Series Italian unrelated

Friday, March 31, 2017

Italian Police Again Work Hard On A Murder Where Victim And Main Suspect (Her Husband) Are Foreign

Posted by Peter Quennell



This case is getting a lot of coverage in Italy, Ireland and the UK.

Mrs Belling and her family boarded a cruise ship February 9 at the cruise port west of Rome, and seem to have been in Italy itself for only a few hours. Several days later, after a scene with her husband, she disappeared off the ship.

This wasn’t reported, and the family continued their meals in the dining room.

Then the German-born husband was arrested before he could return to Ireland. He remains locked up in Rome and can be held for a year to check if there is a case against him. 

Now a body in a suitcase has washed up. A “suitcase murder” in her case now seems to be ruled out though as Barbie Nadeau explains.

The short-lived label “suitcase murder” notion has resonated in the New York area. The reason being that an attractive and successful local woman, Melanie McGuire, who had her share of fans during trial, was found guilty of chopping up her husband, essentially for being a bore, and stuffing his remains in suitcases.

They then washed up in Chesapeake Bay about 1/2 a day south. She was found guilty and despite a strenuous defense and an appeal she is inside for life without parole. There are a number of long-form reports on YouTube, and this is perhaps the most-watched.

Posted on 03/31/17 at 12:48 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Justice systemsItalian systemThe officially involvedPolice and CSIOther legal processesItalian unrelated
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Saturday, March 05, 2016

Italian Justice & The Telling Status Of Extraditions To And From Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell




The Italian Justice System

Any faithful adherents of this campaign know that, in two respects, Italy’s popular justice system is very unusual. 

First, crime-rates and especially murder-rates are low by European standards and very low by American standards and its incarceration rate is only 1/6 that of the United States. At the same time it still does suffer under the presence of several mafias and their fellow travelers and nefarious cousins the rogue masons and corrupt politicians.

Second, Italy’s justice system was set up post WWII to be exceptionally fair to defendants and in subsequent reforms even more-so, for example all appeals are automatic and “fairness” process steps can stretch on for years. And yet even so, the mafias and their fellow travelers and rogue masons and corrupt politicians bend the system even more now and then to their advantage.

The Knox-Sollecito-Guede case played out in these contexts and was unquestionably corrupted.

There has still been zero attempt to repudiate these accusations of law-breaking by Judges Marasca and Bruno of the Fifth Chambers of Cassation. Sollecito’s several visits to the Caribbean hideyhole of these relatives to try to pull strings is known about on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Italian justice system does not give up easily. Multi-prong law-enforcement and media investigations do continue into those angles and other angles. To our occasional frustration they mostly play out behind the scenes. But clearly the case will not be not fully over for some years yet.

International Votes Of Approval

If countries agree to extradite to other countries, that suggests a high degree of trust in justice at both ends. They are in effect voting confidence in each other’s justice systems.

Italy achieves an exceptionally high rate of extraditions in both directions and continues to sign more bilateral treaties.

It is clearly trusted almost worldwide as a destination where those charged will receive a fair shake. And it is very no-nonsense about sending back fleeing felons who try to go to ground there.

Had Amanda Knox’s final appeal not been corrupted, it is extremely unlikely that any a-political judge in the United States would have concluded Italian police and prosecutors had done a poor job and refused to extradite her. Right now she would be serving out her much-deserved time in a nice Italian prison.

The CIA Operatives Case (Resumed)

Now back in the news is the Abu Omar kidnapping case. Remember that one? We posted on it frequently. See our posts here and here and here and here.

Milan CIA Chief Robert Lady and over 20 other CIA agents and several Italian agents kidnapped Abu Omar - a suspected radical who actually had zero involvement in terrorism - and most received prison sentences, some later anulled but not all of them.

For murky reasons Italy’s Ministry of Justice never formally requested the United States to extradite the operatives.

But they did initiate both European and worldwide arrest warrants (red notices) which are close to being the equivalent - they create a kind of living hell, label fugitives as felons worldwide, and make all their foreign travel parlous.

The fugitive Milan chief Robert Lady quietly set himself up in Panama which then had no extradition treaty with Italy. Panama was about to hand him over anyway, but he skipped out on an American aircraft. He was last heard from somewhere in the US lamenting that he is flat-broke (Italy seized his planned retirement home, his main asset) and not in good health and was muttering about suing the CIA or the State Department.

The President of the Italian Republic - the head of the justice system - did agree last year to reduce his sentence from nine to seven years.

Operative Sabrina de Souza

Sabrina de Souza (who has joint US and Portuguese citizenship) was another CIA operative the Italians have long wanted.

You can see her image above and in this report where she too was muttering about a lawsuit against the US government.

Five months ago, Sabrina de Souza was nabbed in Portugal and the Portuguese justice system observed due process in examining the arrest and extradition warrants.

It now seems likely that Sabrina de Souza will become the first CIA operative in the case to serve time in an Italian prison.

The US is not intervening, even though she may spill the beans in a way that could be embarrassing (well, embarrassing for the GW Bush legacy).

Our Own Learning Experience

Note that this case is five years older than Meredith’s case - the crime was in 2003 and trial in 2009 - and yet the legal processes keep ticking.

And Knox faces known further trials, and may not be safe from a red notice during her lifetime. 

Posted on 03/05/16 at 10:46 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Justice systemsItalian systemOther legal processesItalian unrelatedExtradition issues
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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Prime Minister Renzi’s Proposed Reforms Might Have Received A Strange Nudge

Posted by Peter Quennell





So the President of Iran and the Prime Minister of Italy sit in a museum in Rome and stare at… a horse.

