Heads-up for Italian readers and media: Knox and Sollecito are both on trial in Florence for false accusations. We have corrected many of these accusations in English and many more corrections will follow. Please keep watching our Italiano page for translations. This has just been posted: La truffa dell’interrogatorio della Amanda Knox.

Monday, March 05, 2012

With Free Citywide Wifi Internet Perugia Further Expands Its Impressive Infrastructure

Posted by Peter Quennell


Along with the Italian economy in general Perugia has been taking its share of knocks.

However it is cleverly managed and under the ancient shell of the central part it is (like the food store above, one of many boutiques) surprisingly modern. Its infrastructure is among the best in Italy and it would beat that of many cities in the US.

Perugia has an excellent rail link to the rest of Italy with frequent trains, a city bus service that goes where you’d imagine no bus could go, an automated light rail system that heads up the side of the massif, and an expanding amount of public parking in multi-floor facilities.

Perugia already has a long-haul escalator at the south end of the massif, and it will have another long-haul escalator in its future from the parking facility opposite Meredith’s house to the top of the hill. Mobile phone coverage, never easy to install in ancient cities, has long offered generally good service throughout.

Now free open wireless connectivity to the internet throughout the city is announced and it should be fully operational within three months.

The Italian city of Perugia will get free Wi-Fi by June, in time for its annual Umbria Jazz festival. CentralCom and a temporary group of companies including Tiscali and Umbra Control won a contract to build a network of Wi-FI hotspots, starting with the municipalities of Perugia and Terni.

The project, funded by the Region of Umbria for a total of EUR 150.000, could be extended to cities in Umbria with subsequent funding. Internet access will be free of charge for two hours a day, and within institutional sites, with no time limits. Payment profiles will also be available without limitation of time/volume.

The US seems seem to have the edge over most of Europe in free hotspots. They are in almost all the fast-food stores and many public buildings. The US also has something that is generally illegal in Europe: many personal domestic hifi networks which are left open (sometimes unwittingly but usually with intent) which anyone adjacent may use.

But citywide wifi is not yet widespread in either Europe or the US, and where Perugia goes now, hopefully all cities will go next. 

Posted on 03/05/12 at 06:56 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The wider contextsPerugia context
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Friday, March 02, 2012

The Irony In A Legal Standoff Between Italy And (Normally Its Good Friend) India

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Cantilevered fishing nets. There are hundreds of these along the ocean shore and harbor of Kochi.]


Images here are of the beautiful and comparatively wealthy south-west India city of Cochin (Kochi).

Also of an Italian oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, which was ordered into the Kochi port mid-February by the Indian coastguard. Two Italian marine snipers guarding the tanker en route from Singapore to Egypt had shot two Indian fishermen on a small tuna boat assuming they were pirates.

The marines do seem to have been rather quick on the draw, and in contravention of a new IMO law of the sea saying violence during such incidents must be kept to a minimum. The tanker had apparently already been attacked once that day; shots had apparently been fired then too.

Indian accounts say India has behaved reasonably. The incident was in an area the Indian navy makes a serious effort to keep safe (images also below) even though most ships cruising along the busy sea-lane off Kochi (map below) don’t touch base in India and provide no benefit to the Indian economy. 

The Italian tanker has been released now and is on its way, but the two Italian marines are still under house arrest in the house shown below, while a discussion between the two governments continues over where they should be put on trial.

The Italian government is arguing that as the marines are military personnel therefore Italian military law trumps Indian civil law and they must be put on trial in Italy.

Okay. Now for the irony. Read the posts here and here. The US government made the same argument twice against Italy, and to say the least Italy was not too happy.

Pssst. Don’t tell India.

At bottom: Another Italian ship in trouble in the Indian Ocean. This is the fire-stricken Carnival cruise line ship Costa Allegra (yes that Carnival cruise line) unloading its disconsolate passengers in the Seychelles.






























Posted on 03/02/12 at 11:02 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Other legal processesOthers ItalianThe wider contextsItalian context
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Victims Ride High - With No Thanks To The Conspiracy Theorists

Posted by Peter Quennell





Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart with the sustained help of their appealing families are right now two of the most admired women in America.

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped from California’s beautiful South Tahoe area (image below) in 1991 and kept captive east of San Francisco through late 2009. Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her north-east Salt Lake City home (image below) in 2002 and sprung from her captors in March 2003.

