Big Shot Across Bows Of Fifth Chambers Could Be Cause Of Delay And Possible Infighting
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
1. The Unexplained Delay Of The Sentencing Report
Judge Marasca and President Mattarella, a former judge, have similar reputations: they have both fought mightily to prevent bent outcomes.
It has been put about in Italian legal circles that Judge Marasca is not exactly in love with his panel’s verdict. We reported talk in Rome that he held out for several hours on 25 March against a majority faction led by Judge Bruno.
Perhaps he remains a captive of the majority in what might be a tainted court - if it is, it would not be the first tainted court in this case. The Hellmann court is considered as such, as quotes below indicate.
Almost with no exceptions, Cassation routinely reports its appeal verdicts both fast and briefly. Often the reports are presented within several weeks. and most of them come in at under 50 pages.
In Meredith’s case all of the previous Cassation reports came in well before their deadlines. The one that took the longest was the 74-page report of the First Chambers in 2013, annulling most of the Hellmann verdict.
That took 85 days. We are already 10 days beyond that. It will not be very long before the delay in the report could become a record.
2. Judge Marasca’s Post-Verdict Interview
Judge Marasca is well known for not giving interviews and for letting his court statements speak for themselves.
Seemingly aware that his court statement on 27 March was already being questioned, and by some ridiculed, he did give this interview to the reporter Fiorenza Sarzanini for Corriere. Key quotes from it.
A further process could not ascertain the truth about the murder of Meredith Kercher. The “proof used was so contradictory “it is impossible to overcome the doubts and inconsistencies…
The judges of the fifth section of the Court of Cassation were all agreed on canceling the sentence to 28 years and six months for Amanda Knox and Raffaele 25 years “without referral” [back down to the Florence court].
The panel chaired by Dr Marasca also considered “non-binding” the earlier ruling of the Supreme Court that in March two years ago ordered a new appeal trial [in Florence and annulled the Hellmann verdict]
These claims are contended in the complaint - they are rebutted strongly in the quotes below.
3. The Complaint Filed With The Florence Chief Prosecutor
On 28 May this criminal complaint was filed by a Perugia prosecutor and two lead investigators against one of Sollecito’s lawyers, together with a reporter and an editor of the Perugia weekly Settegiorni Umbria.
The interview and editorial comments sliming the prosecution and the investigators were published back in January, two months before the Fifth Chambers ruled. They might be seen as one of many attempts to poison public opinion and to lean on the courts - in this case, the Fifth Chambers.
The narrative describes some nasty lies of commision and omission by Maori and the magazine people. We wont repeat them here. Impactful on a much wider plane is how the complaint characterizes the investigation and the prosecution of the case, and the various attempts to bend courts and so bend outcomes.
It is highly significant that this complaint was filed by a Florence lawyer and with the Florence court. The chief prosecutor for Florence and its region Tuscany has been quoted as scathing of the Fifth Chambers verdict, presumably seeing it as a slap in the face to his own team which contended the Knox-Sollecito appeal, and perhaps an attempt to take the powerful Florence court down a peg.
The Florence court had made a large number of documents available to the Fifth Chambers. As this narrative is highly relevant, the law would have required the Florence Chief prosecutor to forward it. Presumably all judges have it available.
Anyone occupied with the case would see instantly that the narrative can be read as a blueprint for legal action against the Fifth Chambers (such legal action is now allowed) and even as a petition to President Sergio Mattarella, the head of the Italian justice system, who can overrule a Cassation outcome.
4. The Significance Of The Complaint’s Various Phrasings
If we notionally divide the document into five parts, part (1) explains the people named in the rest of the document and their respective roles, parts (2) and (3) describe the main elements of the very complex legal process and mistakes that were made by the Hellmann court and the Fifth Chambers; and parts (4) and (5) go into detail about the case against Maori and his interviewer and editor.
The excerpts below are from parts (2) and (3). Anyone involved in the legal process would see rather rapidly that parts (2) and (3) could constitute a blueprint for legal action against the Fifth Chambers (such legal action is now allowed) and could also constitute a petition to President Sergio Mattarella, the head of the Italian justice system, who has the power to overrule a Cassation outcome.
it appears necessary to highlight the circumstances, in fact and in law, left in the shadows by the interview and which render even more serious, frankly incomprehensible and above all without any justification on the basis of the complex course of proceedings, the defamatory statements contained in the article and the very grave and intolerable accusations launched with so much superficiality against the investigators and the 34 magistrates who had upheld the prosecution’s case against the 11 who had doubted it.
