Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done #2

Posted by Kermit

Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom (#2)




[Above: Knox lawyer Luciano Ghirga stated on 21 October 2008: “Amanda wasn’t hit. There were pressures from the police, sure, but we never said she was hit.” Well into Amanda’s trial, and shortly after her stepfather’s arrival in Perugia, she unexpectedly stated in court that she had been hit by police during her questioning. Watch the whole video yes at the Perugian blogger’s site.]



From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Sfarzo (real name Sforza) was released pending a trial in May. He faces up to six years in prison if convicted. ‘The police can count on the complicity of judges,’ Sfarzo told CPJ”

Now I’m confused: I thought that it was Mignini who utilized and had the complicity of the national police in his nefarious actions against the Perugian blogger. Now it seems that the blogger (or CPJ) is saying that the national police manipulate the judiciary to advance some terrible agenda, with the complicity of judges. Please clarify, for the sake of sanity, is it Mignini or the national police who are the source of the harassment that the blogger suffers?



[Above: Now let me get this straight: Amanda Knox hearing and trial judges such as Paolo Micheli (left), Giancarlo Massei (centre), or Claudio Pratillo Hellman (right) are beholden to members of the national police? Where will the Evil Conspiracy stop?]


Although motive is not necessary to any crime, having one helps to understand a criminal action. This alleged harassment makes no sense. Mignini presented his investigation report three years ago.  A guilty conviction was obtained, and the defendants are now in appeals, with different judges and new legal processes.

The case has for some time been out of Mignini’s investigative hands and is following its natural progression through different courts, under the guidance of the corresponding judges.

In the case of the national police, they don’t have any particular relation with the blogger as regards the Meredith Kercher murder case. Quite another possibility is that he has some other legal problem. Have you asked the blogger if he has any other legal question open, under his real name?

One question: if the blogger had been abused by Mignini or the Italian national police between October 2008 and September 2010, why is it only now that noise is being made about it?

In order to check out the blogger’s emotional state in the time frame of the alleged police attack, I took a look at his blogspot page for posts and comments in that time period.

The blogger’s last post before the alleged attack was on 10 September 2010. This post generated 586 comments, mostly before, but also some following the supposed attack on 28 September 2010 including comments by the blogger himself.

His first post following the alleged police attack was just a couple of days later on 1 October 2010. He writes “The mini media circus around the Meredith Kercher case materialized again in Perugia, surprisingly, for a closed door hearing …. Luciano Ghirga described her as showing a shorter haircut and as being concerned …”

In the 361 comments which this post generated, including comments by the blogger, I didn’t detect any indication that he had been through a harrowing experience at the hands of police officers who in some yet-to-be-defined-manner are remotely controlled by the prosecutor Mignini.



[Above: Business as usual. It’s 1 October 2010, just 48 hours after the supposed brutal attack which required the blogger to receive medical attention in the hospital. Yet his recovery is swift, and his texts don’t reflect the suffering he has gone through.  (Image: Perugia Shock blog)]


From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Oggi editor Umberto Brindani also received two “notices of investigation” that year—dated July 24 and September 2—in relation to the magazine’s coverage of the Monster of Florence case, CPJ confirmed.”

If the CPJ was able to confirm a couple of notices of investigation against the well established national magazine Oggi, why didn’t the CPJ also try to confirm any of the alleged abuse against the vulnerable Perugian blogger who is the main point of the CPJ text? You indicate that you had direct contact with him.

For example, you could have asked the blogger to show you a copy of a complaint concerning the alleged attack by national policemen on 28 September 2010. Or the CPJ could have spoken with the hospital psychiatrist who supposedly examined the blogger following that alleged attack.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Preston, Spezi’s co-author who suffered harassment by Mignini himself in 2006—and eventually was forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment—told CPJ he was still afraid of going back. He has been unable to clarify his legal status in Italy. In the summer of 2008, Mignini told third parties that he would have Preston arrested if the writer returned, Preston writes in the Afterword to The Monster of Florence paperback edition, published in 2009.”

If Preston was “forced to leave Italy for fear of imprisonment” in February of 2006,  then why did Preston go to Italy with an NBC “Dateline” filming crew in October 2006, just months after leaving under an alleged “threat” by Mignini, and four months after his interview in The Atlantic where he called Mignini “a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge”.



[Above: Many people are led to believe that Preston hasn’t been to Italy since his hasty departure after meeting Mignini in early 2006. In fact, he has returned with Dateline NBC to tape a show on The Monster of Florence. (Photo credit: Original source. And an alternative link to same story.]

Barbie Nadeau, an excellent and recognized reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, wrote in a well researched article on Preston that he “also says that Mignini ordered him to leave Italy. Mignini says that he never asked Preston to leave the country, but instead suggested that Preston didn’t understand Italian and that he should get a lawyer.”

If you do further Googling, you will see that it appears that the only person who says that Preston can never go back to Italy (in spite of having gone back to Italy) seems to be Preston himself.

What Preston says he hasn’t been able to clarify, Mignini has repeated in a number of articles in the Italian and English-speaking press.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“We ask you to ensure that the politically motivated lawsuit against Perugia blogger Frank Sfarzo is immediately scrapped and that outside investigators are assigned to conduct an investigation into the September 28-29, 2010, abusive actions of Squadra Mobile officers against him.”

On what basis can you affirm that the alleged abuse suffered by the Perugian blogger is “politically motivated”? What link is there between the national police officers who allegedly committed said abuse and the prosecutor of the first trial against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito which ended almost a year prior to said abuse?

Who is this Perugian blogger, if he isn’t “Frank Sfarzo”?  Is he a journalist? Or in fact is he closely associated with “opinion-makers” for the Amanda Knox cause?

I have no interest in knowing the Perugian blogger’s real-life name, but I would hope that as part of its investigation, the CPJ would have ascertained whether the blogger’s real life persona may explain why the event of 28 September 2010 occurred (and what motivated the visit of the national police) better than linking it without any real proof to the prosecutor who so enraged Doug Preston (at least from the end of 2007 onwards, following Meredith Kercher’s murder and the intense media coverage of this sad event).

One of the most well known members of the Amanda Knox on-line lobby is an American, Jim Lovering. He appears on many websites where the case against Knox is discussed, sometimes posting in his own name and sometimes under the pseudonym “Charlie Wilkes” (a 19th century American naval explorer linked to Puget Sound).

It is telling that Lovering-Wilkes is cited as one of the two collaborators that the Perugian blogger works with on his site.



[Above: The Perugian blogger counts on Jim Lovering (also known on-line as “Charlie Wilkes”) as one of his two collaborators. Lovering is one of the most prominent figures in the “Friends of Amanda” pro-Knox activist group.]


If you do some basic Google research (“Jim Lovering” “Friends of Amanda”), you will find that Jim Lovering is the moderator of the “Friends of Amanda” website.

Here below is the Perugian blogger and Chris Mellas, presenting the Friends of Amanda website:



[Above: The Perugian blogger and Chris Mellas – Amanda Knox’s stepfather – presenting the Friends of Amanda website.]


Lovering/Wilkes has made himself famous in the pro and con discussion boards of this case for his anything-goes pro-Amanda stand.

This includes the manipulation with a Photoshop-type program of an image of a footprint of Rudy Gudy, found guilty together with Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of Meredith Kercher’s murder.

The manipulation adjusted the size of the Guede print taken in prison to the dimensions of a footprint made in blood found on the bathmat of the cottage where Meredith was brutally murdered (the matching of the footprints would support the “lone-wolf” theory of the Knox defence, that only Rudy was involved of the group of three young people found guilty, and therefore that Amanda should go free).

A simple gauging of the size of the print seems to show that when Lovering/Wilkes resized it, the print ended up much smaller than what it should be.

For further information consult this presentation with the satirical title: “Mr. Marriott, I Shrank the Black Kid”. Or review the on-line discussion of the issue by Googling: Rudy Guede “hobbit foot”.

Although the Friends of Amanda Knox group declares on its webpage that “We are not affiliated with her family”, some of its most prominent members are close friends to the Knox-Mellas family, as they themselves publish on Internet sites such as Facebook.



[Above: In this Facebook posting from September, poster “Charlie Wilkes” (Knox activist Jim Lovering) writes of his photo: “At the table are (Washington State Judge) Mike Heavey, Mark (Waterbury) and Michelle (Moore, wife of ex-FBI / ex-university security man / screenwriter Steve Moore). Chris (Mellas) is seated at the table in the background. I’m not sure who he is talking to. Christina Hagge and Edda (Mellas – Amanda’s mother) are standing on the right …. It was a very enjoyable gathering”. (Photo credit: Facebook – Perugiamurderfile.org)]


Judge Michael Heavey of the Superior Court of the State of Washington is a neighbour of the Knox-Mellases and has been involved with lobbying efforts for the family from early on (he now seems to not be a formal activist of FOA, although informally – as we see in this photo – he continues to support the cause).

In August of 2008, he wrote a letter to the Italian judicial council that regulates the activity of the country’s judiciary, decrying:

“….On June 16, 2008, Judge Giuliano Mignini, The Public Minister of Perugia, closed his investigation concerning the horrific murder of Meredith Kercher.

…. Since November 6, 2007, the conduct of the prosecutor, police and prison employees has been to supply false information to the press to inflame public opinion against Amanda Knox, Rafaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba.

…. the prosecutor’s office (Kermit: ie. Mignini’s), police and prison employees have made illegal and false statements to the press.

…. Amanda Knox’s lawyers have no knowledge of my request to the distinguished and honorable members of the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura.”


The English text and Italian original were published for a number of weeks in 2008 on Seattle celebrity lawyer Anne Bremner’s webpage. Bremner is another original member of the Friends of Amanda group.  Source: this webpage which has since been redesigned)
 

[Above: Heavey wrote a neither substantiated nor proven extra-judicial opinion of grave illegalities he ascribed to the investigators of the murder of Meredith Kercher, naming specifically the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini. His opinion was sent to Nicola Mancino, vice-president of the Italian Judicial Council, and four other persons, including Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Berlusconi.]


This unofficial, private lobbying done on Washington State Superior Court stationery didn’t go over well, as you can imagine, with the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which proceeded to charge Heavey:

“[Mr. Heavey is charged with] violating Canons 1, 2(A)and 2(B) of the Code of Judicial Conduct by writing letters on official court stationary to Nicola Mancino, Judge Claudia Matteini, and Giuliano Mignini (members of the Italian judicial system) on behalf of criminal defendant Amanda Knox; utilizing court staff to type those letters; and speaking publicly on several occasions about that same pending criminal case in an attempt to influence the proceeding.” (Source: Washington CJC)

The CJC’s investigation later concluded that Heavey had violated the judicial code by:

using his status as a judge to attempt to influence a criminal proceeding in another country, thereby exploiting his judicial office for the benefit of another.

…. Respondent agrees he will not retaliate against any person known or suspected to have cooperated with the Commission, or otherwise associated with this matter; that he will not repeat such conduct in the future; and that he will promptly read and familiarize himself with the Code of Judicial Conduct in its entirety.”(Source: Washington CJC)




[Above: In spite of his reprimand in 2010 from the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct for - amongst other things - “speaking publicly” about the Amanda Knox case, it seems that Judge Michael Heavey has found a way to make this sort of activity compatible with the sentence of the Commission, and he continues to appear on her behalf (on his own time?). Recently on 4 April 2011 he appeared at Seattle University with other speakers aligned with the Amanda Knox cause to present the case for her innocence.] (Source: Youtube video uploaded by West Seattle Herald)

 
What is curious is Heavey stating in his letter to the Italian authorities that he was doing this without the knowledge of Amanda Knox’s Italian lawyers.

She has two heavyweights as her main lawyers: Luciano Ghirga – a well–known and experienced Perugian lawyer – and Carlo Dalla Vedova – also experienced, and suggested by the American Embassy in Rome. In addition, there are all the experts in a number of areas that these two lawyers have introduced to the case as it has proceeded.

They will know what’s best for Amanda, and if she or her family have any questions about the legal strategy, then they should change the team. It’s inconceivable of persons close to her family taking extra-judicial measures to “help” her when those measures aren’t vetted first by her legal team beforehand in order to decide if it really does help or hinder the cause.

But that does seem to be the case here.

Between actions like Heavey’s and the not-stop media onslaught with programs such as the CBS 48 Hours series produced by Doug Longhini (starring Private Investigator Paul Ciolino who travelled to Perugia and tried to get a witness to the crime to open her door at night to talk to him – he has recently called that witness “crazy” from the safe distance of a Seattle auditorium) which questioned the correctness of the investigation, there was so much noise coming from America that Knox’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga actually had to go to prosecutor Mignini’s office and disassociate himself and Amanda’s defence from these opinion-making actions:

“There are people around the figure of Amanda who have no formal role in the student’s defence team, which is formed by myself together with my colleague Carlo Dalla Vedova. These people are not only not helping our client in the difficult judicial process in the Corte d’Assise in which we have to defend her, but on the contrary, they are harming her judicial position.”

(Source: La Nazione 3 February 2009- Alternate translation link here.)

Why in the world would anyone participate in an extrajudicial strategy of attacking a legal process, unapproved by the defendants own lawyers? The first answer that comes to my mind is that the party involved doesn’t have much faith in being successful in the legitimate legal process.

Paul Ciolino, the Private Eye who went to Perugia for Doug Longhini’s 48 Hours, recently participated in a seminar in Seattle University dedicated to Amanda Knox (co-speakers included Friends of Amanda founder Tom Wright, ex-FBI / ex-university security officer / screenwriter Steve Moore, and … State of Washington Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey).

Mr Ciolino, I believe, more or less sums up the extra-judicial strategy for dealing with Amanda’s predicament by stating:

“She’s not going to come out of there because the Italians are nice guys and they’re going to admit that they made a horrible mistake and that the prosecutor yes indeed he is crazy but ... she may come out, she’ll come out in a year or two, that’s my best guess, okay, but she’s going to come out because the State Department is going to get involved, it’s going to become political.”

(Source: At 1:48:23 in the Youtube video uploaded by the West Seattle Herald)

I’m not saying that the Perugian blogger is a member of the Friends of Amanda group (which in any case doesn’t seem to be a “card-carrying” type of association … it’s more a question of who wants to be publicly associated with it. Judge Heavey was “publicly” with the group until he decided to not be publicly associated with it.)

But it would be hard for the blogger to deny that he’s very, very, very close to this influence/lobby group, what with blog bed fellows such as his blog’s main collaborator Jim Lovering - the Friends of Amanda Knox website moderator - and what appears to be a personal relationship with members of the Knox-Mellas family.

I honestly believe that the Committee to Protect Journalists does fine and commendable work protecting journalists, who risk so much all around the world trying to do their work and keep people informed through a free press.


[Above: Truly threatened journalists around the world benefit from the support and awareness activities of CPJ. Bravo. (Photo credit: Committee to Protect Journalists)]

However, I encourage the CPJ to do further research concerning the news and blog personalities surrounding the Meredith Kercher murder case, and the alleged injustices they may have suffered.

Particularly worrisome for the preservation of balanced reporting by independent journalists is the hiring by the Knox family of the Gogerty Marriott public relations firm. This contract has been so successful that this PR firm uses their Amanda Knox campaign as a case study on their website.

At Gogerty Marriott we apply campaign strategies, disciplines and tactics to public affairs problems to help our clients achieve their goals …. We consider every project individually and assemble a team to suit the client’s specific needs. We then develop and implement a plan; usually integrating a range of tactics such as earned and paid media, community outreach, ally development, and government relations among other ways of reaching important audiences.”  (Source:  Gogerty Marriott website.)

It is ever so important for the CPJ to protect journalists around the world who are struggling in dangerous situations to maintain their independent voice and to promote free press.

However, a PR campaign which uses “earned and paid media” could perhaps, be analysed further before sending alarmist communications to high-profile international authorities and potentially wasting the scarce resources of your organisation.


 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“It is unacceptable that journalists, bloggers, and writers on both sides of the Atlantic should censor themselves by staying away from subjects of public interest such as the Meredith Kercher murder case and the Monster of Florence killings because of Prosecutor Mignini’s inability to tolerate the scrutiny that comes with public office.”

If you read the thousands or tens of thousands of articles and blogposts written on the Meredith Kercher murder case, you will quickly find that few persons censor themselves or hold back in their comments, starting off with the Perugia blogger.

Please do go to the blogger’s site. Compare it to this True Justice for Meredith Kercher site, which has a different, victim oriented focus, or to any other of the many sites, and newspaper articles which have been dedicated to this case.

Each one has its angle which it has freely developed. You’ll see that the only censoring carried out is the prudent censoring of unsubstantiated libelous claims which once in a while must be done to guarantee the ongoing unhindered success of the sites.

A study of the Perugian blogger’s posts and his own comments (in addition to the people who comment on his site) doesn’t lend credence to the belief that his voice has been somehow repressed or threatened.

Let me wind up with the words of Andrea Vogt, an objective, bilingual reporter who has been providing great coverage on the Meredith Kercher case, writing about both things positive and negative for Amanda Knox:

“In real life, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is not at all as he’s been portrayed in the mainstream American media. He’s been vilified as a conspiracy theorist out to get anyone who dares criticize him. I’ve done it (in print and in person) and he’s been professional and dignified, even when he heartily disagreed.”

(Source: the New York Post.)

You can not imagine the abuse received by that reporter (and other valiant journalists who dare have an open opinion on the Knox-Sollecito-Guede trials) from certain pro-Knox sectors of the online world. In a separate story, this same reporter provides us with insight concerning threats pervading the discussion of this case:

“Police are investigating complaints from a Seattle woman who says she was intimidated and threatened online because of comments she made about the Amanda Knox case.

The unredacted Seattle Police Department report, obtained by seattlepi.com, names a primary suspect and quotes the woman as saying that that the suspect ‘is engaging in tactics meant to intimidate,’ along with ‘the tacit consent’ of Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas.
…. Perugia Shock is hosted on a California server and financed by an American firm, according to the Perugia-based blogger who covers the case and operates the site under the alias ‘Frank Sfarzo.’

