Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Friday, September 21, 2012

CNN’s Jane Velez Mitchell Has A Nervous Sollecito And Then TWO Guests Who Think He Did It

Posted by Peter Quennell



A lively debate! CNN Headline News tonight around 7:30. No “I wuz beaten up by meanie policemen” claims this time by Sollecito.

Mistakes were made by all the speakers, but super-lawyer Wendy Murphy and the crime blogger Levi Page gave the case for guilt their best shot. Even the third commentator thinks the timing of the book is insane.

Wendy Murphy didnt know about the Meredith book, but it was published only in England and transgressed no Italian law. She did vigorously get across just how much evidence there is, and not for the first time. See her tough article here and tough interview here where she assesses Knox as dangerous.

Jane, Mignini is NOT in a ton of trouble and never was. No satanism, repeat, no satanism. Your senior CNN colleague Nancy Grace believed Knox did it. Your CNN colleague Drew Griffen set Mignini up. See here and also here.

There were no leaks - at least not by Mignini. He never leaks. There were no tabloids, at least not in Italy. The only 2-3 were in the UK, and they affected no jury. There was no invented Foxy Knoxy - that was her own Internet presence.

Sollecito couldnt get his story out? But he maintained a code of total silence for four years - could THAT have been the problem? And Sollecito did NOT support Amanda’s alibi - he sold her down the river in a heartbeat when a policeman looked at him funny (kidding - just a little).

And what’s with your squealing, Jane?! He isnt THAT adorable. Not if you are at the wrong end of a knife.


The Rather Strained Couric-Sollecito Interview: Reading Between The Lines (2)

Posted by James Higham





Katie Couric interviewed Sollecito, more briefly and frostily than expected, last Tuesday afternoon in New York. You can read the transcript here.

Sicily based blogger Welshcakes Limoncello commented on a summary of the interview I posted on my own website. “Do you think we will ever know the truth?”

It was a neutral statement, one so many must have made around the world when they considered the case in as much detail as the media allowed.  The short answer, for those who’ve gone into the evidence in as much detail as PMF, TJMK and dozens of others, including me have, is a resounding: “Yes, we do actually.  We are as sure as any court needs to be or has ever been, short of a signed confession.”

This is not an even playing field in the least.  The evidence points one way, the professionals in the field concur, the Kercher family who, one needs to remember, were neutrals in the sense of whoever emerged as the killers they’d be down on, have sat through every bit of evidence as it was presented and they concur.  Nineteen justices who reviewed the case concurred.

One can’t just sweep that under the carpet, claiming there was “zero evidence”, not when that time and effort when into gathering and considering it all, not when consideration of the evidence presented filled hundreds of pages.  Just what are people trying to pull, claiming there was “zero evidence”?

And the defence – it hasn’t chosen to attack pieces of evidence [around 130 pieces of it] which they know they can’t attack.  They picked on two main pieces in the appeal and failed to establish either, except in the minds of Zanetti and Hellman,  the appointee who came in when the original trial judge was replaced.  Would he risk his reputation and hundreds of pages of scathing consideration of Hellman and Zanetti if there was zero in it in the first place?

I mean, at what point doe blind denial cease and the cumulative weight of evidence win the day?  Not cherrypicking two pieces of evidence and the judges refusing to hear the rest.  I mean cumulatively – all of it.

And cumulatively is the only way to approach this case – what the totality of evidence, not the cherrypicking, points to.  The weight of that evidence, from the DNA to the false alibis and the phone calls, would be sufficient to put anyone away, let alone the Supreme Court view that there was most certainly more than one killer, a point Sollecito, in his Couric interview, does not pooh-pooh.  Wasn’t that interesting?  He hopes the Kerchers will one day find the killers.

Not only was Sollecito forgetful of what had already been given as evidence but he has shown himself an inveterate liar.  When you accuse someone of being a liar, as a certain commenter at Orphans of Liberty is wont to regularly accuse me of, being asked to produce his evidence of that and then dropping into assertion and ad hominem with no evidence whatever, the outcome is not one of life and death.

In Sollecito’s case, it is – the death of Meredith Kercher.  So, I’ve accused him of being a liar.  Where is my evidence?  See this post by the Machine of April 2009.

There comes a point when one wonders why most who are still supporting Knox and Sollecito are doing so.  One can understand the family and close friends doing so against all the evidence but not people like that professor at John Jay University who made the same assertions, minus evidence and relied on his learned credentials to convince. 

Minus evidence, minus evidence – it has to be repeated over and over.

[Below: a previous interviewee who was more in Katie Couric’s class]

Posted on 09/21/12 at 01:25 PM by James HighamClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dr Galati: Here On American TV Tonight Raffaele Sollecito Apparently Commits Felony Defamation

Posted by Peter Quennell



Right now, Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian, is swanning around the United States with the apparent sole purpose of making his home country look bad.

As he is still accused of murder and other felonies until the Supreme Court signs off on the case, and accused felons are normally never allowed to enter the US by Immigration, it seems Sollecito could be here in the US illegally.

This video above was recorded from the Anderson Cooper news program on CNN at 8:45 pm tonight.

Here Raffaele Sollecito claims to have been abused and threatened by interrogators and claims that the same thing happened to Amanda Knox. He implies that he held out for hours, and that Knox was interrogated for 10 hours.

This seems to our lawyers precisely the same kind of invented malicious claim against interrogators which has resulted in both Amanda Knox and her parents being sued for felony defamation (calunnia) by police officers present when she was interrogated.

We know that both Sollecito’s own father Francesco AND HIS LAWYER Mr Maori have just indicated on national Italian TV that Sollecito was lying when he made this and other claims in his book. He has zero evidence to prove it, and he cannot point to anyone who abused him.

Sollecito had more than four years at trial and appeal and on national TV and privately with his lawyers to lodge such charges of abuse - and yet he never did. Not once did he ever advance them even though they might have got him off.

He did not even mention it in his nationally televised interview in Italy soon after he was released. He had to come to America to start making it - as blackmail, to make the Knox forces get him a resident visa?  .

What do we believe really happened?  This is from our July 2009 post on Sollecito’s many alibis.

Sollecito was asked to return to the police station on 5 November to answer some more questions. He was at that time confronted with telephone records that proved that he and Amanda Knox had lied previously.

So for his third alibi, which now cut Amanda Knox loose and implicated her, Sollecito claimed that he was at his apartment all evening, and that for part of the evening Knox was out, from 9 pm to 1 am.

In my previous statement I told a load of rubbish because Amanda had convinced me of her version of the facts and I didn’t think about the inconsistencies…..

Amanda and I went into town at around 6pm, but I don’t remember what we did. We stayed there until around 8.30 or 9pm.

At 9pm I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends. We said goodbye. I went home, I rolled myself a spliff and made some dinner.”

He goes on to say that Amanda returned to his house at around 1am and the couple went to bed, although he couldn’t remember if they had sex.

How did things proceed from there? Did Sollecto or his lawyers claim that he had been tricked or abused into a “confession” ? No…

This third alibi was undercut by Amanda Knox when she took the stand and testified. She stated that she was with Sollecito at his place all night.

It was also contradicted by the forensic evidence presented by the prosecution: the four separate pieces of forensic evidence that placed him in the cottage on Via Della Pergola on the night of the murder.

This third alibi was also undermined by the telephone records and by the data taken from his computer.

Sollecito claimed that he had spoken to his father at 11 pm. The phone records showed that to the contrary, there was no telephone conversation at this time, though Sollecito’s father had called him a couple of hours earlier, at 8.40 pm.

Sollecito claimed that he was surfing the internet from 11 pm to 1 am. Marco Trotta, a police computer expert, testified that the last human interaction on Sollecito’s computer that evening was at 9.10 pm and the next human activity on Sollecito’s computer was at 5.32 am.

Sollecito said that he downloaded and watched the film Amelie during the night. However, Mr Trotta said that the film had been watched at around 6.30 pm, and it was earlier testified that Meredith returned to the cottage she shared with Amanda Knox at about 9 pm.

Sollecito claimed that he had slept in until 10 am the next day. There was expert prosecution testimony that his mobile phone was actually turned on at 6.02 am. The Italian Supreme Court remarked that his night must have been “sleepless” to say the least.

This alibi was undermined by the eyewitness Antonio Curatolo, the watcher in the park above the house, who testified that he saw Sollecito there.

From 2007 to 2011 Solleceto was rather notorious for NOT reaching out to Amanda Knox during trial and appeal and for NOT fully supporting her alibi. He has never retracted the statement that she was absent from his house from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am on the night Meredith was murdered.

This may be giving the Knox-Mellases some grins. They despise Sollecito, and they know full well of his treachery toward Amanda during trial when his own lawyer Bongiorno repeatedly blamed Knox (scroll down). They are presumably appalled at his loose lips and dishonest book which mess with her own prospects. . 

the book’s title is a living lie. There is nothing honorable about him. And he is acting treacherously and cowardly toward his own country.


The Rather Strained Couric-Sollecito Interview: Reading Between The Lines (1)

Posted by Hopeful





Raffaele’s physical appearance was okay. He was groomed and dressed well. I alternately felt sorry for him and grossed out by him when I sensed he was lying from a cunning script.

He has taken a page out of Amanda’s playbook by using English instead of his native Italian with a translator, so the audience will identify with him and so he can buy time to formulate safe answers. He wants to show off to Amanda that he is as quick to master language as she is.

Katie Couric definitely put him on the defensive. Her maturity and restraint honed over years of interviews gave her the advantage. It must be so hard to smile and remain polite when you harbor suspicions you’re talking to a liar and stonecold killer. Her civility and training stood her in good stead.

She didn’t reveal too much disgust, but some slipped out. She did poke and prod for hard truth as much as possible within the limited format.

I think the biggest clue to Raffaele’s dishonesty was his refusal to denounce Meredith’s killer, Rudy Guede. Had he not been part of the violence or obstruction of justice against Meredith, he would have the moral high ground to express natural horror rage and resentment against this killer, a killer whose act has also destroyed Sollecito’s life.

If he were totally innocent, Raffaele would want only to name and shame Guede and howl for the harshest punishment. If Guede had gotten me involved in such a nightmare I would blame him without regret and with no game-playing or fear of his lies. The fact that Raf does not dare to anger Guede and refuses to judge the known killer who has dropped Raf into a living hell is a sign of some perverse obligation to Guede, fear of Guede, or guilty knowledge or some unnatural response.

He refuses to denounce Guede, while he revels in his coverup for Amanda. This suggests he is part of the crime.  He denounces prison loudly enough! He seemed to want to say that prison serves absolutely no purpose at all, incarceration accomplishes nothing. This is simply a reflection of how much he hated prison, not how little he deserved it.

His big glory seems to be bucking his family, and rejecting their good advice, while professing to understand they are blinded by love and concern for him.

His tone is condescending. No, he will spare his family nothing. He prefers to turn his back on their best interests (which would be to have a son who could earn a solid living and eventually help his father in old age or sister, has Raf ever thought of success as a gift he can give them? No, it seems he wants drama and destruction and waste).

While his book claims Dr. and Sister Sollecito were begging him to reveal the truth regardless of whether it hurt Amanda or not, he turns his back on them and on truth completely. His desire is to honor a wildcat female who used him and cost his father and sister everything.

What a mockery of real honor. He’s ready to save Amanda a prison sentence no matter how big a liar he must become or how much terror he brings to his family or expense and stress on them. His childish and mistaken attitude was that Amanda loves him, Amanda is all that matters.

Thus he becomes a foolish and destructive ennabler, saving Amanda from the natural results of her own bad acts that would finally teach her something real. He wants to rescue her and his vanity since she reflects his romantic choice and he doesn’t want that criticized.

He will rescue her at cost of destroying the family who has truly loved him and stood by him, even though he has so many unresolved issues with them. I think this is because he has not felt strong enough to stand up to his family in the normal teenage years of establishing boundaries, usually through mild rebellion.

His fear of losing his father since he was motherless, or their overbearing powerful personalities (doctor and policeman) left his growth undone at the normal time. He is still a child. But his role in this crime has become a way out for him.

Raf is in hog heaven. He can emigrate from Italy to the U.S. for survival reasons that his folks must understand, since they assure him they don’t want him in prison. This is his way to get others to boot him to where he wanted to go all along. (Munich wasn’t far enough, and he was soon back home dejected.)

His biggest joy seems to be deceiving the police. His sister’s biggest mistake was doing shady stuff to help this ingrate brother, and his father will learn the same lesson.

It’s really sad because Dr. Francesco Sollecito Senior deserves better than this from his only son. Raf wants to lower the bar on their expectations of him. In that he has succeeded. His main goal is to disappoint his father and compromise his sister since he cannot compete with their workplace achievements and no longer has a mother to protect.

Raffaele took another page from Amanda by giving a lengthy and ambiguous answer to the question, “What would you say to people who still think you are guilty?” He never gets around to categorically denying he killed Meredith! Instead he harps on the media having deceived the public.

Of course the fog of nonsense is his own and Amanda’s.

Posted on 09/19/12 at 03:08 PM by HopefulClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Questions For Sollecito: Katie Couric, Push Back Against Sollecito’s Bluster And False Facts #2

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



[The vastly more talented person, Meredith, who the smug and odious Sollecito still stands accused of killing]


Kermit has suggested some very tough questions in the Powerpoints post directly below.

Here are ten more of the possible dozens of unanswered questions that Katie Couric and other media interviewers of Sollecito should ask him, and we invite readers to suggest more questions in Comments below. 

II should be recalled that all three suspects were brought to trial on the same body of evidence. Judges at Guede’s trial court, his first appeal court, and the Supreme Court of Cassation have all ruled that the evidence showed that it was impossible for him to have attacked Meredith alone.

Despite contradictory efforts by the defenses in the Sollecito and Knox appeal to make credible two possible sets of alternative killers, both attempts descended into courtroom farce. Right now, all of the considerable body of evidence still points ONLY at the three originally charged.

Several context points from the previous post below with this same title should be reiterated here.

1) Sollecito was NOT finally acquitted at the end of 2011; as all the media have been wrongly parroting. He still stands accused until the appeal process fully plays out - and in some similar cases, that has taken years. As he is still accused of a murder and other felonies he might be in the United States illegally.

2) The investigation and crime-scene analysis resulted in a very powerful case at trial, the trial judges’ reasoning was brilliant and precise, and they showed NO media influence, NO satanic theory, NO desperate prosecutor, NO rush to judgment, and NO hint that it had all been inspired by Knox’s and Sollecito’s quirky behavior, or by a misinterpretation of the effect of drugs.

3) Knox and Sollecito were convicted at trial based on clashing alibis, autopsy evidence, blood evidence, footprint evidence, cellphone evidence, computer-use evidence, eye-witness evidence, and so on and on. In the UK and US any ONE item might have been enough. They both refused to be fully cross examined at trial. Knox was only partly examined, about her false charge of murder against Patrick Lumumba, but even so she did herself harm.