You probably know by now that eight nude statues in a Rome museum, male and female, were boxed up on somebody’s orders when the President of Iran visited to discuss several multi-billion-dollar deals.

It was hard to see any relevance of the resultant fuss to our case at all, but the New York Times helps us out.

As a consequence of Boxgate, Italy has suffered ridicule. Nothing is worse than ridicule. Here it is merited. Not so much, I would argue, for Italy’s clumsy attempt at courtesy, for courtesy is important and has become an undervalued virtue. Reading the fall of the West into the concealment of a nude is going too far. Mistakes happen.

No, the ridicule is merited because the decision to hide the works of art was, it seems, made by nobody. In Rome, the buck stops nowhere.

The Capitoline Venus just boxed herself up one night because she was bored and took a few deities along with her.

The prime minister, Matteo Renzi, did not know. The foreign minister did not know. The culture minister called the decision “incomprehensible.” They were, they insist (perhaps too much), as surprised as anyone to find all those white cubes — none, incidentally, provided by the prestigious White Cube gallery in London.

One account has it that a woman named Ilva Sapora who works at Palazzo Chigi, where Renzi’s office is located, made the decision after visiting the Capitoline with Iranian Embassy officials. “Nonsense,” Jas Gawronski, a former Italian member of the European Parliament, told me. The notion that a midlevel Chigi official in charge of ceremonial matters could have made the decision does seem far-fetched. Gawronski believes it is more likely to have been officials at the Farnesina, home to the Foreign Ministry.

One thing can be safely said: Nobody will ever know. I was a correspondent in Rome for some years in the 1980s. Periodically there would be developments in terrorist cases — the Piazza Fontana bombing of 1969 or the Brescia bombing of 1974. Trials, verdicts, appeals followed one another. Facts grew murkier, not clearer. It would take decades to arrive at convictions that did not resolve doubts. Italy has never had much time for the notion that justice delayed is justice denied.

Renzi has wanted to break with this Italy of murky secrets, modernize it, bring stable government and install accountability.

So this incident in a blazing spotlight could even help to push the current reforms of the justice and governance systems along.

And the strongest reform proponents of all? To escape this hamster wheel, judges and prosecutors of Italy. 

Posted on 02/02/16 at 01:01 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Human Rights Group “Human Rights Watch” Gives An Approving Nod To Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Armando Spataro, the chief prosecutor in the 2009 trial in Milan; CIA operatives all absent]


Human rights groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International keep an eye on the Italian courts, as they do the courts of most countries.

When it comes to Italy, they rarely have anything to complain about. Italy has a firm high-profile police presence but when the playing field is level the Italian courts are known to be very fair and prison rates are among the world’s lowest.

Nothing is seen to be broken..

The same applies to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which receives mind-numbing numbers of spurious appeals from Italy (an unfortunate circumstance for Knox) which repeatedly jump the gun (as Knox’s appeal did) before the Italian legal process is over.  But the ECHR only very rarely finds that Italian courts did anything wrong.

In an excellent report by the AP’s Colleen Barry (not our favorite reporter in Florence, but now we have hopes for her) the New York-based Human Rights Watch has just praised Italy for persevering against the CIA operatives who executed an example of extraordinary rendition - kidnapping for torture in a third country of suspected terrorists.

Cassation had just confirmed three of the guilty sentences among the 26 for American operatives earlier handed down:

“It is really a seminal case. It set a very important precedent that unfortunately has not been followed yet by any other countries,” said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We certainly hold it as an example how a national judiciary can in fact get to the bottom of an unlawful rendition.”

The Obama administration renounced the Bush administration’s practice of extraordinary rendition, and neither the CIA or State Department seems to have done very much to help the CIA officers who were being prosecuted.

Alessia Sorgato, who was one of four court-appointed defense lawyers, complained the U.S. government had not responded to requests for help to defend their clients.

None of the court-appointed lawyers had any contact with their clients. U.S. officials only granted two of the defendants permission to seek their own counsel, toward the end of the trial…

Leader Robert Seldon Lady did possibly get some minor official help to disappear recently within the United States, but has since spoken out against the CIA and State Department bitterly. So did other CIA operatives.

At the same time, the Italian government (think Ministry of Justice) has been fairly passive, and allowed the courts to increasingly confirm the convictions, except for several Italian ones (they were declared military as was one American).

These outcomes from Cassation may not result in former CIA operatives ending up in Italian prisons. But life for perps on the run can be made hell worldwide under an Interpol Red Notice. So civil rights groups are not unhappy.

Amanda Knox, learn something.


[Below: human rights groups in Italy kept up pressure]


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Italy’s Anti-Mafia Winning Push In Co-operation With FBI Is Headed By Arturo De Felice, Who Was…

Posted by Peter Quennell



Dr Arturo De Felice (at center below) was formerly the head of Perugia’s police. He ran this show while the investigations into Meredith’s murder went on.

It was his police officers who conducted the witness interrogation about which Amanda Knox has told so many lies. Defenses tried to impugn police performance, but fell absolutely flat. Not one police action has ever been criticised by any judge.

Like Dr Giuliano Mignini and many others who performed so well, Arturo De Felice has been honored and promoted. He now heads an elite national organization in Rome much admired in Italy which works on a daily basis with the FBI.

He will be able to pull many strings if Knox tries to mount an extradition fight - especially one based on Knox’s endemic lies about the police. 

