Five Cassation judges were not fooled by pushers, tramps, words and conjectures

Triumph of Justice in Rome
Triumph of Justice in Rome

Frank Sfarzo reporting from Italy

I always told people to relax and keep imagination at leash, because by following a case from faraway you risk to get things wrong. I always suggested to Mignini not to believe what the cops were telling him. I always suggested to friends and colleagues not to believe what Mignini was telling them.

I always suggested to the family of Meredith Kercher and Patrick Lumumba not to invest a penny on Mignini’s theories. They didn’t want to listen. What they have now is not the millions someone convinced them they could have, but eight years of legal expenses to pay, a fortune.

People following, or I should say imagining, the Amanda Knox case from faraway, were talking about extradition.

That was the only problem that concerned the observers (certainly not in these columns): if the extradition of Amanda Knox would have been granted or not. As if she had been already convicted. As if the Court of Cassation were a pure formality. As if Cassation judges were a bunch of naive people, who had spent their lives studying for, in the end, what? Being fooled by the delusions of a crazy tramp… Or were the ones who, for some mysterious reason, needed to save the faces of their lower colleagues… Or were obligated, as all insiders guaranteed, to comply with the ruling about Guede!

I have explained why the Cassation of two years ago overturned the acquittal: not because they were a gang of mafiosi… but because an area of the knife hadn’t been tested, and, from their perspective, that had to be done.

Also, they read in the ruling about Rudy Guede that Knox and Sollecito were involved too, and, from their perspective, that hypothesis had to be verified.

We know the case from reality, not from papers, so we know that their perspective was wrong, but they ordered a new trial in, let’s say, good faith, thinking that the DNA on the knife could have been found and, after that, all other indications of guilt could have been “osmosized.”

They certainly couldn’t imagine that the lower court would have “osmosized” everything even after the DNA on the knife wasn’t found! 

So, the real injustice wasn’t done in the 2013 Cassation, but in the Florence appeal, which didn’t acquit Knox and Sollecito after that last doubt, on request of the court of Cassation, had been cleared.

Only the final result counts. What’s fun about convicting with no proof? What’s the point of celebrating for having had someone convicted? Don’t you know that there’s next Court to overturn you?

But what’s the point in convicting without proof if then there’s the Cassation again? There was full evidence that the Florence ruling was wrong and unjust. And that’s what the Cassation is there for: to correct wrong rulings coming from the lower court. I didn’t have any reason to think they wouldn’t have done it. That’s why yesterday’s verdict was nothing sensational but the natural and obvious outcome that I was expecting (see: Chris White, Daily Mail, March 23 2015).

After all the injustice suffered, even defense lawyers had lost confidence. The theory brought by lawyers and seasoned journalists, that Cassation was deemed to comply with the ruling about Guede, was for me a judicial aberration away from any logic, a superstition that insinuated itself into the minds of insiders, a professional hazard, an unnatural concept, simply incomprehensible.

Sollecito’s lawyers looked as if they were thinking the judicial system wanted to convict Amanda Knox (but why? I never saw any clue suggesting that). Therefore, to have Raffaele acquitted, it was necessary to separate the two positions and accept something from the Florence ruling: that Knox that evening had gone out (even though it was instead proven that she was at Sollecito’s house watching Amelie).

The word of the “EXPERT:” “Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were then convicted in Florence, and next year the Court of Cassation will certainly uphold it.” – Perugia Prosecutor General Giuseppe Galati (author of the appeal against the acquittal), talking to the local journalists in 2014 

It was all imagination, fears and superstitions. Supreme Court judges, instead, were waiting for them only to see if the Florence ruling was correct or was wrong, and if it was wrong they would have done the job we pay them for: overturn it.

There was still the risk that Knox and Sollecito could have found a judge like the one of the lower court, but that was at least statistically improbable. Hellmann and Zanetti, indeed, couldn’t be the only good judges in Italy, and it was time, in the course of all those infinite trials, to meet some of their kind again. Indeed it happened. The Cassation judges didn’t separate any positions, they just overturned what had to be overturned.

