Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Meredith Would Have Been So Proud Of The Beautiful Smart High Achieving Olympics In Her Home Town

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



So we are being told by those who knew her.

She would have been so proud, with the sheer diversity oif the show, with more nations than ever winning medals even though so many of them are on shoestring budgets, with the UK medal count third in the golds and fourth overall.

With all the women athletes on the tv screen seemingly for more than half of the time - the first Olympics where men and women had an equal number of events. And with audiences that went wild with applause over great performances quite regardless of where they were from.

She would have been so impressed with the amazingly smooth management, the diversity of venues picked in part for their sheer beauty, and the giant high-tech disco that was the Olympic Arena in the awesome opening and closing ceremonies.

And she would have laughed too. The British as usual were very funny. Meredith had a much exercised sense of humor. She would have seriously cracked up at the secret agent queen.

We could see where Meredith was born, in many of the aerial shots of London - in the lively cultural neighborhood right behind the London Eye, the giant ferris wheel on the south bank - before her family moved south to outer London. 

Asking around what would have appealed the most to her, we are told: “Of the events probably the gymnastics and the Tai Kwon Do, and also the equestrian events. And of the music at the closing, probably the Spice Girls and Brian May of Queen”.

No good video yet of Brian May and the late Freddie Mercury (whose origins also were in exotic India), but take it away, Spice Girls! Top: the UK TV version. And here: German TV with sharp sound.

Posted on 08/15/12 at 08:51 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer EnglandThe officially involvedVictims family
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Giuseppe Castellini Speaks Up For A “Kind Homeless Man Of Many Aspects”

Posted by Jools





Giuseppe Castellini (above) is the editor of the Journal of Umbria in Perugia. Throughout the case he and his various reporters have done amazing, fearless work.

Today he writes movingly about the sad passing in prison of the honest and brave free spirit Antonio Curatolo, who had been charged during the appeal on a minor eight-year-old charge, apparently at someone’s insistence.

Our lives crossed on the path of the tragic murder of Meredith Kercher. And, somehow, we were no longer separated. Even though, rather than crossing paths, in time they’ve run parallel courses. Up to Friday, when death took him away, at the age of 56. And in his passing we (I speak in the plural because the same sentiment is felt by Francesca Bene, Luca Fiorucci and Antioco Fois, the colleagues who have been following the Meredith case and who met him), we feel deeply saddened.

Antonio Curatolo was no saint. But he had his candour, his naturalness, his humanity and his inner rectitude. Sometimes, I felt he was perhaps dissociated. The homeless romantic and anarchic that reads a lot and has a self-taught culture, living on the edge of society by choice, but who “struggles along” not always in a limpid way. A stray cat, clever and naïve at the same time. Tough and kind, profoundly honest, and at the same time illicit.

I remember when we were informed that a homeless man told someone (who then informed us) that he had seen on the night of the murder Amanda and Sollecito in the Piazza Grimana in Perugia, when as usual he was reading while sitting on a bench in the piazza. The story is well known: Amanda and Sollecito are at the edge of the basketball court, and Raffaele sometimes gets up and leans over the guard rail.

An important testimony, because they had said they were asleep at that time. I remember the contact, the meeting, making him repeat continuously until he was exhausted, what he had seen. Trying to make him contradict himself, to see if what he was saying was true.

A good relationship was born in those days. We spoke about other things apart from the Meredith case, things in general. We got to know each other, we talked about our lives, so many things. And, eventually, it was not very difficult to convince him to tell the investigators what he had told us.

Even though we had to insist (with him, but also with the other witnesses that we found) on surpassing that anti-State Italian mentality in which everyone goes about his business, and that if you rather trust the State you’ll end up in trouble. He testified, and since his testimony was very important (he was defined by the media, with a bit of exaggeration, the “super-witness”), he was “grilled” very thoroughly. 

But he essentially repeated the same story. So much so that the defence teams of Amanda and Raffaele, in the end they stirred in the direction of Curatolo maybe having seen the two youngsters, but not on the night of the murder. His version fully convinced the GUP Judge Micheli (who pointed out that no one could dare question his story because of the mere fact that Antonio had chosen an unusual way of life) and also convinced the judges of the First Instance trial.

Not those judges of the appeal, though, according to whom all the witnesses - especially if found by journalists – were either mythomaniacs, or were prompted to exaggerate by the suppose desire at all costs for a journalistic scoop by reporters (showing, if I may say so myself, a strong cultural retardation of the judges and a very provincial point of view - far from the reality – toward the print press and, more generally, media).

Antonio, as mentioned, was not a saint. His relationship with drugs not only bears witness to his admission that he was a heroin addict, but also the legal troubles related to possession of drugs with intent to sell. An accumulation of small penalties that brought him under house arrest and in prison. Although he proclaimed his innocence. The last time I saw him, some months ago, was when I met him in the street and I accompanied him to the small flat he had rented in Corso Cavour. To complete the house arrest penalty, he told me.

But seeing him enter into that small apartment, after seeing him in the cardboard houses that he was building here and there, gave me the sad impression of a little bird entering a birdcage.

In short, I loved him, despite some aspects of his life. When I saw him we smiled. And they were smiles of men sincere with each other. I had affection for him. His sins, I’m sure, have been forgiven.

May the earth of the grave rest lightly on you, Antonio.


Posted on 08/14/12 at 12:27 PM by JoolsClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesOther witnessesNews media & moviesGreat reportingThe wider contextsPerugia context
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Correcting Saul Kassin’s Massively Inaccurate Description Of Amanda Knox’s So-Called Confession

Posted by brmull




Conflicts between Kassin’s academic and court personas

Saul Kassin is a psychologist with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He tries to advance the notion academically and in court that many confessions are coerced by the police and thus false.

In writing about American cases of confessions, Kassin would normally be very sure to interview all the parties to the confession. Police would not simply be sidelined, and the confessor’s tale would not be the only narrative he pays attention to. His academic pieces would normally be peer-reviewed and any claims which were questionable would be examined by the academic peers or the readership.  False claims by Kassin could result in criminal complaints and civil lawsuits.

It is quite clear from online postings that Saul Kassin was taken on as a hired gun for the Knox defense in the Knox/Sollecito trial in Perugia. He was being paid NOT to simply be academic and objective, he was being paid to give the police witnesses and prosecution as hard a time as possible.

Although he seems to have flown to Perugia at one point he definitely did not encounter let alone interview even one police officer, even one prosecutor or even one judge. He made no visit to the questura where the Knox questioning took place. He doesnt speak or read Italian so he would not be able to get to grip with original evidence.

He does not reveal if and when he interviewed Amanda Knox herself. She makes no mention of any meeting with Kassin in her book. Kassin was definitely not in court in mid-2009 when Amanda Knox was cross-examined for two days on the witness stand about her false allegations against Patrick Lumumba. Her stint on the stand was regarded as a disaster for her by most of those present.

Conflicts consequentially plaguing Kassin’s academic judgments

During the Hellmann appeal in 2011 [subsequently annulled by the Supreme Court in 2013] Kassin started to use his academic standing and ostensible objectivity to propagate to American and later global audiences his hired-gun take for the defense. He had still not interviewed anyone in the Perugia police or prosecution.

He never made clear that his description of Knox’s interrogation was already UNIVERSALLY discredited in Italy - and that even Knox had admitted that the police treated her fairly. He never explained what peer review process his many pieces went through. Not one police officer or prosecutor in Perugia was contacted by any peer reviewer seeking confirmations. This suggests either that there was no peer review or it was unethically cooked in some way.

Our own peer reviews of Kassins proliferating claims

One month ago my fellow poster the Machine took apart ten claims which Saul Kassin made last year in a Seattle radio interview. As the Machine showed, every one of those claims fall apart once one refers to official documents and the more objective case books and websites. 

Another post one month ago by my fellow poster Fuji showed that Amanda Knox is NOT likely to issue false confessions in the heat of an interrogation moment.

That is Kassin’s key claim here, and in effect Fuji used Kassin’s own “science” against him.

Then we were warned by a John Jay colleague critical of Kassin that he had repeated these same spurious claims live on television - and that Kassin had made even more wrong claims in a keynote speech to a conference of the elite John Jay College in June in New York, in front of an influential international audience.

And he did so again in a paper, possibly peer-reviewed, which the respected journal American Psychologist has placed online. This post provides the truth on the Knox-related claims at the front and back ends of that American Psychologist paper.

Saul Kassin still appears to want to argue that Amanda Knox was convicted ONLY based on a false confession (as the Machine and numerous posts on TJMK show, she wasn’t - and in fact, Knox didn’t even confess) and he now makes almost 50 erroneous assertions about the case.

You can see highlighted in the first box-quote below those misleading and erroneous passages of PR shill Kassin which I correct in the second box-quote below.

(1) SAUL KASSIN’S ORIGINAL VERSION WITH WRONG STATEMENTS HIGHLIGHTED


As illustrated by the story of Amanda Knox and many others wrongfully convicted, false confessions often trump factual innocence. Focusing on consequences, recent research suggests that confessions are powerfully persuasive as a matter of logic and common sense; that many false confessions contain richly detailed narratives and accurate crime facts that appear to betray guilty knowledge; and that confessions in general can corrupt other evidence from lay witnesses and forensic experts—producing an illusion of false support. This latter phenomenon, termed “corroboration inflation,” suggests that pretrial corroboration requirements as well as the concept of “harmless error” on appeal are based on an erroneous presumption of independence among items of evidence. In addition to previously suggested reforms to police practices that are designed to curb the risk of false confessions, measures should be taken as well to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions…. 

Meredith Kercher was found raped and murdered in Perugia, Italy. Almost immediately,  police suspected 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student and one of Kercher’s roommates—the only one who stayed in Perugia after the murder. Knox had no history of crime or violence and no motive. But something about her demeanor—such as an apparent lack of affect, an outburst of sobbing, or her girlish and immature behavior— led police to believe she was involved and lying when she claimed she was with Raffaele Sollecito, her new Italian boyfriend, that night. 

Armed with a prejudgment of Knox’s guilt, several police officials interrogated the girl on and off for four days. Her final interrogation started on November 5 at 10 p.m. and lasted until November 6 at 6 a.m., during which time she was alone, without an attorney, tag-teamed by a dozen police, and did not break for food or sleep. In many ways, Knox was a vulnerable suspect—young, far from home, without family, and forced to speak in a language in which she was not fluent. Knox says she was repeatedly threatened and called a liar. She was told,  falsely, that Sollecito, her boyfriend, disavowed her alibi and that physical evidence placed her at the scene. She was encouraged to shut her eyes and imagine how the gruesome crime had occurred, a trauma, she was told, that she had obviously repressed. Eventually she broke down crying,  screaming, and hitting herself in the head. Despite a law that mandates the recording of interrogations, police and prosecutors maintain that these sessions were not recorded. 

Two “confessions” were produced in this last session,  detailing what Knox called a dreamlike “vision.” Both were typed by police—one at 1:45 a.m., the second at 5:45 a.m. She retracted the statements in a handwritten letter as soon as she was left alone (“In regards to this ‘confession’  that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”). Notably, nothing in the confessions indicated that she had guilty knowledge. In fact, the statements attributed to Knox were factually incorrect on significant core details (e.g., she named as an accomplice a man whom police had suspected but who later proved to have an ironclad alibi; she failed to name another man, unknown to police at the time, whose DNA was later identified on the victim). Nevertheless, Knox, Sollecito, and the innocent man she implicated were all immediately arrested. In a media-filled room, the chief of police announced: Caso chiuso (case closed). 

Police had failed to provide Knox with an attorney or record the interrogations, so the confessions attributed to her were ruled inadmissible in court. Still, the damage was done. The confession set into motion a hypothesis-confirming investigation, prosecution, and conviction. The man whose DNA was found on the victim, after specifically stating that Knox was not present, changed his story and implicated her while being prosecuted. Police forensic experts concluded that Knox’s DNA on the handle of a knife found in her boyfriend’s apartment also contained Kercher’s blood on the blade and that the boyfriend’s DNA was on the victim’s bra clasp. Several eyewitnesses came forward.  An elderly woman said she was awakened by a scream followed by the sound of two people running; a homeless drug addict said he saw Knox and Sollecito in the vicinity that night; a convicted drug dealer said he saw all three suspects together; a grocery store owner said he saw Knox the next morning looking for cleaning products; one witness said he saw Knox wielding a knife. 

On December 5, 2009, an eight-person jury convicted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of murder. The two were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively. Finally, on October 3, 2011, after having been granted a new trial, they were acquitted. [Actually they still stand accused - and facing a tough fact-based prosecution appeal] Ten weeks later, the Italian appeals court released a strongly worded 143-page opinion in which it criticized the prosecution and concluded that there was no credible evidence, motive, or plausible theory of guilt. For the four years of their imprisonment, this story drew international attention (for comprehensive overviews of the case, see Dempsey, 2010, and Burleigh, 2011).1

It is now clear that the proverbial mountain of discredited evidence used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito was nothing but a house of cards built upon a false confession. The question posed by this case, and so many others like it, is this: Why do confessions so often trump innocence? ...

Third, it is important to realize that not all evidence is equally malleable or subject to corroboration inflation. Paralleling classic research indicating that expectations can color judgments of people, objects, and other stimuli that are ambiguous as opposed to those that compel a particular perception, forensic research indicates that ambiguity is a moderating condition. Asked to report on an event or make an identification decision on the basis of a memory trace that cannot be recovered, eyewitnesses are particularly malleable when confronted with evidence of a confession (Hasel & Kassin, 2009). This phenomenon was illustrated in the case against Amanda Knox. When police first interviewed Knox’s British roommates, not one reported that there was bad blood between Knox and the victim. After Knox’s highly publicized confession, however, the girls brought forth new “memories,” telling police that Kercher was uncomfortable with Knox and the boys she would bring home (Burleigh, 2011). ... 

In recent years, psychologists have been critical of the problems with accuracy, error, subjectivity, and bias in various types of criminal evidence—prominently including eyewitness identification procedures, police interrogation practices, and the so-called forensic identification sciences,  all leading Saks and Koehler (2005) to predict a “coming paradigm shift.” With regard to confessions, it now appears that this shift should encompass not only reforms that serve to minimize the risk of false confessions but measures designed to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions—as in the case of Amanda Knox and others who are wrongfully convicted.


(2) MY REPLACEMENT VERSION WITH CORRECT FACTS AND CONTEXT NOW INCLUDED


On November 2, 2007, British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found sexually attacked and murdered in Perugia, Italy. The next day, 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student and one of Kercher’s roommates, became a person of interest, along with Meredith’s downstairs neighbors and several of her other acquaintances. Interviewing close contacts is a cornerstone of police work. Two of Meredith’s close English friends, who were so scared they couldn’t sleep alone, left Perugia in the immediate aftermath of the murder. Everyone else stayed on.

