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

Friday, December 03, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report: Establishing The Time When Meredith Passed On

Posted by Storm Roberts




Why This Matters So Much

Perhaps the hardest parts of the Massei Report for compassionate readers to take are those concerning Meredith’s wounds and time of death.

Those passages commence early in the report and, as with our translation of much of the Micheli report, left our translators and many readers disturbed and a few of them at least in tears. 

This is an abbreviated overview of how forensic medicine helped the court to establish the time of Meredith’s death.

Click here for more

Posted on 12/03/10 at 12:29 AM by Storm RobertsClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Evidence & witnessesThe timelinesDNA and luminolTrials 2008 & 2009The Massei Report
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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

John Kercher: “Its Despicable That The Girl Jailed For Killing My Daughter Has Become a Celebrity”

Posted by Peter Quennell





Meredith’s father John passionately speaks out against the making of convicted killer Amanda Knox into a celebrity.

He is stridently critical of the utterly contemptible antics of Amanda Knox’s parents Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, and of the callous self-promotion of narcissistic limelight-seekers like Hayden Panettiere and Rocco Girlanda.

Enough is enough, he now says. His article appears in the Daily Mail.

It’s utterly despicable that the girl jailed for killing my daughter has become a celebrity

From Meredith Kercher’s father, a passionate attack on the cult of ‘Foxy Knoxy’

By John Kercher

Last week, I switched on my television to see the parents of the young woman convicted of ­taking my daughter’s life proclaiming her innocence. And, once again, I felt the pain and the anger and the raw grief resurface.

Amanda Knox was found guilty of ­killing my daughter Meredith at the house they shared in Italy three years ago. Yet since that act of horrific ­violence, Knox, it seems, has been accorded the status of a minor celebrity.

Sometimes it seems that there is no escape from her or her jaunty nickname, ‘Foxy Knoxy’ (doubly hurtful, for the way it trivialises the awfulness of her offence).

Cherished memories: John Kercher misses daughter Meredith every day

Last week, Knox’s parents were given star billing on the ITV breakfast show Daybreak, where they had free rein to profess their conviction that their daughter is not guilty.

Kurt Knox and his ex-wife Edda ­Mellas have never expressed their condolences to our family for our grievous loss. There has been no letter of sympathy; no word of regret. Instead, I have watched them repeatedly reiterate the mantra of their daughter’s innocence.

Alas, I fear there is more yet to come. Their TV appearance last week, trailed for two days as if it were some exclusive media coup, coincided with the resumption of Knox’s appeal against her conviction.

This appeal, like the initial court case, will drag on for months, while the dark tunnel between my family and our ­ability to grieve for Meredith in peace becomes ever longer.

If Knox doesn’t get the result she wants, our agony will be even more ­protracted: she may then take her case to Italy’s Supreme Court in Rome. Put simply, our ordeal could go on for years.

‘To many, Knox seems an unlikely killer. Yet to my family she is,  unequivocally, culpable’

Knox is one of three people convicted of killing my beautiful and talented daughter. It was a brutal murder. Meredith’s throat was slit, and she was stabbed to death.

Knox and her former boyfriend, ­Italian Raffaele Sollecito, are serving jail sentences of 26 and 25 years ­respectively for their heinous crime. A third person, drifter Rudy Guede, convicted with them, is also in prison.

Yet it is Knox who still exerts such a hold over the media. As a journalist myself, I know the reason why. Knox is young, attractive and female. To many, she seems an unlikely killer.

Yet to my family she is, unequivocally, culpable. As far as we are concerned, she has been ­convicted of taking our precious Meredith’s life in the most hideous and bloody way.

And the sadness is, the nature of that death too often prevents us from celebrating her life. She has become ‘Meredith Kercher, ­murder victim’, not Meredith Kercher, our lovely, intellectually curious daughter.

So, today, I’d like to redress the balance and tell you about our irredeemable loss. About the ­Merdeith we knew and loved.

Our girl was 21 when she died; a bright, sweet-natured and engaging young woman. She had been studying for a degree in European Studies and Italian at Leeds ­University when she had opted to spend some time in the medieval Italian town of Perugia, at the ­university there, improving her knowledge of the Italian language and culture.

On November 1, the third anniversary of her death, I gathered with the rest of the family in the cold, grey cemetery where she is buried. One by one, we laid bright flowers on her grave and left messages. Mine said simply, ‘I miss you’.

Along with our own handwritten notes, there were dozens from Meredith’s friends.

They write as if she’s still with us, telling her about their new jobs, their boyfriends.
They remind her of all the wonderful times they had, of the shared laughter. And like us, they hope — really, they do — that Meredith might somehow know what they have written.

None of us, you see, wants to forget her for even one second. So she is here, among us, everywhere. She lives on in the public memorials, with trees planted in her ­honour at her old school and university, and in the private ones, too.

At her home in Surrey, where she lived with her mum during the university holidays, her room remains as it always was. It is not a shrine; but neither will it ever be disturbed.

‘All we want now is the peace to be able to celebrate her life. Is that so much to ask?’

Her clothes remain in the wardrobe, her posters on the wall. Study books are piled on the table, make-up arranged beside them. It is just as she left it — and sometimes I even convince myself that one day she will return to it.

I wait to hear the cheerful cadence of her laughter. Even now, the memory of it has the power to make me smile.

People also always remember Meredith’s kindness and caring nature. She never gave the impression of being studious, but she was. She worked quietly and assiduously for her degree. But she was generous too. Several friends commented that she would lend out her lecture notes to ­anyone who asked: to her, it was second nature.

But Meredith, of course, was not perfect. Punctuality was never one of her qualities.

The last time I saw her, during a weekend trip back to London, she breezed into the Italian restaurant where I was waiting for her a full hour late. Yet when I saw her, wreathed in that famous smile, my annoy­ance instantly evaporated.

