Category: The judiciary

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1st Appeal Session: Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann And Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola

Posted by Peter Quennell






Sunday, October 31, 2010

Corruption Of Appeal: Angry Top Criminal Judge Chiari Is Blatantly Forced Aside

Posted by Peter Quennell



Umbria’s top criminal judge Sergio Matteini Chiari

Very Dirty Business

Only one month ago Umbria’s top criminal judge Sergio Matteini Chiari was to preside.

Now a very angry Judge Chiari has been forced aside with no public explanation from Chief Judge De Nunzio [image below] as to why.

A wildly wrongly qualified judge, Hellmann, a business judge with just two criminal trials in his past, both fiascos, mysteriously takes his place.

Rumors of foul play are appearing in the Italian media. Has Chief Judge De Nunzio been leaned upon politically? Do big bucks or rogue masons have any role in this?

Click here for the rest


Monday, September 20, 2010

Explaining The Massei Report:  All Judges, Lawyers And Witnesses At Trial Jan-Dec 2009

Posted by Storm Roberts



[Above: Dr Giancarlo Massei, the president of the Court]

Our intention with this new series of posts is to show how thorough the trial was, and how compelling the Massei Report on the grounds for the Knox-Sollecito sentence is. 

At the beginning of the trial, the witness counts were considerable: approximately 90 for the prosecution, 60 for the civil plaintiffs, 90 for the defence of Raffaele Sollecito, and 65 for the defence of Amanda Knox.

However, a large number of witnesses for both Amanda Knox and for Raffaele Sollecito were removed from the witness listing. Thus the actual number of people testifying was lower than originally expected. 

Here is a comprehensive list I have compiled, made by going through the Massei Report, picking out the witnesses, and noting what they testified about. If I had the information available, I have noted where a witness was specifically called by the defence of either of the then defendants.

Officers Of The Court

  • Judges:  Dr Beatrice Cristiani and Dr Giancarlo Massei, the president of the Court.
  • Prosecutors: Public Ministers Dr Manuela Comodi and Dr Giuliano Mignini.
  • Interpreter for Amanda Knox:  Dr Anna Baldelli Fronticelli.



[above: the two prosecutors]

The Legal Teams:

  • For the family of Meredith Kercher:  Francesco Maresca and Serena Perna.
  • For Diya “Patrick” Lumumba: Carlo Pacelli.
  • For Aldalia Tattanelli (the owner of the house): Letizia Magnini.
  • For Amanda Knox:  Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Dalla Vedova.
  • For Raffaele Sollecito: Giulia Bongiorno, Daniela Rocchi and Luca Maori.



[above: Amanda Knox’s legal team]

Witnesses


The following is a list of witnesses and a brief note as to the evidence they presented. I am not detailing their arguments here, merely indicating the areas the witnesses were heard in.  For full details of the evidence and the court’s arguments please read the Massei Report in full and the summaries coming up.

  • Amanda Knoxtestified while not under oath at the request of her defence and the legal team representing Diya Lumumba.  Her testimony was heard on 12th and 13th June 2009. Raffele Sollecito made a couple of interventions from his seat beside his three lawyers, but he did not get up on the stand.
  • Mrs. Elisabetta Lana and her son, Alessandro Biscarini.  They discovered two mobile phones, both belonging to Meredith Kercher (one was registered to Filomena Romanelli, Meredith’s flatmate), in their garden at Via Sperandio.
  • Dr. Filippo Bartolozzi - at the time Manager of the Department of Communications Police for Umbria - Dr. Bartolozzi received the mobile phones from Mrs Lana, the first at approximately 11.45 to 12.00hrs on 2nd November 2007, the second at approximately 12.15 to 12.20 hrs.  He traced the first phone to Filomena Romanelli and, at noon, despatched two officers to her address to investigate why her phone was in Mrs. Lana’s garden.
  • Inspector Michele Battistelli and Assistant Fabio Marzi - the two officers despatched by Dr. Bartolozzi.  They arrived at 7 Via della Pergola at a little after 12.30 hrs - they found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito sitting outside the house.  They gave evidence about the circumstances leading up to the discovery of Meredith’s body and with regards to securing the scene whilst awaiting the Carabinieri and Scientific Police.
  • Filomena Romanelli who was Meredith’s flatmate gave evidence regarding the phone she had lent to Meredith.  She also detailed when she had moved into the flat at 7 Via della Pergola and the living arrangements.  She told of her plans for the 2nd November and how a worrying phone call from Amanda Knox led to her calling her back and returning to her home earlier than planned.  A key point of Ms. Romanelli’s evidence was her disagreement with Amanda Knox over when Meredith locked her door - Ms. Romanelli stated that Meredith had only once locked her door and that was when she had returned to England for a few days.
  • Paola Grande, Marco Zaroli and Luca Altieri - the other young people who were at the property when Meredith’s body was discovered.  Mr. Altieri broke down the door to Meredith’s room.
  • Laura Mezzetti - the fourth flatmate in the upstairs flat at number 7 Via della Pergola.  She testified with regards to the living arrangements and also that Amanda Knox is an early riser, a “morning person”.
  • Robyn Butterworth, Amy Frost, Sophie Purton and Nathalie Hayward - Meredith’s friends from England.  They testified as to when they last saw Meredith and described the behaviour of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at the Police Station in the evening of 2nd November 2007.  They also testified that Meredith had no plans after returning home at around 21.00 hrs on 1st November other than to study and have a rest as they had been out late the previous night and believed that they had classes the next day.  Meredith’s friends did not know of Rudy Guede and had not heard Meredith mention his name.
  • Giacomo Silenzi, one of the young men living in the flat underneath Meredith’s flat.  He was Meredith’s boyfriend.
  • Stafano Bonassi, Marco Marzan and Riccardo Luciani the other tenants of the downstairs flat.  Along with Mr. Silenzi they testified as to the the interactions between themselves and the girls upstairs, the gatherings they held, the fact that Rudy Guede was known to Amanda Knox.  They testified as to Rudy Guede’s actions at their house.  They gave evidence of having met or known of Raffaele Sollecito and his relationship with Amanda Knox.
  • Giorgio Cocciaretto a friend of the young men in the downstairs flat testified with regards to knowing Rudy Guede through playing basketball and having seen him at the 7 Via della Pergola house when both Meredith and Amanda Knox were present.
  • Rudy Guede availed himself of his right not to participate in the trial of Amanda Knox and Rafaelle Sollecito.  Judge Massei details Rudy Guede’s involvement based upon the evidence available in order to complete the reconstruction of events of 2nd November as he was charged alongside Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
  • Marta Fernandez Nieto and Caroline Espinilla Martin - two young ladies living in the flat above Rudy Guede, they testified than on the night of 31st October they had been in the presence of Rudy Guede and that the only girl they saw him dance with was a “blonde girl with long smooth hair”.
  • Gioia Brocci from the Questura of Perugia who testified with regards to a trail of shoe prints leading from Meredith’s room to the exit of the flat getting fainter as they went.  Ms. Brocci also testified as to the lack of signs of climbing on the wall below Filomena Romanelli’s window.  She also collected evidence from the bathroom next to Meredith’s room.
  • Sergeant Francesco Pasquale testified as to the possibility of breaking into the flat though the window in Filomena Romanelli’s room.  Sergeant Pasquale was a consultant for the defence.
  • Maria Antonietta Salvadori Del Prato Titone, Paolo Brocchi, Matteo Palazzoli and Cristian Tramontano testified with regards to previous incidents involving or possibly involving Rudy Guede.
  • Edda Mellas , Amanda Knox’s mother.  She testified as to communications with her daughter on the 2nd November amongst other things.
  • Antonella Negri a teacher at the University who taught Amanda Knox and who testified as to her diligence as a student.
  • Francesco Sollecito, father of Raffaele Sollecito.  He testified as to his son’s character and about his communications with his son.  He also spoke of his son’s relationship with Amanda Knox.
  • Antonio Galizia, Carabinieri station commander in Giovinazzo, the Sollecito family’s home town.  He testified that in September 2003 Raffaele Sollecito was found in possession of hashish.
  • Jovana Popovic testified as to the presence of Amanda Knox at Raffaele Sollecito’s home at two points in time on the evening of 1st November 2007.
  • Diya “Patrick” Lumumba was Amanda Knox’s employer at “Chic”.  He testified that he has sent her a text message excusing her from work on the evening of 1st November.
  • Rita Ficcara Chief Inspector of the State Police - to whom Amanda Knox delivered a written statement composed whilst she was awaiting to be transferred to Capanne Prison.
  • Antonio Curatolo - Mr. Curatolo testified as to having seen Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito at the basketball court in front of the University (the Piazza Grimana) in the evening of 1st November 2007.
  • Maurizio Rosignoli - who runs a kiosk in the Piazza - testified with regards to the timing of buses at the Piazza Grimana thus corroborating times in Mr. Curatolo’s evidence.
  • Alessia Ceccarelli - who worked managing Mr. Rosignoli’s kiosk - gave evidence as to Mr. Curatolo’s presence in the Piazza.
  • Marco Quintavalle, who runs the shop “Margherita Conad”, testified he had seen Amanda Knox at 07.45 hrs on 2nd November, she was waiting for him to open his shop, she went to the section of the store that had items such as groceries, toilet paper and cleaning products but he did not serve her at the till so could not specify what she bought if anything.  He testified that he knew Raffaele Sollecito as he was a regular customer.
  • Officer Daniele Ceppitelli gave evidence with regards to the 112 calls made by Raffaele Sollecito at 12.51 and 12.54 hrs on 2nd November.  In these calls Raffaele Sollecito declared that nothing had been stolen from the flat.
  • Nara Capezzali, Antonella Monacchia and Maria Ilaria Dramis gave evidence of unusual sounds and activity coming from the area around 7 Via della Pergola - namely a scream and the sound of running footsteps.