Months before arriving in Perugia, Knox received a citation for a noise violation when a going-away party she’d thrown for herself in Seattle got out of hand. One of the officers described it as a “scene from Baghdad.” Within about three weeks of moving into the cottage in Perugia, Knox was ejected from a nightclub for pouring her glass on the head of a disc jockey.

It’s often said that Knox had no motive to kill Meredith, but it was Knox’s claim of drug use which indicated a possible motive: a drug-fuelled assault. There are various others, though a motive is not actually required for conviction. In crime scene videos from the day Meredith’s body was discovered, Knox can be seen outside the cottage glancing furtively around. Still, it was not this and other odd behavior, but rather the many conflicting witness statements by Knox and her new Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, that led police to believe Knox was involved and lying when she claimed she was with Sollecito at his home continuously on the night of November 1.

Police interviewed dozens of witnesses in the days after the murder, some more than once. All witness statements were written down and signed for, not recorded. The police interviewed Sollecito for the third time beginning at 10:40pm on November 5. Knox later testified that she voluntarily accompanied her boyfriend to the station, because she didn’t want to be alone. The police did not summon her. To the interviewers’ surprise, Sollecito repudiated his earlier alibi when shown phone records, and now said Knox had left his apartment for much of the evening. Some time after 11:00pm the police asked if they might interview Knox. An interpreter was called and by 1:45am Knox had given a signed statement that she had witnessed the sounds of her employer, bar owner Patrick Lumumba, murdering Meredith at the cottage.

In that statement she acknowledged that she had been given an interpreter, and that she herself was now officially a suspect. Knox later testified that she was treated well. She was offered snacks and drinks during the interview and afterward. Made aware that she could not be interrogated without a lawyer, but still anxious to put out as much information as possible, she then requested a chance to make a spontaneous statement without any questioning. Dr Mignini, the magistrate on duty, was called from his home, and she gave a statement in front of him very similar to her witness statement from hours earlier. He asked no questions.

Knox and the police gave different accounts of how the 11:00 to 1:45 am interview was conducted. Police said Knox was told Sollecito now no longer confirmed her alibi and he had called her a liar. She now had no alibi. Sympathetic to her because Knox was freaking out, the interpreter urged her to try to remember at least something.  Shown a text she had sent to Lumumba at 8:35pm saying “See you later. Have a good evening!” she was asked to explain this. The police describe how Knox started to cry and burst out, “It’s him! It’s him!”

Both Knox’s witness statement at 1:45 a.m and her voluntary suspect statement at 5:45am were written out in Italian and translated back to her before she signed. After Knox was formally taken into custody at midday on November 6, she asked for paper and wrote a slight modification of her earlier statements, adding: “In regards to this ‘confession’ that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”

Lumumba was arrested along with Knox and Sollecito. Knox and her mother held out on his non-involvement for weeks, but he was eventually determined to have a solid alibi. Another man, Rudy Guede, was identified through a hand print in Meredith’s bedroom. Knox appeared to have substituted Lumumba for Guede in her statements, and several details of the crime in her so-called confession were later corroborated by witnesses.

Because police had not needed to provide Knox with an attorney at the impromptu witness interview after 11:00, the Supreme Court ruled that statement inadmissible in the murder case against her. However both statements were ruled admissible in court for the purpose of establishing the crime of defamation against Patrick Lumumba. Knox’s November 6 letter was also ruled admissible.

Guede, the man whose DNA was found on the victim, told a friend while he was still on the run that he had found Meredith stabbed and that Knox had nothing to do with the murder. However, in the same conversation, which was recorded by police, he speculated that Knox and Sollecito might have been at the cottage. In a letter dated March 7, 2010, while his sentence was awaiting final confirmation by the Supreme Court, Guede wrote that Knox and Sollecito murdered Meredith. He reiterated this claim as a witness during Knox and Sollecito’s appeal.

Forensic police from Rome concluded that a kitchen knife found in Sollecito’s apartment had Knox’s DNA on the handle and Meredith’s DNA on the blade. Sollecito’s DNA was on the victim’s bra clasp in Meredith’s locked bedroom.

Several eyewitnesses came forward. Three neighbors testified that they heard a disturbance around 11:30pm in the vicinity of the cottage. A homeless man who at appeal admitted heroin use was reading a newsmagazine at the basketball court near the cottage. He testified that he saw Knox and Sollecito four or five times that night. An Albanian, a possible drug dealer. who the Massei court deemed unreliable after the Micheli court accepted him, said he had seen all three suspects together, and that Knox had accosted him with a knife. A grocery store owner testified he saw Knox at his shop early on the morning after the murder.

The conflicting alibis of the two were never resolved during trial. On December 4, 2009, an eight-person panel consisting of two professional judges and six lay judges found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder aggravated by sexual assault, simulation of a burglary, unlawful carrying of a knife and, in Knox’s case, criminal defamation of Patrick Lumumba. The two were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively….

Knox’s mother later described her daughter as “oblivious to the dark side of the world.” Knox herself wrote that, on the night of the murder, she and Sollecito were talking about his mother’s suicide. She told him her philosophy was “life is full of choices and that these choices are not necessarily between good and evil, but between what’s better and what’s worse.”...

Results of our own peer-group analysis

Kassin asserted that the witnesses in this case imagined “new memories” unfavorable to Knox because of her highly-publicized confession. He referenced an experiment in which an unknown actor walked into a classroom and stole a laptop. The students were asked to try to identify the thief from a line-up. Two days later, the students were told which person in the line-up had confessed. Many changed their minds when told of the confession, although in truth the thief was never in the line-up at all.

Obviously this contrived scenario has nothing at all to do with Amanda Knox or people who had met her.

In his book, Meredith, the victim’s father John Kercher recalls his daughter complaining about Knox’s poor hygiene and how she brought home strange men several weeks before the murder. Numerous witnesses recounted specific anecdotes of Knox’s sharp-elbowed and offputting behavior. Her circle of friends quickly diminished only to Sollecito.

Really, could all these be “new memories”?

Psychologists studying eyewitness testimony, interrogation techniques and false confessions need to be circumspect. Even DNA testing, considered the best of the forensic sciences, requires a thorough understanding of circumstances in order to be interpreted correctly.

Kassin’s continued stonewalling and legal risks

I really wonder who agreed to publish him. I work in a science-based field. When I first learned Kassin had been recruited by Curt Knox’s hatchet men as a PR shill, had been put directly in touch with Knox herself, and had been provided with pre-selected reading materials, I wrote to ask him why he hadn’t disclosed all this to his readers.

Still no reply.

It’s true that numerous talking heads have exaggerated their qualifications and concealed their conflicts of interest and financial stakes when speaking in support of the defense. Judge Mike Heavey abused his oath of office to try to sway the process.

What’s different about Kassin is that, using his John Jay College aura, he has corrupted the scientific record with misinformation.

And he has done this, at least in part, with the goal of misleading an Italian court.  These dirty tricks are especially dangerous because most people, including judges, expect that what’s stated as fact in prominent academic journals is objective and true.

Kassin looks to us nothing like an academic here. He looks instead like a defense hired gun who (only in English and only in America) has repeatedly falsely accused police officers of serious felonies in how they questioned Knox as a witness.

If even a single complaint is lodged in Italy and Kassin cannot prove his 50 or so seemingly-spurious and very damaging claims, he could find himself facing years in an Italian prison for attempted obstruction of justice.

Kassin’s peers need to press him for the truth once and for all, and to stop him using his academic mantle illegally and academically unethically as a cloak for a sleazy defense campaign.

[Everything in this post applies equally to the ludicrously inaccurate claims of ex FBI “mindhunter” John Douglas in his books and lobbying at the State Department.]

 


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Dissecting The Hellmann Report #3: How Zanetti & Hellmann Bizarrely Try Discredit Witness Curatolo

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Stone steps Meredith and all three accused maybe used on the night; left and at bottom, where witness sat]

Under the first post in this series dissecting The Hellmann Report, one of our percipient commenters suggested this:

The next portion in the series should likely be about the witnesses, I hope, and there we can marvel at Hellmann’s discourses on the functioning of the human memory.

Was our commenter ever right!

On page 32 of the PMF English language version of “Sentence of the Court Of Assizes Of Appeal Of Perugia (Presided Over By Dr. Claudio Pratillo Hellmann)” this is written:

The presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Piazza Grimana between 9:30 PM and 11:30 PM on November 1 was, in fact, reported solely by the witness Curatolo, whose reliability this Court very much doubts for the following considerations.

In the first place, the deterioration of his mental faculties, from his way of life and his habits. revealed by his answers before this Court in the course of his testimony (hearing of March 26, 2011) resulting from his way of life and his habits

Realisation of what Hellmann/Zanetti were “constructively” doing there stunned me. They are exposing both a lack of logic and prejudice against a witness.

A necessary logical preamble to my realisation goes as follows:

    1. Massei had stated that Antonio Curatolo’s declarations have “been established to be reliable” [MASSEI p.358 of 397 [28th of 42 total Curatolo references]].

    2. Hellmann/Zanetti stated that “..this Court does not recognise the statement made by the witness Curatolo as credible… [Hellmann/Zanetti p35 of 95 [5th of 18 total Curatolo references]]

    3. In American common-law appellate courts do not rehear the facts of the case. Appellate courts focus on questions of law, NOT on questions of facts as their trial-courts do.

    The American appellate judges don’t presume to supersede the people who were there, and who watched the witness’s demeanour and surrounding activity, in 4-D (3-D + Time), with sights, sounds, cadences, pauses, pronunciations, intonations, and yes, …smells, in addition to, and supplementing, the 2-D pieces of paper, containing only the words they apparently spoke, but not containing the way they spoke them, let alone the scene before the court.”

    The American appellate judges want only to know whether the law was applied accurately.

    Those American appellate courts overrule a trial court decision only if a very important legal error was made in the trial court.

    In some cases, the American appellate court judges might believe that the outcome of the trial court should have been different, but if no legal errors were made, they will not overrule the lower court.

    The American appellate judges make their decisions based only on legal arguments of how the law should be applied and interpreted.

    Our learned English & Welsh Common Law (E&W) correspondent has explained to us that E&W law permits Appellate introduction of fresh evidence, which could include new evidence re rain and buses, although Massei had already considered evidence on those subjects.

    E&W Law would not have allowed Appellate re-examination of Curatelo.

    4. As we all know, and have discussed in some detail, Italian law is significantly different but Dr Galati is apparently outraged by the conduct and Motivazione of Hellmann/Zanetti.

    Dr Galati has lodged a strongly-worded Appeal of Hellmann/Zanetti’s verdict, alleging that the scope of Hellmann/Zanetti was illegal and that they tried to run a whole new appeal trial.

    Galati indicated in the appeal to Cassation that the Hellmann/Zanetti reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”…

    See also my previous post on the definition of “unreliable” [in the Hellmann Report] with reference to the witnesses Antonio Curatolo.

Although I can identify no specific reference by Dr Galati to the specific issue re Curatolo I wish to address, this one should have been included:

    i. “the deterioration of his mental faculties”, apparently between Curatelo’s testimony at the Massei hearing of March 28, 2009, and Curatelo’s the Hellmann/Zanetti hearing of March 26, 2011.

    ii.Suppose Curatolo’s faculties really did deteriorate during those 2 years; maybe he was injured in an RTA, had a stroke, or developed a dementia.

    What on earth has that got to do with Curatelo’s testimony back in 2009? It’s possible that Hellmann/Zanetti were implying that Curatolo’s “deterioration” was part of a continuum, and that as bad as he was, in their opinion, in 2007, 2009, and 2011, he had been, and still is steadily getting worse.

    If that is their implication they would be committing 2 cardinal errors of logic – the interpolation error, and the extrapolation error.

    Of course, giving their words their plain-meaning, Hellmann/Zanetti could be implying acceptance of the Massei’s statement that Curatolo’s 2009 testimony was reliable – but they obviously do not intend to imply that.

    iii. Maybe Hellmann/Zanetti can get away with dismissing Curatolo’s testimony to Massei “presuming to supersede the people who were there, and who watched the witness’s demeanour and surrounding activity, in 4-D (3-D + Time), with sights, sounds, cadences, pauses, pronunciations, intonations, and yes, …smells, as well as the 2-D pieces of paper, containing only the words they apparently spoke, but not containing the way they spoke them, let alone the whole scene before the court. ”

    I hope not, but with this “deterioration” allegation, there is no apparent (even an inadmissible one) professional expert opinion in evidence, and with Hellmann/Zanetti’s gratuitous cause-and-effect theory: “resulting from his way of life and his habits ”, Hellmann/Zanetti overstep, and reveal their ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence.

    Finality, in Anglo-American common law, is the concept that certain disputes must achieve a resolution from which no further appeal may be taken, and from which no collateral proceedings may be permitted to disturb that resolution.

    Does Italian law really allow this 2-years-later Appeal-rehash of witness testimony and criticisms, on the grounds that the witness’s memories have faded since he first testified? I hope not.

    Isn’t it normal for memories to fade with the passage of time?

    Does that fading justify dismissal of the original testimony?

    A principle of Anglo-American Common Law deeply embedded in it - Finality - would be out-of-the-window if lawyers could just keep repeating their questions until the witness gives them what they want.

Between their substitution of “certainty” for “reasonable-doubt” and their would-be eternal-postponement of finality Hellmann/Zanetti could shoot their legal system out of the courts.

Hellmann/Zanetti’s treatments of Curatolo’s testimony, alone, is a disaster. They should be thrown-out.

Hellmann/Zanetti’s subtext seems to be that Curatolo is merely an ignorant, illiterate, bad smelling, unkempt, dirty, ugly-old-tramp, daring to testify as to what he observed, to the detriment of two knowledgeable, educated, sweet-smelling, tidy, clean, attractive, young, innocent children.

Isn’t it far more certain, Hellmann/Zanetti seem to think, that the testimony of Curatolo is false testimony, and that the false testimony of these charming young children is not really false testimony because the Devil Prosecutors made-them-say-it.

If I analysed that whole section it would be very long.

If you are not yet familiar with them,  you should read in conjunction with this series the posts by one of my lawyer colleagues on TJMK. James Raper, explaining the strength of the prosecution case and how hard it is to challenge legitimately.

See here and here. Also here by another of my lawyer colleagues, SomeAlibi.


[Below: witness said he and perps sat on benches at left; Meredith’s house far left, steps far right]

Posted on 08/02/12 at 11:34 AM by Cardiol MDClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe judiciaryAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann critiques
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In Terms Of Medals Won Per Population Per Capita Italy Is Right Now Coming First At Olympics

Posted by Peter Quennell





The two frontrunner countries - the US and China - have overall each won about twice Italy’s current tally of medals.

Japan also has won several more. However, Japan’s population is more than twice the size of Italy’s, the US’s population is more than 5 times, and China’s population is more than 15 times.

Some 27 countries have so far won medals, out of 204 countries competing.

Right now Italy is ahead of France, South Korea, Russia, North Korea, Australia, Britain (host country), Romania, Brazil, Hungary, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Rankings do change almost daily, but Italian athletes are off to a pretty nice start.