4) A bizarre and suspect last-minute change of appeal judges resulted in a bizarre and suspect court management, a bizarre and suspect DNA consultancy, a bizarre and suspect appeal verdict, and a bizarre and suspect appeal sentencing report - which in enormous detail has been dissected by the Chief Prosecutor of Umbria, Dr Galati, in an appeal to the Supreme Court and shown to have broken Italian law in a large number of respects.

5)  The entire officialdom of Perugia holds a pro-guilt view. Dr Galati holds this view. Relevant officials in Rome all hold this view. Probably 95 percent of the interested Italian population hold this view. The vast majority of Italian journalists hold this view. The Rome-based foreign reporters all hold this view.  A large if unknown fraction in the UK and US populations hold this view. Behind the scenes in the NYC media, a majority seem to hold this view. Hillary Clinton and the ambassador in Rome hold this view. Knox’s and Sollecito’s lawyers at trial in 2009 seemed less than firm believers in their innocence. Both families have acted as if they KNEW there was guilty involvement all along.

While Sollecito did not take the stand during the trial or the appeal, he did make a number of voluntary written statements entitled “Notes on a Prison Journey” which were edited and given to the media by his lawyers. These notes have been meticulously translated into English by the PMF translators and are available here.  They don’t show him in an innocent light.

With so many questions unanswered, it would be unconscionable for any good reporter or network to allow Sollecito to promote his book and case one-sidedly on their nationally-syndicated talk shows without answering some tough questions. Keeping in mind that a talk show is not the best place to debate forensic evidence and other intricacies of the case, we offer these ten example questions in other areas, which with Kermits questions below should start to get to the core of what Sollecito did and didn’t do on the night.

1. The Kercher family has asked that people involved in the case keep a low profile out of respect for their daughter Meredith. What effect do you think your loud promotion of this tendentious book deal will have on the Kerchers?

2. Did your publisher, Simon & Schuster, express any concern that you might yet be convicted of this murder, if the Supreme Court rules in March that you were improperly acquitted? And that if Italian officialdom is smeared, they may risk charges of calunnia?

3. You were the person closest to Amanda Knox in the days before the murder. Why did you write that Amanda was “detached from reality?” What in your view is her psychology? Is she loyal to you? And do you always see eye to eye?

4. You and Amanda were among the last people to see Meredith alive. Did you hear Meredith’s conversation with Amanda, if any, before she left to have dinner with friends? If so, what was said, and in what tone?

5. That afternoon you claim the two of you merely smoked a little marijuana but both suffered mental black-outs. Amazing. Medically very unusual. At what time precisely did you both stop remembering, and at what time did you both start remembering again?

6. If neither of you can remember what happened that night, how can you be so sure you and Amanda had nothing to do with the murder? How in that light do you account for highly incriminating forensic and computer and cellphone and eyewitness evidence? 

7. Inconsistencies between Amanda’s account of what she found at her cottage the next morning, and what you said you saw when you got there, make the story seem made up. For example, you wrote that the first thing you noticed - you said that you remembered this particularly well - was one of the bedroom doors was wide open, the window was broken and the room was a mess. But Amanda wrote that the door was closed and the break-in wasn’t discovered until you conducted a search of the house. Why don’t your stories match?

8. Both of you have described how, after Meredith didn’t answer, you tried to kick down her bedroom door. It was easily pushed in later. Were you surprised that you were unable to break it down, despite having taken eight years of kickboxing lessons?

9. Were the police wrong to arrest you after you specifically and quite readily told them that Amanda had persuaded you to lie to them, and to say that she’d been home with you all night when you had consistently maintained that she wasn’t?

10. Rudy Guede, the man confirmed convicted by the Supreme Court of Cassation of murder and a sex crime, in complicity (“in concorso”) with two other people, says that you were the other two people there. Guede is eligible for parole later this decade. Do you think that his parole should be denied? Did the Supreme Court get it wrong? Is Guede the sole killer, and if so how?









Sunday, September 16, 2012

Powerpoints #18: Katie Couric Interviews Raffaele Sollecito! We Already Have A Sneak Preview!!

Posted by Kermit





Click here if you have Powerpoint or the Powerpoint Viewer program loaded. If not here is Powerpoint Viewer.

We are not really too surprised that Sollecito caves, as we observe the Sollecito camp increasingly panicked now by the appeal of Dr Galati, Still, thanks a lot Katie insiders! Thanks a lot Sollecito-camp insiders! 

And a great job on the couch, Katie Couric. You managed to winkle out the truth and respect the REAL victim even if Raffaele seemed a little tongue-tied…


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Questions For Sollecito: Katie Couric, Push Back Against Sollecito’s Bluster And False Facts #1

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





Last Monday at 3:00 pm in the ABC TV1 studio on West 66th in New York city, Katie Couric launched a one-hour talk-show which will run five days a week. Next tuesday she will interview Raffaele Sollecito.


Who is Katie Couric?

In the fifteen years leading up to 2006, Katie Couric was a lively, bright and often very funny morning-show compere on NBC’s Today show . In 2006, she switched to CBS, to become the first woman to anchor the evening news. She also did a number of interviews for CBS’s 60 Minutes airing on Sunday nights.

In those years, she cultivated the broadest range of interview styles of anyone in American TV. Many of her interview questions are sympathetic puffballs. Her own husband died of cancer in 1998 when he was 42 and she 41, with two daughters not yet in their teens, so she relates unusually well to guests who have had tragedies in their own lives.

At other times, though, she can be as tenacious as a tiger. In 2008 she did a series of interviews with Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, in which Palin looked far from ready for prime time. Palin and John McCain, the presidential candidate, lost the election to Barack Obama and Joe Biden by a substantial margin.

Some still blame Couric for asking Palin the few “gotcha” questions which stumped her, though in general it is accepted that Couric helped to show up somebody too misinformed, strident and shoot-from-the-hip to be a president-in-waiting. A recent movie version confirmed this.

So which Couric will viewers see weekdays on ABC? The puffball thrower, or the tiger? Almost certainly a bit of both, for ABC hope it is this danger and uncertainty in Couric’s interviews that will drag millions of viewers in daily. 


The Sollecito interview next tuesday

For Katie Couric, this represents a good opportunity - she could really make news here - and maybe something of a risk. The risk comes only if she is briefed only by the Knox-Sollecito PR people and the book agents and book publishers that handle Sollecito.

She may leave her millions of viewers only dimly aware of Sollecito’s true legal status, and presuming that both Sollecito and Knox are off the hook, and that there is “no evidence”, and that those meanie Italians have done something really nefarious.

All of the media reports on Sollecito and Knox this past week that said “they were acquitted” have it seriously wrong.

This is merely the interval between the second act (the first appeal of 2011) and the third (the Supreme Court appeal 0f 2013) which will start playing out on 23 March. There could be several more acts to come, maybe including a complete repeat of the first appeal, which the Supreme Court has not hesitated to insist on before.

Meanwhile, Sollecito’s correct legal status under Italian law (along with that of Amanda Knox) is that he still stands accused of murdering Meredith, until the Supreme Court signs off on a verdict.

The risk for Couric is that if she does only a puffball interview, and allows herself to be snowed by the dishonest PR and in effect turned into yet another shill, she could come down on what could soon emerge as the losing side, and helped build sympathy for a killer. 

We just saw the perfect example of this. A senior psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, less than 10 minutes walk from ABC’s west-side studios, swallowed the PR line on Knox and Sollecito without the slightest checking. You can read his sorry story here and here.

Since then, only an embarrassed silence.

This is a 20 point road-map of the Perugia case for the Couric people and any new readers that her show sends to TJMK and PMF. Post (2) will have some really tough questions, which Sollecito can be expected to flunk.  With luck, these posts will turn Couric & company into tigers. Enjoy the hot seat, Sollecito.


1. Sollecito is not the real victim in this case

While Couric’s predecessor Oprah was snowed by the PR 18 months ago, she did to her credit remember Meredith, and closed with a huge photo of her that lingered. This is the real Meredith as an in-memoriam post described her. 

Meredith really hit the ground running in Perugia. She had dreamed of it for a long time.

She bonded immediately with her two nice Italian flatmates, who were both working in town, and soon with the neighbors downstairs. Within days she had an “instant crowd’ of the girls from Leeds and other UK universities.

She liked the house, liked the clubs, liked walking Perugia, liked the culture and the fun festivals in Perugia. Her first encounters with her new boyfriend downstairs, an Italian musician, were said to be shy and sweet.

And she was focused and already working her tail off. She had won a well-funded Erasmus grant and although she wanted to work a little, she had no worries about money.

She arrived with an excellent command of Italian after two years of hard study at the European Studies school in Leeds, and at the Università per Stranieri she was clearly going to excel.

She was also studying politics and economics at the main university, which was very close, and she seemed set to go very far. her eyes were already on the powerful international bodies in Brussels.



2. Italy’s excellent justice system is very pro defendant

Prosecutors have to jump through more hoops than any other system in the world. Major errors and framings of innocent parties never make it through to a final guilty verdict. Please read here and here.

Proportionally Italy has only one-seventh the murder rate of the US and proportionally less than one-twentieth of the prison population of the US. Hardly a justice system out of control. .


3. Meredith’s murder was a cruel and depraved act

Although a key trial session on the barbaric 15-minute struggle with Meredith was closed to the public Italians know how cruel and depraved it was and how it HAD to have involved three attackers.


4. The case was well investigated and well prosecuted

The investigation and crime-scene analysis resulted in a very powerful case at trial as that long series of Powerpoints brilliantly summarises

The judges’ reasoning was brilliant and precise and showed NO media influence, NO satanic theory, NO desperate prosecutor, NO rush to judgment, and NO hint that it had all been inspired by Knox’s and Sollecito’s quirky callous behavior after Meredith died - that behavior by the way suggested they enjoyed toying with the police until they were finally arrested.

They were convicted based on clashing alibis, autopsy evidence, blood evidence, footprint evidence, cellphone evidence, computer-use evidence, eye-witness evidence, and so on and on. Quirky callous behavior (which did happen) was barely on the radar at trial.


5. Knox and Sollecito were never cross examined at trial

Had they been, they would almost certainly have collapsed almost instantly - as Couric hopefully will find out.

Instead, the defendants made repeated unchallenged statements to the court, as the Italian system allows, many highly self-serving, and when Knox took the stand only to explain why she fingered Patrick Lumumba, prosecution questions were highly hedged by prior agreement.

These are among the many dozens of open questions (more for Sollecito in our next post) which the defendants have still never confronted.



6. This was no lone wolf crime by Rudy Guede alone

After a fatuous failed attempt by a defense attorney to have a tall athletic staff member climb through Filomena’s bedroom window the defenses NEVER EVER argued that Guede acting alone could have done it.

They simply ignored the evidence of a rearranged crime scene in that bedroom and at appeal introduced TWO conflicting witnesses Mario Alessi and Luciano Aviello to try to show other people were involved. Both collapsed under examination.


7. Investigative and prosecution staff performed just fine

Curt Knox’s campaign and American media have carried out what looks to us like the real frame here, that of claiming (only in English) that the police and investigators and prosecution were corrupt or incompetent or driven by Satan.

NONE of this conspircacy theory is believed by anyone in Italy who knows about it. Police and investigators and prosecution had every chance to explain themselves (in Italian) in the court and newspapers and on TV. Read here and here and here and here.


8. The “guilty” trial outcomes convinced more than Italians

With few exceptions Italians continue to regard Sollecito and Knox as guilty. No wonder he is so desperate to get out of the place. He was never ever very popular there, and prior to Meredith’s murder he came across like a perverted loner with a drug habit who needed constant supervision by his father.

In 2008 when Sollecito was being transported to Verona University for an entrance exam in virtual reality (which he failed) he was yelled at by an angry crowd when the police van stopped at an autostrada service area for a restroom break. He was bundled back in and the police van took off in a hurry. 

The entire officialdom of Perugia holds a pro-guilt view. Umbria’s chief prosecutor Dr Galati holds this view. Relevant officials in Rome all hold this view. Probably 95 percent of the interested Italian population hold this view. The vast majority of Italian journalists hold this view. The Rome-based foreign reporters all hold this view.  A large if unknown fraction in the UK and US populations hold this view.

Behind the scenes in the NYC media a majority seem to hold this view. Some of the publishers who were offered the books hold this view.  Hillary Clinton and the ambassador in Rome seem to hold this view. Many lawyers and even judges who read here hold this view. Even Knox’s and Sollecitos lawyers at trial in 2009 seemed less than firm believers in them.

Even some who knew Knox and Sollecito from way back in childhood in their home towns were unsurprised when they were first arrested and locked up in November 2007.


9. Both families face trials for attempted subversion of justice

While suggestive of a belief in their offsprings’ guilt rather than probative, both families are charged with attempts to subvert justice.  Knox’s parents are being sued by the police interrogators who they claimed without evidence had abused her. (Mignini is not one of them, as he was not there.)

Charges against the Sollecito family (five of them) are more serious and are being brought by the Italian state. Read here and here and here.


10. A change of appeal judges may have been engineered

The highly qualified senior criminal judge in Perugia Judge Chiari was slated to preside over the appeal. He was mysteriously yanked at the last moment and reported angry, and instead two ill-qualified civil judges with questionable impartiality (they each had something to gain from a not-guilty verdict) presided over the appeal.

[Below: Katie Couric during a break in one of the 2008 interviews with Sarah Palin]




11. The appeal sentencing report’s quality is appalling

Our Italian lawyers say this is the most amateurish sentencing report in a murder case they have even seen. Please read here.


12. The independent DNA report’s quality is appalling

There a strong internal hint that the grandstanding American academic Hampikian might have been involved in its creation. Please read here.


13. The prosecution has lodged a very strong Supreme Court appeal

The chief prosecutor of the province of Umbria, Dr Galati, was himself until last year a deputy chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court in Rome. His expertise and credibility at this level outclasses that of all the other lawyers on the case combined. Please read here.


14. More trouble ahead for the families and defenses in other cases

Please read here. The key cases from the point of view of an outcome for Sollecito and Knox are the investigations into Alessi and especially Luciano Aviello who claimed that bribes were offered in his prison for testimony favorable to Sollecito. 

That Judge Hellmann chose not to pursue that stunning claim, which could have thrown the appeal trial, is one of the points of Dr Galati’s appeal to the Supreme Court which if accepted could result in a new appeal trial.

It could also result in Sollecito’s lead lawyer Giulia Bongiorno (who is reputed to dislike him) having to take herself off the case.


15. Sollecito did a much derided interview in Italy

This was late last year after the appeal verdict. That much-watched one-hour interview with Sollecito seems to have totally bombed. Sollecito gave little away, and sounded smug, narcissistic, whiny, and sophomoric.

He probably convinced nobody of his innocence and reinforced the suspicions of those who are pro-guilt. He is said to come across 5 to 10 years below his real age, and that certainly is what happened here. After that one interview, other Italian networks were not exactly lining up for more of the same.

