Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Amazing Person That Was Meredith Kercher #2: The Observer Also Wants Attention To Be On Her

Posted by Peter Quennell

Barbar Ellen calls for an overdue refocus.

Now that American Amanda “Foxy Knoxy” Knox has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to 26 years, will we finally drag our attention over to Meredith Kercher?

Meredith, the British Leeds university student, studying in Perugia [was] the victim, and therefore surely the central figure in this distressing story, though you would never have known it, gazing these past months at the gory theatrics of The Foxy Knoxy Show.

Foxy, back then, still innocent until proven guilty – depicted disturbingly posing with a gun, but also adopting “sex kitten” poses, like thousands of other young girls showing off on internet sites. Whose former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was also found guilty, receiving 25 years, yet, who, just like Rudy Guede (jailed for 30 years for Kercher’s murder in January), seems to have faded in public perception to the point of becoming a footnote.

All of which leads to the question: if there were three known assailants, and Kercher was the only victim, how come “Foxy Knoxy” is still getting all the attention?

The last few days of the trial were extremely strange, with both Knox and her lawyer suddenly becoming tearful, not to mention Knox’s 11th-hour flowery oratory about not wanting to be given the “mask of the assassin”, making her sound like some ham mangling Shakespeare at the Old Vic.

However, for some of us, the entire trial was bizarre, overshadowed as it was by the brazen “marketing” of Knox, the selling of her to the masses as “sexy-evil”. But it is too easy just to blame the media. There seems to be a market out there, a hunger, for this kind of thing. A predilection, as someone said to me, for favouring Bonnie over Clyde.

Even now, debates rage over Knox’s psyche (“all-American girl or she-devil?”), suggesting that, for some, there has to be duality, sexuality, a sense of mysticism attached to female homicide. That essentially society finds it impossible to conceive of a bog-standard no-frills female killer, in the same way we accept the equally guilty Sollecito and Guede.

Some may argue that there is nothing sinister going on here – that there is always more focus on the murderers than the victims. Well, not always. There wasn’t “more focus” on those who murdered Scarlett Keeling in Goa in 2008 – then all the emphasis (the scorn, the opprobrium) was directed at the lifestyle of this British girl, and that of her hippy-living mother.

Getting back to Knox, some may shrug and say, so the trial was sensationalised, somewhat over-focused on the female protagonist – does this really matter, seeing as she was guilty anyway? I would say, yes. Knox’s parents have already said their daughter will appeal – who’s to say that Knox won’t place emphasis on her “trial by media”?

Away from the legal arena, there are pressing ethical issues. The fact, for example, that even though Knox has now been found guilty, the victim, Meredith, is still barely meriting a mention. Indeed, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves – is this what happens when we unthinkingly turn the likes of Foxy Knoxy into cartoons of “sexy evil” – if are we robbing their victims of their humanity, too? Are we ensuring that innocents such as Meredith somehow get lost in the big noisy over-sensationalised shuffle?

Certainly it seems to say something that this trial has been all about Knox, just one of three found guilty of the murder. It is as if, just as Kercher desperately struggled for life, but was overpowered by her assailants, her memory is now being overwhelmed by the relentless “Foxy Knoxy” spin.

Perhaps it is time to banish the salacious lip-smacking over Foxy Knoxy to the satellite “true crime” channels where it belongs. It was Meredith who died – and Meredith who should now have the dignity of our thoughts.

The great soap battleaxe won’t die with Blanche

Posted on 12/06/09 at 01:22 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Amazing Person That Was Meredith Kercher #1: The Independent Focusses Nicely On Her

Posted by Peter Quennell





Not the American media, of course. At least, not yet.

For far too many of them this is still “the Amanda Knox Show”.  But two things are happing very fast now in the United States that look to be about to change all that

  • First, some very, very good lawyers are becoming emboldened to say that Amanda Knox was CORRECTLY convicted as a murderess.
  • Second, every media organization we know (they have been introducing themselves!) would give their eye-teeth for an hour just on Meredith.

In Italy they have already begun to bring Meredith into sharp and loving focus. And in London a really nice piece on Meredith appears today in The Independent

It is by David Randall and Victoria Richards.

Amid the madness of what will always be known as the Knox trial in Perugia, with its slow-motion melodramas, its posturings and the evidence that grew ever more contested and grotesque, there was always one thing that remained unchanged.

That face. Meredith’s – the joyful student captured in a split second on Facebook, her happiness one moment in October 2007, made all the more horribly innocent because we know what was to happen to her just a few days later.
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For us, those features will eventually fade from memory. But, for her family, that face – and the spirit and life of the girl who inhabited it – will never grow old as it should have done.

And yesterday, as her family gave a press conference in the basement of a city hotel, that pain was brought sickeningly home.

Father John, mother Arline, brothers John Jr and Lyle, and sister Stephanie sat in a line at a table and spoke, as they have always done – with restraint and a gracious dignity – of the loss they will ever bear.

There was no triumph in their reaction to the conviction late Friday night of Amanda Knox, 22, and Raffaele Sollecito, 25, for the murder of their daughter and sister. As Lyle said, it was not a time for a celebration.

Instead they showed a magnanimous sense of sadness that two young people would now be spending a quarter of a century or more behind bars.

Mrs Kercher quietly reminded her family that a third young person had also met the same fate – 22-year-old Rudy Guede, who was convicted of the murder and sexual violence last October and jailed for 30 years.

Lyle even referred to his sister’s killer [by] using the word “gentleman”.

Meredith’s brother John said: “Mez still leaves a big hole in our lives. Her presence is missed every time we meet up as a family. She is very much still a part our lives. People often associated Mez with a tragic event, but we would prefer not to remember her that way. We would like to concentrate on the 21 good years we had with her.”

And they were good years.

Brought up in Coulsdon, Surrey, on the edge of the North Downs, she was a bright, conscientious child who later attended the prestigious Old Palace School for Girls in Croydon.

Shahleena Raza, 25, a homeopathy student who went to school with Meredith and Stephanie, remembers the special bond the sisters had. “I used to ring Steph and they sounded identical,” she said.

“Mez would answer and she was always really sweet and chatty. I remember going to their house and her older brothers cooked us all lunch. They made a big deal out of it and it was really special. Mez and Steph shared everything – there was such warmth between them, no bickering like you usually get between sisters.”

She read, wrote poetry and stories, took ballet, gymnastics and karate classes, worked at Gatwick airport to save for her studies, ran the Race for Life to raise money for cancer research.

She was “always laughing”, and, according to her brother’s eulogy at her funeral, always 20 minutes late. “You could set your watch by her,” he said.

And friends could rely on her. One, identified only as “Yondie” from south London, thanked Meredith in an online tribute to her for letting her stay at her house when times were “difficult”.

She went to Leeds University, and, from there, in her third year, to Perugia for a year’s study, arriving in the autumn of 2007.

