Calling Planet Knox: Maybe Chris Mellas And Bruce Fischer Need To Rein In Their Crackpot Brigade

Above is Chris Mellas with Curt Knox, who we are told maybe thinks the way-too-rabid Mellases now damage the prospects of Knox. 

Here is some chest-thumping babble on the reliably dishonest website GroundReport by one of Chris Mellas’s crackpot gang, the singularly foolish crackpot Jay.

Today I examine the role of the Italian judiciary in the framing of Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher, the skillful way Giuliano Mignini used the Italian media to hold the entire judiciary hostage to his career ambitions, and why I believe the Italian judiciary may finally be ready to fully exonerate Amanda and Raffaelle of any involvement in the murder of Ms Kercher.

This case has been out of the hands of Dr Mignini for over five years - if it ever was fully in his hands. He initially took a decidedly mild stance against Knox, who he thought, through drugs and mental problems, had got in over her head and Meredith’s death was not planned.

In fact from the day after Knox’s arrest the no-nonsense Judge Matteini and Judge Ricciarelli led the case all the way to trial. They got all their information directly from THE POLICE. In light of hard evidence and a psychological report they insisted a potentially dangerous Knox be kept locked up. In April 2008 Cassation very strongly agreed.

Pretty bizarre to see a Mignini witchunt in this, or a judiciary about to reverse itself on years of meticulous work.

At the time of the Meredith Kercher murder on November 1, 2007, the Italian judiciary was was locked in a struggle with the Perugian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. Mignini was facing charges for abuse of office, relating to his “˜Narducci Trail’ investigations.

This is more chest-thumping babble by the crackpot Jay. Dr Mignini rarely even talks to the media and he is regarded by good reporters as especially careful with the truth. The Italian justice system is not only one of the world’s most careful and most pro-victim-rights, it is very popular and trusted in Italy second only to the President who is also the Justice System’s top dog.

Dr Mignini’s past caseload as a prosecutor was quite mundane as Kermit’s meticulous and powerful Powerpoint showed. Perugia and its region of Umbria are among the most prosperous and least crime-ridden in Italy toward which the very popular Dr Mignini contributed a great deal over the years.

Dr Mignini rose to his present seniority of Deputy Prosecutor-General in Umbria because on his merits he consistently excelled. He is often on national TV (among other things ridiculing conspiracy theories and the too-ready blaming of crimes on satanism) and has high-level professional friends and supporters throughout Italy, not least in Florence where he has known senior colleagues since law-school.   

Mignini and his colleague Michele Giutarri had both been indicted after Mignini had Mario Spezi arrested and briefly imprisoned, in connection with the Monster of Florence crimes. Spezi was released just three weeks later, after an intense media campaign by his writing partner the American author Douglas Preston.

But rather than back off of his satanic sect Narducci trail investigations, Mignini instead plowed ahead with still more satanic sect cases. At the time of the Kercher murder, Mignini had a case unravelling in Florence against a pharmacist and friend of Spezi’s named Francesco Calamandrei.

When the Calamandrei case was dismissed in 2008, Mignini pressed his next “˜satanic sect’ case against the 20 innocent people in Florence, including Spezi and members of the Narducci family. Mignini had also tried at first to link the Kercher murder to “rites related to Halloween”.... It is these two convictions, these two false convictions, which the Italian judiciary is in my view trying so desperately to protect.

More chest-thumping babble by the crackpot Jay. The vast majority of Italians believe the truth of the Monster of Florence case is as set out in the exceptional book Il Mostro by Michele Giuttari in which there really was and is a shadowy group. It was for proving this that a desperate Florence prosecutor took Mignini and Giuttari to court.

We have shown repeatedly that the fading fiction-writer Preston often does not tell the truth. After his near-arrest for falsifying evidence to seek to make Spezi and himself world-famous for “solving” the MOF case,  Preston took off out of Italy like a terrified rabbit and has tried to prove he actually has a backbone ever since.

Italians know that in his one brief formal interview with Dr Mignini Preston melted down. He blubbered and wailed while he lied and lied, and was considered so incompetent and naive he might as well be given a break.

Here from a public document arguing for custody of Mario Spezi (the “brains” of the two, if that is not a stretch) is a conversation between the publicity-hungry Inspector Clouseaus (through public sources we have also obtained the tapes) thinking here that they have made the cops look like foolish dupes:

[The word “passeggiata” (leisure walk) in the context of these statements makes little sense literally; in fact, it is a code word by which both Spezi and Preston mean the police visit to Villa Bibbiani that Spezi and Zaccaria are plotting to trigger by way of a letter they wrote reporting false incriminating testimony, and by way of which they expect the police to find the false pieces of evidence contained in six boxes that they are going to place in the villa. Preston is aware of this intended fraud, and he is happy about it, because he presumably expects that from such an operation their “Sardinian track” theory would gain visibility as a media scoop and he and Spezi would become world-famous from it, sell a lot of books, and make a lot of money out of it. So “passeggiata” is really the police eating their bait, going there, and finding their forged false evidence in the house.]

In conversation n. 17077 of Feb. 18. 2006, PRESTON calls Mr. SPEZI, who informs him, expressing satisfaction:

“We have done everything.. I mean”¦ we went and we did it”¦  you know my telephone is ugly [sic]”¦”

and Mr. PRESTON, still in a chummy and allusive tone:

“Oh yes, I understand perfectly, yes, hey”¦ the”¦ the”¦ the “˜passeggiata’ isn’t that”¦ isn’t that”¦ we have “¦  someone has done the “˜passeggiata’?”

and the journalist pointed out, interspersing that with chuckles of satisfaction: “No, no, no, but”¦ they are going to do it!!”

and Mr. PRESTON: “Yes, yes”¦ but”¦ isn’t that interesting wow”¦.”

and Mr. SPEZI: “”¦. We told them to do it !”

At PRESTON’s question about when they would be going to do the “˜passeggiata’, SPEZI answers: “Well”¦ I don’t know but I hope soon” and at a further question by PRESTON, he says: “In.. within.. within the 24th”

SPEZI again answers: “I hope yes”, laughing.

Then, Mr. Preston adds: “It’s fantastic!... Oh the end maybe, I don’t know but”¦”

and Mr. SPEZI: “That would be beautiful!” still sniggering, and Mr. PRESTON agrees enthusiastically.

After his charging, in conversation n. 17231, Mr. PRESTON calls SPEZI and tells him that they need to speak about it in person.