The vision of her delightedly showing me the new boots she’d bought that day is one I continue to hold dear.

The next thing we knew, we were travelling to Italy to identify her body.

And then there was the ordeal of the court case, the details of which have been picked over too often to bear repeating here.
Glamorised: Actress Hayden Panettiere is playing Knox in a new film about the events of Meredith’s death

Glamorised: Actress Hayden Panettiere is playing Knox in a new film about the events of Meredith’s death

But still, the hurt wasn’t over. I’ll share one small example.

Two years after her death, we were told that we could finally take Meredith’s possessions home with us. I expected a large suitcase full of her belongings, which we could all cherish.

Instead, I was given a small, ­battered case. Her beloved clothes had all been taken for forensic tests. Not even her treasured ­possessions were sacrosanct.

Who knew?

Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede received a total of 67 years in prison for Meredith Kercher’s murder

So we concentrate on the happy memories instead. Meredith was a Christmas baby, and as the festive season approaches, we hold in our hearts the memory of her 21st birthday, celebrated in a local Italian restaurant. None of us could have dreamed it would be her last.

Meredith meant so much to us all. Our lives have, of course, moved on, but not a minute passes when she is not in our thoughts. And the question that nags insistently at us is: ‘Why?’ Why was she taken from us prematurely and with such horrific brutality?

Like all grieving parents, we sometimes wonder what she would be doing now if she were still with us. She would have graduated with her degree from Leeds University in 2009. But, of course, we were never able to share her pride in reaching that milestone.

She was, however, awarded a posthumous degree, and her ­sister, Stephanie, collected it for her. Every student in the vast hall rose to their feet to applaud her that day. The standing ovation lasted a full minute, and my eyes brimmed with tears.

Sometimes, even now, I find it hard to believe she is not still with us. Her passing is easier to bear if I pretend she has just gone away for a while; that some day soon she will ring me — her voice ­bubbling with laughter and enthusiasm — to tell me about her ­latest adventure.

Meredith was the baby of the family, the beloved youngest child. Her mum, her siblings and I ­cherish every memory of her short life. It is her untimely and horrific death we would all prefer to obliterate from our minds.

All we want now is the peace to be able to celebrate her life. Is that so much to ask?

Posted on 12/01/10 at 11:24 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Concerning MeredithHer memoryHer familyThe officially involvedVictims familyThe wider contextsN America contextKnox-Mellas team
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report: The Timeline For Events Before, During, And After The Night #1

Posted by catnip




The Masssei Timeline To Midnight 1 Nov

These two posts list all of the events precisely timed in the Massei Report. Page numbers shown in brackets are those in the original Italian version.

This timeline will be reposted over on the TJMK Massei Report summaries and highlights page as we populate that page further starting this week.

There are plenty of mentions of imprecise occasions and general time periods, such as when Rudy told Giorgio Cocciaretto about liking Amanda (p26) or when lawyer Palazzoli found out their stolen computer had been recovered in Milan (p33), but they are not listed here.

nts_before_during_2/”>Post #2

Click here for more


Explaining The Massei Report: The Timeline For Events Before, During, And After The Night #2

Posted by catnip




The Masssei Timeline After Midnight 1 Nov

We continue here from Post #1 These two posts list all of the events precisely timed in the Massei Report. Page numbers shown in brackets are those in the original Italian version.

There are plenty of mentions of imprecise occasions and general time periods, such as when Rudy told Giorgio Cocciaretto about liking Amanda (p26) or when lawyer Palazzoli found out their stolen computer had been recovered in Milan (p33), but they are not listed here.

Click here for more

Posted on 11/29/10 at 12:00 AM by catnipClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesVarious scenariosEvidence & witnessesThe timelinesTrials 2008 & 2009The Massei ReportHoaxes re Guede33 Sole attacker hoax
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

More On Motive: Some Of The Cases Of “Nice” Girls Who Killed With Little Or No Motive At All

Posted by The Machine



[Above: One of the Manson girls’ murder victims, Hollywood film star Sharon Tate]

The conspiracy theorists trying so hard to spring Amanda Knox now have about zero credibility - because they can’t field even one good expert that any other expert respects. 

The various claims of their various faux experts about this or that aspect of the evidence having been mishandled or misread or contaminated lack the one really crucial element. ANY real evidence.

And NOT ONE Italian interrogator or investigator or prosecutor has been proved to have done even one thing wrong with intent.  Which seems these days to be making the conspiracy theorists more and more shrill in their claims.

An ex campus security guard Steve Moore is now one of the shrillest faux experts - but the conspiracy theorists still seem to think he is their great ace in the hole.

Steve Moore is not exactly what we might call competent as a real-crime-scene investigator. He seemingly can’t get even one core fact right and his knowledge of the Micheli and Massei reports are absolutely abysmal.

Few of this faux expert’s claims arouse more ridicule and sardonic contempt than one sweeping claim made to any lazy and gullible reporter who will listen - Ann Curry, Linda Byron and Steve Shay, for example.

The claim that there is some standard profile for women who kill. And that well-bred educated middle-class girls like Amanda Knox do not fit “it”. That profile.

So it is impossible that they would ever kill.

In an interview with Anne Curry on NBC the faux expert actually claimed: ““This was an honor student; she is not a violent person….  What they are alleging is that she not only helped assault the roommate, but stabbed her in the throat. That kind of deviant, violent behavior doesn’t go unnoticed for 18, 19, 20 years. Some things leak out; you see some episodes, some indication that this person has issues.”

Actually she DID have issues.

Their faux expert clearly does not know the history of Amanda Knox very well. She seems to have started putting out warning calls for help from around the age of four, and there are a number of stories about her quirks and her drugs up to when she left for Perugia.

In this piece, we will look at some some high-profile murder cases in America, Italy and New Zealand involving seemingly normal young women with profiles not unlike Amanda Knox who suddenly committed horrific and senseless murders.