Here are several recent English-language reports of anti-mfia gains which name Dr Felice - the same highly successful police official who foolish amateurs like Michael Heavey and Steve Moore and Bruce Fischer and Doug Bremner (none of whom speak Italian) have impugned. 

The huge joint FBI-Polizio operation described in the video at top and also here as resulting in many arrests in Italy and New York city is another feather in Dr De Felice’s cap.

Try telling Dr De Felice “No, you got it wrong, and we wont extradite.”



Posted on 03/13/14 at 12:51 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: The officially involvedPolice and CSIOther legal processesItalian unrelatedThe wider contextsItalian context
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Friday, March 08, 2013

FBI Reporting Close Co-operation With Italy In Arresting And Soon Extraditing A Fugitive Swindler

Posted by Peter Quennell





A new FBI report in the news.

It is still more confirmation in line with many previous posts here that US and Italian crime-fighters respect one another and work closely together - and don’t turn a hair at requests for extradition.

The fugitive fund manager Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm could face 25 years in prison. The FBI explains what he is accused of: 

Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm, a German hedge fund manager who was on the run for more than five years, has been arrested in Italy on federal fraud charges that accuse him of orchestrating a market manipulation scheme designed to artificially improve the performance of his funds, a fraud that led to at least $200 million in losses to investors around the world….

Homm was the founder and chief investment officer of Absolute Capital Management Holdings Limited, a Cayman Islands-based investment advisor that managed nine hedge funds from 2004 until September 2007. The criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Homm directed the hedge funds to buy billions of shares of thinly traded, United States-based “penny stocks.” Homm caused many of the purchases of penny stocks to be made through Hunter World Markets Inc., a broker-dealer in Los Angeles that Homm co-owned. Homm also allegedly obtained shares of the penny stock companies through various businesses he controlled.

And the FBI credits the role in arresting Florian Wilhelm Jürgen Homm of the Italian authorities.

Homm, 53, was arrested at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Friday (local time). Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles obtained an arrest warrant on Wednesday, March 6, after filing a criminal complaint that charges Homm with four felony charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud. Homm was arrested by Italian authorities after the United States submitted a request for a provisional arrest with officials in Rome.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

An Overview From Italy #3 Dr Michel Giuttari Speaks Out About The Trumped Up Florence Case

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)



[Dr Michele Giuttari, former head of the Mobile Squad in Florenece and prominet authoer]


Dr Giuttari and Dr Mignini are connected because they both investigated the Monster of Florence case - and because a nasty case trumped up in Florence in retaliation has just been killed by the Supreme Court. .

The erratic Mario Spezi and his timid colleague the sniper from afar Doug Preston have blown up that case to gigantic proportions, as have the Knox and Sollecito forces, and most recently (very foolishly and ill-timed, as his claims may constitute contempt of court) Raffaele Sollecito himself.

Some important background can be found in Overview #2 and Comments here.

Michele Giuttari started his police career in the 1970s’ as a mobile squad detective in Calabria; after 15 years of “Calabrian “ experience he was appointed to the Anti-Mafia Division of Naples, and subsequently became the head of the Mobile Squad in Florence.  During his Florentine service time, following investigation guidelines under the direction of prosecutor Piero Luigi Vigna, he produced a solution to the ‘Monster of Florence’ case, but also brought the investigation to an unexpected turning point.



[Former Florence chief prosecutor Piero Luigi Vigna created the “monster of Florence” term]


As Vigna deduced, the MoF was not really one serial killer, but rather the manifestation of the killing activity carried on by a small group of people, at least three.  In fact three people were found guilty for taking part to the murders;  but both prosecutor and judges were not entirely satisfied: because there was evidence – so the court concluded – that someone else was involved too, who remained unknown.

The investigation into the death of Dr Francesco Narducci was opened in Perugia in 2005 as a routine cold case, because of Narducci’s wife’s and relatives’  doubts about the “official” version of his “accidental” death in Lake Trasimeno. 



[Former Perugia doctor Francesco Narducci found drowned in Lake Trasimeno]


Points of contact between Narducci and the MoF emerged independently from two directions, from the Perugia investigation, and from Giuttari’s findings from the previous Florence investigation.

Crossed analysis with the data bank collected by Michele Giuttari showed that several people were common witnesses both in the Narducci and the MoF case, while many things in the Narducci case were not adding up (for example, the unburied body was found to have died by strangulation, not by drowning, his trachea and hyoid bone were crushed). 

Something even more unexpected was that the investigation into the Narducci case revealed - and partly itself triggered - a network or other collateral crimes. A number of people were caught engaged in criminal activities with the purpose of plotting cover-ups and obstruction of justice on this cold case.  Among them were law enforcement officers and lawyers. 

But most surprising and peculiar, there was a fierce reaction from some magistrates among the Florence judiciary, in an attempt to stop the Perugia investigation. 

The first wild accusations launched by a Florentine prosecutor against Perugia offices were proven false, so the most serious charges were dropped by a preliminary judge as obviously unfounded. 

But a second wave of legal action followed, alleging that Giuttari and Mignini’s wiretapping recordings were false;  this accusation was also proven false in a trial, as expert technicians demonstrated the authenticity of all material.

But after ignoring the objection about territorial competence the judge managed to let one accusation stand – that of abuse of office, a charge less serious than the previous ones, which was not formulated on points of facts but only on points of law – at the first degree trial.

After some years,  this charge was canceled, as the courts finally declared the whole investigation illegitimate, and they nullified both the first degree trial, and the investigation and indictment itself.