[one of Sollecito’s three lawyers with Sollecito]

Expert Witnesses

  • Dr. Lalli, the Coroner, he performed the post mortem and ascertained the cause of death and a “time window” when death was likely to have occurred.  He put the time of death between 20.00 hrs on 1st November 2007 and 04.00 hrs the following day.
  • Dr. Domenico Giacinto Profazio was head of the Perugia Flying Squad at the time of Meredith’s death.  He gave evidence regarding the investigative procedures and safeguards including the physical security of the property.
  • Dr. Marco Chiacchiera, deputy director of the Perugia Flying Squad also gave evidence regarding the scene and investigation.
  • Monica Napoleoni, Deputy Commissioner of the State Police gave evidence regarding the scene and investigation.  She also testified as to Raffaele Sollecito’s desire to remain with Amanda Knox.
  • Mauri Bigini a chief inspect at the Flying Squad confirmed the evidence given by Profazio and Napoleoni.
  • Armando Finzi a chief inspector at the Flying Squad gave evidence regarding the examination of Raffaele Sollecito’s flat and the collection of the knife which is now termed “the Double DNA Knife” (Exhibit 36).
  • Stefano Gubbiotti and Zugarini Lorena confirmed the evidence regarding the search of Raffaele Sollecito’s flat.
  • Dr. Giunta from the Scientific Police in Rome directed the detection of latent prints at the scene.
  • Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni from the Scientific Police in Rome collected biological trace evidence for analysis.  She also performed the analysis of DNA evidence and testified extensively on all aspects of DNA - from the background science, through the collection and the testing methods employed to the analysis.
  • Professor Mauro Marchionni, Dr. Vincenza Liviero and Professor Mauro Bacci, the three consultants appointed by the Public Ministers to analyse the forensic medical evidence testified as to various aspects of Dr. Lalli’s report including the cause of death, timing of death, the sexual assault and the wounds.  They reported on the degree of compatibility of the knife - Double DNA Knife, Exhibit 36 - with the wounds suffered.
  • Professor Gianaristide Norelli, the consultant for the civil party, is a forensic police doctor. He testified with regards to the time and cause of death and the sexual assault against Meredith.  He testified as to the degree of compatibility of the Double DNA Knife with the wounds suffered.
  • Professor Francesco Introna, a consultant appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence testified with regards to the forensic medical evidence (cause and time of death, the sexual assault). His opinion is that the murder was committed by one person and that the Double DNA Knife was not the weapon used to inflict the large wound on the left of Meredith’s neck.  He hypothesised that Meredith was already undressing at the end of the day when she was surprised by her sole attacker who attacked from behind.
  • Professor Carlo Torre, a consultant appointed by Amanda Knox’s defence testified with regards to the same areas as described above.  In his opinion the Double DNA knife was not the knife used to inflict the large wound on the left of Meredith’s neck.  He believed a stabbing from the front was the most likely dynamic, and he saw nothing that would lead him to believe there was more than one attacker.
  • Professor Vinci, a consultant appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence, he testified with regards to the stains on the bed sheet -which appeared to be made in blood, outlining a knife.  Professor Vinci also testified with regards to footprints found in the flat.
  • Dr Patumi, a consultant appointed by the defence of Amanda Knox, testified with regards to the neck wounds suffered and also with regards to the genetic evidence as detailed by Dr. Stefanoni.
  • Professor Anna Aprile, Professor Mario Cingolani and Professor Giancarlo Umani Ronchi, all independent consultants appointed by the judge (GIP) at the preliminary hearing. Professor Aprile testified specifically on the question of the sexual assault, Professors Cingolani and Umani Ronchi again considered the evidence with regards to the cause and time of death and the compatibility of the Double DNA Knife with the large wound on the left of Meredith’s neck.
  • Dr. Torricelli, the consultant for Meredith Kercher’s family, testified and gave her opinion on the genetic evidence as detailed by Dr. Stefanoni.
  • Dr. Sarah Gino, a consultant appointed by the defence of Amanda Knox, testified and gave her opinion on the genetic evidence as detailed by Dr. Stefanoni.
  • Professor Tagliabracci, a consultant appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence, testified and gave his opinion on the genetic evidence as detailed by Dr. Stefanoni.  He also gave evidence with regards to the effects of certain drugs.
  • Marco Trotta, Claudio Trifici and Gregori Mirco officers of the Postal Police, gave evidence with regards to the seized computer equipment and also with regards to internet activity at the home of Raffaele Sollecito.
  • Mr. Fabio Formenti, the technical consultant appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence - observed the Postal Police’s analysis of the computer equipment.
  • Dr Michele Gigli and Dr. Antonio D’Ambrosio, consultants appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence, testified with regards to the computer and internet evidence.
  • Chief Inspector Letterio Latella gave evidence with regards to mobile phones and how they pick up signals from base stations which cover certain areas, he also testified with regards to the call records of the mobile phones of the defendants, victim and others.  He detailed how a connection to the network was picked up by the base stations and how the location of the phone can be approximated through knowing which base station was used.  He was able to tell the court which connections to Meredith’s two phones were made from her own flat and which from Mrs. Lana’s garden.
  • Assistant Stefano Sisani provided evidence with regards to both landline telephone services and mobile phone services.
  • Bruno Pellero an engineer appointed by Raffaele Sollecito’s defence to give evidence with regards to telephonic communications.
  • Dr. Lorenzo Rinaldi, Principal Technical Director of the State Police, director of the three sections which compose the Identity Division of the ERT, gave evidence regarding shoe prints and footprints (including those highlighted by the use of luminol.
  • Chief Inspector Pietro Boemia, who worked alongside Dr. Rinaldi.
  • Chief Inspector Claudio Ippolito a consultant who reported on shoe prints - appointed by the public minister.