Both girls seem to have been affected by the Stockholm Syndrome, Jaycee Dugard by way of the physical abuse of her captors, and Elizabeth Smart perhaps by way of the religious claims of her male captor, though she claims it was only the physical abuse.

Both women put on a very determined and self-confident performance on the witness stand, and both saw their captors put away for good. It may have been tougher for Elizabeth Smart because she had to endure years of argument over whether her male captor was mentally competent. The jury agreed with prosecution witnesses that he was simply putting on a skillful act and they returned a very quick guilty verdict.

Jaycee Dugard wrote a fearless and unflinching best-seller about her experience. Similar books have been written about Elizabeth Smart, who was married to a Scotsman a few days ago (bottom image) amid reports that said they looked like royalty.

Both have been interviewed frequently on American TV, with Elizabeth Smart pushing back strongly against CNN’s Nancy Grace. Both want to raise awareness of female kidnappings.

Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping happened when the internet was in its infancy and the conspiracy theories targeting her family were mild and did not slow her mother’s determination. Elizabeth Smart’s parents however were really targeted by the conspiracy theorists, and rants against both her father and herself became absolutely endemic.

Any comparison between these two and Amanda Knox here? We dont see it. Most of the internet abuse has flowed from Knox’s own “supporters”. They have too often made demented personal attacks which absolutely cannot help her with Perugia’s top prosecutor, or the Supreme Court which she soon faces.

And many months since she returned home after the first appeal court released her, she still has not had the courage to face the TV cameras, or to do other than announce a book which sounds like a work of fiction.

Learn something from these two, Amanda Knox. Get classy. Or understand why you and yours will never be widely admired.




Posted on 02/29/12 at 03:15 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Other legal processesOthers elsewhere
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Costa Concordia: Amid Continuing Environmental Concerns The Captain Is Charged With More

Posted by Peter Quennell

The death toll has now risen to 25 including one child, a little girl. Maybe 10 are still unaccounted for.

The ship turns out to be balancing precariously on two small castles of rock at its front and back ends and they now seem to be decomposing under the ship’s colossal weight.

Whether the fuel oil can be removed from the ship before it disappears into deeper waters in a very fragile marine environment now seems anyone’s guess. Technically the engineers seem to be doing all they can.

The Genoa-based Carnival subsidiary seems to have closed ranks again as its own top management behavior comes under investigation. Nick Squires of the Daily Telegraph has just reported this from a session of the Grosseto court.

Prosecutors allege that the captain’s negligence and misconduct were compounded by errors made by senior officials from Costa Cruises, the Italian company that owns the ship.

They have broadened their investigation to include three Costa Cruises employees, including Manfred Ursprunger, the vice-president, and Roberto Ferrarini, the head of the company’s crisis management unit.

He was in regular contact with the skipper on the night of the disaster but prosecutors accuse him of being “culpably unaware of the real situation on board the ship” and of falling to verify the information provided by Capt Schettino.

Nick Squires also reports that Captain Schettino’s legal prospects have now worsened.

On Thursday, prosecutors lodged two new charges against the captain, accusing him of abandoning incapacitated passengers and failing to inform the coast guard in Livorno, on the mainland, of what was happening on the ship.

He was already charged with abandoning ship, causing a disaster and multiple counts of manslaughter and is under house arrest at his home near Sorrento, south of Naples. 

Nick Squires also reports on how the ship was slowed down to allow the captain and his lady friend to finish their meal. Then it was speeded up to awe someone in Giglio, and a big crowd on the ship’s bridge.

Posted on 02/24/12 at 02:57 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Italian justice v othersOther legal processesOthers Italian
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sollecito Ghost Writer Andrew Gumbel Reveals To MedaBistro How Ill-Informed He Is About His Client

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above left: Sollecito ghost writer Andrew Gumbel; above right, Sollecito agent Sharlene Martin]


Right now Sollecito ghost writer Andrew Gumbel is making loud, silly claims like many other writers who came upon the case and first fired from the hip.

And then “mysteriously” went silent and have not been heard from again.  We have helped to edge back from the brink several dozen such reporters. Perhaps they ought to thank us - oh, actually in several instances they did.

Here on Media Bistro Andrew Gumbel gives a shoot-from-the-hip interview in which he seems to display a terrible batting average on the hard truths. The interview is being smartly ridiculed in the comments below it by among others TJMK’s own well-informed pro-Meredith campaigner Bucket Of Tea.

