Caccia Alla Volpe

The Knox/Sollecito appeal adds to the list of examples that highlight the schism created by the information superhighway (although, it more likely highlights a separation already within society); the internet can be simultaneously enlightening, and a return to the dark ages. On the one hand you have the wonderful access to information garnered by the technology as provided by a diligent army of truth defenders (lawyers, skeptics, WikiLeaks, etc.). On the other, the immediate accessibility to a mainly unmoderated platform for publishing uninformed views. It does beg the question, if people on one side of the internet are conscientious in forming their opinions, then why is the other so willing to make judgements without studying the freely available evidence? Is it not in our nature to be inquisitive, and in our modesty to be sure of our facts?
The Knox/Sollecito appeal against their conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher was the outcome of a criminal investigation. To that end, the basis for a correct conviction was the evidence, and by definition that evidence must always be proven factual. Therefore, to be certain of the facts, it was essential to dismiss all the rhetoric from this case: the ad hominem attacks (“sex-loving she-devil”), the politics (anti-Americanism), class (rich vs poor) and race issues (white Knox and Sollecito vsblack Guede and Lumumba), and reduce the case to it’s simplest form, where the remaining facts were all that mattered.
Irrespective of this, prosecutor Mignini pursued a tact that clearly indicated an ulterior motive. He played an Inquisition-type game with his delusions of satanic sacrifices and carnal conspiracies. Even the thought that this was allowed is horrifying. As with any murder trial, the responsibility was huge here: the consequence of getting it right is whether two young people are free to live their lives, or be incarcerated into middle age.
It is therefore an equally huge relief that the appeal was successful. Not only did it reverse the original sentencing and freed Knox and Sollecito with immediate effect, but it also exonerated them entirely of any involvement in Kercher’s murder, and all this in Catholic Italy where they still entertain talk of witchcraft by counsel. It is as much a win for rationalism over superstition, as it is a win for justice over corruption.
To repeat, going by the evidence as the only basis for passing judgment on the case, in his statement the judge make it clear that there is no question that Knox and Sollecito are innocent of any involvement in the murder. Yet, however unequivocal this most recent judgement, a large section of society seems adamant not to accept the clear fundamental evidence that proved Guede’s guilt (in addition to the irrefutable DNA evidence, his inability to account for his bloody handprint on the pillow is most damning), and Knox’s and Sollecito’s innocence (admittedly, confusion over their statements and implication of Lumumba did not help, but panic and police coercion account for it, and cross-contamination of evidence was the only way their DNA became implicated).
Thus, Knox and Sollecito did not “get away with it” as claimed by the antagonists directing the extreme hate and bile particularly at Knox, via the #AmandaKnox and #MeredithKercher Twitter hashtags or their alternatives. The other themes almost entirely relate to American Imperialism and Knox’s sexuality and the personal wealth that she stands to earn from this experience. So, why do these people feel qualified to judge this case without apparent reference to the evidence, but rather focussing upon fatuous aspects from beyond the courtroom?
Some examples of these attacks follow this copy of the original judge’s Sentence of the Court of Perugia which is included here for your own information, as the only relevant documentary evidence in the case.
To highlight the continuing apparent ignorance and hyperbole surrounding this case, the following tweet screen-shots were collected from the #AmandaKnox Twitter hashtag on the evening of the 5th October, 2011, i.e., fully 2 days after the appeal verdict.
Follow up postPer Non Aver Commesso Il Fatto

About JFDerry

Writer. Darwin, science & more. 4 books: Piospheres, Darwin in Scotland, Serial Killers. Current project is THE DISSENT OF MAN. Born near London, raised near Primrose Hill and in Lincolnshire, and studied at the Universities of Bangor, York and Edinburgh for degrees in Biochemistry, Bioelectronics and Biological Computation, and a PhD in African Ecology. Mainly working in British and African universities, but also in Spain, Brussels, Mongolia and Australia, to date, publication history is mostly in academic journals, on aspects of computational biology, pastoralism and on Charles Darwin and evolution. However, also written for several national newspapers, various governments, several major record labels and independent book publishers. Fiction has appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and poetry is at the Human Genre Project. Lives in Edinburgh, with partner and their two daughters.
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31 Responses to Caccia Alla Volpe

  1. Max Meier says:

    “In surprisingly frank remarks, judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann said that the American and her boyfriend “maybe know” what really happened on the night that Miss Kercher was found stabbed to death in the house she shared with Miss Knox in Perugia.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/8809514/Amanda-Knox-judge-She-may-know-the-real-truth.html

    So, Knox and Sollecito may in fact have got away with it as far the judge is concerned.