While fans say his blog poses alternative theories rarely discussed in the mainstream media, critics say his minimalist moderation results in an out-of-control comment section where posters “out” those who wish to remain anonymous, track their ISP addresses to reveal their physical locations, pose as people they are not—someone posted as Meredith Kercher, the victim, once—and make threatening posts about each other, as well as about the major players in the case, including Knox, her family, journalists, lawyers and prosecutors.

…. A similar address, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), which is cited in the police report, was also used to send two vulgar messages to a Newsweek reporter covering the case in Perugia. The message, sent from a Blackberry device, ended with the postscript, ‘You sound like you were abused as a child.’

…. (True Crime blogger Steve Huff) has been particularly surprised by the network newsmagazines’ ‘pro-active efforts’ to smear the prosecutor while painting Knox as ‘some innocent pixie college girl.’ ‘There’s some larger statement afoot in that about American views and our culture of looks over authenticity, in my opinion,’ Huff said. Huff said his opinion about guilt or innocence in the case is still flexible—he can see both sides and thinks the case could go either way, but the vicious online harassment—present from the onset but particularly intense just prior to the start of the trial—prompted him to dial back his participation.

‘It was so pervasive and distasteful to me that as a blogger and now as a journalist I’ve all but washed my hands of covering the case,’ Huff said.”

Read more on the Seattle PI website.

Now that surely is interesting. Maybe you should talk to longtime professionals like Steve Huff, and learn why the threatening environment of this case – specifically from the pro-Knox camp – made him decide not to continue covering it.

Contact independent, credentialed, widely read, knowledgeable, bilingual (English-Italian) journalists such as Andrea Vogt (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, New York Post and other publications) and Barbie Nadeau (Newsweek, The Daily Beast) who have been at most or all of the Amanda Knox trial sessions.

Read their work and you will see balance in the information provided, including both that which supports Amanda’s cause and that which is not favourable. Ask them about their take on the judicial and reporting scene in Perugia concerning this trial. Ask them about the threats or abuse they have received. Consider offering them protection if they request it (I have not contacted them on this, take it as a tip).

Beyond these two journalists in particular, you will be able to find more.

I think you will see that you will have to rectify your letter of last 19 April 2011, or at least comment that in the media circus surrounding this sad, sad case of a bright young English girl beloved by her family who was brutally murdered, there is more than meets the eye.

I will conclude by stating that:

  • In spite of collaborating on his website with Jim Lovering, one of the prominent leaders of the Friends of Amanda opinion-making lobby group, the Perugia blogger isn’t necessarily a member of that group, if the group actually has formal membership. I am in no position to state that (nor deny it). However, with Lovering/Wilkes by his side on his own blog, the Perugian blogger is very, very, very close to them.
  • nor is there evidence that the Perugia blogger is an element of the Gogerty Marriott pro-Knox PR campaign, a campaign which may use “tactics such as earned and paid media”.
  • However, in case that the Perugian blogger is an opinion-maker, or is simply caught up in an opinion-making framework, is he still to be protected by the CPJ? Can journalists – if the blogger claims to be a journalist – be lobbyists, or associated with lobbies and still benefit from the protection of the CPJ, if they actually are threatened? Would the CPJ protect FOA leader Jim Lovering / Charlie Wilkes who helps the Perugian blogger with his posts,  if Lovering/Wilkes claimed that Mignini had sent police to beat him up due to writings on the blogger’s Perugia Shock blog where Lovering/Wilkes is a collaborator?
  • of the examples you gave in the CPJ text concerning the supposed threats and abuse suffered by the Perugian blogger, the blogger’s own video of the event on 28 October 2008 seems to contradict your description of several national policemen approaching him and hitting him and pushing him (in front of Meredith Kercher’s family and preserved by the cameras of the press in the media scrum?). The example of national policemen looking over his notes in the press area at the back of the courtroom doesn’t seem to jive with the physical layout of the courtroom. The example of the Perugian blogger supposedly being beat up by policemen on 28 September 2010 may have happened (or it may have happened in another manner), but there is information lacking as to why these policemen showed up at the blogger’s door and which superior of theirs in the national police sent them. I see no link to Mr. Mignini there nor have you shown any. As far as motive is concerned, Mignini closed his investigation case file on the murder of Meredith Kercher three years ago. The case is out of his hands and now is at different levels of appeals in the courts. Why would he send a goon squad after the blogger?  (If anyone tells you that Mignini is an evil, satanic-obsessed, rogue prosecutor, then please tell them that they are mistaken, that role was assigned by a famous American writer years ago to an Italian policeman who the famous writer doesn’t talk about anymore.)
  • the insinuations that Mr. Mignini has some sort of private police force at his beck and call don’t fit in with the procedure-based workings of the relations between the Italian judiciary and the different police forces.

I would ask you that you reopen your investigation of this matter. I would exclude contact with persons who have a financial or any other interest in Mignini being painted in a specific light. And – as a good journalist – I would seek out “the other side” of this story.

I thank you for your time and attention. Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or if I may be of assistance as you become more familiarized with this case.

Very sincerely,

Kermit

A Main Poster on TJMK (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

Copied to:

His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic
Angelino Alfano, Ministro della Giustizia
José Manuel Barroso, Presidente della Commissione Europea
Herman Van Rompuy, Presidente del Consiglio Europeo
Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Alto Rappresentante dell’EU per gli
Affari Esteri e la Politica di Sicurezza
Viviane Reding, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per Giustizia, Diritti
Fondamentali e Cittadinanza
Neelie Kroes, Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea e Commissario per la Digital Agenda
Jerzy Buzek, Presidente del Parlamento Europeo
Heidi Hautala, Presidenza del Sottocomitato sui Diritti Umani del Parlamento Europeo
Jean-Marie Cavada, Presidenza dell’Intergruppo per i Media del Parlamento Europeo
Thomas Hammarberg, Commissario del Consiglio d’Europa per i Diritti Umani
Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso l’EU
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Philip H. Gordon, U.S. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
John Kerry, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democratic Member, U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Ambasciatore Italiano presso gli Stati Uniti
David Thorne, U.S. Ambassador to Italy



[Above: Joel Simon of the CPJ, left, with “Frank Sfarzo”, Chris Mellas, and Doug Preston]


Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done

Posted by Kermit

Attn. Mr. Joel Simon
Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001


Dear Mr. Simon,

Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom

One week ago the Committee to Protect Journalists emailed an open letter to the President of Italy on press freedom in the Meredith Kercher case. This letter was copied to a number of other notables worldwide and also it was put online. 

I believe this letter is factually highly inaccurate, is ill-researched, and is very unfair and possibly libelous to the officials in Rome and Perugia that it criticises. It is likely to do a lot more harm than good, and may come to blemish the CPJ’s fine reputation.

I am extremely familiar with this case. I live in Europe and visited Perugia very soon after Meredith Kercher’s sad death. I have long participated in online discussions seeking justice for Meredith and some closure and peace for her suffering family. I post under the name of Kermit. You can see my 13 TJMK posts here which have received many media mentions. I use Kermit as an online ID to maintain my personal life separate from my on-line life. I am NOT a journalist and so my real name is a minor issue.

Your open letter was dedicated to a large extent to detailing supposed abuse suffered by an anonymous blogger who you appear to believe is an impartial and credentialed journalist. You say this was at the hands of Italian national police officers who you seem to indicate follow illicit orders of an Umbrian prosecutor, Mr Giuliano Mignini, instead of their own superiors in the national police (Polizia di Stato). You also accuse Mr. Mignini of being the source of various threats to this anonymous blogger and real journalists, citing what you think are valid examples.

In fact, as we will see, all of the supposed threats in your examples are either vague or cannot be associated with Mr. Mignini. In some of your cases the “reporting” Mr Mignini takes exception to is the publishing of unsubstantiated accusations, for example concerning his state of mental health.

I’m surprised that in investigating one specific alleged case of abuse against a local Perugian blogger, that you haven’t noticed a massive, very nasty, highly misleading and well oiled campaign to malign and vilify Perugian and Rome authorities and to some extent Italy in general. Nowhere do you mention that specific persons directly and indirectly associated with that campaign seem to have something to gain by taking down Mignini and by setting free the convicted murderers of Meredith Kercher (pending appeal). Nowhere do you mention that REAL journalists like Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau have received enormous heat and online libels for simply trying to report facts impartially from the court and from Seattle.

I would make a request that the staff of the Committee to Protect Journalists research further the points I bring up, and I would ask that if this research paints a picture different from what has been described in your text of last April 19, then you issue a followup letter to clarify these points, sending the followup email to the same 21 receivers of the first text.

Perhaps most importantly, you could contact Mr. Mignini himself and get his side of it. Others including the BBC have managed to do so and you should be aware of this BBC report. Mr Mignini has already publicly denied through Italian and international press publications some of the accusations which you are making in your letter, such as that Douglas Preston will be arrested if he returns to Italy. He states clearly that is not true. 



[Above: The forgotten fact in the CPJ text: When did this journalistic organisation contact Mr. Mignini, in order to contrast the accusations against him by a blogger who lives behind a pseudonym? (Photo credit: BBC)]


In the rest of this open letter I intend to examine below one by one the disputed points in the CPJ letter to the President of Italy. This statement is the first.

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Dear President Napolitano,

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities’ harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation into the November 2007 brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in the central Italian city of Perugia.”

The international network of followers of the Meredith Kercher case and its pre-trial investigation are not aware of any harassment of journalists by Mr. Mignini (or police agents who may have received instructions from him when the investigation was underway), from the moment of the crime, until the investigative report was delivered to the court in June 2008.

The allegation of harassment is news to us, in a case which over the course of almost four years has already gone through the lower court (three suspects each convicted of murder and other crimes) and is currently in the appeals stage.

The legal action taken by Mignini (or threatened action) in the case cited of the West Seattle Herald reporter Steve Shay writing that “some in both the American and Italian legal field believe Mignini is mentally unstable” doesn’t surprise me. Most people would see that not as a legitimate criticism of the official murder investigation as the CPJ states in its letter to the President of Italy, but rather as an unsubstantiated low blow without any professional journalistic contrasting of that claim. Mignini’s response is not an aggression to silence the West Seattle Herald, but rather a question of defending one’s personal honour and reputation. Mignini’s legal action would be taken on a personal level, not as an element of the Meredith Kercher murder case.

Or are legal professionals’ personal freedom and constitutional rights suspended in the light of unsubstantiated press claims? Is Mr. Mignini unable to defend himself against false accusation? Can the press make unsubstantiated and uncontested claims about anyone’s state of mental health without being subject to redress?


[Above: The Perugia blogger dispatching with Prosecutor Mignini, at a date believed to be after the start of the alleged harassment supposedly carried out under orders of Mignini. They seem to be interacting without any problem. (Photo credit: UK Channel 4)]


From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The Kercher murder investigation was headed by Mignini and conducted by a Perugia police unit known as the Squadra Mobile. Mignini was also in charge of the latest investigation into the unsolved murders of eight couples in Tuscany between 1968 and 1985, collectively known as the Monster of Florence killings”

Out of three affirmations in the preceding paragraph, only one is true, the first. Mr. Mignini was indeed the head of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The second affirmation is partially true. The Italian national police (Polizia di Stato - not “Perugia police” as you state) in Perugia was substantially involved in the Meredith Kercher murder investigation, be it Squadra Mobile units, medical examiners, local forensic and technical experts, as well as specialist forensic units brought in from Rome. These people report to their own chiefs and superiors in the hierarchical structure of the national police, although they would have carried out specific approved investigative actions within the framework of this investigation under the instructions of Mr. Mignini (and the next day they would be carrying out investigative actions for other prosecutors in other cases).

The third affirmation is false. Mr. Mignini is a prosecutor in Perugia, in the region of Umbria. As the nickname indicates, the “Monster of Florence” killings were carried out around Florence, in the region of Tuscany with the same .22 Beretta pistol between 1968 and 1985 (it is debatable whether the first crime of 1968 was done by the same perpetrator of the following string of murders, but they are clearly decades old crimes).

Various Florentine prosecutors participated in the investigations and trials related to the murders done by the Monster of Florence.  Mr. Mignini was never “in charge” nor even involved in those investigations. It was a different time and different place.

The last of the police investigators in this Florentine case (so important and complex that instead of having a prosecutor control the case, there was a sort of super-cop who oversaw and directed all investigations, requesting prosecutors to authorize certain investigative actions) was called Michele Giuttari. It was under his analysis and investigation that the theory relating the Monster of Florence killings to occultism was developed.



[Above: The Monster of Florence’s Beretta pistol killed 8 couples between 1968 and 1985. Mr. Mignini was uninvolved in the main investigations and trials of these decades old crimes, as he lives and works in Perugia, in a different location and in a different time frame. (Photo credit: Insufficienzadiprove)]



In a separate action, years later in 2001, Mignini reopened the investigation into the death of Dr. Francesco Narducci, initially thought to have drowned in a lake near Perugia. There were potential links between Narducci’s death and the perpetrators of the Florence murders.

Actually, if you want to understand better the Narducci case (from it being reopened in 2001) and understand its relation to the Monster of Florence case, please read the Perugian blogger’s summary on his blogspot page. 

This mixing up of the facts of the Monster of Florence case is not new. I fear that American author Douglas Preston – who has substantial financial interest in the book sales and movie royalties related to his book The Monster of Florence (and who is also a financial supporter of CPJ ) - may have had direct or indirect input into the sculpting of this imprecise CPJ missive, which doesn’t really link Mignini to any of the events the Perugian blogger in question is supposed to have suffered (this is just an opinion).

Why? Preston is exploiting his own run-in with Mignini years ago, when the latter interviewed him concerning his activities and knowledge relating to shared elements and suspects of the Narducci and Monster of Florence cases.

For authors Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston researching the Monster of Florence case in Florence, super-cop Michele Giuttari was the source of much of their criticism of the case. In spite of being shaken up in early 2006 due to his interview with Mignini, Preston said a few months later in an interview with The Altantic:

Question: “Do you think that the investigation has become personal for (police investigator Michele) Giuttari?”

Preston: “I think even more than for Mario and me …. Giuttari really doesn’t have anything beyond the Monster case. His entire career rides on this case and solving it—or at least not making a fool of himself while he investigates …. So yes, it is personal. I think that everyone in Italy acknowledges that Giuttari seems to carry a great personal animosity against Spezi.”

Question: “Judge Giuliano Mignini, the public prosecutor who interrogated you, is another important player in the case. Was Mignini just doing his job? How much weight do you give to the idea that Mignini had it in for Spezi and you?”

Preston: “…. As for Mignini himself, I think he’s a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge. I don’t think that he’s a bad man …. I think he was doing his job the best he could. I think in many ways he was badly misled by Giuttari, the police officer who was running the investigation.”

(Source: The Atlantic)

Now there’s something I don’t understand. All the bad things we’re hearing about Giuliano Mignini since late 2007, in particular from Doug Preston seem to have been cut and pasted from Preston’s comments about Michele Giuttari, the chief investigator in the last legs of the Monster of Florence investigation, and these bad characteristics have been assigned to Mignini.

Preston has simply “cut” (not pasted!) the name Michele Giuttari from any mention – the once bad-ass investigator of the Monster of Florence as a larger-than-life persona is gone from his recent writings on the case.

And Mignini has been reassigned Giuttari’s nefarious role, even though Mignini is from Perugia and he investigated the Narducci death.  The link (albeit important link) to the Monster of Florence, is that since Narducci could have been associated – according to initial investigative data in 2001 – with persons related to Giuttari’s old Monster of Florence theory, therefore Mignini assumed the Monster of Florence occultism theory developed in the Florence investigations.

Preston’s switch-a-roo has happened even though Preston had good words for Mignini in 2006 after his questioning at the hands of this prosecutor.

What happened? Well my opinion is that with literally dozens of books out about the Monster of Florence, someone realized that yet another book by Preston and Spezi would need some commercial umpah, especially if it was to be taken to the English-speaking market (Spezi had already written one book on the case, now he was writing another – Giuttarri had also written books on the case, in addition to many other authors).

The terrible murder of Meredith Kercher, and the fact that Giuliano Mignini was on duty as prosecutor on that All Saints long-weekend was what was needed. The English-speaking press has covered the murder on an on-going basis since then. Amanda Knox’s family hired a PR firm which uses that PR contract as a case study on their website, explaining proudly how “Gogerty Marriott’s work for the (Knox-Mellas) family has brought them in touch with all major U.S. news networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News, as well as independent programs such as Oprah Winfrey and a host of national and international magazines and newspapers”. (Source: Gogerty Marriott website.)

My theory is that with Amanda Knox being arrested and tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher, the latest book on The Monster of Florence had found a great, long-term PR strategy to latch on to. All that was required was to change the hated satanic-obsessed, rogue investigator figure of Giuttari into the civil servant Mignini, a prosecutor in the sleepy town of Perugia who has never published a book in his life. This focus requires that one stops talking about Giuttari. Done. And that one talks a lot about Mignini and his satanic theories, Perugian Mignini the lead prosecutor of the Monster of Florence (well, if you say it loud enough and long enough and put it into a Hollywood film, that’s what people will remember). Done.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The anti-press actions of Squadra Mobile under Mignini’s supervision, coupled with Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists who criticize his conduct on the job, cause the press to stay away from sensitive subjects, including important developments in the Kercher case such as the appeal of two defendants in the case.”

Who told you that the Squadra Mobile police unit is under Mr. Mignini’s supervision? You would do well to consult sources other than those who helped you draft your text.

The investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher lasted from the moment of discovery of her body by the Italian telecommunications police who appeared at the victim’s home to inquire about a lost mobile phone on 2 November 2007, until Mr. Mignini presented his investigative report in June 2008.

