Comparing The Kercher & Petito Cases: What’s Similar, What Differs

Posted by Our Main Posters

Timeline uploaded this past Thursday

Long post. Click here to go straight to Comments.

1. Overview Of Petito Case

Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito and Brian Laundrie met when at high-school on Long Island a few miles east of New York.

Brian’s parents moved to western Florida south of St Petersburg, apparently in 2015 when their house was bought (for just over $100,000), and they run a juicing-machine-sales business from there.

Gabby and Brian became engaged, and moved in with them down there. Neither have full college degrees, but Gabby has some nutritionist training and did work. Brian? Not clear.

Seemingly a bright and loving couple, they had established a way of traveling to great locations and mostly sleeping in a small van Gabbie owned.

They reported all this “van life” on social media video which had a sizeable following and so would have given them some sort of financial return.

This latest trip had taken them west from New York to southern Utah, where, with various incidents reported en-route, they headed north through eastern Utah to western Wyoming.

There, a week ago, just outside a dispersed camping ground, Gabby’s lifeless body was found. She had been dead for possibly three weeks.   

2. Similarities

1. In the US, these are perhaps the highest-profile murder cases in recent years

2. The two girls were of approximately the same age; both sets of parents are divorced.

3. Each girl was killed by someone seemingly sociopathic and in a psychotic rage.

4. Each presumed killer knew their victim well; signs of tension were seen by friends.

5. Each presumed killer rearranged the crime scene and worked on creating an alibi.

6. Each of the suspected killer’s parents circled the wagons and hired hardline help.

7. In each case national-level law-enforcement and their excellent labs became involved.

3. Differences

1. In the US Gabby has about 100% of public support; Meredith was deliberately ignored.

2. Gabby built a large following on social media; serious student Meredith not so much.

3. Local police in Utah and Florida made critical mistakes; in Italy, they made none.

4. Meredith’s family were illegally stalked; Gabby’s two sets of parents are revered.

4. Mysteries remaining

1. Why did Laundrie fly back to Florida leaving Gabby alone in Salt Lake City Utah for a week? Did he need a new prescription for mental-health-related meds?

2. Why did the cops who accosted the pair north of Moab Utah not know HE had been reported hours before for hitting Gabby on a Moab street? [resolved]

3. Did Laundrie’s extended psychotic-rage incident in a Jackson Wyoming restaurant (some 30 miles south of where she was found), which Gabby apologized to staff for, lead to her death?

4. Oddly, around the time of death, Laundrie hitchhiked twice, from way north of the campground, heading back south; was he trying to create an “I wasn’t there” alibi?

5. Gabby’s death is officially a homicide; where exactly was her body found, was it buried, and what was the cause of death? [resolved]

6. Why did Brian drive back to Florida in Gabbie’s van after seemingly trying to create an alibi and then fail to report and refuse to talk?

7. Where exactly is he now?


Below: Smart, but watch with caution. This was before Gabby’s body was found, and entertains a long trip west of the Tetons, impossible once the date of Laundrie’s Jackson restaurant meltdown is factored in.

Posted by Our Main Posters on 09/25/21 at 09:40 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (50)

Comments Under US Media Reports Almost Universally Scathing Of Rome Killers Defense

Posted by Peter Quennell



Click through to comments, around 800 as of now.

- Prisoner: “I didn’t know he was a cop, your honor, so I should get mercy” Judge: “you stabbed him 11 times in “self defense” while trying to buy cocaine because you didn’t know he was a cop?”

- Just don’t commit a crime, I don’t care if the person they killed is a cop or drug dealer, one who commits crime like this has to pay the price, in this case they took a life, and have to serve life behind bars.

- GREAT JOB ITALY, THANKS, THIS IS JUSTICE, JUSTICE FOR OFFICER…




Click through to commnents, around 300 as of now.

- WAKE UP Parents. Your kids dont need friends who carry BIG KNIVES.

- The American News will put on the perpetrators family and friends, who will let you know how great they were, or some other type of excuse they will use. They never get the person who will say they were too crazy, America News never interviews that person because he’s too honest.

[Already proven correct: see comment on Associated Press report below]




Click through to comments, around 200 as of now.

- “We didn’t know he was a policeman”......because it would be ok to murder a civilian????????? Are these parents for real?!??

- “there are questions whether they properly identified themselves as police”. Yeah right, because if they did identify themselves as police, then it would be ok to kill them???

- I usually find an angle against the cops, but stabbing someone 11 times over a bad drug deal for $80? Take the loss and keep moving. The streets don’t play fair. This kid was well off, $80 was nothing. I mean, come on.

Seems promising for our cause?

Although (surprise, surprise) most of the 1300 or so American media-owners of the Associated Press have posted this misleading AP report.

None of Hopeful’s helpful takeaways on the two guys from the ABC7 video posted below were included and nothing about the illegality of the knife except for the mention of the guilty count for not leaving the knife at home.

And no mention of the fact that, like Knox, illegal drugs seem to have been the main reason for the trip.

The primary judge and all of the jurists that can been seen in the videos were women. Perhaps they were beaming a message: “American drug-takers and killers, keep away.”

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/08/21 at 06:58 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (0)

So Far Utterly Passive US Reaction To Italy Sentencing Two American Cop-Killers To Life

Posted by Peter Quennell

A 47-minute reconstruction, possible minor tilt, you decide

Murder Verdict Today

Opinion polls incessantly show that Italian police are widely liked and respected.

Carabinieri officers especially so.
 
Two years ago in Rome, American Finnegan Elder stabbed the popular and unarmed Carabiniere Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega with a big knife eleven times in the back and the heart.

BIG KNIFE? Shades of RS. ELEVEN TIMES? Shades of Knox. 

And like Knox, Finnegan Elder had a reputation back in the US for acting pretty well insane when on drugs.

This depraved murder occurred when the recently married Carabinieri officer intervened in a fracas in Rome between a drug dealer and Finnegan Elder and his pal Gabriel Natale-Hjorth .

Today both were sentenced to life subject of course to Italy’s two levels of appeal.

Officer Rega’s widow Rosa Maria Esilio was in court throughout. In Italy this was a very high-profile crime and the funeral, investigation and trial have been much in the news. There are numerous videos on YouTube.

In the United States? Not so much.

There’s been barely a peep from the Rome Embassy or State Department, and none of Amanda Knox’s opportunistic apologists seem to have resumed their xenophobic rants.



















Above: Finnegan Elder with crossed arms. Below: parents.







Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/05/21 at 07:45 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (6)

Best of The Real-Crime Series: Strongly Recommending HBO’s “The Investigation”

Posted by Peter Quennell


Similarity To The Perugia Case

How long did Meredith’s case take to be investigated?

The Knox-Sollecito conspiracy theorists would have everyone outside Italy believe the cops and prosecutors downed tools in days if not hours.

In fact it continued flat-out for EIGHT MONTHS and years later evidence was still being added, for example the DNA analysis during the Nencini appeal, in large part by crack national-level experts.

“The Investigation” is about the death of a very smart 30-year-old woman reporter, Kim Wall, by Peter Madsen, an industrialist, in a small submarine off Copenhagen. It is a series in six parts and has just begun airing on HBO and several streaming services.

This investigation was equally exhaustive, taking over two years, and it led to a life sentence for the sex-deviant Madsen (there is a lot about his obsessive history on-line) and even finally a confession.

With scant evidence of an intentional killing, it was far less open-and-shut than Meredith’s case. And yet the investigators remorselessly kept crushing the murderer’s changing alibis and explanations.

Neither the murderer nor his victim ever appear on-screen. An interesting idea for a movie update on Meredith’s case.

 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/07/21 at 03:27 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (7)

Being Careful & Precise About The New Standing Of The Madeleine McCann Case

Posted by The Machine



German Federal Police HQ Berlin; as always, click for larger image

Long post. Click here to go straight to Comments.

1. Two Cases That Reverberate On

Meredith’s death and Madeleine’s disappearance and probable death happened in the same year: 2007.

They also have in common official investigations misrepresented with lurid conspiracy theories by seemingly xenophobic online trolls.

We have proved the Italian investigation into Meredith’s murder to in fact have been extremely sound. The initial Portuguese investigation was not so good but British and now German investigators who are among the world’s best have added their considerable expertise.

Prosecutor Wolters on Sky News In June

2. The Official German Claims

In June, Hans Christian Wolters - the lead prosecutor (Erster Staatsanwalt) at the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor’s Office - announced to the media that he believed Madeleine McCann had been abducted and murdered by a German man who was currently in prison in Germany.

This man has been identified by reliable media as Christian Brueckner; however, Germany strict privacy laws prevent the authorities and journalists from referring to his full name in the media.

Any German and anyone who has lived in Germany and is familiar with the culture would have sat up and taken notice of this bombshell revelation, because they will know German prosecutors are uber cautious and would never under any circumstances make hyperbolic or rash statements to the public.

They know that Hans Christian Wolters wouldn’t have said Madeleine is dead and the suspect [Christian Brueckner] killed her unless he had concrete evidence to substantiate his claim; and that’s exactly what he has explained repeatedly to the media.

“We have concrete evidence that our suspect has killed Madeleine and this means she is dead.”

“We have strong evidence that Madeleine McCann is dead and that our suspect killed her.”

“...we have enough evidence to say our suspect killed Madeleine McCann.”




3. UK Officialdom Goes Along

The significance of Hans Christian Wolters’ comments wasn’t lost on Simon Foy (above).

He was the most senior murder detective at Scotland Yard and he was part of Operation Grange - which was Scotland Yard’s investigation into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. He thought it is significant that German authorities have said Madeleine McCann is dead.

“My experience of working with the German police is that they are very careful what they say publicly. They would have recognised the significance of it. They would have recognised the international sensitivity of it and they wouldhave probably recognised the public interest in it and so the fact they [the German investigators] have made that statement is of itself significant.”

The German Federal Police (the BKA) have been working with the UK’s Scotland Yard and the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) - which is the national criminal investigation police agency of Portugal.

DCI Mark Cranwell, who is leading the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Grange investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, confirmed to the media in June that Christian Brueckner is a suspect.

He said this was a “significant development” and they had been working on this general line of inquiry for a couple of years.

Scotland Yard are officially labeling the case as a missing persons case, but in reality they’re treating the case as a murder inquiry. They know full well that in most stranger-child abductions, the child is sexually assaulted and killed.

The fact that they have said Christian Breucker - a convicted paedophile and rapist with multiple convictions for sexually abusing children - is a suspect is significant. You only need to have a modicum of common sense to join the dots and read between the lines.



Holger Munch (right) head of BKA

4. About The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA)

Hans Christian Wolters isn’t a maverick prosecutor who has put forward his own personal theory on the case to grab a few headlines in the media. He has made it crystal clear that this is a murder case - not a missing persons case.

“This is a murder case not a missing persons case. We have been quite clear throughout that we are investigating a murder and have evidence for that.”

The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) have have also explicitly stated that the crime is murder on their homepage:

Delikt: Mord
Tatort: Praia da Luz / Portugal
Tatzeit: 03.05.2007
Crime: Murder
Crime scene: Praia da Luz / Portugal
Time of the crime: 03.05.2007

The BKA are the German equivalent of the American FBI or the Italian RIS Carabinieri.



BKA central labs

They fight terrorism, international drug-trafficking, the growth of organised crime and their forensic scientists collect DNA and forensic evidence from crime scenes.

Police officers who want to join the BKA have to study at the Federal University - Departmental Branch of the Federal Criminal Police - for three years at different locations.

They have to study and pass examinations in a variety of subjects e.g. law, criminal proceedings, constitutional law, criminology, police tactics, ethics and they also receive traditional police training like martial arts such as Krav Maga, Jiu Jiutsu, Judo, shooting, basic driving and crime scene investigation.

The video below gives a brief history of the BKA.

The Bundeskriminalamt’s Forensic Science Institute has state-of-the-art laboratories and they use the latest cutting-edge technology.

Germany is one of a few countries in the world that has the technology to test LCN DNA and present it as evidence in court.

The BKA’s DNA experts were part of the disaster investigations team sent to the scene of the 2004 Asian tsunami to identify victims.

It’s not the first time the BKA’s forensic experts have provided assistance to authorities in other countries. They ascertained that the tanker lorry loaded with liquid gas which exploded in front of a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia in 2002 was a coordinated attack - not an unfortunate accident.

Whilst investigating a series of murders commited by the National Socialist Underground in 2012, the BKA collected, stored and analysed more than 5,500 pieces of evidence. That case highlights the professionalism of the BKA’s forensic experts and underlines just how meticulous and painstaking their work is.

The PJ’s investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance was riddled with critical mistakes. They didn’t process the crime scene during the “golden hour”. The golden hour is the term used for the period immediately after an offence has been committed which gives forensic police officers the best opportunity to collect DNA and forensic evidence.

They didn’t treat Madeleine’s disappearance as a crime until the next day. They ignored what the Forensic Science Service told them with regard to the DNA results being inconclusive and they allowed the apartment where the McCanns were staying to be rented out before they had finished processing the crime scene.

The new BKA forensic labs (Forensic Science Institute) in Wiesbaden.

The video below gives more information about the German Forensic Science Unit.


5. How The BKA Investigation Into The Case Began

In 2017, Kate and Gerry McCann appealed for information about their missing daughter Madeleine on a German television programme Aktenzeichen XY…ungelost (File XY…unsolved). It led to someone contacting the BKA.

This person told the BKA that he had seen a video of Christian Brueckner raping an elderly woman. The witness gave the BKA information that led to Christian Brueckner being convicted of the rape a 72-year-old American woman in Praia du Luz in 2005.

There is no doubt that Christian Brueckner is guilty of raping this woman because his DNA was recovered from the crime scene. This is one of the reasons why the BKA and the German prosecutors regard the witness as being credible.

The same witness claims Christian Brueckner admitted that he had abducted Madeleine.

The BKA decided to investigate further because he had proven to be a credible witness and they discovered Christian Brueckner’s mobile pinged the phone mast that covers the Ocean Club shortly before Madeleine was abducted.

Officers with the BKA’s Department SO25 set up a special taskforce to investigate Brueckner. They will have discovered that he has a number of convictions for sexually abusing children over a long period of time - which lends more credibility to the claim that he is responsible for Madeleine’s abduction.

Some of the Anti-McCann trolls on Twitter have questioned the claim in the media that Christian Bruckner has been imprisoned for sexually abusing children - but it’s stated right there in black and white on the BKA’s website.

“Furthermore, the suspect [Christian Brueckner] was sentenced on numerous occasions to prison terms for sexual abuse of children in the past.” (The BKA website).

The BKA searched a deserted factory factory owned by Brueckner and they discovered USB sticks and a hard drive with over 8,000 images of abuse hidden in plastic bags and buried.

Mark T Hofmann - a German criminal profiler and intelligence analyst - pointed out that this is significant because it proves that Christian Brueckner is a paedophile who obsessed with sexual abuse.



BKA investigators

6. Brueckner Seemingly Incriminates Himself

The BKA also discovered an online conversation about Madeleine between Christian Brueckner and another paedophile.

Christian Brueckner has also fantasised about abducting and abusing a small child for days in a chatroom conversation. He allegedly said he wanted to “capture something small and use it for days”

“Oh, if the evidence is destroyed afterwards…I will document exactly how they will be tortured.”

“Well let’s see, not only talking but also doing it!”

Profilers at the BKA describe Brueckner in their report as a psychopath who is capable of anything.

He reportedly didn’t show the slightest flicker of remorse or any empathy for the six-year-old girl he sexually abused in Germany when he was a teenager.

At his trial at Wuerzburg District Court, he was asked by the juvenile judge what he thought about his actions and he replied: “I didn’t think anything.”

Serafim Vieira, a lawyer who represented Christian Brueckner in a separate case, believes Brueckner may have may have abducted Madeleine and had “psychopathic traits”.

“I believe he could be behind the disappearance of Maddie”

“I can’t say he didn’t have a psychopathic temperament - on the contrary.”

Hans Christian Wolters has said they have concrete evidence against Christian Brueckner that they haven’t shared with the British or Portuguese police because it could jeopardise their investigation.

He wouldn’t have said this if it wasn’t true. The German police and prosecutors are above reproach in such matters.



Triangulation by phone towers in red

7. A Closer Look At The Mobile Phone Evidence

In 2007 Scotland Yard’s top digital analysis expert went to Praia da Luz.

He mapped out how different mobile phone masts served various parts of the Praia da Luz resort and nearby areas.

This information help police to check the alibis of any suspects who used mobile phones that night.

After the German Federal police, the BKA, had been given Christian Brueckner’s name in connection with Madeleine’s disappearance, they asked Scotland Yard for the mobile phone data for all the calls that were made in Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007.

They had to painstakingly sift through a huge amount of data, looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Through this they discovered that Christian Bruecker used his phone for 30 minutes that evening close to the Ocean Club.

Martin Brunt - a reporter for Sky News who has covered the case from the beginning - was one of the first journalists to reveal this information.

“It is thought he [Christian Brueckner] was close to the apartment where she [Madeleine] was sleeping.”

This corroborates the claim of the credible witness who said that Christian Brueckner was responsible for Madeleine’s abduction - it certainly doesn’t contradict it.

If Christian Brueckner’s mobile phone had pinged a phone mast in Germany or in another part of Portugal, he could have been eliminated as a suspect there and then.

Of course, the mobile phone evidence alone isn’t enough proof that Christian Brueckner abducted and killed Madeleine

But as in Meredith’s case (as the Supreme Court ruled in annulling the Hellman outcome in 2012) all the pieces of evidence have to be considered wholly - not separately and in isolation from the other pieces of evidence.

This is a point that the prosecutor in the news Hans Christian Wolters made.

“All I can say is this is like a puzzle and there are many pieces that lead us to believe Christian B is responsible.”

Mobile phone evidence can narrow down someone’s location to a very small area:

  • In a UK case Jessica Chapman’s mobile phone was just outside or inside Ian Huntley’s home in Soham on the day she and Holly Wells disappeared

  • In Meredith’s case Amanda Knox’s mobile phone was in a small area of Perugia where she was on her way to work at 8:18pm on the night of the murder.

She was definitely not at Sollecito’s apartment as she claimed. One of the more damning pieces of evidence in the case.

Hans Christian Wolters clearly believes the mobile phone evidence places Christian Bruecker in the close vicinity of the Ocean Club shortly before Madeleine was abducted.

“One of the pieces [of evidence] is the signal from the mobile phone he was using at the time Madeleine McCann disappeared and has been shown to have been in the area of the Ocean Club resort where she was staying.”



Liz Hayes

Australian reporter Liz Hayes pressed him on this matter:

Liz Hayes: “So what you’re saying to me is that you can place Christian Brueckner at the scene [the Ocean Club]?”

Hans Christian Wolters: “Yes, we think so.”

According to Liz Hayes, Christian Brueckner’s mobile phone was used just outside the Ocean Club

That phone call was triangulated.

8. Finally, What Could The Concrete Evidence Be?

Journalists Liz Hayes (60 Minutes Australia) and Sandra Felgueiras (Sexta As 9) both seem to think the BKA found photographs or a video of Madeleine on one of Christian Brueckner’s USB sticks or hard drives.

If this is true, it’s damning evidence against CB. It would certainly explain why Hans Christian Wolters and the BKA are absolutely adamanat that Christian Brueckner killed Madeleine.

Hans Christian Wolters has repeatedly refused to answer the question when he was asked whether they had found any photographs or videos of Madeleine.

“At the moment, I am not allowed to comment on that, so I am not able to say if there are pictures or there are no pictures of Madeleine.” (Hans Christian Wolters, Inside the secret lair of prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance | 60 Minutes Australia).

 

He has previously been candid that they don’t have a body or any forensic evidence, so why wouldn’t he just be candid if they haven’t found any photographs or videos of Madeleine?

In June, Hans Christian Wolters said they believe they had almost a complete set of evidence. “We think we have 90 per cent evidence.” And in that recent interview with Sandra Felgueiras, he claimed that they have more evidence.

Obviously, more to come.

Posted by The Machine on 10/22/20 at 05:32 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (19)

Hanover-Area Search: Possible Major Advance In Germany’s McCann-Brueckner Investigation

Posted by The Machine

More breaking-news reports here and here.

Judging from the scale of the operation - 100 police officers, including forensic police, sniffer dogs and observation technology - it seems the German prosecutors are acting on specific information and are looking for Madeleine’s remains.

Julia Meyer from the prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig confirmed the search is being carried out in connection with the BKA’s investigation into the Madeleine McCann case:

“I can confirm that the search is being carried out in connection with our investigations into the Maddie case.”

Posted by The Machine on 07/29/20 at 10:59 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (7)

Madeleine McCann Case: Three-Way Warring Justice Systems

Posted by Peter Quennell


Germany v. Portugal v. United Kingdom?!

This three-way example of warring justice systems, none of them being Italian, has suddenly flashed into the news.

Germany seems to be on to something but its handling of the Portugal and UK ends of things does seem a tad peculiar.

They say they have proof of Madeleine’s death and wrote to the parents - who were saying they never got any letter. WTF?!

 


In contrast, Italy is respected for its exceptional international co-operation on justice matters

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

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

We have no three-way examples involving Italy - just these two bilateral examples: (1) the fugitive CIA operator/mullah-kidnapper; and (2) the crew of the Italian tanker that fired on some Indian fishermen.

In each case Italy gave way pretty gracefully.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/18/20 at 01:34 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (28)

Good Balanced Debate On A Controversial Case, No Too-Frequent Victim Stance For Accused

Posted by The Machine


Above, the trailer for the crime debate program discussed here

I have previously written a post about the Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee case and Sarah Koenig’s biased and one-sided Serial podcasts.

She presented the case primarily from the defence’s perspecitve. She didn’t interview the prosecutor or any of the police officers involved in this case, but instead relied heavily on Adnan Syed as well as relying on his chief advocate in the media Rabia Chaudry and Asia McClain, who claims she is an alibi witness.

To be fair to Sarah Koenig she also interviewed Jay Wilds who was the key witness for the prosecution. However, her bias towards Adnan Syed is clearly evident in the number of people she spoke to who think he is innocent compared to those who think he is guilty.

In the post, I also expressed the hope that the mainstream media would provide balanced and factually accurate reports on the case - which is something they didn’t do when covering the Meredith Kercher case.

Predictably, most of the media coverage of the case hasn’t been balanced. The narrative of an innocent person being convicted of a crime they didn’t commit is more sensational and melodramatic than that of someone being rightfully convicted and American public relations takes advantage of this to the hilt. .

Rabia Chaudry has written a number of advocacy pieces in the media for The Guardian and Time (both of which were also riddled with Knox PR shills) in which she presents the defence’s claims as if they are established facts.

She brushes any inconvenient facts under the carpet. For example that an FBI expert claims the mobile phone evidence that places Adnan Syed in Leakin Park on the day Hae Min Lee disappeared is reliable.

Rabia Chaudry is also one of the contributors to the Undisclosed podcasts which are even more biased and one-sided than Serial - which is no mean feat. Adnan Syed’s supporters unquestiongly believe whatever Rabia Chaudry, Susan Simpson or Colin Miller tell them.

Incidentally, Susan Simpson believes Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent and the DNA evidece was “staged”. She also resorts to ridiculous conspiracy theories in the Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee case by claiming the police coached Jay Wilds by tapping.

So it was refreshing to see no-nonsense former prosecutor Nancy Grace discussing the Adnan Syed/Hae Mine Lee case with legal commentator Dan Abrams on the new series GRACE v ABRAMS in a programme that allowed both sides to present their opinions and let the audience make up their own minds.

Sarah Koenig, The Guardian and Time please take note. It should go without saying there are two sides to every story and your job to inform the public about the facts of murder cases - not persuade people that convicted killers are innocent.


Another Of Many “They Really DID Do It” Cases Where Suspicions Only Grow

Posted by Peter Quennell

Several dozen new videos like these have gone online in this year alone.






Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/05/18 at 07:27 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsN America contextComments here (24)

Contrasting The Dishonest, Demonizing Knox With The Real Victim And Victim Advocate Elizabeth Smart

Posted by Peter Quennell


1. Amanda Knox

Read here for the warnings Roanoke College management received.

We are told none of that was ever shared. College management did their students no favors at all by lying by omission about Knox.

College management KNEW that Knox lies on an epic scale and has no real respect for truth. They KNEW the case against Knox was actually one of exceptional strength. They KNEW Knox is a felon for life for framing an innocent man and that she rightly served three years.

They KNEW Knox in Perugia had been heavily on drugs. They KNEW she was not an exchange student and was a growing nuisance to those around. They KNEW that Knox demonizes Italy and its fine, fair justice system and staff, and that she encourages bigotry and dangerous hate.

They KNEW the Supreme Court’s final verdict was provably bent and the Ndrangheta played some role.

Wrongly demonizing police and courts, and wrongly demonizing foreigners, are very dangerous games which if absorbed as lifetime lessons will cause serious psychological and social disarray.

WHY were fee-paying Roanoke students never provided by management with this reality check?

2. Elizabeth Smart

The only other American in victim mode so prominently making herself available for speakers gigs is the REAL victim Elizabeth Smart.

She is the Mormon girl abducted from her Salt Lake City home when she was 14 by a fundamentalist pair.  Although some do believe she may have been kidnapped willingly to get out of a suffocatingly regimented home, she has won just about everybody over, because she is so cool, frank, funny, self-effacing, and genuinely nice.

And because she has chosen a really noble cause, instead of a divisive one.

To general admiration, she is trying to slow child kidnappings and kidnapping-deaths, which are at epidemic levels not least in Utah where the polygamists want second, third and fourth wives and are in the habit of helping themselves.

She has systematized her advice - a number of pointers for kidnap victims to help them come out alive, and a number of pointers for parents, police and political leaders which end up in law and handbooks and training and are filling a real void. She unquestionably is saving lives.

3. Bottom Line

In contrast, what is Knox’s cause? Fanning bigotry and trashing Italy and Italian justice through extensive lies? Mischaracterizing why she is a convicted felon who served three years and nefariously escaped much worse? Demonizing hundreds while seeking to make herself a saint?

So. To best meet their students’ lifetime needs, out of these two, who was it Roanoke College management chooses to expose them to? Really? Amanda Knox?!?!


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.


El Chapo, The Most Most Wily And Deadly Drug Cartel Leader Ever, Is For Now Locked Up - In Manhattan

Posted by Peter Quennell



Who’d a known it? We are being told that the highrise prison adjacent to the courts in downtown Manhattan is maybe the US’s most escape-proof.

Well that is a relief…

The career of Sinaloa cartel leader and escape artist “El Chapo” (three escapes so far) in northern Mexico (see the great 2015 movie El Sicarrio for a fictional version) has been littered with bodies - he himself claims to have bumped off thousands.

Having escaped those three times very ingeniously from Mexican prisons, the authorities there were not unhappy to send Guzman northward. He faces his first American trial soon, in the Federal courts in Brooklyn. The Chicago courts will be his next destination.

Much of northern Mexico is a desert - actually a quite beautiful one - and the drug-transporting cartels had traditionally divided it up into corridors to run the drugs that are produced further south, especially in Colombia. The Sinaloa cartel initially settled for only the western several.

But as the video explains, a fired-up and mistrustful El Chapo set about taking over all of the corridors.

The Sinaloans are assiduous builders of long tunnels, and there are said for example to be many dozens between the Tijuana and San Diego areas.

No border wall like that being mooted is likely to have any effect on them. This is though experts say hard drugs do way more harm to society than the dwindling trickle of illegal immigrants.

See this case for example.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/26/17 at 05:20 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (11)

Artificially Controversial Adnan Syed Case Adds To Tilt Against Victims Worldwide

Posted by The Machine



Victim Hae Min Lee; bottom, podcaster Sarah Koenig basking in celebrity

1. The Media Overview

Doug Preston, John Douglas, Steve Moore and Bruce Fischer are by no means the only crackpots in America perpetrating innocence fraud.

Their main distinction was to perpetrate it in English against a victim and a police and court system of other countries, using ignorance and smears and a largely complicit American media to trample hard truths in the case.

But innocence fraud is still a tiny industry in Italy as compared with the godzilla it is becoming in America - often with politically vulnerable judges and usually with naive do-gooders in compliance. 

2. The Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee serial podcast

Much of the public seems to have developed an insatiable appetite for documentaries about people who have been convicted of murders they allegedly didn’t commit. Faux TV documentaries title American Girl, Italian Nightmare, Paradise Lost, West of Memphis, and Making of a Murderer, have all been watched by millions of people.

Podcasts are another way of reaching them. Wikipedia defines a podcast as “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

High school student Hae Min Lee was the victim in this 1999 Baltimore murder case and her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted in 2000 of her murder and is serving a life sentence plus 30 years. 

The serial podcast about the Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee case has been downloaded over 80 million times now. According to Apple, it’s the fastest podcast to reach five million downloads and streams in the history of iTunes.

In the light of public sentiment inflamed by it a retrial has been ordered, a ruling which Maryland’s attorney general will now seek to overturn.

Why was this serial podcast so popular?

Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Ken Silverstein made the following observation about the success of Serial in an article about the case for The Intercept:

“The reality is that “˜Serial’ only worked if it could demonstrate that there were serious doubts about the fairness of Syed’s trial and conviction. If he were guilty, there was no story. The storytelling device was to amplify claims that favored Syed’s defense and contrast that with a watered-down version of the state’s case”

TV producers and podcast makers know full well that an innocent person being railroaded by corrupt or incompetent cops is a far more melodramatic story than a run-of-the-mill domestic violence murder.

Paul Ciolino admitted in a question and answer session about the Meredith Kercher case at Seattle University that CBS News didn’t care whether someone was innocent. The only thing they care about is the story.

“I work for CBS News. I want to tell you one thing about CBS. We don’t care if you did it. We don’t care if you’re innocent. We like a story. We want to do a story. That’s all we care about.”

CBS News produced one of the most biased and factually inaccurate documentaries about the Meredith Kercher case “American Girl, Italian Nightmare”.

The CBS documentary is an archetypal example of innocence fraud. The story is told primarily from the defence point of view, incriminating pieces of evidence are ignored and the programme contains a number of significant factual errors.

3. Faults by podcast creator Sarah Koenig

The Serial is another example of innocence fraud. Sarah Koenig, the executive producer and host of Serial, tries to be partial and objective, but fails miserably.

Instead of maintaining a professional distance from Adnan Syed, she becomes emotionally attached to him, and it’s clear she desperately wants to believe he’s innocent.

She can barely hide her disappointment when she finds out things that show Syed in a bad light. Her comments that Syed doesn’t seem like a killer are just crass. She comes across as an unwordly academic who has been sheltered from the real world in her ivory tower. 

She says she doesn’t buy the motive put forward by the prosecution i.e. Adnan Syed couldn’t deal with being dumped by Hae Min Lee and it erupted in violence.

In reality, people kill other people for the most banal and trivial reasons. She doesn’t seem to understand that there are seven billion on the planet and not everyone shares her logic and morals. There have been a number of high-profile murder cases where seemingly normal people have committed horrific and senseless murders with little or no motive.

And motive is not a required element in any common law jurisdiction.

She adopts a piecemeal cherrypicking approach to the evidence and analyses each piece of evidence in isolation from the other pieces of evidence. If there’s an alternative innocent explanation not matter how far-fetched it is, she wrongly assumes it nullifies that particular piece of evidence.

It’s no surprise she concludes there isn’t enough evidence to convict Adnan Syed of murder: “It’s not enough, to me, to send anyone to prison for life.”

She doesn’t understand the concept and application of the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard” and that all the pieces of evidence have to be considered wholly, not separately - by a jury actually present to size up all witnesses.

According to the Supreme Court of the United States in Victor. Nebraska (92-8894), 511 U.S. 1 (1994):

“...absolute or mathematical certainty is not required.”

“You may be convinced of the truth of a fact beyond a”¨reasonable doubt and yet be fully aware that possibly you may be mistaken.”

You put all the pieces of evidence together to see whether a picture of guilt emerges.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada in Stewart v. The Queen, [1977] 2 SCR 748:

“It may be, and such is often the case, that the facts proven by the Crown, examined separately have not a very strong probative value; but all the facts put in evidence have to be considered each one in relation to the whole, and it is all of them taken together, that may constitute a proper basis for a conviction.”






4. Main facts of the case against Adnan Syed

The key pieces of evidence in the case were the testimony of his friend Jay Wilds and the mobile phone records which destroyed Adnan Syed’s initial alibi that he was at the mosque on the evening of 13 January 1999 - the day Hae Min Lee disappeared- and corroborated Wilds’ claims that he and Adnan were in Leakin Park that evening.

This is significant because Hae Min Lee’s body was found in Leakin Park. There’s no question that Jay Wilds had inside knowledge about the murder - he led the police to Hae Min Lee’s car. He confessed to being an accessory to murder after the fact.

On 13 January 1999, Hae Min Lee was supposed to pick up her cousin from the Campfield Early Learning Center after school and take her home. She must have been abducted by her killer whilst on the way to the kindergarten.

This means the window of opportunity for her killer to abduct her was extremely narrow. It takes approximately 11 minutes to drive the 3.8 miles from Woodlawn High School to the kindergarten. 

Jay Wilds told the police that Adnan Syed’s plan was to get a lift with Hae Min Lee. Becky and Krista, who were friends with Hae and Syed, claim they heard him asking Hae for a lift on 13 January 1999. Scott Adcock, a police officer, testified that Syed had told him he had asked Hae for a lift that day.

Syed would later deny that he had asked Hae for a lift. Adnan Syed had lent Wilds his mobile phone and car that day. However, it should be pointed out that it wasn’t the first time that Syed had done this.

Kevin Urick, one of the prosecutors, acknowledged in his interview with The Intercept that the two key pieces of evidence - the mobile records and Jay Wilds’ testimony - are of weaker probative value when considered separately, but pointed out that when you put them together, they are strong pieces of evidence.

“Jay’s testimony by itself, would that have been proof beyond a reasonable doubt?” Urick asked rhetorically. “Probably not. Cellphone evidence by itself? Probably not.”

But, he said, when you put together cellphone records and Jay’s testimony, “they corroborate and feed off each other”“it’s a very strong evidentiary case.”

He also pointed out that the mobile phone records destroyed Adnan Syed’s alibi that he was at the mosque on the evening of 13 January 1999. From The Intercept:

“Yes. Early on in the Syed case, the defense sent us a disclosure of about eighty names stating that these were witnesses that were going to testify that Syed was at the mosque because it was Ramadan. He was praying all evening and that’s where he was [Intercept ed’s. note: We have corrected this in the introduction].

If they called those eighty witnesses, they would’ve obviously been testifying falsely, because the cellphone records in conjunction with all the evidence we gathered about the cellphone towers, who made the calls, who received them, place him everywhere but at the mosque.

The best defense an attorney can put on is the defense the client is telling them. But attorneys still are not supposed to put on fabricated evidence. And that would’ve been fabricated evidence. And I think once Gutierrez recognized that fact, she did not put it on.”

Adnan Syed chose not to testify at both his trials. If he had, Kevin Urick would have asked him a pertinent question.

“And my very last question would be, what is your explanation for why you either received or made a call from Leakin Park the evening that Hae Min Lee disappeared, the very park that her body was found in five weeks later?”

The mobile phone records also showed there was a call from his mobile phone to his friend Nisha’s landline at 3:32pm on the day Hae disappeared. This is significant because Jay Wilds didn’t know Nisha and Adnan Syed claims he didn’t have his phone at this time as Jay Wilds had it. The phone call lasted more than two minutes.

Sarah Koening speculates that the Nisha call could have been a “butt dial”.

Dana Chivvis, one of the “Serial” producers, puts the pieces of evidence together in episode 12 and seems to have serious reservations about Adnan Syed’s innocence.

“Adnan has always said it was his idea to loan Jay the car because he wanted to get Stefanie a birthday present right. So that’s pretty crappy luck that you loaned this guy who ends up pointing the finger at you for the murder that you loaned him your car and cell phone the day you ex-girlfriend goes missing. The next thing is that it seems pretty clear to me that Adnan asked Hae for a ride after school because we’ve got at least two of their friends saying they overheard him ask for a ride from Hae.

Adnan himself tells the cop that day he asked Hae for a ride. And In Jay’s first interview with the detectives, he says to them Adnan’s plan was to get in Hae’s car by telling her that his car was broken down and asking her for a ride. Then the next piece of bad luck is the Nisha call. I mean even if the Nisha call could potentially be a butt dial… in the realm of possibility maybe it was a butt dial, but what are the chances? Like that sucks for for you that your phone butt dialled the girl that only you know and would call on this day your ex-girlfriend goes missing that you happen to loan your car and phone out to the guy who ends up pointing the finger at you. That sucks.

And the last thing that I think really sucks for him if he’s innocent is that Jay’s story and the cell phone records match up from about 6 o’clock to about 8 o’clock which is when Jay is saying that you’re burying the body and that’s the time of day when you have no memory of where you were…But you Adnan you don’t really remember where you were that evening and that blank spot in your memory that’s the window of time when Jay’s story actually does seem to be corroborated by the cell phone records.”

It’s important to put the evidence that Dana Chivvis outlines into the wider context of Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee’s deteriorating relationship.

In November 1998, two months before Hae Min Lee was murdered, she wrote a break-up note to Syed telling him to move on, accept her decision to end their relationship, and to “hate me if you will.” On the back of the note Adnan Syed wrote: “I’m going to kill.”

Is it a coincidence that two months later that Hae Min Lee was killed?

Is it a coincidence that Adnan Syed can remember very little about this day even though it wasn’t an ordinary day because the police called him to tell that Hae was missing and asked him if he knew where she was?

Ann Brocklehurst wrote a blog article criticising Sarah Koenig for consistently minimising the warning signs of intimate partner violence and noted that she overlooked that fact that Hae had asked a teacher, Hope Schab, to help her hide from Syed.




5. Doubts Sarah Koenig tries to raise

Sarah Koenig seems to think that Asia McClain is a credible witness - she claims she saw Adan Syed in the library that afternoon. However, Kevin Urick points out why the judge in the post-conviction trial didn’t take her claim seriously.

“I think the judge in the post-conviction trial does a very good job of pointing out that in the letters to Syed, she is very vague and indifferent about what she’s doing. The difficulty comes from Syed. In all his statements about his whereabouts the day of the case he says that he was at the school from 2:15pm to 3:30pm.

He never once, in any statement, at any time, made any reference about being in the public library. His defense was that he was at the school from 2:30 to 3:30. So [Asia McClain’s] reporting seeing him at the public library contradicts what he says he was doing.”

Kevin Urick also stated that Asia McClain told him she was being put under a lot of pressure from Adnan Syed’s family.

“Asia contacted me before the post-conviction hearing, she got my number and called me and expressed to me a great deal of concern about whether or not she would have to testify at the post-conviction hearing. She told me she was under a lot of pressure from Adnan’s family and to get them off her back she wrote him a couple letters.

The implication was she was trying to appease them and she didn’t want to have to stick by it at that time. And I testified to that when I appeared in the post-conviction hearing.”

Sarah Koenig also seems to think that Jay Wilds’ testimony shouldn’t have been used to convict Adnan Syed because he gave conflicting accounts. Kevin Urick explained why these inconsistencies don’t discredit him as a witness.

“Like I said, people who are engaged in criminal activity, it’s like peeling an onion. The initial thing they say is, “˜I don’t know a thing about this.’ And then “˜Well, I sort of saw this.’ You get different stories as you go along. This is the real world. We don’t pick our witnesses, we have to put them on as they are. There were a lot of inconsistencies throughout Jay’s prior statements. Almost all of them involve what we would call collateral facts.