[Background: the Judges and jury (lay judges) for the trial]>


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Decision On Who Will Be Amanda Knox’s Judge At Her Forthcoming Slander Trial

Posted by Peter Quennell


Above and below: Amanda Knox entering the court area less than an hour ago. The decision is due momentarily.

Our previous post on the slander trial was here.  The Appeals Court should be announcing the decision on which judge right about now>

Added: ANSA and other Italian news services are reporting that Knox made one of the spontaneous statements the Italian law allows her, and that the decision on a judge will take another five days. 

“I just wanted to defend myself”. So said Amanda Knox, back in court once more, this time for defamation. “I’m sorry that the matter has reached this point,’ said Amanda before the Court of Appeals in Perugia

The court will within another five days decide on the request of her defense team to replace the preliminary hearings judge, Claudia Matteini, for the trial of the Seattle student who is accused of slander against various police officers.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/17 at 06:17 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedThe judiciaryAmanda KnoxComments here (5)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Judges’ Sentencing Report Released In Perugia And It Is 427 Pages Long

Posted by Peter Quennell


Judge Massei is seen above on live TV from the court on the night he announced the verdict and sentence.

The sentencing report is four times the length of the Micheli report a year ago which itself was very detailed. It was made available to the media today on paper by the court in Perugia.

First take in the Italian media is by TGCom.

The judges of the Court of Assizes of Perugia lodged the grounds for the condemnation of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox for the murder of Meredith. All the issues raised in the process, it says, “demonstrate a comprehensive and unified whole, without gaps and inconsistencies”...  The reasons for conviction of two defendants are contained in a voluminous file. It is 427 pages signed by the President of the Court Giancarlo Massei and assessor Beatrice Christians.

The motive is described in the report as essentially the thrill of the moment in helping Rudy with a sexual attack and while there was a predisposition there was no longer term intention.

Drugs are seen as having played a role.

Sollecito and Knox are apparently seen in the report as the knife wielders and one of them seems to have delivered the fatal blow.

We will be obtaining the report of course and arriving at our own English-language version in the next several weeks.

RIP poor Meredith. This has to be so tough on her family and her friends. We love this photo below. So trusting and so full of life.



Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Italian Judge Ruling Is Tough But Fair In Another Case Involving Americans

Posted by Peter Quennell


We’ve seen no trace of anti-Americanism in the Perugia case, other than restrained reactions by prominent commentators to some strident anti-Italianism from the US.

Typically the two populations get along and like one another, they eagerly buy one another’s products, they visit one another’s countries in droves, and at the political level Italy and the US are very close allies.

So. Does the Italian judiciary perhaps have a covert beef against Americans?

We don’t see that one either. The main Americans that Italian judges see appearing in front of them are students, who seem to have quite a knack there for dropping themselves in it. We don’t post on all those cut-short escapades, but there are several a year reported, and we did post on two that happened in Florence.

All of the student cases are treated humanely, and the American Embassy in Rome is not kept particularly busy lecturing Italians on how to handle each case. Actually because of this case the Embassy keeps a very low profile. 

Judge Oscar Magi (image above) has now issued a 200-page explanation of his mainly-guilty ruling in the CIA kidnapping case. (This document is the equivalent of what we will see within a month on Meredith’s case.) 

Fearless, tough, and seemingly fair. The New York Times impartially reports.

The Italian secret service was most likely aware of, “and perhaps complicit in,” the abduction of an Egyptian cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003, a judge in Milan said Monday. But, he added, state secrecy prevented the court from proving this.

The statement by the judge, Oscar Magi, was part of a 200-page document explaining his reasoning behind the landmark November ruling that convicted 23 Americans, most of them Central Intelligence Agency operatives, of kidnapping the cleric. It was the first case to yield convictions in the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which terrorism suspects are captured in one country and taken to another, where they may be subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

Judge Magi convicted a former C.I.A. base chief and 22 other Americans of kidnapping in the abduction of an Egyptian cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on Feb. 17, 2003. Prosecutors said the cleric was taken from Milan in broad daylight and flown from an American air base in Italy to a base in Germany and then on to Egypt, where Mr. Nasr asserts he was tortured….

Judge Magi acquitted three Americans, citing diplomatic immunity, and two Italians, citing state secrecy. Tried in absentia, the other 23 Americans are considered fugitives and are sought under a European Union arrest warrant. Through their lawyers, they pleaded not guilty….

The Italian government is not expected to request extradition of the Americans, who are not expected to serve jail time. Still, the case marked the first time a judge in an allied country had placed C.I.A. agents on trial.

Judge Magi wrote that in 30 years as a penal judge, he had “very rarely” heard testimony “so precise, attentive and correct regarding such difficult and serious investigations,” adding that he had never seen a penal trial in which events had been reconstructed with such “certainty” and “such a degree of authority.”


Monday, January 18, 2010

An Improvement To The Old City of Perugia: The End Of Civilization As We Know It?!

Posted by Peter Quennell


Probably not.

The Italians are veritable geniuses at design, and all over Italy you can see the starkly ancient and the starkly modern working very well side-by-side.

Boutiques in the ancient city-center buildings throughout Italy are often stunning in their interior modernity. Some Perugia examples can be seen here and here.

And the mountain autostradas (see bottom shot here) swoop and swerve along through tunnels and over bridges, often hundreds of feet high, in a way that makes you want to keep driving forever.

Perugia already has one major modern project that looks really good, is extremely useful, and generates an enormous amount of fun. Namely this one.

And another project now in the works is a very long escalator from hard by Meredith’s house to the highest point in the city.

This solar structure above and below is over the Via Mazzini which connects the great Corso Vanucci and its larger piazza with the smaller piazza slightly below where the courthouse complex is located.

You can see the courthouse directly ahead in the shot above, and in the shot below the courthouse is directly behind.

The blue vans carrying the defendants to trial usually unload right here.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/18 at 08:34 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedThe judiciaryThe wider contextsComments here (0)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Explaining How The Italian Appeals Process Works And Why It Consumes So Much Time

Posted by Commissario Montalbano


Above is Vincenzo Carbone, Prime President of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation, addressing the Italian Supreme Court.

The appeal process in the Italian judicial system is disciplined by art. 593 et seq. of the Italian Code of Penal Procedure (CPP).

Both the defendant and the prosecution have the right to appeal a sentence, according to the principle of parity of the two parties in a judicial process. In 2006 a law passed by the Berlusconi government (known as “Pecorella Law”, from the name of his sponsor), intended to prohibit the right of appeal of the prosecutor, similarly to what happens in the US, however the Italian Constitutional Court struck down that law as unconstitutional since it is in violation of the parity of the two parties in the process, as explained above. As a result the CPP has been modified to reflect its original version.

It is to be noted however, that if only the defendant requests an appeal (and not the prosecution), then the appeal court can only confirm or decrease the sentence of the first trial, but not increase it.

