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Friday, May 14, 2010

How Each of The Three Subtly But Surely Pushed The Other Two Closer to The Fire (Part 2 of 4)

Posted by Cesare Beccaria


My previous report on this appeared here. On 12 November 2007 Guede has a first chat conversation on MS Messenger, from Germany, with his friend Gabriele.

His friend asked him why he keeps running away, and Guede answers “I can’t”.  “You can’t what?” asks his friend. Guede replied “you know [why]”. “What should I know” asks his friend, but with no further reply.

Up to that moment the media knew nothing about Rudy Guede’s involvement, but he certainly felt that police were already investigating him. He knew that thus far Amanda and Raffaele had not mentioned his name.

On 15 November the investigators identify the finger print on the pillow as belonging to Rudy Guede.

On 16 November Giacomo, another friend of Rudy, was informed that Guede could have had something to do with the murder, and on the 18th he is interrogated by the prosecutor.

On 18 November Raffaele writes in his diary: “As I am thinking and rebuilding [my thoughts] I think that Amanda always remained with me. The only thing I don’t remember exactly is if she left during the evening for few minutes”.


At this point police know that Raffaele and Amanda were together at his house when Jovana Popovic arrived at 8:40PM. But they were also found together at Raffaele’s house when Jovana rang the bell in the afternoon between 5:45-6:00PM.

Why then would Raffaele say at first that he went home alone at 9:00PM, and then that “maybe it was 8:30” and Amanda was with him, and now he thinks that Amanda was with him the entire time, but he doesn’t remember if she left and, in the event that she did, at what time she returned?

Was he desperately attempting to dissociate himself from Amanda? Was he then being told to retract, but just not too much?

“I am certain that she cannot have killed Meredith and then returned home” says Raffaele. “I hope that truth emerges. None of us three [meaning also Patrick Lumumba] have anything to do with this”.

Here again we find this supposition regarding Amanda. A week before he said “It would be fabulous if Amanda hasn’t done anything” and the previous day he said: “I don’t think she’s capable of killing someone”.

What is the need of all these quasi affirmations? And why does Amanda make the exact same quasi affirmations in her own diaries?


On 19 November Guede has another chat conversation on MS Messenger, this time with Giacomo. He explains to Giacomo what had happened that evening, and that neither Amanda nor Patrick are involved.

Why does he explicitly deny Amanda’s involvement in the murder? Could he be covering up for her, since she also hasn’t ever mentioned his name up to this date?

On the same chat session, Rudy describes the aggressor as an Italian of young age. When Giacomo asks if that person was Raffaele, his reply was “I don’t know, but I think so”. He repeated “I think so” several times as Giacomo kept asking him if he was sure that person was Raffaele.

Soon after, Giacomo and Rudy started a conversation via Skype, the online video phone system. This conversation was recorded, and made public.

A couple of parts are very important. First of all, Rudy puts a lot of emphasis on the money stolen, and on Meredith being upset with Amanda. Why would he be so insisting on this matter?

Rudy adds that “Amanda never mentioned the money issue, nor did Raffaele” implying that he somehow knows this information first-hand, since it had not ever been reported in the media up to that day.

Rudy then tells Giacomo that he went to the bathroom, and heard the doorbell ring and Meredith opening the front door. Rudy adds that “It could have been anyone … it could have been Amanda”.

So again he explicitly mentions Amanda. Why would he say “It could have been Amanda”?


On that same conversation Guede reads a paragraph to Giacomo from a media article mentioning the laundry, the break-in and the undressing of the victim, Meredith.

Guede says “If all this really happened, it must have been done by Amanda or Raffaele… they have done it”. Giacomo asks “Why would they have done this”? And Guede replies “Because when I left she [Meredith] was dressed”.

Giacomo says “So they killed her while she was dressed”. And Guede says: “Yes, here it says that they [clothes] were washed in the washing machine, but that’s not true. She was dressed”. And then he explains to Giacomo how she was dressed and adds: “That means that they have washed them [Meredith’s clothes]”.

Then Giacomo asks “But why did they wash her clothes if she [Amanda] has nothing to do with this”, and Guede replies “What the hell do I know”. And finally Guede adds: “ … then after, from what I read, someone came back, because when I left the window was not broken. That means that someone broke it, and it wasn’t me”.

Again, here we have Rudy Guede mentioning Amanda and Raffaele. Why would he mention their names, and assume that they staged the break-in, undressed the victim, and did some laundry?

On 20 November Raffaele writes “Today they finally caught the real killer of this incredible story. They found him in Germany. But at the moment I am not 100% tranquil because I fear that he might make up strange things”.

Why would Raffaele fear that the killer might fabricate some strange things?

On 20 November Rudy is arrested in Germany. He is interrogated for the first time, in Koblenz, where he repeats the same version he had given to Giacomo on the phone, except that he does not mention Amanda or Raffaele.


During his detention he writes a memorandum in which he describes the events of the night of the murder.

This document is of extreme importance, since this time he does mention Amanda again, this time with serious threats.

First, he includes “kind words” for Meredith

To see these written in a memorandum while denying his own role in her death and failure to save her seem simply repulsive. They seem about the lowest thing that a man with a minimum of decency could ever write.

He was undeniably there when she was killed, and according to the judges he participated to the murder. His story of using an I-Pod when going to the bathroom and not hearing things and then hearing things seem simple stupidity.

Second, Guede indicates that Amanda’s story of being at the house with Patrick is not true.

He knows that Patrick has been recently released. Why then does he ask “How could Amanda have slept in that place full of blood”? Also, why is he blaming Amanda for not calling the ambulance?

Also, Rudy knew that Amanda stated that she heard Meredith screaming. Why would he tell Giacomo on Skype that he heard “a scream so loud that it could have been heard from the street”?

Third, in his writings, Rudy asks Amanda for the reason for her account of Meredith being raped. “Meredith and I just talked that night” Rudy writes. Then he adds “Say the truth, what are you hiding”.


We see here another important statement that Guede is making. Why would he be upset that Amanda said that Meredith was raped? Also, why would he want to clarify the fact that with Meredith they “just talked”?

Guede sounds as if he’s extremely upset about Amanda’s story of rape, and about the accusation of a black man. To him all this must appear as if Amanda was giving clues to the prosecutor to look further into Guede as the possibly killer.

We should note that Amanda did make a partial retraction when she states that her story could have been an imagination of her mind. But she never fully retracted her story, or her accusation against a black man.

Guede knows that Amanda’s story is not just partially but totally untrue. For this reason he writes a harsh criticism of Amanda and asks her, in a threatening way, to talk and speak the truth.

Guede is also angry about what he read regarding the staged break-in, the undressing of the victim, and the laundry, and quite probably about the evidence left intact in the toilet.

To him, the sum of these events and statements by Amanda probably looked like a direct attempt now to accuse him of the murder. “You already knew who to blame” he asks.

And then in turn he blames Amanda for the killing. “Did you hate your friend so much to the point of killing her or wishing her death?”.

All this was written as early-on as 20 November 2007.

Raffaele is also mentioned by Guede in his prison diary. He writes: “that AF, AF, could have been his name?”. Rudy adds: “what the hell happened that night. Talk and say the truth. What are you hiding. If it wasn’t Raffaele with you that night, who was it?”.

So we can clearly see that the reciprocal accusations began long before March 2008. Much less than one month after the murder of Meredith, they were already threatening one another and accusing each other.


And there’s more.

On 23 November 2007 three days after Guede is arrested in Germany, Raffaele requests an appointment with the prosecutor because he wants to clarify his position.

Mignini sets the appointment for 6 December 2007.

On 3 December 2007 Walter Biscotti, Guede’s attorney, announces on the Porta a Porta show (the most popular television program in Italy) that his client has important revelations to make, and that he “saw the killer and might be able to identify him … Rudy didn’t tell me his name … on his return I will show him the pictures and I imagine that he will be able to recognize him”.

But hadn’t Rudy already seen Raffaele’s pictures on the media while in Germany? Didn’t Giacomo ask him if it was Raffaele, to which he responded “I don’t know but I think so”?

On 5 December 2007 Guede meets his father in Mannheim.

According to “Il Messaggero” and “Il Mattino”, Rudy is quoted as saying: “I want to return to Italy as soon as possible and tell everything I know. I want to indicate the murderer of Meredith. I saw him and I could recognize him. Someone else was with him”.

When journalists ask Rudy’s attorney if he has seen the photos of Raffaele, he responds that all this is a matter for the prosecutor.


On 6 December 2007 Raffaele is questioned by Mr. Mignini - but he exercises his right to remain silent! Although it was he that asked to be interrogated in order to “clarify his position”.

On 7 December 2007 Guede arrives in Italy and is interrogated by the prosecutor.

Everyone is expecting Rudy to announce the name of Raffaele, but he doesn’t. He never even mentions Amanda. Rudy’s attorney tells the journalists that his client “did not give out the name of the killer because there is no name to give”.

So why did Guede announced from Germany some “important revelations” and that he saw the killer and could identify him - and then he doesn’t?

Why did Raffaele ask to be interrogated and then, after Rudy’s threat, and the day before Guede’s arrival, he exercises the right to remain silent once he sits down, face to face, at his own request, with the prosecutor?