There are of course many excellent pro-guilt commentators in Italy, including Garofano, Sarzanini, Benedettelli, Giuttiari, and Castellini, Dont hold your breath hoping the little coward is ever put face to face with them.


16. No lawyers or media lawyers now publicly support RS

The probable problem is that they have actually got to grips with the translated court documents. Even Knox legal advisors Ted Simon and Robert Barnettt have long been silent. Please read here and here and here.


17. Several who did speak out for him looked like PR shills

Geraldo Rivera of Fox cable TV was one who bizarrely spoke out, and Jane Velez Mitchell of CNN Headline News was another. So was Joe Tacopina of ABC News, who also soon disappeared.  So was Lis Wiehl. So was John Q Kelly.


18. Several good media lawyers speak out against him

In the USA Nancy Grace, Wendy Murphy, Jeanine Pirro, and Ann Coulter have all stated that they perceive guilt. Please read here and here and here and here.


19. Public relations hoaxes in attempt to help defendants

While suggestive of a belief in their offsprings’ guilt rather than probative, campaigns for both defendants have run under the Italian radar what amounted to hoaxes to mislead the American and British publics. Please read here and here.

Agents and ghost writers and publishers for the pro-Sollecito and pro Knox books also seem to fall into this category. Please read here and here and here and here.


20. Bigotry and xenophobia should be no part of any campaign

Huge strains of bigotry against Italians and black people and xenophobia against Italy have always been kept on the boil by Curt Knox’s defense campaign. Oprah Winfrey didnt realise, and she ended up in the absurd position of supporting probable white killers while pointing only to Rudy Guede, a black man, and smearing Italy.

Curt Knox’s hatchet men have made a considerable industry out of ridiculing the Italian police and the prosecution - but only in English. As explained here the police for the most part are the Italian equivalent of the FBI and considered among the finest in the world.

There were always several prosecutors at least on the case throughout the entire process, and they all followed the letter of the law. The impugning of Italian officials by falsely accusing them of crimes as Curt Knox’s campaign often does is itself a crime under Italian law.

Italians and Italian-Americans and Italian officials and black people everywhere deserve very much better than this. Katie Couric seems ideally suited to finally assert a balance and a return to decency, legality, and justice for the true victim, Meredith, and her loving family.

She should use this interview to nail Sollecito and hammer a stake through the PR campaign’s heart.

***

Next post: questions we recommend that Katie Couric put to Raffaele Sollecito.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA In Meredith’s Room Could Be Definitive Proof Of Guilt For New Appeal Jury

Posted by James Raper





Have you followed our series on the hapless independent DNA consultants Conti and Vecchiotti?  And our series on the hapless appeal judges Hellmann and Zanetti?

And our series on their formidable nemesis, Umbria’s Chief Prosecutor, Dr Galati? Who may very well convince the Supreme Court to throw out all of their work?

This post explains why their work probably deserves to be thrown out as it applies to Sollecito’s DNA in Meredith’s room, which still lacks an alternative non-damning explanation for it being there, and which could see him back serving his term in Capanne or Terni Prison before too long. 

I want to start this analysis with the following verbatim quote taken from John Follain’s Death In Perugia.

“Comodi asked Vecchiotti about the alleged contamination of the bra clasp: “Is it possible for [Raffaele’s] DNA to end up only on the bra clasp?”

“Possible”, Vecchiotti said.

Comodi insisted: “Probable?”

“Probable”, Vecchiotti retorted.

Anyone who has read the Conti-Vecchiotti Report will be amazed by Vecchiotti’s above reply under cross-examination by Prosecutor Comodi. This for the simple reason that the said report did not at all evaluate the “probability” of any contamination of the bra clasp. It merely did not rule out contamination.

The Conti-Vecchiotti report with regard to the bra clasp: “It cannot be ruled out that the results obtained derive from environmental contamination and/or contamination in some phase of the collection and/or handling of the exhibit.”

On any level of understanding, if one can not rule something out then that makes it possible. But it certainly does not make it probable.

Worse was to come, with the conclusion of Hellmann-Zanetti, that contamination was probable. This though was not so surprising in as much as Hellmann-Zanetti had already indicated in their reasoning underlying the need for an independent report that they would accept the independent experts’ conclusions.

Which they did, apparently accepting Vecchiotti’s above statement on oath as definitive and which, as we can see, they appear to subsequently improve on, since the circumstances referred to below were not mentioned in the Conti-Vecchiotti Report.  From Hellmann-Zanetti:

In the opinion of this Court contamination did not occur during the successive phases of treatment of the exhibit in the laboratory of the Scientific Police, but even before it’s collection by the Scientific Police.

Note that (1)  the suggestion is that contamination occurred when there was no video recording (thus permitting free speculation), (2) the word “probably” is omitted here seemingly making it a definite occurrence, and (3) “even before” does not exclude contamination when the Scientific Police were there, but the circumstances described below make it, in the opinion of Hellmann-Zanetti, even more probable, it seems. Again from Hellmann-Zanetti:

..it is certain that between the first search by the scientific police, directly after the discovery of the crime, and the second search by the police, on the 18th December, the house at villa della Pergola was the object of several other searches directed towards seeking other possible elements useful for the investigation, during which the house was turned topsy-turvy, as is clearly documented by the photographs projected by the defence of the accused, but actually made by the Scientific Police. And, understandably these searches were made without the precautions that accompany the investigations of the Scientific Police, in the conviction that at that point the exhibits that needed to undergo scientific analysis had already been collected. In this context it is probable that the DNA hypothetically belonging to Raffaele Sollecito may have been transported by others into the room and precisely onto the bra clasp………..the fact that [this] is not an unusual occurrence is proven by studies cited by the expert team and also by the defence consultants……..

So Hellmann-Zanetti are talking about the ordinary police investigators being primarily responsible.

As the Vecchiotti quote at the beginning of this post is not put in any context, it is impossible for me to know whether she was referring to the Scientific Police as seen in their videos or whether she was alluding to other recorded searches, say, by the ordinary police, but which were not on video.

What we know of the police searches is as follows. From the Massei trial sentencing report:

While forensic activity was still in progress (Note: it having been going on since the 2nd) “the house was accessed on November 4th 2007 involving, accompanied by staff from the Perugia Police Headquarters, the three occupants and housemates of the victim.

The days of November 6 and 7 were taken up by the search activity of personnel from the police headquarters of Perugia….on November 6” (Note: the day after conclusion of the Scientific Police activity) “no-one entered Meredith’s room other than the three performing the search. On November 7 there was another entry into the house “for the problem of the washing machine, to collect the clothes; but I (Napoleoni) know that they did not go into the other rooms…..

They wore gloves and shoe covers….

Massei also records that Profazio stated that whilst he was aware from Stefanoni that the bra clasp had not been collected, nevertheless he had not seen it on the 6th and 7th.

As we know, the Scientific Police returned to the house on the 18th December specifically for the purpose of collecting the bra clasp (the first thing they did) and using luminol, and in addition to this being on video the defence lawyers were watching the live recording outside. It was observed by the defence lawyers at that stage that the mattress was in the living room and that articles had been moved around (topsy-turvy) in her bedroom.

From the above it might be reasonable to conclude that it was not only the Scientific Police who took the photographs but that it was predominantly they who had already moved items around and taking - it not having been demonstrated to the contrary (because not on video) - such precautions appropriate to their field of expertise (or at least such as may be determined from the videos).

However the point is, of course, what entitles Vecchiotti and Hellmann-Zanetti to talk about probable contamination at all?

Incidentally, pause here to notice that Hellmann-Zanetti give no credence to environmental contamination, in the sense of DNA floating around on specks of dust, by virtue of not mentioning this at all.

It would seem that the notion that a speck of dust, with Sollecito’s DNA attached, floated into the room and landed bang on a tiny hook, somehow adhering to it, is improbable to even them. It is transfer by manipulation (  tertiary transfer, about which more later) - basically that someone must have stepped on or touched the bra clasp or hook - about which they are talking and as a result of which they deem contamination to have probably occurred.

Without that probability -  that is if it remained only a possibility - then the case for direct transfer (directly from the owner of the DNA to an object), rather than tertiary transfer (where the DNA is collected after direct transfer and transferred to another object), would not be undermined as the more probable scenario. This is because, in this context, no-one can rule out possibility, “ possibility” being firmly rooted in the abstract.

What Hellmann-Zanetti think entitles them to talk about the probability of contamination are, and as it transpires only are, the precautions which they say were not followed in collecting and handling the exhibit and for which they suppose the non-scientific police were most likely responsible.

Compliance with these, they say, “guarantees” the reliability of the result. They refer to the Do’s and Do Not’s of successful crime scene management as listed by Conti-Vecchiotti and taken from guidelines from the Louisiana State Crime Police Laboratory, from the U.S Department of Justice, and more relevantly from Evidence Manuals from the New Jersey State Police, Missouri State Highway Patrol and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.


There is a predominance of American references but they do also refer to the Good Practice Manual for Crime Scene Management promoted by ENFSI (European Network of Forensic Science Institutes). From Hellmann-Zanetti -

Regarding above all the identification of a genetic profile in an exhibit, it is important that the entire procedure be followed with complete observance of the rules dictated by the scientific community, which are not, to be sure, juridical rules (it is not a law of the State, as Dr. Stefanoni observed), but which do represent a guarantee of the reliability of the result. And since these rules also contain precautions necessary in order to avoid possible contamination, one can understand that the respect of these precautions cannot simply be assumed, but must be proven by anyone who bases his accusations on this result.

Rules and guidelines are not quite the same thing, still less are there standardised guidelines dictated by the scientific community, but let’s not be pernickety. What compliance with the guidelines does, of course, is reduce the risk (the “possibility” and yes, if there are elements supporting it, “the probability“) of contamination, not guarantee that there is not contamination. As any expert in the field will concede, contamination is always possible.

Conti-Vecchiotti listed, apparently, some 54 examples of breach of the aforesaid guidelines. Significant among these (because we know of them and the most was made of them) are the following listed by Follain in his book Death In Perugia-

1. The team failed to put on new gloves after bagging each sample ( probably, as with 2 below, accounting for the great majority of the examples, and Stefanoni admitted this did not happen every time).

2. Items were handled by more than one person without changing gloves (again, as above, admitted).

3. There was a smudge on one of the fingertips of one of the gloves which touched the clasp, so the glove was dirty.

4. The officer who picked up Meredith’s bra clasp passed it to a colleague before placing it back on the floor and then bagging it.

5. Stefanoni’s gloves were smudged with blood and split over her left index when she picked up a sample ( this need not detain us since it is an irrelevant and highly speculative and prejudicial observation, if not entirely erroneous, based on what can be seen from the video).

6. The officer filming the police video walked in and out of Meredith’s room without changing his shoe covers.

7. No security corridor was created for internal access with anti - contamination criteria between the various environments.

8. The initial position of discovery on the floor of the clasp was not the same after 46 days.

The idea of a security corridor which, given the confines of the cottage, and particularly the access to Meredith’s room, would mean, for instance, placing planks on the floor, is a good one, and obviously not followed in this instance though not actually a specific recommendation (though it can be inferred) in any of the guidelines referred to by Conti-Vecchiotti. It would have reduced the risk of carrying DNA into Meredith’s room on the soles of shoe covers.

The alleged breaches were not, of course, outlined in the Conti-Vecchiotti report. They were only mentioned in oral evidence accompanying the showing of the crime scene video in court.

Hellmann-Zanetti, in their report, mention two specific cases only, 3 and 8 above. In respect of “the smudge” they acknowledge, interestingly, that there is an unresolved issue of interpretation as to whether this is a shadow or prior staining! But why even posit a prior staining when it is obvious that the operative had to finger the fabric of the clasp (which was “dirty”) in order to pick the clasp up and show it to the camera? What was the dirt and what was the meaning of this in the context of a transfer of Sollecito’s DNA to the hook? They neither discuss not evaluate. They simply accept Conti-Vecchiotti’s observations as being pertinent and damning without question.

In contrast to Hellmann-Zanetti Massei does discuss and evaluate the probability and the logistics of contamination, with regard to the bra clasp. In fact he spends quite a bit of time on the subject. But before turning to that, let’s have a brief look at the subject of DNA transfer and then remember what Stefanoni (as quoted by Massei) says on the subject.

Primary transfer might occur between a subject (such as myself) and an object. I touch or sneeze over it. Secondary transfer could occur if the said object was moved and “placed” against yet another object so that my DNA is transferred from the first to the second object. Tertiary transfer could occur if someone touched my DNA on the first object and then touched the second object. There are three steps there but one can imagine scenarios with four or perhaps more such steps but with the inherent limitation that the quantity of DNA being transferred is going to reduce with each such step.

It is obvious that when the prosecution produce DNA evidence they are going to argue primary transfer by the accused and just as equally obvious that the defence are going to try and argue contamination, i.e that the presence of their client’s DNA is the product of secondary or tertiary transfer.

Stefafanoni said that secondary or tertiary does not happen unless (1) the DNA is in a substance which is still fresh and reasonably watery after primary transfer, not dried, and/or (2) there would have to be more than mere touch but friction, or at least pressure, as well. Whilst there could be isolated exceptions in practice this makes a lot of sense to me as a layman but in addition I also note that she was not contradicted, at the trial, by any of the defence experts, nor has she been contradicted by Conti-Vecchiotti in their report.


Returning to Massei.

Sollecito was at the cottage 3 or 4 times prior to the murder though on each occasion with Knox. It is thus possible that he left his DNA somewhere there. There is no evidence that he was ever in Meredith’s room before the murder. Thus, if he was not involved in the murder, one must hypothesize that his DNA from somewhere else in the cottage was transferred into Meredith’s room and onto the bra clasp by someone other than him.

Apart from the clasp there was only one other place where his DNA was to be found, mixed with Knox’s DNA, which was on a cigarette stub in an ashtray sitting on a table in the kitchen. From Massei, my numbering:

(1) Certainly, it can be observed that every single place in the house was not tested, and one might think that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA might have been located in some other places. One can consider the possibility that his DNA from some other place that was not found was transferred onto the bra clasp, but this would have to have been done by someone manipulating the object.

(2) But simple contact between objects does not transfer DNA. Amanda’s and Raffaele’s DNA were both found on the cigarette stub, not just one of them, transferred by the other. It is also important that the bra was the one that Meredith was actually wearing, and the clasp was found under the pillow which was under Meredith……. At this point it should also be mentioned that the piece of bra was (then)  found under a small rug in Meredith’s room [which protected it] ……….

(3) It is also observed that the small rug did not show itself to be a good transmitter of DNA. Underneath it there was a sock, and analysis proved that on this sock there were only DNA traces of Meredith. Also the circumstance by which DNA was found on the (tiny) hooks - so on a more limited and rather less absorbent surface than the material attached to them - tends to exclude that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA could have landed on the hooks, precisely on the hooks, by contamination or by transfer from some other unspecified object.

