Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Weighing The Ten Points On Which The Perugia Chief Prosecutor’s Supreme Court Appeal Is Based

Posted by brmull



[Above: the Supreme Court of Italy seen from the south-east across the River Tiber]


The Chief Prosecutor and Deputy Chief Prosecutor of Umbria base their formidable appeal on ten points repeated here from ZiaK’s excellent translation below.

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

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

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

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

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

1. I agree that the appointing of the independent experts was unjustified, because they were essentially just another opinion, a sort of tie-breaker, applying 2011 standards to 2007 evidence, who were revealed to have pre-existing biases about the questions posed to them.

Independent experts should be a piece of evidence, not a final arbiter. I know the Kerchers opposed the appointment of these experts (I don’t know about the prosecution) so clearly they weren’t a consensus choice, as is preferred whenever independent experts are employed.

2. I agree that if Conti and Vecchiotti were allowed to judge the scientific police by 2011 standards, then the court should have allowed testing using highly sensitive 2011 technology. Furthermore Dr. Stefanoni was left to defend her work against the academic experts, without any back-up from Dr. Novelli who is more than a match for the independent experts in terms of credentials.

3. I’m on the fence as to whether the court should have recalled Aviello to discuss why he had recanted his testimony. I don’t know what the legal procedure is when a witness recants while the trial is still underway.

4. I strongly agree that the decision to recall the man in the park, Curatolo, and then determining that the old man’s memory was unreliable four years after the fact, was completely inappropriate. Curatolo’s testimony at the first trial was more than adequate. Nothing was learned from this exercise except that his memory has become worse with time (whose hasn’t?) and that he subsequently got in trouble with the law, which is overly prejudicial.

5. If the court insisted on recalling Curatolo to try to assess his reliability, they should have done the same for the store owner Quintavalle. Instead he was deemed unreliable based on a cherry-picked selection from his 2009 testimony.

6. On the time of death, I’m one of those who believe Hellmann got it right, but it has no bearing on the defendants’ guilt or innocence, since they have no alibi for either time. I look forward to the prosecution’s argument on this.

7. I agree that Hellmann’s decision to accept the defense explanation for the footprints was arbitrary and not justified by his motivations report.

8. The luminol traces in Filomena’s room were improperly determined to be footprints. They were then lumped in with the footprints in the hall without any separate attempt at explanation.

9. I agree that the Court’s determination that the defendents would not lie about being at the cottage, simply because they were “good kids” is outrageous. (In the U.S. you can’t use character evidence to decide innocence or guilt, and doing so would mean a mistrial. I’m not sure about the situation in Italy.)

10. I agree Hellmann’s explanation for the simulation of a crime was a sham, in which he accepted all of the defense arguments and showed no curiosity at all about whether this scenario could actually happen. The court had clearly made up its mind about the case already and decided to just shove the staged break-in, a crucial part of the case, under the rug.

***

*The prosecution also wants to add “aggravating factors” to the charge of calumny. This is a freebie. I don’t know if it will have any bearing on the appeal.

**The fact that Hellmann seems to have applied the “reasonable doubt” standard to individual pieces of evidence, when this should only apply to the case as a whole, seems like a huge basis for appeal. I’m glad to see the prosecution bringing this up.

Posted on 02/15/12 at 07:46 AM by brmullClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Perugia’s Excellent Umbria24 Posts Details Of Dr Galati’s Extremely Tough Supreme Court Appeal

Posted by Peter Quennell





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This translation is from Umbria24 by our main poster ZiaK.

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

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

By Francesca Marruco

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

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

Verdict that should be revoked

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

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

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

Only defence arguments were taken heed of

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

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

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

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

Prejudice by the two appeal judges

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missing assumption/acceptance of decisive evidence

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

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

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

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

Posted on 02/14/12 at 10:26 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Typical Of Dozens Of Cool Italian Reports On Mr Galati’s Appeal - This One By Cronaca

Posted by ziaK





My translation. Please click above for the original.

Meredith: the appeal in Cassation Court has been lodged against the acquittal of Amanda and Raffaele

The appeal agains the acquittal of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox for the murder of Meredith Kercher was lodged this morning by the Prosecutor General. The appeal is contained in 111 pages, signed by the Prosecutor General Giovanni Galati and by the deputy [prosecutor], Giancarlo Costagliola.

In a meeting with journalists, Mr Galati and Mr Costagliola themselves explained that the appeal originates from their firm conviction that Sollecito and Knox are “co-perpetrators” in the murder of Meredith Kercher. Referring to the appeal verdict, Galati and Costagliola spoke of a verdict “needing to be revoked” which has “omissions and a great many errors”.

In their appeal the magistrates therefore call for the reversal of the second-level (Hellman) verdict and thus for a new appeal trial for the two young folk.

Inconsistency of the Reasoning Report  Mr Galati described as “unfortunate” the opening words of the associate judge, Massimo Zanetti, who began the introduction of the report with the claim that “the only certainty” was the death of Meredith Kercher.

“A resounding forecast of the judgement”, the chief prosecutor claimed, “before even having heard the accounts of the prosecution and of the defence”. For Mr Galati, the appeal verdict “seems to be a second first-instance verdict, but in which the judges read the arguments of the defence beforehand [i.e. before hearing the prosecution’s case]”.

He then spoke of “inconsistency” in the reasoning report, of a “useless reasoning which achieves nothing”. In contrast, the Reasoning Report of the first-instance [Massei] trial was, to his mind, “complete and thorough, based on [elements of] evidence that were compatible with each other”.

Levelling to the defences’ stance “I immediately had the feeling that the appeal verdict was profoundly unjust” Costagliola then added, “and I am now convinced that it should be revoked. It is as if the judges had made an ex novo decision - tilting everything to the direction of the defence.”

Rudy Guede [who was definitively sentenced to 16 years through the fast-track trial system - editor’s note] was [in effect] put on trial again, even though he was not a defendant in these proceedings.

It leads one to think that, because the Court held that Guede was guilty of the break-in [of the window of the room belonging to one of the flatmates in via della Pergola - editor’s note], Sollecito and Knox should [therefore] be acquitted of the charge of executing a crime.”

Sollecito: “A 4-year Calvary” In the meantime, Raffaele Sollecito also remarked on the news, and spoke of “hounding against him”. “It is a never-ending story. For me, it is a real Calvary [nightmare] which has lasted 4 years”, he said, after having learned of the appeal lodged against his acquittal and that of Amanda Knox.

He was told the news by one of his defence attorneys, the lawyer Luca Maori. “I agree with him”, the lawyer said, “and to me it seems almost that the prosecutors are hounding him.”