Posted on 07/31/12 at 09:49 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Heads-Up To The Amanda Knox Forces: A Case Showing How Closely The US and Italian FBIs Co-operate

Posted by Peter Quennell



Meet Doctor Mark Weinberger.

That report about his arrest in Italy was broadcast in 2009. We last posted on him here.

Weinberger was apparently a wildly successful doctor who ran a sinus clinic in Indiana and lived a wildly affluent lifestyle a few milers north outside Chicago. In 2004 he disappeared off his large yacht which was then anchored at a Greek marina, and for six years his (very impressive) wife Michelle presumed he was dead.

In the meantime she had found out that he had actually been running a huge fraud, scamming health insurance and the US government via false billing and unnecessary surgery (often botched) for many millions. And that far from being left comfortably off, she was financially wiped out.

In 2006 in absentia she divorced Weinberger and started over.

In 2009 Weinberger was captured in the Alps by the Italian equivalent of the FBI and returned to the United States as soon as his extradition was requested. In perhaps 99 percent of all US-Italian extradition cases, the fugitives are handed over by both governments very promptly. This sure wasn’t any exception. 

Weinberger began to lose the first of numerous civil suits a year ago, and on wednesday he pleaded guilty to 22 criminal charges in federal court.

His prison term is set at ten years.

One moral of the tale apparently still not learned by Steve Moore and Bruce Fischer and their hapless ship of fools, so desperate for approbation, is this: much or most of the time it is the fine Italian equivalent of the FBI that they are misrepresenting and defaming.

In the past two weeks alone, we have seen new ramblings by Saul Kassin and Nigel Scott (engineered by Bruce Fischer) that to any informed lawyer are quite crazy. Kassin and Scott clearly didnt have the slightest idea WHO they were defaming or accusing of crimes.

Or how much more determined thier defaming makes the Italian FBI and other law enforcement agencies and the courts to give Amanda Knox (or Curt Knox or Edda Mellas) no special breaks.

The daffy Steve Moore first introduced this confusion way back here.  And of course Bruce Fischer, Curt Knox’s hotheaded chief hatchet man, sustains it up to this day.

Eighteen months ago, Chris Mellas (whose business in Seattle is doing well) sensibly recommended from Perugia that the Knox campaign should finally acquire some cool heads and some REAL experts, and toss the trouble-making grand-standers they had acquired over the side.

Perhaps predictably, Curt Knox (whose business in Seattle is doing badly) reacted red-faced and steaming, and shot this seemingly quite smart idea down. So the abrasive, misleading, very amateur campaign goes on.

***

Added. We are now told that Frank Sforza and David Anderson are in Seattle, and Sollecito will be there soon, to actually jack up the level of defaming in the RS and AK “we were the victims” books being written.

Wow. THAT is Curt Knox’s end-game?l He ran that one past Chris Mellas?  It seems universally believed in officialdom in Rome and Perugia that Curt Knox KNEW all along that Amanda did it. Apparently with good evidence.

What will he do if they charge him?
 


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dissecting The Hellmann Report #2: How Judges Zanetti And Hellman Tilted The Legal Playing Field

Posted by Cardiol MD





The Calunnia section of the Hellmann Report is about 4 pages in a 94 page document and it covers the Knox framing of Lumumba.

The Calunnia section was used in the first post of my series (“Dissecting The Hellmann Report #1: Highlighting Representative Examples Of Its Many Bizarre Quirks” ) to demonstrate the weaknesses typical of the whole report

Following publication of that post, it was kindly brought to our attention that the contributions of Assistant Judge Zanetti were so extensive - the report is said to be argued and written throughout in his style, and far from Judge Hellmann’s - that it should be called The Hellmann/Zanetti Report.

Post #1 exemplified, among other defects, some Orwellian DoubleThink from Hellmann/Zanetti:

Early in Calunnia, on Report page 22, Hellmann/Zanetti attribute Knox’s inconsistent, and incriminating, often illogical, falsehoods and behaviours, to Knox’s confusion caused by prosecutorial oppression, from which, by unspoken implication, guilt cannot be inferred, Hellmann/Zanetti informs its readers.

However, on page 23, still in Calunnia, Hellmann/Zanetti admonishes the reader not to infer any implication of guilt from the Knox falsehood that was the very subject of Calunnia, because the falsehood “is in fact not at all logical”.

The two relevant passages, using very convoluted language, “constructively” argue:

  • Firstly, that if Knox uttered any falsehoods (including illogical falsehoods) it was because of prosecutorial oppression, is not evidence of guilt, and,

  • Secondly, that if Knox uttered any illogical falsehoods, with or without prosecutorial oppression, it was because Amanda would not say anything illogical if it was easier to tell the truth than to tell something illogical, and is also not evidence of guilt.

Among the specific defects in the Hellmann/Zanetti Report, exemplified in its Calunnia section were the Report’s ploy of flooding the discussion of each evidentiary element with real and imagined reasons-to-doubt the significance of each element.

Report #1 also mentioned the issue of whether Meredith did scream just before she died, and if so when Meredith screamed.

Hellmann/Zanetti’s endemic use of the word “certain” revealed a biased perspective, as if “certain” (as in “beyond doubt”), is Hellmann/Zanetti’s equivalent to “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

This post in my series, “Dissecting The Hellmann Report #2”, focuses on the whole Report’s constructive substitution of “certain” for “beyond a reasonable doubt”:

First we take into account a semantic quirk: In the English language the word “certain” is used in multiple senses. In the Italian language, its Italian-equivalent the word “certo” is used in a much narrower sense.

Generally, when absence-of-doubt is intended, a verb-sense is used e.g. “It is certain”. In contrast when a figure-of-speech-sense is intended an adjectival or other modifier-sense is used e.g. “…a certain smile…”.

The Hellmann/Zanetti English translation-draft uses both of these senses.

It uses the figure-of-speech sense 12 times, but where the absence-of-doubt sense is constructively intended, it uses forms like “certainly” (41 times), “certain” (36 times), and “certainty” (11 times), for a total of 88 times.

Other ways of expressing certainty are also used.

Judge Zanetti is the one who made “opening statements” variously reported to have been “…nothing is certain except the death of Meredith Kercher.”,  or “… the only fact that is objectively certain, indisputable and that has not been discussed is the death of Meredith Kercher”. 

Neither version of Judge Zanetti’s “opening statements” appears in the Hellmann/Zanetti English translation-draft, although the draft does include references informing the reader that the report contains an error (see footnotes 2 & 3 in the draft, on pp 18 & 19)

The Chief Prosecutor, Dr Galati, both in his Appellate Brief for the Supreme Court and in his oral statement at his press conference, excoriated Judge Zanetti for his start-of-trial remarks:

The second-level [first appeal] judges appear to have shown “a sort of prejudice” with the “infelicitous preamble of the judge [the author], who is supposed to be impartial”, when he declared that “nothing is certain except the death of Meredith Kercher”, which to the others [Mr Galati and Mr Costagliola] is nothing more than “a resounding preview/forecast of the judgement” and a “disconcerting” affirmation.”

Here are some examples, emphases are mine :

Page 12 – “It is clear that if, for the sake of argument, the DNA found on the clasp is actually Raffaele Sollecito’s, this [piece of] evidence, while yet remaining such, is of particular significance: and the same can be said for the DNA found on the handle and on the blade of the knife seized at Raffaele Sollecito’s house, provided it is certain that this is actually one of the weapons used by the aggressors.”

Hellmann/Zanetti’s 1st explicit use of the idea of certainty, in the printed document, using a qualified “provided it is certain”

Pages 16-17:

...About the footprints, they observe that those recovered from the inside of the residence reveal the presence of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at the scene of the crime. These are prints that in the scientific view cannot be classed as usable for positive comparisons but, however, are useful for negative comparisons, in the sense that, based on these prints one cannot reach a certain identification [23] but one can, however, arrive at a certain exclusion on the basis of the compatibility, or not, of these prints with a specific subject.

The Scientific Police (Inspector Rinaldi and Chief Inspector Boemia) were able, thus, to exclude that the footprints could be attributed, in contrast to the shoe prints, to Rudy Guede, while they were judged compatible with the characteristics of Amanda Knox (imprints recovered from her room and from the corridor) and of Raffaele Sollecito (imprints recovered from the small mat in the bathroom and in the corridor).

Hellmann/Zanetti here argue that the idea of ‘certainty’ is asymmetric (my paraphrase), it may not justify certain inclusion, because of its mere compatibility, but it may justify certain exclusion because of its incompatibility. 

This is valid and historically well-accepted; Massei had already said so.

Pages 20-21:

And so, the re‐examination of the outcomes from the first instance trial, and the subsequent acquisitions [of evidence] during oral argument in the current appeal, do not confirm the hypothesis that more than one person was necessarily involved in the crime.

This hypothesis, as appears from a reading of the December 22, 2009 judgement, was shaped by substantially accepting all the arguments presented by the Prosecution and in particular holding the following items to be certain:

– that the DNA, recovered by the Scientific Police from the bra‐clasp in the murder room, be attributed to Raffaele Sollecito and that this DNA had been left behind precisely during the occasion of the murder; [28]

– that the DNA, recovered by the Scientific Police from the blade of the knife seized in Raffaele Sollecito’s house, be attributed to Meredith Kercher and that it had been left behind during the occasion of the murder;

– that the wounds present of the body of Meredith Kercher, by their number and their directions, as also by their various characteristics (length of wound, width, etc.), could not have been occasioned by a sole aggressor but by multiple aggressors;

– that the absence of defensive wounds on Meredith Kercher’s hands and arms confirm the necessary participation of more than one person in the aggression; – that the ingress into the interior of the via della Pergola apartment had been allowed by the only person who, in that moment – apart from Meredith Kercher – had the means of doing so, that is to say, by Amanda Knox, the Court of Assizes of Appeal having held that the ingress through the window, by means of breaking of the glass, was no more than a mise‐en‐scène to falsely lead the investigations towards unknown authors of an attempted theft.”

Hellmann/Zanetti here lay a reasonably neutral factual-foundation, before launching their attack.

Page 30. re [42] Defense-witness-statements of Alessi, Aviello, Castelluccio, De Cesare, Trincan:

….If these testimonies cannot be considered as evidence in favour of the present accused, this does not mean, however, that they can be considered – as argued by the prosecution – as circumstantial [evidence] against them. That these witnesses decided to report such circumstances, hypothetically in favour to the accused, either spontaneously or solicited by others is of no importance; it is certain that there is no evidence to maintain that it was the present accused, (who did what?) arrested a very few days after the event and, therefore, held in prison for years, to plot such a plan, so that the unreliability of [43] these witnesses cannot be considered as confirmation that the defendants provided a false alibi.

Hellmann/Zanetti here slip-in an unnecessary, incomplete, assertion to protect the false alibi. It was already obvious that those witnesses were brought-on in defensive desperation to distract, and didnt seem important to the issue of the false alibi, one way or the other.

[Added: Cardiol edit of 7 Aug. 2012: Until the translation by PMF of the first half of Galati’s Appeal reached me on 6 August after writing this, most of us did not realise that Hellmann/Zanetti had improperly omitted, selectively & deliberately, Aviello’s statements which in fact are crucially important, not only to the issue of the false alibi, but also to the issue of AK/RS’s very guilt. Therefore I retract the “didnt seem important” above.  Hellmann/Zanetti’s “slip-in” seems deliberately incomplete, to protect their own criminal misconduct.]

Page 49:

3. Taking into account that none of the recommendations of the international scientific community relative to the treatment of Low Copy Number (LCN) samples were followed, we do not accept the conclusions regarding the certain attribution of the profile found on trace B (blade of knife) to the victim Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher, since the genetic profile, as obtained, appears unreliable insofar as it is not supported by scientifically validated analysis;

Hellmann/Zanetti here buy into the questionable DNA testimony (“not supported by scientifically validated analysis”) of Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, whose consultancy is called ‘illegal’ in the Supreme Court appeal of Chief Prosecutor Dr Galati.

More to follow in the next posts in my series. 

If you are not yet familiar with them,  you should read in conjunction with this series the posts by one of my lawyer colleagues on TJMK. James Raper, explaining the strength of the prosecution case and how hard it is to challenge. See here and here.

Also here by another of my lawyer colleagues, SomeAlibi.

Posted on 07/24/12 at 11:35 AM by Cardiol MDClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ominous Development For Sollecito And Knox: A DNA Conviction Based On A Tiny Sample Of DNA

Posted by The Machine



[Burgess, image below, murdered Yolande Waddington and, above, Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams]


There is a HUGE dagger hanging over Sollecito and Knox. A UK case resolved this week indicates why.

New tests on the DNA sample on the large knife found in Sollecito’s house which the independent DNA experts refused to do, and the judges failed to re-order despite a strong prosecution request, could result in Knox and Sollecito being ultimately convicted and secure Knox’s extradition to serve out her term.

Lawyers consider it a dead certainty that the Supreme Court will order those tests -  that is if they dont throw out the entire Hellman/Zanetti judgment for illegal scope, or throw out the DNA report for illegally having been ordered in the first place.


(1) Summary of the UK case

David Burgess this week was convicted in Reading of murdering Yolande Waddington, 17, some 46 years after the crime was committed, thanks to all the advances in DNA technology. Back then, he was already convicted of killing Jeanette Wigmore and Jacqueline Williams.

Burgess is the latest person in Britain to have been finally found guilty of murder years after his crime was committed. Nat Fraser, Gary Dobson and David Norris had been convicted of murder this year after evading justice for a number of years.

In September 2010, Thames Valley Police reviewed the case and with advances in DNA techniques finally gathered the evidence which resulted in Burgess being convicted of Yolande Waddington’s murder.

Forensic experts obtained a partial DNA profile from the blood samples using a new technique called MiniFiler. It differs from previous methods as it can obtain information from smaller pieces of DNA. This is ideal for older cases where samples have degraded over time.

According to the manufacturer’s website

[The MiniFiler kit] increases your ability to obtain DNA results from compromised samples that previously would have yielded limited or no genetic data. This means cold cases can come off the shelf for re-analysis and new, challenging samples have a better chance of delivering interpretable results.

When David Burgess attacked Yolande, he left blood on a number of Yolande’s items, including her hair band and comb. Tests showed the chances of the DNA found on the comb and hair band not being Burgess’s were not more than one in a billion.


[Below: David Burgess then and now who had taunted the police a year ago to “prove it”]




(2) Here are the implications for RS and AK

It puts the 46-day delay (caused by the defenses) in retrieving the bra clasp into perspective.

It’s not the first case of somebody being convicted of murder decades after the crime took place on the strength of DNA evidence. Ronald Castree was convicted of murdering Lesley Molseed 32 years later.

It also highlights the arrogant negligence of the DNA consultants Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti who had refused to carry out ordered test on the knife for flimsy reasons (“the technology is experimental” when it wasn’t) that no US or UK court would have accepted. They had been specifically instructed to do the tests if possible by Judge Hellmann.