That late October, she went to a Halloween party, and one of her closest friends, Helen Power, 22, was with her. She said: “You only had to meet her once to be struck by her beauty, quick wit and her infectious smile.”

It was a time of year Meredith had always loved. Her father said: “As a youngster she would make a costume from bin liners, put candles in the pumpkins with faces, tie them to sticks and then we would visit neighbours.”

Close to both parents, Meredith called the day after the Halloween party to tell him she loved him. “I was in the bank and we spoke for two minutes,” he said. It was the last time they would.

Not long afterwards, he heard a British student had been murdered in Perugia. He rang Meredith a dozen or more times. There was no reply. After an hour, he called a newspaper. Two hours later, they called him back with the name of the victim.

It was Meredith. That was how he found out.

In June, her mother told the court: “Her death was unbelievable, unreal. In many ways it still is. I still look for her. It’s not just her death but it’s the nature of it, the brutality of it, the violence of it and the great sorrow it’s brought everyone. We will never, never get over it.”

Posted on 12/06/09 at 08:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Our Emails Are Suggesting Such A Wave Of Love And Sympathy For This Very Dignified Family

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]

Many like this which arrived this morning from Dublin in Ireland.

I just want to send all the Kercher Family my very best wishes and support at the end of what must have been a horrendous two years ending with a long and gruelling trial. I have nothing but admiration for you as a family who are dealing with such heartbreak and have been so dignified all through and after the court case.

Justice has been done and that is of primary importance in this situation and the Italian Courts have ensured that. I hope you will be able now to start living your lives again as I am sure this was totally impossible over the last 2 years after such a vicious crime against your beautiful sister and daughter. It is bad enough having a crime like this done on home turf but to happen when the person is in another country is even more horrendous.

I want to extend you my very best wishes to you and hopefully it will assist you in living again as I am sure beautiful Meredith will never be forgotten by you but now you can start the grieving process which you as a family were robbed of because of this evil horrific crime. I just want to send you by very best wishes and support at this time as you have no choice but to continue on without you beloved sister and daughter.

Apparently some of the the reporters at this family press conference this morning were also fighting back a few tears.










Posted on 12/05/09 at 01:11 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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As The Nightmare Starts To Wind Down For Meredith’s Family, Huge Relief -  And Still, Some Tears

Posted by Peter Quennell








Posted on 12/05/09 at 08:39 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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“Amanda Knox: Behind The Hollywood Smile, A Liar, A Narcissist And A Killer”

Posted by Peter Quennell





Knox’s flippant callousness in court clearly did her no good.

With the exception of several in the media the universal view seems to be that Knox has been given her due.

Here’s a commentary by Tom Rawstorne that is typical of any of the reporters who followed the best of the reporting from the court.

For Team Knox, it wasn’t meant to end like this. The flights back home to America had been reserved and plans meticulously laid out for the first day in Seattle – a manicure to smooth Amanda’s prison-worn nails and then a Mexican meal followed by her mother’s home cooked pastries.

Then there would be the seven-figure media deals to be mulled over (with best-selling crime writer John Grisham pitching to pen the definitive book) and dates with Oprah Winfrey and Larry King to fulfil. There was even talk of a Hollywood film – after all, who could resist the story of a beautiful 22-year-old American whose trip to Italy ended with her being forced into confessing to a brutal murder that she did not commit?

But, as film goers know, Tinseltown loves a happy ending, and the guilty verdict delivered last night in the Aula degli Affreschi (Court of the Frescoes) put paid to that.

So instead it is a very different future that now faces Amanda Knox and her family, who had flown in en masse to be by her side for the closing days of the year-long trial.

For Knox, her conviction for the murder of her British flatmate Meredith Kercher means an immediate return to Capanne prison on the outskirts of Perugia where she has spent much of the past two years.

She will be placed in a cell on her own and checked by guards every 15 minutes. If she is deemed not to be a suicide risk in all probability she will then be returned to the five-person cell she was in before.

There she had bagged one of the top bunks, so that she could see out of the window and to the world beyond.

Of course although Knox has been convicted, the judicial process is far from over. An appeal will be launched in the New Year, but that will not be heard until the autumn.

Not only will it take time to organise but it will also cost a lot of money, with high-flying lawyers and forensic experts once again to be retained. It is money that Team Knox claims it no longer has. The family has already spent in excess of $1.2million (£750,000) supporting Knox.

Her divorced parents Edda Mellas and Curt Knox have remortgaged their homes, and so has Knox’s 72-year-old German-born grandmother Elizabeth Huff .

They say that their credit cards are ‘maxed out’ and that they are now so short of money that they will have to sell their homes to continue their fight. Indeed, Mrs Mellas is seriously contemplating moving lock stock and barrel to Italy with her new husband to reduce the need for expensive transatlantic flights.

Mrs Mellas insists that she has never once doubted her daughter’s innocence.

‘Never,’ she says. ‘I’ll do whatever it takes for Amanda, however long it takes. The good news is she will get out of this, the bad news it could take several more years.’

That she and her family are so sure of her innocence has at its essence a belief that Amanda Knox simply could not have murdered another human being.

‘I’ll tell you a little story about Amanda,’ is the way Mrs Mellas explains it. ‘She doesn’t know how to lie. If you were to ask her, “What d’you think of my shoes?” and she thought they were hideous, she doesn’t do the polite thing – she’ll tell you they’re hideous. Since she was five she’d do that.’

When Amanda Knox was first remanded in custody a little over two years ago, she vowed that she would learn to speak Italian. Having cut her linguistic teeth on The Jungle Book, she recently finished reading Anna Karenina.

Indeed so good is her grasp of the language that her lawyer has suggested that she should herself go in to the law. While many will raise an eyebrow at such a suggestion it is entirely in keeping with the spin put on Knox’s incarceration by her supporters.

They insist that she has tried to draw positives from her time inside, rather than wasting energy getting angry and resentful about the fate that has befallen her.

So it is we are told that she has whiled away the time by helping teach other inmates English and yoga and by learning to cook, to do needle-point and to play the classical guitar.

‘She’s made it a time to learn, to learn about herself and the friends she has and the way the world works,’ says her mother. ‘She realises it’s not about her any more, she truly sees herself as one of the lucky ones in there.

‘She sees women in there who have no support, or good lawyers, or even family, they have nothing.’

Such a depiction is central to the portrayal of Knox as herself a victim in this tragedy, the suggestion being that the way she has comported herself is indicative of her true character.

Since her arrest, any cracks that have emerged in that portrayal have time and time again been dismissed as being down to ‘naivety’ rather than anything more sinister.

For instance, at the police station prior her to arrest, why was Knox seen performing cartwheels?

‘This is Amanda just being Amanda,’ explains her mother. ‘As her friends would say, “It’s an Amanda thing”. The police were still being friendly to her then, so she was stretching, and they were talking to her and she said, yes, she had been a gymnast, and they were like, “Well, how about a cartwheel?” so she did one.’

