made one ruling regarding the integrity of a judicial decision in this case. The Supreme Court’s ruling wasn’t in favor of Gumbel’s co-author and defendant Raffaele Sollecito; perhaps this is the reason that Gumbel failed to mention the actual outcome of the acquittal.
Or perhaps Gumbel left out this information so he could present the evidence the way it is framed by supporters of Knox and Sollecito. Later in the the same paragraph, Gumbel expresses confusion about why evidence remains in the case. He states “the underlying forensic evidence has been both exposed as a sham and, mystifyingly, reinstated.” As the co-author of the book with Sollecito, Gumbel is again no doubt aware that after the appellate-level acquittal was thrown out, the original conviction (with all of the evidence) remained as a part of the case. Any decision made by Hellmann on the evidence was also thrown out of the case, including Hellmann’s conclusions on the knife DNA evidence and the Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp. Further, if Gumbel had indeed read the Nencini decision, he would have read the passage where Nencini takes to task the “independent experts” in the Hellmann trial (detailed here:http://thefreelancedesk.com/amanda-knox-trials-meredith-kercher-case/). Gumbel should be well aware after his reading of Nencini why the evidence still contributed to the Florence court upholding his co-author’s conviction.
In his second point on the Nencini decision, Gumbel leaves out a key phrase that completely undermines his claim. By this time in his article, one is forced to wonder if this omission is deliberate. Gumbel’s claim is that Nencini contradicted himself by writing that Knox and Sollecito only left a “single, hotly disputed trace of themselves” despite the other evidence that Nencini also talks about. But the start of the passage Gumbel cites is:
“Una peculiarità è, ad esempio, il rilievo che all’interno della villetta di via della Pergola quasi non sono state rinvenute tracce di Amanda Marie Knox – se non quelle di cui si dirà e riferibili all’omicidio – né di Raffaele Sollecito.”
The phrase Gumbel deliberately left out is this: “se non quelle di cui si dirà e riferibili all’omicidio”, which, roughly translated, is “except those which will be discussed and related to the murder.” The Nencini Motivations document explicitly contains a clause that accommodates the other traces related to the murder. Gumbel’s point is provably false. As someone who arguably puts himself forth as an expert on the case, this omission is highly concerning.
In Gumbel’s third point he highlights what is a minor error in the Nencini report. Calling out one word in a longer passage, Gumbel points out the report states that Sollecito’s DNA was found on the knife that is alleged as a murder weapon. If Gumbel truly read the report, as he claimed in a twitter exchange with me, he would be aware that the rest of the section that is contained in makes it clear that the finding is Knox’s DNA on the knife, not Sollecito’s. This minor error is hardly cause to overturn the full conviction.
I could continue, but the rest of Gumbel’s article is largely a diatribe against the length of the trial and the Italian justice system. Gumbel cites an article written by Douglas Preston, another author who has financially benefited by being openly critical of the prosecutor in Knox’s case. Knox and Sollecito’s case has gone through three levels of the Italian court system, and back to appeals. Cases in the US that follow a similar path have not happened any faster than the one in Italy. For example, in the Scott Peterson case in the US his defense still filed appeals eight years after his first-level conviction.
That the Guardian has allowed itself to be used as a platform to push the defense’s perspective is not only a disservice to the family of the murder victim who lives in the UK, but is also a disservice to the victim of a violent, brutal murder.
We are carefully read in Italy as main window into the PR in the US. The post above of course will come to the attention of the judge.
Apart from all of his other “mistakes” Andrew Gumbel writes there were several trials and implies it is all the Italians’ fault.
There was ONE trial (in 2009) which went very conclusively against RS and AK.
Then there was ONE appeal by RS and AK which would not even have been allowed in US and UK.
The first time the appeal was run it was hijacked (2011) and Cassation knew this and said so. And the second time it was run (2013) it was done right.
So Gumbel cherrypicked and didnt mention the rest. Yet more lies by omission - key facts left out.
The book excerpts being published in Italian have done RS and Gumbel no good at all.
This is an Italian making truly terrible traitor-type claims in English in America about the very popular justice system in his home country.
A charge of calunnia is being openly talked about. That implies a prison term, ask Knox. The judge will decide.
Gumbel really should be there in court on March, and not take the cowards way out. Again, ask Knox.
Here’s the latest. It sounds like they both know they are toast. Facing a possible three to six years and neither have a Plan B or a graceful way to step down.
More soon but it seems the only argument RS lawyer Brizoli could come up with is that the prosecution translation is “not correct” word for word. So the court will do a new translation itself.
And it seems the only argument Gumbel’s lawyer could come up with is that as a mere shadow writer, a wallflower, he doesnt have a dog in this fight.
Yeah, right. Read the post.
I find it unsurprising that Gumbel himself is a shadowy figure although his work (such as it is) is out there for all to see, Gumbel himself is really nowhere to be seen at all. Check it for yourself. For a writer to remain anonymous is indicative of the usual slime in which people like him operate .
On another note the Amanda Knox blog is (rather obviously) filled with people in such strong denial that they obviously live in an alternate universe. This is born out by the comments they give when faced with all the evidence.