As previously mentioned, different police investigative and forensic units would have received specific and / or ongoing instructions during the course of the investigation to carry out individual tasks in gathering evidence, but outside those tasks and in particular since the closing of the investigation in June 2008 the national police work at the central police station (“Questura”) and report in their daily work to other police officers, while Mr. Mignini works in his magistrate’s offices and has his own reporting hierarchy.

According to the CPJ the alleged harassment of the Perugian blogger started in October 2008, long after the close of the investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder. (It should be underlined that since then, the only driving force behind advancing the legal proceedings against the three persons accused and convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher is not the prosecution – specifically Mr. Mignini - but rather the judges who are hearing the different levels of trial and appeals.)

The CPJ seems to be insinuating – no, more than that, it is accusing Mr Mignini of having extra-official links to police officers who allegedly harass a local Perugian blogger, as if Mignini had some sort of personal “hit squad” or goons at his beck and call.



[Above: These are some of the police investigators whom Mignini was able to use as a part of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher. CPJ may want to pass this photo to the Perugia blogger, to see if he is able to identify some of the police officers who allegedly attacked him three years after the crime, two years after Mignini’s investigation ended, and almost one year after the first level trial ended and Judge Massei and the judicial jury found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder.]


The CPJ letter to the President of Italy also refers to “Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists”. CPJ probably acted correctly within its terms of reference when it sought to bring attention to the plight of Mario Spezi in 2006 when he was arrested by Mignini (whether that arrest was justified or not). What other examples of does CPJ have of Mignini’s historical “record” of supposedly harassing journalists?  Suing because reporter Steve Shay writes an unsubstantiated mention of Mignini being mentally unstable?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“CPJ is particularly concerned about the impact Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers, who lack the support and backing of major publications”.

“CPJ is particularly concerned” …  Why did the CPJ get concerned? Can I ask how the CPJ became aware of the supposed harassment of the Perugian blogger by Mignini, and who has developed the “case” presented against Mignini in the CPJ letter? 

Has the CPJ questioned the motives of the person(s) who helped develop this document and their potential “stake” in having the CPJ accuse Mignini of harassment? Will they gain by further book sales or movie royalties by creating a media interest in a supposedly rogue Italian prosecutor?

“Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers” …  Please be clear: are there other Perugian authorities beyond Mignini involved in this harassment , i.e. is there a conspiracy involved?  Or is the situation the opposite, that the “Perugia authorities” are individual policemen who may have bothered the blogger in question, and so someone in CPJ decided to make a dotted-line to Mignini – if so, on what basis is this dotted line made? Who made it?

You refer to “local reporters”. Beyond the blogger, who are the local reporters who have suffered at the hands of Mignini?  Is there anyone?

On one hand, have any local reporters, or on the other hand has the blogger in question made any formal complaint about the alleged abuses suffered?  If he (or they) haven’t felt comfortable presenting a complaint in Questura in Perugia, they could go to the Carabinieri or other locations to present such a complaint. If no formal complaints have been made by the blogger in two and a half years of harassment, why not?

I agree with you that in general terms, news outlets that are limited in circulation and critical mass are more at risk to suffer harassment from authorities. In this regard, I encourage you to contact a couple of the local newspapers in Perugia such as Il Giornale dell Umbria (editor: Giuseppe Castellini) or Corriere dell Umbria (director: Anna Mossuto).

Ask them about possible harassment by Mr. Mignini. Even better, while you’re at it, why don’t you do a peer check,  and ask them about the local blogger you have become concerned about?



[Above: The CPJ should make immediate contact with local newspapers in Perugia such as these, in order to evaluate in situ the possible harassment of local reporters by Mr. Mignini.]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Of the cases that have come to CPJ’s attention, one stands out because of the abusive actions employed by members of Squadra Mobile to punish a critic of the official Kercher murder inquiry. Local freelance reporter Frank Sfarzo (real name Sforza) created his English-language blog Perugia Shock in 2007, days after Kercher’s gruesome murder.”

You say that it was Squadra Mobile police officers who “punished” this critic of the investigation. Can those Squadra Mobile officers be identified? (I imagine so). What is the link between those Squadra Mobile officers and Mr. Mignini? Do the direct superiors of those officers in the national police know of this supposed secret relation? Or are those direct superiors of the national police part of the conspiracy too?

(If you don’t mind a slightly ironic comment on my part, if you go all the way up the national police structure, you may find that President Napolitano as well as parliamentary judicial committees where one of Raffaele Sollecito’s defense lawyers is present are also part of the irregular reporting lines of the Mignini conspiracy.)

By the way, it’s not important to this question, but just to be clear, I believe that the Perugia Shock blog page was established just prior to the murder of Meredith Kercher, and may have been destined for some other purpose when the murder occurred and the blogger in question decided to reorient the blog. The blogger in question also has web pages dedicated to buying Italian products such as truffles, not to mention a blog devoted to the Italian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

In fact, while the blogger writes under the name of “Frank Sfarzo”, this appears to not be his real name. He seems to have indicated different backgrounds to different persons, including to newspaper reporters who have had contact with him. For example, he has described himself as a film professor to reporter Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times. 

To the BBC’s Julian Joyce he described himself as a journalist.

It’s not a major issue for me, but does the CPJ protect anyone who says they are a journalist, or only journalists with credentials, or members of a professional organization with a code of conduct?  I just post comments on blogs and once in a while add my own research to the topics being discussed … could I too as Kermit request protection from the CPJ if I deemed it necessary, say I received threats from a certain persons involved in a court case I was discussing?

Would you write a big letter to presidents and cabinet ministers and senators around the world? Or do you only do that when a well-off, best-selling American author is part of a personal feud with an investigative magistrate?

Pro-victim blogger Skeptical Bystander and other posters of the Perugia Murder File board could potentially be in need of such assistance, given the sorts of threats that she has received and that often goes untouched for days or weeks when posted on the Perugia Shock blog comments page.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Sfarzo told CPJ his troubles started on October 28, 2008, the day Knox and Sollecito were indicted and a third defendant was convicted of murdering Kercher. Several members of Squadra Mobile, Sfarzo told CPJ, approached him just outside the city court (Corte di Assise di Perugia) and started to push and hit him. “You are pissing us off!”—they told him, referring to his coverage.”

As mentioned, by October 2008, the investigation was out of Mignini’s hands and as a case was in the hands of the different judges who have tried Rudy Guede, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. No police officers would be receiving investigative instructions from Prosecutor Mignini, unless if he had an extra-official relation to them that bypassed normal communications channels between the judiciary and the police.

I am not in a position to say that the person who blogs under the name “Frank Sfarzo” wasn’t pushed by policemen on 28 October 2008. However, you say that this happened due to his “coverage” of the case.

If you read the Perugia Shock blog pages, especially from the fall of 2008, you will see that they are written in broken English, and that the blog’s following at the time was limited. Did Mignini or the police officers read the blogspot page in English?

Your description of the alleged events outside the Corte di Assise (“several members of the Squadra Mobile … approached (the blogger) just outside the city court and started to push and hit him”) bears little resemblance to the blogger’s own video of the event. I URGE YOU to view the video of the alleged aggression of the Perugian blogger (please click on link and scroll to end of post).

In the video, viewers see the family of the murder victim – Meredith Kercher – exiting the courthouse in the middle of a media scrum. There is jostling and pushing amongst the dozens of reporters on the scene.

The blogger struggles for a good angle and seems to be walking backwards as he tapes his video. Meredith’s sister is easily identifiable. The blogger tumbles. Was he pushed? Maybe. Was it a policeman or another reporter in the media scrum who bumped into him? Maybe one or the other, or maybe the blogger simply stumbled in his awkward backwards walk.

Did someone say something rude to him? Maybe. If something rude was said, was it due to his “coverage” of the case? Or simply because in the moving crowd the backwards walking blogger was getting in the way?

In any case, at no point do we see “several members of the Squadra Mobile” approach the blogger and “push and hit him”.



[Above: The Perugia blogger’s own video on 28 October 2008 of one example of the “aggression” which has provoked a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists to the Italian President and 20 other international figures. Moments afterwards, he falls backwards, into the media scrum. Were he to have been attacked by “several members” of the Squadra Mobile, Stephanie Kercher – Meredith’s sister pictured at front on the right – would have been a point-blank witness to the crime. He had his camera aggresively in her face.

In addition, all of the Italian and international news cameras following the Kercher family from behind would have taped the perpetrators of such an aggression, if any. CPJ could use its contacts with media outlets present that day (there were dozens of journalists) to obtain video of the aggression, filmed from just a couple of metres away.]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“When the trial of Knox and Sollecito began that December, Squadra Mobile continued to harass him. They regularly tried to prevent him from entering the court”

What are the requirements for entering a court session in Perugia? What priorities are assigned for press access? What press credentials have to be produced? What press credentials did the Perugian blogger have in December of 2008? Did he have any? Was this harassment witnessed by other journalists in Perugia to report on the trial?

Has the CPJ contacted other journalists covering the court sessions to inquire as to access procedures, or whether they saw the Perugian blogger being given a hard time (maybe he tried to access extra-early before other journalists – in order to get a good spot – and there were no other witnesses to the access harassment he suffered in these over-capacity court sessions).

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“ . . . mouthed insults at him from across the courtroom; and stared over his shoulder as he took notes. ‘This was done in the presence of the judge, the Carabinieri [the military police], and the court guards, but they would do nothing,’ Sfarzo told CPJ.”

In all the images that I have seen of the courtroom in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the reporters are at the back, against the wall. Was there a “safety lane” which police officers patrolled behind the reporters and which they used to spy on the blogger over his back?

Did the police officers spy on any other reporters? Did any other reporters notice the alleged spying carried out on the blogger, or was it done in such a surreptitious manner that no one realized what was going on?

Please! Look at photos of the press area in the Perugia courtroom! It seems physically difficult for anyone but other reporters to be looking over reporters’ (or bloggers’) backs.



[Above: The Perugian courtroom where Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were tried. At the back behind the railing and against the wall: the press. In front of the railing: defendants’ family members and other authorized parties.  In front of family members: guards.  Finally, in the foreground, the defendants and their lawyers. For the national police to have looked over the blogger’s shoulder as he made notes, they would have to have elbowed their way through the press to an indiscrete and obvious positioning behind him (or, he would have had to been in a location not assigned to the Press, such as the defendants’ family zone, which could be a possibility). Have you asked the Perugian blogger about his relation to the Knox-Mellas family both in and outside of the courtroom? Is it limited to simply interviewing them from time to time, or is this relationship much closer with individual members of the family, beyond a traditional reporter-subject relationship?]


By listing the complicit passivity of the judges, the Carabinieri and the court guards in addition to the Polizia di Stato, CPJ does seem to have swallowed quite a large conspiracy, where Prosecutor Mignini not only is pulling the strings of three different police forces, but also the presiding judge of the case. The only way to make this bigger-than-life Evil Mignini Conspiracy into something bigger would be to turn it into a Hollywood movie.



[Above: The Monster of Florence movie rights have been purchased by Tom Cruise. Any and all ways of stirring up and mixing up the English-speaking press’s coverage of Mignini’s Narducci investigation from 2001 onwards, and linking it and the high profile trial of American Amanda Knox to the decades old 1970’s and 1980’s Monster of Florence murders is free publicity for the book and movie”  (Photo source: The Wrap)]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The harassment reached its peak on September 28, 2010, when five officers of Squadra Mobile forcibly entered Sfarzo’s apartment. They did not produce a warrant or show their badges, Sfarzo told CPJ. Four of the five shoved Sfarzo to the ground, struck him, handcuffed him, and climbed on top of him, crushing his air supply, he told CPJ.”

Has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims of mistreatment? One thing I don’t understand is where is the link between the blogger’s alleged mistreatment and Mr. Mignini?

If any blogger in Perugia feels that he or she has been bothered by the police, can they get the CPJ to intervene against Mignini even if there is no direct link that we can see?

Has the CPJ contacted the Questura (main police station) of Perugia to inquire as to the reason the team of officers was sent to the blogger’s home? Who was the police chief who sent them? Did Mignini just pick up his phone in his magistrate’s office, call the Questura and ask his policeman friends to go over and rough up a local blogger?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Next, the officers took Sfarzo to the Perugia city hospital, where they claimed he had attacked them; they persuaded a doctor to issue a medical report for the injuries Sfarzo was alleged to have caused. In addition, the Squadra Mobile officers brought Sfarzo before a psychiatrist, demanding that she issue him a certificate of insanity.”

Again, has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims? Has it been in contact with the doctors at the hospital who examined the blogger?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“From the hospital, the officers brought a handcuffed and injured Sfarzo to their headquarters, where, in the blogger’s words, they “displayed me as a trophy,” referring to him as “the bastard who defends Amanda [Knox].” The officers refused Sfarzo’s requests to call his lawyer or his relatives, and put him in a cell for the night.”

Has the blogger’s lawyer taken any action to sue the police officers who allegedly attacked him? The normal starting point would be a formal complaint: has the CPJ requested confirmation that this incident legally exists from the blogger’s point of view, specifically that a complaint was filed at the time it allegedly occurred? If it exists, has the CPJ examined this complaint and inquired with police authorities as to the progress achieved in resolving it?

The truth of the matter is that this is reminiscent of one aspect of the Meredith Kercher murder case, where Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, parents of convicted killer (pending appeal) Amanda Knox were interviewed by John Follain of The Times of London. “Curt says: ‘Amanda was abused physically and verbally’” during her questioning on the night of 5 November 2007.

Now it may be that the same standards that the CPJ applies to Mignini also apply to the police who questioned Amanda on that evening, namely that they can be accused of crimes (beating a suspect) without the accusers having to provide anything to substantiate the accusation. However, in reality, as you can imagine (and probably as you or I would do), those police officers are suing Amanda’s parents for slander. Alas, in the days (and weeks and years) after Amanda’s arrest, it seems that no complaint of police brutality was ever actually filed with the police.


Above: The Knox-Mellas family members have repeated claims that Amanda was physically abused in her interrogation which started after 11 p.m. on the night of 5 November 2007 and was stopped at 1:45 a.m. They are in their rights to do so, but the OPJ should also recognise that police officers who are the targets of such accusations have the right to respond using the law to defend their honour and reputation. Or is that not so?  (Source of posts: discussion board of the original Steve Huff True Crime Weblog)

In fact, Amanda’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga even denied at one point that she had been poorly treated, as the Perugian blogger informed the world on his site.


[LETTER CONTINUES below in the next post. Click here. Please post any comments under that post.]


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why The FOA’s Increasingly Hapless Steve Moore Should Probably Stay Well Away From TV

Posted by SomeAlibi

 

Steve Moore’s presentation in the recent Case for Innocence forum in Seattle to a small bunch of undergrads and other parties left me nearly speechless. 

I consider that the number of errors in Moore’s presentation were so numerous that it was quite astonishing that this was the work of a man who claims he has been involved on this case for a year and who claims he has professional experience in law enforcement. 

A big statement but it’s not one that’s hard to justify.  Steve Moore will be our principal witness.  He will repeat for you, if you watch the above youtube video, at least six absolute howlers of misstatement, misunderstanding and exaggeration and many other medium sized ones.

Worst of all of these, he states a core aspect of the prosecution case (proof of the staged break-in at the cottage due to broken glass being on-top of clothes that had already been tossed on the floor) completely upside down. 180 degrees wrong and back to front… and he does it repeatedly in a way that makes it impossible to conclude anything else than he doesn’t actually understand central and important points of evidence against the person he would seek to help.  For a law enforcement or legal professional, that is a serious issue.

Let’s begin:

Steve opens by asserting he has been involved with sticking away nine people to a sentence of life without parole. Crassly, and I think he thinks it is humorous, he states that “two of them have completed that sentence” (think about it - he means they are dead and is seeking to have a laugh about it) “..and seven remain in prison.” He is met with not a single titter. Steve gets really crass by having another go at the same joke: “Actually the other two remain in prison too, they’re just not aware of it.” Deafening silence.

Remember Steve is the guy who positioned a bible, an ammo clip and a mortgage statement behind him in interview (seriously) and whose wife Michelle likes to remind people he’s a sniper? All part of the tough-god-fearing-guy image.  The dead-convicts thing is part of the same swagger. I’m really impressed myself. How about you?

In passing, shall we reflect that if you’ve been in the FBI for nearly 25 years and were a “supervisor”, nine sentences of life without parole is really rather surprisingly low?

At 41:20 of the YouTube clip, we start to see an old line used before: “Just prior to the conviction my wife said ‘I’ve seen some things that concern me’”. Steve goes on to say that he said to Michelle “I will prove within a day that she’s guilty” but that this turned into two months of investigation where he concluded “she” *(Amanda) was not. Three issues with this:

  • I don’t know a single law enforcement professional or lawyer who would ever say to you that they could prove someone was guilty or not guilty in a single day review of a capital crime case. It’s just not feasible and anyone who does this for a living knows this. The hyperbole is off the charts, as per usual.

  • Steve’s story about Michelle’s challenge and the “one day” proof doesn’t match anything he wrote on the Injustice in Perugia website where instead he said “But then I began to hear statements from the press that contradicted known facts” which led him to investigate.  Which one is it?  A one day challenge or a gradual accumulation of knowledge and investigation? 

  • In fact, as we know, Michelle herself let slip that the Moores were “approached” by Bruce Fisher, a pseudonym for the person who runs Injustice In Perugia, and when this was pointed out on PMF.org that it flatly contradicted the previously announced statement (a wifely challenge to a husband with no prior contact), that same day, she deleted her entire “Michellesings” blog from the web – all of it – to remove what she had said in what bore a remarkable resemblance to a panicked action.

It was further underlined when Michelle subsequently re-created her blog with just a single letter difference in the title.  That give away on the internet undermines the whole story of how Steve Moore, from LA, got involved in this case which he has told many times (in various versions admittedly) in public. 