At trial in 2009 it was accepted that Amanda Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of the knife sequestered from Sollecito’s kitchen. There still is no argument about that.

And a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano - had all confirmed that Meredith’s DNA was found on the blade.

Even Greg Hampikian, a forensic expert who argues Knox is innocent, concedes that Meredith’s DNA was definitely found on the blade.

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti didn’t know that Dr Stefanoni analysed the traces on the knife a long six days after last handling Meredith’s DNA. Contamination couldn’t possibly have occurred in the laboratory after so long a gap.

At the appeal, Professor Guiseppe Novelli testified that there are a number of laboratories that now have the latest accepted technology to carry out a new test on the remaining DNA on the knife.

The fact that Judge Hellmann denied the prosecution the opportunity to present evidence to the contrary was a violation of the procedure code. Italian law states the following:

If new evidence about a point is admitted, evidence a contrario proposed by the opposing party must always be admitted too.

Dr Giovanni Galati has now argued in his appeal to the Supreme Court that Judge Hellmann should have allowed a new test to be performed because the technology is NOT experimental but cutting edge. Summary here:

The second [point concerns] the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.

As remarked at the top, if the entire judgment or the DNA report are not thrown out for illegal scope, Judge Hellman’s refusal to allow the prosecution’s request to allow a new test on the knife will be the main reason why his verdict will be revoked.

Under Italian law RS and AK still stand accused until the Supreme Court signs off. Anyone who is concerned with the truth and justice and what Meredith stood for and the good name of Italy will want to know whether the remaining DNA on the knife is Meredith’s.

If Meredith’s DNA is identified on the knife it should make conviction and extradition a slam dunk..


[Below: ViaDellaPergola’s video first posted 18 months ago and still relevant]


Friday, July 20, 2012

Dissecting The Hellmann Report #1: Highlighting Representative Examples Of Its Many Bizarre Quirks

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Above: Judge Hellman. At bottom: Judge Zanetti, who may have written the sentencing report]


Milan and Rome are the main venues for Italy’s important business trials. Those in Perugia are small and relatively obscure.

In contrast Perugia handles very important criminal investigations for the central government when there are conflicts of interest in Rome. So Perugia was handed the very sensitive and politically explosive investigations into Rome politicians siphoning funds from the 2006 winter Olympics construction and the 2010 earthquake damage reconstruction.

This explains why Dr Galati the chief prosecutor for Umbria was transferred from the Supreme Court in January 2011 where he had been a deputy chief prosecutor and why he has a high profile throughout Italy. And why Judge Hellman, a business judge, is almost unknown outside Perugia who at times seems a little cranky with his lot in life. His co-judge Massimo Zanetti, also little known, handles civil trials.

Read in Italian, Dr Galati’s Supreme Court appeal against the Hellman/Zanetti appeal verdict which is some pages longer than the Hellman & Zanetti report, is absolutely scathing. (The team will have the PMF translation ready soon.) Dr Galati seems almost offended to be facing what he seems to see as a childish and legally inferior piece of work.

Dr Galati takes Hellman & Zanetti apart at three levels, as the Perugia media summarised at his press conference five months ago.

First, that the scope is illegally wide for an appeal judgement. Second, that the DNA report by Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti (which concluded with innuendo rather than firm findings) was unnecessary at the appeal level and should never have been commissioned. And third that Hellman & Zanetti are out of order in their subjective interpretations of trial evidence their appeal court mostly didnt look at, and trial witnesses their appeal court never saw.

As a lawyer in the common-law systems of the US and UK I have read plenty of equivalent arguments by judges which logically and legally and objectively almost always hit a very high plane.

On the Hellman & Zanetti report I have to agree with Dr Galati. This seems a dismally inferior piece of work.   

To me this document reads like the work-product of a naïve freshman law student in appellate procedure class submitted with no reasoned presentation of facts and evidence as a defendant’s brief, instead of as the official report of a Regional Court Of Assizes Of Appeal submitted in the name of the Italian People with a sober presentation of Facts and Evidence and a reasoned Explanation of Conclusions.

In my view and surely Dr Galati’s it deserves no more than an F.

The Hellman/Zanetti report is emotional and hyperbolic, but it is neither persuasive nor professional. Its faults are so densely packed that any TJMK series fully analyzing them would need more space than posting of the full Hellmann/Zanetti Report.

The calunnia section alone (2,447 words long) to do with Knox’s framing of Lumumba has more than 50 dubious statements. It is also short enough to demonstrate here the weaknesses typical of the whole report, despite this section’s secondary bottom-line significance.

The very first line of this section (beginning on page 21 of the PMF translation) typifies the tone of the whole Report.

The “spontaneous” declarations rendered by Amanda Knox on November 6, and the …….

Note Hellmann & Zanetti’s contemptuous use of quotation marks here. 

On the same page Hellmann & Zanetti begin a paragraph thus: “According to the hypothesis of the prosecution…”, but then don’t go at all to state the real hypothesis of the prosecution.

Instead, Hellmann & Zanetti glide smoothly into preposterous ‘straw-man’ sophistry in which he attributes to the prosecution his own speculative and prejudiced conclusions, instead of the hypothesis the prosecution did submit:

Amanda Knox, at that point exhausted from the long interrogation, and above all demoralized by having learned from the people interrogating her that Raffaele Sollecito had, so to speak, abandoned her to her destiny, denying the alibi [30](Motivazione page number) that he had offered her up to then (having spent the whole night together at Sollecito s house), supposedly resorted to a final defence effort, representing more or less what actually happened in the house at via della Pergola, but substituting Patrick Lumumba for Rudy Guede in the role of protagonist: one black for another, to quote the Prosecutor.

This Court does not share the hypothesis of the prosecution.

Actually this (Hellmann & Zanetti) court misrepresents the hypothesis of the prosecution as argued above.

...exhausted from the long interrogation, and above all demoralized” These do not need further comment.  They are Hellmann & Zanetti’s own biased edits, disguised as prosecutors’ hypotheses.

...having spent the whole night together at Sollecito’s house…”  Here Hellmann & Zanetti seem to blithely assume the truth of Knox’s disputed alibi, but is probably merely repeating what her alibi was not “blithely” assuming it to be the truth. If so he should have used the proper quotation marks. 

So do Hellmann & Zanetti sympathise with Knox’s demoralization at the denial of her false alibi?  How do they explain the apparent conflict between ‘more or less what actually happened’ and ‘spent the whole night together at Sollecito’s house’?  See later.

…representing more or less what actually happened in the house at via della Pergola…”  Here, Hellmann & Zanetti begrudgingly seem to acknowledge that Knox was present in the house at via della Pergola, but later will disavow any guilt on Knox’s part, except for her calunnia offence.

Continuing on the first page of his report’s calunnia section, Hellmann & Zanetti state:

The obsessive length of the interrogations which took place day and night and were conducted by several people questioning a young and foreign girl, who at that time did not understand or speak the Italian language well at all, ignorant of her own rights and deprived of the advice of a lawyer, to which she would have been entitled since she was……

...obsessive length…” This seems too obviously inappropriate to need further comment. The interrogations themselves were actually quite short.

...took place day and night… ” This is factual, but hyperbolic; included for both dramatic implication and dramatic inference.

...young…”  Youth is a mitigating factor in Italian law, so Hellmann & Zanetti’s reference to Knox as ‘young’ is not an irrelevancy, but they do allude to the youth of the persons involved over three times more frequently than Judge Massei did.

...foreign…” This is also relevant because Knox was not fluent in Italian, although an interpreter was provided.

…ignorant of her own rights…”  This is true in almost all criminal cases, but there are no signs here that Knox’s rights were trampled on.

…deprived of the advice of a lawyer, to which she would have been entitled…”  She was only a witness at this point so a lawyer was not required under the Italian code.

My understanding is that Knox was in fact informed that she had the right to the advice of a lawyer, was offered such advice, but declined it. So “deprived” again smacks of the Hellmanian or Zanettian hyperbole-for-dramatic-effect.

There are many other dubious statements in Hellman & Zanetti’s calunnia section. Here are a couple of typical ones:

….Amanda Knox, who had no reason at the beginning to be scared, entered into a state of stress and oppression as a consequence of the interrogation and the way it took place.

The dispute, yet to be resolved with a reasoned explanation by the Hellmann & Zanetti Court, was whether Knox and Sollecito were guilty or not guilty.

Here, Hellmann & Zanetti have already assumed Knox’s plea of Not Guilty to have been proven, though they have offered no reasoned explanation for such assumption.

Guilty or Not Guilty, Knox actually did have every reason to be scared, merely because normal Discovery-Procedures can be scary; other members of the group of Discovery witnesses were scared too. (I use “Discovery” in the sense of legal disclosure, including but not restricted-to the discovery-of-Meredith’s-body.) 

If Guilty, Knox had additional real reason to be scared.

It is in fact not at all logical to assume that Amanda Knox, if she had actually been an accomplice [concorrente] in the crime, could hope that giving Patrick Lumumba’s name……could have somehow benefited her position….

Hellmann & Zanetti’s sophistry consistently requires the reader, elsewhere, to attribute Knox’s inconsistent, and incriminating, often illogical, falsehoods and behaviours, to Knox’s confusion caused by prosecutorial oppression. Some of those falsehoods were used by Knox very obviously in the hope of benefit to Knox. 

But now, Hellmann & Zanetti inconsistently require the reader to believe that it is not at all logical to assume that Knox could hope to benefit from one of her falsehoods.

But of course Knox could hope to benefit from one of her falsehoods.

Elsewhere in its Calunnia section (page 22 of the translation) Hellmann & Zanetti had already argued, that

….the fact that the caresses, simple signs of tenderness between two lovers, could have been a way of comforting each other…..

Here, Hellmann & Zanetti are deceptively implying that lovers comforting each other, having (only) an innocent construction, excludes the existence of a factor additional to love, namely that of a guilty-pair afraid of exposure as a guilty-pair.

The potentially most incriminating issues in this case are whether Meredith did scream just before she died, and if so when Meredith screamed.

The Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito “innocentisti” members know this, but they avoid focus on it in order to minimize attention to those issues, as crucial as they are.

A key focus-avoidance ploy is to confuse the issue by isolating each element of evidence from every other element and flood discussion of each element with real and imagined reasons-to-doubt the significance of each element.

By doing so, perception of the location of Reasonable Doubt, in the mind of the designated Finder(s)-of-Fact, may be displaced so far away that they conclude that Guilt cannot be reached, and that the Defendant(s) are Not Guilty beyond a doubt that is a Reasonable Doubt.

This defense ploy is being employed more and more in criminal trials, and is much employed in Meredith’s case, or as it has become, Amanda Knox’s case. The Supreme Court of course will totally ignore such legal nonsense.

The first-ever documented references to Meredith screaming just before she died came from the mouth (and hand in the case of her notes) of Amanda Knox herself.

Hellmann & Zanetti do not, at first, seem to doubt that a scream was heard by witness Capezzali that night.

However, they introduce the issue of scream under the Heading Time of death, which they characterize as “extremely weak for its ambiguity, since it cannot even be placed with certainty”, as if lack of “certainty” is way-below reasonable doubt (as in “required to reach a guilty-verdict beyond-a-reasonable-doubt”), obfuscatingly merging them into each other.

Hellmann & Zanetti then cast doubt on whether any witness(es) heard any-scream-at-all that particular night and/or time, because he supposed (innocent) screams were to be heard there on many nights and at many times.

Hellmann & Zanetti stated that their Court had “no real reason to doubt” that a scream occurred at night in the general vicinity of Meredith’s house NOR to suspect that witnesses who testified that they had heard a scream had not heard a scream.

What Hellmann & Zanetti claim that they do doubt is that the scream witnesses testified to having heard occurred at a sufficiently specified definite time, or that the scream they said they heard had actually occurred on the night of Nov. 1-2, 2007, and that even if such a scream did occur it is not “certain” that the scream was Meredith’s scream.

Hellmann & Zanetti’s use of “certain” reveals a biased perspective. It is as if “not certain” is now Hellmann & Zanetti’s equivalent to “not beyond a reasonable doubt.

A well-known saying goes “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck.”

Applying the evidentiary-item-isolation-ploy to that saying, multiple doubts are introduced as to each item, with the intended result of promoting enough doubt to exclude it, too often successfully.

This could be called the Ugly Duckling Effect, after H.C. Andersen’s Fairy Story – here Hellmann & Zanetti seem to want us to conclude that Amanda Knox is a swan, and is not really an ugly duckling.


[Below: Judge Zanetti at left probably wrote the report that Judge Hellman may not have liked]

Posted on 07/20/12 at 02:05 AM by Cardiol MDClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe prosecutorsSupreme CourtAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann critiques
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Formidable Prosecution Appeal To The Supreme Court Is Placed On The Agenda Next March

Posted by Peter Quennell





The Associated Press once again reveals its strong systematic anti-Italy bias in reporting the scheduling of the appeal.

Its headline on the report it sent out to thousands of its owners the media outlets reads “Amanda Knox Case: Acquittal Appeal Set For March By Italy”

Huh? That is the guts of the thing?

Well, hardly.

First, defense chances are slim, as there is no question that Knox did point falsely to Lumumba. On tape she even admitted that to her own mother, and her various explanations on the stand at trial simply dropped her in it some more.

That defense appeal could be dismissed in a sentence or two. It is simply grandstanding.

And second, vastly more importantly because this could lead to a complete retrial back in Perugia the AP headline and story should have fully explained the real 80,000 pound gorilla in the room.

This is the appeal that the Chief Prosecutor for Umbria Dr Galati has filed. The Associated Press has never told the global audience either what is in the prosecution appeal or precisely who Dr Galati is. Not even a hint.

Dr Galati was a Deputy Chief Prosecutor at the Supreme Court and is one of the most powerful and experienced in Italy. Why was he not quoted in the AP’s story?

Here is the real story of his appeal that the Associated Press doesn’t seem to want the global audience to know. First posted here back on 14 February when Dr Galati called his press conference on the appeal. 

Italian lawyers are already remarking that Dr Galati’s appeal as summarised below is as tough as they ever get.

In their view the Hellman report reads more like a defense brief than a balanced appeal-court outcome in a murder trial. Both judges were put on the case on mysterious instructions from Rome, suggesting that the minister of justice had perhaps been leaned on - the judge pushed aside was extremely annoyed.

Both Judge Hellmann and Judge Zanetti, while undeniably good judges in their own fields (business and civil), are vastly less experienced at criminal trials than either Judge Micheli or Judge Massei. The entry in the Italian Wikipedia describes them thus.

Although the Assize Court of Appeal was to be chaired by Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari, Chairman of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal in Perugia, in circumstances not well understood Dr. Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, who chairs the Labor Chamber of the Court, has been called on to preside over the appeal court,

The judge to the side of the main judge, Dr. Massimo Zanetti, came from the Civil Section, and both had had limited experience with criminal trials both rather remote in time (only the cases of Spoleto and Orvieto).

