Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Perugia Prosecutor Files Complaint After Knox Memoir Passages Appear in Italy

Perugia Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. Photo © A. Vogt

PERUGIA — The prosecutor in the Amanda Knox case has filed a scathing complaint against the Italian magazine OGGI for publishing bits of Amanda Knox’s memoir in Italy containing what he says are slanderous and false claims.

Reached for comment in Perugia, magistrate Giuliano Mignini confirmed he filed the complaint Thursday after phrases from Knox’s “Waiting to be Heard” were quoted in the Italian gossip magazine “Oggi” on Wednesday. He said he has not read Knox’s memoir (not available in Italy) but felt compelled to defend his professional reputation after portions of it were translated and published in Italian for the first time in the widely-read gossip magazine.

Oggi Magazine

The 8-page complaint is addressed to the Prosecutor’s Office in Bergamo (near Milan), where the headquarters of the magazine are located. It cites as slanderous the suggestion that Knox was illegally interrogated and maintains that there is no trial or investigation documentation supporting  a number of  “affirmations that were never made.”  Mignini insists Knox was initially heard by him as a witness with key information relevant to the murder of Meredith Kercher, not as a suspect herself.

“Knox never asked for an attorney. She wanted to talk,” Mignini wrote, adding that he did not contest her statements or question her at that time, because she was making a spontaneous declaration regarding Patrick Lumumba’s alleged involvement. (She would later be convicted of slander for falsely blaming the African pub-owner, who spent two weeks in jail before being released).

The complaint also questions allegations of prison mistreatment and indicates specific persons and neutral institutions as having knowledge on the matter, including the Capanne prison chaplain, U.S. embassy officials, center-right politician Rocco Girlanda and secretary general of the Italy-USA Foundation Corrado Daclon, all of whom visited Knox regularly in prison.

Also contested are phrases reported by Oggi and attributed to Knox’s memoir claiming he  had a bizarre past that included a conviction on abuse of office charges that was pending appeal, when in fact he was fully and definitively acquitted of those charges in 2011 by a Florence court.  Italy’s high court (Cassation) recently agreed with his office’s request to re-open the Monster of Florence/Narducci case, the complaint notes. That decision has lent new credence to his long-running investigation of the suspicious 1985 death of a Perugian doctor who some investigators believe was involved (Italy’s Cassation Court in March also ordered  Mario Spezi, co-author of the Monster of Florence bestseller, to stand trial for allegedly attempting to pin the blame on another man).

“It seems unacceptable that a magazine as widely disseminated as OGGI reports the declarations of Knox (who is definitely convicted of slander and awaiting appeal on murder and related charges) as something that is indisputable fact,” the complaint reads.

It makes reference to several other complaints filed in Italy in the wake of publication of Sollecito and Knox’s memoirs, including two in Florence against Sollecito, and another in Verona, where Sollecito is said to have deposited a copy of “Honor Bound” in the university library. Several other legal challenges are said to be giving Harper Collins pause about how widely to make the book available in Europe. The complaints could trigger investigation by Italian authorities into some of the most serious claims made in the pair’s respective memoirs.

The high court’s motivations for annulling Knox’s acquittal and ordering a new appeals trial  are expected to be released before July, while the appeal is expected to begin in fall of 2013 or early 2014.

———FACTCHECK: WAITING TO BE HEARD (below find original post from MAY 1)———–

In response to many requests in the wake of Amanda Knox’s newly published memoir, I am releasing a small, select portion of pertinent FOIA documents and case files I’ve gathered over the years for public review below. A few snippets of these documents were first published in this piece for the BBC News Magazine, and referenced again in this piece for The Week.   A large body of documents are still pending release, as noted by  This 2012 FOIA response from the Department of State. It is taking longer than usual because of its breadth (I have blocked out specifics) and has been in processing for over a year.   These embassy cables from 2007-2009 are among those released to me from the Central Foreign Policy Records database. I note some excisions, but cannot add any details about what was censured. These diplomats’ names appear on the the cables: Ambassador Ronald Spogli U.S. Embassy Rome;  Elizabeth Dibble, the deputy chief of mission U.S. Embassy Rome and Ambassador David Thorne, U.S. Embassy Rome. (Thorne is brother-in-law of Secretary of State John Kerry, who in 2009 was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). The questions are: did Knox tell consular officers of what was going on? If they didn’t know, why? If they did, why were no formal complaints filed with the European Court of Human Rights, which has been monitoring prison conditions in Italy closely in recent years?

