Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Open Letter To CPJ’s Joel Simon In New York: This Is The Fact Finding YOU Really Should Have Done

Posted by Kermit

Attn. Mr. Joel Simon
Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001


Dear Mr. Simon,

Concerning CPJ’s letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on press freedom

One week ago the Committee to Protect Journalists emailed an open letter to the President of Italy on press freedom in the Meredith Kercher case. This letter was copied to a number of other notables worldwide and also it was put online. 

I believe this letter is factually highly inaccurate, is ill-researched, and is very unfair and possibly libelous to the officials in Rome and Perugia that it criticises. It is likely to do a lot more harm than good, and may come to blemish the CPJ’s fine reputation.

I am extremely familiar with this case. I live in Europe and visited Perugia very soon after Meredith Kercher’s sad death. I have long participated in online discussions seeking justice for Meredith and some closure and peace for her suffering family. I post under the name of Kermit. You can see my 13 TJMK posts here which have received many media mentions. I use Kermit as an online ID to maintain my personal life separate from my on-line life. I am NOT a journalist and so my real name is a minor issue.

Your open letter was dedicated to a large extent to detailing supposed abuse suffered by an anonymous blogger who you appear to believe is an impartial and credentialed journalist. You say this was at the hands of Italian national police officers who you seem to indicate follow illicit orders of an Umbrian prosecutor, Mr Giuliano Mignini, instead of their own superiors in the national police (Polizia di Stato). You also accuse Mr. Mignini of being the source of various threats to this anonymous blogger and real journalists, citing what you think are valid examples.

In fact, as we will see, all of the supposed threats in your examples are either vague or cannot be associated with Mr. Mignini. In some of your cases the “reporting” Mr Mignini takes exception to is the publishing of unsubstantiated accusations, for example concerning his state of mental health.

I’m surprised that in investigating one specific alleged case of abuse against a local Perugian blogger, that you haven’t noticed a massive, very nasty, highly misleading and well oiled campaign to malign and vilify Perugian and Rome authorities and to some extent Italy in general. Nowhere do you mention that specific persons directly and indirectly associated with that campaign seem to have something to gain by taking down Mignini and by setting free the convicted murderers of Meredith Kercher (pending appeal). Nowhere do you mention that REAL journalists like Andrea Vogt and Barbie Nadeau have received enormous heat and online libels for simply trying to report facts impartially from the court and from Seattle.

I would make a request that the staff of the Committee to Protect Journalists research further the points I bring up, and I would ask that if this research paints a picture different from what has been described in your text of last April 19, then you issue a followup letter to clarify these points, sending the followup email to the same 21 receivers of the first text.

Perhaps most importantly, you could contact Mr. Mignini himself and get his side of it. Others including the BBC have managed to do so and you should be aware of this BBC report. Mr Mignini has already publicly denied through Italian and international press publications some of the accusations which you are making in your letter, such as that Douglas Preston will be arrested if he returns to Italy. He states clearly that is not true. 



[Above: The forgotten fact in the CPJ text: When did this journalistic organisation contact Mr. Mignini, in order to contrast the accusations against him by a blogger who lives behind a pseudonym? (Photo credit: BBC)]


In the rest of this open letter I intend to examine below one by one the disputed points in the CPJ letter to the President of Italy. This statement is the first.

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Dear President Napolitano,

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities’ harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation into the November 2007 brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in the central Italian city of Perugia.”

The international network of followers of the Meredith Kercher case and its pre-trial investigation are not aware of any harassment of journalists by Mr. Mignini (or police agents who may have received instructions from him when the investigation was underway), from the moment of the crime, until the investigative report was delivered to the court in June 2008.

The allegation of harassment is news to us, in a case which over the course of almost four years has already gone through the lower court (three suspects each convicted of murder and other crimes) and is currently in the appeals stage.