The criminal operation stands out even more egregiously in conversation n. 16950 of February 13. 2006, between Mr. SPEZI, the deviser of the plot, and his right hand man Nando Zaccaria; and when RUOCCO gives Mr. SPEZI “information” about the name of the person who allegedly attended the villa, Mr. SPEZI himself calls Mr. ZACCARIA, and, while making him understand that Mr. Gianfranco Bernabei had already been contacted and the report-complaint had been given to him, he adds: “So he called me.. not him Gianfranco”¦ the other guy, we have an appointment at 2:30pm, because he knew about the name”; and ZACCARIA cries out: “Beautifullllll!” with satisfaction.

In conversation n. 17095 of February 19. 2006, Mr. SPEZI calls Mr. ZACCARIA again and urges him to explain him (to the Flying Squad chief) thoroughly about the “six small boxes”, that is to convince him that the objects are related to the murders. Mr. ZACCARIA tells him that he already explained it to the other guy and says: “If they go there they must look very well.. at everything”¦”, and Mr. SPEZI: “What I mean to say”¦ if he finds a hairpin this doesn’t mean anything to him”¦”, making him understand that he will need to “work” him out.

Mr. ZACCARIA adds in the end: “Then I told him, well while we go”¦ when it’s”¦ when you are going”¦ he says anyway he advises us”. Mr. SPEZI says he agrees and Mr. ZACCARIA reassures him saying he [Bernabei] doesn’t know anything about the case and never dealt with it, then he complains about that the nowadays officers are incapable of doing their job. Thus the chief of the Flying Squad, Dr. Fillippo Ferri, will need to be led by “malicious” Mr. ZACCARIA. Then Mr. SPEZI asks Mr. ZACCARIA to advise him when he goes there (to the Villa). Anyway we remand to the unequivocal content of the conversation, at pages 6, 7 and 8 of request n. 114/06 G.I.De.S.

Back to analysing more from the crackpot Jay.

And Mignini, by continuing to file “˜Narducci trail’ cases, and invoking the same “˜satanic sect’ conspiracy theory, was holding the judiciary hostage to his unprincipled career ambitions.  The challenge Mignini presented to the Italian judiciary, was how to stop Mignini’s witch hunt of innocent citizens, without also discrediting the “˜satanic sect’ convictions of Vanni and Lotti in the Monster of Florence cases.

The task of acting as a kind of judicial baby-sitter to Mignini, fell to Judge Paolo Micheli [who] presided over Rudy Guede’s fast track trial in 2008 ““ which was also the pre-trial hearing against Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito, to certify the case against them as warranting a full trial. The challenge for Judge Micheli, was to walk Mignini back from the edge, but without so completely devastating Mignini’s reputation, that the public might begin to question the validity of the satanic sect theory which had been used in the convictions in the Monster of Florence murders.

This is 180 degrees wrong. Judge Micheli is believed to have been leaned on but ultimately the courts at all levels came round to confirming that Dr Mignini had no choice but to act and he acted quite right. The notion of a satanic sect goes way back and Dr Mignini was more doubtful about it than most.

Judge Micheli’s ruling was scathingly overturned by Cassation, and some of the cases against malicious meddlers were resumed. Spezi has been in court after court - just a couple of weeks ago, he lost yet another defamation case brought by Michele Giuttari.

But Judge Micheli allowed Mignini’s case against Knox and Sollecito to go forward to trial. Had Judge Micheli simply done his job, properly heard and investigated Mignini’s case, the only fair outcome would be full dismissal. What Mignini has pulled off is a kind of blackmail. Mignini wanted his promotion at all costs, and was willing to convict and imprison dozens of innocent people to get his way. Amanda and Raffaele are only two of Mignini’s more recent victims, but there are scores of damaged lives left behind in the wake of Mignini’s lust for career advancement.

The crackpot Jay has defamed American prosecutors too? Probably not. Typical of the cowardly Mellas-Fischer gang he writes in English in the United States in a language and from a distance which makes him feel safe. Dr Mignini has zero record of overzealous or wrongful prosecution, and very, very few cases reversed on appeal, and nobody at all in Italy would buy this defamatory crap.

After Michelli dismissed the case against the Florence 20 in 2010, Judge Hellman’s appeal court fully acquitted Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito for any involvement if the murder of Meredith Kercher in October of 2011.

Hello?! Hellman’s verdict was ANNULED for terrible law, and for illegally trying to repeat the complete trial (absent the witnesses, who he ridiculed) instead of sticking to the few points that had been appealed. Cassation annuls very, very few cases, and reversing this corrupted overstretch was universally seen in Italian law circles as right.

Extraordinarily, Judge Micheli waited over one year to release his motivation report, only doing so about two months after the Hellman court released its motivation report in favor of acquittal. Motivation reports in Italy, are normally due in 90 days. I believe Judge Micheli’s delay in releasing his motivation report, was to allow him the opportunity to conform his report to that of Judge Hellman.

Good grief. What is the crackpot Jay on about here? Judge Micheli was leaned on, and he knew he had got the law wrong, and he presumably expected to be overturned - which Cassation very scathingly did. No wonder his homework was not handed in on time; he feared losing his job and serving time.

The Narducci trail case of the Florence 20, was sent back down absent the element of criminal conspiracy among the defendants. In essence, the case was rigged for dismissal, a fact confirmed by Michele Giutarri in a magazine interview earlier this year. Whereas the case against Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito was rigged for conviction.

A previous cassation ruling against Rudy Guede in his fast track process where Guede’s defense waived the right to challenge the evidence, determined that Guede had killed Meredith along with others. Cassation ruled that Knox and Sollecito’s trials should be bound by that finding, which is grossly and patently unfair.

There was nothing unfair. This is a foolish meme. Cassation simply ruled that two others had been involved and that had been proved. It was proved in the 1/4 of the trial that was held behind closed doors where two recreations connected all the dots of the vicious 15-minute taunting attack on Meredith. Both defenses without argument accepted this.

As irrational as the cassation ruling overturning the Hellman acquittal may seem, there may be a deeper reason behind it. In an article from CBS news earlier this year, Doug Longhini writes: “Following the verdict, judge Hellmann didn’t pull punches.  He declared: “the evidence was nonsense.”  Suddenly, several prosecutors and judges became the targets of criticism claiming they had mishandled the case from the beginning.” ...

For his part, Berlusconi and his party were at war with Italy’s prosecutors and judges.  The Prime Minister was trying to reign in their investigative powers.  Prosecutors, for their part, were trying to put Berlusconi in jail.”  Seen in this light, the court of cassation reversing the acquittal of judge Hellman is not an act of judicial wisdom, but one of self preservation. To avert a political investigation among their own members, Italy’s court of cassation had to reverse Judge Hellman’s acquittal.

The addled Doug Longhini is consistently out to lunch both on the excellent Italian system and the Perugia case as have been the entire CBS team - no wonder they have said very little for several years.