Since Mignini has already said that they won’t appeal the case, Amanda and Raffaele are likely to see their jail sentence decreased by a few years, or at most confirmed, but not increased. Art. 575 of the Italian Penal Code however prescribes a minimum of 21 years for voluntary homicide.

The principle of “double jeopardy”, which is also guaranteed by Italian law and by the law of all members of the European Union as condition of membership, does not apply to the appeal trial, as such trial is interpreted as being a mere continuation of the same first trial. The double jeopardy principle will therefore apply only after the sentence is definitive, i.e. after the Supreme Court of Cassation decision. In other words if Amanda and Raffaele are found not guilty after all the appeals are exhausted, the Italian state will not be able to try them again in the future.

This characteristic is not unique to Italy, most European countries, in fact, apply the double jeopardy only after all appeals have exhausted, among these Germany and France, which also permit the appeal by the prosecution.

The competence of the appeal process is disciplined by art 594 of the CPP. Such article establishes that the Appeal Court of Assizes has jurisdiction over the sentences rendered by the Court of Assizes. The Court of Assizes is the court in Italy which tries serious crimes, that is those crimes for which the penal code provides a maximum punishment of at least 24 years.

In this case the Corte d’Assise d’Appello of Perugia will have jurisdiction over the case. However the defense may request a change of venue, if they can demonstrate just cause.

The terms of the request for appeal are disciplined by art. 595 of the CPP. Such article specifies, among other things, that the party requesting the appeal can do so within 15 days from the day the Sentence is communicated. If such sentence is particularly complex (as this case is) the judge can request that the “Motivazione della Sentenza”, often referred to in TJMK as the Judge’s Report, or be filed with the court within 90 days from the end of the trial. In this circumstance the terms to file an appeal is 45 days, instead of 15.

The Italian constitution requires that all sentences be accompanied by this Report, including appeal sentences. As we’ve seen with Judge Micheli’s Report on Rudy Guede’s trial, the Sentence Motivation Report must explain the entire rationale that the judges utilized to reach the decision. The lack of such report would invalidate the sentence.

Once one or more parties to the trial requests an appeal, within 15 days from the day such Motivation report is communicated, the competent court will then acquire all the documentation regarding the case. The court will then notifies all parties of the beginning of the hearing at least 20 days before the commencement day.

As mentioned above, the appeal process in Italy is a brand new trial where all evidence and testimony is analyzed in the same terms as the first trial. The standards are however higher. The president of the Appeal Court of Assizes is in fact a judge from the Supreme Court of Cassation (the members of the Supreme Court are actually called “Consiglieri”). The requisites for being one of the 6 jurors are also higher. They must be all holding a high school degree (in the first trial the minimum required is only a middle school education).



[Image Above: The Seat of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation, in the Hall of Justice in Rome, also known as “Il Palazzaccio” or the Ugly Palace].

The extraordinary broad appeal rights awarded by the Italian system are all part of the 1989 reform, which intended to add even more guarantees to the right of the accused. This has resulted in an incredible increase in pending cases in the overburdened Italian justice system. According to the latest report to Parliament by Justice Minister Angelo Alfano the pending cases in the Italian justice system at the end of 2006 amounted to nearly 9 million cases.

Over 5.4 million were civil cases, and over 3.3million criminal cases. Of these 3.3 million penal cases, over 1/3 were first trials, the rest were appeals. Compared to the rest of Europe Italy’s pending workload amounted to 3 times the one from France, over 6 times the one of Germany, and 5 times the one from Spain. The criminal cases pending in the first trial alone are 1.2 million, a figure twice as large as the one of Germany, Spain and England combined!

This situation, coupled with the fact that the number of Italian magistrates is about the same as other similar European countries, has resulted in an incredibly slow process. On average a criminal trial lasts 426 days in the first trial, and 730 days at the appeal trial, a duration much longer than any other EU country. The Perugia case was therefore faster than average, having lasted less than a year.

This situation is exacerbated by the broad appeal rights guaranteed also on the 2nd level of appeal, at the Supreme Court of Cassation. Like other supreme courts around the world, such court does not re-examine the entire body of evidence, but only “˜errores in iudicando’ and “˜errores in procedendo’ (errors in procedure or application of the law).

However, unlike its American or English counterparts, the Italian Supreme Court cannot refuse to review a case, and defendants have unlimited appeal rights to the Supreme Court of Cassation. They don’t even have to wait for the Appeal Court. You can in fact appeal to the Supreme Court directly after the first trial.

To give an idea of what this creates I’ll cite some figures. The US Supreme Court renders annually about 120 decisions. The Supreme Court in England about 75. The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation issues over 30,000 sentences every year!! No surprise then about the huge backlog, in spite of the fact that the Italian Supreme court consists of over 400 judges (called Consiglieri), divided into various sections (each of 5 consiglieri), all nominated by the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura (CSM), the Italian Magistrates’ self governing body explained in a previous post.

Besides the broad appeal rights granted by the Italian law, an ulterior incentive to appeal is given by the fact that Italy has a very high amendment rate during the appeal process. Approximately half of all sentences rendered in the first trial are amended during the appeal process, a percentage which is 3 times higher than France for example. The ones that are not amended often see a decrease in punishment.

No surprise therefore that Italians always appeal their sentences. And some analysts have even ventured to say that Italian appeal courts like to modify the sentences of the first trial just for the purpose of justifying their own existence.

Given these facts, coupled with the chronic lack of prison space, it shouldn’t be a surprise that in spite of the Cosa Nostra, the Camorra and N’drangheta (as the mafia is called in the various regions), Italy has maybe the absolute lowest prison population in the world in relationship to the total population.

Italy in fact has 66 inmates for every 1 million population, a figure matched only by Denmark, a country certainly not famous for their organized crime. By comparison, the US boasts a prison population of more than 750 inmates over 1 million inhabitants, a figure 12 times the one in Italy.

If Amanda and Raffaele really wanted to experience the thrill of committing a murder, Italy is definitely the place to do it, and get away with it!
 


[Image Above: Italian “Guardasigilli” (Justice Minister) Angelo Alfano]


Friday, November 13, 2009

Why The Italian Judiciary Is Probably Less Prone to Pressure Than Any Other In The World

Posted by Commissario Montalbano



Image above: The Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura in session

Some of the very best lawyers in the UK and USA and around the world are learning a lot about the Italian system by way of the Perugia trial - and are in many, many ways impressed.

Italian magistrates enjoy an extraordinary level of autonomy from the other powers of government (executive and legislative) and the point of this post is to explain why. This autonomy is above all due to the Italian constitutional framework.

That framework is intended to guarantee such an exceptional level of independence so as to avoid the abuses that occurred during Mussolini’s fascist regime, when Italian magistrates were forced by the executive to prosecute (and persecute) political opponents to the fascist dictator.

The source of such independence is set forth in Title IV of the Italian Constitution which in particular provides for an independent body [image at top here] which is called the “Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura” or C.S.M. (Superior Council of Magistrates). This is the self-governing body for Italy’s judiciary, and it comprises ordinary (civil and criminal) judges and prosecutors.

Its competence is based upon Articles 104 and 105 of the Italian Constitution, as well as several ordinary laws. Article 105 says that the C.S.M. is responsible for the hiring, training, assignments, transfers, promotions, appointments to the Supreme Court of Cassation, disciplinary actions and terminations of all Italian judges and prosecutors.

Article 104 opens with the statement: “Magistrates constitute an order autonomous and independent from any other power”. The article then proceeds to provide norms relating to the composition of such a self-governing body.

