Sunday, April 3, 2011

Italian Magazine Sheds Light on the Free Falling-Case Against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito

We were told there was a mountain of evidence proving Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito murdered Meredith Kercher, in Perugia Italy, in late 2007. We heard bold claims about a "double DNA" knife that had been cleaned with bleach, an eyewitness account putting Amanda and Raffaele near the crime scene, and an ear piercing scream solidifying the prosecution's believed time of death. This evidence all sounded believable to the judge and jury the first time around but it isn't holding up so well on appeal.

Giangavino Sulas has written an article for Oggi Magazine highlighting new information  that has sent the prosecution's case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito into a free-fall.

Crime in Perugia: The “collapse” of the prosecution during the appeal process
By Giangavino Sulas

This article has been translated for Injustice in Perugia by Maurice R. Azurdia.

Perugia, April.
The prosecution, which considers Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito the murderers of Meredith Kercher has been disarmed.

The scientific proof that has finally been assigned to experts appointed by the appeals court and not just to the police, is crumbling, and revealing disturbing questions about the procedures used. The witnesses, if they are not drug addicts, or end up in jail for distribution of drugs (as was the case with Kokomani and Curatolo), then suffer from deafness and from physical and also mental problems, to the extreme of undergoing recovery in the psychiatric ward  (as was the case with Nara Capezzali).

This is the appeal process in Perugia for the homicide of the British student Meredith Kercher.  On the chair two defendants, and on the prosecution bench three prosecutors (one General Prosecutor and two assistants). A crowd worthy of a Grand Jury in the case of a Mafia trial (In Italy known as: “Cosa Nostra,” meaning: “Our Business”). Evidently, there is some sort of problem with this. And the problems have appeared right on schedule.

If the clasp of Meredith's bra, on which the prosecution claims to have discovered the DNA of Raffaelle Sollecito, is rusted and can no longer be examined by the experts appointed by the appeals court, and the only witness claiming to have seen Amanda and Raffaele together the night of the crime has changed his version, by changing the dates of his “sighting,” then what else is left as evidence against the young man from Puglia?

And what is left against Amanda if, according to the experts, the amount of biologic material found on the knife (presumed murder weapon), has levels of material that are too low to decipher the genetic code?

Let’s recall that it was from this biologic material that the scientific police had extracted the DNA belonging to Meredith (from the top of the blade) and to Amanda (from the handle). The experts added also another detail, that the knife did not exhibit traces of bleach.  Hence, it was never washed to cancel traces of evidence, as had been claimed by the scientific police. The only proof against the two young people has been swept away, but Amanda and Raffaele remain in jail for three and a half years now. The young man from Puglia celebrated his fourth birthday in a cell on March 26. 

Antonio Curatolo
And March 26 was also the day of Antonio Curatolo, the vagrant who decided to follow the steps of Jesus and who spent his nights on a bench in piazza Grimana, in front of a university attended by foreign students (he defined himself as a Christian anarchist, but admitted to the regular use of heroin and also to its distribution). Curatolo appeared for the second time in front of the Court because Luca Maori, attorney for Sollecito, discovered a few too many holes in the vagrant’s testimony as was given to the prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, six months after the crime.

Curatolo, who in recent years had assisted the Perugia police by helping solve two brutal crimes thanks to his prompt presence at the scenes where these two crimes had been committed, appeared in court  claiming that he had seen Amanda and Raffaele on the evening of November 1, 2007, between 9:30 pm and 11:30 pm, animatedly discussing something with each other. Curatolo had linked his recall of this event to the presence of mini-buses, which at that time of the evening had been transporting young people to several discos outside of Perugia.

His testimony demolished the alibi of the two young people, who had always claimed that the evening of November 1, the night of the crime, they had spent at home watching a movie.

But the presence of the mini-buses was something that did not fit. In fact, the owners of several discos, amongst them Giorgio Brughini,  the father-in-law of Marco Materazzi, and the Perugia Director of the Italian Society of Authors and Editors (Siae), arrived in court to state that the evening of November 1, the evening after Halloween, that the discos had been closed and that the mini-buses had been garaged. A hard blow for the prosecution, who immediately recalled the vagrant. Curatolo entered the courtroom escorted by the penitentiary police.

He is serving a sentence of eighteen months in jail for distribution and sale of cocaine. In November he is going to appear at another trial for the same charges. In front of the judges, he contradicted his previous deposition. “It was October 31, when I saw Amanda and Raffaele. I recall all the young people were wearing costumes.” A clear reference to the night of Halloween. End of testimony. Curatolo was returned to jail. 

It will not be Curatolo who will resolve the third crime. It will be Carla Vecchiotti and Sefano Conti, faculty experts of the Sapienza University in Rome, the experts appointed by the court of appeals. They were appointed by Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann when he decided to open the investigation and obtain expert neutral opinion about the dark issues of the process. This expert neutral opinion which inexplicably had originally been denied.

The two experts will have to verify that the scientific police followed established protocols for this type of analysis and will have to determine if there was contamination during the examination of the knife and the bra clasp.

On first analysis, it appears that they have already reached a conclusion: on the knife, after recovering samples from diverse parts of the knife, they have found that there is not a sufficient quantity of biological material. Sufficient quantity meaning, enough to establish genetic profiles of any use for an investigation. How could then, the scientific police obtain enough DNA from Amanda and Meredith? The prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is quick to claim: “We knew then that the available amount of material was so small that the testing conducted by the police would be the only one that could be performed, because they used all the material that was found.” But then, why did the court order new tests? In reality, the two appointed experts invalidate the work of the police by stating that “On that knife, there never was enough biological material in enough quantities to obtain genetic profiles.” This is the resounding and disturbing truth which is emerging from the latest forensic activity.

The second investigation discovered even more disturbing facts. The experts took delivery of the clasp belonging to the Meredith’s bra, and found it totally covered in rust: “impossible to analyze,” they concluded.

But where and how was this evidence conserved? Is it possible that nobody thought of preserving it in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag? The story of this clasp which so far has cost three and a half years of jail time to Raffaele Sollecito is truly peculiar. The clasp was found on the afternoon of November 2, 2007, under Meredith’s body by medical examiner Luca Lalli. The clasp was photographed but then someone forgot to bag it and it remained at the scene of the crime. It remained there for forty-six days. Until December 18, when the investigators realized that a footprint of a shoe discovered next to Meredith’s body could not be connected—due to size and design disparities—to Raffaele Sollecito. In fact, the footprint belonged to Rudy Guede. Then somebody remembered the clasp. They ran to recover it from a house that up until then had undergone three investigations. They found the clasp, and surprise, it was really Rafaelle’s DNA that was on it.

Now there is only rust.