Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Harsh Language For Possible Defense Witness Mario Alessi From The Supreme Court Of Cassation

Posted by Peter Quennell


Mario Alessi is the jailhouse snitch who claims that Rudy Guede told him that Guede and two others murdered Meredith.

That if believed would leave Knox and Sollecito in the clear. But if the Knox and Sollecito defenses put him on the witness stand, it might destroy their appeal like a hand grenade.

Why? Well, the prosecution interviewed both Alessi and Guede in prison and they further investigated Alessi’s claims - and have never made those results public. Alessi’s own lawyer does not believe him and she has publicly urged him not to get on the stand to repeat his claims.

She presumably fears he might get slapped with perjury charges and end up spending even more years behind bars - he is already serving a life sentence at Parma Prison which normally means 30-plus years.

The Supreme Court has just issued a ruling on the appeal of Alessi’s wife wife Antonella Conserva. It says that as she was not present at Mario Alessi’s horrific killing of Baby Tommy when the baby would not stop crying, her 30 year sentence is not properly supported in law.

Her case is referred back to the Appeals Court in Bologne where the first-level appeal must be repeated. Meanwhile Alessi looks even more disreputable.  And the other possible witness with an alternative theory is Luciano Aviello who has a well-established record of lying. 

More and more it is looking now like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito may be forced to take the witness stand in last-ditch efforts against their appeals totally failing and their getting awarded even tougher sentences.

Little else is going their way these day - the DNA review and and Mr Curatolo’s testimony are expected to still remain creditable, and even if they don’t they are only two drops in a large evidence bucket.

If either do take the stand (and if they don’t, much will be made of that, even though Italian law says it shouldn’t) Kermit’s cross-examination questions are waiting.

Posted on 04/06/11 at 01:14 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Other witnesses30 Alessi hoax
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Monday, April 04, 2011

The Precise And Accurate Italian Wikipedia Article On Meredith’s Case, Now Translated Into English

Posted by Tom M and Skeptical Bystander


A recent post on TJMK by Gwaendar refers to Wikipedia and the current effort by the Fictitious Friends of Amanda to make her the focus of an article that has so far been devoted to the Murder of Meredith Kercher.

The Eclectic Chapbook blog often comments on the case. It has called this effort “tragically misguided and possibly somewhat demented,” describing it as an instance of “the Enchanted Glen Phenomenon, which is a psychological space wherein normal laws do not apply and all rules are magically suspended. “

We have now examined and translated the Italian Wikipedia article which was written in a space where the normal laws certainly are applied and no rules have been suspended. 

The main reporting and the voluminous records of the trial and the appeal are of course all in Italian, and Italians on the whole have a far better grasp of events and the legal context than do most observers in the US and the UK. Because there is so much source material, and so little misleading reporting, it would seem that If any Wikipedia in any language in the world is going to describe the case correctly, it will be the Italian one.

This translation below of most of the Italian Wikipedia article is not word-for-word, but it is intended to convey the substance of the Italian article as it would have been if originally written in English. 

The index, the sections on books and movie, and the citations were omitted.

The murder of Meredith Kercher, an English student in Italy enrolled in the Erasmus program at the University of Perugia, occurred during the night of November 1, 2007.  Meredith was found lifeless, with her throat cut, in her bedroom in the house she shared with other students in Perugia.  The cause of death was hemorrhage due to bleeding from a wound to the neck caused by a sharp object used as a weapon.

Two men and a woman were convicted as a result, of murder, sexual violence and theft.

Biography

Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher was born December 28, 1985 in Southwark, London, lived in Coulsdon, and was a student at the University of Leeds, where she was pursuing a degree in European Studies. She enrolled in the Erasmus program, and had arrived in Italy in September 2007 to complete her degree in European Studies.

Details and circumstances of the murder

Kercher was murdered at night between 1 and 2 November 2007, in the apartment she shared with three other young women, two Italian and an American, who were away that night. Based on the first examination of the autopsy, the pathologist who handled the case ruled that the death occurred between 22:00 and midnight on that day.

The following morning an elderly woman living near Via della Pergola where Meredith’s body was found, alarmed by the discovery of two abandoned mobile phones, called the police. From information obtained from one of two mobile phones the Postal Police of Perugia sent agents to the house of Meredith Kercher.  On their arrival the police found Amanda Knox (Seattle, USA, July 9, 1987), Meredith Kercher’s flatmate, and her Italian friend, Raffaele Sollecito (Giovinazzo, March 26, 1984), with whom she had recently started a relationship, outside the house.

The two young people said they were awaiting the arrival of the police; when asked why, they said they had found a window broken, the door open, and suspected a theft. Later, these claims were questioned by investigators, given that the Police Post arrived at the house on Via della Pergola at 12:35 and telephone calls to the Police were not made not until 12:51 and 12:54.  Entering, the Police found the bedroom of Meredith Kercher locked and decided to break down the door. Upon entering, they found a number of bloodstains, the room in disarray, and a foot sticking out from under the duvet which had covered the bed.

The Convicted:

The three convicted at the first stage are:

  • Raffaele Sollecito, who was born in Giovinazzo (BA), a university student of 23 years at the time of the murder;
  • Amanda Knox, a student originally from Seattle, U.S., 20, who had a relationship with Sollecito at the time of the crime;
  • Rudy Hermann Guede, born December 26, 1986 in the Ivory Coast, was arrested in Germany on November 20 and extradited to Italy on December 6, 2007.  At his lawyers’ request, Guede received from the court at a preliminary hearing an order granting expedited trial.

Knox and Guede were detained in Capanne prison, a 20-minute drive from Perugia. Sollecito, after also being held in Capanne, was transferred in early 2008 to the Vocabolo Sabbione prison in Terni.

The case also, initially, erroneously involved Patrick Lumumba, owner of the restaurant where Amanda Knox worked; her statement placed him at the crime scene on the night of the crime. The charges were later proved unfounded and demonstrated the unreliability of Knox as a witness. Implicating the Congolese man was also an incorrect translation of a text message sent to him in English by Knox (‘see you later’, which rather than a generic “Ci vidiamo,” was translated literally as “we will see each other later”[“ci vidiamo dopo”].

Thus, police thought that the two had an appointment for the evening of the crime). Patrick Lumumba was ultimately released and all charges against him were dropped.  Following the unjust detention lasting 14 days, Lumumba was awarded € 8000 as compensation, but this was deemed inadequate by his lawyer, who threatened to sue.

The Sentences

Knox, Sollecito and Guede were sentenced respectively to 26, 25 and 16 years in prison. Rudi Hermann Guede opted for an abbreviated trial and his conviction for complicity in murder and sexual violence was made final by the Court of Cassation, First Criminal Division, on December 16, 2010. For the other two participants, the case is on appeal. The decisions reconstruct in detail the manner and circumstances of the murder, a motive defined “violent, sexual, erotic.”

The conviction in the first trial of Sollecito and Knox, issued by the Court of Assizes of Perugia, is based on numerous expert opinions, objective evidence and testimony.

According to the reconstruction regarding Knox and Sollecito, on the evening of November 1, 2007, they met in piazza Grimana, where they had occasionally met Guede, an acquaintance of Knox, who decided to join them for the evening. They decided to go to Knox’s house, to which her roommate Meredith Kercher, after an evening with her English friends, had just returned. Kercher’s bedroom door was presumably ajar, and upon entering the house the three defendants immediately noticed her presence.

Going directly to another part of the house, Knox and Sollecito made love.  Guede, shortly after, went to the bathroom, where he left organic residues in the water of the toilet, as found in the investigation. According to the reconstruction, Guede left the bathroom, probably excited by the sounds of Sollecito and Knox making love, noted again the door ajar at Kercher’s room, and decided to approach. Then he entered Kercher’s room; but after her refusal, he became violent, attempting to rape her.

Kercher’s cries led Knox and Sollecito to go to her room, where they joined Guede’s criminal action, finding it an “exciting situation.” While the Guede violated Kercher, Knox and Sollecito tried to immobilize her: to do this Sollecito and Knox wielded knives to threaten the victim. The analysis shows that the knife wounds by Sollecito were probably quite small, while Knox wielded a kitchen knife, later found, and on which were found genetic traces of her mixed with those of Kercher.

The situation then deteriorated, partly because of the screams and resistance of Kercher: Knox then, with the kitchen knife, struck the victim in the neck, causing fatal injuries. The three defendants, shortly after the murder, fled with Kercher’s phones, fearing that if someone called her and got no response, they would be suspicious and the crime would be discovered: the cell phone was ultimately found in an embankment a few hundred meters from Kercher’s house.

Then they headed in different directions: Guede to a nightclub, Knox and Sollecito to the latter’s flat. The next morning Knox and Sollecito tried to clean up the crime scene and clean up their tracks; then they broke a window in the house to stage a mock burglary, hoping to throw the investigation off course.

Guede’s Supposed Confession

In March 2010 rumors spread of an alleged confession by Rudy Guede. The facts are as follows: it seems that Guede had revealed his complicity, with a friend, in killing Kercher, to Mario Alessi, an inmate housed in the same prison, a character already known to police and media for the murder of little Tommaso Onofri, Guede had invited Kercher to go to a party, she refused, and subsequently the friend of Guede tried to rape her. According to Alessi, Guede tried to come to Kercher’s aid, and Guede’s friend rebuked him, saying that he should just strike the final blow to end the girl’s misery, which is what Guede did.

Then Guede and his friend met again by chance in a nightclub, and Guede’s friend gave him money to flee to Germany, where he was at the time of the extradition and return to Italy for arrest. This reconstruction, which would completely exonerate Knox and Sollecito, was found by investigators to be totally unfounded.

Posted on 04/04/11 at 08:49 PM by Tom M and Skeptical BystanderClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe two knivesNews media & moviesGreat reportingMedia newsThe wider contexts
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Today An Obsessional Group Rant About “No Evidence” By A Stacked Panel At Seattle University?!

Posted by Peter Quennell


Seattle University is a small Jesuit college just this side of Seattle’s downtown.

Today at 4:00 pm in the Pigott Auditorium, in what seems to us a seriously dopey and un-academic exercise, some of the most obsessed of the conspiracy theorists will assemble to peddle their illusions.

Two of the panelists, Paul Ciolino and Steve Moore, have been exhaustively debunked on TJMK in the past, and sooner or later we will probably turn our attention to debunking the other two: Mark Waterbury, and Candace Dempsey.

Our posts on the hotheaded faux detective Paul Ciolino are here, here, and here, and our posts on the hotheaded faux FBI murder investigator Steve Moore are here, here, here, and here.

The other two panelists, Mark Waterbury and Candace Dempsey, have authored slow-selling books which studiously ignore 95 percent of the evidence and mis-state the other 5 percent. Tom Wright of the Friends of Amanda Knox group will be presiding.

Would you like to attend, well-equipped with some questions? Ask these questions and these questions and these questions. Around 400 in all. Any reports would be appreciated.

Below: Seattle University President Father Steve Sundborg. Does he know what his film department is getting up to?


