Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Andrea Vogt Has A Long Cool Take In The Seattle PI On Where Things Stand

Posted by Peter Quennell

Please click above for the report. This one is highly worth reading in full.

Apart from the highlights quoted below, the report touches on Amanda Knox, now semi-resigned in her cell, on the very extensive nature of the evidence, and on the pro-defendant stance of the Italian justice system.

Italian reactions to the commentaries of Timothy Egan and others not very immersed in the evidence are also reported on.

According to Andrea Vogt, in many ways, things are not, at least not yet, so very different from before. The campaign goes on, if now sensibly a lot more subdued.

We do however continue to see large numbers coming by TJMK to read here at length (especially now from Seattle) and according to our emails the shock-factor of the actual evidence is often quite considerable.

And the judges’ long and very detailed judgment report out early next March at the latest may prove to be a definitive bottom line, as Judge Micheli’s report was after the Rudy Guede trial.

It is that objective and exhaustive judgment statement that will define what the appeal is about.

1) On Italian reactions to the charges of anti-Americanism

On Monday, another salvo was fired at Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., from Italy as the Italian president of the Italy-USA Foundation, an association that works closely with the U.S. Embassy in Rome, released a statement on the foundation’s website describing his Sunday prison visit with Knox and harshly criticizing Cantwell’s comments about the Italian justice system.

“I believe it is out of place to insert anti-Americanism, as stated by American Sen. Maria Cantwell, into a situation like this that can be easily exploited,” wrote Rocco Girlanda, president of the Italy-USA Foundation, in a news release posted on the foundation’s website. “In my opinion it would have been more correct to avoid creating controversy or alleged affairs of the state that are totally outside the official declarations of the parties and of their respective governments.”...

On Monday, Cantwell’s spokeswoman did not repeat the complaints that the senator has made but said her office will continue to monitor the Knox case….

Cantwell’s questioning the fairness of the Italian justice system has raised the ire of many on this side of the Atlantic….The handful of American journalists inside the courtroom regularly attending the trial did not witness the “anti-Americanism” of which Cantwell spoke.

2) What really mattered to the jury in their deliberations and the length of the sentence

Jurors said they believed the forensic evidence, as reported last spring here and here and not the defense’s attempts to dismiss the evidence at trial and during closing arguments.

The forensic evidence was presented in open court and subject to cross-examination and robust debate. Legal scholars say Knox is lucky she didn’t get a longer sentence….

The jurors, polled and interviewed after the verdict, said they were not split on the question of innocence or guilt but rather on the question of whether she should get life in prison or less.

3) An Italian expert on the justice system notes that this was a fair trial

“This is the simplest and fairest criminal trial one could possibly think of in terms of evidence,” said Stefano Maffei, lecturer in criminal procedure at the University of Parma.

“There were 19 judges who looked at the facts and evidence over the course of two years, faced with decisions on pre-trial detention, review of such detention, committal to trial, judgment on criminal responsibility. They all agreed, at all times, that the evidence was overwhelming.”

The court’s sentence of Knox and Sollecito was mild, Maffei said, with the jury taking into account the facts of the crime along with her clean criminal record.

He noted that a similar reduction in sentence did not happen with co-defendant Rudy Guede, even though he agreed to a fast-track trial, which reduced his sentence from life to 30 years.

4) The very extensive nature of the evidence presented.

Often lost in the debate over Knox’s guilt is the evidence presented at trial. Some of it was strongly disputed, and some likely forgotten by those in America trying to keep up on a trial that took place a couple of days a week over several months with long breaks of no proceeding at all.

Jurors, interviewed after the verdict, said they were convinced by the forensic evidence and were unanimous on the question of guilt or innocence, though they made a point of noting they did not believe Kercher’s murder was premeditated.

[In Andrea Vogt’s full report in the Seattle PI (click through above) there follows an excellent bullet-point list of the evidence.]

5) The many pro-defendant protections built into the Italian justice system

For historical and political reasons unique to Italy, the country has a justice system with an extraordinary number of protections for the accused, more than many other European nations.

“These criticisms we are hearing from the United States are so strange,” said Stefania Carnevale, an assistant professor of criminal procedural law and prisoner’s rights at the University of Ferrara.