At 43:22 Moore makes a baseless overstatement – “[Rudy Guede] was a known burglar who had 5 to 6 burglaries in the last month”. We have to stop the clock here and be very serious: this is an exaggeration which neither I nor anyone I know who has a good handling of the facts of this case has ever stated.  It was once stated by a Daily Mail journalist many moons ago, the same Daily Mail the Friends of Amanda revile for other articles but *it never made it into evidence* because of course it wasn’t true.  And by this time, in 2011, one needs to know the *evidence* not repeat baseless conjecture because it supports “your” case.  Please reflect for a second…

Guede is accused of being in a school without permission for which the police didn’t even bother to prosecute, so it wasn’t a burglary. Bzzt. We all know he handled a stolen laptop but there was no suggestion of a burglary related to it, as much as one can see the hypothesis.

We know that another witness said someone like Guede was in his house but he was discounted as unreliable.  I am a vociferous critic of Guede but one cannot take a law enforcement professional seriously who massively inflates evidence. “5 or 6 burglaries in a month”? NO-ONE in the case, in the official body of evidence, has ever suggested that.

Such a suggestion from a law enforcement professional is hugely undermining if it can’t be proven, and it can’t.  Nor has it been ever suggested by Amanda or Raffaele’s own legal counsel. If this was stated in court without proof (and, again, there is none), we would all rightly expect that to destroy the credibility of that law enforcement professional. Baseless assertion is a serious issue.

Moore then suggests that Meredith came home after Guede broke in. Sounds prima facie reasonable, but again, anyone who knows the evidence and is familiar with the scene knows that the green outer shutters were open and the gate and the walk up the drive faced that window. And Meredith didn’t see the broken-into window? Oh really? 

Rudy Guede, a burglar standing directly in front of an open window apparently half-pulled one shutter to, but left the other open three open and himself clearly visible from the drive when “tossing” Filomena’s bedroom - without taking anything? Then how about Amanda Knox, walking in day-light up to the house the next morning who claims she didn’t see the open shutters. 

It is over one hundred feet from the gate to that window, and on the 2nd of November, the shutters were open on the left as we look in and marginally more shut on the right.  This is consistent with the police statements at the time and it is trite to say, no, they haven’t been opened by the police. 

The left hand one (right as Massei relates from a direction of looking *out* from the house) is “half-closed in the sense that fully open is with it pushed against the outside wall.  The right hand one as you can see is marginally more shut. 

Can you really imagine a burglar who has climbed up to the shutters to open them, then climbed down and gone up to the drive to find a rock, then climbed down under the window and up again before miraculously getting in without a scratch, nick or spot of DNA would turn round inside and partially close the right hand shutter but not close the left hand one?  It makes literally no-sense.

Amanda Knox asks you believe that as she walked 100+ feet up the drive she didn’t notice it either.  That’s the first time.  The second time she returned to the cottage she was already “panicked” about the open door, the evidence of blood and unknown faeces and was returning to the cottage.  And she walked up the hundred feet again and didn’t notice… again.  Nor did Raffaele who was so concerned he suggested they return notice?

I suggest to you there’s more than enough reason Amanda has her hand to her face looking at the open shutters in this picture taken on 2nd November!  (Please note, this image has IBERPress logo on it.  I am linking it on another website, not created by us, which is publicly available and presumably asserts fair-use, but all rights are acknowledged by this site).

You’d leave that open as a burglar would you, facing the gate and the road?  Total nonsense.  And no, again, it hasn’t been moved.

Steve then suggests, in contravention of every banking security protocol I’ve ever heard of, that Guede, while having just murdered someone and held two towels to her neck in panic at that, then completely relaxed and phoned Meredith’s bank with her own mobile phone to try to get an ATM number *while still in the cottage* based on the mobile cell records.

Have you ever heard of a bank that will give you your pin number over the phone without substantial cross-checking of private passwords / other information that Guede couldn’t possibly know about Meredith?  Moore also neglects to mention that Rudy would also have to have phoned Meredith’s voicemail two minutes before, something the call records show.

The reason for this suggestion is that Steve is trying to support the defence case for a time of death for Meredith that is incompatible with Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s involvement. Steve neglects to mention that Amanda and Raffaele tried to establish an alibi for a time of *11pm* for their dinner at Raffaele’s flat which was destroyed by Raffaele’s own father who stated that Raffaele mentioned matters relating to having completed dinner at around 8.30pm.  No-one at this panel talk ever heard of *that*...

Steve and others suggest Amanda and Raffaele dated for 2 weeks. The only people who disagree with this are Amanda and Raffaele’s team, who state one week. Ho hum.  Not really important.  Just sloppy.

Steve suggests that what the prosecution alleged in the trial was that Amanda and Raffaele “Decided for the first time that they are going to do a threesome” with Rudy Guede. Again, anyone with the slightest knowledge of this case knows the prosecution never alleged this “threesome”.  They alleged a sexually aggravated murder of Meredith Kercher.  A threesome? Where does Moore get this stuff from?

Again, totally undermining of his credibility. How many black marks are we up to? I’ve lost count. To be fair, Paul Ciolino the P.I. who has worked on the case and belongs to the FOA started covering his mouth during Steve’s presentation.  In body language terms, that’s not terribly supportive… 

On this topic of the threesome he’s invented in his head that no-one else mentioned, Steve states: “They decide to choose a burglar whom they don’t know real well – they’ve only met once. Raffaele had only met him that day. Raffaele said ‘that’s a great idea, lets bring this guy who is a burglar whom I don’t know and he can have sex with my girlfriend’”.

Rather inauspicious logic, Steve. If they didn’t know him, they would not have known he was a burglar? Yet you transplant those words into the mouth of a fictional Raffaele Sollecito to make a cheap, but ultimately beautifully self-defeating, point. Amanda, of course, says she met Rudy many times in passing, as did Rudy about Amanda. I’m very interested that Steve also stated “Raffaele had only met him that day” because of course Raffaele and Amanda never admitted that. Where does that come from? Please tell…. Bzzt, bzzt, bzzt.

Moore then states that the prosecution case is that “Rudy goes in first and then Meredith screams. Then Amanda comes in and sides with the rapist.” Again, anyone with a perfunctory knowledge of this case knows that is not the prosecution case. This is hugely undermining because once again he is misinforming a public gathering on the case presented against Knox.

You can disagree with the case against Knox, but actually fundamentally misstating it?  At this point, with so many marks on the board, I started asking myself… how is it possible that he doesn’t know all this? 

And that question I still don’t have an answer to. 

But it gets worse…

Now we get to one of the most egregious sections of the whole presentation and misleading of the audience: concerning the blood spattered apartment, Moore makes a major case that Perugian police released the picture of the vividly pink Phenolphthalein stained bathroom as being the *blood* stained bathroom where Amanda Knox showered.

Please watch the video and see how nakedly this is suggested. He juxtaposes the picture of the sink as it was on November the 2nd with the post-phenolphthalein shot and says that the prosecution alleged “that’s what Amanda saw, that’s it.. that’s what was really there. That’s when you start saying ‘oh my god’. Knowing that the jurors are not sequestered… they released this and said ‘that’s blood’”.

Here’s how Moore presented it:


The fact that the ACTUAL pictures of the scene *he himself uses on the left* were in the core evidence bundle in front of the jury as prime exhibits as any lawyer or serious law professional should immediately appreciate is ignored. It must be ignored because of course otherwise no-one could come up with such a patently incoherent line of logic. I’m losing count of the pieces of lack of knowledge and logic by now. How about you? 

Re the staged break in – “one of the most incredible lies I have ever seen in a court-room outside of Iran.” Have you been involved in an Iranian court proceedings Steve? No. Mo(o)re hyperbole.

Next, a baffling and possibly funny line of reasoning if the matter wasn’t so serious. Moore proceeds to state that it was “very obvious the stone was thrown from outside and busted the shutter open.” So far so normal as an FOA meme – no issue. Except he then goes on to state more than once “The Perugian police said that a rock was thrown inside the house [to] outside the house.”

Huh? To “outside the house”? Are you perchance suggesting that the prosecution were saying the rock was thrown from “inside to outside” the house, then they went down and recovered it and replaced it in the bedroom where it was found and photographed which you would have seen if you had a sound knowledge of the case? Because no-one else has ever said that ever Steve! Not once! Huh? Outside the house? My head hurts. Does anyone have any pills?

Then Steve makes a point of highlighting some embedded glass in the wooden frame of the interior shutter as evidence of a rock thrown from the outside-in, when, again, it is blindingly obvious to anyone that the broken window could have been actioned from inside with exactly the same result. He’s so carried away with himself that he doesn’t even notice. It’s not that unsurprising I guess because he hasn’t noticed the legion other mistakes he’s made so far.

Next statement “Anyone who thinks the rock was thrown from inside out is either an idiot or lying”. It’s simply not logical Steve; as anyone can see it would have been possible to smash the window from inside, whether you actually agree that happened or not. Again, baseless exaggeration. You don’t have to agree but stop with the hyperbole!

56 minutes in we get to a huge howler where Moore completely misstates the prosecution case on the staged break-in and doesn’t appear to have even thought about it enough to see the obvious logical hole in what he is about to say.  In my original notes to this talk I jotted down “Amazing and astounding – doesn’t understand the clothes / glass point:”.

Moore says:

They [the prosecution] say that the reason they know that this was staged is because when they got there, there was clothes on top of the glass, the broken glass in the room. Well you’d think that the glass would be on top of everything wouldn’t you? Unless a burglar came in and started throwing things on the floor after the glass was broken. If you look on the bed you’ll see a purse. You’ll see the contents of the purse all over the floor, all over the bed. You will see that he went through her clothes hamper there, her clothes cabinet there, threw everything on the floor. That is why there are clothes on top of the glass. Why is that so hard?

Steve, you’ve stated this 180 degrees completely wrong.  The prosecution case is that both the police and Filomena, Amanda’s flatmate, stated there was glass on top of clothes which had been apparently tossed by a burglar (not vice versa) and on top of a laptop that was closed but which had previously been open.  The point is that it shows that the room was ransacked and *then* the glass was broken, proving the staging of the burglary. 

In any court of law I have seen, if you can show a supposedly authoritative witness, who shall we not forget has been on this case for a *year*, has such a bad handle on the evidence, you can get a jury laughing and that witness completely discounted.  This is, in my opinion, what Moore did to himself somewhat prior to this point, but by the end of this point, absolutely comprehensively.  How is it possible to misunderstand the case so clearly?  Ciolino and Waterbury both look very uncomfortable at this point.

Next point: a pearly Steve quote: “When is a murder weapon not a murder weapon? When the Perugian police say it is.”

Uhhh… think about it…. That’s not actually what you meant to say, is it? What you meant is “When is a non-murder weapon, a murder weapon? When the Perugian police say it is”. Given Steve’s penchant for getting things upside down and arse-backwards, perhaps we should not be surprised, but call me a stickler for suggesting people get their arguments right.  Steve compounds this 180-degree misstatement in the Q&A session by stating that the defence will try and throw a million things against the wall in the appeal and see if something will stick.  The defence?  Like those representing Amanda Knox, Steve?  Huh?  With the glass, the “murder weapon” and “defence” points, Moore appears to not be able to listen to what he himself is saying.  It’s just… bizarre…

Steve then makes a big point about the Raffaele cooking knife being the wrong shape for the mark on the bedsheet without mentioning the fact that two knives were posited in the case. Nice and misleading. Still not representing the basics of the case to those assembled.

As we approach the end of this car-crash, Moore makes a big point that “they say Amanda was in front of her and stabbed her like this”. He then mimics a vertical stabbing motion and makes a distinction of the lateral cut compared to vertical method of attack. But no-one ever said this definitively in court and Massei clearly states the blood spurts on the wardrobe (i.e. facing away from the attackers) are from the neck injury. Mo(o)re fabrication. How many is it now?

There is a chuckle-worthy moment where Moore uses the different exposures of pictures of the bra-clasp on the original investigation versus that taken on December 16th as clear evidence of “contamination”. A 2 second glance shows this is an exposure issue unsubstantiated by other pictures which again are in front of the jury.

Unsurprisingly, he then goes on to make the standard declaration that the gathering of the bra-clasp with Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA on it on December 16th “delay” as “apparently not important” to the prosecution.  He neglects to mention that it was a sealed crime scene where the passage of time can have no effect on the forensic value of evidence *if no-one is within the sealed crime-scene*.  He also neglects to mention the delay was due in substantial part to the requirement to invite the defence to attend…

To finish, a damp whimper after these major trumpetings of lack of knowledge and/or understanding: a statement about a pillow under Meredith’s body: “Guess what they found on there – semen and the police refused to test it”. It has been suggested but without testing, we obviously can’t know it’s semen. Again, serious legal professionals don’t make absolute statements like this about unproven evidence.

Amanda Knox is incarcerated for 26 years.  As someone who has been involved in many defences of individuals charged with serious criminal matters, it is unacceptable to me that people willing to hold themselves out as prominent supporters of an imprisoned person who have experience in the law or law enforcement show that they don’t know, appreciate, or are able to process core aspects of the case against that person.

In my opinion, this performance was inexcusably weak and must raise serious questions about the judgement of those seeking to help Amanda.  Would you want this sort of standard of knowledge held out as adequate, as representing a member of your core Home team?  I sincerely hope not.  Only the lack of knowledge of the case and the partisan support in the room stopped Moore from being extremely badly shown up in the Q&A session. 

There’s a meme in the supporters of Amanda camp that says that pro-prosecution commentators cost Moore his job at Pepperdine.  It’s nonsense. Moore got himself removed before most of us had ever heard of him.

Neither I nor anyone else I am aware of ever wrote to his *former* employer before he was fired.  Nor did I write to them afterwards either because I considered they had a simple case against him and he’d like it if we were involved. Once I did write that I wanted to take down Steve Moore, by which I meant stop him posting misleading statements about the Meredith Kercher case using his career as credentials. 

But following this performance at the Case for Innocence forum, in my opinion, it is quite evident that Steve Moore has done it comprehensively and totally to himself.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Will Savive On Amanda Knox On The Witness Stand On The Afternoon Of June 12 2009 (2)

Posted by Peter Quennell





Knox’s other defense lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, then took the floor to question Knox.

Before questioning began, Mr. Dalla Vedova and Judge Massei asked Knox if she was too tired to continue. Knox stated that she was “ok to proceed.” Judge Massei advised Knox that being fresh and lucid is important while on the stand and that if at any time she feels tired and wants to stop to say “Basta” and the court will take a short recess. Knox thanked the judge and the questioning resumed.

Mr. Dalla Vedova began with a puzzling line of questioning that didn’t seem to have a purpose, but somehow he connected the questioning to Knox’s prison diaries and how she was told that she may have had AIDS—a ploy claimed to be a plot to extract from Knox how many sexual partners that she’d had.

Dalla Vedova began by asking Knox about her family and why she decided to come to Perugia. They then began discussing a particular writing course that she had taken at Washington State University. It was unclear, at this point, where Dalla Vedova was leading with this line of questioning; though prosecutors made no objections as the questioning was virtually irrelevant to the case and was not helping her defense anyway. One would assume that prosecutors would let this continue all day.

Mr. Dalla Vedova led the questioning to Knox’s writing, which she described as a way of expressing herself. Knox claimed that she often kept a diary, even back home, as a way to “let off steam” and to “understand herself.” While in prison, Knox kept a diary up until 29 December 2007, which at that time was confiscated by prison officials and held in her dossier.

Knox testified that she was faced with the choices of surrendering her diary willfully to prison officials or they would come retrieve it with a warrant; Knox gave it wittingly. The confiscated diary was at one point analyzed by one of Britain’s top criminal psychologists, Dr. David Wilson. In the diary Knox describes that when she first arrived in prison, blood was taken from her. Later, prison officials explained to her that the results of the blood test indicated that she may have AIDS.

She claimed he asked her to write down all of the men that she had slept with up to that point, which totaled “seven men.” Knox claimed to the court that for two weeks she was made to think that she had AIDS, but in fact, they were only trying to dig-out from her how many men she had slept with in order to paint her in court as a promiscuous woman. All of this was apparently done on the sly.

Also in that diary, Knox turned on Sollecito for the first time, speculating that he could have killed Meredith and framed her. “This could have happened: Raffaele went to Meredith’s house, raped her and killed her and then, having come back home, pressed my fingerprints—I was asleep—onto the knife,” Knox wrote.

Seeing how Mr. Dalla Vedova’s questioning was leading them nowhere, the more skilled Luciano Ghirga took over the questioning. Ghirga takes Knox back to her arrival in Perugia. They briefly discuss how well her Italian has gotten since she first arrived and what languages she spoke with some of her friends and roommates in Perugia. Knox claimed that she had been spending most of her time in prison studying, which is why her Italian has improved so much over the last two years.

Knox claimed that she was currently reading Hadrian’s Memoirs by Marguerite Yourcenar; a French writer, and she was reading the Italian version.  Mr. Ghirga then asked Knox to describe her relationship with her three female roommates. Knox stated that Laura was a lawyer during the day and a free-spirited guitar player at night. They often played guitar together—Knox borrowing Laura’s second guitar—and practiced yoga.

With Meredith, Knox testified that they would often discuss literature, because Meredith was always reading. Ghirga spent the next several minutes establishing the relationship between Knox and Kercher. At some point the discussion turned to Meredith’s English friends who had testified on day four of the trial.

Luciano Ghirga: Did you also get together with Meredith’s English friends?

Amanda Knox: Yes, but not much. [Laughs] Not much, because in the end, after I got a job with Patrick, we didn’t get together much, because they didn’t go to my university, they went to Meredith’s university. So we didn’t meet there, and then I wasn’t going around having fun any more, I was going to work. But that was fine.

Luciano Ghirga: But you preferred to be with Italians or foreigners?

Amanda Knox: I preferred to be with Italians, because I wanted to feel Italian, I didn’t come to Italy to feel English.

