Saturday, October 12, 2013

Involvement Of The Formidable Carabinieri Shows How Italian Justice Will Not Be Leaned Upon

Posted by Peter Quennell

Judge Nencini may have invoked the help of the Carabinieri for reasons going beyond simply very good science.

Italy has among the world’s lowest crime-rates, murder-rates and incarceration-rates. Unusually low criminal and anti-social tendencies among native-born Italians, and strong family pride, explains a large part of this.

But another main reason is the high-profile and exceptionally smart police presence. Deliberately a cool presence rather than a hot and intimidating presence, and in fact a very popular one.

This has allowed for an extremely small court and prison system relative to the size of the population. These principles are now being adopted by of all places New York city.

At its apex is the very well-trained well-funded well-equipped national force, the Carabinieri, about which, in response to a claim that was stupid even by Sollecito’s standards, our main poster Yummi remarked:

The most trusted institutions in Italy above all are the Carabinieri (74% of Italians trust them) and the Polizia di Stato (71%).

Quite possibly the police force with the highest popularity rating in the world. In a recent email about the Carabinieri, Yummi also added the following:

The Carabinieri are a very peculiar police corps. They are indeed a police corps, yet also are formally military; in fact, they have military battalions (elsewhere) and under all points of view they are an extreme elite-corps. As militariy they don’t answer directly to the government but to the President; and from their facilities, you may infer they are a pretty well-trained police force.

They have the popular respect that the US’s FBI would probably like to have. (The two forces do co-operate very closely, and in fact they permanently exchange officers to work on their numerous common cases.)

The only relationship prior to these lab tests of the Carabinieri to Meredith’s case was that Raffaele Sollecito’s sister Vanessa once worked there.

She lost her job for some seriously foolish moves and her appeal to get back in to the Carabinieri was a failure.

So. The Carabinieri. Of possible real significance now in Meredith’s case?

The Carabinieri report directly to the President of the Republic. The President is also the ultimate head of the justice system, deliberately so as set out in the constitution to keep murky politics at bay. He also is wildely popular.

Judge Nencini may be signaling that he wants Italy’s most respected institutions on the side of his verdict. And no more murky politics.


As my late wife, a psychotherapist, used to say - if you’re repeatedly in trouble with the police and the law you’re clearly not in touch with your own authority.

There may be many reasons for this (e.g. absent or poor authority figure in childhood) but the solution always comes down to accepting one’s own inner authority, i.e. to cease projecting this denied and hated shadow side of the psyche on to authority figures “out there”, like the police.

AK could do with learning that (and how), as can many of her low-life supporters who clearly have major problems of their own with authority judging by their ignorant and abusive rants against Italian justice and, in some cases, their existing criminal records. Truly, birds of a feather flock together.

Posted by Odysseus on 10/12/13 at 08:20 PM | #

Very true. It would be interesting to examine Michelle Moore psychological profile plus that of her husband and associated others. Knox paternal parents in absentia plus some of the scribblers at Ground Report.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 10/12/13 at 09:53 PM | #

Michelle Moore? She is not off the hook for a contempt of court trial for her crazed behavior in Perugia. Authorities have had it up to here with her and her husband. Nobody - NOBODY - behaves toward American prosecutors in the unhinged way those two do toward Italian prosecutors and gets away with it. The FBI has nothing but bad words about them.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/12/13 at 10:28 PM | #


I was always a lttle mystified about Moore’s ejection from Pepperdine University. Obviously they settled out of court rather than go through the process. Sometimes the American way of throwing money at a problem while not endemic to the US, is considered by some to be an anathema. Mind you he still got ousted from his job. FBI indeed!? The FBI like anybody else in Government does not need loose cannons such as Moore and his strange wife.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 10/12/13 at 10:51 PM | #

@Grahame Rhodes

Yup that might be interesting! Otherwise I’m beginning to loose the will to live (as it were).

I’m not sure how much more I can take of this seemingly endless prevarication about the bleeding obvious - the repetitive and frankly boring examination of every scintilla of evidence, the media opportunities for the smug two, the denigration of a whole country because their justice doesn’t deliver the verdict that’s wanted,etc. - to the point where everyone is beginning to doubt their initial, and likely very sound, first impressions. Which is likely the whole purpose of the PR campaign.

Can this please be wrapped up pdq for the sake of the Kerchers who need to be to be in possession of a just verdict so they can move on (contrast their dignity and amazing patience,  after 6 years, with AK wanting to “get on with my life”  less than 24 hours after her “good friend” (?)was murdered.

Otherwise let it also be over soon for the sake of everyone else who has laboured on sites such as this for many years (far more than me) who deserve the long overdue and right outcome, for Meredith’s sake

Posted by Odysseus on 10/12/13 at 11:02 PM | #

In case of inspection by the spelling police (with which authority I’m on good terms, obviously) that should be “lose” rather than “loose” in my last post.