For example the fact that Sollecito said that Meredith had cut her finger while he was cleaning fish at his place when she had never been there is answered by the comment that that is unimportant. Strange that people like that (and I include Gumbel who is just gutter trash anyway) “They walk amongst us.”
@ Peter - Even if Gumbel could pull off the ‘‘I am just a ghostwriter’’ argument, it speaks volumes about his integrity as a writer.
Frankly, I don’t see a difference between being a co-author, and ghost-writing. Both contribute substantially to the final product.
‘‘I ghost-write inflammatory books for notorious sex killers, who are still accused. It’s just not my responsibility to see if anything in it is actually correct.’’
Guess Gumbel is going for the satire approach. No one could say it with a straight face. And it seems Sollecito is whining about translation and language issues.
Not too far off from the defense I jokingly suggested.
@ Grahame - If Gumbel actually believed in anything he wrote, he would be defending himself in person.
All that is missing is to visit the talk shows, whining that ‘there is no trace of me.’‘
Perhaps AG could write a ‘blood money’ book on the ordeal he suffered, the damage to his reputation. Does he know any good ghost-writers?
Piktor on PMF dot Org who often kindly retweets our posts has posted the questions for Gumbel below on PMF dot Org.
Did Gumbel write a caution in the Foreword to disavow himself from the published content in his co-written ghostwritten ‘Honor Blah’ aka ‘Totally 100% Sollecito’s Slander (I wuz just taking dictation)‘® ?
Is Gumbel liable for ‘ghostwriting’ someone else’s slander?
Did Gumbel know it was an open murder case when he ‘took dictation’?
Did Gumbel know publishing stuff in an open murder case has implied liabilities and responsibilities?
Did Gumbel have a responsibity to check Stabby’s unrestrained irresponsible slandering perorations, simply out of respect for the judicial process?
Did Gumbel know that in an open murder case he has an ethical responsibility to the victim and her suffering family?
If a crime of calunnia was committed inside the pages of ‘Honor Blah’, does he bear no responsibility whatsoever?
Why did Gumbel wait until 2015 to disavow himself from the content inside ‘Honor Blah’?
Gumbel is co-author on the cover and on Amazon and other websites and in the Guardian article above. There is zero hedging. This is what appears at the back of the book. He seemsd to be claiming he was sole investigator and fact-checker and writer.
[page 265] Andrew Gumbel would like to thank Dana Newman, who made a crucial introduction at the start of this project, the indefatigable Sharlene Martin, the ever gracious Gail Ross, the boundlessly generous Steve and Michelle Moore, my favorite pugliese Anna D’Elia, Peter Popham, Robert Adams, and of course the rocking, super-talented team at Simon & Schuster/Gallery who were never less than a pleasure and kept me sane against a tight deadline. Thank you, Jen Bergstrom, for believing in this book from the get-go, thank you Lisa Rivlin and Alex Lewis, and thank you, Trish Boczkowski, for your brilliant editing and infectiously good company. That’s amore!
This was a group effort all around. The Sollecito family, not just Raffaele, opened up their lives and their souls with remarkable candor. Thank you, in particular, to Francesco and Vanessa for days of fascinating conversation, for your dedication to getting every detail just right, for compiling exhaustive time lines, and making sure that material reached me promptly. Donatella Donati in Luca Maori=s office gave up many hours to make the official documentation available and to present it all in a cogent order. She’s a largely unsung hero in this story and deserves recognition for her extraordinary efforts on Raffaele’s behalf. Giulia Bongiorno, Luca Maori, and Tiziano Tedeschi answered questions and made comments on parts of the manuscript.
Heartfelt thanks, also, to my family, who not only put up with my long hours at the computer but cheered me on. My older children, Max and Rara, made me laugh and followed every step of the story. Sammy took me on fabulous walks every evening, nodded sagely even at ungodly hours of the night, and positively drooled with enthusiasm. And Naomi was spectacular, as always - every writer (and husband) should be so lucky.
ANDREW GUMBEL is a Los Angeles-based journalist and author. He spent six years in Italy, including stints as a foreign correspondent for Reuters and The Independent. His books include the widely acclaimed Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed - and Why It Still Matters.
Sollecito’s family and lawyers gave them notes and I suppose approved the final draft?
Or if not, why not? Did they advise him to be careful not to libel any body and instruct him, and if not, why not?
Can the lawyers especially face any legal consequences? Perhaps they ought to be questioned under oath as well at this trial?
Rather obviously all that is required to join the Amanda Cult is to possess something Knox herself wants.
As is true with any sociopath they will try to manipulate anyone in order to get their own way. If they can’t get it by charm then they will kill you.
Case in point, all of Knox’s boyfriends of any length have money and therefore some semblance of power, ask rich families. If not then Knox drops them after they are of no use to her aka drug dealers etc.
On the other hand in the short term, it’s easy to break into Fort Knox.. All you need is to be in a pair of pants. Of course according to the cult members Knox herself is a born again virgin.
