Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wow! The Serial Italy-Smearer Strikes Once Again!

Posted by Peter Quennell

Peter Popham of the UK Independent. Yes that Peter Popham.  And (wow!) that Peter Popham.

Ridicule of Italy has been a huge and hugely mistaken main arm of the Friends of Amanda strategy.

In the early days of the case, Peter Popham wrote quite rationally and dispassionately about it. He came across as an okay reporter, and he managed to maintain a detached point of view.

He actually noticed the victim and her much-suffering family.

And then he sat with Knox’s parents for an interview and seems to have been never quite the same since. Seemingly that Kool-Aid started its work on him right about then.

On Saturday (slow day, Saturday - you think maybe his editors were trying to bury him?) Peter Popham devoted 20 heated paragraphs to a blogger with a masonic conspiracy theory of the case. The “masonic theory that put Knox in the dock”.

The kicker?

[Prosecutor] Mignini does… have the benefit of a cracking story. And in Italy that counts for a lot.

They are all sheep, you see? Silly people. And the blogger? A catholic.

Well! Has Mr Mignini really sold this cracking story? And have the judge and the Italian population really bought into it? 

Let’s see here.

There has been just about zero serious reporting of this masonic theory in Italy itself. Many (we included) knew it was out there. It was fundamentally just not very interesting or convincing.

And the Italian population seem to be coolly and compassionately aware of how Meredith probably did die and why. They did not seem to need lurid conspiracy theories to bring them to this point.

No clear influence of the blogger over Prosecutor Mignini on this case has been shown. Mignini apparently did make a few remarks about Halloween. But Halloween is Halloween, and masons are masons, and there is a difference if you actually look.

And there is no influence over the jury, because (American commentators, please get this right) in place of a jury, there is just a very well-informed judge.

And seemingly there was ZERO influence over this judge, and his judgment on Rudy Guede, and his overall take on the case.  The judge has already explained that he went on the physical evidence and ONLY the physical evidence.

And from just that evidence these conclusions derive:

[Judge] Micheli agreed with prosecutors that more than one person took part in the sexual assault and murder, dismissing claims that the 47 bruises and knife wounds on Kercher’s body could have been made by a single attacker.

He upheld the testimony of a neighbour who heard more than one person fleeing Kercher’s house, adding that while footprints there might not definitely belong to Knox and Sollecito, they did indicate more than one attacker.

He stood by forensic evidence indicating Kercher’s and Knox’s DNA on a knife found at Sollecito’s house [hidden in a shoe box] which investigators suspect is the murder weapon, and ruled Sollecito’s DNA on Kercher’s bra strap as reliable evidence.

He dismissed as “fantasy”, the claim that Knox, Sollecito and Guede planned to involve Kercher in an orgy inspired by “Halloween parties” instead describing the fatal encounter as unplanned.

What really is the truth about the state of the evidence?

Well, much of it even now is not yet in the public domain. But what we already do know is pretty exhaustive. It hangs together nicely. It has been independently vetted. And it is very convincing.

And if there had not been a huge clean-up in the wee hours of the morning (the evidence for that is quite overwhelming) there would have been a great deal more.

And what really is the truth about the motives for the crime?

Probably that they were really very simple. What looks like a toxic blend of drugs, jealousies and guilt-free pathologies.

But more importantly, do they even matter? Does the prosecution have to PROVE a motive, lurid or otherwise?

Actually, no.

Here is an excellent take on this vital point by Michael, one of the very knowledgeable moderators of the Perugia Murder File forum.

The fact that in this case, we still do not have a ‘proven’ motive, nor do we have a proven and logged episode of the three suspects being together before the murder, is irrelevant.

It is the fact that the crime itself was carried out clearly by more then one individual, that all three can be shown to have been there either during, or very shortly after the crime, finished off by the fact that there was a clean-up/staging of the murder afterwards by someone who was ‘not’ Rudy Guede, that provides the necessary proof to convict Guede and refer the other two to trial.

One ‘starts’ at the crime scene itself, because that is where the ‘evidence’ proves them to have been. Not only what ‘is’ there, but also what is not..

