Analysis #1 Of Testimony Of Marco Chiacchiera, Director, Organized Crime Section, Flying Squad

Posted by Cardiol MD

Dr Chiacchiera with Dr Comodi explaining reason for charges in another case

Overview Of This Series

Yet another vital translation which will be posted in the trial testimony areaof McCall’s great Wiki. This again is translated by the ever-dedicated main posterr ZiaK.

Although I graduated as a medical doctor I also graduated as a lawyer, and was often in courtrooms. For this post and the rest of the Chiacchiera series I am wearing my lawyer’s hat to point out what strikes me in Prosecutor Comodi’s questions,  Marco Chiacchiera’s testimony, and the cross-examinations by defense lawyers.

Prior Preparations And Procedures

Under the Italian Code, before the beginning of the trial phase in Italy, the parties file a brief, detailing all evidence they want to present – the parties have to indicate by name every witness and precisely what these will be asked. The aims include creation of a Record of Admissible Facts.

Also under the Italian Code, both the defendant and the prosecutor can cross-examine each other’s witnesses. The Judge may choose not to admit any testimony that appears patently superfluous, reject irrelevant or improper or irregular questions – such as leading questions, and Inadmissible Hearsay – and also ask questions to the witnesses and experts.

Ground Covered In Dr Chiacchiera’s Testimony

    (1) He found Knox and Sollecito uncooperative when he asked them questions.

    (2) Saw evidence contradicting any lone burglar theory and indicating that the “break-In” to Romanelli’s room was faked.

    (3) Phone records and the police investigation into the accused phone activity the night of the murder.

    (4) Discovery of pornographic magazines at Sollecito’s house.

    (5) Details of how the large knife, Exhibit 36, was collected from Sollecito’s and the evidence that it is the murder knife.

My Assessment Of This Court Exchange

It is immediately obvious to me that this witness is a skilled witness; as such, and given his deep hands-on involvement in the immediate investigation this witness’s testimony is credible.  My assessment therefore is that this was a very good and unflinching witness and that Dr Comodi shows no signs of leading the witness or seeking other than a truthful record.

I have seen prosecutors examine witnesses differently but dont believe the resultant record would have been superior. This would have stood up well in any American court.

Public Prosecutor Comodi [MC]

MC:  Dr Chiacchiera, you carried out your duties where, when, at what moment of the events?

MaCh:  I was and am the director of the Organized Crime Section of the Flying Squad and I am the vice-director of the Flying Squad. The Organized Crime Section is a branch of the Flying Squad that deals with … the term, I think that in this place [i.e. the court] it is enough to say that it deals with organized crime. However, I am also the vice-director of the Flying Squad, for which [reason] I deal with, in the case of need, everything that is necessary [for] the various aspects.

{Witness supplies 5 items of relevant information that Examiner should elicit at beginning of examination.}

MC:  Can you tell the Court how you became aware of events, who called you, when you became involved?

{Examiner asks another triple-question}

MaCh:  Yes.

{Witness simply answers question as worded by Examiner}

MC:  For now, start to tell us, then maybe I will intervene [NdT: i.e. interrupt with further questions] if necessary.

{Examiner, asking no Q, instructs witness, suggesting provisional forbearance if witness does not make interruptions necessary.}

MaCh:  On the fateful day, at around 12:33, I had gone to the cemetery with my mother. The operations room called me immediately after the discovery of the body.

{Witness begins appropriate narrative response, but Examiner interrupts}

MC:  So the 113? [NdT: 113 is the Italian State Police emergency number]

{Examiner interrupts witness with a Q, suggesting witness's receipt of call from an emergency number, but suggests wrong source-number}

MaCh:  110. The operations room of the Questura called me, and informed me of the happenings in an initially obviously very summarized manner. They said to me that there was a suspicious death, a young woman who lived in via della Pergola. I rushed to the place directly in my mother’s car. I didn’t stop by at the Questura, I didn’t go to get the service [i.e. police] car. I got myself taken to via della Pergola. We took about 15 minutes from the cemetery to there, ten fifteen minutes. In the meantime, I phoned the deputy Commissioner Napoleoni, in the temporary absence of the director, Dr Profazio, who arrived later, who was … he was enjoying a period of leave, and with deputy Commissioner Napoleoni we arrived almost at the same time. We arrived almost simultaneously at the premises. Forensics, too, arrived almost at the same time at the premises.