In order to guarantee the independence of magistrates and in accordance with the general principle of the balance of powers, the constitution establishes a mixed composition of the members of the CSM.

According to the constitution, two thirds of its components are in fact judges elected by all magistrates (judges and prosecutors) in special nationwide elections of the CSM (these are called “membri togati”, i.e. judicial members).

And one third is chosen by Parliament among law professors and attorneys with at least 15 years of experience (these are called “membri laici”, i.e. lay members). And in addition, there are three so called “˜De Jure’ members:

  • the President of the Republic, who is the President of the CSM
  • the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation
  • the General Prosecutor before the Supreme Court of Cassation

The CSM then elects the Vice President of the Council choosing among its lay members appointed by Parliament. The Vice President is the real acting President of the CSM, since the role of the President of the Republic is primarily symbolic. The current Vice President of the CSM is Nicola Mancino [image below} who is a former Speaker of the Italian Senate.



Image above: Nicola Mancino, Vice President of the C.S.M., addressing the Council

The constitution establishes the above mentioned proportions, but not the number of members. However a law passed in 2002 sets the number of elected members at 24. Therefore at present there are 16 members (all judges) elected by magistrates and 8 members appointed by Parliament. With the three “De Jure” members the total is therefore 27 members.

The position of member of the CSM is incompatible with that of legislators, therefore CSM members cannot be members of Parliament or members of the Regional Assemblies.

Art. 107 reiterates the extraordinary independence of magistrates (judges and prosecutors) by stating: “Magistrates are not removable. They may not be dismissed or suspended or transferred to other locations or functions if not after a decision of the CSM, adopted either for reasons and with the guarantees established by law or with the magistrate’s consent.”

Ordinary laws also confer other powers to the C.S.M. including the power of giving opinions to the Government and to Parliament on proposed laws affecting the order of magistrates and the judiciary in general.



Image above: Palazzo dei Marescialli in Rome. The Seat of the C.S.M.

The extraordinary independence of Italian magistrates, especially considering that Italy is probably the only country in the world where not even State prosecutors report to the executive power, has created a lot of tensions between magistrates and politicians.

The Italian Prime Minister, Mr Silvio Berlusconi, who is indicted and undergoing prosecution in over twenty separate cases, some of which already concluded (for bribing of judges, illegal campaign financing, tax evasion, fraudulent accounting) dating back to the time before he entered politics in 1994, has often accused magistrates of having proceeded against him for politically motivated reasons.

His pressures on the CSM to discipline those magistrates whom he alleges are politically motivated in their prosecutions against him, have not succeeded, and the CSM has always defended the actions of magistrates against the frequent attacks from the executive power and from the many politicians who are under investigation for corruption and other crimes.

Recently Mr Berlusconi’s coalition passed a law to guarantee immunity from prosecution to the four highest offices of the Republic, including that of the Prime Minister, but the Supreme Constitutional Court struck it down as unconstitutional.

Currently out of 945 Members of Parliament in the two houses, there are about two dozen convicted felons and over 70 more under investigation by Italian magistrates. They’re all holding to their seats very tightly, since all members of the Italian parliament are immune from arrest, if not from prosecution.

Pressure on this extremely powerful and immune judiciary has not worked where real heavy-handed political and media persuasion was attempted. Be assured, the judiciary in Perugia will take no notice of it at all.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moved By Italian Justice: Doing The Very Best It Can For Meredith And Her Poor Family

Posted by Hopeful

Crestfallen and broken, Amanda and Raffaele react in visible distress in the latest courtroom photos.

Amanda looks sad, smitten, perplexed, astounded, with anger not far under the veneer, yet overall truly sorrowful for the first time in 2 years. Raffaele is weeping as the court denies more evidence do-overs. He feels the weight of this blow.

These two are probably guilty, but it still makes me sad to see what prison can do to human beings. Why, oh why, couldn’t they have let Meredith live and simply enjoy her sweet life? Mercy to her would have been multiplied back to them so very many times over.

I believe Prosecutor Mignini and his assistant, Mrs. Comodi, and all the Perugia homicide cops want to see JUSTICE done above all.

Surely they take no pleasure in the misery that native-son Sollecito is undergoing. They had to arrest him to redress a huge evil. I’m sure they regret the repercussions this has meant to his father, a fine medical doctor, an upstanding citizen of Italy. Despite this, and America’s loud outcries, they have proceeded.

I think the Italian police and prosecutors have acted with more intense caution and discretion in handling the evidence against Amanda because of her U.S. citizenship. I don’t think this is a case of two innocents being railroaded.

If the Italian police had wanted to score points politically, they could have closed the case after the arrest and conviction of Rudy Guede. The police saw undeniable proof to their practiced eyes that Amanda and Raffaele were very guilty.

And I don’t think forensic scientist Patrizia Stefanoni of the Polizia Scientifica in Rome is in the prosecution’s back pocket. I believe she acted in good faith. Patient and careful analysis of forensic lab samples requires real intelligence and excludes quick passion.

“To Be or Not To Be”. Methinks Amanda does look a little Danish.

It wasn’t fish blood or cat’s blood or pierced ear blood on their hands, it was the blood of honor. Meredith was defenseless in a foreign land. She was a great asset to her own family, to the Erasmus program, to Italy, and eventually to the world. She deserves the best efforts of her host country, and she’s receiving them here.

It now feels like justice is not only happening here - it’s convincingly SEEN to be happening. We all owed you this one, sweet Meredith. May you rest in peace.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Significance of This Small Italian Town To The Case?

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image]

Bevagna, a little village about half an hour south of Perugia.

This is where the presiding judge for the trial Judge Giancarlo Massei comes from.

A quiet enough place for maybe 350 days of the year. But on those other few days, late in June, the most famous medieval festival in Italy, Mercato delle Gaite, takes place.

One description in Italian. A quick translation here.

The Mercato delle Gaite is the most important re-enactment of medieval life that takes place in Italy. The name is inspired by the division of Bevagna into four districts (gaite appunto).

Along the narrow streets and in the picturesque corners, the entire population of this charming town is trained in works of crafts, runs markets typical of the period, and operates taverns where you can taste dishes prepared according to the ancient medieval recipes.

The evocation is enhanced with shows, concerts, exhibitions and conferences, along with archery to cheer up the already lively evenings. Drawing inspiration from the practices described in ancient documents, medieval Bevagna evokes an atmosphere of crafts, sounds and movements largely forgotten today.

In the small shops there are are pastry makers, potters and blacksmiths and dyers, and other skilled craftsmen.

There are also banquets and races, and the medieval seminars sound like very serious stuff. There is not much about it in English but the festival does have a new Facebook page here.

It sounds like something that Meredith would have really enjoyed.











And below, here is one of the many YouTubes on the Mercato delle Gaite festival in Italian.

 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/15 at 05:21 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedThe judiciaryComments here (0)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Presiding Judge Giancarlo Massei Is Reported To Be Unwell

Posted by Peter Quennell



[click for larger image]

The kindly but very sharp Judge Massei apparently has contracted pneumonia.

We wish him well. He is winning high praise for conducting a fair and very careful trial.

Court sessions are canceled for the rest of this week, and possibly for next week as well, which would mean the next trial session would be on September 14.

Below: Judge Massei and the jury at Meredith’s house 18 April. And Italy-based Andrea Vogt has a good overview of where things stand in the case right now.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/09 at 01:35 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedThe judiciaryTrials 2008 & 2009Comments here (1)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Newsweek’s Reporter Cam: All Stand! Judges And Jury Enter The Court

Posted by Peter Quennell

The two judges and six jurors take their places in court last Friday.

