Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Little Dictator Comes Under Fire

In Chapter Thirteen of The Monster of Perugia, I compared prosecutor Giuliano Mignini to a little dictator who attempts to terrorize anyone who criticizes him. It begins as follows:

"In dictatorships and other totalitarian governments, it is a common practice to arrest people, conspicuously without reason, to threaten and intimidate them. This process disavows people of any illusions they may have about possessing civil rights or being entitled to due process of law. The fact that the charges may be frivolous, unfounded, or even nonsensical merely clarifies the bluntness of the exercise. Dictators do this for a reason - to maintain power.

From Mussolini to Idi Amin, dictators have secured their power in part by controlling and preventing criticism. By suppressing the harsh words of those who are not team players, dictators bask in a chorus of loving, supportive voices that reinforces their despotic rule. Although Perugia is too small a town to be blessed with a full-scale dictator, it is large enough - and its justice system troubled enough - to have its very own little dictator, Giuliano Mignini.

Like these other figures, Mignini has taken extraordinary measures to suppress criticism. Mignini has gone on a prosecutorial rampage, filing an ongoing barrage of defamation charges against many of those who dare to oppose him. This assault has a clear goal: to intimidate and silence that opposition and allow Mignini to remain as Public Minister." - The Monster of Perugia – The Framing of Amanda Knox

Now the Committee to Protect Journalists, perhaps the most important international organization that is dedicated to preserving press freedom by protecting the press itself, has sent an open letter to the President of Italy denouncing the rampage of wrongful prosecutions being launched by Mignini. 

"Dear President Napolitano,
The Committee  to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned about local authorities' harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation into the November 2007 brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in the central Italian city of Perugia. CPJ is particularly troubled by the manifest intolerance to criticism displayed by Perugia Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who has filed or threatened to file criminal lawsuits against individual reporters, writers, and press outlets, both in Italy and the United States, in connection with the Kercher murder investigation as well as the investigation into the Monster of Florence serial killings."

The letter, which was sent to numerous authorities in Italy and the United States, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, describes the threats, bullying, and physical assault inflicted by members of the Perugia Flying Squad polizia on Frank Sfarzo, writer of the Perugia-Shock blog which has criticized the bizarrely conducted investigation, prosecution, and conviction of Amanda and Raffaele. He has now been charged with crimes that have been fabricated just as outrageously as those against Amanda, her family, her lawyers, Raffaele, his family, and his lawyers, and other people who have expressed the truth about the ongoing injustice in Perugia, Italy. 

Anyone having any remaining doubts about whether the Perugian justice system has gone out of control, and remains out of control to this day, should read this letter at the following link to the Committee to Protect Journalists website.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Amanda Knox: The Case for Innocence

Last night the Film Studies Program at Seattle University hosted a forum of experts on various aspects of the Knox/Sollecito trial in Perugia, Italy. The forum was moderated by Tom Wright, the founder of FriendsofAmanda.org, and included Candace Dempsey, Steve Moore, myself, and Paul Ciolino, in that order. A video of the entire forum is at the link below, created by the West Seattle Herald. It was a great opportunity to be part of that forum, and to get a chance to discuss the DNA profiling tests performed on Raffaele Sollecito's kitchen knife. That portion of the video begins at around 1:07 (1 hour and 7 minutes) in the segment.

Amanda Knox: The Case for Innocence

After an excellent introduction by Edwin Weihe, Ph.D., the S.U. Director of Film Studies, Tom Wright frames the issues and introduces the rest of the panel participants. Candace Dempsey discusses the background of distorted early media attention to the case, Steve Moore compares the crime theory development of the prosecution to mistaking a horse for a zebra, I speak on DNA, and Paul Ciolino closes by diving into the corrupt behavior of the Perugian authorities in his inimitable, take-no-prisoners style.