Bongiorno, Sollecito, Maori legal team
Compensation claim by Raffaele Sollecito
BREAKING: Claim thrown out! ‘ANSA) – PERUGIA, FEBRUARY 11 – Rejected by the Court of Appeal of Florence, the claim for wrongful imprisonment advanced by Raffaele Sollecito, finally acquitted of the charge of having participated in the murder of Meredith Kercher. He asked over 500 thousand euro for almost four years in jail before being released from prison. As learned by ANSA Tuscan courts have held contradictory his statements in the initial survey. ‘ – Too many lies in the early stages.
Motivation Report of the Florence Compensation Claim Dismissal now available:
This translation was done by a group of unpaid volunteers who are regular posters on the Perugiamurderfile.org message board devoted to discussing the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in November of 2007. The translation and editorial team was international in its make-up.
It was completed in February 2017, having been undertaken for the sole purpose of promoting a better understanding of this complex case, and to ensure that the facts are readily available to the English-speaking world without selective emphasis, misstatement or bias.
It has been translated on a “best efforts” basis, and has gone through multiple rounds of proofreading and editing, both to ensure its accuracy and to harmonize the language insofar as possible. Persons fluent in both Italian and English are invited and encouraged to contact PMF if they find any material errors that influence the meaning or intention of the judges. All such corrections will be investigated, made as required and brought to the attention of the public. The original Italian document is twelve pages long.
As with any translation, some terminology in Italian has no direct equivalent in English. Explanations have been provided where relevant. Similarly, readers are encouraged to submit any questions about legal or other concepts that may arise as they peruse the report. Our goal is to make the report as clear and as accurate as possible; to this end, it will be amended whenever doing so promotes this goal.
As the report was written and published in Italian, that language prevails in the event of a dispute over interpretation. This English-language version is provided for readers’ convenience only; accordingly, it is a free translation and has no legal authority or status.
This translation may be freely copied or otherwise reproduced and transmitted in the unedited pdf format, provided that the translation or any excerpt therefrom is accompanied by the following attribution: “From the translation prepared by unpaid volunteers from http://www.perugiamurderfile.org to promote a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the death of Meredith Kercher and the case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the English-speaking world”.
The compensation claim
Raffaele Sollecito, represented by his attorneys throughout the process, Avvocato Giulia Bongiorno and Luca Maori, is currently claiming compensation for ‘wrongful imprisonment’ in respect of the four years he served of a sentence of 25 years handed down for the Aggravated Murder of Meredith Kercher, 1 Nov 2007. The conviction was controversially overturned by the final Italian Supreme Court in March 2015, and its Motivational Report published – some three months late – in September 2015. It was only then Sollecito was able to commence compensation proceedings, as the Italian Penal Code provides for this, given, its long-winded legal process whereby defendants accused of serious crimes (i.e., one with a sentence of over three years custody) can be held on remand whilst awaiting trial. In theory, this should only be for up to one year.
The issues with the Marasca ruling
The Marasca verdict is considered controversial because Sollecito and his co-defendant, Amanda Knox had been found guilty at the first instance trial court (merits), which was upheld on appeal. It is unusual for the Supreme Court to have not remitted the case back to the Appeal (second instance) court as the Penal Code – as is standard in the UK and the USA – does not allow the Supreme Court to assess facts found at trial. The correct procedure is to send the disputed evidence back to the court which in the opinion of the Supreme court erred. Marasca did not rule a Section 530,1 ‘Not Guilty’ acquittal, but a Section 530, 2 ‘Not Guilty’ ‘insufficient evidence’, which some say is similar to Scottish Law, ‘Not Proven’.However, the wording used, proscioglimento indicates a pre-trial ‘charges dropped’, rather than ‘acquittal’ (assoluzione).
Sollecito and Knox made several applications against being held in custody whilst awaiting trial and were turned down at every stage, including appeals and an application for ‘house arrest’ in lieu.