Mr. Ghirga then asked Knox what she thought about the assertions of Meredith’s English friends. The question was intercepted by Judge Massei who wanted Ghirga to be more specific with his question: the reason for this is, as Italian law prescribes, the witness (Knox in this case) is not permitted to give his or her impressions on the testimony of others.

After a brief discussion Ghirga clarified, asking Knox what she thought of the assertions of the girls that there was friction between Knox and Kercher towards the end. Knox disagreed with these assertions, claiming that for her there was no friction in the house.

According to Knox, the reason why she hadn’t been hanging around with Meredith towards the end was because she was working at Le Chic and had no time to go out and socialize. Ghirga asked Knox if she had been aware of any “candeggina” (“bleach”) in the cottage at the time of the murder. “I didn’t know if there was any there, in the house,” Knox replied.

Knox stated in her testimony (which was confirmed by her cell phone records) that she had asked Meredith via text messaging to meet up with her on Halloween night. Oddly, Knox testified that she had met a male friend (not Sollecito) at Merlin’s Pub, but she did not go inside the pub. Meredith was at this pub with friends and Knox met the boy outside as he exited the pub, but she did not go inside to speak to Meredith.

Knox alluded that she did not know that Meredith was inside the bar, and that she only knew that Meredith had gone to dinner with friends. This may have been because Meredith had not replied to the last two text messages sent by Knox. Maybe there was a reason why Meredith did not want Knox to know where she was going for the evening? In any event, it was well known that Merlin’s Pub was Meredith’s favorite bar in the area and that she often frequented that establishment.

Mr. Ghirga then takes Knox back to the night of 1 November 2007. There was nothing new that came out of this questioning, just reiteration of information that had already been said. One can wonder what the good lawyer was trying to accomplish by this line of questioning. In fact, Ghirga was trying to go through the day of November 1st with Knox, but she could not remember the times that any of the events had occurred.

As Ghirga prodded into the day’s events, he made several suggestions—leading the witness. This was met by objections from Francesco Maresca. There was, however, one interesting piece of testimony to come out of this exchange; one that did not necessarily help the defense. Ghirga asked Knox if she usually turned her phone off at night. Knox responded, “Not usually, because I use it as a clock, an alarm clock, so usually I don’t, but on that night I did.”

Ghirga wisely left that response alone and moved on to November 2nd, but again there was nothing new or helpful to her defense. At several points during Ghirga’s questioning of Knox, it seemed as if he hadn’t ever met with her before. Usually in criminal cases such as this, the suspect’s lawyer will rehearse the questions with the defendant or at least ask questions that he is aware that his client can answer. Yet, as the questioning continued it became evident that this was not a well thought-out interview.

Mr. Ghirga then requested the judge’s permission to play the court an audio taped conversation between Amanda and Filomena on 5 November 2007, at 10:29p.m. The call—which originated from Knox’s phone—was intercepted by police. T

The two spoke mostly in Italian, then at one point Filomena switched to speaking English. Her English was hard to understand. Ghirga stopped the tape periodically to ask Knox a question or two then restarted the tape. At the time of the call Knox was in the police station.

Knox had gone with Sollecito to the police station and she was waiting by the elevators for him to reappear. During the call Filomena asks Knox her whereabouts. Knox responds, “At the police station.” Filomena seems surprised and asks, “So you’re there again today?”

The reason for the call was apparently to discuss where they were going to live. The remaining roommates (Laura and Filomena) were trying to get out of the contract with the agency that they had rented the cottage from and find another place. Filomena informed Knox that she had an appointment the following day (November 6th) with that agency to discuss the situation.

Again, the purpose of Ghirga playing the call was unclear, other than to show that Knox’s main preoccupation was where she was going to be living-out the rest of her days in Perugia. Following the ending of the conversation, Ghirga discusses why neither Knox nor her family were concerned about the continued questioning by police.

Luciano Ghirga: I see. So, in all these days, following the discovery of the body, did you ever think about turning to the American Embassy, or to a lawyer?

Amanda Knox: No.

Luciano Ghirga: Because they were calling you every day to the Questura.

Amanda Knox: No, no. More than anything, I thought they wanted to talk to me so much because I was the closest person to Meredith in the house. And then, I was the person who went back to the house and found the mess. I never thought I needed a lawyer or to talk to the Ambassador, because I thought, okay, I’ll just answer a couple of questions, and then I can get on with my life, I don’t know. And I still had to orient myself in the world around me; I never even thought of contacting someone like a lawyer.

Luciano Ghirga: And the fact that you were being called every day to the Questura, didn’t that worry you and your family?

Amanda Knox: [Sigh] For me, I didn’t understand why, but I really never, never thought that they suspected me; never.

Luciano Ghirga: When they arrested you, did they tell you why? When they put the handcuffs on your wrists, on the morning of the 6th?

Amanda Knox: If they told me, I didn’t understand it. Because in the end, when I found myself—

Luciano Ghirga: And what did you think, when they put the handcuffs on you?

Amanda Knox: I was surprised. I thought—they told me “Come on, it’s just for a couple of days, because we’re protecting you,” so I said “All right, fine, but actually, you’re not even listening to me.” And then in those following days, when I was like ah—when I was alone in the cell, in those days, I was suddenly brought in front of the judge, with two lawyers, and they said “Ah, you are accused of murdering Meredith,” and I just stood there with my mouth open with everybody staring at me like “Hmmm.”

Luciano Ghirga: On the morning of the 6th, you didn’t understand why they were arresting you.

Amanda Knox: No. No. I—they—I thought that, as I had understood from them, that it was a formality that they had to do because there was some testimony that I had been near the scene of the crime or something like that.

Luciano Ghirga: But in the days that you spent in prison before that, before you met the undersigned lawyer Ghirga, what were you thinking during those days? What did you think was happening?

Amanda Knox: In those days, I only wanted to clarify the things that I hadn’t understood before, those images that I had imagined, that contradicted the reality that I remembered. This was my main preoccupation. For me, those days were a big moment of crying and confusion, and fear, and cold. Really, it was freezing.

Mr. Ghirga then requests that the remainder of the defenses’ questioning be suspended until the following day because he sensed that Knox was getting tired. Judge Massei denied the request, citing that the following days proceedings were scheduled for cross-examination by the prosecution.

Knox’s defense had squandered precious time on irrelevant issues, and now they were feeling the pressure. Perhaps it was just that Knox didn’t really have much to offer in the way of her defense.

A discussion ensued, and Judge Massei conceded that he would allot time the next day—only in the morning—for the defense to continue if need be. In the meantime, Judge Massei ordered a ten-minute break.

The questioning recommenced at 5:16p.m., with Carlo Dalla Vedova again taking the floor. Dalla Vedova began by bringing Knox back to the 17 December 2007 interrogation. Conducting the seven hour interrogation was the public prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini.

Knox recalls that she had an interpreter—Australian born Giulia Clemish. Knox explained that she was quite frustrated with her because she was not a very good interpreter and this led to much confusion. Dalla Vedova interjected that they had to get a different interpreter to translate the translator.

Dalla Vedova then asks about how she got the nickname “Foxy Knoxy.” Knox explains that the nickname came out of the fact that she was a defender in soccer and that it also rhymed with her name, “fox,” “Knox.”

Alessandro Clericuzzio, the interpreter responsible for retranslating the whole December 17th interrogation, translated “Foxy Knoxy” to “Mean Fox.” Mr. Dalla Vedova was clearly trying to demonstrate how the phrase “Lost in translation” had applied to this situation, which then shows that this could have applied to things Knox had said during other interrogations.

Knox was asked if she knew that Meredith had taken out money prior to her death. Knox said she did not, and then she corrected herself. “Wait, one time she told this thing to Filomena that she could already give her the money and Filomena said no, let’s wait a little, but I didn’t know if she carried it around in her wallet or left it at home.”

As Knox indicated in earlier testimony, this conversation was in regard to the rent for November 2007, so Knox did have prior Knowledge to the fact that Kercher had already taken out money to pay the rent.

The final discussion of the day centered around Knox’s cell phone discussions with Filomena on the day that Meredith’s body was discovered. The final discussion also touched upon the time between when Knox first arrived at the cottage and when the first officers arrived.

Judge Massei took over the questioning at one point on the matter to get clarification on Knox’s story. His questioning continued for several minutes. Judge Massei asked Knox whether she knew if anyone was home the first time she claimed to arrive at the cottage on the morning of 2 November 2007 (allegedly after leaving Sollecito’s flat in the morning and returning to the cottage).

Knox told the court that she had called out the names, Filomena and Meredith, thinking that maybe they were home. She said that she knew Filomena was going to a party the previous night and she wasn’t sure if she had returned home by then or not. The brief segment that followed was just a reiteration of prior testimony, with Carlo Dalla Vedova retaking command of the floor.

At the conclusion of the defenses’ questioning of the witness, Judge Massei asked the prosecution if they wanted to begin their cross-examination. The prosecution seemed eager to get to questioning with Manuela Comodi saying, “We can start now or we can start tomorrow.”

Judge Massei asked Knox if she could continue, but Knox asked if questioning could be suspended for the day as she was tired. There was no doubt that the day had been long, drawn-out, and grueling for all present—particularly Knox. Realizing this, Judge Massei suspended the proceedings, announcing that they would continue the following morning at 9:00.

Posted on 04/22/11 at 09:13 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (17)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sad To See Anne Bremners Brother Doug Increasingly The Hottest Of The FOA Hotheads

Posted by Peter Quennell





Seattle lawyer Anne Bremner helped to bring the FOA alive and Michael Heavey into the talk circuit.

We have good reason to believe that a while back one of her brothers, Doug Bremner, thought she was taking things rather too far. But when Anne rose to major prominence in Seattle news last year, and not in a good way, she gave signs of retreating to the sidelines.

And now not only is Doug on his blog and twitter sounding hotter than Anne ever did - he also seems in unholy alliance with “Bruce Fisher” who runs his own muddled, sliming and largely fact-free campaign. 

As you can see described on PMF at great length in recent posts, Doug has got himself into a childish confrontation with a 16 year old blogger, Daric, who having actually read Massei and Barbie Nadeau on the case refuses to swallow the FOA kool-aid.

Now claims like these are appearing on Doug’s blog and twitter.

“Do not send your kids to Perugia. The judicial system and police are rated only above Iran and N. Korea. This is not safe for your kids.”

“Perugia and possibly all of Italy are a police state that is very dangerous without proper due process and rights.”

“Not an issue of nationalism or anti Italianism. This is a very serious issue. Italians have sloughed into a state where they lost freedom”

Hmmm. He seems to be channeling Preston & Spezi. Perhaps Doug and his commenters should check the real facts on the state of the Italian system.

In Italy complaints almost all revolve around it being too cautious, and thus too slow, and usually pretty lenient on the perps. Italians are mostly very proud of their system and almost never claim that it has gone haywire.

Here are some of its fundamental good qualities.

1) While Italy’s population is 1/6 that of the US its prison population is only 1/30 that of the US. It has no death penalty and its prison programs are considered among the most humane.

2) The checks and balances in the judicial system exceed those of any other country in the world and they are built into the (post WW II) constitution.

3) Cases usually pass through several magistrates’ hands before they ever go to trial, and Italian prosecutors have more hoops to jump through than any other prosecutors anywhere.

4) Prison sentences under three years are almost always suspended and in those cases no time is ever served.

5) Two levels of appeal are automatic, and usually convicted perps are free on bail throughout - and not regarded as convicted until the Supreme Court finally rules that they are.

And one other thing. If Doug is seriously trying to help Amanda Knox, he might accept that Amanda’s own lawyers have repeatedly asked for such sliming of the prosecution and the system to stop.

There is absolutely no sign that it works. And in fact the hard line taken in all trial outcomes and appeal outcomes so far may be indicating just the opposite.  .

Posted on 04/21/11 at 09:48 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2007Knox-Mellas teamHeavey, BremnerMore hoaxers
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (16)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Defenses’  Possible But Extremely Unlikely Star Witness Is Once Again Back In The News

Posted by Peter Quennell





Above: Mario Alessi. The defenses’ possible get-out-of-jail-free card.

That is if he actually agrees to testify in face of possible perjury charges, can do so credibly, and can weather a withering cross-examination from the prosecution which has already investigated his claims - and a possible reappearance of Rudy Guede on the stand.

Mario Alessi’s claim is that Rudy Guede confessed to him in their cell that he actually carried out the crime against Meredith with two others, not Sollecito and Knox. Guede has very adamantly denied this, and remains seething and maybe likely to hit back hard.

Alessi, a carpenter, actually has some assets in Sicily where he lived and where he murdered a baby boy. But he applied for legal aid for his trial and appeals and he got it - a lot of it. The total is nearly $200,000.

The prosecution then appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court of Cassation that Italian taxpayers should not be stuck with this very large tab. Yesterday the Supreme Court disagreed.

And so Alessi gets to keep his property in Sicily, and Italian taxpayers are indeed stuck with the large tab. Confidence boosting? The Perugia prosecution probably hopes so…

Posted on 04/20/11 at 12:34 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Other witnesses30 Alessi hoax
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (12)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Italian Parliament Is Now Moving On A Bill To Speed Up Many Trials And Appeals

Posted by Peter Quennell






Our poster Commissario Montalbano described back here how the surfeit of caution in the Italian legal system leads to protracted delays.

This proves tough on Italian police, prosecutors, judges and perps. It is especially tough on the families of victims, as Meredith’s father John Kercher explained here, here, and here.

Now Andrea Vogt reports on a promising if somewhat controversial reform bill already passed by the Italian parliament’s lower house which may speed up many trials, eliminate others, and cut down on the mandatory appeals.

The key provision of the new law is to reduce the time that trials take in Italy. Most Italians support this: they are fed up with a judicial system that is inefficient and moves at a snail’s pace.

There are millions of backlogged civil and criminal trials, which, when they finally get to court, can drag on interminably. Even the European Court of Human Rights has condemned Italy for its court delays…

Popular move on the whole, but it could also knock out a lot of seemingly deserved trials, and weaken judges by making them liable to civil actions.

Posted on 04/19/11 at 10:19 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The wider contextsItalian contextItalian system
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (4)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Three Excellent Websites Commenting On The Case That We Have No Connection With

Posted by Peter Quennell

TJMK has cross-posting relations with Miss Represented, and Peter Hyatt, and several other objective websites on Meredith’s case.

These below are three careful, objective websites we’ve had no connection with, but admire. Click on the images to get to them.


____________________________________________________________________________________________



____________________________________________________________________________________________



 

Posted on 04/18/11 at 12:42 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesGreat reportingMedia news
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (4)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Will Savive On Amanda Knox On The Witness Stand On The Afternoon Of June 12 2009 (1)

Posted by Peter Quennell





[This excerpt covers the questioning by Luciano Ghirga and the next will cover the questioning by Carlo Dalla Vedova]

The afternoon session began at exactly 1:38p.m., as declared by the presiding judge, Giancarlo Massei, who called Knox’s defense team for further examination. Knox took the stand again as her lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, stepped forward to begin his questioning.

Mr. Ghirga began by asking Knox the last time that she saw Meredith alive. Knox began by reiterating her previous version: which began around noon on November 1st, just before Meredith went to Robyn Butterworth’s apartment. This time, her answers were clear and concise. Knox further explained her first meeting with Raffaele Sollecito, the configuration of the living arrangements at the cottage (including who lived there with her and Meredith), and how the rent was paid.

Ghirga then began discussing Knox’s relationship with Meredith, trying to establish that there was no problem between them. Knox claimed that she and Meredith were close friends, but she did mention briefly that Meredith had expressed her discontent over her [Knox’s] cleaning habits; although she made excuses and downplayed the discussion. Knox snickered a bit and claimed that she “wasn’t the cleanest person in the house,” speaking of herself.

Going further into the night of the murder, Knox testified that she and Sollecito read a bit of the book Harry Potter, listened to music, watched the movie Amelie, and then ate a fish dinner around 9:30-10:00p.m. After dinner Knox told the court that Sollecito began doing the dishes. It was then that Knox claims that the sink began leaking water all over the floor. Sollecito was “displeased” she said, because he had recently had the sink fixed.

Sollecito didn’t have a mop, so they found some rags and let the water soak in, and Knox told him that she would go and get the mop she had at the cottage in the morning and bring it back to his place to clean the mess. Once that was determined, Knox says that they went into his room and smoked a joint (marijuana cigarette). After that she said that they had sex and then fell asleep.

From there Ghirga stepped back a few hours to the text message from Lumumba.

Knox said that she received his message “just before or right after” the movie had started. Knox claimed that she was so excited that she didn’t have to go into work that night that she jumped into Sollecito’s arms and screamed, “Woo!” Knox then reiterated her previous version in which she woke up the next morning around 10:00-10:30a.m etc (similar version in her November 4, 2007, email to family and friends).

Knox claims that they had plans to go to Gubbio, so she left his flat, went home to take a shower, and return to Raffale’s so that they could go to Gubbio. After noticing the blood in the bathroom and taking a shower, she returned to Sollecito’s flat.

There, Knox claims that they cleaned the floor in his apartment with the mop she retrieved from the cottage, and then ate breakfast and had coffee at Sollecito’s apartment. Knox then proceeded to testify that she called Meredith’s phone first, then she called Filomena, both from Sollecito’s apartment.

This varies from her 4 November 2007, email to family and friends, because in that email she wrote that she called Filomena first, and then Meredith. Also during her testimony, Knox never mentions running outside and banging on a neighbor’s door, which she writes about in her November 4th email.

Before the breaking of the door into Meredith’s room, Knox testified, “Yes, because I told them, look, the door is locked, and Filomena was going ‘Mamma Mia, it’s never locked, it’s never locked,’ and I said no, it’s not true that it’s never locked, but it is strange.” Knox testified that when Meredith’s door was broken down she was near the entrance.