The start button of this video is on the left, and the sound button is on the right There appears to be no way to full-screen it.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/09 at 04:22 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedThe judiciaryTrials 2008 & 2009Comments here (0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Impressive Public Push In Italy, Anti Crime, Pro Stronger Justice System

Posted by Peter Quennell


Four months ago now, Nicki presented us with this very enlightening picture of Italian justice.

Two of the important conclusions of Nicki’s piece relevant to the case in Perugia:

  • The Italian system of justice is not only fair and cautious, it is painstakingly so, almost to the n’th degree.
  • Prosecutors do not have an easy time of it, and they have to clear hurdle after hurdle to make their case.

The system may not be ripe for any great changes, but the Italian public certainly seems to be favoring law and order.

Now there’s been a huge anti-Mafia turnout in Naples. Click above for the BBC’s report.

 


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Italian Taxpayers To Alleviate Some Pain Of False Accusation Of Murder

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the details.

Apparently Patrick was hoping for more. We’re happy that he got something, poor guy. His suit against Knox is the real one to come.

Collateral damage of the night in question just ripples on and on.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Patrick Lumumba Seeks Damages For His Time In The Big House

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for the story.

Knox is being tried on a charge of calunnia for her false implication of Patrick (see an explanation of calunnia at bottom). Patrick was of course the owner of the Le Chic bar, now closed because of the heap of trouble that his former waitress Amanda Knox dropped on his head.

He was held in Capanne Prison for about two weeks as a suspect, after she alleged (voluntarily, in writing) that she had seen him in the house on the night of the crime. And heard Meredith’s screams as he committed the murder.

Might he perhaps not have been so ticked if she had recanted the accusation any time in the next two weeks? Maybe. Maybe not. But Knox might easily have done. Nobody was pressuring her to do otherwise.

This seems an open-and-shut case. The evidence is all there. So Knox lives and learns. We hope.

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”Ÿs 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.

 


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Understanding Micheli #4: The Faked Crime Scene - Who Returned To Move Meredith?

Posted by Brian S




1. Where We Stand

Just to recap. Judge Micheli presided over Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing and the final hearing that committed Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox to trial.

Late January he made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. These posts are examining key areas of the report so that we too may decide on the rationales.

2. The Final Position Of The Body

Why this matters so much is that if the evidence holds firm, all by itself it will prove that there was a major rearrangement of the crime scene, to try to throw investigators off the trail.

This is as near to an 80,000 pound gorilla in the room as we are likely to see in this trial. And it may even be on the trial agenda for this coming Friday and Saturday.

Reports by the crime-scene investigators and Dr Lalli are summarised in Judge Micheli’s report. They describe the detail of the scene discovered in Meredith’s room. The investigators measured and photographed the position and state of everything, including blood, as it was in the room before anything was moved.

Amongst the items noted was a white bra. Some parts were soaked in blood, particularly the right shoulder strap and the outside of the left cup. They also noted that a portion of the backstrap with its clasp fixings was missing. Meredith herself was lying on her back midway between the wardrobe and the bed, without her jeans, a pillow under her buttocks and her top rolled up to reveal her chest.

Following this survey, Meredith’s body was then turned and moved by the investigators. This revealed the other items on which her body had lain. A tennis shoe, a white sheet from the bed and a blue zipped top, all with blood stains. Also a green bath towel and an ivory bath towel, both soaked in blood, and underneath the pillow was the missing clasp section of the bra back-strap.

Judge Micheli notes that Amanda’s defence claimed that “the small round spots of blood” apparent on Meredith’s chest indicated that she was not wearing her bra when she was killed. He agreed that it was likely that these spots fell from Meredith’s gasps for breath as she lay on her back after she had been stabbed. However, he could not agree with their conclusion that her bra had been removed before this time, as similar small round spots were also found on Meredith’s bra.

Micheli reasoned that this indicated that Meredith was still wearing her bra as she gasped for breath, but that her top was rolled up and the bra moved also. Thus indicating the sexual nature of the original attack, but also allowing the small round spots to fall on both chest and bra. Furthermore, other blood evidence involving the bra indicated that it wasn’t removed until some time after Meredith had died.

He said that Meredith’s bra was found by investigators away from other possible blood contamination on the floor, near to her feet. Photographs of Meredith’s body show clear white areas where the bra prevented blood from falling onto Merediths body. These white areas corresponded to those areas where blood was found on her bra. This was particularly true in the area of the right shoulder strap which was soaked from the wound to Meredith’s neck.

Micheli said that evidence showed that Meredith had lain on one shoulder near the wardrobe. She lay in that position long enough for the imprint of her shoulder and bra strap to remain fixed in the pool of blood after she was moved to the position in which her body was finally found. Photographs of blood on her shoulder matched the imprint by the wardrobe and her shoulder itself also showed signs that she had remained in that position for some time.

Based on all this, Judge Micheli concluded that there could be no doubt that Meredith’s body was moved away from the wardrobe and her bra removed quite some time after her death.

Neighbor Nara Capezzali had testified that people fled from the cottage within a minute of Meredith’s final scream. There was no time for any alteration of the crime scene in those very few moments.

Judge Micheli asks in his report, who could have returned later and faked the scene which was found? Who later moved Meredith’s body and cut off her bra? He reasons it could only be someone who had an interest in changing what would become a crime scene found at the cottage. Who else but someone who lived there, and who wanted to mislead the coming investigation?

It couldn’t have been Laura, she was in Rome. It couldn’t have been Filomena, she was staying with her boyfriend. It was very unlikely that it was Rudy Guede, all proofs of his presence were left untouched.

The culprits ran from the cottage in different directions and there is no reason to believe they met up again before some or one of them returned. Judge Micheli stated that, in his opinion, this just left Knox who would seem to have an interest in arranging the scene the police would find.

Bloody footprints made visible with luminol in Filomena’s room contain Meredith’s DNA. This indicated to Judge Micheli that the scene in Filomena’s room was also faked after Meredith was killed.

In Micheli’s opinion the scene in Meredith’s room was probably faked to point the finger at Rudy Guede. All evidence related to him was left untouched, and the pillow with a partial palm print was found under Meredith’s repositioned body.

But whoever later arranged that scene in Meredith’s room also unwittingly indicated their own presence at the original sexual assault. Who else could have known that by staging an obvious rape scene, they would inevitably point the investigators towards Rudy’s DNA which they knew could be found in Meredith?

Micheli asks: Seemingly, who else could it have been but Amanda Knox? And this in part is why she was committed to trial, for her defense to contend this evidence.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Understanding Micheli #2: Why Judge Micheli Rejected The Lone-Wolf Theory

Posted by Brian S


And so decided that Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox should face trial.

First, just to recap: Judge Micheli presided over both Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing to 30 years and the final hearing that committed the two present defendants to trial.

Ten days ago, Judge Micheli made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. This is a public document, and in the enviable Italian legitimizing process, the public is encouraged to get and read the report and to understand the full rationales. Excellent analyses have already appeared in Italian in Italy, but no English-speaking sources on the facts of the case have either put the report into English or published more than the most superficial analysis.

These posts are examining several very key areas of the report so that we too may choose whether to buy into the rationales. The translations into English used here were by native-Italian speakers and fellow posters Nicki and Catnip.