“They leave me perplexed because the critique seems to be about the behavior of the police or the prosecutor or small details of this single trial, not the system as a whole. If there are errors in a trial, the Italian system has rigorous checks and balances in place to correct such mistakes, and guarantee an appeal.”

Knox may have a number of salient points on which to base her appeal, most notably several pieces of contested forensic evidence and the fact that she was questioned without an attorney present despite being treated as a suspect by Perugian police.

The presumption of innocence is so strong in Italy that under criminal procedural law, Knox is still not considered a convicted murderer, and won’t be, until she has been found guilty through all phases of the process: Court of Assize, where the jury just made a decision; the Appellate Court of Assize; and the Court of Cassation.


it all makes sense to me now.  toward the end of andrea’s piece, it is noted that amanda’s family will decline to do interviews with networks whose reporting tends to show a bias against amanda.  that explains why they have been on geraldo’s program, larry king’s program, etc. .  networks whose journalists appear to be searching for the truth are considered biased against amanda by the knox family.  interesting.

Posted by gramjan on 12/15/09 at 05:22 PM | #

Andrea Vogt’s excellent article contains some new information.

It seems that Raffaele Sollecito repeated his completely fictitious story about accidentally pricking Meredith with a knife whilst cooking to his family:

“At one point, in intercepted prison conversations with his family about the knife found with Kercher’s DNA, Sollecito suggested he may have accidentally cut Kercher’s finger with a knife once while cooking fish.”

This is further irrefutable proof that Sollecito is a calculating liar. This lie, like so many of his lies, cannot be attributed to confusion or stress.

There can no doubt that the break-in was staged:

“Prosecutors showed photographs of shattered glass on top of scattered clothes, in an attempt to convince the jury that the room had been turned upside down first, then that a rock had been thrown through the window.”

Posted by The Machine on 12/15/09 at 09:35 PM | #

The Machine wrote: “This is further irrefutable proof that Sollecito is a calculating liar. This lie, like so many of his lies, cannot be attributed to confusion or stress.”

I completely agree. Was this the first time RS mentioned pricking Meredith’s finger whilst cooking? It’s been mentioned many times before. Did he say this in his original statement to police and then repeat it in the intercepted prison conversation or is this the original context of the finger pricking story?

The fact that he goes on the defensive about this piece of DNA lends credence to the idea that the knife was almost certainly used to injure Meredith. The fact he tries to explain it only testifies as to its significance.

Also why the extra detail about fish? Surely if he really had pricked Meredith’s finger it wouldn’t really matter what he’d been using the knife for previously. Too much detail is the hallmark of a liar. If this really had happened at any point I’m sure Knox would have remembered and parroted it as an excuse for the damning DNA evidence against her.

Some questions remain, though I doubt any lawyer will ever be able to ask them as RS has repeatedly invoked his right to silence and will probably continue to do so:

Can anyone here imagine Meredith even being around for one of Knox and Sollecito’s cooking sessions? It seems most of their cooking was done at Raffaele’s apartment.

If they’d really been cooking at the cottage why wasn’t more evidence of Knox and Sollecito’s DNA and fingerprints found in the kitchen?

Who can’t even keep control of a knife when they are cutting a piece of fish?

Why would Meredith’s hand get anywhere near a knife when Raffaele was cutting fish?

So many questions. I think the most relevant is questions probably: Why Raffaele, do you always make things unequivocally worse for yourself when you open your mouth?

Posted by Miss Represented on 12/15/09 at 09:58 PM | #

Andrea is always a good read and this article is exceptional and comprehensive.  She’s a straight shooter with concrete facts.

Posted by Professor Snape on 12/16/09 at 11:04 AM | #

Miss R,
Sollecito first mentioned the knife-pricking incident in his prison diary.

Re Andrea Vogt’s excellent article: It provides an excellent overview for those who have not been following the case until now, and a necessary corrective for those whose only source of information has been the major networks in America. In fact, it should be sent to every journalist who has been “covering” this case from a comfy anchor’s chair in New York, using the FOA press kit as background material, and striking backroom deals with the PR firm agreeing to refrain from inviting biased (read objective and informed) journalists in exchange for access to “approved” family and friends of the convicted American.
In my opinion, the PR-driven effort to control and shape the spin and forge “brand Amanda Knox” is emerging as the real story behind the brutal murder of Meredith Kercher.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 12/16/09 at 06:04 PM | #

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