“A material fact is something directly related to the question of guilt or innocence. A material fact would have been, “˜I was with Adnan,’ and then you’ve got the cellphone corroborating that material fact. A collateral fact would be, We were at Joe’s Sub Shop,’ but then you find out actually they were at the auto repair store. That’s a collateral fact. It’s not necessarily material to the question of guilt or innocence. So, many of the material facts were corroborated through the cellphone records including being in Leakin Park.”

Sarah Koenig is not the only person who thinks Jay Wilds’ testimony shouldn’t have been used to convict Adnan Syed.

Civil lawyer Richard Dwyer says doesn’t believe Adnan Syed and thinks he might be guilty, but he states he shouldn’t have been convicted because Jay Wilds gave conflicting statements and the timeline wasn’t proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

There seems to be a widespread misconception that the prosecution must be able to prove with absolute certainty each and every element of a second-by-second comprehensive timeline and that witness testimony must be discounted if there are any contradictions. 

The bottom line is the jury found Jay Wilds to be a credible witness and found Adnan Syed guilty of murder.

6. Some Conclusions

A biased and one-sided 12-part documentary presented by a partisan journalist doesn’t supercede a criminal trial where the jurors get to hear the defence and prosecution present their cases and watch witnesses being cross-examined in court.

Justice shouldn’t be a like a reality TV show where the public gets to decide whether someone convicted of murder should be allowed leave the big house. However, there’s no doubt that these types of documentaries do influence legal proceedings. A judge has recently ruled that Adnan Syed will be given another trial.

We can expect Adnan Syed’s supporters and a number of media organisations will try to influence the legal proceedings before and during the new trial. This couldn’t happen in the UK because of the sub judice rules which prevents the media from commenting on a case until a verdict is reached in order to prevent the jury from being swayed.

The Guardian recently published an article entitled “Adnan Syed is innocent. Now find Hae Min Lee’s real killer”, which was written by Adnan Syed’s chief advocate Rabia Chaudry. I hope the mainstream media provide balanced and factually accurate reports on the case - something they didn’t do when covering the Meredith Kercher case.

Journalists and the public should remember that a miscarriage of justices are not just cases where innocent people have been convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. They include cases where people have literally got away with murder. I can’t think of one documentary about such a case.

7. The reactions of Hae Min Lee’s family

Hae Min Lee’s family sat through the trials along with the juries and have no doubts that Adnan Syed killed her.

“It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae.”

Unlike Sarah Koenig or any of the 80 million people who downloaded the Serial podcasts, they actually attended every day of both trials, heard the arguments put forward from the defence and prosecution and saw the witnesses being cross-examined on the stand.

“unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials ““ so many witnesses, so much evidence”.




Some Of The Main Sources

One: Serial Season One

Two: EXCLUSIVE: PROSECUTOR IN “˜SERIAL’ CASE GOES ON THE RECORD

Three: EXCLUSIVE: SERIAL PROSECUTOR DEFENDS GUILTY VERDICT IN ADNAN SYED CASE, PART II.

Four: Serial podcast rehabilitated a schoolgirl’s murderer, so where’s the feminist outrage?

Five: Serial case: victim’s family offers rare statement before hearing resumes

Six: Adnan Syed is innocent. Now find Hae Min Lee’s real killer

Seven: Syed Of ‘Serial’ Podcast Given Retrial

Eight: Serial Podcast Locations

Nine: “˜Serial’ takes the stand: How a podcast became a character in its own narrative

Ten: Serial Finale—Why I Don’t Believe Adnan Syed

 

Posted by The Machine on 07/27/16 at 01:46 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (38)

Crime Of This Self Adulating Killer Is As Horrific As Self Adulating Knox’s Killing Of Meredith

Posted by Peter Quennell



When Knox is not salivating over her own sheer amazingness, she salivates over the sheer amazingness of other crimes and other criminals.

Knox would find much to salivate over in Pakistan, where hundreds of women are being brutally killed annually by relatives in honor killings - and some of those relatives get to be on TV gloating over their own sheer amazingness.

The strangulation of Pakistani model Qandeel Baloch 10 days ago by one of her six brothers initially inspired much praise for him among twisted “traditionalists” but this is being overtaken by shocked reactions worldwide and to an increasing extent in Pakistan.

Made more-so because the brother and the father have been claiming on TV they did the right thing.

The brother fled but is already captured and faces a probable death sentence. Pakistan’s government could now have to move much more strongly to stop all these honor killings.

There are already over 100 YouTubes, many in remembrance and protest, with combined views totaling several millions.

Below, an outraged commentary just posted, by Pakistani-Canadian Giana Sim. Terrific statement, Giana.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/16/16 at 10:00 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (22)

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 by Peter Quennell on 03/05/16 at 03:46 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The judical timelineThe legal followupsUS etc relatedComments here (4)

Serial Killer Robert Pickton Tries To Cash In - Why Son-of-Sam Laws Should Be Enacted Worldwide

Posted by Chimera



Possibly not all of the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton, publicity hound

Son of Sam Anti Bloodmoney Laws

We explained here why laws against blood money are called Son of Sam laws in the US.

Attempts by murderers to persuade gullible publics by way of east access to tone-deaf publishers and TV is becoming an unwelcome phenomenon worldwide and maybe luring others into crime. 

Lawmakers worldwide are being prompted to set this right. There is currently no Son-of-Sam Law in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. Vancouver is the largest city in BC.

BC’s Robert Pickton Serial Killer Case

This is a Vancouver case now in the national Canadian news.

The transcription below is a jailhouse conversation between Robert Pickton, who stood accused of murder, and an undercover police officer.

[0:04] Pickton - They got me.  They got me on this one.

[0:07] Undercover - No.  No shit.

[0:18] Undercover - Fuck, what have they got? Fuck, there’s old carcasses.  So, what have they got, you know what I’m saying?

[0:26] Pickton - DNA

[0:28] Undercover - Fuck

[0:30] Pickton - Yeah

[0:32] Undercover - Come on buddy.  Fuck, that’s nothing.  They can’t finalize it though if you fucking got ... if you’ve fucking got a missing person.  It’s pretty hard to collect DNA on that

[0:44] Pickton - They got DNA

[0:45] Undercover - Fucking guy does it right.  I find the best way to dispose of something is fucking take it to the ocean

[0:56] Pickton - Oh really?

[0:58] Undercover - Oh, fuck, you know what the fucking ocean does to things?  There ain’t much left.

[1:14] Pickton - I did better than that.

[1:15] Undercover - Who?

[1:16] Pickton - Me

[1:17] Undercover - No. huh?

[1:34] Pickton - A rendering plant.

[1:36] Undercover - Hey?

[1:36] Pickton - A rendering plant.

[1:36] Undercover - Ha ha.  No shit.  That’s gotta be fucking pretty good, hey?

[1:44] Pickton - Mmm hmmm

[1:45] Undercover - There can’t be much fucking left?

[1:52] Pickton - Oh no, only I was kinda sloppy at the end, getting too sloppy.

Now, however, Pickton decides he doesn’t want to be just another inmate serving life.  He wants some fame, money and extra publicity as well.

Robert Picton’s Attempt At A Book

With this brazen act Robert Pickton joins the ranks of other sickos who commit murder and then cash in

    (1) O.J. Simpson was paid $600,000 for Pablo Fenjves and Dominick Dunn to write his book ‘’[If] I did it’‘.

    (2) Raffaele Sollecito was paid $950,000 for Andrew Gumbel to write his book ‘‘Honor Bound’’

    (3) Salvatore (Sammy) Gravano was paid $1.5 million for Peter Maas to write his book ‘‘Underboss’’

    (4) Amanda Knox was ostensibly paid $3.8 million (possible world record) for “Waiting to be Heard’‘

Pickton, who is serving 6 life sentences at the Kent Institution in British Columbia was apparently sending his work out piece by piece to Michael Chilldres out in California.  (Author’s Note: it is not clear if “Chilldres” is an alias).

Chilldres claims he only typed out the manuscript, and did not write it, and that it was being done for a friend.

The guards have long been aware of this, according to the Union.  But now that publishing is a reality, it is becoming clear that no effort was made to actually stop it.

    *** Side Note ***  Robert Pickton’s book, titled ‘‘Pickton: In his Own Words’’ was being sold by Barnes and Noble, who also helped Knox sell her (memoir) ‘‘Waiting to be Heard’‘.

    *** Side Note *** Pickton supposedly wrote his own manuscript, unlike creative writing graduate Knox.

    *** Side Note *** Pickton actually waited until his appeals were exhausted before writing a book (or having someone else do it).


A Partial Timeline

The numerous cruel murders took place more than a decade ago.

    December 2006: Jury selection takes place.

    December 2007: Pickton was convicted on 6 counts of 2nd degree murder (not 1st degree) and sentenced to 6 life sentences.

    February 2008: The B.C. Attorney General makes the controversial decision ‘‘not’’ to try Pickton for the additional 20 murders, if his current 6 convictions survive appeal

    June 2009: The BC Court of Appeals rejects 2-1 Pickton’s appeal for a new trial, saying the errors in jury instructions were not enough to overturn the conviction.

    July 2010: The Supreme Court of Canada rejects 9-0 Pickton’s appeal for a new trial.

    August 2010: BC confirms that to save time, money and hardship, the other 20 murder victims will not result in additional charges.

To clear up the confusion, the police and prosecutors actually had evidence that Pickton committed 26 murders, although he was suspected in many more. 

The Crown (Prosecution), chose to only prosecute the 6 strongest cases, leaving the other 20 in limbo.

The Crown argued that there wasn’t much of a difference between 6 life sentences and 26, and the time and expense had to be considered.

While this is true, it left a bad taste for the families of those victims.  Justice wasn’t being pursued literally because of convenience. 

Present State Of The Case

The Attorney General, Premier, and victims right’s groups are working to ensure not only that this book gets pulled, but that Pickton cannot profit from it. Some more:

Posted by Chimera on 03/02/16 at 11:06 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsN America contextComments here (4)

Italy Fights For Justice For A Murdered Student As The UK Government Never Did

Posted by Peter Quennell

Above: a minute’s silence in the Italian parliament for Giulio Regeni an Italian student found slain in Cairo a few days ago.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered in a village in northern Italy for the funeral of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge PhD student found tortured and dead in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo last week.

Flags were flying at half-mast in Fiumicello, where villagers offered spare rooms and couches for the 28-year-old’s friends and family, as the diplomatic fallout from his death continued in Rome.

The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, warned Egypt that the health of the relationship between the two countries rested on the quality of the investigation into Regeni’s killing.

Compare with how the UK government reacted after Meredith died. Basically it looked the other way. Many in Italian justice were amazed at how totally disinterested the UK government was in the case in all the years since Meredith’s death.

The US government sprang into action to help Knox and to make sure she was treated right, though there was no proof the Italians would do anything but. They found her a Rome lawyer with good English (Carlos Dalla Vedova) and monitored all her court sessions and her four years in Capanne.

This came at a probable cost of over half a million dollars. And that is just the public support. Nobody ever said “the Federal budget cannot stand this”.

The extent of the British government in pushing justice for Meredith and her family? Exactly zero over the years.

Nothing was ever paid toward the legal costs or the very high travel costs of the Kercher family to be in court as the family finances ran into the ground. Nobody from the Foreign Office in London or the UK Embassy in Rome observed in court except in Florence, just the once.

Appalling pro-Knox Italy-bashing in the UK media based on highly inaccurate accounts was never tamped down - presumably because the Foreign Office was itself in the dark, and did not have a clue what was going on.

The ugly message this sent to the world?  If you are going to be a student in foreign trouble, be an American or Italian. Not a Brit.

However, years after four-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal, the UK government is spending heavily to right a possible wrong there.  Back in 2007 Meredith’s case and Madeleine’s case began just a few weeks apart.

Maybe to right a possible wrong in Italy, the UK government could do likewise here.



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 by Peter Quennell on 02/02/16 at 06:01 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsItalian contextComments here (0)

A Stretch Inside Not Only Protects Society: For Perps It May Be Best Shot At Coming Right

Posted by Peter Quennell

Video 1: Very good analysis by psychologist Dr Drew Pinsky on Tuesday 5 January 2016


As we posted Ethan Couch killed four and maimed a fifth for life while drunk-driving in Texas two years ago.

He is now in a Mexico City lockup for illegal immigrants seeking to avoid extradition to the US where he has violated his highly controversial probation. Many or most think this was a travesty for the families of the victims. The judge retired early. Justice was not seen to be done.

Now he is reported to have run up a $1000 tab at a Mexican strip club which his mother paid. That $1000 apparently went in part toward drinks. He had skipped out of the US mid-December because he was videoed at a party with drinks.

Sources say Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya went to a strip club called Harem in Puerto Vallarta on the night of Dec. 23. According to club employees, the pair had drinks before Tonya Couch left the club. Ethan stayed at the club and employees told ABC News that he went off to a VIP room with two women who worked at Harem. Hotel and club employees said Couch was extremely drunk.

Few if any other criminal psychologists ever came out in support of Couch’s defense’s psychologist who convinced the judge two years ago that the affluence of the family was somehow a primary cause.

In the past few days there have been various psychology panels on cable TV discussing the case. Articles too.

From them Ethan Couch did not exactly get a lot of love. A term inside to remove him from his family and choke off his dependencies is what the psychologists incline towards, as Dr Drew in the top video highly recommends.

Video 2: Dr Drew two years ago (this video was previously at the top)


Melissa Todorovic Perpetrates A Grisly Jealousy-Driven Murder With Many Other Similarities

Posted by Chimera

The victim Stefanie Rengel, ambushed and killed with a knife; here her mother speaks out

1. The Jealousy Crime

Jealousy sparks a lot of crimes. This is from Toronto Life

It started as a joke. Melissa Todorovic and David Bagshaw fantasized about how they wanted to hurt and humiliate David’s ex-girlfriend. They talked about it for months and months, until the fantasy became a plan, and Melissa gave David an ultimatum: no more sex until Stefanie was dead. How two high school students became killers

On New Year’s in 2008, 14 year old Stefanie Rengel was ambushed, stabbed 6 times, and left to die in a snowbank.  She was still alive when a passer-by found her, but did not survive the night.

Her killer was David Bagshaw, 17, and in fact just 4 days shy of this 18th birthday.  It turns out that he had been pressured by his girlfriend, Melissa Todorovic, 15 at the time, to do this, or to be deprived of sex from her.  After letting Todorovic know that the ‘‘deed had been done’‘, she called Stefanie’s number 3 times to confirm.  When no one answered, she took it as proof this had been done.

Between Bagshaw and Todorovic, there were hundreds of emails and text messages on this topic, so once police suspicion fell on them and these records were pulled, it left no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what had happened.  Other evidence was gathered of course, but these messages were smoking guns by themselves.

Police believe that the topic had initially come up as a prank, and that on some level they fantasized violence against Stefanie.

2. A Very Disturbing Case

(1) Bagshaw and Stefanie had supposedly dated before (a non-sexual relationship), and it was chilling to see how viciously he could slaughter a young woman he once had feelings for.

(2) Todorovic considered Stefanie to be a rival (she had once ‘‘dated’’ her current boyfriend), but the two had never actually met.

(3) The brief, but completely savage nature of the ambush and killing.

(4) Bagshaw claimed his ‘‘prize’’ after Stefanie was dead—namely a romp with Todorovic.  Whatever ‘‘remorse’’ he may have felt with this act, he was still in the mood for sex.

(5) Bagshaw, in one of the messages, complained that he was approaching 18 years of age, and that he would be tried as an adult.  This shows that he understood in advance what the likely consequences were.

(6) Even though the messages went back and forth for months, apparently neither Bagshaw nor Todorovic ever stepped back to reflect on what they were setting in motion.

3.The Trial Outcome

At Bagshaw’s trial, his lawyer understood that he really had no defence to the murder charge.  He plead guilty to first degree murder, hoping to get a youth sentence from the judge.  Remember, he was a few days shy of 18.

It didn’t work, and the judge gave him an adult sentence of life, with a minimum of 10 years in custody.  Prosecutors argued that he ‘‘bought himself 15 years right there’‘, as he would have received a 25 year minimum had he actually been 18.  Bagshaw has confessed, and apologised to the family for doing this.

At Todorovic’s trial, her lawyer tried to claim that she never intended for Bagshaw to actually go ahead with it.  That argument failed as well, and as a 15 year old, Todorovic received a life sentence with a minimum of 7 years to be spent in custody.

4. More Background On The Case

Note: Initially, both Bagshaw and Todorvic had their identities withheld from publication, as both were considered ‘‘young offenders’‘.  The media had merely referred to them as D.B. and M.T.  However, since adult sentences have been imposed, that restriction has been lifted.

5. Comparisons Of Those Involved

  • Bagshaw was 17, Todorovic 15, Stefanie 14
  • Sollecito was 23, Knox 20, Guede 20, Meredith 21

  • Bagshaw’s lawyers (in pleading for a youth sentence), argued that he was Todorovic’s ‘‘slave’‘
  • Sollecito has been widely portrayed as Knox’s ‘‘slave’’ in the media.

  • Todorovic was jealous of a girl who had once dated her boyfriend
  • Knox was jealous that Meredith got a boy (Giacomo), whom she found attractive

  • Todorovic killed someone she had never met before
  • Knox killed a roommate that she ‘‘only knew for a month’‘.

  • Bagshaw plead guilty to 1st degree murder hoping to get a youth sentence.
  • Guede took the ‘‘fast-track’’ trial, to get 1/3 off, or at least avoid a possible life sentence.

  • Todorovic’s lawyer claimed Bagshaw did it all on his own.
  • Knox and Sollecito’s lawyers claim Guede was the ‘‘lone wolf’‘.

  • Cellphone texts and emails were used to nail Bagshaw and Todorovic
  • Lack of cellphone activity or computer activity (for Sollecito), raised red flags about the alibis of AK and RS.

  • Bagshaw claimed that Todorvic set it all in motion.
  • Guede and Sollecito have both claimed that the problems were largely caused by Knox.

  • Bagshaw, while pleading guilty, expressed remorse for the murder
  • Guede, while denying the murder, has expressed remorse.

  • Bagshaw and Todorovic had a sexual encounter as a ‘‘reward’‘, after Stefanie’s murder
  • Knox and Sollecito were still having sex after Meredith’s murder, and Knox was still trading sex-for-drugs with Federico Martini.

  • Todorvic has never expressed any real remorse for setting Stefanie’s murder in action
  • Knox, while claiming Meredith was ‘‘her friend’‘, made comments such as ‘‘shit happens’‘, and ‘‘I want to get on with my life.’‘

  • Todorovic and Bagshaw were found guilty (Bagshaw plead), and both lost their appeals at the Appeals Court in Toronto
  • Knox and Sollecito were found guilty at trial, but by judge shopping have had success in their appeals.
  • Guede was found guilty in the fast tract trial, and despite a sentence reduction, (getting 1/3 less than AK and RS), the conviction was upheld.


6. What Happened Next

Todorovic appealed her conviction to the Ontario Court of Appeals, and it was rejected.

Todorovic lost a bid to remain in youth custody for a year longer than she was to be transferred.

Bagshaw appealed his sentence (he had plead guilty) to the O.C.A., claiming it was wrong to impose an adult sentence on such an emotionally immature person.  It was rejected.

Bagshaw, while in custody, was charged with attempted murder, for helping to try to kill an inmate.  His excuse: he was pressured to do so, the same line he used in his murder trial

Posted by Chimera on 08/03/15 at 05:00 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The judical timelineThe legal followupsComments here (14)

Wide Concern In US At A Killer Groupie Who Helped Dangerous Killers To Escape

Posted by Peter Quennell



We have occasionally dwelled upon what drives killer groupies. The phenomenon is widespread and it has been around a long time.

A desperation for money and new jobs and status. Perversions, chips on shoulders, previous brushes with the law - that last driver actually accounts for about half.

Sheer besottedness is one quite common cause. Some people really do love dangerous jerks. 

Now a killer groupie is responsible for a huge and expensive manhunt, and for hundreds of thousands 250 miles north of New York City and up into Canada locking their doors and buying guns.

They fear an attack, even death, from two dangerous killers on the loose.

The sole cause of their breaking out of a secure prison which had seen no prior breakouts in 150 years is a killer groupie, a woman married with children employed on the prison staff, who supplied them with power tools to cut their way out. and who was to drive the getway car.

Joyce Mitchell has been arrested and charged with a felony and may face eight years inside. [She was sentenced to 7 years, in Sept 2015.]

As she failed to turn up on the night - maybe cold feet, maybe a medical emergency as she seems to claim - the two killers are believed still to be close. Bloodhounds picked up a scent in marshes near the prison only a couple of days ago.

Nice going, Joyce, do call Amanda Knox. Oh, but wait…


Paul Ciolino Hit With A $40 Million Suit For Real Railroad Job From Hell

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. Paul Ciolino And Meredith’s Case

Investigator Paul Ciolino provides expertise for the CBS Network’s 48 Hours crime unit.

The staffing of that unit are all obsessively supportive of Amanda Knox and all unquestioningly channel the PR. Despite claims such as “16 months of investigation” they seem to have never settled down to do reality checks or due diligence of their own.

They include the talking head Peter Van Sant (from Seattle), producers Doug Longhini, Sara Ely Hulse, and Joe Halderman (fired for attempted blackmail) and the serial fabricator Doug Preston who with major CBS help has perpetrated various damaging hoaxes

In late 2008 Paul Ciolino helped to get the Perugia reporting by CBS off to a very unpromising start.

As Kermit showed Ciolino made a huge mistake in a gotcha attempt upon witness Nara Capezzali.

She had reported to the police that she heard footsteps on gravel by the house and directly below her window on the top deck of the parking facility and then clanging footsteps on the steel stairs a few yards to her right. She also reported seeing several figures on the run.

She would not talk with Ciolino, who got the locations very wrong and also ignored altogether what Madame Nara saw. His replication of the footsteps was by runners down on the bitumin street, which is about three times as far away as Madame Nara heard some steps, with a surface nothing like the gravel drive by the house. Then Ciolino reported that he couldnt hear anything. Hardly a surprise.

In 2009 Ciolino was the main speaker at the infamous Knox fundraiser at Salty’s in West Seattle. His presentation was shrill even by their standards. He was apparently the first ever to describe the case as a “railroad job from hell”.

That inspired this extended rebuttal by Kermit.

Included in Ciolino’s presentation at Salty’s was an angry demonizing rant about Dr Mignini’s sanity. This rant was widely reported, not least in Italy.

In Perugia Knox’s own legal team protested the PR thrust. The BBC interviewed Dr Mignini and in a report on their website concluded the precise opposite to Ciolino’s claim.

In April 2009 CBS 48 Hours with biased takes by Ciolino and Preston aired American Girl, Italian Nightmare, the most misleading major US TV report as of that point, and Peter Van Sant aired his own misleading take.

Later still in 2009 CBS 48 Hours Producer Joe Halderman was arrested and charged with blackmail. Halderman had to resign after pleading guilty and is long gone.

In 2011 CBS 48 Hours aired the so-called untold story of Knox. CBS 48 Hours also aired numerous other short segments (you can find them on YouTube) simply regurgitating the tales by Knox and her PR gang whole, absent any checking of facts.

CBS attempt no balance, nobody with a deep knowledge of the case ever appears. No Italians are ever interviewed. PR shills repetitively appear without being introduced as such. Almost all hard facts are simply left out; the lies by omission are huge.

CBS has done zero translation of major documents, or even reported on them in summary when released. Peter Van Sant and Doug Longhini have posted several dozen of the nastiest and least truthful analyses of the case on the CBS website. A really huge effort, simply channeling the PR.

Although quieter now, Paul Ciolino didnt quite dry up on the case. After the Nencini appeal in Florence he was quoted as saying:

Amanda is a political football, and not so much a murder suspect….They know she didn’t do it. Anyone with half a brain knows she and Raffaele weren’t involved in this thing. This is about national pride, about showing who’s boss in Italy. They are sending the message that, ‘You cannot bigfoot us. You can’t outspend us. We’re going to show you who runs this country and it’s not some little American twit from Seattle.

Italy really awoke to the Knox PR and the biased reporting of CBS etc only late in 2011 in conjunction with the highly evident hijacking of the Hellmann appeal and moreso in 2012 with the defamatory Sollecito book.

2. The $40 Million Lawsuit Against Ciolino And Protess

The news video above and this Chicago Sun-Times report explain the main thrust of the $40 million lawsuit which Ciolino along with Northwestern University’s journalism school and a former professor now faces.

Prosecutors in 2014 in releasing an innocent man after 15 years in prison blamed that group for false evidence and a false confession and for letting the real murderer walk free. Here thanks to our main poster Jools is the lawsuit document itself, an amazing read if you need more proof of how sleazy Amanda Knox’s help can be.

Here are the lawsuit’s opening paragraphs.

1. In 1999, Plaintiff Alstory Simon was wrongfully incarcerated for a double-murder he did not commit. Arrested at the age of 48, Simon spent more than 15 years in prison before he was ultimately exonerated on October 30, 2014.

2. The horrific injustice that befell Simon occurred when Defendants, Northwestern University Professor David Protess, Northwestern University private investigator Paul Ciolino, and attorney Jack Rimland, conspired to frame Simon for the murders in order to secure the release of the real killer, Anthony Porter.

3. As part of a Northwestern University Investigative Journalism class he taught in 1998, Protess instructed his students to investigate Porter’s case and develop evidence of Porter’s innocence, rather than to search for the truth. During that investigation, Northwestern, through its employees and/or agents Protess and Ciolino, intentionally manufactured false witness statements against Simon and then used the fabricated evidence, along with terrifying threats and other illegal and deceitful tactics, to coerce a knowingly false confession from Simon.

CBS is mentioned half a dozen times. It helped in the framing with nationally broadcast segments. In paragraph 85 we are told CBS got an exclusive. What a real surprise THAT is…  The lawsuit document paints Ciolino’s behavior as dishonest and ruthless and possibly criminal as well.

Protess, Ciolino and Northwestern Medill students repeatedly attempted to get the eyewitness to change his testimony, with Protess offering him $250,000 and 20% in “upfront” money for his rights in a book and movie deal;

Protess also told the eyewitness that he could have sex with either of two Northwestern Medill students if he would change his testimony.

Quoted in the lawsuit is this about Ciolino. It is actually written by Protess.

On March 15, Charles McCraney’s appearance was anxiously awaited at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kankakee, Illinois. Paul Ciolino’s hair was slicked back. The private investigator wore a sharkskin suit and white-on-white shirt with gold cuff links, his tie secured by an ornate pin. Sitting opposite him were David Protess and Rene Brown, dressed down for the occasion…  Protess introduced himself [to McCraney] and then Brown. “˜And this is Jerry Bruckheimer, the Hollywood producer I was telling you about,’ said Protess as Ciolino extended his hand….

In paragraph 94 Ciolino’s alleged threatening of Simon into a confession is described as follows. .

Ciolino and a fellow private investigator “bull rushed” (in the words of Ciolino) Simon in his home with their guns drawn; 

Ciolino told Simon that he was a police officer;

Ciolino showed Simon a videotape of a man, who is now known to be an actor, falsely claiming that he saw Simon commit the murders;

Ciolino threatened Simon that they could do things the “easy way or the hard way” and mentioned that he would hate to see Simon have an accident;

Ciolino showed Simon what Ciolino described as a “devastating” five minute CBS-TV broadcast of Protess and Inez claiming Simon committed the murders;

Ciolino falsely told Simon that he was facing the death penalty and that the Chicago police were on their way to Simon’s house to arrest him;

Ciolino told Simon he could avoid the death penalty by providing a statement that he shot the victims in self defense but that Simon had to act quickly because Ciolino could no longer help him once the police arrived;

Ciolino promised Simon that he would be provided a free lawyer if he agreed to give a statement;

Ciolino promised Simon that Protess would ensure he received a short prison sentence if he agreed to give a statement;

Ciolino promised Simon would receive large sums of money from book and movie deals about the case if he agreed to give a statement.

Believing he had no other viable option, and acting under extreme duress and the influence of narcotics, Simon was knowingly and intentionally coerced into providing a false statement implicating himself in the murders.

It is this supposedly forced confession that above all cost Simon 15 years.

There is so much more. This may be a very tough lawsuit for Ciolino to beat as well as a career-killer. Northwestern University is no friend of Ciolino and may choose to go hard against him.

They do have a favorable track record.  The students of the journalism school had for years been questionably used by Protess’s arm of Barry Sheck’s Innocence Project to gather defense evidence slanted to getting supposed innocent prisoners released.

Protess was fired for this by the university several years ago as hangers-on tried to defend him.

The Innocence Project again… This is all too reminiscent of Greg Hampikian in Boise, Idaho, who corrupted Hellmann’s DNA consultants to try to frame people, and misrepresented hard evidence to try to allow guilty people to walk free.

And all broadcast by your local CBS station.


Boiling Frustration Leads Many To Kill: The Possible Parallels Of The Lord Lucan Case

Posted by Odysseus




1. Introduction

End of one’s tether: thoughts on humiliation, crises and the wounded ego.

Out-of-control anger and violence may be an offloading of the violence experienced in traumatic births and violent and abusive pregnancies. Whatever we may think of this, people’s anger has deep roots and a current conflict is usually a trigger for a reservoir of buried emotion to surface.

It’s a perpetual battle for the ego to stay in control in the face of unconscious emotions that threaten its precarious existence. When the emotions are threateningly close to the surface it can seem that one’s very identity is at stake, and social humiliation close at hand.








Above: Lord Lucan when he was young (and first diagnosed) and getting married

2. Case Of Lord Lucan

John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, is generally believed to have bludgeoned the family nanny to death in Belgravia, London, 1974, probably mistaking her for his wife in the dark.

Those with deeply suppressed emotions are more-or-less unwittingly engaged in a life-long battle to keep the feelings from arising into consciousness. Thus for example they can be driven to activities that require intense mental concentration e.g.,  in Lucan’s case,  bobsleigh and powerboat racing, and high stakes gambling on games that require skill (as distinct from those of pure chance) which helps keep emotions suppressed, or to drug taking which can perform a similar function.

Lucan’s life in the period leading up to the murder was beginning to unravel and he undoubtedly feared humiliation - a sure sign that the false self is under siege. His financial problems were coming to a head (his gambling losses were said to exceed $10 million) and when a friend suggested filing for bankruptcy he demurred, saying he didn’t want the humiliation.

His wife had also just been awarded custody of the three children following their break up - also humiliating since it was now clear and made public that the court took the view his occupation (professional gambler) made him unsuitable to raise children.

In fact his desire to have custody of the children seems less motivated by his love and concern for them than by the need to keep up the display of the sober, responsible adult when all the evidence and his lifestyle was pointing in the opposite direction -  towards social humiliation.








Lord Lucan with wife and three children and lower floors of his townhouse now


This kind of crisis is more than can be borne by the ego mind. Psychotherapy usually resolves such issues but unfortunately it’s the case that only those who have exhausted ways of denial seek such a route.

Gambler “Lucky Lucan” still thought he had a good hand to play. Murdering his wife would at a stroke (or blow) enable him to sell the family home thus resolving his financial problems and also enabling him to gain custody of the children, restoring his status as a responsible parent.

The parameters of a false self in Lucan’s case were already evident when he was diagnosed as having an attachment disorder on his return to England after wartime evacuation to the U.S in 1939, at four years of age,  though its origins may well lie in a primal, birth or pre-natal experience. From his surviving wife’s website:

“Upon his return from the USA in 1945, the future 7th Earl suffered from emotional problems which caused his parents to seek professional help from a leading psychiatrist of the day “” a Dr. Winnicott.

As a result of the consultations the eleven year old boy was given a dog called Deirdre [can we infer from this that his mother chose/named the dog?] in the hope that it might help him overcome these problems. The 7th Earl of Lucan’s emotional problems were never fully resolved and he continued to suffer frequent headaches, nightmares and insomnia throughout our life together”¦”

After the bludgeoning Lord Lucan disappeared, leaving a borrowed Ford Corsair with bloodstains and what appeared a duplicate weapon (a length of pipe with the same kind of tape around one end to hold it firm) at a port on England’s south coast, and has never for sure been seen again.








The murdered nanny Sandra Rivett and a car similar to that found on the south coast


Ripple effects in this case have gone on and on. Havoc was wrought on so many lives.

The wife and three small children struggled terribly with poverty and the psychological impact. They have all fallen apart and apparently don’t talk, all with theories of their own.

The nanny Sandra Rivett (image above) appears to have been the mother to two babies she gave away who grew up to be quite startled to find who they were.

Books and artilces continue to be written and a TV movie was made. And a reporter who pursued the notion that Lord Lucan’s rich and powerful gambling friends helped in his escape was hounded in court. 

3. Case Of Amanda Knox

It seems likely that humiliation was a major factor in the events leading up to the murder of Meredith. TJMK has carried various posts summarising why so many suspect this.

It would have been undoubtedly humiliating for Knox to find that her housemate Meredith was more popular with, and attractive to, both men and women in their social circle, as well as being more mature, intelligent and just more present than her (i.e. less driven to desperately act out unconscious emotions).

Then to cap it all off, on Halloween Knox found herself left out of the group that partied till the early hours. Plus of course there was the looming humiliation of Meredith taking over her job at the Le Chic. Was her money also running out? If so the loss of a job, however small, would be threatening, and she might well have anticipated the humiliation of asking her parents for a loan or of returning home before the end of her course.

So it seems that the stage was set for the night of the “prank” when the plan (if that’s the right word. Jokey impulse, more likely) was for Meredith to find out just what it’s like to feel humiliated. And the prank got out of control, as pranks often can when drugs and/or alcohol are involved.

Again the origin of Knox’s suppressed emotion and false self construction might lie in her parent’s explosive separation or earlier in primal events. In either case she was probably destined to become a suitable (but unfortunately not an actual) case for treatment.

Knox’s narcissism has of course been much discussed. At bottom narcissism is an inability to just be, in the present. An inability to stay with one’s core self (Jung’s “The Self”). The narcissist’s attention is constantly directed to how they look to the world, from the outside, not on how the world appears to them from the inside looking out. They are really not fully born, literally and metaphorically.




Above Italian master Caravaggio’s version of Narcissus staring at his image in a pond


Knox was apparently given to loudly strumming a single chord on a guitar when she was in a group and insufficient attention was directed her way i.e. when suppressed negative emotions surrounding being wanted and needed were threatening to come into awareness.

With the group of friends gathered at the police station in Perugia it seems on the one hand she wanted to impress the others with her inside knowledge of the victim’s wounds but on the other hand she had to keep a lid on it in case it became obvious she knew too much.

This dilemma (a perennial one probably for those criminals who are unconsciously driven to seek attention) no doubt led to the weird acrobatics and gymnastics (the police had to tell her it wasn’t appropriate) as a way of acting out and relieving the tension.

Her relatives of course are quick to dismiss all this as “Amanda being Amanda” (i.e. “quirky”), to which the proper reply could be “so she always acts like this whenever she’s in a dilemma and trying to cover something up,  does she?”


Below Knox thrilled with herself at her 2009 trial in the notorious “all you need is love” teeshirt

Posted by Odysseus on 12/06/14 at 04:08 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesPondering motiveThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (16)

In A New Italy Case Involving A Foreign Student The UK Media Is Not Reporting The Full Facts

Posted by Peter Quennell



Above: Serena Bowes seen taking a selfie

Overview Of The Case

Rape is a devastating crime and if someone DID rape Serena Bowes in Florence he must be put away.

Apart from this the UK media seems to be reporting her claims cautiously and unemotionally. But if they had checked with the Italian police, or even checked out Italian media reports, they would have found that Serena Bowes is leaving out key facts.

The Claims By Serena Bowes

The Daily Telegraph reported what Serena Bowes claims.

The incident unfolded when Miss Bowes, who is in the second year of her fashion course, joined other students on a trip to Florence.

She explained how she and a group of friends had been in a local nightclub when she began chatting to a man.

She alleged that they had been heading to the VIP area when she was guided towards the unisex bathroom where the attack happened.

Miss Bowes alerted staff from Newcastle College who accompanied her to the police station and to the local hospital.

After returning to the UK she attempted to put the incident behind her as no one was charged in relation with the alleged offence.

When she received a letter in Italian from the Florence Police she assumed it was an update on the case, but when she got it translated, was stunned to discover that she herself was facing charges.

She said: “I thought it was done with and I could get on with my life. I didn’t think he was going to get prosecuted so I just wanted to get on with my life but this has brought everything back.

“It doesn’t feel what actually happened is the problem anymore ““ it feels like that has actually been forgotten about.”

The Daily Mail report additionally added this.

‘I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there.  ‘If I receive a prison sentence somewhere between four and 12 years my life will be over.’


Real Facts In Italian Media

The Italian media seems much further down the road and more fully informed.

They have reported the details of the case the police have put before the supervising magistrate, and they have done some poking around of their own.

The police are said to have investigated the allegations very diligently, but so far it is only his story that is holding up and not at all hers. CCTV cameras throughout the club (even apparently in the restroom) show no sign of her fighting off an attack.

He is seen inside and exiting a restroom, but she does not appear to be in that room or at that same door with him. Many staff and customers in the club were interviewed, but none of them seem to have backed up her report.

Medical examinations apparently showed no physical evidence on either of them of an attack.  And DNA swabs apparently showed none of his DNA on her or her DNA on him.

Serene Bowes’s reasons for not going to a mere hearing to explain the question marks above do seem pretty lame. She has placed a big cloud over the guy who she fingered who has been in suspect status ever since.

But now she shrugs off further help to the Italian police to nail him or clear him as being inconvenient or risky merely to her?

“I just wanted to get on with my life.” Where have we heard that before?

Update By Popper On The Rules

Popper in a comment now explains this, which even more suggests that Serene Bowes would be advised to head back to Florence, that the letter she received (still not released) said nothing about 4-12 years, and that foreign press are too gullible or worse.

On the case of Serena, we certainly need more details.  Simulation [of a crime] and calumny [accusing someone you know innocent of having committed a crime] are serious matters.

If she is investigated magistrates have elements that obligated them to inform her of their suspects, it is an act for her protection. If video material exists I fear it must be explicitly against her version, but we do not know enough to be able to give an informed opinion.

Version presented by some UK papers is uninformed and biased, as we have seen often in MK’s case.  Worst of all, it is exaggerated. An investigation is not a conviction, and if I were Serena [and a victim] I would certainly go there with a lawyer and explain the facts to exculpate myself and get the guilty convicted.

In any case, the risk she ends up in jail is quite low.  It is fairly likely that, even if convicted for the above crimes [after a trial and 2 appeals], her sentence will be suspended, if statute of limitations does not kick in first.  It follows that her justification for not going back to explain herself to a judge is ridiculous.

If she is lying and is guilty of simulation and calumny, it will be one of many cases, certainly not a surprise or uncommon.  Unfortunately many crimes are simulated every day, which makes more difficult and expensive the prosecution of real crimes.


Fine Report On One Of Numerous Cases Much Harder To Explain Than Poor Meredith’s

Posted by Our Main Posters





This concerns a strange case in Iceland.

Please click on the image above and then scroll down, for a smart presentation by the BBC.

It shows how difficult police work can be, and how there really can be false confessions. Unfortunately, police work is not helped when there are false claims to false confessions.

The 2009 trial transcripts show that Knox was definitely not pressed (in less than two hours, during which she was mostly making a list of seven possible leads) into a false confession (actually a false accusation of Patrick) like the examples here. 