  2. JFDerry says:

    Yes, that is surprising and not particularly helpful, especially to the Kercher family.

    Hellmann seems to be saying that they couldn’t be kept imprisoned while awaiting the prosecution appeal. But he is contradicting what he said at the defence verdict reading where he clearly stated that they were absolutely not involved. And now, with this latest comment, he even contradicts himself within the same statement:

    “No-one can say what really happened. The only person is Rudy Guede … For the moment, Amanda Knox is completely innocent,” the judge added.
    http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/16083132

    Nonetheless, there is still no evidence that implicates Knox and Sollecito in Kercher’s murder whereas that for Guede is overwhelming.

  3. Max Meier says:

    Do you speak Italian? Translations can be tricky, especially if it involves legalese. I am thus not sure that he actually said what you claim when he read the verdict.

    And I don’t think that he contradicts himself. He says that judging from what we know for sure, from a legal point of view, based on the presumption of innocence, she’s innocent. That’s all.

    You can therefore fairly write that Knox and Sollecito are innocent, but to add “of any involvement in the murder” is simply adding spin.

  4. JFDerry says:

    In the process of collecting and collating transcripts of the appeal verdict reading. It definitely contains, “per non aver commesso il fatto”, meaning “for not having committed the crime”. I’ll post the literal translations as soon as I have them.

    Clip source: Washington Post[m4v file]

    Translators:
    Thanks in advance, in no particular order, for translation services to @ChicaLolita, @Danisacerdoti and @SimonSalento.

    [UPDATE]
    1st literal translation:
    “…both the defendants of the charges a b c and d, for not having committed the act, and from charge e [noise] (please) because the act does not exist, refusing the proposal of the plaintiffs [Tartanelli Annalia], order the immediate release of Knox Amanda Marie and Sollecito Raffaele if not being held for other reasons”

    2nd literal translation:
    “The court absolves both defendants of the crimes ascribed to them, a, b, c and d for not committing the crime and e because the crime did not happen. This rejects the demands made against them by the civil parties [Tartanelli Annalia]. We have 90 days to deliver the reasoning.”

    3rd literal translation:
    “(…) the two people charged from the crimes a b c and d, for not having committed the crime, and crime e, for not having taken place…we reject the proposition of the prosecution and we order the immediate release of [Knox Amanda Marie and Sollecito Raffaele] unless detained for other reasons. The reason for this sentence will be officially recorded in the next ninety days. The trial is over.”

    I think this is a definitive and irrefutable statement that Knox and Sollecito are innocent. There is no doubt about the verdict, so it is baffling why Judge Hellmann has cast doubt in a subsequent press interview.

  5. Laura says:

    All the judge is saying is that there was no evidence to convict her. The jury ruled on the evidence presented, and there wasn’t enough to convict her.

    To add anything beyond that is mere speculation on what “proof” there might be that the prosecution didn’t present. Irresponsible.

  6. JFDerry says:

    Hi Laura, missing your point a little here – I’m probably just being slow.

    I think I’m agreeing with your first point: there was no evidence to convict Knox and Solliceto. Hence their acquittal.

    But, please explain who’s being irresponsible by speculating, and on what; about what “proof”. Are you commenting on the Twitter screen-shots, above? Thanks.

  7. Laura says:

    Ah — the judge is speculating, and he’s the one who is being irresponsible. He’s a judge, charged with evaluating evidence, not a police officer charged with gathering evidence, nor a prosecutor charged with presenting evidence. For him to say in the press after the fact that there might be other evidence of guilt out there is irresponsible because it mixes his actual duty with the obligation of the state (to investigate thoroughly, and prosecute appropriately). He is feeding the mob (which thinks Knox is guilty in the total absence of evidence) by saying … well, we acquitted her, but maybe she *is* guilty. Were he to do his job appropriately (and, presumably, to express his confidence in the Italian legal system), he would simply say justice was done based on the evidence.

    This actually reminds me of a conversation I had with a French law student a couple of years ago. The French system (according to her) has the judge in charge of seeking out evidence, subpoenaing and examining witnesses, not simply evaluating what is presented by one side or the other. She diplomatically criticized the American system, which requires the prosecution and defense to place evidence before a neutral magistrate, as being unlikely to ferret out the truth of the matter. I (equally diplomatically, I hope) criticized the French system as presenting the potential of bias on the part of the court (with the court involved in the investigation and production of evidence), making it more likely to produce unfair results. She felt that judges were more likely to be fair than lawyers (prosecutors or defense attorneys), whose obligation was to their client, not the truth.