Posted on 02/14/12 at 01:03 PM by ziaKClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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First Post Reports That Meredith’s Family Have Joined In The Supreme Court Appeal

Posted by Peter Quennell





Click image above for a long and impressively fast report by Andrea Vogt about the Supreme Court appeal: and Meredith’s family being a party to it.

Andrea Vogt also notes the huge mismatch between the Hellman outcome and its terms of reference which Attorney General Galati targeted in his remarks today (see post below) and which the Supreme Court, based on past performance. may not take kindly to..

First the Court of Cassation must decide whether to consider the case or not. Once under consideration, if the court agrees with prosecutors, a new appeals trial is triggered. If they disagree, the current acquittal stands.

“They [the petitioning lawyers] will seek nullification of the second instance decision on points of law,” explained Stefano Maffei, an expert on Italian criminal law. “If they are successful, the case will then return to the Court of Appeals for a further assessment of the merit of the case.”

And on the problematic Amanda Knox book:

While US media this week described Knox as having bowled over editors with her “smart, self-assured and intelligent” manner, some in Italy have been less than impressed, instead criticising her for everything from her appearance since returning home to her latest attempts to profit from Meredith Kercher’s murder.

The real question is, how much exactly will Knox reveal? Will she publish all the letters she received in prison… including those fawning pleas for first interviews? Will she describe the jealousies of fellow prisoners, which she finally overcame working for the prison dispensary?

How much will she disclose about Rocco Girlanda, the Umbrian parliamentarian who used his parliamentary right to enter the Capanne prison at any time to regularly visit her and bring her gifts? Girlanda eventually capitalised on those visits to write his own book in Italian - a cloying account of those visits in which Knox’s letters to him were reprinted after being censored and redacted.

We will be drawing attention in a later post to several hundred additional questions. 

Posted on 02/14/12 at 12:32 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Umbria Attorney-General Galati Files 111-Page Supreme Court Appeal Against Hellmann

Posted by Peter Quennell



[We are told that this is AG Giovanni Galati at the recent justice info system announcement]


In submitting his 111-page appeal to Cassation Attorney General Giovanni Galati was extremely scathing in his remarks.

What Mr Galati has stated is that the appeal court of Judge Hellman exceeded its appeal mandate by far and tried to run a repeat trial at the first level, without the benefit of all the witnesses or a repeat presentation of evidence and cross-examination.

That overreach claim may resonate very strongly with the Supreme Court of Cassation which has historically repeatedly showed its distaste for first-appeal judges and juries who they seem to think too often overreach and must be restrained.

Cassation would already seem predisposed to any arguments coming from Attorney General Galati, as he was an assistant prosecutor general there, and predisposed against Judge Hellman, who has handled very few criminal cases (apparently none at all involving DNA) and produced previous quirky criminal-trial outcomes.

Book publishers might like to note that this could take two to five years to play out if it bounces back and forward several times between Rome and Perugia. Also that Italy’s law of calunnia may be applied to any wrong claims made in Knox’s and Sollecito’s prospective books.

Knox stated at trial that she was treated well on her interrogation night.  Even so she still faces her own charges of calunnia. Her parents likewise. And Sollecito’s parents face a trial for evidence tampering and political manipulation.

Any books would seem to need to be moving targets at best. Maybe no paper version.

Posted on 02/14/12 at 09:58 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Italian Report That Prosecution Appeal Against Knox-Sollecito Appeal Verdict Could Be Filed Tomorrow

Posted by Peter Quennell





Italian media are widely reporting that the prosecution appeal will be filed for sure this week with the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome.

We have previously posted on the pending filing of the appeal documents here  and here and here. The well-infomed website Perugia Today now reports that the prosecution appeal may very well be lodged tomorrow, Tuesday.

The report goes on to sardonically remark that, based on media shots like the above, the “supermodel” seems to be losing her charms amid the hard realities that faced her back in Seattle.

The hair in a ponytail is not shining, and the absence of the usual pantsuit indicates that with freedom and the return to the US a few pounds have accumulated on the flanks.

The denim jacket takes away the rest of the charm that this girl had aroused in many in Seattle during the process. Away from the stage lights, the banality of being back daily hits home.

The report goes on to say that the prosecutors and police have never stopped believing in Knox’s guilt, even though Judge Hellman swept many strong indicators under the rug.

Hmmm. Finally Knox and Sollecito really might now want to return and take the stand. Lie detector tests and brain scans might also prove of help.

Posted on 02/13/12 at 05:26 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Learning Experiences Emerging From The Carnival Ship Disaster Off Italy’s West Coast

Posted by Peter Quennell





Value migrations force better systems upon us, and so the human race progresses…

Check out first what seems to be happening to value as a result of the Costa Concordia wreck, as reflected in the stockmarket chart just below.  Stockmarkets and currency exchange rates constitute the value votes of a lot of watchful people trying to decide where to put their money.

Italy has no independent currency any more, so Italy sorely lacks that other very useful value indicator and safety valve.  But stockmarket behavior is telling us a lot both about Italy and about the Carnival cruise line.

In the past three months during which the main American index, the Dow-Jones (red curve), gained an okay 8 percent, the Italian stockmarket index (green curve) gained a very impressive 30 percent.

The main news out of Italy in those three months was (1) the austerity plan, which in theory is setting the stage for future growth (toward which there was some cynicism), and (2) the recovery from the wreck of the Costa Concordia (toward which the doubts were even greater).

You can see a slight blip down in the green curve immediately after the wreck, but then Italy continued with speedy value migration inward.  It seems fair to say “Well done Italy. You’ve received votes of international confidence on both fronts.”

Carnival, however, rather less-so.. The blue curve is the stock price of Carnival Cruise Lines and it’s still down about 12 percent since the wreck happened which is about $3 billion off Carnival’s market valuation. All cruise lines seem to have taken something of a hit and are likely to encounter other heat to make sure they all keep improving.


Check out now what is happening to systems.

It seems clear that the captain was steering the ship while he was a bit tiddly while showing off to what increasingly appears to have been his girlfriend by his side. By international and Carnival rules (1) the captain should not have been drinking, (2) he should not have been five miles off course, (3) the Moldovan dancer should not have been on the bridge, and (4) the captain should have been a lot more careful in his navigating.

So four systems at least were violated.

Then when the ship was beached - there is some uncertainty as to whether this was deliberate or whether the captain was just putting the ship in shallow water -  (5) damage to ship bulkheads was much more than expected, adding to the high number of deaths, (6) the lifeboats were almost impossible to launch, and (7) the evacuation procedures almost totally broke down - in part because there had been no evacuation drill before the ship left the port of Rome, and in part because the captain went awol and was already standing on the beach.

That is far from an exhaustive list and systems changes implemented after the 9/11 attack numbered up in the hundreds - military responses, building techniques, city preparedness, corporate distribution of their people and physical assets. We will see the same happen here. 

