Saturday, November 20, 2021

Tip For Good Reporters: NY Times’s Jessica Bennett Uses Mafia Playbook To Smear Dr Mignini

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters

Respected NY Times Publisher A G Sulzberger

This is the sixth in a multi-part series focused on provable realities in response to an inflammatory three-page report in the New York Times almost exclusively channeling dishonest and repeatedly-refuted Knox PR.

1. The False NY Times Report

This post explains the background to the periodic demonization of any Italian prosecutors and judges the mafias are running scared of.

Two individuals long under a cloud for their mafia ties (Spezi is passed on now and Sforza - still wanted for a crime of violence in Seattle - is feigning invisibility) spread the false claim years ago that Dr Mignini was pursuing them (he wasn’t at the time but however) because he simply imagined that they were into something satanic.

Now the New York Times’s Jessica Bennett, one of a line of strange women in media seriously confused on the facts who have popped up to make Knox their own (more on this later), is unearthing and repeating as hard fact this false satanic claim.

What they likely do remember are the more salacious details of a Halloween murder in a picturesque medieval town: the prosecution’s theory about a satanic sex game gone awry.

On the “satanic” see below. On the “sex game gone wrong” this was actually a decent proffer by the prosecution in early days, because the recreation of the crime did in fact suggest a hazing with sexual overtones, and the legal teams were buying in to it. But the parents insisted on a hard line instead.

Foolishly as it turned out: all three perps were handed stiff sentences and all three looked brutal in Italian eyes. All three were CONVICTED of a sex crime. Jessica Bennett doesn’t try to explain that - as she doesn’t try to explain the arcs of Sollecito, or the lawyers, or the juries, or the many prosecutors and judges in the case. Or the three bent courts.

2. Dr Mignini’s 2013 “Satanic” Rebuttal

This is what the New York Times, given some actual fact checking, could very easily have found out. It was not the first or last time that Dr Mignini explained this.

To the editor of Florence Corriere

Dear Director,

I am Giuliano Mignini, the magistrate who performed the investigation and trials of first instance and appeal in Perugia against the people accused of the murder of Meredith Kercher, as well as the investigation into the death of Francesco Narducci linked to the one performed by the Florence Prosecution Office in relation to the masterminds of the “Monster of Florence” murders.

I saw reported the interview that the journalist Mario Spezi - a person accused in the Narducci case - did with Amanda Knox, a main defendant in the appeal trial that will start today published in the Corriere Fiorentino on Sep. 29 2013.
In two recent cases the Court of Cassation has annulled verdicts, which acquitted Knox and Sollecito, and which decided [by Judge Micheli] a dropping of charge against Spezi (the parts regarding ‘lack of certainty about malice’ were annulled too).

Therefore I don’t need to add anything further on that point.  Instead, I need to point out the falsehood of an assertion which Mr. Spezi makes at the beginning of his article, as he tries to explain the reason for a link which, in his opinion, allegedly exists between the two cases, the one related to the Monster murders and Narducci’s death, and the one about the Kercher murder.

Mr. Spezi’s text claims: “a strangely similar background, for two different cases, behind which the magistrate thought he could see satanic orgies on the occasion of Halloween for Amanda, and ritual blood sacrifices as a worship to the Devil in the Monster of Florence case”.

This is an assertion that Mr. Spezi and crime-fiction author Douglas Preston have been repeating for years, but does not find the smallest confirmation in the documentation of the two trials, nor in the scenario put forward by the prosecution in which the Meredith murder (which didn’t happen on Halloween but on the subsequent night) was the consequence of a sex hazing to which Meredith herself did not intend to take part, and, above all, it was the consequence of a climate of hostility which built up progressively between the Coulsdon girl and Amanda because of their different habits, and because of Meredith’s suspicion about alleged money thefts by Knox.

Furthermore the object of the proceedings in the Narducci case is the scenario about the murder of the same Narducci and the attempt, by the doctor’s father and brother, to conceal the cause of his violent death, and this included the background within which the event - which was a homicide in my opinion and in the opinion of my technical consultant, coroner Prof. Giovanni Pierucci of the University of Pavia - had developed and taken place.

I had already denied several time assertions of such kind, but Mr. Spezi and Mr. Preston, and some people connected to them, go on repeating a lie, apparently hoping that it will become true by repeating it.