Noted are the many lies of omission (some are listed below; we have a long list pending) that tend to be typical when the defenses and those who were in the dock and their supporters describe the case. Also noted are the 34 magistrates who handled elements of the case and did not abort the process. See the examples here and here.
The two accused Knox and Sollecito had been arrested on the morning of 6 November 2007, under an arrest warrant issued by Dr Mignini, as the Public Prosecutor in charge, a decree promptly validated by the GIP Dr Claudia Matteini who had issued a precautionary custody order for imprisonment. The appeals of the suspects against this latter, as issued by the GIP on the request of the same Dr Mignini, had then been timely rejected by the Re-examination Court for Perugia and by the First Chamber of the Court of Cassation.
Noted is one area of numerous lies of omission, that many magistrates were guiding the process and the prosecution had no opportunity for independent initiate prior to trial. Dr Mignini did not have to do that interview with Knox, he did it at Knox’s own request, to give her another fair shot at clearing herself - which she failed miserably.
As a consequence, the two remained in a state of preventative imprisonment until the decision of the Court of Assizes Appeal Court presided over by Dr Pratillo Hellmann, that is for almost four years and there had never been, by their defence, any application of revocation or substitution of the orders against the accused, Knox and Sollecito…
A legal omission which might be considered a blunder which contrasts with Maori’s claim that the two were in effect being railroaded.
the Court of Assizes at first instance, presided over by Dr Giancarlo Massei, with Dr Beatrice Cristiani as Recorder, at the end of a very long and thorough trial phase, had sentenced Mr Sollecito and Ms Knox for murder and the connected offences and Ms Knox, in addition, for calunnia against Patrick Diya Lumumba.
The trial was indeed long and thorough. Some of the most compelling evidence was behind closed doors - another area for lies of omission. Knox did herself great harm on the stand, sounding flippant and callous and not at all consistent or convincing, which ultimately cost her three years for calunnia. During the defense phase the lawyers had little to present and sessions were shortened or cancelled. There was much railing against Rudy Guede, who was not in court to answer back to it.
At appeal level, the Court of Assizes Appeal Court - inexplicably composed of the President of the Social Security [=Welfare] Chamber and of an advisor specialised in the Civil Chamber,—despite it being that there was the President of the Criminal Chamber, Dr Sergio Matteini Chiari, presiding over a bench; in any case there not being present a magistrate from the competent criminal chamber —had acquitted the two but had upheld the conviction of Ms Knox for calunnia, setting the penalty as a good three years of imprisonment.
This is still being investigated - did the defenses request of Chief Judge De Nuncio that the president of the criminal chamber Judge Chiari be replaced by the inappropriate Judge Hellmann? Judge Chiari (who resigned over this) has himself claimed so.
In the course of the proceedings there had been two experts nominated [by the Court] who, amongst other things, had submitted their report ignoring the documents attesting to the negative result of controls on the presumed contamination of the knife and of the bra-clasp, documents adduced instead by the Public Prosecutor. This should have entailed the sweeping away of [=the complete rejection of] the same expert report but the Court, presided by Pratillo Hellmann, with Advisor-Recorder Dr Massimo Zanetti, had ignored the grave error committed by the experts, an error which had been severely censured by the [Chieffi] Court of Cassation, First Criminal Chamber, in the decision handed down on 26 March 2013…
Investigation of Conti and Vecchiotti is also proceding. They seem to have lied to the court - either that or been incompetent. There is another quote on this below.
[Judge Chieffi] accepted almost all the grounds of appeals put forward by the Prosecutor-General and had annulled completely and definitively the acquittal decision, with remission (evidently upholding the grounds of appeal) to the Court of Assizes Court of Appeal of Florence which, in its turn, had fully confirmed the convictions of the Court of Assizes of Perugia.