Shortly after that came Knox’s confession, the one that put her squarely at the murder scene.

‘It was coercion,’ says her stepfather Chris Mellas, a 36-year-old IT professional who has spent many weeks at the trial supporting Knox.

‘They (the Italian authorities) did what they needed to do to get her to say what they wanted her to say.’

Next they had to explain why she told police that Patrick Lumumba, an entirely innocent bar owner, was involved in the killing. Again, we are told, it was all down to police ‘bullying’, and that ever since Knox has felt ‘terrible’ about dragging him into it.
Amanda Knox on her way to Germany

Then there is the story she had written about a violent rape and posted on her Facebook site that was discovered by journalists following her arrest.Over to her mother again.

‘That was for an assignment at university,’ she says. ‘Her friend Jessie had the same assignment, and she said Amanda’s story is tame compared to hers.’

During the trial there were other slips, other quirks that caused surprise. Arriving at a hearing on Valentine’s Day she wore a t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘All You Need Is Love.’

On another occasion she interrupted proceedings to explain that a pink vibrator found amongst her belongings was a gift from a friend and was just ‘a joke’.

Then there has been her see-sawing behaviour, smiles and flirty flirty glances followed soon after by tears and pained protestations of innocence. On its own, no one is saying that any of the above is indicative of guilt.

But taken with the prosecution’s DNA evidence, it is easier to understand why the jury was willing to accept that Knox did indeed have it in her to carry out a brutal murder.

They clearly did not believe that Knox was an innocent abroad (the girl with the so-called ‘acqua e sapone’ face, the ‘water and soap’ representing wholesomeness and purity).

Rather, they chose to accept the version put forward by prosecutor Giuliano Mignini who describes the real Knox as being ‘narcissistic, aggressive, manipulative, transgressive, with a tendency to dominate’.

Not only was she ‘easily given to disliking people she disagreed with’ but was a ‘talented and calculating liar’.

On the night of the murder, the prosecution alleged, Knox and Sollecito were high on drink and cannabis and returned home after meeting Rudy Guede, the Ivory Coast drifter who was separately convicted of the killing.

Finding Miss Kercher at home alone, Knox decided to take revenge against her housemate whom she had come to view as boring and sober-minded.

Maybe the spark was an argument about Knox bringing home another man, or maybe about some missing money. No one knows for sure. But it is claimed that when Guede went to the bathroom, Knox and Sollecito started to argue with Miss Kercher in her room.

Venting her resentment of Miss Kercher, Knox pushed her violently against a cupboard while her boyfriend held her hair. Guede emerged from the bathroom and joined in, eager to compete with Sollecito to have sex with Miss Kercher.

When she fell to the ground the three tried to undress her, Knox pulling out a knife while Guede began to sexually abuse her.

Mr Mignini told the jury: ‘It is easy to believe Knox said . . . “You were such a little saint . . . now you are going to be forced to have sex”.’

As Sollecito pulled at her bra strap, Knox stabbed her for the first time. Pulling out his own, smaller knife, Sollecito did the same. As it became clear Miss Kercher would not submit, Knox began to strangle her as Sollecito continued to stab her, prompting Meredith to let out the ‘terrible’ scream that neighbour Nara Capezzali heard.

At this point, Knox delivered the fatal blow, plunging her knife into Miss Kercher’s neck at around 11.30pm.

Under Italian law, relatives of victims can ask for compensation from the defendants if a guilty verdict is reached. Miss Kercher’s family have lodged a claim for £22million damages for her death.

While the amount is largely symbolic, it is an additional front for Team Knox to fight. Mr Lumumba – later released without charge – has also put forward a compensation claim after what his lawyer called his ‘ruthless defamation’.

He has said: ‘My life as a man, husband and father has been ruined because of Amanda Knox.’

Then there is the separate case being brought by Italian police, also for defamation, over an interview given by Curt Knox and his ex-wife Edda to the Sunday Times in which they said their daughter had ‘been abused physically and verbally’ by police.

Team Knox has dismissed the possibility of such court action as a minor problem, adding that all their efforts will focus on clearing the name of Amanda.

Plans for her home-coming will not be cancelled, they say. Just put on hold. Whether that postponement will be a matter of months – or years – only time will tell.

 

Posted on 12/05/09 at 09:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, December 04, 2009

The Rulings: The Judge Hands Down The Sentences And Those Convicted Head Back To Prison

Posted by Peter Quennell




Posted on 12/04/09 at 11:00 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda KnoxRaff Sollecito
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Full Roundup On The Verdict, Sentencing And Reactions Here For Sure Sunday Latest

Posted by Peter Quennell

There is so very much to report.

And obviously we are playing catch-up here after yesterday’s crashes despite some amazing support from our hoster in Phoenix. .

This site is very demanding. with the YouTubes, Powerpoints, images, and Acrobat versions of images. The site runs stable on a shared server with up to 300 or so online but above that it loses stability..

TJMK will move to a dedicated server starting next week. We are not going anywhere. An average of 300 readers puts TJMK in THE TOP TWO PERCENT of all sites visited in the world. 

Posted on 12/04/09 at 09:00 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Rulings: The Families And The Media Have Been Summoned To The Courtroom

Posted by Peter Quennell


The as-usual impartial Ann Wise reports for ABC News.

An Italian court deliberating the fate of Amanda Knox has summoned the defendants and lawyers to the courtroom in what may be a verdict in the nearly year-long murder trial.

The long awaited verdict may be delivered when court resumes at midnight in Italy [6 p.m. ET] after the defendants, lawyers and their families—as well as the family of murder victim Meredith Kercher—arrive at the court in this medieval town.

If convicted of murder, Knox, 22, and her co-defendent and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, could be sentenced to life in prison.

The announcement of a verdict came 11 hours after the six jurors and two judges began their deliberations this morning, and 11 months after the prolonged trial began.

The last 24 hours have been tense for Knox whose younger sister Deanna told ABC News that Knox was torn between excitement about the prospect of going home for Christmas, but scared that she would be convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

This we believe will be the first time Meredith’s family has ever had to encounter the Knoxes and the Mellases. They have seen Amanda Knox in court several times, and it was once noted that Knox seemed to stare fixedly at them, perhaps hoping for eye contact.

And below, translated by our poster Tiziano, is a an article in Il Messagero today explaining what the judges and lay-judges are going through,

The Court of the Assizes is called upon at this time to undertake a very difficult task, and frankly this writer feels compelled to express his understanding of the difficulty within which the judges will have to operate.  Furthermore, the function of the Court of the Assizes is linked to the examination and the decision-making on trials which have a notable social profile in relation to the crime for which the judgement arises. 