Another astonishing fact is that, despite that I was the prosecutor in the Kercher trial together with my colleague Manuela Comodi and then subsequently with my colleague Giancarlo Costagliola [at annulled apeal], and despite that I limited myself to formulating judicial requests which were all agreed to by a multitude of judges and confirmed by the Supreme Court, I am still considered as the only one responsible for an accusation against Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito, by twisting its content in various ways.

In the Narducci case, in the same way, I simply limited myself to performing the investigation and requesting the remands to trial, and the trial will have to start again now because the Supreme Court has annulled the dropping of charges [by Judge Micheli] and sent back the trial to another preliminary judge in Perugia.

The purpose - quite overt - of such endlessly repeated lies, is to defame the investigator, picturing him as a magistrate who is following alleged personal obsessions rather than sticking at facts, as instead he is.

The hope that such conscious misrepresentation of reality could bring advantage to the defences (foremost that of Spezi himself) is consistent with a bad habit which has all along flourished in Italy but is now also copied abroad.

Therefore I ask you to please publish my rectification against false and seriously defamatory information.

Kind regards

Giuliano Mignini


Many objective Americans - maybe a dying breed, but whatever - are easily suckered about the case because they wrongly presume the US and Italian law enforcement & judicial systems are pretty well the same.

You can find many posts on this site by Chimera explaining how this is so much not the case. Dr Mignini is making the same point in the open letter quoted above. He is pointing out all the checks & balances that apply.

What do the checks & balances include?

Enormous fact-finding for one. All prosecutors and judges career-path now; none are elected or politically appointed (Marasca & Bruno were actually the last). Every investigation interview written down and signed. A supervising magistrate managing investigation (it was Judge Matteini here.) A right to jump issues up to the Supreme Court at any time (as in 2007-08). An option for the suspects to be interrogated at any time; if they win, they walk (Knox failed in Dec 2007).

A decision to send a suspect to trial is always made by a magistrate (Matteini and Micheli in this case) not a prosecutor. Suspects can speak up in court at any time (as AK and RS both did). Suspects are not put under oath on the stand (as Knox was not, so she repeatedly lied). A right to 2 levels of appeal - which perversely often give the wrong result (as in this case twice). The Council of Magistrates overseeing all (they edged Judges Marasca & Bruno aside after they blew the final appeal).

The New York Times KNOWS this to be the case. It has published articles saying that the US could learn something here. And yet it stupidly shoots itself in the foot on this case - and has opened the way to enormous harm as a result.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/21/21 at 12:00 PM | #

It’s hard to believe it’s been so long, but Rudy Guede is about to complete his prison sentence. According to this Guardian article, , he’s been doing well: he’s been transitioning to regular life via day release for some years now, did a master’s degree, was working in a library for a while and has been volunteering with a charity.

I’m curious if he’ll want to talk about it. I’m guessing not so much, given that he’s been working on himself and trying to build a good life. While what he took part in was heinous, he’s paid his debt to society at this point and hopefully has grown as a person. That’s more than could be said about the narcissistic duo.

Posted by Vivianna on 11/23/21 at 04:07 AM | #

She’s in the Times newspaper today. I skimmed through it. The usual rubbish.

Posted by DavidB on 11/23/21 at 06:25 AM | #

Hi DavidB.

Yes I have read the article, by Helen Rumbelow, as well. Much as I respect Hopeful’s decision to no longer comment on the case, it’s clear that Knox will keep ploughing on.

It’s also clear to me that Knox has weaponised the birth of her daughter to keep herself in the news and to talk about motherhood and her “innocence”. The image that Knox and her husband are trying to project is that of a wholesome couple with parental responsibilities. It’s also clear to me that naive souls in the media are more than willing to fall for Knox’s rehabilitation campaign which I suspect is only going to gather more pace. How is she allowed to get away with it?

The article in the Times is a two page spread, following on from an interview with Emma Barnett on Newsight (BBC2) and the Jessica Bennett article in the NYT. There is the recent Jon Ronson podcast and others as well.

Here are examples of the sort of drivel in Rumbelow’s article -

“So Knox, now 34, sits there and jiggles her new baby on her lap while I argue, like a two-bit barrister, “Yeah, I get that there was no evidence, but a lot of people still think you’re weird.” Afterwards I feel uncomfortable. Not just about putting this innocent woman through the whole interrogation act again, but about what the Knox case represents. The whole idea of a girls’ satanic sex game, which was the prosecution’s salacious fiction, seems a particularly make fever dream; one of the many ways we distract ourselves from male violence towards women. Rudy Guede, the man who killed Meredith Kercher, is forgotten.”