Posted on 04/04/11 at 12:48 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Hoaxers from 2007Knox-Mellas teamHeavey, BremnerPaul CiolinoMore hoaxersThe wider contextsSeattle contextSteve Moore
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Friday, April 01, 2011

First Excerpt From Will Savive’s “Study Abroad Murder” The Best Book Yet On The Hard Evidence

Posted by Peter Quennell


Will Savive is a New York area criminologist, concerning whom a reviewer on the book’s Amazon page said “Savive is quickly becoming a juggernaut of the true crime industry.”

This looks to be the best book yet on the hard evidence in the case, and on what people actually said both before trial and throughout trial. Will writes just like a criminologist (“just the facts ma’am”) and he has little interest in the absurd notions that Italian professionals fell down on the job or pulled off an enormous cover-up. 

This first excerpt, a proof copy from “The Study Abroad Murder”, is about the arrest of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at Perugia’s central police station on the night of 5-6 November 2007. 

While police questioned Sollecito, Knox waited in a side room. Policewoman Lorena Zugarini walked into the room to check on Knox and caught her doing cartwheels and the splits. Zugarini told Knox that it was “not the right place for such activities.”

At around 11:30p.m., Inspector Chief of Perugia police’s narcotics unit, Rita Ficarra, came out of the lift into the waiting room of the city’s Flying Squad on the third floor of the police station and witnessed Knox “showing off her gymnastic ability,” turning cartwheels and doing back bends. This angered the inspector, and she scolded Knox, telling her “This is the police station, not a dance theater!”

Knox and Ficarra began talking about the night of the murder, and Ficarra told Knox that the answers she and Raffaele had given don’t add up and are filled with several contradictions. Ficarra tried to explain to Knox, “If you tell me a lie one time, that is comprehensible, but if you lie again—even if it is a small lie—it makes you less credible.” One reason for the officer’s warning was that Knox had originally told police that she had not smoked cannabis, but then said that she had, according to Rita.

Ficarra then decided that since Knox was already present, she would like her to detail a list of people that had visited the house in the two months since she’s been there. Knox agrees, takes out her cell phone, and begins to go through the list of names. ‘He’s been there; he hasn’t been there, etc.’

Rita begins taking notes, but soon realizes that she needs an interpreter. When the interpreter arrived shortly after, Knox again began giving Ficarra names of people who had visited the flat, including “a South African man” she had met at a party in the flat underneath hers. Knox said that she didn’t know his name or phone number, and had never seen him again after that night (Rudy Guede).

At this point, Knox willingly hands over her phone to Ficarra, who begins scrolling through Knox’s text messages and asking her who these people were and when she had met them—she wanted to know everything: “Peter, Juve, Spiros, Shaggy…” Ficarra continued, rattling-off names and quizzing Knox. Inspector Lorena Zugarini enters the room and begins observing silently.

Suddenly, the head of the Perugia homicide unit, Monica Napoleoni, enters the room and says, “He [Sollecito] doesn’t cover her anymore, so you’d better ask Amanda again her whereabouts on the evening of the murder.”

It turns out that Raffaele Sollecito had changed his story, claiming that he was with Knox only until 9:00p.m., on the night of the murder. Sollecito claims that he and Knox left the cottage at 6:00p.m., at which time they went into the centre. “At 9:00p.m., I went home alone and Amanda said that she was going to Le Chic because she wanted to meet some friends,” Sollecito told police.

“We said goodbye and I went home, I rolled myself a spliff [Marijuana cigarette] and made some dinner.” Sollecito goes on to say that Knox returned to his flat at around 1:00a.m., at which time the couple went to bed.

Amanda Knox’s alibi had abruptly evaporated! As Ficarra continued through Knox’s messages, she came to a text that Knox had sent to her boss, Patrick Lumumba. Ficarra shows her the message and asks, “Who is this person?” Ficarra believed that the message read like a date—to meet up later that night. “Did you go out with him that night?” Ficarra asked.

Unexpectedly and without warning, Knox put her head in her hands, started shaking her head, as tears streamed down from her eyes. “He’s bad, he’s bad…”—Amanda says as if she is in a trance—“He’s the murderer…I can hear him in Meredith’s room…I can hear him killing Meredith!”

Knox was a waitress at the bar Le Chic, which was owned by a Congolese man by the name of Diya Patrick Lumumba [37]. Lumumba was also a musician who was married to a Polish woman named Ola, with whom he had a baby boy named David.


On the night of the murder Knox said that she had originally sent him a text message asking him if he wanted her to come into work that night. Patrick sent a reply back at 8:19p.m., saying that she was not needed. Knox then replied back to Lumumba at 8.35p.m., “Certo. Ci vediamo piu` tardi. Buona serata!”

There has been many discrepancies as to what this statement actually means in Italian, or what Knox meant by the statement; particularly the “più tardi” in the sentence. A rough translation of this phrase in English is “Certainly. See you later. Good evening!” However, “più tardi” in Italian actually indicates a schedule or an appointment.

This expression in Italian assumes that after a lapse of time, with many actions in between, we will meet up later. If you use the words “più tardi” it is assumed that you are going to meet-up with someone on the same day or evening, not tomorrow or at another time. It is possible to suppose that Knox did not understand the language well enough and this is just a simple misunderstanding, but police did not give her the benefit of the doubt; axiomatically because she had already stated that Lumumba was the murderer.

Once Knox had made this accusation, police immediately notified the Pubblico Ministero (Public Prosecutor) of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, who gives the order to “Stop.”

Questioning for the evening was then suspended at 1:45a.m., as is prescribed by Italian law—in articles 386 & 566 of the Italian Codice di Procedura Penale [Code of Criminal Procedure] (CPP).  Knox signs a one-page statement that recounts her new story, and she is then informed that her status has officially changed from witness to suspect.

Italian law differs from the law here in the United States in several respects (civil law system vs. common law system), but many aspects are strikingly similar. Italian criminal law, which is codified in the CPP, states that Defense counsel’s presence is mandatory during the interrogation of the accused. One way around this, however, is to not officially change the status from witness to a suspect until after getting a sufficient amount of information out of her/him during questioning or to get a confession before changing the status. This is a common police ‘trick,’ per say, in Italy as well as in America.

Italian law does, however, have several differences. According to a provision introduced in 1978, it is not compulsory for the defense counsel to be present when the continuation of an investigation requires the immediate and urgent interrogation of a suspect. The statements made by the suspect, however, may not be minuted for use in judicial proceedings.

Basically, this can be seen as a loop-hole that gives Italian police more leeway to do as they see fit in order to extract what information they need from a suspect. In Knox’s case, she obviously did not have a lawyer as she was not even called into the police station, let alone was she under the impression that she would be arrested at some point during that evening.

In any event, it was Knox that allegedly waived her right to an attorney at that time, according to police. Nevertheless, the absence of a defense attorney during interrogation does not guarantee that the information provided by the suspect will be admissible in court. This decision will later be up to the two judges and six jury members upon trial in Italy, or the Italian Supreme Court.

The officers were completely astonished and dumbfounded by Knox’s admittance. Here was a girl who hadn’t even been asked to come in for questioning, and has not only declared to have been at the house during the time of the murder, but identified the killer!

Mignini headed over to the questura (police headquarters) to witness and question Knox further. Once he arrived—at 3:30a.m.— Knox repeats her story for Mignini, but this time she goes into great detail… The session is halted at 5:45a.m., at which time Knox signs a five-page statement detailing the events of the interrogation.

In the report, regarding the text message that Knox sent to Lumumba, police changed the text to read:  “Ci vediamo.”(“See you later”). Mignini later used this statement to persuade the judge that Knox and Lumumba met up just before the murder. This information was then fed to the press, who reported the half-text “See you later” (by no fault of their own). An example of this is the story in the London Times on 13 November 2007, entitled, “Meredith Kercher murder: why the timings are critical.” It wasn’t until Lumumba’s subsequent release that the full message was correctly reported to the public.

In any case, police theorized from the text message, and Knox’s statement, that the two met-up shortly there afterwards at the basketball court at Piazza Grimana before heading to the cottage. Shortly after signing the report, Knox is formally arrested then taken for breakfast. Sollecito had also been formally arrested and retained.


Meanwhile, a police task force had already been assembled and sent to arrest the dangerous murderer, Patrick Lumumba. At 6:30a.m., Patrick Lumumba sat in his fourth-floor apartment when he heard his doorbell ringing. Before he could even respond he heard a woman’s voice outside demanding that he open the door…

With Lumumba in custody, the procession headed to Perugia’s police station with sirens blaring. The worst was yet to come for Patrick, who then had to sit through a ten-hour interrogation…

“You did it, you did it!” Patrick was confused and scared, and police would not even tell him what he had just been arrested for. It was only after several hours that police showed Patrick a picture of Meredith’s lifeless body. It was only after seeing the picture that Patrick had made the connection between his arrest and Meredith’s death. “You think I killed Meredith?” Patrick uttered. Lumumba had been handing out flyers publicizing Meredith Kercher’s candlelit vigil just one day earlier…

After Lumumba’s arrest, Knox calls over Ficarra and asks her for a pen and paper. Knox says to her, “I want to give you a gift.” Knox then proceeds to write a two page statement, confirming what she said earlier; but this time she posed her accusations against Lumumba and her presence during the murder as a “vision.”

Her statement is legally known as a voluntary, spontaneous statement, referred to as ‘The Memoir’ (Memorial or Two Page Note). When she is done she hands the memoir to Ficarra and says that it will help them in case they have some doubts. Little did Knox know at the time, but it would be the most damaging ink she would ever inscribe!

Key points in Knox’s statement (‘The Memoir’):

“This is very strange, I know, but really what happened is as confusing to me as it is to everyone else.”

Knox starts off claiming that she was at Sollecito’s flat “smoking marijuana, having sex,” and “might even have fallen asleep.”

“The next thing I remember was waking up the morning of Friday November 2nd around 10am and I took a plastic bag to take back my dirty cloths to go back to my house.”

As she goes on, she begins to tell a different story of what might have happened, in which she claims her boss, Patrick Lumumba, was probably the murder. According to this version of events Knox met Patrick Lumumba at around 9:00p.m., on the night of the murder at the basketball court in Piazza Grimana then went to her house. This is significant, because a homeless man later testified that he saw Knox on that very basketball court at around that time.

“In my mind I saw Patrik in flashes of blurred images. I saw him near the basketball court. I saw him at my front door. I saw myself cowering in the kitchen with my hands over my ears because in my head I could hear Meredith screaming…these things seem unreal to me, like a dream, and I am unsure if they are real things that happened or are just dreams my head has made to try to answer the questions in my head and the questions I am being asked.”

The following statement is telling because Knox does not rule out the possibility that there may be evidence against her at the crime scene. Here she contradicts and back-tracks as she tries to talk her way out of trouble.

“The police have told me that they have hard evidence that places me at the house, my house, at the time of Meredith’s murder. I don’t know what proof they are talking about, but if this is true, it means I am very confused and my dreams must be real.”