[Above: Laurie Ann Swank’s victim, hotel night clerk Janet Chandler]

USA: Laurie Ann Swank

If anyone thinks the idea that a woman would arrange for men to sexually assault and murder her friend and roommate is totally far-fetched and beyonds the realms of possibility, they should read about the Janet Chandler case.

In January 1979, Laurie Ann Swank held a position of responsibility, working as the manager of the Blue Mill Inn in Holland, Michigan. She was also the roommate and friend of Janet Chandler, a 23-year-old student who worked as a desk clerk at the hotel. 

Laurie Ann Swank lured Janet Chandler to a “party” where she was tied to a chair and raped and tortured for hours by five security guards who were staying at the Blue Mill Inn. After Janet Chandler had been gang raped, she was strangled and her body was dumped on the side of Interstate 196.

The officers involved in the case concluded that Laurie Swank orchestrated the attack on Janet Chandler out of envy and jealousy “to teach her a lesson.” The motive behind this vicious murder was actually admitted by Swank to have been petty jealousy, especially over a boy. She actually watched while Janet was raped and then strangled with a belt.



[Above: Two more of the Manson girls victims Leno and Rose Labianca ]

USA: Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel

Steve Moore seems to think that honor students are incapable of committing murder. His apparent refusal to believe that someone who is from a respectable background and well-educateed could be involved in murder is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Vincent Bugliosi was the chief prosecutor in the Manson trial. He has pointed out that the backgrounds of the Manson killers terrified America precisely because they were from fairly good backgrounds and that many people refused to believe they could be involved. Vincent Bugliosi, chief prosecutor in the Charlie Manson case:

The other thing that terrified the nation so much is when the identity of the killers became known. And who were they? Young kids from average American homes with fairly good backgrounds. There was a feeling that this could be our own children.

Tex Watson, Manson’s “chief lieutenant” at the murder scene, was from Farmersville, Texas, hometown of World War II hero Audie Murphy. Watson was a football, basketball, and track star. He had almost an A average in high school. And when the people in Farmersville learned he was being charged with these murders, the general consensus was this is absolutely impossible, it must be a case of mistaken identity.

Patricia Krenwinkel—another one of the main killers—her father was an insurance executive; she sang in the church choir; got good grades in school; at one time she even wanted to attend a Jesuit college in Alabama. Leslie Van Houten—another killer—she was a homecoming princess at Monrovia High School here in L.A.



[Above: Manson girl Squeaky Fromm attempted to murder President Gerald Ford]

Leslie Van Houten was an honor student and a homecoming queen. She came from a middle class background; her father was an auctioneer and her mother was a school teacher.

In 1968, she joined Charlie Manson’s family. She was not involved in the vicious killings at Roman Polanski’s home - which upset her - but she took part in the savage murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.  She along with Patricia Krenwinkel attacked and stabbed Rosemary LaBianca. Van Houten tied the electrical cord from a lamp around La Bianca’s neck and put a pillow case over her head before stabbing her 16 times in the lower back.

Patricia Krenwinkel came from a fairly normal background. Her father was an insurance salesman. She graduated from high school and then attended a Catholic college for a semester before moving in with her sister. In 1967, she met Charles Manson when he was visiting her sister.

Krenwinkel participated in the Tate and LaBianca murders. She stabbed Abigail Folger more than 70 times. When the police found Folger’s body, they thought she was wearing a red dress.

Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel are currently serving life sentences for the Tate and Labianca murders. They are still being denied parole 40-plus years later.

USA: Amy Bishop

Dr. Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated neurobiologist, inventor and mother of four, went on a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama. 

Amy Bishop had already shot and killed her 18-year old brother, with a shotgun, during an argument in 1986. Bishop claimed it was an accident and no charges were filed then - but 24 years later, charges were indeed filed.

According to witnesses, Amy Bishop later killed three professors and wounded three others during a meeting at the University of Alabama. They said that she sat through the first 30 minutes of the meeting and then pulled out a 9mm handgun and opened fire until the weapon jammed or ran out of bullets.



[Above: Karla Homolka murdered her own sister Tammy and and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French]

Canada: Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo

Karla Homolka was the oldest child of three. She was regarded as well-adjusted and intelligent. She was a popular child who received plenty of love and attention from her family and friends. She loved animals and after high school she went to work at a veterinary clinic.

When she was 17, Karla Homolka attended a pet convention and met 23-year-old Paul Bernado. They soon discovered they shared the same sado-masochistic tendencies.

On 23 December 1990, Homolka and Bernado gave alcoholic drinks spiked with halcyon to Homolka’s 15-year-old sister, Tammy, at a Christmas party. They took her to the basement and Homolka held a cloth soaked with Halothane to Tammy’s mouth until she became unconscious. Bernado and Homolka then raped her. Tammy choked on her own vomit as she was being raped.

On 15 June 1991, Bernado kidnapped Lesle Mahaffy and took her to the couple’s home, where they repeatedly raped over a number of days. The couple videotaped many of the assaults. They then killed Mahaffy and cut her body into pieces and encased the pieces in cement.

On 16 April 1992, they kidnapped 15-year-old Kristen French and took her to their home and videotaped themselves torturing and sexually assaulting her. The couple killed French before they left for Easyer Sunday dinner with Homolka’s family.

Karla Homolda was convicted for her role in the raping, torturing and killing her own sister, Tammy and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. She was released from prison after serving 12 years in prison. Paul Bernado is still in prison.

There are videos on the seeming normality of very dangerous people like these two here and here.



[Above: Julet Hume who with Pauline Parker battered Pauline’s mother to death]

New Zealand: Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker

Juliet Hulme was the daughter of Dr. Henry Hulme, an eminent physicist and a rector at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In 1954, Juliet Hulme and her friend, Pauline Parker, battered Parker’s mother, Honora Rieper, to death with half a brick in a lisle stocking. At the trial, it was revealed that Honora Rieper had been subjected to a sustained and brutal attack. Hulme and Parker had planned to murder Parker’s murder because they didn’t want to be separated.