A last attempt by the Florentine prosecution to further delay closure was ended by the recent, final Supreme Court verdict.  Meanwhile, a couple of Florentine magistrates were successful in stopping the investigation into the Narducci case, for a total of seven years.   

Unfortunately these happenings are not entirely new to the Italian judiciary. This one resembles other happenings – possibly more serious – that affected the system in recent Italian history (the most famous examples are the Elisa Claps, or the plots known as “Toghe Lucane” targeting known magistrates such as Luigi De Magistris and Henry John Woodcock). 

The system shows symptoms of stress from the whole extreme political instability of the country, but so far it still manages to fiercely resist those drifts.

Michele Giuttari is also an author.  Albeit he is not the top crime fiction novelist for sales in Italy (the Italian market has top-class masters in the genre), yet he is the top-selling Italian crime writer in the English speaking world. Curiously, the best-seller among all his titles published in Italy – the non-fiction book about the history of the true MoF investigation – is the only one in his books which has so far been rejected by American publishing houses.   



[The top-selling Michele Giuttari book, the non-fiction Il Mostro]


His last book bears the title “The Evil Dreams of Florence” [image of cover at bottom] and he might have chosen it as a metaphor of what he was drawn into by some people within the Florentine authorities and some in high positions.

After the final Supreme Court verdict on Feb 8., he posted a long comment about it in Italian on his Facebook page, in which he addresses his criticism mainly toward the head of police Antonio Manganelli . 



[Chief of Italy’s civil police Antonio Manganelli]


I agree with Giuttari about the shame police chief Antonio Manganelli brought on his administration through the terrible handling of the case of the Genoa G8 violence.  In 2001 some police corps attacked and tortured peaceful demonstrators in Genoa, following political inclinations, in what was called by Amnesty International “the most serious violation of civil rights committed by police forces in Western Europe” after WW2.

The leader of the Democrats (the main opposition party) at the time called it “state violence with a fascist mark”. Recently Cassation definitively called the event a “shame”, and prominent journalist Marco Travaglio wrote an open letter to Antonio Manganelli, saying “I beg you to kick out from your police force the authors of such henious crimes” . 



[Police violence against peaceful protestors at Group of 8 meeting Genoa 2001]


Yet Manganelli (ironically his name means “batons” in Italian, and the Diaz School night assault is now remembered as “la notte dei manganelli”) –  a man who apparently has the quality of being friends with many high-profile politics – had chosen to “help” them, to defend and protect from prosecution the proven authors of political violence, while at the same time, apparently he didn’t care about what was going on in Florence and quietly pulled a curtain of silence on a “politically uncomfortable” issue. 

I add that Manganelli was recently found to be the most paid public employee of the Italian State (with a wage of 621,000 euros per year).

Dr Giuttari expressed his outrage against Manganelli in a comment on his Facebook page which I translate below.

He makes this statement on behalf of Dr Mignini as well. 

Seven years of deafening silence by the head of State Police Manganelli

On February 8. 2013 the Supreme Court of Cassation, by declaring them inadmissible, put the final seal on the investigations that the Florentine prosecution had “illegitimately” carried on against myself, on the basis of mere accusatory theories about absurdly formulized charges of abuse of office which, allegedly, I committed concurring together with Perugia Public Minister Giuliano Mignini in the course of official activity, during my enactment of the written orders of a PM [supervising magistrate] at the time when I was responsible for a special team which had been created by the head of the police through a Ministry decree. 

And this [Supreme Court] decision confirms, in a certain and incontrovertible way, on the one hand the “instrumental” nature of the judicial events, and on the other hand the fact that we should not ever have been investigated; and, what’s worse, that we should not ever have been tried in Florence by magistrates who weren’t impartial at all: and this is exactly what Cassation has asserted, addressing the investigators with a clear message, even if they did it by using the available legal formula of territorial incompetence (functional rectius)! 
     
So ended a case of Italian miscarriage of justice, which, besides causing damages to we the defendants, it also caused – and this is even more serious and absolutely unforgivable – the stopping in 2006 of the ongoing investigation into the death of the medical doctor Francesco Narducci in Lake Trasimeno, which was believed to be connected to the serial murders of couples around Florence (the so-called monster of Florence). 

It was seven long years of bitterness.  Seven long years of blocked investigation.  Seven long years of denial of justice to the victims’ relatives.

Seven long years during which the head of State Police held to deontologically [ethically] reprehensible behavior, which was especially serious since we are talking about a man [Manganelli] supposed to be an institutional point of reference for many people who put their lives at risk on a daily basis – who was appointed to occupy a top post (by the way, as we recently learned, a financially very, very well paid post), and he simply abandoned to his fate one police officer [myself] who had a professional history not inferior to his own, though not to his predecessor who held the same post before him.

This officer – leaving aside the solving of the monster of Florence case – was

(1) honored in the fight against the ‘ndrangheta [the Calabrian mafia] (on July 10. 2009 the Chief Prosecutor of Reggio Calabria declared publicly that Giuttari as a detective “created a turning point in the history of fight against ‘ndrangheta”);

(2) honored in the fight against the camorra (when responsible for the judiciary police department of the Anti-Mafia Division of Naples, I was appointed on request of the national Anti-mafia prosecutor Bruno Siclari for travel to South America for an important and dangerous investigation about an international drug traffic and an impressive series of murders);

(3) honored in the fight against the Cosa Nostra, and in particular the investigation of the 1993 mafia massacres of Florence, Rome and Milan (chief prosecutor Vigna, as he concluded the preliminary investigation, sent a letter to the head of the Anti-mafia Division – letter #8/95, sent on 2.2.1995 – where he stressed the officer’s important contribution);     

I could go on.