The legal action taken by Mignini (or threatened action) in the case cited of the West Seattle Herald reporter Steve Shay writing that “some in both the American and Italian legal field believe Mignini is mentally unstable” doesn’t surprise me. Most people would see that not as a legitimate criticism of the official murder investigation as the CPJ states in its letter to the President of Italy, but rather as an unsubstantiated low blow without any professional journalistic contrasting of that claim. Mignini’s response is not an aggression to silence the West Seattle Herald, but rather a question of defending one’s personal honour and reputation. Mignini’s legal action would be taken on a personal level, not as an element of the Meredith Kercher murder case.

Or are legal professionals’ personal freedom and constitutional rights suspended in the light of unsubstantiated press claims? Is Mr. Mignini unable to defend himself against false accusation? Can the press make unsubstantiated and uncontested claims about anyone’s state of mental health without being subject to redress?


[Above: The Perugia blogger dispatching with Prosecutor Mignini, at a date believed to be after the start of the alleged harassment supposedly carried out under orders of Mignini. They seem to be interacting without any problem. (Photo credit: UK Channel 4)]


From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The Kercher murder investigation was headed by Mignini and conducted by a Perugia police unit known as the Squadra Mobile. Mignini was also in charge of the latest investigation into the unsolved murders of eight couples in Tuscany between 1968 and 1985, collectively known as the Monster of Florence killings”

Out of three affirmations in the preceding paragraph, only one is true, the first. Mr. Mignini was indeed the head of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The second affirmation is partially true. The Italian national police (Polizia di Stato - not “Perugia police” as you state) in Perugia was substantially involved in the Meredith Kercher murder investigation, be it Squadra Mobile units, medical examiners, local forensic and technical experts, as well as specialist forensic units brought in from Rome. These people report to their own chiefs and superiors in the hierarchical structure of the national police, although they would have carried out specific approved investigative actions within the framework of this investigation under the instructions of Mr. Mignini (and the next day they would be carrying out investigative actions for other prosecutors in other cases).

The third affirmation is false. Mr. Mignini is a prosecutor in Perugia, in the region of Umbria. As the nickname indicates, the “Monster of Florence” killings were carried out around Florence, in the region of Tuscany with the same .22 Beretta pistol between 1968 and 1985 (it is debatable whether the first crime of 1968 was done by the same perpetrator of the following string of murders, but they are clearly decades old crimes).

Various Florentine prosecutors participated in the investigations and trials related to the murders done by the Monster of Florence.  Mr. Mignini was never “in charge” nor even involved in those investigations. It was a different time and different place.

The last of the police investigators in this Florentine case (so important and complex that instead of having a prosecutor control the case, there was a sort of super-cop who oversaw and directed all investigations, requesting prosecutors to authorize certain investigative actions) was called Michele Giuttari. It was under his analysis and investigation that the theory relating the Monster of Florence killings to occultism was developed.



[Above: The Monster of Florence’s Beretta pistol killed 8 couples between 1968 and 1985. Mr. Mignini was uninvolved in the main investigations and trials of these decades old crimes, as he lives and works in Perugia, in a different location and in a different time frame. (Photo credit: Insufficienzadiprove)]



In a separate action, years later in 2001, Mignini reopened the investigation into the death of Dr. Francesco Narducci, initially thought to have drowned in a lake near Perugia. There were potential links between Narducci’s death and the perpetrators of the Florence murders.

Actually, if you want to understand better the Narducci case (from it being reopened in 2001) and understand its relation to the Monster of Florence case, please read the Perugian blogger’s summary on his blogspot page. 

This mixing up of the facts of the Monster of Florence case is not new. I fear that American author Douglas Preston – who has substantial financial interest in the book sales and movie royalties related to his book The Monster of Florence (and who is also a financial supporter of CPJ ) - may have had direct or indirect input into the sculpting of this imprecise CPJ missive, which doesn’t really link Mignini to any of the events the Perugian blogger in question is supposed to have suffered (this is just an opinion).