There are many lies of omission about the annulment - one can find numerous quotes from the Hellmann court which are of no legal relevance.
the judgment of the [Florence] court remitted to would have been impugnable only for reasons not regarding the points already decided by the Court of Cassation, according to the very clear disposition of Article 628, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code. From this it follows that the Fifth Chamber of the Supreme Court, called on to decide the merits of the appeals brought by the accused against the decision of the court remitted to, would have had to consider as inadmissible the appeals presented in violation of the second paragraph of Article 628 Criminal Procedure Code and, in any case, would have had to rigorously conform with the points already decided by the First Chamber and with all the questions of law decided by the same,—the latter constraint, as constituted by the jurisdiction of sole legitimacy, being understood—, for defect pursuant to Article 606 Criminal Procedure Code and limited to the grounds proposed by the appellants (Article 609 Criminal Procedure Code).
Here is a translation of Article 628 of the Penal Code:
Impugnability of a ruling issued by a judge after remand
1. A verdict that had been issued by a court following a Cassation order of remand, may be impugned through a recourse at Supreme Court of Cassation if the ruling was issued on an appeal instance, and through the mean provided by law if was issued on a first instance level.
2. In any case a verdict issued by a court following a Cassation order of remand may be appealed only on the reasons that do not concern those that had already been decided by Cassation on the order of remand, or for not abiding to disposition of art. 627 paragraph 2.
The second paragraph of art. 628 clearly says the Fifth division of Cassazione may absolutely not have accepted requests of appeal from AK and RS against the Florence verdict on those points that had been already decided by the First Chambers (Chieffi court). Those points decided by the Chieffi court, as per Art. 628, cannot be appealed. Questions about them should be inadmissible.
the judgment of the [Florence] court remitted to would have been impugnable only for reasons not regarding the points already decided by the Court of Cassation, according to the very clear disposition of Article 628, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code. From this it follows that the Fifth Chamber of the Supreme Court, called on to decide the merits of the appeals brought by the accused against the decision of the court remitted to, would have had to consider as inadmissible the appeals presented in violation of the second paragraph of Article 628 Criminal Procedure Code and, in any case, would have had to rigorously conform with the points already decided by the First Chamber and with all the questions of law decided by the same…
the Court of Cassation cannot, therefore, ever adopt decisions on the merits and issue orders of acquittal under Article 530, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code.
...two chambers of the same Court of Cassation, the First (the one competent for proceedings in homicide matters, whose decision of annulment is definitive and who had identified and decided questions of law in a definitive and un-retractable manner) and the Fifth (who would have had to decide the appeals presented only on grounds of legitimacy of the defendants’, constrained by what had already been definitively decided by the First) have handed down two absolutely divergent decisions and the second had annulled the Florentine decision, positively excluding any remitting to another court and acquitting the defendants pursuant to Article 530, second paragraph, Criminal Procedure Code.
The Fifth Chambers broke clearly the law governing its scope. It had no business getting into the evidence. If there was a perceived problem it should have been referred to Florence.
from these starting points in fact and in law which are absolutely undeniable, it emerges that the course of proceedings in this case have been absolutely linear and respectful of the substance of the procedural rules up to and including the Florentine decision.
Well proven by the narrative. As we have frequently noted Knox was given six opportunities to liberate herself even before the 2009 trial began.
the Court of Cassation, on the appeal of the Prosecutor-General of [the Perugia] district Court, had in a radical and definitive manner annulled the acquitting pronouncement and had remitted it to the Florentine district court because the same would adopt the consequent decisions of merit in the line of reasoning of the principles of law laid down by the First Chamber of the Supreme Court and of the points decided by it.
What the First Chambers said must go. Surely all of the judges knew this very basic principle.
These principles of law are by now unmodifiable and unarguable: the [Fifth Chambers] , called on to decide the matter, as a “second opinion”, concerning the appeal of the defendants from the [Florence] judgment below, would have had to hand down a judgment fully within the “railway tracks” of the law, as fixed by the First Chamber, like the Florentine district court did, principles from among which we may cite:
Once again the emphasis is on how the First Chambers knew the law and the case and the Fifth Chambers was adrift at sea.