As is known, the Court of the Assizes is composed of a president and an assistant judge (a “side judge”: trsl.), both of whom are stipendiary (=career) magistrates, and of a full six civil judges, chosen from those who have matriculated from high school (ie: who are qualified for university entrance), who have full civil and voting rights and who are between the ages of 30 and 65.

The ambit of the Court of the Assizes is a very special jurisdiction, which our order imported from the French law:  the term “assise” was already noted in the medieval epoch with the French word “asise”, that is to say, “a fixed article”, which in its turn derived from the latin “assidere”, that is, “to seat next to”.  It was only in 1810 that the French order introduced “le cour d’assises”.  In the Italian order the Court of the Assizes appeared in 1859, in the Sardinian penal procedures code, until in alternate phases, it found a new place in the reform of the judicial order which came into force in 2003. 

Briefly, it is competent to decide on all those crimes for which the law sets out a penalty of life imprisonment or a penalty of not less than 24 years.  In the Kercher judgement, therefore, the decision will be in the hands of two career judges (“robed judges”: trsl.) and six civil judges,  who will have the difficult task of evaluating even complex technical legal questions.  The worth of the vote of the civil judge is equal to that of the career judges, thus substantially each of the eight judges is to be considered equal in grade in the expression of his/her own conviction on the guilt or otherwise of the defendants. 

Because of the nature of the structure of the Court of the Assizes , as well as because the circumstances of the Kercher trial are substantially that of a circumstantial trial, it is to be presumed that the deliberations of the panel will be extremely long.  On each of these judges weighs the delicate task of having to decide on the future life of two young people, and at the same time, of giving an answer to the thirst for justice of the Kercher family and of society as a whole.

It is not to be excluded that a majority decision will be arrived at, in so far as in these cases, it is arduous to obtain an unanimous one, for in addition to technical reasons, the individualities of each single judge must must prevail, each of whom must be intimately convinced of his or her own choice.  There still exists, borrowed from Anglo-saxon law, the border which separates guilt from acquittal, constituted by the principal of a choice made “beyond any reasonable doubt”.

Posted on 12/04/09 at 04:06 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Rulings: Meredith’s Family At Their Hotel Waiting For Possible Call To The Court Tonght

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]





Posted on 12/04/09 at 03:47 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Rulings: Meredith’s Beloved Mom, Dad, Sister And Two Brothers At Perugia Airtport.

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]








Posted on 12/04/09 at 01:25 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Ruling Deliberations: Updates On Any New Developments Today Friday

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the main entrance of the court complex]

Update 1: After a brief hearing in the courtroom this morning the judges and lay judges commenced their deliberations on a ruling around mid-morning.

Update 2: The Croydon Guardian reports the departure of Meredith’s family from London for Rome and then Perugia.

The parents of murdered Coulsdon student, Meredith Kercher, are due to arrive in Italy for the verdict of her murder trial.

Arline and John Kercher flew to Perugia today to see the jury deliver its verdict on whether or not Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were involved in their daughter’s murder.

Update 3: The BBC has a brief simulation of the police finding Meredith in her room on the day.

Update 4: The Independent devotes a report exclusively to the Kercher family’s two-year ordeal.

Update 5: Today for the first time ever, Meredith’s family may get to meet face-to-face Raffaele Sollecito’s family and Amanda Knox’s family. During Guede’s trial in October 2008. Meredith’s family were in court, and Knox’s family apparently observed the courtroom from a hillside up above.

Update 6: A video of Amanda Knox making her final statement in Italian has been added to the post below on the wrapping-up of the summations yesterday.

Update 7: Sky News has just posted a written report and a video report.

Update 8: La Notizie is saying that the ruling, barring unforseen circumstances, should come tonight. On Perugia Murder File forum (link just below) they are saying that might not bode well for the defense. 

Update 9: Eight PM in Perugia now, and the judges’ deliberations on their rulings continue. Meredith’s family are waiting at their hotel now, as are Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s families. No further news leaking out. Everybody tense.

Update 10: Nine PM in Perugia and informal word from Perugia is that the rulings are expected tonight some time after midnight, maybe 4 or 5 hours away. Knox and Sollecito are right now back in their cells in Capanne prison.

Update 11: The AGI News Service  is reporting this below.

It has been now more than 8 hours since the Court of Assizes of Perugia began in closed session to reach the verdict against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Deliberating are the presiding judge, Giancarlo Massei, 55 years old, head of the criminal division of the court in Perugia, the judge Beatrice Christians, 52 years old, and 6 lay-judges, three men, 35 , 38 and 57 years… and as many women, 37 43, and 51 years, all residents in the area of jurisdiction of the court in Perugia. (the alternates were set free - ed.)

Posted on 12/04/09 at 07:30 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Summations: The Two Defendants Make Their Final Pleas To The Court

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for a video of Amanda Knox’s final plea.

The Judge had asked Knox if she’d prefer to speak in English. She declined, speaking her last words to the court in Italian - and she neglected to mention Meredith by name, even though she followed some notes.

A fact that apparently escaped few in the courtroom.

Instead it was really only all about her. Nick Pisa reporting the Amanda Knox statement in the Daily Mail

Knox’s voice shook as she told the court in perfect Italian: ’” am confident that my conscience is clear” adding that she was afraid of “having the mask of a killer branded onto my skin”.

The American also said: “I want to thank the accusers because they are only trying to do their job even if they don’t understand. They are only trying to bring justice to someone whose life has been taken from this world.”

“‘I am vulnerable in front of you and decisions are being made about me. ‘People have been asking me how I stay so calm - I am not calm.  ‘These last few days… I was worried that I was not going to be myself and that I am being described as someone who I am not.”

“I feel sad, confused and frustrated. I could face years in prison and this makes me unhappy. ‘I could be pulling out my hair, taking apart my cell but I don’t do these things. I just take a breath and try and be positive in moments like this.”

Knox, who spoke from notes, ended by telling the judge and jury: ‘Now it’s your turn and I thank you.’



Andrea Vogt reporting the Raffaele Sollecito statement in the Seattle PI.

“Why would I commit something so horrible as murder?” asked Sollecito, a computer-engineering graduate. “You are deciding my life. I am not living a nightmare anymore, but something far more dramatic.”

Through it all, Knox has not changed, said the only woman on her defense team, Maria Del Grosso.

“I have gotten to know her during this trial. She is intelligent, sweet, and yes, a bit naive. She didn’t cry to get your attention. She’s like that. She’s genuine, and I think she has shown great dignity through all of this.”

Sollecito also defended her, saying he thought it was difficult to imagine that she was the maneater the prosecution depicted. He added that he did not feel dominated by her.

“I am not a dog on a leash, and I am not Amanda-dependent as the prosecution has argued.”


Richard Allen Greene and Hada Messia report on the CNN website

Before [Sollecito’s] testimony, prosecutor Manuela Comodi offered a rebuttal to defense claims of sloppy evidence-gathering at the crime scene. She focused on the technical aspects of the evidence against Knox and Sollecito and questioned the forensic arguments used by the defense. She also defended the investigators, calling them professionals who stayed out of the media show surrounding the case.