Right at the outset of his Sentence Report on the conviction of Rudy Guede, Judge Micheli stated that it was neither the place nor his intention to make the case against either Raffaele Sollecito or Amanda Knox. He said he must necessarily involve them to the extent that they were present at the discovery of Meredith’s body. He said he must also examine evidence against them where he saw it as indicating that Rudy Guede was not a lone wolf killer and implicated them as his possible accomplices in Meredith’s murder.

Judge Micheli described the sequence of events laid out by the prosecution which lead to the discovery of Meredith’s body:

Early on the morning of November 2nd, Signora Lana Biscarini received a bomb threat call made to her home at 5A Via Sperandio. (This later transpired to be a hoax.)

Some time later Signora Biscarini found a mobile phone in her garden. She “had heard” that bombs could be concealed in mobile phones and so she took it to the police station arriving at 10:58am as recorded by ISP. Bartolozzi

The postal police examined the phone and following removal of the SIM card, discovered at 11:38am that it belonged to a Filomena Romanelli who lived at the cottage at 7 Via della Pergola. Following a call by Signora Biscarini to check with her daughter who was still at home, it is in the record at 11:50am that neither say they know the Filomena in question. At around noon Signora Biscarini’s daughter rings her mother at the police station to say she has found a second phone.

The second phone (Meredith’s) is collected from Via Sperandio and taken to the police station. Its receipt there is logged by ISP. Bartolozzi at 12:46pm. During its examination Meredith’s phone is also logged as connecting to the cell of Strada Borghetto di Prepo, which covers the police station, at 13:00pm. At 13:50pm both phones, which have never left the police station following their finding, are officially seized. This seizure is entered in the log at 14:00pm.

Separately, as part of the bomb hoax investigation, agents of the postal police are dispatched to make enquiries at Filomena’s address in Via della Pergola.

They are recorded in the log and filmed on the car park camera as arriving at 12:35pm. They were not in possession of Filomena’s phone, which remained at the police station, nor of Meredith’s which at this time was being taken from Via Sperandio to the police station for examination as part of the bomb hoax enquiry.

Judge Micheli said that some confusion was created by the evidence of Luca Altieri (Filomena’s boyfriend) who said he saw two mobile phones on the table at the cottage. But, Micheli said, these two phones either belonged to the others who arrived, the postal police themselves or Amanda and Raffaele. They were NOT the phones of Filomena or Meredith.

On their arrival at the cottage, the agents of the postal police found Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox standing outside the front door.

The two seemed surprised to see them (the postal police had come to talk to Filomena about a bomb hoax which potentially involved her phone, plus they had recently been informed of the discovery of second phone in the same garden), but then they explained they had discovered suspicious circumstances inside the cottage.

Raffaele said he had already phoned the police and they were awaiting their arrival in connection with that. Elsewhere in his report Micheli points out that Raffaele did, in fact, make a call to his sister at 12:50pm, followed by two calls to “112” reporting a possible burglary at 12:51 and 12:54pm, 15 minutes after the arrival of the postal agents.

Judge Micheli said the postal police were shown into the cottage by Raffaele and Amanda. They pointed out the traces of blood around the apartment, the state of the toilet and the disturbance to Filomena’s room. They said they didn’t think anything had been taken. They pointed out that Meredith’s door appeared to be locked, Raffaele said he had tried to open it, but Amanda said Meredith used to lock the door even when she was going to the bathroom to shower.

Shortly afterwards Luca Altieri and Marco Zaroli arrived. Luca said he had just been contacted by his girlfriend Filomena, who in turn had just been contacted by Amanda Knox about the possible break in. A few minutes later, Filomena herself arrived with Paola Grande. Micheli noted that Filomena had immediately contradicted what Amanda had told the postal police and she said that Meredith never locked her door. She also told the postal police that the phone found with a SIM card in her name was in fact Meredith’s 2nd phone, that she had given Meredith the SIM as a present. The postal police said that they didn’t have the authority to damage property and so the decision was made that Luca would break down the door.

This he did. The scene when the door flew open was instantly obvious, blood everywhere and a body on the floor, hidden under a duvet except for a foot and the top of Meredith’s head. At that point ISP Battistelli instantly took charge. He closed the door and forbade anyone to enter the room before contacting HQ.

Following his description of the events which lead to the discovery of Meredith’s body, Micheli then dedicates quite a few pages of his report to detailing the exact locations, positions, descriptions and measurements of all the items, blood stains, pools and spots etc.etc. found in her room when the investigators arrived. He also goes into precise details on the injuries, marks, cuts and bruises etc. which were found by Lalli when he examined Meredith’s body in situ at the cottage before she was moved. Despite their extent, it is obvious these details are only a summary of the initial police report and also a report made by Lalli on the 2nd November.

It is these details which allowed the prosecution to lay out their scenario for the events which they say must have happened in the room. It is also these details which convince Micheli that it was impossible for this crime to be carried out by a single person. In his report, he dismisses completely the scenarios presented by the defences of Amanda and Raffaele for a “lone wolf killing”. Micheli says that he is convinced that Meredith was sexually assaulted and then murdered by multiple attackers.

Judge Micheli also explains in his report how the law will decide on sexual assault or rape where the medical report (as was Lalli’s) is somewhat inconclusive. Else there would be no point in a woman reporting rape unless she had serious internal injuries. His conclusion: Meredith was raped by Rudy Guede manually.

So why does Judge Micheli believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollicto were possible accomplices of Rudy Guede and should be tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher?

In his report, he doesn’t look at the evidence which involves just them, nor does he analyze their various stories in his report. He doesn’t look at events involving them which occurred between the 2nd and 5th November. He does note a few items here and there, but these aren’t given as the major reasons for his decision to indict them.

He notes Raffaele’s apparent lies about the time he made the 112 phone calls. He dismisses Raffaele’s defense claim that the disposal of Meredith’s phones didn’t allow time for Raffaele to get to the cottage after watching his film, kill Meredith, and then dispose of the phones in Via Sperandio before the aborted call to Meredith’s bank. He noted that the cell which picked up the brief 10:13 call to Meredith’s bank also picked up most of Meredith’s calls home.

He asked whether it was possible for anybody to believe that each time Meredith wanted to phone home, she walked down to Via Sperandio to make the call. He notes that the police found Amanda and Raffaele’s behaviour suspicious almost straight away. He notes that Filomena said that the relationship between Amanda and Meredith had deteriorated by October. He says he doesn’t believe at all that cannabis caused any loss of Amanda’s and Raffaele’s memories.

Judge Micheli says he bases his decision on the following points of evidence:

[Note: The following paragraph numbers form no part of Micheli’s report. They are used in the context of this summary to identify the points of evidence contained in his report which will be examined and summarised in greater detail in follow-up posts]

1) Judge Micheli, after hearing both prosecution and defense arguments about Meredith’s and Amanda’s DNA on the knife and Raffaele’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, accepted the prosecution argument that that both were valid evidence. He did note, however, that he fully expected that the same argument would be heard again at the full trial. In his report, Micheli dedicates several pages to explaining the opposing arguments and how he made his decision to allow the evidence. It is a detailed technical argument, and it is not proposed to examine it any closer in this post.

2) Judge Micheli explains that blood evidence proves that Meredith was wearing her bra when she was killed. Nor is it just the blood on her bra which demonstrates this. It’s also where the blood isn’t on her body. He says that Meredith was wearing her bra normally when she laid in the position in which she died, and she was still wearing it for quite some time after she was dead. Her bra strap marks and the position of her shoulder are imprinted in the pool of blood in that position. Meredith’s shoulder also shows the signs that she lay in that position for quite some time.