Why? Preston is exploiting his own run-in with Mignini years ago, when the latter interviewed him concerning his activities and knowledge relating to shared elements and suspects of the Narducci and Monster of Florence cases.

For authors Mario Spezi and Douglas Preston researching the Monster of Florence case in Florence, super-cop Michele Giuttari was the source of much of their criticism of the case. In spite of being shaken up in early 2006 due to his interview with Mignini, Preston said a few months later in an interview with The Altantic:

Question: “Do you think that the investigation has become personal for (police investigator Michele) Giuttari?”

Preston: “I think even more than for Mario and me …. Giuttari really doesn’t have anything beyond the Monster case. His entire career rides on this case and solving it—or at least not making a fool of himself while he investigates …. So yes, it is personal. I think that everyone in Italy acknowledges that Giuttari seems to carry a great personal animosity against Spezi.”

Question: “Judge Giuliano Mignini, the public prosecutor who interrogated you, is another important player in the case. Was Mignini just doing his job? How much weight do you give to the idea that Mignini had it in for Spezi and you?”

Preston: “…. As for Mignini himself, I think he’s a sincere man and an honest and incorruptible judge. I don’t think that he’s a bad man …. I think he was doing his job the best he could. I think in many ways he was badly misled by Giuttari, the police officer who was running the investigation.”

(Source: The Atlantic)

Now there’s something I don’t understand. All the bad things we’re hearing about Giuliano Mignini since late 2007, in particular from Doug Preston seem to have been cut and pasted from Preston’s comments about Michele Giuttari, the chief investigator in the last legs of the Monster of Florence investigation, and these bad characteristics have been assigned to Mignini.

Preston has simply “cut” (not pasted!) the name Michele Giuttari from any mention – the once bad-ass investigator of the Monster of Florence as a larger-than-life persona is gone from his recent writings on the case.

And Mignini has been reassigned Giuttari’s nefarious role, even though Mignini is from Perugia and he investigated the Narducci death.  The link (albeit important link) to the Monster of Florence, is that since Narducci could have been associated – according to initial investigative data in 2001 – with persons related to Giuttari’s old Monster of Florence theory, therefore Mignini assumed the Monster of Florence occultism theory developed in the Florence investigations.

Preston’s switch-a-roo has happened even though Preston had good words for Mignini in 2006 after his questioning at the hands of this prosecutor.

What happened? Well my opinion is that with literally dozens of books out about the Monster of Florence, someone realized that yet another book by Preston and Spezi would need some commercial umpah, especially if it was to be taken to the English-speaking market (Spezi had already written one book on the case, now he was writing another – Giuttarri had also written books on the case, in addition to many other authors).

The terrible murder of Meredith Kercher, and the fact that Giuliano Mignini was on duty as prosecutor on that All Saints long-weekend was what was needed. The English-speaking press has covered the murder on an on-going basis since then. Amanda Knox’s family hired a PR firm which uses that PR contract as a case study on their website, explaining proudly how “Gogerty Marriott’s work for the (Knox-Mellas) family has brought them in touch with all major U.S. news networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News, as well as independent programs such as Oprah Winfrey and a host of national and international magazines and newspapers”. (Source: Gogerty Marriott website.)

My theory is that with Amanda Knox being arrested and tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher, the latest book on The Monster of Florence had found a great, long-term PR strategy to latch on to. All that was required was to change the hated satanic-obsessed, rogue investigator figure of Giuttari into the civil servant Mignini, a prosecutor in the sleepy town of Perugia who has never published a book in his life. This focus requires that one stops talking about Giuttari. Done. And that one talks a lot about Mignini and his satanic theories, Perugian Mignini the lead prosecutor of the Monster of Florence (well, if you say it loud enough and long enough and put it into a Hollywood film, that’s what people will remember). Done.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The anti-press actions of Squadra Mobile under Mignini’s supervision, coupled with Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists who criticize his conduct on the job, cause the press to stay away from sensitive subjects, including important developments in the Kercher case such as the appeal of two defendants in the case.”