Here, to help set Mr Gumbel straight before it is too late, is our own informed commentary on what he said.

A: It’s a rule of thumb that prosecutors dictate media coverage in a criminal trial. They are the ones who bring the charges, and are either vindicated or successfully challenged in court; the texture and the substance of the defendants’ stories tend to get lost. And so it was here. The media coverage focused largely on the yes/no question of whether Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were guilty.

Untrue.

The mechanics of the case from the inside — how they were interrogated, why they were prosecuted even after the most obvious perpetrator, Rudy Guede, was caught and convicted, the behind-the-scenes haggling between lawyers, defendants, expert witnesses, court officials and others — have been revealed only in glimpses, if at all.

Untrue.

Both Amanda’s book and Raffaele’s book are sure to shed light on how and why this grotesque miscarriage of justice arose. I would venture to say Raffaele’s story is even more absorbing than Amanda’s, because it was his family which orchestrated the detective work that made it possible to dismantle the case against both of them piece by piece. It was a high-wire act from beginning to end, and it’s a thrilling tale.

Untrue.

Amanda and Raffaele can’t bring Meredith back, but they can give everyone the benefit of the truth. It’s an important story to tell. And after all they have gone through — including the huge hit their families took to their reputations and their pocket books — they certainly deserve both vindication and compensation….

Untrue.

Not only will the book leave no doubt about Raffaele’s innocence; everything Raffaele and his family have to tell, backed by previously unpublished documents in the case, suggests that his incarceration had almost nothing to do with the actual evidence but had another motivation entirely — to be revealed when the book comes out…..

And untrue.Absurdly so.

Thirty plus judges who reviewed the case had no “other motivation entirely”. Please drop the smears of Italy and Italian justice. It isn’t becoming and there are already enough calunnia suits for felony defamation in the works.

And Sollecito’s family orchestrated no amazing detective work that showed that all the evidence was at fault. The defenses had every opportunity to do so in 2009 at trial and they did a truly terrible job. The Supreme Court already knows this so in what way exactly have they won?

In fact the main thing the Sollecito family is famous for right now is that they all face a trial in Bari. The charges are (1) illegally releasing video evidence to a TV network and (2) illegally attempting to subvert the police and prosecution by political means.

Now that’s true. Its seems two serious laws may have been broken. Andrew, read up about your Dear Clients here and especially here. They haven’t even attempted to “explain” all that as yet, and are almost certainly going to go down at trial.

And by the way, the evidence that the Sollecito family leaked to Italian TV? Video images of the naked body of Meredith. Very nice clients? You’ve been conned.

Posted on 02/23/12 at 11:24 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedThe main hoaxersThe SollecitosSollecito's bookReporting on the caseRaff Sollecito
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Perugia Prosecutors Arrest The No #2 Political Leader Of Umbria From Rocco Girlanda’s Home Town

Posted by Peter Quennell





Perugia’s formidable prosecutors are once again in the Italian news.

Mr Orfeo Goracci (left above) is the elected Vice President of the Regional Council of Umbria which sits in Perugia. He and eight others have been charged with serious crimes.

Mr Goracci is the former mayor of Gubbio half an hour north of Perugia and he runs the political machine there. The other eight arrested are all Gubbio officials. Mr Goracci is a friend of the Knoxaholic MP Rocco Girlanda who is the Member of Parliament in Rome for the same town.

Gubbio is in the Guinness Book of Records for annually creating the world’s largest christmas tree (image at bottom). A pretty and historic place on a hillside, it is where Knox and Sollecito had planned to go on the day after Meredith died.

Mr Girlanda is from an opposing party to Mr Goracci’s and has been quick to distance himself, but it is being remarked by commenters on Italian websites that there is no way he would have been elected MP if Mr Goracci’s machine had not given him a strong assist.

Last year, Mr Girlanda, who is married with five daughters, tried to intervene to tilt the Knox-Sollecito appeal in four different ways.

He wrote a book rhapsodizing the thoughts of Amanda Knox, using his parliamentary right to check prison conditions to access her. He ran several panels at his US-Italy friendship association in Rome. He attempted in parliament to cut police budgets for wiretapping.

And he petitioned the President of the Italian Republic to order an investigation of the Perugia prosecutors. This was ignored by the President. How ironic now that Mr Girlanda risks being at their receiving end.