Comodi rejected allegations that Sollecito’s DNA found on a bra belonging to Kercher could have been contaminated. Other than a cigarette butt in the kitchen with Sollecito’s DNA on it, she said, investigators did not find his DNA anywhere else in the house. The bra, the prosecutor said, was found in the bedroom where Kercher was killed. Forensics investigators wore gloves when retrieving the bra, Comodi said.

That proves, she said, that Sollecito was at the crime scene when the slaying took place.

Sollecito also left other traces of having been in the house, including footprints, she said. Some of the footprints were found in the bathroom, Comodi said.


Posted on 12/03/09 at 07:51 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Meredith’s House Seen In One Of Perugia’s December Mists This Mornining

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]



Posted on 12/03/09 at 06:29 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Der Spiegel Reporting Meredith’s Father Is Writing A Book To Cover Their Considerable Costs

Posted by Peter Quennell


We knew that a book by Meredith’s father John is in the works. We did not know the real reason why.

This news is frankly pretty heartbreaking.

Alexander Smoltczyk in Perugia reports on the health and financial hurt descended upon Meredith’s family..

The announcement of the verdict is expected at the end of this week, after a long trial that has taken its toll on everyone involved, not just the defendants….

Kercher’s mother only manages to cope by taking psychiatric medication, while her husband, a journalist, has been forced to write a book about the case to cover their legal fees.

The publishers’ grapevine has been hinting in fact that the book will be all about Meredith.

Meredith’s family have said through their lawyer that they expect never to see any financial return from the financial awards made by the Italian court against those who are found guilty.

Multi-million-dollar awards are common now in the US and Europe if there is a danger of profiteering from inside a prison cell. And in Italy, those sitting in prison cells often get easy access to the media.

Many of us here - many readers too - have long wanted to organize something financial for Meredith’s memory and for her family by way of this website for Meredith. Maybe now is a good time to begin.

Mind you, if the book IS all about Meredith this could be truly huge. Pent-up demand to find out more about Meredith, which we encounter every day, is now really enormous.

After being overshadowed for so long by obnoxious others, Meredith deserves her day in the sun.


Posted on 12/02/09 at 01:48 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Summations: Ghirga Finishes, Mignini Wraps Up. And Knox May Speak Tomorrow

Posted by Peter Quennell

The conclusion of Mr Ghirga’s remarks from Alan Pizzey’s report for CBS

A lawyer for Amanda Knox wrapped up her defense in the Italian murder trial today with an emotional, at times tearful, appeal to the court to acquit her of charges that she murdered roommate Meredith Kercher.

The lawyer appealed for sympathy for Kercher, but also for Knox. “We suffer for what happened to Meredith,” Ghirga told the jurors, referring to the murder victim, “but also for the future of Amanda.”

Ghirga teared up at the end of his summation and apologized for a little “emotion.” Turning to Knox’s parents, he told the court, “Amanda’s parents ask you for her acquittal. There is no Knox clan, just two desperate parents.”

“The prosecutor is right about one thing, you should not forget the victim, Meredith,” he said. “And there is one thing the prosecution should have done for Meredith, and that is an investigation done well from the beginning, with rigor.”

Ghirga concluded by saying, “Amanda asks you for her life. Give Amanda her life back, by acqutting her.”

And Mr Mignini’s remarks translated from Il Giornale

The Rudy Guede is guilty ploy “does not relieve Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, his co-defendants” in the reconstruction of the murder of Meredith Kercher made by the prosecutor of Perugia….

The magistrate said that “Rudy has been tried” by Knox’s and Sollecito’s lawyers. “Accused of everything without the ability to defend himself…. ”  Amanda and Raffaele claim that they were not in Via della Pergola but that they know everything about how Rudy has smashed a window with a rock as he climbed and as he raped Meredith.

Their defenses have claimed contamination of biological traces that match them but insist they match Guede one hundred per cent. There ‘s been a selective contamination? “.

Amanda was like a compressed spring and “felt resentment” toward Meredith Kercher. “Raffaele Sollecito always followed Amanda and tried to please her. And they were full of drugs and alcohol on the night.”

The defense is allowed to have the last word and Amanda Knox may speak in her defense tomorrow.


Posted on 12/02/09 at 12:28 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Summations: Agence France-Presse Has First Long Report On Ghirga Summing-Up For Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image]

Very on the ball. The first time we have linked to a French media report from Perugia. It is carried by AsiaOne. Excerpts from the report.

Over-zealous interrogators “ground down” American student Amanda Knox to concoct a scenario in which she and her Italian boyfriend murdered Briton Meredith Kercher in a sexual misadventure, her defence said Wednesday.

“Amanda was the victim of a mechanism that ground her down,” lawyer Luciano Ghirga said in impassioned closing arguments two days ahead of a verdict in the year-long trial…

The white-haired Ghirga, frequently resorting to sarcasm and operatic shouting, said a “whiff of racism and anti-feminism” hung over the investigation launched after Kercher was found dead in her blood-drenched bedroom on November 2, 2007.

He suggested that women police officers “clashed” with Knox in four days of questioning following the gruesome 2007 murder in the house Knox shared with Kercher, leading the suspect, then 20, to make false declarations.

Notably, the native of Seattle, Washington, falsely accused her part-time employer, Congolese bar owner Patrick Lumumba, who was hauled off “like a sack of potatoes,” Ghirga said….

Seated nearby, Lumumba stared ahead, his face propped on his hands, as Ghirga said Knox had no “direct intention” of accusing him….

As Wednesday’s proceedings began, the lawyer held up one of four books he said were published on the case while the investigation was still under way.

The tabloid media, notably in Britain, screamed with lurid headlines, raising concerns over whether a fair trial was possible, he said.

Lawyers on both sides have complained, the defence charging that the media demonised Knox and the prosecution that “wannabe crime writers” were conducting a parallel trial.

The glaring spotlight on Knox eclipsed the role of Rudy Guede, an Ivorian immigrant convicted separately of the grisly crime in a so-called “fast-track” trial limited to evidence from the probe….

Sollecito, an engineering student and the son of a wealthy doctor, appears timid behind his glasses, leading prosecutors to portray him as a follower in Knox’s thrall.

Posted on 12/02/09 at 09:01 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Summations: Knox Lawyer Ghirga Makes A Claim We Hadn’t Heard Before

Posted by Peter Quennell


Fox News reports the Sky News story (they are both Rupert Murdoch vehicles) which is not yet online.

Women police officers investigating the murder of British student Meredith Kercher “had it in” for suspect Amanda Knox because of a sex toy, a court has heard, Sky News reported.

Luciano Ghirga, defending Knox, described a “clash between women from the Perugia flying squad” and his client.