After the murder, Parker and Hulme ran to a nearby tea shop, upset and covered in blood, claiming that Pauline’s mother had slipped and fallen.

Honora Rieper had 45 separate wounds on her head. The torn blood-soaked stocking with the brick in it was found nearby.

Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker were found guilty of murder.



[Above: Kelly Ellard was convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk]

Canada: Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski

Kelly Ellard came from a middle class family and lived in a well-to-do neighborhood.

In 1997, she and Warren Glowatski murdered convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk, who was the 14-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants. Ellard and six other teenage girls beat up Reena under a bridge. Ellard and Glowatski then dragged Reena to the other side of the bridge and beat her for a second time. It is believed that Ellard forced Reena’s head under the water and held it there until she stopped struggling.

Kelly Ellard was sentenced to life imprisonment for the second-degree murder of Reena Virk on 20 April 2000. . A second trial in 2004 ended in a hung jury. The Supreme Court of Canada reinstated the second degree murder conviction against Ellard in 2009. Warren Glowatski was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999. Six girls aged between 14 and 16 were sentenced in 1998 for their roles in the initial attack.

Next year Kelly Ellard will apply for parole. Reena’s parents are still waiting for any sign of remorse or sorrow for their loss.



[Above: Nadia Roccia was murdered by her friends Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica]

Italy: Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica

Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica lured their school friend Nadia Roccia to Botticelli’s home with the excuse of doing homework together and then they killed her. It was their second attempt as The Independent reports.

They turned off the lights and Sica began strangling her with a scarf. Botticelli urged her to pull it tighter and kicked Roccia in the stomach. Once satisfied she was dead, they looped a rope around her neck to simulate hanging…

The mother of Nadia Roccia yelled “Bravi ... finally justice for Nadia” as the sentences were read out. In imposing the toughest sentence, the court accepted the prosecution argument that the crime had been “premeditated, ferocious and for futile motives”.

Investigators are still at a loss to uncover a motive for the murder - with theories ranging from Satanic sects to prostitution rings. The pair appeared in court only once, but refused to answer questions and never showed any repentance.

It was discovered that the pair had tried to murder Roccia several months earlier. They offered her a cola drink laced with rat poison, but she refused to drink it. They made her sign a blank sheet on which they later typed a fake suicide note. “I am lesbian and in love with my best friend, that is you, my sweetest Anna Maria ... unfortunately you like men but soon you won’t have to worry about my jealousy any more,” read the note found by Roccia’s body.

Anna Maria Botticelli and Sica, both now 20, heard the sentence on television from their cell in Foggia, 90 miles from Naples. In jail they have completed their high-school leaving exam and are now studying law and economics.

Before Wednesday’s verdict Botticelli’s father pleaded: “I beg you on my knees to give these two girls a chance.”

There was widespread disbelief that Botticelli and Mariena Sica could be guilty of such a horrific murder because they were normal girls from respectable backgrounds. It was only after they were recorded admitting that they were involved, that many people acknowledged their guilt.



[Above: Erika de Nardo at letf with dark hair murdered her mother and brother]

Italy: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro

Erika de Nardo came from a wealthy middle class family - her father was a factory manager and her mother was an accountant - and she grew up in an affluent part of Novi Ligure in Italy. From Wikipedia:

The crime scene, indeed, didn’t suggest a robbery: doors and windows weren’t forced and nothing precious had been stolen. Neighbours noticed nothing unusual and De Nardo’s dogs didn’t bark all evening long. Moreover, Susy and Gianluca had been over-killed (medical examiner counted almost 100 brutal wounds on their corpses), while young Erika was safe and didn’t exactly seem shocked.

She immediately described the presumed aggression she faced, but her version of the facts was full of contradictions. Policemen showed her several mugshots and she “recognized” without any doubt an Albanian teenager named Cezar: the boy was immediately interrogated but proved he had an alibi. Erika stated that she ran away from the garage’s door, but police easily observed that her footprints didn’t mark a run: in fact, she had walked quietly.

Some close friends described the 16-year-old girl as a neglectful, pampered girl, recalled she often squabbled with her parents because of her bad school marks and because her new boyfriend, a bully named Omar Favaro, was someone her mother disliked.

Investigators found Erika’s diary in her bedroom. It was full of terrible sentences such as “That damn child (her brother) made me angry today and I beat him… ” or “This is the end, Mommy, I hate you” or “However we know that everything will be finished by death” and so on. Two days later, Erika and Omar Favaro (a 17-year-old) were left alone in a room at the police station where some hidden microphones and a camera recorded their shocking confession.

It is reported that Erika even performed the very scene of the stabbing and whispered: “I hit her (referring to her mother) right here…” and recalled: “My brother was so strong, he didn’t want to die… he fought so much… was as strong as a bull… oh my God, he was my little brother! He was just eleven years old!” and later ironically asked Omar: “You enjoyed yourself by killing them, didn’t you?”.

But Omar was upset: “You don’t understand, Erika, this is not a game… two people have died… we do risk a life sentence for this!” whispered “Come here, you, murderer!” the boy screamed while shaking her. The girl stated: “I hate my mom, I hate my brother and if you keep on saying this I’ll hate you too! They (policemen and judge) can’t do anything, there are no evidences, they are to believe me!”

De Nardo’s false claim about Albanians (shades of Amanda Knox) caused immense collateral damage. There was an anti-immigrant outcry with Italian newspapers articles demanding a crackdown on illegal immigrants, and anti-immigration demonstrations.

Erika de Nardo drew only a short sentence as a minor and is due to be released in 2012. Omar Fasaro was released a few months ago.



[Above: Erika de Nardo murdered her mother and brother, above]

*******

There are some clear parallels between the Meredith Kercher case and the cases above. There was widespread disbelief that some of the highlighted killers were capable of committing brutal murders.