Walter Biscotti tells the prosecutor that any “possible procedural action of recognition will be subject to subsequent interrogation” (“eventuali attivita’ processuali di riconoscimento saranno oggetto di successivo interrogatorio”).

Does this mean that Rudy is reserving the right to indicate the killer sometime in the future?

During the trial, Mr. Biscotti specifically noted that the name of Amanda Knox was not brought up by Guede only late in the day, since during the interrogation of 7 December 2007 by the GIP (the judge for the preliminary hearings) the attorney had stated that his client would be “available to provide further clarifications” right then.

Only the working schedule of the prosecutor made the interrogation slide to March 2008. 


On 7 December 2007 Rudy Guede was interrogated by the GIP for seven hours, and he claimed his innocence. He explains his byzantine version of the events on the night, and he never mentions Amanda or Raffaele.

Guede says “I don’t know who the killer is and I cannot give a precise description because I was concentrating on looking at the knife”. Guede says that he heard two people talking outside the house, but he couldn’t even tell if those voices were of a male or a female.

In response to many other questions, his recurrent phrase was “I don’t remember”. He also explained his knowledge of Meredith’s missing money, which Rudy knew way before it became of public knowledge as he revealed in the conversation with Giacomo from Germany.

Amanda had previously said she had been at the house on the night of the murder, and she had never mentioned the name of Rudy, accusing instead another black man.


On 14 December 2007 Guede is heard by the Tribunale del Riesame.

He repeats that he didn’t see the aggressor because it was dark but that he could create an identikit. He confirms that two people were present, but doesn’t name Amanda or Raffaele.

The judge warns him that he must reveal the truth by telling the names of the people involved, but he refuses, saying that he never met Raffaele, and that he didn’t know Amanda had a boyfriend. 

The Tribunale rejected his plea of house arrests because he was not coming clean.

A few days after his return to Italy, Guede receives a visit in prison from his friend Giacomo. During the conversation, Guede tells him that his memory was improving and that he saw Amanda at the house.

We can again see therefore that Amanda is mentioned, way before March 2008.

Guede also adds that Amanda accused Lumumba because, most likely, the assailant told her that a black man was in the house. Guede tells Giacomo that he had never met Sollecito before.

This discussion in prison took place on 7 December 2007 though it was brought out at trial only much later, through Giacomo’s testimony.

On 25 January 2008 Sollecito’s attorneys allow him or make him to say “I don’t know Rudy Guede but I am ready for a face to face confrontation with him”.

Obviously it was just a bluff.

Raffaele never talked, was never cross-examined, and was always kept off the stand. All we know about his statements was either through his lawyers or his father.

My next report appears here.


Posted on 05/14/10 at 03:48 AM by Cesare BeccariaClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Each of The Three Subtly But Surely Pushed The Other Two Closer to The Fire (Part 1 of 4)

Posted by Cesare Beccaria


Most people in Italy believe the two trials ended correctly because they have been exhaustively reported-to throughout.

Also they have been able to follow the machinations and the twists and turns of the three defendants and defenses in real time. And the court documents and transcripts are all issued in Italian, and some are officially posted on the Internet.

The media coverage in Italian in Italy exceeds the media coverage in English in the UK and USA by a factor of five or ten. And there have been a number of very highly rated and balanced TV talk-shows on the case, in the course of which the defenses were not able to muzzle or slant the discussions - even if they ever considered doing such a thing.

These TV talk-shows on the case have included the most prestigious of all such shows in Italy, Porta a Porta, which offered hours of discussion by all the legal players except for Amanda Knox’s team in December 2007, October 2008, February 2009, and December 2009.

The Porta a Porta discussions are at various points referred to here, and the images used here are from those shows.

This is a four-part analysis, based mostly on Italian-language sources, of the many twists and turns of each of the defendants (as they then were) and their defense teams when intent on giving themselves an edge while often slyly selling out the others.

This interplay has been evident almost as much between Knox and Sollecito and their teams as it has between either of them and Rudy Guede, though rather less hostile.

It is worth pointing out two things up-front. First, that this is still far from played-out, more twists and turns can be expected, and we still might see the complete flying-apart and separation of all three. And second, that public maneuvering like this by three people accused of a crime is REALLY unusual and there have been few real precedents. This behavior sure is not typical of innocent parties.


So to begin…

“Guede has kept quiet for as long as he could” said the Court of Appeal in its recent motivation report “because, given the deep connection of the events, accusing Amanda and Raffaele would have exposed him to their very probable retaliation”. (“Guede, finché ha potuto, ha taciuto, poiché, stante la profonda connessione degli eventi, accusare Amanda e Raffaele lo avrebbe esposto a più che probabili dichiarazioni ritorsive da parte di costoro”).

This phrase in boldface is extremely important in understanding the connection of the three actors to this horrible story.

Their attorneys have done an excellent job so far (the best they could) and will continue on appeal to try to convince the judges of their innocence, or at least for a substantial reduction of their sentence. Rudy Guede’s attorneys have already obtained what they needed. He will probably be out on parole in less than five years now.

The other defense have played a very delicate game in this trial. From the beginning, they could have asked for a finding of “preterintenzione” (a sort of non-intentional second-degree murder). But this would have forced their clients to admit the truth without the certainty of the judicial outcome. Hence they opted for the not-guilty plea.

Their first strategic action was in each case (RS and AK) to stop the damages that their clients were inflicting upon themselves with their statements.

The next strategic action was that of not appearing at the lab for the non-repetitive testing for the DNA, with the obvious intention (almost habitual in Italy) of refuting ex-post each and every forensic finding that could have been adverse to their client.


The third strategic action flowed from the major problem all the attorneys were facing in defending their own client: the risk of reciprocal retaliation. Like concentric circles, they all came to share a gray area that was tacitly considered off-limit for everyone else, like a haunted house that no one else dared to enter.

At first, this tacit accord was respected. But when various defense necessities emerged, the breaching of the accord began. The process was gradual but inexorable, leading to two brief but clear breaches: Guede’s explicit accusations against the other two in March 2008, and reiterated right after the disgraceful intrusion on the scene of Mario Alessi earlier this year.

This tactic was observed by the Appellate Court that heard Guede’s appeal. In their recent motivation report.

The judges reprehended all three offenders by stating that all three should have explained what had happened in that house on the night of the murder, “at least for a sense of human compassion toward the poor victim” and that instead they had “preferred to cram their statements (made on several occasions) with lies, reticence, half-truth, allusions, improbable occurrences and by more or less veiled reciprocal accusations”. (“Gli imputati hanno invece preferito infarcire le loro dichiarazioni, rese in diverse occasioni, di bugie, reticenze, retromarce, mezze verità, allusioni, prospettazioni inverosimili, accuse reciproche, più o meno velate”).

Rudy Guede was questioned in Koblenz, Germany, right after his arrest. He was also interrogated on December 7, 2007 and on March 26, 2008, and made spontaneous declarations on May 15, 2008.

At first he did not formally accuse anyone, and he remained very vague about his accomplices. He chose to go on trial first and so he had a slight advantage over the others.

Rudy Guede is undoubtedly a compulsive liar. He told his version of the events to perfectly fit his case, and adjusted his inconsistencies according to the changing development of events.

He first says Meredith was killed around 21:20 and then his attorneys made him change the time to 23:30. According to his absolutely improbable account, he met with Meredith at 21:00 and within TEN MINUTES they managed to talk about her mother’s health, go around the house looking for the missing money, had oral sex, and then suddenly had an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Then he puts his I-Pod on at high volume while doing his business in the bathroom of a girl he barely knew.


In this implausible story, Guede doesn’t explicitly name his accomplices. Amanda and Raffaele also told their fair share of lies, but at the beginning they didn’t directly accuse Guede either.

Things changed when the various attorneys started to slowly penetrate inside the off-limit zone.

Guede’s memory began to function as the lone-wolf theory was materializing. Apparently the volume of his I-Pod was not loud enough now to impede him from recognizing Amanda’s voice. His vision became clearer and he began to recognize her silhouette from the window and the identity of the aggressor.

The more Knox and Sollecito’s attorneys were elaborating their theory to reinforce their defensive strategy, the better Guede’s memory became. Every time allegations of the sole killer emerged, Guede’s attorneys were ready with their rounds of ammunitions, needed to keep the other attorneys at bay.

Now, if we take a closer look at the chronology of events, we can observe a possibility that has been largely overlooked but is of extreme importance. 

Maybe the staged break-in was not necessarily made with the intention specifically to frame Guede. (Judge Micheli actually advanced this notion, as Amanda and Raffaele most likely had no knowledge of Guede’s earlier break-in in Milan.).

And yet it is without doubt that some one person or several persons intentionally tried to mislead investigators and with a good degree of certainty these people took also part in the crime. And for obvious reasons Guede was not among them during the staging and the cleaning.


Let us now look more closely at the chronology of the events in order to understand why it is clear that Guede did not act alone. Also to see that he did mention Amanda and Raffaele way before the interrogation of March 2008. We can also observe how the three defendants have tried in various ways to accuse each other from the very beginning, through their voluntary statements and through their “prison diaries”.