Right now we are watching what appear to be two very efficient systems cutting in and doing their work. One is the recovery of the oil from the ship and then the ship itself. And the other is the Italian legal system, which is going to be kept busy with this one for years.

There is increasing evidence that the single Moldovan dancer and the married captain were having some sort of affair.  She briefly admitted as much, telling a court she loved him, and the searchers and divers may have found her effects in his cabin.

He may now face 2,500 years in prison to reflect on the importance of respecting systems and the value of peoples’ lives. . 





Posted on 02/10/12 at 11:31 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Amanda Knox Team to Appeal Conviction And 3-Year Sentence For Fingering Patrick Lumumba

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the Supreme Court of Cassation]


Appeals against Judge Hellman’s rulings must be lodged in Rome by 18 February.

Now Reuters is reporting a Knox-team appeal apparently announced by David Marriott. The Knox team probably had little choice but to lodge this seeming long-shot of an appeal.

Judge Hellman’s ruling left her “half pregnant” facing a hard-line and unbendable Supreme Court and it left her mom and dad more vulnerable in their own trial for calunnia for claiming in a UK interview that Knox only “confessed” in fingering Patrick because of duress.

Explanation of calunnia

The charge of calunnia (art. 368) has been commonly translated as “slander” in the English/US media. This translation is incorrect, however, as calunnia is a crime with no direct equivalent in the respective legal systems.

The equivalent of “criminal slander” is diffamazione, which is an attack on someone‟s reputation. Calunnia is the crime of making false criminal accusations against someone whom the accuser knows to be innocent, or to simulate/fabricate false evidence, independently of the credibility/admissibility of the accusation or evidence.

The charges of calunnia and diffamazione are subject to very different jurisprudence. Diffamazione is public and explicit, and is a more minor offence, usually resulting in a fine and only prosecuted if the victim files a complaint, while calunnia can be secret or known only to the authorities. It may consist only of the simulation of clues, and is automatically prosecuted by the judiciary.

The crimes of calunnia and diffamazione are located in different sections of the criminal code: while diffamazione is in the chapter entitled “crimes against honour” in the section of the Code protecting personal liberties, calunnia is discussed in the chapter entitled “crimes against the administration of justice”, in a section that protects public powers.

Judge Hellman essentially contradicted Cassation’s ruling on Guede which agreed strongly that Guede and two others did it (Judge Hellman of course went for the very tenuous lone wolf approach which Judge Micheli and Judge Massei both shot down in some detail) which had many lawyers in Italy doing double-takes. 

Knox in fact fingered Patrick when she was merely a witness who had not even been invited to Perugia police headquarters for the evening and who had volunteered for the questioning.

The interrogators have all claimed she was under no duress except the duress of hearing that Sollecito in the next interrogation room had just called her a liar and destroyed the latest of her various alibis.

Then she had several weeks (as did her mom) to move to spring a devastated Patrick from an adjacent wing in Capanne prison, but of course she didn’t.

Her lawyers never lodged a complaint against the claimed duress and on the witness stand at trial in mid-2010 the prosecutors actually got her to admit that she was treated well.

Key at this stage may be that Knox cannot use her natural advantages of being young and rather dopey and of being able to speak up in court at any time, not under oath or cross-examination, which she used twice in front of Judge Hellman (with lusty sobs and tears for herself and no caring for Meredith).

Cassation works like Supreme Courts elsewhere in Europe and the United States They receive the written appeals and then months or even years later hold very brief hearings, and then almost immediately issue a ruling. It looks to us like the case almost certainly gets bounced back to Perugia - and a new judge - for re-working.

Judge Hellman may have found Patrick’s highly aggressive lawyer impossible to overrule, and he would have been wildly unpopular in Italy to leave Patrick without even his small settlement. If Patrick’s lawyer does not somehow react to this appeal it will be a surprise. He may have the opportunity for rebuttal.

This case has thrown up a lot of possibilities for shortening the Italian process in murder cases and leveling the playing field in favor of victims and families. We’ll round up and post ideas for such reforms already being pushed in Italy by reformers such as Barbara Benedettelli.

Reforms might include no right to defendant statements in court without the possibility of cross-examination, the limiting of judges’ scopes in first appeals, and no jury being required for those appeals.

But everybody sure appreciates those judges’ and juries’ written statements. A precedent the whole world could use.


Saturday, February 04, 2012

Good News For Hard-Pressed Italy On Economic Growth On Two Surprise Fronts

Posted by Peter Quennell



Demonstrations against forced austerity are happening daily in Italy, and along with all other arms of government justice is being impacted.

We hope this wont affect a just resolution of Meredith’s case - but who knows?  Two things happened last week that might help to keep justice on the rails.

At last week’s Euro summit European leaders (video above) showed they are waking up to the fact that austerity programs like Italy’‘s and Greece’s and Spain’s alone could do permanent nightmarish damage.

Italy’s youth unemployment has just passed 30 percent and Greece’s and Spain’s passed 50 percent a few weeks ago. High levels of unemployment like this could be permanently baked in if austerity is the only “solution” entered into.

The UN’s International Monetary Fund located in Washington United States has long been criticised for austerity and excessive concerns over equilibriums which often nip growth in the bud.

But at the annual economic forum in Davos Switzerland the head of the IMF of all people showed a promising new face. She actually came out and said European austerity is not enough and active growth measures are also absolutely vital.  Here is the BBC’s report.

But neither the European leaders nor the IMF head described last week what such active growth measures would look like. It’s still blind leading the blind. They are all late to the game that the Asian economies have got quite good at (at their present level) in recent years.

Next post: the art of the possible. What cutting-edge state-of-the-art growth measures actually look like.

Posted on 02/04/12 at 07:16 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Compared To Italy, Say, Precisely How Wicked Is The United States?

Posted by Peter Quennell





Please click above for a chart we can all read.

Okay. According to this proportional comparison of prison populations, the US is about seven times as wicked as Italy.

We have often remarked that Italy’s crime rate is low, the three mafia families (Sicily, Calabria and Naples) are mostly fading, and the justice system is one of the most cautious - conviction rates are infuriatingly low for the suffering families of victims, but in a forgiving Catholic nation rates of incarceration are unlikely to jump any time soon.

The American incarceration rate in sharp contrast has for a decade led the rest of the world, and it increased every year for nearly 30 straight years from the arrival of President Reagan to the departure of President GW Bush. Its prison rate is ahead of Russia’s, with its mafias and corruption and poverty, and ahead of China’s, with its large population of political prisoners.

Finally, however, the American incarceration rate and execution rate are both now headed downward.