Like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, many of these killers attempted to derail the police investigation. And nearly all these murderers came from respectable, middle class backgrounds, were well-educated and had no previous history of violence.

Real experts know that it is indisputable that murderers come from all walks of life. The motives behind the horrific murders described above are beyond the comprehension of any normal person, and in some of these cases a motive was never uncovered.

The claims of faux experts like Steve Moore that Amanda Knox is innocent because she doesn’t fit the profile of a someone who would kill in a violent rage are in fact the complete opposite of true.



[Above: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro after their arrest in Italy]

Posted on 11/25/10 at 11:10 PM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Crime hypothesesThe psychologyPondering motiveOther legal processesItalian relatedThose elsewhere
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1st Appeal Session: A Roundup Post On Points of Significance In The Italian, UK And US Reporting

Posted by Peter Quennell


The full cycle of court session reporting usually takes quite a few hours, so new items will be added periodically at the bottom of this post.

1) Andrea Vogt in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on the court dates.

Presiding judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman (with assistant judge Massimo Zanetti) swore in the jury of five women and one man, then promptly made his first decision: hearings just once a week—on Saturdays—to accommodate Sollecito’s high profile attorney Giulia Bongiorno (a key Italian parliamentarian and head of the justice commission who recently revealed she is several months pregnant).

Lead Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola noted it was out of the ordinary to build a trial around one lawyer’s personal and political engagements, adding that while everyone wants Bongiorno’s pregnancy to go forward regularly, “we must also ensure the trial goes forward regularly.”

But the judge said in order to start the trial “in a serene atmosphere,” he would grant the request, and fixed hearing dates for Dec. 11, 18 and Jan. 15….

2) Andrea Vogt in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on the defense strategy for the appeal.

Knox’s appeal is built largely around a request for an independent review of forensic evidence (in particular the DNA evidence from the knife that prosecutors say was the murder weapon)...

The appeal also cites a lack of motive,and a series of inconsistencies in witness testimony. Put together, that lawyers say, the arguments establish reasonable doubt.

In particular, the appeal introduces new questions about the reliability of testimony of Antonio Curatolo, a homeless man who placed Knox and Sollecito near the scene of the crime the night of the murder.

Sollecito’s appeal also includes an evidentiary review (in particular of the DNA found on the victim’s bra clasp) but also aims to introduce new evidence, such as pillow stains not tested by forensic police, and expert testimony about Sollecito’s computer mouse, whichlawyers say proves he was home when prosecutors claim he was at the murder scene.

3) Andrea Vogt in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on the outcome possibilities.

Prosecutors are also appealing the extenuating circumstances granted to Knox and Sollecito, in hopes that they’ll be handed down a life sentence.

Under Italian law, anything can happen in the appeals process, from complete acquittal, to conviction on lesser charge such as manslaughter, to an even harsher sentence if convicted again.

4) Andrea Vogt in the Seattle Post Intelligencer on changes to Knox’s mood and PR strategy.

Knox did not appear the same carefree Seattle girl who in her first public court statement giggled as she explained that her rampant rabbit vibrator was just a joke, or who would often turn to smile and wave at friends and family during courtroom breaks.

Three years in the Capanne penitentiary have taken their toll—the gravity of her situation has set in, and recent months have been particularly fraught with tension and worry.

“She feels the weight of all of this on her shoulders,” Ghirga said. “She has lost some faith.”

Her family’s approach has also changed. In sharp contrast to the criticisms directed at the Italian judiciary during her first trial, Knox’s stepfather Chris Mellas, told reporters outside the courthouse that the family had “full faith in the Italian justice system,” adding that “after all, Italy’s judiciary has a long and rich history.”

“Amanda is happy to finally get this process going, we have a new jury and new judges. Unfortunately we have the old prosecutor, but you can’t have everything.”

Yet that most controversial figure, prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, was not even present in court. Only co-prosecutor Manuela Comodi donned the black robe to help lead prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola.

[Below: Broadcast media equipment outside the court last night mixed in with the seasonal funfair in the piazza]

Posted on 11/24/10 at 12:35 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Trials 2008 & 2009Hellmann 2011+
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1st Appeal Session: Kercher Lawyer Maresca Says Verdict Perfect, Seems Optimistic This Soon Over

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Kercher family lawyer Maresca with Knox defense lawyer Ghirga]

Dario Thuburn of the AFP reports remarks by Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca and Meredith’s father John.

A lawyer for Kercher’s family, Francesco Maresca, said the original sentence against Knox was “perfect” and said he would “call for justice again.”

He said the Kercher family is eager “to close this chapter.”...

Kercher’s father, John, meanwhile sent a letter to the mayor of Perugia through his lawyers to thank local authorities for setting up a scholarship in her name at the university where she was on an exchange programme.

“Meredith loved Perugia and had made a lot of friends there,” John Kercher wrote, adding that the family was “moved” by the scholarship decision.

Also included in Dario Thuburn’s report on today’s short session:

A nervous-looking Amanda Knox began her appeal on Wednesday against her conviction for the gruesome sex-murder of a British student in the medieval Italian city of Perugia in 2007….

“We feel as though we have a very good case,” her step-father, Chris Mellas, told AFP ahead of the hearing. “She’s going to go home,” said Mellas, who has been living in Perugia since September to help Knox prepare for her appeal….

Wednesday’s hearing lasted only a few minutes and the appeal court judge scheduled the next hearings for December 11, December 18 and January 15…

[Knox defense lawyer] Ghirga said the defence would focus on DNA evidence linking Knox to the crime scene that he said had been questioned by three scientific opinions. The lawyer said Knox’s mother and father would be at the hearing on December 11 and said he expected the trial to conclude in February or March.