The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, is to the west (in the position of eight o’clock on a map of Iceland) and the peninsula here is south-west of Reykjavik, in the United States direction.

The BBC is a regular peruser of TJMK. To their great credit they recently aired the excellent, highly objective documentary by Andreas Vogt and Paul Russell on Meredith’s case.

Posted by Our Main Posters on 08/19/14 at 01:36 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (6)

Jaw-Dropping BBC Bias Toward Murder Suspect Doesnt Stop UK Extraditing Him For Trial

Posted by Peter Quennell

Below: Anni Hindocha and Shrien Dewani; there are more images in the post below this one




1. Introduction

The British citizen Shrien Dewani is to be extradited to South African in a few days, to face trial in the death of his wife Anni.

This is another case with many similarities to Meredith’s: for example where money, arrogance, bigotry, dishonest PR and corrupted media are on one side, and where the careful courts and the more diligent of the public are on another.

Dawani does have his supporters, and some are making vicious accusations about Anni’s family and racist remarks about South African police (“incompetent and corrupt”) without any proof, not least on the FOA sites. 

Where this case maybe goes even beyond Meredith’s is in the extent and precision with which some of the reporting, especially two reports by the BBC, has been taken apart and revealed to have been corrupted.

The analysis of the BBC reports occupies an entire new website, which is linked-to in Part 9 below.

2. Facts of lives prior

The victim, Anni Hindocha, was born in central Sweden in March 1982. She would now be 32. In 1972 the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had expelled 90,000 Asians from Uganda, and Sweden had kindly taken her family in.

Anni graduated in engineering and joined the Swedish telephone giant Ericsson in Stockholm right after. 

The family of her future husband, Shrien Dewani, moved to Bristol in the west of England from Kenya some years earlier. Dawani’s millionaire father built up a clinics and resthomes group. Along with his brother, Dawani was educated at Bristol Grammar and at Oxford University.

He worked briefly as an accountant in London, and then joined PSP Healthcare, the family firm, which soon made him too a millionaire.

Anni visited her cousin in the UK, met Dawani through mutual friends, met frequently in London and Stockholm, and were married (ceremonially but not yet legally) at a resort outside Mumbai (Bombay) on 29 October 2010.

Two weeks later, on 13 November, Anni was dead.

3. Prosecution murder scenario

Anni and Shrien made a honeymoon trip to South Africa and first spent four days at the Kruger national game park. Then they returned to Cape Town.

Dawani claimed that their hired car was hijacked by two perps in an eastern suburb, Gugulethu township, on the way back from an evening trip to a beach restaurant further east.

Then for no obvious reason he was dumped out of the moving hired car 11 miles away, unharmed, and unwarned about identifying who the hijackers were.

The next morning, Anni was found dead in the back of the car another two miles beyond that. She might have been molested; she had been shot once in the neck.

The families left South Africa with Anni’s body on the 17th. Her body was cremated in London and her ashes scattered on the lake by the town where she was born.

The hired-car driver and two others were promptly arrested and another was arrested later on. Mngeni, one alleged hijacker, was arrested on 16th November. Another, Qwabe, was arrested on the 18th, and the driver, Tongo, on the 20th.

4. Three arrests so case closed?

Things still looked very fishy though.

For example Dewani had given 3 different accounts of how he was ejected from the hijacked car. The car was not stolen or burnt. Dawani was unharmed, rare in hijackings, even though he saw the faces of the two.

He took Anni to the streets of Gugulethu twice at night. He told one reporter it was Anni’s idea, then told another it was Tongo’s. He apologised to Anni’s father for not saving her life, even before, if innocent, he could have known she was already dead.

And so on and on.

From London Dawani hired a high-powered South African defense lawyer (who mysteriously withdrew) and a high-powered UK PR man who set to work moulding the mindset of the British public against the authorities in South Africa (he is now on trial himself for multiple indecent sexual assaults.)

5. Tongo fingers Dawani

On 7 December under a plea bargain (for which he received 18 years) the driver, Tongo, said he had arranged a fake hijacking and the murder at Dawani’s request for a promise of about $2,000.

Tongo went into some verifiable detail about meetings, phone calls, text messages, and cash withdrawals from a bank.

6. South Africa speaks

Dawani was arrested in Bristol, western England, on the night of 8 December 2010, by officers from the [London] Metropolitan Police’s extradition unit. From Wikipedia:

On the afternoon of 10 December, at a hearing at the High Court, Watson told Mr Justice Ouseley that CCTV footage from the Cape Grace hotel showed Dawani:

* Meeting Tongo twice in his taxi in the carpark of the Cape Grace on 12 November, the night before the killing, when Tongo claims Dawani asked him to hire a hitman to kill a woman. In later extradition papers submitted to the British courts, South African Police claimed that Preyan Dewani tried to obtain the video footage of the pair meeting.

* Having a series of meetings with Tongo inside the hotel, without his wife Anni, in the 24 hours before the killing.

* Handing Tongo a package of cash on 16 November, three days after the murder, having just previously been sitting beside his grieving father-in-law, Vinod Hindocha. Tongo is then seen entering the hotel toilets, where he counted the money.

The court granted him bail and he was electronically tagged and required to observe a curfew while he stayed at his family’s home in north Bristol.

7. The extradition fight

This wasnt really a legal fight. More a fight for the hearts and minds of the British people, so that they could maybe lean on the British courts to block extradition.

In the following many months the extradition process was repeatedly interrupted while Dawani’s mental health was very publicly and emotionally made an issue by the lawyers and PR for his defence.

On his behalf, a Member of Parliament attempted to intervene.

Finally, just three weeks ago, after all possible appeals had been turned down, a court ordered that Dawani be extradited to South Africa on 7 April, for a trial to start the next day. 

8. The BBC Panorama Reports

These misleading reports were aired in March 2012 and September 2013 and somewhat inflamed UK opinion while leading it far away from the truth.

Seemingly highly invested reporters for two BBC Panorama reports were given access to testimony and autopsy evidence that the police and defense but not the public would have.

In describing the two programs Wikipedia added this cautionary note.

This section may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. Please improve the article by adding information on neglected viewpoints, or discuss the issue on the talk page.

9. The Panorama Reports repulsed

The Daily Mail and the Telegraph described the anger and anguish of Anni’s family at these unbalanced TV reports.

However, the real nuking of the two Panorama reports went live on a dedicated website, Panorama Busted, updated three months ago.

The analysis in this dossier shows how the Panorama programme makers used a catalogue of dirty tricks including misrepresentation of material facts, exclusion of relevant information, camera trickery and psychological skulduggery to try to fool the viewing public….

There is a scattering of snippets in the programme which appear to show some of the prosecution evidence against Shrien Dewani, but these form only a small segment and various trickery is deployed to belittle them.  The facts of the entire prosecution case against Dewani are not portrayed.

The findings of this dossier are truly shocking. The issues go beyond the sub-standard shoddy documentary which they tried to pass off as journalism undertaken in the public interest. The issues go much deeper.

The Panorama production team must now be investigated by the BBC and its supervisory bodies and, if found appropriate, the Metropolitan Police. The Culture Secretary is called upon to investigate why licence fee payers’ money appears to have been used to fund the PR campaign of a murder suspect.

10. Present conclusion

Sound at all familiar?

Please do read the whole rejection of the Panorama claims. In 24 parts, it is huge - quite an indictment of a prestigious media outlet lying to the British public about hard evidence in a foreign case, and leaving a great deal of it out.

As in Meredith’s case, under the rules for a fair trial, the prosecution may not rebut such false claims as these in the media, only in court.

Yes, to us, this is only all too familiar.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/24/14 at 07:39 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsUS etc relatedHoaxes Knox & team23 Two trials hoaxComments here (37)

Some Images Relevant To The Murder Of Anni Hindocha And The Extradition Of Shrien Dewani

Posted by Peter Quennell

Please see the post above for the narrative. All images expand when clicked on.


[Image above: Anni Hindocha and Shrien Dewani before their ceremonial marriage]




[Image above: the ceremonial marriage in India; they were never legally married]




[Image above:the mother of Anni Hindocha who lives in central Sweden]




[Image above: the father of Anni Hindocha who lives in central Sweden]




[Image above: Stockholm HQ of telephone giant Ericcson, Anni’s employer]




[Image above: residential compound in north Bristol of the Dewani family]




[Image above: house in north Bristol where Shrien Dewani is under house arrest]




[Image above: Shrien Dewani with his father addressing the media]




[Image above: Shrien Dewani’s father and Shrien’s older brother]




[Image above: Shrien Dewani’s public relations manager addressing the media]




[Image above: downtown Cape Town where Anni and Shrien were in a hotel]




[Image above: Daily Mail recreation of the crime published December 2010]




[Image above: discovery of hijacked car and Anni’s body in Gugulethu township]




[Image above: car driver Nongo at his trial where he plea-bargained for his testimony]




[Image above: a memorial for Anni in her home town in central Sweden]




[Image above: her family scatters Anni’s ashes on the large lake near their home]
Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/24/14 at 07:00 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsEurope contextComments here (4)

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]


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.”




US Judge Startles Legal Watchers By Overturning A Unanimous Verdict: Is This Hellmann Part Deux?

Posted by Peter Quennell




Martha Moxley’s murder 1975

Martha Moxley’s is a case with quite a few similarities to Meredith’s case - and after 38 years it has once again flashed back into the US news.

Greenwich, where 15-year-old Martha lived, is a few minutes drive up the Long Island Sound shoreline from New York City. Great wealth resides there. It is the US zip code with the highest family income and net wealth, and there are many mansions set in large estates.

The brutal murder of Martha happened on Halloween Night of 1975. She was beaten to death with a golf club by someone around 10:00 pm soon after leaving a Halloween party at the Skakel house across the street. No physical evidence ever tied anyone to the crime.

The main suspects in the case

Michael Skakel was a close neighbor (with his large family, he lived in a mansion diagonally across Walsh Lane from Martha’s smaller one-storey house) and a school classmate of the same age as Martha. He had a troubled record of misbehavior and substance abuse (he was later sent to a special school) who Martha’s diary later revealed had a history of pestering her. The golf-club came from the Skakel house.

He was not the only suspect. A new tutor at the house was long considered. And Greenwich police first interviewed and polygraphed his brother Tommy, who was very friendly with Martha, and with whom she was seen flirting at the party at the Skakel’s house the same night. Between the two brothers, there was bad blood.

Read here the final entries in Martha’s diary which seem to show her attraction to Tommy but none at all to a jealous Michael.

Michael Skakel’s conviction in 2002

Michael Skakel over the years (seemingly proud of himself, and sounding quite like Sollecito) came to hint and even openly claim more and more that he was the one that killed Martha. Skakel also claimed to have been up in a tree or a treehouse peeping through windows on the same night. An alibi that he was across town during the party at his house fell through.

In 2002, after these pointers to himself reached critical mass in police investigations and various books and reports, he was put on trial and unanimously found guilty by a jury, and then (controversially) sentenced as an adult to 20 years to life. As with Sollecito and Knox in Italy, the vast majority of the population thought it was a fair cop.

There are of course some differences between the two cases.

In Perugia the police and prosecutors really did do a good job and didnt blink under the considerable pressure of TWO families and TWO defense teams playing all manner of dirty tricks. They never backed off, whereas the Greenwich police (who never called for outside help) seem to have become timid and indecisive and simply wanting the case to go away. And in Martha’s case DNA has not yet reared its intrusive head.

But the two cases also have a lot in common.

Commonalities of Martha and Meredith cases

1) Martha was younger than Meredith but given time would have emerged to be a very similar girl. She also was ambitious, talented, hard-working, eye-catching, witty, and the apple of their eye of various boys which might have sparked jealousies in some.

2) The attack involved a number of ferocious blows over several or some minutes with a golf-club, suggesting not a burglar or prowler who did not know Martha but someone who did know her who was in a considerable rage. The golf-club broke, and the shaft was thrust through her neck. She was then dragged alternatively face up and face down quite a few feet to a place under a tree. There was a lot of blood, and as some of her clothes were down there may have been a simulation of a sex crime.

3) The rich and connected Skakel family (among which Michael did not stand out as the major achiever) was not especially helpful in the investigation, and they blocked certain important moves by the Greenwich police. They have spent huge sums of money (possibly up in the millions) on lawyers and detectives and still do. Theirs was a fairly sharp-elbowed media campaign and it looks as if it was driven more by family reputation (the Skakels are related to the Robert Kennedys by marriage) than by deep conviction that Michael was a good boy.

4) The evidence presented was a mosaic that had been accumulated over time. Alibi and behavior mattered a lot. It required very close attention to absorb it all and to assemble it into an incriminating pattern. At trial prosecutors did a good job. In this case no incriminating DNA was found at all, although it is possible that for the new trial new tests will be done on Martha’s clothes.  The conviction by 12 jurors was unanimous. They did a very careful job, and their deliberations lasted four days. Those who seek to argue that they have it wrong usually pick on isolated points. 

5) Various books have been published to explain the case. The most-read book is by ex-police-detective Mark Fuhrman titled Murder in Greenwich published by HarperCollins (Amanda Knox’s publisher) in 1999. He claimed he broke the case though police said they needed no help.

6) There are several websites like PMF and TJMK with no vested interest at all which seek to keep the victim’s presence alive, and to seek justice for her in face of many attacks and dirty tricks.  See the forum Campy Skakel here and the website MarthaMoxley dot com which is or was being run by Tom Alessi who was a classmate of Martha at school.

And the sudden new situation

Now Connecticut’s Judge Bishop has decided that Skakel didnt get the best of defenses by the high-profile legal talking head Mickey Sherman (who back then seemed to be hired for his high public profile) and noted several things Sherman could have done. Also the evidence seemed to Judge Bishop to be slim (what, no DNA?!). So he has ordered that Skakel can face a new trial.

A second judge has just released Michael Skakel on $1.2 million bail and he must wear an electronic bracelet in case he decides to skip. He will apparently head for a secret location to wait for the new trial to begin.

Although Judge Bishop is well qualified (unlike Hellmann) and seems impartial and detached, he has startled the legal community and crime followers by going against both a well-informed trial jury which really saw a lot of evidence and against a whole row of previous judges who had considered and declined Skakel’s requests for appeal.

Judge-shopping till the “right one” appears is often how big money wins out, and the general US reaction to the annulled verdict seems to be “What?! Not again?!”

Michael Skakel may perhaps win at a new trial with new lawyers and a new strategy - there is still a theory that his brother Tommy really did the crime, though the Skakel lawyers may not be allowed to play that card.

However, as in Meredith’s case, legal and public opinion is against him, and Martha’s mother and the victim websites still fight on bravely. 


[Below: Michael Skakel(right) with defense lawyer Mickey Sherman in 2002 who he now says let him down]




[Below: Directly ahead is where the crime took place; a new mansion has replaced the Moxley home ]




[Below: The Skakel mansion, which is diagonally across Walsh Lane from the old Moxley home]




[Below: Mark Furman’s diagram of his scenario of the murder in “Murder in Greenwich”]




[Below: Judge Bishop of the Connecticut courts who has ordered a new trial for Skakel]

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/22/13 at 04:50 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Appeals 2009-2015Hellmann 2011+The legal followupsComments here (21)

Like Amanda Knox, Jodi Arias Forgets, Sings, Jokes, And Does Headstands In Interrogation Context

Posted by Peter Quennell


Psychiatrist Dale Archer Suggests Jodi Arias Fits Sociopath Profile Except For No History Of Quirks

Posted by Peter Quennell



[The $200,000 home of the victim Travis Alexander at the eastern edge of Phoenix, Arizona]


Dale Archer assesses the admitted Arizona killer Jodi Arias against the checklist of sociopathic symptoms.

In his opinion (he has not had direct access to Jody Arias) she appears to accord to 6 of the 9 the symptoms below. He thinks she doesnt fit the key last one, no past history of anti-social or odd behavior going back prior to her affair with Travis Alexander, which he considers to rule out sociopathy.

We noted in the previous post that Jodi Arias had a turbulent family history and job history, and she made a good case on the stand that her boyfriend was debasing her. But absent actual signs of prior symptoms, Dr Archer doesn’t find that enough.

“¢ Failure to conform to societal norms: Jodi has no respect for the law or the rules of society. She not only viciously killed another person, she openly and unabashedly sneers at the prosecuting attorney and the courtroom proceedings.

“¢ Pathological lying: Ms. Arias has no problem lying. We’ve all seen it and know she’s good at it. Sociopaths lie easily and keep their cool because a lie is not considered wrong or immoral. It’s merely a way to get what they want. In the early stages of the investigation, Arias came up with three different lies for the police which explained what happened, changing her story as they disproved each.

“¢ Manipulation, deception, and cunning: Arias hacked into Alexander’s email and Facebook accounts. He found her hiding in his closet when he returned home from a date. She introduced him to sex, playing the submissive partner though she was actually dominant in order to control him. It is the prosecution’s speculation Arias eventually filmed and recorded Alexander in compromising situations to blackmail him if he tried to leave her.

“¢ Impulsiveness: A co-worker claimed Arias continuously called Alexander from work. If there was no answer, she would drop everything and leave to track down Alexander. She didn’t care if she lost her job, as long as she didn’t lose Alexander. Another point: while in the act of murdering him, Arias dropped a camera, and incredibly it snapped a picture of the murder taking place. Instead of taking the camera with her, along with the rope, the gun, her bloody clothes….. she impulsively threw it in the washing machine and ran it through a cycle. Miraculously, the images remained on the film.

“¢ Irritability and aggressiveness: Arias was becoming increasingly irritable and when Alexander started seeing another woman she turned up the heat. She stalked, vandalized, plotted and then murdered. Twice she slashed the tires on his car. She sent a threatening email to Alexander’s new love interest.

“¢ Reckless disregard for safety of self or others: We do not have record of Arias disregarding anyone else’s safety at this point other than Alexander- she killed him or herself; threatening suicide when Alexander would try to cut the ties. Ultimately the person she killed wasn’t herself, but Travis Alexander, the one person who consumed her thoughts, her life.

“¢ Persistent irresponsibility: In her 20s, Arias worked at several dead-end jobs and was in and out of relationships, but nothing stands out. No convictions, jail time or other legal issues.

“¢ Lack of remorse or guilt. In Arias’ mind, Alexander was not a person but her possession. He took her to interesting places, and she introduced him to sex. When he tried to pull away, she would reel him back with ever more outrageous sex practices. Eventually she killed him so no one else could have her possession. At the funeral, she did not shed one tear. Since the murder, the investigation, the arrest and the trial, not once has she said “I’m sorry.”

“¢ Before age 15 and continuing, a history of antisocial behavior. Here is the real problem with labeling Arias as a sociopath. This condition starts in the young teen years, if not before. It is a persistent and consistent behavior over the first three to four decades of the individual- some say for a lifetime. No one has come forward with any prior behavioral issues, legal issues, problems with work, family or friends. She was reportedly a very “good girl” in high school and very “normal.” At this time there are no known problems with previous boyfriends.

Jodi Arias has one or two more days on the witness stand, and then defense experts will try to account for her behavior and blackout at the time Travis died in a non-incriminating way. This trial is being shown live on American TV (the HLN channel).

Arias somewhat withered under very tough questions from the jury. Would Knox? Plenty of still-unanswered questions for Knox here.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/13/13 at 05:14 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (17)

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.


Family Of Reeva Steenkamp Find A Big-Bucks PR Campaign Seeking To Drown Them Out

Posted by The Machine





On Valentine’s Day, Reeva Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, was shot three times by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius while she was in the en-suite toilet. She died shortly after the emergency services arrived at the scene.

There are a number of parallels between the Reeva Steenkamp case and the Meredith Kercher case.

Both cases have generated an intense media frenzy. The following headline was published on The Guardian website: “South Africa prepares for its own OJ-style trial of the century”

Similarly, Barbie Nadeau writing in the Daily Beast referred the trial of Knox and Sollecito as the “media trial of the century”.

Both Oscar Pistorius and Amanda Knox have received widespread support from around the world.

Peet van Zyl, Oscar Pistorius’ agent quoted in the Guardian said that “international fans from literally all over the world” have sent their good wishes to Pistorius.

Amanda Knox also had widespread from people around the world. A number of books have been written claiming she is innocent and a couple of mainstream media organisations such ABC News and CNN have consistentyly reported only from the defense point of view. .

One of the saddest aspects of both cases is how increasingly both the real victims have come to be overlooked.

Gina Myers, a friend of Reeva Steenkamp, stated in an interview with the BBC that she feared Reeva Steinkamp was being overlooked.

Stephanie Kercher stated in an interview with the BBC in September 2011 that Meredith had been completely forgotten:

“Meredith Kercher has been “completely forgotten” in the four years since she was murdered on a study year abroad in Italy, her grieving sister has said.”

The most significant parallel is that both defendants are represented by PR consultants.

Oscar Pistorius has hired Stuart Higgins a London-based PR expert who worked in the newsroom of The Sun and then worked as the editor of the newspaper. Curt Knox hired David Marriott a PR consultant with over 30 years’ experience to represent his daughter.

According to Barbie Nadeau, Marriott “spoon-fed the Knox-approved message to American outlets who couldn’t afford to send correspondents to Italy”





If you read the countless articles in the media by journalists who push the notion that Amanda Knox is innocent, it’s quite clear they have been given the exact same false information from Knox’s family or their PR strong-armer David Marriott or their hatchet men such as Bruce Fischer, without any fact-checking at all.

There are some slight variations, but the basic account of the case is as follows.

Amanda Knox had never been trouble with the police. In days following Meredith’s murder, she voluntarily stayed behind to help the police in Perugia, but all Meredith’s friends left immediately. She was called to the police station on 5 November 2007 where she was subjected to an all-night interrogation. She wasn’t provided with an interpreter or given anything to eat or drink. She was beaten by the police and asked to imagine what might have happened.

During her questioning, Knox made a statement that said she had a “vision” she was at the cottage when Meredith was murdered. There were only two tiny pieces of DNA evidence that implicated her, but they were probably contaminated. The knife from Sollecito’s kitchen doesn’t match any of the wounds on Meredith’s body. Prosecutor Mignini claimed Meredith was killed as part of a satanic ritual and he called Amanda Knox a “she-devil”.

Rudy Guede was a drifter and drug dealer with a criminal record. He left his DNA all over Meredith and all over the crime scene. Amanda Knox didn’t know Rudy Guede.

The problem with the FOA fantasy version of events is that NOT ONE of these statements is true. And yet it was unquestioningly accepted as the gospel by numerous journalists in the mainstream media and it generated sympathetic media coverage.

Adam Boulton, the Political Editor of Sky News observed in an article that Amanda Knox’s family were treated with cloying sympathy when they appeared on Good Morning America:

Amanda “˜Foxy’ Knoxy, is the young American woman now on trial in Italy for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.

I was astonished to see her whole family, parents and children, invited on Good Morning America and treated with cloying sympathy for all the world as if they were victims of a miscarriage of justice.

It was noted by Joan Smith in an article for The Independent that the initial coverage of the case was initially sympathetic towards Pistorius:

“I didn’t hear this context mentioned on Thursday when it was reported that a woman had been shot dead at the home of the South African Paralympian, Oscar Pistorius. Radio 4’s Today programme suggested that Pistorius had killed his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder, a theme that was taken up elsewhere.

I listened with astonishment as broadcasters advanced what is almost certain to be Pistorius’s defence, citing the fear of crime which leads the wealthy in South Africa to live on estates with armed guards. The initial coverage was so sympathetic that it seemed to come as a shock when Pistorius was charged with murder later in the morning, prompting a screeching U-turn and the discovery of a “darker” side to his character.




There is a real problem in prosecuting famous people. It was pointed out to me by an experienced barrister that it’s almost impossible to convict someone who is famous.

OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dog, R Kelly, Ken Dodd, Steven Gerrard and John Terry were all very surprisingly acquitted of the various charges that they faced.  You could argue that Casey Anthony should be included in that list.

I hope that justice is finally served for both Meredith Kercher and Reeva Steenkamp and those responsible for their deaths receive lengthy custodial sentences for their brutal and cruel crimes.

I also hope that journalists covering the case don’t act as witless cheerleaders for the murder defendants, but make sure they meet the most basic of journalistic standards to ensure that their coverage of the cases is objective, balanced and factually accurate.

And that the real victims should not ever be forgotten.


Posted by The Machine on 03/07/13 at 01:26 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsHoaxers from 2007Knox-Marriott PRRaff Sollecito PRComments here (18)

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

Posted by Machiavelli



[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 “]


Admitted Killer On The Witness Stand In Arizona Is Resonating And Polarizing In Familar Ways

Posted by Sailor





Something apparently unique in American legal history is now taking place in Phoenix, Arizona, complete wth realtime TV feed from the courtroom

It is the weeks-long examination and cross-examination on the stand of Jodi Arias, who is accused of killing her ex-boyfriend and continuing sex partner Travis Alexander with at least 29 stab wounds and a slashed throat. In a few days she could be stuck with a death sentence, or conceivably even walk free.

We have often wondered how Knox would perform unfettered on the stand, as she may feel compelled to do if Cassation requires a reworking of the appeal verdict and sentence arrived at at the end of 2011.

There are some similarities and some differences.

Similarities

The similarities involve her lying and her seeming callousness and attempted cover-up which suggest her mental acuity and balance are okay. The quotes below come from the ABC News account of Arias’ trial:

Arias “eventually confessed to killing her ex-boyfriend, but insisted it was self defense.”

And “the main reason (for lying) is because I was very ashamed of what happened. It’s not something I ever imagined doing. It’s not the kind of person I was. It was just shameful,” she said. “I was also very scared of what might happen. I didn’t want my family to know that I had done that, and I just couldn’t bring myself to say that I did that.”

The other parallel to Amanda Knox is Arias’ behavior after the murder.  To avoid calling attention to herself, Arias carried on as if nothing had happened.

“Arias drove on to Utah where she was supposed to meet up with friends and a new romantic interest, Ryan Burns, for the rest of her roadtrip, she testified. There, the pair kissed and cuddled on Burns’ bed just 24 hours after Arias had stabbed and shot Alexander.”

Differences

The differences involve her family and the nature of Travis’s connection with the fervent local arm of the Mormon Church, which is especially fervent about no sex before marriage. .

Unlike Knox, whose father shut her up when she seemed to be getting close to confessing in Capanne Prison soon after her arrest, Arias credits her loving family with giving her the support that allowed her to finally admit what she had done.

“My family remained very supportive, and told me ‘it doesn’t matter what happens, we love you anyway.’ I realized even if I told the truth they would still be there and wouldn’t walk away,” she testified.

“By the time spring, 2010, rolled around, I confessed. I basically told everyone what I could remember of the day and that the intruder story was all BS pretty much.”

Travis Alexander was not only a fervent mormon - he was an elder in his local church where any pre-marital sex would taint both partners for life.

Having secretly slept with Jodi Arias for a long time, he discarded her as a “tainted” girlfriend (who he himself tainted) in favor of a virgin Mormon girlfriend - but continued to chase Arias down for sex anyway. 

This is a take by an insightful reader calling herself Janine on the website Wild About Trial which seems to resonate with many, especially women.

Since Travis’s emails were read in court and the phone sex tape was heard in open court, it shows Travis’s personality in a dating situation. He had a Madonna Whore complex”¦ the Mormon girls he would not touch because they were pure, then putting Jodi into the Whore category in which no form of sex or degradation was denied. IMO Travis should have paid for sex and not manipulating and degrading women who had fallen in love with him.

He treated her horribly. Her self esteem was obviously very low or she would not have permitted nor enjoyed being treated in this manner. He was chasing her as well, if only for a booty call. He was playing mind games when surely he must have known the person whose mind he was messing with was unstable. He didn’t care, as long as he could get the kind of sex he wanted when he wanted it and with no strings attached.

She slashed his tires, watched him, read his emails and he is still reeling her in and playing mind games a week before the murder. He messed with the wrong girl. She is guilty but not of murder one or two. I believe crime of passion or manslaughter. He had some culpability here even though I believe he did not deserve what happened. After a year of Travis’s form of abuse, she just snapped. He pushed her over the edge. And, yes, you would have to be unstable to be pushed over the edge but I believe he knew that she was.

She certainly gave him plenty of evidence that she was.

Even though Arias is now fighting to avoid the death penalty, she exudes a sense of peace that seems to have eluded Amanda Knox. The truth shall set you free!


First image below: this shot was taken by Jodi just minutes before Travis’s death










Funny Talented Very Smart Woman, 21, Killed By Another Woman With No Record Of Crime Or Violence

Posted by devorah





Sound familiar? Sadly, probably too much so.

The stabbing death of Susan Sarkis is believed to have happened in a spiral of anger and violence on Saturday night, in Brighton Le Sands, a southern suburb of Sydney Australia,

The woman arrested is the apartment’s 31-year-old owner who is now being held in custody. A video and the story so far are included in this report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Details about Ms Sarkis are still emerging but she was clearly talented, warm, and admired. Messages posted online by her cousins are quoted as follows.

“RIP little cousin. When I received that phone call on New Year’s Day and u were wishing me a happy birthday I was almost in tears seeing as you always remembered my birthday,” he wrote.

“Well now I’m in tears remembering you. We miss you. Your life was cut too short, but your in a better place. Love you cuz and we will definitely see you later.”

Another cousin wrote: “RIP Suzie.. A life cut short but the memory of a beautiful young girl will live in our heart forever. May God give your parents, Chrissy & Anthony the strength to get through this very difficult time. Love you cuz xx”...

“Sweetie, habibi susie my little sister. I’m shattered you’re a beautiful sweet angel sweetness,” another wrote.

Below: Brighton Le Sands is south of Sydney downtown, by the airport, on its “other harbor” Botany Bay









Posted by devorah on 02/11/13 at 04:07 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesPondering motiveThe legal followupsComments here (11)

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 by Peter Quennell on 01/19/13 at 05:10 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsItalian contextComments here (0)

Casey Anthony Might Have Escaped Guilty Verdict Because An Incriminating Web Search Was Missed

Posted by Peter Quennell



This has been sensationalized news in the United States for two weeks and many people are still grinding their teeth.

As the video explains it seems pretty certain that it was Casey Anthony on her Firefox browser that googled “‘Foolproof Suffocation’” on the day her daughter Caylee disappeared and/or died.

The defense lawyer Jose Baez knew of the hit throughout the trial but, apparently under no legal compulsion to assemble the prosecutor’s case, he simply held his breath on the evidence until the “not guilty” verdict came in. He now suggests to universal disbelief that Casey was thinking of suicide.

Several of our lawyers are inclined to doubt that an American judge would have allowed an appeal in the Knox and Sollecito case given the very weak grounds - and had he or she done so, the appeal court would have had no second-guessing jury, and its brief would have been very circumscribed. With or without appeal granted, in the US the pair would probably still be serving their time.

So the uber-cautious Italian system favored them so far. But two of the prosecution appeal grounds at Supreme Court level seem at least as damning as searching “foolproof suffocation”. One is that the Conti-Vecchiotti consultancy was illegal, and the other is that the failure to test a remaining sample on the knife was also illegal.

So if they eventually do go down, Casey Anthony may still end up laughing at Sollecito and Knox. It has been announced that Casey Anthony is getting her own Lifetime movie (airing early next year) and can pretty well say and write anything and take any money offered that she wants.

But Casey Anthony is still appealing convictions for lying to police, a long shot at best, and after that the nanny whose name she gave to police as “the kidnapper” will get her day in court.

So Casey Anthony, who sounds psychologically untethered, might not end up laughing too much after all.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/05/12 at 07:08 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (10)

The Sunk Ship: Italian, French And American Systems May All Ensure Justice For Victims

Posted by Peter Quennell





Our series here tracks how the Italian system is performing. On Monday the criminal inquest will begin.

So far it is looking (as usual) pretty good but as the Costa Concordia was an American-owned ship, and as many Americans and French were on board, the French and American systems could pick up a part of the legal strain.

This is a huge case with 32 dead, thousands suffering serious stress, a ship written off, and its expensive refloating for breaking-up elsewhere now under way.  Andrea Vogt reports:

The Italian criminal inquest into the Costa Concordia shipwreck finally opens in Grosseto ““ the closest town to the scene of the accident - on Monday 15 October. 

The Grosseto judges will hear evidence from a dry but damning 270-page technical report compiled by two Navy admirals and two engineers. It details the maddening series of errors by crew, captain and the cruise company Costa Crociere that doomed the mega cruise ship.

Among the nine people facing charges ranging from manslaughter to abandoning ship is the captain, Francesco Schettino. Given the stories of the mistress ““ a Moldovan dancer called Domnica Cemortan ““ and the accusation that he purposefully took the ship too close to land for a sail-by ‘salute’, his presence alone guarantees a heavy media presence.

The much reviled captain’s wife Fabiola Russo and his girlfriend Domnica Cemortan (images below) both still seem loyal to him but (cartoon at bottom) they may now be his only two friends and one or other could break away at any time.

On [French] Coast Guard orders, the 456 [French] survivors were interviewed by the French Gendarmerie, who asked them all the same questions, amassing a formidable database of independent depositions detailing their experiences and the post-traumatic stress many suffered.

Half of them formed a victims’ association to bargain collectively…. The group met in recent weeks to discuss progress in the case and seek comfort in their shared suffering.

To measure the psychological impact, a study was commissioned by a psychologist from the University of Haute Alsace. It revealed trauma typical of survival scenarios: nightmares, anxiety, depression, anger, a sense of abandonment and a loss of faith in the fairness of fellow humans (especially among the mothers with children)....

The massive body of evidence assembled in France has not gone unnoticed in Italy, where it will likely be submitted as evidence. “The Italian magistrates are very interested ““ we have 456 different people responding to the same questions,” Bertrand Courtois told The Week.

Carnival Line’s American stock is still an under-performer, though its fleetwide systems have been tightened up, and the same with other cruise lines. Generally a safe industry but with spectacular disasters now and then.











Posted by Peter Quennell on 10/12/12 at 06:42 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsItalian contextComments here (4)

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.



DNA Proof 40 Years After A Cowardly Murder Shuts Down A Fact-Fogging Campaign For The Murderer

Posted by The Machine



[Above: the murder victim Michael Gregsten and Valerie Storie who survived]

Relevance to Meredith’s case

You maybe thought journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities campaigning on behalf of someone who evidence strongly suggested was guilty was peculiar to Meredith’s case?

Think again. Exactly the same thing has happened more than a few times. This is one. The UK’s notorious A6 murder of 1961.

On the evening of 22 August 1961, Michael Gregsten, a government scientist, and his girlfriend Valerie Storrie, a laboratory assistant, were sitting in his car next to a cornfield in Berkshire, just west of London, when a masked gunman tapped on the car window. He demanded Gregsten’s wallet and Storie’s handbag.

He then forced Gregsten to drive 60 miles to Deadman’s Hill at Clophill in Bedfordshire where he shot the scientist twice in the head, killing him instantly. Next, he raped and shot Ms Storie five times. She survived the attack, but was left paralysed from the waist down.



[Above: Convicted murderer James Hanratty and his campaigning father]

Trial and evidence

James Hanratty, a petty thief, was arrested after cartridge cases from the murder weapon were found in a London hotel where he stayed the night before the murder. Valerie Storie picked out Hanratty at an identity parade from her hospital bed and she also made a voice identification of him. 

At the trial at Bedford Assizes, James Henratty changed his original alibi that he was staying with friends in Liverpool on the day of the murder and said that he had gone to Rhyl, in north Wales, and stayed two nights in a boarding house. The jury didn’t believe him and James Hanratty was found guilty of murdering Michael Gregsten.

The families of the victims (one dead, one crippled for life) expressed relief that a unanimous verdict was reached.

Hanratty was hanged at Bedford Prison on 4 April 1962. The day before he was hanged, he told his family: “I’m dying tomorrow but I’m innocent. Clear my name.” 

The pressure for an appeal

After James Hanratty was hanged, his father launched a campaign to clear his name. A number of high-profile public figures lent their support to the campaign, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and prominent politicians David Steel and Norman Fowler.

In 1971, a hundred MPs signed a petition demanding a public inquiry. The Conservative government refused to open such an inquiry.

Three years later the Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, commissioned a report from Lewis Hawser QC who sat in secret and came to the conclusion Hanratty was guilty.

In 1999, the case was sent back to the Court of Appeal. In March 2001, Hanratty’s body was exhumed and DNA tests were carried on it to see whether his DNA matched DNA traces found on Valerie Short’s knickers and her handkerchief that was found wrapped around the gun.

DNA tests confirm a right verdict

Forensic scientists from the Forensic Science Service (FSS) found that there was a perfect match and concluded that the DNA found on these exhibits was 2.5 million times more likely to belong to Hanratty than anyone else.

A report from the Daily Mail.

James Hanratty was guilty of the notorious A6 murder for which he was hanged, sensational scientific evidence has revealed. A DNA sample taken from his exhumed body has been matched by forensic experts to two samples from the crime scene.

They now believe that there is only a 1-in-2.5million chance Hanratty was innocent.  The results of the tests, released to Hanratty’s defence team, are a crushing blow to campaigners who have insisted he was not guilty.

In 2002, James Hanratty’s conviction was upheld at the Court of Appeal and a bid to take the case to the House of Lords was rejected. Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, who with two colleagues - Lord Justice Mantell and Mr Justice Leveson - considered the posthumous appeal, said the DNA evidence established Hanratty’s guilt “beyond doubt”.

Lord Woolf for the Supreme Court on 10 May 2002:

We have already stressed the importance of looking at a case such as this in the round. The grounds of appeal are of differing significance and although we have dealt with them individually it is also necessary to consider them collectively in asking ourselves the critical question is the conviction of James Hanratty of murder unsafe either on procedural or evidential grounds?

As to the evidential issues they all ultimately relate to the single issue which dominated the trial and this appeal, the identity of the killer. In our judgment for reasons we have explained the DNA evidence establishes beyond doubt that James Hanratty was the murderer.

The DNA evidence made what was a strong case even stronger. Equally the strength of the evidence overall pointing to the guilt of the appellant supports our conclusion as to the DNA.



[Above: journalist campaigners Paul Foot and Bob Woffinden]

The 40-year media campaign

Forty years of excruciating hell for the families and friends of the victims, one dead, one crippled for life .

Investigative journalists such as Bob Woffinden and Paul Foot wrote articles and books about the case, stubbornly certain that James Hanratty was innocent and that the case was a miscarriage of justice.

Paul Foot was a highly-respected campaigning journalist who worked for Private Eye, the Daily Mirror and The Guardian. However, his reasons for believing that James Hanratty was innocent were flimsy to the say the least.

From the BBC obituary for Paul Foot:

Beyond his obvious triumphs, Foot sometimes got it terribly wrong.

The Hanratty affair is a case in point. Twenty-five-year-old James Hanratty was hanged in 1962, after being found guilty of killing scientist Michael Gregsten and raping and shooting his mistress Valerie Storie.

Foot’s interest began in 1966 and, for the next 34 years, he consistently and eloquently demanded justice for Hanratty.

The case was finally reopened in 2000 and, after Hanratty’s body was exhumed, so DNA samples could be scraped from his bones, his guilt was proved beyond doubt.

The main crux of his argument for innocence was that James Hanratty was in Liverpool and Rhyl on the day of the murder. There were no positive identifications of Hanratty, just a couple of people who claimed that they had seen a man who looked like him.



[Above: John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Hanratty’s parents]

A report of John Lennon’s involvement.

On Side One of John & Yoko’s “Live Jam” album (recorded on 15th December 1969) Yoko can be heard to shout “Britain, you killed Hanratty you murderer!”, she then chants Hanratty’s name throughout the opening bars of Don’t Worry Kyoko.