Factors that had been keeping incarceration rates high included the 1980s-1990s drug wars, the estimated 12-15 million illegals, the estimated several hundred million private guns, the law-and-order hard line of many politicians and the Supreme Court, the elections of many sheriffs and judges and district attorneys based mainly on a law-and-order hard line, the part-privatised for-profit prison system, and distinct racism (see graphs below) in who goes to prison and who doesn’t. 
 
Factors that are now pushing incarceration rates down include a major drop in all crime rates, the liberalization of US society as it gets richer, the pressure on government budgets, the easing of certain drug laws, the proofs from DNA that police do not always get the right perpetrator, Obama-administration investment in re-entry programs and more effective methods of parole and probation, and the continued push of humane people to radically change things for the better.

Executions were put on hold by the Supreme Court for some years. You can see from the last graph below that after that ended there was something of a surge in executions, but the numbers are sinking down again quite sharply (now at about 30 a year) and execution might be a thing of the past by 2020.

Wow! In matters of crime and punishment the United States is now starting to converge upon…  Italy!





Posted on 01/31/12 at 10:30 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meredith’s Perugia #31: Spectacular Dolomites World Heritage Playground In Northeast

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters

Half a day north of Perugia. Home to some of the most intrepid rock-climbing and fastest skiing in Europe



Posted on 01/28/12 at 06:40 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer Perugia
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Curt Knox And Edda Mellas Diffamazione Trial Will Resume In Perugia 30 March.

Posted by Jools





First, here is an explanation of diffamazione.

The charge of calunnia (art. 368) has been commonly translated as “slander” in the English/US media. This translation is incorrect, however, as calunnia is a crime with no direct equivalent in the respective legal systems.

The equivalent of “criminal slander” is diffamazione, which is an attack on someone‟s reputation. Calunnia is the crime of making false criminal accusations against someone whom the accuser knows to be innocent, or to simulate/fabricate false evidence, independently of the credibility/admissibility of the accusation or evidence.

The charges of calunnia and diffamazione are subject to very different jurisprudence. Diffamazione is public and explicit, and is a more minor offence, usually resulting in a fine and only prosecuted if the victim files a complaint, while calunnia can be secret or known only to the authorities. It may consist only of the simulation of clues, and is automatically prosecuted by the judiciary.

The crimes of calunnia and diffamazione are located in different sections of the criminal code: while diffamazione is in the chapter entitled “crimes against honour” in the section of the Code protecting personal liberties, calunnia is discussed in the chapter entitled “crimes against the administration of justice”, in a section that protects public powers.

The suit against Curt Knox and Edda Mellas will commence in earnest on 30 March.

That is two days after the scheduled start of the Sollecito family trial in Bari for alleged subversion of justice, and about six weeks after the prosecution lodges its grounds for appeal with the Supreme Court against the appeal verdict on Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. 

The defamation charges were lodged not by the Perugia prosecutors’ office but by those who considered themselves to have been defamed. Under their rules they are required to do that to safeguard the system.

Amanda Knox is quoted as saying how much she likes Italy and how she would like to be at that trial.

Amanda Knox “loves Italy and likes Perugia”.

She wants to return as a tourist but, if necessary, she’ll do so to testify in the trial against her parents”. To say as much was one of the defenders of the American [female], lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova. Words came in the space of the proceedings for defamation against the parents of the student from Seattle, which is taking place in Perugia.

The name of Amanda Knox was included in the list of trial witnesses that the defence for Kurt Knox and Edda Mellas, lawyers Dalla Vedova and Luciano Ghirga intend to call to testify in court. “Both are accused of libel through the press in an interview which appeared in 2009 on the website of The Sunday Times” in which they spoke of alleged abuses on her daughter at the police headquarters during the questioning for the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher. For which crime Knox was provisionally acquitted on appeal.

In the meantime today the single judge Giuseppe Noviello has rejected an instance by the defence in relation to the territorial incompetence of the Perugian judiciary in dealing with the court proceedings.

“Amanda - said Dalla Vedova - is very interested” in the trial hearings against her parents and to which she is accused of calunnia, also against the flying squad police agents”. With her lawyers she maintains a correspondence by e-mail and every now and then they speak on the phone. “We have not seen her again – explains Dalla Vedova - since she was acquitted and went back to the United States. At Christmas though we exchanged greetings and yesterday she sent me an email asking for information on today’s hearing. Tonight I will tell her how it went”.

For the record the hearing in question was then postponed to March 30. On that date the witness for the prosecution will be heard. Then will be the turn for defence witnesses.


Don’t Be Fooled By The Recent Claim That The Knox-Sollecito Case Imperils Perugia University

Posted by Peter Quennell





At first glance this headline looks terrible: Perugia: Less Money And Students; University Is at Risk Of Closure

Something has gleefully been made of this in some quarters to the effect that those meanies who prosecuted Knox and Sollecito have seriously dissuaded other students from enrolling and now put the whole university and town at risk.

Look into the cries of risk of closure more closely though, and a rather different and more innocuos explanation emerges.

Google this phrase “università a rischio chiusura” and for all of Italy you will get nearly three MILLION hits.  Three million claims is an awful lot of gloom and doom - and in fact Perugia only came very lately (and very mutedly) to the sobfest.

Universities all over Italy (map of just some above) have been forcefully claiming for several years that this or that faculty or department or program risks closure. This intensified when one year ago the Rome Parliament capped university staff costs.

Articulate academics are hardly famous for simply taking their medicine and keeping quiet about it. Especially as staff cutbacks are also happening in corporations and other institutions all over Italy (and all over Europe, for that matter).

And there are not a lot of empty seats in the lecture halls and seminar rooms in most Italian universities including Perugia.. Most programs still get more applications than there are places.

The number of foreign exchange students headed for Perugia may have dropped slightly, but with current uncertain economic conditions they have also dropped somewhat all over. Perugia continues to attract more and more Chinese students.

Budget wars all over the world are the same. In the best way they know how, the universities are putting in their bids for resources, and trying to show the world how they in particular in the bigger scheme of things really matter. Very healthy.

There are no signs the town or university of Perugia are arguing against the prosecution’s Cassation appeal going forward.

Posted on 01/25/12 at 09:04 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+The wider contextsPerugia contextItalian context
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

So What Can Seattle Offer Visitors That Arrive From Perugia? Fish Throwing!

Posted by Peter Quennell





This is a serious art form. All Seattle’s own. Seattle readers are very welcome to explain.

Images here of the terrific Pike’s Place Market in downtown Seattle (with its back incongruously to the sea - well, to the smallish bay off Puget Sound that goes by the name of Seattle harbor) because the Commune of Perugia still runs a an English-language web page promoting the tourism of Seattle.

Where is the fun at in Seattle? The real answer is everywhere, but just to name a few….  The Pike Place Market is a must see, and trust that you won’t want to experience it just once.