It should be noted that it is highly unrealistic that lawyers let their clients write “prison diaries” without their consent, especially after all the lies and inconsistencies they have told to police and prosecutors until they took over. Those “prison diaries” sound anything but spontaneous.

Raffaele changed his versions of the events at least three times. At first he confirms Amanda’s original deposition. But then, under interrogation on 5 November he admits to having spoken rubbish in his previous statement, because, he claimed, Amanda convinced him of her version and he didn’t think of the inconsistencies. And that he went home alone around 9:00 PM, smoked a joint, ate and surfed the net, and finally Amanda returned at 1:00 AM.

Amanda then is told by police that Raffaele had just blown her alibi. But instead of refuting Raffaele’s statement, she immediately takes the opportunity to accuse Patrick Lumumba, adding that Raffaele was probably with her at the crime scene.


Let’s now look at Amanda’s statement given to police on 6 November 2007.

Amanda writes: “I know that Raffaele has placed evidence against me, saying I was not with him on the night of the murder … there are things I remember and things that are confused … what happened after I know does not match with what Raffaele was saying”. Amanda goes on to explain what happened at Raffaele’s house in a very confusing way and with many “perhaps”, I’m not sure” and “I don’t remember”.

She goes on to write: “my boyfriend has claimed that I have said things that I know are not true … I never asked him to lie for me … What I don’t understand is why Raffaele would lie about this. What does he have to hide? I don’t think he killed Meredith but I do think he is scared, like me. He walked into a situation that he has never had to be in, and perhaps he is trying to find a way out by disassociating himself with me”.

She adds: “I also know that the fact that I can’t fully recall the events that I claim took place at Raffaele’s home during the time Meredith was murdered in incriminating”. Raffaele as well states that he cannot recall precisely what he did at his own house that evening.

Amanda remembers that she noticed blood on Raffaele’s hand, “but I was under the impression that it was blood from the fish”. Amanda then asks: “is there any other evidence condemning Patrick or any other person. Who is the real murderer?”


A week later, when the knife was found, Amanda goes even further. She now wonders if Raffaele could have killed Meredith and then put the knife-handle in her hand while she was sleeping. “Was Meredith’s DNA on the knife?” Raffaele had asked “Maybe, because one time I accidently pricked her”.

“It’s impossible that Meredith’s DNA is on the knife”, says Amanda, “because she’s never been to Raffaele’s apartment. So unless Raffaele decided to get up after I fell asleep, grabbed said knife, went over to my house, used it to kill Meredith, came home, cleaned the blood off, rubbed my fingerprints all over it, put it away, tucked himself back into bed, and then pretended really well over the next few days, well, I just highly doubt all of that”.

Doesn’t all this sound like a reciprocal veiled accusation? Why would two people accused of murder, with exactly the same fate, write down their doubts about the innocence of their presumed accomplice? Why doesn’t Amanda mention Patrick or Rudy at all in her diary?

On 7 November 2007 Raffaele Sollecito begins writing his own diary. His most recurrent phrases are “I don’t remember”, “maybe I did this, maybe I did that”. The prosecutor has already reminded him that he has given three different versions of his story, in particular about Amanda. He is still not sure if Amanda left the house, and if she did he now doesn’t remember how long she was out for. “Why don’t they investigate on her”, he asks.

On 11 November 2007 Raffaele recalls that someone told him that on the morning of November 2 Amanda went home to take a shower and then went to a public laundry with some Argentinean guy and he put a pair of blue Nikes in the washing machine.

“All this makes me totally lose faith in Amanda, after she keeps on lying”, Raffaele writes. Adding that “I know little of her, but although I don’t think she’s capable of killing someone she could be capable of lying in order to hide the fact that she has relations with [hangs out with] disreputable people”.

We note here Raffaele saying: “I don’t think she’s capable of killing someone“, while a few days before Amanda wrote: “I don’t think he killed Meredith”. Why would they both have the need to make such conjectures? It is very unlikely (if not impossible) that lawyers would allow them to make any written statements, including diaries, without their consent.

Raffaele goes on to write: “I worry about two things: if Amanda that night remained with me all night, we might (although that is a very remote hypothesis) have made love all evening and all night, stopping only to eat. That would be a mess because there would be no server connections during those hours.” (How can a twenty-three years old boy not remember if he made love “all evening and night”?). Four days earlier Amanda wrote: “perhaps I made love to Raffaele. In fact, I think I did make love with him”.

Raffaele’s second worry is that “Amanda could have stolen my knife and gave it to the son of a bitch that killed Meredith, although even this hypothesis sounds like science fiction, but possible, therefore I am not at ease.”


Amanda writes in her diary that the encounter in prison with a nun made her memory function all of a sudden.

She says: “In my cell I was waiting for an answer to come to my head when a sister arrived at my door. She told me to be patient because God knows everything and would help me remember the answer … and then it hit me. Everything came back to me like a flood one detail after the other … I cried, I was so happy. I wrote everything I could remember and an explanation for my confusion previously … Police think that I’m involved … But now at least I know it’s not true. I remember what I did that night and there’s no way that they can prove that I was there, in Meredith’s room”.

“They really think I’m involved and its sad, because it means they still have no idea what happened. They really don’t know who killed my friend”. Then she continues to ask herself why Raffaele is lying, what is he afraid of.

This reciprocal accusation of lying is also repeated. We will see that in his diary Rudy also accuses Amanda of lying. Why do they constantly accuse each other of lying? And why do they also insist on the recurrent phrase: “what are you hiding”?

On 12 November 2007 Raffaele gets 90% of his memory back.

He says: “I am 90% sure that on my second declaration I said rubbish”, and that his first version (that Amanda was with him) is the right version. It should be noted that in his second police interview he said the exact contrary, stating that his claim that Amanda was with him was rubbish.

Now Raffaele changes his story again and adds: “the fact that Amanda induced me to tell her version is rubbish … I’m realizing that probably Amanda was with me all night, without ever leaving. And I am certainly not the one that lies in order to help the investigations and put everyone in trouble. On the contrary, it would be fabulous if Amanda hasn’t done anything”.

The memory loss claim now surfaces. Raffaele adds: “I realize that if we all ended up in jail is also my fault regarding the facts of that evening and also because me and Amanda smoked many joints.” “I lived in weightlessness an event that I could not believe it could have been real”. Raffaele is basically saying that it’s also his fault if he cannot remember what happened that night. As we have seen, Amanda wrote something similar when she acknowledge that her lack of memory could be “incriminating”.

Not only Raffaele, but also Amanda and Rudy have this mysterious amnesia on the events of that evening. All three of them don’t remember well. All imagine that certain things happened … but maybe not. No one is able to recall even the most impossible things to forget (was it Raffaele the aggressor with the knife? Was Amanda home with Raffaele? Was Amanda at the cottage with Lumumba? Was Raffaele with her? Did they really make love all night?).

My next report appears here.


Posted on 05/12/10 at 01:31 PM by Cesare BeccariaClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Meredith’s Perugia #27: Half A Day’s Drive North - The Italian Lakes

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


Posted on 05/08/10 at 06:55 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #8: Bindella Hearing Tomorrow - Prosecutor Won’t Ask For Incarceration

Posted by Peter Quennell


Our previous posts are here. There is a surprise move in the case.

The prosecutor leading the Sonia Marra investigation, Joseph Petrazzini, has withdrawn his appeal to the court of review against the decision of the investigating judge, Paolo Micheli, to release Sonia’s boyfriend, Umberto Bindella, pending further investigations.

The scheduled hearing on this appeal will still be held tomorrow in Perugia, but it is expected that all that will happen is that the withdrawal of the prosecutor’s appeal will be noted. So Bindella will continue living at home.

Two reasons for this are being hypothesized. One, that Bindella won some sympathy when he recently disappeared and drove his car down a steep slope. He did not really seem to have the makings of a great getaway artist.

And two, that there may be problems with such evidence as there is against him, or possibly a new line of investigation is opening up in this difficult, frustrating case.

Sonia’s sister Anna (right above) is part of a nationwide missing persons support group. Someone she may have known - the mother of a girl, Paola, who disappeared 17 years ago in Turin - has now taken her own life.

Anna remarked in sympathy: “No, I do not think it was hopeless for her I think that she just had not found anyone who listens. That’s what happens all too often to the families of missing persons.”

Posted on 05/06/10 at 11:04 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

From The Book Darkness Descending: The Insights On Rudy Guede

Posted by Peter Quennell


Above and just below: Abidjan, the very attractive West African city where Rudy Guede was born and where he lived until he was five.

Darkness Descending includes this well-researched and revealing portrait below of Rudy Guede and the two traumatic experiences that really threw him: his moving in with the Caporali family, and the collapse of the restaurant in northern Italy which briefly employed him.

No claims here about Rudy Guede being a drifter or drug-dealer or dangerous knife-wielder or petty criminal.

None of those things are confirmed by the record or the Micheli report, and few or none in Perugia or Italy generally seem to believe Rudy Guede was the sole perpetrator or even the main perpetrator of Meredith’s death. 



(Above: the downtown of Abidjan, the economic and former political capital of the Ivory Coast)


From Darkness Descending by Paul Russell and Graham Johnson (Pocket Books) pages 292 to 296

Unlike Amanda and Raffaele, the background of Rudy Hermann Guede seemed to inspire a degree of sympathy in readers and viewers.