Yet in her 4 November 2007, email to family and friends she claimed that she was “in the kitchen, having really done my part for the situation.” It also contradicts all other versions of those who were there at the time who claim that Knox was in the kitchen when the door was kicked-in.

Knox also claims that while in the car with Paola and her boyfriend, on the way to the police station, they informed her and Sollecito that Meredith’s throat had been cut.  This statement is suspect, however, as Paola testified that because of the “penumbra” (or “lack of light”) in the room, only a foot could be seen, no blood or anything else.

Knox claims that after she was told that Meredith’s throat was cut she cried. According to Luca and Paola’s testimony, Knox did cry in the car, and they also testified that they told Sollecito and Knox what they knew about how Meredith had died before they had gotten to the police station.

The questioning then switched to 4 November 2007 questioning when Knox was brought back to the crime scene.

Knox explained that the police requested her presence at the police station. Knox testified that she had requested to meet them at the cottage, but police asked her to meet them at the station first. She was driven there by Sollecito and the police then took her over to the cottage.

To her surprise, her other roommates, Laura and Filomena, were there; but they arrived without a police escort. Knox then briefly discussed her mental breakdown at the cottage when she was shown the knives. She claimed that she was very scared when shown the knives and that she was in shock; she claimed that she was just beginning to understand what exactly had happened there.

Luciano Ghirga then shifted questioning to what Knox had told police on November 4th about a man nicknamed “Shaky.”

On that date police had asked Knox to remember if there were any males who had visited the cottage that seemed like they could be dangerous. She could only think of one man who had made a bad impression on her since she had been in Perugia and his name was Shaky. Knox said that they called him Shaky because of the way he danced.

Amanda Knox: one time I had a, he [Shaky] went for example to the place where I worked, at the time when I was supposed to go home, it was very late, and he offered me a ride home on his motorbike. But during the ride, he insisted that I go have some dessert with him, and I said, “Look, I really want to go home,” and he said “No, look, I’m giving you a ride, a bit of dessert is nothing,” and he took me to have it, and then he took me to his house, which to me… 

I kept telling him again and again, “Look, I really want to go home, it’s really late, I’m really tired,” and he kept saying “No, no, relax, relax, come on, sit down on my bed, relax, make yourself comfortable.” I said “No, look, take me home.”

So he finally brought me home, and that was it, but it left me with an ugly impression because I thought he wanted to somehow try something, and he was the only person that had made an impression of strangeness on me, like he had intentions that were different from what I wanted. So he made that impression on me, but that’s all, because everybody else I met was nice.

Mr. Ghirga then switched question back to the November 4th, when police brought Knox to the cottage.

Mr. Ghirga asked Knox what conversations there were between her, Laura, and Filomena. Knox said that they discussed how stunned they were about what had happened, why nothing was stolen during the break-in, and the overall situation that had transpired thus far. Knox said that they also discussed future living arrangements, as the girls were staying with friends and Knox was staying with Sollecito.

On that day the three girls were talking about possibly moving-in together at a different location. Mr. Ghirga then said that he wanted to ask Knox about the evenings of the 5th and 6th, but he was cut-short by Judge Massei, who suspended the proceedings. The time was 2:30p.m., and judge Massei announced that they would have a break in the action and reconvene at 3:00p.m.

The trial picked-up again at 3:00p.m. Judge Massei called for silence and Luciano Ghirga resumed questioning. As Ghirga began to speak crowd noise could still be heard. Judge Massei again called for silence and Ghirga repeated his question, asking Knox about when she first came to Italy.

Amanda Knox had first moved into the cottage in Perugia in late September of 2007. She had previously been in Germany at her aunt’s house with her sister Deanna, and both Amanda and Deanna had gone straight to Italy afterwards.

Ghirga then asked Knox how many piercings that she had in her ear, as he pointed out that he counted eight on the left ear and four on the right ear; Knox agreed. It had appeared as though Mr. Ghirga was going to try to establish that the blood found at the scene of the crime that belonged to Knox came from the piercings. Yet, without warning, Ghirga said that he had exhausted the topic and went back to Knox’s interrogation on 5 November 2007.

Mr. Ghirga then asked Knox about her allegations that she was struck in the head by police:

Amanda Knox: So, during the interrogation, people were standing all around me, in front of me, behind me, one person was screaming at me from here [she points in front of her], another person was shouting ‘No no no, maybe you just don’t remember’ from over there [points to her left], other people were yelling other things, and a policewoman behind me did this to me [Knox mimics the sound of two whacks to the back of her head].

Luciano Ghirga: Once, twice?

Amanda Knox: Twice. The first time she did this, I turned around to her, and she did it again.

Luciano Ghirga: I wanted to know this precise detail.

Amanda Knox: Yes.

Luciano Ghirga: After all that, that whole conversation, that you told us about, and you had a crying crisis, did they bring you some tea, coffee, some cakes, something? When was that exactly?

Amanda Knox: They brought me things only after I had made some declarations. So, I was there, they were all screaming at me, I only wanted to leave because I was thinking that my mother was arriving, and I said look, can I have my telephone, because I want to call my mom. They said no, and there was this big mess with them shouting at me, threatening me, and it was only after I made declarations that they started saying “No, no, don’t worry, we’ll protect you,” and that’s how it happened.

Ironically, just moths earlier — at Rudy Guede’s trial — Luciano Ghirga undermined and contradicted his own client’s (Knox’s) story when he said, “There were pressures from the police but we never said she was hit.”

Knox then recalls being brought several papers to sign: arrest warrant, declarations, etc. She claimed that she wasn’t sure what the papers were, and that she just signed everything because she wanted to go home.  However, these papers were brought to her after she had been informed that she was under arrest, which she doesn’t make reference to during this exchange.

After repeated questioning about her unpleasant interrogation—in an effort to show that she made the confessions out of exhaustion, intimidation, and miscommunication—Knox claimed to have asked for a piece of paper and a pen so that police could be sure that they understood her. “Look, I’ll give you a present,” Knox claims to have told police, as she lets out a small laugh.

Knox then speaks about the second letter which she wrote when she was first taken to jail.

Amanda Knox: So in prison I again asked for paper, because that’s how I’m used to expressing myself, the way I succeed best, also to organize my thoughts,  I needed to write them down. I needed to reorganize all my thoughts, because at that point I was still confused, I still had these images in my memory that finally I understood were a mixture of real images in my memory from other days mixed with imagination. So I needed those pieces of paper, so I could take everything and put it in order.

Knox’s answer even seemed to confuse Ghirga, who responded by saying, “All right, I’ve finished the subject of the night in the Questura.”

Knox testified that she lost track of the hours and was unsure of any of the times involved. That is quite common when a suspect is initially confined. There had been some confusion after the murder as to why Knox did not leave the country when she had the chance. Knox claims that she had worked hard to get to Perugia and that she wanted to stay and finish her studies.  However, she also said that she asked police if she could leave the country and they said “No.”

Mr. Ghirga then attempted to clear-up the statement made by Knox (on November 17th of 2007), which she made to her mother and father. The calls were from prison and were recorded by police.

There was a long pause as Ghirga flipped through the transcript of the calls and found the quote on page eight. Once he found the page, he read Knox’s comments aloud to the court. Knox said to her mother and father, “I was there. I can’t lie about this. I’m not scared of the truth. It would be stupid to lie about this because I know I was there.” Knox responded by claiming that when she said, “I was there,” she meant that she was at Sollecito’s flat during the murder, not at the cottage.

Mr. Ghirga then pulled out a letter that was written by Knox on 9 November 2007, which was addressed to him; Ghirga claimed to have received it on November 12th. In the letter Knox writes in English that she “felt upset about mentioning Patrick Lumumba’s name.” The letter was not known at the time by any other party and that along with the fact that it was written in English and transcribed into Italian by Knox’s other lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, brought an objection by Prosecutor Manuela Comodi.

A small argument ensued over the translation of the letter from English to Italian. Prosecutor Comodi stated that she did not trust that the translation was accurate. Judge Massei settled the argument by letting the interpreter, who was there translating for Knox, translate the two lines in the letter that Mr. Ghirga was referring to.

After Ghirga had established that Knox had informed him that she was upset about falsely accusing Patrick Lumumba—which slightly clarified an earlier question posed by Lumumba’s lawyer—he then switched questioning to the morning after the murder.

Mr. Ghirga wanted to establish that Knox was not at the Conad Store on Sollecito’s street at 7:45a.m., the morning after the murder. These statements were made earlier in the trial by Mr. Quintavalle, who owned the store, and had testified that Knox was in his store at that time.

Knox denied being at the store at that time or on that day. She did admit to being in the store a couple of times on other occasions, but with Sollecito—never alone. Knox also denied ever owning a red coat or anything resembling a red coat, which Mr. Gioffredi had testified that she was wearing when he saw her.

The last questions from Mr. Ghirga were regarding the scratch on Knox’s neck, which was clearly visible in a picture of Knox outside the cottage just after Kercher’s body was discovered. As indicated by prior testimony, the scratch was also seen by two others who had testified to its presence. Knox told the court that it was a hicky from Sollecito.

In the background, Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, called out, “Is it a scratch from Meredith?” Knox responded, “A hickey from Raffaele.” With that, Mr. Ghirga said, “For now, I’ve finished,” and he took his seat.


_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive

Posted on 04/16/11 at 08:59 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (33)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another US-Italian Case Shows The Utter Futility Of Trying To Strongarm The Italian Justice System

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Father Michael McCarty and baby Liam McCarty. Below: Mother Manuela Antonelli.]

Italy and the US get along exceptionally well on the political, economic, military and cultural fronts.

They get along on the justice front too, if neither side tries to pull the rug out from under the other. This case and this case are festering instances of where the Italians did not think the Americans played quite fair.

Typically therefore the US State Department likes to take any mutual justice matter below the radar. Way, way below the radar.

Despite what Knox conspiracists like Steve Moore and Candace Dempsey and “Bruce Fisher” may think, their rabid campaign is only making any effective intervention by the State Department that much more unlikely.

Knox family advisor Ted Simon and US Senator for Washington State Maria Cantwell seem to have been told that or figured it out. The Knox-Mellas family seems to have cooled it on the surface in recent month, even if Chris Mellas appears to sustain support for his hardline internet faction just below that surface.

Michael McCarty is a New York photographer who publishes fine art prints, and Manuela Antonelli was a producer and reporter for Italian TV. They were married in New York’s Central Park in 1992, eight year later their son Liam was born, and some time after that they divorced.

In 2007 in the midst of a nasty custody battle in New York between Manuela and Michael over Liam, Manuela suddenly took off with Liam, then aged six, and headed back to her home country of Italy. Once the custody of Liam was awarded by a New York judge to the father, a governmental legal campaign began to try to get Liam and his mother back.

From the Examiner.

Antonelli had made numerous allegations of abuse against McCarty but investigations by the NYPD, New York District Attorney’s Office, Children’s Services, and numerous court-appointed mental health professionals all found the accusations to be “unfounded,” “baseless,” and “false.”

Antonelli was diagnosed with severe personality disorders and was determined to be an unfit parent. Sole legal and physical custody was awarded to McCarty, an order was issued that Liam not be taken out of the United States, and a judicial finding of parental alienation was made against the mother….

In Italy, Manuela Antonelli was also diagnosed with psychiatric problems, and Liam was placed in an orphanage, and later in the custody of an Italian uncle in Rome, where he is now. At one point early on, Manuela briefly snatched Liam back.

Italy usually takes the position of the mother getting automatic custody, or at minimum having easy access to her children. If Liam is returned to New York, his mother Manuela would get neither, so the Italian judicial approach has been very cautious on this one. More-so because she is clearly unwell.

In 2009 the American campaign to get him back suddenly became very public and quite nasty, with several US TV networks jumping on the bandwagon and contributing to an emotional campaign. Video examples of this can be seen here and here and here.

Rather suddenly, that public campaign went quiet again, and the State Department very gently got back into the act of trying to get Liam back to New York and Manuela extradited back to the US to face charges.

The latest news is that both the Italian judicial position and the mood of the Italian public have moved over to conceding that Liam really should be sent back to New York to his father. The question of the extradition of the mother remains open.

The case remains much in the Italian news and many online comments remark scathingly how very unhelpful in all this the rabid Knox campaign has been. 




Posted on 04/15/11 at 08:53 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015Other legal processesThose elsewhereExtradition issuesItalian system
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (8)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Explaining The Massei Report: How Motive For The Crime Is Addressed By Judge Massei

Posted by James Raper





The Massei Report in the main I thought was excellent. He was incisive with his logic, particularly, though not exclusively, with regard to the staging of the break in and how that necessarily meant that Amanda was present at the scene when the murder was committed.

However, I thought that he was rather feeble in his coverage of the defendants’ motives as to the attack which led to this brutal murder. Perhaps he thought it better to stick with the indisputable evidence. Since this pointed to a sex attack he surmised that Guede had a go at Meredith first, and then - because the stimulation was too much for them - he was joined by Amanda and Raffaele. This works but does seem a bit weak.

Micheli, the judge who committed Amanda and Raffaele to stand trial, was more certain in his mind as to the roles played by these three. He said that there was “an agreed plan”, “to satisfy sexual instincts” with “murderous intent” and that effectively Amanda was the instigator and catalyst.

Motive is largely an area of speculation but it is surely possible to draw inferences from what we know?  As Micheli did.  The Appeal Court and ultimately The Supreme Court of Cassation may well adopt the same reasoning and conclusion – maybe go further.

And there were, to my mind, undoubtedly many factors at work, and it is these which I wish to address. I have always been interested in the possible dynamics of just how these three came to murder poor Meredith. Pro-Knox campaigners once made much of “No Motive”. Now not so much because the issue draws people in to a discussion of the evidence and of Amanda’s personality.

For instance, Massei asks, though he says we can not know, had Amanda egged Guede on as to the “availability” ( my word, not his) of Meredith during or prior to their presence at the Cottage?

Frankly the answer to that has to be “yes” since it is a bit difficult to figure out why Amanda and Raffaele would otherwise wish Guede to join them at the cottage. I doubt that Amanda and Raffaele would have wanted Guede around if they were just going there to have an innocent cuddle and sex and to smoke cannabis, as Massei implies. The evidence is that Raffaele hardly knew Guede and in the presence of Amanda was very possessive about her. If he had known of Guede’s interest in Amanda he would have been even less keen to have Guede around.

Also, if all was so innocent beforehand, then why would Guede have tried it on with Meredith and then pressed the situation in the face of her refusal to co-operate, knowing that there were two others there who could have come to her assistance?

The answer is of course that Guede knew full well in advance that there would be no problem with Amanda and Raffaele. He had been invited there and primed to act precisely in the way he did, at least initially. Why? Well there is plenty of evidence as to why Amanda, in her mind, may have been looking for payback time on Meredith. Come to that later.

What does not get much attention in the Massei Report, other than a terse Not Proven at the end, is the matter of Meredith’s missing rent money and credit cards and whether Amanda and Raffaele stole them. It is as if the Judge ( well the jury really) felt that this was a trivial issue that brought nothing much to the case and thus it was not necessary to give it much attention. And indeed there is no summation of or evaluation of that evidence.

Now that does surprise me. Of course there may have been some technical flaw with the charge and the evidence. But in the absence of any comment on this then we do not know what that may be.

What I do know is that the matter, if proven, is not trivial. A theft just prior to the murder significantly ups the stakes for Amanda and Raffaelle and produces a dynamic, which, threaded together with a sexual assault, makes for a far more compelling scenario to murder. It also leads one to conclude that there was a greater degree of premeditation involved : not premeditation to murder but as to an assault, rather than the more spontaneous “ let’s get involved” at the time of the sex attack as postulated by Massei.

What is the evidence? What evidence was before the court? I do not have access to trial records. Therefore I stand to be corrected if I misrepresent the evidence or if my interpretation of it does not met the test of logic.

There were two lay witnesses to whom we can refer. The first was Filomena Romanelli, the flatmate and trainee lawyer. If there was anyone who was going to ensure that the rent was paid on time, it would have been her. She gave evidence that the rent being due very soon she asked Meredith about her contribution of 300 euros and was told by Meredith that all was OK because she had just withdrawn 200 euros from her bank. Filomena assumed from Meredith’s reply that the balance was already to hand.

Is there a problem with this evidence? Is it hearsay and thus inadmissible under Italian law?

Perhaps it is not enough by itself because of course had Meredith not in fact withdrawn the money from her bank, or sufficient funds to cover the stated amount, then that would be a fatal blow to that part of the theft charge. Her bank manager was summoned to give evidence, essentially to corroborate or disprove Filomena’s testimony. I do not know what exactly that evidence was. One would assume that at the very least it did not disprove her testimony. Had it done so that would, as I have said, been fatal. It is also unbelievable that Massei would have overlooked this in the Report. I am assuming that Meredith did not tell a white lie and that the bank records corroborate this.

There may of course be an issue of timing as I understand that the bank manager told the court that transactions at a cash machine are not necessarily entered on the customer account the same day . However that does not seem to me to be significant.

One must also think that the bank manager was asked what other cash withdrawals had been made if the credit cards were taken at the same time as the money.

I understand that there is of course a caveat here: my assumptions in the absence of knowing exactly what the bank manager’s evidence was.

It would be useful also to know how and when the rent was normally paid. It sounds as if it was cash on the day the landlord came to collect.

We do know that the police did not find any money or Meredith‘s credit cards. Had Meredith, a sensible girl, blown next month’s rent on a Halloween binge? Unlikely. So somebody stole it. And the credit cards. Again, just as with the fake break in, when according to Amanda and Raffaele nothing was stolen, who and only who had access to the cottage to steal the money? Yes, you have guessed it. Amanda, of course.

Does the matter of missing rent money figure anywhere else? There is the evidence of Meredith’s phone records which show that a call was placed to her bank late on the evening of her murder just prior to the arrival of Amanda, Raffaele and Guede. Why? I have to concede that there is no single obvious reason and that it may be more likely than not that the call was entirely unintentional.