{Witness supplies correct source-number and resumes interrupted narrative response}

MC:  The Perugia Forensics?

{Examiner questions witness's correction, as if to verify and to ensure accuracy of court's record}

MaCh:  The Perugia Forensics, I highlight, yes.

{Witness emphatically agrees with Examiner's question}

MC:​[They were] alerted by you, or ...?

{Examiner pauses mid-Q, inviting witness to guess complete Q, or is interrupted}

MaCh:​Alerted by the operations room, and also alerted by me.
{Witness responds to invitation, or interrupts with A to assumed complete Q}

MC:​So you arrive, and who do you find?

{Examiner's 1st simple Q.}

MaCh: ​I found there ... there was already deputy Commissioner Napoleoni, there were also a few of Meredith’s co-tenants. There was Amanda Knox, there was Raffaele Sollecito. There were two young men who were, I believe, the friend of the boyfriend of one of the co-tenants. In short, there were a few people who had already been inside the house. There was the Postal Police.

{Witness answers Q in reasonable detail}

MC:​In the person of…?

{Examiner seeks more detail re specific Postal Police Personnel}

MaCh: ​Battistelli and another of Battistelli’s colleagues. Inspector Battistelli, with whom there was immediately a discussion in order to understand what were the reasons for his intervention there, because it is not normal to find the Postal [police] in a crime of this sort. And he explained to me immediately what was the reason for his intervention. The origin of the, shall we way of his intervention, was due to the discovery of a pair of cellphones in a period of time, I believe, of an hour, [or] two, I don’t recall clearly, that were one in the name of one of Meredith’s co-tenants and one in the name of, later it [sic] … I mean the SIM [card], obviously, the cellphones’ SIMs, the cards, they were in the name of a co-tenant and the other in Meredith’s [name]. The co-tenant, however, then told us, we then ascertained that both of the cellphones in fact were used by Meredith. And already that was, how shall we say, a first detail on which we began to reflect because, in fact, that was an element than in some way made us [become] immediately occupied/involved from an investigative point of view.

{Witness responds to Q and includes relevant amplifying narrative, anticipating probable future Qs re cellphones}

MC: ​So, excuse me, also if the Court already, shall we say, knows this, because others have reported it, on this point however, where were the cellphones found?

{Examiner seems to interrupt with simple Q to clarify specific relevant fact not yet reached}

MaCh:​Inside the garden of a villa that is in via Sperandio.

{Witness responds appropriately}

MC:​In via Sperandio.

{Probably a Q, but implicitly inviting more specificity}

MaCh: ​A villa that ... I am Perugian, [and] honestly, I didn’t even know there was a villa there. I’m Perugian, and I swear that I would have sworn [sic] that behind there was a wood.

{Witness flounders, seems unable to be more specific}

MC:​A field

{Probably a Q, but implicitly inviting more specificity}

MaCh: ​It [was] the first time that I went in behind there. Instead, I see a marvelous old mansion with an enormous garden that gives ... that is almost adjacent to the street – the street that leads towards Ponte Rio. Anyone from Perugia understands me maybe.

{Witness seems to be in informal conversational mode}

MC: ​From the structure of the fencing/enclosure, could you tell, shall we say, whether it was possible to throw these cellphones from the street, or whether it was necessary to enter the garden itself?