[Umodifiable principle] the principle, in fact the unfailing legal prerequisite of a Supreme Court decision, namely the fact that the Court is precluded from “trespassing into a re-evaluation of the compendium of evidence” (see the judgment of the First Chamber at page 40);
[Unmodifiable principle] the principle of law of the total and holistic evaluation of the probative material, as opposed to the “parcelled-up and atomistic evaluation of the pieces of circumstantial evidence, taking them into consideration one at a time and discarded in terms of their demonstrative potentiality”, which characterised instead, in the negative, the decision of the Court presided by Pratillo Hellmann (see the decision of the same First Chamber at pp. 40 and 41… ). The ancient brocard “Quae singula non probant, simul unita probant” [‘Those which alone do not prove, together do prove’], quoted on p 41 of the First Chamber’s judgment, consecrates in a definitive and unmodifiable manner this requirement of a global and holistic approach in which each individual piece of the jigsaw puzzle of reconstruction of the facts is considered together with all the others in their demonstrative synergy;
[Unmodifiable principle] the principle by which the [Hellmann] court had run afoul of grave shortcomings and contradictory lines of reasoning and in glaring misrepresentations of the outcome, even in the attempted decoupling of the calunnia, by now definitively attributed to Ms Knox, with the result of masking from view the responsibility of the same in the homicide;
[Unmodifiable principle] the principle according to which the testimony of the homeless person Mr Curatolo ought to have haven evaluated on the basis of corroboration between his statements and the objective and unarguable circumstances emerging from the trial (such as the fact that the witness had with absolute decisiveness anchored the fact of having seen the two accused in the precincts of the basketball courts of Piazza Grimana, nowadays Piazza Fortebraccio, the evening before the arrival, the following day, at the Via della Pergola house of the men from Forensics in their white coveralls), rather than on the basis of Mr Curatolo’s social conditions and lifestyle (see the cited judgment of the First Chamber at page 50);
[Unmodifiable principle] the principle according to which the definitive conviction of accomplice Rudy Hermann Guede ought to have been taken into account (no. 7195/11, published on 16.12.2010, it also from the First Criminal Chamber of Cassation), Guede having been held to have been extraneous to the simulation of burglary of a house. [A] habitation that, on the night of the murder, was solely at the availability of the victim and of Amanda Knox and from the statements made by the same Rudy before the Perugian district court, according to which Meredith was killed by the two co-accused (see the judgment at pages 55 and 56).
[Unmodifiable principle] The principle by which contamination of the evidence is to be proved by the party invoking it and which, on the facts of the case, no evidence in support had been offered and which the [Hellmann} Court had seriously confused the abstract possibility of the fact with the averment of the fact (see the judgment at page 69).Umodifiable principle] The principle according to which it was a matter of a homicide committed by multiple persons, in concourse amongst themselves (see page 73 of the cited judgment).
Some brilliant arguing. This really boxes in Cassation’s judges.
[If, ignoring all of the above, reading the defamatory Maori article] one would have been induced into thinking that errors upon errors had been committed by the officers and agents of the police taskforce and by magistrates convinced of the prosecution case against Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito, then in fact of a “conversion” of the error into a knowing arbitrary act… One would have been led to think of investigators who, incurable in terms of these continual “denials”, falling prey to a kind of accusatory delirium which was by now running unchecked, would have continued to “persecute by prosecuting” two poor youngsters, contrary to any probative evidence, for the sole purpose of not seeing their initial reconstruction denied.
But see how Lumumba was checked out and released. Plus the same team worked on other cases.
for the readers it would have been difficult to be able to learn the details of the Kercher proceedings, [Maori and Lagana] launched themselves into making unbelievable, irresponsible statements, defamatory beyond any limit, statements which express an inexplicable rancour and bitterness towards the investigators in the Kercher case, from which, for the rest, especially Advocate Maori had given proof of from the start itself of his defence of Raffaele Sollecito
Maori falsely ascribed the “satanism as motive claim” to Mignini and played other dirty tricks. At this point of the complaint the Curatolo and knife evidence is re-emphasized as valid for their purposes and never undermined.
Maori adds, repeating a singular idea repeated many times in the course of the proceedings and put to the Prosecution as the most significant expression of the error committed by the investigators: the guilty party, Rudy Hermann Guede, had already been secured by justice. Why continue to investigate the other contenders, when it had been found that it was Rudy who, no one knows why, would have been the sole killer and whose presence would have been incompatible with any accomplices?
As mentioned above, Guede was not at the trial in 2009 and so the defenses could freely rant on about him. Although some witnesses were devoted to trying to prove him a bad guy who must have acted alone, it went nowhere. The jury visit to the cottage showed them how ludicrous it was to argue that anyone would choose THAT window to break in.