To simply say ‘Well…we cannot prove a single time and reason before the event that all three met, therefore we must ignore and throw out all the evidence at the crime scene that indicates more then one person’ is simply ridiculous….

I’ll draw an analogy… If the ground violently shakes, causing the buildings to collapse around us, we have to say that this was an earthquake. It’s no good saying there was no earthquake because we are not anywhere even close to a faultline, or there’s no volcano nearby.

The proof of an earthquake is there. It simply means we then have to consider other possible reasons as being a cause of the quake, even if we cannot technically prove those new theories, because the quake as a ‘fact’ has happened. We then must simply take whichever of those theories is possible and the most likely and apply it as the explanation.

This indeed is what Micheli did in this case, when he said the protagonists may have met at some earlier point in the pubs and clubs. Despite the fact there are no witnesses who have come forward to relate this event, it is not an ‘unlikely’ event to have occurred, considering the close proximity of everyone to everyone else, especially as Knox already knew Guede…

Indeed, it is one of Micheli’s reasons for referring the case to trial. As he has said, a full trial may be able to answer those questions better. But still, that is not what is important, what is important is the defendants prove [now if they can that] they were not at the crime scene during the murder and involved in the staging afterwards.

Cracking story, Peter Popham. But it’s close to game over. Smarter people than you are folding their tents.

Perhaps it’s now time that you did the same.

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“They are all sheep, you see? Silly people. And the blogger? A catholic.”

I know from past experience that 99 out of 100 will correctly perceive the sarcasm in that. For the 100th who might not: it is a sarcastic take on the unpleasant attitudes Popham is signalling in his unpleasant piece.

Really a guy going off the rails, it seems. He was previously posted in India, and if you had read only those pieces, you would have been dead certain that he would be rooting for Meredith.

A pity. This is doing his career and standing no good at all. Few in the UK seems ready to buy his twisted line, and the number here is rapidly dwindling.

Posted by Fast Pete on 11/05/08 at 12:38 AM | #

By the way, the Independent had NO COMMENTS OPEN under this piece on the website.

Hmmm. If you read the many roasting comments under his previous piece (linked-to at top here) you may be able to see why.

Posted by Fast Pete on 11/05/08 at 12:41 AM | #

Actually, Popham simply has a political agenda and therefore identified targets. Here and in his previous piece on this case in the Independent, his targets are the Catholic Church and Italy’s current right-of-center government. Meredith just got caught in the crossfire and Popham apparently doesn’t give a toss about that. Or her.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 11/05/08 at 10:32 PM | #

His own motive?! Yes, political is certainly suggested by the bizarre pattern of his subjects.

I’m not against political and I’m not against left-wing if that is made overt and uses facts fairly. He doesn’t.

And even odder, his audience is almost exclusively British. So, one, they are almost exclusively pro-Meredith, and two, they dont give a toss about the government of Italy.

The British have a term for such self-indulgent people, cruel, but very funny. What is it again?!

Posted by Fast Pete on 11/05/08 at 11:44 PM | #

Peter Popham has forgotten what you point out because he is now based in Rome and has been totally swallowed up by the local intrigue. I bet he and Spezi are great pals by now.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 11/06/08 at 12:41 AM | #

Great if our readers in Italy could check out any connection between Popham and Spezi and email us a tip.

High-profile investigative reporters like Spezi can serve a useful purpose and, if he gets it right on this case, could help to lay to rest the notion that it is one giant frame-up.

But Spezi seems to have seriously ticked Mignini off in some past life and lived to regret it, so don’t be holding your breath for that particular outcome.

Posted by Fast Pete on 11/06/08 at 03:02 PM | #

I keep thinking that I doubt the parents were too thrilled at what Popham wrote. It was so laughably extreme that it was very close to satire. The Hearst defense blog in Seattle also goes to such extremes.

Like some others on the Perugia Murder File forum, I have long wondered if there was some underlying mental condition run rampant on the night. Probably on the part of two of the defendants.

If true, Meredith and the defendants both might have been much better served if there had been some early recognition of this.

If before the crime, Meredith of course would still be alive. And if after the crime, the defendants might evoke somewhat more compassion.

Rosy scenarios and cards badly played…

Posted by Fast Pete on 11/08/08 at 02:54 PM | #
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