They were all “pure” investigation , with no contribution from mafia turncoats or cooperators!

And what about the head of the state police?

He didn’t do what he was supposed to in his function as the police chief:

(1) protect his officer, from risks including those deriving from the important police activities accomplished; answer – or make someone answer for his office – the explanatory letters that were sent to him, very detailed letters which had a judicial corroboration today (letters were sent directly to him on 2.20.2010 and 5.20. 2010);

(2) protect him from professional and economical damage (for example by paying in advance, as was his duty, the legal expenses)  since he knew very well that the officer operated in an institutional role, in the name of and on behalf of his administration.

He remained deaf to the various requests which were forwarded by the Minister of Interior himself at that time, he didn’t do anything. Inexplicably, he ignored everything. 

And further, I cannot keep quiet about the punishments against the cooperators in my working team.

None of them was allowed to go back to the Mobile Squad, they were all appointed to totally unrewarding duties such as guard work.  All these humiliations were offenses to the personal dignity of hard working people, as humble servants of the state let alone being police officers. And moreover it was true professional competences that were lost. 

A deafening silence.

I might go on but I want to recall instead what Manganelli did – even at the cost of his own public exposure – in favor of those colleagues who were involved in the Genoa G8 events, the saddest page in the history of Italian police to my memory!

They were actually promoted in their rank and functions! I think about what he did for them, even paying thousands and thousands of euros in advance for their legal expenses and for the provisional damage payments, as reported in newspapers (Il Secolo XIX of 5. 22. 2010, p.6).

A deafening silence.

These of the head of police are conducts reasonably leading anyone to conclude that he used a double standard, he considered his employees, involved in different cases, as divided between “sons and stepsons” (the Genoa case ended with definitive convictions of all on all charges, the case where I was involved was shown to be a judicial flop). 

Or even better put (it is incorrect to call his behavior a “double standard” or a different treatment for “sons and stepsons”)  it was actually two opposite policies, on situations that were opposites to each other.

No, that’s really not good at all. That’s not how it should be. 

And you should not ignore your own employees while you listen to those who are criminally indicted, you have your personal secretary call to fix a hearing at the Ministry with them, and you listen to them while they complain against others who were investigating them by written orders of the Public Minister ! (in the trial papers – no longer officially secret – there are phone call recordings with unequivocal meaning).

the head of police Manganelli was utterly disappointing to me, since he revealed himself to be light-years distant from the man and the officer I happened to know at the beginning of the eighties, before his drift into pernicious “political” things.

Hopefully, soon or later, a parliament inquiry on the Perugia and Florence judicial events will be appointed, to search into the behavior of some institutional personalities. I’ll be ready to offer my contribution to that.

And I’m sure Dr. Mignini will do the same too.

I conclude with a twofold question:  Will the head of police now feel some guil, at least morally as a person? Doesn’t he think he should respond – if not to an ordinary court – to the most severe tribunal of his own conscience, within his internal judgment?

Michele Giuttari,  ex-head of the Florence Mobile Squad

 



[Cover of Michele Gittari’s book “The Evil Dreams of Florence ”]


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some Homework For Curt Knox/Marriott/FOA: How Leaning On Italian Judiciary Can Seriously Misfire

Posted by Peter Quennell





Nicolo Pollari (above) has just been sentenced to ten years and Marco Mancini to nine.

Mr Pollari was the supreme head of Italy’s intelligence agencies - its top spy - and Mr Mancinin was one of his deputies. They were sentenced by a court in Milan.  They were found to be complicit in an act now illegal both in Italy and now the US.

Under the George Bush and Berlusconi regimes, an Egyptian called Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and dispatched to be tortured elsewhere. Revealed not to be a terrorist, he was later released.

Some 26 Americans, mostly CIA, were previously sentenced in Milan for the same crime in absentia. Italian warrants for their arrest are out and those warrants could be submitted to Interpol to be applied worldwide.

These were the outcomes DESPITE elements of the US and Italian governments putting up a tremendous rearguard fight. To their credit the US State Department and Rome Embassy dont seem to have been proactive in this (State was even sued for not providing one CIA operative with diplomatic cover) but bets are they would have hit a wall if they had. .

In an amazing new behind-the-scenes expose of the sordid history of the political strong-arming in The Guardian, in which he praises Italian justice a lot, Glenn Greenwald includes this:

This prosecution was possible in the first instance only because a single Italian magistrate, Armando Spataro, insisted on pursuing it despite all sorts of attacks against him.

This 2009 Der Spiegel article reports that, as a result of his pursuit of the case, “his communications were monitored, the Italian intelligence service placed him under observation and there were even investigations into whether he had betrayed state secrets.

The government tried again and again to silence him. But the magistrates ignored those repressive efforts, eventually even seizing [chief CIA operative] Robert Lady’s retirement villa in Italy to cover court costs.

Numerous cables show Italian officials, especially Berlusconi himself, attacking the Italian magistrates and assuring the US that Italian courts would eventually stop them.

One 2005 US cable celebrates that Minister of Justice Roberto Castelli “took the unusual step of publicly criticizing a member of Italy’s highly independent magistracy” over this case, specifically that he “called Armando Spataro a “militant’. meaning a communist”...

That public denunciation of the magistrate happened, recounted the US cable, after he “presented Castelli with requests for the provisional arrest in contemplation of extradition for 22 Americans involved in the alleged rendition of Egyptian Imam Abu Omar from Milan.”