It is nicknamed the “Soul of Seattle” for good reason.  With a never ending selection of food, including giant artichokes, specialty wines, and fresh fish caught from the sea that morning, let your taste buds lead the way.

Restaurants surround the market specializing in any type of food that you are craving, including several Italian restaurants.  You won’t go home hungry.

In between sampling every food there is to offer, you can watch the street musicians as well as visit any of the quirky shops that have everything from a store selling only books for women to a store that sells solely magic tricks.

If it is your first time visiting the market, consider signing up for the “Chef’s Tour of the Market” where some of Seattle’s top chefs lead groups through the market for a tour and follow up by taking the group back to their very own restaurant to cook lunch with the items they purchased on the tour.

To learn more about the market and the fun it has to offer, check out the website at http://www.pikeplacemarket.org/


















Posted on 01/24/12 at 12:34 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Did The Captain Being Drunk Delay Evacuation And Cause The Probable 30-Plus Deaths?

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the passengers and apparently somewhere here the captain standing on Port Giglio’s beach at midnight]


Airline pilots have been accused of drunk flying and the worst incident seems to have caused 88 deaths.

Systems changes were implemented to try to stop this ever happening again. We may now be about to see the same thing happen in the cruise ship industry. There are multiple Italian and UK reports that in the two hour period after the ship left the port of Rome, the captain drank maybe a whole carafe of wine, and became distinctly the worse for wear.

Survivors from the shipwreck have claimed that when the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, stood up from his table in the ship’s exclusive Club Concordia restaurant, approximately half an hour before the ship ran on to the rocks, he was in a particularly jolly mood.

La Repubblica suggests that Capt Schettino (52) was not in a fit state to drive a moped let alone pilot a 114,000-tonne cruiser, asserting he would almost certainly have failed a breathalyser test.

The Wall Street Journal reported this bizarre claim from a cook.

About a half-hour after the ship struck the rock…Rogelio Barista, the ship’s cook, said he and other kitchen staff members spotted the captain and a woman ordering food, including drinks and dessert—a sign of apparent nonchalance that left kitchen staff puzzled.

“I asked myself why he was still there waiting for his companion’s dessert with what was happening,” Mr. Barista said in an interview with Italian television.

The Associated Press reported the confusion caused for the shipping company, crew and passengers as a seeming direct result:

The cruise captain who grounded the Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast with 4,200 people on board did not relay correct information either to the company or crew after the ship hit rocks, the cruise ship owner’s CEO said Friday as the search resumed for 21 missing passengers.

CEO Pierluigi Foschi told Italian state TV that the company spoke to the captain at 10:05 p.m. some 20 minutes after the ship ran aground on Jan. 13, but could not offer proper assistance because the captain’s description “did not correspond to the truth.”

Capt. Francesco Schettino said only that he had “problems” on board but did not mention hitting a reef.  Likewise, Foschi said crew members were not informed of the gravity of the situation.  Passenger video shown on Italian TV indicates crew members telling passengers to go to their cabins as late as 10:25 p.m. The abandon ship alarm sounded just before 11:00 p.m.

“That’s because they also did not receive correct information on the gravity of the situation,” Foschi said.

In the most cutting English-language report, the Daily Mail claims that the presence of the Moldovan dancer alongside the captain seemingly throughout may have played a deadly role.

And that the very extensive delay in evacuating the ship may have cost all or most of the 30-plus lives lost - most of those still missing are believed to have jumped into the cold sea.

Costa’s president Pierluigi Foschi admitted in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere Della Serra yesterday, that the alarm had been raised too late by Schettino.

‘Too late. I can’t sleep at night. If we had abandoned it earlier then we would not have lost any lives.’

He said Schettino had always been considered ‘technically able’ but had ‘character issues’. ‘He liked to be at the centre of it.’

The company has now announced it will not pay the captain’s legal fees. Although cruise ships are already very safe, mandatory system change at ship and company levels seem in store. Hopefully including compulsory brain scans of captains and all top crew.

Yesterday the captain finally - finally - expressed some contrition. The sad tales of the dead including a six year old girl are only now starting to come out.


Below: The Concordia, the first supersized Carnival ship, was built in Palermo Sicily in this yard in 2006.

Below: The ship headed out of Rome’s port (Civitavecchia) about two hours before it hit the rocks.

Below: The route the cruise ship was to take. Its unauthorized cruise by Giglio was several miles off authorized course.

Below: The ship hit the rocks at bottom and tilted to the left as it took on water, and is seemingly deliberately beached.

Below: The La Scole rocks (which are not a reef) which the ship hit; there is still confusion over its precise course.

Below: Various charts seem to show all the rocks correctly, and also very deep water a few meters to the east.

Below: The ship picked up the rock that it hit and the rock can be seen here still embedded in the side.

Below: The ship as it was yesterday precariously perched on the highest of several underwater shelves.

Below: The search divers are mostly Carabinieri. Most lost bodies are probably down in very deep water.

Below: The captain is confined to his home in this town across the bay from Naples and Vesuvius to the left.

Below: The captain’s house. Reporters are hanging around outside to record him, but he has not emerged.

Below: One of Carnival Cruise Corp’s two global headquarters, this is in Miami; the other is in London

Below: US Carnival Cruise Corp President and CEO Christine Duffy wants a global cruise systems review

Below: Carnival’s current market capitalization ($24 billion) seems low, but in recent years its stock (blue curve) beat the US average.

Below: Carnival’s stock (blue curve) has not been so hot in recent weeks; it just dropped $4-5 billion. 

Below: The UN’s International Maritime Org in London where global maritime systems are agreed.

Below: A BBC animation that aired last monday on what happened to the ship on the night..

Posted on 01/21/12 at 09:20 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Other legal processesItalian unrelatedThe wider contextsItalian context
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Italy Hails An Unlikely Hero Who Tried To Talk The Captain Back On The Ship He Abandoned

Posted by Peter Quennell

You probably already know the broad outline of this story.

Last Friday the Carnival cruise ship Costa Concordia ran onto some rocks by an island off the west coast of Italy and it semi-capsized. Some 35 passengers are declared dead or missing, the ship could slide further or sink any time, and the fuel-oil is all still on board.

This video is the BBC’s translation of the coastguard captain Gregorio De Falco (left below) trying to talk the cruise ship captain Francesco Schettino (right below) out of a lifeboat and back on board his ship to facilitate the rescue of the 4,000 passengers and crew.

Captain De Falco is not mincing any words. It seems that Italians cannot get enough of that stern talk. The tape is being played again and again on Italian radio and TV with Captain De Falco being likened to various great Italian leaders of the past - and Captain Schettino to the vain and ultimately disastrous Mr Berlusconi.

This report is from American National Public Radio.