The courts at all points have simply done the right thing and public opinion has been very solidly behind them. Almost every Italian knows that RS and AK carried out the attack. The courts are not in self-preservation and charges against the toothless Berlusconi still stand.

One can sense the political pendulum swinging first in favor of conviction, then back towards acquittal, then back again towards conviction. And events that unfolded just this year, cause me to believe that the Italian judicial-political pendulum is once again swinging back in favor of acquittal. Giuliano Mignini has received his promotion. In his new role, he will never again prosecute a case or lead an investigation, he is only allowed to sit with other judges on appeals courts. So the judiciary can be confidant there will be no more Mignini led witch hunts.

Only recently in the past few weeks, the last of the criminal charges against Mignini have been allowed to languish, due to statute of limitations. So Mignini is out of legal jeopardy.  Despite the fact that the only trial on the merits resulted in a conviction and jail sentences for both Mignini and Giutarri, neither will be going to jail, or being held accountable for the crimes they were found to have committed at their first level trial. In the end, it may be said that the Italian judiciary found it easier to promote Mignini, then to jail him

More babble. Dr Mignini was NEVER in legal jeopardy as everyone in Perugia knew - a judge had signed the wiretap of the prosecutor who unwittingly confirmed a Florence cabal and Dr Mignini and his boss and all his colleagues KNEW he would overturn the spurious conviction on appeal.

Dr Mignini did overturn the verdict in Florence on appeal - the appeal judge’s ruling was the hardest-line “there is no case” - and as with ex-Judge Hellmann, both the rogue prosecutor and the rogue trial judge are now out.

Dr Mignini commendably kept pushing back and he won and won and won against the malicious meddlers in the MOF case. On 3 December the great reporter Andrea Vogt posted this:

Those following the side trials that have spun off or become entangled in the Amanda Knox trial might be interested to know that the now infamous and often-cited abuse of office investigation against Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, which once made such big headlines in the U.S. and UK media, has officially resulted in no charges, and the investigation has been closed.

An initial conviction stemming from 2006 wiretaps and the Monster of Florence investigation was overturned and annulled in Florence on appeal [in 2011]. The court ordered that the case be transferred to Turin for any future investigation. Earlier this year he was acquitted of nearly all the accusations.  The Turin court on Tuesday chose to shelve the last remaining question regarding the wiretapping of a La Stampa journalist earlier this week, ruling it was time barred.

The court’s ruling finally settles the long debated question of Mignini’s record: He has no abuse of office conviction, and there is no longer any active investigation into such allegations.

The other protagonist, Mario Spezi, on the other hand, still has quite a few problems on his hands. His 2006 arrest eventually resulted in the high court (cassation) ruling No. 865/2013 deeming that the following crimes occurred: aggravated interfering with public investigation from Febuary 2004 to summer 2006, aggravated attempted judicial fraud between February and May 2004 and aggravated slander and defamation for naming Antonio Vinci as linked to the Monster of Florence homicides in 2006.

For this last charge, Spezi could be held liable in civil court. But he will never be sentenced for any of these crimes, because after the cassation sent it back down for trial at the appeal level, the appeals court in Perugia shelved the case, ruling that the statute of limitations had passed for any further prosecution. And once again, true justice grinds to a halt, caught up in the gears of Italy’s slow and messy system.

In the meantime, Spezi’s faulty thesis on the Monster of Florence case has landed him in court in several other jurisdictions, where ex-Florence homicide cop Michele Giuttari has been pressing forward with slander and defamation charges related to accusations made about him in his now discredited Monster of Florence yarn that Spezi and his American co-author, Douglas Preston made into a bestseller, pinning the blame on an innocent man in the process. [Bold added here]

And so the plot thickens.  Giuliano Mignini was made into a convenient media villain when a high-profile American was being tried across the courtroom from him . . . on trumped up allegations that have since fallen unceremoniously to the wayside. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, who Mignini initially prosecuted, await the decision of their final appeal before the court of cassation in March 2015.

Back to analysing more from the crackpot Jay.

In short and to sum things up: Mignini has gotten his promotion which he valued above the liberty of the innocent; Mignini’s Narducci Trail investigations are over for good; the Monster of Florence convictions against Vanni and Lotti claiming their participation in a non-existent satanic sect are safely in the past; and the war between the Italian judiciary and Burlesconi is in a state of a truce.

For all of these reasons, I believe the pendulum of Italian politics has again swung in the direction of acquittal, and the Italian judiciary is once again in a position to finally recognize, and exonerate, Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito.

It may be a good idea for the crackpot Jay to not hold his breath on this. Cassation and the Florence appeal court have been the most hardline on this. And it was Judge Matteini with the police not Dr Mignini who drove the case forward in 2007 and 2008. As explained above, Dr Mignini had almost no guiding hand, and on 17 December 2007 gave Knox a real break. A shot to get herself off - which she herself tanked.

Prior to that long conversation with Knox on 17 December at her request, where Dr Mignini played eminently fair and she had to be stopped as she was incriminating herself, they had barely spoken any words. Once briefly at the house on the day of the crime, once briefly when Knox was shown the knives, and once briefly when Dr Mignini presided over the reading of her rights on 6 Nov. That was it. From the post directly below, see also this:

In a move serially misinterpreted by the dimwits of the Knox brigade, the prosecution, suspecting she was both mixed up and high on hard drugs, in effect offered Knox and her team a way to a lesser count, when they said that the murder could have been a taunting attack which spun out of control.

As explained near the top here, from 7 November it was Judge Matteini and Judge Ricciarelli, not Dr Mignini, in the saddle, and they got all of their information directly from the police. Prior to the Guede and Knox/Sollecito trials Dr Mignini did not guide the process, impossible though that seems for the Mellas/Fischer crackpots to believe.

These facts, and in conjunction with the ECHR soon to take up the conviction of Ms. Knox for Calumnia in the European Court of Human Rights, provides the Italian Court of Cassation, in March of 2015 when they hear the appeal from conviction of Knox and Sollecito, with the opportunity and incentive to quietly discharge the case, and reinstate the verdict of Judge Hellman, finding that Knox and Sollecito are innocent of any involvement in the murder of Meredith Kercher, and innocent of the crime of “˜staging a crime scene’ because the crime does not exist.

Reinstate Judge Hellmann?! He is being investigated for his suspect role in bending the 2011 appeal right now! Again, it may be a good idea for the crackpot Jay to not hold his breath on this.

The appeal to the ECHR in Strasbourg is dead in the water because Knox herself made up all the claims of the supposed violations of her human rights. She has ZERO case. Read this series here.