(4). …….any transfer of DNA from the surface of the rug under which the small piece of bra was found would imply that between the two objects there was more than simple contact, touching of each other, but an actual pressure exercised on the rug under which the piece of bra lay. This hypothesis was set aside after Dr. Stefanoni reported …….. the deformation of one of the hooks was the same. Vice versa, if some pressure had been exerted on top of it, if in one of the police activities someone had stepped on it—then that deformation would not have remained identical; but the small piece of material and the hooks and eyes had the same form, the exact same type of deformation …….. she additionally stated that, having seen the small piece of bra in the early hours of November 3rd rather quickly, the images of it taken on that occasion allowed her a more prolonged and attentive observation, enabling her to declare that the deformation had remained unmodified and unchanged, as did the side on which it was set on the floor.

(5) Objects were moved, necessarily moved, but every object that was in a room, if it was not actually taken away, remained in the same room, without ever moving to another room, or being taken out of the room and then back in. The only parts of the house through which operators from the various places all passed were thus the living room and corridor. One might thus assume that some DNA of Raffaele Sollecito that had been left somewhere in the living room or corridor was moved, and ended up on the hooks. Such a movement of DNA and its subsequent repositioning on the hooks would have had to occur either because one of the technicians walking on the floor on which the DNA was lying hit it with his foot or stepped on it, causing it to end up on the hooks, or because by stepping on them, he impressed onto them the DNA caught underneath the shoe-cover he had on in that moment.

But these possibilities cannot be considered as concretely plausible: to believe that, moving around the house, the DNA could have been kicked or stepped on by one of the technicians, who in that case would have been moving about, and to believe that this DNA, instead of just sticking to the place it had been kicked or stepped on by (probably the shoe, or rather, the shoe-cover), having already been moved once from its original position, would then move again and end up on the hooks, seems like a totally improbable and risky hypothesis.

(6) …..and more importantly, none of the operators, after having touched some object which might have had Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on it, then touched the hooks of the small piece of bra so as to make even hypothetically possible a transfer of DNA (from the object containing Sollecito’s DNA to the gloves, from the gloves to the hooks). In fact, none of the operators during the search of November 6th and 7th even took note of that little piece of bra, and thus in particular no one picked it up.” [Note that this observation is a direct contradiction of the unproven suspicion that this had in fact occurred - Massei had, of course, also watched the crime scene videos, seen the relevant clip and heard the argument.]

(7) Movement of objects, in particular of clothing, may have induced the movement of other objects, and this is what the Court considers to have occurred with respect to the piece of bra which was seen on the floor of Meredith’s room on November 2nd-3rd and left there. Deputy Commissioner Napoleoni, referring to the search of November 6th, has declared that she recalled the presence of a bluish rug; one can thus conclude that this rug was looked at during the search and entered into contact with the operators making the search, and like other objects, was moved from its original position, but always remaining on the floor of the room; during this movement it must have covered up the piece of bra (which was on the floor of the same room and yet was not noted during the search), thus determining by its own motion the accompanying motion of the small piece of bra, making it end up where it was then found during the inspection of December 18th: under the rug, together with a sock, in the same room, Meredith’s room, where it had already been seen. So it underwent a change of position that is, thus, irrelevant to the assertion of contamination.

Now, whatever one makes of Massei’s observations, he has at least considered, on a plausible level, the dynamics of secondary and tertiary transfer, generally and in this case - unlike either Hellmann-Zanetti or Conti-Vecchiotti. Furthermore, and in consequence, he concluded that contamination was simply not probable.

We should also recall the following words with regard to second and tertiary transfer, in the quote from Hellmann-Zanetti above…………”the fact that this is not an unusual occurrence is proven by studies cited by the expert team and also by the defence consultants….”

What studies? Unfortunately Hellmann-Zanetti do not elaborate on these studies, and the proof therein allegedly contained, nor can we see them cited in the Conti-Vecchiotti report!

This leads me to the suspicion that Hellmann-Zanetti are trying to pull the wool over our eyes here. Yes, certainly secondary and tertiary transfer is not an unusual occurrence but the circumstances as to when this is likely, or not, is not discussed, let alone evaluated. It seems to me that this is not unimportant and the omission is surprising.

What Conto-Vecchiotti actually say about the subject in their report is mind-boggingly amateurish, trite and misleading. So much so that one doubts that they are really experts.

The relevant section about contamination (such as it is) in Conti-Vecchiotti is under the heading “Notes On Inspection And Collection Techniques”. Reading this I note, in the second paragraph, being in, it would seem, Conti-Vecchiotti’s own words:

The starting point is always Locard’s Principle according to which two objects which come into contact with each other exchange material in different forms. Equally the same principle scientifically supports the possibility of contamination and alteration [of the scene] on the part of anyone else, investigators included, who comes into contact with the scene.


Far from being just a starting point Locard’s Principle seems to be all that Conti and Vecchiotti know about the transfer of DNA.

For what it is worth Edmond Locard established an early crime lab in 1910 ( being a fan of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories) and wrote many articles as a result. However he never actually wrote any words approximating to “with contact there is an exchange of material” (which is not exactly a law of physics in the same manner as the laws of motion are) nor did he mention anything concerning a principle.

What he did write was “It is impossible for a criminal to act, especially given the intensity of the crime, without leaving traces of his presence.”  Sherlock Holmes would have said the same.

Incidentally it is science that supports a principle, and not the other way around. I would have expected Conti-Vecchiotti to know that.

I have surfed the internet for articles on the subject of tertiary transfer and there does seem to be “a lack of published data on the topic”, to quote one site I found.

Furthermore if they existed one might expect to find that they are referred to by the scientists in the FOA camp, but again I do not see these or that those that are referred to, eg by Halkides, add anything to what has already been discussed above.

Which leaves the “probability” element of contamination undemonstrated. Whatever the opportunities for contamination that there may have been arising from breach of guidelines (contentious in some if not all cases) these remain hypothetical whilst the probability of contamination remains undemonstrated.

But for Hellmann-Zanetti, conveniently, there is no need to demonstrate anything, because of the following:

Now, Prof. Novelli and also the Prosecutor stated that it is not sufficient to assert that the result comes from contamination; it is incumbent on one who asserts contamination to prove its origin.

However, this argument cannot be accepted, insomuch as it ends up by treating the possibility of contamination as an exception to the civil code on the juridical level. Thus, one cannot state: I proved that the genetic profile is yours, now you prove that the DNA was not left on the exhibit by direct contact, but by contamination. No, one can’t operate this way.

In the context of a trial, as is well known, it falls to the PM who represents the prosecution before the court (the terminology is used in Art. 125 of the implementing provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure), to prove the viability of all the elements on which it is based, and thus, when one of these elements is completed by a scientific element represented by the result of an analytic procedure, the task is also to prove that the result was obtained using a procedure which guarantees the purity [genuinità] of the exhibit from the moment of collection right through the analysis.

…….. when there is no proof that these precautions guaranteeing that the result is not the fruit of contamination were respected, it is absolutely not necessary to also prove the specific origin of the contamination.

The use of the word “absolutely” is interesting, as if this was the last word on the matter, and any evaluation is to be declined.

Now I sense the presence of a premise which is already a conclusion. This being that because there are (as Hellmann-Zanetti hold) breaches of guidelines, then the DNA result is unreliable for that reason.

As it happens, this is exactly what Conti-Vecchiotti say. But as it stands this is an unargued proposition. For this to be a valid deduction “for that reason” should be explained by the inclusion of another premise which we can at least accept as true - “A breach entails that the possibility of contamination cannot be excluded”. Then we can formulate a simple deduction, though it would be unsound until we can answer the question “Does the possibility of contamination render the result unreliable?”

A scientist may explain what “unreliable” means to him. But I want to answer the question in juridical terms, and this can be done quite simply.

Any element of evidence in juridical proceedings is weighed only by the probability that it represents the truth. The possibility that it does, or it does not, is simply to be discarded as having no weight either way. Accordingly, for the purpose of the argument, and for any proceedings in court, it cannot be accepted that the possibility of contamination renders the result unreliable. Whether it is unreliable or not has to be looked at in a different way, according to the balance of probabilities.

Getting back to the quote, I would say that both Hellmann-Zanetti and Novelli are right, and they are also both wrong.

Hellmann-Zanetti are of course right in that the burden of proof remains with the prosecution with regard to all elements.

And the way Prof. Novelli puts it is somewhat incorrect, but only because he is a scientist and not a lawyer.

That the burden of proof remains with the prosecution does not alleviate the defence of any burden with regard to an issue such as contamination.

There is also an issue to be discussed as to whether the burden on the prosecution is to demonstrate non-contamination beyond a reasonable doubt or merely that contamination is not probable.

Let’s start with whether there is any burden on the defence.

There is a general principle to which even criminal proceedings are subject. “Onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat.”  My Latin is not great but roughly translated “the onus of proof is on he who says it, not he who denies it.”

Dr Galati, in his Supreme Court Appeal Submissions, puts it this way (more forcibly than I would) -

In other words, if a piece of circumstantial evidence must be certain in itself, and if therefore even scientific proof must be immune to any alternative-explanation hypothesis, this does not alter the fact that this hypothesis ought to be based on reasonable elements and not merely abstract hypothetical ones. And if the refutation of a scientific piece of evidence passes via the affirmation of a circumstance of fact (being the contamination of an exhibit), that circumstance must be specifically proved, not being deducible from generic (and otherwise unshareable) considerations about the operative methodology followed by the Scientific Police, absent demonstration that the methods used would have produced, in the concrete, the assumed contamination.

I do not myself think it is realistic for the defence to have to prove a specific contamination path from point A to point B. That would be unrealistic. But certainly if the issue of contamination is to be raised the defence must go beyond an abstract hypothetical explanation that in the event, as is the case here, is devoid of known origins for the contamination. (Save for the trace on the cigarette stub, so that if that was the source there would be Knox’s DNA mixed in with Sollecito’s on the clasp). Otherwise how is the prosecution to respond? With what level of proof?

Should it be beyond reasonable doubt? How Hellmann-Zanetti would wish! “Beyond reasonable doubt” is the standard to be applied to the prosecution’s case in its entirety, to any attribution of culpability for the crime to the accused. It is not parcelled out to each and every element.

The correct standard to apply to an element such as contamination (as it is for any piece of circumstantial evidence) is “the balance of probability having regard to other elements”. The alleged breaches of crime management guidelines are in themselves only circumstantial, requiring, for any weight to be attached to them, corroborative or supporting elements as to which, as I see it, there are none. So the correct question is: Is contamination probable or not? (This is not to exclude that there may sometimes, somewhat rarely, be circumstances where it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt)

So we are back to probability again. It is a battle (if at all)  of probabilities and we must not confuse what is possible with what is probable, however much our eyes are opened to what is possible.

That it is such, is tacitly acknowledged by Hellmann-Zanetti when they argue that Sollecito’s DNA being on the bra hook but not on the fabric of the clasp is improbable. My response to that would be to say that it is far more probable than that there was contamination of the hook.

The absence of any argument as to probability may have been a thought that popped into Vecchiotti’s head when she retorted “probable” (feeling a bit sick about the answer afterwards I hope). However that she could make that assertion does not fill one with much confidence when considering that she also maintains that there were errors in Stefanoni’s interpretation of the electropherogram result, even whilst accepting that Sollecito‘s profile was there, not least because his Y chromosome was as well.

Don’t expect Conti and Vecchiotti to be re-invited if there is any replay of the appeal trial.


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Dissecting The Hellmann Report #5: Their Obfuscation of Time of Death and Of Legal Blameworthiness

Posted by Cardiol MD



[View down on Meredith’s very well-lit house from the apartment above witness Madame Nara Capezzali’s]


Surreal Documentary Context

We have a very surreal situation on our hands. One perhaps without legal precedent. As previously in this series the legal document being analysed here is the Hellmann-Zanetti appeal report. 

1) No main media in the US or UK have put that appeal report into English or done any serious legal analysis.

2) Nor have they translated the original trial report by Judge Massei or done any serious analysis of that.

3) Nor have they translated the tough and detailed appeal to the Supreme Court by the Chief Prosecutor of Umbria, Dr Galat, which was summarised and analysed by Yummi here. The meticulous PMF translation team should complete its translation soon.

4) None of the books on the case at present bring the legal developments up to the present or get into the details of the very tough Galati appeal.

Meanwhile the Knox and Sollecito teams are racing to get out their books in the US, with media interviews being scheduled, presumably in the hope that this vacuum of hard facts described above continues and they can fill it with their own kind of PR spin.

Of course none of this impinges on pending legal events in Italy where interested Italians have a radically different and more informed view. Except only to make sure everything is done correctly and firmly to the letter. 

As usual, Knox and Sollecito are coming across as if they are on a different planet. Not one good lawyer seems to be explaining things to them, or even be of top of things for that matter.


On Hellmann-Zanetti on Time of Death

In this series, my previous posts explained the distortions and illogicalities in the Hellmann-Zanetti appeal report in the passages on the calunnia (false blaming of Patrick), witness Curatolo, and witness Quintavalle, and also the seeming prejudicial language used throughout. 

Vital reading in advance of this post is Considering The Sad And Sensitive But Also Crucial Subject Of Meredith’s Time Of Death by my fellow lawyer James Raper.

He explained the difficulties of being precise about Meredith’s time of death, and he commented on Hellman-Zanetti as follows.

The first point to note here is that Hellmann misinterprets the first Court’s findings. He ignores the fact that the first Court did determine a TOD between 11pm and 11.30 pm as probable based on the pathology alone, and gave reasons for this.

None of the expert testimony is rehearsed, let alone re-evaluated by Hellmann.  He proceeds merely to discredit the reliability of the witnesses as to the other elements such as the scream etc.

One recalls that Nara Capezzali says that she heard a scream sometime between 11 and 11.30 pm. That there was a broken down car and the breakdown driver came and went between perhaps 11 and 11.15 pm.

As mentioned earlier his hypothesizing about the other elements leads him to a TOD of not later than 10.13 pm although this time seems a very random one based on what he presents. He talks in this section about Guede’s statement that he arrived at the cottage at 9 pm.

One suspects that if Hellmann could have fixed the time of death at 9.15 pm or 9.30 pm then he would have done so as either time would be a get out of jail free card for Knox and Sollecito.  He did not, but he got them out of jail nevertheless with his hypothesizing - here and elsewhere in his report.

So perhaps not surprisingly Dr Galati in his appeal to Cassation devotes nearly 3000 words to taking apart Hellmann-Zanetti’s arguments on Time of Death, under these 4 headings:

  • Defect or manifest lack of logic in the sentencing report
  • The intercepted chat [Guede on Skype]
  • Meredith’s mobile phones
  • The testimony of the three women [Capezzali, Monacchia, and Dramis]

Hellmann-Zanetti is politely but explicitly excoriated. In Dr Galati’s summarising of his own arguments he states this:

The claimed timing of the death of Meredith Kercher demonstrates a manifest illogicality in the reasoning, contains an unfounded assessment, and is manifestly in contrast with other court documentation of the case.