“They had it in for her just because she had condoms and a vibrator in her beauty case,” said Ghirga, according to Sky News.

Knox “had suffered as a result of this antagonism,” Ghirga told the murder trial, being held in Perugia.

 

 

Posted on 12/02/09 at 08:49 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Summations: La Nazione On Arguments Of Knox Lawyer Della Vedova

Posted by Tiziano


Final report on Mr Della Vedova yesterday while we wait for the first reporting on Mr Ghirga today. This is from the report of Il Tempo translated.

By Marino Collacciani

Knox comes into court.  Beautiful, very beautiful, with a magnetic gaze.  And what if she were Eva Kant instead of Amélie from Seattle?  No, the magnificent companion of Diablik is probably in some secret hideout in Clermont, and Amanda Knox today appears further and further away from the clutches of Inspector Ginko.  And then Raffaele Sollecito doesn’t look like Diabolik at all…

There is certainly a great distance between the life imprisonment of the prosecutors and and the complete liberty demanded by the defence.  The Giussani sisters, creators of the cult crime comic, would have certainly drawn and dramatised a better trial, with proof in hand.  Because it really isn’t absolutely simple to take the side of either the “innocentisti” or the “colpevolisti”: those two, Raffaele and Amanda, could be our children, brothers or sisters.  The problem is that Meredith Kercher could be too…  And so therefore what?  The best thing for now is to prepare the crime news.  And to look forward to the third and final stage of the Perugia trial.

Today, indeed, another defender of the American girl will take the stand, then the rejoinders which will continue tomorrrow: then the arrival of Friday, when the judges could go into deliberations and hand down the verdict.  Which will certainly be appealed.  So, two families, two states of mind.  Knox’s, all present in court, optimistic about the the judgement expected for the first time.  Amanda’s father, Curt Knox, spoke of “another step in the right direction”.  Then he explained how Amanda was: “She bearing up quite well.  Today was good for her (yesterday, ed), hearing the truth instead of fantasy.”  But the members of the Kercher family stay silent, for they have put their trust completely in lawyer Maresca.  However, they will be there on Friday in court to listen to the judgement.

The address of Dalla Vedova started with a 360 degree turn around from an assumption: that is, the involvement of Amanda Knox, a “wholesome student overtaken by a tsunami”, was all the outcome “of a mistake”.  Because the initial statements made to the police by a girl “in difficulty and totally confused” which linked her herself to the house of the crime and Patrick Lumumba (who turned out to be comletely extraneous to the event and thus exonerated) “had to be checked”.  And Amanda had to be freed as he was.  In court in black jumper and pants, her hair pulled back in a plait, Amanda confided, in a note left on the desk and written in English, the fear of “losing myself, of being condemned for something I have not done”.

The lawyer spoke then of “absolute lack of motive” or, rather of the “illogicality” of the theory of the prosecution about a crime linked to a vendetta or a sexual assault.  But also of the “unlikelihood” of the kitchen knife seized from the residence of Raffaele Sollecito, with the DNA of Knox and Kercher on the blade, indicated by the prosecution as the weapon of the crime.  “Why take it to the house in Via della Pergola - he asked - when there were so many there?”  And finally for Della Vedova the group violence “is not proved”, just by virtue of “lack of space” available for the attackers (Knox, Sollecito and Guede, according to the PM) in Meredith’s bedroom where traces of Knox are “equal to zero, because she was not there”.

Posted on 12/02/09 at 06:41 AM by TizianoClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Summations: Andrea Vogt Summarises Knox Defense By Della Vedova

Posted by Peter Quennell


Andrea Vogt has a report in the Seattle PI that adds significant detail to that of ABC’s Ann Wise below. Key excerpts.

“Amanda Knox never should have been arrested. And everything that has happened since then has been part of an attempt to maintain an accusation, that, bit by bit, has disintegrated.”

It began with “psychosomatic” observations of one powerful cop, he said, Edgardo Giobbi, the former director of the violent crimes division of the central operations unit in Rome, who on “investigator’s instincts” suspected Knox from the beginning.

“Immediately after the crime, they focused attention on her,” said Dalla Vedova. “They started recording her conversations. They were quick to say ‘case closed,’ but it was a mistake the police made in the beginning, then they couldn’t let it go.”

He played tapes of secretly recorded conversations between Knox and her other roommate in the days after the slaying. They comforted each other in broken Italian and English….

Like his colleague Giulia Bongiorno the day before, Dalla Vedova spent considerable time countering attacks on Knox’s character, reading letters from the owner of a Seattle art gallery where she worked and citing former teachers. He described her as a “regular girl leading an ordinary, serene life with positive values.”

“I’ve known her for two years. She is ‘soap and water’” he said, using the Italian phrase to describe someone as wholesome. Knox, in a conservative black turtleneck sweater and with her hair pulled back from her face in a neatly woven French braid, appeared concentrated on her lawyer’s every word.

Knox is also expected to make a statement to jurors, at whom she nods and makes eye contact with each time she enters or exits the courtroom. On Thursday, the prosecution and the Kercher family attorney will be allowed to give rebuttal remarks before the case goes to the jury for deliberations.

Francesco Maresca, the attorney representing the Kercher family, said the attorneys intend to remind the jury of the “ample and massive” amount of forensic and circumstantial evidence behind the prosecution’s case. But the defense has one more day to sow more seeds of doubt.

Posted on 12/01/09 at 07:16 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Barbie Nadeau Cracks The Mystery Of Why Sollecito’s Lawyer Was Arguing For Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the report in the Daily Beast.

Yesterday’s strategy by Ms Bongiorno had been puzzling us behind the scenes. Even the Italian media seemed confused. Some thought she was subtly saying that Knox had framed Sollecito. This analysis sounds authentic.

American murder suspect Amanda Knox was nervous Monday morning when she entered the courtroom in Perugia…

Sollecito’s co-counsel Giulia Bongiorno…. surprised court observers and spent most of the morning ignoring her own client. Instead, she defended Knox even though Sollecito is the only of the two with DNA evidence in the room where Kercher was murdered…

By doing the work of Knox’s defense team, Sollecito’s own defense took a calculated risk that it will be harder for the jury to convict them both. But in doing so, she paved the way for the two to be judged as one, meaning they will either both be acquitted or both receive life sentences.

And by defending Knox and attacking the forensic evidence against her…. [Bongiorno] is banking that Knox’s lawyers will also do their bit to defend Sollecito later this week when it is their turn.

“She is not Amanda the Ripper,” Bongiorno told the jury, which at times must have been wondering when she would get to Sollecito. “She is a little crazy, extravagant. She does the cartwheels in the police station because reality for her is too strong to deal with. She is spontaneous, immediate, and imprudent.”

It was a moment of obvious relief for Knox. The last few weeks have been particularly arduous for her. Two weeks ago, Rudy Guede, the man who has already been convicted for his part in Kercher’s murder, testified in his appeals trial that he saw her silhouette in the window of the crime scene the night of the murder.