Judge Hellmann’s announcement of the verdict on the night was very odd, suggesting he had been outnumbered and was embarrassed. Remarks he made the next day seemed to confirm that. The weak sentencing report is said to be not his work, and was written by Judge Zanetti.

The Supreme Court of Cassation could insist on a complete new appeal trial or a partial new trial in Perugia if it accepts any of Dr Galati’s arguments at all. His appeal statement appeal is in three tiers, and a reversal could be ordered at any tier..

1. The Hellmann Court’s wide scope was illegally far too wide

Italian judicial code is very clear on this. They MUST stick to just the appealed items and not wander all over the map. Judge Zanetti was quite wrong at the start to declare that everything was open except the fact that Meredith had been murdered. 

2. The DNA consultancy by Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti was illegal

Defenses had every chance to attend the Scientific Police testing the first time around. It was a slippery dodge to skip those tests and then slime them. They had every opportunity at trial to throw aspersions. They are not meant to shop around.

3. There are many problems of wrong logic, evidence, and witnesses

The Massei trial sat through weeks and weeks of skilled prosecution presentations of the evidence including the forensic evidence and the many witnesses. The Hellman court got to see almost none of this and heard mostly from the defense.

This translation is from Umbria24 by our main poster ZiaK.

Meredith case: the prosecution appeals to Cassation: the acquittal verdict should be “nullified”.

For the Chief Magistrates of the [Umbria] Prosecution, “it was almost exclusively the defence arguments which were taken heed of”

By Francesca Marruco

The first-level conviction verdict was “complete and thorough” while the verdict of the second-level is “contradictory and illogical”.  For this reason, the General Prosecution of Perugia asks the Cassation to revoke or invalidate it.

“We are still extremely convinced that Amanda and Raffaele are co-perpetrators of the murder of Meredith Kercher” said the Chief Prosecutor of Perugia, Giovanni Galati and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola.

Verdict that should be revoked

“The second-level verdict should be annulled/revoked….  There are precise reasons for revoking it”, Mr Galati went on to say. In the Hellman reasoning report on the verdict with which the second-level judges acquitted the ex-boyfriend and girlfriend “there are so many errors, and many omissions. There is inconsistency in the grounds for judgement, which brings us to nothing.”

“It is as if they had ruled ex novo [anew] on Meredith’s murder” added the Deputy Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola, “basing their decision solely on the arguments of the defence.”

“Normally the appeal judge evaluates the reasoning procedure of the first-instance judge and compares it to new elements. But this one missed that out altogether: there is no comparison between the checks carried out in the first and second instances. Only what was carried out during the appeal was evaluated.”

Only defence arguments were taken heed of

For the magistrates, in fact, the second-level judges “took heed, almost exclusively, of the arguments of the defence consultants or the reconstruction hypotheses that were largely to the benefit of the defense theses”.

The prosecutors who authored the appeal [to Cassation] also criticized the “method used”. “The first-instance verdict”, they wrote, “was summarized in just a few lines”,

“The verdict [which we] challenge completely ignored all the other aspects which corresponded with the accusation’s hypothesis, all the aspects which, on the contrary - as was seen in the reasoning report of the first-instance verdict - had been rigorously pointed out and considered by the Assizes Court [trial court] in its decision.”

“In examining the individual [items of] evidence, the challenged sentence has fallen into consistent procedural error in the weaknesses and evident illogicality of the grounds for its decision.”

Prejudice by the two appeal judges

For the General Prosecution magistrates, the second-level [first appeal] judges appear to have shown “a sort of prejudice” with the “infelicitous preamble of the judge [the author], who is supposed to be impartial”, when he declared that “nothing is certain except the death of Meredith Kercher”, which to the others [Mr Galati and Mr Costagliola] is nothing more than “a resounding preview/forecast of the judgement” and a “disconcerting” affirmation.
 
The ten points of the appeal

The reasons for the appeal to Cassation which Perugia’s General Prosecution presented today against the acquittal verdict of Amanda and Raffaele are based on ten points of the second-level verdict.

The first is the lack of grounds for the decision, in the decree of 18 December 2010, to allow the forensic testimony/expert witness in the appeal judgement.

The second, in contrast, concerns a contrary decision: the decision to not allow a new forensic investigation requested by the prosecution at the end of the ruling discussion. In the appeal to Cassation it is written that the Appeal Court’s rejection reveals “contradictoriness/contrariness and demonstrates manifest illogicality in the grounds for the judgement/reasoning report”.

The other points deal with the decision by the Appeal court of Assizes of Perugia to not hear the witness Aviello, also the definition of “unreliable” [in the Hellman Report] with reference to the witnesses Roberto Quintavalle and and Antonio Curatolo, also the time of death of Meredith Kercher, also on the genetic investigations.

As well as the analyses of the prints and other traces, also the presence of Amanda and Sollecito in via della Pergola, also the simulation of a crime [the staged break-in], and also the exclusion of the aggravating circumstance of the crime of “calumny”.

Missing assumption/acceptance of decisive evidence

In the appeal to Cassation there is also mention of the “missing assumption/acceptance of a decisive proof”

In other words, of that proof [presented at trial court] which consisted of “the carrying out of the genetic analysis on the sample taken from the knife by the experts appointed by the Court during the appeal judgement, who did not carry out the analyses of that sample, thus violating a specific request contained in the [orders given to them] when they were assigned to the expert-witness post”

“In the second-level [Hellman] verdict”, the magistrates said, “the judges sought to refer to this in their own way, by speaking of an “experimental method” by which these tests/checks could be carried out.

But this is not the case”, said Deputy Chief Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola: “Dr Novelli [the prosecution’s DNA consultant at appeal] spoke of cutting-edge technology, not of experimental methods”.

Posted on 07/19/12 at 03:45 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe prosecutorsSupreme CourtAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann critiquesCassation 2013Hoaxers: media groupsAssoc Press
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Rebutting Saul Kassin’s Substantive Claim Of Forced Confession

Posted by Fuji




This was first posted on 12 January 2011 (see 30+ comments under that post).  It shows in effect that EVEN IF the timeline on the night of Knox’s “confession” in which she actually blamed Patrick Lumumba resembled Saul Kassin’s fantasy timeline there is no sign that Amanda Knox is one of the very few with the “right” psycho-sociology to cave quickly under police interrogations.

My original post pre-dates by some month Dr Kassin’s erroneous, self-serving claims to Seattle radio and CBS 48 Hours, and by over a year his misleading KEYNOTE address (scroll down) to the John Jay College global conference last month (see page 31 of the program).

We don’t know yet when Saul Kassin’s submission to the Hellman court via Amanda Knox’s lawyers was made, or the nature of its impact on judges and jury, if any. Dr Kassin is welcome to try to explain all of Amanda Knox’s other “confessions” as described here. Also to try to explain all of Sollecito’s “confessions” as described here.

Meredith’s case is absolutely riddled with fabricated false myths. 

They are now found by the hundreds on some misleading websites, and they simply make experienced law enforcement and criminal lawyers laugh. 

For example “Police had no good reason to be immediately suspicious of Knox simply because the murder occurred at her residence”.  And “The double-DNA knife is a priori to be disregarded as evidence, because no murderer would retain possession of such a murder weapon.”

One of the most strident and widespread myths is that Amanda Knox’s statements to the Perugian investigators on 5 and 6 November 2007, placing her at the scene of Meredith’s murder, are to be viewed as the products of a genuinely confused mind imbued with a naïve trust of authority figures.

The apparent certainty with which many of Amanda Knox’s most vocal supporters proclaim that Knox’s statements are actual “false confessions” as opposed to deliberate lies is not supported by even a cursory reading of the pertinent academic literature regarding false confessions.

What actually are “false confessions”?

Richard N. Kocsis in his book “Applied Criminal Psychology: A Guide to Forensic Behavioral Sciences” (2009), on pages 193-4 delineates three different kinds of false confessions:

First, a voluntary false confession is one in which a person falsely confesses to a crime absent any pressure or coercion from police investigators….

Coerced-compliant false confessions occur when a person falsely confesses to a crime for some immediate gain and in spite of the conscious knowledge that he or she is actually innocent of the crime….

The final type, identified by Kassin and Wrightsman (1985), is referred to as a coerced-internalized false confession. This occurs when a person falsely confesses to a crime and truly begins to believe that he or she is responsible for the criminal act.

The first problem facing Knox supporters wishing to pursue the false confession angle as a point speaking to her purported innocence is epistemological.

Although much research has been done on this phenomenon in recent years, academics are still struggling to come to terms with a methodology to determine their incidence rate.

The current state of knowledge does not support those making sweeping claims about the likelihood of Knox’s statements being representative of a genuine internalized false confession.

As noted by Richard A. Leo in “False Confessions: Causes, Consequences, and Implications” (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2009):

Although other researchers have also documented and analyzed numerous false confessions in recent years, we do not know how frequently they occur. A scientifically meaningful incidence rate cannot be determined for several reasons.

First, researchers cannot identify (and thus cannot randomly sample) the universe of false confessions, because no governmental or private organization keeps track of this information.

Second, even if one could identify a set of possibly false confessions, it is not usually possible as a practical matter to obtain the primary case materials (e.g., police reports, pretrial and trial transcripts, and electronic recordings of the interrogations) necessary to evaluate the unreliability of these confessions.

Finally, even in disputed confession cases in which researchers are able to obtain primary case materials, it may still be difficult to determine unequivocally the ground truth (i.e., what really happened) with sufficient certainty to prove the confession false.

In most alleged false-confession cases, it is therefore impossible to remove completely any possible doubts about the confessor’s innocence.

The next problem Knox supporters face is that, even allowing for an inability to establish a priori any likelihood of a given statement being a false confession, the kind of false confession which is usually attributed to Knox is in fact one of the LEAST likely of the three types (Voluntary, Compliant, and Persuaded, as Leo terms the three different categories) to be observed:

Persuaded false confessions appear to occur far less often than compliant false confessions.

Moreover, despite assertions to the contrary, Knox and her statements do not in fact satisfy many of the criteria researchers tend to observe in false confessions, particularly of the Persuaded variety:

“All other things being equal, those who are highly suggestible or compliant are more likely to confess falsely. Individuals who are highly suggestible tend to have poor memories, high levels of anxiety, low self-esteem, and low assertiveness, personality factors that also make them more vulnerable to the pressures of interrogation and thus more likely to confess falsely…

Highly suggestible or compliant individuals are not the only ones who are unusually vulnerable to the pressures of police interrogation. So are the developmentally disabled or cognitively impaired, juveniles, and the mentally ill….

They also tend to occur primarily in high-profile murder cases and to be the product of unusually lengthy and psychologically intense interrogations… ordinary police interrogation is not strong enough to produce a permanent change in the suspect’s beliefs.

Most significantly, there is one essential element of a true Persuaded False Confession which in Knox’s case is highly distinctive:

To convince the suspect that it is plausible, and likely, that he committed the crime, the interrogators must supply him with a reason that satisfactorily explains how he could have done it without remembering it.

This is the second step in the psychological process that leads to a persuaded false confession.

Typically, the interrogator suggests one version or another of a “repressed” memory theory.

He or she may suggest, for example, that the suspect experienced an alcohol- or drug-induced blackout, a “dry” blackout, a multiple personality disorder, a momentary lapse in consciousness, or posttraumatic stress disorder, or, perhaps most commonly, that the suspect simply repressed his memory of committing the crime because it was a traumatic experience for him.

The suspect can only be persuaded to accept responsibility for the crime if he regards one of the interrogators’ explanations for his alleged amnesia as plausible.

Knox did not in fact claim drug or alcohol use as the source of her amnesia - rather, she claimed to have accepted the interrogators’ attribution that this was due to being traumatized by the crime itself, and she offers no other explanation for her selective amnesia:

This is from Knox’s statement to the court in pretrial on 18 October 2008 with Judge Micheli presiding.

Then they started pushing on me the idea that I must have seen something, and forgotten about it. They said that I was traumatized.

Of course, Knox’s initial statement went far beyond being that of being merely a witness to some aspect of Ms. Kercher’s murder, as the interrogators at first seemed to believe was the case.

Rather, her statement placed her at scene of the murder during its actual commission while she did nothing to avert it, which naturally made her a suspect.

In other words, in the absence of any of her other testimony which indicated that she was only a witness to the murder, her own self-admitted rationale for providing a false confession was that she was traumatized by the commission of the murder itself.

Perugia judges will be familiar with all of the above and we can be sure that they brief the lay judges on the remote circumstances and incidences of false confessions.

If I were a Knox defense attorney, I would find it to be a far more fruitful line of argumentation to argue that she was simply lying, rather than claiming the supremely unlikely provision of an actual internalized false confession.

**********

First posted by Fuji on 12 January 2011. Everything in this post applies equally to the ludicrously inaccurate claims of ex FBI “mindhunter” John Douglas in his books and lobbying at the State Department.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Saul Kassin: An Example Of How The Knox Campaign Is Misleading American Experts And Audiences

Posted by The Machine





It has happened again and again.

Seemingly good, well-qualified lawyers and experts in police science have repeatedly been made to surface to spout inanities and wrong “facts” put out courtesy of Curt Knox’s “public relations” campaign.

It seems that Dr Saul Kassin is yet another of these naive dupes.


Who is Dr Saul Kassin?

The Social Psychology Network website states that he is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the John Jay Criminal Justice College in New York City. The website outlines his impressive academic credentials which include a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.

Curt Knox’s chief hatchet man Bruce Fischer, himself notoriously unqualified in every field relevant to the case who for a long time masqueraded pompously under a false name, claimed on his website that Saul Kassin gave help to Amanda Knox’s lawyers in Perugia.

Also that his work was presented to the court during the 2011 Hellman appeal.

Many may not know this but Sarah was instrumental in bringing Kassin in to analyze Amanda’s interrogation. His work was presented during the appeal..

The family had asked that we not release Kassin’s work to the public until they received clearance from the attorneys. I know I often state that this case is over but the attorneys rightfully want to keep everything professional until the Italian Supreme Court confirms Hellmann.

Last October, Saul Kassin did speak at length about Amanda Knox’s interrogation in an interview with John Curley on Radio Kiro FM.

In this post we’ll examine ten of the false claims which have long been circulated by Curt Knox’s campaign, with Bruce Fischer’s site as the central clearing house, and which were regurgitated by Saul Kassin in that interview.


False Claim 1: They brought her in for that final interrogation late at night.

No they didn’t.

Neither the police nor the prosecutors brought Amanda in for questioning on 5 November 2007. Amanda Knox herself testified in court that she wasn’t called to come to the police station on 5 November 2007.

Carlo Pacelli: “For what reason did you go to the Questura on November 5? Were you called?”

Amanda Knox: “No, I wasn’t called. I went with Raffaele because I didn’t want to be alone.”

Amanda Knox went with Raffaele Sollecito because she didn’t want to be alone. Kassin’s false claim is the first red flag that Saul Kassin is very confused or has been seriously misled when it comes to this well-documented and well-handled case.


