Justice, Italian Style

I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about the murder trial in Italy of American college student Amanda Knox, but I do know a few Italians (not Italian Americans), and what I know about them leads me to the following conclusion: I would not want to go before a jury of my Italian peers.

Amanda Knox

I say this because the Italians I know (again, not American Italians) believe the dumbest things. Apparently, believing in preposterous conspiracies is not confined to my Italians if Tom Chiver’s report in the London Telegraph is true:

I’ve been watching the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher murder trial with little more than half an eye, from 900 miles away. But I was, nonetheless, pretty confident that she would be acquitted on appeal – so confident that I wrote this yesterday afternoon – and I based that confidence almost entirely on the following passage, from Rolling Stone earlier this year:

[In the prosecuting lawyer Giuliano Mignini’s] view, things are often touched by Satan. He detected Satan’s influence as early as 2001, when he became a central figure in the Monster of Florence serial-killer case. Mignini proposed that the suicide of a Perugian doctor was actually a murder committed by a satanic cult, practicing since the Middle Ages, that demanded human organs for their Black Masses. He later accused a hostile journalist of satanism and was convicted of abusing his office. In the early stages of the Kercher investigation, Mignini suggested that the victim had been slaughtered during a satanic ritual, but in his closing argument, he only went so far as to refer to Knox as a sex-and-drug-crazed “she-devil.”

That quote in full, by the way, was “a diabolical, satanic, demonic she-devil” who “likes alcohol, drugs and hot, wild sex”. It’s not the only time Satan has been mentioned in the case. Back in 2008, The Times reported that the prosecuting team believed Knox had killed Kercher as part of a “a perverse game of group sex” and “some kind of satanic rite”. On Sunday The New York Post said of Mignini:

It was a Halloween crime, and that was one of the first clues to register with Mignini, called to the crime scene fresh from celebrating All Souls’ Day, a day when proper Italian families visit their dead… Mignini always included witch fear in his murder theory, and only reluctantly relinquished it. As late as October 2008, a year after the murder, he told a court that the murder “was premeditated and was in addition a ‘rite’ celebrated on the occasion of the night of Halloween. A sexual and sacrificial rite [that] in the intention of the organizers … should have occurred 24 hours earlier” – on Halloween itself – “but on account of a dinner at the house of horrors, organized by Meredith and Amanda’s Italian flatmates, it was postponed for one day.” Eventually, Mignini’s No. 2, the chain-smoking, no-nonsense Manuela Comodi, persuaded him to drop the references to Satanism.

That New York Post story, incidentally, is well worth a read: Mignini reveals himself as a believer in conspiracy about the JFK shooting, and was closely associated with the late Gabriella Carlizzi, a Catholic from Rome who “had dedicated her life to exposing and fighting satanic sects”. Mignini himself is fascinated with Freemasonry, and its pagan overtones, and (the Post says) is “comfortable with the notion that his Catholic Church still battles the forces of paganism”, especially witchcraft…

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