Who told you that the Squadra Mobile police unit is under Mr. Mignini’s supervision? You would do well to consult sources other than those who helped you draft your text.

The investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher lasted from the moment of discovery of her body by the Italian telecommunications police who appeared at the victim’s home to inquire about a lost mobile phone on 2 November 2007, until Mr. Mignini presented his investigative report in June 2008.

As previously mentioned, different police investigative and forensic units would have received specific and / or ongoing instructions during the course of the investigation to carry out individual tasks in gathering evidence, but outside those tasks and in particular since the closing of the investigation in June 2008 the national police work at the central police station (“Questura”) and report in their daily work to other police officers, while Mr. Mignini works in his magistrate’s offices and has his own reporting hierarchy.

According to the CPJ the alleged harassment of the Perugian blogger started in October 2008, long after the close of the investigation into Meredith Kercher’s murder. (It should be underlined that since then, the only driving force behind advancing the legal proceedings against the three persons accused and convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher is not the prosecution – specifically Mr. Mignini - but rather the judges who are hearing the different levels of trial and appeals.)

The CPJ seems to be insinuating – no, more than that, it is accusing Mr Mignini of having extra-official links to police officers who allegedly harass a local Perugian blogger, as if Mignini had some sort of personal “hit squad” or goons at his beck and call.



[Above: These are some of the police investigators whom Mignini was able to use as a part of the investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher. CPJ may want to pass this photo to the Perugia blogger, to see if he is able to identify some of the police officers who allegedly attacked him three years after the crime, two years after Mignini’s investigation ended, and almost one year after the first level trial ended and Judge Massei and the judicial jury found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder.]


The CPJ letter to the President of Italy also refers to “Mignini’s longstanding record of harassment of journalists”. CPJ probably acted correctly within its terms of reference when it sought to bring attention to the plight of Mario Spezi in 2006 when he was arrested by Mignini (whether that arrest was justified or not). What other examples of does CPJ have of Mignini’s historical “record” of supposedly harassing journalists?  Suing because reporter Steve Shay writes an unsubstantiated mention of Mignini being mentally unstable?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“CPJ is particularly concerned about the impact Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers, who lack the support and backing of major publications”.

“CPJ is particularly concerned” …  Why did the CPJ get concerned? Can I ask how the CPJ became aware of the supposed harassment of the Perugian blogger by Mignini, and who has developed the “case” presented against Mignini in the CPJ letter? 

Has the CPJ questioned the motives of the person(s) who helped develop this document and their potential “stake” in having the CPJ accuse Mignini of harassment? Will they gain by further book sales or movie royalties by creating a media interest in a supposedly rogue Italian prosecutor?

“Perugia authorities’ repressive actions have on local reporters and individual bloggers” …  Please be clear: are there other Perugian authorities beyond Mignini involved in this harassment , i.e. is there a conspiracy involved?  Or is the situation the opposite, that the “Perugia authorities” are individual policemen who may have bothered the blogger in question, and so someone in CPJ decided to make a dotted-line to Mignini – if so, on what basis is this dotted line made? Who made it?

You refer to “local reporters”. Beyond the blogger, who are the local reporters who have suffered at the hands of Mignini?  Is there anyone?

On one hand, have any local reporters, or on the other hand has the blogger in question made any formal complaint about the alleged abuses suffered?  If he (or they) haven’t felt comfortable presenting a complaint in Questura in Perugia, they could go to the Carabinieri or other locations to present such a complaint. If no formal complaints have been made by the blogger in two and a half years of harassment, why not?

I agree with you that in general terms, news outlets that are limited in circulation and critical mass are more at risk to suffer harassment from authorities. In this regard, I encourage you to contact a couple of the local newspapers in Perugia such as Il Giornale dell Umbria (editor: Giuseppe Castellini) or Corriere dell Umbria (director: Anna Mossuto).