By the way, for his wild defamations and his contempt of court, Crackpot Jay opens himself to the exact-same charges Knox and Sollecito and Knox’s parents and Sforza all still face.

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I find it all so predicable and boring that the pro Knox tirades which feast on the lowest common denominator of sensationalism, will do and say anything in their belief that they can make one scrap of difference when you consider one country’s judiciary and legal right, namely Italy’s, to exist.

Pro Knox supporters have a commonality because inertia reigns supreme, and individualism is not even considered. In fact if anyone gives a countervailing view towards guilt, they receive invective and threats proving once and for all that the stupid none acceptance of the inevitable guilty verdict and extradition shortly thereafter only points up their impoverished non-thinking.

Supporters of Knox go around with their fingers in their collective ears singing a tune so they will be shielded from having to think at all.

Thinking such as this is a capital crime the penalty for which is execution which should be carried out at dawn. There is no appeal and after which the world would be a safer place.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 12/23/14 at 09:57 PM | #


Excellent article. As a relative newcomer here I find your background knowledge on this case invaluable.

Posted by Odysseus on 12/24/14 at 12:04 AM | #

@ Graham Rhodes

I share your frustration - if not your remedy! 😊

Posted by Odysseus on 12/24/14 at 12:05 AM | #

Hi Grahame and Odysseus

As you know cowardly and ill-informed attacks by crackpots like Jay and Fischer and Moore and Pruett on prosecutors in the UK and US are rare to non-existant.

The whole thrust of US and UK opinion and crime TV and the courts themselves is to side with prosecutors unless there is a real doubt. In the case of Casey Anthony she got off but even so opinion remains against her and she is demonized about 500% more than Knox ever was.

In the Perugia case the demonization has been about 500% the other way.  OF COURSE Preston is going to argue there was no satanic sect - he was trying hard to frame one man. But there have indeed been some satanic sects, not least in Florence and for well-informed Italians that theory of the MOF still hangs together well.

Do you know what Mignini and Giuttari caught on tape? Why the prosecutor got so desperate he started a trial in revenge? The prosecutor was caught frustratedly saying he wanted to investigate the satanic sect - but his hands were tied. He sure didnt like that getting out!

Italian cops and prosecutors despise such crackpots as Jay and Fischer and Moore and Pruett because they are playing a dangerous and destructive game. They are fellow-travelers who go along with some very unsavory types mentioned in this post here.

Are the crackpots and Curt Knox and Chris Mellas consciously linked to any of those groups? At least one or two are for sure. But those who aren’t are sure being led around by the nose.

Yummi has posted about as far as we think we can go while not messing with investigations going on and things Dr Mignini and Michele Giuttari have in the works. Do read these:

George Clooney, do you read here? If not, perhaps you should. Doug Preston is not the horse’s mouth…

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/24/14 at 01:36 AM | #

Might also be important to recall re the MOF that Lotti was not “the village idiot” as the GR author depicts him, and was not jobless (he had a job at a dredging company).

He was a simple person and ignorant, but definitely not an idiot.

He was a repressed homosexual who had the problem of shame and denial of his true sexuality, he felt compelled to constantly attend a number of prostitutes to seek a confirmation of his masculine self.

The murky environment in which he lived was one shared with the very same people we know: Vanni, Pacciani and the prostitutes who also Narducci used to attend to. Lotti was a voyeur of couples, and while not being an idiot and not being jobless, he was not a poor man: he owned four cars at the time of the murders and had considerable sums of money. 

And this also has to do with how he was connected to the murders: he omitted to mention one of his cars to the police, therefore the police became suspicious as a multiple witnesses spotted one of his cars, an old red Fiat 128, in the vicinity of one of the murder scene.

Pacciani also turned out to be relatively “wealthy”, he still owned 75 million Italian Lire cash, a house and a terrain at his death, even after paying his lawyers, he also had a history of large deposits of money in times shortly following the murder. These expenditures and his ownings were thought to be curious considering the extreme poverty of his agricultural job.

Posted by Yummi on 12/24/14 at 03:42 AM | #

Choppy waters, for me, the business about Mignini’ and the Narducci 20.

There are a number of things I wouldn’t mind being more clear about.

1. Was it not the 20’s first and only appearance in court when usually the issue of detention pending further investigation tends to be the predominant issue?

2. Didn’t Micheli merely release the 20, with or without criticism of the evidence against them,  or did he formally dismiss the charges as well? Were there any charges to dismiss at that stage?

3. Whatever, clearly the prosecution must have appealed his decision for Cassation to have got involved.

4. It would make sense to me that the prosecution might appeal the release from detention but I am not sure about including dismissal of charges. In the case of AK & RS it took a year for the investigation to be complete and charges to be laid and I hardly think the case against the Narducci 20 could be any less complex. Especially since there were 20 of them. In any event Mignini could simply have re-introduced charges once he had a better case - and yes, I don’t think he had much of a case, and certainly not against all 20! Double jeopardy would not have been an issue.

I don’t think Micheli was “leaned on”. I think he quite fairly considered that there wasn’t sufficient prima facie evidence nor any further leads to be had in the investigation.

5. It would help me if my suppositions above were to be either confirmed or refuted and if I knew what Cassation actually said.

I don’t really have a clue as to why Micheli took so long with his Motivations. It’s almost as if he was giving Mignini a break.

Finally, of course, this has got sod all to do with the investigation into Meredith’s murder anyway.

Posted by James Raper on 12/24/14 at 02:27 PM | #

Hi James

First a more detailed overview and then some first answers to your questions. Yummi will give longer explanations.

This is a murky area for sure. Michele Giuttari is the one least constrained by terms of service in bringing some clarity and he is continuing to do that.

Il Mostro was published in 2006 and so it does not cover the Narducci sub-case in which the evidence seems strong that there was indeed a murder and there were pressures to not investigate it.

However Giuttari’s biography in Italian and English (his novels are popular in English and very popular in Italian) will be coming out in a month or two and that should update the picture considerably. 

Some of the picture he paints is foreshadowed on his popular blog (only in Italian) which Yummi drew upon in part for a post in February of last year.

The investigation into the death of Dr Francesco Narducci was opened in Perugia in 2005 as a routine cold case, because of Narducci’s wife’s and relatives’  doubts about the “official” version of his “accidental” death in Lake Trasimeno.

Points of contact between Narducci and the MoF emerged independently from two directions, from the Perugia investigation, and from Giuttari’s findings from the previous Florence investigation.

Crossed analysis with the data bank collected by Michele Giuttari showed that several people were common witnesses both in the Narducci and the MoF case, while many things in the Narducci case were not adding up (for example, the unburied body was found to have died by strangulation, not by drowning, his trachea and hyoid bone were crushed).

