Friday, January 29, 2010

Why The Florence Conviction Of Dr Mignini Doesnt Matter Very Much

Posted by Commissario Montalbano

Trial prosecutor Giuliano Mignini with appeal prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola

1. Background Of The Case

We previously posted on the case here and here.

Dr Francesco Narducci was found dead in Lake Trasimeno, to the west of Perugia, in 1985, and he had been a suspect in the Monster killings.

At first it was presumed to be a regular drowning. However, years later, as a result of some wiretapping for unrelated extortion cases, and thanks to some anonymous claims that Narducci was part of a satanic sect which had commissioned the monster’s killings, and had been killed by members of the same sect, the prosecutor in charge (Mignini) reopened the Narducci case.

The monsters’ modus operandi was to kill courting couples and to cut off the left breast and the genital area of the woman killed using a scalpel, which is why doctors tended to be suspected at the time.

The body was exhumed in 2002 and they found during the new autopsy (no autopsy was done back in 1985) that he might have been drugged and strangled in fact.

There had been some investigations following that autopsy finding dating back to 2004, and apparently some turf wars between the prosecutor’s office in Florence (which was in charge of the Monster case) and the one in Perugia (which was now in charge of the Narducci case).

It seems that in spite of an indictment of a pharmacist in Mercatale (the town near Florence where one of the 3 monsters was from) and a dermatologist, the complete mystery of the murders haven’t been solved as yet.

2. Outcome Of First-Level Trial

There were disagreements between Prosecutor Paolo Canessa in Florence, who for murky reasons wanted to bury the case, and Mignini, who thought there was a need to investigate the allegations that there was a sect that was actually commissioning and buying the body parts from the monsters (the actual killers were three friends, all convicted and now passed away).

The Florence prosecutor at the trial, Luca Turco, claimed that Giuttari and Mignini had conducted illicit investigations - which were in fact authorized by a judge - on some police officials and journalists because they were obstructing the investigation into the mysterious death of Francesco Narducci. Turco requested 10 months for Mignini and 30 months for Giuttari.

3. Legal Ramifications Of Provisional Verdict

First of all Article 27 of the Italian constitution says that a defendant is innocent until found guilty with a definitive sentence (i.e. only after the Supreme Court upholds the conviction in the second and last appeal). The appeal prospects of Giuttari and Mignini seem to be strong on both jurisdiction and evidence grounds.

Therefore in the eye of Italian law Mignini is provisionally still innocent until all appeals are exhausted.

Second of all, all sentences of 2 years in prison or under are automatically suspended, even when definitive, if one has no prior conviction. If within the next five years the defendant doesn’t commit any crime, the sentence is totally expunged. If instead he commits another crime than the suspended sentence is also applied, and the defendant has to serve it.

The suspension applies to both the prison term, and also to the interdiction from holding any public offices (which comes automatically with any conviction).

As a result of the above, Mignini will be able to continue his work in the Kercher case with no consequences. This provisional conviction may be exploited by some US media to discredit the Italian justice system further, and in particular this prosecutor and his handling of the Knox investigation as well.

I doubt that will have any effect on the outcome of the Knox/Sollecito appeal case. Although Mignini will give some assistance to the Procuratore Generale in the appeal, his own office is not competent at the appeal level, and therefore Mignini will not be arguing the case in court at the appeal level.

4. Three Levels Of Prosecution

There are 3 separate types of Prosecutor’s offices in Italy, each competent for a certain level of trial.

1st Level: Procura Della Repubblica

This office comprises the Procuratore della Repubblica (State Prosecutor), assisted by various Sostituti Procuratori della Repubblica (Assistant State Prosecutors). Mignini and Comodi are two such Assistants (Sostituti).

This office is competent for arguing on behalf of the State before the Tribunal and before the Court of Assizes (the latter tries serious crimes for which the Penal Code calls for at least 24 years in prison as the maximum sentence)

This Office (Procura della Repubblica), of which Mignini is part, tries only at the first trial level. These magistrates are not the competent offices for representing the State at the appeal level. That tasks falls into the hands of the office below

2nd Level (appeal level): Procura Generale Della Repubblica Presso La Corte D’appello E La Corte D’assise D’Appello

Long name, but the key words are GENERALE and APPELLO. That’s a sort of District Attorney General office before the Courts of Appeals. It’s composed of a Procuratore Generale Della Repubblica (District State Attorney General) assisted by various assistants called Sostituti Procuratori Generali Della Repubblica.

This office is competent for representing the State at the Appeal level both at the Court of Appeals and at the Court of Assizes of Appeals. This is usually argued by the Procuratore Generale himself or sometimes he might delegate his Sostituti (Assistants).

The prosecutor’s offices explained above are present in each district (basically each province) and they present the cases for which they are competent before the courts and tribunals in their districts.

Third level: Procuratore Generale Presso La Suprema Corte Di Cassazione

If the case reaches the Supreme Court of Cassation, located in Rome, there will be another prosecutor representing the State before that court:

That’s the State Prosecutor General before the Supreme Court of Cassation. His office is in the Courthouse of Rome. He’s also one of the ‘de jure’ members of the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura

He will be the one arguing the case before the Supreme Court. Of course he has assistants as well. The office above is the only one in Italy, and as just mentioned it’s located in Rome.