False Claim 2: The so-called confession wasn’t until 6:00am.

No it wasn’t.

If Saul Kassin had actually read Amanda Knox’s first witness statement, he would have known that it was made at 1:45am. Knox had admitted that she was at the cottage when Meredith was killed some time before this.


False Claim 3: She was interrogated from 10:00pm to 6.00am.

No she wasn’t.

According to the Daily Beast Amanda Knox’s questioning began at about 11:00pm.

Since Knox was already at the police station [in the company of Raffaele Sollecito] the head of the murder squad decided to ask her a few questions. Her interrogation started at about 11 p.m.

After Amanda Knox had made her witness statement at 1:45am, she wasn’t questioned again that evening. That was it.

However, Amanda Knox herself then wanted to make further declarations and Mr Mignini who was on duty on the night sat and watched while Knox wrote out her declarations.

Mr Mignini explained what happened in his email letter to Linda Byron, another who was factually challenged.

All I did was to apply the Italian law to the proceedings. I really cannot understand any problem.

In the usual way, Knox was first heard by the police as a witness, but when some essential elements of her involvement with the murder surfaced, the police suspended the interview, according to Article 63 of the penal proceedings code.

But Knox then decided to render spontaneous declarations, that I took up without any further questioning, which is entirely lawful.

According to Article 374 of the penal proceedings code, suspects must be assisted by a lawyer only during a formal interrogation, and when being notified of alleged crimes and questioned by a prosecutor or judge, not when they intend to render unsolicited declarations.

Since I didn’t do anything other than to apply the Italian law applicable to both matters, I am unable to understand the objections and reservations which you are talking about.

In Amanda Knox’s written witness statement, she explicitly states that she’s making a spontaneous declaration:

Amanda Knox: “I wish to relate spontaneously what happened because these events have deeply bothered me and I am really afraid of Patrick, the African boy who owns the pub called “Le Chic” located in Via Alessi where I work periodically.



False Claim 4: They banged her on the back of the head.

No they didn’t.

All the numerous witnesses who were actually present when Amanda Knox was questioned, including her interpreter, testified under oath at trial in 2009 that she wasn’t hit. She has never identified anyone who hit her and on several occasions confirmed that she was treated well.

Even one of Amanda Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, confirmed that Amanda Knox had not been hit: “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”  He never ever lodged a complaint.


False Claim 5: All the other British roommates left town.

No they didn’t.

The police also told Sophie Purton that they needed her to stay on in Perugia on precisely the same basis as Amanda Knox. In chapter 19 of Death in Perugia, John Follain states that Sophie Purton was questioned by Mignini and Napoleoni in the prosecutor’s office on 5 November 2007.

Sophie had been counting on leaving Perugia to fly back home as soon as her parents arrived, but the police called to tell her they needed her to stay on; they would let her know when she could leave.



False Claim 6 : Amanda Knox stayed back to help the police.

No she didn’t.

This claim is flatly contradicted by Amanda Knox herself. In the e-mail she wrote to her friends in Seattle on 4 November 2007 she categorically stated she was not allowed to leave Italy.

i then bought some underwear because as it turns out i wont be able to leave italy for a while as well as enter my house

Knox actually knew on 2 November 2007 that she couldn’t leave Italy. Amy Frost reported the following conversation (The Massei report, page 37),

I remember having heard Amanda speaking on the phone, I think that she was talking to a member of her family, and I heard her say, No, they won’t let me go home, I can’t catch that flight.

It’s not the first time that the myth that Knox chose to stay behind rather than leave Italy has been claimed in the media. And incidentally, lying repeatedly to the police isn’t normally considered to be helping them.


False Claim 7: Amanda Knox had gone 8 hours without any food or drink.

No she hadn’t.

Reported by Richard Owen in The Times, 1 March 2009

Ms Napoleoni told the court that while she was at the police station Ms Knox had been ‘treated very well. She was given water, camomile tea and breakfast. She was given cakes from a vending machine and then taken to the canteen at the police station for something to eat.’

Reported by Richard Owen in The Times, 15 March 2009.

Ms Donnino said that Ms Knox had been “comforted” by police, given food and drink, and had at no stage been hit or threatened.

John Follain in his meticulous book Death in Perugia, page 134, also reports that Knox was given food and drink during her questioning:

During the questioning, detectives repeatedly went to fetch her a snack, water, and hot drinks including camomile tea.



False Claim 8: The translator was hostile towards Amanda Knox.

No she wasn’t.

Saul Kassin offers no evidence that the translator was hostile towards Amanda Knox and there is no evidence that this was the case. Nobody at the questura has claimed this. Amanda Knox’s own lawyers have not claimed this.

Even Amanda Knox herself has never ever claimed that Anna Donnino was hostile towards her although she had every opportunity to do so when being questioned on the stand.


False Claim 9: The translator was acting as an agent for the police.

No she wasn’t.

Saul Kassin offers no evidence to support this claim, which by the way in Italy is the kind of unprofessional charge that incurs calunnia suits. Do ask Curt Knox.


False Claim 10: The police lied to Amanda Knox.

No they didn’t.

The police didn’t mislead Amanda Knox. They told her quite truthfully that Sollecito was no longer providing her with an alibi, and that he had just claimed in the next interrogation room that that she wasn’t at his apartment from around 9:00pm to about 1:00am.

This also is the kind of unprofessional charge that incurs calunnia suits


Some Conclusions

Saul Kassin clearly hasn’t been directed to any of the official court documents like the Massei report, available in accurate English on PMF and TJMK, or the relevant transcripts of the court testimony.

Worse, he clearly hasn’t even studied Amanda Knox’s own witness statements before claiming to the media that they were coerced.

What he seems to have done is to fall hook line and sinker for the fantasy version of Amanda Knox’s interrogation which has been propagated in the media by Amanda Knox’s family.

He has then mindlessly regurgitated this false information in this interview. For somebody with Saul Kassin’s academic qualifications and educational background, it’s inexcusable that he gets so many facts wrong.

He needs to use much more reputable sources or, as so many other dupes before him have done, simply shut up. Of course, it would be professional for him to admit his mistakes.

He is welcome to do that right here.

[Everything in this post applies equally to the ludicrously inaccurate claims of ex FBI “mindhunter” John Douglas in his books and lobbying at the State Department.]


[Below: Dr Jeremy Travis the president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC]




Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Hands Of Time Video With Screenplay By Amanda Knox - A Confessional Obsession?

Posted by Fly By Night & Thundering





Amanda Knox rarely, if ever, mentions her ‘close friend’, murder victim Meredith Kercher. Perhaps out of her self-proclaimed desire to ‘move on with her life’.

So the recent Hands of Time (H.O.T.) music video The Mistral Blows which was posted on YouTube with a screenplay attributed to the Seattle native is nothing if not astonishing.


Whilst there is some discussion as to whether Amanda Knox wrote the entire screenplay, or a section of it, or whether the screenplay was created through a merging of several versions, the screenplay is clearly attributed to her in the credits that appear on the video.

Crediting Amanda Knox with the screenplay is repeatedly emphasized by H.O.T. themselves who posted multiple Twitter entries:


And this screenplay does Amanda Knox and her claims of innocence in the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher no favours at all. 

Although provisionally ‘acquitted’ at the trial of second instance, Amanda Knox still stands accused of a capital crime, aspects of which she seems compelled to continue to portray in her various writings. 

The hapless band H.O.T. might be well-advised to disassociate themselves from this endeavour and drop the video like a hot potato.  The more-so as they have already burnt their fingers, tampering with the so-far elusive Brand Knox, finding themselves ‘forced to remove [clips of Knox dancing in Capanne] from the file, after a sudden, unexpected and “very strange” last-minute opposition from Amanda’s entourage.’

They state with a hint of bitterness:


The result?  A compromise.  The image of Knox dancing with carefree abandon in Capanne Prison (easily retrieved from other internet sites) remains, but is obliterated by a large ‘censored’ notice.


The reasons to attempt to disappear this video or, at the very least, any identifiable links with Knox, are abundantly clear to anyone having followed this dreadful case over the last four and a half years.

1) The video is riddled with allusions to the crime itself and features an easily-identifiable Amanda Knox as ‘heroine’ or ‘victim’ as she may now prefer to be seen and depending on how you look at it.

2) Any pre-book-release publicity will potentially devalue the carefully branded and preserved Amanda Knox product.

A cursory look at the video demonstrates the depraved audacity of the writer, a person who simultaneously insists she was found innocent of the crime of murder and of which she still stands accused.

The video features a Knox look-alike – recognizable by her clothing - in a prison-cum-house of horrors.


 

It opens with the heroine sitting down, colouring pictures in a prison cell.  Amanda Knox was reported to spend time colouring pictures of her hands whilst in prison.


 

From there she leaves the cell and embarks on a journey through a range of horrifying experiences, until she finally flees the house but not the prison to which she is eternally condemned.

As she runs through the house of horrors she encounters:

1) Ghost-like figures lurching out at her hinting at the night of Halloween before the murder and the ghouls and demons of the house of horrors both in which the crime took place and in which she is forever imprisoned.

2) A tall, faceless black-haired figure dressed in black carrying an umbrella resembling Meredith Kercher dressed as a vampire on her last night alive, the red belt reminiscent of the fake costume blood and the actual blood spilled the night of the murder.


 

3) A faceless butcher figure dressed in a blood-stained apron holding a knife, who hands her a maggot-infested apple, reminiscent of the photograph of co-accused Raffaele Sollecito as posted on his Facebook page.  The apple is suggestive of the poisoned apple offered by the witch to the innocent Snow White –


 

4) Or a subliminal suggestion of Raffaele’s guilt in handing her the infested and poisonous apple ….. Remember: she claimed Raffaele may have pressed the murder knife with Meredith’s DNA into her hand whilst she was sleeping.


 

5) A figure tied to a chair covered in a red cloth hinting of the pools of blood and of Meredith unable to move to defend herself.  As she reaches out to lift the red cloth the bound figure screams, sending her running out down staircases and steps and out of the house.

In the same way, witness Nora Cappezzali heard Meredith’s desperate, blood-curdling scream, followed shortly afterwards by running footsteps out of the house of horrors and onto the steel staircase near her home.


 

The video ends with the Knox look-alike remaining in prison.  Both real and imagined.


 

H.O.T. suggest that the video and screenplay are a means of documenting the tale of the events in Perugia and, of course, Amanda Knox hopes to chronicle the nightmare in which she ‘innocently’ found herself.  In so doing, she inadvertently describes the crime and the images, sounds and memories that will seemingly not leave her alone.

Not only are there many references to the crime, but there seems as well a clear jealous obsession with Meredith, given the numerous references and comparisons to Kristian Leontiou’s video Some Say in which Meredith hauntingly starred.

The Knox look-alike emulates Meredith from the Some Say video both in her dress and appearance as well as in her actions.  She descends an old staircase, appears in doorways and through arches reminding us of the shots of Meredith and the church of the ‘Some Say’ video. 


   


 


 

Emulation is a form of envy.  Guilty or innocent, it seems Knox cannot exorcise her memories of the crime, and remains compelled to depict it in screenplays and short stories.  Knox is seemingly still jealous of Meredith which had proved her original undoing.  Here, in a bizarre reversal of reality, Meredith becomes the foreboding, frightening presence, whereas Knox is the shocked and terrified victim. 

At a time when a tough Galati appeal to the Supreme Court and a $4 million book deal are on the table, the memory of Meredith and the crime seem to haunt and obsess Amanda Knox who may reveal a deep-seated need to confess.  But while still accused, Amanda Knox cannot afford to engage in such obsessive, confessional activity.

Could this prove to be her final undoing?

Posted on 07/04/12 at 05:55 PM by Fly By Night & ThunderingClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesThe psychologyThe officially involvedAmanda Knox
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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Italian Supreme Court Grants Turin Prosecutors A New Trial In Another Case

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: the still-accused (the same status as AK and RS) in temporary happier days]

Reversals of not-guilty verdicts like this one are handed down by the decisive Italian Supreme Court several times a month.

Franzo Grande Stevens, Gianluigi Gabetti and Virgil Brown had been charged in Turin with the white-collar crime of insider trading. They are rich powerful people who help the Agnelli family to control the carmaker FIAT.

Last December they were acquitted at their first trial. The prosecution did not even bother to lodge an appeal to the Turin appeal court - they took their appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. 

Now Franzo Grande Stevens, Gianluigi Gabetti and Virgil Brown get to have their day in court - all over again. Being rich and powerful was of no help.


Posted on 06/29/12 at 10:06 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Italian Police Long Known As Among Europe’s Coolest, Now Also Being Remarked Upon As…

Posted by Peter Quennell





Among its very kindest.

It’s tough right now for Italian cops, going up against the rioting crowds and the illegal immigrants and the three mafias. But with their sustained pressure the mafias are fading, and the riots and immigrants may dwindle soon if and when light appears at the end of the economic tunnel. 

And those images are not what Italian police are best known for.

Above all else, they are cool. They officially work hard at being cool and high-profile and rather colorful, which is perhaps one reason why the Italian prison population is so very low. Their regular uniforms and their ceremonial uniforms tend to be eye-catching, and sometimes resplendent, and unless you’re Mr Berlusconi, their manner tends toward firm but agreeable, and sometimes quite funny. .

One can be doing 100 mph on an autostrada and a car will come by at 140 mph, with a police car on its tail which can exceed 200 mph. The second to last image below (above the… enough said) is of a Bugatti Veyron, which even in standard mode is powered by an engine of 1000 horsepower and has been clocked at close to 250 mph. (It also costs close to $2 million to private buyers.)

Now here is a report by John Hopper in the UK Guardian on the Italian police’s frequent warm side, and there are similar tales about the polizei on quite a few English-language and Italian blogs.

The financial crisis in Europe may have brought out the worst in certain bankers, but it seems to be bringing out the best in Italy’s police.

On Tuesday, and for the second time in less than a month, officers called to deal with a shoplifter were reported to have taken pity on the alleged thief and paid for the goods out of their own pockets.

The latest case arose when staff at a supermarket on the outskirts of Siena, in Tuscany, alerted police to a suspected robbery. The officers found a 27-year-old Egyptian and his 19-year-old brother who had apparently failed to pay for goods they had removed from the shop.

The police established that the older of the two was unemployed and had a wife and two children. Along with some pasta, he and his brother were found to have taken only milk, nappies and baby food. At this point, according to Corriere Fiorentino, the officers opened their wallets and paid the bill.

A similar gesture prompted a round of applause from shoppers at a supermarket in Milan after a 76-year-old pensioner, identified only as Angela, was found to have passed through the checkout without paying for a box of Tic Tac sweets worth 60p.

Sergeant Arturo Scungio said he and his patrol partner had caught up with the suspect near the shop. “She was trembling like a leaf and was clearly frightened by the uniform. From the way she was dressed, I realised she was not well off, that she was one of those who have difficulty making it to the end of the month. I told her what the law was and then I asked her how much pension she received.”

