Saturday, January 15, 2011

Knox Appeal: More Defense Dilly-Dallying

The wheels of justice are again moving slowly, as the appeals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito resume with little progress. Today the defense expressed optimism outside the courtroom that a drug charge conviction of a “key prosecution witness” Antonio Curatolo, 53, might help Knox in her appeal. One of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, told The Associated Press in Rome that Curatolo, a homeless man in the university town of Perugia, wasn't a credible witness.

In the first trial Curatolo testified that he spent most of his time around Corso Garibaldi (the street where Sollecito lived) and Piazza Grimana (the piazza in front of the School for Foreigners where the basketball court is located). On the night of the murder he told the court that he witnessed Knox and Sollecito in the park several times that night (between 9:30p.m., and midnight), which contradicted their statements—that they spent the entire night at Sollecito’s flat. Although homeless, Curatolo’s precise and well-spoken testimony was seen as credible by most that are familiar with it.

Still, Luciano Ghirga said, “We have always said that he was not a credible witness, it was the court that held he was credible.” The drug charge conviction “will be an additional thing to help prove the witness is not credible,” Ghirga said in a phone interview. Perugia court offices were closed Saturday, and officials could not be reached to confirm Italian news reports that Curatolo had been convicted earlier in the week for dealing drugs. It wasn’t immediately known what his sentence was or if he had been jailed.

The defense is again reaching for straws here and journalists continue to mislead the public when they claim that Curatolo is a “key prosecution witness.” In fact, Curatolo’s testimony was just another hole in Knox and Sollecito’s Swiss-cheese alibi. Curatolo’s drug charges stem from events that allegedly occurred nearly eight-years ago, bringing to mind the questions: why has it taken so long to charge and convict this man and why wasn’t there enough evidence back then to charge and convict him? It will be interesting to see what evidence there is against him for these charges of selling heroine; photographs of him talking to a drug addict in Piazza Grimana will prove nothing.

In any event, why does this piece of information make him any less credible? Moreover, the same people who are banking on this conviction to discredit him are the same ones who are banking on testimonies of the convicted baby killer and the convicted mobster—who have both been called as witnesses for the defense. Curatolo’s testimony stood up well and he was unflustered in the face of the lackluster and uncertain defense cross-examination. In strong contrast, defense witnesses Alessi and Aviello (baby killer and mobster)— who are both in prison and hoping for breaks—are almost certainly potential perjurers and may blink rather than take the stand and face perjury charges and longer sentences.

The big news that was anticipated for this hearing—information on the progress of the independent evaluation of the DNA evidence—was not reported on. Most likely it will be announced at the next hearing, which is scheduled for 22 January 2011.

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