“You’ve abandoned ship! I’m in charge now,” De Falco rages at Schettino, who was apparently in a rowboat at this time. “Go back and report to me how many passengers [are still onboard] and what they need. ... Perhaps you saved yourself from the sea, but I’ll make you pay for this, dammit!”

Schettino can be heard trying to refuse the order. “You don’t understand, it’s dark here. Can’t see anything,” he says.  “What is it, you want to go home Schettino?” De Falco spits out. “It’s dark and you want to go home?”  Eventually De Falco demands: “Go back onboard, dammit!”

De Falco’s Italian expletive is actually much harsher than “dammit” — but the line [“Torni a bordo, cazzo!”] has become a national catchphrase, and is Italy’s top trending hashtag or keyword on Twitter.

Minutes after that audio was posted online, Italians had a new hero.  Within hours, a Facebook page created in De Falco’s name had 10,000 friends. By Wednesday morning, his words were a national slogan, with T-shirts being sold online with the words, “Go back onboard, dammit.”...

One tweet from a woman named Sofia Rosada said, “It’s men like De Falco who should be governing, instead we are full of men like Schettino.”

The governing politicians dithered and looked after their own main chance for far too long. But the various stories we have followed on this site have thrown up at professional levels a number of unlikely and unsung heroes.


















Posted on 01/18/12 at 10:06 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Umbria’s Chief Prosecutor Will Proceed Against Knox And Sollecito And Also Aviello

Posted by Peter Quennell



Above: Cassation. Image replaced till we are sure we have one of Dr Galati. See comment in thread below.]


Dr Giovanni Galati is the region of Umbria’s chief prosecutor. He was appointed by the Minister of Justice last year. Previously he was a high-profile and very successful Deputy Prosecutor General at the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome.

The chief-prosecutor post in Umbria is a sign of great official confidence in Dr Galati. His office in Perugia is one of the best staffed and most formidable of that of any of Italy’s 20 regions. The principle reason for this is that the Perugia office serves as a national surrogate for Rome prosecutors where national political cases are concerned.

His office has been investigating corruption in construction related to the Winter Olympics in 2006 and the severe earthquake in 2010. Parliamentarians in the party of former Prime Minister Berlusconi (which is also the party of Sollecito defense counsel Gulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox acolyte Rocco Girlanda) are among those now being investigated. Several or some MPs could end up in prison and the parliamentary party severely damaged..

Mr Berluconi’s party is no longer the lead party in the governing coalition in parliament, but it was the lead during the whole of the first-level Knox and Sollecito appeal in Perugia up to the surprise verdict from Judge Hellman. Berlusconi, Bongiorno and Girlanda seem to have all had good reasons to humiliate Giovanni Gelati and his team.

Now Dr Galati gets to fight back.

Reporting items of breaking news on Meredith’s case on her excellent Twitter feed ( @andreavogt )  the Italy-based reporter Andrea Vogt has already reported that Dr Galati is preparing to proceed with a forceful Cassation appeal of the appeal verdict.

Andrea Vogt also reports that the defense super-witness and Mafia super-snitch Luciano Aviello will face a slander hearing in Perugia on 24 May. This may be a smart tit-for-tat move by Dr Galati as Judge Hellman did seem to have bent over backward in his report to ridicule all the prosecution witnesses - most of whom he never even set eyes on.

It may also be a smart taunt directed at Giulia Bongiorno. On the witness stand during the appeal, Mr Aviello claimed that Ms Bongiorno had channeled suggestions to his prison of bribes from the Sollecito family for false testimony. She angrily said she would sue him - but so far she hasn’t launched a suit. 

Dr Galati is said to respect Mr Mignini, and to consider that his sliming and the sliming of the police investigators by the Knox forces has been way, way, way over the top.

During the appeal Dr Galati appeared twice in the courtroom to show solidarity with his prosecution colleagues. He addressed the court at the start of October on what he considered severe shortcomings in the DNA report written by Stefano Conti, Carla Vecchiotti and the peripatetic grandstander Greg Hampikian.

Our main poster Tiziano translated this from La Nazione.

The new Prosecutor General of Perugia, Giovanni Galati, spoke briefly in Court in support of his colleagues. He wished to “show his complete support of all the matters raised by his colleagues, in particular as far as the expert report is concerned.”

Seated next to the deputy Prosecutor General, Giancarlo Costagliola, Galati spoke before the Court affirming that it had seemed “his duty” to inform himself on the proceedings in court.  “I hope that the Court’s decision will be the fruit of a dignified confrontation of the parties.”

Referring to the expert report of the consultants named by the Court ... he spoke of “evident gaps” and “evaluations [which had been] not requested.”

Last month there was an official function involving Dr Galati and the mayor of Perugia and the chief judge of the Umbria appeal court to initiate Italy’s first online system to allow every interested party to track the progress of court cases and appeals and to obtain all the public documents.

It was not said at the time that one reason for such an open information system is to counter the massive misinformation put out by the Knox and Sollecito forces - but smart people in Italy are not slow to connect up the dots.

Dr Galati’s grounds for the appeal to the Supreme Court (where until recently as mentioned above he was a trusted main player) will be published by February 18th. He does know that court.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Watch Out David Marriott! Your Feeble Efforts To Market AK May Land You One In The Eye…

Posted by Peter Quennell





It seems Casey Anthony may have seized control of her own PR and dumped her lead lawyer for not landing her a megabucks deal.

Her lead lawyer was Jose Baez (image above) who may not yet have been fully paid for getting her off minus the convictions for lying to the cops. Early on, Jose Baez compared her to Amanda Knox who now also appears to be struggling for a megabucks deal. Clearly not much synergy there.

Casey Anthony’s need for money to pay her bills and set herself up after her probation period ends (she is now confined to a hideway in Florida) are said to be considerable. For example she owes the State of Florida about $100,000 toward their investigation costs for so often leading them astray.

Last month it was reported that her latest pitch was for $500,000 to $750,000 for a first interview - and that most TV networks had already passed.

Casey Anthony seemed to have had a short shelf life. A few days ago it was conjectured that Jodi Arias may now be edging out Casey Anthony in the notoriety stakes. Jodi Arias has just been accused of shooting her ex-boyfriend and also stabbing him 27 times.

But in this context - perhaps coincidence, perhaps not - two video diaries by Casey Anthony suddenly surface and promptly they go viral. The first one is below. This is Diane Dimond’s report about this in the Daily Beast.

It only took six months—to the day—for Casey Anthony to catapult herself back into the nation’s consciousness. Six months after the verdict in her notorious murder trial, Anthony’s visage flooded computer screens worldwide.

Viewers were fascinated by her suddenly short blonde hair, her oversize reading glasses, and her self-absorbed four-minute soliloquy during which she mentioned herself more than 40 times and uttered not one word about her dead baby girl, Caylee, or her family….