Asked about her health, he said: “She looks terrible. She’s very thin.”.. Prosecutors have said they will seek a life sentence for Knox—their original request in her first trial—if the conviction is upheld.

Note what Mr Ghirga said about the appeal maybe being over in February or March. The judge decided on sessions only once a week (Saturdays to suit the pregnant lawyer Giulia Bongiorno) which suggests it’s all over in 10 sessions or less.

We believe the only way it can conclude as soon as that is if all or most of the requested DNA re-testing and new witnesses are refused. DNA re-testing alone could take months.

That makes the 11 December appeal session into quite a cliffhanger.

We can see no overwhelming reason yet for the verdicts to be overturned, and if there is going to be one it can only come from that retesting and any new witnesses if allowed.

Posted on 11/24/10 at 11:55 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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1st Appeal Session: Appellant Amanda Knox Arrives In Appeals Court

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Posted on 11/24/10 at 11:23 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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1st Appeal Session: Appellant Raffaele Sollecito Arrives In Appeals Court

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Posted on 11/24/10 at 10:31 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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1st Appeal Session: Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann And Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola

Posted by Peter Quennell





Posted on 11/24/10 at 09:09 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Her Father John Remembered Meredith On The Third Anniversary Of Her Death

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


The UK’s popular Hello! celebrity magazine published a full-page spread in memory of Meredith on 8 November. A copy was kindly sent to us by a friend.

The article included some photos of Meredith that we already have posted plus this new one above, and a moving tribute by Meredith’s father John.

John Kercher Remembers His Daughter Meredith, Who Has Come To Affect So Many


It is now three years since Meredith was taken from us in such a brutal and savage way. For such a kind, loving and caring person to suffer what she did is beyond cruel.

The three years since her passing have obviously been very painful to us and are something that is obviously going to stay with us forever. But as her sister Stephanie says, we are fortunate to have 21 years of wonderful memories of her.

On the third. anniversary .of her death in early November, we shall go to the cemetery where she is buried in South London and join many of Meredith’s friends to lay flowers and messages. Many of those friends still write notes to her, as if she were still with us all.

They remind her of the wonderful times that they spent together and share experiences with her. The messages are always left there, because they hope that, in some way, Meredith might be able to read the words.

There is still a cap on the grave, similar to one she wore when she worked as a tourist guide in London, a student job before she left to study in Italy. She took visitors around the capital each day, explaining the various sights and landmarks to them.

Everyone who Meredith ever came into contact with will never forget her and her wonderful smile. They always wanted her as a friend for life.

Even those she never met are struck by her. The Internet is full of messages from strangers around the world who comment on what a lovely person she seemed to be and always remark on her smile.

And that is what always sticks in our mind, because Meredith had a beautiful sense of humour and what some of her friends have described as “wicked one-liners”.

There are memories of Meredith everywhere. At the house in Surrey where she lived with her mother during. her holidays from the University of Leeds, her room is still as it was when she left to .go and study in the Italian city of Perugia to improve her knowledge of the language and culture.

As her mother says, it is not a shrine, but no one wants to disturb anything. Her clothes are still in the wardrobe, her posters on the wall and make-up on her table. It is sad, and you think that some day she is going to return.

You wait to bear her laugh, and whenever I think of that laugh it always makes me smile.

There is a restaurant which she sometimes worked in at weekends when she came back from Leeds, to earn some money for her university studies. They still have a photograph of her on the bar..

At her old school, there is a cherry tree planted in the gardens in her memory, and this year flowers were laid at its foot. There is also an oak tree for her in the grounds of the University of Leeds.

About 40 of her university friends and our family gathered there on the first anniversary of her passing to say prayers and release balloons with messages attached to them in to the sky.

Other trees in Yorkshire have been dedicated to her, and I once joked that soon she would have an entire forest in her name. It is the kind of joke she would have appreciated.

People also always remember Meredith’s kindness and caring nature. She never gave the impression of being studious, but she was, and she worked really hard for her degree.

Several girls have commented that they were stunned how she would often share her lecture notes with them, which most students really guard. It’s amazing that she was able to do that, because she was a notoriously bad timekeeper and was always 20 minutes late for everything.

The last time I saw her, when she had made a weekend trip back from Italy, she made an appointment to meet me at an Italian restaurant in our home town of Coulsdon, Surrey, and was an hour late.

But you could always be forgiving, the moment you saw her smile. On that last occasion 1 saw her, she was showing me some boots which she had bought in London to take back for the Italian winter.

I think that one of the saddest things was when we, as a family, traveled to Italy to give our own testimonies about Meredith to the court. After two years, we were finally told that we could take her possessions home with us.

We knew that she had some wonderful clothes, a lot of special chocolate bought at Perugia’s famous chocolate festival, and an opera calendar that she had bought for her mother’s birthday, for which she was due to travel home.

I expected this large suitcase full of her belongings, but it was sad to be presented with only a small battered case. There were hardly any clothes, most having been destroyed during forensic testing, no calendar and no chocolate. I would have kept mine forever.

She was almost a Christmas baby, born on 28 December, and I think. that she was always, as she got older, a bit peeved that no one could manage a dinner out after all the Christmas eating. We had to arrange something later in the new year for her.

But we did celebrate her 21st in a local Italian, never dreaming that it would be her last. We still celebrate her birthday and always shall. We have a meal and we raise a glass of wine to her,. and leave birthday cards for her at the cemetery.

We have to. She meant so much to us all

An American TV network is now making a film about .Amanda Knox. and the events. That’s something I find appalling.  Your imagination of the events is enough. To have it graphically portrayed would be horrible for us.

I shall never forget sitting in that courtroom in Perugia at midnight, as the sentences for Amanda and [her ex-boyfriend and co—accused] Rafael Sollecito were read out a year ago. It was solemn and the atmosphere was extremely tense.

As we said afterwards, it was not a moment for celebration for us - more one of satisfaction that justice had been done for Meredith. But still it all goes on, with the accuseds’ appeals being heard this month.