In his account to police that night, Sollecito tried to distance himself from the murder, telling police that Knox asked him to lie for her and say that she was with him the whole night.

“In my previous statement I told a load of rubbish because Amanda had convinced me of her version of the facts and I didn’t think about the inconsistencies,” Sollecito told police

Knox responds to this by writing, “I also NEVER asked him to lie for me. This is absolutely a lie…What does he [Sollecito] have to hide? I don’t think he killed Meredith.”

Knox then acknowledges that her story seems far fetched, yet she stands by both of her stories, each contradicting the other.

“I also know that the fact that I can’t fully recall the events that I claim took place at Raffaele’s home during the time that Meredith was murdered is incriminating. And I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrik, but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house.”

Knox reaffirms that she is not sure what she was doing the night before the murder.

“I’m very confused at this time. My head is full of contrasting ideas and I know I can be frustrating to work with for this reason. But I also want to tell the truth as best I can. Everything I have said in regards to my involvement in Meredith’s death, even though it is contrasting, are the best truth that I have been able to think.”

Knox reaffirms that she is not sure what she was doing the night before the murder, and that Patrick may have been the killer.

“In these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrik as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don’t remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night.”

Knox then asks herself a very puzzling question, which is basically like saying that she was not there unless they have proof that she was, and if so then she doesn’t remember.

“Is the evidence proving my pressance [sic] at the time and place of the crime reliable? If so, what does this say about my memory? Is it reliable?”


It wasn’t until 5:30p.m., that day—still handcuffed and bruised—that Patrick was informed of the evidence against him.

Police showed Patrick the hand written statement of Amanda Knox accusing him of being Meredith’s killer. It was only then that Patrick had realized just how mad Knox was with him for considering firing her. Patrick filled-up with rage and contempt toward Knox, but continued to keep himself calm and composed in front of police. After Patrick was fingerprinted and his blood was taken, he sat in a holding cell awaiting his first hearing.

Police then turned their investigation to Raffaele Sollecito’s flat on Corso Garibaldi. Police entered the premises looking for a pair of shoes that matched any of the bloody prints left at the crime scene, and a possible murder weapon.

Armondo Finzi, an assistant in Perugia PD’s organized crime unit, entered the home and immediately noticed a “strong smell of bleach.” As police beagn the inspection of the flat, Mr. Finzi opened a drawer in the kitchen and noticed a shiny knife lying on top of the silverware tray. The Marietti knife with a 6 ½ inch stainless steel blade, was the first knife that he saw and his investigative intuition led him to believe that it might be the murder weapon.

Officer Finzi grabbed the knife, with gloved hands, and placed it into an envelope and taped it shut, and then placed it into a folder. No other knife was taken into evidence. Back at police headquarters, homicide unit captain, Stefano Gubbiotto, removed the knife from the envelope—with gloved hands—and placed it into a cardboard box, and it was scheduled to be sent to Rome for further analysis.

During the search, police also found a pair of Sollecito’s sneakers (Nike size 42½) that they announced was a perfect match with the footprint left at the crime scene. Police also discovered a receipt in Sollecito’s flat for cleaning products from a local supermarket, which they claimed included bleach. This bleach, police then believed, was used to clean the knife found in his apartment.

Police also examined Sollecito’s car (an Audi) for any traces of blood on the pedals, but found nothing. They confiscated Sollecito’s collection of violent Japanese comic books as well. Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba all spent the next two days and nights in isolation—behind bars in Capanne prison, about a ten-minute drive from Perugia.

_______________

From The Study Abroad Murder by Will Savive

 

Posted on 04/01/11 at 12:00 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: News media & moviesGreat reporting
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Post-Trauma Example Of Italy As One Of The Fastest-Learning And Adjusting Societies

Posted by Peter Quennell


Here is an image of Elisa Benedetti whose sad death after crashing and then disabling her car in deep mud our poster Catnip profiled back here.

Two other post-accidents traumas have been much in the news in Italy as Il Giornale today describes.

Two drivers were in traffic accidents in which they feared they had caused the death of others, and both are now dead.

One after dying of cold in the woods after wandering aimlessly for days, and the other after jumping off a bridge. In the case of the first, nobody was even hurt, and in the case of the second, the child who was slightly knocked by the car was released from hospital the same day.

As one would expect in Italy, these incidents have been the subject of much public discussion and several TV chat shows, similar to those for missing people that we learned about in the case of the missing or murdered Sonia Marra.

Now hospital emergency rooms and police forces are moving to beef up their capacity to provide psychological support to those similarly traumatized.

In the case of Elisa Benedetti, the cops tried really hard to help her in the times when she called them for help on her cellphone. Next time they might have psychological knowhow on their side.

Few other countries in the world come close to Italy for a caring population driving constructive effects like these.

Posted on 03/30/11 at 12:31 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Other legal processesItalian relatedThe wider contextsPerugia contextItalian system
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Evolution Of The Wikipedia Article On The Murder Of Meredith Kercher

Posted by Gwaendar





It’s been mentioned by several Seattle media outlets - but none nationally - that the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (above) was considering somehow intervening to tilt the article on Meredith after “Bruce Fisher” started an online petition.

This post looks at how articles evolve under various checks and balances and the prospects for Jimmy Wales if he can indeed have any effect on the editing process - set up so that even he essentially can’t. 

1) The principles of Wikipedia

Wikipedia, the online Encyclopedia that anyone can edit, is and has always been a fascinating case study on the strengths and weaknesses of Crowd Sourcing.

Its arcane and often byzantine rules that have evolved over a decade are often difficult to follow, and have produced an environment with a steep learning curve, one that renders submission of new articles very difficult for novices - a situation often commented upon in the media.

For all their complexity, Wikipedia’s core rules provide a framework sustaining over 3 million articles today just for its English edition. It has its flaws, but in the grand scheme of things it works out quite well for the majority of articles.

Wikipedia’s English language website is right now the eighth most visited in the world and there are various versions in other languages.

2) How Wikipedia articles are built

Any article must stand on two core concepts, neutrality and verifiability.

  • Neutrality implies that the topic is described in as objective manner as possible, covering the relevant aspects while giving each the due weight they deserve.
  • Verifiability is the embodiment of an implicit compact between Wikipedia and its readers, the assurance that we aren’t just making things up. This is illustrated by the statement “Wikipedia is about Verifiability, not Truth”.  To that effect, any claims in an article must be verifiable through external reliable sources - If nobody made a claim before it appeared on Wikipedia, it will eventually be removed as “Original Research”.

For a source to be considered reliable, it must be either peer-reviewed or reported by a media outlet with a solid track record for fact checking and accuracy. In the final section of this piece, we will look at the shortcomings of that policy.

The three core content policies, “Neutral Point of View”, “Verifiability through Reliable Sources” and “No Original Research” are summed up in another guideline, the often misunderstood and maligned concept of Notability.

In Wikipedia-speak, Notability isn’t an indication of fame or importance, but refers to the notion that an article’s subject has been noted by others - that is, commented upon by multiple third party reliable sources in a non-trivial manner so that it is possible to verify that a Neutral Point of View is being maintained and no Original Research finds its way into the article.

Last but not least, articles involving living people are subject to particular considerations, called “BLP”  (Biographies of Living Persons), here to ensure Wikipedia is particularly careful to avoid libel. The smearing of the prosecutor, or the portrayal of Guede as a lone wolf when the judicial truth established by the Italian courts makes him one among three participants are both violations of the BLP policy.

3) Consensus: How conflicts are ironed out

As appears evident, those policies are put to the test everytime an article addresses a contentious issue.

Quite often, the available reliable sources present multiple sides of a same story. The requirement of Neutrality is often confused with the notion of balance (the simple representation of all sides of an issue). The challenge arises when it becomes necessary to determine what weight to give to a specific point of view.

For example, the population’s sentiment regarding nuclear power generators today can be presented in two different manners by a news organization interviewing people in the street: presenting three persons extremely worried about nuclear power, and three persons expressing confidence in the technology.

It is a balanced presentation, but if 90%  of the population is actually worried, the presentation doesn’t give the appropriate weighting to the issue, whereas interviewing 5 worried people and one unworried would have been closer to the reality.

In order to determine what an article should contain and to what extent, volunteers will often discuss matters and reach a consensus on an article’s talk (or discussion) page.

The English Wikipedia is home to a multitude of regular and occasional contributors hailing from every single country and culture of the globe. For this extraordinary melting pot to work out, participants in any discussions are expected to, first, assume that other participants are acting in good faith, second, treat each other with respect, and third, to accept that a compromise will have to be found that may not match their personal convictions.

The blogosphere and comment forms of newspaper reporting on the Murder of Meredith Kercher are packed full with contributors who believe that bullying and intimidation, outlasting and outshouting the opposition will win over other people.

Needless to say, this attitude is frowned upon in Wikipedia, and it is the reason why several contributors sympathetic to the Knox cause have been blocked from editing over the past two years.

In determining consensus, Wikipedia operates in a manner combining civil law and adversarial prosecution: arguments are heard based on established policies and guidelines, and prior decisions on similar situations are not taken into consideration.

The final call is usually made by an uninvolved editor who will review all arguments and try to determine what the strongest arguments representing the existing policies. This is also transient, as it is accepted that consensus can change and prior decisions can be revisited later on.

4) A little history of the Murder of Meredith Kercher article

Originally created as an article on Amanda Knox in late 2007, it was swiftly renamed to its present title and started to grow. And as the controversy around the case grew, more and more editors turned up trying to ensure that it presented “the Truth” as they understood it.

The FOA core arguments are familiar to readers of TJMK, of course: Amanda Knox was railroaded by the kangaroo courts of a third world country, a victim of rampant anti-americanism, by a corrupt and insane prosecutor and a brutal police force who convicted her out of thin air.

During early 2010 in particular, the regular Wikipedians trying to maintain a neutral coverage were subjected to heaps of abuse from some particularly aggressive Knox supporters.

After numerous reports on the administrative noticeboards, uninvolved admins stepped in, tried to get these users to conform to the acceptable norms of discourse, and eventually blocked them after they demonstrated their inability to do so.

At that stage, the FOA crowd started organizing their activity: a certain PhanuelB showed up and started arguing, supported by a string of new users who had never edited on anything else before.

This lasted for another three months, until PhanuelB got himself banned for the same atrocious behaviour, along with several of his supporters, while the others vanished without a trace at the same point. They all came back once, when a discussion was started around some content PhanuelB had intended to turn into an article before he got banned.

Through all this, the article has undergone several stages. In Spring 2010, it was a long laundry list of prosecution arguments countered by defense arguments - balanced certainly, but essentially useless. In early Summer, the article underwent a rewrite that almost halved its size and tried to prune much of those arguments.

At regular intervals, the article had to be protected due to excessive edit-wars, and is currently still “semi- protected”, that is, locked off to new accounts and anonymous contributors.