It’s confirmed that it is Casey Anthony on the video. One of Anthony’s criminal-defense lawyers says she kept notes and a video blog as part of her “continuing therapy.” But Cheney Mason steadfastly maintains it wasn’t Anthony who let it loose on the Internet… 

Mason was part of the team that successfully defended the young mother during her murder trial and, according to two sources, has now displaced Jose Baez as the media spokesperson for Anthony—apparently at her request.

People close to both men report a recent major falling out among all the parties—between Baez and Anthony, between Baez and Mason—sparked by Anthony’s displeasure at Baez’s inability to win her a TV, book, or movie deal.

Anthony apparently gave Baez until the end of the year to come up with a deal, and absent that anointed Mason as her official liaison. Just how involved Baez will be in Anthony’s future affairs isn’t known, but his unhappiness with the situation has supposedly caused strain around his law office. As one person close to this story who did not want to be identified put it, “Jose is on the outs now. Cheney is in.”

There are many unknowns about the videos. While Anthony gives the date of the v-blog as October 2011, there is no way of knowing exactly when she spoke into her webcam, immortalizing herself.

She could have done it after the first of the year as part of a new self-directed publicity plan—a way to test the waters about a possible rebranding of her image.

Whoever leaked the two videos, whether it was Casey Anthony intent on rebranding herself or another who pirated the videos (Diane Dimond reports the various theories), it may have worked to Casey Anthony’s advantage. Radar Online has just reported this:

Casey Anthony’s web videos have caused a renewed interest in the notorious ‘Tot Mom’ and RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned that a website has offered her an enormous sum for her first post jail sit down interview.

Nik Lamas-Richie, founder of the website The Dirty, has offered Casey Anthony a whopping $350,000 for an interview, according to a source close to the situation.

This is the website referred to. Better take a look, Mr Marriott.  But not too close.

Posted on 01/10/12 at 09:26 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, January 06, 2012

Knox Movie Offer Is Sharply Withdrawn; Hardly Helpful to Knox Book Agent Robert Barnett

Posted by Peter Quennell





There have always been several huge problems in the promotion of Amanda Knox.

One problem is that Knox is not the real victim in the case and a great deal of compassion still resides for Meredith. Earning windfall blood money from the cruel death of a claimed close friend is hardly a classy way to go. 

A second problem is that we are still only at the end of the second act of a three act play in terms of the trials and appeals, and the Italian Supreme Court in the third act to come will almost certainly be no gullible pushover. And a whining or inaccurate book or movie demonising Italy and Italians (as her complaints about Capanne already have done) might not help her legal prospects one little bit. 

A third problem is that Italy’s officialdom and its population tend to maintain a hard and unblinking belief in the evidence against Sollecito and Knox, especially as the million dollar PR campaign largely flew below the radar there and they saw much of the hard case and a callous Knox live on TV. For example in Florence and Milan.

A fourth problem is that Amanda Knox and her personal life and her trials and time in Capanne are likely to be a low-viewership yawn. Our main poster Lauowolf did a great job last October of pointing this out.

Does her story have the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster?  Probably not.

For one thing, the producer types would have to know that the case is still live.  The public won’t be keeping track of that, or at best will be considering it a case of the prosecutor continuing to seek revenge.

But people looking to invest millions of dollars in movies tend to go into all the fine print. And the looming third trial in 2011 is just the kind of complication they are likely to want to avoid.  And there’s just too much inconvenient information floating around about the story.

Finally, there really isn’t that much “there” there with Amanda Knox herself.  What would her storyline be, anyway, and who does it appeal to? 

  • Is it the story of the young lovers, AK and RS?  Nah, AK and RS are not going to complete the story arc for them, so no drama-romance. And you can’t substitute the Seattle boyfriend, because he’d look like a fool.
  • Is it the story of Edda, getting her daughter back, a la Not Without My Daughter?  Nah, Amanda is getting a bit old for that storyline to work. The PR played out this line in Amanda’s absence, so that it is already stale, and besides, the target audience is wrong.  The Lifetime movie worked that thread, and it didn’t really do all that well.
  • Is it a story of Amanda suffering, arrested, in prison, on trial?  Nah, there really isn’t much filmic going on there.  Arrested people end up sitting in rooms, and prison is boring.  Even if they wanted to spend a lot of time on AK giving the performance of her life in court, they’d have to deal somehow with the accusations and evidence. And they really, really don’t want to do any of that.
  • Is it the story of Amanda herself?  Nah, the PR has reduced her to such a little painted doll that there isn’t anything to be done with her.  Seriously, weekly mass and the prison choir? Or hanging out with the middle-aged married Italian political type? Who wants to watch a movie of that?  They’ve set her up as a frail, pale victim, and it is difficult to create an entire movie focusing on someone being done to, rather than doing.

Now there is a FIFTH problem looming large.

The up-and-coming movie producer Chad Verdi (left above) has just announced that he has withdrawn a million dollar offer for a Knox movie, implying that he may have been misled. This statement is likely to chill the prospects for any other.

Rhode Island Producer Chad A. Verdi has withdrawn his official offer of One Million Dollars (U.S. $1,000,000) for Amanda Knox’s life rights. The film was to be produced by Mr. Verdi and Noah Kraft if a deal could have been reached. The offer was made through Verdi Productions and was being handled by Hollywood entertainment attorney, Anita First.

Mr. Verdi, the President and CEO of Verdi Productions (VP), stated, “After reviewing all the information we had involving the Knox case, I have decided it was not the inspirational feel good story that VP was looking for and we have withdrawn our offer.”

Very well done, Mr Verdi. That is an act of some class.

The prominent and respected Washington lawyer and book agent Robert Barnett (right above) was seemingly roped in by Knox PR chief David Marriott a month ago to work miracles for Knox in the field of book publishing.

Robert Barnett seems to have made no public statement about it as yet.  Seemingly Mr Barnett and all those other supposed eager book agents did not exactly come looking for a deal.

If you read how the Washington Post describes it, the deal was very much promoted by a frenetic Marriott.

“He has a very strong resume,” said Knox family spokesman Dave Marriott, who announced the deal Monday…

Why Barnett? His name “popped up in conversations with many people,” Marriott told us. Though he doesn’t call himself a literary agent, Barnett knows his way around seven-figure deals (he’s also repped James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, Rosie O’Donnell and Barbra Streisand) — and the Knox family liked the fact that he’s a lawyer with a powerful firm behind him.

Another plus: He’s arguably a bargain, charging a hefty hourly fee instead of the standard 15 percent commission. He was hired after flying to Seattle and meeting with the Knox family.

A bargain? Hmmm. Perhaps Mr Barnett is at this very moment reading the same judges’ reports and the other in-depth materials that have turned off Mr Verdi, and wondering whether he was snowed. 