At least once the undercurrents of reactionary racism had run its course and readers were able to identify with Guede the individual.

Guede had been dragged up a virtual orphan. He seemed to be luckless, directionless, prone to following others into trouble, his carers said. He’d never had a paternal figure to look up to or guide him.

That, and the fact that once he’d been caught he seemed to be at least trying to tell the truth about his involvement with Meredith, gave him a certain credibility.

He was often given a fair hearing in the papers for not trying to evade guilt by changing his story. Editors and readers seemed to appreciate that he had not relied on high-powered family connections to duck out of one of the most tragic cases that had ever come before them.



(From Piazza Italia at the south end of the walled city - Rudy Guede first lived off there to the south-east)

Guede came to Italy in 1992, when he was five years old. His father Roger had emigrated from the Ivory Coast a few years before at a time when the Italian economy needed new manpower to fuel the country’s post-industrial boom…

Roger Guede had trained as a teacher in the former capital city of the Ivory Coast, Abidjan, where his wife still lived with little Rudy, but in Italy he found work as a bricklayer.

Life was hard because of exploitation, denial of workers’ basic rights and rampant illegal labour.

After five years he was granted a regular resident’s permit and returned to Abidjan to his wife, to see if he could take the young Rudy back to Italy with him. She agreed that in Italy he would have a chance of a better life.

Roger and Rudy found a flat in the shabby low-lying suburb of Perugia called Ponte San Giovanni. The neighbourhood was not at the top of the hill, with its wide vistas, ancient buildings and air of academia.

Roger’s life had no room for aspiration or fanciful gap-year adventures. He settled for a seedy new-build on the valley floor near the railway station. An unhealthy stream meandered through the projects like a sewer.

Still, it was better than the shanty town where Rudy’s mother was eking out a bare existence.



[Shots here and just below of Ponte San Giovanni, the town just to the east where Guede first lived]

New to immigration, Italy’s attitude to race relations has often been schizophrenic. Far-right extremists have been known to whip up dissension. But in Perugia, a small community like many that made up the backbone of Italian society, Roger and his son were welcomed.

His presence stimulated the lively cutiosity of Italians, not their hostility. The kindness of his neighbours and the willingness of social services to offer him childcare were proof of that, and he was free to hit the road to find building-site work.

During these absences Rudy was fostered by local families. One of his first full-time carers was a Mrs Mancini, who had been his maths teacher at school. She never lost interest in him and was to be like a second mother.

Rudy also struck up a lifelong friendship with her son Gabriele and another schoolmate, Giacomo Benedetti. The fabric of a closeknit Italian working-class community felt like a protective cloak and Rudy thrived.

His teachers and foster families all say that he was a quiet child, well behaved and responsible. He had moments of daydreaming stupidity, but no more than other kids.

He was good at basketball - tall, athletic and serious. The local professional basketball team was sponsored by one of Italy’s most successful companies, Liomatic, who manufactured coffee dispensers - a link that would later change the course of his life.

One day, Rudy’s dad went home to Abidjan to renew his passport, but civil war broke out when he was in the country and instead of spending two weeks away from his son he was trapped for six months, as strife raged in the Ivory Coast.

Back in Italy, the social services stepped in with a view to formalizing Rudy’s foster status and finding a long-term home for him.

Rudy was unhappy but he coped with the loneliness and uncertainty with admirable courage. He didn’t complain. And he was soon rewarded. Astonishingly, he was catapulted into the heart of one of Italy’s richest families.



[Another shot of Ponte San Giovanni, where Guede in his early days apparently lived happily]

His change of fortune was like something out of the plot of the musical Annie. Rudy had met one of the Caporali sons at basketball. Now the family wanted to officially take him in as one of their own. He never lived with Roger again.

The change wasn’t smooth. Rudy found it difficult to adapt. When he moved out of Ponte San Giovanni, he lost touch with many of his old friends, which he found particularly hard.

They had been the bedrock in what had so far been a rather unstable family life. He soon missed the informality, the lack of pressure to succeed and the maternal bonds that Italian families are famous for.

It wasn’t long before his new father figure, Paolo Caporali, was calling Rudy ‘an inveterate liar’. He skipped school and spent his time in front of the television or on PlayStation. Caporali’s wife and kids were much kinder in their view:

Rudy was introverted and shy. He lied to protect himself, but not maliciously to hurt others or gain personal advantage.

The move from a poor area to the home of the super-rich Caporali family had confused Rudy and, to some degree, had embarrassed him.

His basketball trainer Roberto Segolini said Rudy was friends with everyone and never missed a training session. Where he could prove his worth and show success to his new high-status family, Rudy thrived.

With such a chequered school career, Rudy would find it hard to find a job that suited him once he left school. But at the age of nineteen he went to stay with an aunt in Lecco and landed a job as a waiter in Pavia.



[Shot of Lecco north of Milan where at age 19 Rudy Guede moved to live with an aunt]

Finally, he had found his way. He was ecstatic. He was now going to prove that he could knuckle down and stand on his own two feet. He thought about learning the trade and one day opening a restaurant.

But as soon as he settled in, the rug was pulled from under him - his employer was arrested and the business folded.

To someone with a fragile view of himself, this chance setback took on a great and doom-laden significance. Rudy blamed himself and worried about how he would explain his bad luck to the Caporalis.



[Shot of Pavia south of Milan where Rudy Guede worked as a waiter till the restaurant collapsed]

Confidence shattered, he fled back to Perugia in shame. It was July 2007 and the beginning of the long summer that would end in tragedy.

The Caporalis were desperate to bolster his self-esteem. In August they found him a gardener’s job at a restaurant they owned out of town.

He stayed with the Mancinis, where the father and mother made sure he got up early to catch the bus. But the rot had set in; he wanted to live where the excitement was.

He was distracted by the scallywag antics of the lads in Perugia, who never seemed to work but always had money, and by the beautiful students from allover the world who were descending on the University to find digs and party.

Amanda and Meredith would be among them. Once he failed to go to work for a whole week, claiming he had flu and snivelling unconvincingly over the phone. He was sacked.

He lived off his savings until 2 November, when the murder and his doomed getaway would end any hopes he had of turning his life around.



[Shot of Mainz on the Rhine between Frankfurt and Bonn where Rudy Guede was captured]

Posted on 05/04/10 at 01:13 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, May 03, 2010

From The Book Darkness Descending: The Insights On Knox And Sollecito

Posted by Peter Quennell


This is Hamburg above. And that is Berlin and its parliament (the Bundestag) below. 

Amanda Knox speaks German and she spent several months in these two cities, staying for some weeks in in Hamburg with her relatives, and several days in Berlin, before moving to Perugia to start her study period there.

Darkness Descending is the book on Meredith’s case by two British writers from which we excerpted on Meredith a few days ago.

As far as we know the writers did not visit Seattle, and their focus is more generally on Italy and to some extent the UK. But they did offer this brief take on Amanda Knox, and also one on Raffaele Sollecito.


**********

From Darkness Descending by Paul Russell and Graham Johnson (Pocket Books) pages 291 and 292

Meredith had enjoyed making the pop video with her University of Leeds friends, but Amanda’s summer job, before travelling around Europe and going to Perugia, had not been so successful.

A politically well-connected uncle in Hamburg had got her an internship to die for - a job working for a German MP at the Bundestag. Kindly Uncle Uwe also set Amanda up with a flat on the .outskirts of Berlin.

Astonishingly, two days later, his seemingly ungrateful niece walked out on the job without telling anyone, moaning that she had nothing to do and she wasn’t sure if she was getting paid. Again, money was a big feature in her thoughts.

She’d spent most of the time reading Harry Potter and showed no curiosity about how the parliament or the high-powered people in there worked. She ignored conversations about its history and architecture.

After walking out, she spent her time drinking wine in the local bars and reading more Harry Potter.

Two days later she left Berlin for Hamburg, where her uncle was waiting for her. He was furious - she had let him down.

It seems Amanda craved excitement on her terms, usually based on getting drunk and goofing around.

Her friends said she simply feared boredom like any young girl. She showed a healthy streak of youthful carelessness, they said, no worse or better than anyone else. A video posted on YouTube showed her drunkenly giggling in a friend’s kitchen after downing shots.

On campus, back in the US, Amanda had been fined for being drunk and disorderly at a party held in a fellow student’s house. During the incident she had also insulted the police.

However, her defenders gave another version, portraying a magnanimous Amanda. They said that in fact she was courageously fronting up for her underage friends, who were in no state to talk to the police; she was the only one sober enough to handle the situation.

A big plus in her character assessment, they said, possibly displaying a sense of chivalry that would later get her into deeper trouble in Perugia.

Despite her college party lifestyle, there was no denying that Amanda was clever and that she could compartmentalize her life.

She made the Dean’s List, an elite commendation of the University of Washington reserved for the institution’s brightest students, and an honour that would ultimately qualify her for a prestigious and sought-after place on the study-abroad exchange programme.

If Amanda wanted something, she would go all out to get it, no messing around.

