All our posts on The wider contexts

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?!?!


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)

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.


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.


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.”




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.


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)

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.



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)

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.































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)

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.


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?






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.


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


“An American Student Kills 62 Years Old Retired Bankteller”

Posted by Nicki

[click for larger image]

Corriere reports that this crime took place yesterday.

The American student was under the effect of psychotic drugs. He was wandering through the streets of Florence. He tried to force entry through a garage door while the victim was in the process of locking it.

The student attacked the retired bankteller and cut his throat with a mirror sliver. He covered the body with a piece of cloth and then left.

Police found him sitting on a bench nearby, a few hours after the murder was discovered. He has already confessed the murder.


Destructive Partying Of American Kids Leaving Italians Seriously Baffled

Posted by Fiori


George Lesser reports on a wild student scene. Click above to read his report

1) One incident: a callous and unexplainable death

In a bizarre incident, criminal charges have been filed against an American student in Florence. According to the police, she and a friend tried to trespass onto the grounds of a large, private villa.

A guard tried to stop them. There was a scuffle, and the friend received a knife wound in the leg. There was no firm indication whose knife it was.

The student and her friend walked a short distance to a public bench. He laid down, and she sat beside him. He slowly bled to death, with her sitting beside him with an unused cell phone.

Apparently she made no effort to help him, and she now claims she was so drunk she cannot remember anything.

The Italian authorities don’t know how to deal with her. Her inability to aid in her own defense is something they have not experienced.

2) And one insight into what might be going on:

A lawyer in Florence for one American college is asked about the problem.

The answer: “You think alcohol is the problem? I’ll tell you what the real problem is. They’re all on [prescription medications].

They’re all on Ritalin, or lithium, or anti-depressants, and they stop taking them, or they take them erratically.”

[And] they neglect to follow up on their referrals to local psychiatrists, raising liability concerns.

Smartening up over liability concerns? Yes, that might save some American parents some very big bucks.

And have them riding herd on behavior….