If their sentences are upheld, they have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court in Rome and that process can last years. It simply keeps up the pressure on me and all I want is for everything to be settled.

But l know that the world is never going to forget Meredith. Even in passing she has changed so many lives.


Posted on 11/20/10 at 10:55 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Appeal Hearing Next Wednesday In Suggestive Absence Of Sollecito Lead Lawyer Giulia Bongiorno

Posted by Peter Quennell


The first appeal hearing next Wednesday 24 November will be technical or procedural.

The hearing to be presided over by by Appeals Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman will cover the lawyers’ motions on evidence and witnesses.

If at the next hearing on 11 December those requests are disallowed (all of the Guede team’s requests during Guede’s appeal last December were disallowed) this level of appeal for Knox and Sollecito might be over within two months if we assume two hearings a week. .

Appeal Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola will be joined by main-trial prosecutors Manuela Comodi and Giuliano Mignini. This was a judge’s decision, and not Ms Comodi’s or Mr Mignini’s, and it was to ensure that many months would not be wasted mastering the complexities of the Massei Report and the further many thousands of pages of documents that make up the case.

The defence teams will consist of Giulia Bongiorno, Luca Maori and Donatella Donati for Raffaele Sollecito, and Luciano Ghirga, Carlo Della Vedova and Maria del Grosso for Amanda Knox. Ms Bongiorno is five months pregnant, and she has said that it is for this reason that she will not appear in court next wednesday. 

Is this move a sign of something more to come?

During the trial last year, the prosecution hardly missed a beat and the pace was relentless. When it came time for the defense phase, it was slow and hesitant, some court days were canceled, and some of the defense presentation seemed decidely ad hoc.

Once last year Ms Bongiorno disappeared for weeks on end, ostensibly on parliamentary business, and later in the year she developed an attack of appendicitis at a key moment. That threw into question whether she would handle the end-of-trial defense summation - at the last moment, some part of it she did

She presumably isn’t liking this case very much. Her attempt amidst much publicity to have someone actually simulate Guede’s supposed climb through Filomena’s bedroom window was a total ignominious failure. And we have heard that the Sollecito family and defense team despise the Knox entourage and PR scheme with its incessant sliming of the Italian justice system and its main players in this case, which has done them nothing but harm.

Raffele Sollecito himself has still not provided Amanda Knox with a full alibi for the night (his last word was that she was out for four hours) and on the whole seems to show signs of pulling way from her rather than of associating himself with her any closer. They talked by phone a few days ago but the call was officially monitored and so we presume nothing significant was said.

The Knox defense might complain about no videotape or recording of Knox fingering Patrick, for which she was awarded an extra year in prison. But the unscheduled WITNESS interrogation of Knox did not require a recording - witnesses by the thousand are questioned by police daily all over the world (watch any crime show on TV) without a video recording being made.

Maybe it is just as well for Knox as she seemingly cracked because Sollecito made her crack - by calling her a liar in the next room, over their first alibi, and changing his own. Better not to have recorded that…

The mitigating factors that Judge Massei accepted that are being appealed against by the prosecution include whether Knox demonstrated some remorse by placing the duvet over Meredith after the attack - meanwhile apparently removing her cell phones and locking the door some minutes before Meredith finally succumbed.

They also include whether Knox instigated the attack on Meredith. Judge Massei concluded that Guede instigated it, but Mignini had argued that there was a payback element to the attack, which may have entered their minds the previous day (those AK messages to Meredith) or that same fateful night (Patrick’s message saying no need to come to work, one interpretation being that Amanda was on the point of being fired.) 

On the demand for some retesting of the DNA, it is worth recalling that the defense experts were expected to attend the one time only testing of the DNA on the knife - but on that day despite weeks of advance notice they found “good” reason to be elsewhere.

On the demand for retesting of Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp, it was pressed in hard and there is zero sign that any contamination had taken place - here again. the defense played a seeming trick. The Rome labs realised within hours of their first crime scene search that the bra clasp was still back in Meredith’s room, and weeks went by before the investigators and representatives of the defense could all be there to collect it.

The many contradictory albis, the various witnesses, the luminol evidence, the post-attack behaviors, the possibilities of both Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede at his second appeal, which is in December, turning into wild cards?? Not a pretty sight for Amanda Knox’s defense.

Can they get pregnant too? No doubt they wish that they could.

Posted on 11/18/10 at 07:29 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Rocco Girlanda ♥ Rocco Girlanda And Amanda Knox ♥ Amanda Knox?!

Posted by Hopeful


A little dream and art interpretation….

Rocco’s dream of being in a taxi with Amanda driving to JFK airport symbolizes his attempt to “take off to great heights” with Amanda.

Joining her in the same destination, but fearing himself as JFK who literally lost his head due to his politics.

Amanda is like Jackie who survived and went on to marry the richest man in the world. Rocco is the one who is “sticking his neck out”. Political suicide or assassination fear.

The dream image of the pink I-pod that Amanda hands to Rocco is an emblem of how he had hoped for much information out of her but the I-pod plays only one thing: Beatles. So she is very limited.

The I-pod being pink is a feminine symbol of Amanda but the “I” could also be referring to Rocco, too. He thinks, “I hope to get a lot out of this Knox connection but maybe it is very limited”.

This “gift” is limited, deceptive, like the gift she gave to Italian police with more lies in it. Rocco may feel he himself is limited like rock ‘n roll, only one style of music. Rocco ‘n roll.

When two narcissists meet, the two “I’s” try to fly.

AK’s favorite aphorism, “I know I’m not alone even when I’m alone.”—Jovanotti. Well, there’s an “I-full”. Three “I’s” in that saying and Jovanotti’s name ends with an i.  The ayes have it. Miss I-pod. Mister and Miss I-pod, say “I do”.