As the [1960s] progressed, the view that Hanratty had in fact been the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice began to gather momentum, another man was even seen to confess to the murder on British Television in 1967. Together with Hanratty’s parents, John and Yoko discussed the idea of making a film to back the campaign for an enquiry and this was announced at an Apple press conference on December 10th 1969.

The one and only public screening of the 40-minute colour result was eventually shown in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London on 17th February 1972.

29 years later DNA evidence from the exhumed body of Hanratty was said to prove that he DID commit the murder, although it has been argued that the retained evidence may have been cross contaminated in storage.

Supporters of James Hanratty have come out with the predictable excuse that the DNA evidence must have been contaminated. However, the forensic scientists who worked in the case said this highly unlikely and pointed out that they had found no other DNA profiles on the two exhibits.

Implications for PR campaigns

The DNA tests carried out by the FFS that finally provided definitive proof that James Hanratty killed Michael Gregsten and raped and shot Valerie Storie more or less stopped the bandwagon dead in its tracks.

But there had been for decades almost fanatical and very vociferous support for someone who’d been unanimously convicted of murder, many of whom stood to gain, though it didnt have too much effect except to have the case looked at and found solid twice.

James Hanratty’s supporters claimed that he had no motive, that the police framed him, and that the DNA evidence was contaminated by the government’s experts. NONE of this was proved. Unless there is actual proof of dastardly plots and contamination, these claims against the authorities are unfruitful and unfair.

The most important lesson to be learnt from the A6 murder case is that a bandwagon of journalists, politicians, human rights campaigners, lawyers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities being absolutely convinced of someone’s innocence does not make him or her innocent in fact.

Even intelligent and well-intentioned people like Paul Foot and David Steel can mistakenly believe a killer is innocent and shrug off the pain the victims’ families must feel.

Implications for Curt Knox’s campaign

There are a number of parallels to the campaign against justice for Meredith. The families of the victims for one were put through years of hell, the real evidence was wildly distorted, and many good justice professionals and reporters were impugned. .

Hopefully the judges at the Italian Supreme Court will order a new appeal trial early next year, and the new tests the prosecution requested at the appeal on the remaining sample from the large knife can now be carried out.

Professor Novelli testified that it is possible to extract, amplify and attribute DNA with just 10-15 picograms of DNA using cutting-edge technology.  Conti and Vecchiotti extracted approximately 100 picograms of DNA from the blade of the knife.

Sollecito seemed to know there could be incriminating DNA evidence on that knife, and Knox had an extreme reaction not yet accounted for in an innocent way when she was shown a drawer full of knives.

There is enough DNA for more than one test. If Meredith’s DNA is indeed identified once again, the already strong case against Knox and Sollecito can be closed once and for all. And Curt Knox’s PR will be gone.


[Below: the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf]


The Italian Supreme Court Grants Turin Prosecutors A New Trial In Another Case

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: the still-accused (the same status as AK and RS) in temporary happier days]

Reversals of not-guilty verdicts like this one are handed down by the decisive Italian Supreme Court several times a month.

Franzo Grande Stevens, Gianluigi Gabetti and Virgil Brown had been charged in Turin with the white-collar crime of insider trading. They are rich powerful people who help the Agnelli family to control the carmaker FIAT.

Last December they were acquitted at their first trial. The prosecution did not even bother to lodge an appeal to the Turin appeal court - they took their appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. 

Now Franzo Grande Stevens, Gianluigi Gabetti and Virgil Brown get to have their day in court - all over again. Being rich and powerful was of no help.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/29/12 at 04:06 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (6)

In Trial For Killing Of 77 Norway Very Complexed About Whether Admitted Perpetrator Is Barking Mad

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: this is the courthouse in central Oslo where Anders Breivik is currently been tried]


In Norway a judge and jury and those tens of thousands personally affected by the bombing and shooting deaths of 77 people, mostly in their teens, are trying to calibrate the personality of Anders Breivik.

The self-confessed killer has under Norwegian court procedures been allowed to say a lot about himself during his trial. And to mount a defense which in effect implies that he is the one who is normal, and that everybody else in Norway is either stupid or blind.

There is a sort of Catch 22 situation here.

If the judge and jury and those affected accept that Breivik really IS normal and merely a common or garden Nazi-type fanatic, he can only be sentenced to 21 years x 77 with the sentences to run concurrently. He could be out of prison at only 54.

Even Breivik has said that is pathetic and he would be joyously executed rather than be diminished like that.

But if they accept that he is insane, then he can be sent away to a prison for the criminally insane, and unless he in effect grows a totally new brain, he could be kept locked up for the rest of his natural life.

So if prosecution psychologists can prove him to be what the British like to call barking mad, he could get in effect the maximum time behind bars: life. But blame for a deed which most see as pure evil would in effect be dilute.

Breivik of course is trying very hard to prove that he is NOT mad. But he is not being helped by the testimony of either his mother or his father (who separated in great anger in London a few months after he was born) who have each thoroughly rejected his defense. His mother says he simply lies all the time, and his father says he should have committed suicide.

Nor is he helped by the 1517 page manifesto that he wrote (in English) and emailed to everybody in his address book a few hours before he set out on his attack. 

Dr Avner Falk lives in Jerusalem, Israel, and he is perhaps the most published in the world in the fields of long-distance psychohistory and political psychology. 

On his personal website Dr Falk has just posted this long and deeply researched essay exploring Breivik’s psychology.

Although of course the analysis was done 1/4 of the way around the world, it is difficult to read this essay without concluding that these really are the main facts about what is in Breivik’s head - and that he really is barking mad.

More scientifically, his psychology seems situated somewhere between borderline personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenic.

Dr Falk shows how Breivik may have got that way, and what was driving him to kill (don’t laugh, read the essay first: he became psychotically angered over repeated shows of lack of love by his father, who when Breivek was 16 cut him right off, and too much love by his mom, which Breivek thinks sissyfied him).

And why it would seem to be the safest thing to do to put Breivek away for life.   

So. Is any of this relevant to Meredith’s case? More below.






In Meredith’s case there also seems to be a sort of Catch 22.

First off, it seems that nobody holding any point of view about Knox or Sollecito can see the makings of a credible insanity defense.

One reason many dont want to go down that road is that Italian prosecutions are always facing long odds, and they fear that it could too easily at the end of the legal process leave the accused-perps off the hook and free to go, and to publish whatever they will.

Some fear the same could happen with a defense based on too much alcohol or psychosis-causing drugs.

But at the same time, many also believe that AK and RS were not the social and psychological paragons that many in the obfuscatory PR campaign have tried for a long time to make out.

Even those eager henchmen in Curt Knox’s campaign have had to turn cartwheels to explain why Knox did cartwheels and so quickly put so many people in Perugia right off her, or to explain why Sollecito was so friendless and so obsessed with violent comics and porn and always carried a concealed knife.

And yet despite that, a sort of stealth psychological defense DOES seem to have been mounted, and with Judge Hellman’s interim appeal verdict it does seem to have helped them to be provisionally sprung.

In a process a little reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day where the “villain” has to keep repeating the same day over and over until he gets certain things just right, the public audience and the judges and juries were presented with several different Amanda Knoxes and Raffaele Sollecitos and the 2011 versions seem to have worked.

  • In 2008 the images that dominated were of two cold-hearted or hot-headed jealous abusers who had gone way too far in the remorseless 15-minute struggle with Meredith. Magistrate Matteini and Judge Micheli both firmly took this view, which was confirmed by psychological tests on RS and AK in Capanne Prison that concluded that Perugia would be safer if they stayed behind bars pending their trial.
  • The images that dominated the trial in 2009 was of a mild and slightly daffy Sollecito and a mostly milder and decidedly daffier Amanda Knox, strongly supported by their large and loving families spread out all around the court. That seems to some extent to have worked on Judge Massei, and RS and AK were rewarded with some years off their sentence for a supposed kindness to Meredith’s dead body. In the sentencing report, Rudy Guede became the somewhat villainous initiating attacker of Meredith on the night.
  • The image that dominated the appeal in 2011 was of two serious studious very normal bambinos falsely being tied together with an extremely villainous Rudy Guede, now a notorious drifter and drug dealer who carried knives. The accused in effect dressed in shades of grey, and there were never any smiles or jokes in court. Italian judges and juries and watching audiences have a reputation for leniency toward bambinos, and Judge Hellman’s report suggests that attitude did intrude.

The Italian Supreme Court doesnt usually get to set eyes on those who are appealing or (as in this case) appealed against. More often than not they calibrate a legal and psychological position about as hard-line as the investigating magistrate (Matteini) or the judges at the first level (Micheli and Massei).

Now Knox and Sollecito might not return to the court for any re-run of the appeal trial. But if they don’t, the original images of themselves, those advanced in 2008 which a clear majority of Italians still hold to, could be the version of their personalities that a second appeal judge and jury get to “see”.

Tough call for Knox and Sollecito and their tribes. Their Catch 22.

But either way, assuming a level playing field, a fair outcome seems reasonably assured.

*****

Below: a crowd of 40,000 gathered in central Oslo to sing a song “Children of the Rainbow”.

That is the song by Norwegian folk singer Lillebjoern Nilsen (based on Pete Seeger’s “Rainbow Race”) which Breivek claimed in his manifesto shows the decadence of Norwegian youth. 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/15/12 at 01:47 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (8)

A Case In Which The Accused’s Team Used A Psychological Condition Maybe Similar To AK’s Or RS’s

Posted by Grahame Rhodes





The wealthy Durst family develops tall buildings in Manhattan including the Bank of America tower in midtown and the new One Wold Trade Center in downtown which will soon reach 1776 feet high.

Robert Durst is one of the heirs of the founder of the Durst Organization who died in 1995 and his brother Douglas now runs the company with a cousin. Here is a brief summary of Robert’s early life from Wikipedia.

Durst grew up, one of four children, in Scarsdale, New York and attended Scarsdale High School. He completed his undergraduate degree at Lehigh University and attended graduate school at UCLA.

Durst reportedly witnessed his mother’s apparent suicide at age seven; she either fell or jumped off the roof of the Scarsdale family mansion.

According to Reader’s Digest, Durst underwent extensive counseling because of his mother’s death, and doctors found that his “deep anger” could lead to psychological problems, including schizophrenia.

Durst went on to become a real estate developer in his father’s business; however, it was his brother Douglas who was later appointed to run the family business. The appointment in the 1990s caused a rift between Robert and his family, and he became estranged. His earlier schizophrenia diagnosis was incorrect.

In 1982 a seeming dark side to Robert Durst began to appear. Also from Wikipedia:

In 1973, Durst married Kathleen McCormack, who disappeared in 1982. Her case remained unsolved for eighteen years when New York State Police reopened the criminal investigation.

On December 24, 2000, Durst’s long-time friend, Susan Berman, who was believed to have knowledge of McCormack’s disappearance, was found murdered execution-style in her Benedict Canyon California house. Durst was questioned in both cases but not charged.

According to prosecutors, he moved to Texas in 2000 and began cross-dressing to divert attention from the disappearance of McCormack.

Both the Kathleen Durst and Susan Berman cases remain open, and New York and Los Angeles police still work on them.

From the Galveston Texas Daily News here is a timeline for the movements of Robert Durst for late 2001 and early 2002.

Sept. 30 “” A 13-year-old boy spots a man’s torso floating near the shoreline of 81st Street and Channelview Drive. Nearby, police find garbage bags containing human limbs, along with a number of items investigators later trace to an apartment house in the 2200 block of Avenue K.

Oct. 5 “” Officials identify the body parts as the remains of Morris Black, a 71-year-old South Carolina native who lived at the apartment house.

Oct. 9 “” Police arrest Robert Durst, 58, who lived in an apartment across the hall from Black. Durst is charged with murder and possession of marijuana, but leaves jail that night after posting $300,000 bond.

Oct. 16 “” Durst becomes a fugitive when he fails to appear at a court hearing in his case. A grand jury indicts him on charges of murder and jumping bail.

Oct. 17 “” A man in Mobile, Ala., rents a red Chevrolet Corsica, using the name Morris Black.

Nov. 30 “” Police in Pennsylvania arrest Durst and charge him with the shoplifting theft of a small bandage, a sandwich and a newspaper.

Dec. 5 “” Galveston detectives leave for Philadelphia, armed with a search warrant for the red Chevrolet Corsica police seized from the parking lot of the Pennsylvania grocery store where Durst was arrested.

Dec. 7 “” A search of the car reveals numerous pieces of identification in the name of Morris Black, an undisclosed amount of marijuana, two handguns and about 80 bullets.

Dec. 17 “” State District Court Judge Susan Criss issues a gag order in the murder case, barring officials, attorneys and potential witnesses from talking about the case.

Jan. 25 “” Durst waives his right to an extradition hearing, agreeing to return to Galveston to face charges.

Jan. 27 “” Durst arrives at the county jail.

New York Magazine adds this bit of color.

At the time of Black’s death, Durst was living as a deaf-mute woman known as “Dorothy Ciner” who communicated with the landlord via handwritten notes. During the trial he startled jurors by growling loudly like a dog and snorting like a pig.

Later, in prison, he became known for doing nude calisthenics in his cell.

In 2003 he was found not guilty of the murder of Morris Black. From Wikipedia:

During cross-examination, Durst admitted to using a paring knife, two saws and an axe to dismember Black’s body before dumping his remains in Galveston Bay. The jury acquitted him of murder.

Specifically he was found not guilty because the jury bought into the idea of a mental condition. CBS News describes how the jury saw it.

Is Durst a cold-blooded killer with a string of victims over more than 20 years? Or is he somehow a victim himself?

Last spring, Correspondent Erin Moriarty talked to Durst’s closest friends and the defense psychiatrist who examined him. The Durst fortune, valued at more than $2 billion, is in the same league as Donald Trump’s fortune. And it’s certainly more than enough for the best legal defense that money can buy.

His high-powered defense team - Dick DeGuerin, Mike Ramsey and Chip Lewis ““ say that early on, they had difficulty communicating with Durst. So they hired Dr. Altschuler, a well-known Houston psychiatrist, to find out why.

Altschuler says he met with Durst almost on a weekly basis, and spent more than 70 hours examining him. His conclusion: Durst suffers from a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a fairly uncommon disorder that leaves a victim’s intellect intact, but limits his ability to interact socially.

“Emotion is very difficult to him. He doesn’t know what happy is,” says Altschuler. “He can feel it, but almost as if he were feeling it as we would feel fingers through a glove. It’s very dulled, at best, to him “¦ His whole life’s history is so compatible with a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder.”

The jury apparently bought it. They were convinced that Durst, in a panic, dismembered Black’s body.

Many people with Asperger’s self-diagnose themselves and learn to adjust and most have good lives and careers, many in computers and math-based professions. (Probably a coincidence but Knox’s parents are both in math-based professions, as is Chris Mella.) But some apparently do have flash rages when they yet again encounter in themselves an inability to connect or to win people over. So there are some murders that have been ascribed to this condition.

Both Knox and Sollecito may have had childhood trauma which their families, naturally, seem not too keen to have exposed. Or one or other might have been born wrong-headed.

Note how both of them in Perugia had isolated themselves from just about everybody else when Meredith died - Sollecito with his dark sullenless and Knox with her sharp elbows and brash, grubby, offputting ways.

Note Sollecito’s sordid history of beasty porn, and his knife fetishes, and violent manga comics and films, and lack of close friends, and endless drugs, and slow school progress, and attempted close supervision by a struggling father, and a loyal sister who he has left decimated and jobless without even a shrug.

Note how Amanda Knox seems to have tried all her life to be liked and has never understood why she is so often successful for just a short time. Note the reported riotous behavior off campus in Seattle, the shortage of school and college friends who speak up for her, the strange tale of her walking off the intern job in the German parliament, and the searching for love in all the wrong places

Note her willingness to let Patrick Lumumba rot in jail for weeks. Note how she bought hot underwear while giggling, and how she chose to miss the remembrance service for Meredith in favor of a pizza. Note how the prison tests in 2008 seem to have found both her and Sollecito to be continuing dangers. Note her flippant narcissistic demeanor at the trial, and her various bizarre statements.  Note her reported self-imposed isolation and odd deportment and hygiene while in prison.

Note how her sense of right and wrong seems to be completely at odds, comparatively speaking, with the rest of the human race. Note how she seems unable to exhibit any emotion, or take any responsibility for her actions, even when challenged directly and her veracity called into question.

Finally, note her seeming never-ending lack of empathy for Meredith and her family, observed and remarked on both when Meredith was found and at trial and in the months and years afterwards. Meredith came from a hard working loving family who encouraged her to work hard and gave her every break and certainly never brutalised her. She was talented and made friends easily because of her wonderful sense of humor and her positive view of life.

Meredith was the complete antithesis of Knox. Well adjusted, liked, highly intelligent, very diligent and disciplined,  and driven to succeed. A remarkable success story in process, whicht Knox seemingly could not even begin to relate to.

So are Robert Durst and either of the still-presumed-guilty perps in any way similar? Were either of them born wrong in the head or made that way by childhood trauma?

Or was a mental defense simply an easy way for the entitled but awkward Robert Durst to have got off the hook for a cruel murder, and one that the Hellman jury (and those in the FOA) subliminally bought into for Knox and Sollecito as well?

I leave it to you to decide.


[Below: Robert Durst’s missing wife, and a murdered Los Angeles friend]


[Below: Some new Durst organization buildings in New York including at center 1 WTC]

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 06/08/12 at 03:09 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (39)

A Smug Killer Who Thought Perhaps He’d Escaped Justice Was Brought Down In The UK Today

Posted by The Machine



[Above and below: Arlene Fraser and husband Nat who today was again convicted for her murder]


Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Nat Fraser has been been found guilty for the second time of murdering his estranged wife Arlene in 1998.

He was originally was found guilty in 2003 and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. However, after a long appeal process, his conviction was quashed last year by five judges at the Supreme Court in London.

They sent the case back to the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal, where the jurors have just taken approximately five hours to reach a majority verdict after a six-week trial.

It’s not the first time this year that someone in Britain has been finally found guilty of murder after initially escaping justice.

In January, Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of murdering Stephen Lawrence in 1993 by a jury at the Old Bailey. Dobson had been acquitted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1996 but the Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal. (The case against David Norris collapsed before it reached court.)

David Harvie the director of serious casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal, said:

The Crown is absolutely determined to ensuring that criminals are brought to justice for crimes they have committed, no matter the passage of time nor the legal complexities involved.

I have no doubts that Chief Prosecutor of Perugia, Giovanni Galati and the Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Giancarlo Costagliola are just as determined to ensuring that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are brought to justice.

The cases above are a reality check for anyone who assumes that Knox and Sollecito are innocent simply because they were provisionally acquitted. It’s a fact of life that killers are sometimes acquitted. It’s also a fact of life that for them things often come full circle.

And if anyone thinks that cases of people being convicted of murder after escaping justice don’t happen in Italy, they are seriously mistaken. Barbie Nadeau outlined the case of Angela Birikova, who was convicted of murder after being acquitted at her first trial, in a November 2010 article for the Daily Beast:

In the meantime, the Seattle native’s lawyers say she is anxious to get back to court. She has reportedly been getting to know a new cellmate, Moldovian native Angela Biriukova, herself a celebrity criminal in Italy. Dubbed the Black Widow by the Italian press, Biriukova was tried for murdering her wealthy older husband by stabbing him 16 times.

Her DNA was found on a cigarette butt near the corpse, but nowhere else at the murder scene. Unlike Knox, however, Biriukova was acquitted during her first trial. Knox might take comfort in what happened next: The prosecutors appealed and Biriukova’s acquittal was reversed””after being set free, she was convicted during the appellate process. Should Knox’s appellate trial yield the same dramatic reversal, it will be a stunning conclusion to a trial whose narrative has often sharply turned on twists of fate.

It should noted that there is considerably more undisputed evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito than there is against the various convicted killers that are mentioned above.

Apologist journalists like Nick Pisa and Nick Squires, and especially Michael Day, would do well to remember this, before glibly dismissing the case against the still-accused pair.


[Below: convicted killer Angela Biriukova who Knox reportedly made a friend of in Capanne]

Posted by The Machine on 05/31/12 at 01:32 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (4)

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 by Peter Quennell on 05/25/12 at 03:48 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsItalian contextComments here (3)

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.















Italian Court Rules American Museum Must Return An Illegally Exported Statue

Posted by Peter Quennell





Now everybody holds their breath. Will it be returned or not?

The valuable statue is now at the Getty Museum (above) on a coastal hilltop just north of Los Angeles. Ironically it is actually Greek, and was hauled out of the Aegean Sea by fishermen almost directly east of Perugia. It is so valuable because only very few Greek statues remain intact. 

Very doubtfull that the US federal government gets involved though the courts might. The Los Angeles Times and some Italian newspapers carry the story.

An Italian court has upheld an order for the seizure of a masterpiece of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s antiquities collection, finding that the bronze statue of a victorious athlete was illegally exported from Italy before the museum purchased it for $4 million in 1976.

Since 2005, the Getty has voluntarily returned 49 antiquities in its collection, acknowledging they were the product of illegal excavations and had been smuggled out of their country of origin. Hundreds of other objects were returned by other American dealers, collectors and museums.

In the wake of those returns, several American museums struck cooperative deals with Italy and Greece that allow for long-term loans of ancient art.

Most such repatriation claims have been settled without legal action. The dispute over the Getty’s bronze ended up in Italian court thanks to its complicated legal status “” an accidental discovery in international waters off Italy’s Adriatic coast.

The statue was most likely lost at sea after being plundered by Roman soldiers in Greece around the time of Christ. (The government of Greece has never asked that the statue be returned there.)

In 1964, Italian fishermen found the statue snagged in their nets. They hauled it ashore in the small port town of Fano, buried it in a cabbage field and then hid it in a priest’s bathtub rather than declare it to customs officials, as required under Italian law.

Three brothers and the priest were convicted of trafficking in stolen goods, but an appeals court threw out their convictions in 1970, citing insufficient evidence. At the time, the statue was still missing, and its value was unknown.

 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/14/12 at 02:41 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The judical timelineThe wider contextsItalian contextComments here (3)

After Five Years, Heavy Police Resources Still Assigned To The Case Of The Missing Madeleine McCann

Posted by Our Main Posters



The case of Madeleine McCann.

In one respect, there’s this parallel to Meredith’s case. After five years police are still assigning major resources to close to their own complete satisfaction a vexatious and divisive case.

Unfortunately, the parallels end there.

In this case, it is the British police still assigning the resources (now close to four million pounds), in parallel to the relentless Italian effort for Meredith, because they fear that in light of cases like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard the Portuguese police may have dropped the ball far too soon.

The Portuguese, in face of a confusing situation on the night when Madeleine disappeared, where the parents say they had left her home with younger twins while they had dinner 100 yards away, and a nervous Portuguese vacation industry, declared the parents as under suspicion in Madeline’s death and (see video above) aggressively furthered that meme.  They may have closed off kidnapping possibilities which in this day and age are far too real.

It may be that one day the British police eventually do conclude that her parents had a role in Madeleine’s disappearance and possible death, or simply declare that they have hit a brick wall.  But as Time and other UK and US news services are today reporting, they are concerned that the little girl is still out there, alive, and a kidnapper may be getting a free pass - and the opportunity to do it again.

The British police have released the two images below, showing how Madeleine looked back then and could now look at age nine. These are the latest developments according to the NY Times.

Scotland Yard released a statement saying its investigators had uncovered what they believed to be “genuinely new material,” as well as nearly 200 new opportunities for further inspection. Investigators said that they “now believe that there is a possibility Madeleine is still alive,” and have called for the investigation by Portuguese police to be reopened after an almost four-year hiatus….

While the initial investigation by the Portuguese authorities was roundly criticized, the British inquiry has been aided by the fact that, for the first time since Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom in the family’s rented apartment in the Algarve region of Portugal, investigators have been able to review material generated by three independent investigations, all in one location.

The detective leading the review said that having access to the Portuguese investigation, inquiries by British law enforcement agencies and the work of private investigators hired by the McCann family presents the team with “best opportunity” of finally solving the mystery of what happened in the seaside resort of Praia da Luz.

Rewards totaling millions of dollars were offered by wealthy Britons, including J. K. Rowling, the billionaire author of the Harry Potter series, and Richard Branson, the airline tycoon. But the Portuguese police identified only one suspect, a 33-year-old Britain living with his mother in a nearby apartment….

Detectives have been painstakingly sifting through “every single piece of paper” “” approximately 100,000 pages “” generated by the original investigation, on the basis that sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see what was always there….

Mr. Redwood rejected the conspiracy theories that have circulated about Madeleine’s parents’ involvement. He said that the girl’s disappearance was the result of “a criminal act by a stranger.”

It will come as renewed encouragement to the McCann family, whose ceaseless energy and reluctance to call off the search have been fundamental in keeping the case in the international spotlight. Since their daughter’s disappearance they have traveled to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who blessed a photograph of Madeleine, published a book and even appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”







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.



















The Italian Tanker Is Still Held In South India Pending… Not Clear Precisely What

Posted by Peter Quennell





Our previous post described an Italian tanker held and two Italian soldiers in custody for shooting two Indian fishermen they thought were pirates.

Several times since. it seemed that whatever evidence can be assembled would be unveiled preparatory to a trial, the Italian crew would explain fully what happened, the soldiers might be charged, and the ship released to go on its way once the Italian owners paid a large bond - which, a while back, they did.

But lawyers acting for the family of one of the fishermen at the last moment sued to stop the ship on the point of leaving because they claimed they did not trust the owners to pay up - even despite the bond having been lodged in the amount (30 million rupees) that the family itself had demanded.

Now tempers seem to be rising in all directions, and as Sreedhar Pillai observes it is not simply Italy v India.

What has been most surprising is the appalling way both countries have handled the sensitive issue, each one not without its own hidden compulsions, and the public stance each country was obliged to take.

For the new Italian Prime minister Mario Monti , there were more compelling matters to attend… However the way the Italians have come out without a convincing and straightforward explanation of what happened has not helped the matter or enabled the Indians to react helpfully to solve the issue.

Besides, the Italian authorities have also failed to grasp the political compulsions under which the Indian government had to act in this matter.

For a start, Kerala, which is the last place people still believe in communism, has a party which lost the recent election with slim margin and has an interest to politicize every issue in order to win a crucial local election held in March. The ruling congress party with slim majority and allegations of corruption with the central government which they lead couldn’t afford to let the legal path take its own course.

That Kerala has a sizable Catholic population didn’t help, with Kerala Bishops facing accusation of taking up for a Catholic foreign country.

Although never mentioned publicly, the most sensitive reason for the stiff Indian stance is nothing but the Italian origin of Sonia Gandhi, presiding over the Congress Party, currently ruling India and several states including Kerala as the major coalition partner.

Hmmm. So in the Italian media one can now find hard comments like “the ship was trying to avoid piracy, but seems to have wandered into it anyway” and in the Indian media one can find comments ranging from “hang the murderers” to “the lawyers for the family are being opportunist”.

Today it is announced that the soldiers are remanded without charges for yet another 14 days. Meanwhile the owners of the Enrica Lexie have sued at the Indian Supreme Court level to get their ship back.

We may hear whether this is agreed to tomorrow. Sadly, the real pirates at the root of all this must be laughing.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/16/12 at 04:07 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsItalian contextComments here (7)

French National Florence Cassez Appeal Fails Before The Mexican Supreme Court

Posted by Peter Quennell





Florence Cassez heads back to prison to continue her 60-year sentence.

If your first exposure to Florence Cassez is to her sweet face (image below) your reaction might be “sweet girls like Florence simply don’t do crimes” and to mobilize to press for her release.

But as in the case of Amanda Knox the devil really is in the details. Time and again, new readers have come here, many lawyers included, and encountered all of the mountain of details, and in effect responded once they were on top of them “those involved in Rome and Perugia really did know what they are doing”.

Not to mention those vital details lost in translation.

The French national Florence was living on a ranch outside Mexico City owned by her boyfriend when he kidnapped and held a family for ransom. (He is not yet convicted.) The kidnapped family, largely blindfolded, didnt see her, but several say they heard her voice and they suffered from her mistreatment.

Why would they make that up? Florence never really has explained how she could be living right there on the ranch and not have the slightest idea of what was going on. Or explain who “the other woman” was that the kidnapped family kept encountering.

Sentences for kidnapping are very harsh in Mexico as it has had far too many in recent years. The sweet face and 60 year sentence and the family of Florence and President Sarkozy and the notion of a process run wild made for a compelling mix of tragedy on French TV.

Not to mention those vital details lost in translation.

So far, though, to no avail. The Supreme Court have just ruled that the sentence must stand. This may not be the end of it as several irregularities have been conceded but if she is to see freedom in her lifetime Florence still has explaining to do.

Various public opinion polls say 65 to 74 percent of Mexicans think Cassez is guilty and many express resentment at French pressure to win her freedom….  [And] many believe any violation of due process was not serious enough to let Cassez go free.

How rarely do countries appreciate other countries leaning on their legal system. It’s not likely to happen again, soon toward Mexico as much as toward Italy.






 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/13/12 at 10:18 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (19)

In Close Parallel To Amanda Knox, Casey Anthony Faces Court Action For Falsely Fingering Another

Posted by Peter Quennell



Both recent images. Above the plaintiff Zenaida Gonzalez; below the defendant Casey Anthony


Amanda Knox provisionally got off on the main count (the murder of Meredith) but anyway was sentenced to three years (which she served) for fingering Patrick Lumumba.

Casey Anthony definitively got off on the main count (murdering her infant daughter Caylee, see previous posts) but anyway was sentenced to some time in prison for time-wasting and expensive misleading of the police officers.

She received no sentence for falsely fingering a nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez, for making off with Caylee, and as she had never even met Zenaida Gonzalez it is unclear how she came up with Zenaida’s name.

The Orlando Sentinel reports an issue is whether or not Anthony identified Gonzalez specifically enough when she talked to her parents when they visited her in jail.

Anthony’s attorney said details offered by Anthony did not match Fernandez-Gonzalez and clearly showed Anthony wasn’t talking about her. Gonzalez’s attorneys say she still was damaged as the only person with that name interviewed by investigators.

Fernandez-Gonzalez had never met Anthony. Investigators believe Anthony may have seen the name on an apartment rental application.

During Anthony’s trial last year, her attorney Jose Baez said Anthony made up the story about the babysitter and that Caylee truly drowned in the family pool. Anthony was acquitted of murder and other serious charges.

Nevertheless, yesterday a judge in Orlando, Florida, ruled that Zenaida Gonzalez may sue Casey Anthony for defamation of character, and the case is scheduled for January 2013.

In Amanda Knox’s case she absolutely did know Patrick Lumumba, her kindly employer who gave her a job without a work permit, and she and her mother let him languish in prison for several weeks.

Pretty hard to look worse than Casey Anthony, but in her cruel act of framing Patrick, Amanda Knox certainly does.



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.































Two Victims Ride High - With No Thanks To The Conspiracy Theorists

Posted by Peter Quennell





Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart with the sustained help of their appealing families are right now two of the most admired women in America.

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped from California’s beautiful South Tahoe area (image below) in 1991 and kept captive east of San Francisco through late 2009. Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her north-east Salt Lake City home (image below) in 2002 and sprung from her captors in March 2003.

Both girls seem to have been affected by the Stockholm Syndrome, Jaycee Dugard by way of the physical abuse of her captors, and Elizabeth Smart perhaps by way of the religious claims of her male captor, though she claims it was only the physical abuse.

Both women put on a very determined and self-confident performance on the witness stand, and both saw their captors put away for good. It may have been tougher for Elizabeth Smart because she had to endure years of argument over whether her male captor was mentally competent. The jury agreed with prosecution witnesses that he was simply putting on a skillful act and they returned a very quick guilty verdict.

Jaycee Dugard wrote a fearless and unflinching best-seller about her experience. Similar books have been written about Elizabeth Smart, who was married to a Scotsman a few days ago (bottom image) amid reports that said they looked like royalty.

Both have been interviewed frequently on American TV, with Elizabeth Smart pushing back strongly against CNN’s Nancy Grace. Both want to raise awareness of female kidnappings.

Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping happened when the internet was in its infancy and the conspiracy theories targeting her family were mild and did not slow her mother’s determination. Elizabeth Smart’s parents however were really targeted by the conspiracy theorists, and rants against both her father and herself became absolutely endemic.

Any comparison between these two and Amanda Knox here? We dont see it. Most of the internet abuse has flowed from Knox’s own “supporters”. They have too often made demented personal attacks which absolutely cannot help her with Perugia’s top prosecutor, or the Supreme Court which she soon faces.

And many months since she returned home after the first appeal court released her, she still has not had the courage to face the TV cameras, or to do other than announce a book which sounds like a work of fiction.

Learn something from these two, Amanda Knox. Get classy. Or understand why you and yours will never be widely admired.




Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/29/12 at 09:15 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsHoaxers: media groupsCNN NetworkComments here (8)

Costa Concordia: Amid Continuing Environmental Concerns The Captain Is Charged With More

Posted by Peter Quennell

The death toll has now risen to 25 including one child, a little girl. Maybe 10 are still unaccounted for.

The ship turns out to be balancing precariously on two small castles of rock at its front and back ends and they now seem to be decomposing under the ship’s colossal weight.

Whether the fuel oil can be removed from the ship before it disappears into deeper waters in a very fragile marine environment now seems anyone’s guess. Technically the engineers seem to be doing all they can.

The Genoa-based Carnival subsidiary seems to have closed ranks again as its own top management behavior comes under investigation. Nick Squires of the Daily Telegraph has just reported this from a session of the Grosseto court.

Prosecutors allege that the captain’s negligence and misconduct were compounded by errors made by senior officials from Costa Cruises, the Italian company that owns the ship.

They have broadened their investigation to include three Costa Cruises employees, including Manfred Ursprunger, the vice-president, and Roberto Ferrarini, the head of the company’s crisis management unit.

He was in regular contact with the skipper on the night of the disaster but prosecutors accuse him of being “culpably unaware of the real situation on board the ship” and of falling to verify the information provided by Capt Schettino.

Nick Squires also reports that Captain Schettino’s legal prospects have now worsened.

On Thursday, prosecutors lodged two new charges against the captain, accusing him of abandoning incapacitated passengers and failing to inform the coast guard in Livorno, on the mainland, of what was happening on the ship.

He was already charged with abandoning ship, causing a disaster and multiple counts of manslaughter and is under house arrest at his home near Sorrento, south of Naples.

Nick Squires also reports on how the ship was slowed down to allow the captain and his lady friend to finish their meal. Then it was speeded up to awe someone in Giglio, and a big crowd on the ship’s bridge.


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. . 






Did The Captain Being Drunk Delay Evacuation And Cause The Probable 30-Plus Deaths?

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the passengers and apparently somewhere here the captain standing on Port Giglio’s beach at midnight]


Airline pilots have been accused of drunk flying and the worst incident seems to have caused 88 deaths.

Systems changes were implemented to try to stop this ever happening again. We may now be about to see the same thing happen in the cruise ship industry. There are multiple Italian and UK reports that in the two hour period after the ship left the port of Rome, the captain drank maybe a whole carafe of wine, and became distinctly the worse for wear.

Survivors from the shipwreck have claimed that when the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, stood up from his table in the ship’s exclusive Club Concordia restaurant, approximately half an hour before the ship ran on to the rocks, he was in a particularly jolly mood.

La Repubblica suggests that Capt Schettino (52) was not in a fit state to drive a moped let alone pilot a 114,000-tonne cruiser, asserting he would almost certainly have failed a breathalyser test.

The Wall Street Journal reported this bizarre claim from a cook.

About a half-hour after the ship struck the rock…Rogelio Barista, the ship’s cook, said he and other kitchen staff members spotted the captain and a woman ordering food, including drinks and dessert””a sign of apparent nonchalance that left kitchen staff puzzled.

“I asked myself why he was still there waiting for his companion’s dessert with what was happening,” Mr. Barista said in an interview with Italian television.

The Associated Press reported the confusion caused for the shipping company, crew and passengers as a seeming direct result:

The cruise captain who grounded the Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast with 4,200 people on board did not relay correct information either to the company or crew after the ship hit rocks, the cruise ship owner’s CEO said Friday as the search resumed for 21 missing passengers.

CEO Pierluigi Foschi told Italian state TV that the company spoke to the captain at 10:05 p.m. some 20 minutes after the ship ran aground on Jan. 13, but could not offer proper assistance because the captain’s description “did not correspond to the truth.”

Capt. Francesco Schettino said only that he had “problems” on board but did not mention hitting a reef.  Likewise, Foschi said crew members were not informed of the gravity of the situation.  Passenger video shown on Italian TV indicates crew members telling passengers to go to their cabins as late as 10:25 p.m. The abandon ship alarm sounded just before 11:00 p.m.

“That’s because they also did not receive correct information on the gravity of the situation,” Foschi said.

In the most cutting English-language report, the Daily Mail claims that the presence of the Moldovan dancer alongside the captain seemingly throughout may have played a deadly role.

And that the very extensive delay in evacuating the ship may have cost all or most of the 30-plus lives lost - most of those still missing are believed to have jumped into the cold sea.

Costa’s president Pierluigi Foschi admitted in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere Della Serra yesterday, that the alarm had been raised too late by Schettino.

“˜Too late. I can’t sleep at night. If we had abandoned it earlier then we would not have lost any lives.’

He said Schettino had always been considered “˜technically able’ but had “˜character issues’. “˜He liked to be at the centre of it.’

The company has now announced it will not pay the captain’s legal fees. Although cruise ships are already very safe, mandatory system change at ship and company levels seem in store. Hopefully including compulsory brain scans of captains and all top crew.

Yesterday the captain finally - finally - expressed some contrition. The sad tales of the dead including a six year old girl are only now starting to come out.


Below: The Concordia, the first supersized Carnival ship, was built in Palermo Sicily in this yard in 2006.

Below: The ship headed out of Rome’s port (Civitavecchia) about two hours before it hit the rocks.

Below: The route the cruise ship was to take. Its unauthorized cruise by Giglio was several miles off authorized course.

Below: The ship hit the rocks at bottom and tilted to the left as it took on water, and is seemingly deliberately beached.

Below: The La Scole rocks (which are not a reef) which the ship hit; there is still confusion over its precise course.

Below: Various charts seem to show all the rocks correctly, and also very deep water a few meters to the east.

Below: The ship picked up the rock that it hit and the rock can be seen here still embedded in the side.

Below: The ship as it was yesterday precariously perched on the highest of several underwater shelves.

Below: The search divers are mostly Carabinieri. Most lost bodies are probably down in very deep water.

Below: The captain is confined to his home in this town across the bay from Naples and Vesuvius to the left.

Below: The captain’s house. Reporters are hanging around outside to record him, but he has not emerged.

Below: One of Carnival Cruise Corp’s two global headquarters, this is in Miami; the other is in London

Below: US Carnival Cruise Corp President and CEO Christine Duffy wants a global cruise systems review

Below: Carnival’s current market capitalization ($24 billion) seems low, but in recent years its stock (blue curve) beat the US average.

Below: Carnival’s stock (blue curve) has not been so hot in recent weeks; it just dropped $4-5 billion. 

Below: The UN’s International Maritime Org in London where global maritime systems are agreed.

Below: A BBC animation that aired last monday on what happened to the ship on the night..

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/21/12 at 03:20 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsItalian contextComments here (39)

Italy Hails An Unlikely Hero Who Tried To Talk The Captain Back On The Ship He Abandoned

Posted by Peter Quennell

You probably already know the broad outline of this story.