The old lady said that she was on €320 (£255) a month, adding: “I’ve always paid my taxes.” Scungio said that by the time they returned to the supermarket checkout, she was in tears.

The manager told them he did not intend to press charges. “I opened my wallet and paid the 78 cents owed for the Tic Tacs,” Scungio said.

Those humorless sad sacks who have attached themselves to Amanda Knox like leeches… Pity they’re so blinded to Italy’s rather cool reality. 























Posted on 06/26/12 at 03:48 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedPolice and CSIThe wider contextsItalian context
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

With Italy Pushing, There Are Increasing Bets On Europe Settling On A Growth Plan B

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: the G20 meeting in Baja California and the Los Cabos resort]


At the G20 Summit now taking place on the Baja Peninsula Italy and France have just strongly pushed for the creation of Euro-bonds.

The rates for such bonds to be secured mostly by gold (mostly on deposit in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York - where a lot of Europe’s troubles began!) would reflect investors’ perceptions of the growth potential of all of Europe, not just Greece or Spain or Italy or Portugal or Ireland by themselves. 

A cheaper cost of capital across Europe would help to make the value equations start to come right. Far better than Germany’s imposed Plan A which is essentially austerity during a recession and nothing else.

In contrast the German economy is actually doing very nicely right now, with high growth and low unemployment and strong exports and huge swathes of capital moving into its rather strapped banks from the countries further south. Other things being equal, Germany could live with a “half pregnant” situation for quite a while.

But thankfully, there are two dark clouds on Germany’s horizon which may cause it to end its power trip.

First, Greece and Spain and Italy could all vote in radical-left governments within a year if austerity remains the entire mix. And second, the entire world could move into recession or even depression and then Germany would slow down along with everybody else.

Germany could do everyone a lot of good if it stopped the moralising and instead shared with all the other countries how its own extended growth came about.

It is worth reading the Wikipedia entry for Germany’s history of growth. Two post WWII concepts made a huge difference and still do.  Here they are in bold.

The Germans proudly label their economy a “soziale Marktwirtschaft,” or “social market economy,” to show that the system as it has developed after World War II has both a material and a social—or human—dimension. They stress the importance of the term “market” because after the Nazi experience they wanted an economy free of state intervention and domination. The only state role in the new West German economy was to protect the competitive environment from monopolistic or oligopolistic tendencies—including its own.

The term “social” is stressed because West Germans wanted an economy that would not only help the wealthy but also care for the workers and others who might not prove able to cope with the strenuous competitive demands of a market economy. The term “social” was chosen rather than “socialist” to distinguish their system from those in which the state claimed the right to direct the economy or to intervene in it.

Beyond these principles of the social market economy, but linked to it, comes a more traditional German concept, that of Ordnung, which can be directly translated to mean order but which really means an economy, society, and policy that are structured but not dictatorial. The founders of the social market economy insisted that Denken in Ordnungen—to think in terms of systems of order—was essential. They also spoke of Ordo-Liberalismus because the essence of the concept is that this must be a freely chosen order, not a command order.

This is in many ways the opposite of the tunnel-vision Washington Consensus which the IMF and World Bank and United States for far too long wrongly imposed on the world - and of which Euro-austerity is its devil spawn.

You can find a similar philosophy to Germany’s in Japan with the Keiretsu which saw it rocket up in the 60s and 70s, and which was picked up by the Little Dragons and China and finally all the middle-tier economies seeing recent strong growth.

Europe needs to further shore up and educate its manpower. That is a no-brainer. But its major growth breakout will only come if it tweaks and reinvents its millions of technical and managerial systems, just as Germany does. And if it demonstrates a very sharp nose for future value - as in fact Italy’s nimble entreprenuers already do.

It’s smart systems to create high value that you need, guys. Don’t let the over-intrusive and not-very-enlightened economists and central bankers and politicians tell you different. 




Posted on 06/20/12 at 09:41 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The wider contextsItalian context
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Friday, June 15, 2012

In Trial For Killing Of 77 Norway Very Complexed About Whether Admitted Perpetrator Is Barking Mad

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: this is the courthouse in central Oslo where Anders Breivik is currently been tried]


In Norway a judge and jury and those tens of thousands personally affected by the bombing and shooting deaths of 77 people, mostly in their teens, are trying to calibrate the personality of Anders Breivik.

The self-confessed killer has under Norwegian court procedures been allowed to say a lot about himself during his trial. And to mount a defense which in effect implies that he is the one who is normal, and that everybody else in Norway is either stupid or blind.

There is a sort of Catch 22 situation here.

If the judge and jury and those affected accept that Breivik really IS normal and merely a common or garden Nazi-type fanatic, he can only be sentenced to 21 years x 77 with the sentences to run concurrently. He could be out of prison at only 54.

Even Breivik has said that is pathetic and he would be joyously executed rather than be diminished like that.

But if they accept that he is insane, then he can be sent away to a prison for the criminally insane, and unless he in effect grows a totally new brain, he could be kept locked up for the rest of his natural life.

So if prosecution psychologists can prove him to be what the British like to call barking mad, he could get in effect the maximum time behind bars: life. But blame for a deed which most see as pure evil would in effect be dilute.

Breivik of course is trying very hard to prove that he is NOT mad. But he is not being helped by the testimony of either his mother or his father (who separated in great anger in London a few months after he was born) who have each thoroughly rejected his defense. His mother says he simply lies all the time, and his father says he should have committed suicide.

Nor is he helped by the 1517 page manifesto that he wrote (in English) and emailed to everybody in his address book a few hours before he set out on his attack. 

Dr Avner Falk lives in Jerusalem, Israel, and he is perhaps the most published in the world in the fields of long-distance psychohistory and political psychology. 

On his personal website Dr Falk has just posted this long and deeply researched essay exploring Breivik’s psychology.

Although of course the analysis was done 1/4 of the way around the world, it is difficult to read this essay without concluding that these really are the main facts about what is in Breivik’s head - and that he really is barking mad.

More scientifically, his psychology seems situated somewhere between borderline personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenic.

Dr Falk shows how Breivik may have got that way, and what was driving him to kill (don’t laugh, read the essay first: he became psychotically angered over repeated shows of lack of love by his father, who when Breivek was 16 cut him right off, and too much love by his mom, which Breivek thinks sissyfied him).

And why it would seem to be the safest thing to do to put Breivek away for life.   

So. Is any of this relevant to Meredith’s case? More below.






In Meredith’s case there also seems to be a sort of Catch 22.

First off, it seems that nobody holding any point of view about Knox or Sollecito can see the makings of a credible insanity defense.

One reason many dont want to go down that road is that Italian prosecutions are always facing long odds, and they fear that it could too easily at the end of the legal process leave the accused-perps off the hook and free to go, and to publish whatever they will.

Some fear the same could happen with a defense based on too much alcohol or psychosis-causing drugs.

But at the same time, many also believe that AK and RS were not the social and psychological paragons that many in the obfuscatory PR campaign have tried for a long time to make out.

Even those eager henchmen in Curt Knox’s campaign have had to turn cartwheels to explain why Knox did cartwheels and so quickly put so many people in Perugia right off her, or to explain why Sollecito was so friendless and so obsessed with violent comics and porn and always carried a concealed knife.

And yet despite that, a sort of stealth psychological defense DOES seem to have been mounted, and with Judge Hellman’s interim appeal verdict it does seem to have helped them to be provisionally sprung.

In a process a little reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day where the “villain” has to keep repeating the same day over and over until he gets certain things just right, the public audience and the judges and juries were presented with several different Amanda Knoxes and Raffaele Sollecitos and the 2011 versions seem to have worked.

  • In 2008 the images that dominated were of two cold-hearted or hot-headed jealous abusers who had gone way too far in the remorseless 15-minute struggle with Meredith. Magistrate Matteini and Judge Micheli both firmly took this view, which was confirmed by psychological tests on RS and AK in Capanne Prison that concluded that Perugia would be safer if they stayed behind bars pending their trial.
  • The images that dominated the trial in 2009 was of a mild and slightly daffy Sollecito and a mostly milder and decidedly daffier Amanda Knox, strongly supported by their large and loving families spread out all around the court. That seems to some extent to have worked on Judge Massei, and RS and AK were rewarded with some years off their sentence for a supposed kindness to Meredith’s dead body. In the sentencing report, Rudy Guede became the somewhat villainous initiating attacker of Meredith on the night.
  • The image that dominated the appeal in 2011 was of two serious studious very normal bambinos falsely being tied together with an extremely villainous Rudy Guede, now a notorious drifter and drug dealer who carried knives. The accused in effect dressed in shades of grey, and there were never any smiles or jokes in court. Italian judges and juries and watching audiences have a reputation for leniency toward bambinos, and Judge Hellman’s report suggests that attitude did intrude.

The Italian Supreme Court doesnt usually get to set eyes on those who are appealing or (as in this case) appealed against. More often than not they calibrate a legal and psychological position about as hard-line as the investigating magistrate (Matteini) or the judges at the first level (Micheli and Massei).

Now Knox and Sollecito might not return to the court for any re-run of the appeal trial. But if they don’t, the original images of themselves, those advanced in 2008 which a clear majority of Italians still hold to, could be the version of their personalities that a second appeal judge and jury get to “see”.

Tough call for Knox and Sollecito and their tribes. Their Catch 22.

But either way, assuming a level playing field, a fair outcome seems reasonably assured.

*****

Below: a crowd of 40,000 gathered in central Oslo to sing a song “Children of the Rainbow”.

That is the song by Norwegian folk singer Lillebjoern Nilsen (based on Pete Seeger’s “Rainbow Race”) which Breivek claimed in his manifesto shows the decadence of Norwegian youth. 

Posted on 06/15/12 at 07:47 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesThe psychologyOther legal processesThose elsewhere
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today And Tomorrow Are Really Key Days For The Italian Economy If Future Sums Are To Work

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: a demonstration against austerity, in Turin, one of several hundred in recent days]


The Italy central bank is selling a lot of bonds today and tomorrow to keep the government in business.

Today’s sale of 12-month bonds did not go well. It sold E6.5 billion of bonds at nearly 4 percent, almost double what it was charged just last month. And tomorrow’s sale of long-term bonds could be looking at interest rates so high that it puts real growth almost permanently out of reach.

In effect it could bake in youth unemployment up to 25 percent. The good news, if there is any, is that the disappointing sale today gave Prime Minister Monti a reason to light a fire under the parliament. 

talian Premier Mario Monti is urging lawmakers to accelerate passage of reforms to help the country escape the deepening debt crisis and assure international markets that the eurozone’s third largest economy will follow words with actions.

Monti addressed the lower house before a vote on anti-corruption measures, and the morning after meeting leaders of three main political forces to urge them to intensify the reform course.

Spain’s decision over the weekend to seek a bailout for its banks has heightened pressure on Italy. The Austrian finance minister suggested this week that Italy too will need a bailout, then backtracked under criticism.

Monti has firmly denied that Italy will need a bailout, and told lawmakers that Italy is on much better footing than a few months ago.

One thing going for Italy is that those bonds are largely purchased by Italians themselves. Savings have been flying out of Greece and Spain but Italians still seem optimistic at some level that their economy can get back to former heights

Mr Monti’s pruning and tightening of laws don’t seem a bad thing. His main growth-thrust idea for all of Europe, Italy included, is to press the pedal to the floor on rebuilding all the physical infrastructure. Angela Merkel might come around if that doesnt tank Germany’s own boom.

The notion that there should be a sort of skeleton Department of the Treasury or Ministry of Finance in Brussels to harmonize fiscal policies and oversee the banks seems to be taking hold.

Still only dim comprehension (as in the US) though of how the best kind of growth really works. Hint: economists and bankers are not the first professions one turns to, to find out all about that.

Posted on 06/13/12 at 10:24 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The wider contextsItalian context
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Friday, June 08, 2012

A Case In Which The Accused’s Team Used A Psychological Condition Maybe Similar To AK’s Or RS’s

Posted by Grahame Rhodes





The wealthy Durst family develops tall buildings in Manhattan including the Bank of America tower in midtown and the new One Wold Trade Center in downtown which will soon reach 1776 feet high.

Robert Durst is one of the heirs of the founder of the Durst Organization who died in 1995 and his brother Douglas now runs the company with a cousin. Here is a brief summary of Robert’s early life from Wikipedia.

Durst grew up, one of four children, in Scarsdale, New York and attended Scarsdale High School. He completed his undergraduate degree at Lehigh University and attended graduate school at UCLA.

Durst reportedly witnessed his mother’s apparent suicide at age seven; she either fell or jumped off the roof of the Scarsdale family mansion.

According to Reader’s Digest, Durst underwent extensive counseling because of his mother’s death, and doctors found that his “deep anger” could lead to psychological problems, including schizophrenia.

Durst went on to become a real estate developer in his father’s business; however, it was his brother Douglas who was later appointed to run the family business. The appointment in the 1990s caused a rift between Robert and his family, and he became estranged. His earlier schizophrenia diagnosis was incorrect.

In 1982 a seeming dark side to Robert Durst began to appear. Also from Wikipedia:

In 1973, Durst married Kathleen McCormack, who disappeared in 1982. Her case remained unsolved for eighteen years when New York State Police reopened the criminal investigation.

On December 24, 2000, Durst’s long-time friend, Susan Berman, who was believed to have knowledge of McCormack’s disappearance, was found murdered execution-style in her Benedict Canyon California house. Durst was questioned in both cases but not charged.

According to prosecutors, he moved to Texas in 2000 and began cross-dressing to divert attention from the disappearance of McCormack.

Both the Kathleen Durst and Susan Berman cases remain open, and New York and Los Angeles police still work on them.

From the Galveston Texas Daily News here is a timeline for the movements of Robert Durst for late 2001 and early 2002.

Sept. 30 — A 13-year-old boy spots a man’s torso floating near the shoreline of 81st Street and Channelview Drive. Nearby, police find garbage bags containing human limbs, along with a number of items investigators later trace to an apartment house in the 2200 block of Avenue K.

Oct. 5 — Officials identify the body parts as the remains of Morris Black, a 71-year-old South Carolina native who lived at the apartment house.

Oct. 9 — Police arrest Robert Durst, 58, who lived in an apartment across the hall from Black. Durst is charged with murder and possession of marijuana, but leaves jail that night after posting $300,000 bond.

Oct. 16 — Durst becomes a fugitive when he fails to appear at a court hearing in his case. A grand jury indicts him on charges of murder and jumping bail.

Oct. 17 — A man in Mobile, Ala., rents a red Chevrolet Corsica, using the name Morris Black.

Nov. 30 — Police in Pennsylvania arrest Durst and charge him with the shoplifting theft of a small bandage, a sandwich and a newspaper.

Dec. 5 — Galveston detectives leave for Philadelphia, armed with a search warrant for the red Chevrolet Corsica police seized from the parking lot of the Pennsylvania grocery store where Durst was arrested.

Dec. 7 — A search of the car reveals numerous pieces of identification in the name of Morris Black, an undisclosed amount of marijuana, two handguns and about 80 bullets.