A victory of youth 

It was wonderful to see the five judges at work, their attention, their respect for all parties, their enthusiasm, their youth (since even the elderly ones looked as if they were young inside). They didn’t give the impression of having already decided in one sense or another, or of having left the case to the relating judge, but to have all studied it, for real. And if you study the case, and you are honest, you can only acquit, since against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, as we know, not one single indication of guilt exists. As we know, indeed, the indications of guilt were simply declared, but they didn’t exist in fact. And I had no reason to think that these judges weren’t honest. Indeed they turned to be honest in person, five men of honor, the real essence of Italy.

That unbearable urge to fight injustice 

The bit of body language you could notice was revealing. While hearing the conjectures produced by the Florence ruling, some of the five looked as if they were shaking from trying not to betray their indignation. On the other hand, when defense lawyers would explain those absurdities, they would all show interest.

You can tell they were motivated by the unbearable urge to fight an injustice, to give life back to the two unfortunate youths, and to restore the image of Italy, which had been jeopardized by a verdict that scandalized the world.

The perception abroad, indeed, was that all the injustices suffered by Knox and Sollecito were perpetrated by “Italy.” But it’s not like that; the responsible ones are specific people who don’t represent at all the spirit of a whole country.

Italy is not Mignini, not Nencini, not Curatolo, not the Perugians who were protesting in the street against the acquittal of the two youths.

The face of Italy is the judges of the first appeal, Claudio Pratillo Hellmann and Massimo Zanetti, the scientists Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, and the ones we just met in Cassation, the president Gennaro Marasca, the relator Paolo Bruno, and the three other judges of the panel: the face of honesty, of justice, and of respect. This is the Italy that I know, the Italy I fight for.

Bruno is a bit unstable on his legs, and when I saw the youngest judge of the panel help him walk toward the chamber, I thought that that was the symbol of this historic day: the experience and the youth, the wisdom and the enthusiasm, advancing together, in Italy.


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  • Larry Saltzman

    Wonderful post. You can be proud of the Supreme Court decision to free these two innocents.

  • eyesthatsee

    Bravo Frank! Bravo Italy!

  • RaSuMa86

    Frank, at your best! Have read this and re-read aloud to my family, all of whom see Italian justice through your eyes. Thank you for all you have done to fight the good fight these past 8 years.

  • Joan James

    Great article Frank as always!

    I am so very, very thankful to these five wise Cassation Judges…and thank you Italy. I have visited you so many times and loved you so much…now I can go back again where your pasta, wine and incredible culture are waiting for me.

  • Frank, thank you for your dedication and hard work. Most people will never know the sacrifices you have made to bring the truth about this case to the world. We may not agree on everything, but we certainly agree about the outcome of this case! Justice did prevail in the end.

  • Charlotte Taylor Brown

    Bravo Frank for your amazing work! you have been a loyal friend to the knox and sollecito family xoxo

  • Doreen Carmen Mason

    Why would sharing of this article not be allowed, and it be removed from my Facebook page, when I am completely in agreement with it?
    I followed this case since its inception. I have read every possible document that I have been able to find on the Internet. I have looked at photographs, read court documents and countless articles. I have looked at this case subjectively and not objectively. I never faltered in my belief that Amanda and Raffaele were innocent. I sat up into the night Wednesday, as I live in western Canada, and I sat on the edge of my chair on Friday praying and hoping for the best possible outcome. I am overjoyed at the wisdom of the five Cassation judges. Yet sadly, I have been deemed unfit to share this article on Facebook.

    • Niteangel

      Could it be some kind of glitch? Surely there must be a reason other than you being deemed unfit to share the article.

  • jrpppp

    Thanks Frank, we are blind without you. Thank you for allowing us to believe the best, rather than the worst, or our friends.

  • Noel Dalberth


    You just amaze me. Your sacrifice reflects exactly who you are. You always knew the truth. You never stopped. You were relentless. You never backed down. Nothing but gratitude to you. We are SO lucky to have you. You are of a kind which is exactly why we have been so lucky to have you. You have my support always.

  • Bully Diserepecter

    I didn’t know about the details regarding the Italian judiciary, specifically the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation, but some people will tell you that I did have faith that God would arrange to have honorable men on this ISC of C panel. Thank you for confirmation of what I had unshakable faith in.