Does this sound at all familiar?! There seem to be good lessons here for Curt Knox, David Marriott and the FOA.

Italian justice may take its sweet time (deliberately so, because of the Post World War II constitution) but all important cases are an opera in three acts - and no perp should think he or she is home free (and start writing books) at the end of Act II.

And prosecutors should never ever be leaned on because they invariably push back and most have the firm support of powerful colleagues - not the hapless Judge Hellmann, though, who the Council of Magistrates has made quite sure is gone.

Note that under Italian law criminal defamation suits by officialdom can be brought in Italy even if the serial slimers are across the Atlantic and believe distance or a helpful government is on their side.

The first of the suits against Sollecito for the multiple defamation in his book could be filed any day now, and Andrew Gumbel and Simon & Schuster executives might find targets on their own backs.

Roll on, the Amanda Knox interview and book!  We’ll see if anyone by then grew a brain.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Barbie Nadeau Reports On A Mystery Disappearance That Is Now Gripping Italy

Posted by Peter Quennell





This MAY be a kidnapping. It concerns Italian fashion house head Vittorio Missoni.

Missoni and several others took off for a short flight from a Caribbean island to Venzuela where he was to board a plane to Italy. One main problem is that so far in clear though very deep water there is absolutely no sign of any wreckage.

Usually in light aircraft crashes in water a few things remain on the surface or soon float to the top. How Barbie Nadeau describes the second main problem.

But more disturbing is a series of cellphone anomalies. On Jan. 6, according to Italian wire service ANSA, more than 48 hours after the plane disappeared, the cellphone belonging to fellow passenger Guido Foresti sent a message to Foresti’s son indicating that the phone was back in range after being out of that zone since earlier that day. Calls made later to both Foresti and his wife’s number indicated that the phones were off.

A day later, calls to Foresti’s wife’s phone rang 10 times before automatically transferring through to the phone’s answering service, indicating that her phone was also momentarily on or back in cell-tower range. According to several Italian newspapers, a list of calls registered by the local Venezuelan telephone carrier the Italians’ phones were roaming through showed that both the Foresti phones made a series of calls at noon on Jan. 4, several hours after the plane disappeared.

The search continues. As with so many Italian fashion houses (see image at bottom) there is an elegant store in Manhattan.



















Posted on 01/19/13 at 12:10 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Giulia Bongiorno Loses A High Profile Case Watched All Over Europe And May Soon Lose Another

Posted by Peter Quennell





Crime fascinates Italians but unfortunately (or fortunately) there isnt that much of it in Italy.

The real national pasttime is soccer as the thousands of YouTubes and Google images and news reports and hundreds of blogs attest. The case Giulia Borngiorno has just so publicly lost concerns the coach Antonio Conte (image below) of the crack Turin club Juventus. 

The Juventus coach Antonio Conte is set to miss the whole of the Serie A season with the defending champions after losing his appeal against a 10-month ban over a match-fixing scandal.

Conte, who led an undefeated Juventus to the Italian title in his first season in charge, was banned on 10 August for failing to report two incidents of match-fixing in the 2010-11 season when he was coach of Siena.

The Italian federation (FIGC) said in a statement on Wednesday that Conte, whose hearing was heard on Monday, had lost his appeal.

Giulia Bongiorno seems to have a tendency to be a sore loser. La Gazetta del Sporto quotes her “the dog ate my homework” excuse thus:

Giulia Bongiorno said — “We were not given the opportunity to defend ourselves to the full. This is a violation of constitutional rights which go far beyond these issues. Negotiating sentences is becoming very attractive for those who falsely turn state’s evidence,” said Giulia Bongiorno, Antonio Conte’s legal representative.

“If you examine Carobbio and find him not credible, and if you take one of his crutches away (the charges regarding Novara v Siena, Ed), the other one will collapse too, because Conte is being charged with the same thing for Siena v AlbinoLeffe. Carobbio is a bit like Jessica Rossi at the Olympics, and the only clay-pigeon missed is Novara v Siena. And our intention was not to obtain a reduction in the sentence, if it had been we would have negotiated.”

This is the most public case Bongiorno has lost since the Andreotti mafia-connection appeal in 2002. She was on the defense against Prosecutor Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari.

This is the same Dr. Sergio Matteini Chiari who as the highly competent head of the Umbria courts’ criminal division was first nominated to preside over the Sollecito-Knox appeal.

Giulia Bongiorno, who did some very odd things during the trial and appeal to ensure winning, at least one of which is being investigated, is also the powerful head of the justice committee in the parliament.

Is that the mother of all conflicts of interest or what?! We know of no parallel in any other country and it seems highly unconstitutional. Nevertheless, despite all the caution of the Italian justice system, this conflict is allowed to persist.

In November 2002 Prosecutor Chiari won his prosecution appeal, and the ex-PM Mr Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years (later reversed by the Supreme Court).

Giulia Bongiorno was widely reported as collapsing in court at the verdict, and seemed to take it very hard.

Fast forward to 2010.  Suddenly Giulia Bongiorno is about to face Dr Chiari once again, as a judge in what was to be a very tough appeal. Under UK and US law, she would have had to be the one to step aside, or not even take the case back in 2008.

But she didn’t step aside.

Instead, all of a sudden, lo and behold, her nemesis back in 2002 is yanked off the 2011 appeal trial, and seemingly demoted to head the childrens’ branch of the court. Meanwhile, labor judge Hellmann is in effect promoted, into being the lead judge in the murder appeal.

Who made the call from Rome that fixed this suspicious judge rearrangement? Rumors around Perugia suggest that maybe it was made or inspired by the head of the justice committee in the parliament. 