Something even more unexpected was that the investigation into the Narducci case revealed - and partly itself triggered - a network or other collateral crimes. A number of people were caught engaged in criminal activities with the purpose of plotting cover-ups and obstruction of justice on this cold case.  Among them were law enforcement officers and lawyers.

But most surprising and peculiar, there was a fierce reaction from some magistrates among the Florence judiciary, in an attempt to stop the Perugia investigation.

The first wild accusations launched by a Florentine prosecutor against Perugia offices were proven false, so the most serious charges were dropped by a preliminary judge as obviously unfounded.

But a second wave of legal action followed, alleging that Giuttari and Mignini’s wiretapping recordings were false;  this accusation was also proven false in a trial, as expert technicians demonstrated the authenticity of all material.

But after ignoring the objection about territorial competence the judge managed to let one accusation stand – that of abuse of office, a charge less serious than the previous ones, which was not formulated on points of facts but only on points of law – at the first degree trial.

After some years,  this charge was canceled, as the courts finally declared the whole investigation illegitimate, and they nullified both the first degree trial, and the investigation and indictment itself.

A last attempt by the Florentine prosecution to further delay closure was ended by the recent, final Supreme Court verdict.  Meanwhile, a couple of Florentine magistrates were successful in stopping the investigation into the Narducci case, for a total of seven years.

Prior to Yummi posting that here in February 2013, TomM with Clander translated and posted here in March 2011 an article by the fine Italian journalist Adriano Lorenzoni

The Strange Conviction of PM Giuliano Mignini

The Perugian investigation of the instigators of the crimes of the Monster of Florence has, in effect, been stopped.

In January of 2010 the Public Prosecutor of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, and the former head of the flying squad of Florence, Michele Giuttari, were sentenced by the Court of Florence on the charge of abuse of office in an investigation into some Perugians connected to the “instigators” of the crimes of the Monster of Florence. According to the prosecution’s theory, Mignini and Giuttari illegally wiretapped and investigated journalists and law enforcement officials to influence their activities.

These are abnormal proceedings, since the Public Prosecutor Mignini had been properly authorized by the Investigating Magistrate of Perugia to use wiretaps for his investigation, actions that he had the duty to carry out. Abnormal proceedings also because leading the investigation against Mignini and Giuttari was the same Public Prosecutor’s Office [Procura] that Mignini [PM di Perugia], had investigated the head of, Ubaldo Nanucci. Not by chance did Dr Mignini object to the jurisdiction of that Office [Procura] to carry out the investigation and raise objections of the legitimacy of the judgment. The Court of Appeal of Florence will hear the appeal next November 22 [2011].

This all springs from a recording made by Michele Giuttari of one of his conversations with a Deputy Prosecutor of Florence, Paolo Canessa, in which Canessa states that his boss was not a free man and admits to having been hindered by the then Prosecutor General, Ubaldo Nannucci, regarding the requests of Dr Giuttari into the investigation of the crimes of the Monster of Florence.

Giuttari [then] sent the recording to Mignini, who turned it over to the Prosecutor’s Office of Genoa which had been authorized to investigate the magistrates of Florence. Prosecutor Nannucci was then investigated [verrà inquisito] for having slowed down, or rather obstructed, the investigation of the Monster of Florence. Genoa promptly dismissed [archivierà] it.

Giuttari continued to complain to Mignini about the conduct of the police commissioner of Florence, De Donno who, as ordered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, should have set up a new wire tapping room for the GIDES (serial crimes investigative unit) where Giuttari and his men were working [si erano sistemati]. De Donno never set up the new room [cosa che non fa]. Mignini charged him and sent the file to Florence.

A question comes to mind: where is the abuse of office in all of this?

It is also puzzling why there was such an apparent lack of interest in the investigations conducted by Michele Giuttari, even when they are not being obstructed. “The instigators must not be investigated because there are only conjectures, a fruitless waste of time,” Giuttari is told.

Astonishing. As long as the [lowlife] “snack buddies” are being investigated [for the MOF , all is well. It’s fine to investigate Pacciani, Lotti and Vanni; but when the investigation tries to produce greater results [si alza il tiro], problems start to arise. Michele Giuttari was even relieved of his post and transferred.

Prosecutor Mignini’s office is searched and documents from an ongoing investigation into the death of the Perugian doctor Fransesco Narducci are seized, documents which Mignini had without success objected were secret.

Another question comes to mind: why so much fear (in Florence and in Perugia) about the investigation of the death of Francesco Narducci?

According to the Perugian Public Prosecutor [Mignini], Francesco Narducci was connected in some way to the Monster of Florence case.  Giancarlo Lotti, one of the [lowlife] snack buddies, asserted that some doctor was given the amputated parts of a female body, in exchange for money.

Crimes, therefore, on commission [i.e. murder or mayhem for hire] by a doctor. A real doctor, not the mere pharmacist, Francesco Calamandrei, of San Casciano val di Pesa. Among other things, during the investigation it emerged that Calamandrei and Narducci knew one another. Narducci then died in unclear circumstances on October 13, 1985. Drowned in the waters of Lake Trasimeno. One month after the last murder committed by the Monster of Florence.

Suicide was claimed at that time. A truth considerably less than believable. So much so that while the Preliminary Investigations Judge [GIP], Marina De Robertis, dismissed the case for lack of enough evidence [con formula dubitativa] the hypothetical murder case against certain suspects (the journalist Mario Spezi, the pharmacist from San Casciano, Calamandrei, and others) and declared it time-barred, still, evidence exists of other crimes committed at the time: the concealment and abduction of a corpse and the falsification of numerous public records.

Moreover, since last April, we have been waiting to learn the reasoning with which, for different reasons, including claimed lack of evidence, the Preliminary Hearing Judge, Paolo Micheli, acquitted twenty people (including Narducci’s father and brother) of charges of forgery, criminal conspiracy, dereliction of duty, and concealment of a corpse.

Against this decision of the Preliminary Hearing Judge, Public Prosecutor Mignini will most likely file an appeal as soon as the sentencing reports are lodged which should have been lodged last July 20 [2010].

Mignini and Giutarri were acquitted of the charges of abuse of office (and Mignini also of aiding and abetting Giuttari) because it was not proven that any crimes were committed [i fatti non sussistono] (and the Florence Prosecutor’s Office did not appeal).

[The abuse of office charges] related to their so-called parallel investigations to those of the Genoa Prosecutor’s Office, which was investigating the former head of the flying squad of Florence for false acts [falso] due to the recording of the conversation with the deputy [Prosecutor] Canessa (of which we have spoken above) which, according to the indictment, had been tampered with. This investigation then led to the search of the office of the Public Prosecutor of Perugia [Mignini’s office] and the seizure of numerous investigation documents.