From the point of view of a Wikipedian without direct stakes in the case (I am an editor) the article was certainly perfectible,  but did a reasonable job at presenting the main facts of the case, the judicial situation at present, and the nature of the controversies surrounding the case.

5) The FOA appeal to Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales has abandoned most of his leadership functions over the course of the years, but still carries the prestige attached to his name.

The Open Letter published by “Bruce Fisher” was swallowed line, hook and sinker, and Wales entered the Murder of Meredith Kercher article rather like an elephant in a china shop,  essentially accusing established editors who had laboured for years to try and maintain the article of having conspired to suppress and censor other points of view.

His point is aided, obviously, by the scores of media coverage generated by the Knox PR campaign, in publications and reports matching the letter of a “Reliable Sources”. See, there is a loophole in the policy in the sense that anything appearing on, say, CNN, is considered Reliable because CNN is a network with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.

As CNN’s own disclaimers state, though, opinions offered by people appearing on their talk shows are explicitly not endorsed by CNN. But the loophole in policy doesn’t address this nuance, and this is mostly where Wales is trying to give much more prominence to the Knox story.

Fortunately, Jimbo is also increasingly seen as out of touch with the rest of the Wikipedia community, and in practice enjoys no particular privileges. Concerns have been raised on his manner of refusing to hear to the other side of the story.

The article’s talk page is unlikely to quiet down for a while.

But while the FOA perspective is given additional weight at present, the aspect that Wales hasn’t acknowledged is that the article, at the time of this writing, has not just minimized certain aspects of the arguments presented by the Knox PR campaign, but conversely toned down much of the debunking of those same claims.

At this stage, neutrality can be preserved or even improved by providing additional sources.

The sentencing reports for instance are what is qualified as a primary source and can only serve to verify the letter of the courts’  decision. More valuable are media reports or scholarly works (in any language, by the way) that analyze and comment on Massei and its critics.

It is important however to remember that polite discourse is required. If a contributor is subjected to personal attacks, it is better to request politely but firmly that the attack be struck or redacted and move on. Treading lightly and arguing on content with conviction rather than condescension will help guarantee that any contributor can at least be heard.

***********

Gwaendar has been a wikipedia editor for several years.

 

Posted on 03/29/11 at 09:36 AM by GwaendarClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, March 28, 2011

The Sollecito Family Criminal Trial And Civil Trial For Leaking Evidence Will Both Start On 29 April

Posted by Peter Quennell


The Sollecito family face charges for releasing an evidence video to the Bari TV station Telenorba showing Meredith’s body unclothed.

Also for attempting to influence some politicians to get some cops investigating the case moved on. Several Telenorba TV Bari staff-members will also also face charges. The trial was postponed five weeks ago as the judge was still on another case.

It is now reported in Italy by the news service Adnkronos that at today’s brief hearing a Kercher family civil suit against the Sollecitos for this disrespecting of Meredith will run in parallel.

The Sollecito defense team want to dispute the Perugia court’s jursidiction as the alleged crimes took place in Bari and Rome. That seems unlikely to fly as the evidence leaked was taken from Perugia.

The next court date for the Sollecito family will be Friday 29 April.


Sixth Appeal Hearing: Andrea Vogt On The Testimony Of The Witness In The Square

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: north side of Piazza Grimana showing the benches where Mr Curatolo normally sits]

Click here for Andrea Vogt’s report for the Seattle PI from the appeals court.

One of the case’s most colorful and controversial characters, Curatolo, 53, has spent many a day sitting in the small public Piazza Grimana square near the university where college students come to play basketball, buy hashish and hang out….

When questioned by prosecutors, he said he remembered seeing Knox and Sollecito having “an animated discussion” in the square, which overlooks the villa where Kercher’s body would be found the next day. It was not raining that night, he said, when asked about the weather. The following day the Carabinieri came around to ask him if he had seen anything, he recalled, and he had watched as forensic crime scene investigators worked around the house.

“Are you sure that the day after you saw those two discussing in an animated way you were questioned by the Carabinieri and saw the police at Via della Pergola in their white suits?” asked Mignini.

“Very sure,” Curatolo said. “As sure as I am that I am sitting here.”

But minutes later, in questioning by Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, Curatolo also said he had seen young people in masks and getting on buses to go to the discos. The distinction is important because Halloween was Oct. 31 and there were likely students in costumes, getting on shuttles to go to the discos on the outskirts of town.

Kercher, however, was killed on the evening of Nov. 1, 2007, which is All Saints Day, a somber holiday in Italy, when it is less likely there were any festivities.

“I think it is clear that he does not have a lucid memory,” said a member of Knox’s legal team, Maria del Grosso, after the hearing. “And I think it was demonstrated today that he is not a credible witness.”

However, prosecutors and the lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, maintained the testimony was in line with previous statements.

“He repeated exactly what he said during the first trial. We still believe he is reliable.”

Good neutral report, as you’d expect, from Andrea Vogt who is the American reporter most consistently in the courtroom. All the other reports in English seemed to include a lot of fluff from the defenses.

We’ll have an analysis post on this hearing and the DNA testing in Rome later today or tomorrow.

**********

Below: Mr Curatolo’s preferred benches are at the far left there. If Sollecito did watch the gate of the house on the night he’d need to be to the far right there. The gate can easily be seen from there.


Posted on 03/28/11 at 09:23 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesOther witnessesTrials 2008 & 2009The Massei ReportHellmann 2011+
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Friday, March 25, 2011

PMF Translation Team On Three Continents Translates Supreme Court Final Report On Rudy Guede

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Rome: St Peters in foreground; Supreme Court of Cassation large white building in background]

Please click on the image above for this meticulous translation from Italian to English.

The PMF translation team on three continents consisted of Jools, Thoughtful, Clander, TomM, Catnip, Yummi and the 411. This post spelled out how very ominous for the Knox and Sollecito defenses this report really is.

We will have a post soon examining all the fine details of this very tough report.

Posted on 03/25/11 at 09:11 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedTrials 2008 & 2009Appeals 2009-2015Guede appealsHellmann 2011+
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Civil Case Of Knox v Lifetime - Umbria 24 TV Video Of Arrivals Today At The Courthouse

Posted by Peter Quennell


Amanda Knox is the supplicant here but you’d be hard-pressed to know it.

Unfortunately there’s no video or images of the team for Lifetime the alleged wrongdoers in this case, who seem to be keeping well out of sight.

There are reports in English here and here and here. Ann Wise of ABC notes that YouTube has removed the video of the movie’s trailer.

Posted on 03/24/11 at 06:40 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesTrials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesMovies on caseOther legal processesItalian relatedThose elsewhere
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The Civil Case Of Knox v Lifetime Will Be Considered By The Perugia Courts On July 4

Posted by Peter Quennell


On July 4? Big day in America. Seems today’s judge has a sense of humor.

The closed hearing in civil court in Perugia was brief, and there are just a couple of media images of Knox looking rather dispirited.  The Italian media have not yet identified who are Lifetime’s legal representation or whether they were in court.

Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said his client wants the Lifetime TV movie withdrawn. He claimed that the movie had already been viewed 687,000 times on Lifetime’s website from all over the world, and that there is a version with Italian subtitles.

He said the movie could do irreparable harm to the prospects of his client. Amanda Knox in her statement said: “I am shocked at this invasion of my life and the speculations made about myself… I was very disturbed at the images in the trailer I saw on TV.”

The Knox and Sollecito suits were all actually filed before the movie itself had ever aired. No specific scenes were complained about today in court, and as the movie for the most part adheres to Massei, with some artistic license, it will be interesting to find out precisely which scenes are the bad ones.

The movie appeared to give Knox at least one big break in public eyes by making the provisional finding of an HIV test seem highly malicious though the facts don’t support this.

Sollecito appears in the movie much more briefly than Knox, and his most dramatic scene is where he throws one of Knox’s various alibis under the bus. Otherwise he comes across like a pussy.

His legal team has also said they were filing suit against Lifetime both in Perugia and in New York. No sign yet of those filings.




Posted on 03/24/11 at 11:21 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesTrials 2008 & 2009News media & moviesMovies on caseOther legal processesItalian relatedThose elsewhere
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amanda Knox To Be In Court In Perugia Tomorrow In Hearing About Stopping The Lifetime TV Film

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Lifetime TV has an office suite in this giant hitech building which Google is presently purchasing]

Past posts on this mixed bag of a TV movie can be found here.

Late February Amanda Knox’s lawyers filed suit in Perugia to stop the airing of the movie (so far aired maybe half a dozen times in the US) and Raffaele’s Sollecito’s lawyers filed suit in Perugia and (or so they say - we can find no court record) also in New York.

The Perugia judge at the first hearing took a pretty relaxed view of the urgency of the matter and so it is only now that legal teams for Lifetime and Amanda Knox will face one another in court. The suit claims that the movie “violates the reputation” of Amanda Knox.

Very substantial payment for damages has been requested. If the New York suit also proceeds (unlikely as US law is not exactly favorable) the total asked appears to amount, converted from Euros, to over two hundred million dollars to compensate for sullied reputations.

Today’s Italian media reports in ANSA and AGI dont say very much more than that, except that Amanda Knox would like to be present in court.

As this is not Sollecito’s team’s suit, this is about the first time that one appellant will appear in court without the other. No word at all yet on the constitution of Lifetime’s legal team.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Limited Review Of The DNA Tests Agreed To By Judge Hellmann Are Now Underway In Rome

Posted by The Machine


[Amended by the Machine after his posted comment.]

Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti of La Sapienza University in Rome (above) have begun the review of the DNA on the large double-DNA knife and the bra clasp under the eyes of expert witnesses.

Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni and Professor Giuseppe Novelli will be testifying on behalf of the prosecution. 

Professor Novelli has an impressive CV. He is a highly regarded professor of biomedicine at Tor Vergata in Rome and director of the Centre of Excellence for Genomic Risk Assessment in Multifactorial and Complex Diseases.  Professor Novelli is regarded as the “father of police forensics” in Italy.

If there had been any doubts about the validity of the DNA evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, he wouldn’t have agreed to testify for the prosecution.

A number of independent experts have already confirmed the validity of the DNA evidence at various court hearings.

There was an independent review of the forensic evidence in 2008. Dr. Renato Biondo, the head of the DNA unit of the scientific police, reviewed Dr. Stefanoni’s investigation and the forensic findings. He testified at Rudy Guede’s fast track trial in October 2008 and confirmed that all the forensic findings were accurate and reliable.

He also praised the work of Dr. Stefanoni and her team. “We are confirming the reliability of the information collected from the scene of the crime and at the same time, the professionalism and excellence of our work.”

Alberto Intini, the head of the Italian police forensic science unit, testified for the prosecution at the trial last year. He maintained that the crime scene had not been contaminated. He pointed out that unless contamination has been proved, it does not exist.

He also stated that the results of the tests showed that the investigation had been carried out correctly because there was not even one trace of any of the forensic technicians.

The Kercher family hired their own DNA expert, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and asked her to examine the DNA evidence.