Raffaele Sollecito’s later years were quite different: he seemed to laze around and evade responsibility.

He posted pictures of himself on the internet wrapped in blood-covered bandages, brandishing a meat cleaver, and wrote a weird story to go with the images. In a blog he expressed satisfaction at once being lodged in the same hostel as the infamous ‘Monster of Foligno’, a murderer who slaughtered two youths in the 1990s.

And yet his new-found fascination with gory horror and violent comics would have surprised the friends he left behind at Licea Scientifico Einstein secondary school at Molfetta.

They said Raffaele suffered from excessive softness - his kickboxing instructor recalled that he even hesitated when kicking out, for fear of hurting the hardened expert.


***********

A few interesting insights there, though we could use more on Sollecito.  For most of it, this is a pretty good book, the weak part being the closing analysis of the evidence. Two small corrections.

  • The house where the notorious rock-throwing party took place was where Knox herself was living at the time. See here.

  • Knox was not on an official University of Washington study-abroad program, as the university has rather anxiously tried to make plain. See here.

If Knox had indeed been on a proper study-abroad program - something many caring parents actually insist upon - her behavior might have been more restrained. She may not have moved in with Sollecito for one thing.

She may not have hit the drugs so hard. And she would not have run so desperately short of money, just when Patrick was apparently about to hire Meredith to replace her. No monthly checks were arriving from Seattle. 

Maybe the second correction is not such a small one.

In fact, it is a pity that no writers have really explored all of this - there is, if anything, a surfeit of motives in this case, and the writers might be able to narrow them down.

Although he went to highschool in Molfetta (bottom shot here) and the book is correct on that, Raffaele Sollecito actually comes from Giovinazzo which is ten minutes drive south along the coast.

Both are north of Bari, where his father practices medicine.   





Sunday, May 02, 2010

Meredith’s Perugia #26: Amazing Tuscany, Just To The North And North-West Of Perugia

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters

Meredith would surely have explored Tuscany. Probably even within her intended one year in Perugia - parts of Tuscany are mere minutes away.

Florence of course is in Tuscany (its capital). So are most of these sunflowers.  Also Pisa, and also Siena, the hilltop university city that most resembles Perugia.

The singer on the second video, Andrea Bocelli, comes from Tuscany - specifically from Lajatico, a village in the heart of the sunflower area.

He went fully blind at the age of twelve. We hope these sights linger in his mind.


Posted on 05/02/10 at 05:14 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Amazon Reviewers Of New Dempsey Book Don’t Seem Universally Impressed

Posted by Peter Quennell



Click above for the Amazon customer reviews - there are nine reviews right now.

Oddly, the several reviewers that rate the book five stars are all writing their very first Amazon review - and their.language reads suspiciously similar.

In contrast, the reviewers that rate the book only one star seem to be genuine enough - all of them have a previous track-record of Amazon reviews.

So perhaps we could quote from a couple.


*********

By Amazon reviewer Norbert

Public Relations Spin by a Knox Family Acquaintance

Friends and family may appreciate this book for its sympathetic portrayal of convicted killers Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Unfortunately, Ms. Dempsey’s bias is so obvious that she lacks all credibility.

Readers interested in truth and justice would be wasting their time here; this book is 100% spin. It constructs a kind of alternate fairy tale universe in which Knox and Sollecito are innocents abroad ... in a “holiday mood” on the morning after the murder.

This imaginary place is full of Italian stereotypes: Raffaele’s proud and loving parents, the bumbling & malevolent police, the paparazzi, the courtroom crucifix, and a demented prosecutor.

Ms. Dempsey’s between-the-lines message: the black guy did it!

Candace Dempsey is a Seattle-based food & travel writer who happens to be acquainted with the Seattle-based Amanda Knox clan. She is essentially a member the Knox defense team. And she’s moved way beyond her pay grade.

With a superficial knowledge of Italian and one or two visits to Perugia, she pretends to be a competent crime reporter.

The intention of the book (aside the profit motive) is to portray Knox as charming innocent abroad - while ignoring or distorting the mountain of evidence and testimony that led to a unanimous first degree murder conviction by an Italian jury on December 4, 2009.

Essentially “Team Knox” is trying to do for Amanda Knox what F. Lee Bailey and Johnnie Cochran did for O. J. Simpson.


*********

By Amazon reviewer Retired Farmer

Blatantly Biased, Shallow, and Inaccurate Version of Events

This book is the third one I have read on the Knox Case, and by far the worst.

The Seattle based author is apparently convinced of Ms Knox’s innocence and makes every effort in this book (and in her Seattle newspaper blog) to bring all readers to the same conclusion.

She does so by deliberately overlooking… irrefutable, obvious facts to the contrary .

Many have reported that Seattle based Ms Dempsey’s Seattle newspaper blog, and now her book pretty much totally conforsm to the media briefings and talking points of the large Seattle based public relations firm that the Knox family employed to publicly paint a favorable impression of Ms Knox and to promote a belief in her innocence here in the US.

This firm tightly controls access to the Knox Family, and very selectively allows very few approved spokespersons to speak with authors and reporters in the US media that the PR Firm works in.

Ms Dempsey apparently believes few of her readers are aware of the PR Firm and their self described ‘sometimes unorthodox’ methods.  I say this because she promotes herself and her book by bragging about this Family access.

In fact, many have observed that she has sadly and shamelessly traded her objectivity for this Knox family access.

My suggestion to interested readers is to now obtain a good translation of the Motivations Report written by the Judges.

You will see for yourself the true reasons that Amanda Knox has been unanimously convicted of this horrific murder, as well as the innumerable inaccuracies and blatant bias in Ms Dempsey’s shallow, self serving, erroneous, dry and dreary version of these events.

Finally, IMHO, the PR Firm, their minions and some Seattle zealots have grossly distorted book reviews, ratings, and comments on this site, as well as engaging in some sad school yard name calling.


*********

By Amazon reviewer M C Rogers

Author is a friend of the Knox/Mellas family

Potential readers of this “story” would be well-advised that Ms. Dempsey is a friend of the Knox/Mellas family and approved by the PR firm hired by the Knox/Mellas family. This is hardly an unbiased piece of work.

Throughout the book, self-proclaimed feminist Dempsey refers to Knox and Meredith Kercher as “girls”.

She does her best to portray the victim, Meredith Kercher, as a stuck-up prude, and Ms. Dempsey paints Ms. Kercher’s British friends with the same brush, instead asking us to believe that Amanda Knox and her family somehow knew Ms. Kercher better than even her friends did.

Ms. Dempsey, while all throughout her blog on the subject, decries the tabloids and their treatment of the case, uses quotes from the Daily Mail to make what she must consider overwhelming proof of the family’s PR missive.

Readers have the right to know Ms. Dempsey’s ties to the family of Amanda Knox. For her to not make this connection known is deceptive and portrays Ms. Dempsey’ attempt at serious journalism in a very negative light.

Don’t waste your money. Take that $7.99 and make a donation to an organization that works hard for women who are victims of rape and abuse. RAINN is a good one, as is your local women’s shelter.

Dempsey is a woman who followed the victim’s family around, taking sneaky photographs of them.

Shameless.

Posted on 04/29/10 at 11:31 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Seattle Parks Commissioner Who Angered Perugia Resigns - Amid Plenty Of Anger In Seattle

Posted by Peter Quennell


So the controversial Seattle parks commissioner Tim Gallagher bites the dust.

He seems to have shot himself in, well, three feet.

  • He espoused a clearcut-and-rebuild policy (video above) when Seattelites are increasingly seeing the natural beauty of their city as a resource

  • He made an expensive trip to Australia to look at some parks just when Seattle’s park system is financially tanking - very likely because of his style of management.

  • He was very quick to blink and put a heavy-handed stop to the naming of a small city park “Perugia Park” when Seattle’s (very small) anti-Perugia faction howled.

Mr Gallagher’s last action was widely noted in Perugia (Seatle’s twin city), the Mayor of Perugia made an angry statement, and a Facebook-based movement was created, to lobby to end the twin-city arrangement.

Comments about his short reign as parks commissioner on the West Seattle Blog (scroll down) seem almost uniformly negative.

The Mayor and many others he irritated in Perugia might be pleased to take note…

Posted on 04/28/10 at 09:30 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meredith’s Perugia #26: Florence, A Very Pretty One Hour Train Ride To The North

Posted by Peter Quennell


Italy seems to have more of these high-quality, lovingly created videos online than any other country in the world. These videos show the true face of Italy, one of the gentler, more welcoming places on earth.

You might like to watch the previous videos. Perugia itself comes across really well, as do Rome, Venice, Naples, and the Italian Riviera. Real surprises even for us have been Sicily, and the extreme south-east.

To our knowledge, all of these places except for Rome and of course Perugia still lay ahead for Meredith. They do hammer home the effect of a fine life so stupidly cut short.

Posted on 04/25/10 at 08:06 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meredith’s Early Days In Croydon, South London, And How Special She Was To Family And Friends

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters





The photos here are of Meredith’s school - Old Palace School, the private school on two campuses in the Croydon area.

In American terms, this is a kindergarten-to-12th grade (K-12) all-girls school, so it was the only school that Meredith ever attended. It has an outstanding reputation.