The internal and external inconsistencies of Hellmann’s statements on the topic constitute [yet another] violation of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Here are some examples of H/Z’s flood of reasons-to-doubt AK/RS’s guilt listed under Time of Death and not specifically mentioned in previous Dissections [my emphases]:

  • Capezzalli “…was not able to pinpoint an exact time…”
  • “…the source of those [the scream and other] noises is not certain at all….”
  • “…Monacchia’s testimony does not allow the time of the scream to be pinpointed at 11:30 PM, rather than at 11 PM or even before.”
  • “…she heard a loud scream of a woman, of which she could not however locate the source with certainty.”
  • “The witness was not more accurate about the time, she could not connect it to objective data, but in her first testimony [verbale], when she presented herself to the investigators (the transcript of November 8, 2008 used for the indictment) she mentioned [aveva indicato] ʺ… at about 11 PMʺ. Monacchia’s statements therefore increase the ambiguity, as circumstantial evidence, of Capezzali’s statements instead of resolving it.”
  • “Dramis, in fact, said that she went to sleep at around 11‐11:30 PM, and that she woke up later (without being able, however, to specify how much later, while not excluding that it could have been 11:30 PM) due to the noise of quick footsteps, but she could not specify their direction, nor if they were produced by one or more persons, and she also noted that such events are not at all uncommon in this place….. We find ourselves, therefore, confronting a piece of circumstantial evidence (scream and footsteps) [which is] extremely weak for its ambiguity, since it cannot even be placed with certainty in time.”



On Hellmann-Zanetti on Blameworthiness of Defendants.

As an example of a possible tendency under any legal system, Canadian law has already strayed-away on this subject, over a period of about nine years, and was only recently brought-back only by an Appellate ruling. So attempts to derail Italian law on this issue may be inevitable:

Canadian criminal law aims to maintain proportionality between the stigma and punishment attached to a conviction and the moral blameworthiness of an offender, in R v. Martineau (1990) the Supreme Court of Canada held that it is a principle of fundamental justice under sections 7 and 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that a conviction for murder requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a subjective foresight of death. In so doing, the court effectively declared sections 213 and 229(a)(i) and (ii) of the Criminal Code of Canada lacking in constitutional muster.[7]

Section 213(a) provided that a conviction for murder would lie for any killing that was “objectively foreseeable as a result of the abominable nature of the predicate crimes…inter alia…coupled with intentional infliction of bodily harm”.[7] . This largely equated with a Canadian form of felony murder, though it is technically closer to constructive murder in other jurisdictions.[8] .

Nevertheless s. 229(c), which provides for a form of constructive felony murder in situations where “an accused for an unlawful object did anything knowing that it was likely [on an objective standard] to cause someone’s death” is still operative, as confirmed in a 1999 appellate court decision”

Common-Law ‘Malice’ has historically required that an accused “knew, or ought to have known that the relevant act was wrong.”

In that “ought” lies an escape hatch.

What we believe as to the blameworthiness of these three offenders is obvious - they were committing a premeditated felony-sexual-assault using means which were foreseeably lethal, and actually were lethal.

Hellmann-Zanetti have already made clear what their blameworthiness opinion would be, although they have evaded reaching the issue by arguing reasonable doubt that two of the offenders were involved in Meredith’s murder, and deserve no blame for it whatsoever.

A legal issue which may eventually need to be addressed is whether a conviction for murder requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt using a subjective foreseeability of death standard or using an objective foreseeability of death standard.

If a subjective foresight of death were ever applied to a found-guilty AK & RS, they could plead that they just didn’t foresee that pricking Meredith’s neck with those knives could kill her; it was just a prank. For example “we were only hazing her; anyway, we were either mentally-ill or drugged or just plain dumb.”

If an objective foresight of death finding were ever applied to a found-guilty AK & RS, who were obviously committing a felonious assault using foreseeably lethal means, Meredith would get True Justice.

Posted on 09/06/12 at 02:33 PM by Cardiol MDClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesOther physicalAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann critiques
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Saturday, September 01, 2012

My Rock Tribute To Meredith And Her Family And How It Came To Be

Posted by Timo Rusanen



Meredith´s message seems to me one of universal love, of getting along to help to make the whole planet better. As with others I know of mixed race, she seems to have been extremely smart, very ambitious in a broad selfless sense, upbeat and positive and funny, and I would imagine a very fair and loyal person to get to know. It seems to me she was a popular and charismatic leader, without ever really trying.

What is so interesting to me is that her life and adventurous and positive attitude are becoming something of a universal beam of hope. See the female voice that comes through in the book “Meredith” that Mr. Kercher wrote. Her life and intentions have become something of a universal good example and should become more-so as the years move on.  Maybe there will be more movies and books and poems and songs inspired by her, as well as websites like this which for the support of victims and their families and friends are so badly needed now.

I hope that no-one has been made scared now to go abroad or mix with others for any reason if they do want to go. Meredith followed her life adventure and loved travel and mingling with people not necessarily like herself, and so should we all.

I have sung and played rock music since my teens. I started playing the guitar and began to sing at an early age. I once had a high school rock band in the United States when I was a student there. I now have a band in Europe here and we continue to cut records.

I have lived outside Finland for most of my life. It turned out that I have something of a gift for languages and speak a few very well. My M.A.degree is in English philology, literature and philosophy, and I also did American studies while living in Berlin, at the John F. Kennedy Institute of the Free University of Berlin.

I have lived in the United States which I love. I was at high-school near Cincinatti there. I found New York City is great fun and has a certain kind of European feel to it. Los Angeles has another feel to it, more like the wild wide America of the west, yet at the same time it is on the Pacific coast where you can feel closer to Hawaii and Japan. Many Mexicans are there too. Hola, que pasa?! Funny people, Mexicans, I found them nice. People seemed mostly friendly in Los Angeles and the House of Blues is a great venue for rock music, I saw a great concert there.

My so-called American parents are not living anymore but I was close to them and I communicated with them until shortly before they sadly passed away, within some 4 years of each other. My own mother also passed away just before that, and two other relatives also passed away then. We had 3 funerals in 4 months at the time when my mother died, so I know about sadness and loss.

While I was there at school a friend of mine was shot to death by his so-called friends. Shot as if it was a sort of pass-time, just fun because they had the gun. I went to the funeral, and it was surreal and sad beyond words. There he was in the open coffin and we his school-friends were there grieving, trying to understand. Meredith´s funeral must have been extremely sad as well. Nothing is sadder than the funeral of a very promising young person who died an unnatural death.

I have lived in Germany. If you want to take care of some work matter fast, do it with Germans. But don´t work with them for a longer time, you may never understand German logic! Overall Germans are almost surprisingly polite and nice. Hard working people. They achieve a great deal.

I was also in England. London is a great dream-like city of the world. Meredith got to know it very well well herself, not only growing up there but in her tourist-guide job in the historical parts of the city. If you go to London you can encounter smart funny people not unlike her.

I was also in France. The French are great people and very nice. They certainly know fashion and fragrances. Life seems to be lighter in France. The French seem to float upon life, it´s like there’s only one life so c´est la vie! The French smile a lot. They seem very aware of little things too, like how to make even their mundane experiences interesting or nice. The Parisian arrogance seems to make Paris what it is and some people seem to belong totally to Paris, it is hard to imagine them somewhere else. If you meet French people in their homes, they really make you feel at home.

Have you ever seen Paris from the Eiffel Tower at night in the summer in warm weather? The lights of the city from there? Try it, its awesome! It´s almost an aeroplane-like view. Paris has an ancient Europe touch to it, there are some ultra modern things and yet at the same time you can feel something from the Middle Ages in parts of Paris.

Also I was in Sweden. I used to know many Swedish-speaking people so I know Swedish rather well. I have worked in Stockholm for a while years ago and played some music there. Swedes are nice people for sure.

I was also in Italy. I would love to see Rome again. Everyone I know loves Italy and Rome. Years ago I went to Rome, Milan, Venice, Naples, and the deep south of Italy too. I met Italians who invited me into their home to eat spaghetti and it was noisy and fun. I have never yet been to Perugia though. To me Italy is mystical and even mythical. There was an Italian TV series called “Il segno del comando” a long time ago playing in Europe. I watched it and it made Italy seem very exciting. Someone ought to make a great movie on the basis of that TV series. I can see why Meredith loved Italy. The Italian way of life is really cool and nice.

I was in Somalia in north Africa on and off for a long time. My parents worked in Somalia for 10 years. Somalia had been a colony of Italy, so I met some Italians there while I was visiting. Also some Italian girls with their families there, they were great fun and very pretty. Some Somalis know the Italian language. The war in Somalia ended all development work there. Canadians, Belgians, Dutch, English, Americans, etc, were all working there, as well as Scandinavians. Sadly, they all went away when the war began.

I helped my father to build a school for crippled children with some Canadians in Mogadishu which is the capital of Somalia, People were doing great work there and were disappointed, the Scandinavians especially disappointed, when the war ended those good projects. I played a gig there with Somali African musicians outside a city in a desert bush area. The dance-hall was like from some movie.  There were ostriches running around there by the hall, long white curtains in the wind by high open windows and doors in that clean nice dance hall. Hundreds of people were there. One of the nicest gigs I ever played.

Meredith could well have worked in Somalia later in some task, supposing the war ever ends some day.Had Meredith lived, she could have helped a lot organize the recovery. The Italian language is still needed in Somalia a bit in that work, and her education might have been suited in general for some vital task there in development work.

I met people from India and Pakistan though I have not yet traveled there. They have a lot to teach us over-busy Europeans and Americans. Indian and Pakistani people have ancient wisdom and cultures and despite appearances from affair they are naturally peaceful people. If you meet them in Europe, they stand out for their calm. Indian and Pakistani women are among the most beautiful women in the world, their women do tend to be. Meredith was said to be very eye-catching in a way that her photos dont quite convey.

I found it very fulfilling making this track above. I cant do too much to make it all come right, but I can do this. I think about making more records, it´s easy to plan but to make a record is hard, another thing. I am not looking for a recording deal due to my other career, but if a record label VIP liked my stuff, my songs in general and the Meredith songs, I would of course not say no. This song was made in the studio of Gerald Klöpfer. He owns his own coolly-decorated recording studio. If I get the chance to travel to his studio again and if Gerald has the time, I would go back there and work more. Gerald is pretty good in his craft.

I have always been strongly averse to violence, by anyone against anyone for any reason. I will go to the refresher course of the army in Scandinavia if they call me, as the army is about protection and existing as a frontline unit of a society, not about violence as such. But think of this: Suppose there was a war, any war in any country, and nobody went to fight in such a war. No armies would be needed anymore. Violence is not good for anything.

A long time ago in Scandinavia some guys in a certain city tried to beat up myself and my band members using baseball bats. Police had to line-up as a sort of passage-way for us to get out of the dance-hall after the gig and into a car. It remains unclear why that happened. Maybe there was some kind of jealousy about our band being the ones asked to play.

During my student days in Finland I was attacked in my student dormitory room. Two guys came at me with kitchen knives, after they knocked on my door. I had never seen them before, and they tried to stab me with the kitchen knives. I fought them off. Police could not have done anything, I think, so I did not report it though maybe I should have anyway. The attack was planned by an ex-girlfriend, it seems she and her new boyfriend planned it and sent the guys, organized them, and paid them. The attack was a bit similar to the way that the knife attack on Meredith happened.

I still worry over the ex-girfriend, she actually swore that she will kill me in one way or other. I happen to know this for sure as she told me at the end of our relationship: “You will not live a long time.” She tried to stop my outside activities and slow my whole life, even my music playing. I suspect it all started because the love went bad and she wished she had gone earlier into a relationship with another guy and it seemed to her too late then. I should have ended it before all this happened but I did not get the picture right away.

I love to be with women, they are so cool and wonderful to be with usually, they are simply heavenly to share the world with. It always amazes me that people try to win by hurting each other mentally or physically. It always amazes me how people have to prove themselves and feel better than others due to envy, violence, or mental or physical cruelty. If people have to live together in dormitories, sometimes they will get into arguments about trivial matters and act foolish. The badness of some people always amazes me and upsets me when I think about it.

Marriages fail, friends betray you, your girlfriend betrays you, you might have to end a relationship because it has gone bad, it can not be repaired. People then act hurtfully far too often. But then on some other days you meet good people and that makes you feel quite alright. While Meredith´s death was a shock, I saw right away how such cruel things can happen even between university students in thier home. We do not yet know exactly what happened and I feel sad for her and for her family for still not knowing about it all.

Your friends pull you down, often your friends pull you down. Sometimes strangers too. We shouldn’t let them.  People say we have to help others, we do have to help others, but first and foremost we must take care of ourselves. To make our own journey. Sometimes you also meet people who radiate goodness, there are also good people in the world. Those people can make you feel there is a good purpose. Meredith had a good purpose: universal love and being positive and making a difference in the world. Isn´t that something we are supposed to remember every day in our lives?

Meredith´s message of all of us getting along and working for all is growing now in the world, and hopefully it will go on forever. We should remember her family always. They worked hard to help her become what she was, and we should send them our good thoughts and blessings. Only they know the true pain of it and how much was lost to the world.

Don´t ever forget Meredith or what happened to her here. As her sister Stephanie mentioned, the true victim of the incident has already been forgotten sometimes. Her legacy matters, and here I have tried to play my part.

Posted on 09/01/12 at 02:21 AM by Timo RusanenClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer memory
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Seems A Sudden U-Turn For The Better In The German-Italian Economic Relationship

Posted by Peter Quennell





This has been a tense time for both leaders. Just a few days ago nasty words were surfacing in the media on both sides.

But quite suddenly things are looking up. Ms Merkel praises Mr Monti and Italy just got the best price for its bonds since March.

Still the deep insecurities persist. Hard to see such a fine people so down.

Posted on 08/29/12 at 10:01 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Giulia Bongiorno Loses A High Profile Case Watched All Over Europe And May Soon Lose Another

Posted by Peter Quennell





Crime fascinates Italians but unfortunately (or fortunately) there isnt that much of it in Italy.

The real national pasttime is soccer as the thousands of YouTubes and Google images and news reports and hundreds of blogs attest. The case Giulia Borngiorno has just so publicly lost concerns the coach Antonio Conte (image below) of the crack Turin club Juventus. 

The Juventus coach Antonio Conte is set to miss the whole of the Serie A season with the defending champions after losing his appeal against a 10-month ban over a match-fixing scandal.

Conte, who led an undefeated Juventus to the Italian title in his first season in charge, was banned on 10 August for failing to report two incidents of match-fixing in the 2010-11 season when he was coach of Siena.

The Italian federation (FIGC) said in a statement on Wednesday that Conte, whose hearing was heard on Monday, had lost his appeal.