You would be forgiven for thinking that there was, indeed, no evidence in the case and that it was all a “misogynist fantasy” based upon her weird (but misinterpreted) behaviour. That, basically, is what the rest of this overlong article is all about, re-interpreted in the light of the MeToo Movement etc, etc.

“I feel like there was a process of both conscious and unconscious cherry picking of my behaviour and representing it in the worst possible light in order to sustain a feeling of suspicion that was not based on any evidence.”

“The author, Malcolm Gladwell argues in his book “Talking to Strangers” that her murder charge was “completely inexplicable in hindsight”, except to say that Knox was “an innocent person who acts guilty”. Knox now disagrees with Gladwell. Yes, she and Robinson can be geeky.”

And so on.

Posted by James Raper on 11/23/21 at 08:09 AM | #

Hi Vivianna

Re Guede, yes I’m getting emails suggesting that Rudy Guede is just out having served his full term - as a model prisoner he’s been out on parole for many months.

There’s long been buzz that he has a book in the works, and if it exists there are two reasons it could be put on fast-forward now.

(1) Knox keeps blaming all on Guede (while Sollecito hints again and again that he blames all on Knox) and has tended to get more and more shrill. Expect her to come out with an angry statement within hours which will jack Guede up a notch in turn.

(2) I very much agree with you that Guede has set up a responsible career path, but the book could pay him a million or more. There will be special interest because Dr Mignini’s own very implacable book (which I haven’t seen but have been told about) is due out in Italian around March) is really going to get Italy fighting mad.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/23/21 at 08:52 AM | #

Hi DavidB

At first glance the interview was behind the Times paywall, but Helen Rumbelow tweeted this link so if it stay live we can all read the post and (pretty interesting, a majority negative) comments now.

The report makes fewer claims about the case and those “nasty Italians” and tabloid media than the New York Times interview. More fluff.

The censors aka the Times lawyers seem hard at work culling the most negative comments now.  I grabbed the equivalent of 36 pages in a Word Doc.

Talking of lawyers, initially Knox’s 2013 + 2015 book was not published in the UK (same with Italy) because the English lawyers of the English arm of the publishers thought it was defamatory and would be taken to court.

Sollecito’s 2012 book WAS taken to court for diffamazione (different from libel, a prosecutor puts the case) and of course he lost, big, and had to pay and sign a recant.

In the Times Sollecito is mentioned only ONCE. Was he put away because of misogyny too?!  The continuing PR has been vastly more about Knox hitting on males than the other way around.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/23/21 at 09:14 AM | #

I am puzzled. According to the BBC magistrates in Viterbo (where he now apparently lives) have granted him early release. Subject to that the term to which he was sentenced may still be operative. He was sentenced on the 28th October 2008. His sentence was later reduced to 16 years.That would take us to 2024. However he would be entitled to a discount for time on remand. Previously I calculated that his sentence would likely be served towards the end of December 2023.

I do not know what authority the Viterbo magistrates have to change a sentence approved by the Supreme Court.

Could it be that instead he is out on licence i.e free but technically subject to recall to serve the remainder of his sentence should he breach conditions?

Posted by James Raper on 11/23/21 at 02:24 PM | #

Hi James

We have this situation as you know in the Italian system: (1) for the prosecutions it is a relay race with the baton changing hands several times with inevitable decay and an excess of juries acting perverse; and the quality of the prosecution side of things abysmal by the time it reaches the Supreme Court whereas (2) for the defenses it is a nice jog, they can talk their heads off to the media, and play dirty tricks, and get “better and better” in a Groundhog Day kind of way; so that what ends up at the Supreme Court (and ECHR) is really lurid stuff.

The media is more like (1) than (2), for them also it is a relay race and many great reporters who really knew the case (eg: John Follain and David Owen at The Times) have moved on; so “case illiterates” have taken their places. That is how Knox gets away with it, for now. But I’m picking up that she is really shrill and fears that one or other of her props is going to collapse any day. The BBC and Times and NY Times might channel her unwittingly for now but they are not going to like that they were spoofed.

You last sentence about Guede’s term describes what he has been on. I have not looked into why he was in prison for 14 years, but he has run up brownie points, and there is a pervasive perception in Italy that Knox started the attack and Knox wielded the knife and so taking it a bit easy on the other two is okay. He was given a sentence in Milan too of course.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/23/21 at 06:45 PM | #

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Or to previous entry Tip For Good Reporters: How Time & Again Sollecito & Family & Lawyers Put Blame On KNOX