The same week, the prosecutor painted a disturbing picture of Knox as a drug-fueled vixen who called Meredith Kercher “prissy” before threatening her at knifepoint to have group sex with Guede and Sollecito. Then last week as the civil plaintiff’s closing arguments against her concluded, Knox was called a “dirty minded she-devil” by lawyers for Patrick Lumumba….

[Monday] was the best day the defense has had in this trial. Bongiorno’s oratory was a tribute to criminal defense. The jury didn’t take their eyes off her as she weaved a story separated by her own self-titled chapters. And when Knox’s defense lawyers begin their summation, they are expected to do their part and pick up where Sollecito’s defense left off.

“We are really four lawyers with two clients,” Knox attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova said after court. “We are all in the same boat.” Soon the jury will decide whether it will stay afloat.

Posted on 12/01/09 at 01:58 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Summations: Today’s Arguments For Amanda Knox By Her Lawyer Della Vedova

Posted by Peter Quennell


Ann Wise reports today’s arguments for Knox on the ABC news-site. Key excerpts:

Amanda Knox’s lawyer told the jury today that Italian prosecutors abruptly switched the alleged motive for what they charge was Knox’s murderous assault on her British roommate Meredith Kercher.

“The motive is fundamental,” attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova told the jury in Perugia, Italy, where Knox has been jailed for the last two years. “But today the motive has been changed at the last minute.”...

“At the very end of the trial the prosecution has changed the motive, not in the course of the trial and supporting it with evidence,” Dalla Vedova said. “It is no longer the result of a sex party gone wrong. Now it is Amanda who organized the crime out of vengeance.”..

“Amanda stayed in Perugia, she did not run away. She did not go to Germany when her aunt told her to come. On the morning of the 5th, the day she was interrogated, she went to school. She wanted to be in Perugia,” Dalla Vedova told the jury. Knox, he said, was a “clean-faced young girl. I know her well. And she was swept away by a tsunami” of events.

He described the police investigation as an “incredible evolution of facts that led to the arrest of Amanda Knox. It was a sort of rush.” The lawyer said police looked at Knox as a suspect because she behaved oddly in the days after the murder, including doing a cartwheel in a police station while waiting to be questioned, behavior he explained by saying she as “a girl who was alone on the other side of the world from her family.”...

Dalla Vedova challenged some of the evidence presented by prosecutors, particularly the claim that a knife found in the kitchen of Knox’s co-defendant and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito had a speck of Kercher’s DNA on the blade and Knox’s DNA on the handle. Prosecutors claim the knife is the murder weapon….

Knox, he said, “has been the object of a trial through the media, of slander, of violation of privacy… You have to keep in mind the great influence of the press on this trial.”

In the courtroom, Dalla Vedova also lashed out the prosecution’s demand that Knox be sentenced to life in prison. “Remember,” Dalla Vedova said, “that life in prison is the most severe punishment in our country. There is nothing worse than what the prosecutor has asked for Amanda.”

Ann Wise also adds that the jury could get the case as early as this Thursday - two days earlier than we have heard previously.





Posted on 12/01/09 at 11:31 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Summations: Sollecito’s Defense As His Home Town Media Outlet Described It

Posted by Tiziano


Giovinazzo Live is a media outlet in Raffael Sollecito’s home town just to the north of Bari in the south-east of Italy.

Below here is a translation of their report on Ms Bongiorno’s remarks yesterday. Ms Bongiorno, Raffael Sollecito, his father, and his sister are seen in the images above and below.

A Probing Address by Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyer

By Gianluca Battista

There was a bit of everything in the defence address by Giulia Bongiorno, well-known criminologist, part of the defence team for Raffaele Sollecito, from Calmandrei to Socrates, and passing by Sergio Endrigo.

Yesterday before the court of the Assizes in Perugia, one of the most noted female lawyers in Italy took the stand in the first-stage trial which sees her client and Amanda Knox accused of the murder of the English student, Meredith Kercher.

“In this trial Raffaele Sollecito seems to be a silent “little attachment” of Amanda and one doesn’t really understand what use he is,” Bongiorno attacked. “In this trial nothing is made known about him.  His motive is not known.  Amanda is seen as the witch (sorceress), but Raffaele?”

“According to the lawyer for the information sciences engineer from Giovinazzo, who also quoted a song by Sergio Endrigo, the prosecution reconstruction is devoid of elements which are essential to support it.”

For the Sicilian lawyer, “(It is) a murder trial without a motive, a trial which leaves one stupefied.“The lawyer recalls that on the morning of November 2nd it was Rafaele Sollecito himself who alerted the Carabinieri.“It’s a surprising idea - Bongiorno said - that an assassin should call the Carabinieri and say: come and get me, I’m at the crime scene.  Raffaele called the Carabinieri and together with Amanda awaited their arrival sitting on the steps in front of the crime house.”

Then there were many references to the other co-accused of the crime, Amanda, depicted by many as a perverse spirit. But for Bongiorno “Amanda Knox is the “Amelie from Seattle, she looks at people with the eyes of a little girl, fizzing with energy and has a spontaneous and rash attitude to life.”

The defender of the young man from Giovinazzo thus recalled the protagonist of the film “The Fabulous World of Amelie” with whom her friends compared the American girl.  The same video which Knox and Sollecito claimed to have seen in the hours while Meredith Kercher was being killed.

Then an important reference to the statements made by Knox during the questioning at police headquarters, the same which led to the arrest of the innocent Patrick Lumumba.  “Amanda was denied the right of staying silent,” she stressed.

Bongiorno then recalled that Knox, at the time barely twenty, had just arrived in Italy, did not speak Italian and did not know the laws.“Does it seem so strange - she asked, referring to the police interrogations - that she fell into despair, put into statements things which were not true and then did not have the courage to change them?  You must decode Amanda.”

The lawyer then said that Knox has been described as a female “Jack the Ripper”.  “But to me - she commented - it is difficult to think of her in this way.  I see her in the way Amanda’s friends do, that is,  she looks at the world through Amelie’s eyes.”

As for the marking of Meredith’s bra with the prints of Raffaele, collected 46 days later by the investigators, Bongiorno has no doubts: “It should have been discarded from the outset,” she thundered.“Either the prosecution explains how it was moved - she added - or you must have the courage to consign it to the rubbish bin.  A just verdict could be contaminated by a fastener collected in this way.”




Posted on 12/01/09 at 10:51 AM by TizianoClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Germany’s Der Spiegel Posts An Analysis Of The Case

Posted by Peter Quennell


Please click above for Der Spiegel’s analysis in German

The case is being followed closely in Germany. Many Germans take vacations in Italy and they know the country well, and of course Rudy Guede was arrested there. Reporting is good, and TJMK see a number of hits daily from Germany.

With thanks to Has-Georg for the heads-up..