But if, as may seem likely, the credit cards were kept with her handbag, and the money in her bedroom drawer, then on discovering that her money was missing she may have called her bank in a funk only to remember that the cards were safe and that no money could be withdrawn from her account.

The missing money also figured in the separate trial of Guede. He made a statement which formed the whole basis of his defence. Basically this was that he had an appointment with Meredith at the cottage, had consensual foreplay with her and was on the toilet when he heard the doorbell ring etc, etc. What he also added was that just before all this Meredith was upset because her rent money had disappeared and that they had both searched for it with particular attention to Amanda’s room.

Now why does Guede mention this? Remember this is his defence. Alibi is not quite the right word. He had plenty of time to think about it or something better. His defence was moulded around (apart from lies) (1) facts he knew the police would have ie no point denying that he was there or that he had sexual contact with Meredith : his biological traces had been left behind, and (2) facts known to him and not to the police at that stage ie the money, which he could use to make his statement as a whole more credible, whilst at the same time giving the police a lead. He is shifting the focus, if the police were to follow it up, on to the person he must have been blaming for his predicament, Amanda.

If all three, Amanda, Raffaele and Guede, went to the cottage together, as Massei has it, then Guede learns about the missing rent money not in the circumstances referred to in his statement but because Meredith has already discovered the theft and worked out who has had it and challenges Amanda over it when the three arrive. Perhaps this is when Guede goes to the toilet and listens to music on his Ipod. After all he is just there for the sex and this is all a distraction.

Although Micheli thought Guede was a liar from start to finish, he did not discount the possibility that Guede was essentially telling the truth about the money. Guede expanded upon this at his appeal, telling the court that Amanda and Meredith had an argument and then a fight over it. It is a thread that runs through all his accounts from his Skype chat and initial statements in Germany to his final appeal.

Guede’s “evidence” was not a factor in the jury’s consideration at Amanda’s and Raffaele’s trial. Although he was called to give evidence he did not do so. Now his “evidence” and the findings and conclusion of the courts which processed his case come in to play in the appeal of Amanda and Raffaele.

When were the money and credit cards stolen?

I have to accept that as to the money at any rate a theft prior to the murder is critical to sustain the following hypothesis. The credit cards were in any event probably taken after the attack on Meredith.

According to Amanda and Raffaele they spent Halloween together at Raffaele’s and the next day went to the cottage. Meredith was there as was Filomena.  Filomena left first, followed by Meredith to spend the evening with her friends, and Amanda and Raffaele left some time afterwards.

So Amanda and Raffaele could have stolen the money any time after Meredith left and before she returned at about 9.30pm - the day of her murder. Incidentally Filomena testified that Meredith never locked the door to her room except on the occasions she went home to England. Meredith was a very trusting girl.

What motive had Amanda for wanting the money apart from the obvious one of profit?

There are numerous plausible motives.

To fund a growing drugs habit which she shared with Raffaele? Not an inconsiderable expense for a student. Both Amanda and Raffaele explained during questioning that their confusion and hesitancy was due to the fact that they had been going rather hard on drugs. Mignini says that they were both part of a drugs crowd.

Because her own financial circumstances were deteriorating and to fund her own rent contribution?  She was probably about to be sacked at Le Chic where she was considered by Lumumba to be flirty and unreliable and to add insult to injury would likely be replaced by Meredith. In fact Meredith was well liked and trusted by all whereas Amanda’s star was definitely on the wane. 

But maybe Amanda just also wanted to get her own back on Meredith.

Filomena testified that Meredith and Amanda had begun to have issues with each other.

Here are some quotes from Darkness Descending.

Filomena – “At first they got on very well. But then things began to take a different course. Amanda never cleaned the house so we had to institute a rota ….then she (Amanda) would bring strangers home….Meredith said she was not interested in boys, she was here to study”.

“Meredith was too polite to confront Amanda, but she did confide in her pal, Robyn Butterworth. Robyn winced in disbelief when Meredith said that the pair had quarreled because Knox often failed to flush the toilet, even when menstruating. Filomena began noticing that Amanda could be odd, even mildly anti-social.”

It seems that Amanda did not like it when she was not the centre of attention. It was observed that, comically if irritatingly, she would sing loudly if conversation started to pass her by and when playing her guitar would often strum the same chord over and over again.

On the evening of Halloween Amanda texted Meredith enquiring as to whether they could meet up. But Meredith had other arrangements. Meredith appeared to be having a good time whereas Amanda was not.

Indeed there has been much speculation that Amanda has always had deep seated psychological problems and that just after several weeks in Perugia her fragile and damaged ego was tipping towards free fall.


With Meredith’s money both Amanda and Raffaele could have afforded something a little stronger than the usual smoke and I speculate that they spent the late afternoon getting stoned.

Of course Amanda was still an employee of Lumumba and she was supposed to turn up that evening for work but perhaps she no longer cared all that much for the consequences if she did not.

Again I speculate that she, with or without Raffaele,  met Guede at some time -  perhaps before she was due at work, perhaps after she learnt that she was not required by Lumumba -  discussed Meredith’s “availability” and agreed to meet up again on the basketball court at Grimana Square.

The notion that Amanda and Guede hardly knew each other seems implausible to me. We know that they met at a party at the boys’ flat at the cottage. Guede was friends with one of those boys and was invited there on a number of occasions. He was an ever present on the basketball court in Grimana Square which was located just outside the College Amanda and Meredith attended, and just metres from the cottage. He was known to have fancied Amanda and Amanda was always aware of male interest.

What else did Amanda and Raffaele have in mind when arranging the meeting or when thinking about it afterwards? Guede was of course thinking about sex and that Amanda and Raffaele were going to facilitate an encounter with Meredith later that evening. However Amanda and Raffaele had something else on their minds. The logic of their position vis a vis Meredith cannot have escaped them. They had taken her money whilst she was out. Had she not already discovered this fact then she would in any event be back, notice the money was missing and would put 2 and 2 together.  What would happen? Who would she tell? Would she call the police? How are they going to deal with this? Obviously deny it but logic has it’s way and the situation with or without the police being called in would be uncomfortable.

They decided to turn the tables and make staying in Perugia uncomfortable for Meredith. Now the embarrassing, for Meredith, sexual advances from Guede were going to be manipulated by them in to a sexual humiliation for Meredith. Meredith was not going to be seriously harmed but as and when they were challenged by Meredith over the missing money, as inevitably they would be, she was to be threatened with injury or worse. Knives come in useful here. Amanda may have fantasized that Meredith would likely then give up her tenancy at the cottage, perhaps leave Italy. Whether that looks like the probable and likely outcome I leave you to judge, but the hypothesis is that they were starting to think and behave irrationally and that this was exacerbated by the use of drugs.

In the event there came a point when neither Amanda nor Raffaele had any other commitments anyway. They got to the basketball court. They waited for Guede.

We know Amanda and Raffaele were on the basketball court the evening of the 1st November. This is because of the evidence of a Mr Curatolo, the second lay witness. He was not precise about times but thought that they were on the basketball court between 9.30pm and 10pm and may have left around 11.00 – 11.30pm and then returned just before midnight. In any event he testified to seeing Amanda and Raffaele having heated arguments, and occasionally going to the parapet at the edge of the court to peer over. What were they looking at? Go to the photographs of Perugia on the True Justice for Meredith website and you will see. From the parapet you get a good view of the gates that are the entrance, and the only entrance as I understand it, to the cottage.

So why the behaviour observed by Mr Curatolo? They may have been impatient waiting for Guede to arrive. Were they actually to go through with this?  Was Meredith at home, alone, and had she found the money was missing and had she called the police or tipped off someone already? Who was hanging around outside the entrance to the cottage and why? There was, apparently, a car parked at the entrance, a broken down car nearby with the occupants inside awaiting a rescue truck, and the rescue truck itself, all present around 11.00pm. Amanda and Raffaele did not wish to be observed going through the gates with these potential witnesses around.

We, of course, cannot know for certain what went on in the minds of Amanda and Raffaele between the time of them leaving the cottage and their departure from the basketball court to return to the cottage. It has to be speculation but there is a logical consistency to the above narrative if they had stolen Meredith’s money earlier that day, and their meeting up with Guede just before leaving the basketball court does not look like a co-incidence.

From there on in to the inevitable clash between Amanda and Meredith over the money.

It is my opinion that at the cottage Amanda came off worse initially: that she got caught in the face by a blow and suffered a nose bleed.
Stefanoni and Garofano both say that there was an abundant amount (relatively speaking) of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom washbasin, and to a lesser extent the bidet.  Whereas most of Amanda’s blood in the bathroom was mixed with Meredith’s, the blood on the washbasin tap was Amanda’s alone. Both of a quality and quantity to discount menstrual (from washed knickers) or bleeding from ear piercing. Their conclusion was that Amanda bled fairly profusely though perhaps briefly at some stage.

Possibly Amanda may have cut her feet on glass in Filomena’s bedroom but if so it’s difficult to see how blood from that ends up as a blob on the basin tap and in the sink and cut feet are painful to walk on and she did not display any awkwardness on her feet the next day.

Amanda’s blood may have come from a nick by a blade to her hands. I think the nick would be obvious the next day .If so, she was not hiding it. She was photographed the next day outside the cottage waving her hands under the noses of a coterie of vigilant cops.

She might have got a bloody nose during the attack in Meredith’s bedroom save that there is no evidence of her blood there.

On the other hand if she got into a tussle with Meredith (say in the corridor outside their rooms and where there was little room for other than the two to be engaged) and was fended off with a reflex blow that accidently or otherwise connected with her nose, Amanda’s natural reaction would be to disengage immediately and head for the bathroom sink and staunch the flow of blood.

A nose bleed need not take too long to staunch especially if not serious and there is no cut (certainly none being visible the next day).  Just stuff some tissue up the offending nostril. A nose bleed is not necessarily something of which there would be any sign the next day.

Raffaelle fusses around her whilst Rudy briefly plays peacemaker. But Amanda is boiling. As furious with Raffaelle and Guede as she is with Meredith. She eggs Guede on and pushes him towards Meredith.  Raffaele proudly produces his flicknife, latent sadistic instincts surfacing.

Is a scene like this played out inside the cottage or outside? I think of the strange but sadly discredited tale told by Kokomani.

In any event motive is satiated and the coil, having been tensed, is sprung for the pre-planned, but now extremely violent, hazing of poor Meredith.

I am also thinking here of Mignini’s “crescendo of violence” and where a point is reached where anything goes – where there is (from their warped perspectives) almost an inevitability or justification for their behaviour. A “Meredith definitely needs teaching a lesson now!” attitude.

Psychology is part of motive and there is much speculation particularly with regard to Amanda and Raffaele. They have both been in prison for well over three years now and during this time psychological assessments will certainly have been carried out.

Based on specific incidents and and general patterns of behaviour, speech and language, and demeanour, some preliminary conclusions will have been reached correlated with the facts of the crime.

If their convictions are upheld these assessments may be relevant to sentence in so far as they shed light on mitigation and motive.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Will Savive On Amanda Knox On The Witness Stand On The Morning of June 12 2009

Posted by Peter Quennell

Unlike Sollecito, who has exercised his right to silence, Amanda Knox had volunteered to take the stand. As we have seen, the Italian justice system has several differences from that of the United States Justice system. One of those differences is that in an Italian trial witnesses must swear to tell the truth. However, defendants do not.

Defendants can also interrupt the questioning at anytime or even choose not to answer certain questions, in theory of course, though in practice it would be a bad move (incriminating) if a defendant chose not to answer. One of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, told reporters a week earlier that Knox would be answering all of the prosecution’s questions.

Knox’s defense team, however, would offer-up objection after objection on even the simplest questions, and this came on the day that was scheduled just for defense questioning (aside from Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer). Every time Knox was caught in a contradiction, a fight would break-out between defense and prosecution. Knox’s vague answers along with her lawyer’s objections distracted lawyers and made it very hard for them to extract anything substantial out of her.

It was apparent early on that this was going to be a long drawn-out examination with nothing substantial provided toward her defense. Not only was Knox vague, but she seemed annoyed and not necessarily eager to tell her story; even using sarcasm on a few occasions and snapping at prosecutors. In the end, her testimony hurt her more than it helped her, because it did not help clear up her whereabouts at the time of the murder, and it lent to the notion that she was lying….

The schedule for the day was going to be questioning from her own defense team, along with questioning from Patrick Lumumba’s lawyer, Carlo Pacelli. Knox entered the courtroom with her hair tied back with a light-blue scrunchy, a white short sleeve collared top, pale trousers, and what appeared to be a large cold sore on her upper lip. She looked tired and pale as she took her seat, and looked around nervously as reporters jockeyed for position at the back of the courtroom.

The beginning of the session was held up a bit as Judge Massei discussed with lawyers whether to allow cameras in the courtroom. The final decision was to exclude cameras, allowing cameras to roll during only the first 20 minutes of Knox’s testimony. Questioning began with Carlo Pacelli, who would get the first crack at Knox as part of Lumumba’s civil lawsuit. Seated immediately to Knox’s left was a heavy-set, brunette interpreter. Knox understood most questions that were thrown at her and the interpreter mostly translated to the court what Knox was saying as opposed to what Knox was being asked by Italian litigators.

Mr. Pacelli started by asking Knox if she knew Rudy Guede. Knox admitted meeting Guede before the murder, claiming that she met him while she was mingling with the boys that lived in the apartment underneath her. Knox said that they were in the center, near the church, when the boys introduced her to Guede. On that occasion, Knox says that she spent most of her time with Meredith, as they all (including Guede) went back to the cottage and had a party on the first floor. This party apparently took place in mid-October of 2007, a little more than a month before the murder. Knox also admitted seeing Guede at Le Chic (Lumumba’s restaurant) at least once.

Knox said that at the party she and others smoked a “spinello” (“marijuana joint”). Pacelli then focused on Knox’s relationship with Lumumba. Knox testified that Lumumba never mistreated her, always treated her with respect, their relationship was good, and she was not scared of him. Mr. Pacelli then brought Knox back to the night of the murder, asking her if she knew what time it was when Lumumba sent her the first text message on 1 November 2007. Knox said “around 8:15-8:30p.m.”

When asked, “When you answered Patrick’s message, where were you?”

Knox replied, “In the apartment of Raffaele, I think, yes.” Pacelli indicated that Knox answered the message 25 minutes later from another location. “It seems from cell pings that you were out of the house when you answered, in the center. Where were you?” asked Pacelli. This question was met by a stream of objections and a heated discussion between defense and prosecution. When the dust cleared Knox stated that she was at Sollecito’s apartment when she responded to the message.

Knox had deleted all received text messages on her cell phone at some point after receiving the last message from Lumumba. Knox claimed that this was because she had limited space on her cell. When asked why she did not delete the text messages that she sent, she answered very sarcastically, “I’m not a technical genius, so I only know how to delete the ones that I receive when I get them.” Knox told the court that she didn’t have an appointment to meet Lumumba at the basketball court on the night of the murder.

When asked why she wrote in her statement to police that she met him at the court that night, Knox responded, “It was a complicated situation. I can explain it if you want me to go into it.” Knox then proceeded to explain her version of what occurred and why she wrote what she did in the spontaneous letter to police after her arrest. She proceeded to explain what she claimed was a long grueling interrogation where police began asking the same questions over and over.

Then, in a long, drawn-out, drab tone that only an American could understand (due to the prosodic — rhythmic, intonational aspect of human speech — nature of the tone), Knox said that they kept asking her questions such as “w-h-o k-i-l-l-e-d M-e-r-e-d-i-t-h,” that sounded as if she was down-playing the question, because she had heard it so many times. Knox began to show several glimpses into the bizarre behavior that was previously testified to by others.

Although it may sound trivial, the response was strange; and coupled with the multiple accounts her of odd behavior, it only added to the quandary. During this monologue, Knox stated that police called her a “stupid liar,” several times when she asserted that she had been at Sollecito’s flat all night. Knox then quoted her interpreter during the interrogation, claiming that she had said that Knox was “traumatized and couldn’t remember the truth.”

Knox then continued with her confusing explanation of what happened during her interrogation/arrest:

So what ended up happening was that they told me to try to remember what I apparently, according to them, had forgotten. Under the amount of pressure of everyone yelling at me, and having them tell me that they were going to put me in prison for protecting somebody, that I wasn’t protecting, that I couldn’t remember, I tried to imagine that in some way they must have had, it was very difficult, because when I was there, at a certain point, I just, I couldn’t understand why they were so sure that I was the one who knew everything.

And so, in my confusion, I started to imagine that maybe I was traumatized, like what they said. They continued to say that I had met somebody, and they continued to put so much emphasis on this message that I had received from Patrick, and so I almost was convinced that I had met him. But I was confused.

The next few questions were met with objections by Knox’s lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, and banter between he, the judge, and Pacelli. More objections came when Pacelli asked Knox why she claimed to hear Meredith scream, with now several different lawyers arguing and trying to plead to the judge their reasons why the question should or should not be answered. The argument centered on what was and was not admissible according to the Supreme Court decision at the beginning of trial. Judge Massei then declared that they would take a short recess and he would consult with the lawyers in private on the matter.

When they returned, Judge Massei overruled the objections and stated that the question is permitted because it comes from Knox’s spontaneous statement, which was ruled as admissible during the first week of trial. Knox then switched to speaking Italian upon Judge Massei’s approval. Finally, Knox was able to answer the question, which she replied, “No,” I did not hear Meredith scream.

The following sequence occurred next:

Carlo Pacelli: In the interrogation of November 6, 2007, at 5:45, you declared that before she died, you heard Meredith scream. How could you know that Meredith screamed before she was killed? Who told you?

Knox: So when I was with the police, they asked if I heard Meredith’s scream. I said no. They said “But if you were there, how could you not hear her scream? If you were there?” I said “Look, I don’t know, maybe I had my ears covered.” So they said “Fine, we’ll write that down. Fine.”