Needless to add that the proceedings against Giuttari and the two police officers concluded with a judgment of non-suit for absolute lack of foundation of fact, as proclaimed by the Genoan Preliminary Hearing Judge Roberto Fenizia. The “aberrant” conviction of Giuliano Mignini does not have immediate disciplinary consequences of any kind. The disciplinary proceeding is in fact suspended until the resolution of the criminal case on which it depends.

And Public Prosecutor Mignini is able to continue to carry out his functions, in trials of great importance and of international interest, such as that relating to the death of the English student, Meredith Kercher.

All of this hardly reads like Dr Mignini sat around inventing things to ensure his promotion as Jay etc would have Americans believe. Quite the opposite. There are numerous strong signs of a group conspiracy both in the MOF murders and in the coverup. 

There is not much crime in Italy but some of what there is does involve powerful people. Police and prosecutors and judges are in part so popular because over 100 of them have been killed doing their best to bring an end to the mafias. Also popular because they expose corruption among MPs as in the cases of the 2006 Olympics and the 2010 earthquake rebuilding and some of Berlusconi’s doings.

Most Italian crime reporting reflects this and is objective and excellent and fair to all sides. But there is a subgroup of reporters who for highly questionable reasons tend to challenge the police at every step, the hapless Spezi among them. Some have their stories published in Oggi and you can see one example (involving Knox) now in the courts in Bergamo.

Regarding Mignini Italian prosecutors are far less powerful than is claimed in the United States. They are not elected as in the US and they have to jump through hoops again and again to get a case as far as trial. They also have watching them the Council of Magistrates (which early this year ruled for Nencini; it was never asked to look into Mignini).

Only case-guiding magistrates can keep suspects locked up (as Matteini did in the case of RS and AK) and prosecutors have almost zero latitude. Cassation ruled that the Narducci investigations had indeed been legitimate and could resume (sure, we can obtain that). But by then more years had passed, and most key, the casefile was back in Florence.

Okay, James, to your questions.

1. Judge Micheli sided with an attempt to stop the investigation, on weak grounds if you accept the above.

2. See above.

3. Correct. To take the case to Cassation was a decision of the Prosecutor General.

4. Unclear why you think Mignini did not have much of a case. That’s an FOA line, used by Jay. Cassation clearly did think so. The numbers involved hardly suggest Mignini must have got it wrong.

5. You think that Judge Micheli delaying the report for a year was maybe helpful to Dr Mignini. That’s also an FOA line, used by Jay. It did in fact delay the appeal to Cassation,  and it allowed statutes of limitations to cut in for many of the actions being investigated. So it was hardly very helpful to Mignini. Perception remains that Micheli was leaned on.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/24/14 at 04:15 PM | #

Helpful perhaps in the sense that it gave Mignini some time to produce some evidence for his theory i.e that Narducci had been murdered?

But how would I know?

Mignini had the 20 arrested for concealment of a murder.

I don’t believe everything I read on the Wiki but here’s a copy and paste re Mignini (there are links to sources)-

“Mignini’s theory involved a complicated conspiracy of 20 people, including government officials and law enforcement officers. Mignini indicted 20 people and charged them with the concealment of Narducci’s murder. The charges were eventually dismissed. Narducci’s family and colleagues believe that his death was a suicide.”

“On 22 March 2013 the Third Circuit Court of Cassation (Supreme Court of Italy) ruled that the main case related to criminal conduct “did not exist” [ed: presumably concealment of murder], and that Francesco Narducci died by suicide. In sustaining the lower court acquittals, the Court of Cassation also sent back for re-trial some of the parallel slander charges.”

I have no idea what parallel slander charges there would be.

If the above is accurate then Micheli emerges with a clean bill of health though perhaps he was criticized for the delay in his report. He never struck me as the type that could be leaned on.

Don’t want to fall out with anyone. Merry Christmas!

Posted by James Raper on 12/24/14 at 06:43 PM | #

Despicable attacks on Dr. Mignini by the raving fantasist called “Jay” on Ground Report. He accuses Prosecutor Mignini of crimes, what rot. He says Mignini cares more about his career and promotion than he does about the liberty of the innocent. Hogwash. He says Mignini hypnotized the media and controlled the media reports about Meredith’s murder. Nonsense.

Why doesn’t Jay look back at the interview Mignini gave Drew Griffin on TV when the distinguished public prosecutor was grilled by a callous young upstart (Griffin) who knew nothing about the case. Despite the attitude thrown at him on camera, Dr. Mignini was serene and just. He never set a foot wrong and showed Griffin remarkable patience while displaying an encyclopedic grasp of the legal case and proving point by point that Perugian justice was immaculate. Knox was given every benefit, treated by the police with caution, granted suspect status immediately when she placed herself at the crime scene by her own statements.

Jay rushes toward his own destruction emboldened by who knows what madness to cast aspersions on better and more intelligent men than himself. He accuses Mignini of a witch hunt, of framing poor Amanda and Raffaele for murder. Framing people for murder, how outlandish and unfair is that accusation against Dr. Mignini, that he would actually frame young students for murder to somehow enhance his career. Crazy talk. Absolutely crazy and outright vicious against a judge. To establish this frothy bubble Jay then builds a sand castle of speculation and innuendo relating to the Monster of Florence case from which Mignini emerged with clean hands after frivolous lawsuits against him.

Jay is a tool with a bad attitude against the judiciary. It seems he has a penchant for criminals and opposes justice with whatever nonsense he inhales from a mental crack pipe. Naturally he despises brave men and police and judges who stand for fair play, law, respect for human life and peace. None of which Meredith was granted thanks to vandals like her lawless roommate. But Jay is at home with Knox the rock thrower and her coked up friends.

Jay should light a fire and burn every word of his article for Ground Report. He will be fortunate if he can close the door that easily on his thoughtless and malicious tripe against upstanding judges who possess ten times the honesty he ever dreamed of, not to mention real courage.

But when a person like Jay is obsessed with the flawless virtue of a muskrat like Knox and her cleaver boy Sollecito who has the emotional maturity of Sailor Moon and who is seen on social media hiding his face behind toilet paper and for years hid his intentions behind drugs when not openly admiring a Gubbio or ONOFRI serial killer, reason has little chance.

Posted by Hopeful on 12/24/14 at 06:46 PM | #

Hi Hopeful

Yes Skeptical Bystander’s terrific series of posts capturing the entire interview Dr Mignini did with the slippery and biased Drew Griffin of CNN start with this one.