This is a translation of the report by Emanuele Ciogli on Avanti Online.

The “Czar” of Gubbio is arrested for criminal conspiracy and charged with sexual assault

I wonder how Don Matteo would deal with the case, the fictional cycling detective in his cassock who is very popular with Italians.

The news these days brings us right to Gubbio, setting of the famous fiction and no longer only fiction: the former mayor of Gubbio, Orpheus Goracci, current vice-president of the Regional Council of Umbria, known for his despotic behavior as “Czar” or “King” or “The Boss”, has ended up in custody along with eight others of his “group”, all politicians, directors or officers in charge of the city.

The charges against him are serious: conspiracy aimed abuse of office, bribery, falsification of public documents, and removal of government records. But especially sexual violence.

He is accused of conspiracy since 2002 and “an undetermined number” of crimes: abuse of office, bribery, falsification of public documents and deletion of public acts. All this in creating “a climate of intimidation and fear in the city of Gubbio.”

According to one of the key witnesses of the prosecution to the Perugia investigation, conducted by the police and the carabinieri, Goracci when mayor “within the administration was acting like a dictator, treating the city as his own thing, refusing any advice that does not conform to his will, and penalizing or favoring at will employees, particularly women. “

Women were “advantaged” in exchange for sexual favors, and friends of friends were backed by virtue of rampant cronyism.

To understand the logic of the former mayor of Gubbio just listen to the testimony given to investigators by one witness, a policewoman with a fixed term contract, who was unlawfully excluded from a permanent contract because she was deemed “unfriendly” to the alleged conspiracy promoted by the former mayor.

“The logic was clear: either you were a woman and relented to the advances of Mayor Goracci; or you were a man and had political connections or friendships with Goracci or persons inside his group. Or you were out of the game.”

The woman’s statements describe a “permanent stop placed on her” say the investigators, confirmed by statements of her friend and colleague: she was unlawfully excluded from the competition for municipal police officer indefinitely after rejecting the alleged advances of the mayor (who in this episode is also accused of sexual assault).

Mayor Goracci on one occasion according to the papers of the investigation “attracted her to him, kissing her shoulder, and trying to kiss her on the lips.” But the woman “extracted herself and had managed to leave the office.”

This episode would be followed by another similar… She told him “to lay off, reminding him that he had a wife and a daughter.”

In the first image below you can see Mr Goracci with the Regional Council leadership. After his arrest there is an empty seat. His buddy Mr Girlanda will face a tough election later this year or next.

Uncharacteristic quietness from him meanwhile might thankfully become the norm. Shades of Amanda.


















Posted on 02/22/12 at 03:11 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in The main hoaxersThe Knox-MellasesMore sockpuppets
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Monday, February 20, 2012

HarperCollins: Perhaps This Explains Why Jonathan Burnham Was Inspired To Take Such A Seeming Risk

Posted by Peter Quennell





HarperCollin’s parent company News Corp itself continues to be a major news items, especially in the UK.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp vehicles have had a history of racy reporting and and right-wing-party support, and now both are rather on the outer. The investigations in London into phone tapping and bribing of police for stories seem only to be getting worse.

As a result NYC-based News Corp and its minions, perhaps including HarperCollins (Jonathan Burnham is one of Rupert’s talented British imports to New York) might be making some risky or unwise moves.

Okay. Back to the stock charts once again to see what the collective voting wisdom of informed investors may be telling us about this.

News Corp cannot be compared directly to Lagadere the parent company of Hachette which is soon to publish John Kercher’s “Meredith” as the Paris-based Lagadere is not listed on the New York exchange,

So here above we show the stock for Penguin Publishing’s parent company Pearson instead. It is a good surrogate as Lagadere and Pearson are the world’s two most successful and fastest-growing publishing groups.

What does the chart above tell us? (Click it for a larger version.) The green curve is the Dow Jones index, which is the stock exchange’s large-company average.

  • Over the five years shown Penguin’s parent Pearson (red curve) is UP around 20% compared to the average.
  • Meanwhile HarperCollins’s parent News Corp (blue curve) is DOWN an amazing 30 percent compared to the average.

That 30 percent down represents a drop of over FIFTEEN BILLION DOLLARS in five years in the market value of the parent company. Very worrisome for the hard-pressed Mr Murdoch and the increasingly edgy News Corp stock holders.