Carlo Pacelli: [louder] But I can tell you that on November 6, the police did not know that Meredith screamed before she died, so why would they suggest it to you?

Knox: I imagine that maybe they were imagining how it might have been.

Knox asserted that police were not telling her what to say but suggesting paths of thought. “I kept following their suggestions,” Knox stated. “They asked me if I was in her room when she was killed. I said no. They said but where were you? I said I don’t know. They said, maybe you were in the kitchen. I said, fine.”

Knox testified that she went to the police station with Sollecito the night that they were arrested because she was scared and didn’t want to be alone. She verified that she was not called-into the station that night. Knox also confirmed that the spontaneous statement that she made was her idea, and not the result of pressure from police. Knox said that she asked for a piece of paper and a pen, and that she wrote it to explain her confusion to the police.

Knox then said several times that while at the police station after her arrest she “really wasn’t sure” what had happened on the night of Kercher’s murder. Knox told the court that she gave the written statement to the police freely, voluntarily, and that police did not suggest the content nor pressure her into writing the statement.

The following sequence occurred next:

Carlo Pacelli: Listen, in this memorandum, you say that you confirm the declarations you made the night before about what might have happened at your house with Patrick. Why did you freely and spontaneously confirm these declarations?

Knox: Because I was no longer sure what was my imagination and what was real. So I wanted to say that I was confused, and that I couldn’t know. But at the same time, I knew I had signed those declarations. So I wanted to say that I knew I had made those declarations, but I was confused and not sure.

Carlo Pacelli: But in fact, you were sure that Patrick was innocent?

Knox: No, I wasn’t sure.

Carlo Pacelli: Why?

Knox: Because I was confused! I imagined that it might have happened. I was confused.

Then the questioning turned to when Knox realized that Patrick Lumumba was innocent. Several fights and objections broke out over this line of questioning. The defense seemed to know that Pacelli was onto something and they were trying at all ends to block him or throw him off. Pacelli explained that in Knox’s 7 November 2007, memorandum, Knox wrote, “I didn’t lie when I said the murderer might be Patrick.”

However, Pacelli said that during a phone call with her mother on November 10th (three days later) Knox stated that she felt horrible because she (Knox) got him [Lumumba] put in prison and she knew he was innocent. Knox, then speaking like a politician, led Pacelli -and even the judge - around in circles; not giving a straight answer to the question: when did you inform police that Patrick Lumumba was not the killer?

Pacelli was trying to show that Knox had written that Lumumba was the killer on the 7th, told her mother that Lumumba was innocent on the 10th, but never informed the police at anytime after the 10th that Lumumba was innocent. He was subsequently released three weeks after his arrest, and at no time during the three weeks did Knox inform police that she falsely accused Lumumba. Knox’s final reply on the matter was, “I had explained the situation to my lawyers, and I had told them what I knew, which was that I didn’t know who the murderer was.”

So, Knox never really did answer the question why she never informed anyone - besides her mother on November 10th - that Patrick Lumumba was not the murderer. This was important because Pacelli already knew what Knox’s mother had told investigators about the call and what the basis of her testimony would be. Pacelli knew that her mother’s testimony was coming up the following week, and he wanted to get Amanda’s version on the record knowing that her mother would clarify and contradict - or at least not help - her (Amanda’s) story. Knox also revealed that she never actually said she was sorry to Patrick for her false accusations that put him behind bars for three weeks.

With that, Carlo Pacelli ended his questioning. Judge Massei then announced a break in the action and that the court would reconvene at 1:30p.m.

_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive


[Below: Falsely accused Patrick Lumumba and his lawyer Carlo Pacelli]

Posted on 04/10/11 at 09:02 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedEvidence & witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009Amanda Knox15 Single alibi hoax
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (14)

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Witness Icognito: Could Outnumbered Knox And Sollecito Defenses Be Forced To Resort To This?

Posted by Peter Quennell





Luciano Aviello is the so-called Camorrah Supersnitch from Naples. He has not been photographed in two decades.

When he testifies in court, he does so from behind a curtain, so that back in his cell he can sleep easier. Perhaps make that: can stay alive.

The beautiful scene below is of Alba, north of Genoa and south of Turin in northwest Italy, where Luciano Aviello may or may not be in the prison there. Nobody seems to know for sure.

We first described what is know of Luciano Aviello back here in June of last year, along with some excellent satire.

Aviello explosively emerged as a possible key defense witness - the US and UK media made a really huge deal out of this - when he claimed that his missing brother was the real murderer, along with two others.

And that Aviello knew where some evidence was hidden (not yet actually unearthed).

As with the hapless Mario Alessi, on whom we posted earlier this week, Luciano Aviello was interviewed not only by the defenses, but also by Prosecutor Mignini and Ms Comodi.

The Italian police also investigated his claims - and they did a surprise search of his prison cell. Nothing is known of what the police and prosecution found out, which makes Aviello something of a one-man minefield.

Even in the middle of last year, Luciano Aviello did not sound too credible.

Here now is an excellent new profile of Aviello and the credibility of snitches like him. It is by Mike La Sorte,  a professor emeritus at the State University of New York. Mr La Sorte includes this:

On November 1, 2007, in the Italian city of Perugia, Meredith Kercher was murdered. A trial was held and Amanda Knox was found guilty of the crime and imprisoned. At the time of the murder Luciano Aviello was out of prison and living in Perugia with his brother, Antonio. Returning to prison for extortion, Luciano from his cell in the Spring of 2010 came forward to announce that the true slayer of the victim was Antonio.

“Yes,” he declared, “it was my brother who killed Meredith during the commission of a break-in. I can produce the weapon of the crime and the keys to the house.” This generated international attention and got Avellino into the newspapers. His confession gave the defense the excuse to reopen the case to review the evidence. [Actually the mandatory appeal was already pending.]

Camorra expert Gigi di Fiore said of him: “Aviello is a strange person. He has had several contacts with the Anti-Mafia Commission and was judged to be less than truthful, a confused youth in search of publicity. He would want to exchange information for protection but had little to offer. His story is an emblematic event of no merit.”

Why could Luciano Aviello’s testimony on his claimed murderous brother (who presumably does know what he looks like) really, really matter to the besieged Knox and Sollecito defenses if it is believed? 

These are the reasons:

    1) The Supreme Court of Cassation has already accepted that overwhelming evidence proves THREE people - Guede and two others - all attacked Meredith.

    2) There are literally hundreds of evidence points pointing to Rudy Guede and Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito - in fact MORE point to Knox and Sollecito.

    3) Despite the absurd claims of the dispirited conspiracy panel at Seattle University Monday night, not one evidence point - NOT ONE -  points to anyone else.

The defense lawyers actually get along well with Mr Mignini, and they know that the justice professionals have really done an okay job. They have never once claimed that any evidence was fabricated, or that investigators made things up, or beat or starved Amanda Knox, or performed any other criminal act. They seriously need to finger other perps.

So. Look forward to welcoming the colorful if invisible Mr Aviello. We sure do look forward to seeing you.  Or not, as the case may be.


Posted on 04/08/11 at 03:26 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesOther witnesses31 Aviello hoax
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (14)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sollecito Family Trial: On The Component About Their Alleged Attempt At Political Interference

Posted by Jools





Almost nothing is showing up in the English language media on the court case Raffaele Solecito’s family are facing for allegedly trying to throw the murder investigation.

In the Italian media (as so often in this case) the reporting on this is franker, fuller, and on the whole way more honest. I previously posted articles that focussed mainly on the Telenorba TV video component of the trial.

This now is a translation of a June 2008 writeup of official wiretaps on a police association website of the political-influence component of the trial. The police association would be interested because it was some of their members allegedly being impugned. 

Perugia Flying Squad: other interceptions published.

The role of Carabinieri lieutenant, Vanessa Sollecito, becomes stronger from the latest interceptions published by the daily newspaper LIBERO…

THE TELEPHONE CALLS OF THE SOLLECITOS’ TO POLITICIANS FOR RAF

The relatives are accused of manipulating the investigation. The sister a lieutenant: “I break a finger and I move to the civilian personnel this is how I’ll get him out”

Murder in Perugia. This is the sister of Raffale Sollecito, the student from Giovinazzo charged with the murder of the young English girl Meredith Kercher, who in a telephone call to her father Francesco tells him that she is prepared to break a finger just to transition into a civilian role in the carabinieri and succeed like this to pursue an “illicit” scheme to get her little brother out of prison and help him to get out of this sh**… country.

Vanessa Sollecito is 31 years old and she is a lieutenant of the Carabinieri armed forces in the Lazio Region. She too, like her father and the rest of the relatives (uncle/aunt, a brother in law, cousins, dad’s second wife), try to gain favors from well known “excellent” people in order to exonerate Raffy and to remove the “real culprits”. These (“real culprits”) would be the police officers that have placed him under investigation and the magistrates who don’t want to know about freeing him.

The Sollecito “clan” (this is how who’s investigating the murder of Via Della Pergola defines Raffaele’s family) is written in the logbook register on the occasion of a second line of police investigation on the murder of November 2 last. The alleged offences are: defamation, invasion of privacy, and publication of arbitrary acts of a criminal case.

The time is 18:20 hours March 3 last [2008] when Vanessa phones her father (a well-known cardiologist [sic] in Puglia) and announces: “I’ve met a man, he is from the penitentiary police who works at the Ministry of Justice. He says that a union leader has explained to him that there is one way for transitioning into the carabinieri civilian staff role, although it is not very legal. And that is for me to break a finger, if things were to go down badly for Raffy, in order to lose the (fit to serve) eligibility” and move to the authority in control of civil service roles.

Francesco Sollecito gets very angry. Not about his daughter breaking a finger, but because he knows that his phone is being intercepted, and screaming he says: “You mustn’t speak on this phone, it is intercepted.” And Vanessa says: “Yours might be intercepted, but not mine!”

Two weeks later, it’s the morning of March 17 - at 10:59, Vanessa tries to phone the ‘Idv’ party - Senator Domenico Formisano - in order to go to meet him. And conveys to her father “He is our friend. He asked me a favor for a young man who must stay in Rome. He’ll be in his office Wednesday at 12:30, I hope to please him so afterwards I make use of the favor owed and will help Raffaele. He is the number two to Di Pietro.”

It’s [a date in] May at 10:23 and aunt Sara Achille (wife of Francesco Sollecito’s brother, Giuseppe) says: “Listen Francesco, Senator Domenico Nania told me to call him to arrange for a meeting in Rome. You know, it’s always better to have a nice… And Sara wanted to involve in the affair even the honorable Renato Schifani.”

Three days before, at four in the afternoon, Vanessa also spoke to her father in a “sarcastic” tone: “That lot are still going to take the foot prints… Colonel De Fulvio, who is the one from RiS, says that they are still at this point… and he’s offered himself to meet up with lawyer Bongiorno in terms of friendship, to see the scientific police material…”

[Her father Francesco] Sollecito interrupts her: “About these things you must not speak on this telephone, THIS ONE IS BEING MONITORED! Call me later.”

Uncle Giuseppe Sollecito, on July 30, utters offensive phrases toward the magistrates in Perugia because they haven’t gone in-depth into investigating the trail of the junkie found covered in blood near the victim’s house the day of the murder… “and this is just on purpose to keep Raffaele in prison”. His brother Francesco responds: “I’ll skin them alive those… and they’ll hear from me as well.”

Raffaele’s stepmother Mara Papagni, puts her complete trust in lawyer Giulia Bongiorno: That one “Ms Thirtyballs” will fix everyone… She knows how to behave on certain occasions.

The strategy of Sollecito’s relatives appears to be clear in other wiretappings: they want to put pressure on the judges of the Supreme Court of Cassation so that they’ll agree to accept the appeal presented by the defenders of the young man, they prefer that some investigators whom they regard as inconvenient be removed from the investigation.

In their targets above all are Commissioner Monica Napoleoni, head of the [Perugia] Homicide Section, and Giacinto Profazio, head of the Flying Squad. In their phone calls, the Sollecitos call them bastards, pigs, sons of whores. And they all agree: “We must find someone to intervene at any rate. As written in the logbooks: Its necessary to stop police from doing other vileness.”

The “clan” accuses them of falsifying evidence to frame Raffy. And for this reason they contact journalists and television networks to supply documents and images for broadcasting (such as those depicting the tortured body of poor Mez after the murder and aired by a local television in Puglia).

They wanted to demonstrate that the scientific police played dirty to frame Raffaele.  Now the Sollecitos’ and their respective wives are under investigation.

Posted on 04/07/11 at 09:04 AM by JoolsClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtRaff SollecitoThe officially involvedOther legal processesItalian relatedSollecito team
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (24)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Seattle University Panel: Some Of The Ways In Which Steve Moore Got His Analysis Wrong

Posted by James Raper


I have watched the clip of Steve Moore’s address at the University of Seattle seminar.

1.  Scenario of the crime

Steve Moore starts with the assertion that it is obvious what happened. Guede broke in via Filomena’s window and went to the loo.

Meredith comes home and is attacked, raped and murdered by him. Naturally he did not show a photo of Filomena’s window from outside the cottage. I wonder why?

Meredith came home at 9.30pm. She died some time after 11pm. Steve Moore does not elaborate as to what Guede was doing all the time in between. He sat on the loo for a long time and/or the sexual attack went on for a long time?  Both unlikely hypotheses.

2.  Concerning bleach

Then Steve Moore turns to what he states is “The Lie over the Bleach Cleaner”.

Whether or not the police/prosecution ever said that they thought bleach cleaner had been used is not clear to me.  Whether or not they had, it was not something that they continued to insist on. No one smelt bleach at the cottage on the 2nd November.

In any event Steve Moore has his own argument (which, to be fair, I did follow) to demonstrate from the pictures of the luminol traces that there could have been no bleach used as a cleaning agent.

“No bleach, no clean up!” The fact that one can wipe away relatively recent blood/bodily fluids without bleach escaped him. 

Having established that there was no bleach used he explains the luminol glow as being due to ..yes.. bleach!

3.  The luminol footprints

Drawing on his claimed considerable FBI experience (yet to be validated by anybody) he asserts that luminol reacts to bleach as strongly as blood.

Experienced forensic experts say that they can often tell the difference because the strength of a reaction all depends on the concentration in bleach – bleach which was not used in a clean up and which no one detected by sense of smell.

He then goes on to say that bleach is commonly used as a household cleaner. Yes, the main constituent of bleach is chlorine or chloride, commonly used, diluted with other ingredients, in some household cleaning fluids, though of course bleach can be bought as bleach.

Steve Moore says that Amanda Knox took a shower on the morning of the 2nd November, standing in the shower basin in diluted bleach (very diluted after a shower, one would think) and then traced that around, accounting for the luminol glow.

You do not have to be terribly clever to see that if that was the case then the luminol glow would not be all that bright due to the dilution. One can see from the photos that the glow was in fact very bright.

One also has to wonder why straight from the shower she stepped in Meredith’s invisible blood (in fact she says she scooted from the bathroom to her room on the bathmat) without the diluted bleach degrading Meredith’s DNA.

4.  Concerning TMB tests

Steve Moore asserts that Stefanoni lied about TMB tests. TMB is tetramethylbenzadine and it is used to establish whether a detected trace is blood or not.

The reactive process is the same as with luminol which has to be used to detect a trace in the first place. It is to do with the peroxadase-like activity of heme. The results look different however, TMB produces a change of colour whilst luminol produces a glow in the dark.

Steve Moore was initially appalled to think that Stefanoni did not use the TMB test on the luminol revealed traces, but then it was discovered that she had and the results were negative as to blood.

Conclusion : she lied about the TMB tests. Why?  According to Steve Moore because she knew the luminol test did not reveal blood. And was trying to conceal this fact.

I would be surprised if Steve Moore has read the trial records.  What does Massei say?  All I can find are the following:

Stefanoni did say that she could not be positive that what the luminol revealed was blood. Here I think that she was speaking very carefully as a scientist and leaving others to their conclusions. 

I do not see that she was specifically asked about TMB tests re luminol so I cannot comment on that.

However Massei quotes Amanda Knox’s expert, Dr Gino, in the following terms :

With respect to the luminol positive traces found in Romanelli’s room, in Knox’s room and in the corridor, she (Gino) states that by analysing the SLA cards “we learn, in contradiction to what was presented in the technical report deposited by the Scientific police, and also to what was said in court, that not only was the luminol test performed on these traces, but also the generic process for the presence of blood, using tetramethylbenzadine .. and this test … gave a negative result.

On being asked as to why generic tests like luminol and TMB might produce different results:

She added that in her own experience, analyses performed with TMB on traces revealed by luminol give about even results : 50% negative, 50% positive.

I would have thought that Gino’s statement is statistically meaningless unless we assume that we are talking about blood traces revealed by luminol. 

So, in other words, the fact that the TMB tests were negative does not establish that the luminol-revealed trace was not blood.

From which I assume, since luminol and TMB have the same reactive process, that the prior luminol test takes precedence, be it that of course the trace might be vegetable or fruit juice, or bleach!- none of which, of course, are capable of producing a human DNA read out, whereas blood does.

Also I would have thought that if the reactive process is the same for both then the reactive process engendered by the luminol may not leave much for a subsequent TMB test – but then that’s just speculation.

I am no scientist, but then neither is Steve Moore really qualified to talk of the actual scientific process despite being in the FBI for 25 years ( he says). I think that the closest he gets to science is how to use an aerosol can.

5. Other claims

The following topics were also then discussed by Steve Moore : Bathroom photos, staged break in, murder weapon versus knife mark, and contamination. More of the same.

Posted on 04/06/11 at 09:51 PM by James RaperClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxes against Italy3 No evidence hoax4 No firm DNA hoaxHoaxes re Guede33 Sole attacker hoax34 Bad guy hoaxHoaxers from 2007Steve Moore
Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendComments here (21)

Page 62 of 115 pages « First  <  60 61 62 63 64 >  Last »