Meredith would have worn that same green uniform that you can see in some of the shots.

Meredith was not actually born in the very lively borough of Croydon. She was born about 8 miles north, in Southwark (scroll down here) on the south bank of the Thames - which is if anything even livelier.

Her family moved south to the Coulsdon part of Croydon, and she spent almost all of her first 18 years here, after which, she headed to Leeds.

Meredith’s family’s very strong emphasis on education and excellence in general had already paid off for Meredith in two impressive ways.

  • Meredith was admitted to the very hard-to-get-into Leeds University which is often rated fourth in the UK after Oxford, Cambridge, and London.

  • And she won one of Europe’s much competed-for Erasmus scholarship which assured she was very well-funded in Perugia.

In June of last year, her father, John, said that Meredith’s emerging aim on graduation was to head for the international organizations in Brussels. Brussels of course is where the European Community has its headquarters, and there are probably more international bodies located there than in any other city in the world. (Geneva would probably come second.)

if Meredith made it to Brussels, she could have become a real mover and shaker.. Earthling seems to have had it just right in this post last November.


The UK writers Paul Russell and Johnson had access to Meredith’s family and friends in writing their generally very good book Darkness Descending.

Here below they describe how really special Meredith was to her family and to her friends. 


**************


When Meredith turned seven years old in 1992, Britain was in the grip of a recession. Croydon, however, still remained an unusually busy suburb of London. The town was a hectic meld of mini-skyscrapers, retail parks and giant housing estates, the rumble of the London A roads and M25 motorway never far away in the background.

Meredith was a busy, active child from an early age. She .went to ballet, liked reading, and was generally known for her all-round vitality. When she took up karate, unlike many kids, she stuck to it. By her early teens, she had attained her third belt.

Meredith inherited her father’s flair for the written word. At school she wrote poetry and her fiction compositions were highly thought of. But mostly, Meredith was known for her bubbly personality, and her sense of humour - she had an imaginative sense of the ridiculous, according to her family.


Meredith may have been educated at a £10,000-a-year private school but she wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Her mother and father sacrificed almost all of their income and savings to give their youngest daughter, as well as her older siblings, the best education they could get

For all four children the fees climbed into the £100,000s over the years. In effect, John and Arline Kercher gave up the family’s material aspirations - the dream of owning a well-kept, well-appointed house in a smart part of London, nice cars, expensive foreign holidays, a fat pension to look forward to, a comfortable inheritance to pass on ...

Arline put her social life on hold. John chose to work instead of taking annual leave. His haymaking years iri Fleet Street were dedicated solely to putting his kids through school and university. He did well to keep the whole show on the road on a single freelancer’s wage, not only paying his own expenses in Croydon but also contributing to the upkeep of Arline and the kids at the old home a few miles south in Coulsdon.

Arline was too busy being a full-time mum of four to go back to work. Following their divorce, both of them lived in reduced circumstances in order to give Meredith more than they could really afford.

But both teachers and schoolfriends alike say Meredith benefited immensely from the school’s renowned approach of concentrating totally on the individual and supporting pupils to a degree that the state sector educators can only dream of.

A family friend, who knew Meredith when she was in her early teens, said:

    Meredith was the kind of girl who could have coped going to the local comprehensive. She wasn’t a snob at all. She was very much heads down when it came to school and homework, a can-do, resourceful type of person. No moaning or skiving off She wasn’t laid back, by any means. However, I don’t think she would have turned out as wellrounded and confident as she was, if she’d gone off to any old school.

    I think John was very proud that he’d taken the decision to send his girls to a good one. Everything revolved around education in the family. That was pardy down to Arline. She wasn’t pushy but she realized the value of qualifications, especially coming from Pakistan, where families want their kids to do well. I got the impression it was a case of: ‘If we give our kids a good education, that’s the best we can do for them.’


Though the Kerchers didn’t have much money, neighbours remember the house as being full of life. It only had three bedrooms between four kids and one adult, but it was one of those homes where friends always came to play, because it was welcoming and exciting. Family friends said that Meredith and Stephanie were always going to parties when they were kids rather than playing out in the street.

The Old Palace School in Croydon is a rarefied oasis in a gnarl of urban sprawl. Meredith’s creativity was allowed to bloom in an atmosphere of learning, where pupils are encouraged to be independent whilst being somewhat protected from the outside world.

One former pupil, who graduated from university just before Meredith moved to Perugia, said:

    I’m not surprised she chose to study abroad. A lot of girls would be put off, but she was quietly capable all along. You learn to be like that at the OPS [Old Palace School]. The school prides itself on churning out self-contained women who can stand on their own two feet, especially when they move into the outside world. It’s not like Rodean or somewhere totally up there. But Mez was like that in Years Eight and Nine.

The Elizabethan buildings, standing in the shadow of Croydon Parish Church, are home to perfectly manicured gardens, an indoor swimming pool and five state-of-the-art IT suites. The high walls and intercommed security gates cut the school off from the local area, a run-down mix of high-density terraced houses and flats, of closed-down pubs and a High Street dominated by charity shops, pound stores and cheap fast-food restaurants.


Though the school has a strong religious tradition - founded by an archbishop, supported by a Christian foundation and for 600 years the summer residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury - Meredith wasn’t particularly committed. One of the school’s mottos is ‘For the Church and People of God’. But she did help out with fundraising for the Catholic charity Caritas, through the school’s long-established links with international aid programmes.

Curiously, one of the suspects later accused of her murder would seek refuge in a Caritas centre abroad whilst he was on the run.

The financial sacrifices took their toll on John and Arline. The family home, a 1930s-style suburban semi in Fairdene Road, Old Coulsdon, where Arline lived with the kids, fell into disrepair. The gutters hung off the roof and porch and Arline made do with tatty black curtains that covered the front windows, the glass bevelling under the weight of the old lead inlays.

The street was not in the poshest part of Coulsdon. The residents were a mixture of proud homeowners with tidy lawns, commuters who travelled from South Coulsdon station at the end of the street to good jobs in London, and poorer renters.


The situation was exacerbated when Arline fell into ill-health with a kidney condition.

John Kercher moved into a newly built townhouse in a shabby part of West Croydon with a large ethnic population. There is a photographic warehouse at one end of the busy slip road and a large cemetery at the other.

Today neighbours complain of the shootings and violence between gangs in Croydon and nearby Thornton Heath. Amid the weedy gardens, littered with abandoned mattresses and bed frames, John Kercher’s house stands out as being smart. The walls are covered in creepers and high bushes, preserving a quiet space. He often retreats into his small rear garden to write.


But the sacrifices were worth it. The sight of the Kercher sisters sitting on the bus to school, wearing their smart dark-green school jumpers over light-coloured collared cotton dresses, with their hair immaculately groomed, stuck in people’s minds.

So much so that after her death one former pupil called Christina from Eastbourne wrote:

    1 didn’t know Meredith but 1 used to go to OPS and remember seeing her and her older sister on the bus on the way to school when they were very young. 1 just wanted to say to Stephanie that 1 couldn’t get the image of you and your little sister out of my head all day.

The other motto of the school is ‘The End Crowns the Work’. Meredith was good at creative writing. The staff remember her as a model pupil, self-disciplined and focused, even in her formative years. A former staff member said:

    Meredith was never in any trouble whatsoever. She was always smiling, just like you see on the photographs. She was very popular. Meredith favoured the humanities over maths or science. She was an innovative, bright thinker.

    Leadership qualities are encouraged at school and that rubbed off on Meredith. She wasn’t a pushover or a follower. She would have gone far in her chosen profession. We knew she would go far.


Though the school is very competitive - it won Independent School of the Year in 2005/06 - and many pupils take their GCSEs early in Year 10, Meredith took it all in her stride. Pals say she wasn’t competitive but she did enjoy netball and running.

Almost all of Meredith’s friends remember her as ‘the girl who was always smiling’ or ‘the girl with the beautiful smile’. They call her simply Mez. One schoolfriend remembered how Mez pulled her through the stress of coursework and exams at school:

    Mez was warm. I’d say the word is cosy or cuddly; she had that kind of aura. She would give you a hug and she was more interested in you than talking about her. I remember when I was burnt out doing revision and Mez helped me get organized. Mez liked doing coursework in English, English Lit and history. Very even-tempered, I don’t know anyone who ever fell out with her the whole time we were at school. I think because she was youngest in a big family, she was practical, a quick learner, or rather, well organized.

    There were some girls there, proper Surrey girls, who waste their time and get through with extra help. But Mez was hard-working and steady. Her mum and dad weren’t rich - she was there to get on.

One memory of her, from younger days, particularly stood out for her father. Meredith really liked Halloween. She made costumes from bin liners, carved out pumpkin lanterns with her family and played trick-or-treat on the neighbours.

Later John Kercher would describe it as ironic and tragic that she would die so terribly only one day after Halloween.


**************

From pages 129 to 134 of the Pocket Books book Darkness Descending.

Posted on 04/22/10 at 03:09 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer England
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Knox Appeal Points Seem Essentially Points That Gained Limited Traction In The Trial

Posted by Peter Quennell


And the fact that the prosecution will get a shot at firming up their case does seem to have caught the defenses off-balance.