The prosecution opposed the application on the grounds of the seriousness of the crime, and in Knox’ case, the standard ground that she might flee the country, as a foreigner to Italy. In addition, the prosecution had used special preventative powers to isolate the defendants (Knox, Sollecito and Guede) to prevent tampering with witnesses, a power which had been added to the Penal Code to assist in the fight against mafia gangs who did intimidate witnesses, often through their lawyers. Therefore the law allowed the prosecutors to deny the defendants an attorney until just before their remand hearings.
However, the award of compensation for having (a) been held in remand, and (b) serving a sentence until such time the conviction was overturned, is not automatic. The applicant has to show that they are factually ‘not guilty’, i.e., cannot possibly have committed the crime, perhaps because the ‘real perpetrator’ has come to light, or ‘new evidence’ presented. Neither of these scenarios apply in Sollecito’s case. Whilst a defendant is allowed to ‘lie’ and indeed, does not need to swear an oath in testifying, this only holds true if they are guilty. Marasca did not find Sollecito or Knox, ‘Not Gulty’ as per Article 530,1, the common or garden ‘Not Guilty’ verdict.
Further, Sollecito refused to testify at his own trial, and made various misrepresentations and lies to the police. He argues in current tv and radio show rounds – for example, in the recent Victoria Derbyshire BBC morning show – that as he was a ‘collector of knives’ and had always carried a knife around since age thirteen, ‘To carve on tables and trees’, he explains, and thus argues, the police should not have viewed this with suspicion when he attended the questura carrying one in the days after the murder.
Sollecito’s other difficulty is that Marasca, whilst criticising the investigation as ‘flawed’, and this being the main reason for acquittal, it nonetheless cuts Sollecito little slack.
How Marasca cuts Sollecito little slack
From the Marasca Supreme Court Motivational Report, Sept 2015:
It remains anyway strong the suspicion that he [Sollecito] was actually in the Via della Pergola house the night of the murder, in a moment that, however, it was impossible to determine. On the other hand, since the presence of Ms. Knox inside the house is sure, it is hardly credible that he was not with her.
And even following one of the versions released by the woman, that is the one in accord to which, returning home in the morning of November 2. after a night spent at her boyfriend’s place, she reports of having immediately noticed that something strange had happened (open door, blood traces everywhere); or even the other one, that she reports in her memorial, in accord to which she was present in the house at the time of the murder, but in a different room, not the one in which the violent aggression on Ms. Kercher was being committed, it is very strange that she did not call her boyfriend, since there is no record about a phone call from her, based on the phone records within the file.
Even more if we consider that having being in Italy for a short time, she would be presumably uninformed about what to do in such emergency cases, therefore the first and maybe only person whom she could ask for help would have been her boyfriend himself, who lived only a few hundred meters away from her house.
Not doing this signifies Sollecito was with her, unaffected, obviously, the procedural relevance of his mere presence in that house, in the absence of certain proof of his causal contribution to the murderous action.
The defensive argument extending the computer interaction up to the visualization of a cartoon, downloaded from the internet, in a time that they claim compatible with the time of death of Ms. Kercher, is certainly not sufficient to dispel such strong suspicions. In fact, even following the reconstruction claimed by the defence and even if we assume as certain that the interaction was by Mr. Sollecito himself and that he watched the whole clip, still the time of ending of his computer activity wouldn’t be incompatible with his subsequent presence in Ms. Kercher’s house, given the short distance between the two houses, walkable in about ten [sic] minutes.
An element of strong suspicion, also, derives from his confirmation, during spontaneous declarations, the alibi presented by Ms. Knox about the presence of both inside the house of the current appellant the night of the murder, a theory that is denied by the statements of Curatolo, who declared of having witnessed the two together from 21:30 until 24:00 in piazza Grimana; and by Quintavalle on the presence of a young woman, later identified as Ms. Knox, when he opened his store in the morning of November 2.
An umpteenth element of suspicion is the basic failure of the alibi linked to other, claimed human interactions in the computer of his belongings, albeit if we can’t talk about false alibi, since it’s more appropriate to speak about unsuccessful alibi.
Sollecito in his police interview of the 5 Nov 2007, shortly after which he was arrested, withdrew his alibi from Amanda Knox. During the Nencini appeal phase, he and his advocate, Bongiorno, called a press conference to underline that Sollecito ‘could not vouch for Knox’ whereabouts between 8:45 pm and 1:00 am on the night of the murder. Sollecito has never once retracted this withdrawal of an alibi for Amanda.