Rocco’s book includes Amanda’s colored drawings of what else, of course HERSELF, not once but twice, lest we fail to see the message. Why should anyone have expected her to draw a nature scene, a bird, flowers, anything outside herself?

The major message of the art: she shows the world her backside. Ha ha! Nothing new. Didn’t she show that in court? In this art, she gives us the back and the hand which equals a backhand.

She backhands us. She hides her face as usual. So, a slap in the face, or a backhanded compliment.

The hands are cut off yet still seem to be grasping or like they’re reaching out to squeeze something. “Cops wanna squeeze my brain” AK was overheard to say in early wiretapped conversations by police.

She colors the human figure (complete with German pigtails?) in a stained glass look. Pigtails represent a very childish hairstyle. It’s possible she wishes she could return to a time when she wore her hair that way.

Half the hair is pulled one way, half the other, a symbol her head (mind) is divided. The dots going down the back center part of the hair disturb me for some reason.

The many colors might represent many different emotions. Of course the figure is naked, the exhibitionist always.

Wasn’t she sending Rocco’s Italian-American organization childlike tracings of her hands in earlier correspondence?


Posted on 11/15/10 at 08:09 PM by HopefulClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Report Students Studying Abroad on Average Double Or Triple Their Alcoholic Intake

Posted by Peter Quennell


American embassies and other nations’ embassies abroad get to hear of hundreds of cases a year of students who got in over their heads.

In the past couple of years, there have been TWO notorious murders by foreign students in Florence alone. Florence is about one hour’s drive north of Perugia. The embassy simply shrugged and moved on as Italian justice worked its careful process through.

Both perps happened to be American, and both were high. There were no cries in those cases of anti-Americanism. Howvever, there was some troubled talk in Italy of the excesses foreign students go to.

And a lot of tightening up by the colleges who send a lot of students abroad, including the University of Washington (Amanda Knox’s college) and Pepperdine University (Steve Moore’s former college - this helped to seal his firing.)

Amanda Knox is one of the rare ones who shrugged off all home-college supervision, presumably with the okay of her parents. Meredith was closely watched over by the Erasmus scheme, which sadly did not save her life.

Now the University of Southern California’s student newspaper carries this report on one root cause of students facing foreign judges.

Students traveling abroad can keep glass half full

By Kelsey Clark of the Daily Trojan

According to researchers at the University of Washington, American college students who study abroad are likely to increase — even triple — their alcohol consumption while traveling internationally.

Students over the age of 21 doubled their intake of alcohol from an average of four drinks per week on campus to eight drinks per week abroad, according to a study published in the October issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The overall increase in surveyed students’ alcohol consumption was 105 percent, while those underage students tripled their drinking with an increased consumption of 170 percent….

By consuming alcohol in excess, particularly in an unfamiliar country, the risks for students are greater than those traditionally associated with a night of drinking at USC.

Though instances of injury, crime and sexual abuse do occur as a result of binge drinking at USC, such severe ramifications are comparatively rare within the university’s party culture. Some of the more prevalent woes are students who slept through class because of a hangover or ruined a cell phone by jumping in a pool.

But students who travel abroad must take additional precautions as the heightened risks include becoming lost, getting pick-pocketed or otherwise taken advantage of.

And of course bumping some poor innocent person off.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #10: The Chief Suspect Sonia’s Boyfriend Now Certain To Stand Trial

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Sonia’s sister Anna moved to Perugia from south-east Italy to wage a persistent campaign]

Indicted chief suspect in Sonia’s possible murder Umberto Bindella is still out on bail, but lacking his passport so that he gets no ideas of fleeing.

He did flee a few months ago and ended up with his car down a steep slope below a highway a few miles south of Perugia. He sat in the car all night, maybe shocked, maybe despondent, maybe suicidal, and he and the car were hauled back up to the highway the following morning.

One theory is that Sonia may have told Bindella she was pregnant and an angry Bindella physically attacked her. The main basis for considering Bindella as a suspect is some phone calls he made on the night, the contents (if recorded) of which have not been made public and the reasons for the calls not explained, plus also other subsequent behavior. 

The Perugia police and lab people and prosecutors and investigating judge have all been ultra-cautious in pursuing the case, as a body that could be Sonia Marra’s has never been found, and in this case unlike Meredith’s the evidence really is quite thin.

Several weeks ago, the results of some court-mandated forensic tests on a jacket Bindella was wearing on the night Sonia disappeared came back, and there was a court hearing for the announcement of the results.

The report from Leggo Italia.

No traces of organic material, female DNA or blood were found on the jacket seized from Umberto Bindella, the thirty-one-year-old accused of killing Sonia Marra, the Perugian student from Puglia who disappeared four years ago….

According to the reconstruction in the indictment against Bindella, who is claiming no wrongdoing,  he wore the jacket on the evening when Sonia Marra had disappeared.

The deposition of the expert lasted only a few minutes. According to the defence lawyers Daniela Paccoi and Silvia Egidi, “this is yet another proof of innocence.” of their client.

Prosecutors Giuseppe Petrazzini and Angela Avila have asked for a trial of Bindella. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Quotidiano di Puglia reported on that second hearing.

The family of Sonia Marra, a student who disappeared into thin air in Perugia four years ago, formed a civil party to the preliminary hearings that began today before the GUP of Perugia, in which Umberto Bindella may be charged with killing the young woman and concealing her corpse with an accomplice, Dario Galluccio, who works in the banking industry.

Family members were represented by advocate Alessandro Vesi. Bindella, 31, was present in court today as were Sonia’s parents, her two brothers and her sister Anna. The hearing was postponed until February 7 when the prosecutor’s request for a trial of the accused will be decided upon.

A careful process where again the judges are showing no bias toward the prosecution. To the contrary, putting it through the same hoops Meredith’s case was put through.

Nevertheless Bindella seems certain to be facing a trial early in 2012.

Posted on 11/11/10 at 01:00 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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