Posted on 12/01/09 at 08:49 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Andrea Vogt Asks Some Useful Questions Concerning The Legal Process

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click here to read all of this well-researched report on the Seattle P-I website.

After presenting an overview of the system similar to those posted here by Nicki and Commisario Montalbano Andrea Vogt asks two experts on the system these questions.

Do jurors have to find Knox guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

Yes. The concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has long been a part of Italy’s justice system. It was formalized and passed into law in 2006.

Knox’s defense lawyer Luciano Ghirga said his team will remind jurors that, even after more than 40 hearings, everything is still in doubt.

The court’s ruling (which is not called a verdict in Italy) is made by an eight-member jury: six laymen and two professional judges. They will vote, and the majority rules. In the case of a 4-4 tie, acquittal overrules.

Could Amanda Knox have plea bargained?

Knox maintains her innocence.

However, while not completely analogous to plea bargaining, Italy does have a similar alternative to trial, also a part of the 1988 reforms. The alternative is not applicable for serious crimes, such as murder, punishable by more than five years in prison.

Suspects who cooperate fully with the police, however, may become eligible for a bundle of mitigating circumstances that would lower prison sentences. A judge may also choose to apply aggravating circumstances to increase a sentence.

Negotiation on the evidence—in which both sides agree what can be admitted—is also available when defendants choose a fast-track trial, as did Rudy Guede, sentenced to 30 years last year for his role in the case for which Knox is on trial. Guede is appealing his conviction.

Why does the figure of prosecutor seem so powerful in Italy?

The prosecutor is a powerful figure in Italy connected to the judiciary, not elected or appointed. While there is a career separation between judges and prosecutors, the qualifying examination and training are common, That has made judges and prosecutors close both culturally and professionally.

In the U.S., prosecutors are appointed in federal system and typically elected in the state system, hence it is common to hear cases referred to as The State vs. X.

In Italy, protections were put in place precisely to prevent the state from pursuing or persecuting, hence the independence of prosecutors.

As a result, prosecutors haven’t shied away from taking on politicians. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, for example, faces a series of criminal procedures in the courts.

That independence , some argue, is precisely the protection needed as a check against government power, and without it, corruption could not be exposed, said Maffei. But others argue that prosecutors wage their own political battles. using their independence to attack political opponents.

Another major difference: the prosecutor supervises the investigation rather than letting police handle it.

Further, he or she also has no discretion over the decision to seek charges. There is a constitutional principle of mandatory prosecution. If there is sufficient evidence to build a case against a defendant, a prosecutor must seek an indictment.

In the U.S. prosecutors can and do drop cases for such reasons as workload or because the defendant has agreed to help with a criminal investigation.

Was it legal for Knox not to have an attorney present when police questioned her?

Yes and No.

Amanda Knox’s interrogation falls into a gray area of the law because she came voluntarily to the police station and was being interviewed in the beginning as someone who could become be a witness, not a suspect.

Then, in the course of questioning by police in November 2007, she blamed Patrick Lumumba for the slaying, and said she was present at the scene of the crime. Lumumba was innocent. Knox has since denied she knows anything about the slaying and says she wasn’t in the flat the night Kercher was killed. Limumba is suing Knox for slander.

The law is very clear: A suspect must not be interrogated without a lawyer.

Once a suspect, an interrogation must be interrupted, the suspect read his or her rights to remain silent and be provided a lawyer. Italian law does not allow waiver of one’s right to counsel. Even if a suspect doesn’t want a lawyer, the authorities are required to appoint one.

If a suspect’s freedom of movement is hindered, the interrogation must be videotaped.

In Knox’s case, a video or audio recording of the entire police interrogation (authorities have denied that any such recordings exist) could identify when police began treating Knox as a suspect and what procedures were followed.

In fact, Italy’s Supreme Court has already said that some of her early statements may not be used against her because they were made without an attorney present.

 

Posted on 11/30/09 at 08:38 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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The Summations: Sollecito’s Lawyer Says Knox Was Not The Sort To Commit Murder

Posted by Peter Quennell


TGCom’s headline that Sollecitos lawyer claimed Knox was framing Sollecito is not born out by this longer report from Richard Own in The Times.

A lawyer for the defence today told the judge and jury Ms Knox was not “Amanda the Ripper” but more like Amelie, the wide-eyed innocent played by Audrey Tautou in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 hit film of the same name.

Giulia Bongiorno, defending Mr Sollecito, said “Throughout this trial I have heard Amanda described as someone who nursed a hatred, someone who was a maneater and someone who was a diabolical witch. But she is not Amanda the Ripper. She is a fragile and weak girl.”

She said Ms Knox, 22, was like “a little girl who looks at people and the world with child-like eyes, full of energy, spontaneous and imprudent ... If anything, she is similar to the character Amelie, the French girl in the film of the same name she was watching with Raffaele the night of the murder.”

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito claim they spent the night of the murder at his flat, smoking cannabis. However Mr Sollecito has testified that he cannot remember if Ms Knox was with him all the time….

Ms Bongiorno, an incisive front-rank Italian lawyer, said that Mr Sollecito, 25, an information technology student, could not have taken part in the murder and sexual assault of Ms Kercher since it was he who had “raised the alarm and waited for the investigators on the doorstep of the house of the crime. Would a killer do that?’‘...

In an impassioned address Ms Bongiorno said that Mr Sollecito barely knew Ms Kercher, and did not know Guede at all. The prosecution had “failed to establish any link” between Mr Sollecito and Guede. “In this trial there are many doubts, but one certainty, that the two did not know each other at the time of the crime,’’ she said. “The only link between them is the charge sheet.’’ The prosecution reconstruction of the crime was “incomplete, with the essential part missing”.

Ms Bongiorno, who successfully defended Giulio Andreotti, the former Italian Prime Minister, against charges that he was linked to the Mafia, said a bloody footprint at the cottage was not Mr Sollecito’s, as the prosecution had claimed, but came from a shoe belonging to Guede.

She used quotations from Socrates to the late Italian singer-songwriter Sergio Endrigo to support her case that the prosecution had failed to prove Mr Sollecito’s guilt “beyond reasonable doubt”. She said that the prosecution had also failed to establish a motive for the crime….

On Saturday Mr Sollecito told the court that Ms Knox was “not manipulative or violent or diabolical, as she is made out to be. She does not have a dark side, she is a girl like many others”. Luca Maori, another lawyer defending Mr Sollecito, said that Guede’s DNA was “on Meredith’s sweatshirt, it’s on her handbag, it’s on her bra. Only one person carried out this crime and it was Guede.”

He said that the bespectacled Mr Sollecito, who comes from a well to do family at Bari in southern Italy, was “a calm, quiet and reserved young man” who when he met Ms Knox in Perugia as a 23-year-old student had had “little sexual experience”.


Posted on 11/30/09 at 09:02 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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