Last Friday the Carnival cruise ship Costa Concordia ran onto some rocks by an island off the west coast of Italy and it semi-capsized. Some 35 passengers are declared dead or missing, the ship could slide further or sink any time, and the fuel-oil is all still on board.

This video is the BBC’s translation of the coastguard captain Gregorio De Falco (left below) trying to talk the cruise ship captain Francesco Schettino (right below) out of a lifeboat and back on board his ship to facilitate the rescue of the 4,000 passengers and crew.

Captain De Falco is not mincing any words. It seems that Italians cannot get enough of that stern talk. The tape is being played again and again on Italian radio and TV with Captain De Falco being likened to various great Italian leaders of the past - and Captain Schettino to the vain and ultimately disastrous Mr Berlusconi.

This report is from American National Public Radio.

“You’ve abandoned ship! I’m in charge now,” De Falco rages at Schettino, who was apparently in a rowboat at this time. “Go back and report to me how many passengers [are still onboard] and what they need. ... Perhaps you saved yourself from the sea, but I’ll make you pay for this, dammit!”

Schettino can be heard trying to refuse the order. “You don’t understand, it’s dark here. Can’t see anything,” he says.  “What is it, you want to go home Schettino?” De Falco spits out. “It’s dark and you want to go home?”  Eventually De Falco demands: “Go back onboard, dammit!”

De Falco’s Italian expletive is actually much harsher than “dammit” “” but the line [“Torni a bordo, cazzo!”] has become a national catchphrase, and is Italy’s top trending hashtag or keyword on Twitter.

Minutes after that audio was posted online, Italians had a new hero.  Within hours, a Facebook page created in De Falco’s name had 10,000 friends. By Wednesday morning, his words were a national slogan, with T-shirts being sold online with the words, “Go back onboard, dammit.”...

One tweet from a woman named Sofia Rosada said, “It’s men like De Falco who should be governing, instead we are full of men like Schettino.”

The governing politicians dithered and looked after their own main chance for far too long. But the various stories we have followed on this site have thrown up at professional levels a number of unlikely and unsung heroes.


















Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/19/12 at 04:06 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsItalian contextComments here (13)

In US Casey Anthony May Have Seized Control Of Her PR Now Freed

Posted by Peter Quennell





It seems Casey Anthony may have seized control of her own PR and dumped her lead lawyer for not landing her a megabucks deal.

Her lead lawyer was Jose Baez (image above) who may not yet have been fully paid for getting her off minus the convictions for lying to the cops. Early on, Jose Baez compared her to Amanda Knox who now also appears to be struggling for a megabucks deal. Clearly not much synergy there.

Casey Anthony’s need for money to pay her bills and set herself up after her probation period ends (she is now confined to a hideway in Florida) are said to be considerable. For example she owes the State of Florida about $100,000 toward their investigation costs for so often leading them astray.

Last month it was reported that her latest pitch was for $500,000 to $750,000 for a first interview - and that most TV networks had already passed.

Casey Anthony seemed to have had a short shelf life. A few days ago it was conjectured that Jodi Arias may now be edging out Casey Anthony in the notoriety stakes. Jodi Arias has just been accused of shooting her ex-boyfriend and also stabbing him 27 times.

But in this context - perhaps coincidence, perhaps not - two video diaries by Casey Anthony suddenly surface and promptly they go viral. The first one is below. This is Diane Dimond’s report about this in the Daily Beast.

It only took six months””to the day””for Casey Anthony to catapult herself back into the nation’s consciousness. Six months after the verdict in her notorious murder trial, Anthony’s visage flooded computer screens worldwide.

Viewers were fascinated by her suddenly short blonde hair, her oversize reading glasses, and her self-absorbed four-minute soliloquy during which she mentioned herself more than 40 times and uttered not one word about her dead baby girl, Caylee, or her family….

It’s confirmed that it is Casey Anthony on the video. One of Anthony’s criminal-defense lawyers says she kept notes and a video blog as part of her “continuing therapy.” But Cheney Mason steadfastly maintains it wasn’t Anthony who let it loose on the Internet… 

Mason was part of the team that successfully defended the young mother during her murder trial and, according to two sources, has now displaced Jose Baez as the media spokesperson for Anthony””apparently at her request.

People close to both men report a recent major falling out among all the parties””between Baez and Anthony, between Baez and Mason””sparked by Anthony’s displeasure at Baez’s inability to win her a TV, book, or movie deal.

Anthony apparently gave Baez until the end of the year to come up with a deal, and absent that anointed Mason as her official liaison. Just how involved Baez will be in Anthony’s future affairs isn’t known, but his unhappiness with the situation has supposedly caused strain around his law office. As one person close to this story who did not want to be identified put it, “Jose is on the outs now. Cheney is in.”

There are many unknowns about the videos. While Anthony gives the date of the v-blog as October 2011, there is no way of knowing exactly when she spoke into her webcam, immortalizing herself.

She could have done it after the first of the year as part of a new self-directed publicity plan””a way to test the waters about a possible rebranding of her image.

Whoever leaked the two videos, whether it was Casey Anthony intent on rebranding herself or another who pirated the videos (Diane Dimond reports the various theories), it may have worked to Casey Anthony’s advantage. Radar Online has just reported this:

Casey Anthony’s web videos have caused a renewed interest in the notorious “˜Tot Mom’ and RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned that a website has offered her an enormous sum for her first post jail sit down interview.

Nik Lamas-Richie, founder of the website The Dirty, has offered Casey Anthony a whopping $350,000 for an interview, according to a source close to the situation.

This is the website referred to. Better take a look, Mr Marriott.  But not too close.


UK High Court Convicts Two After 18 Years When Defense DNA Contamination Claims Lose Traction

Posted by The Machine



Gary Dobson and David Norris have been found guilty of murdering Stephen Lawrence in 1993 by a jury at the Old Bailey.

There are some parallels between this case and the Meredith Kercher case: the police were accused of making a catalogue of errors and the defence lawyers claim forensic evidence was contaminated.

Gary Dobson was acquitted of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1996. However, the Court of Appeal quashed the acquittal. The case against David Norris collapsed before it reached court.

It’s heartening that Dobson and Norris have been finally brought to justice. Forensic scientists used advanced techniques which were not available to the original investigators to recover bloodstains, clothing fibres and a single hair belonging to Stephen Lawrence from the clothes of the suspects.

Rosalyn Hammond from LGC Forensics explaining in today’s Telegraph:

Their convictions come after a five-week trial during which forensic evidence linking the two to the murder was shown to the jury.

The discovery of the fibres, blood and hair on the clothing was the evidence upon which the trial was based. A spot of Stephen’s blood was found on the collar of Dobson’s jacket, while hairs belonging to Stephen were found on Norris’ trousers.  As well as the blood spot, fibres from Stephen’s clothing were found on clothing taken from the homes of Dobson and Norris.

At one point in the 1990s Dobson contacted the Metropolitan Police to ask for the return of his clothes. But, after considering his request, Scotland Yard declined. Even today the force retains the clothing of all of the suspects so that they can be tested as forensic techniques develop.

A further criticism could be laid at the door of the scientists who failed to discover the blood spot in the 1990s.  But experts pointed out that even if it had been discovered then, it would have been useless as DNA testing had not yet developed enough to be able to clarify that such a small stain was blood belonging to Stephen Lawrence.

The tiny stain found on Dobson’s jacket is believed, by forensic experts, to be the smallest piece of forensic evidence upon which a trial has ever been mounted.

The decision to base the prosecution against Dobson on such a small piece of evidence was a risk, however. After his conviction was quashed, the current law allows only one further attempt at prosecution. It meant that if he was found not guilty, Dobson could never have been charged again.

The Italian Supreme Court should order another appeal trial on the grounds that the court consultants Vecchiotti and Conti failed to carry out a newly available test on the knife. That was despite the fact they were specifically instructed in their initial instructions to do so.

Also that Judge Hellman late in the appeal arbitrarily denied the prosecution request for precisely that test of the DNA without any good reason.

The prosecution grounds for their appeal to the Italian Supreme Court due this month are expected to repeat this request and we can see no grounds that could allow the Supreme Court to deny it. There are a number of laboratories that have the technology to carry out a test on the remaining DNA on the knife.

The requested test on the knife should go ahead.


Posted by The Machine on 01/03/12 at 08:53 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Evidence & WitnessesDNA and luminolThe legal followupsComments here (35)

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #6

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: 1 June to Parolisi’s arrest 19 July

Previous posts on the Melania Rea case here which in many ways is comparable to Meredith’s.

By the end of this seven-week period, to 19 July, during which the Italian media coverage is extremely intense, several of the main theories of the crime have surfaced (some 2-3 more are still to come) and the police and prosecutors are being praised for a job well done.

Ascola and Teramo prosecutors have not had to contend with their Perugia counterparts’ giant headaches: three warring perps, their conflicting alibis, three teams of lawyers, a CSI effect, defense-witness pyrotechnics, short-form and long-form trials, a demonizing million dollar PR campaign, and a quirky process and judge in the first appeal.

A strong case against Melania’s husband Salvatore for her violent murder as described below comes together late in July. However (future posts) the roller coaster ain’t done careening yet.





This again is Stefania Dorinzi, Melania’s close friend and neighbor who lived in the same apartment block. Early in June, she gave a long interview on TV about her times with Melania, and what Melania and he husband had been doing in the past few days, and what they intended on 18 April.

She pointed out that the trip that day was very strange. Melania did not take her usual things along including a bag of supplies she always carried for the baby. Melania certainly never talked about going to Casermette park. Very quickly Stefania and her husband began to suspect Salvatore.





This is Salvatore’s family home east of Naples and north of Vesuvius, where he retreated for all of May and for parts of June and July. Below he is seen walking nearby with his sister Francesca.






This is one of several images of Salvatore’s now-outed girlfriend at the regimental barracks, Ludovica Perrone, which flooded Italian websites and TV reports in June. She is an ambitious college graduate who is originally from Turin.

She and her parents came under heavy fire for aggressively working to break up Melania’s marriage even after Melania confronted her by phone several times. Late June Ludovica finally gave an interview downplaying the affair.

In retrospect it did not come across as very truthful. It was contradicted by phone conversation transcripts and Facebook messages filed with the court by the prosecution late in July which showed the affair to be long-standing and very intense.

Those same messages however also served to suggest that she was not a party to Melania’s murder and that she was gradually dropping to the fact that Salvatore probably was the main perpetrator in her death.

In October she was interviewed for a full day at a secret location west of Teramo (which leaked anyway and the media arrived after it was all over) and will be a star witness at any trial. Present state of mind unknown. 





This is the eminent Italian criminologist Francesco Bruno who appeared on TV several times in June to argue forcefully that Salvatore could not have done it (“they were too much in love… wrong psychological profile.. wrong method… no motive”).

His theory was that the modus operandi was that of a serial killer, and he suggested one (image below) who was then in the news. For various reasons the theory was not accepted by the police and it rapidly faded. 






This is Paolo Ferraro, a Rome prosecutor, who was put on forced leave in June for suggesting that there may be satanic cells in the army. Salvatore’s barracks at Ascoli might be one of those locations.

We discussed this possible satanism in detail in the comments under Post #3. Not much more has leaked out about this so far, though there is a strange tale of a female soldier at Ascoli who was tied to her bed with candles or other flames around her.





This is Laura Titta. She was a soldier at the barracks and along with about ten others was arrested in June for aiding the flight of a convicted Naples Comorrah killer. Again not very much has leaked out.

She certainly knew Salvatore and it has been suggested they had a brief affair. She is considered a very hard case despite her sweet looks and was thought to maybe have been the one who helped Salvatore.

On the two mornings after Melania disappeared on 18 April Salvatore visted the barracks, including once with his daughter, and it has not yet been made public why he did this or who he saw there.





The regiment rushed out the second of at least three waves of media releases to try to show the public that in fact the place is alright. The notice in the image below is a code of behavior for male and female soldiers.






On 16 June a young guy who lived in the same village as Salvatore and Melania reported that a few days before he had seen someone going behind the changing rooms (building at left-center) and apparently hiding something.

When he went to look, he found that it was a mobile phone wrapped up to look like trash. Salvatore admitted it was a secret second phone he had used for secret chats with Ludovica. He denied trying very hard to hide it.

He pointed out that the SMS chip was still inside and the pay-as-you-go phone might be traced back to him. He said he was simply done with it and wanted it out of the way. Two images below show its location. 







This again is Imma Rosa. She was probably Melania’s best friend and had known her for around twelve years. On 19 April after Melania was reported missing Imma was quite startled to receive a phone call from Salvatore.

In the three or four years she had been acquainted with Salvatore through Melania she had never been called by Salvatore. He was now telling her how much he loved Melania and told her was nervous the police would harass him if she did not turn up soon.

Imma was instantly suspicious and contacted the Ascoli investigators right away. Prosecutor Umberto Monti immediately went to the supervising magistrate Georgio Ciccone and requested a tap of both their phones. On 21 April it was approved.

Not all the transcripts have been released, but one of a long rambling call on 1 May between Ludovica and Salvatore, where she ranted tearfully at him and he didn’t say very much, was released upon his arrest on 19 July. 





On 23 June Salvatore was required to come to the Ascoli questura (police hq) for questioning. For several hours, he refused to answer any questions from Umberto Monti and his team on the advice of his new lawyers - Walter Biscotti and Nicodemo Gentile from Perugia.

You can see them here as they all exit. The same lawyers had represented Rudy Guede in Meredith’s case and, interestingly, arranged for Guede to choose the short-form trial. In this case, the Italian internet is noticeably critical of them.





This image and the two below are of Salvatore packing up and moving out of the apartment the army had rented for himself and Melania. The army decided not to renew the lease beyond June. Melania’s family came separately to claim her effects.







This is a transsexual or crossdresser who calls himself Alessandra in his online videos. This image is from one of those videos and you can see Alessandra holding the camera and capturing the video while he dances.

Alessandra suddenly became very famous in Italy late in June when some of his videos and those of some other transsexuals or crossdressers were reported as having been found on Salvatore’s seized computer.

This led to the creation of yet another main theory of the crime - that Salvatore himself is sexually out of the mainstream, and that this was the terrible secret Melania told her friend Sonia Viviani she had uncovered two days before she died. 

If such an orientation is revealed as true, it could be considered enough to collapse his marriage and his affair with Ludovica and his standing at the barracks and probably his job. So far, no innocuous explanation has been advanced. 





This is Salvatore at his last TV studio appearance in Rome late in June. As usual it was a mix of his love for Melania, his downplaying of Ludovica, and his anger at the harrasing investigators and the media.

During the on-air segment two videos were aired, one of Melania’s wedding and one of a memorial procession at her hometown just before her funeral. Salvatore had copies of both videos, and he appeared to be exploiting them to manipulate public opinion.

Such cynical use of these videos deeply upset Melania’s family, who had not been asked and received no warning. Melania’s brother Michele forcefully emphasized that all personal videos are the private property of Melania’s family.

Italian media have respected that since. Melania’s family seems to have allowed both videos to remain online. They show Melania in a very endearing light at her wedding and how much she was missed after she died.





In the first three weeks of July all of the emerging evidence seem to be converging and breaking hard against Salvatore.

This shows the San Marco park again. In July a woman witness came forward to tell the investigators she had not seen any man or woman or child at the playground in the key one hour 2:30 to 3:30 on 18 April.

Her presence was confirmed by mobile calls she made and by the CCTV camera at the refreshment kiosk which is behind the camera and to the right.





This is the view down from the Casermette park where Melania’s body was found on the 20th of April toward Civitella where the nearest mobile phone tower is located.

It was now revealed that both Melania’s and Salvatore’s main phones were proven to have been pinged there on 18 April so both of them were seemingly up there. Salvatore’s phone was also pinged at the San Marco park an hour later.





This is from a video taken by an investigator which was aired late in 2011. It briefly showed Melania’s body at a distance in a different place and facing the other way to the officially released police graphics.

Somehow Salvatore knew the correct place and position when late in April he demonstrated them to a reporter on TV. He claimed his friend Raffaele Paciolla who identified Melania’s body took a video and then showed him.

But Raffaele denied that he did so. The image below (in front of the flowers) shows where Melania’s body was “wrongly” depicted as having been found. The depiction “wrongly” showed her facing off to the right.






This above is the Teramo coroner Adriano Tagliabracci (who was a defense witness for Sollecito at Meredith’s trial) who in mid July released the findings of his second autopsy on Melania carried out mid-May.

He depicted what the wounds and blood traces told him of Melania’s final struggle. Her mouth was held closed from behind (in what commenters later noted is a military mode of attack) as Salvatore’s DNA in her mouth suggested while she was stabbed very fast repeatedly.

She broke away but fell down because her pants were down at her ankles, and then the stabbing continued. Some of the stabs reached her internal organs and she died painfully as much as one hour later.





This is the Palo Alto California headquarters of Facebook. The prosecutors requested founder and CEO Mark Zuckerman to unerase some erased messages between Salvatore and Ludovica prior to Melania’s death. He kindly obliged.

Salvatore had phoned Ludovica in late April on the secret phone to make sure that she would erase any such messages on her computer. One unerased message was released at time of arrest. It showed how intense the romance had become.. 





These two images show the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case Umberto Monti at the San Marco park with Salvatore late in April. He was trying to understand the claimed kidnapping of Melania being described for him by Salvatore. 

On 19 July he filed charges for murder and Salvatore was arrested. Officially regarded as dangerous, he has been locked up ever since despite two lawyers’ motions to release him on bail pending any trial.






This is Salvatore Parolisi arriving at the Ascoli palace of justice to be arrested and imprisoned and told of the reasons why. His lawyers Walter Biscotti and Nicodemo Gentile supported him at the arrest hearing before Judge Carlo Calvaresi.





This is the supervising magistrate for the case in Ascoli, Judge Calvaresi, who ordered Salvatore to be arrested and locked up. He issued a 20-page written explanation of his reasoning.

The case now had to go through a change of jurisdiction as there were no signs of a kidnapping from the Ascoli park. Judge Giovanni Cirillo of Teramo wrote a longer 60-page report in two days, and added “cruelty” to the charges.

The Teramo prosecutors Greta Aloisi and Davide Rosati (images of them in the May post) took the lead now from the Ascola prosecutor Umberto Monti.






This is Teramo prison above and below where Salvatore has been held since late July. Salvatore will be formally arraigned for trial next month. He may be moved soon to a prison near Naples so he can see his daughter Victoria once a month. 

Investigations now if anything accelerated into some sensational aspects, all main witnesses were interviewed again more deeply, and Melania’s family and friends were speaking out.

Salvatore got some messages to the public out of prison and his lawyers Biscotti and Gentile threw a few curve balls. Several new possible motives including money (Salvatore had a 100,000-plus Euros hoard which would have to be split in a divorce) were soon to be worked on. 





Finally in our series for now these are the headlines on a couple of the arrest stories. With Italy’s murder rates among the lowest in Europe and only a very small fraction of the US’s such headlines as these do not appear very often.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/07/11 at 02:23 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (20)

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #5

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: events in May 2011

These CCTV images above and below are the last known shots of Melania Rea still alive. She is with her husband Salvatore and baby daughter Victoria and it is the day after Palm Sunday.

Melania would be dead approximately five hours later. She is entering a supermarket here. Then she goes to a clinic for a quick check of a health condition, and then back home to call her mom.

They talk for about seven minutes. She tells her mom that her little family was heading for the afternoon to the playground at the San Marco plateau about ten minutes drive to the west.

Although Salvatore and Victoria were seen there about two hours later, there is zero trace of her having ever arrived. Her body was found in another park 10 kilometers south two days later.








This is the Carabinieri office in Ascoli. They have helped with major arms of the investigation including the tracking of cell phones and the blood and DNA work where Melania’s body was found.





This is Umberto Monti who was the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case through to Salvatore being charged in July in Teramo. Teramo has jurisdiction over the Casermette park.

He prepared a detailed report for the overseeing judge in July which outlines all the evidence already assembled against Salvatore. This led to a judge labeling him dangerous and locking him away pending charges.





These are the Teramo prosecutors, Greta Aloisi and Davide Rosati, who have also been working on the case all along. They assumed the lead from July once Salvatore was locked away. Teramo is about 20 kilometers south of Ascoli.

If and when the case against Salvatore Parolisi for killing Melania goes to trial, they will be the lead prosecutors in the court.





Salvatore Parolisi was prominent and outspoken on Italian TV for a number of weeks. He appeared on several national interview shows like these above and below. He explained his version of events - Melania’s supposed kidnapping.

He often cried on camera,  and said often how much Melania and he were in love. He looked or assumed a look of being haggard. He urged the police to find the real killer, and he became more and more prickly as his credibility fell.






This is Father Don Carlo Lupi, the Catholic priest at Melania’s and Salvatore’s local church. He had spoken with them after the Palm Sunday service the previous day, and they always seemed to him good together and in love.





This is the Villa San Marco clinic in Ascoli where Melania was checked three hours before her death for a small gynaecological condition. She had been advised to abstain for a short while from sex, a fact which came to matter later.





In these images above and below, we can see Salvatore and his sister Francesca with a reporter in the Casermette park right where Melania died. In this documentary report, he identified precisely where Melania’s body was found.






This is Melania’s friend Sonia Viviani who tried twice to call Melania mid-afternoon and also sent her several text messages. Melania did not pick up, although her mobile phone had a loud ring tone and the vibration was also switched on.





This is Melania’s friend Immacolata (“Imma”) Rosa who talked with Melania two days before her death. Melania told Imma she had just found out something really shocking and did not want to describe it over the phone.

Two main theories of what this shocking secret could be emerged in June and July (see later posts), both bizarre, and both possibly the real main motive behind the crime against Melania.





This is Raffaele Paciolla, a prison guard, who lived in the same building as Melania and Salvatore. They were very good friends. Raffaele was taken up the mountain by the police to do the first identification of Melania’s body.

When Salvatore was challenged about knowing where Melania’s body was found (see images above) he said Raffaele had taken shots with his phone. But Raffaele said he took no shots, a fact very damaging to Salvatore.





This is Raffaele Paciolla’s wife Stefania Dorinzi who lived with Raffaele in the same building. She knew that Melania was struggling to hold onto Salvatore and said after the crime Salvatore emerged as a very nasty person.





This is Colonel Alessandro Patrizio who was the commandant of the Clementi regimental barracks where Salvatore was a trainer. The barrack trains almost exclusively girls, some 330 every three months. Then they decide if they want to continue.

He moved fast to try to shore up the reputation of the barracks and to demonstrate that growing suspicions of major breaches of rules were taking place were wrong. He was reassigned within three months. It was said to be long-planned.
 




This is Krizia Sardella who completed the course but decided not to become a soldier. She still lives locally. She trained with Salvatore and said her group found him to be upstanding, serious, polite, and seemingly safe to be alone with. 





This is a soldier colleague of Salvatore at the barracks who would not give his name or show his face on camera, but said he found Salvatore’s behavior in the barracks to be okay and nothing out of the ordinary.





This is Melania’s friend Valentina Esposito who like her other friends knew from Melania that something was amiss in her marriage. Melania had talked of taking the baby back to her hometown for kindergarten.





This is the Samsung model of mobile phone that Melania had on her that day. She last used it to talk with her mother. The police remotely switched it to GPS mode to try to find approximately where Melania was lying.

They then did a great deal of signal measurement with similar phones in both parks (full details in the prosecutor’s report) and concluded that there was no proof that Melania had ever been to the first park as Salvatore had claimed.





This map is from the report on the cell towers in the wider area to which Melania’s phone would respond with a ping. One tower near where Melania’s body was found documented a strong signal from her phone all afternoon.





This is the town of Civitella several kilometers south of Ascoli and east of the mountain on which Melania was found. From a call box (shown below) at the bus station, somebody called in a report on her body two days after she disappeared.

He seemed to be authentically someone in his sixties with a strong regional dialect. He has never been traced, but that is said to be not uncommon for such calls. He may be a wild-mushroom picker in the forest. 







Late in the month, rumors of Salvatore having a longtime girlfriend at the barracks grew to a crescendo, and his fellow soldier trainer Ludovica Perrone, about three years younger than Melania, was publicly outed.

Phone calls in the next several weeks that they both thought were secret (Salvatore used a secret second phone) were recorded by the police, and long excerpts appeared in the prosecutor’s report in July.

Salvatore had led Ludovica to believe that his leaving Melania was just around the corner, and so she had arranged for her parents to meet him the following (Easter) weekend at a hotel on the Amalfi Coast south of Naples.

He had apparently not said as much to Melania. She knew about the affair and was outraged. Twice in the three days before she died she called Ludovica at the barracks to warn her to stop breaking up their marriage.

Ludovica was dismissed after the case opened up and has since disappeared, though the police know where she is and still interview her. She sounded outraged after Melania’s death at hearing Salvatore on-air saying how much he loved Melania. 






This is the Teramo coroner Adriano Tagliabracci who in mid May did a second autopsy on Melania and concluded she had not been moved after her death. He reconstructed the horrific final fight that she went through.

He also concluded that the body had been stabbed a dozen more times the day after Melania died, and that the body was inscribed and a syringe inserted to throw investigators off the trail. 





This is Michele Rea, Melania’s brother, who attended the second autopsy with Salvatore and his brother Rocco. Nearly a month after the murder both families were still getting along well, though they bitterly split soon after. 





These next few shots are of Melania’s funeral at Summa Vesuvio, her home two, three days after the coroner released her body for burial. Believe it or not, the shot above is of Salvatore hugging Melania’s father Gennaro; both were crying.








Salvatore moved back to his own home town near Vesuvius after his forced release from the army at the start of May. His car and the entrance to the yard of his family’s apartment were watched by reporters up to late July when he was put in prison.






Meanwhile little Victoria lives with Melania’s parents at Summa Vesuvio and she is not old enough yet to understand anything that is going on.  As in Perugia, cold callous unrepenting narcissism reigns, while there is more and more heartbreaking damage.

Open questions

These are not make-or-break, but they do show that as in Perugia there will always be loose ends. Why were there so many small cuts on Melania’s body? Why did she have her back turned, seemingly trustingly with her pants down? Why did she agree to go to the Casermette park when that was not what they’d intended? Who mutilated Melania’s body on the Tuesday? Was it possible for Salvatore to get back there on Tuesday unnoticed? Or could that have been Ludovica, or another woman? Why did he visit the barracks on Tuesday and Wednesday? What was Melania’s dark secret that she had told no-one? And if Salvatore wanted to marry Ludovica, why did he not simply ask Melania for a divorce?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/02/11 at 12:40 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (18)

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #4

Posted by Peter Quennell




This post: events in April 2011

Above is Melania Rea’s husband, army corporal Salvatore Parolisi, with his sister Francesca, when he was riding a national wave of sympathy back in April and May.

Could this equally prominent case not so far from Perugia in turn come to impact upon the final appeal outcome of Meredith’s case? There seems a distinct chance of this. 

What may become obvious as we illustrate events starting from April is that, given a level playing field and no vigorous PR campaign, the dedicated work of the different components of the Italian police is impressively good.

They come across as highly trained, competent and well-organized, and they leave very few stones unturned. Here four arms of the Italian police - the Carabinieri, the Scientific Police, the Ascoli police, and the Teramo police - have worked together notably smoother than say the FBI and the CIA before the New York trade towers came down.

This has been in face of a pro-defendant justice system, possible attempts at intimidation, two main motives and scenarios and several others, a confusing crime scene re-arrangement, a time-and-resources-consuming alibi, little DNA, no fingerprints, no weapon, four or more mobile phones to be analyseds, Facebook messages erased (and un-erased when Facebook HQ in California obliged), a possible charming psychopath, hints of a possible satanic sect, and no eye-witnesses at all.

Tough case. Still, this has lead to an approval rating for the investigators now through the roof, and the endorsement (post directly below) of the Supreme Court. 





These shots pick up from the previous main post on the geography of the house, barracks and two parks and the layout of the San Marco park where Salvatore claims Melania disappeared. 

This shows the temporary operations headquarters set up in the Colle San Marco park on 19 April, the day after Melania disappeared, where her husband claimed he last saw her.

The investigators were first trying to find her, and then when her body was found in another park to the south trying to unearth any evidence that she was ever there. 





The police swept for fingerprints and DNA (no luck) the playground where Salvatore said he and Victoria were at play while Melania headed off for a restroom in a bar and to bring back two coffees.





The police used dogs trained in several kinds of search (no luck) to cover the whole park. They were initially looking for a body or a grave, and then any evidence proving Melania was there.

As we mentioned in the previous post. a large number of people in the park that afternoon were lined up for interrogation, and over the next month were called to police HQ in Ascoli. 





This is the road along the side of the mountain which is the short way to get from Colle San Marco park to Casermette park seven or eight miles south, where on the 20th a tip led to Melania’s body being found.





This is the east side of the “mountain of flowers” where in Casermette park, in the center of that dark green swathe near the top, Melania’s body was found. Salvatore’s regiment trains up there.





That park is used almost daily by the army trainees at the Ascoli barracks where Salvatore primarily trained newly enlisted women soldiers in among other things weapons techniques.





These two shots above and below show Meredith’s body being removed, to be transported to the morgue in the palace of justice several miles to the south in the large town of Teramo. 

Melania’s body was photographed and examined in the park, and then two autopsies were carried out. Salvatore never saw Melania in the park, though he later identified for a reporter the precise spot.






These three shots above and below show the large Carabineri and Scientific and local police presence on the mountain at Casermette park which remained there in force for most of the next week.







This is Colonel Luigi Ripani from Ascoli who was in charge of co-ordinating the police investigation in the two parks and issuing the few rather cryptic reports to the media of what was going on.





This shot above and the one below show the Casermette refreshment kiosk, not yet open for the summer season, next to which Melania’s body had been arranged.






This shot and the three below show evidence of a considerable struggle. Melania was a tall strong girl. She was attacked and stabbed from behind, it is now believed when she was relieving herself and unable to run.

That fact in particular which emerged at the second autopsy has incensed those in Italy who have been following the case.








A wedding ring was found lying in the dirt, the same one you can see here on Melania’s ring finger. Several other items were also found, but not (then) her bag or wallet or keys.




This is Teramo in Abruzzi province (larger than Ascoli in Marche province to the north) which now has primary jurisdiction. Since July Salvatore has been locked up in prison awaiting a possible trial there.





Melania’s first autopsy was carried out here at the palace of justice morgue in Teramo. A main interim conclusion was that Melania (later reversed) had been killed some place other than the park.





The police released this graphic and the one below when requesting leads. They show a syringe in Melania’s chest which had male and female DNA on it; and cuts like a swastika on Melania’s upper left leg.

The police graphic below is (perhaps out of kindness) misleading. Melania’s pants were down around her ankles, which prevented her running (she did get up, but then fall again) as it’s believed the killer intended.






This is an image of the Teramo coroner who carried out this autopsy and also a second one in mid May which put the place of death back by the kiosk in the park. He found two foreign DNAs on Melania’s body.

One was Salvatore’s DNA, inside her mouth, which was ruled as placed there maybe by a kiss, maybe only minutes before she died. The other was a small trace of an unknown woman’s DNA under the fingernails of one hand. 





This image above and the two below are of Melania’s family: mother Vittoria, father Gennaro, and brother Michele. All often appear on TV. They were very supportive of Salvatore early on.







This image above and the two below are of Salvatore’s family: mother Vittoria, loyal sister Francesca (a good friend of Melania who was very distraught), brother Rocco, and Francesca with Salvatore. 

Salvatore’s father has kept in the background, and he has made few or no willing appearances on TV. Early on, Rocco and Francesca often appeared on TV, supporting Salvatore but also lamenting Melania’s death.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/30/11 at 12:24 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (5)

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #3

Posted by Peter Quennell





Next detailed post on this “parallel universe” case not far from Perugia late today. There are two breaking-news developments to report.

1) Today 28 November the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome should respond to a petition from defense lawyers Biscotti and Gentile (for yes, it is again they, the Rudy Guede defense team) to allow Melania’s husband Salvatore Parolisi out of Teramo prison on bail on the claimed grounds of a lack of hard evidence. If he gets out on bail he may fight for custody of his daughter, who is now with Melania’s parents near Naples..

If you read Italian, the Ascoli prosecutor who saw Parolisi confined to prison in July, Dr Umberti Monti (image below), pending more investigations and possible charges, offered the Ascoli magistrate this 68-page reasoning.

2) And the second magistrate on the case, Dr Marina Tommolini, in Teramo, the large town south of Ascoli and south-east where Melania’s body was found, had her Audi A6 doused in gasoline and set on fire. She was not in it. It’s not clear if the destruction of her car was case related, but strong suspicions are out there.

There is a huge volume of “known facts” on the case but also many unknowns and puzzles. All sides seem to have learned lessons from Perugia. The national and local police and prosecutors are playing a masterful game of seeping out info on this or that point to stir up leads. More surprises to come.

[Below: the lead Ascoli prosecutor on the case, Dr Umberti Monti, who works with counterparts in Teramo]

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/28/11 at 03:44 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (19)

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #2

Posted by Peter Quennell





This photo series picks up from the first, overview post. Click on any images for larger versions.

Melania Rea came from Summa Vesuvio, a suburban town on the north slope of Vesuvius a few minutes east of Naples, and Salvatore Parolisi from nearby. You can see Summa Vesuvio here at bottom left.

Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, and one day will do so again. Beyond Vesuvius here is Pompeii (not visible) and also the Bay of Naples.and Sorrento (top right) and the mountains that on their other side form the Amalfi Coast. 





Melania and Salvatore were married in Summa about three years ago in the church where last April her funeral was held. At the end of both ceremonies, white balloons were released into the sky.





Melanie then moved to set up home with Salvatore outside the town of Ascoli Piceno which is almost directly opposite Summa on the east coast. She and Salvatore rented an apartment, which the army paid for, south of his barracks..





This is the Clementi army barracks at the east end of Ascoli where Salvatore was stationed until he was given a release from the army after Melania was murdered last April.

Rome investigators launched a confidential investigation into strange happenings at the barracks a few months ago. [See more on this now in Comments.] Not much information has been given out. It is possible that Melania stumbled on a dark secret; she told a friend that she had.





These are some of the women soldiers who were being trained at the barracks. They are all volunteer soldiers and 330 are stationed at the barracks at any one time. Salvatore was one of their instructors, and he had a heavy affair with at least one.





This is the apartment building south of the barracks, in the village of Folignano, where Salvatore and Melania were living. That is their car in front.





This is the same model and color of car as their car, a French-made four-door Renault Scenic. It was sequestered several times by the police for searches and traces of Melania’s blood were found inside. Salvatore claimed they were old. 





Here are Salvatore and Melania out walking with their baby Victoria who was born late in 2009. Melania suffered from post-partum depression, but her health at the end was mostly good.





[Click for larger image] This is looking south. Ascoli and the Clementi barracks are directly below. Casermette park in the distance is where Melania’s body was found.

Salvatore claims that on the afternoon of Monday 18 April he drove Melania and Victoria from their home (bottom left) about 10 kilometers west to a park with a playground on the Colle San Marco plateau (bottom right).





Salvatore claims that Melania and Victoria began playing on these swings, and that after a while Melania said she needed a restroom. As she headed off, he suggested she go to a nearby bar and to bring them back two coffees.

See that brown refreshments kiosk in the woods in the background? That becomes key, because people were sitting there watching and there is also a CCTV.





This is the restaurant and bar less than 200 meters away from the playground where Salvatore says he thought Melania was headed to, to use the restroom and purchase the coffee.





After nearly an hour of playing with Victoria (he says he lost track of time) as Melania had not returned Salvatore checked at the bar and called the local police and they brought along a tracker dog.





[Click for larger image] To Salvatore’s real or feigned great surprise, the tracker dog headed off at right angles, down the road along which he said they had driven up to the park. The scent went cold about 300 meters away from the swings.





Here is the playground in the background. If Melania walked that route she would have had to come by this portaloo and the refreshment kiosk with its outdoor seating, then mostly occupied.





This is the refreshment kiosk looking onto the road that Melania would have walked. The park was quite busy and people were seated in those chairs.





This is the access road to the park down which the police dog suggested Melania must have walked. The road descends here at just a slight slope.





After 250 meters the road above arrives at this intersection. Instead of turning left (yellow arrow) and back up another road to the bar, the dog turned right (blue arrow) and it lost Melania’s scent at the war memorial. 





This is the war memorial by the intersection where the dog lost Melania’s scent trail.





The police now arrive in force. This is the scene the next day when the police set up a base to search the park and to re-create what he says happened with Salvatore.





Salvatore is seen here with senior police officers and detectives explaining what he claims happened at the playground. Also in the two images below.







On the corner of the roof of the refreshment kiosk is a closed-circuity TV camera (CCTV) seen ringed here. Its recording was examined for an image of Melania walking by. No image was found.





The proprietor of the refreshment kiosk was interviewed by the police and later by the media. He did see a man in shorts with a small girl at the swings but he did not see Melania walking by.





This is the garden side of the bar where Salvatore said he thought Melania was heading to use the restrooms and pick up two coffees. Melania might have entered here.





This is the inside of the bar where Salvatore said he thought Melania was heading to use the restrooms and pick up two coffees. Melania would have had to walk through here.





The proprietor of the bar and restaurant was interviewed by the police and later the media. He saw Salvatore when he came checking, but he had seen no sign of Melania.
 




All the people who were sitting under the trees at the refreshment kiosk (two are seen here with a reporter) were interviewed. They had seen no sign of Melania walking by.





On wednesday an anonymous police call was made from this callbox (center at back) at a bus station in a town 15 kilometers south. The caller, disguising his or her voice, said there was a body in the Casermette park on the mountain high above the town.





The police headed in force for this park, which Salvatore knew well because his regiment trained there. They found Melania’s body beside the kiosk arranged like this..

There were around 32 stabs to Melania’s neck and upper back, some inflicted many hours after she was dead. Police profilers say this could be the payback of an extremely jealous other woman, and a jealous other woman (a fellow soldier) will appear.

Or maybe Salvatore alone could have made it look like this. Or other soldiers could have done it, if Melania for example stumbled onto the dark regimental secret the Rome police are now investigating.

Much of Italy now follows this cliffhanger, rooting as usual for the police, in part because Melania left behind a little girl. Also because Salvatore seems to have a terrible alibi, and yet nothing concrete ties him (yet) to Melania being found right here.

Open questions

These are not make-or-break, but they do show that as in Perugia there will always be loose ends. Who made the call from that booth? Was the dog fooled and if so how and by whom? What does the mobile-phone triangulation show? Why did Salvatore visit his barracks each of the next two days?


Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/24/11 at 12:00 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (43)

Facts Of Melania Rea’s Stabbing Death In Italy Last April Are Also Proving Hard To Get Straight #1

Posted by Peter Quennell





In Italy the rates for murder are low by global and European standards. It has the second lowest murder rate in Europe, more than Norway’s but less than Britain’s, France’s, Sweden’s or Finland’s.

Puzzling murders are very rare. Only a very small fraction of Italian murders are of women and and at least two-thirds of those are simple, obvious crimes by by husbands or other relatives or boyfriends.

So at any one time few puzzling cases involving the deaths of young women, which seem to cause special outrage, are in the news or on Porta a Porta or the other TV talk shows. Meredith’s death was one of the rare exceptions, and that certainly drove the police and prosecutors to go the extra mile.

Melania Rea’s death is another. She was killed in April in very strange circumstances about 90 minutes south-east of Perugia. Her murder and investigation and Meredith’s seem to have several points in common, included the dogged sorting-out of an apparent cover-up.