  • paul

    I hope you are considering putting all your articles together in a book.

  • Karen

    The Voice of Reason. Thanks Frank.

  • james rae

    Good work as usual Frank. Hopefully, one day when the dust settles, you will write your own book from your own perspective in your own unique style.

    • Niteangel

      That would be great!

  • Niteangel

    Dear Frank, reading your articles is always an uplifting and enlightening experience. Your relentlessness, you passion, your honesty, your ability to see through and beyond all the smoke and mirrors, to read and understand the most subtiles signs, are priceless. That’s why I’m such a huge fan, I can’t praise you enough, and I certainly hope to have the pleasure to read more of your articles, either about this case, or anything else that will inspire you. God bless you Frank.

  • vortex

    this is the best article that I have ever read about this whole sorry affair
    it should be posted everywhere
    Thank you

  • davelebon

    They got it right, but clearly the legal system needs reforms.
    How about separating the prosecutors from the judges?
    How about these crazy calumnia laws and the risk of prosecution that journalists face for calling the police or prosecution into question? (you know it all too well!)
    Any idea if there will be any fallout from this case-Will those who ran the investigation ever be called into question?
    Anyway — we know you’re not a clairvoyant — but you always have good insights.
    Thanks for contribution — I learned a lot from you Frank and thank you for your sacrifices. We all know that you were attacked so unfairly during this case as well.

  • Dave Tupper

    Great stuff Frank, I have followed your writings since I took an interest in this case in late 2010 ( I was late to the party as usual). You have always been consistant in claiming it would come right in the end. Cannot wait to see the motivation. Do you think there will be further repercussions or will the misdeeds of the major players be swept under the carpet?

  • Rainer Scott

    Wow – now you explain it clearly it is indeed ….clear!

    That the ISC DID expect the third appeal judges to acquit, and they were exasperated by their pig-headed refusal to do so.

    Frank, bravo! BRAVO!!

    (and to the ISC judges also – BRAVO!).

    Please publish a memoir as soon as possible.

  • patrick christ

    Frank, I read Hellmann’s interview about his very negative treatment in the judiciary after he acquitted Amanda. It is extremely troubling if you are an American.

  • Beautiful story, Frank!!! You called it.

  • mryan1956

    Frank, well done. You and Raff represent the best of Italy.

  • jackbutler5555

    It’s difficult for me to divest myself of the opinion Italy’s judiciary is dirty. You at least gave me a reason to resist that generality. But 84 percent of Italians polled around the time of the trials said they couldn’t fully trust Italy’s judiciary. How could it allow a prosecutor, under indictment for abuse of office, continue in the role of prosecutor? Was there no oversight when Massei issued his speculation=proof report? When the high court stated contamination must be proven, that did not inspire a lot of confidence in me.

  • Tom Mininger


    I have to respectfully disagree. I think 2013 Cassation was the problem. Ordering the test on the remaining knife sample by that point was if not forensically acceptable, at least understandable. But their motivation document was an insult to science on par with The Church’s treatment of Galileo. Contamination must be proven… dredging up the disproved sex game gone wrong theory again… and imo ordering Nencini to not only conclude multiple attackers but include “the suspects”. And to flip-flop on the permissibility of Amanda’s unrecorded middle-of-the-night interrogation.

    I thank God for courageous Italians like you, Raffaele, Judge Hellmann, and the OGGI editors who risked and sacrificed rather than fold to injustice. And I’m grateful to all the Perugians who showed kindness to Amanda’s family during their desperation 6000 miles from home.

    I think the good behavior of the court last week was shall we say… nudged along by people of integrity such as yourself. Please write a book. Your insider POV is unique.

  • Thomas Thigpen

    If you are still reading these comments, now that the final motivation report is out, could you do a translation and post it? Most of the news sites are posting the same thing, about the stunning flaws that we knew were there. However, sweet Barbie Nadeau seems to intimate in her special rendering that it was only the blundering of the investigation that was the impetus for the acquittal and if not for that, the two would have been found guilty. Maybe I just read her wrong.