CNN itself only broadcast cherrrypicked excerpts and Skep obtained that from “the cutting room floor”. James Raper came solidly to the defense of Dr Mignini.

And yes the GroundReport poster Jay does read like a jailhouse lawyer, absurdly throwing everything he can against the wall in the hope that something will stick.

We perhaps know something of Jay’s history? I believe some on PMF dot Org think he is among those quite many seemingly supporting Knox because he and the law have not always got along happily.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/24/14 at 07:06 PM | #

Hi James

“Helpful perhaps in the sense that it gave Mignini some time to produce some evidence for his theory i.e that Narducci had been murdered?”

Huh?! Micheli stopped the investigation, he did not give it more time as he could have done.

“Narducci’s family and colleagues believe that his death was a suicide.”

You are quoting the FOA-written Wiki right? The reason why our own Wiki was created? If so do perhaps make that clear?

The opening para of Yummi’s February 2013 post quoted above which you may have missed reads as follows.

The investigation into the death of Dr Francesco Narducci was opened in Perugia in 2005 as a routine cold case, because of Narducci’s wife’s and relatives’  doubts about the “official” version of his “accidental” death in Lake Trasimeno.

Of murder there was incontrovertible evidence, see above. The poor guy’s body was trussed. We’ll get the Cassation ruling.

The case against Mignini at first appeal was also ruled “did not exist”. That was true and is a hard fact. Happy New Year!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/24/14 at 07:19 PM | #

An answer to the five questions in James Raper’s first comment on 12/24/14 at 08:27 AM.

1. There is a mistake in his point; yes, it was maybe the first “court appearance”, this might be (albeit I’m not sure), but it is not true that the predominant instance in preliminary courts is detention (not even investigating judges deal with detention most of the times). The “Narducci 20” were never detained, except Spezi, Ruocco and Zaccaria; and the latter three were detained only at a subsequent moment, on different charges, as further new actions were committed; they were not freed by a preliminary judge, but by a “Review Judge” (a kind of second investigating judge).

Let’s also point out that Judge Micheli acted as a “GUP” (preliminary judge) in the case of the “Narducci 20”, not as a “GIP” (Investigating judge). That means he should deal with the evidence collected during the investigation only after the investigation was completed and evidence settled. 

The actual role of a preliminary judge is pointed out by the Cassazione itself in the very sentence of annulment of the Micheli ruling: the role of a preliminary judge is to decide whether proceedings must go forward based on a “prognosis” about the probability of obtaining a conviction. That is to prevent trials on charges with a low probability of conviction from taking place, thus to reduce the number of trials. 

This is in fact the “predominant issue” before preliminary judges: an assessment of the probability that the charge would withstand a trial.

2. Micheli did not release the 20. As I said, the only three who were put under some legal measure were arrested, only months later, and released after some time when a specialized judged decided that cautionary measures were no longer necessary. 

The 20 were not detained. What Micheli did was to rule the dismissal of the charges. But on this point, you need to pay attention:  Judge Micheli did not dismiss the charges on findings of merit, he dismissed one of them (that charge of “mafia” or “criminal association”) basically on a point of law, while he dismissed the other charges because he thought they would be time-barred by the end of the trial; while he basically did not dispute the findings of facts.  He proposed alternative interpretations of those findings that would be “less serious” than a mafia association, and downgrade them to a “simple” conspiracy.

I will say something more below on this point.

3. & 4.  It is possible for the prosecution to take recourse at the Cassazione against a dismissal of charges, but it is rare, and it is infrequent for the Cassazione to accept the recourse. However, the Cassazione this time accepted Mignini’s recourse.

First of all, the Cassazione wrote that the events of the case were “complicated”, a comment which sounds to me like suggesting that the complexity of the case indeed resembles that of a Mafia investigation. And it also says, rather explicitly, that Micheli’s approach to it had been “superficial”; someone should look better into it.

Micheli wrote a 950-page long motivations report to rule the dismissal of charges, and issued it after a year even if he should have done it within 3 months. 

On this delay: in my opinion it is out of the question that Micheli waited so long because of the Hellmann verdict (if he wanted to take advantage from his timing against the prosecution he would have issued it while Mignini was still busy with the Hellmann appeal rather than after, so to leave him little time to organize a recourse, since the law leaves very little time for recourse against a dropping of charges). But I leave some room for the possibility that he might have waited, in order to give a further break to Spezi and Zaccaria, that is, waited a year more so as to make sure their charges would be actually time-barred (I acknowledge this is a malignant speculation on my part, but it’s not impossible).

On the merits, the Cassazione accepted that Micheli dismissed the charge of “criminal association”, so it found that the preliminary judge decision on this charge was correct, based on Micheli’s argumentation. The Cassazione was cautious and did not argue that there was no criminal association in the merits, but that the evidence presented to the judge was likely going to be insufficient to obtain a conviction on this charge.

This particular charge, “criminal association” or “mafia” , in the Italian penal code is a charge with very demanding elements and an outstanding probative standard: it requires to prove that a society was pre-existing to the crime committed and had a structure, and its purpose was to pursue illicit aims or to pursue its own interests by employing illegal coercive means, all this needs to be structured and pre-existing, no element can be occasional nor related to one single criminal event.

There had not been enough evidence that the members of the conspiracy were part of a criminal association that was already operating to pursue criminal means, therefore it was probably reasonable on the part of Micheli to drop this specific charge.

But the Cassazione found it was unreasonable for Micheli to drop the remaining 21 charges.

What did Micheli rule? Basically, he accepted all the points of fact put forward by Mignini: he acknowledged the fact that the defendants did operate to side-track the investigation of Narducci’s death, accepted that cover-ups were committed, accepted that Narducci’s death was not the consequence of a drowning but he died by strangulation and that it was not accidental, accepted that bodies were swapped, that the suspects presented false testimonies, and committed intimidation of witnesses and forgeries.

However, Micheli did not link these events to a possible covering-up of the killing of Narducci: he assumed that they were probably just covering up a suicide, or anyway there was not sufficient evidence to postulate a link with a killing of Narducci.

So Micheli accepted basically all the facts presented by Mignini, but did not relate them to a possible killing or a possible criminal activity in association. So the charges are downgraded from criminal association to a simple occasional conspiracy, and the charges become time-barred.
As for Spezi, Zaccaria and Ruocco, he found that they did attempt to place false evidence against an innocent person, that Spezi was a liar and did organize a plot to this purpose, but there may be no evidence beyond reasonable doubt that Spezi was absolutely certain that Antonio Vinci was innocent. So the charge of calunnia would be probably downgraded to simple obstruction and thus becomes time-barred too.

Basically all single charges were downgraded by Micheli making them time-barred or made dubious.  The conspiracy still existed, but it was somehow down-sized and trivialized. 