Melania, 29, and her 30-year-old husband, Salvatore Parolisi, came from a town between Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples, where Melania now lies buried (image of her funeral below).

Corporal Parolisi was an instructor in the Clementi army barracks in the town of of Ascoli Piceno, where many female soldiers are trained. (Images of barracks and female soldiers training below).

Parolisis claimed to the police that on 18 April he was on a picnic with Melania and their 18-month-old daughter in a park on the south side of Ascoli Piceno,. He said Melania went off to look for a restroom and did not ever come back.

Two days later, an anonymous telephone tip from a phone-booth in a town nearby to a park called the the Mountain of Flowers, 10 kilometers south of Ascoli, led to the finding of Melania’s body in that park. The location is close to an army shooting range, and Parolisi later said that he and Melania had visited that park just 10 days before.

The police initially concluded that Melania’s body had been moved there after her death,  and so the jurisdiction for the case is the Carabinieri’s and local police’s back in Ascoli. 

The autopsy concluded that Melania had died slowly from loss of blood. She had suffered 32 stab wounds, some post-mortem, all of them shallow and possibly inflicted by someone not particularly strong.

There was extensive bruising to her face, and a syringe was stuck in her chest. There was no sign of sexual violence,

Self-infliction was immediately ruled out. A serial killer was briefly considered, as the nature of the victim and the crime and the condition of the body all resembled the vital facts of a serial killer’s victim called Rossella Goffo

No DNA or other physical evidence connected Melania’s husband to the crime. His story sounded sincere and it mostly hung together. After some initial questioning he was allowed to leave the barracks, and to return to his town near Vesuvius.

There both his own family and Melania’s family gave him a lot of public support. But then Parolisi (image in bottom two shots here) was recalled to Ascoli for more questioning, and the case began to get complicated.


























Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/18/11 at 02:37 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (38)

A Famous Black Widow Confirms What MP Girlanda Told Us First: Italian Prisons Are Pretty Nice Places

Posted by Peter Quennell




Florence is 70 miles north of Perugia along a winding roller coaster of an autostrada which everyone drives at great speed.

If you take more than 1/2 an hour you are a sissy. (Just kidding.) The global luxury goods empire House of Gucci with stores in New York, Shanghai, and many other main cities was founded in Florence in 1921.

In 1998 Maurizio Gucci the grandson of the founder who was then aged 46 was executed by a hit man in Milan.

He had sold financial control of the empire he had managed to greatly expand to a Bahrain group in 1993 and then turned to doing other things. That included several girlfriends or mistresses which greatly distressed his wife.

Patrizia Reggiani was subsequently tried for initiating the hit and she was sentenced to 29 years which was reduced on appeal to 26. Nick Squires in the Daily Telegraph picks up the story from there.

Patrizia Reggiani has been in jail ever since being convicted of the killing in 1998. More than a decade later, she was the prospect of day release from Milan’s San Vittore prison, if she will accept a menial job such as working as a waitress.

But the 63-year-old, whose extravagant tastes included spending 10,000 euros a month on orchids, told a court in Milan: “I’ve never worked in my life and I’m certainly not going to start now.”

Her peremptory refusal of the day release deal echoed one of her more famous quotes: “I would rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.”

Instead she intends to serve the rest of her 26-year sentence in her jail cell, where she reportedly lavishes affection on a collection of pot plants and a pet ferret.

She will continue to be allowed to make twice-monthly visits to her ageing mother, who lives in a lavish palazzo in central Milan ““ a reminder of the cosseted lifestyle Mrs Reggiani used to enjoy.

A not-unpopular figure in Italy, she may soon be depicted by Angelina Jolie in a new Ridley Scott film to be called “Gucci” with Leonardo di Caprio as the hapless Maurizio. 

The description of Patrizia’s prison life comes with no surprises. If you are going to be a prisoner anywhere in the world, Italy does seem the place of choice. .

The prison population is very small (proportionally only 1/6 that of the US) and prisoners often get their own bathroom and even a kitchen attached to their cell. They can watch TV and walk outside (in many prisons cell doors are kept open all day) and get their hair done professionally and attend rock concerts and plays. They can learn a trade if they lack skills, study for a degree, and even work on a computer all day.

Knox and Sollecito are believed to have done all of these things. Not least because the Italian MP Rocco Girlanda often visited Knox in Capanne and publicly told us all so. Mr Girlanda regularly visited to inspect conditions and then he declared Knox to be very well off. (He in return ended up with enough material for a book which nowhere depicted prison life as hell.)

These sob-stuff stories on torrid life at Capanne suddenly emerging from Seattle sure smack of an instant rewrite of history. Perhaps Angelina Jolie could check them out.


[Image at bottom: the Gucci museum in Florence which recently had a celebrity opening]








Perugia Prosecutors In Italian News Daily For Formidable Investigations Into National Government

Posted by Peter Quennell


The apartment one down from the top in the above shot belongs to Claudio Scola.

Very expensive property. It has a prize view of Rome’s colosseum especially (image at bottom) at night. Up to a couple of months ago Claudio Scola (first image below) was the economic development minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s hard-pressed national Italian government.

He then had to resign.

He is under investigation for apparently accepting major renovations to that apartment as a freebie after he purchased it several years ago. Various parties on the giving end of this seeming large bribe for political favors are being investigated. The one most in the Italian national news is Diego Anemone (second image below).

Perugia prosecutors were handed the case by Rome prosecutors because Rome prosecutors choose not to handle cases involving national parliamentarians. They prefer that political investigations do not get slimed, demonized, or otherwise leaned-upon.

This is not something that ever seems to bother the formidable Perugia prosecutors, who have a good national reputation for never blinking.

The Claudio Scola case is tangentially connected to their ongoing investigations into political bribes at the national level for construction contracts related to the 2006 winter Olympics and the city partly leveled in the 2010 earthquake in the Appenine mountains.

In fact Perugia prosecutors are presently the most high-profile of those of any provincial capital in Italy. Their investigations are being reported upon almost daily in this case that could see PM Berlusconi’s grip on power relinquished.

They also have an outstanding record of non-reversals of their convictions by the Italian Supreme Court. The Knox and Sollecito defense teams are fully aware of this and have been ultra-careful never to raise questions about the prosecution.

And they have been spinning their wheels on the hard evidence. Unlikely they’d take bets on their winning the appeal. Signs are they realize they are cooked.





Norwegian Public Safety Forces Ill-Equipped To Stop Possible Worst Shooting Spree in History

Posted by Peter Quennell

The latest death toll estimate at Lake Utoya and Oslo is 98 dead. The gunman was firing for one and a half hours.

Apparently there was no security presence on the island. And the Associated Press has the first report on why such a delayed response from an under-equipped police force to stop Anders Behring Breivik from more killing.

Police arrived at an island massacre about 1.5 hours after a gunman first opened fire, slowed because they didn’t have quick access to a helicopter and then couldn’t find a boat to make their way to the scene just several hundred yards (meters) offshore.

There is a minute by minute description of the growing horror on the island here and a Norwegian politician has posted a first-hand account of how so many others died and she survived here.

Intensely sad and disturbing - and in the land of the Nobel Peace Prize. We don’t support public institutions at our real peril.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/23/11 at 11:40 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsComments here (4)

French Divided Over French Woman In Mexico Jail: Take A Hard Noisy Line Or One Quiet And Subtle?

Posted by Peter Quennell





You’d be surprised - or maybe not - at how very rare it is that publicly impugning another country’s legitimacy and competence really pays off.

Good governments and good international lawyers and good public relations experts all very rapidly move to take negotiations quietly behind the scenes. Though that may not guarantee the outcome they want, it usually results in some wiggle room and softening.

But the opportunity for this passes very fast.

We have only ever seen a hard line out of the unblinking Italian courts in Meredith’s case, up to and including the Supreme Court of Cassation in their rejection of Guede’s final appeal. The hardline PR seems to have hit a wall. And Amanda Knox (in the calunnia trial) and her biological parents (in theirs) and the family of Raffaele Sollecito (in their perversion of justice trial) all seem to have hit their own individual walls.

It is hard to see what the hardline PR campaign for Amanda Knox has achieved other than that equal and opposite Italian hard line.  After a very silly start the Knox family legal advisor Ted Simon seems to have tried to get away from all that, and to move things behind closed doors.

Florence Cassez’s case is very well described in the Wikipedia entry.

Now 36, she moved to Mexico from France in 2003, ended up with a Mexican boyfriend who was decidedly bad news, and in December 2005 was arrested for her part in kidnapping three people for ransom.

Kidnapping is huge in Mexico, and along with the wars over the supplying of Americans with drugs, it comes top of most people’s most-feared list. 

In line with the Mexican government’s efforts to try to stamp out all the kidnapping, Florence Cassez was given a very harsh sentence. It is now set at 60 years. There are dozens of French and Spanish-language reports and YouTubes on the case.

She has had one appeal which failed and right now she serves out her 60 years.

Almost without exception, Mexicans feel it was a well-proven case and that Florence Cassez’s claims that she did not not know what was going on right under her nose when three captives were being held by her boyfriend on the same ranch rang hollow at her trial.

France has been more divided.

There are some who think she did it and must pay the piper for her crime. There are some who think a softer line might have helped. And there are some, like President Sarkozy, who have taken a very hard line. They seem to have upset Mexico’s president and senior officials and not influenced the judges at all.

France has no sentence longer than 20 years for kidnapping-related crimes so the Mexican government has closed the door to her returning to France and serving out her sentence in prison there.

After more time passes and presidential elections happen in Mexico and France, the deadlock might be broken, and the case could be reviewed and Florence Cassez’s fate become something different.

But for now she has only her “friends” to thank. 





Below: two of the few videos with English commentary or subtitles, both pro-Florence Cassez, the first some years old, and the second early this year.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/21/11 at 04:28 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsThe wider contextsComments here (9)

Jennifer Ford Is The First Juror To Speak Out On The Casey Anthony Acquittal

Posted by Peter Quennell


Casey Anthony Verdict Not Guilty Despite Three Years Of One-Sided Media Presuming Guilt

Posted by Peter Quennell





One thing that LA Times headline above means is that media bias against the defendant made not one whit of difference.

The seriously ailing CNN network’s Headline News channel (legal anchors Nancy Grace and Jane Velez Mitchell) have very stridently promoted the notion that Casey Anthony probably killed her toddler Caylee almost nightly for three years, to drive up their viewership ratings.

It had zero effect on the Florida jury. Now Headline News looks like a toothless tiger, and one prone to dangerous mistakes.

The jury studied the evidence and made up its own mind (in 11 hours) and so that is that. Mainstream media is outraged but looking puny. Here is a scathing comment from the defense lawyers saying they got it seriously wrong.

Anthony’s defense attorney, Jose Baez, said this verdict proves, “You cannot convict someone until they’ve had their day in court.”

A second defense attorney for Anthony, Cheney Mason, blasted the media in a statement, saying, “I hope that this is a lesson to those of you who have indulged in media assassination for three years, bias, and prejudice, and incompetent talking heads saying what would be and how to be.”

The few early media reports about “Foxy Knox” are like a candle to the blowtorch of this seeming never-ending pro-guilt commentary.

The usual couple of examples waved around are from the UK. In fact Italy saw next to no anti-Knox commentary, and one of the ways Italy looks rather fine in the Knox case is their media have been so restrained.

Read the Massei Report 10 times and you will be lucky to find one sentence that suggests “The media made us declare her guilty”.  It just didn’t happen. The jury studied the evidence and made up its own mind (in a few hours) and so that is that.

In contrast to the Casey Anthony trial, the full spectrum of evidence in the Knox-Sollecito trial is very strong and even redundant, violence obviously was done (no signs of violence were found on Caylee Anthony) and there are no other likely scenarios or perps.

Okay, media guys. For starters, report the facts from Perugia correctly. And do some translation - or read ours. Surely that cannot hurt more than this.


US Kidnapping Victim Gets Justice After 8 Years Despite Defense + Perp Groupies Gaming The System

Posted by Peter Quennell

A 14-year old Mormon girl, Elizabeth Smart, was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City on June 5 2002.

On March 12 2003 she was found alive with her abductors on the streets of a town about 18 miles from her home. Her abductors were Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Ileen Barzee.

A couple of weeks ago,  Mitchell was finally handed two life terms at trial.

It sure was a strenuous process getting there.

The defense had great success over the years in lining up a number of mental health specialists to say he was not well in the head, and should of course be committed to their institutions rather than prison where, presumably, they would cure him.

Elizabeth Smart and her family and the cops and prosecutors and many or most of the American public never ever bought Mitchell’s insanity act for a moment. There grew to be a small mountain of evidence that he was faking it. He was observed to turn on and off bizarre behavior whenever it served him..

But many others, some naive do-gooders and some very nasty  did buy Mitchell’s act. And in the video at bottom you can see how the defense tried to argue that Elizabeth Smart herself was not REALLY affected by her ordeal and so Mitchell should get a break on the length of his sentence.

In this case Wikipedia has an excellent and impartial account of the psychological testimony. The defense portion of the trial, which ultimately failed to convince the jury:

Many stipulations were presented and many lay witnesses where called covering Mitchell’s alleged sanity and his alleged insanity. The defense relied most of all on the testimony of two mental health professionals, Dr. Paul Whitehead and Dr. Richard DeMier. Dr. Whitehead is the clinical director of the forensic unit at the Utah State Hospital and studied Mitchell extensively since his arrest in 2003 and concluded that Mitchell suffered from a delusional disorder which made him both incompetent to stand trial and not responsible for his crimes. Dr. DeMier testified that Mitchell suffers from both grandiose and paranoid delusions which he characterized as bizarre however he offered no opinion as to what Mitchell’s mental health was at the time of the crimes between 2002 to 2003 because he only analysed his mental state as of 2008.

And the prosecution portion of the trial which won the jury over.

A total of seven lay witnesses were called to testify on December 3, 2010 regarding Mitchell’s cruelty and religious beliefs including his two former step daughters who testified that Mitchell abused them long before he claimed to be “Immanuel” or a prophet…  A US Marshall who escorted Mitchell into the courtroom each day testified that Mitchell only sings inside the court room. The officer also said that Mitchell spent his time in the nearby holding cell following proceedings, napping or exercising. Mitchell’s behavior outside the courtroom changed only when his wife Wanda Barzee testified with Mitchell standing as close as possible to the monitor, not moving during the duration of her time on the stand….

The prosecution’s last witness was Dr Welner, a forensic psychiatrist from New York City, who spent more than 1,600 hours working on a report on Mitchell…. Dr Welner testified that Mitchell does not suffer from a mental illness, but rather pedophilia, anti-social personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder adding that to know Brian Mitchell is to be fooled by Brian Mitchell. Amongst other things he testified that Mitchell would abandon his revelations when it suited him which showed they weren’t sincere and that Mitchell used blessings to control his wife and used threats and force as a way to control Elizabeth Smart.

A life sentence eight years in the making. Nice to see a prosecution stick to its guns and achieve justice, despite such strenuous attempts to derail it.


Elisa Benedetti: Another Sad And Unneccesary Death Of A Young Woman Living In Perugia

Posted by catnip


About our series

This is another in our occasional series of posts on crimes involving young women in Perugia.

It shows how trouble and death so easily overwhelmed the vivacious Elisa, how drugs and drug dealers may have played a role, how the authorities handled Elisa’s disappearance, and how caring Perugia yet again rallied round.

Who was Elisa?

Elisa Benedetti was a 25 year old student and call-centre operator and lived in Città  di Castello with her father Osvaldo, 51, and younger brother. Her mother had died two months previously.

The disappearance

On Saturday night, 29 January 2011, Elisa Benedetti, 25, out drinking with friends, disappeared into the dark wilderness north of Perugia. The car she was driving became bogged down on a muddy track.

She called the emergency number. She was lost, confused and frightened.

Eventually, the phone batteries gave out. It was icy cold and wet, mud everywhere. Around midday on the following Monday, her body was found about a kilometre from the abandoned car.

She had died from exposure to the cold.


Click here for the rest

Posted by catnip on 02/19/11 at 04:58 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in • Comments here (11)

More On Motive: Some Of The Cases Of “Nice” Girls Who Killed With Little Or No Motive At All

Posted by The Machine



[Above: One of the Manson girls’ murder victims, Hollywood film star Sharon Tate]

The conspiracy theorists trying so hard to spring Amanda Knox now have about zero credibility - because they can’t field even one good expert that any other expert respects. 

The various claims of their various faux experts about this or that aspect of the evidence having been mishandled or misread or contaminated lack the one really crucial element. ANY real evidence.

And NOT ONE Italian interrogator or investigator or prosecutor has been proved to have done even one thing wrong with intent.  Which seems these days to be making the conspiracy theorists more and more shrill in their claims.

An ex campus security guard Steve Moore is now one of the shrillest faux experts - but the conspiracy theorists still seem to think he is their great ace in the hole.

Steve Moore is not exactly what we might call competent as a real-crime-scene investigator. He seemingly can’t get even one core fact right and his knowledge of the Micheli and Massei reports are absolutely abysmal.

Few of this faux expert’s claims arouse more ridicule and sardonic contempt than one sweeping claim made to any lazy and gullible reporter who will listen - Ann Curry, Linda Byron and Steve Shay, for example.

The claim that there is some standard profile for women who kill. And that well-bred educated middle-class girls like Amanda Knox do not fit “it”. That profile.

So it is impossible that they would ever kill.

In an interview with Anne Curry on NBC the faux expert actually claimed: ““This was an honor student; she is not a violent person….  What they are alleging is that she not only helped assault the roommate, but stabbed her in the throat. That kind of deviant, violent behavior doesn’t go unnoticed for 18, 19, 20 years. Some things leak out; you see some episodes, some indication that this person has issues.”

Actually she DID have issues.

Their faux expert clearly does not know the history of Amanda Knox very well. She seems to have started putting out warning calls for help from around the age of four, and there are a number of stories about her quirks and her drugs up to when she left for Perugia.

In this piece, we will look at some some high-profile murder cases in America, Italy and New Zealand involving seemingly normal young women with profiles not unlike Amanda Knox who suddenly committed horrific and senseless murders.



[Above: Laurie Ann Swank’s victim, hotel night clerk Janet Chandler]

USA: Laurie Ann Swank

If anyone thinks the idea that a woman would arrange for men to sexually assault and murder her friend and roommate is totally far-fetched and beyonds the realms of possibility, they should read about the Janet Chandler case.

In January 1979, Laurie Ann Swank held a position of responsibility, working as the manager of the Blue Mill Inn in Holland, Michigan. She was also the roommate and friend of Janet Chandler, a 23-year-old student who worked as a desk clerk at the hotel. 

Laurie Ann Swank lured Janet Chandler to a “party” where she was tied to a chair and raped and tortured for hours by five security guards who were staying at the Blue Mill Inn. After Janet Chandler had been gang raped, she was strangled and her body was dumped on the side of Interstate 196.

The officers involved in the case concluded that Laurie Swank orchestrated the attack on Janet Chandler out of envy and jealousy “to teach her a lesson.” The motive behind this vicious murder was actually admitted by Swank to have been petty jealousy, especially over a boy. She actually watched while Janet was raped and then strangled with a belt.



[Above: Two more of the Manson girls victims Leno and Rose Labianca ]

USA: Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel

Steve Moore seems to think that honor students are incapable of committing murder. His apparent refusal to believe that someone who is from a respectable background and well-educateed could be involved in murder is not an uncommon phenomenon.

Vincent Bugliosi was the chief prosecutor in the Manson trial. He has pointed out that the backgrounds of the Manson killers terrified America precisely because they were from fairly good backgrounds and that many people refused to believe they could be involved. Vincent Bugliosi, chief prosecutor in the Charlie Manson case:

The other thing that terrified the nation so much is when the identity of the killers became known. And who were they? Young kids from average American homes with fairly good backgrounds. There was a feeling that this could be our own children.

Tex Watson, Manson’s “chief lieutenant” at the murder scene, was from Farmersville, Texas, hometown of World War II hero Audie Murphy. Watson was a football, basketball, and track star. He had almost an A average in high school. And when the people in Farmersville learned he was being charged with these murders, the general consensus was this is absolutely impossible, it must be a case of mistaken identity.

Patricia Krenwinkel””another one of the main killers””her father was an insurance executive; she sang in the church choir; got good grades in school; at one time she even wanted to attend a Jesuit college in Alabama. Leslie Van Houten””another killer””she was a homecoming princess at Monrovia High School here in L.A.



[Above: Manson girl Squeaky Fromm attempted to murder President Gerald Ford]

Leslie Van Houten was an honor student and a homecoming queen. She came from a middle class background; her father was an auctioneer and her mother was a school teacher.

In 1968, she joined Charlie Manson’s family. She was not involved in the vicious killings at Roman Polanski’s home - which upset her - but she took part in the savage murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.  She along with Patricia Krenwinkel attacked and stabbed Rosemary LaBianca. Van Houten tied the electrical cord from a lamp around La Bianca’s neck and put a pillow case over her head before stabbing her 16 times in the lower back.

Patricia Krenwinkel came from a fairly normal background. Her father was an insurance salesman. She graduated from high school and then attended a Catholic college for a semester before moving in with her sister. In 1967, she met Charles Manson when he was visiting her sister.

Krenwinkel participated in the Tate and LaBianca murders. She stabbed Abigail Folger more than 70 times. When the police found Folger’s body, they thought she was wearing a red dress.

Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel are currently serving life sentences for the Tate and Labianca murders. They are still being denied parole 40-plus years later.

USA: Amy Bishop

Dr. Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated neurobiologist, inventor and mother of four, went on a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama. 

Amy Bishop had already shot and killed her 18-year old brother, with a shotgun, during an argument in 1986. Bishop claimed it was an accident and no charges were filed then - but 24 years later, charges were indeed filed.

According to witnesses, Amy Bishop later killed three professors and wounded three others during a meeting at the University of Alabama. They said that she sat through the first 30 minutes of the meeting and then pulled out a 9mm handgun and opened fire until the weapon jammed or ran out of bullets.



[Above: Karla Homolka murdered her own sister Tammy and and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French]

Canada: Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo

Karla Homolka was the oldest child of three. She was regarded as well-adjusted and intelligent. She was a popular child who received plenty of love and attention from her family and friends. She loved animals and after high school she went to work at a veterinary clinic.

When she was 17, Karla Homolka attended a pet convention and met 23-year-old Paul Bernado. They soon discovered they shared the same sado-masochistic tendencies.

On 23 December 1990, Homolka and Bernado gave alcoholic drinks spiked with halcyon to Homolka’s 15-year-old sister, Tammy, at a Christmas party. They took her to the basement and Homolka held a cloth soaked with Halothane to Tammy’s mouth until she became unconscious. Bernado and Homolka then raped her. Tammy choked on her own vomit as she was being raped.

On 15 June 1991, Bernado kidnapped Lesle Mahaffy and took her to the couple’s home, where they repeatedly raped over a number of days. The couple videotaped many of the assaults. They then killed Mahaffy and cut her body into pieces and encased the pieces in cement.

On 16 April 1992, they kidnapped 15-year-old Kristen French and took her to their home and videotaped themselves torturing and sexually assaulting her. The couple killed French before they left for Easyer Sunday dinner with Homolka’s family.

Karla Homolda was convicted for her role in the raping, torturing and killing her own sister, Tammy and Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. She was released from prison after serving 12 years in prison. Paul Bernado is still in prison.

There are videos on the seeming normality of very dangerous people like these two here and here.



[Above: Julet Hume who with Pauline Parker battered Pauline’s mother to death]

New Zealand: Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker

Juliet Hulme was the daughter of Dr. Henry Hulme, an eminent physicist and a rector at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In 1954, Juliet Hulme and her friend, Pauline Parker, battered Parker’s mother, Honora Rieper, to death with half a brick in a lisle stocking. At the trial, it was revealed that Honora Rieper had been subjected to a sustained and brutal attack. Hulme and Parker had planned to murder Parker’s murder because they didn’t want to be separated.

After the murder, Parker and Hulme ran to a nearby tea shop, upset and covered in blood, claiming that Pauline’s mother had slipped and fallen.

Honora Rieper had 45 separate wounds on her head. The torn blood-soaked stocking with the brick in it was found nearby.

Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker were found guilty of murder.



[Above: Kelly Ellard was convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk]

Canada: Kelly Ellard and Warren Glowatski

Kelly Ellard came from a middle class family and lived in a well-to-do neighborhood.

In 1997, she and Warren Glowatski murdered convicted of murdering Indian immigrant Reena Virk, who was the 14-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants. Ellard and six other teenage girls beat up Reena under a bridge. Ellard and Glowatski then dragged Reena to the other side of the bridge and beat her for a second time. It is believed that Ellard forced Reena’s head under the water and held it there until she stopped struggling.

Kelly Ellard was sentenced to life imprisonment for the second-degree murder of Reena Virk on 20 April 2000. . A second trial in 2004 ended in a hung jury. The Supreme Court of Canada reinstated the second degree murder conviction against Ellard in 2009. Warren Glowatski was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999. Six girls aged between 14 and 16 were sentenced in 1998 for their roles in the initial attack.

Next year Kelly Ellard will apply for parole. Reena’s parents are still waiting for any sign of remorse or sorrow for their loss.



[Above: Nadia Roccia was murdered by her friends Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica]

Italy: Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica

Anna Maria Botticelli and Mariena Sica lured their school friend Nadia Roccia to Botticelli’s home with the excuse of doing homework together and then they killed her. It was their second attempt as The Independent reports.

They turned off the lights and Sica began strangling her with a scarf. Botticelli urged her to pull it tighter and kicked Roccia in the stomach. Once satisfied she was dead, they looped a rope around her neck to simulate hanging…

The mother of Nadia Roccia yelled “Bravi ... finally justice for Nadia” as the sentences were read out. In imposing the toughest sentence, the court accepted the prosecution argument that the crime had been “premeditated, ferocious and for futile motives”.

Investigators are still at a loss to uncover a motive for the murder - with theories ranging from Satanic sects to prostitution rings. The pair appeared in court only once, but refused to answer questions and never showed any repentance.

It was discovered that the pair had tried to murder Roccia several months earlier. They offered her a cola drink laced with rat poison, but she refused to drink it. They made her sign a blank sheet on which they later typed a fake suicide note. “I am lesbian and in love with my best friend, that is you, my sweetest Anna Maria ... unfortunately you like men but soon you won’t have to worry about my jealousy any more,” read the note found by Roccia’s body.

Anna Maria Botticelli and Sica, both now 20, heard the sentence on television from their cell in Foggia, 90 miles from Naples. In jail they have completed their high-school leaving exam and are now studying law and economics.

Before Wednesday’s verdict Botticelli’s father pleaded: “I beg you on my knees to give these two girls a chance.”

There was widespread disbelief that Botticelli and Mariena Sica could be guilty of such a horrific murder because they were normal girls from respectable backgrounds. It was only after they were recorded admitting that they were involved, that many people acknowledged their guilt.



[Above: Erika de Nardo at letf with dark hair murdered her mother and brother]

Italy: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro

Erika de Nardo came from a wealthy middle class family - her father was a factory manager and her mother was an accountant - and she grew up in an affluent part of Novi Ligure in Italy. From Wikipedia:

The crime scene, indeed, didn’t suggest a robbery: doors and windows weren’t forced and nothing precious had been stolen. Neighbours noticed nothing unusual and De Nardo’s dogs didn’t bark all evening long. Moreover, Susy and Gianluca had been over-killed (medical examiner counted almost 100 brutal wounds on their corpses), while young Erika was safe and didn’t exactly seem shocked.

She immediately described the presumed aggression she faced, but her version of the facts was full of contradictions. Policemen showed her several mugshots and she “recognized” without any doubt an Albanian teenager named Cezar: the boy was immediately interrogated but proved he had an alibi. Erika stated that she ran away from the garage’s door, but police easily observed that her footprints didn’t mark a run: in fact, she had walked quietly.

Some close friends described the 16-year-old girl as a neglectful, pampered girl, recalled she often squabbled with her parents because of her bad school marks and because her new boyfriend, a bully named Omar Favaro, was someone her mother disliked.

Investigators found Erika’s diary in her bedroom. It was full of terrible sentences such as “That damn child (her brother) made me angry today and I beat him… ” or “This is the end, Mommy, I hate you” or “However we know that everything will be finished by death” and so on. Two days later, Erika and Omar Favaro (a 17-year-old) were left alone in a room at the police station where some hidden microphones and a camera recorded their shocking confession.

It is reported that Erika even performed the very scene of the stabbing and whispered: “I hit her (referring to her mother) right here…” and recalled: “My brother was so strong, he didn’t want to die… he fought so much… was as strong as a bull… oh my God, he was my little brother! He was just eleven years old!” and later ironically asked Omar: “You enjoyed yourself by killing them, didn’t you?”.

But Omar was upset: “You don’t understand, Erika, this is not a game… two people have died… we do risk a life sentence for this!” whispered “Come here, you, murderer!” the boy screamed while shaking her. The girl stated: “I hate my mom, I hate my brother and if you keep on saying this I’ll hate you too! They (policemen and judge) can’t do anything, there are no evidences, they are to believe me!”

De Nardo’s false claim about Albanians (shades of Amanda Knox) caused immense collateral damage. There was an anti-immigrant outcry with Italian newspapers articles demanding a crackdown on illegal immigrants, and anti-immigration demonstrations.

Erika de Nardo drew only a short sentence as a minor and is due to be released in 2012. Omar Fasaro was released a few months ago.



[Above: Erika de Nardo murdered her mother and brother, above]

*******

There are some clear parallels between the Meredith Kercher case and the cases above. There was widespread disbelief that some of the highlighted killers were capable of committing brutal murders.

Like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, many of these killers attempted to derail the police investigation. And nearly all these murderers came from respectable, middle class backgrounds, were well-educated and had no previous history of violence.

Real experts know that it is indisputable that murderers come from all walks of life. The motives behind the horrific murders described above are beyond the comprehension of any normal person, and in some of these cases a motive was never uncovered.

The claims of faux experts like Steve Moore that Amanda Knox is innocent because she doesn’t fit the profile of a someone who would kill in a violent rage are in fact the complete opposite of true.



[Above: Erika de Nardo and Omar Fasaro after their arrest in Italy]


The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #10: The Chief Suspect Sonia’s Boyfriend Now Certain To Stand Trial

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Sonia’s sister Anna moved to Perugia from south-east Italy to wage a persistent campaign]

Indicted chief suspect in Sonia’s possible murder Umberto Bindella is still out on bail, but lacking his passport so that he gets no ideas of fleeing.

He did flee a few months ago and ended up with his car down a steep slope below a highway a few miles south of Perugia. He sat in the car all night, maybe shocked, maybe despondent, maybe suicidal, and he and the car were hauled back up to the highway the following morning.

One theory is that Sonia may have told Bindella she was pregnant and an angry Bindella physically attacked her. The main basis for considering Bindella as a suspect is some phone calls he made on the night, the contents (if recorded) of which have not been made public and the reasons for the calls not explained, plus also other subsequent behavior. 

The Perugia police and lab people and prosecutors and investigating judge have all been ultra-cautious in pursuing the case, as a body that could be Sonia Marra’s has never been found, and in this case unlike Meredith’s the evidence really is quite thin.

Several weeks ago, the results of some court-mandated forensic tests on a jacket Bindella was wearing on the night Sonia disappeared came back, and there was a court hearing for the announcement of the results.

The report from Leggo Italia.

No traces of organic material, female DNA or blood were found on the jacket seized from Umberto Bindella, the thirty-one-year-old accused of killing Sonia Marra, the Perugian student from Puglia who disappeared four years ago….

According to the reconstruction in the indictment against Bindella, who is claiming no wrongdoing,  he wore the jacket on the evening when Sonia Marra had disappeared.

The deposition of the expert lasted only a few minutes. According to the defence lawyers Daniela Paccoi and Silvia Egidi, “this is yet another proof of innocence.” of their client.

Prosecutors Giuseppe Petrazzini and Angela Avila have asked for a trial of Bindella. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Quotidiano di Puglia reported on that second hearing.

The family of Sonia Marra, a student who disappeared into thin air in Perugia four years ago, formed a civil party to the preliminary hearings that began today before the GUP of Perugia, in which Umberto Bindella may be charged with killing the young woman and concealing her corpse with an accomplice, Dario Galluccio, who works in the banking industry.

Family members were represented by advocate Alessandro Vesi. Bindella, 31, was present in court today as were Sonia’s parents, her two brothers and her sister Anna. The hearing was postponed until February 7 when the prosecutor’s request for a trial of the accused will be decided upon.

A careful process where again the judges are showing no bias toward the prosecution. To the contrary, putting it through the same hoops Meredith’s case was put through.

Nevertheless Bindella seems certain to be facing a trial early in 2012.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/11/10 at 07:00 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (5)

Van Der Sloot’s Attention Seeking Antics In A Peruvian Prison Are Continuing

Posted by Peter Quennell


We have periodically focussed on Joran Van Der Sloot now awaiting trial for murder in Peru because it was noted in the media that he and Amanda Knox both seem to be reveling in their prominence.

In Knox’s case, it tends to drive a new wave of media stories every few weeks (the stories now are about a new book which talks about baby adoption, and a movie) which re-energize a hard-line white knights movement that demonizes Italian officials for framing her to save face or because they don’t like Americans.

There is a present crescendo of such claims as an apparent attempt to divert attention away from the very impressive Massei Report (link at top here) the distribution of which from all sources is now pressing toward 10,000 and which seems to be convincing almost all readers that this really was a fair trial and outcome.

In Van Der Sloot’s case, the new wave of media stories every few weeks also seem aimed at attracting white knights to raising questions over his guilt and how the authorities are handling his cases in terms of competence and fairness.

1) Van Der Sloot has now gone so far as to confess now on Dutch TV that he did try to extort money from the family of disappeared Natalie Holloway - because they had been making his life hell.

“I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family “” her parents have been making my life tough for five years,” the paper quoted him as saying from prison in Peru. “When they offered to pay for the girl’s location, I thought: ‘Why not’?”

He has previously repeatedly hinted that he knows where Natalee’s body was disposed of and that he had some role in her killing. An extradition move by US law enforcement is expected.

2) Van Der Sloot seems to have posed willingly  in prison with several other inmates for a photograph that then appeared in the Peruvian media.

3) Van Der Sloot is receiving visits in prison from an apparent white knight who he is referring to as his girlfriend. 

4) There also appears to be a movie in the works by another white knight who has a history of taking the side of those who attempt to exonerate Van Der Sloot, in part by demonizing Natalee Holloway and her family.

On one side”¦.defenders of Joran van der Sloot and the Aruban authorities who consider him a prime suspect in Natalee’s disappearance but have never charged him. That defense consists mainly of character attacks on Natalee and her mother Beth Holloway Twitty.

Prominent among those pressing that case is Renee Gielen, a film maker from Curacao who produced a 2008 documentary entitled “Natalee, The Unrevealed Time Lines”“¦.a title that morphs on screen to “Natalee, The Unrevealed Time Lies.”  The film was widely attacked on line as a cover up and vicious attack on Natalee and her family. Others saw it as a defense of both the van der Sloot family and Aruban authorities.

And so we get to read about them periodically, at least until they grow somewhat older. The customary trend then is for such stories to drop dead.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 09/06/10 at 02:39 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (1)

Similarities Between Amanda Knox And A Teenage American Drug Addict Just Murdered In Mexico

Posted by Peter Quennell




Pretty, popular 18-year old Elizabeth Mandala (half Mexican, half Italian) was from Sugar Land, a rich outer suburb west of Houston in Texas.

That Fox report above of her very violent death was broadcast three months ago, when Elizabeth Mandala was found beaten to death with two unnamed Mexicans in a very dangerous part of north Mexico.

It appears she was already very deeply into addictive drugs. To support her addiction, she had secretly worked as a stripper, and she was secretly seeking to become a “mule” or “coyote” to move drugs or illegal immigrants across the Mexico border into Texas.

Although very under-reported by an American media that wants to give her every possible break, Amanda Knox was a KNOWN drug user back in Seattle.

And around Perugia, the perception of people who encountered Knox and Sollecito is that she was close to becoming or was already a cocaine addict. The same with Sollecito. They are still both referred to as coke-heads.

Possessing and using drugs both in the US and in Italy is of course a crime. It often results in stiff sentences. Prior to Meredith’s death, Knox seems to have already broken the drug laws of two countries, and quite possibly of a third (Germany). 

And this possible drug addict was already down to her last $5,000 or so, and she may have already lost the waitress job which she desperately needed.

This could have been making her desperate and dangerous. Prosecutor Mignini and Judge Micheli both seemed to think it was she that stole Meredith’s rent money which went missing on the night of the murder.

Here now is a long and well-investigated report in last Wednesday’s Houston Press on the circumstances of Elizabeth Mandala’s death. It is well worth reading in full.

You can bet your bottom dollar this story was read in full by a million anxious Houston-area parents, who in turn leaned a little harder on their own little darlings to keep them as far as possible away from drugs.

Paul Knight’s report makes it very clear that EVEN IF THEY WANT TO and it seems they very rarely do, the US State Department and the US Embassies and the FBI will NOT get involved in foreign crimes involving Americans when drugs are one of the factors.

Along with the mountain of evidence, this would help explain the cool attitude toward Knox’s case of the American Embassy in Rome, of Hillary Clinton and the State Department in Washington, and increasingly of that muddled Senator, Maria Cantwell.

Edda Mellas, if you or Curt Knox knew Amanda was on drugs, common knowledge in her circle in Seattle, you REALLY should have stepped in and stopped her. Stopped her drug-use, stopped her going to Perugia and in effect stopped her from killing Merediith.

So. Why didn’t you?






Master Manipulators, Masks, and Murder: Parallels Of The Amanda Knox And Scott Peterson Cases

Posted by giustizia





Laci Peterson was soon to give birth in California in December of 2002.

On Christmas Eve, her husband Scott reported her missing. In April of the following year, her body and the body of her unborn son Connor were discovered in the San Francisco Bay.

Five years later, in Italy, on 2 November 2007, foreign study student Amanda Knox was at her rental home with her Italian lover Raffaele Sollecito in Perugia, Italy, when the postal police arrived early one morning to return some cell phones traced to her flatmates; the phones had been found dumped in a nearby garden.

Shortly after, the shocking discovery was made that her flat mate Meredith Kercher had been murdered.

Parallels Between The Perpetrators And Their Crimes And Court Cases

There are some striking parallels between Amanda Knox and Scott Peterson and their crimes and convictions.

The horrific murders of two beautiful young women (one almost at the end of the full-term pregnancy of her first child) unleashed in each case a maelstrom of publicity rarely seen in search of the murderer.

When arrests were made, there also came the stunning revelation in each case that the accused was well-known to the victim ““ in Laci’s case, it was her husband, Scott Peterson; in Meredith’s case, it was her roommate, Amanda Knox.

Ultimately, three people were arrested for the murder of Meredith (a fourth person arrested, Patrick Lumumba, who was falsely accused by Knox as Meredith’s murderer, was released when his solid alibi was proven). Of the three people arrested for the murder of Meredith Kercher, it appeared to the prosecutors that Amanda Knox was the instigator of the crime.

In each trial, the defendant presented a seemingly normal and middle-class appearance. Neither defendant had a significant history of violence or widely-obvious mental illness. Their families insist on their innocence. Yet both were convicted of brutal murders.

Knox and Peterson were each described by casual acquaintances, neighbors and friends as nice, regular people.