Giulia Bongiorno seems to have a tendency to be a sore loser. La Gazetta del Sporto quotes her “the dog ate my homework” excuse thus:

Giulia Bongiorno said — “We were not given the opportunity to defend ourselves to the full. This is a violation of constitutional rights which go far beyond these issues. Negotiating sentences is becoming very attractive for those who falsely turn state’s evidence,” said Giulia Bongiorno, Antonio Conte’s legal representative.

“If you examine Carobbio and find him not credible, and if you take one of his crutches away (the charges regarding Novara v Siena, Ed), the other one will collapse too, because Conte is being charged with the same thing for Siena v AlbinoLeffe. Carobbio is a bit like Jessica Rossi at the Olympics, and the only clay-pigeon missed is Novara v Siena. And our intention was not to obtain a reduction in the sentence, if it had been we would have negotiated.”

This is the most public case Bongiorno has lost since the Andreotti mafia-connection appeal in 2002. She was on the defense against Prosecutor Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari.

This is the same Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari who as the highly competent head of the Umbria courts’ criminal division was first nominated to preside over the Sollecito-Knox appeal.

Giulia Bongiorno, who did some very odd things during the trial and appeal to ensure winning, at least one of which is being investigated, is also the powerful head of the justice committee in the parliament.

Is that the mother of all conflicts of interest or what?! We know of no parallel in any other country and it seems highly unconstitutional. Nevertheless, despite all the caution of the Italian justice system, this conflict is allowed to persist.

In November 2002 Prosecutor Chiari won his prosecution appeal, and the ex-PM Mr Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years (later reversed by the Supreme Court).

Giulia Bongiorno was widely reported as collapsing in court at the verdict, and seemed to take it very hard.

Fast forward to 2010.  Suddenly Giulia Bongiorno is about to face Dr Chiari once again, as a judge in what was to be a very tough appeal. Under UK and US law, she would have had to be the one to step aside, or not even take the case back in 2008.

But she didn’t step aside.

Instead, all of a sudden, lo and behold, her nemesis back in 2002 is yanked off the 2011 appeal trial, and seemingly demoted to head the childrens’ branch of the court. Meanwhile, labor judge Hellmann is in effect promoted, into being the lead judge in the murder appeal.

Who made the call from Rome that fixed this suspicious judge rearrangement? Rumors around Perugia suggest that maybe it was made or inspired by the head of the justice committee in the parliament. 

True or not, the seriously out-of-his-depth labor judge Hellmann joined the seriously out-of-his-depth civil judge Zanetti - and produced an appeal verdict and reasoning the chief prosecutor of Umbria Dr Galati sees as a complete fiasco.

Contending with the myriad illegalities of this reasoning is for Dr Galati like shooting fish in a barrel. Bongiorno may soon be facing yet another big loss if Cassation accept his prosecution arguments.

As they say, always be careful what you wish for. Wishing for Hellmann might have been a bridge too far.



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

DNA Proof 40 Years After A Cowardly Murder Shuts Down A Fact-Fogging Campaign For The Murderer

Posted by The Machine



[Above: the murder victim Michael Gregsten and Valerie Storie who survived]

Relevance to Meredith’s case

You maybe thought journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities campaigning on behalf of someone who evidence strongly suggested was guilty was peculiar to Meredith’s case?

Think again. Exactly the same thing has happened more than a few times. This is one. The UK’s notorious A6 murder of 1961.

On the evening of 22 August 1961, Michael Gregsten, a government scientist, and his girlfriend Valerie Storrie, a laboratory assistant, were sitting in his car next to a cornfield in Berkshire, just west of London, when a masked gunman tapped on the car window. He demanded Gregsten’s wallet and Storie’s handbag.

He then forced Gregsten to drive 60 miles to Deadman’s Hill at Clophill in Bedfordshire where he shot the scientist twice in the head, killing him instantly. Next, he raped and shot Ms Storie five times. She survived the attack, but was left paralysed from the waist down.



[Above: Convicted murderer James Hanratty and his campaigning father]

Trial and evidence

James Hanratty, a petty thief, was arrested after cartridge cases from the murder weapon were found in a London hotel where he stayed the night before the murder. Valerie Storie picked out Hanratty at an identity parade from her hospital bed and she also made a voice identification of him. 

At the trial at Bedford Assizes, James Henratty changed his original alibi that he was staying with friends in Liverpool on the day of the murder and said that he had gone to Rhyl, in north Wales, and stayed two nights in a boarding house. The jury didn’t believe him and James Hanratty was found guilty of murdering Michael Gregsten.

The families of the victims (one dead, one crippled for life) expressed relief that a unanimous verdict was reached.

Hanratty was hanged at Bedford Prison on 4 April 1962. The day before he was hanged, he told his family: “I’m dying tomorrow but I’m innocent. Clear my name.” 

The pressure for an appeal

After James Hanratty was hanged, his father launched a campaign to clear his name. A number of high-profile public figures lent their support to the campaign, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and prominent politicians David Steel and Norman Fowler.

In 1971, a hundred MPs signed a petition demanding a public inquiry. The Conservative government refused to open such an inquiry.

Three years later the Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, commissioned a report from Lewis Hawser QC who sat in secret and came to the conclusion Hanratty was guilty.

In 1999, the case was sent back to the Court of Appeal. In March 2001, Hanratty’s body was exhumed and DNA tests were carried on it to see whether his DNA matched DNA traces found on Valerie Short’s knickers and her handkerchief that was found wrapped around the gun.

DNA tests confirm a right verdict

Forensic scientists from the Forensic Science Service (FSS) found that there was a perfect match and concluded that the DNA found on these exhibits was 2.5 million times more likely to belong to Hanratty than anyone else.

A report from the Daily Mail.

James Hanratty was guilty of the notorious A6 murder for which he was hanged, sensational scientific evidence has revealed. A DNA sample taken from his exhumed body has been matched by forensic experts to two samples from the crime scene.

They now believe that there is only a 1-in-2.5million chance Hanratty was innocent.  The results of the tests, released to Hanratty’s defence team, are a crushing blow to campaigners who have insisted he was not guilty.

In 2002, James Hanratty’s conviction was upheld at the Court of Appeal and a bid to take the case to the House of Lords was rejected. Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, who with two colleagues - Lord Justice Mantell and Mr Justice Leveson - considered the posthumous appeal, said the DNA evidence established Hanratty’s guilt “beyond doubt”.

Lord Woolf for the Supreme Court on 10 May 2002:

We have already stressed the importance of looking at a case such as this in the round. The grounds of appeal are of differing significance and although we have dealt with them individually it is also necessary to consider them collectively in asking ourselves the critical question is the conviction of James Hanratty of murder unsafe either on procedural or evidential grounds?

As to the evidential issues they all ultimately relate to the single issue which dominated the trial and this appeal, the identity of the killer. In our judgment for reasons we have explained the DNA evidence establishes beyond doubt that James Hanratty was the murderer.

The DNA evidence made what was a strong case even stronger. Equally the strength of the evidence overall pointing to the guilt of the appellant supports our conclusion as to the DNA.



[Above: journalist campaigners Paul Foot and Bob Woffinden]

The 40-year media campaign

Forty years of excruciating hell for the families and friends of the victims, one dead, one crippled for life .

Investigative journalists such as Bob Woffinden and Paul Foot wrote articles and books about the case, stubbornly certain that James Hanratty was innocent and that the case was a miscarriage of justice.

Paul Foot was a highly-respected campaigning journalist who worked for Private Eye, the Daily Mirror and The Guardian. However, his reasons for believing that James Hanratty was innocent were flimsy to the say the least.

From the BBC obituary for Paul Foot:

Beyond his obvious triumphs, Foot sometimes got it terribly wrong.

The Hanratty affair is a case in point. Twenty-five-year-old James Hanratty was hanged in 1962, after being found guilty of killing scientist Michael Gregsten and raping and shooting his mistress Valerie Storie.

Foot’s interest began in 1966 and, for the next 34 years, he consistently and eloquently demanded justice for Hanratty.

The case was finally reopened in 2000 and, after Hanratty’s body was exhumed, so DNA samples could be scraped from his bones, his guilt was proved beyond doubt.

The main crux of his argument for innocence was that James Hanratty was in Liverpool and Rhyl on the day of the murder. There were no positive identifications of Hanratty, just a couple of people who claimed that they had seen a man who looked like him.



[Above: John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Hanratty’s parents]

A report of John Lennon’s involvement.

On Side One of John & Yoko’s “Live Jam” album (recorded on 15th December 1969) Yoko can be heard to shout “Britain, you killed Hanratty you murderer!”, she then chants Hanratty’s name throughout the opening bars of Don’t Worry Kyoko.

As the [1960s] progressed, the view that Hanratty had in fact been the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice began to gather momentum, another man was even seen to confess to the murder on British Television in 1967. Together with Hanratty’s parents, John and Yoko discussed the idea of making a film to back the campaign for an enquiry and this was announced at an Apple press conference on December 10th 1969.

The one and only public screening of the 40-minute colour result was eventually shown in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London on 17th February 1972.

29 years later DNA evidence from the exhumed body of Hanratty was said to prove that he DID commit the murder, although it has been argued that the retained evidence may have been cross contaminated in storage.

Supporters of James Hanratty have come out with the predictable excuse that the DNA evidence must have been contaminated. However, the forensic scientists who worked in the case said this highly unlikely and pointed out that they had found no other DNA profiles on the two exhibits.

Implications for PR campaigns

The DNA tests carried out by the FFS that finally provided definitive proof that James Hanratty killed Michael Gregsten and raped and shot Valerie Storie more or less stopped the bandwagon dead in its tracks.

But there had been for decades almost fanatical and very vociferous support for someone who’d been unanimously convicted of murder, many of whom stood to gain, though it didnt have too much effect except to have the case looked at and found solid twice.

James Hanratty’s supporters claimed that he had no motive, that the police framed him, and that the DNA evidence was contaminated by the government’s experts. NONE of this was proved. Unless there is actual proof of dastardly plots and contamination, these claims against the authorities are unfruitful and unfair.

The most important lesson to be learnt from the A6 murder case is that a bandwagon of journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities being absolutely convinced of someone’s innocence does not make him or her innocent in fact.

Even intelligent and well-intentioned people like Paul Foot and David Steel can mistakenly believe a killer is innocent and shrug off the pain the victims’ families must feel.

Implications for Curt Knox’s campaign

There are a number of parallels to the campaign against justice for Meredith. The families of the victims for one were put through years of hell, the real evidence was wildly distorted, and many good justice professionals and reporters were impugned. .

Hopefully the judges at the Italian Supreme Court will order a new appeal trial early next year, and the new tests the prosecution requested at the appeal on the remaining sample from the large knife can now be carried out.

Professor Novelli testified that it is possible to extract, amplify and attribute DNA with just 10-15 picograms of DNA using cutting-edge technology.  Conti and Vecchiotti extracted approximately 100 picograms of DNA from the blade of the knife.

Sollecito seemed to know there could be incriminating DNA evidence on that knife, and Knox had an extreme reaction not yet accounted for in an innocent way when she was shown a drawer full of knives.

There is enough DNA for more than one test. If Meredith’s DNA is indeed identified once again, the already strong case against Knox and Sollecito can be closed once and for all. And Curt Knox’s PR will be gone.


[Below: the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf]

Posted on 08/22/12 at 09:39 PM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedSupreme CourtEvidence & witnessesDNA and luminolAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+Other legal processesThose elsewhere
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dissecting The Hellmann Report #4: The Contortions To Dismiss Witness Quintavalle

Posted by Cardiol MD



[Above: Images of Mr Quintavalle’s Conad store; he serves at far left, his cashier serves at far right]


Scroll down here for previous posts in this series.

Mr Quintavalle owns the Conad franchise at the lower end of Via Garibaldli, about halfway between Meredith’s place and Sollecito’s. Judge Massei in his trial sentencing report had stated this about Mr Quintavalle on page 83:

This Court deems that the testimony of Quintavalle is reliable. It was discovered that Inspector Volturno did not ask Quintavalle if, on the morning of November 2, he saw Amanda Knox in his shop.

He was asked – so Quintavalle recalled - about purchases made by Raffaele Sollecito. Mr. Quintavalle did not say anything about having seen Amanda Knox on the morning of November 2, 2007 in his shop because he was not questioned about this and because, as indicated by Quintavalle himself, he considered this fact to be insignificant.

This post exemplifies how the Hellmann-Zanetti web of deception uses a flood of reasons-to-doubt in its attempt to discredit Massei’s conclusion that Quintavalle was a reliable witness. Remarkably, the judges did not even recall Mr Mr Quintavalle, and mostly they work from the brief summary of his testimony in Massei’s report and little else.

Quintavalle’s testimony is key to the guilty verdicts against Knox and Sollecito, and contrary to Hellmann-Zanetti’s improper purpose; therefore they proceeded to systematically “disprove” Massei’s conclusion, stating this on page 39:

Indeed, Quintavalle asserts that she left without having purchased anything.

Verbatim from the hearing of March 21, 2009:

The Hellmann report here proceeds to selectively quote the hearing-transcript in a manner contrary to the usual and customary English-language meaning of “verbatim”. It may be that Hellmann-Zanetti meant to indicate that only the words they did quote were verbatim, and that their ellipses indicated innocent omissions. However the effect of their omissions is not innocent.

…If they had asked me…also because, I repeat, I, when the young lady came into my store, I did not see her leave with anything, because when she passed by and passed by again, when she left and I saw her, out of the corner of my eye I saw her leaving, I did not see that she had a shopping bag or anything in her hands.

PRESIDING JUDGE [PRESIDENTE]: You are speaking of the morning of November 2?

ANSWER: The morning of November 2. I don’t know if she bought anything, I don’t know. My cashier doesn’t remember if she bought anything, I am not able to say whether she bought something or not…”

If one wanted to maintain that perhaps Quintavalle is wrong, because she actually did purchase something, it would be correct to observe that if he could be wrong on this point, and also about the clothing she was wearing, then he could also be wrong about the identification of the young woman [giovane] as Amanda Knox.

Finally, the testimony of the witness Quintavalle does not seem reliable, and, in any case, represents an extremely weak piece of circumstantial evidence.”



Examples of Hellmann-/Zanetti’s flood of Reasons-to-Doubt [That AK/RS are Guilty] :

From Hellmann-Zanetti pages 39-43:

Quintavalle

Another piece of evidence [uno degli elementi] on which the Court of first instance based its conviction of guilt is represented by the testimony of the witness Quintavalle, owner of a grocery store in Corso Garibaldi, not far from Sollecito’s house but also just a few minutes from via della Pergola: he in fact asserted that he saw, early in the morning of November 2, a young woman enter[sic] his store after having waited for it to open, whom he later recognized as Amanda Knox.

According to the prosecution (and to the Court of first instance), this circumstance proves that, contrary to the alibi she gave, she did not sleep at Sollecito’s house until late in the morning, but went very early to Quintavalle’s store, as she urgently needed to acquire a cleaning product suitable to clean the house in via della Pergola of her own traces and those of Raffaele Sollecito, before the police could intervene and take samples, since it was inevitable that sooner or later the alarm would be given because of what had happened.