US-based Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon has appeared several times on US networks in the last few days, seemingly clean out of new ideas for how to get Amanda Knox off.

No motive? Well, a motive does not have to be confirmed in Italy, but Micheli, Mignini and Massei all suggested credible motives, each involving an escalation of violence, and each probably involving drugs as one component - drugs like enhanced (skunk) cannabis, crystal meth, and cocaine increasingly seem to be triggering psychotic episodes that can lead to murder.

No DNA in the room? Well, most murders take place with no DNA left behind, and if Knox was the one simply holding the large knife and uttering threats, there is no reason why her DNA should have have deposited. Rudy Guede left only a few microscopic traces of DNA, but clearly he too was in the room. And there was plenty of forensic evidence implicating Knox right outside of Meredith’s door.

And as usual, Ted Simon skirts the very problematic rearrangement of the crime scene, and the testimony of various key witnesses, and the very incriminating pattern of phone calls, and the major discordance between all the alibis.

Pity that the US reporters never ever seem to press him on these things.

And in Perugia, it seems that Mr Ghirga and Mr Della Vedova are also only going through the motions - recycling just a few of their points that were already not too convincing at the trial. Andrea Vogt reported on the grounds for their appeal in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

The 220-page document filed with the of Court of Appeals in Perugia on Saturday morning is a total appeal of all the points of the sentence, said Knox’s lawyer, Luciano Ghirga from Perugia in an interview with the Seattlepi.com.

“It includes the first days of the interrogation, the DNA and the traces detected with luminol. We re-iterate the innocence of Amanda and remain convinced there is not proof of her presence at the scene of the crime,” Ghirga said….

The hotly contested forensic evidence presented in the trial played an important role in the jury’s reasoning but was not the only element that led them to convict. Inconsistent statements, witness testimony, Knox’s placing the blame on an innocent man, which she maintains she did under police pressure, and the staging of the crime scene were also cited as key factors by the jury.

Knox’s legal teams are expected to contest all points, but are also asking for a third-party review of the forensic evidence. Such a request was rejected once already during the 9-month trial, but a different appeals court judge could decide to grant such an independent review. In Knox’s case, lawyers are contesting the kitchen knife that prosecutors said was the murder weapon that had Knox’s DNA on the handle and a trace amount of Kercher’s on the blade.

Knox’s lawyers also contest the luminol-positive traces discovered in the corridor (footprints) and the spot in the roommates room where prosecutors say Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, later staged a break-in to make the scene look like a rape-robbery to throw off investigators. Police biologist Patrizia Stefanoni testified during the trial that these luminol-positive traces had mixed genetic material of Knox and Kercher.

Posted on 04/19/10 at 07:16 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe defensesTrials 2008 & 2009Hellmann 2011+Amanda KnoxRaff Sollecito
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Italian Media Reporting Impartially On Prosecution Appeal Filed For Increased Sentences

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Prosecutor Manuela Comodi.]

In light of the judges’ sentencing report (due soon here and on PMF in English) the prosecution have filed an appeal that Knox’s and Sollecito’s sentences be revised upward to life.

Life sentences were their original request to the court last November, and the Italian media in November and early December largely anticipated at least 30 years. The 26 years for Knox and 25 for Sollecito came to many as a surprise.

First legal advice from the Italian lawyers on our team is that at minimum this could firm up the existing sentences, and at maximum Knox and Sollecito actually could be looking at life behind bars - such upward revisions do happen. 

Remember that the Italian public are way better informed on the cruel depravity of the crime than the British or American publics.

And that Knox’s cold smug antics on the stand, during which she spoke flippantly and callously of Meredith’s passing, seemed to leave few in Italy feeling any real sympathy.

Grounds for the appeal are twofold: (1) That the judges’ arguments for the granting of extenuating circumstances was a stretch (such as the conclusion that the duvet placed over Meredith was a sign of remorse), and (2) That the judges’ dismissing of aggravating circumstances was in effect a shortfall (such as the possibility that Meredith could have been saved if they had not removed her phones, locked the door, and walked off).

The posters here and on PMF may be the largest group in the English-speaking world so far to have actually read the judges’ sentencing report.

Typically we are finding the description of the evidence to be extremely detailed and quite remorseless. There is very, very little room for argument about it, and the defense teams in the appeals will have an even tougher time laying a paw on it than they did in the course of the trial.  We are highly impressed by this - this case NEEDED this to put an end to the endless myth-mongering, and to give Meredith’s family and friends hope of some respite.

But the motives assumed in the sentencing report, the judges’ timeline (which differs from both Micheli’s and Mignini’s), and the instigating role given to Rudy Guede, were interpretations the sentencing judges made which the appeals judges may not buy into.

The defense teams will not be resting any easier in light of this. The pressures may be mounting for the lawyers and defendants to finally split three ways - we will have a major post next week on their three-way herding of one another over the past two-plus years.

And perhaps enough pressure on each of the defendants to show real remorse and finally tell their version of all. 

Posted on 04/16/10 at 01:57 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedThe prosecutorsTrials 2008 & 2009Great reportingHellmann 2011+
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Judy Bachrach Appears THE Most Adamant That Mr Mignini Has Somehow Hoodwinked All Of Italy

Posted by The Machine



Hmmm. Isn’t Mr Mignini already suing people for hurtful claims about him not unlike those made very dogmatically in the video above?

And the similar hurtful claims made very dogmatically in the two videos down below here? Certainly Mr Mignini would seem to have what you might call a not-unstrong case.

  • First, the numbers of police, investigators and judges hoodwinked would have to have been truly huge. This case has a VAST cast of characters in Italy seeking true justice for Meredith - a jury, for example, and twenty judges by present count, and a nationally known and respected co-prosecutor.

  • And second, nothing in the judges’ sentencing report, which PMF and TJMK are in the final laps of translating into English, appears to back up her claims. Judge Micheli’s report a year ago, which explained Guede’s conviction and the reasons for sending Knox and Sollecito to trial, was already an almost unassailably tough document. And the report by Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani? It is even tougher.

Judy Bachrach has popped up repeatedly to straighten out us lesser beings on the case. For her, it appears to be almost a small industry. She is perhaps the most vehement and impervious of all the proponents of the notion that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are somehow being railroaded, by a corrupt prosecutor, Mr Mignini, and an incompetent legal system.

Wouldn’t you expect Judy Bachrach, as a professional journalist and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair,  to research her articles more meticulously? And to verify every single one of her claimed facts? In the same way that the Italy-based reporters we like to quote have incessantly managed to do - really quite brilliantly?

We have been analyzing Judy Bachrach’s many, many articles and TV commentaries about the case, and they all seem to point to the following conclusions. 

  • That she hasn’t ever read the Micheli report and doesn’t seem to have actually ever mentioned it.

  • That she hasn’t had full access to the prosecution’s 10,000-plus pages file of evidence, and maybe she has had no access at all.

  • That she didn’t attend the key court sessions in which highly incriminating forensic and circumstantial evidence was presented.

  • That she hasn’t absorbed the numerous factual newspaper and magazine reports about the key forensic and circumstantial evidence.

  • That she seems to rely either a lot or totally on sources with vested interests who feed her wrong theories and false information.

  • And that she comes across to us as the reporter most often showing on US media outlets the most complete ignorance of the case.

Quite a track record. We wonder if she is really very proud of it. She seems to sound so. Now to examine the details of some of her small jungle of wrong claims.

False Claim #1

Judy Bachrach made the following claims in an article entitled “Perugia’s Prime Suspect” for for Vanity Fair.

Rudy Guede’s DNA would be found all over her dead body the next day….“His DNA was found not only all over the British girl’s body but also in his bloody fingerprint staining one of her cushions and on the straps of the bra she wore the night of her death.

Judy Bachrach’s claims that Rudy Guede’s DNA was all over Meredith’s body have long been demonstrably false. According to the Micheli report here quickly translated here there was only ONE instance of Rudy Guede’s DNA on Meredith.

Where exactly did Judy Bachrach get that false information from? It clearly wasn’t from the DNA results from the tests carried out by Dr. Stefanoni and her team, or any official court documents, or the Micheli report.

And why exactly did she propagate it? Was she perhaps deliberately trying to exaggerate the evidence against Rudy Guede? Whilst playing down or completely ignoring the forensic and circumstantial evidence against Knox and Sollecito?

False Claim #2

In the same Vanity Fair article, Judy Bachrach makes the claim that “Amanda had tried three times to reach Meredith by cell phone, without success.”

If Judy Bachrach had examined the mobile phone records which are part of the prosecution’s 10,000 page report, as the court did and as we have done, she might have concluded otherwise - that Amanda Knox never ever made even one genuine attempt to contact Meredith.

Two of Knox’s phone calls lasted only 3 seconds and 4 seconds.

Judy Bachrach would have also realised that Knox’s claim that Meredith’s Italian phone “just kept ringing, no answer” was in fact a lie. And that Knox’s e-mail version of events at the house on 2 November is totally contradicted by what is in those mobile phone records.

Our poster Finn MacCool rather brilliantly drew attention a year ago now in this post here to how very, very incriminating those phone records are. (They also seem to incriminate Amanda Knox’s mother. Why doesn’t a good reporter actually ask her about this?)

Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani certainly don’t believe that Knox made a genuine attempt to contact Meredith. And they provide a very detailed explanation of why they don’t, in the sentencing report we are now translating.

And as you will soon see in that report, they also pull totally apart Knox’s email version of the events on 2 November to her friends and family in Seattle.

 


False Claim #3

Judy Bachrach has claimed that the bra clasp in Meredith’s bedroom was “discovered” only in January 2008.

But to complicate matters, a forensics team took a second look around the House of Horrors in January; this time they discovered a clasp that had been cut off the same bra. On that clasp they found Raffaele’s DNA.

House of Horrors? A callous way to refer to the sad place where a remarkable girl with a grieving family and many grieving friends was tortured and then deliberately left to die.

And in actual fact, Dr. Stefanoni was fully aware that the bra clasp was missing from the time she reviewed in the Rome labs the evidence collected from the crime scene - early in November. The clasp couldn’t be collected until the defense experts had agreed upon a date.

There was no other cause to the delay, and the bar clasp was never simply “discovered” at the second evidence visit in January. The forensic team went there specifically to get it. And it was actually recovered on 18 December 2007.

False Claim #4

Perhaps the reason why Judy Bachrach gets so many of the basic facts like those above wrong is that she seems to rely very heavily on sources who feed her false information. One example:

But three legal sources in Perugia (two unfriendly to Amanda) tell me the injuries sustained by Meredith were inconsistent with the blade of that knife.

All of Judy Bachrach’s “three legal sources”  provided her with wrong facts.

The double DNA knife found in Sollecito’s apartment is fully compatible with the deep puncture wound on Meredith’s neck. This has been widely reported by a number of journalists in the British and American media. For example “According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau in Newsweek).

The sentencing report of Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani also now confirms that the knife is absolutely compatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

False Claim #5

Judy Bachrach claims that when Knox and Sollecito changed their versions of events they did so because things got rough.

Simultaneously, in a separate room, Raffaele, too, was questioned by police. Like Amanda’s, his version of events seemed to change whenever things got rough.

Raffaele Sollecito actually changed his version of events most dramatically on 5 November 2007 when he was confronted with the telephone records that proved that he and Knox had lied. It was then that he in effect threw Knox under the bus, and he has never really backed her versions of events on the night fully ever since.

And Amanda Knox in turn changed her version of events most dramatically when she was informed that Sollecito had admitted that they had both lied, that he was wrong to go along with her version, and that he was in effect no longer providing her with any alibi.

Knox and Sollecito’s multiple conflicting alibis did NOT happen because “things got rough”. They actually happened because Sollecito and Knox were both repeatedly caught lying. And they changed their stories periodically merely to fit the new information as it became known - and at pretty well no time after they were first caught out in their lies did the stories of the two ever match. .

By the way, wait for something of a bombshell. Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani in their sentencing report expose more lies and contradictions by Knox and Sollecito which haven’t as yet been reported in any of the English-language the media.

False Claim #6

Judy Bachrach wrote an article about the case for the website Women on the Web headlined Amanda Knox’s Abusive Prosecutor.. (Hmmm. Smart title.)

Amanda was also told if she didn’t confess she would get the maximum – 30 years in prison. And – oh yes – at a time when, having just arrived in Italy, she spoke pitifully little Italian, she wasn’t provided with a translator.

Judy Bachrach clearly wasn’t in the courtroom when Amanda Knox’s interpreter, Dr. Anna Donnino, gave her evidence as to all the work she did on the night of the interrogations. And Judy Bachrach clearly hasn’t read the numerous articles that actually describe the interpreter’s testimony.

False Claim #7

Judy Bachrach claims that an Italian reporter was thrown into prison for being critical of Mignini. She is clearly referring to Mario Spezi.

Mignini is no special friend to journalists. One Italian reporter who especially upset the prosecutor a while back was thrown into prison — in isolation. An American journalist who was that reporter’s friend was interrogated so harshly that, fearing incarceration himself, he hopped the next plane back to the United States, where he started a campaign (ultimately successful) to free his friend. Their crime? They were critical of Mignini.

Spezi is currently on trial for disrupting the investigation into the Narducci case. He has NOT been charged with criticising Mr Mignini.

Judy Bachrach has made a number of television appearances on CNN and other networks in which she was scathing towards Mr Mignini and the Italian legal system. As with her articles, Judy Bachrach makes many wild and inaccurate claims.

False Claim #8

She incorrectly asserts that the defence teams weren’t allowed to produce evidence of their own DNA experts - despite the fact that the Knox and Sollecito defenses each had large teams of DNA experts testify. From the videos in this post:

The defence wasn’t even allowed to produce evidence of their own DNA experts.

Gino Professor, Carlo Torre and Walter Patumi were some of the DNA experts who testified at the trial on behalf of Amanda Knox. Professor Vinci, Adriano Tagliabracci and Francesco Introna were some of the DNA experts who defended Raffaele Sollecito.

False Claim #9

Judy Bachrach has repeatedly claimed (you can see her do so in these videos) that Amanda Knox was kept in prison for two years before her trial.

They kept her in jail for two years even before trial [although] there isn’t an ounce of real hard evidence against her” And “It was decided to keep Amanda Knox in jail for two years prior to her trial.

If Knox and Sollecito had been kept in prison for two years before their trial as someone “decided” their trial would have started in November 2009. The reality is that their trial started in January 2009 and it was originally scheduled for December 2008, just two months after Guede’s. 

Judy Bachrach is not the only American journalist who is ignorant of the basic facts of the case, and responsible for some of the serious misinforming of the American public, both about the crime and about Italy.

But she sure does seem to be the only one to have made it into a little industry..

By the way, we sure look forward to the YouTubes of Candace Dempsey and Nina Burleigh propagating their own books on the case when those books are released. Will they now finally be describing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but?

Don’t hold your breath.

Posted on 04/15/10 at 07:56 AM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2007More hoaxersHoaxers: media groupsCNN NetworkNews media & moviesTerrible reporting
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

La Stampa Headline Reads: “This Is The Way That Amanda Subjugated America”

Posted by Tiziano


There’s an excellent review in Italian of “Baby Face” by Glauco Maggi in Italay’s most influential paper, La Stampa. This is the translation.

The Accusation of an American Journalist: the Family Is Spreading Misinformation.

The dense wall of the believers in her innocence, which sprung up in the USA in defence of Amanda Knox, 20 years old, during the trial in Perugia for the murder of her English friend, Meredith Kercher, 22 years old, has been subjected to the first blow from the American side. 

In the book Angel Face (Angel Face, the true story of the student killer Amanda Knox), the journalist from Newsweek, Barbie Latza Nadeau, accuses the family of the girl, condemned to 26 years for the voluntary murder, of having created “an innocentista media machine” which has tried to cancel out the heavy body of clues which built up during the trial.

“They have simply chosen to ignore the facts which were coming to light in Italy”, writes Nadeau, who has been the Rome correspondent for Newsweek and other American newspapers since 1996, from the site of the Daily Beast to major television networks (CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN). 

The accusations of the journalist are based on her direct experience as a witness, in Italy, of the conduct of the American media.  According to Nadeau, access to sources close to Amanda depended on the feelings expressed by the correspondents: the family, essentially, cooperated only with the believers in Amanda’s innocence, to the extent of the payment of travel expenses in exchange for exclusive interviews. 

An example of the climate created by the Knox family is the affair of lawyer Joe Tacopina.  Having arrived in Perugia as a “legal expert” for the ABC TV channel, at first he played the role of an unofficial of the defender of the interests of the Knoxes.  However, when he confided to Nadeau that he could not declare himself to be 100% sure of Amanda’s innocence, having studied the trial documentation, he was excluded from the family circle, which from that moment curled up like a porcupine and actively operated so that their own version would be the only one to reach the USA.

From the moment of the arrest, Nadeau writes, “Amanda and Raffaele were a pushover for the sales of Italian newspapers and of the English tabloids.  The local press reported the gossip of the lawyers and the magistrates to liven up the crime story and very soon labelled Amanda as Angel Face, encouraging a morbid fascination. 

The British newspapers, ardent in the defence of the English victim’s honour, dug into the details which Amanda had inadvertently put on the Internet, starting from her name on MySpace, Foxy Knoxy.  Phone calls to teachers and friends in Seattle provided the description of a studious, intelligent and athletic young girl.  But the social networking sites told another story.”

Nadeau unveils the video on YouTube of Amanda drunk at a party, but she strikes the most serious blow to “good girl” when she adds: “Other appearances suggest a more enigmatic and a darker personality.  Baby Brother, a film which Amanda had put
on MySpace, is not totally disturbing but contains a rather irresponsible reference to rape.” 

The investigators took the stories which emerged about her past “as proof that she had at least daydreamed about it, that this was in her mind.  Add drugs and alcohol, was their reasoning, and not much was needed for these hidden thoughts would lead to action.  The picture was being formed of a shrew who was in thrall of dark impulses and the family struggled to control the storm.”  For those who did not accept the reconstructions of the Knoxes as pure gold there was ostracism: 

“The TV crews learnt to be careful in letting themselves be seen with people like me, the family would have cut them out of the circle.”


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