And who knows? Maybe it helped inspired Mr Burnham in his office a few blocks away (he surely owns the News Corps stock and wants the whole company to gain) to go for broke on the Knox book with $4 million down.

Did any of the main media reporting on the book (over 200 hits on Google News) happen to mention this?!

Posted on 02/20/12 at 08:38 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedReporting on the caseMedia newsMore sockpuppetsAmanda Knox
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

HarperCollins: A Commendably Balanced Report By The UK Daily Telegraph’s Iain Hollingshead

Posted by Peter Quennell





Iain Hollingshead has written a fair and balanced piece in the Daily Telegraph. It contains quite a few notes of caution for HarperCollins:

1) Iain Hollingshead has this restrained Anne Bremner comment from her side though it fails to mention the million-dollar-plus PR campaign that has so many people addled on the real evidence; a pity Iain Hollingshead didnt press her.

“No one here has lost sight of the enormity of the fact that Meredith was killed,” says Anne Bremner, a Seattle-based lawyer and a spokeswoman for the Friends of Amanda Support Group. “But there’s widespread belief in Amanda’s innocence. And when something horrible happens, people all over the world are interested in how you get through it.”

Something horrible happened to Meredith too, of course - and she didn’t get through it. Anne Bremner might press Amanda Knox to make sure to answer in her book the several hundred open questions.

2) Then Iain Hollingshead quotes a London agent who is saying, like other agents and publishers, that HarperCollins sure seems to have taken on a risky publishing venture:

A positive balance sheet is far from guaranteed, however. “I think it’s very risky money,” says Ed Victor, the London-based literary agent whose clients range from Keith Richards to Alastair Campbell and Frederick Forsyth. “But all advances at that level are risky. A lot will depend on whom they hire as the collaborator. It has to be written well.”

3) Also Iain Hollingshead points out what many others have previously pointed out which is that that Knox is not really known for good prose or interesting writing:

HarperCollins hasn’t released the name of the ghostwriter, but one imagines they will have their work cut out. Not only is the book scheduled for publication early next year, they will also have to tread the fine line of polishing Knox’s prose without losing her voice. Although Knox is said to have harboured long-standing dreams of becoming a writer, extracts from her prison diaries – some of which were given to investigators in an attempt to clear her name and were later leaked to newspapers – suggest that she has a little way to go. One poem read: “Do you know me? Open your eyes and see that when it is said I am an angel, or I am a devil, or I am a lost girl, recognise that what is really lost is: the truth!”

By the way, Mr Burnham of HarperCollinws is widely quoted as saying that Amanda Knox’s side of it is the only one still to come out.  He seems to think that her side of it is still a mystery, and that the world is holding its breath.

Really?!

She seems to be one of the most widest quoted perps or suspected perps or non-perps in all history. In fact, she talked so much in the early days that her own lawyers had to publicly caution her to stop piling wrong explanations on wrong explanations.

There are her letters and her emails and her diaries and her notes to police and prosecutors. Plus long quotes from her in books by for example Rocco Girlanda. Plus her two full days on the witness stand. Plus half a dozen major statements to the trial court and appeal court. Plus a few hundred quotes from her family on her behalf. Plus her whole raft of alibis.

Often (when her parents and lawyers are not shushing her) she seems to be digging herself in deeper. Which elements of her story does Mr Burnham think we are all waiting for?

4) Also (although Iain Hollingshead fails to mention John Kercher’s book due in April and may not know about it) he points out that Meredith is the real victim in this case and a very sympathetic one especially in the UK.:

In the British market, Knox’s book will face far greater challenges than the quality of her ghosted prose. “I don’t think the book will be huge here because a lot of British sympathies are with the British victim,” says Victor.

5) Also Iain Hollingshead points out that when there is a sympathetic real victim there is little evidence that the perp or framed perp (dont they all claim they are framed?!) sells a lot of books:

The interest in the O J Simpson case, for example, did not lead to good sales for his book, If I Did It. And while many pundits are comparing Knox’s book to Jaycee Dugard’s A Stolen Life, the memoir of the Californian girl held against her will for 18 years which has sold more than a million copies since last July, Victor thinks the comparison unhelpful. “She was the victim of a crime, not the putative perpetrator of a crime,” he says. “And that’s a big difference. You could say she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice – but so are a lot of people.”

6) And Iain Hollingshead shows us that Andrew Gumbel, Sollecito’s ghost writer, is pretty uninformed on the case.