    We agreed to disagree.

  8. JFDerry says:

    I think we’re agreeing to agree:

    the judge’s reading of the appeal verdict acquitted Knox and Solliceto because no evidence existed to uphold the original conviction.

    He then contradicted himself with the more recent comments to press, by suggesting Knox and Solliceto may still be implicated. If there is no evidence of this, how is it going to make the Kerchers feel? Not good is my guess.

    He also contradicted himself within that same statement that suggests doubt on the verdict by saying, “For the moment, Amanda Knox is completely innocent”. This is a two-part statement: “Amanda Knox is completely innocent” is taken as given from the verdict. The “For the moment” bit here is inherent to the Italian legal process and a great failing in my opinion, as cases can propagate without closure up through the ranks of the Italian legal system. This is good in that people have the right to appeal, but not good in that appeals can continue despite the weight of evidence, or lack of it, as it is in this case.

    I think we’re saying the same thing. Which is nice.

  9. Amanda Knox is having a hamburger named after her in Seattle.

  10. Max Meier says:

    It may be that the judge is not completely happy with the ruling himself. While he seems to contradict the jury, he may not contradicting himself.

  11. JFDerry says:

    In which case Hellmann is commenting from a personal opinion and not as judge of this case. As judge of the case, he presented the position of the court in his reading of the appeal verdict which is categorically not a presumption of innocence (in answer to your comments http://jfderry.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/caccia-alla-volpe/#comment-761 and http://jfderry.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/caccia-alla-volpe/#comment-763)

    Outside court, his comments are as valid as you or I claiming the Earth is flat in the absence of evidence, when all of science shows it not to be so.

    I have answered your original query, “So, Knox and Sollecito may in fact have got away with it as far the judge is concerned” which you must now concede is tantamount to saying, “So, Knox and Sollecito may in fact have got away with it as far some bloke is concerned.”

    And there are plenty of blokes willing to comment without evidence, aren’t there?

  12. Pingback: Per Non Aver Commesso Il Fatto | OSQUALITUDE

  13. Max Meier says:

    There is no question that Hellmann’s remarks are of no direct legal consequence. However, it’s a stretch to dismiss them on that base alone. They may well be an indicator that he sees weaknesses in the ruling which is still subject to appeal. His opinion may not count more than “some bloke’s” but his expertise is significant.

  14. JFDerry says:

    Anything not evidence-based is by definition subjective guesswork. This ought to have no place in a court of law. That is why Hellmann’s opinions are thankfully not reflected by the jury’s decision, regardless of his direction over them, such is the protocol in Italy.

    As a judge, his expertise is null outside the court. As an amateur individual drawing on no evidence to inform their position, any remarks are spurious.

  15. Max Meier says:

    It appears that you did not understand my remark. The explanation to justify Hellmann’s ruling has not yet been published. He may see weaknesses in the evidence used to support the verdict, a verdict reached not just by himself but by a jury.

    And expertise is defined as expert skill or knowledge in a particular field. In Hellmann’s particular case the field is jurisdiction. It is not location dependent.

  16. JFDerry says:

    Max, having read your further explanation, I can confirm that I did understand your previous remark, I just don’t agree with it.

    Regardless of Hellmann’s professional experience, there is the official statement (see Per Non Aver Commesso Il Fatto) and there are unofficial comments. The official statement makes it clear: there is no doubt about their innocence, and you can bleat on about that, but it will have absolutely no bearing upon the meaning and any possible interpretation of that judgement. The subsequent unofficial comments are contrary to the verdict; if Hellmann is speaking in a professional capacity when delivering the official statement and when unofficially commenting, then he is being undeniably hypocritical.

    The reasoning due within 90 days must reflect the verdict entirely, otherwise it is not the rationale for that verdict being presented. If there is a statement of doubt in that reasoning, then it is not representative of the verdict read out by Hellmann, as that verdict is unequivocal in stating their innocence.

    It really is as straight forward as that. Black and white. No room for grey.

  17. Max Meier says:

    We’ll see how it pans out and whether Hellmann’s remarks have significance or not. You’re right to note that they’re baffling considering the verdict. However, I found the verdict baffling considering the evidence. I have not followed all proceedings, but to the best of my knowledge, no proof of innocence was put forward. That leaves, of course, room for acquittal based on the presumption of innocence, but the ruling seems to go beyond that.

  18. JFDerry says:

    Max, I’m relieved to see that you now agree with me about Hellmann’s contradictory statements.