He asks the question: Who came back, cut off Meredith’s bra and moved her body some time later? It wasn’t Rudy Guede. He went home, cleaned himself up and went out on the town with his friends. Judge Micheli reasons in his report that it could only have been done by someone who knew about Meredith’s death and had an interest in arranging the scene in Meredith’s room. Seemingly who else but Amanda Knox?

She was apparently the only person in Perugia that night who could gain entry to the cottage. And the clasp which was cut with a knife when Meredith’s bra was removed was found on November 2nd when Meredith’s body was moved by the investigators. It was right under the pillow which was placed under Meredith when she was moved by someone from the position in which she died. On that clasp and its inch of fabric is the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. Micheli reasons in his report that Raffaele and Amanda seemed to have returned to the cottage some time after Meredith was dead, cut off her bra, moved her body, and staged the scene in Meredith’s room.

3) Judge Micheli explains his reasoning on the method of Rudy’s entry into the cottage. He says that Rudy’s entry through the window is a very unlikely scenario and the evidence also indicates otherwise. He says the height and position of the window would expose any climber to the full glare of traffic headlights from cars on Via della Pergola. He asks, why wouldn’t a thief choose to break in through a ground floor window of the empty house? He says the broken glass and marks on the shutter both demonstrate the window was broken from the inside, some of the glass even falling on top of Filomena’s clothes which had been thrown around the room to simulate a robbery.

But his major reasoning for believing Rudy’s entry was through the front door are the bloody bare footprints which show up with luminol and fit Knox’s and Sollecito’s feet. These suggest that they entered Filomena’s room and created the scene in there after Meredith was killed. Allessandra Formica witnessed Rudy run away shortly after Meredith was stabbed. Someone went back later, left those footprints and staged the scene.

This, when considered in combination with the knowledge that person demonstrated of Rudy’s biological involvement with Meredith when they also staged the sex assault scene in Meredith’s own room indicates that that person was present when Meredith was assaulted and killed. He said it also demonstrated an attempt by someone who had an interest in altering the evidence in the house to leave the blame at Rudy’s door. Micheli reasoned, the only person who could have witnessed Rudy’s earlier sex assault on Meredith, could gain entry via the door and had an interest in altering the crime scene in the house appeared to be Amanda Knox. In his report, Micheli states that this logic leads him to believe that Amanda Knox was the one who let Rudy Guede into the cottage through the front door.

4) Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Antonio Curatolo. He says that although Curatolo mixes up his dates in his statement, he does have a fix on the night he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana sometime around 11:00 to 11:30pm. Curatolo is certain it was the night before the Piazza filled up with policemen asking if anyone had seen Meredith. In his evidence, he says they came into the square from the direction of Via Pinturicchio and kept looking towards the cottage at Via della Pergola from a position in the square where they could see the entrance gate.

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

5) Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Hekuran Kokomani and finds him far from discredited. His says the testimony is garbled, his dates and times makes no sense but…. that Hekuran Kokomani was in the vicinity of the cottage on both 31st Oct. and 1st Nov isn’t in doubt. Furthermore, Micheli says that when he gave his statement, the details which he gave of the breakdown of the car, the tow truck and the people involved weren’t known by anyone else. He must have witnessed the breakdown in Via della Pergola. The same breakdown was also seen by Allessandra Formica shortly after Rudy Guede collided with her boyfriend.

This places Hekuran Kokomani outside the cottage right around the time of Meredith’s murder and he in turn places Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda Knox and Rudy Guede together outside the cottage at the same time. His evidence also places all three outside the cottage at some time the previous night.

Judge Michelii found that all this evidence implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as accomplices of Rudy Guede in the murder of Meredith Kercher.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Judge’s Report On Guede Sentence Suggests Roles Of Knox And Sollecito

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


Seems rather a bombshell for the remaining two defendants. A shapeshifter, even.

Last October, Judge Micheli [bottom here] released a summary rationale of his verdict and sentencing of Guede. And last night, the judge released his full report on the rationale.

Richard Owen of the London Times [above] seems the only reporter so far to have read all 106 pages - how we wish American coverage could achieve this superb level. Some excerpts:

Judge Paolo Micheli, releasing a report on his reasons for sentencing Rudy Guede, 22, to 30 years in prison in October for his part in the murder, said the killing was “a group crime”. Guede had not himself cut Ms Kercher’s throat. But there was “cast iron proof” that he had taken part in the murder, even if he did not strike the “mortal blow”.

Under Italian law a judge has to outline the “motivation” behind his verdict. Unlike Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito, Guede… opted for a “fast track” trial in the hope of a reduced sentence.

Judge Micheli was also the pre-trial judge who in October said there was enough evidence against Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito for them to be sent for trial. The prosecution alleges that Guede tried to sexually assault Ms Kercher while Mr Sollecito held her down and Ms Knox toyed with a knife against her throat, which she then used to stab her. Judge Micheli said he accepted that there was “complicity” between the assailants, but said some aspects of the prosecution reconstruction were “fantasy”.

Reconstructing the crime in his 106-page report, Judge Micheli said the first blow was struck at Ms Kercher while she was standing up. He said she was killed because she refused to take part in a sexual game which “escalated into violence and got out of control”.

Judge Micheli said Guede was “a liar” and there were “no extenuating circumstances”. “Even someone who wanted to believe him would find it impossible,” the judge wrote. He added: “It is credible that Guede entered the house because he was let into it by someone else, and that someone could only be Amanda Knox.”

He said there had been an “agreed plan” to satisfy “sexual instincts” which ended in “murderous intent”. Guede had continued to try to assault Ms Kercher sexually even when a knife was produced and even when the knife “sank deeper into her neck” the judge said. Guede had not completed the sexual act only because of Ms Kercher’s “screams of pain and fear”.

The prosecution in the trial of Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito alleges that Ms Knox arranged for Guede, who had made clear that he was attracted to Ms Kercher and wanted to have sex with her, to come to the cottage when she knew her flatmate was there.

Judge Micheli said the statements Guede, who fled to Germany after the murder, had made following his arrest and extradition to Italy were “nothing more than a colossal accumulation of contradictions and attempts to throw investigators off the track”.

In his haste to flee, Guede had bumped into a couple near the cottage who had testified to police, the judge said. Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito meanwhile had been seen at a square above the cottage by a homeless man, and apparently waited there “to see if police arrived”, the judge said.

He said that because of “complicity” between the three, Guede had “never once mentioned the name Amanda” until late into the inquiry, when he said he had heard Ms Knox’s voice at the door and seen a man “resembling” Mr Sollecito….

Judge Micheli said Guede had had “no intention of saving” Ms Kercher’s life as she lay bleeding to death. He noted that neighbours had testified that they clearly heard a woman screaming in agony inside the cottage late at night.

In his defence Guede had claimed that he was in the bathroom with stomach pains when Ms Kercher was murdered. The judge said this was untrue.

So it seems Meredith was set-up. Tortured. Stabbed, many times. And abandoned. Walked out on, when she still could have been saved. Savagery incarnate.

Poor Meredith. Poor poor Meredith. How very much sadness you evoke.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Trial: Reuters Shot Of The Courtroom, Getty Shot Of Lead Judge

Posted by Peter Quennell

Click for larger images. The defendants were not yet present.

These may the last shots of the courtroom and judge for a while. Still cameras and TV cameras have just been reported as banned from the courtroom.

The press will be present except during the most sensitive passages. Audio recordings may at times be allowed.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/16 at 04:22 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The officially involvedThe judiciaryTrials 2008 & 2009Comments here (0)

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