Ask them about possible harassment by Mr. Mignini. Even better, while you’re at it, why don’t you do a peer check,  and ask them about the local blogger you have become concerned about?



[Above: The CPJ should make immediate contact with local newspapers in Perugia such as these, in order to evaluate in situ the possible harassment of local reporters by Mr. Mignini.]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Of the cases that have come to CPJ’s attention, one stands out because of the abusive actions employed by members of Squadra Mobile to punish a critic of the official Kercher murder inquiry. Local freelance reporter Frank Sfarzo (real name Sforza) created his English-language blog Perugia Shock in 2007, days after Kercher’s gruesome murder.”

You say that it was Squadra Mobile police officers who “punished” this critic of the investigation. Can those Squadra Mobile officers be identified? (I imagine so). What is the link between those Squadra Mobile officers and Mr. Mignini? Do the direct superiors of those officers in the national police know of this supposed secret relation? Or are those direct superiors of the national police part of the conspiracy too?

(If you don’t mind a slightly ironic comment on my part, if you go all the way up the national police structure, you may find that President Napolitano as well as parliamentary judicial committees where one of Raffaele Sollecito’s defense lawyers is present are also part of the irregular reporting lines of the Mignini conspiracy.)

By the way, it’s not important to this question, but just to be clear, I believe that the Perugia Shock blog page was established just prior to the murder of Meredith Kercher, and may have been destined for some other purpose when the murder occurred and the blogger in question decided to reorient the blog. The blogger in question also has web pages dedicated to buying Italian products such as truffles, not to mention a blog devoted to the Italian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

In fact, while the blogger writes under the name of “Frank Sfarzo”, this appears to not be his real name. He seems to have indicated different backgrounds to different persons, including to newspaper reporters who have had contact with him. For example, he has described himself as a film professor to reporter Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times. 

To the BBC’s Julian Joyce he described himself as a journalist.

It’s not a major issue for me, but does the CPJ protect anyone who says they are a journalist, or only journalists with credentials, or members of a professional organization with a code of conduct?  I just post comments on blogs and once in a while add my own research to the topics being discussed … could I too as Kermit request protection from the CPJ if I deemed it necessary, say I received threats from a certain persons involved in a court case I was discussing?

Would you write a big letter to presidents and cabinet ministers and senators around the world? Or do you only do that when a well-off, best-selling American author is part of a personal feud with an investigative magistrate?

Pro-victim blogger Skeptical Bystander and other posters of the Perugia Murder File board could potentially be in need of such assistance, given the sorts of threats that she has received and that often goes untouched for days or weeks when posted on the Perugia Shock blog comments page.

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Sfarzo told CPJ his troubles started on October 28, 2008, the day Knox and Sollecito were indicted and a third defendant was convicted of murdering Kercher. Several members of Squadra Mobile, Sfarzo told CPJ, approached him just outside the city court (Corte di Assise di Perugia) and started to push and hit him. “You are pissing us off!”—they told him, referring to his coverage.”

As mentioned, by October 2008, the investigation was out of Mignini’s hands and as a case was in the hands of the different judges who have tried Rudy Guede, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. No police officers would be receiving investigative instructions from Prosecutor Mignini, unless if he had an extra-official relation to them that bypassed normal communications channels between the judiciary and the police.

I am not in a position to say that the person who blogs under the name “Frank Sfarzo” wasn’t pushed by policemen on 28 October 2008. However, you say that this happened due to his “coverage” of the case.

If you read the Perugia Shock blog pages, especially from the fall of 2008, you will see that they are written in broken English, and that the blog’s following at the time was limited. Did Mignini or the police officers read the blogspot page in English?

Your description of the alleged events outside the Corte di Assise (“several members of the Squadra Mobile … approached (the blogger) just outside the city court and started to push and hit him”) bears little resemblance to the blogger’s own video of the event. I URGE YOU to view the video of the alleged aggression of the Perugian blogger (please click on link and scroll to end of post).