We will now be able to watch him having a tough time writing on the hard evidence and the fair Italian system and the real character of the druggie loner Sollecito. Assuming that Mr Gumbel hasn’t made up his mind:

“The book will be a lot of things: a love story, a harrowing description of an innocent young man in prison, a full-blooded Italian family drama, and a legal thriller,” says Gumbel. “But these are not the only reasons I got involved: what happened to Raffaele and Amanda was inexcusable and unconscionable and my intention is to get to the bottom of exactly why they were targeted.”

Gumbel denies he’s cashing in on a brutal murder. “I know that, in Raffaele’s case, no day has gone by without him thinking of Meredith and the hell her family has gone through,” he says. “We are not ‘cashing in’ on her death, but rather illuminating the way the Italian police and judiciary compounded the tragedy by throwing two young people into prison for no good reason. Their stories – both their stories – deserve to be heard and I believe it is important that they are.”

Cashing in on Meredith’s death? No, the thought never even occurred to us. Image of the accusatory and under-researched Mr Gumbel below. Keep on his tail Mr Hollingshead.

7) We would have liked Iain Hollingshead to touch on the risks of calunnia for HarperCollins, but to be fair to him it is doubtful he knows what in the very fair Italian system that defense for those unfairly attacked means.

Mr Burnham and Mr Gumbel seem to be setting themselves up nicely to find out.

[Below: Sollecito ghost writer Andrew Gumbel; and Sollecito book agent Sharlene Martin]

Posted on 02/19/12 at 09:07 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedReporting on the caseV good reportingMedia newsAmanda Knox
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Were Prospective Knox Publishers Given The Full Score On The Likely Legal Future Of This Case?

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the seemingly hornswoggled Jonathan Burnham and Claire Wachtell of the HarperCollins house]


One publisher who passed on the Amanda Knox book then came here to read and told us he was rather shocked.

All the publishers going in to the auction were apparently not briefed by the Knox huckster team about the legal minefield this case still continues to represent. It may not have mattered to HarperCollins of course. It was HarperCollins that published OJ Simpson’s notorious “If I Did It” and they seem to have come out ahead.

One of the quirky outcomes of the Simpson venture the Amanda Knox team might like to draw a lesson from is that the “If I Did It” book (written by a ghost writer for Simpson, and as one Amazon reviewer said “chock full of omissions”) directly fueled the public anger that helped to put Simpson behind bars for a long time.

Typical of the hyper-cautious Italian system, this case is passing through three automatic phases like a three-act play.  The Knox team can beef now about harassment and double jeopardy, but they have filed their own Supreme Court appeal, and it is written into the Italian constitution that no verdicts and sentences that are appealed are final until the Supreme Court signs off.

Act One

Act One started early in 2009 three months after Guede’s trial and we all saw as reported here on TJMK a very speedy and precise presentation of the prosecutions’ case. This was followed by the spectacle of Amanda Knox doing herself considerable harm in her two days on the stand. Thereafter through autumn and well into winter 2009, a weak and faltering defense was presented, with several court days simply cancelled because the defense could think of nothing more to say.

Judge Massei’s jury then quickly came to a unanimous verdict and he wrote up the reasons for it in an excellent 425-page report. He differed in only one major respect from Judge Micheli who in October 2008 concluded that Amanda Knox had organized and led the pack against Meredith and that Rudy Guede was unwittingly or accidentally drawn in to her torture and murder. (He still handed Guede 30 years.)

Judge Massei didnt cover the Rudy Guede evidence in nearly the same depth as Judge Micheli (Guede was only briefly in the Massei courtroom, and because Mr Mignini would not do a deal he barely spoke). In rather a stretch, Judge Massei argued that Guede set the escalation in motion which resulted in Meredith’s death. Few of us believe that.

UK and US lawyers have told us that under US and UK rules it is very unlikely that any judge would have then allowed the case to go to appeal. Knox and Sollecito would have served out their time and possibly emerged much better off for it - you can see the ugliness flowing back into them now..

Act Two

Act Two in 2010-11 saw the playing field becoming increasingly tilted. Mr Mignini happened to catch on tape a Florence prosecutor lamenting that the Monster of Florence cabal for which Doug Preston is such an eager beaver was tying his hands. The Florence prosecutor then sought to get his own back by taking Mr Mignini to court.