Posted by Commissario Montalbano on 01/29/10 at 05:34 AM in The wider contexts


We have heard (and expect to hear more) from Perugia that a common perception is that Mignini got shafted for getting a lot too close to the truth. A brave and dedicated man.

It is widely believed that there actually WAS a satanic cult in Florence behind the MOF murders and that the powerful cultists are still capable of pulling the levers of power.

Mignini lives to fight another day - suspended sentence, and his job and retirement benefits are unaffected - but few people believe he deserved this. Especially those with access to the full 10,000-plus pages of evidence.

Amazing how the Free Amanda crowd continue to argue that everything depended on whether there was DNA on the knife when 90% of the evidence was not even challenged. They really haven’t a clue.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/29/10 at 09:49 AM | #

Thanks CM for your post.

Let’s not forget that Mignini is still the prosecutor for the ongoing obstruction of justice trial against Narducci’s own father (Ugo Narducci) and other persons involved in the said obstruction.

For that case the dead doctors wife is a civil party on that trial as she totally refutes the idea that her husband committed suicide!

Posted by Jools on 01/29/10 at 03:06 PM | #

Hi Jools. Yes, this is about the allegation that the father had an unmarked body substituted and publicly fished out of the lake, because Narducci’s real body found earlier so evidently bore the signs of his torture and murder.

If you start from the possibility that there really was/is a satanic sect in Florence (which dozens of fine journalists in Italy believe) which Preston and Spezi have almost fanatically been denying and covering up, then you might conclude that Preston and Spezi are the satanic sect’s ultimate glovepuppets.

If they really are the sect’s glovepuppets, then Preston’s and Spezi’s roles look to be by far the most contemptible of all the deniers in Knox’s case.

1) In the cause of denying the satanic sect, first deny true justice to the many families of the many victims of the Florence murders.

2) Then in the cause of denying the satanic sect, also deny true justice to the family and friends of Meredith Kercher. 

Nice going. A book should really be written. Maybe it will be. Stay tuned. Oh, and dont forget to catch the movie with Tom Cruise. Playing the ultimate sock puppet.

Not a typical Tom Cruise role. That should drag people into the theaters…

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/30/10 at 12:07 AM | #

Thank you Commissario, for your explanation of this case as well as the tripartite appeal process in Italy. I feel like I understand this MoF case just a little bit better. It is certainly a tangled web. It is certainly not at all clear what happened in Florence to those poor people, except that some “monster” or “monsters” were involved. I am sure Mignini was just doing his best to ferret out the truth. It would appear he went too far in some of his actions, but that is all, and it has no relation to Meredith’s murder.

Posted by Earthling on 01/30/10 at 05:06 AM | #

Earthling, if you are interested in the Monster of Florence case there is a good article on Wikipedia, but it’s in Italian (enter Mostro di Firenze).

Unfortunately the Wikipedia article in English is not very informative, and factually wrong in some parts, especially when it states that the three monsters were acquitted.

Of the three monsters (all three friends and voyeurs) one died before his case reached the final sentence by the Supreme Court, the other two were convicted and the sentence confirmed by the Supreme court.

One of the three confessed to at least some of the crimes and implicated the other two in his confession. He also confessed that these crimes were commissioned by people very “up high” but he always refused to make any names.

Although the implication of the three convicted (and now dead) monsters is certain and established, however the case is still considered unresolved, since many (including Mignini and Giuttari and many others) actually believe that there might have been more than three monsters who materially committed those crimes with the three of them, and maybe one of those might have been in fact a doctor.

It’s a very fascinating case, one day I’ll read the book by Giuttari (who was the main investigator in the 1990s when the monsters were arrested). The title of his 2006 book is “Il mostro. Anatomia di un’indagine” (The monster. Anatomy of an investigation)

Posted by Commissario Montalbano on 01/30/10 at 09:25 AM | #

commissario—thank you so much for the eye opener on this. if it is found that mignini was overzealous in his investigation on the MoF case…well the law is the law, but it is clearly understandable—given the situation with Narducci (why in the world would the police not insist on an autopsy if his wife and husband are giving conflicting statements?) the italian equivalent of hinky meters should have been sounding off all over the place.

i wonder if the cruise movie will be made, but even if it’s another bomb (such as valkyrie) perhaps it will open some serious discussion on this incredibly interesting case.

Posted by mojo on 02/01/10 at 01:38 PM | #

Commissario, thank you very much for this very informative exposition of the case laid against Giuttari and Mignini and the recent verdict against them.
It would appear that there were (and doubtlessly still are) very powerful vested interests lurking in the shadows of the Monster(s) of Florence affair and the spin-off Narducci case.
Mignini strikes me as a brave and determined seeker of the truth, both in the Meredith Kercher case and in the MoF/Narducci affair.  Giuttari is yet another police officer looking for the truth with the odds set against him.
The explanation of the Italian prosecutorial system and its different levels is most timely.
I await anxiously for the publication of the motivations in the Knox/Sollecito matter.  I am sure that I am not alone in that desire.

Posted by Tiziano on 02/02/10 at 04:30 AM | #

er…wife and FATHER not husband, of course…face hits palm.

Posted by mojo on 02/03/10 at 05:01 PM | #
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