In the video, viewers see the family of the murder victim – Meredith Kercher – exiting the courthouse in the middle of a media scrum. There is jostling and pushing amongst the dozens of reporters on the scene.

The blogger struggles for a good angle and seems to be walking backwards as he tapes his video. Meredith’s sister is easily identifiable. The blogger tumbles. Was he pushed? Maybe. Was it a policeman or another reporter in the media scrum who bumped into him? Maybe one or the other, or maybe the blogger simply stumbled in his awkward backwards walk.

Did someone say something rude to him? Maybe. If something rude was said, was it due to his “coverage” of the case? Or simply because in the moving crowd the backwards walking blogger was getting in the way?

In any case, at no point do we see “several members of the Squadra Mobile” approach the blogger and “push and hit him”.



[Above: The Perugia blogger’s own video on 28 October 2008 of one example of the “aggression” which has provoked a letter from the Committee to Protect Journalists to the Italian President and 20 other international figures. Moments afterwards, he falls backwards, into the media scrum. Were he to have been attacked by “several members” of the Squadra Mobile, Stephanie Kercher – Meredith’s sister pictured at front on the right – would have been a point-blank witness to the crime. He had his camera aggresively in her face.

In addition, all of the Italian and international news cameras following the Kercher family from behind would have taped the perpetrators of such an aggression, if any. CPJ could use its contacts with media outlets present that day (there were dozens of journalists) to obtain video of the aggression, filmed from just a couple of metres away.]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“When the trial of Knox and Sollecito began that December, Squadra Mobile continued to harass him. They regularly tried to prevent him from entering the court”

What are the requirements for entering a court session in Perugia? What priorities are assigned for press access? What press credentials have to be produced? What press credentials did the Perugian blogger have in December of 2008? Did he have any? Was this harassment witnessed by other journalists in Perugia to report on the trial?

Has the CPJ contacted other journalists covering the court sessions to inquire as to access procedures, or whether they saw the Perugian blogger being given a hard time (maybe he tried to access extra-early before other journalists – in order to get a good spot – and there were no other witnesses to the access harassment he suffered in these over-capacity court sessions).

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“ . . . mouthed insults at him from across the courtroom; and stared over his shoulder as he took notes. ‘This was done in the presence of the judge, the Carabinieri [the military police], and the court guards, but they would do nothing,’ Sfarzo told CPJ.”

In all the images that I have seen of the courtroom in the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the reporters are at the back, against the wall. Was there a “safety lane” which police officers patrolled behind the reporters and which they used to spy on the blogger over his back?

Did the police officers spy on any other reporters? Did any other reporters notice the alleged spying carried out on the blogger, or was it done in such a surreptitious manner that no one realized what was going on?

Please! Look at photos of the press area in the Perugia courtroom! It seems physically difficult for anyone but other reporters to be looking over reporters’ (or bloggers’) backs.



[Above: The Perugian courtroom where Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were tried. At the back behind the railing and against the wall: the press. In front of the railing: defendants’ family members and other authorized parties.  In front of family members: guards.  Finally, in the foreground, the defendants and their lawyers. For the national police to have looked over the blogger’s shoulder as he made notes, they would have to have elbowed their way through the press to an indiscrete and obvious positioning behind him (or, he would have had to been in a location not assigned to the Press, such as the defendants’ family zone, which could be a possibility). Have you asked the Perugian blogger about his relation to the Knox-Mellas family both in and outside of the courtroom? Is it limited to simply interviewing them from time to time, or is this relationship much closer with individual members of the family, beyond a traditional reporter-subject relationship?]


By listing the complicit passivity of the judges, the Carabinieri and the court guards in addition to the Polizia di Stato, CPJ does seem to have swallowed quite a large conspiracy, where Prosecutor Mignini not only is pulling the strings of three different police forces, but also the presiding judge of the case. The only way to make this bigger-than-life Evil Mignini Conspiracy into something bigger would be to turn it into a Hollywood movie.