Posted by Odysseus on 10/12/13 at 11:13 PM | #

Hi Grahame and Odysseus

Yes let it end above all for the poor Kerchers - and quite a wide circle of Meredith’s friends, some of who have been badly burned for speaking up at trial or venturing onto TV and the web.

It wont quite finish in the blink of an eye but the appeal could be over next month and observing what happens next is optional. I find that aspect pretty interesting because we have witnessed something unique in legal history - three corruption waves (Perugia, Florence and the US) that joined like the three storms to make the perfect storm in 2010 to 2012.

The turnaround in Perugia and Florence is quite remarkable and in each a complete new cast has taken over and shoved the corrupt ones out the door, with the help of the Council of Magistrates (which controls judges and prosecutors) and the Supreme Court. There are some limits now on what we can report but stay tuned.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/13/13 at 12:51 AM | #

I was in Florence about 12 years ago, and I asked some Policemen what the difference between them and the Carabinieri is. They told me, that the Carabinieri stand above the police, and that women are not allowed to join. Is it still like that? Does anybody know?

Posted by Terry on 10/13/13 at 02:16 AM | #

Hi Terry. Vanessa Sollecito was an officer in the Carabinieri. There have been differing accounts of her career there and a suspicion that her resume was rather inflated but it was regarded as a plum job and she was hit hard by the dismissal.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/13/13 at 04:11 AM | #

@ Terry

The Carabinieri are not exactly “above” the Police. However they partly depend on the Ministery of Defence and might act totally independently from the government. The territorial organization is that police normally enforces jurisdiction in town areas while Carabinieri have a control on the countryside territory.

There are obviously women in the Carabinieri (Sollecito’s sister Vanessa was one of them). The fact is that, people who join the Carabinieri, unless they experts or specialists, they are militaries. Carabinierie recruit their officers in the armed forces, you need to be already a member of the armed forces to be eligible for joining the Carabinieri.

Women are recruited in the Italian Armed Forces only since 1999, so before that date there were no women Carabinieri officers.

The Italian Armed Forces have changed completely over the years 1996-2004. Before 1997 military service was compulsory for males and professionals were a minority; in 2004 military service was abolished and prohibited even to volunteers, the armed forces accept now only professionals. So in the nineties as military career started to be “a job”, women joined in - a bit late - as in all western countries.

Posted by Yummi on 10/13/13 at 04:36 AM | #

Someone posted as fact a rumor about the DNA test outcome being only of Knox. What was said is absolutely not confirmed by our sources at this point. The comment is gone. Stay tuned. We’ll report fast.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/13/13 at 06:54 AM | #

Thank you Yummi on the Carabinieri intercity focus, so often a vaccum in other places. We ran a series two years ago on the stabbing death of Melania Rea high up in a forest away from any town which included this:

Here four arms of the Italian police - the Carabinieri, the Scientific Police, the Ascoli police, and the Teramo police - have worked together notably smoother than say the FBI and the CIA before the New York trade towers came down.

The Carabinieri did a fine job and the husband (Salvatore Parolisi) was convicted - with a small fraction of the evidence in Meredith’s case.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/13/13 at 12:48 PM | #

I point out that the question put by the Florence court to the RIS experts was “to find whether the DNA trace could be matched to Meredith Kercher or Rudy Guede”.

The court did not ask the RIS to attribute a profile to anybody else. They are not interested in knowing whether there is a profile that matches Sollecito or Knox.

It might seem like a subtle difference, but it’s quite meaningful when you think about that the RIS are still working on processing the sample, in order to find out whether there is a profile that can be attributed.

Whose possible profile could that be?

Certainly not Knox’s profile. Because that was easily identified and it would be of no interest.

Rumors are that the RIS are searching the possibilities of attribution of a second profile in the mixed trace.

Posted by Yummi on 10/14/13 at 04:23 AM | #

Very good point Yummi, thank you.

Thank you too for the clear explanation of the Cabinieri . People really did seem to be in awe of them and regard them with respect.

I remember them in Rome - groups of people in Trastevere who were talking and being lively on the streets would suddenly melt away when they heard them coming on their unmistakable motor bikes.

If they talked to me about ‘needing a Mrs Thatcher’, I would say we needed the Cabinieri !

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/14/13 at 08:38 AM | #

Odysseus - “lose” and “loose”. 

I’ve just taken flak at my place over pedantry but the Americans use “loose” as an adjective as English speakers do - that is, “not tight” but when it’s a verb, the difference stands out.

In English, to loose something could only be, if anything, to make it less tight or to release it - we’d normally say loosen or set it loose, so pedantically, the word spelt that way [spelled] has no meaning when used as a verb.

The English term is to “lose”.  As in - I might lose the game or I lost the game.

The differences are not nearly as many as our American cousins make out and yet Webster calls it American language, as distinct from English.

Never mind, we can still understand you lot over there, even though youse speek foony.

