Stephen Robinson Review Death in Perugia

Stephen Robinson Review Death in Perugia

Postby Sarah » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:35 pm

Stephen Robinson - Sunday Times
Oct 30

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When the body of the British student Meredith Kercher was discovered in November 2007 in her bedroom in Perugia, it did not take long for her American flatmate Amanda Knox to place herself at the centre of the investigation.

Her failure to cry in public after the brutal murder offended Meredith’s English friends studying in the town. When she was seen hugging and kissing her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito in the hours after the body was found, Italian detectives took an interest. She performed a cartwheel at a police station while waiting to be interviewed. She turned up at one court hearing wearing a T-shirt bearing the legend “All You Need Is Love”. She had taken four lovers in her three months in Italy, one of whom she met on a train. She would speak frankly about her conquests, and kept condoms and a vibrator in her washbag in the bathroom of the flat she shared with other students. She was a bit of a domestic slattern who would not flush the lavatory. Foxy by name, foxy by nature, was the word in Perugia, though, in fact, she had earned that moniker for her prowess on the soccer field back home in Seattle.

Italian prosecutors, male and female, swiftly became fixated on the notion of an American sexual predator, her weak-willed Italian boyfriend with a fondness for extreme porn, and a beautiful, serene English victim.
Amanda did not help her legal cause. During protracted interrogation without access to a lawyer, she named Patrick Lumumba, an amiable bar owner, as the likely murderer, and there were other confusions and inconsistencies in her testimony. Within a week of Meredith’s death, investigators settled on a sensational murder scenario. Lumumba had long lusted after Meredith and, after an afternoon of smoking marijuana together, Amanda and Raffaele joined him in a sex game with a reluctant Meredith that “went wrong” and ended in the three of them stabbing her to death. Because Meredith’s body had been covered by a quilt, an obviously feminine display of pieta (pity), the prosecution concluded that a woman had to be involved. It was a bold judicial gambit, because there was no forensic evidence supporting any of it. Then it emerged that Lumumba had an alibi, so had to be released, much to the chagrin of the prosecutors. But rather than abandon the sex-game scenario altogether, the police arrested another African, Rudy Guede.

John Follain, who covered the trial so authoritatively for this newspaper, has produced an excellent account of the tragedy and the very Italian drama that followed. The clip from Meredith’s bra was left lying at the murder scene for 46 days, unnoticed by investigators until they happened upon it and claimed it bore a trace of Raffaele’s DNA, though this was dismissed on appeal. This was supposedly a depraved, drugs-fuelled sex game and assault, yet the pathologist found no firm evidence of sexual violence on Meredith’s body. Without rebuke from the trial judge, one lawyer pointed at Amanda in court and asked the jury if she was indeed “a diabolical she-devil, an explosive concentrate of sex, drugs and alcohol”.

The senior prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, is a particularly ludicrous character, who throughout the original trial was under criminal investigation for misconduct in a separate murder case that led to a 16-month suspended sentence and saw him accused of being “driven by a crusader’s fervour”.
This murder of an attractive, sweet-natured young British woman has spawned an ugly global controversy, pitching “Foxy groupies” against those understandably determined that the real victim should not be forgotten. I had first-hand experience of this last year when I interviewed a retired FBI investigator who pointed to numerous flaws in the prosecution case. Although Guede fled Italy and left bloody handprints and footprints all over Meredith’s bedroom, Amanda’s and Raffaele’s were absent, which meant it was impossible for them to have joined in a frenzied attack, unless they had been suspended from the ceiling. When I reported the FBI man’s view, I was pursued across the internet by Meredith supporters who denounced me in personal terms, assuming I must be in the pay of the she-devil’s camp.

So I can see why Follain has been circumspect in offering his own views in this definitive account of the murder and the trial, and the subsequent successful appeal by Amanda and Raffaele earlier this month when a jury rejected the dubious DNA evidence. But I wish he had gone further in analysis and opinion, and made more of the flawed prosecution case that never explained how the pair stabbed a young woman to death without splattering themselves in blood, or leaving their prints at the crime scene.

Amanda wrote of herself in a prison memorandum, “I’m a bit of a weirdo”, and that is an understatement. But only in an Italian courtroom could eccentricity be confected into an outlandish murder conspiracy based on crude stereotyping and grotesque incompetence.
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Re: Stephen Robinson Review Death in Perugia

Postby geebee2 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:11 am

Well, still some wrong chestnuts here... cartwheel = Yoga exercise, and she did flush, but wasn't familiar with toilet brush (I think).

But an interesting account nevertheless, and coming from the Times stable, fairly welcome.

He's suggesting that John Follain is circumspect for fear of being pursued by guilters !?
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Re: Stephen Robinson Review Death in Perugia

Postby erasmus44 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:10 am

After a day or so of reading on line, I was leaning strongly to the innocent or at a minimum not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt position , and so I tried to read everything on the other side of the issue to be sure I wasn't missing something - I read Nadeau, Massei and lots of stuff on the guilter sites. In that spirit I have just read Follain. He is definitely very dependent on sources within the police and prosecutor's office and also MK's English girlfriends and often states their positions on issues that are in dispute as if they were undisputed fact. Like most journalists he is sympathetic to the people he uses as sources and will need to continue to use as sources and he tends to describe them favorably. A couple of things I found surprising: 1. I hadn't realized that the Massei report found that "Raffeale had, as he claimed, called the carabinieri before the postal police arrived at the cottage" - p.377 - Wow, a lot of time and energy has been wasted on that issue. If the prosecution oriented Massei report reached this conclusion, we really should put this issue to bed - they were not interrupted in the middle of a clean up! 2. P. 164 - The police chief Chiacchiera argued against arresting AK and RS - Follain does not go into detail on this at all and I would really like to know what the nature of the debate inside the police department was, 3. Sometimes he quotes from conversations between lawyers and their clients - I assume that Italy has an attorney client privilege and so I wonder where Follain go this information, was the privilege waived? If so, he could tell us. 4. It is really surprising that in all the taped meetings, tapped phone calls, confiscated diaries,etc. - there really isn't anything that could fairly be described as even marginally incriminating against AK or RS. Were the police disappointed? Was there ever a point at which anyone on the police/prosecution team felt a tiny bit of doubt as to whether they were barking up the wrong tree? 5. I had always been somewhat concerned about the RS interview with Mansey - reading Follain's account, it appears that there was confusion about the day on which the activity was described.
I am still firmly in the innocent camp and cannot see how(especially after the CV report) anyone playing with a full deck of cards can think they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I think we all have to realize that some of the best evidence(e.g. the Hendry report) is apparently not before the Italian courts and, as Hellman accurately states, the courts must adjudge the case based only on the record before them. If for some crazy reason, this is ever retried, I personally will contribute some money to enable Hendry to appear as a witness.
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Re: Stephen Robinson Review Death in Perugia

Postby geebee2 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:32 am

erasmus44 - thanks for the report.

It is strange how (presumably) many people are still somehow convinced that Amanda and Raffaele were guilty.

After understanding the main elements of the case ( especially Amanda's interrogation and the problems with the forensic evidence ) there really isn't any evidence indicating their guilt, and quite a few things suggesting their innocence.

But I think if I was forced to keep reading Massei for days on end, without appreciating the logical leaps, I could somehow fall into the guilter way of thinking. It's a sort of spell.

I wonder what the most of the police will think after Hellman's report is published. I do hope it demolishes every part of Massei, and doesn't just concentrate on the weakest links ( but maybe that won't be the case ).
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