Professor Torricelli is the Director of a genetic facility at Careggi University Hospital and has been working in genetics since 1976. She testified at Knox’s and Sollecito’s trial last year and she also confirmed Dr. Stefanoni’s findings.

She told the court that the significant amount of Sollecito’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp meant that it was unlikely that it was left by contamination. She also agreed with Dr. Stefanoni that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade of the double DNA knife.

Distinguished DNA expert and former Caribinieri General Luciano Garofano analysed the DNA and forensic evidence for the early 2010 book “Darkness Descending”.

He has more than 32 years of forensics experience and is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is considered by many as Italy’s top forensics expert. In his section of the book, he explains at length why he too thinks that Knox and Sollecito are guilty of Meredith’s murder.

Although General Garofano agrees with Dr. Renato Biondo and Alberto Intini that the scientific police did a good job, he thinks the police should have separated the plastic handle from the knife and checked for blood there because it often gathers in the grooves and recesses under the blade.

Stefano Conti has asked Judge Hellman for permission to take apart the handle of the knife.

The conclusions of the DNA retesting must be filed with Judge Hellman’s court no later than May 9 and they will be discussed at the appeal hearing on May 21.

Retesting of the DNA was always a high-stakes gamble for the defense teams and could prove to be game-over for Knox’s and Sollecito’s appeal in a single stroke.

On the other hand, the prosecution has little to worry about either way, as the balance of the evidence is so massive.

Posted on 03/22/11 at 11:02 AM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedPolice and CSIEvidence & witnessesDNA and luminolAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Despite Its Rep Perugia Was Always Quite A Nice Safe Place - And Now Is Becoming Even More-So

Posted by catnip

“Noir City”, the “Disneyland of Drugs”, “Drug-Dealing Capital”, a “Sex-and-Drugs La Dolce Vita” for university students, an “Ibiza in Italy”.

All these phrases, and more, have been used by the media to describe Perugia. A recent Porta-a-Porta report visually represented Perugia’s situation by showing images of Elisa Benedetti and Meredith Kercher, and using a mountain of ecstasy pills as an iconic motif.

The Mayor of Perugia Wladimiro Boccali has had enough of this media presentation of his beloved city and says that the multi-faceted problem is not restricted to just within Perugia’s Etruscan-age city walls, but affects all places everywhere.

In a long and powerful rebuke, he called the media to task for having replayed the “Meredith schema” in relation to the recent tragic events surrounding Elisa Benedetti.

In this age of global networking, no city is an island anymore.

Criminal activity may have been attracted to Perugia precisely because of its tranquillity, its quiet and rural setting, and the vibrant student dynamic of the city may possibly also be a contributing factor, but these are not the only ones.

The vast majority of students are not drug-addicts and alcoholics, and manage to have a good time on Fridays and Saturdays and arrive home safe and sound.

Yet where there is a supply of drugs, there is also a demand, and at the core of this lies an alienation and dissatisfaction that is the responsibility of everyone, families and authorities combined, to face up to and to deal with. Otherwise the self-destructive nihilistic consumerism so often adopted by today’s young people will lead, tragically, to only one possible outcome.

So, in response to this, and to facilitate a coordinated approach, Prefect Enrico Laudanna convened a round-table summit meeting in February.

Present were the heads of the various sectors of law enforcement and the civil authorities: the Quaestor (=Chief of Police), Sandro Federico, the Provincial Commanders of the Carabinieri, Carlo Corbinelli, of the Guardia di Finanza (=Financial Police), Vincenzo Tuzi, of the State Forest Corps, Giorgio Piastrelli.

Plus of course the Mayor of Perugia, Wladimiro Boccali, along with Province Vice-President Aviano Rossi, and the Regional Director of Health, Emilio Duca.

After having heard the various analyses and proposals put forward regarding the grounds, both of security and of the battle against drugs, the Prefect urged the “maximum commitment and undertaking in realising the identified solutions”, under the technical and practical coordination of the Chief of Police.

The tide continues to turn.

No one needs to feel that they are adrift and rudderless in the world. No one needs to remain an island any more.

Sources:

“Elisa case: Boccali reacts to ‘Meredith schema’ ”, Umbria24, 05 February 2011

Tommaso Bori’s blog

Perugia Notizie blog

Fabio Polese, Fomento blog

“Drugs and security in Perugia focus of Prefecture meeting”,  TuttOggi, 07 February 2011

Giuseppe Mascambruno, Quotidiano blog

Posted on 03/21/11 at 01:01 PM by catnipClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The wider contextsPerugia context
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Meredith’s Perugia #31: Naples Area Where Meredith Was So Happy On A School Visit

Posted by Peter Quennell

 

 

 

Posted on 03/19/11 at 11:57 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer Perugia
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Friday, March 18, 2011

John Follain Foreign Correspondent UK Sunday Times Chats Online About Case And Italian Politics

Posted by Peter Quennell


Transcript of a live online Sunday Times discussion with foreign correspondent John Follain on Monday 7 March 2011.

Sunday Times Foreign Editor:

Welcome to John Follain, foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times who has covered Italy since 1998. He has written a book about the murder of Meredith Kercher which is out in August. So let’s begin, John is waiting for your questions

John Follain:

Hello, all set and looking forward to your questions - about the Kercher case, Berlusconi or anything you see fit to throw at me

[Comment From James Ellington]

Hi John, How do you think Amanda Knox managed to gain celebrity status given the gruesome nature of the crime she has been convicted of?

John Follain:

Hi James,

Should we blame the media or the readers? Seriously, I think one big reason why this case has interested people is that they identify themselves with the parents of Meredith Kercher, or of Amanda Knox.

As for Amanda Knox being a celebrity, I’d say the twists and turns of the investigation and the trial have a lot to do with it - as well as her looks and the fact that it has to be a rarity to have an American exchange student with such a background being convicted (the appeal trial is now on, of coruse) of such a crime.

[Comment From Freddy: ]

What do you make of the film? It doesn’t seem to have gone down too well with anyone involved

John Follain:

Hi Freddy,

Having covered so many of the events, it was very moving to see some of them on screen - the actors do look very much like the real protagonists. But I did find it peppered with inaccuracies and callous in its depiction of events just before Meredith’s death - including a completely unbelievable scene showing Rudy Guede embracing Meredith.

[Comment From Rebecca Ward]

So let’s cut to the chase, do you think Amanda Knox to be guilty or has she been wrongly convicted? And what do you base your opinion on?

John Follain:

Hi Rebecca,

Ah, thought that one would come up. Under Italian law, Knox’s conviction doesn’t become definitive until she has exhausted her chances of appeal - meaning the current appeal trial and a possible Supreme Court trial.

Having said that, I do think she played a role in the murder, along with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede. That’s an opinion based on the evidence against her including the staged burglary, the DNA samples involving all three, and her behaviour at the police station

[Comment From Suzanna, Gloucs]

I have read that Guede was able to elect to go down the ‘fast track’ route for trial. What is that? Sounds like a McDonalds version of the law?

John Follain:

Hi Suzanna,

Not McDonalds but the Italian equivalent of plea-bargaining in a way. The fast track route involves a defendant agreeing to a faster trial, with fewer witnesses and no jury among other conditions, in exchange for a lower sentence if convicted.

But there’s no doubt many in Perugia and elsewhere have been shocked by his final prison sentence of 16 years, which will be greatly reduced for good behaviour among other factors.

[Comment From JJ ]

Can Knox be thought of as credible when saying she had been assaulted and asked questions under duress when being interviewed in light of the Facebook comments and images of swords and rituals?

John Follain:

Hi JJ,

I think it’s hard to accept that she accused an innocent man - Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the bar where she worked - simply because the police supposedly “pressured” her into doing so.

When she appeared in court and was questioned at length by the prosecutor over this, she didn’t come up with a convincing explanation. Plus there’s the fact that the day after the police interrogation, she repeated the scenario of Lumumba killing Meredith at the cottage.

[Comment From Charles and Jane]

I’ve seen interviews with Knox’s parents – difficult not to make assumptions here – but they seem rather unhinged (especially the mother). I realise it is not the everyday situation you find yourself in re your children but I think they do AK rather more harm than good?

John Follain:

Hi Charles and Jane,

To be honest, no, I don’t think they’re unhinged. I spent more than three hours interviewing them and AK’s sister Deanna in Seattle, and they came across as determined to bring Ak back from Perugia.

As for them doing AK more harm than good, the massive PR campaign they launched didn’t go down well with at least one of her Perugia lawyers, and it has backfired with the courts in the sense that judges in Perugia think the attacks - especially against prosecutor Giuliano Mignini are unjustified.

[Comment From james forrest]

What was the greatest challenge you faced in writing your book and did you meet any of the people connected with the case during the course of your research? Would you be interested to interview Knox if you had the chance? What question would you most like to ask her if you had the chance?

John Follain:

Hi James,

I set out to re-construct events from the moment Meredith and AK arrived in Perugia, through the murder and the subsequent investigation, right up to the current appeal trial - as much as possible describing not only what the main characters did but also what they thought at the time.

So the challenge was obtaining numerous, repeat interviews - one was six hours long - with as many of the characters including the prosecutors, detectives, lawyers, experts, relatives and friends among many others.

Yes of course, which journalist who has followed the case wouldn’t like to interview AK? But she is banned from giving interviews as long as her conviction, or acquittal, hasn’t become definitive. I don’t have a top question for her, what I would like is to ask her to go through events in as detailed a way as possible.

[Comment From Peter Polites]

What do you expect to be the outcome of the Amanda Knox appeal which has been delayed so forensics can carry out a review of the evidence used to convict her? When do you think we will hear the result? And do you think there is the possibility that the forensic evidence was contaminated?

John Follain:

Hi Peter,

Given that more than 20 judges have so far ruled that AK is guilty, I think the appeal court will head the same way - although it could reducer both the sentences for both her and Sollecito.

But no thinks the outcome is certain - the key hearing will be in late May when the court-appointed experts report back on their review of the DNA evidence found on the kitchen knife believed to be the murder weapon, and on Meredith’s bra clasp in her bedroom.

Yes contamination is in theory always possible but I see nothing to indicate that happened here.

[Comment From Ivor Gibson]

There have been heaps of books published about the case of Amanda Knox – what does yours do that the others don’t?

John Follain:

Hi Ivor,

I hope that my book offers the fullest-possible account of the case - I hope the reader will feel he or she are with Meredith and her friends in her last weeks in Perugia, behind the shoulder of the prosecutor or the detective as they make their discoveries, with AK and her mother as they talk in prison, and present in the courtroom at the key moments of the trial.


[Comment From Sammy]

what is the reaction of the average Italian to the bunga bunga scandal? disgust or secret envy?

John Follain:

Hi Sammy,

If you believe Berlusconi, 51% are for him, and 49% are against him. The truth is the average Italian does think the scandal is pretty awful but that doesn’t stop a big minority - a majority if you include his coalition partners - thinking Berlusconi is the best man for the job right now.

Basically the Left has yet to persuade anyone apart from diehard followers that it does have a programme for government and can rule the country efficiently.