Dec. 17 — State District Court Judge Susan Criss issues a gag order in the murder case, barring officials, attorneys and potential witnesses from talking about the case.

Jan. 25 — Durst waives his right to an extradition hearing, agreeing to return to Galveston to face charges.

Jan. 27 — Durst arrives at the county jail.

New York Magazine adds this bit of color.

At the time of Black’s death, Durst was living as a deaf-mute woman known as “Dorothy Ciner” who communicated with the landlord via handwritten notes. During the trial he startled jurors by growling loudly like a dog and snorting like a pig.

Later, in prison, he became known for doing nude calisthenics in his cell.

In 2003 he was found not guilty of the murder of Morris Black. From Wikipedia:

During cross-examination, Durst admitted to using a paring knife, two saws and an axe to dismember Black’s body before dumping his remains in Galveston Bay. The jury acquitted him of murder.

Specifically he was found not guilty because the jury bought into the idea of a mental condition. CBS News describes how the jury saw it.

Is Durst a cold-blooded killer with a string of victims over more than 20 years? Or is he somehow a victim himself?

Last spring, Correspondent Erin Moriarty talked to Durst’s closest friends and the defense psychiatrist who examined him. The Durst fortune, valued at more than $2 billion, is in the same league as Donald Trump’s fortune. And it’s certainly more than enough for the best legal defense that money can buy.

His high-powered defense team - Dick DeGuerin, Mike Ramsey and Chip Lewis – say that early on, they had difficulty communicating with Durst. So they hired Dr. Altschuler, a well-known Houston psychiatrist, to find out why.

Altschuler says he met with Durst almost on a weekly basis, and spent more than 70 hours examining him. His conclusion: Durst suffers from a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a fairly uncommon disorder that leaves a victim’s intellect intact, but limits his ability to interact socially.

“Emotion is very difficult to him. He doesn’t know what happy is,” says Altschuler. “He can feel it, but almost as if he were feeling it as we would feel fingers through a glove. It’s very dulled, at best, to him … His whole life’s history is so compatible with a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder.”

The jury apparently bought it. They were convinced that Durst, in a panic, dismembered Black’s body.

Many people with Asperger’s self-diagnose themselves and learn to adjust and most have good lives and careers, many in computers and math-based professions. (Probably a coincidence but Knox’s parents are both in math-based professions, as is Chris Mella.) But some apparently do have flash rages when they yet again encounter in themselves an inability to connect or to win people over. So there are some murders that have been ascribed to this condition.

Both Knox and Sollecito may have had childhood trauma which their families, naturally, seem not too keen to have exposed. Or one or other might have been born wrong-headed.

Note how both of them in Perugia had isolated themselves from just about everybody else when Meredith died - Sollecito with his dark sullenless and Knox with her sharp elbows and brash, grubby, offputting ways.

Note Sollecito’s sordid history of beasty porn, and his knife fetishes, and violent manga comics and films, and lack of close friends, and endless drugs, and slow school progress, and attempted close supervision by a struggling father, and a loyal sister who he has left decimated and jobless without even a shrug.

Note how Amanda Knox seems to have tried all her life to be liked and has never understood why she is so often successful for just a short time. Note the reported riotous behavior off campus in Seattle, the shortage of school and college friends who speak up for her, the strange tale of her walking off the intern job in the German parliament, and the searching for love in all the wrong places

Note her willingness to let Patrick Lumumba rot in jail for weeks. Note how she bought hot underwear while giggling, and how she chose to miss the remembrance service for Meredith in favor of a pizza. Note how the prison tests in 2008 seem to have found both her and Sollecito to be continuing dangers. Note her flippant narcissistic demeanor at the trial, and her various bizarre statements.  Note her reported self-imposed isolation and odd deportment and hygiene while in prison.

Note how her sense of right and wrong seems to be completely at odds, comparatively speaking, with the rest of the human race. Note how she seems unable to exhibit any emotion, or take any responsibility for her actions, even when challenged directly and her veracity called into question.

Finally, note her seeming never-ending lack of empathy for Meredith and her family, observed and remarked on both when Meredith was found and at trial and in the months and years afterwards. Meredith came from a hard working loving family who encouraged her to work hard and gave her every break and certainly never brutalised her. She was talented and made friends easily because of her wonderful sense of humor and her positive view of life.

Meredith was the complete antithesis of Knox. Well adjusted, liked, highly intelligent, very diligent and disciplined,  and driven to succeed. A remarkable success story in process, whicht Knox seemingly could not even begin to relate to.

So are Robert Durst and either of the still-presumed-guilty perps in any way similar? Were either of them born wrong in the head or made that way by childhood trauma?

Or was a mental defense simply an easy way for the entitled but awkward Robert Durst to have got off the hook for a cruel murder, and one that the Hellman jury (and those in the FOA) subliminally bought into for Knox and Sollecito as well?

I leave it to you to decide.


[Below: Robert Durst’s missing wife, and a murdered Los Angeles friend]


[Below: Some new Durst organization buildings in New York including at center 1 WTC]

Posted on 06/08/12 at 09:09 AM by Grahame RhodesClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Action On Dr Galati’s Appeal To The Supreme Court Today Moved Ominously Closer

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation is the large structure at right background]


The ANSA news service is reporting today that Dr Galati’s appeal was formally accepted by the Supreme Court on 15 May.

The case has just been assigned to the First Criminal Division of the Supreme Court which is responsible for appeals involving murder. A hearing and outcome which could involve the appeal being punted back to Perugia to be done again properly might be expected in about seven months.

Still no word from Sollecito or Knox or their teams about the exceptionally tough appeal Dr Galati filed against Judge Hellman’s interim verdict releasing them. Our Italian lawyers are surprised that there has been no announcement of any new legal help.

Do the still-accused or their families understand what is about to hit them? Cassation appeals are considered very specialised and certain Rome lawyers make a good living doing nothing but handle them. 

Dr Galati was a deputy chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court and would seem to have the Knox and Sollecito teams who are inexperienced at that level thoroughly out-matched. If Knox fails to appear at any appeal trial re-run she would lose the advantage of personalising her own plight with the help of her flash-mob in the court.

In Italy there is enormous suspicion that politics and money played roles in bending the outcome the last time around. The prosecution clearly felt that, and there seems a good chance the full story will not remain hidden.

We also hear that the continued rabid postings of Curt Knox’s hatchetmen are increasingly under the microscope. No sign their campaign does anything but hurt. It sure put real resolve into this appeal.

Posted on 06/06/12 at 02:37 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe prosecutorsThe judiciaryAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+
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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Andrea Vogt Reports First-Hand On The Earthquakes That Have Hit Italy’s Economic Epicenter

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Images here are by Andrea Vogt and one each Getty Images and NBC.]


Italy’s previous large earthquake in 2009 resulted in 308 deaths around L’Aquila.

A lot of the extensive damage to that town occurred because L’Aquila is an old city (one hour south-east of Perugia) which had not yet been braced or modernised to withstand severe earthquakes.

The two quakes that hit the province of Modena (map at bottom) in the past two weeks resulted in less than two dozen deaths, but in all other respects their damage has been far greater. They were more severe on the Richter scale than the L’Aquila earthquake and tremors were felt all over northern Italy and up into Austria.

And they struck right in Italy’s economic-exports heartland.

Car-makes Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini and the mortorcycle maker Ducati are all based right there and all of their plants temporarily had to shut down. Maserati and Ferrari are now owned by FIAT (majority owner of the US’s Dodge-Chrysler) which also saw other assembly plants hit.

Modena also produces cheeses which are heavily exported, and not far away are the plants of the exporters of textile, leather and jewelery fashion goods, of ceramics, of foods other than cheeses, and of Italian wines.

On-the-spot reports by Andrea Vogt with more close-up human detail than most others have appeared on a number of media websites. Excerpts from the report Andrea Vogt filed with Tom Kington which appeared on the Guardian website:

The Italian government said 8,000 people were left homeless, adding to the 6,000 already sleeping in tents and temporary accommodation after the first, 6.0-magnitude quake, which struck the same area in the early hours and killed seven.

The latest quake occurred at 9am when more factories were open – causing the higher death toll…. Some of the victims died in factories that had just reopened after suffering damage in the earlier quake.

“I saw dust and smoke coming up from the factories and warehouses on the edge of town,” said Cavezzo resident Maurizio Bruschi. “Many told themselves that the worst was over. But we keep getting hammered.”,,,

The quakes are a serious blow for one of Italy’s most productive regions, just as the country struggles to lift itself out of recession.  “Fear will paralyse Emilia now,” wrote Mario Calabresi, editor of the newspaper La Stampa. “Who’s going to be willing to go back to work in a big warehouse now?” he asked…

Convoys of fire brigades and ambulances clogged tiny roads east of Modena, many littered with downed electrical lines and fallen debris. In the tent cities instructions were written in Italian and Arabic for the benefit of migrants working in local factories.

Other residents set up tents in their gardens, or made plans to head to relatives or to the Adriatic coast, where some hotels were opening up rooms to evacuees.”

More below.



From the same report, a story of a priest who was one of those killed by the unexpected double whammy.

In Rovereto sul Secchia a priest, Father Ivan Martini, was killed by a falling beam when his church partially collapsed on him. He was visiting the church, which had been damaged in the earlier quake, to see if he could salvage a statue of the Madonna.

“He was brilliant, and very dedicated, especially to the inmates incarcerated in Modena, where he was the prison chaplain,” said fellow priest Father Carlo Truzzi.

Andrea Vogt also posted a more detailed day-by-day report on her blog the Freelance Desk after combing the stricken areas. Her description below is what happened to the collapsed ceramics plant you can see in the first image below. .

Just a few hundred meters away, workers and curious onlookers came to see what was left of the twisted blue steel of the Sant’ Agostino Ceramics plant. They stared, the silence broken only by the eery sound of ceramic tiles clanking down from high scaffolding into the knot of bent metal.  Two workers, Nicola Cavicchi, 35, and Leonardo Ansaloni, 51, died under the rubble as they tried to escape.

When Italy looses, we all really loose. Tough time to now have to pay for re-building.




Posted on 06/02/12 at 01:08 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Smug Killer Who Thought Perhaps He’d Escaped Justice Was Brought Down In The UK Today

Posted by The Machine



[Above and below: Arlene Fraser and husband Nat who today was again convicted for her murder]


Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Nat Fraser has been been found guilty for the second time of murdering his estranged wife Arlene in 1998.

He was originally was found guilty in 2003 and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. However, after a long appeal process, his conviction was quashed last year by five judges at the Supreme Court in London.

They sent the case back to the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal, where the jurors have just taken approximately five hours to reach a majority verdict after a six-week trial.

It’s not the first time this year that someone in Britain has been finally found guilty of murder after initially escaping justice.

In January, Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of murdering Stephen Lawrence in 1993 by a jury at the Old Bailey. Dobson had been acquitted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1996 but the Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal. (The case against David Norris collapsed before it reached court.)

David Harvie the director of serious casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal, said:

The Crown is absolutely determined to ensuring that criminals are brought to justice for crimes they have committed, no matter the passage of time nor the legal complexities involved.

I have no doubts that Chief Prosecutor of Perugia, Giovanni Galati and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola are just as determined to ensuring that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are brought to justice.

The cases above are a reality check for anyone who assumes that Knox and Sollecito are innocent simply because they were provisionally acquitted. It’s a fact of life that killers are sometimes acquitted. It’s also a fact of life that for them things often come full circle.

And if anyone thinks that cases of people being convicted of murder after escaping justice don’t happen in Italy, they are seriously mistaken. Barbie Nadeau outlined the case of Angela Birikova, who was convicted of murder after being acquitted at her first trial, in a November 2010 article for the Daily Beast:

In the meantime, the Seattle native’s lawyers say she is anxious to get back to court. She has reportedly been getting to know a new cellmate, Moldovian native Angela Biriukova, herself a celebrity criminal in Italy. Dubbed the Black Widow by the Italian press, Biriukova was tried for murdering her wealthy older husband by stabbing him 16 times.

Her DNA was found on a cigarette butt near the corpse, but nowhere else at the murder scene. Unlike Knox, however, Biriukova was acquitted during her first trial. Knox might take comfort in what happened next: The prosecutors appealed and Biriukova’s acquittal was reversed—after being set free, she was convicted during the appellate process. Should Knox’s appellate trial yield the same dramatic reversal, it will be a stunning conclusion to a trial whose narrative has often sharply turned on twists of fate.

It should noted that there is considerably more undisputed evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito than there is against the various convicted killers that are mentioned above.

Apologist journalists like Nick Pisa and Nick Squires, and especially Michael Day, would do well to remember this, before glibly dismissing the case against the still-accused pair.


[Below: convicted killer Angela Biriukova who Knox reportedly made a friend of in Capanne]

Posted on 05/30/12 at 07:32 PM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Second Earthquake Hits Italy One Week Later With Reported 17 Dead

Posted by Peter Quennell

Posted on 05/29/12 at 05:02 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Meredith’s Leeds #3: Where The High-Achieving Meredith Spent Several Very Happy Years

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


There are many more videos about Leeds University posted here. Meredith posthumously received a degree from this fine university (collected for her by Stephanie) which is generally rated as on a par with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London and at least as serious. When she arrived in Perugia she hit a flying start and was already near-fluent in Italian. 

Posted on 05/26/12 at 07:24 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Italy Works With Australia On A Complex And Possibly Precedent Setting Case

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Above: Australian Broadcasting Corporation report from Brisbane posted 3 days ago]


Italy has the reputation of being among the more diligent of countries in respecting international law and conventions. So does Australia.

But now they find themselves in a strange kabuki dance fraught with international tension, courtesy of two divorced parents.

The image below with the faces disguised appeared yesterday on Facebook. It shows an Italian father and his four daughters on the coast near Brisbane in Australia. With one newspaper exception which could result in a heavy fine, no Italian or Australian newspapers are publishing their names.

The reason is that this is a battle over illegal child abduction and both countries have laws shielding the minors. The mother is an Australian who married an Italian in Italy and they had the four children there. When they were divorced the mother and father were awarded joint custody so the father would get to see his daughters half of the time.

Two years ago the mother took off back to Australia with the girls. The Australian authorities were starting to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which says cases must he handled speedily and the country of origin has sole rights over matters of custody.

The mother missed a court-ordered deadline of 15 May for a return of the children to the father who had flown to Australia to get them. They went into hiding but were tracked down by police to a house or hotel on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. 

It now appear that the four girls want to remain in Australia, and although under the Hague Convention they dont as minors have separate rights, majority Australian sympathy may be on their side. The mother has just made claims about the father which he has denounced and hence the image of himself and the girls below which he posted on Facebook.

The precedent is in whether the children should have a say, the resolution of which could affect future abduction cases world-wide.  Australia’s High Court will decide the case one way or another this August.

Here’s a past post on a remarkably similar case. Liam is still in Italy.



Posted on 05/25/12 at 09:48 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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