This also applies to Gumbel of course because Sollecito can do no wrong at all, at least as long as Gumbel gets paid either in blood money or some semblance of fame.
Next report should appear tomorrow late or sunday.
This was a closed session of the court. It was specifically to allow Sollecito and Gumbel - who could face three to six years - to respond to the two-year investigation of the prosecutor (not yet made public) and the additional information the Mignini team provided in testimony.
This is huge in Italy. There has been more than two years of damning reporting on the book, starting with accusations (of lies about a deal to roll over on Amanda) live on Porta a Porta, that Francesco Sollecito, Giulia Bongiorno and Luca Maori all had to deny.
And what did the RS and Gumbel teams provide yesterday, in their one and only chance at a comeback? Not the usual huge cloud of smoke. Essentially, nothing!
All the court got was a beef about the translation, and Gumbel’s lawyer absurdly claiming he was just a neutral ghost writer, a straight reporter.
But in reality, Gumbel ran a large and nasty campaign on behalf of the peps, including opinions on TV, internet radio, Facebook, and Twitter, and opinion pieces in news media.
Below: translation of one late 2012 news report; in others, Maori and Bongiorno also deny
“Neutral ghostwriter” Andrew Gumbel tweets…
“Neutral ghostwriter” Andrew Gumbel tweets…
I agree with most of the above but do not understand, Pete, your estimation of potential jail sentence. Almost nobody goes to jail for diffamazione or vilipendio and certainly not for 3 years plus, which means there is no jail at all.
Calunnia is a different story but this is a defamation case, isn’t it?
That’s just in the comment and we dont yet have a full view for a post.
In several of the stories in Italy there’s been an escalation from diffamazione to vilipendio (which seems certain) to calunnia (which seems possible).
The prosecutors report is not yet released, and that could be simple error. But Sollecito’s murder process is indeed ongoing, and the target passages were an attempt to affect that.
For what its worth my own view is that Andrew Gumbel had an agenda and sought out and took over the authoring of the book as Sollecito previously had been quite restrained.
Gumbel claiming he was a shadow writer only may provoke Sollecito or more likely his father into claiming Gumbel was more opinionated than that.
My own 0.02 worth, I agree with Pete, Gumbel likely took over writing almost the entire book, and cherrypicked a lot of his ‘‘facts’‘. Knife-Boy couldn’t write this level of quality even if it were in Italian (let alone English).
Raises a very interesting question:
-Gumbel says was merely a ghostwriter, not the main author.
-Sollecito doesn’t seem to know what was in his book (and I actually believe him).
-Sollecito’s Dad publicly admitted the ‘‘deal’’ with prosecutors never happened. So he wasn’t the main contributor.
-Sollecito’s lawyers (to save their own asses), have denied many of the claims in the book.
-No one in the Italian justice system has taken any credit for helping to write the book.
-Despite the long list of ‘‘thank-you’s’‘, no one has stepped forward to say ‘‘I added this’’ or ‘‘I reported that’‘.
So, then, Pete, who did write Honor Bound?
Hints are growing that Gumbel hijacked the doing of the book. We’re working on it, maybe more soon.
If anyone hasnt read the whole book, be assured it is a real shocker, twists and digs and lies on every page. An arrogant venom throughout.
Actually it doesnt sound like RS at all but it is almost word for word like the articles Gumbel was selling even before the book came out.
In terms of liability Bongiorno should have stopped the book being born and may have stopped an Italian version.
She is clearly very mad at it, but which are the angles she disapproves? Certainly any mention of her in relation to the numerous crimes Gumbel claimed.
The lawyers’ staffs are credited with providing Gumbel with a lot of help. Sollecito did not go back to Italy at that time.
One reason making this all so bizarre is that Francescso is the one mature balanced parent among all the parents, and he KNEW from the time of the Porta a Porta that there was a central felony in the book.
Red flags everywhere… over the cliff they all went.
There is so much similarity between Gumbel Preston and Sforza, not to mention the other occupants of this looney train heading straight over the cliff.
It never ceases to amaze me the total denial of the Knox bunch or to paraphrase an old saying.
“Their profundity is only exceeded by their lack of perspicacity.”
I’m sure that the Moores and the Fischers are very proud to be associated with each other never mind the Knox/Mellas/Pruet triumvirate since in their denial of anything which resembles evidence of guilt they dismiss as being one vast conspiracy. According to them, and the children who inhabit groundreport, a conspiracy larger than anything since the Nazi propaganda in the second World War.
For example the Joseph Gobbles play book.
“If you’re going to tell a lie make sure it’s a big one and dismiss anything, or anybody, with a counter viewpoint.”
Just a reminder that Francesco Sforza’s hearing for defamation against PM Mignini resumes February 09. Interesting timing.
In an article on The Guardian, Gumbel conflates the women’s foot size 37 print on the pillow (assumed to be from Knox) with the trainer print on the floor (determined to be from Guede). He seems unaware that these are separate pieces of evidence! If he’s so little acquainted with the true evidence in this case, that begs the question: How did he have the gall to write a book about it?
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