Now, while the Cassazione accepted the dismissal of the first charge, apparently they did not like Micheli’s dismissal of the other charges, at all, and even less the way he did it. Cassazione was scathing about Micheli’s 950-page ruling, called his reasoning “redundant”, his comments and approach “useless”, “superficial” “annoying” and “stucchevole” (slightly nauseating).

But above all the High Court accused Micheli of overlooking some key evidence (wiretappings). In other words, the various “alternative explanations” that Micheli provided to explain the cover-ups and relate them to a suicide were unsustainable before the evidence.  The systematic downgrading or dismissal of scenarios was not consistent with the evidence.

Those charges should not be dismissed on those specious grounds. Another judge should look more carefully into those charges.

Posted by Yummi on 12/25/14 at 01:21 AM | #

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all on TJMK!

Posted by Ergon on 12/25/14 at 02:06 AM | #

Thanks to Yummi.

Very best wishes for happy and peaceful moments over Christmas…to all the community at TJMK. Special thoughts and good wishes for Meredith’s family.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 12/25/14 at 12:52 PM | #

Meredith would have been 29 on Sunday. Her family celebrate her to try to bring some happiness and tranquility into this tough season for them. We will quote more at the weekend from John K’s great book.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/25/14 at 03:01 PM | #

Yummi explains the second great example of mission-creep in the two cases. First by Hellmann and now Micheli, a GUP trying to act like a GIP. 

Neither mission creep was by Dr Mignini, both were hostile to him, though the crackpots have bashed their brains out trying to prove mission-creep by Dr Mignini with huge gothic fictions like Jay’s examples in Ground Report.

Hellmann and Micheli were both rebuffed harshly by the Supreme Court. Yummi on Cassazione on Micheli:

Cassazione was scathing about Micheli’s 950-page ruling, called his reasoning “redundant”, his comments and approach “useless”, “superficial” “annoying” and “stucchevole” (slightly nauseating).

Ow. More about the mission-creep:

“Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs. The term was originally applied exclusively to military operations, but has recently been applied to many different fields.”

That’s from Wikipedia (not the pages FOA hijacked). Many definitions provide military examples and we hear it used a lot as responses to Iraq and Afghanistan and now ISIS/ISIL are calibrated to afford some sort of success without huge costs and deaths.

With 85% of judges and prosecutors in the US elected, often with big sums of money to help, they can be prone to it.

Italy is very much less prone, except by the judges and the (in many eyes redundant) juries at the intermediate level. Cassation is fully aware of this systemic loophole and harshly winds overreach instances back.

The Council of Magistrates also has this watchdog function and can reign in judges if there is a need. They passed on such an accusation against Judge Nencini earlier this year, and on merit with no reservations endorsed Dr Mignini’s rise to Deputy Prosecutor General of Umbria.

Under the Italian Constitution which puts in place the supervising GIPs like Judge Matteini the prosecutors simply dont have this mission-creep opportunity - actually something they like.

The Judge Matteinis are what, in 1000 demonizations of Mignini by Jay and Preston and Spezi and other crackpots, they always leave out - and why in the real world they carry no weight.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/25/14 at 04:32 PM | #

Belated Christmas greetings to all, especially Meredith’s family. The long haul is almost over.

Posted by Odysseus on 12/25/14 at 05:01 PM | #

A footnote for now on Doug Preston, on whom more exposures soon.

His trademark arrogance, duplicity and rage and taste for hairbrained campaigns got him into yet another fight. This time with the online bookseller Amazon, which by the way still carries his three dishonest books on the Perugia and Florence cases.

Amazon was resisting high prices, especially for Kindle. Amazon operates on slim margins and any discounts and cheap offerings help it along. Its bookbuyers indicated in a survey several years ago that lower prices for books and especially Kindle ebooks would help them as well.

Kindle means readers all over the world can buy books even where there is no bookstore and actually helps sales a lot. Also with electronic books there is no reselling where authors get no cut, and most authors now self-publish at least their older works.

Preston flared up at the low-prices policy, and then started a campaign among writers to support Hachette, the giant among publishers, in keeping prices and its own notoriously high margins high. Though he got support from some authors he was accused online of insulting readers, sounding very entitled, and mischaracterizing the real interests of authors.

Last month Hachette sorta won.

But its sales and its notoriously high margins are nosediving now, causing its meager payments to authors to be even less. High prices may sadly one day make publishers a thing of the past. In the US we already had the Borders chain, second to Barnes & Noble in bookstores, collapse.

On Preston’s role, which fooled a lot of good authors into not working to understand their real interests, a recent report in the Guardian included this.

A spokeswoman for Amazon made reference to statements Preston has made during the dispute.

She said: “Mr Preston says: ‘We have many loyal and committed readers. They listen when we speak. That represents power.’ He is completely missing the point. It’s not readers who should be listening to Mr Preston, but Mr Preston who should be listening to readers. And they have clearly expressed a preference for e-books priced less than $10.

“Even four years ago when readers expressed such a preference, Mr Preston responded by saying publicly, ‘The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing’. It’s pretty clear it’s Mr Preston who feels entitled. And what’s ‘astonishing’ is that he thinks readers won’t recognise an opportunist who seeks readers’ support while actively working against their interests.”

An opportunist, that is for sure. The entire trajectory of our numerous posts on him, mostly by Kermit, screams of being “all about me, me, me!”

Read more there on the Amazon authors and readers forum if you like, where Preston comes in for numerous whacks like these: 

To Preston: in America we like something called Capitalism. It means, something is worth what customers will pay for it. I read [Preston’s]  Impact, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth $10 on the day of release or any other. Perhaps if he wrote better books (and I think the Preston-Child books are MUCH better), he wouldn’t be such an easy target for 1-star reviews.

As to the quality of the product, some of the posters seem to think that in Mr. Preston’s case it hasn’t been so quality lately. Perhaps complacency generated by a business model that supports an “I don’t have to care about my readers” attitude. I can’t speak to that because he posted so rudely that I won’t bother to try his books.

Douglas Preston = one guy in desperate need of a Public Relations handler.

I see that one of the few pro-Preston comments on that forum is from the FOA crackpot Patrick King: Is Patrick King also humble before all the malicious stuff Preston simply made up?

Douglas Preston may rest assured that I will read his books where ever he chooses to publish them at whatever price he charges for them. His history, THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE, is of such great significance and executed with such skill and daring, I stand humble before his courage and talent.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/26/14 at 12:51 AM | #

I’ve sent a tweet to Simon Hattenstone:

Please retweet. Thanks.

Posted by The Machine on 12/27/14 at 08:52 AM | #
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