    Consideration of the evidence is a different matter entirely. Proof of innocence is not required as there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Thus, it is proof of guilt that is required. Perhaps this is where you are going wrong in your assessment of the case.

    After the false evidence had been removed and the rhetoric of Mignini’s witch-hunt ignored, there simply is no evidence to place Knox and Sollecito at the crime scene.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Very lucid article. Thanks for it.

    Though I wouldn’t have minded being spared such a protracted list of guiltwanker tweets.

  20. The above comment comes from @PerugiaMurderFi. I am signed that Twitter account, and this page says “you are commenting using your Twitter account”. Don’t know why, then, the comment shows as “anonymous”.

    Anyway, as things go, THIS message *will* probably show as “@PerugiaMurderFi” ;-)

  21. JFDerry says:

    Thanks for your comment and for being keen not to remain anonymous. I find honesty pivotal to having a constructive debate. Please feel free to tweet the link to this post to your followers.

  22. Patrick King says:

    Candidly, JF Derry, what is the point of carrying this dead issue forward? From the beginning of this sad series of events, many people let their imaginations carry them away. That said, they invested a great deal of their time and nearly all of their egos in trying to fit square pegs in round holes. As everyone who has seriously studied law enforcement predicted they would, they lost. They were wrong. It’s all over. Amanda Knox is home in the US. Raffaele Sollecito is home in Italy.

    First off, one has to question the sanity of people who become so pent up about a circumstance in which they are not personally involved nor do they have all the facts. As you watch them use their imaginations to fill in the facts they don’t know, any question you had previously about their sanity is answered completely.

    As I skim these comments I understand why Judge Hellmann made the caveat that this is not a football match. Justice has been served. But mercy is not served to keep feeding these poor people. Let’s end these discussions knowing that, factually and legally, good has conquered. In a few days someone else will be railroaded for murder and these same people’s imaginations will be engaged in a new obsession. This one is over and reminding them that they lost achieves nothing. Believe me, they know.

  23. Jerry Morgan says:

    Even to the least observant investigator ever known, the evidence clearly incriminates Rudy Guede alone, and there was found extreme excessive evidence of his guilt . The evidence never brought cause to suspect others, with the exception of the police that searched the property where the victim’s phones were found, after the murder, and before the phones or body were discovered. This is a highly suspicious so called random bomb threat incident, with accidental probability near zero.

  24. Quentin says:

    In Italy, the appeals court is run by the most experienced and respected judges and the jurors are better educated than those serving on initial trial court juries. They are truly a “higher” court. Let the record show that on October 3, a higher court in Perugia, after having made a searching inquiry into the truth, absolved Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the strongest terms possible. Judge Hellman did not say that the pair were not guilty because the prosecution had not me its burden. He went beyond that to say that Knox and Sollecito had affirmatively proved their innocence and we absolved because they DID NOT COMMIT THE CRIME. In what was widely interpreted as an additional slap in the face to the prosecutor, Hellmann also ordered that Knox and Sollecito–a clear indication that he believed that every additional second they spent in prison was an affront to justice.

  25. Max Meier says:

    Hellman also clearly expressed that he understands that the prosecution will appeal. It may thus be wise to keep your powder dry,

    Furthermore, in response to Jerry Morgan’s post, the proposition that “the evidence clearly incriminates Rudy Guede alone” seems not to have been shared by the court that convicted him. The claim is just hollow hyperbole.

  26. It is interesting that the “colpevisti”… or guilt believers… (or guilters as I often label them) focus on several talking points post verdict:

    *That somehow they “got off” with implications of money talking or government pressure being the only explanation…
    * That is it racism to have White people “escape justice” and a Black man remain convicted… (not if it happens that the person locked up has been found guilty due to overwhelming solid evidence and the ones freed have no evidence against them… that is justice.)
    * That Amanda accused an innocent man and confessed to the crime herself… all of which sounds serious until the facts behind these claims are examined… the only lies are the one the police committed in making this allegation which has no basis and the repetition of this untruth by far too many people who cannot begin to understand Amanda did nothing of the kind
    * And the continued claims that a huge PR campaign is behind everything… one that is strikingly free of advertising on TV, radio and print media… even Ads on the internet are entirely absent …

    The argument in support of the last item is to claim that a crowd of operatives were somehow paid to plant comments all over the net in news sites, facebook groups, blogs etc. and that somehow this monumental yet shady propaganda exercise was able to fool or even buy off many well known high level professionals world wide.