Or reviewing his hourly fee.

Posted on 01/06/12 at 11:57 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedNews media & moviesMovies on caseAmanda KnoxKnox-Mellas teamKnox Book
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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

UK High Court Convicts Two After 18 Years When Defense DNA Contamination Claims Lose Traction

Posted by The Machine



Gary Dobson and David Norris have been found guilty of murdering Stephen Lawrence in 1993 by a jury at the Old Bailey.

There are some parallels between this case and the Meredith Kercher case: the police were accused of making a catalogue of errors and the defence lawyers claim forensic evidence was contaminated.

Gary Dobson was acquitted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1996. However, the Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal. The case against David Norris collapsed before it reached court.

It’s heartening that Dobson and Norris have been finally brought to justice. Forensic scientists used advanced techniques which were not available to the original investigators to recover bloodstains, clothing fibres and a single hair belonging to Stephen Lawrence from the clothes of the suspects.

Rosalyn Hammond from LGC Forensics explaining in today’s Telegraph:

Their convictions come after a five-week trial during which forensic evidence linking the two to the murder was shown to the jury.

The discovery of the fibres, blood and hair on the clothing was the evidence upon which the trial was based. A spot of Stephen’s blood was found on the collar of Dobson’s jacket, while hairs belonging to Stephen were found on Norris’ trousers.  As well as the blood spot, fibres from Stephen’s clothing were found on clothing taken from the homes of Dobson and Norris.

At one point in the 1990s Dobson contacted the Metropolitan Police to ask for the return of his clothes. But, after considering his request, Scotland Yard declined. Even today the force retains the clothing of all of the suspects so that they can be tested as forensic techniques develop.

A further criticism could be laid at the door of the scientists who failed to discover the blood spot in the 1990s.  But experts pointed out that even if it had been discovered then, it would have been useless as DNA testing had not yet developed enough to be able to clarify that such a small stain was blood belonging to Stephen Lawrence.

The tiny stain found on Dobson’s jacket is believed, by forensic experts, to be the smallest piece of forensic evidence upon which a trial has ever been mounted.

The decision to base the prosecution against Dobson on such a small piece of evidence was a risk, however. After his conviction was quashed, the current law allows only one further attempt at prosecution. It meant that if he was found not guilty, Dobson could never have been charged again.

The Italian Supreme Court should order another appeal trial on the grounds that the court consultants Vecchiotti and Conti failed to carry out a newly available test on the knife. That was despite the fact they were specifically instructed in their initial instructions to do so.

Also that Judge Hellman late in the appeal arbitrarily denied the prosecution request for precisely that test of the DNA without any good reason.

The prosecution grounds for their appeal to the Italian Supreme Court due this month are expected to repeat this request and we can see no grounds that could allow the Supreme Court to deny it. There are a number of laboratories that have the technology to carry out a test on the remaining DNA on the knife.

The requested test on the knife should go ahead.


Posted on 01/03/12 at 02:53 PM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesDNA and luminolOther legal processesThose elsewhere
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Saturday, December 31, 2011

How Meredith’s London Typically Celebrates Its New Year’s Eve

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters

Happy days. Meredith was born in London, and spent 20 of her 22 years here (read from the bottom post upward). Including 20 New Years’ Eves.

Posted on 12/31/11 at 06:25 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer England
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Friday, December 30, 2011

NYC Turns To The Only Country In The World That Can Handle Two Ultra Complex Projects

Posted by Peter Quennell





New York City turns to (of course!) Italy for two large infrastructure projects.

One project is the laying of a 660 megawatt power cable diagonally across the Hudson from midtown Manhattan to Edgewater in New Jersey just below the George Washington Bridge.

The ultra high capacity cable was manufactured in Italy and is now being laid by a specialized Italian cable laying vessel, the Giulio Verne (home port Naples), which every night is lit up on the Hudson like a Christmas tree.

The ship digs and backfills a trench for the cable as it goes. The Italian crew is fired up with expresso coffees every hour on the hour as this New York Times article describes.

The other project is the excavation, now largely complete, of three tunnels through Manhattan’s hard granite using giant Italian-made tunnel boring machines which are half a mile long and cost $10 to $20 million for each one. They are assembled below ground and only ever used once.

The tunnels are the Second Avenue subway, the East Side Access to allow Long Island trains to arrive at a new station deep below Grand Central Station, and the extension of the 7 subway from Times Square to 34th Street on the west side and possibly also to New Jersey.

Italy excels at these large and complicated projects. Some of the autostradas which sweep through the mountains along tunnels and bridges are astonishing. Two very large Italian projects due to begin soon are the re-engineering of Venice to stop it sinking, and the suspension bridge (the world’s longest) between the Italian mainland and Sicily.

Perugia has its share of dazzling projects too. The minimetro already running and soon one of the world’s longest escalators which may result in Meredith’s house coming down to allow for parking expansion.


Posted on 12/30/11 at 04:25 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Meredith’s 26th Birthday: A Seasonal Ballet That We Know She Very Much Liked…

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters




Posted on 12/27/11 at 10:25 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Some Cool Videos From A Very Cool Country - Stagioni Saluti Everyone

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters




Posted on 12/24/11 at 03:49 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer PerugiaThe wider contextsItalian context
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

First Italian Criticisms Of The Hellmann Verdict Statement Now Starting To Appear

Posted by Peter Quennell





Early days yet and the main crack at Hellman’s report will not arrive for another month from the prosecution, but the Italian news service Adnknonos offered this editorial. .

The Appeal Court is ridiculous to think that Guede is the only one guilty

The reasons set forth by the Assize Court of Appeal in Perugia for the killing of Meredith read oddly. According to the criminal court Rudy Guede alone did it.

This is ridiculous. Prosecutor Manuela Comodi spoke in court of the ‘embarrassing performance of’ experts’ on the testing of the murder weapon and the victim’s bra clasp.

“Too bad that the judges of the Court of Appeal have slavishly married the thesis of these so-called ‘experts’‘’ says Massimo Montebove, the president of the National Council of Police Unions.

‘‘The work of forensic science, the testimonies, the reconstruction of the truth of the facts of the case carried out to date all show that the verdict of guilty in the first instance was well grounded. ” Mr Montebove added.

Do not forget that attempts at delegitimization will always be directed at the police and the scientific flying squad, including international pressures that many say were placed and other murky development talked about in the media.

One thing is certain: the game is not’ over. We are only sorry that Amanda Knox may not pay for her responsibilities if she is again found guilty following a new appeal trial that could be decided by the Supreme Court

Posted on 12/22/11 at 11:20 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Defendants in courtAmanda KnoxRaff SollecitoThe officially involvedSupreme CourtVictims familyAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann critiques
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