Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini has now been convicted by a court in Florence of abusing his official powers. He has been sentenced to 16 months in prison, but, as is usual in Italian criminal justice, he is free to live his life and practice his profession while the appeal is heard.
Mignini describes the charges against him as technical and hard to understand. In fact, they spring from specific acts in which he abused the power of his office.
The story has its origins in a series of shocking murders committed during the 1970s and 80s by someone whom the press dubbed the Monster of Florence (MOF). Young couples, who had parked in a remote place to have sex, were shot with a pistol. The bodies of the women were grotesquely mutilated after they were dead.
Crime experts recognize the MOF murders as the work of a particular kind of sexual deviant, one whose best-known precedent is Jack the Ripper. Mignini, however, is no crime expert. He is a crackpot who sees the world through a veil of ignorance and superstition. He got involved in the MOF case while investigating the death of a Dr. Narducci, whose drowned corpse was found in a lake near Perugia. In a flight of pure fantasy, Mignini concocted a theory that linked Narducci's death to the MOF. The essence of his theory is that the MOF killings were done by assassins who were paid to procure body parts used in the rituals of a Satanic cult. Dr. Narducci belonged to this cult, but he had become a security risk, so other cult members decided to kill him and make it look like an accident or suicide.
This theory attracted widespread and well-deserved ridicule. Among Mignini's critics were author Doug Preston and his Italian writing partner, Mario Spezi. Preston was living in Italy when he and Spezi came up with the idea of doing a book about the MOF. They realized that Mignini's theory was preposterous, and Spezi said so publicly. In response, Mignini forced Preston to leave the country and ordered the police to bug Spezi's car and ransack his office. Eventually Mignini arrested Spezi and threw him in jail, which attracted the ire of a human rights group, the Committee to Protect Journalists. After three weeks, a judge ordered Spezi's release despite Mignini's vehement objections.
This conduct forms the basis of the criminal charges for which Mignini has now been convicted. The matter has attracted attention outside Italy because Mignini also led the Meredith Kercher murder investigation. His theory in that case is as far-fetched as his speculation about the MOF. In his closing argument at the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, Mignini told the court that Amanda spearheaded the attack to "take revenge on that prissy girl" and taunted Meredith by saying, "now you'll be forced to have sex."
In fact, there is no evidence that Amanda uttered these improbable words or harbored any such thoughts. No one has ever claimed that Amanda displayed the slightest hostility toward Meredith, either directly or in conversation with others. But evidence is not important to Mignini. He solves crimes simply by using his filthy mind to imagine what might have happened.
That is fine for masturbation, but it's not how a prosecutor is supposed to operate. Amanda and Raffaele should be freed while their appeal is pending, and Mignini should be taken out of commission before he damages more innocent lives.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Though well known to followers of the case, it's worth briefly recounting Amanda's testimony of the interrogation. During her testimony, Amanda stated that police called her a "stupid liar" and hit her on the back of the head after Knox denied she was lying. She further stated that the officers kept suggesting Patrick Lumumba's name. In short, suffice it to say that Amanda has continued to claim that she was not treated well by the police. Her version of events certainly indicate an interrogation that was accusatory in nature (though Perugian police claim she was not a suspect....), and certainly tense.
The Elephant in the Room: The Audio of the Interrogation
No one can really seem to answer whether an audio of the interrogation actually took place. It is difficult to believe an audio recording does not exist, but prosecutor Giuliano Mignini in the recent More4 documentary (Directed by Garfield Kennedy) alleged that no audio was ever taken, citing the excitement surrounding the accusation of Patrick Lumumba. They simply "forgot" to record it. So we have two options: (1) An audio or video of Amanda Knox's interrogation was never recorded OR (2) an audio or video was recorded. Pretty simple competing trains of thought here. So let's look at both options.
1. The Interrogation Was Never Recorded: It is very hard to believe that this was the case for many reasons, but the one that sticks out the most is the fact that they were recording everything else Amanda and Raffaele were saying. This fact has been known going back all the way to 2007. As reported on Dateline NBC on December, 21, 2007, "By [Saturday, Nov. 3] authorities were bugging every phone call placed and received by the young lovers." Every phone call! The police were more than happy to release what they felt were incriminating statements to the press from these bugged conversations. (Another exploration to consider: It's very strange for the police to be bugging the two since they were supposedly just being treated as witnesses....).
Even if we take Giuliano Mignini at his word in describing the reasons for the lack of audio tape, we still have to deal with the fact that he wasn't there for the portion of interrogation where Amanda claimed she was hit.
So there are many unanswered questions. The police were tapping the phones of Amanda and Raffaelle. We know from the testimony that they were suspicious of everything they were doing. We know that Giobbi testified that both Amanda and Raffaele were called into the police station, not of their own volition to help as witnesses.
Something isn't adding up.
(Note: You can also read Mignini's explanation in Italian here.)
2. The interrogation was recorded: If this is the case, then the audio was either lost (reeking of incompetence), and the police are lying about it, or it was thrown away, and the police are lying about it. If the audio of the interrogation has been destroyed, the question then of course is: why? You would think the Perugian police would have no problem with any tape of the interrogation being played if the tape would actually confirm their testimony from the trial. So, if the interrogation actually was recorded, observers have legitimate reason to believe in some sort of cover up by the police, or at the very least, absolute incompetence in losing such a crucial piece of evidence.
Conclusion: One can subjectively come to the conclusion that Amanda was or was not hit (I think it's obvious where I stand on the issue). That being said, for Manuela Comodi to explicitly say that no investigation was necessary where there are a multitude of questions needing to be answered in order for any sort of slander to be proven is extremely showing. Certainly the actual court statements during Amanda Knox's murder trial are not enough to prove anything in regards to slander one way or another. Thus, any way you look at it, Comodi is either amazingly corrupt or amazingly inept, exhibiting a pathetic lack of diligence to follow through with basic inquiry that is in the interest of justice. Of course, this is the kind of situation one can expect when we ask the same police who are accusing defendants of slander to investigate themselves. The police will always win that one.
Friday, January 22, 2010
More detailed report from Linda Byron with Video:
Italian Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini successfully convinced a jury that Amanda Knox masterminded the slaying of her former British housemate, Meredith Kercher, during a drug fueled sex game.
Knox was convicted of murder in December and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her conviction was a personal victory for Mignini, who is the Public Minister of Perugia and a powerful prosecutor.
The penalty was suspended and an appeal is pending, but the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura --the national organ of government of the judiciary-- could start disciplinary proceedings which could lead to the suspension of Mignini from his functions. The disciplinary trial, to be held behind closed doors, could start any time by CSM's own initiative. It would involve another magistrate defending Mignini and could last several weeks.
Condemned. Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor who headed the investigation and prosecution of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, is now a convicted criminal himself.
He has received a 1 year and four month sentence (along with his partner, who got an extra two months) for abuse of office and bugging journalists in connection with the Fransesco Narducci case. Mignini's sentence was even more than the 10 months that the Florentine prosecutor, Luca Turco, had asked for.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
And she said it, very simply: "You are a liar!" And, bam! She hit me on my head! And all the description we know.
"Jailed student killer Amanda Knox is to be charged with slander after she claimed she was beaten by police, a prosecutor revealed today.
Knox, 22, was sentenced to 26 years last month after being convicted of the brutal sex murder of her flatmate Meredith Kercher, 21, who was knifed to death for refusing to take part in a sex game.
During Knox's trial she claimed twice that police had beaten her during questioning - although when asked in court if she could identify them she was unable to do so."