Ann Bird, Peterson’s half-sister, described him as being “charismatic, charming, courteous, polite.”  On Dateline NBC television, a friend of Amanda Knox described her as being “generous, kind, genuine, optimistic, bubbly. Pretty much all the good words that you can find in a dictionary, she was.” 

But they proved superficial assessments that in fact really only scratched the surface.

Parallels: Amanda Knox’s Reckless, Odd Behavior, And Her Lies

Amanda Knox had been cited and she had received a fine (a sentence which could have been much more severe) for disturbing the peace and throwing rocks at a party in Seattle shortly before her departure to Italy.

Knox abruptly and without clear reason dropped a much-sought-after internship in Berlin, Germany, before arriving in Italy.

She posted a vignette on Facebook about a sexual liaison she had with a stranger, a middle-aged man, while on a train in Italy.

Her roommate Meredith had quickly become disenchanted with the American flatmate who brought home different men without warning. “So she’s [Meredith] waking up in the morning and there’s someone making tea. And it’s, who are you again?” commented Meredith’s friend Brittany Murphy on the subject of Meredith’s unease at the strangers Knox brought to their rented Italian home.

Richard Owen, the Italy correspondent of the London Times in Italy, who has written multiple stories on the case, stated that Knox brought home “people who Meredith Kercher distrusted. Didn’t like the look of. It got to the point where she actually confronted Amanda about this.”

And Amanda Knox’s behavior after the Meredith’s murdered body was found in their rental home was more than atypical for someone who had their flatmate killed in such a horrific fashion in such close proximity.

  • “As she put them on she swiveled her hips, pulled a face and said ‘hop la’ - I thought it was very unusual behavior and my suspicions against her were raised.” (Edgardo Giobbi, a police forensic scientist, testifying in court, describing Knox’s behavior just hours after the murder, after he handed Knox a pair of shoe-covers to prevent contaminating the evidence during a search of the house. Sky News, UK, May 30, 2009.)
  • “While I was [at the police station] I found Amanda’s behavior very strange. She had no emotion while everyone else was upset. I remember one thing that really upset me. [Meredith’s friend] Natalie said, ‘I hope she wasn’t in too much pain.’ Amanda said, ‘What do you think? She fucking bled to death.’ At that point no one had told us how Meredith died.”  (Robyn Butterworth, a friend of Kercher’s, testifying in court. London Evening Standard, Feb. 13, 2009.)
  • “Their behavior at the police station seemed to me really inappropriate ... They sat opposite each other, Amanda put her feet up on Raffaele’s legs and made faces at him. Everyone cried except Amanda and Raffaele. I never saw them crying. They were kissing each other.” (Amy Frost, a friend of Meredith’s and a student at the University for Foreigners in Perugia at the time, testifying in court. The Independent, London, Feb. 14, 2009.)
  • “My daughter was a Leeds student with Meredith in Perugia. They went out together on Halloween. When Amanda Knox was asked how she felt on 2 November, she said: “Shit happens”, which contrasts rather sharply with the contrived way she addressed the Italian court about “my friend Meredith”.  (Marc Rivalland, in a letter to the editor of the Observer commenting on the Knox case. The Guardian, UK, 12/13/2009.)
  • “They came into the shop at about 7 p.m. and were there for about 20 minutes. She bought a camisole and G-string. I heard her tell him that “˜Afterwards I’m going to take you home and put this on so we can have wild sex together.” (Store owner Carlo Maria Scotto di Rinaldi’s testimony in court about Knox and Sollecito’s behavior in his store, taped on closed-circuit TV.)
  • “Knox and Sollecito were seen laughing as they hold up various G-strings. In one still shot taken from the footage, Raffaele is standing behind Amanda with his hands on her hips and his groin pressed into her. It was the same day as the candle light vigil memorial for Meredith, a few days after her murder.” (Excerpt from the book Angel Face by Barbie Nadeau.)

Perhaps the most controversial claim in the Knox trial was Knox’s accusation of Patrick Lumumba as the murderer of Meredith Kercher. Lumumba was placed under arrest and jailed for two weeks, until his solid alibi set him free.

Knox, who said nothing to help him during the two weeks Lumumba was incarcerated, changed her story after he was freed. She then claimed she was coerced by the police into making confusing statements. Knox’s parents made charges of human rights violations and anti-Americanism against the Italian justice system, though to date the U.S. government has refused to become involved.

  • “He’s bad. He did it. He killed her”¦It was him, it was him, he was crazy, he killed her.” (Amanda Knox’s statements, according to police at the police station, accusing Patrick Lumumba of murdering Meredith Kercher. The Daily Telegraph, UK, March 6, March 21, 2009)
  • “She was angry I was firing her and wanted revenge. By the end, she hated me. But I don’t even think she’s evil. To be evil you have to have a soul. Amanda doesn’t. She’s empty, dead inside. She’s the ultimate actress, able to switch her emotions on and off in an instant. I don’t believe a word she says. Everything that comes out of her mouth is a lie. But those lies have stained me forever.” (Patrick Lumumba, bar owner in Perugia and Knox’s boss. Daily Mail, UK, November 25, 2007)


Parallels: Scott Peterson’s Reckless, Odd Behavior And His Lies

Scott Peterson had all the appearances of an upwardly mobile middle-class white-collar worker. He was a salesman with a pretty wife and a baby on the way, and they owned a nice home in Modesto, California.

His friends and family described him as charismatic and friendly. But under the surface was a lifestyle filled with lies and mistresses.

Scott Peterson had hooked up with a mistress, Amber Frey, in November of 2002, leaving his pregnant wife home alone during the holiday season to see Amber Frey, with excuses of business meetings.

Peterson told Amber Frey that he was a widow, and also that he was traveling in France when he was actually in California - two of many false claims Peterson made to her.

  • “I’m near the Eiffel Tower. The New Year’s celebration is unreal. The crowd is huge.”  (Scott Peterson, from a taped telephone conversation to his mistress Amber Frey, telling her he is in Paris, when he is really in Modesto, California, about to attend a candle-light vigil for his missing wife. Dateline, NBC, 1/4/2005)

Shortly after Laci Peterson was reported missing, that candle light vigil was held for Laci. It was on New Year’s Eve.

  • ”˜Three witnesses testified that Peterson’s behavior at the candle-light vigil seemed inappropriate for a worried husband. One woman said that he showed no emotion during the service and was grinning as he “socialized” with friends afterwards.’  (From The Murder of Laci Peterson, TrueTV.com)

The jurors were shown a photo of the grinning Peterson at the vigil at the trial as evidence. He called his mistress before and after the vigil ceremony, while Laci’s distraught family members tried to cope with the situation of their missing relative.

  • “Scott came in with a great big smile on his face, laughing, it was just another day in paradise for Scott, another day that he had to go through the motions,” said one juror, Mike Belmessieri. “Scott had no emotion on his face. Scott was being Scott.” (Juror of the Scott Peterson Trial, commenting on his unusually cool demeanor in court. New York Times, March 17. 2005)

Shades of Amanda…

  • “The cartwheels? This is Amanda just being Amanda. As her friends would say, it’s an Amanda thing.” (Edda Mellas, commenting on Knox turning cartwheels at the police station. The Guardian, UK, June 27. 2009)
  • “I couldn’t help but think how cool and calm Amanda was. Meredith’s other friends were devastated and I was upset, but Amanda was as cool as anything and completely emotionless. Her eyes didn’t seem to show any sadness, and I remember wondering if she could have been involved.” (Giacomo Silenzi, Meredith’s Italian boyfriend who lived in the apartment downstairs from the murder. Metro.co.uk, November 18, 2007)

Parallels In Forensic Evidence

In both cases, there were no eye witnesses or “smoking gun.”

In Scott Peterson’s case, the ONLY piece of hard evidence was a single strand of Laci’s hair, found on pliers in Scott’s boat, which the defense charged as being contaminated evidence. The rest of the evidence at his trial was circumstantial.

Both the circumstantial and forensic evidence in the Knox trial were more considerable. Key items of hard evidence included a knife found in Sollecito’s apartment that had Meredith’s DNA on the tip and Knox’s DNA on the handle, and it was presumed to be one of the murder weapons.

A bloody footprint, the size of Knox’s foot, was found on a pillow underneath Meredith’s body. Mixed DNA material of both Knox and Meredith were found in several spots in the house where the murder occurred.

Parallels In Strange Coincidences

Laci and Connor’s bodies were found in the water in the bay area of San Francisco. Scott Peterson happened to own a boat and liked to fish ““ in fact, he said he went fishing on Christmas Eve, the day Laci disappeared, at a location where later the bodies turned up only about 3 miles away.

Meredith was sexually molested and killed by knife wounds. Raffaele Sollecito has a fascination with knives and he owns a large collection. Amanda Knox created and posted a fictitious story about rape on the Internet.

Sollecito posted a photo of himself on the Internet swathed in bandages and holding a large meat cleaver and a jug of a chemical-looking liquid. Knox and Sollecito were the only ones at the house on the day when the police showed up and later discovered Meredith’s body.

The juries in both trials concluded that these factors were more than mere coincidences, and represented incriminating evidence of guilt of the crime.


Parallels In How The Families Supported Their Children

Not all convicted murderers have a history of mental disturbance or violence. If there were any red flags regarding Knox’s and Peterson’s behavior, one would not know it from the descriptions provided by their families:

  • ”˜Lee Peterson said his son never posed a discipline problem, did not rebel as a teenager and was a perfect baby. He was said even to lose golf games because he did not want to hurt the feelings of his opponents. ‘‘He woke up smiling and went to bed smiling.’’  (Scott Peterson’s father of his son, testifying to the jury after Scott’s guilty verdict but before sentencing.  New York Times, December 2, 2004)
  • “She was an incredible easy-going kid even from a baby. She was so mellow”¦She loved being read-to, she loved books. As she got a little older she always wanted to be outside - building camps, playing soccer. She never watched a lot of TV - she still doesn’t. She was an excellent student.” (Edda Mellas, commenting on Amanda Knox’s character the week of her guilty verdict. The Sun, UK, December 5, 2009)

Parallels In Family And Groupie Websites

Peterson and Knox’s families insist on their innocence. There are family and groupie websites for each convicted murderer. They each proclaim innocence for the guilty, make charges of police incompetence, and make requests for money for the defense cause and legal expenses:

  • “Scott Peterson Family Mission Statement: “˜This web-site is a combined effort of our family and our support system. We know Scott is innocent and that he has been unjustly convicted. Our pursuit of justice for Laci, Conner and Scott remains steadfast. We want to keep you informed as to the specifics of the case, the appeal, and related topics. We also want you to know how grateful we are for your prayers and support.’ (From: http://scottpetersonappeal.org/)
  • “Amanda Knox - A heartfelt thanks for your support. On behalf of Amanda and her family, we want to thank everyone who has contacted FOA to express their concern and to offer help in the wake of an unjust and unsupportable guilty verdict. We are developing a strategy to raise public awareness of this case and help bring about a reversal of the verdicts against both Amanda and Raffaele. Once it is in place, we will welcome all the help we can get, and we will be in touch with you.” (From http://www.friendsofamanda.org/home_eng.htmleartfelt)

Parallels In The Verdicts Jurors Delivered: Guilty As Charged

The jurors in each trial fitted together all the pieces of the puzzle: timelines, witness testimony, cell-phone records, forensic evidence, lack of solid alibis, incriminating lies, and odd behavior of the defendants.

They each concluded after lengthy deliberation that the defendants were guilty of murder.

Non-Parallels In How The US Media Has Reported Both Cases

Of these two cases, not many people have questioned the jury’s decision in the Scott Peterson trial. He has been sentenced to death via lethal injection, and he is currently incarcerated in San Quentin prison in California.

There are no repeated media interviews of Peterson’s mother in tears, insisting on his innocence and his release from prison. There are no angry declarations from Peterson family that the police, prosecution and legal system abused, railroaded and framed Scott Peterson.

If such media coverage were to exist, it would be widely considered in the US to be extremely upsetting and insulting to Laci’s parents and family and to the memory of the victims Laci and Connor.

Peterson’s media coverage, thankfully, has dissipated. He still pursues an appeals process, possibly to be heard next year by the California Supreme Court.

Amanda Knox’s story plays out very differently. After her arrest, her family hired a public relations team that puts forth a determined effort to change Knox’s image of wild child and murderer and to keep her in the news.

They obviously do not consider their repeated loud public outcries for release of their daughter distressing to Meredith’s parents and family, and they don’t perceive their actions as being disrespectful to the victim, Meredith.

Or of course, as many people suspect, perhaps Knox’s relatives do realize it but they simply don’t care.

Non Parallels In Future Legal Prospects

Imprisoned in Italy, Knox has been sentenced to 26 years in prison. Italian prosecutors are now appealing that decision, and asking for life in prison. But regardless of this and the PR campaign, Knox’s prospects are considerably brighter than Peterson’s: she gets two automatic appeals and the worst case scenario is she serves life in prison.

Scott Peterson sits on death row in San Quentin Prison in California, waiting for the legal process to move his appeals case along.

It is curious that the fervent supporters of Amanda Knox do not crusade for the release of Scott Peterson as well. After all, he was convicted on LESS direct evidence, and also in the midst of a maelstrom of publicity. CNN.com had called the Peterson prosecution case so weak and “unimpressive” that they speculated that he could end up with a “Not Guilty” verdict.

But with the exception of his own family, no one has picked up beating the drum to overturn the jury’s conviction of Peterson. Perhaps it is because Peterson doesn’t fit well the damsel in distress role? More likely, it is because the American public trusted the jury’s assessment of the evidence and trial, as they and the American media usually do, and they feel that the jury delivered a just verdict, and justice to Laci and Connor Peterson.


Epilogue ““ Master Manipulators

How is it possible that two “regular” people like Knox and Peterson ended up in jail for horrendous murders? Below is a condensed version from an AP article about the type of personality attributed to Scott Peterson:

It is interesting to note that life transitions are tremendous stresses to a psychopath. Psychopaths also wear “false faces” and are master manipulators. They are the ultimate con artists and they are able to fool even those closest to them.

Peterson’s closest friends “never suspected there was a monster inside Scott’s psyche.
Motive still a question in Peterson case
By the Associated Press
Tuesday, December 21, 2004

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP)””Of all the questions surrounding the Laci Peterson murder case, the one that seemed to be running through practically everyone’s mind was this: If Scott Peterson was so unhappy in his marriage, why didn’t he just get a divorce?

Experts on the criminal mind say the answer may lie in what lurked beneath Scott Peterson’s charming veneer “”a psychopathic personality.

“When you say you’re going to get a divorce, everyone knows that it’s a long, tedious process. The psychopath wants the short-term solution,” said San Diego forensic psychologist Reid Meloy.

Peterson, 32, was convicted earlier this month of murdering his eight-months-pregnant wife and the fetus she was carrying, and the jury decided he deserves the death penalty.

Criminal psychologists say Peterson appeared to be a master manipulator who lacked the capacity to feel remorse or consider consequences “”some of the same psychopathic characteristics exhibited by serial killers Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy.

Psychopaths “tend to con people very well and they wear false faces,” said former FBI profiler Robert Ressler. “They tend to be able to fool everyone from their families to their friends to society, schools, their community.”

At Peterson’s trial, prosecutors portrayed him as a callous liar who continued to carry on an extramarital affair even as police searched for his wife. They said he killed her to escape marriage and impending fatherhood for the freewheeling single life.

Whether Laci’s pregnancy was the catalyst for Peterson’s plan may never be known. But experts said pregnancy can lead to seismic changes within a relationship.

Pregnancy “represents commitment, fatherhood, another dependent, a lifelong bond ... and all of those things are strongly despised by the psychopath,” Meloy said”¦ pregnancy represents a life transition, and there are stresses around that transition.”

Peterson’s case was made all the more perplexing by the lack of signs that the couple’s marriage was in trouble. Although Peterson had cheated on Laci at least three times, according to defense attorney Mark Geragos, he appeared to family and friends to be a doting husband and father-to-be after Laci became pregnant.

Those closest to the couple said they never suspected there was a monster inside.

Heather Richardson, the maid of honor at the Petersons’ wedding, is still hoping for a plausible explanation to emerge. Perhaps, she said, Peterson suffers from a disorder that has yet to be revealed.

“It would be at least comforting. Then I would realize that the person I knew and loved dearly was there. He was that person and the other person, too,” Richardson said. “So at least part of him was not a lie.”

And A Last Word On Masks

Here is Amanda Knox in her own words about masks “” while taking the stand for the final time at her trial in Italy (CNN, Dec. 3, 2009): “They say that I am calm. I am not calm ... I fear to lose myself, to have the mask of the assassin forced upon me.”

************

For all the sources used here, please “Click For More” below the videos for Laci and Meredith

Click here for the rest


That Pesky Confession: Now Joran Van Der Sloot Is Trying Hard To Backpedal

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for another seeming parallel with Perugia.

When the police first confronted him, Van Der Sloot seemed eager to talk and to tell a version of the violent murder of Stephany Flores in which he was involved. Presumably to get a few breaks as the prisons in Peru sound like they are no party.

Van Der Sloot now seems to be trying hard to re-bottle that particular genie.

His own line here is that the confession he gave was on bad advice from his first lawyer, Ms Luz Romero Chinchay. He now has his current lawyer, Maximo Altez, suing her for “misrepresentation”.

However, a Lima Peru judge ruled several weeks ago that the confession itself was perfectly valid. And it looks like he will be facing some horrific new charges as well. 

For sex trafficking. The kidnapping and enslaving of women for sex. What he might have been trying to do with poor Natalie Holloway, who vanished while on vacation in Aruba.

It seems Van Der Sloot is sitting on some money but apparently not what he thinks he is worth. And (surprise, surprise) Van Der Sloot’s mom refuses to visit him in jail.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 07/21/10 at 03:27 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (17)

Strange Tale Of Ex New York Times Reporter Who Christian Longo Impersonated On The Run

Posted by Peter Quennell

In follow-up to Lilly’s raw truth of a post on Christian Longo and the similarities with Amanda Knox.

Two things really stand out in this five-minute CBS interview - which sets things up nicely for a longer CBS 48 Hours report, by the way, it seems they don’t always get things wrong.

First, there is the fascination some people have for psychopathic narcissists who have killed. Especially those people who seem themselves not quite right and morally a bit untethered.

And second, there is the cold preening cynicism of the killer himself, who apparently even admitted to Finkel after the trial was all over that, yes, he did kill his wife and three little tots.

But he claims he did that to “save” them. Being bothered about it just isn’t his thing. In prison, Christian Longo’s highly attention-seeking antics, self-pity, and strong public denial continue.

Even Longo has his several white knights. “Such a nice guy.”  Yeah. Right.


The Very Telling Parallels Here With Murder Cases Like Christian Longo’s

Posted by lilly


Many of the apologist writers claiming that Amanda Knox was railroaded have made “there was no motive” a main argument of their articles.

Most recently, The Machine took apart that claim as made by Amy Jenkins in the UK and Judy Bachrach in the US.

Other posters here on TJMK and and on PMF have frequently noted that neither under Italian not under UK and US law is any proof of a motive required for conviction.

Many of the apologists have also claimed that what looked to most watchers like bizarre red-flags patterns of behavior by Sollecito and Knox before and after Meredith’s death and at trial were just, you know, kids blowing off some steam.

Really. Nothing to sweat over.

Had the writers been experts in the relevant fields, or consulted some experts, or even simply done some online research, they would have turned up hundreds of examples where a motive remained hazy or non-existent. And where the killer came across as pleased with themselves, attention-seeking, and totally self-absorbed, regardless of pain inflicted on others. 

Christian Longo is one of many examples who confused the more gullible of the watchers over his motive and mindset.

In 2001 Christian Longo killed his wife and three small children on the northwest coast of Oregon. He still won’t or can’t explain why he did it, and at first he tried hard to deny it.

The Last Psychiatrist blog (TLP) has a fascinating analysis of Longo’s story.

Longo is a pathological narcissist, and there are some interesting parallels with the way Knox has behaved before and after her conviction for the murder of Meredith.

Longo’s crime is sickening. He strangled his wife MaryJane, attempted to strangle one of his daughters, packed her into a suitcase and then dumped her, still alive, into a river.

Then he drove his other kids to a bridge, tied stones to them, and threw them still alive into the water as well.

That done, off Longo went to Mexico.

When he was finally captured by police, he was enjoying a lifestyle of socializing, snorkeling, beer, drugs and pretending to be a journalist. His behavior was highly attention-seeking, and he seemed very pleased with himself.

Longo had no prior convictions, and no history of violence.

According to TLP, Longo’s behavior is that of a classic narcissist. Narcissists don’t feel guilt. Longo doesn’t feel remorse for his crime.

Initially, Longo denied murdering his family. It wasn’t him; it was an unknown intruder. Later, he blamed his wife. It wasn’t him; she actually started it.

When that didn’t work, he claimed he couldn’t remember what happened. He gave testimony, but he never explained his actions - as if what really happened wasn’t important.

The Last Psychiatrist writes: “This isn’t a coherent defense, it’s pass interference, it’s reasonable doubt.  It’s not important what did happen, it’s only important that it wasn’t him.”

The only thing of importance is that it wasn’t him. Remind you of anyone yet?

Everything Longo says in his defense is “bullshit” says TLP. “These endless words…are a way of wearing you down into giving him the benefit of the doubt.  Look, you know me, you know the kind of person I am, right?  I can go on and on about this all day; just trust me.”

Even in prison, on Death Row, he’s wearing the mask of a real nice, successful guy who’s been badly treated.

Knox is another convicted murderer who deosn’t seem interested in explaining what happened to her victim, Meredith. It simply is not important to her.

The only thing of importance is that it wasn’t her.

Immediately after the cruel murder of Meredith, Knox raised the suspicion of investigators by her oddly smug and strongly attention-seeking behavior.

From the very start, Knox attempted to upset the investigation by leading police down the wrong track. Her judges and jury (and earlier Judge Micheli) concluded that she and Sollecito cleaned up the murder scene to remove the traces of their involvement.

They moved the victim’s body. They faked a break-in to make police believe a random intruder did it. And when questioned, Knox recalled Meredith screaming, and coldly and deliberately accused an innocent man, her kindly employer Patrick Lumumba, of sexual assault and murder.

Then she claimed she couldn’t remember what had happened on the night. She early-on put this down to drugs. And in court, she said she made the claim against Patrick because the interrogating police beat her.

The message Knox gave when she had the chance to address the judges and jury at the close of the murder trial was a strong indicator of a pathological narcissistic mindset.

Given a golden opportunity to voice real sympathy for Meredith and her suffering family, Knox instead said only that she didn’t want to be forced to wear “the mask of an assassin”.

TLP makes a very interesting comment about motive in Longo’s case. Narcissists kill because they are scared of being exposed. They are scared that the masks they have carefully constructed will be ripped away or replaced. Their identities are threatened.

Knox seems to desperately need people to believe in the identity she’s carefully constructed and maintained.

In reality, sadly, she was in danger of losing her job, she was quite close to being broke, she had chosen an insignificant study-load in Perugia, she was on drugs going back to Seattle, she had not managed to make any real friends in Perugia other than Sollecito, and she had a conviction back home which could have incurred a serious penalty.

But she wants and needs people to believe she was actually a talented student, a pretty young woman with a bright future, a popular and attractive person with a nice family back home.

Some mask, one has to say.

Meredith Kercher was the opposite of Amanda in so many ways - in fact, Meredith was a popular, well-funded, hard-working super-achiever with a very bright future. 

When we delve a little into Knox’s history, in light of the above, we see there are many possible motivations.

Her seeming callous narcissistic syndrome, often noted before she ever left Seattle. Her known growing jealousy of Meredith, whose perhaps rather disdainful presence Knox seemed to find a threat to her self-image and economic security. Fueled by drugs, strong drink, an obsession with violent rape fantasies, and risky casual sex. Coupled with a troubled boyfriend on drugs with a penchant for violent porn and a combat knife collection.

Meredith was perhaps the biggest threat to her mask that Amanda had ever encountered.

TLP says of Longo: “You want a simple answer: why did he do this?”¦The important question is the one no one asks anymore: What was there that would have held him back?”

Sadly now it is too late for Meredith and her family. But instead of continuing to paint Knox as a suffering innocent victim, Knox’s parents should ask themselves: Who and what should have held their daughter back?

If they’d answered that question early-on, when they should have, Meredith might very well still be alive.


Posted by lilly on 07/12/10 at 03:16 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesPondering motiveThe officially involvedThe legal followupsComments here (27)

Wow! Seems A Spreading Epidemic Of Lone Wolves, Now Being Claimed On Two Continents

Posted by Peter Quennell


While in Santiago Chille before he was extradited to Lima Peru (above) this is what Van Der Sloot reportedly told police.

Van der Sloot gave a different account of events while in custody in neighboring Chile, where he was captured after the killing and quickly extradited.

In the version offered to Chilean investigators, Van der Sloot said he and Flores were surprised in the early morning by two robbers in an apparent assault.

“A man came out of the bathroom blocking the access door with a knife in his hand. On the bed was another man with a gun,” the Spanish-language report quotes him as saying. “The man with the knife said to be quiet, but Stephany began talking in a loud voice and he hit her in the face, making her nose bleed.”

It also says Van der Sloot told Chilean agents that the previous day, he and Flores had been extorted by apparent police officers who demanded $4,000 and a wristwatch he brought from Thailand.

Two lone wolves!  Apparently he then got some advice from Seattle that that one is copyright, and and that he could not use the “14 hours without food or interpreter or lawyer” line, not right now.

However. it could soon become available. Along with a cheap Spiderman act..

After weighing how absurd all this was sounding, he was overwhelmed with the truth.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/13/10 at 09:00 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe legal followupsThe wider contextsComments here (6)

The Charging Of The Stephany Flores Murder Suspect In Lima Peru This Morning

Posted by Peter Quennell


The Lima + Aruba Murder Suspect Appears To Be Frantically Dealing: A Lesson For AK And RS?

Posted by Peter Quennell


Not surprising considering the thought of this.

That would grab any half-smart perp’s attention. Smart of the Lima authorities to make that hellish future quite plain.

Dealing is the only way Van Der Sloot can go now, several of our lawyer posters believe. His latest defense lawyer was talking of trying to have his confession to Stephany’s murder revoked, apparently on the grounds that his first lawyer (from Peruvian legal aid) was not a “real lawyer” whatever that means.

Perhaps he is not thinking things through.

Rudy Guede clearly dealt with the system too. He gave away a few things, but not very much (less than we would have liked) but still, he did end up facing only 16 years.

There is a rumor (just a rumor at the moment) out of Italy that Sollecito might - might - be separating himself out. He just might have offered to talk, and to do some sort of a deal.

Our lawyers suspect that Della Vedova and Ghirga might have wanted to try to deal for Amanda Knox too - maybe a psychological or hard-drugs based defense.

But that the hard-liners on the Knox bandwagon in Seattle and elsewhere (Preston, Ciolino, Anne Bremner, Michael Heavey, John Q Kelly, and so on) seem to have duped the Knoxes and Mellases into thinking that an innocence outcome was a very high probability with a hard-line PR campaign and defense.

And now look at where Amanda Knox stands. Not at all pretty. 

In our lawyers’ views, what is the worst move of all moves that the Knox bandwagon drivers and the AK groupies have made?

Arguing that this was simply a lone-wolf attack, and probably only by a seemingly very very very nimble Rudy Guede.

A lone-wolf- attack was totally ruled out over a year ago by Judge Micheli.

He based that on (1) the evidence from Meredith’s autopsy which showed 100% that two or three had to have been involved, (2) the overwhelming signs of a clean-up and the moving of Meredith’s body - several hours after the attack, (3) the various witness statements, and (4) the total meltdown of AK’s and RS’s various alibis.

And the AK + RS sentencing report due out soon on PMF and TJMK in English will be absolutely the kiss of death to any serious defense based on the lone-wolf scenarios (such as they are).

There is not the slightest possibility that Meredith was attacked by just one perp - with TWO knives - while being sexually attacked - while attracting all of THOSE wounds to her body - and not revealing ANY signs of being able to fight back.

Frankly, if the lone-wolf theory is the Knox campaign’s last best shot,  Amanda Knox is well and truly cooked.  She might still achieve a shorter sentence, some final peace of mind for Meredith’s family and friends, and some self-respect for herself through the rest of her life.

But she does need to deal.


Charges In The Murder Of Stephany Flores In Lima Peru Are Expected Tomorrow

Posted by Peter Quennell

Above: the father of Stephany Flores describing her to the press in Lima. Below: the hotel where she met a violent fate.

The police and prosecution news conference that had been announced for this morning has been put off for 24 hours, at which time a judge is expected to announce the charges against Joran Van Der Sloot.

Apparently the average time between charges announced and a verdict announced in Peru is about two years. Van Der Sloot would be kept in prison for the whole time, standard practice to prevent disappearance and maybe to prevent further crimes..

Those who think that the actually pretty mild media depiction of Amanda Knox in the weeks after Meredith was found should perhaps take a look at this headline in a New York newspaper this morning.

This is pretty typical of the coverage of suspects in horrific murders in the United States, and the very benign treatment of Knox seems a total outlier. The cable new netwroks between them are giving this case about three hours a day, and all have had crews in Peru.

The FBI and police in Alabama seem to be envisaging a request to extradite Van Der Sloot to the United States for the attempted $250,000 fraud of Natalee’s mother. It is still not clear who paid Van Der Sloot the $25,000 he apparently mostly blew on gambling in Lima.

There is also a report that his mother and, before he died of a heart attack in Febriuary, his father were increasingly distancing themselves from their son.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/10/10 at 06:56 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (1)

The Associated Press Confirms That Joran Van Der Sloot Has Confessed To Murder In Lima, Peru

Posted by Peter Quennell

Above: images of Lima in Peru - one of the world’s driest cities (it almost never rains) so the greenery is pretty remarkable.

The Associated Press is today confirming what reader Nell posted on the thread below last night.

Joran Van Der Sloot has confessed that he killed 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramirez in a rage, after she discovered his role as chief suspect in the presumed murder of Natalee Holloway. She did this via his laptop, while he went out to get breakfast (recorded on camera - that hotel sure has good CCTV) at 10 past 8 in the morning.

Peru’s chief police spokesman, Col. Abel Gamarra, told The Associated Press that Van der Sloot admitted under police questioning Monday that he killed 21-year-old Stephany Flores on May 30…

Gamarra said the case would now be turned over to prosecutors to present formal charges and Van der Sloot will be assigned to a prison while he awaits trial. Murder convictions carry a maximum of 35 years in prison in Peru and it was not immediately clear if a confession could lead to a reduced sentence.

Van Der Sloot’s father, a judge, recently died of a heart attack in Aruba, while playing a game of tennis. He was originally there as a judge in training, which explains why his son Joran, then 17, was also there. He was long suspected of possibly helping his son to dispose of Natalee’s body and of using his connections to slow or stall the Aruba investigation.

Either way, it sounds like Aruba could use someone like the officer in charge of the case in Lima, Peru, to close the Natalee Holloway case once and for all. Or someone like Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini.

A tragedy that it was not resolved before Van Der Sloot headed out for Lima - using money from Natalee Holloway’s mother. It seems the Aruba police, with help from the FBI, already had all that they needed.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/08/10 at 02:15 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsComments here (13)

Knox, Anthony, and Van Der Sloot: Why Some Murder Suspects Revel In Their Sudden Prominence

Posted by Peter Quennell



Click here for Barbie Nadeau’s report on bizarre murder suspect mindsets in Newsweek.

Quite typical of charming psychopaths.

Today Barbie Nadeau starts with the Dutch murder suspect Joran Van der Sloot, possible killer of 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramirez, whose capture in Chile and extradition to Peru (video above) has been on every US newscast.

He has previously been shown on TV in an interview secretly filmed (video below) in which he gleefully pretty well admits that he killed American student Natalee Holloway in Aruba, a Caribbean island that is an integral part of the kingdom of the Netherlands.

Now, as such smug suspects often do, he seems to have killed again.

In this case, as in the case of Casey Anthony, who is charged with killing her baby daughter Caylee, there has been no murder suspect’s PR campaign, no adolescent sliming of the prosecutors, and no adolescent mis-stating of the evidence. The true victim is the one getting all the sympathy.

The far more typical stance of the US media in such cases.

Certainly no one is more famous as an irreverent celebrity suspect than Seattle native Amanda Knox, who is serving a 26-year sentence for the sexual assault and murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy.

In the early days of the Kercher murder investigation, Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, acted absurdly. Knox, with no apparent grasp of the seriousness of a murder investigation, performed cartwheels for the cops in the police station waiting room.

The two suspects admitted to being high before talking to police, as Sollecito said, “to take the edge off.” They told investigators multiple stories and lies, including Knox’s naming her Congolese nightclub boss as the real assassin.

For added flavor, she even described Kercher’s screams to investigators. During her 11-month trial, she behaved like a beauty queen on the runway, making what jurors later called a mockery of the court by her blatant disrespect of the Italian legal system.

In the final days of her trial, when things were looking grim, she started to act demure. By then it was too late.

Dupes like Oprah and Geraldo Rivera and certain others should wake up to the true danger of charming psychopaths. They do tend to kill again. And also wake up to the one true victim in Perugia, whose name was Meredith Kercher.

By the way, in a bizarre parallel, it now seems that Joran Van Der Sloot is setting out to further entangle his mother.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/06/10 at 06:00 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Various hypothesesThe psychologyThe legal followupsComments here (18)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #9: Extreme Caution Over Non-Repetitive Testing In Sonia’s Case Too

Posted by Peter Quennell


It will be interesting to see if the defense observer ducks out of this examination in this case too.

La Nazione/Umbria describes a hearing last Monday in Perugia on the jacket the chief suspect was perhaps wearing on the night Sonia disappeared.

Together in the same courtroom without a word spoken between them.

On the one hand, Anna, the sister of Sonia Marra, the student from Puglia who disappeared from Perugia in November 2006. On the other hand, Umberto Bindella, who is accused of killing the girl and concealing her body.

At this preliminary hearing, Judge Carla Giangamboni fixed the date on which the police investigations will start on the jacket seized from the suspect.

Professor Giuseppe Novelli is the expert appointed by the court, the task of checking whether there are biological traces of organic material possibly due to Sonia Marra.

Prosecutor Joseph Petrazzini agreed to carry out investigations into the black jacket Bindella was wearing when first arrested, three years earlier, after the death of Sonia, in response to defense attorney Daniela Paccoi, who request the forensic examination.

They will be carried out in the laboratories of the faculty of medicine at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. The garment examination will begin on June 7.

Following the tests for the defense will Dr. James D’Agostaro, an expert in genetics…

Bindella had been in prison but he was released by the magistrate [judge Micheli] who concluded the investigators had not proved ‘serious indications of guilt’.

The jacket is now an object of tug of war between the prosecution and defense. It was confiscated by agents of the police post from the closet of Bindella before his arrest.

It was ‘“similar to that worn by the unknown assailany,” said a girl, a neighbor of Specchia student, who claims to have seen a man enter the apartment in via Purgotti where Sonia lived.

In that house biological traces of Bindella [Sonia’s former boyfriend] and the vicrim were found.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/21/10 at 03:30 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (2)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #8: Bindella Hearing Tomorrow - Prosecutor Won’t Ask For Incarceration

Posted by Peter Quennell


Our previous posts are here. There is a surprise move in the case.

The prosecutor leading the Sonia Marra investigation, Joseph Petrazzini, has withdrawn his appeal to the court of review against the decision of the investigating judge, Paolo Micheli, to release Sonia’s boyfriend, Umberto Bindella, pending further investigations.

The scheduled hearing on this appeal will still be held tomorrow in Perugia, but it is expected that all that will happen is that the withdrawal of the prosecutor’s appeal will be noted. So Bindella will continue living at home.

Two reasons for this are being hypothesized. One, that Bindella won some sympathy when he recently disappeared and drove his car down a steep slope. He did not really seem to have the makings of a great getaway artist.

And two, that there may be problems with such evidence as there is against him, or possibly a new line of investigation is opening up in this difficult, frustrating case.

Sonia’s sister Anna (right above) is part of a nationwide missing persons support group. Someone she may have known - the mother of a girl, Paola, who disappeared 17 years ago in Turin - has now taken her own life.

Anna remarked in sympathy: “No, I do not think it was hopeless for her I think that she just had not found anyone who listens. That’s what happens all too often to the families of missing persons.”

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/06/10 at 05:04 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (0)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #7: New Evidence Check And Decision Soon On Umberto Back In Custody

Posted by Tiziano



[click for larger image]

Sonya’s is the other recent case of a woman student in Perugia who ended up in harm’s way.

In Italy this case gets as much attention as Meredith’s case, in part because Sonya is also very appealing, and in part because here to there seems to have been such callous cruelty.

You can read our previous posts here concluding with her boyfriend’s strange disappearance - the image above is when Umberto Bindella reappeared, out of his vehicle which had plunged down a slope, perhaps with suicidal intentions. 

Tam Tam is now reporting new developments. This is translated from the Italian:

Developments in the Sonia Marra - Umberto Brindella case.

A jacket belonging to the young man from Marsciano will be subjected to precise scientific analyses in the next few days; on the other hand, a decision on the appeal against his release from prison is expected on May 7th.

On April 7th the scientific analyses on a jacket of Umberto Bindella, the young man from Marsciano under investigation for the disappearance of the student Sonia Marra, will be carried out.

The investigators therefore are continuing to sound out the relations between the two.

On the other hand, the hearing of the Tribunal to examine the Proscutor’s appeal on the merits of the provision to release Bindella from prison is set down for May 7th.

The regional TV news in its afternoon edition also referred to talk about a failure to find telephone records between Bindella and Ms Marra.

This fact is said not to have repercussions on the investigation, but would add another “mystery” to the whole business.

Posted by Tiziano on 04/02/10 at 03:44 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (0)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #6: The Sole Suspect Goes Missing For Several Days

Posted by Tiziano


We have posted several times previously on the case of Sonia Marra, a missing and possibly murdered Perugia student.

Her boyfriend Umberto Bindella (above after being found) is the sole suspect. On March 12th the Review Court will decide on the appeal by Prosecuting Magistrate Giuseppe Petrazzini against Umberto Bindella’s recent release from Capanne Prison, where he was being held while police investigations were advancing.

Terni In Rete reported a couple of days ago that Umberto Bindella had gone missing for several days and there was a fear that he might have caused himself harm .

BINDELLA FOUND. “THEY HAVE RUINED MY LIFE AND CONTINUE TO DO SO”

FEBRUARY 28TH 2010 18.08 HOURS

By Adriano Lorenzoni

Bindella has been seen in the woods near Deruta in the vicinity of the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Baths.

UPDATE: The Carabinieri from Deruta have found Umberto Bindella in the woods around Deruta, near the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Baths. According to the first reports it has been learnt that Bindella was found in a confused state.  His vehicle was bogged down in a pool of mud. His parents and his lawyer, Daniela Paccoi rushed to the spot.  Bindella himself exchanged a few words with journalists to whom he insisted that he had absolutely nothing to do with the disappearance of Sonia Marra.

“They have ruined my life and continue to do so.  In reply to the reporters who asked him why he had run away from home, he replied, “I needed a break to think”.  His mother as well repeated that her son was “a victim”.

Lawyer Daniela Paccoi asked for “respect on behalf of the media” for her client.  “Umberto is confused, it’s been two days since he ate, he needs peace.  Perhaps we will give a press conference, for now let’s leave him in peace.”