[Comment From Elise Crothers]

I read that Berlusconi thinks he can prove in court that Karima El Mahroug was not underage when he allegedly paid her for sex – what do you think will be the outcome of his trial in Milan next month?

John Follain:

Hi Elise,

The prosecutors are confident that Berlusconi’s claim that she wasn’t underage will be thrown out by the court - her date of birth is on her Moroccan passport and as her father points out, they wouldn’t have spent such a long time trying to get her into community centres for minors if she was an adult.

The outcome is a very tough one to predict, but one near-certainty is that Berlusconi won’t try to stop the trial going ahead. He wants to fight his corner in court by attending all the hearings.

If he is convicted, he would most likely get a suspended sentence because he is over 70 and because he has a clean record.

And if he is convicted, he has said he will stay on as prime minister.

[Comment From jude]

what does Bunga Bunga mean? I think I know but do I?

John Follain:

Hi Jude,

I think I know too, but only on the basis of what Ruby told prosecutors before the whole scandal became public.

And that’s second-hand, in that she said that Berlusconi told her that it was something copied from Gadaffi’s harem - ie. an orgy.

But then again, Berlusconi’s people have claimed it’s no such thing but just a joke about two ministers on an island who come to an obscene end with natives (don’t ask).

And the newcaster Emilio Fede, who is accused of aiding and abetting prostitution for bringing showgirls to Berlusconi’s home, said it was the name of the sofa

[Comment From Mary]

How can you stay on as Prime Minister if you are convicted?

John Follain:

Hi Mary,

A prison sentence of three years or more would automatically include Berlusconi being barred from holding public office for a year or more. But that wouldn’t become definitive until the case was ruled on by the Supreme Court, which could be in a couple of years or more.

[Comment From Simon Kennedy, Edinburgh]

Last year Berlusconi fawned over Gadaffi, treating him like royalty on his visit to Italy and has also described him as “my great friend”. Now they seem to have changed direction due to the threat to their energy supplies. Should Italy take a stand against Gadaffi and what would this mean for the Italian economy?

John Follain:

Hi Simon,

Despite Berlusconi’s previous “friendship”, and embarrassing scenes including Gadaffi being allowed to lecture young women - all from a PR agency - bussed in to attend his lecture on “Islam”, Italy says it will stick to whatever the EU and the UN decide on sanctions.

But it’s been noticeable that Libya’s interests in Italy - there’s even a stake in the Juventus soccer club - have gone untouched officially because they’re not held by Gadaffi himself or his clan.

The trouble for Italy is that taking too strong a stand against Gadaffi could threaten vital energy supplies.

And the Italians are quick to point out that they were not alone in giving Gadaffi red-carpet treatment.

[Comment From Gemima9]

how will Italy cope with the thousands of North African migrants arriving in the country after the unrest in the middle east?

John Follain:

Hi Gemima,

The government hopes it won’t be alone in coping and that other EU countries will step in, because it simply doesn’t have the facilites to cope with the possible arrivals - some estimates are around 250,000 to Italy alone.

The emergency plans drawn up by the government including using converted barracks to house them but this would all be temporary. And the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has regularly criticised the way Italy has been dealing with previous cases, saying it doesn’t give them a proper chance to claim and obtain refugee status.

Sunday Times Foreign Editor

Well, that’s all we have time for folks. Thank you for all the questions. Thanks to John for giving us his time. Do tune in next week at the same time for another heavy-weight topic. Have a good week. Bye.

John Follain:

Thanks to you all for your interest, and hope we get another chance to talk soon.

According to a BBC report Bunga Bunga is the nickname of Greman actress Sabina Began who organizes Mr Berlusconi’s controversial parties. Therefore “bunga bunga parties”.

Not everybody is buying that explanation it seems. Other versions keep surfacing.

Posted on 03/18/11 at 10:31 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today’s Celebration In Italy Of Its Unification Into One Nation 150 Years Ago

Posted by Peter Quennell












Posted on 03/17/11 at 02:49 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Remarks Mocking Japan Win Disapproval In The American Media

Posted by Peter Quennell


Most Americans are eager global travelers (or would be if they could afford it) and large numbers live through choice in foreign countries.

But there are some for who certain foreign countries seem to give problems. Italy has been given a vey hard time over Meredith’s case, both by some journalists we previously thought reputable and by some anonymous commenters online.

Typically they depict an Italy that none of us here recognise, and as we periodically try to show through our videos, images and reports there is a reason why in the eyes of most of the rest of the world it is rightly seen as a gentle, cultured, beautiful country.

Japan is another country toward which a few media stars and a few online commenters have felt safe in presuming there’s an open season for unkind remarks. But not, it seems, any more.

Dozens of media sites are today reporting negatively on such remarks.  Best not to repost the unpleasant remarks right here. But click on the image above for some examples, and the reactions they are now engendering. 

The reader comments below that report are good. The decent broad middle steps in.

Posted on 03/16/11 at 12:23 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

New John Kercher Article: “As A Little Girl Meredith Was Funny, Clever And Extremely Self-Assured”

Posted by Peter Quennell





By Meredith’s father John in today’s Sunday Times:

To my knowledge nine books have been published about the Amanda Knox murder case, with one more on the way. There have been five television documentaries. A made-for-TV film was shown in America last month, and there are plans for a British film, possibly starring Colin Firth. The news media seem transfixed. Knox’s supporters post their views online and plan a “bowling fundraiser” next Sunday in Seattle, her home town.

There is someone missing from this obsession with “Foxy Knoxy”, as the 23-year-old student was quickly nicknamed in the press. Meredith Kercher, my daughter, was killed that night in Perugia, Italy, 3½ years ago. It’s time to tell her story — and the story of her family, for whom there are no appeals against Meredith’s death, but only a long, painful and extremely expensive emotional limbo as the Knox saga grinds its way through the Italian courts.

In December 2009 Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were sentenced to 26 years and 25 years respectively for killing Meredith. An Ivorian drifter, Rudy Guede, had already been convicted at a fast-track trial and sentenced to 30 years, reduced on appeal to 16. We attended the sentencing of Knox and Sollecito in Perugia. As Meredith’s brother, Lyle, said afterwards, it was not a moment for celebration; more one of satisfaction that some verdict had been reached. But our agony did not finish there.

We would like to be able to remember Meredith for the loving, humorous and caring person she was, rather than a murder victim. But under Italian law Knox and Sollecito have a right to two appeals: one to the court in Perugia, which is in progress, and, if that should fail, a further one to the Supreme Court in Rome.

The result of the current appeal is not expected until September. Should it go against them, then at least a year or even years could pass as the second appeal is heard. This is the stuff of nightmares, compounded by the way that Knox has been turned into a celebrity and the murder into entertainment.

I saw the trailer for the American TV film about her and was horrified by the scene that purported to depict the killing of my daughter. It was removed before broadcast but Meredith was still shown with a bloody wound in her neck. Mez, as we called her, should not be remembered by the way she died but by how she was for the 21 years of her short life.

As a little girl she was funny, clever and extremely selfassured, with a wonderful singing voice. At about five she told me she wanted to be a pop star. When a girl with whom she was meant to do a duet at junior school fell sick, Meredith performed the song alone. Other parents came up afterwards to compliment her nerve and ability.

She wasn’t a show-off. Her talents often surfaced spontaneously — such as when she picked up a toy guitar at home, stuffed a cigarette in her mouth, pulled her hair down over her face, stuck a hat on her head and did an impression of Slash from Guns N’ Roses. It was hilarious.

As she became older, she showed high academic ability, winning a place at Leeds University to study European politics and Italian. She was meant to be on a four-year course that included a year’s study at an Italian university, but she discovered that, because of a mix-up, she had been put on one with no year abroad. She was horrified and fought for months to be reinstated — successfully.

Meredith loved Italy, having been there several times with her school and a couple of times on family holidays. At the end of one exchange trip near Naples, most of the English students were in tears at having to say goodbye to the Italian families they had stayed with. Meredith, however, was smiling “because I know that I’m going to return and that, some day, I’m going to live here”.

She had a choice of three cities for her year overseas: Rome, Milan and Perugia. She chose Perugia because of its medieval quarter and the hope that it would be easier to make friends there than in a big city.

She flew out in late August 2007, checked into a family hotel for three nights and went to the University for Foreigners to look for accommodation in the town, eventually finding a room in a cottage. She rang to tell me about it, saying two Italian girls already had rooms there and an American girl would be joining them later.

Meredith had lived with Arline, her mother, since our divorce in 1997, but we had spoken every evening on the telephone and she came to dinner with me after school every week. We continued our conversations every evening when she was in Italy. She told me about her studies, the wonderful restaurants she had been to and the places she was hoping to visit.

She came back from Italy for a weekend to clean the house for her mother, who was suffering renal failure. That was the sort of person Mez was — very caring, not simply to family and friends but to strangers too. Once, working part-time in a restaurant, she saw that a female customer with a young child had had too much to drink. Meredith paid for a cab to get them home safely.

This was the person who was savagely murdered on November 1, 2007. I had spoken to Meredith that afternoon. It was Ognissanti, All Saints’ Day, a public holiday in Italy. She told me she would be out that evening but would talk to me the next day. My last words to her were: “I love you.”

The following evening her mother called, telling me that a British student had been killed in Perugia. I never dreamt that it was Meredith, and so I telephoned her number to see if she knew anything. At first I got an answering machine. After dialling a dozen times or more, I heard a ringing tone at the other end. That was a relief. I assumed that she wasn’t answering because she was in a different room.

An hour later, still getting no reply, I became worried and rang one of the national newspapers that I write for. Its foreign desk told me, after checking with Italy, that the police had found the dead girl’s mobile phones and had been in touch with people in London.

I was relieved. Whoever the poor girl was, she couldn’t be Meredith, because her family had presumably been informed. Half an hour later, however, I was told that the name going round Italy was Meredith. I was in shock. A friend drove me to Arline’s house. After a couple of hours Meredith’s picture came up on the television; by then the Foreign Office had confirmed that it was our daughter.

We flew to Italy to identify her. The press outside the morgue was crying, as were the police, and I couldn’t go in to see her. I wanted to remember her as she had always been. I had seen her only a few weeks earlier, when she had been on a shopping trip to London for winter clothes to take back to Italy. She had been so proud of her new boots. That was how I wanted to remember her.

Then the long legal process began: investigation, arrests, trials and now the appeal. The defence lawyers are contesting the DNA evidence from the alleged murder weapon, a knife found in a drawer at Sollecito’s apartment. They say the DNA samples — Meredith’s on the tip of the blade, Knox’s on the handle — are too small to be admissible as evidence. They also argue that DNA on a clasp from Meredith’s bra, found in her room six weeks after her body was discovered, could have been contaminated.

This is disputed by the top forensics team from Rome, led by Patrizia Stefanoni, an internationally respected forensic scientist. The fact that recently, in Britain, someone was convicted on 17-year-old DNA evidence is ignored by the defence.