True or not, the seriously out-of-his-depth labor judge Hellmann joined the seriously out-of-his-depth civil judge Zanetti - and produced an appeal verdict and reasoning the chief prosecutor of Umbria Dr Galati sees as a complete fiasco.

Contending with the myriad illegalities of this reasoning is for Dr Galati like shooting fish in a barrel. Bongiorno may soon be facing yet another big loss if Cassation accept his prosecution arguments.

As they say, always be careful what you wish for. Wishing for Hellmann might have been a bridge too far.



Friday, May 25, 2012

Italy Works With Australia On A Complex And Possibly Precedent Setting Case

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Above: Australian Broadcasting Corporation report from Brisbane posted 3 days ago]


Italy has the reputation of being among the more diligent of countries in respecting international law and conventions. So does Australia.

But now they find themselves in a strange kabuki dance fraught with international tension, courtesy of two divorced parents.

The image below with the faces disguised appeared yesterday on Facebook. It shows an Italian father and his four daughters on the coast near Brisbane in Australia. With one newspaper exception which could result in a heavy fine, no Italian or Australian newspapers are publishing their names.

The reason is that this is a battle over illegal child abduction and both countries have laws shielding the minors. The mother is an Australian who married an Italian in Italy and they had the four children there. When they were divorced the mother and father were awarded joint custody so the father would get to see his daughters half of the time.

Two years ago the mother took off back to Australia with the girls. The Australian authorities were starting to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which says cases must he handled speedily and the country of origin has sole rights over matters of custody.

The mother missed a court-ordered deadline of 15 May for a return of the children to the father who had flown to Australia to get them. They went into hiding but were tracked down by police to a house or hotel on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. 

It now appear that the four girls want to remain in Australia, and although under the Hague Convention they dont as minors have separate rights, majority Australian sympathy may be on their side. The mother has just made claims about the father which he has denounced and hence the image of himself and the girls below which he posted on Facebook.

The precedent is in whether the children should have a say, the resolution of which could affect future abduction cases world-wide.  Australia’s High Court will decide the case one way or another this August.

Here’s a past post on a remarkably similar case. Liam is still in Italy.



Posted on 05/25/12 at 10:48 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Italy Continues The Search For True Justice In A 30 Year Old Case

Posted by Peter Quennell





Nothing if not tenacious, those Italian prosecutors and police - and Italian TV on which the victim’s family never stopped pressing.

This is the case of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican citizen, who disappeared in 1983.  At the time the Vatican was much in the news because of a banking scandal that spread to London and because of an attempt made on the Pope’s life.

The Vatican is back in the news now because finally it stopped blocking for unclear reasons the exhumation of a crime gang leader who for unclear reasons was buried under a Vatican basilica in Rome.  The exhumation has now been done and there were some extra bones and pending tests may show that they are Emanuela’s.

The New York Times says there are at least three theories that could explain the disappearance and probable murder of Emanuela.

In 2005, an anonymous phone call to a television program about the disappearance added a piece to the puzzle:

“To find the solution to the case go and see who’s buried in the crypt of the basilica of Sant’Apollinare,” an unidentified man said, referring to the tomb of the local mob boss, Enrico De Pedis, known as Renatino, who was gunned down in Rome in 1990.

The caller also implied that Emanuela had been kidnapped as a favor to Cardinal Ugo Poletti, who in 1983 was the vicar general of Rome.  Cardinal Poletti died in 1997, and Archbishop Marcinkus in 2006.

Questions remain about why Mr. De Pedis, a member of the Magliana crime gang, was buried in a church owned by the Holy See. His tomb is in a small locked room in a crypt under the church…

To lay rumors to rest that the Vatican had obstructed investigations into Emanuela’s disappearance, last month the Holy See agreed to the opening of Mr. De Pedis’s tomb.

Whether the police can now narrow down to a single theory we soon shall see. After 30 years they are still doing what they can for the real victim. And her family never rests.

Below: images of Emanuela’s brother Pietro, a Vatican protest, and the exhumation yesterday of Mr De Pedis.














Posted on 05/15/12 at 08:59 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Italy Handles Wrongful Death of An American With Usual Efficiency And Real Respect For The Victim

Posted by Peter Quennell





This story has had great play in Italy - there are dozens of video reports - but little play in the US and almost none elsewhere.

San Giovanni Valdarno is a small town one hour’s drive north of Perugia, about two-thirds of the way to Florence in Tuscany which is one of the most visited areas in Italy. Many foreigners have villas there.

Allison Owens. aged 23, from Columbus in Ohio, was a tour guide there. She was last seen alive on Sunday 2 October. Worried for her safety, her friends stirred up a manhunt of the area, which came to include over 100 police with dogs.

After three days of searching, her body was found in a pond on the other side of a crash barrier from a busy highway. She was wearing jogging clothes, and her IPod headphones were still around her head.

The autopsy on her body confirmed that she had been hit by a vehicle, and with lots of publicity the search was on for a hit-and-run driver.

Local resident Pietro Stefanoni turned himself in to the San Giovanni Valdarno police on 7 October after he had already had the damage to his Volvo repaired.

He claimed that he fell asleep at the wheel and only woke when his car side-swiped the crash barrier. He claimed that he went back to the same spot a day or two later to see if he had caused any damage, but did not see any.

Stefanoni did not report the accident. He claimed that it was only several days later that he heard on the news that the police were looking for a hit-and-run driver. Thereupon, in the company of the Florence lawyer Francesco Maresca, he went to the police and was arrested.