[Above: The Monster of Florence movie rights have been purchased by Tom Cruise. Any and all ways of stirring up and mixing up the English-speaking press’s coverage of Mignini’s Narducci investigation from 2001 onwards, and linking it and the high profile trial of American Amanda Knox to the decades old 1970’s and 1980’s Monster of Florence murders is free publicity for the book and movie”  (Photo source: The Wrap)]

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“The harassment reached its peak on September 28, 2010, when five officers of Squadra Mobile forcibly entered Sfarzo’s apartment. They did not produce a warrant or show their badges, Sfarzo told CPJ. Four of the five shoved Sfarzo to the ground, struck him, handcuffed him, and climbed on top of him, crushing his air supply, he told CPJ.”

Has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims of mistreatment? One thing I don’t understand is where is the link between the blogger’s alleged mistreatment and Mr. Mignini?

If any blogger in Perugia feels that he or she has been bothered by the police, can they get the CPJ to intervene against Mignini even if there is no direct link that we can see?

Has the CPJ contacted the Questura (main police station) of Perugia to inquire as to the reason the team of officers was sent to the blogger’s home? Who was the police chief who sent them? Did Mignini just pick up his phone in his magistrate’s office, call the Questura and ask his policeman friends to go over and rough up a local blogger?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“Next, the officers took Sfarzo to the Perugia city hospital, where they claimed he had attacked them; they persuaded a doctor to issue a medical report for the injuries Sfarzo was alleged to have caused. In addition, the Squadra Mobile officers brought Sfarzo before a psychiatrist, demanding that she issue him a certificate of insanity.”

Again, has the CPJ made any attempt to validate these claims? Has it been in contact with the doctors at the hospital who examined the blogger?

 

From the CPJ letter to the President of Italy and 20 other European and International figures:

“From the hospital, the officers brought a handcuffed and injured Sfarzo to their headquarters, where, in the blogger’s words, they “displayed me as a trophy,” referring to him as “the bastard who defends Amanda [Knox].” The officers refused Sfarzo’s requests to call his lawyer or his relatives, and put him in a cell for the night.”

Has the blogger’s lawyer taken any action to sue the police officers who allegedly attacked him? The normal starting point would be a formal complaint: has the CPJ requested confirmation that this incident legally exists from the blogger’s point of view, specifically that a complaint was filed at the time it allegedly occurred? If it exists, has the CPJ examined this complaint and inquired with police authorities as to the progress achieved in resolving it?

The truth of the matter is that this is reminiscent of one aspect of the Meredith Kercher murder case, where Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, parents of convicted killer (pending appeal) Amanda Knox were interviewed by John Follain of The Times of London. “Curt says: ‘Amanda was abused physically and verbally’” during her questioning on the night of 5 November 2007.

Now it may be that the same standards that the CPJ applies to Mignini also apply to the police who questioned Amanda on that evening, namely that they can be accused of crimes (beating a suspect) without the accusers having to provide anything to substantiate the accusation. However, in reality, as you can imagine (and probably as you or I would do), those police officers are suing Amanda’s parents for slander. Alas, in the days (and weeks and years) after Amanda’s arrest, it seems that no complaint of police brutality was ever actually filed with the police.


Above: The Knox-Mellas family members have repeated claims that Amanda was physically abused in her interrogation which started after 11 p.m. on the night of 5 November 2007 and was stopped at 1:45 a.m. They are in their rights to do so, but the OPJ should also recognise that police officers who are the targets of such accusations have the right to respond using the law to defend their honour and reputation. Or is that not so?  (Source of posts: discussion board of the original Steve Huff True Crime Weblog)

In fact, Amanda’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga even denied at one point that she had been poorly treated, as the Perugian blogger informed the world on his site.


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