Umberto Bindella was found safe and sound.  He was seen in the early afternoon by a group of trippers who were on a horse ride through the woods around Deruta.  The Carabinieri who were alerted straight away went to the spot.  First they found Bindella’s car, then they came upon Bindella himself, who was found in good physical conditions.  According to first reports, Bindella is supposed to have told the officers that he had no intention of going home.

During the 48 hours when Bindella left no trace of himself, his parents feared that he could have done himself extreme harm.  He had left papers on his desk in which he expressed his disappointment about justice, holding himself to be its victim….



And La Nazione has the story on what he claimed happened, and Bindella is now back in Perugia. 

Perugia, the finding of Umberto Bindella

Luca Vagnetti

“I didn’t run away, I just needed to be alone and think a bit, away from everyone.” The mystery around the disappearance of Umberto Bindella finished in a little stretch of woods, between Deruta and Casalina.

Deruta, March 1st, 2010 ““ On Friday evening the traces of the 31year-old young man accused of the murder of the student Sonia Marra (missing since November 2006 when she was 25) were lost. 

Yesterday the Carabinieri of the Deruta Branch found him not far from the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Baths, from where it seems that he had not budged in the period of time between his leaving home and his discovery.  Upset and nervous to the point of attacking a photographer, but alive, hidden in a little wood on the edges of the highway in his Honda Jazz, which had ended up accidentally in a ditch.

Therefore the possibility of a tragic final gesture has been averted.  “My family knows that I could never do such a thing,” Bindella said referring to the theory of a suicide which had actually circulated straight after he went away. The arrival of the forces of law and order, of his parents, of his sister and brother-in-law served to calm down the young man, who then vented his feelings into the microphones of the press.

“The system is disgusting” he said “and this event is ruining my life.  I’m not afraid of the trial, I’m afraid of the system; in spite of everything I still trust in justice, I’m ready to defend my honour and to show my innocence.”

Wearing a dark red jumper, blue jeans and black shoes, Bindella let himself go and intensely showed his state of mind.

“They are depriving me of liberty, of dignity, of work and everything.  This whole business is stopping me from living the years between 30 and 40; and once all the accusations against me collapse, nobody will be able to give me back what has been taken away from me.  I am innocent, I reaffirm this, but the system thinks differently: I have clarified my position; I have given all the explanations, everything that I have been asked.”

“I don’t feel like a scapegoat, at the most a victim: the investigations are all going in one direction; they are trying every way to find me guilty, without examining other possibilities.”

Bindella speaks openly of the “obtuseness” of the magistrates, while his mother holds her hand on his shoulder and seems to almost hold up this big man who is almost a foot taller than she is.

“I believe him ““ the woman declares, her eyes dense with emotion and understandable concern ““ because he is a good lad.  He needed to think and probably he could have done so differently; he’s done something foolish, but this going away doesn’t mean anything in itself.”

The tow truck arrives to pull out Bindella’s car, a small crowd gathers on the edge of the road: the young man who wanted to reflect all alone thus finds himself once again with so many eyes directed at him.

Below: Deruta is about 20 minutes drive south of Perugia at the west edge of a forrested area.


 

Posted by Tiziano on 03/01/10 at 06:54 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (2)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #5: Prosecuter Indicates Case Against Sonia’s Lover Is Strong

Posted by Tiziano


Sonia Marra and Meredith Kercher may be the only two women students to meet a brutal and senseless end over a very long period in Perugia.

This case - one of a search for true justice for Sonia - remains a demonstration of the same carefulness of the Perugia judiciary, cool persistence of the police and prosecuting magistrate, and restraint of the Italian press that we have seen in Meredith’s case. 

Last week Umberto Bindella was released from Capanne Prison as a murder suspect and he headed back to his apartment in Perugia. We presumed that Friday’s would be our final post on the case, at least for a while, and that it might never be solved.

Not so fast, it seems.

The prosecuting magistrate has now argued that the judge who released Bindella (Judge Micheli, yes, our Judge Micheli) had not considered new evidence against Bindella seriously enough, and seeks to put Bindella back behind bars to ward off the possibility of his disappearing.

This report on this stand of the prosecutor, which may or may not win out, appeared in today’s La Nazione - Umbria Edition.

THE PM: BINDELLA MUST GO BACK BEHIND BARS

By Erika Pontini

It was on the cards and it has happened: the magistrate Giuseppe Petrazzini wants Umberto Bindella behind bars and has lodged an appeal against the decision of judge Paolo Micheli who decided to free the only person under investigation for the murder of Sonia Marra because, in his opinion, the serious indications of guilt which permit the application of custody on remand were lacking.

“A leap in quality in the consistency and seriousness of the clues had been demonstrated, as evidenced above, precisely in the realisation that he [Bindello - Ed] had allowed himself to make incriminating admissions [to his police officer friend when he was supposed to have said “˜I’ve made a real mess.’-Ed] when he should not have yet known anything about the disappearance of Sonia Marra…. Up until today the clues were lacking that last but essential element.”

It will now be the Perugia Review Tribunal - presided over by Dottoressa Nicla Flavia Restivo - which will decide whether the thirty-one year old from Marsciano must go back to a cell, or whether the prosecution will continue investigations with Bindella out on bail. 

The tribunal should decide within twenty days.

Doubts remain about many of the statements of the person under investigation - this is even the opinion of investigating magistrate Micheli - who probably lied about some of the profiles noted above, both about relations with the girl and about [his friend the financier who provided an alibi - Ed] Galluccio, with whose contribution, whether as a witness or as a co-accused, it is fair to imagine it would be possible to reach concrete results. And the statement of the witness remains valid [the little girl’s - Ed] and has an important circumstantial value.

But in itself it is not sufficient to maintain the restriction on Bindella’s personal liberty.It is reasonable to hold that, on the basis of what has been gathered, he should be tried: but the law requires that he should take part as a free man;  also, the theory that the differences can be resolved between the possible reconstructions of the phone call with [the police officer friend -Ed] through a confrontation between the latter and the person under investigation himself, does not legitimise the continuation of remand in custody, there exists nonetheless a situation of doubt where the general principles of the law bind this judge to resolve in the sense favourable to the accused, who must be permitted to take part in that and other trial activities as a free man.”

Umberto Bindella had been investigated in recent weeks after three years of uninterrupted investigations into the disappearance of the student from Specchia.  On January 18th judge Paolo Micheli, accepting the request of the prosecution, had ordered the measure of remand in custody against the ex forestry worker accused of murder, concealment of a body and the theft of Sonia’s two mobile phones.

After 19 days in a cell and following the application of the defence - Daniela Paccoi and Silvia Egidi - judge Micheli changed his mind and decided on the release of the man under investigation.  The Prosecuting Magistrate, however,  is not convinced by that reasoning and in five pages explains to the Review Court why the thirty (sic) year-old from Marsciano must go back behind bars.


Posted by Tiziano on 02/17/10 at 06:25 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (1)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #4: And Finally The Story Of Sonia’s Still-Unresolved Case In Pictures

Posted by Peter Quennell

Our final post on the Sonia Marra case for now. Click on all for larger images.


Above: Sonia lived in the relatively new and modern Montemorcino area of Perugia at the bottom of the hill below the old town about two kilometers from the town center.

Five minutes walk to the south of her area are the railway station and central police station. Ten minutes to the north is the computer-science department Sollecito attended.


Above: Sonia lived at center-left of this map. Sollecito and Guede lived near top-center. Meredith and Knox lived at center-right, north of the parking facility shown in light blue.

The main University of Perugia campus is at top-center and top-left here, in that steep hillside area in between where Sonia lived and where Sollecito lived.


Above: Looking up at the north of the old city from Sonia’s area down on the flat. Most of the buildings at the top of the shot are part of the University of Perugia.


Above: Again, looking up at north old Perugia. We dont know where Sonia studied - the medical faculty is a long way off, to the north-east of the old town.


Above: These are steps leading down from the university area which, if Sonia walked to and from that area, she would almost certainly have used.


Above: The quiet and elegant neighborhood at the bottom of those stairs, which is about five minutes walk from where Sonia lived.


Above: This is one or two blocks away in the same area. The rents for apartments here are lower than in the old town of Perugia.


Above: Another street in the same area; although there are plenty of cars, most people would enter and exit this quiet area from the south.


Above: This is claimed to be the apartment building where Sonia was living, though the two flags (one of them the EU flag) have us puzzled. 


Above: This is the same apartment building, now from the side, showing at top left what is said to be the apartment from which Sonia disappeared.


Above: This and the shot below show what is said to be the one (rather small) window of Sonia’s apartment that actually had a view, of sorts.


Above: This is another view of the window, with the rolling wooden shutters outside the glass windows found on most modern buildings in Italy.


Above:Two of the Carabinieri officers who were active on the case - all disappearances in Italy are handled by Italy’s national police. 


Above: One of the Perugia offices of the national Carabinieri police from which investigations into missing people are conducted.


Above: Another of the Perugia offices of the national Carabinieri police from which investigations into Sonia’s case took place.


Above: The prosecutors’ office in old Perugia which became involved in the case when it first looked like it might be one of murder.


Above: Another shot of the prosecutors’ office - we believe this is where Mr Mignini can be found, though he is not active on Sonia’s case. 


Above: Another shot of Sonia; her sister Anna said she did not like to be photographed though in many shots she looks nice and appealing.


Above: A shot of Sonia and her mother Lucia who has traveled to Perugia from Specchia several times to help focus attention on her missing daughter.


Above: this is another shot of Sonia’s mother Lucia who is seen here at a special meeting on Sonia of the town council of Perugia.


Above: This is a shot of Sonia’s sister Anna Marra who has now lived in Perugia for three years, she is seen here in a Rome TV studio.


Above: this is another shot of Anna, seen here arranging sacramental candles in front of posters of Sonia and another missing person.


Above: This is said to be one of Sonia’s two brothers; Sonia had two older brothers and this is said to be Giacomo, the second.


Above: This is the catholic cathedral in Sonia’s hometown of Specchia at the very south-east of Italy 4-5 hours drive from Perugia.


Above: This is an aerial image of the coastline - Specchia is a couple of kilometers inland from from these beaches and the many holiday homes.


Above: This is another aerial image of the coastline - it is one arrival area for illegal immigrants who make it across by open boat from north Africa.


Above: This is the lawyer in Perugia who handles legal matters for the Marra family - they pay all of their own legal costs as far as we know.


Above: This is Umberto Bindella who was arrested for murder and last week released; Sonia claimed she loved him, he denied they had had an affair.


Above: Another shot of Umberto Bindella, Sonia’s probable lover, released last week but apparently still suspected, seen here together with his mother.


Above: This is the priest Father Stefano Ciacca who lived and worked at the Cante di Montevecchio and apparently was very friendly with Sonia.


Above: More than three years ago Father Ciacca was arrested for mailing a package of cocaine to himself from Colombia in south America. 


Above: Father Ciacca was sentenced to several years in prison, it is theorized that Sonia might have known something about the drug deal.

That is the reason why Sonia’s sister Anna keeps ringing the Cante di Montevecchio doorbell - only to encounter a complete wall of silence.


Above: This is prisoner Michele Mariucci being interviewed in prison by a TV reporter from a Rome TV network about Father Ciacca and Sonia.


Above: Michele Mariucci has admitted traveling with Father Ciacca to Colombia to mail back cocaine worth several hundred thousand dollars.

The cocaine was mailed to a false name in Perugia and Father Ciacca turned up to collect it, very shortly before Sonia Marra disappeared.

The police knew the package contained cocaine because dogs had identified it when the aircraft carrying it was unloaded at Rome airport. 


Above: This is the Rome TV studio from which the weekly missing-persons program “Chi l’ha visto?” (“Who has seen him/her?”) originates.


Above: This is one of the presenters of the widely-watched missing-persons program; she is seen here interviewing Anna Marra about Sonia.


Above: this is one of the posters with Sonia’s image and an appeal for help which Anna has been taping up for three years around Perugia.


Above: Another of the posters of Sonia, now faded so that the image is not recognizable; about 2000 people are presently missing in Italy.


Above: Some of the 2000 missing are seen here on the “Chi l’ha visto?” website; Sonia’s image can be at the bottom center here. 


Above: Click on Sonia’s image on the “Chi l’ha visto?” website page and this page for her case opens up with some details and four TV videos.


Above: The town council of Perugia held a special session on Sonia last year to keep attention on her and other persons missing.


Above: Another shot of the Perugia town council meeting which Sonia’s mother attended; Italy is nothing if not a caring country.


Above: Sonia is seen here in a video walking through a crowd; this video and some others were shown several times nationally.


Above: Sonia in her bedroom with what was said to be her stuffed cuddly creature and a shot of herself when she was younger.

These four posts on TJMK on Sonia’s case are the only English-language reports to have appeared about her anywhere.

Rest in peace, Sonia. We guess you, too, are never coming back. And may the Marra family of Specchia also arrive at some peace.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/13/10 at 12:47 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (2)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #3: The High Standard The Italian Media Have Maintained Throughout

Posted by Tiziano


As with the many hundreds of Italian reports we’ve read on Meredith’s case, the reporting on Sonia Marra’s case has been objective, compassionate, and full of detail.

The tendency to demonize suspects and defendants that seems not uncommon in the UK and US tabloids and on the US TV crime talk-shows has never surfaced in the Sonia Mara case - even though in one respect there might have been some reason: the strange alternative theory of the crime (our next post) involving a drug-dealing priest.

This is quite a high-profile case in Italy for at least three reasons. Sonia disappeared right out of her apartment - she was not in a high-risk place. Sonia’s sister Anna has worked tirelessly in Perugia to keep some public attention on Sonia. And a TV network program and website that tracks hundreds of cases of missing people in Italy has done an excellent job.

This is a sampling of the articles up to where Sonia’s boyfriend or fiance Umberto Bindella was arrested; he was subsequently released again when the judge found the evidence inadequately conclusive. 

1. Translated from a permanent fixture on The RAI Website

The Sonia Marra Disappearance

Sonia Marra is a 25 year-old girl from Puglia who lives in Perugia and is a student in the Faculty of Medicine of this city. 

On November 61th, 2006 her mother called Sonia [from the south-east tip of Italy] as she did every evening, but her mobile phones were turned off.  Alarmed, the woman rang her other daughter, Anna, who lives in Rome with her fiancé, Paolo. 

The two began to ring the young woman from Puglia again and again throughout the night, without however succeeding in tracing her. 

On the morning of November 17th,  Paolo went to the apartment in Perugia where Sonia lived alone. He could not get in. However since there was a strong odour of gas coming from the house, he called the fire brigade, and they broke a window and went in.

There was no trace of the girl in the apartment.  According to a witness, the evening of the disappearance, about 8.00 PM, a car stopped below the dwelling of Sonia.  A man got out from a light-coloured car and went towards the girl’s apartment on the first floor of the premises. 

He opened the door with keys without forcing the lock.  Noises were heard from inside the house; then this individual went out, got into the car and went away.  Many investigations have been made, but there is no trace of the girl.

A murder investigation has been opened on the disapearance.

2. Translated from the RAI Internet site:

An Arrest In The Sonia Marra Case

Perugia, 18/01/2010

In the matter of the investigation into the disappearance of Sonia Marra, a warrant for the arrest and detention on remand of Umberto Bindella was issued during the afternoon. This was confirmed by the man’s lawyer, Daniela Paccoi, to the Italian TV programme and website “Chi l’ha visto?” [“Who has seen him/her?”] 

A civil servant, 31 years old, from Marsciano, Bindella is said to have had a brief romance with the girl, who is from Specchia in the province of Lecce.  He had already been interviewed a few days after the disappearance [of the girl] as a person informed about the facts.

His status had then changed at the end of last November, when he was investigated for murder and the concealment of the student’s body. The Carabinieri of the Perugia contingent and the Communication Police had returned to him after examining the phone records of the girl. 

The investigators also accuse him of the theft of the victim’s mobile phone in order to impede the investigations.

“Chi l’ha visto?” has dealt with the disappearance of the student from Puglia, Sonia Marra, which took place in the Umbrian capita in November 2006, on several occasions.

3. Translated from Terni In Rete

Sonia Marra Case: Umberto Bindella Denies all Accusations

19th January, 2010 at 23.51 Hours by Adriano Lorenzon

Sonia’s sister:“finding her alive is just a heartfelt hope”

According to the Public Prosecutor in Perugia, the parameters of the accusations against Umberto Bindella are quite clear.  Bindella was Sonia Marra’s fiancé.  This relationship is one which the civil servant from Marsciano continues to hotly deny, despite the fact that it is confirmed by numerous phone contacts, and above all, SMS between the two, according to the investigators. 

Furthermore, Bindella is said to have confided in a policeman friend the day after the disappearance of Sonia Marra, a disappearance about which he could not yet have known.  According to the evidence of this police officer,  Bindella is said to have referred to a “mess and something much bigger than you or me”. 

In support of the prosecution theory there is also the evidence of a tenant in the building where Sonia Marra was living.  The woman described a man, seen on the stairs, a description which corresponds to that of Bindella, according to the investigators.  According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, an argument between the two fiancés about the possible pregnancy of Ms Marra degenerated into a murder.

Umberto Bindella’s lawyers disagrees completely.  Accorrding to Silvia Egidi “it is an established fact that there was no pregnancy.  The test was negative, as stated by a nun.”  According to Daniela Paccoi, another defense lawyer, there is no mystery about the confidence made to the police officer friend. “Bindella knew that the carabinieri were looking for him because he knew Ms Marra.”  Paccoi concluded, “This is tortuous explanation of recognised facts.”

Sonia Marra disappeared on November 26th, 2006.  From that day, her family has followed the unfolding investigations in the hope that they would end up in Sonia’s being found alive.  Today Sonia’s sister Anna spoke out, referring explicitly to this hope. 

“Finding her alive,” said Anna, “is only a heartfelt hope.  More realistically, I am waiting to find out where her body is, so it can be brought home.  Sonia did not foresee that she would end as she probably has.”

4. Translated from La Nazione Umbria

Sonia Marra’s Disappearance

Perugia, 19/01/2010

There were several telephone calls and SMS texts between Sonia Marra and Umberto Bindella in the days that preceded the probable death of the student from Puglia, in November 2006.

And ‘the findings from an examination of phone records of the two like those conducted by the postal police in any investigation has led to the arrest of the thirty-one year old Marsciano employee on charges of murder and concealment of a corpse (not yet found).

The mobile phone of the twenty-five-year-old of Specchia (Lecce) has never been found. But the findings showed that it was turned off on the afternoon of her disappearance and was never turned on again.

In the investigation conducted by the Postal Police and the Carabinieri, coordinated by the prosecutor of Perugia, it has been suggested that Bindella had a romantic relationship with Marra. In particular, the student - the investigators believe - was particularly infatuated with him.

According to the reconstruction in the charge accusing Bindella, the disappearance and murder of Sonia Marra could be linked to a discussion about a possible pregnancy of the young student. Among the elements of the accusation against Bindella is a statement quoted by a policeman friend of his:’‘I’ve made a big mess.’’

The order is for remand in custody assuming risk of escape. Bindella, already interrogated in the past by investigators, has always denied any responsibility in the disappearance of the young woman. He also claimed that he had a romantic relationship with her but it was simple knowledge.

One of the central points of the reconstruction in the charge made on the basis of investigations conducted by police is a confidence picked up by a policeman friend of Bindella whereby the employee, the day after the disappearance of Marra, made reference to ‘‘something bigger than you and me.’’ And at that moment the young man - argued the prosecution - could not yet know that the student was no more in touch.

Another element is the description given by one of the tenants of a man seen on the stairs of the building where the couple lived for investigators that corresponds to the employee. The assumption is that accusations between the two there was a discussion related to a possible pregnancy of Sonia Marra, based on a test purchased by Bindella and a gynecological examination booked by the young woman but never sustained.

According to the lawyer Silvia Egidi, one of the defenders of the arrested man Bindella ‘It is a fact that there was no pregnancy. The test’‘(which our client has always spontaneously admitted to having purchased for the young woman) was negative and this includes confirmation by a Sister’‘.

Hence, no motive is seen by the defense and also no mystery about the phrase said to his policeman friend. “Bindella knew’’ explained lawyer Paccoi, that the police were searching for him because he knew Marra….

Anna Marra, Sonia’s sister who more than three years ago moved to Perugia to follow the investigation into the disappearance of her sister, says Sonia was in love with Bindella. “In recent times before her disappearing Sonia was strange, she told me that something was not being reciprocated.’’

Sonia, explained her sister,’‘had no reason to leave home that day. She did not expect to meet the end that she probably did.’‘

.
5. Translated from Corriere

The Sonia Marra Case

From our correspondent Francesca Mandese in Specchia

“We hope that Sonia is still alive.” After the arrest of the ex-fiancé expectations have grown in Specchia. Sonia’s brother and sister Giacomo and Anna say “We want to know the truth.”

The marra house is two storeys, a white and pink cottage.  In the early afternoon hours it appears to be empty, with the shutters closed and the doors bolted.  Inside, however, there is deep suffering, such as you would never wish to experience. 

Donato Marra, the father, Lucia Valente Marra, the mother, and brother Giacomo, the only one of the four children still at home; have left the phone off the hook so that they don’t have to talk about Sonia, who disappeared three years ago and who was perhaps killed by a fiancé who now even denies having mixed with her, other than as a simple acquaintance.

There is nobody in the streets of Specchia, a little town in the south of Salento.  There is not even anyone in Via Marconi where at number 23 the Marra family lives. 

At the ringing of the doorphone Giacomo himself responds, looking out from the doorway, but he says that his parents don’t want to talk to anyone.  “They found out yesterday evening [about the arrest], the lawyer Alessandro Vesi from Perugia rang us. He told us to remain calm, not to get alarmed, because, even if they have arrested that man, Sonia’s body has not been found and therefore nothing is certain yet.”
 
There are four children in the Marra family, the oldest, Piero, is 38, married; then there is Giacomo, 36, who still lives with his parents, Anna, 34, who since November 2006, the moment that Sonia disappeared, moved from Rome to Perugia to look for her sister, who today would be 29 and who was studying in the Umbrian city to become a bio-medical laboratory technician. 

The only one to know about the affair between Sonia and Umberto Bindella, the 31 year-old civil servant from Marsciano accused of murder, concealment of a corpse and suppression of evidence (the girl’s mobile phone has never been found) was actually Anna.

“My sister always talked to me about him.  She was in love with Umberto Bindella,” the woman repeated again yesterday.  “In the time just before she disappeared” Anna explains further “I felt that Sonia was out out of sorts.  She told me that something wasn’t going well for her.”  According to Anna, Bindella “was the second boy-friend in Sonia’s life.” 

Anna explains further, “I met him after my sister’s disappearance - she continues -and I spoke to him.  He told me that hers was a friendship like many others.  Sonia had no reasons to leave home.  There was no expectation that she would end up as she did.”

But they don’t want to talk about that end in the Marra household.  “We hope that she is still alive” says Giacomo “that she is being held somewhere against her will.  This is the last hope that we can hold onto.  Certainly, in these three years the thought that she could be dead has also come to us, but we have always relegated it to the back of our minds.”

Giacomo confirms that, as his father declared on a TV programme, the family wants to know the truth and wants justice.  “We are not people who like showing our feelings - he says further - we don’t even have many photos of Sonia because she would run off when she saw a camera.  My parents are really exhausted.” 

And even his reddened eyes betray suffering and pain, even if hope has not yet left this clean and tidy, silent house. Thus, after a brief chat Giacomo says good-bye and goes back inside to his parents Donato and Lucia, in expectation of a phone call which will reduce the anguish and placate the pain.  A phone call which perhaps will never come.

6. Translated from La Nazione Umbria

Anna, Sonia’s sister:“She was in love with him”

Sonia’s sister Anna moved from Puglia to Perugia in November 2006 to follow investigations on the lost student.

A young man from Marsciano, Bindella, has been arrested & accused of murder

“My sister talked about him all the time. She was in love with him…. In the time just before she disappeared I felt Sonia was acting strange. She would tell me that something wasn’t going well for her.”

The Marra family’s lawyer Alessandro Vesi said that “Of course Bindella must be considered innocent and will remain so until there is an eventual finding of definite guilt.”

On behalf of his clients. the Marra family, the lawyer then thanked the Perugia Prosecutor’s office, in particular Giuseppe Petrazzini and Federico Centrone, for their assistance to the the relatives of the missing student.

Vesi said Bindella’s arrest did not automatically imply guilt but adoption of this measure does mean that the prosecuting magistrate and the judge have absolutely important elements. He spoke of the news “hurting the morale of the family because it reduces the hope of finding her [Sonia] alive”

Anna Marra:said Bindella was only the second important man in Sonia’s life. Anna met him after her sister’s disappearance and spoke to him. He told her that it was just a friendship like many of his others. He went places with her and he knew many details about Sonia’s life.

Anna believes that her sister had no reason for leaving her home. Anna concluded by saying that that her sister’s end was not expected.

7. Translated from the Umbria Journal

Marra Case - a Crucial Week Begins for Umberto Bindella

24/01/2010 at 19.14 hours

The week about to begin will be decisive for umberto Bindella, in prison accused of the murder of Sonia Marra, the student from Puglia who disappeared in Perugia on November 16th three years ago. 

His legal representatives have presented a request fro the lifting of remand in custody invoked by GIP Paolo Michele, and an application for his release from custody has been put to the review court. 

Thus these are crucial days for Bindella, arrested a week ago for the murder and the concealment of the corpse of the young woman from Puglia. 

The legal representatives Daniela Pacconi and Silvia Egidi are certain of the innocence of the young man and convinced of the inconsistency of the clues pointing to the involvement of their client

And subsequently Bindella was released by the judge for lack of enough conclusive evidence as Catnip has posted below.

Posted by Tiziano on 02/12/10 at 04:36 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (0)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #2: Summary Of Known Facts To Release Last Week Of Prime Suspect

Posted by catnip


The Sonia Marra case hits another dead-end (blind alley) (n1).

Umberto Bindella, 31,  accused of the murder of student Sonia Marra who vanished in November 2006, was released the afternoon of 6 February 2010. (n2).

He had always maintained his innocence. (n3)

The Perugia GIP granted a defence request for release of their client (n4),  who had been in prison since 18 December 2009 (n5).

According to one of Bindella’s lawyers, Daniela Paccoi, the GIP had decided the evidence was insufficient (n6). “The evidence has been shown to be quite weak. There is no evidence against Umberto Bindella.” (n7).

“In any case, they found confirmation, elements furnished by Bindella himself, suporting his defence case.” (n8).

The GIP’s decision, following the defence’s formal request for a release from custody for their client, “was handed down due to lack of evidence against Umberto Bindella,” she said. (n9)

Bindella’s other lawyer, Egidi, also expressed satisfaction with the decision. (n10)  Waiting for him outside the prison, besides his lawyers, his parents were also present. (n11)

Bindella’s first words were: “I don’t want to appear banale, but Justice has been done.”  (n12)  “I’m satisfied.” (n13)

The same Justice that Sonia Marra’s family is waiting for. (n14)  They have had no news of the Pugliese student since 16 November 2006. (n15)

She left her apartment in order, and all her things behind. (n16)  Her disappearance is still wrapped in mystery. (n17)

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES BELOW IMAGES OF SONIA



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Posted by catnip on 02/10/10 at 03:13 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (1)

The Sad Case Of Sonia Marra #1: Summary Of The Known Facts Up To The Charging Of A Suspect

Posted by catnip



[Above: Sonia Marra is at center here - we have many more photos to be added]


This annotated summary below of the known facts of Sonia’s case up to the charging of a suspect is the first of four posts here on TJMK.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting on on the release of the suspect. Then there will be two posts by my fellow Italian-speaker Tiziano, who has translated many of the media reports.

Sonia’s case is of special interest to us here because violence to women happens rarely in Perugia, and a year prior to Meredith meeting her fate, this case placed a cloud over the town.

And there are two other reasons why it is of interest.

  • It reflects the caring and discretion which is for the most part to be found in the Italian media - nobody here has been demonized.
  •  
  • It reflects the extreme caution of the Italian judiciary, which has released the prime suspect when the evidence did not stand up.

These facts are drawn from a number of Italian sources, and you will find all of them below listed the fold (“MORE”) at the bottom of this post.

The known facts

Sonia Marra disappeared on 16 November 2006 in Perugia (n1). She was 25 years old (n2).

Her body has never been found (n3) and nor has her phone (n4)  which was switched off on the evening of her disappearance and was never switched on again (n5).

Despite really intense investigations, there has never since been any trace of her (n6).

Her ex-boyfriend Umberto Bindella was arrested (n7)  at 6pm on the 18 January 2010 (n8) on suspicion of her murder - he is now released again, see below.

Her family raised the alarm when they were no longer able to make phone contact with her (n9).  Her mother called her that night, as she did every day, but her phones were off (n10).

Alarmed, she called her other daughter Anna, who lives in Rome with her boyfriend Paolo (n11). They both tried all night to call her, but were unsuccessful. (n12).



[Above: Sonia’s amazing sister Anna who moved to Perugia and incessantly fanned interest]

On the morning of the 17th, Paolo went to her apartment in Perugia (n13). He was unable to enter, seeing as there was a strong smell of gas coming out. (n14).

At this point, Sonia’s cousin called the Fire Brigade, who gained entry. (n15). The place was all in order. There was no trace of Sonia at all. (n16).

A (young woman) neighbour in Sonia’s building (n17)  saw someone on the stairs (n18) matching Bindella’s description. (n19).

According to a witness, on the night of the disappearance, at around 8pm, a car parked underneath her apartment. (n20).

A man got out of the light-coloured car and headed towards Sonia’s first-floor apartment. (n21).  He opened the door with keys, without forcing the lock.(n22).

Noises were heard from inside apartment, then the man exited, got into the car and left. (n23).

Sonia was from Specchia (n24) in the Lecce district (n25) of southern Puglia (n26) and she was studying in Perugia (n27)  at the University of Perugia (n28)  at the Faculty of Medicine (n29) training to become a biomedical lab technician (n30).

She was living alone in an apartment in the Elce zone downhill to the west of the historic town centre (n31) not far from the railway station (Meredith would have passed very close by at times) and the central police station.

She was formerly with the Theological School in Montemorcino, where she had got to know Umberto (n32).  She was doing volunteer secretarial work there (n33)  and they both lodged there for a time (n34).

The family’s lawyer is Alessandro Vesi (n35)  who is representing them during the investigations as “persons injured” (n36).

They never gave up the search for Sonia and the hope of finding her alive (n37).  But Vesi says: “The ray of hope of ever seeing Sonia again is diminishing ever smaller.” (n38).

“There is no way that this [arrest of Bindella] can ever be spoken of as a victory.” (n39).

“For the family, it was gut-wrenching to hear the word ‘murder’ tied to Bindella’s interview, and thereby also to Sonia’s disappearance. They were still hoping she would be found alive.” (n40).

“His arrest now has thrown them into deeper despair.” (n41).

According to the family, the young man would be “considered innocent until the last definitive appeal” (n42).  “Certainly, his arrest is a strong link in the investigations, but we have to wait for the conclusion of the proceedings.” (n43).

Umberto Bindella, 31 years old (n44) with no previous record (n45), is from Marsciano (n46). He had been under investigation since November 2009 (n47).

He was charged with: wilful murder (n48) and hiding a body (still not found) (n49) and suppressing evidence (a mobile phone) (n50) and aggravated theft (of a phone) (n51) with a view to misleading the investigation (n52) by making it more complex. (n53).

He denied all the allegations (n54)  and his lawyers were confident of accompanying him home after a review hearing (n55) which was two hours long (n56) before the GIP Claudia Matteini (n57).

The public prosecutor is Giuseppe Petrazzini (n58). The Chief Prosecutor is Federico Centrone (n59).

The precautionary custody arrest order, requested by public prosecutor Giuseppe Petrazzini and signed by the GIP Paolo Micheli, was carried out by the Carabineri of the provincial command and by the Postal Police (n60).

The order mentioned the possibility of evidence tampering and flight risk. (n61). The arrest was confirmed by his lawyer (n62) as well as by the carabinieri (n63) and the TV program “Has anyone seen them?” (“Chi l’ha visto”) (n64) which has featured the case for a while now. (n65).

The TV program is held in high regard by viewers and is presented by Federica Sciarelli, 51 (n66)

Sonia’s family were said to be “surprised” by Umberto’s arrest (n67). The news had thrown them into deep consternation (n68). They had up until then hoped to welcome their daughter back with open arms. (n69)



[Above: Sonia’s hometown at the south-east corner of Italy, south of Sollecito’s hometown]

The Case made against Bindella 

Bindella was the last person to have seen Sonia alive in Perugia (n70). He was interviewed various times previously (n71), in fact 4 times previously (n72). At the last interview, he admitted he was an old partner of hers (n73).

He was interviewed for 3 hours by the Public Prosecutor on 26 November, accompanied by his parents (n74). He was then interviewed as a suspect (n75) and was the only suspect ever (n76).

He had been interviewed in the past as “a person informed of the facts” (n77). His status changed last December (n78).

He has always denied having a relationship with Sonia or being involved in her disappearance (n79). He was only “a passing acquaintance”, “only a friend” (n80). The investigators thought he was lying (n81).

He says they met at the ex-forestiera at the ex-seminary (n82).

His lawyers are Daniela Paccoi (n83)  from the “Foro di Perugia” (n84)  and Silvia Egidi (n85).

The Public Prosectutor thought the picture against Bindella was clear. (n86).  So did the GIP (n87).

Investigators hypothesised there was a (brief) romantic relationship (n88).  Sonia was particularly fond of him, they think. (n89).  They not only knew each other but there was a relationship going beyond mere friendship. (n90).

That in fact he was her boyfriend. (n91) which he denied (n92),

Just before she disappeared, she bought a pregnancy test kit (n93)  (which Bindella says he bought, at her request) (n94) and she had booked a visit to the gynecologist (n95) though she never turned up. (n96).

Triggering the murder prosecutors believed was the news that Sonia might probably be pregnant (n97) and this degenerated into a murder (n98).

It was Bindella who, from the first, informed the investigators that she was having problems because she knew she was pregnant. (n99). He wasn’t ready for the responsibility and so prosecutors believed decided to kill her. (n100)

“I don’t know anything about a possible pregnancy for Sonia,” he told the magistrates at the initial interview. (n101)

But contradicting his assertion were two phone calls with her at the time when she was arranging an appointment with the gynecologist to confirm the pregnancy. (n102)

Phone contact was also made via SMS (n103), just before 8pm, the hour of her effective disappearance. (n104)

The phone records triggered the investigation which led to the arrest (n105)  after their analysis by the Postal Police of Perugia (n106)

The phone records established contact between Bindella and Marra, as well as with other people who, when interviewed, provided details useful to a reconstruction of the facts (n107)

As it turned out, she was not pregnant, but perhaps the news arrived too late. (n108).

In November, the Perugia Prosecutor’s Office ordered searches of the area around Montemorcino, where there are deep ravines where it is suspected Sonia’s remains might be found. (n109).

The day after the disappearance, before Binderlla was told about her disappearance, (n110),  “I’ve made a right mess of it,” he is understood to have told a police officer friend. (n111). “This is bigger than you or me.” (n112).

There are also doubts about his attendance at an Enlglish course on the night Sonia disappeared. (n113).

The prosecutors’ theory is pure fantasy, said his lawyers. (n114). Thjey said that Bindella, “from the first day, on his own initiative told the investigators that Sonia asked him to but a pregnancy test kit and he did so” (n115).

The prosecution was not certain there actually was a murder and, if there was, that Bindella did it, even if the elements of the case hint at an undeniable involvement. (n116).

Bindella was a bit demoralised by his arrest, but clear-headed and determined to assert his innocence. (n117). His lawyers immediately requested his release. (n118).

His lawyer Paccoi, flanked by her colleague Silvia Egidi, said:  “Bindella has answered all the questions put him, furnishing elements which he considered useful for demonstrating his innocence.” (n119).  “My client doesn’t understand why he was arrested.” (n120)

“He supplied further particulars regarding his movements prior to the student’s disappearance.” (n121). “In particular, the first two weeks of November, a period which Sonia had described to various people as ‘idyllic’.” (n122)

“But Bindella was not in Perugia for a week during that period, and we have documented proof.” (n123). “In particular, he was in Bologna for exams, and then in Pisa with his mother.” (n124)

“Other investigative leads were not fully followed, especially the possibility of other visitors.” (n125).  “Bindella is absolutely respectful of the law, even the road rules, to say nothing of criminal law.” (n126)

Paccoi says that there is no mystery about the remark made to the friend. (n127).  Bindella was explaining that the carabinieri were looking for him because he knew Sonia. (n128). He actually said: “What a mess! A friend of mine has disappeared.” (n129)

Even the witness doesn’t remember whether the phrase was “I made a mess” or “It’s a mess” (n130). “Lots of witnesses have modified or rectified their statements as the net drew in” (n131)

“This led in turn to a colpevolista-slanted investigation. (n132). “But I am totally convinced of his innocence, and he is the first innocent that I am defending.” (n133)

“There is no motive” (n134)  “It is a case of getting existing facts mixed up.” (n135).  “If there is no new evidence, it [the arrest] is a profoundly unjust act.” (n136).  “There is no reason at all why my client should remain in prison.” (n137)

Bindella’s lawyer is of completely the opposite opinion (n138).  “It’s a given fact that there was no pregnancy.” (n139).  “The test was negative; a nursing sister made mention of it.” (n140)

“It is obvious there is nothing new here and we therefore hope to establish that in the rights review hearing, which will probably be Thursday morning”, and further, “It is a given fact that there was no pregnancy and it is not even up for discussion.”  (n141)

Sonia’s sister Anna transferred to Perugia three years ago to look for her sister (n142).  She says: “finding her alive is only a slim hope now” (n143). “More realistically, I’m waiting to be told where her body is so we can bring her home” (n144)

“Sonia wasn’t expecting to end up where she probably did.” (n145).  “Sonia was in love with Bindella” (n146). “Just before she disappeared, Sonia was strange, she told me there was something that wasn’t working for her” (n147)

But “she didn’t have any reason to leave home.” (n148)

Commentator Federica Sciarelli:  “There is sadness, yes, but it transforms itself into anger, because in a lot of case, the research into the disappearances were not well done, often leaving dangerous people still on the loose. I’m always astounded by the number of women and girls who have vanished.”

“But call them for what they are: murder with the hiding of bodies. Take the recent case of Sonia Marra, the girl who went to Perugia to study and who called her mother every night: you think it’s possible that she could disappear without leaving even the slightest trace?” (n149)

FOOTNOTES AND REFERENCES BELOW



[Above: The beaches near Sonia’s hometown of Spechia]

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Posted by catnip on 02/09/10 at 12:05 AM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (2)

Breaking News From Perugia: An Arrest In The Sad Case of Sonia Marra

Posted by Peter Quennell


Sonia Marra was an Italian medical student who disappeared from her apartment on 16 November 2006, just under one year before Meredith met her fate.

Her disappearance was one reason why some women in Perugia became very nervous on the news of Meredith’s death, and it may have helped color the press coverage.

Sonia’s case more or less fell below the radar even in Italy as the years passed and it never was widely reported elsewhere. But the police never forgot her.

Now they have arrested an ex-boyfriend, and the key evidence is said to be some mobile phone records, extensively analyzed once again.

The only reporting is in Italian. We should have more here on Sonia’s case next week - there is a lot of reporting to condense..

Below: Sonia’s sister Anna, who moved to Perugia and tried to sustain public interest in her missing sister.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/19/10 at 09:05 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The legal followupsItalian relatedComments here (0)

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