In reality, even under the assumption that the circumstance is true, this would be a weak piece of circumstantial evidence, incapable in itself of proving guilt even presumptively; but in any case this Court holds that the testimony of the witness is not very reliable, in particular in what concerns the identification of the early‐morning client with Amanda Knox.”



(1) Reason-to-Doubt #1:  “…INCAPABLE IN ITSELF of PROVING guilt even presumptively….”

The reader is being steered away from a level of doubt that is beyond-reasonable, and towards the territory of reasonable-doubt-that -AK/RS-are-Guilty. 

“INCAPABLE IN ITSELF” improperly isolates the issue from all the other considerations which should simultaneously-be-taken-into-account.

“PROVING” improperly implies an inappropriate standard of ‘certainty’.

….this Court holds that the testimony of the witness is NOT VERY RELIABLE, in particular in what concerns the identification of the early‐morning client with Amanda Knox.

Logically “not very reliable” does not exclude “reliable” but Hellmann-Zanetti presumably don’t intend to concede that Quintavalle is reliable; this betrays Hellmann-Zanetti’s extreme bias and determination to exclude Quintavalle’s damning identification of [their client?] Knox.

Later on page 38:

In fact, he presented himself to the police only a year later, following intense urging by a young apprentice journalist…..”

This is a misleading reference to Antioca Fois; see Massei page 84:

He later spoke about having seen Amanda Knox because a young man who used to live above his shop, who he knew, Antioco Fois, had just graduated and had become a freelance reporter for the newspaper Giornale dell’Umbria. When he passed him, he would sometimes ask: “But do you know anything? Did you see something? Did you hear something?”

So one day Quintavalle told Fois that he had seen Amanda Knox on the morning of November 2; later he decided to go to the Public Prosecutor’s Office because Antioco Fois convinced him that this fact might be important.

So the “intense urging” was more like friendly exchanges with Quintavalle’s neighbour, a former lodger.


(2) Reason-to-Doubt #2:  “In fact, he presented himself to the police only a year later….”

Readers are invited to mistrust Quintavalle because he belatedly told this to the police for an untrustworthy reason, steering them further away from a level of doubt [with regard to Knox/Sollecito guilt] that is beyond-reasonable, and further into territory that is reasonable-doubt of their guilt.

Later still on page 38:

Now, what actually happened more than a year before Quintavalle presented himself to the police is absolutely not irrelevant, for the purpose of evaluating the reliability of the witness, especially from the point of view of the genuineness of his memories and the exactness of the identification.



(3) Reason-to-Doubt #3:  “absolutely not irrelevant, for the purpose of evaluating the reliability of the witness”

This double-negative statement further invites Readers to regard Quintavalle as unreliable because his memories are false, and his identification of Knox is too inexact. Steering Readers yet further into a level of doubt of Knox’s guilt that is reasonable-doubt.

Yet further down on page 38:

…..this was a witness who – taking into account what he himself explained – took a year to convince himself of the precision of his perception, and the exactness of the identification of Amanda Knox with the girl that he saw, although he was able to appreciate the relevance of his testimony already in the days immediately following the murder.



(4) Reason-to-Doubt #4: “..took a year to convince himself…”

From Hellmann-Zanetti page 36:

…..took a year to convince himself of the precision of his perception, and the exactness of the identification of Amanda Knox with the girl that he saw, although he was able to appreciate the relevance of his testimony already in the days immediately following the murder.

Repetition of reader-invitation to regard Quintavalle as unreliable, because his perceptions are not precise enough for Hellmann-Zanetti, and his identification of Knox was too inexact even though he knew at that time that his testimony was crucially relevant.

The reader is being steered even further away from belief that Knox and Sollecito are guilty towards the territory of reasonable-doubt-that -AK/RS-are-Guilty. 

Are we there yet? Is there reasonable-doubt-that-AK/RS-are-guilty NOW?!


(5) Reason-to-Doubt #5: “Quintavalle cannot maintain that…”

Near the bottom of Hellmann-Zanetti page 38:

...from the testimony of Inspector Volturno at the hearing of March 13, 2009, it turned out that Quintavalle and his employees and other shopkeepers in the area were shown photographs of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, and were asked in particular to mention any possible purchases of cleaning products on the part of the couple, as this was a precise focal point of the investigation. Thus, Quintavalle cannot maintain that he did not mention what he saw on the morning of November 2 to Inspector [53] Volturno because he did not think it was a relevant circumstance.

Readers are yet further invited to mistrust Quintavalle, because his failure to “mention” everything he had seen, and his idea of “a relevant circumstance” were unacceptable to Hellmann-Zanetti. 

That’s already five reasons to doubt on the first Quintavalle page alone.

See also Hellmann-Zanetti page 42:

....according to Quintavalle’s own statements – he only caught a glimpse of the girl, first out of the “corner of his eye” and then from a bit nearer for a few moments, but never from the front (verbatim from the hearing of March 21, 2009: “Yes, then she entered, I saw her let’s say like this, three quarters left, three quarters of the left side. I didn’t see her from the front…”

And Hellmann-Zanetti page 43:

“....when she left and I saw her, out of the corner of my eye I saw her leaving,”

Hellmann-Zanetti are now reduced to semantic quibbles about Quintavalle’s use of words to describe his visual-angle-of-view when he looked at Amanda Knox’s face.

But see Massei page 83:

This young woman remained impressed in his memory because of her very light coloured eyes, azzurri [light blue]. …. she could have been 1.65 to 1.67metres tall. Her face was bianchissimo [very light skin colour] and she apparently was about 20-21 years old.

And see Massei page 84:

...it is worth observing that the witness gave a precise description of what he saw on the morning of November 2 and also provided a description of certain physical features of the woman he saw (light blue eyes and pale face) which, together with the unusual time, may well have fixed in his memory what Quintavalle said he saw.

So by selective omissions of the contents of the Massei Report, based on the 4-dimensional observations of the Massei trial hearings, Hellmann-Zanetti use a 2-dimensional record of the Massei Proceedings, and semantic quibbles about Quintavalle’s angles of visual observation, to discredit Quintavalle’s testimony.

Even though Quintavalle - who the Hellmann-Zanetti jury never even saw - had testified convincingly at trial that it was Amanda whom he saw in his shop at opening-time on November 2, 2007, and he had held up well under cross-examination.

Enough already? Isn’t this a contorted flood of Reasons-to-Doubt-That-AK/RS-are-Guilty?  Do you now believe that Quintaville is an unreliable witness?

If you now believe that Quintaville is unreliable, then Hellmann-Zanetti will have accomplished their mission.


[Below: Conad is at right and School for Foreigners at back. RS’s place maybe 500 meters behind, up the hill]


Posted on 08/19/12 at 09:07 PM by Cardiol MDClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtAmanda KnoxThe officially involvedEvidence & witnessesThe timelinesOther witnessesAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann critiques
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Overview From Italy Of The Galati-Costagliola Appeal To The Supreme Court Of Cassation

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)





1. About Dr Galati

Dr Giovanni Galati is the Procurator General of Perugia, and one of the two magistrates at the highest function currently working in the Region of Umbria.

Until early 2011 he worked in Rome as a Procurator General at the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. His life and career had nothing to do with Perugia. A native of Calabria, he spent the last and most important part of his career in Rome, and moved to Perugia only quite recently.

Working as a deputy chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Cassation, he developed an expertise as a “cassationist” magistrate. That means specialized in legitimacy issues, and in this role he handled several high profile cases. Among them was the recent one of Salvatore Cuffaro, the former governor of Sicily, now in jail.

Cuffaro was convicted for having favored the mafia and was sentenced to seven years. The governor was found guilty by the appeal court, but Galati impugned the sentencing by the Supreme Court on one specific aspect: while he agreed Cuffaro was guilty, he considered there was only evidence of common crime, while the lower courts failed to provide the legal requirements for proof of the aggravating circumstance of the mafia-related kind of crime.

In Galati’s opinion, Cuffaro was still corrupt and a criminal, and the difference may seem like a minor detail. His conclusion was not to overturn the verdict, but only to reduce the aggravating circumstance and shorten the prison term. Galati made the point and won, the Supreme Court cut one and a half year off Cuffaro’s prison term.

One thing to note is that the majority of Galati’s recourses are appeals in favor of the defendant. The Prosecution General, the office that brings cases to the Supreme Court, deals with procedure and legitimacy issues. Its aim is to ensure consistency and quality of work of the criminal courts.

It does not deal directly with the merit of evidence, but in fact, since the assessment of the evidence is a matter of internal logical consistency and consistency with trial actions, as well as respecting of procedure and of Supreme Court jurisprudence, the scrutiny of the lower court’s process obviously indirectly involves an assessment of the quality of evidence, and on the quality of the lower court’s reasoning on all factual points.

Giancarlo Costagliola was of course the lead prosecutor for the Hellmann-Zanetti appeal.


2. About the appeal

The Galati-Costigliola appeal is a 112-page document, with citations in an appendix to each chapter remanding to trial documents (technically the cited documents have to be considered included in the submission). The Supreme Court of Cassation however will have the entitlement of going through the whole trial documentation.

The Galati-Costagliola Appeal to the Supreme Court immediately looks different in quality and content from the previous court documents that we have seen up to now on the case. As we read it in Italian, it looks well written (except for a few grammar mistakes in the Latin parts) and stylistically homogeneous.

It dedicates extensive parts to the philosophy of law, and it includes several quotes of Supreme Court jurisprudence in the introductory and conclusive chapters.

It is an unusual appeal. Contrary to most appeals submitted by Galati as Procurator General, this one does not raise objections simply on parts of the sentencing, conclusions, or points of reasoning. Instead it attacks the verdict in its entirety. It attacks indeed all logical points and conclusions, including the part about calunnia, for which Knox was found guilty. And it goes even beyond.

Besides disputing the single points on the merit, it contains an explicit and more general attack on the whole appeal court’s approach to the case, against the general quality of their reasoning and their handling of trial and procedure, as well as against even their behavior even before the beginning of the trial discussion. There is an introductory part, and one conclusion part, which are dedicated to this kind of general criticism toward the entirety of the judges’ work.

At the beginning the document presents the summary of the ten reasons for appeal which, in Galati-Costagliola’s opinion, fatally affect the legitimacy of the judgment.

The ten questions of merit are the following:

1.  The illegitimacy of Hellmann’s admission of new expert witnesses (Vecchiotti and Conti). The appointing of new experts violates the code. Galati-Costagliola clearly explains why, using both Supreme Court jurisprudence and Criminal Procedure Code. It addresses and shows the multiple instances of lack of reasoning in Hellmann’s explanations on the point, the “contradictory nature of reasoning” and its “manifest illogicality” in light of the law.


2.  The failure to acquire elements of evidence. Galati-Costagliola focuses specifically on the rejection of witness testimonies, above all 1) the refusal to again hear the witness Aviello, and 2) the refusal of new tests on the knife. These decisions were taken in violation of Articles 190, 238 paragraph 5 and 495 paragraph 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and in violation of Article 606 (c) and (d) of the Criminal Procedure Code. There is manifest illogicality of the judgment on the point.


3.  The establishing of the unreliability of the witness Quintavalle. The method declared to assess reliability of the witness violates the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court on the topic, and the insufficient reasoning violates Article 606(b) and (e) of the Criminal Procedure Code.


4.  The establishing of the unreliability of the witness Curatolo. The reasons expressed are illogical, prejudicial, and violate the Criminal Procedure Code.


5.  The claimed timing of the death of Meredith Kercher demonstrates a manifest illogicality in the reasoning, contains an unfounded assessment, and is manifestly in contrast with other court documentation of the case. The internal and external inconsistencies of Hellmann’s statements on the topic constitute a violation of the Criminal Procedure Code.


6.  The genetic investigations: coverage of this topic in Hellmann’s sentencing report demonstrates deficiency in the reasoning, and inconsistency and illogicality [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]


7.  The analysis of the prints and traces (stains) demonstrates deficiency in the reasoning, and a contradictory nature and illogicality in the reasoning [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]


8.  The presence of Knox and Sollecito at Via della Pergola on the night of the murder: misrepresentation of the evidence presented is demonstrated and illogicality of the reasoning [Article 606 paragraph 1(e) Criminal Procedure Code]. Violation of procedural rules and illogicality of the reasoning [Article 606 paragraph 1(b) and (e) Criminal Procedure Code] are demonstrated.


9.  The staging of the break-in (simulation of a crime): demonstration of deficiency in the reasoning and manifest illogicality of the same [Article 606(e) Criminal Procedure Code]


10. The exclusion of aggravation in the calunnia offence: the contradictory nature or manifest illogicality of the reasoning is demonstrated, also defects resulting from internal and external inconsistence with the court documents of the case: starting with the declarations by Patrick Diya Lumumba, and those by the accused, Amanda Knox, and the contents of the conversation between the latter and her mother on 10 November 2007 [Article 606(e) last part, Criminal Procedure Code].

However, the ten reasons listed above are not all of Galati-Costagliola’s arguments. Their explanations cover the core (80%) of the Hellmann-Zanetti sentencing document. But even before entering into these reasons on the merit, Galati-Costagliola make a preliminary point, a “premise” to the whole document.

The “premise” takes twenty pages and this alone is telling about the gravity of the criticism Dr Galati is going to make throughout the whole appeal document.  The premise warns the readers (the judges of the Supreme Court) that in fact there is a problem of quality pervading the whole of Hellmann’s and Zanetti’s work which affects deeply their reasoning and conclusions on multiple occasion and in multiple concurring ways.

He makes clear that his criticism of Hellmann is methodological, and he points to the trial as a whole from the roots, far beyond the single topic of errors exposed in the appeal.

The “premise” of preliminary points, a short essay in itself, has its own summary of six points, each one to explain a typology of recurrent error committed by Hellmann and Zanetti. In the premise Galati explains four of the types of error, while the last two are discussed in the further chapters together with some of the points on the merit.

These are the six types of error:

1.  One error “of method” affecting the logical process is the “petitio principii”, which Galati-Costagliola addresses as a recurrent, structural and pervasive method of reasoning used by Hellmann-Zanetti.

It is “begging the question”, a kind of empty circular reasoning. This is demonstrated in several chapters and points. For Hellmann-Zanetti’s reasoning, Galati-Costagliola reserve the names “paradoxical”, “disconcerting”, “useless”, “circular”, and worse in this same tone.


2.  The failure to apply the inferential-inductive method to assess circumstantial evidence. This is a key point based on jurisprudence and is in fact a devastating general argument against Hellmann-Zanetti:

The appeal to Cassation’s jurisprudence on the circumstantial case originates from the fact that the Assize Appeal Court did not deploy a unified appreciation of the circumstantial evidence and did not examine the various circumstantial items in a global and unified way.