{Examiner engages witness, and asks Q to clarify how cellphones got into that garden}

MaCh: ​Yes, obviously, we checked that. In fact, immediately, in short, the detail that seemed, how shall we say, of great investigative interest was that [very point], besides other details that I will go [into] a bit [sic], so to speak, also to give the impression of what the immediate impact was that we saw in the moment when we found ourselves in a situation of this type. So, deputy Napoleoni immediately entered inside the house in order to check it for herself. I did it [entered] shortly afterwards, also because [as] you will imagine that in that moment whoever was there had to notify all those who [sic], amongst whom Dr Mignini who was the Public Prosecutor on duty, and immediately give orders so that the correct checks are carried out. Because it was not just a crime scene that had to be analysed immediately: there also had to be, how shall we say, correlated with the information that we had got from via Sperandio – because the entry of the Postal [police in the case] originated with via Sperandio. And so we immediately asked ourselves: “Ah, what are these cellphones belonging to poor Meredith doing inside the garden of a villa?” And then And then immediately after, we asked ourselves, obviously, what might be the profile of the possible, or probable, murderer, and we discussed/talked about the crime scene. The crime scene immediately seemed fairly strange to us, if you wish [NdT: literally “if we wish” in Italian, but meaning the same as “shall we say”, “if you wish”, “so to speak” etc.]

{Witness responds to Q with detailed narrative}


{Examiner asks ambiguous Q, probably wrt crime scene seeming "fairly strange "}

MaCh:​Because the door did not show… the entry door to the villa did not show signs of break-in. The we checked …

{Witness seems to decipher ambiguity correctly, begins narrative response, but is interrupted by Examiner}

MC:​We are not talking about the villa on via Sperandio obviously?

{Examiner interrupts with Q, apparently not comprehending Witness's narratives}

MaCh: ​For the love of god! It was called a “villa” … (overlap of voices), let’s say the house, of the house on via della Pergola there was no forcing/break-in. We found a forcing on the window. The window is this one, on the side of the house. I don’t know if you’ve seen the house? Anyhow, it is this one on the side of the house that can be seen immediately when you come down the slope from the gate. Logically reconstructing the thing, a hypothetical prowler [NdT: literally “ill-intentioned person”] who entered the house, breaking the glass with a rock - because inside the room, which was Romanelli’s room, which was the, shall we say, hypothetical arena of the entry, was completely in utter chaos. For that reason, what should we have hypothesized? That the hypothetical prowler took a rock, managed to throw the rock; the shutters, the external ones, the external shutters were not …

{Witness is exasperated at Examiner's apparent incomprehension, is repeating his previous testimony, but is interrupted by Examiner}

MC:​The dark-green wooden ones?

{Examiner interrupts with Leading Q re colour of external shutters. Now begins a confused and confusing colloquy. The arrangement of Filomena Romanelli’s window, with Outside, and Inside Shutters, the Broken-Glass-Frame in-between, and the glass-splinters on the window-sill is complicated and needs a picture-exhibit that the witness can refer-to; this is apparently not provided, leading to the confusions}

MaCh:​The dark-green wooden ones were half shut, for which reason [he] must have had an aim like “Pecos Bill” [NdT: a cartoon Wild West cowboy], takes aim and throws that rock, smashes the window. After, he climbs up and does a turn on the little slope, and has to clamber up towards the window on the smooth surface, it seems to me, that from the ground up to the window there are two and a half metres-three [metres]. And then would have said: “bah, in short” [sic]. Yeah, well, the thing seemed to us…. in short, the first hypothesis that the investigator normally does, finds a level of unlikelihood of this kind of happening. After which, we looked at the house and we saw that an entry of a potential prowler [ill-intentioned person], still reasoning on the hypothesis…

{Witness amplifies narrative response but is interrupted by Examiner}

MC:​Of theft.