Knox’s supporters in America, while concentrating on the DNA, do not seem to be aware of the huge body of other evidence that was given. Under Italian law a judge has to write an official report on how a verdict was reached. Judge Giancarlo Massei, who presided at the trial of Knox and Sollecito, produced a 400-page report.

It is quite revealing, showing that — although Knox’s DNA and Meredith’s genetic material were found mixed together in several locations in the bathroom — much more than the DNA evidence was responsible for the decision to convict. For example:

  • Sollecito claimed to have been working at his computer on the evening of the murder, but computer records show that it was inactive. Both Sollecito’s and Knox’s mobile phones were switched off that night.
  • A witness saw the couple several times in the vicinity of the cottage on the night of the killing, although they said they were at Sollecito’s home. Their alibis changed nine times, with Sollecito saying that he could not remember whether Knox was with him all evening. They even hinted at putting the blame on each other. Apart from Meredith, only Knox and two other flatmates, who were away at the time, had keys to the cottage.
  • Sollecito’s naked footprint was found on a bathmat in the cottage; and Knox’s footprints were found outside Meredith’s room, in the passageway and in another room, where police believe a break-in was staged. (These footprints were revealed with luminol, a chemical used by forensic investigators to detect traces of blood at crime scenes, as it glows blue in reaction with the iron in haemoglobin. It can show bloody footprints even after attempts to clean them away.) nAs for the “break-in”, the police immediately noticed that glass from a broken window was on top of clothes supposedly scattered by an intruder. The glass would have been under the clothes if the window had been broken before the room was ransacked. No valuables were taken, and a real burglar would have found far easier access to the house without breaking a window.
  • Sollecito told the police that nothing had been taken from the room supposedly broken into. But how would he know? It was used by an Italian girl, not present on the night of the killing, who had not yet checked it out for herself.
  • Knox described the position of Meredith’s body and how she had died, although she had not been able to see into Meredith’s room when the door was broken down by the police.

There are many more factors, almost 20 in all, among them the suspicion that there may have been something ritualistic about Meredith’s death. The prosecutor was criticised for mentioning this, but she was killed on the eve of the Day of the Dead, November 2. Sollecito was said to have Japanese manga comics that described the rape and killing of female vampires. Meredith had been dressed as a vampire to celebrate Hallowe’en.

In addition, the Supreme Court in Rome has recently issued its report on Guede’s appeal. Pointing out that there were more than 40 wounds on Meredith’s body, it found that he did not act alone and that two others were involved. There is also a suggestion that her body and the room were rearranged after the killing.

Guede, who admitted having been in the cottage on the night of the murder, fled the premises and went to a disco before escaping to Germany, where he was arrested. So who cleaned up the house in an attempt to remove all traces of their presence that night?

While not wanting to complain, I find it odd that the British government will not help us pay for travelling expenses to the courts in Italy, which we have had to attend on five occasions so far for the trial and appeal.

The British consul in Florence was marvellous, providing emotional support and translation facilities, and two MPs have tried to get us financial backup; but the Foreign Office says it does not pay for costs of attending court hearings abroad.

Each European Union country is supposed to provide some sort of compensation for the family of anyone from another EU nation killed on its territory; but Italy did not sign up to this, so nothing has been forthcoming from Rome. We have had to fund everything ourselves. It adds up — about £40,000 so far.

In court our lawyer demanded €21m (£18m) in compensation from the defendants, but this was a purely symbolic amount, seen in Italy as a way of demonstrating the severity of the case. Anyone assuming we received such a sum is under a misapprehension.

It is now into the fourth year since Meredith’s death, and the pressure of grief is still upon us. It has been constant torment, but the memory of Meredith will continue to stay with everyone. Leeds University planted an oak tree in her memory; and, with our family, students released balloons bearing messages for her. Her school, Old Palace in Croydon, planted a cherry tree for her. Every year, on the anniversary of her death, at Christmas Eve and on her birthday (December 28), our family and Meredith’s friends go to the cemetery to leave flowers and cards for her.

Recently I unearthed a book I wrote for Meredith. She was 14 and I was visiting her at her mother’s house. When the time came for me to leave, she suddenly asked me to tell her a bedtime story. I laughed and said I had told her one from when she two until she was 12, and I had run out of ideas. But she was insistent. So I told her I would go home, write something and read it down the telephone to her.

That’s what I did, with her as the lead character, and she loved it and wanted more. So I continued and it turned into a novel, The Strange Case of Miss Carla. I like to think that this is my tribute to a wonderful daughter.

Posted on 03/13/11 at 05:05 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fifth Appeal Hearing: Testimony On Club Closings And Buses Leaves Credibility Of Eyewitness Intact

Posted by Peter Quennell


The shot above from the front of the School for Foreigners is of Piazza Grimana.

Click for a larger image. You can see the square with the benches at extreme left and right, and at rear the basketball court where Rudy Guede played. At the back there at the far right are the stone stairs down which Knox and Sollecito may have entered the park.

The many traversing buses mostly stop right in front here and they would block most of that view.

It is hard for us to see the defense witness testimony from six witnesses - one nightclub owner apparently refused to show - that several clubs were closed and several buses not running as any big deal.

In this post below we mentioned that Judge Micheli at Rudy Guede’s trial in October 2008 had accepted the testimony of Mr Curatolo because he said it was the night before the police descended on Meredith’s house and the square.

Judge Masse’s court also used this as a pointer to Mr Curatolo’s credibility and the Supreme Court of Cassation in denying Guede’s ten appeal grounds also endorsed the testimony as good. 

Here now is a repeat of our report on Mr Curatolo’s day in court by our man in the court at the time, StewartHome2000,  almost precisely two years ago (29 March 2009).

He is a fixture in Perugia. He is a vagrant that spends most of his time hanging around Corso Garibaldi (the street where Sollecito lived) and Piazza Grimana (the piazza in front of the School for Foreigners within eyeshot of the gate of Meredith’s house on Via della Pergola).

The crowd murmured as he was helped in by court assistants, uncleaned and dressed in an old jacket and winter knit hat. His skin was dark against his long un-groomed white hair, beard and mustache. But once he opened his mouth, you knew that this guy was no slouch. He spoke clearly, concisely and directly, and was very certain of what he saw.

His testimony never swayed and was consistent even under cross examination. In short, his appearance was one thing, his articulate convincing testimony was another.

He stated that he has been a regular hobo (for lack of a better term) around that part of Perugia for about 8-9 years. He testified that he was in Piazza Grimani around 9:30-10:00pm when he saw across the piazza two people, a man and a woman. He described them as a couple from the way they were sitting next to one another.

He was asked to describe them and he turned and looked at Amanda, just a few feet away, and said calmly, “it was her”, and then looked at Sollecito and said “and him.” He stated that having been in that area he had seen them before separately, but this was the first time he saw them together. But he was certain it was them.

He said also that, although he did not watch them all the time, he did see them again “poco prima di mezzanotte” or “just before midnight” at the same place. He originally said that they were there from 9:30 through midnight, but clarified that they were there at 9:30-10:00pm and may have left around 11-11:30 and then returned to be there just before midnight.

After midnight, he left the piazza to go to the park and sleep.

The next day, he arrived at his faithful piazza around 12:00pm, and eventually, around 1:30 or so, he saw the carabinieri pass by, and the police and crime scene staff, and stated that he watched them at the scene, including the CSI people dressed in the full-white suits.

Under cross-examination, Sollecito’s lawyer Ms Buongiorno may have thought she had an easy target. But in fact he held up extremely well. She asked, “how could you possibly know it was 9:30?” and he responded “Because the sign next to the piazza has a digital clock. I look at it often to check the time”.

He stated that “when I sat on the bench to read I looked at my watch and it was just before 9:30pm….and I saw them shortly afterwards.” He said he knows what he saw, and he saw those two! No more questions.

Buses and nightclubs were not even mentioned in this comprehensive report. They were not even brought up by the defenses to rebut Mr Curatolo’s timeline two years ago.

The defenses again seem to be clutching at straws.

Posted on 03/12/11 at 10:27 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Fifth Appeal Hearing: The Two Appellants Arrrive In The Courtroom

Posted by Peter Quennell



Posted on 03/12/11 at 06:51 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Fifth Appeal Hearing: What Will Be On The Agenda Tomorrow In Court

Posted by Peter Quennell


Scheduled for tomorrow are seven witnesses for Sollecito’s defense, which is trying to prove that the eyewitness in the park, Mr Curatolo, got his dates wrong.

One of the ways in which Mr Curatolo identified the night on which he says he watched Knox and Sollecito sitting and talking in the park and periodically peering in the direction of the gate of Meredith’s house was by the presence of some buses.

They may have been the buses which climb up the very narrow Via Ulise Rocchi from the square to some clubs further up. However many, many other buses also pass through that square.

The defense hopes to land its first blow on the prosecution’s case by showing that on the night those nightclub buses weren’t there - that the clubs were closed that night for the holiday, and so the nightclub buses were nowhere to be seen.

Is this crucial? We think not. Mr Curatolo is useful in establishing a possible timeline for the night, but not for much more than that. The prosecution have never given the slightest hint that they believe anything like their whole case hangs on him.

And in Rudy Guede’s brief trial in October 2008 Judge Micheli accepted Mr Curatolo’s testimony as valid because he said he saw Knox and Sollecito on the night before all the police descended on Meredith’s house and the square.

Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Antonio Curatolo. He says that although Curatolo mixes up his dates in his statement, he does have a fix on the night he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana sometime around 11:00 to 11:30pm. Curatolo is certain it was the night before the Piazza filled up with policemen asking if anyone had seen Meredith.

In his evidence, he says they came into the square from the direction of Via Pinturicchio and kept looking towards the cottage at Via della Pergola from a position in the square where they could see the entrance gate.

Judge Micheli reasons in his report that their arrival from Via Pinturicchio ties in with the evidence from Nara Capazzali that she heard someone run up the stairs in the direction of that street. He also reasons that they were likely watching the cottage to see if Meredith’s scream had resulted in the arrival of the police or other activity.

Acceptance of his testimony is already endorsed by two appeals courts, including the Supreme Court of Cassation, and all the decisions and all the evidence from all three courts now get ported into the Knox-Solleito appeal.

You can see photos of the square here and the view down to the gate of Meredith’s house here.

Posted on 03/11/11 at 12:42 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Giuliano Mignini’s Seeingly Trumped-Up Conviction For Guessing Right In The MOF Case

Posted by TomM





We previously posted on the case here and here and here.

Giuliano Mignini became involved in the Monster of Florence case only years after many people had already come to believe a satanic sect in Florence might be behind the MOF murders. But he pursued it with a vengeance when a body that in 1985 mysteriously washed up on the shore of a lake in his jurisdiction showed signs of murder.

And when the crime fiction writer Doug Preston injected himself into the case under a pseudonym and appeared to be planting evidence, Mignini gave him a very brief shaking up and Preston timidly removed himself from the case and from Italy - to turn to inventing a whole lot of fiction about it from safely across the Atlantic. 