With its judgment it has, instead, fragmented the circumstantial evidence; it has weighed each item in isolation with an erroneous logico-judicial method of proceeding, with the aim of criticizing the individual qualitative status of each of them ..


Dr Galati accuses the appeal court of focusing on the quality of some pieces of circumstantial evidence, instead of their correlation to each other as the Supreme Court always requires. .

The appeal judges, in actual fact, deny that the probative reasoning and the decisive and cognitive proceeding of the court is to be found in the circumstantial evidence paradigm of the hypothetico-probabilistic kind, in which the maxims of experience, statistical probability and logical probability have a significant weight.

The court must reach a decision by means of the “inductive-inferential” method: it proceeds, by inference, from individual and certain items of data, through a series of progressive causalities, to further and fuller information, so arriving at a unification of them in the context of [13] the reconstructed hypothesis of the fact.

This means that the data, informed and justified by the conclusions, are not contained in their entirety in the premises of the reasoning, as would have happened if the reasoning were of the deductive type … (..) A single element, therefore, concerning a segment of the facts, has a meaning that is not necessarily unambiguous.

Dr Galati cites and explains further:

The Perugia Court of Appeal has opted, instead, precisely for the parceled-out evaluation of individual probative elements, as if each [14] one of them must have an absolutely unambiguous meaning, and as if the reasoning to be followed were of the deductive type.

This error emerges from the text of the judgment itself, but the gravity of the error committed by the Court in its decision derives from the fact that even the individual elements had been acquired by the cognitive-decisioning process in a totally partial manner, isolating the sole aspect that allowed the recognizing of doubts and uncertainties in the element itself..

So Galati-Costagliola concludes – and this by now is obvious – that the Hellmann-Zanetti court followed a “deductive only” paradigm on pieces in isolation, instead of the “inferential-inductive” paradigm prescribed by Supreme Court requirements (1995).

Moreover, Hellmann-Zanetti applied a deductive paradigm of assessment only to some cherry picked aspects of the single isolated pieces of evidence, overlooking other qualities of the single piece (an example – my own – is the possible “contamination” of the bra clasp found on the floor in the murder room.) Ordering an assessment of the quality of any element as if it was a proof in isolation from the rest of the evidence is itself unlawful.

But Hellmann–Zanetti also picked out of the evidence one aspect alone, for example it points to the theoretical possibility of contamination by touching from gloves, but does not consider the negative check results from the possible contamination sources. The interpretation of X-DNA from the bra-clasp by Vecchiotti in the conclusion is worded as if to ignore the results on the Y-haplotype, and so on.

So even single aspects/qualities of isolated items are further isolated from other aspects by Hellmann-Zanetti, and are assessed without looking for a relationship to the context. This is a core violation of the basics of jurisprudence in cases based on circumstantial evidence.


3.  Refusal to acquire documentation as evidence: the definitive Guede verdict. Hellmann-Zanetti refused to acquire the documentation and to consider it a piece of evidence, without any backing from procedure jurisprudence and without providing any justification.

By doing this the Hellmann court was again violating the legal boundaries. The Galati-Costagliola appeal considers this as one more type of violation, the refusal to attribute any kind of probative value to the definitive verdict on Guede, thus violating Article 238 of the Criminal Procedure Core, and bringing up a manifestly illegitimate justification. The violation is quite egregious under the code.


4.  Failure to assess and to weight key elements, among which is Knox’s written “memoir”. This is a severe violation of article 237 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The usability of Knox’s “memoir” as well as its probative value were already established by the Supreme Court itself, and it was admitted into the process. Hellmann-Zanetti fail to provide the slightest logical explanation for changing the established assessment and disregarding that evidence.


5.  The failure to acquire possibly important pieces of evidence. Galati-Costagliola are focused mainly on two points: 1) the knife, and the refusal of having it further tested for DNA; 2) the refusal to hear Aviello after his retraction of his claims.

We know that, while the testimony of Aviello might be just not credible because of his proven unreliability, and while some may argue that thus his testimony was not “decisive”, the testing of DNA found on the knife would be a piece of evidence for sure.

But the Procurator General points out that the refusal to hear Aviello is part of a severe violation, because the Hellmann motivazioni accepts his retraction statement, considering it thus reliable, but throws out some parts of it and refuses to hear him as a witness.

So the Galati-Costagliola appeal statement includes quotes of some shocking lines from Aviello’s interrogation, to show the heavy nature of it that cannot be thrown out without assessment

A twisting of words - like “cutting-edge” which becomes “experimental” in Hellmann’s reasoning - is the illogical justification for Hellmann-Zanetti forbidding a further DNA test. The motivation is obviously bogus, and Galati backs the point with quotes from Novelli’s tehnical explanation.


6.  Galati-Costagliola address a pervasive violation, claiming it recurs multiple times in the document: a violation of a kind called “misrepresentation of the evidence”.

This is when the judge omits aspects of the pieces of evidence that would contradict their conclusion, expressing an obvious cognitive bias. The appeal describes this violation in different chapters (5,6,8) as occurring in the process of assessing different pieces of evidence, including witness reports, wiretappings, and other items.



3. My own assessment of the Galati appeal

As you can guess from the summary above, the appeal is rather strong, and explains many heavy implications in Italian jurisprudence so that it would be difficult for the Supreme Court to reject it. 

Difficult not only because the kind of objections raised by Galati-Costagliola are devastating to Hellmann’s legitimacy (in fact it’s even more, they tend to form a picture of manipulation of the trial); and not only because Hellmann’s verdict appears to be devastating to jurisprudence generally, so much so that it would become impossible to rule on guilt in many other cases; and not only because a verdict that puts together the conviction for calunnia (a felony crime with malice) and the acquittal for murder, has a contradiction on a macro-level.

But also diificult because the same office of Cassation has already issued another definitive verdict, on the Rudy Guede case. They acknowledged that Guede did not act alone, and the Supreme Court themselves even obtained independently some elements of evidence of this, which had not been considered by the previous judges.

Accepting Hellmann-Zanetti and rejecting Galati would equate to cancel Guede’s verdict. It would require a re-write of the entire process from scratch.

Galati-Costagliola shed light on many points in good order, so I tend to be optimistic and confident in the strength of the appeal.

However I also believe there could have been something more, to make it even more strong. There are a few points – in my opinion - still missing, which I would have added. Four points that I miss are the following:

1.  There is no mention about the analysis – or the lack thereof - of Knox’s lies, aka the inconsistencies in her story, her “mop-shower” alibi version, what she told prior to her false accusation. There was a partial analysis of this area of evidence in Massei, who only mentioned her lying about her behavior before Meredith’s closed door.

But a lot more could have been brought out, so many contradictions and so sharp, to demonstrate that her recollection was entirely fictional. The entire topic disappeared in Hellmann’s logic and Galati-Costagliola does not hit on the point. I think this obliteration of key evidence should have been a battlefield for the appeal, I think it could have been linked to the error of misrepresentation of the evidence.


2.  Galati-Costagliola misses one point of criticism on the bathmat footprint assessment. It does make a point objecting to the manifest illogicality of Hellmann’s reasoning on the footprint analysis. But there is one point more where it could hit, one external inconsistency that could have been highlighted:

Hellmann-Zanetti’s illogical reasoning on the footprint is based on a false assumption. Not only it has no basis in the acts of evidence but it is proven false. It is that Hellmann excludes Sollecito on the basis that the print was “inked” by stepping on a flat surface (proven false), and attributes it to Guede, on the opposite assumption that it was produced by immersion. I note that Galati does not address directly this introduction of false premises.


3.  The appeal deals only partly with the Vecchiotti-Conti report controversy. It points to Hellmann’s contradiction on “contamination” of the knife and their failure to indicate any path for any contamination in general. But it does not say much about the bra clasp (it implies however that Sollecito’s DNA was found).

Vecchiotti’s report is unacceptable when it comes to the DNA chart: it acknowledges that Sollecito’s DNA was on the clasp after all when it comes to the Y-haplotype, but in the autosome-chromosome analysis attempts to create confusion by applying principles that are incompatible with Supreme Court guidelines on evidence analysis. Also Vecchiotti desecends into inconsistency and shows her real cards when she attempts to figure out contamination paths for how Sollecito’s DNA had arrived on the clasp.

However, I think the SCC might have all the material on this point in the attachment documents from Galati.


4.  One missing point important to me is that Galati-Costagliola does not point out the prejudicial and racist stance declared at the beginning and at the core of Hellmann’s reasoning.

Other parts are maybe more outrageous and more directly offensive to other people and other intelligences, but the racist Hellmann’s reason to me is the most disgusting.

It is a shame that a judge of the Republic is allowed to write things like this. Hellmann-Zanetti write that it is itself “unlikely” – it would require a very special proof – that Guede and Knox/Sollecito could have just met and done something together because they are “different”, while Sollecito and Knox are “good fellows”

Hellmann-Zanetti could have legitimately used the argument that it was likely for Guede to have committed a crime alone because he had a police record. They could have used this argument, but they did not use it. Their wording was totally different. I think we can guess what the reason is why they didn’t use this argument. It would have been extremely weak.

There is a logical connection between a theoretical break in and the theft in the law firm; this logical connection is equal to (in fact much weaker than) the logical connection between a staged break in and a roommate. But there is no logical connection between crimes like a theft of a laptop in an apartment and assaulting, torturing and killing a woman: thousands, in fact hundreds of thousands, of common thieves, in Italy, do not rape and do not kill anyone.

You cannot use the criminal record of Rudy Guede as a basis for claiming it is “likely” that he could commit a crime of this kind alone. That’s why Hellmann-Zanetti didn’t use it.

Instead, they used prejudice, the racist card: instead of trying to explain why it was likely that Rudy could have done it alone, they decided to claim that it was unlikely that they would find themselves together, because they are “good fellows” (and “different”).

As you can understand, this has nothing to do with Rudy’s criminal record.

By the way, Hellmann-Zanetti know that Knox had been knowing Guede long before she became friends with Sollecito, they already knew that Knox and Guede have been seen together on more than one occasion in more than one place, and even that Guede in fact attended the cottage and was friends with other people in the cottage. In fact they knew Guede and Knox used to attend the same places, house, roads and pubs.

They also knew that both Sollecito and Guede attended Piazza Grimana and the drug circle (which is the square in front of the school where Amanda had her language classes), that they lived 150 meters from each other, walked every day the same road; and ate at the same bars.

It was also known that not only Guede alone, but both Knox and Sollecito had questionable aspects in their personalities, so that these 20-years olds were not exactly expressing a profound stability in their lives.

They knew details like: leaving university, abandoning a job after one day, public disturbance fines, drunk parties, pouring beer glasses on the heads of unknowns, flirting with clients, relational problems with roommates and other girls, bringing several men at home causing arguments with roommates, collecting violent porn, heavy drug abuse over the years, knife collecting, a possible suicide mother, a lonely childhood and introverted character under the attention of a college director, memory voids.

Nobody is perfect. These details do not mean someone is guilty of anything. But what exactly is, in Hellmann-Zanetti’s mind, the “difference” of these personalities that makes these two be so obviously “good fellows”, as opposed to Guede, to the point that it is “extremely unlikely” that they can be found together, despite the fact that they attend the same places every day?

Who can tell me what is the possible reason of this difference?

Maybe there could be a relation with the fact that in Italian “good fellows” – “bravi ragazzi” means, in the subtext “ my family” as opposed to the other who is an outsider.

To my eyes this reasoning of Hellmann-Zanetti turns them into individuals who deserves no respect, they gain with this the most justified contempt, they should be treated like pigs: they practically wrote “they can’t be around together with Guede because they are our friends” while “he is out”.

Two bastards dirtying my country by wearing the robes of judges. I find this disgusting. It is unfortunate that Galati-Costagliola overlook this point.



4. The Galati appeal: my final thoughts

It is not possible to understand in depth the 10 points of merit from my short summary, which in fact is just a list. By reading them, I think they show their inner logical strength. I found only one weakness, that is in one of the sub-sections of point 5, where Galati-Costagliola discuss about Guede’s skype call.

I feel it’s remarkable that I couldn’t find any other questionable point (I am rather severe).

Reason 8 appears made of several points each with a different topic. They didn’t seem especially important to me as pieces of evidence, however they exist and are part of Galati-Costagliola criticism of Hellmann’s reasoning.

Reason 9 is effective but I would have used much more extensively the elements of evidence available and place them in line before the judge’s faces. Galati-Costagliola prefer to direct their objection to the inconsistence of Hellmann-Zanetti.

The part where Galati sounds more outraged is Reason 10, about the Calunnia. In this part in fact Hellmann sounds most “FoA” and offensive. In fact I think I have never read before a Cassation recourse so scathing as the Galati-Costagliola document seems to be on the Hellmann’s report.

Reading through the whole Galati document in Italian, you come upon expressions addressing the lower court’s work (repeatedly) with terms like “grave error” and “grave behavior”, you find also “disconcerting shallowness”, or the accusation of “ignoring the law”.

In the C&V report section Galati-Costagliola have some sarcastic lines such as: “how is it now they suddenly have become experts?”. In other parts you read the word “prejudice” or “obvious bias”, some of the parts of the Hellmann-Zanetti report are called “offensive” and “gratuitous”, and you also encounter the term “insinuation”.

Galati-Costagliola devolve significant attention to their method error in logic called “petitio principii”.  Now, in the traditional scholarly logic, there is a list of thirteen kind of typical “logical errors” divided in three groups: the errors of the kind “fallacia in voce” (due to misusing words in their meaning concepts) , “fallacia in re” (about getting facts wrong in the direct logical use of them) and “fallacia in deductione” (error in inference process): there are four types of “fallacia in re” and five types of “fallacia in deductione”.

The “petitio principii” (implicit circular reasoning) is one of the five types of “fallacia in deductione”.  Galati-Costagliola focus on this and on another case of “fallacia in re” called “corax”, but in fact in Hellmann-Zanetti there are also severe cases of logical errors of other kinds of “fallacia in deductione” and of the kinds of “fallacia in re”. Which may not matter too much.

This was my final thought.  I hope this can help readers to gain a rough idea of what the Galati-Costagliola Appeal to the Supreme Court looks like, its structure, its kind of arguments, and assess its qualities.

If the Supreme Court of Cassation accepts the appeal, I would consider the battle for justice in this case as won. I know that the Kerchers may need to see the end of the whole process. But to me, the fact of having the Galati-Costagliola appeal means itself half victory achieved.

This document, as you know, was issued by the highest magistrate in Umbria and what will remain in history is the forcible assertion that Knox and Sollecito are murderers beyond any doubt as expressed by Dr Galati in this document and elsewhere, as well as his outrage for the disgusting Hellmann-Zanetti trash-verdict.

This stance will never go away.

Posted on 08/16/12 at 09:03 AM by Machiavelli (Yummi)Click here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtAmanda KnoxRaff SollecitoAppeals 2009-2015Cassation 2013Florence 2014+3 No evidence hoaxItalian system
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