{Examiner inappropriately interrupts, incorrectly guessing what witness was about to say}

MaCh: ​Of theft ending badly. Of theft that then degenerates because the burglar in some way thinks that he will find no-one in the house and instead finds a person, and then it degenerates … We saw that there were easier means of entry, without wishing to bore you, but behind the house there was the possibility of climbing in a much easier way, without being seen by people that might have passed in the road. Let’s remember that, in short, it was not very late; quite the contrary. Normally people passed there, for which reason, if [he] had done it, the thing would probably have been seen. That thing there, as an hypothesis, we didn’t immediately discount it, that’s clear, because it’s a good rule to never discount any hypothesis. But we immediately considered that it was not a priority.

{Witness corrects Examiner's wrong guess, amplifies and seems to end narrative response}

MC:​Dr Chiacchiera, I interrupt you. (The witness is shown an exhibit.)

{Examiner, seems to acknowledge her habit of interruptions without actually interrupting, while introducing an unspecified exhibit. This introduction seems very informal, because Exhibits are normally identified by an assigned title.}

MaCh:​Ah! I didn’t remember it as being so big.

{Witness recognizes unspecified exhibit}

MC:​Precisely! You saw it? This is the rock that ...

{Examiner engages witness, stating it is "the rock".}

MaCh:​Yes, but it has been some time I have not, how shall we say, yes, I saw it. Absolutely.
However, it’s big, it’s huge.

{Witness engages Examiner, commenting on how large the rock exhibit is}

MC:​Do you consider that it could be this?

{Examiner ambiguously (what are "it" & "this "?) asks witness's opinion}

MaCh:​I believe so.

{Witness seems to overlook ambiguity of Q with vague A)

MC:​I try …

{Examiner begins to speak but is interrupted}

Judge Massei [GCM]:​How?

{Court interrupts as if to ask Q how Examiner 'tries'}

MC:​It is this. Yes, it is this one that was collected, yes, that was found.

{Witness seems to confirm that exhibited rock is the rock found in Filomena’s room}

GCM:​So the rock is shown. [NdT: an “aside” for the court records?]

{Court formally announces admission of rock-exhibit, seemingly trying to reduce confusion caused by informal dialogue}

MaCh:​Inside the room where we then found the rock…
??:​But what was the question about the rock?

{Witness amplifies that rock had been found in a room, but enquires re rock Q, exposing confusion caused by informal dialogue}

GCM:​If this was the rock. And the witness said ...

{Court begins explanation to confused witness}

MaCh:​I said yes. Yes.

{Witness interrupts Court - confusion reigns}

GCM:​You saw it? You saw the rock?

{Court asks witness 2 Qs, trying to clarify that 'it' refers to 'the rock' that witness saw.}


{Witness confirms that witness had previously seen the rock introduced into court as an unlisted exhibit.}

GCM:​When you saw it, where was it?

{Court proceeds to clarify confusion re where the rock was when witness originally saw the rock}

MaCh:​The rock [was] in the room of Romanelli.

{Witness specifically testifies, for witness's first time, that when witness originally saw the rock, the rock was in Filomena Romanelli’s room}

GCM:​How far from the window? Can you say?

{Court continues to seek clarification using double-Q.}

MaCh: ​A few centimetres [NdT: “un palmo” = “a hand’s width”] from the window sill, under the window, from the wall where the window is.

{Witness testifies clearly in answer to Court's 1st Q of above double-Q.}

GCM:​So from the internal perimeter wall, from where the window gives onto it, a “hand’s breadth”. So 20 centimetres…

{Court apparently begins to seek verification of witness's testimony, but is interrupted}

MaCh:​Mr President ....

{Witness begins to Interrupt Court}

GCM:​... away from it approximately.

{Court finishes his interrupted statement}


{Witness agrees with Court's completed statement}

GCM:​And this is the rock. You remember it.

{Court states his understanding in form of Qs.}

MaCh:​Yes, yes, yes, yes. That is the rock.

{Witness impatiently agrees with Court's understanding}

MC:​At least as far as size and colour [are concerned], it corresponds thus to the one that was collected [as evidence].