Laganà knows nothing about the proceedings and plainly ignores: the calunnia by Ms Knox against Lumumba, the mise-en-scene of the burglary (which could have been realised only by someone who would have been afraid of becoming involved in the investigations), the genetic material of Ms Knox found a little bit below the handle of the knife and that of the victim in proximity to the point of the blade, the genetic profile of Mr Sollecito found on the clasp of Meredith’s bra, the systematic lies of the two, the traces of mixed blood of Knox – Meredith and the print of Sollecito’s foot stained with blood on the small mat in the bathroom next to the room where the murder happened, the traces revealed with Luminol, of the bare feet of Amanda and Sollecito, the witness who sees the two between 21.30 and 23.30 in Piazza Grimana, a couple of dozen metres from the murder scene, and Rudy’s accusations, just to mention a few examples.
Once again we see the theme common to the narrative of copious lies of omission - things left out which dont suit Lagana’s purpose.
[Maori] launches accusations against the press after which the accused were able to benefit from a systematic information process in their favour and without any contradiction. One can see the case of, for example, the programme “Porta a Porta” which, in the months immediately preceding the Fifth Chamber judgment, had interviewed only Sollecito or his family and consultants, blatantly ignoring any requirement of an even balance, which instead had occurred previously, and all this in a programme on the public network..
How even some arms of the Italian media became tainted.
Unfortunately, this procedural matter has been marked by pressures (often accompanied by menaces) and defamations which the investigators, themselves as well, have suffered in the media, by a very serious activity of disinformation and from serious attacks on the personal and professional reputation of the investigators by numerous organs of information especially in the United States (like in fact CNN), by the extremely challengeable behaviour of experts who, beyond having “forgottten” the existence of negative controls, had been seen by Dr MIGNINI (and, according to what has been said to him, also by the biologist at Scientific Police headquarters Dr Patrizia Stefanoni), to be having a long conversation and in a “private” manner, with the defence lawyers of the accused, in particular with Advocate Maori, before the hearing in which the experts were to be examined and cross-examined had started. This had happened in particular on two occasions, both in Piazza Matteotti, in front of the law courts building, one time in front of the main entrance and a second time, further back, in the direction of Via Oberdan, while Dr Stefanoni and Dr Comodi had seen them together, amongst the various defence lawyers for the accused, in a bar..
This illegal mingling with the defense would be enough to see Conti and Vechiotti removed as consultants from the case and quite possibly facing charges.
there are letters addressed to Dr Mignini, the first on paper with letterhead from the Supreme Court [sic] of the State of Washington (in which place is found Ms Knox’s city of residence, that is Seattle), on the part of judge Michael Heavey (now in retirement after having undergone a disciplinary proceeding for having used Washington State Supreme Court letterhead in a “private” letter addressed to his Italian counterparts) which turns out to have been written also to other magistrates involved, under various roles, in the proceedings and which claimed, with absolutely inconsistent reasoning, the innocence of Ms Knox, asking his Italian colleagues in a pressuring way to “acquit her”; or the highly contentious and clumsily inexpert comments of satisfaction concerning the judgment of the Court presided by Dr Pratillo Hellmann, by authority of the Government of the United States, as, to cite a couple of examples, the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, above all, with repeated interventions in the proceedings under way, Senator Maria Cantwell, of the State of Washington
The very one-sided nature of the American media coverage. Even now many officials dont know what was being said about them.
All this evidences the very particular climate in which the proceedings unfolded, especially that of the first appeal, introduced by a summary by the Recorder Dr Massimo Zanetti in which the latter was not at all worried about affirming that in the proceeding that was then being opened the only certain thing was the death of Meredith Kercher, a phrase matching the one that the Recorder of the Fifth Chamber of the Supreme Court, Dr Paolo Antonio Bruno, pronounced according to what was referred to Dr Mignini by an advocate for the civil party.
Hmmm. What a remarkable coincidence.
5. And In Conclusion
This was a VERY solid case. All the lists in the quotes above could have been longer. Here is a longer list. Cardiols four-part series on Certainties contains a long list. We have posted many other such lists, linked to via our right column.
So it looks like the verdict could become unglued. Italian courts work to some extent on precedent and a tainted verdict could be a very bad precedent. Other prosecutors and judges will be getting similar messages to the judges, not least the judges of the First Chambers which normally handles the murder appeals.
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