All sorts of amateur second-guessers on the evidence now got into the act, and few outside Italy any more had a firm command of the actual hard facts. It is rumored that Judge Hellman may have had a bias even before he ever got involved with the case. Mention of Meredith was almost nowhere to be found, and there was a constant drumbeat for Sollecito and Knox kept alive by their families and the US media and the MP Rocco Girlanda.

Helping the defenses was that soon after Meredith’s death the defenses played one huge trick. They failed to show up when Dr Stefanoni did her DNA tests. That then allowed them to impugn and slur her and her work with no hard evidence to hand. This rose to a crescendo when Judge Hellman’s two under-qualified consultants reported at appeal.

Amanda Knox still ended up being handed three years in prison, but with time served Judge Hellman released the two “young people” which was a verdict that to very few informed Italians made sense. 

Act Three

Act Three starts with legal terrain that looks very different. Dr Galati has set the stage for a very, very tough third act, and he is making quite sure this time that the playing field is not tilted by any further monkey tricks. No wonder the publisher mentioned up top is surprised though. .

  • NOT ONE non-Italian media source has made it clear that the Umbria regional prosecution office has a very special and prestigious status in Italy as the prosecution office that takes on cases against officials and politicians in the Rome government, so that the Rome police and prosecutors avoid conflicts of interest..
  • NOT ONE non-Italian media source has explained who Dr Giovanni Galati really is. He could rightly be described as the most experienced and respected and capable of all Italy’s 24 regional chief prosecutors. He was a Deputy Attorney General with the Surpreme Court in Rome before his assignment just over a year ago to Umbria, and unlike the main Knox and Sollecito lawyers he knows the internecine Supreme Court rules and ways of addressing Italian law like the back of his hand.
  • NOT ONE non-Italian media source has explained what we have reported in the four posts just below: that Dr Galati is stating that Judge Hellman BROKE ITALIAN LAW in two make-or-break respects. Judge Hellman is seen to have extended the appeals court’s terms of reference in ways that he is forbidden to do.  And he introduced the DNA consultants which (as Mr Mignini several times argued) he was also forbidden to do.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Solecito now face the fights of their lives. The last thing they need in this shark tank is a couple of biased self serving books “chock full of omissions” and anti-Italy smears.

They will almost certainly have to get up on the stand under oath and cross-examination and try to explain their scenario in a context where they each have contradicted and even accused one another. Their lawyers may be okay at trial or first appeal level but they are very outclassed by Dr Galati at this third level and it would seem the Knoxes, Mellases and Sollecitos would be best served to find new (very expensive) Supreme Court teams

Italians on the whole are angry and humiliated at the ill-argued first-appeal outcome. Judge Hellman seemed to show biases that he really should not have. Dr Mignini is back to being in the clear in his case as it was ruled (rightly) that the Florence prosecutors did not have jurisdiction over him. The Supreme Court took a very firm position in December 2010 that Rudy Guede did not act alone. The defense star witnesses Alessi and Aviello that might help accomodate to this have imploded, and both may face trials of their own.

A pretty grim portrait of Amanda Knox both prior to Meredith’s murder and while Knox was in Capanne prison is not hard to find in Perugia from multiple sources. If a devastating “Real Amanda Knox” book is not inspired by the HarperCollins book, we will be surprised, and it could sell more than hers. And if the slightest defamation about anyone in Perugia appears in the AK book, then HarperCollins will have the great joy of finding out what “calunnia” means.

President Obama and Senator Cantwell both have tough elections on their hands and Hillary Clinton and the Rome Ambassador David Thorne (an Obama political appointee) will need to be in ultra-careful mode this time around. Amanda Knox and her parents and Sollecito’s parents all face separate trials coming up. Rabid books will not help any of them there.

And in April the likeable book “Meredith” by her father John will be published - by a global publisher (Hachette) five times HarperCollins’s size.

Posted on 02/17/12 at 01:21 PM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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 07:47 AM by brmull. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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 Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedThe prosecutorsSupreme CourtAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann appealHellmann outcomeCassation appeal 1Florence appeal12 Perugia case hoaxesNo-evidence hoax
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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 ziaK. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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 Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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 Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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 Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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 Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
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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.

Posted on 02/07/12 at 08:31 AM by Peter Quennell. Click screenname for a list of all main posts, at top left.
Archived in Officially involvedSupreme CourtAppeals 2009-2015Hellmann appeal
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