{Examiner makes statements in form of Q, seeking verification of resemblance of exhibit-rock to original rock}

MaCh:​At least as far as size and colour [are concerned], it absolutely corresponds. If it was collected, I think that ...

{Witness begins narrative agreement with statements of Examiner, but is apparently interrupted by Examiner}

MC: ​Very well. WITNESS [sic? Should be MaCh?] and Romanelli’s room was a complete shambles. The clothes were on the floor, the glass was strangely on top of the clothes, the [glass] shards were strangely on top of the … on the windowsill, let’s put it that way.

{Apparent Transcriptional confusion attributing to interrupted witness narrative the interrupting .statement of Examiner}

MC:​The outside one.

{Examiner seems to amplify statement of Examiner wrt which window-shutter witness had been referring-to}

MaCh: ​The outside one, precisely. The one that is between the shutters and the shutters [sic. NdT: “imposte” in Italian, but this can also mean shutters, or flap, as in the inner “scuri” shutters, or he may mean the window-frame itself, with the window-panes, given his following description], the green shutters and the shutters, the broken ones in short, where the glass is. The shutters – the wooden ones. The rock was a bit too close with regard to the wall if I [were to] throw it from least two metres. Unless it was lobbed [i.e. thrown in a high arc]. But in that case it’s rather unlikely that it would smash the glass. For that reason, I repeat, in the context of immediate likelihood, this one …

{Witness agrees with Examiner that he was referring to "The outside one", continuing with narrative of reasoning, but is interrupted by Examiner…}

MC:​Yes, it’s true. These are considerations. However they are considerations, shall we say, that refer [sic], because they are reasoning/lines of thought that are formed in the “immediacy” of the events [NdT: i.e. “in the immediate aftermath”. NOTE: throughout the text, a number of speakers use “immediatezza” (lit. “immediacy”) to convey a number of meanings, from “in the immediate aftermath”, or “in the immediate surroundings”, or “very soon after”, etc. I will translate them appropriately according to the context, without further explanation of the use of “immediatezza”], in order to proceed in one direction rather than another.

{Examiner, interrupting witness, apparently agreeing with witness's reasoning. While Examiner is apparently stating his own argumentative reservations re the possible evolution-in-time of witness's changing lines of reasoning, he is interrupted by Giulia Bongiorno, Sollecito defense lawyer:}

Giulia Bongiorno [GB]: ​I never like to interrupt an examination [of a witness], however if one wanted, between the Public Prosecutor’s hypotheses, to do that [sic] of demonstrating that from a ballistic point of view it is not possible, then the ballistic expert should be called.

{GB interrupts Examiner to comment that Witness and Examiner are expressing opinions on Ballistics that require the testimony of a Ballistic Expert.}

MC:​But in fact, his considerations are not the considerations of an expert: they are the considerations of an investigator who made certain deductions in the immediacy of the events.

{Examiner argues that witness's testimony is that of an investigator's temporal train of thought.}

MaCh:​It happens to us too, at times, to reason/think rationally …

{Witness joins colloquy, amplifying Examiner's argument.}

GCM:​These reasonings/deductions, then determined your investigative activity in one direction rather than in an …?

{Court seems to invite further amplification by witness}

MaCh: ​Yes, obviously, Mr President. I was trying to ... (overlap of voices) it is a premiss/basis to be able to then, how shall we say, reach – I won’t say conclusions – but in order to try to understand what our way of broaching the thing was, there and then. We had, I reassert, reasoned immediately also on via Sperandio. So the first thing, I may say, [was] the unlikelihood, or at any rate it was not the top priority hypothesis, the one of a prowler/ill-intentioned person entering. The open door without signs of break-in. But above all, a young woman who is [sic] probably killed in her own room, nude or almost nude, with a wound of that type, in a lake of blood, covered with a duvet. I repeat, the door was not smashed/wrecked, there’s a broken … a window broken with a thrown rock, how can I say, it’s obvious that we immediately found this situation as … (overlap of voices).