Further, Marasca states:
The defensive argument extending the computer interaction up to the visualization of a cartoon, downloaded from the internet, in a time that they claim compatible with the time of death of Ms. Kercher, is certainly not sufficient to dispel such strong suspicions.
In fact, even following the reconstruction claimed by the defence and even if we assume as certain that the interaction was by Mr. Sollecito himself and that he watched the whole clip, still the time of ending of his computer activity wouldn’t be incompatible with his subsequent presence in Ms. Kercher’s house, given the short distance between the two houses, walkable in about ten [sic] minutes.
Sollecito had claimed he was surfing the internet until 3:00 am in one statement and claimed to have watched Naruto cartoon until 9:45 pm on the murder night. It winds up:
The technical tests requested by the defence cannot grant any contribution of clarity, not only because a long time has passed, but also because they regard aspects of problematic examination (such as the possibility of selective cleaning) or of manifest irrelevance (technical analysis on Sollecito’s computer) given that is was possible, as said, for him to go to Kercher’s house whatever the length of his interaction with the computer (even if one concedes that such interaction exists), or they are manifestly unnecessary, given that some unexceptionable technical analysis carried out are exhaustive (such are for example the cadaver inspection and the following medico-legal examinations).
Leading to the verdict:
Following the considerations above, it is obvious that a remand [rinvio] would be useless, hence the declaration of annulment without remand, based on art. 620 L) of the procedure code, thus we apply an acquittal [proscioglimento *] formula [see note just below] which a further judge on remand would be anyway compelled to apply, to abide to the principles of law established in this current sentence.
*[Translator’s note: The Italian word for “acquittal” is actually “assoluzione”; while the term “proscioglimento” instead, in the Italian Procedure Code, actually refers only to non-definitive preliminary judgments during investigation phase, and it could be translated as “dropping of charges”. Note: as for investigation phase “proscioglimento” is normally meant as a non-binding decision, not subjected to double jeopardy, since it is not considered a judgment nor a court’s decision.] http://themurderofmeredithkercher.com/The_Marasca-Bruno_Report_(English)
The Issues Facing the Florence Appeal Court
Sollecito has clearly passed the first hurdle of being eligible to have a hearing for compensation. His legal team have asked for the maximum €516,000. A claimant who can successfully plead ‘wrongful imprisonment’ can claim €500, per diem imprisonment, up to a cap of €516,000.
Sollecito’s legal team have referred to Marasca’s criticism of the investigation as grounds for the full compensation, claiming Sollecito’s “innocence and loss of youthful endeavours” because of the ‘flaws’. Problem is, the issue of investigative flaws was never pleaded at trial, or at least, not upheld, by either the trial or appeal court judge. Marasca never really explains in which way this was a proven fact.
The Prosecutor’s Office based at Florence is opposing the application. I would expect they will be relying on Matteini’s remand hearing and Gemmelli’s written reasons rejecting Sollecito’s appeal against being kept in custody until the hearing.
The three judges who on 27 January 2017 in a hearing listed for five days announced they would issue their verdict ‘within five days’, as of 7 Feb 2017, some seven working days later, have yet to make a decision. Alternatively, the decision has been made, but the public and press have not yet accessed it. It could be Sollecito’s legal team have yet to call a press conference, whilst they study the findings.
The panel will decide:
- is Sollecito entitled to compensation?
- if so, how much?
- did he lie to police or mislead them?
- if so, to what extent was he contributory to his being remanded?
- to what extent the ‘flawed investigation’ a factor in his ‘wrongful imprisonment’?
- should Sollecito receive compensation for the one year remand in custody leading up to the trial?
- should he be compensated for the three further years of a sentence served as a convicted prisoner, six months of it in solitary confinement?
- should this be for both of the above, either of the above, or neither of them?
Watch this space!
Sollecito has made noises that he plans further legal action against the prosecutor, based on Marasca’s criticisms in its Motivational Report.