  27. Max Meier says:

    Knox was actually convicted of falsely accusing Lumumba. The notion that “the only lies are the one the police committed in making this allegation” appears to be somewhat strange in this light.

  28. The idea that well known writers, even a Pulitzer prize winner and experts in every single field that has anything to do with the forensic, investigative, analytical and psychological details implicit in every part of the case…. could be cheaply bought off or fooled is laughable.
    some of the higher profile people who have spoken out on aspects of the case and in support of the idea that key elements of it are entirely wrong are:

    * Timothy Egan columnist and winner of a Pulitzer prize in journalism
    * John Douglas, founder of the criminal profiling unit of the FBI… a hugely influential, highly respected man in this area with a truly international profile and reputation
    * Saul Kassin, top international authority on the phenomenon of false confessions
    * Greg Hampikian a DNA expert who works with the Innocence project.
    The list goes on with less well known but no less experienced professionals with solid credentials plus news and media figures who early on realized there were serious problems with the charges against Amanda and Raffaele and spoke out on it. There were Judges, a Senator, many lawyers, Law enforcement professionals (including the FBI), investigators of different kinds, producers, script writers and not just in the USA., not to mention a lot of ordinary people using their common sense.

    The scornful will allege that if they were not directly bought off they all had either failing careers or they thought they could somehow milk this story for personal publicity or financial gain somehow someday… the simpler explanation that they had the knowledge and experience to understand that an injustice was being done AND on their own spoke out is ignored… somehow the obvious truth that they are unusually solid authorities who felt compelled to go on the record about this for justice alone eludes the best and brightest of the stubborn core of guilt believers. They are in denial that there actually is something to this multiple vector truly spontaneous agreement from so many different areas of expertise.

    So what authorities holding opposing views have spoken out? What does that tell us?… A little checking and the cupboard is bare….beyond people such as Nancy Grace and Ann Coulter…there is a conspicuous absence of professionals with forensic and investigative experience so that might mean something…. and the “experts” you might see touted by the guilt supporters are without exception either people with limited credentials who exaggerate their experience and training or cranks with self granted expertise in color analysis, or word choice interpreters or on-line criminology school dropouts.
    So are they all gifted rebels who see the truth and are fighting the powers that be… or gravely mistaken people tilting at windmills… Appeals to authority are only faulty when the authority mentioned do not stand up to scrutiny.

  29. JFDerry says:

    Patrick King: Thanks for your comment. In my defence, this blog post was originally published only a day or two following the verdict, and therefore topical at the time. Going by the most recent comments here, it still is topical. The reason for posting was simply a rational response to the hate mongering witnessed on Twitter and elsewhere. The reason for further publishing a translation of the verdict reading was to establish in no doubt what was stated.

    I have nothing more to add here at present, but please do feel free to use this discussion space to pursue your lines of enquiry.

    Don’t forget to refer to the official verdict as needed: Per Non Aver Commesso Il Fatto

  30. East of Cascades says:

    A well reasoned, plainly written effort at cutting through the background noise and clutter that surrounds this case. Thank you for your time and effort. I too have puzzled about Judge Helman’s post trial comments. I suspect the decision of the court has ignited discussion on several fronts in Italy. I think all he said was “I (we) called it as I (we) saw it based on the evidence “. As was pointed out in this blog, is exactly what the court is supposed to do.

    I believe all trial judges recognize that there are instances where one of the parties chooses not to present all of the evidence they might have. In criminal matters this is troublesome since the prosecutor is most often the one withholding evidence. Depending on the legal system withholding of evidence can raise a very serious issue of prosecutorial misconduct. I do not know Italy’s official position on withheld evidence but I would hope they take the issue seriously This case already has several odd investigative activities.

    I believe it is the high profile nature of this case which set off the storm. It is a given that appeals court overturns and modifies a number of cases every year. So I believe it is not the act of overturning buy the high profile nature of the case that causes the trouble . So I do not believe Judge Hellman was telegraphing anything more than the simple sentiment of, please sit down, be quiet and wait for the motivation.

  31. JFDerry says:

    East of Cascades, thanks for your insightful comment. Futher to Hellmann calling for patience before publication of the reasoning behind the verdict, I think he was also raising the likelihood of the prosecution pursuing the case to a higher court. Open-ended-ness is a weakness of the Italian judicial system. However, none of that is a problem for this case; Mignini’s reputation is damaged and there is no evidence upon which to base their appeal. The issue of propriety came when Hellmann also commented beyond the evidence, that Knox and Solliceto may be privvy to further information not established in court. This is pure speculation and not the realm of a judge, but just some bloke with an unprofessional opinion.

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