MaCh:​… particular.

{Witness further amplifies narrative}

GCM:​You formed these considerations, and what did they lead you to?

{Court asks simple Q.}

MaCh: ​That very probably the author or authors knew the person, or at any rate that the author or authors did not enter … did not enter from the window-pane of that window.

{Witness responds with his conclusion that the authors of the faked break-in did not enter from the window-pane of that window.}

GCM: ​Excuse me a moment, just to give some guidelines, but of the evaluations that the witness is expressing, obviously it’s not that they can be taken account of, however we will acquire them [for the trial files] in order to understand the investigation activities, the appropriateness of the investigations that were carried out, directed in one way or in another, there you go. However, maybe, … there you go, yes, maybe if we can manage to keep with the bare essentials this will help everybody.

{Court proceedings seem to have been diverted into a free-for-all colloquy, with multiple participants chiming-in, and creating confusion. Court-President, GCM, now politely intervenes, apparently trying to restore order, ruling that the professional evaluations made by the witness, testified-to by the witness, should be admitted for the trial files. The appropriateness of the witness's evaluations can be dealt with separately and later.}

This segment of Chiacchiera’s Testimony re the Crime Scene, which he believed had been remodeled by the criminals to dupe Investigators into believing that there had been a burglary, committed by a single criminal, is paused here because it is so prolonged.

Analysis of Chiacchiera’s Testimony will continue in a future post.



Thank you so much for this.  I am a transcriptionist by trade and know how difficult this must have been with multiple speakers.  Anything that brings us closer to the truth is awesome!  Thanks again.

Posted by zinnia on 09/16/14 at 10:46 PM | #

Yet another tilt to defendants is the right of defense lawyers to simply leap in during complex testimony, when (as in the UK and US) they could easily wait their turn on cross-examination or appeal to the judge that they want to make a point and have it ruled.

Judge Massei did a good job getting beyond these induced chaoses, but Judge Hellmann (who was not a criminal judge) and his court sometimes morphed into a complete zoo.

There are arguments for RS and AK having been tried together and arguments for them being tried separately.

One big plus for the perps being tried together is there were an awful lot of trigger-happy defense lawyers looking to trip prosecutors and witnesses up.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 09/17/14 at 08:46 AM | #

It’s in the interest of defendants to flood the case with fabricated, real & imagined reasons-to-doubt. OJ Simpson’s team refined the tactic in the US, and Italy is fertile soil for it, c.f. Hellmann.

The confusions triggered in this Post’s exchanges exemplify it, as Pete points-out.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 09/17/14 at 09:20 AM | #

Of course, fertile as is the Italian legal soil for those defendant try-ons, Cassation is there to settle their hash, also c.f. Hellmann.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 09/17/14 at 09:28 AM | #

ZiaK makes smooth transitions for the reader as she translates several voices and sometimes a melee of interruptions in court. How sad that Dr. Chiacchiera went from the cemetery with his mom to find death in the students’ cottage. As head of the Flying Squad (Organized Crime) he has probably seen everything.

Yesterday was the exciting referendum on Scottish Independence. We followed the Salmond debates and David Cameron’s and Gordon Brown’s speeches, felt torn as Americans not sure what was best. Scotland voted to stay in the UK, and I hope that works out best for Scotland, England, Ireland, and Wales with a bright future for all. What election results might the Kerchers have wished?

Posted by Hopeful on 09/19/14 at 03:37 PM | #

Just in from Andrea Vogt:

“#amandaknox case has been assigned to section 5 of Italy’s court of cassation. Exact hearing date still to be determined.”

According to piktor at .org, this means that this last appeal will be held ‘in unity’ as a whole and not separated as Giulia Bongiorno wanted it to be. Basically, the ISC will be very brief in their ruling in this final phase.

Posted by Johnny Yen on 09/20/14 at 09:18 AM | #

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