I’m also posting two letters from my case files that Amanda Knox wrote to her lawyers from jail because they reveal some noteworthy discrepancies with her memoir.  The first letter ( First Knox Letter to Lawyers Nov9 )was written around noon on Friday, Nov., 9, just days after her arrest. The second letter ( Second Knox Letter to Lawyers Nov9 ) was penned a little over three hours later, to give more details.  A few obvious examples: In the letter 1, Knox says she looked through the keyhole of Meredith’s locked door and could see her bed, with Meredith’s purse on it.  In Chapter 6 of her memoir she said she tried to look through the keyhole, but saw nothing. In the letter she describes the “bathmat shuffle” in which she scooted on the bathmat with the bloody footprint into her room, then brought it back. This is not referenced in the memoir. In the letter, she says she and Raffaele were in the kitchen when Meredith’s door was broken down, but her description in chapter six of memoir makes no reference to being in the kitchen. She tells her lawyers the police  “gave me time” to write a statement, while in chapter 11 of her memoir she says the police officer said “you’d better write fast.”

I am posting them because now that a detailed memoir has been published, these personal accounts should be added to the public record of documents available on this case.

Giancarlo Costa, lawyer present at questioning, but not in Knox's memoir

After reading Knox’s description of the prison questioning in December 2007 (described in great detail in chapter 20 of Knox’s memoir), I went back and listened to the audio recording of that interrogation, which is part of the full case file, to see how the memoir measured up with the recording, since I recalled having talked to a Rome lawyer who had discussed with me how the questioning had been halted when Knox broke down crying. Oddly, Knox chose to leave an entire person out of a scene (her third attorney) in which she painstakingly describes all those present. The third attorney who was present (and whose name is cited on the audio of the interrogation)  is Giancarlo Costa of Rome,who was one of Knox’s first lawyers and present at some of the first meetings, before leaving the case.  I interviewed him once for this Seattle PI story. Why leave him out?

And lastly, I thought it would be worth publishing a few excerpts from a lengthy recorded interview I conducted in Viterbo, Italy, with an inmate who was incarcerated with Amanda Knox at Capanne prison.  Florisbela Inocencio de Jesus also published a book called “Walking with Amanda.” In my interview, de Jesus stressed that she believed Knox was innocent, but said she did not believe that she was mistreated in prison because she was what they call “a privileged detainee,” who received regular visits from officials, including influential politician Rocco Girlanda, and his right-hand man from the Italy-USA Foundation, Corrado Daclon, both thanked by Knox in her memoir’s acknowledgements.

In the beginning, many inmates were jealous of Knox, because she had special birthday celebrations and was seen as getting privileges others weren’t given. But her popularity grew after she got a job working in the prison dispensary.

“We made our requests, the prison would do the shopping and then she would come around, cell to cell, with a guard, to deliver our personal items,” said de Jesus, who is originally from Brasil.

She recalled one particular episode when a time a lid to a pan she had ordered from the dispensary got left behind, and Knox argued with the guard about who had forgotten it.

“She wasn’t afraid to speak up to the guards.  I think if she had been harassed, we would have heard about it immediately. Also because the Honorable Rocco Girlanda was always there, watching out for her, visiting her.”

She was privileged and very protected – no-one dared lay a hand on Amanda.”

Yet Knox writes about several inappropriate conversations and overtures, a unexpected kiss from a bisexual cellmate and an unwanted embrace from a worker who entered her cell to repair a blocked drain, all of which could have happened without other inmates’ knowledge. These anecdotes are, I believe, among the more credible parts of her memoir, and I believe Italian authorities should do due diligence and investigate the claims, which for reasons unknown, apparently went unreported by Knox’s own lawyers, who she claims in her book to have told.

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