He requested the abbreviated fast-track trial procedure (which Rudy Guede also took advantage of in 2008) but which nevertheless resulted, for manslaughter, in a tough sentence: 39 months behind prison bars, and an interim award of nearly $400,000 payable to the Owens family.

The prosecutor had cast Stefanoni’s actions subsequent to his knowingly or unknowingly hitting Allison in a very bad light, and the judge appeared to have concluded that he handed himself in only when he became convinced he would be caught.

Not much is published about the life of Allison Owens, but she is very sunny in all her images. Her family and friends clearly loved her and miss her, and through very careless driving Pietro Stefanoni has made havoc of their world.

Her hard-hit family from Ohio were in court. Thankfully, the case was efficiently and sensitively handled by the Italian authorities, with great support from the Italian media and the public. 

Zero sign a pretty American was resented.



















Friday, March 02, 2012

The Irony In A Legal Standoff Between Italy And (Normally Its Good Friend) India

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Cantilevered fishing nets. There are hundreds of these along the ocean shore and harbor of Kochi.]


Images here are of the beautiful and comparatively wealthy south-west India city of Cochin (Kochi).

Also of an Italian oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, which was ordered into the Kochi port mid-February by the Indian coastguard. Two Italian marine snipers guarding the tanker en route from Singapore to Egypt had shot two Indian fishermen on a small tuna boat assuming they were pirates.

The marines do seem to have been rather quick on the draw, and in contravention of a new IMO law of the sea saying violence during such incidents must be kept to a minimum. The tanker had apparently already been attacked once that day; shots had apparently been fired then too.

Indian accounts say India has behaved reasonably. The incident was in an area the Indian navy makes a serious effort to keep safe (images also below) even though most ships cruising along the busy sea-lane off Kochi (map below) don’t touch base in India and provide no benefit to the Indian economy. 

The Italian tanker has been released now and is on its way, but the two Italian marines are still under house arrest in the house shown below, while a discussion between the two governments continues over where they should be put on trial.

The Italian government is arguing that as the marines are military personnel therefore Italian military law trumps Indian civil law and they must be put on trial in Italy.

Okay. Now for the irony. Read the posts here and here. The US government made the same argument twice against Italy, and to say the least Italy was not too happy.

Pssst. Don’t tell India.

At bottom: Another Italian ship in trouble in the Indian Ocean. This is the fire-stricken Carnival cruise line ship Costa Allegra (yes that Carnival cruise line) unloading its disconsolate passengers in the Seychelles.






























Posted on 03/02/12 at 12:02 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Learning Experiences Emerging From The Carnival Ship Disaster Off Italy’s West Coast

Posted by Peter Quennell





Value migrations force better systems upon us, and so the human race progresses…

Check out first what seems to be happening to value as a result of the Costa Concordia wreck, as reflected in the stockmarket chart just below.  Stockmarkets and currency exchange rates constitute the value votes of a lot of watchful people trying to decide where to put their money.

Italy has no independent currency any more, so Italy sorely lacks that other very useful value indicator and safety valve.  But stockmarket behavior is telling us a lot both about Italy and about the Carnival cruise line.

In the past three months during which the main American index, the Dow-Jones (red curve), gained an okay 8 percent, the Italian stockmarket index (green curve) gained a very impressive 30 percent.

The main news out of Italy in those three months was (1) the austerity plan, which in theory is setting the stage for future growth (toward which there was some cynicism), and (2) the recovery from the wreck of the Costa Concordia (toward which the doubts were even greater).

You can see a slight blip down in the green curve immediately after the wreck, but then Italy continued with speedy value migration inward.  It seems fair to say “Well done Italy. You’ve received votes of international confidence on both fronts.”

Carnival, however, rather less-so.. The blue curve is the stock price of Carnival Cruise Lines and it’s still down about 12 percent since the wreck happened which is about $3 billion off Carnival’s market valuation. All cruise lines seem to have taken something of a hit and are likely to encounter other heat to make sure they all keep improving.


Check out now what is happening to systems.

It seems clear that the captain was steering the ship while he was a bit tiddly while showing off to what increasingly appears to have been his girlfriend by his side. By international and Carnival rules (1) the captain should not have been drinking, (2) he should not have been five miles off course, (3) the Moldovan dancer should not have been on the bridge, and (4) the captain should have been a lot more careful in his navigating.

So four systems at least were violated.

Then when the ship was beached - there is some uncertainty as to whether this was deliberate or whether the captain was just putting the ship in shallow water -  (5) damage to ship bulkheads was much more than expected, adding to the high number of deaths, (6) the lifeboats were almost impossible to launch, and (7) the evacuation procedures almost totally broke down - in part because there had been no evacuation drill before the ship left the port of Rome, and in part because the captain went awol and was already standing on the beach.

That is far from an exhaustive list and systems changes implemented after the 9/11 attack numbered up in the hundreds - military responses, building techniques, city preparedness, corporate distribution of their people and physical assets. We will see the same happen here. 

Right now we are watching what appear to be two very efficient systems cutting in and doing their work. One is the recovery of the oil from the ship and then the ship itself. And the other is the Italian legal system, which is going to be kept busy with this one for years.

There is increasing evidence that the single Moldovan dancer and the married captain were having some sort of affair.  She briefly admitted as much, telling a court she loved him, and the searchers and divers may have found her effects in his cabin.

He may now face 2,500 years in prison to reflect on the importance of respecting systems and the value of peoples’ lives. . 





Posted on 02/10/12 at 12:31 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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