Here now is the fine Italian journalist Adriano Lorenzoni, describing The Strange Conviction of PM Giuliano Mignini by the prosecutor whose frustrated conversation was captured (the recording seemed to prove there was indeed a satanic sect in Florence) in objective terms that prove sympathetic to Mr Mignini.

Translation here is with the kind help of my fellow poster Clander.

The Perugian investigation of the instigators of the crimes of the Monster of Florence has, in effect, been stopped.

In January of 2010 the Public Prosecutor of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, and the former head of the flying squad of Florence, Michele Giuttari, were sentenced by the Court of Florence on the charge of abuse of office in an investigation into some Perugians connected to the “instigators” of the crimes of the Monster of Florence. According to the prosecution’s theory, Mignini and Giuttari illegally wiretapped and investigated journalists and law enforcement officials to influence their activities.

These are abnormal proceedings, since the Public Prosecutor Mignini had been properly authorized by the Investigating Magistrate of Perugia to use wiretaps for his investigation, actions that he had the duty to carry out. Abnormal proceedings also because leading the investigation against Mignini and Giuttari was the same Public Prosecutor’s Office [Procura] that Mignini [PM di Perugia], had investigated the head of, Ubaldo Nanucci. Not by chance did Dr Mignini object to the jurisdiction of that Office [Procura] to carry out the investigation and raise objections of the legitimacy of the judgment. The Court of Appeal of Florence will hear the appeal next November 22 [2011].

This all springs from a recording made by Michele Giuttari of one of his conversations with a Deputy Prosecutor of Florence, Paolo Canessa, in which Canessa states that his boss was not a free man and admits to having been hindered by the then Prosecutor General, Ubaldo Nannucci, regarding the requests of Dr Giuttari into the investigation of the crimes of the Monster of Florence.

Giuttari [then] sent the recording to Mignini, who turned it over to the Prosecutor’s Office of Genoa which had been authorized to investigate the magistrates of Florence. Prosecutor Nannucci was then investigated [verrà inquisito] for having slowed down, or rather obstructed, the investigation of the Monster of Florence. Genoa promptly dismissed [archivierà] it.

Giuttari continued to complain to Mignini about the conduct of the police commissioner of Florence, De Donno who, as ordered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, should have set up a new wire tapping room for the GIDES (serial crimes investigative unit) where Giuttari and his men were working [si erano sistemati]. De Donno never set up the new room [cosa che non fa]. Mignini charged him and sent the file to Florence.

A question comes to mind: where is the abuse of office in all of this?

It is also puzzling why there was such an apparent lack of interest in the investigations conducted by Michele Giuttari, even when they are not being obstructed. “The instigators must not be investigated because there are only conjectures, a fruitless waste of time,” Giuttari is told.

Astonishing. As long as the [lowlife] “snack buddies” are being investigated [for the MOF , all is well. It’s fine to investigate Pacciani, Lotti and Vanni; but when the investigation tries to produce greater results [si alza il tiro], problems start to arise. Michele Giuttari was even relieved of his post and transferred.

Prosecutor Mignini’s office is searched and documents from an ongoing investigation into the death of the Perugian doctor Fransesco Narducci are seized, documents which Mignini had without success objected were secret.

Another question comes to mind: why so much fear (in Florence and in Perugia) about the investigation of the death of Francesco Narducci?

According to the Perugian Public Prosecutor [Mignini], Francesco Narducci was connected in some way to the Monster of Florence case.  Giancarlo Lotti, one of the [lowlife] snack buddies, asserted that some doctor was given the amputated parts of a female body, in exchange for money.

Crimes, therefore, on commission [i.e. murder or mayhem for hire] by a doctor. A real doctor, not the mere pharmacist, Francesco Calamandrei, of San Casciano val di Pesa. Among other things, during the investigation it emerged that Calamandrei and Narducci knew one another. Narducci then died in unclear circumstances on October 13, 1985. Drowned in the waters of Lake Trasimeno. One month after the last murder committed by the Monster of Florence.

Suicide was claimed at that time. A truth considerably less than believable. So much so that while the Preliminary Investigations Judge [GIP], Marina De Robertis, dismissed the case for lack of enough evidence [con formula dubitativa] the hypothetical murder case against certain suspects (the journalist Mario Spezi, the pharmacist from San Casciano, Calamandrei, and others) and declared it time-barred, still, evidence exists of other crimes committed at the time: the concealment and abduction of a corpse and the falsification of numerous public records.

Moreover, since last April, we have been waiting to learn the reasoning with which, for different reasons, including claimed lack of evidence, the Preliminary Hearing Judge, Paolo Micheli, acquitted twenty people (including Narducci’s father and brother) of charges of forgery, criminal conspiracy, dereliction of duty, and concealment of a corpse.

Against this decision of the Preliminary Hearing Judge, Public Prosecutor Mignini will most likely file an appeal as soon as the sentencing reports are lodged which should have been lodged last July 20 [2010].

Mignini and Giutarri were acquitted of the charges of abuse of office (and Mignini also of aiding and abetting Giuttari) because it was not proven that any crimes were committed [i fatti non sussistono] (and the Florence Prosecutor’s Office did not appeal).

[The abuse of office charges] related to their so-called parallel investigations to those of the Genoa Prosecutor’s Office, which was investigating the former head of the flying squad of Florence for false acts [falso] due to the recording of the conversation with the deputy [Prosecutor] Canessa (of which we have spoken above) which, according to the indictment, had been tampered with. This investigation then led to the search of the office of the Public Prosecutor of Perugia [Mignini’s office] and the seizure of numerous investigation documents.

Needless to add that the proceedings against Giuttari and the two police officers concluded with a judgment of non-suit for absolute lack of foundation of fact, as proclaimed by the Genoan Preliminary Hearing Judge Roberto Fenizia. The “aberrant” conviction of Giuliano Mignini does not have immediate disciplinary consequences of any kind. The disciplinary proceeding is in fact suspended until the resolution of the criminal case on which it depends.

And Public Prosecutor Mignini is able to continue to carry out his functions, in trials of great importance and of international interest, such as that relating to the death of the English student, Meredith Kercher.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Strange Story Of Congressional Knox Supporter Apparently Becoming Over Aggressive

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Portland, largest city in Oregon, David Wu’s constituency; Mount Hood at back there]

A few months ago Oregon Congressman David Wu wrote a mean and inaccurate letter on Knox’s behalf

Now his own Congressional staffers are having to restrain him from becoming too over-the-top on other matters.

Their concern had been spiking for weeks in tandem with the Oregon Democrat’s increasingly unpredictable performance on the campaign trail and in private. He was loud and sometimes angry, some of them told The Oregonian. He said kooky things to staff and—more worrisome with a tough election fast approaching—around potential voters and donors.

Earlier and gentler efforts had failed, so the tight-knit group of high-level staff took other steps, including quiet inquiries about the availability of beds in hospitals in Portland and Washington, D.C., multiple sources familiar with the effort told The Oregonian.

Several staff members confronted Wu for the final time on Oct. 30. Wu’s psychiatrist was brought into that meeting as well, joining the group at the Portland campaign headquarters by speaker phone. The meeting was held after four consecutive days of troubling behavior that led the staff to agree that Wu needed a higher level of medical care, according to people intimately familiar with the events of that period.

“This is way beyond acceptable levels and the charade needs to end NOW,” wrote Lisa Grove, a senior and long-serving campaign pollster, in an e-mail to colleagues that day. “No enabling by any potential enablers, he needs help and you need to be protected. Nothing else matters right now. Nothing else.”

Wu, however, remained defiant, sources said. He left the meeting and said he was going to a movie.

Unfortunate case. What a surprise.

Posted on 03/08/11 at 11:24 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Thoughts On Meredith’s Tragic Case And Its Significance In The Bigger Scheme Of Things

Posted by Saskia van der Elst


As one of the regular commentators on this forum once pointed out, the question we all are trying to answer regarding the pointless murder of the talented and beautiful Meredith Kercher in Perugia is: What is it, that keeps on drawing us to this case?

We all have our own reasons. According to me, a murder case seldom has so much in common with an old school murder mystery, or ¨whodunnit¨. A victim that you instantly sympathize with, several suspects, each with their own particular background, ethnic origin and possible motives, a tragic event taking place on the day of the Death, a charismatic prosecutor, who himself is the center of some controversy, and all of this set in the stunningly beautiful medieval hilltop town of Perugia, with its two universities, its relatively small population and its many temporary residents, studying and partying in the small town center.

All are ingredients for a captivating story: a small universe, that can easily be explained to an outsider and once you heard the beginning of the story, you crave more. More information, more depth, more color. For those that have a normal, healthy brain, there comes a point in any murder mystery where you are convinced of the guilt of one or more of the characters in the story and as you near the end of the story, there might be an unexpected twist, but you can rest assured that you will find out who did it.

Of course, in real life stories don´t follow formulas, most of the time they don´t have a definitive ending and in the case of the murder of Meredith, the book is not closed. The three perpetrators of the crime have been convicted to a total of 67 years in jail between the three of them, but all three maintain their innocence. We all know that three cannot keep a secret, so it is a matter of time until one of them reveals more about the exact events that took place on the 2nd of November in 2007.

Each of the three perpetrators will go through a process of maturing in prison. Once they feel they have paid a significant price for their crime, they may realize the graveness of they crime and realize that they made bad decisions in their past. Not until that moment, they can find redemption and may feel the need to let the world know that they have changed as a person. All three perpetrators were immature in their own way when they committed their crime, so it might take a while for them to mature enough to be able to face reality.

Rudy might be the first one to reach that point, since he is more or less an orphan, with no controlling relatives, friends and others with vested interests in the lies that have masked the truth. Nobody will lose face if he decides to confess his participation in the crime. The same thing, but to a lesser degree,  is true for Raffaele. Since he never even cared about clarifying all inconsistencies in his stories, he implicitly has already admitted his involvement. He too, doesn´t affect many people if he opens up and gets clean. The only close relatives he has are his father and sister and they have not publicly expressed a strong believe in his innocence.

Amanda is in a much more difficult position, because of the amount of people that was mobilized to defend her. By now she has been the income generator for quite some people and although nobody envies her parents, they have a clear mission, that keeps them occupied and that gives their lives meaning. The moment Amanda would confess her involvement, the parents would be forced to exchange the “free my innocent daughter” banner for one that reads “I raised a murderess that is serving two and a half decades in a foreign prison”.

On top of the above, the process of coming clean might be a slow one, because all three suffer from uncertainty about how the other two are doing. That uncertainty might cause postponing the advance, until they are forced to speak up, because one of the others did so first.

The result for those that are following the case is that we know we don´t have all information yet and for us to fill in all the blanks and be able to understand what exactly has happened to Meredith we need that information. Until we have it, we cannot accept the story as is as it leaves us unsatisfied. Of course we are talking about a true story here and not about a work of fiction, but for the rational part of our minds that doesn´t make a difference.

Posted on 03/05/11 at 09:33 AM by Saskia van der ElstClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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