And yes, it was my profession for a long time.  😊

One which drives the educated batty on both sides of the pond is the misuse of the apostrophe, as in - the 60’s.  Why would you put an apostrophe in there?  It’s not possessive.

Enough of this gay banter at a Meredith site.

Posted by James Higham on 10/14/13 at 10:31 AM | #

@James Higham,
I’m sure Meredith was interested in language! She wouldn’t mind…?
I wonder how many Americans know just how much regional variation there is in the English language just across the UK? Not only the obvious differences in Scotland and Wales and so on, but the difference between the north-east and the south-west ? In fact, originally, there were two ‘English’ languages (and two regions, at war), and England only became one place and language many years on.
I think - with the different usage of the language in the US and the UK - it’s the inflexions of meaning that are hard to catch…when words are used with slightly different connotations or associations.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/14/13 at 11:20 AM | #

Not only the regional north-south divide accounted for by saxons and vikings, but also an overlay of french as a result of the Norman Conquest in 1066. It was not until the reign of Edward 111 that english became the official language of the court although even then french was spoken and it is more than likely that Edward’s grandson Henry V spoke french to his commanders at the battle of Agincourt in 1415. If he ever delivered a stirring speech to his troops that would have been in english.

The Normans, incidentally, conquered much of Southern Italy in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Posted by James Raper on 10/14/13 at 12:59 PM | #

@james Raper
Yes indeed.
The use of ‘Frencified’ or ‘Latinized’ words are still seen as indicators of class.
My own family are direct descendants of a Norman family, and I know the ancestors used to return to France to find their brides, to bring them over to cold damp England was a very long time before there was integration.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/14/13 at 01:07 PM | #

“to find whether the DNA trace could be matched to Meredith Kercher or Rudy Guede”.

As Yummi points out the court is not interested in whether AK’s or RS’ trace is on the knife.

However other operative words here are “the trace”. That’s presumably the C&V trace labelled 36I but where exactly was that? Did C&V lift the handle to discover “the trace”? I doubt it.

It is confusing but from the information so far coming out it seems there may be two - one near the handle, another (36I?) near the original trace.

The wording of the injunction seems to suggest that the Carabinieri are only empowered to look at the one C&V found but perhaps the remit is broader than that. If so, then the court must have extended the remit without further discussion in open court. I don’t see that as a problem since the court has inherent investigative authority. Also bear in mind that H&Z were criticized by Cassation, not for ordering the independent DNA review, but for then abdicating responsibility in the management of the review.

Posted by James Raper on 10/14/13 at 01:34 PM | #

Most interesting replies - have screenshot them and posted at my place.

Thanks though, James R, for getting us back to the issue.

The bottom line is that what we appear to have, as some have mentioned, is AK on and under the handle near the blade and the MK sample [shall not call it a trace] in the scratch on the blade at the victim end.

These are now on the record.

That alone I’d imagine might convict [plus bra clasp and mixed blood] but certainly with all the other evidence, it would have to come close to certain.

Posted by James Higham on 10/14/13 at 02:05 PM | #

Entirely OT but I was watching a programme on TV last night about the Ottoman Empire. I was fascinated to learn that Elizabeth I corresponded in arabic and in cordial terms with the Sultan. No doubt she made it widely known. It was a deliberate provocation to the Catholic Monarchs of Europe given that the Turks had conquered the Balkans and had laid siege to Vienna.

Posted by James Raper on 10/14/13 at 02:08 PM | #

OT can add interesting context/background…
On topic again :
I was explaining the case, and where it is now, to an interested friend at the weekend. He is a highly qualified professional expert in analysis, who has worked in very large and powerful companies and organizations.
Firstly, after I had described the i) mixed blood samples, ii) the footprints, iii) the knife in question at the moment, iv) the bra clasp - his response was : ‘surely, that is quite enough evidence already?’
He was quite mystified, especially after adding the (non) alibis and other inconsistencies. With his analytic brain, he failed to see that there should be question or doubt.
Secondly, he said something interesting about high-powered managers in big companies. He said, sometimes, they already have the answer they WANT to have, (perhaps for financial or other considerations), and can put oblique pressure on the researcher/consultant to come up with the ‘appropriate’ data that would fit this foregone conclusion. He said, that, of course, it would be their duty in such a scenario to resist this pressure, and produce scientific, accurate data - however unwelcome it may be.
He said he felt this was perhaps the essence of ‘spin’...and seemed to him to be what had happened here (in the Hellman appeal). Needless to say his opinion of this!

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 10/14/13 at 02:38 PM | #


You two are so right, Vanessa was an carabinieri officer, how could I forget that???
And Yummi, I looked it up, my trip to Tuscany was 1998, not 12 years ago. Damn, time runs so fast.

And it’s very interesting what you wrote about the carabinieri, thank you!

Posted by Terry on 10/14/13 at 11:25 PM | #

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