I have sent someone to see Amanda’s cellmate Vittoria tonight in Perugia, as I am currently in London. Vittoria is jubilant that her evening curfew has just been lifted and she is a totally free woman. My envoy asked her some questions about dates and details to try and stem to tide of doubters.
She says she was in Capanne from 2006 to 2009, I am unsure as to whether she was in a different prison before that. Amanda joined her in her cell after Meredith’s murder and they spent more than a year living together until Vittoria was released. Vittoria’s daughter, Maria, was diagnosed with lymphoma in June 2007, and Vittoria made regular visits to see her in hospital, returning to Capanne at night. Vittoria says she remembers Rosa who also shared the cell with them for a time but not Florisbella. She claims that there were many foreigners with complicated names that the inmates couldn’t pronounce, and they inevitably changed their names to Italian names, and this may have been one of them. Vittoria says their other cell mate, Sabina, is now out of prison and I am planning an interview with her. Another intimate, another view, another set of eyes. Vittoria said tonight, I have to say again that Amanda never appeared to mourn Meredith, but when Meredith’s face came up on TV she always said she was her best friend. She never seemed preoccupied or distressed in prison the way you would imagine a young girl would be. She was serene, relaxed and said she was always assured by her lawyer that she would walk, it was just a matter of time.
She didn’t flirt with anyone in the prison and had no physical contact with anyone, nothing like that. But she received sackfuls of fan mail and even love letters. She talked about her American boyfriend back in Seattle and said he was her real boyfriend, not Raffaele.
What I feel and always felt is that she’s guilty, Vittoria said. She’s an actress. She knows how to manipulate and play with people. Many of us in the prison felt that. She has that gift of charm, she knows how to make people believe her, but we saw her every day and we didn’t like who she really was.
Two things are happening this month, for those who are still concerned with the brutal Perugia murder.
Firstly, Amanda Knox has finally done what we all expected, given a little time to get organised and deal with outstanding legal complications.
She signed the big book deal, no doubt to be followed by the even bigger Hollywood movie with someone like Carey Mulligan in the starring Knox role, and a floppy haired actor like Zac Efron or Daniel Radcliffe playing Raffaele.
Not necessarily meaning to sound cynical, one has to hand it to you Amanda Knox for brokering a deal with powerhouse literary agent, Robert Barnett, whose stellar client list includes Barack Obama, Tony Blair, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Sarah Palin.
This is big money talking.
I’m far more concerned, however, with the other thing that is happening this month, and that is Meredith Kercher’s birthday
On 28th December she would have turned 26.
My daughter has just turned 24, and we had a celebration.
But for the Kerchers it will not only be a bleak, dark Christmas, the fourth dark one since Meredith was slaughtered.
But that sharp quite unimaginable pain will continue to 28th December, what is sometimes described as an anniversary reaction.
Amanda Knox’s literary triumph can hardly have helped.
It could only serve to rub salt into their bleeding wounds.
Wounds which will of course never really heal. They will continue to fester until the Kercher family feel that the full guilt or innocence of Knox and Sollecito has been established beyond all reasonable doubt and the case is forever closed.
Whichever side of the fence one is on, it is Meredith’s ferocious, merciless murder that must remain people’s primary focus, alongside the quest for justice.
And this bittersweet month, which falls just after the anniversary of her savage death on November 1st, is also the time when she would have been celebrating the gift of life for another year.
It is all so terribly, woefully sad.
The Euro Chocolate festival poured into Perugia the weekend I travelled there, with every imaginable chocolate delicacy.
I was even invited to scale a nutty wall of dark chocolate on a chocolate rope.
But so much sweetness did nothing to lift the cloud of death that Meredith Kercher’s brutal murder, and the murky trial of Amanda Knox and Raphaele Sollecito, have left over this Umbrian town.
Without exception people I talked to there are convinced Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are guilty and that it was pressure from America and the genius of Italy’s top lawyer, Gulia Bongionro, that swung this case in their favour.
In a bar next to the Court where they won their appeal the barman, Antonio, told me : “She may be fluent in Italian now, but it’s a wasted language for her as she can never step a foot in Italy again. No one would even give her a glass of water or offer her a bed.”
Two people with an intimate knowledge of Amanda Knox have spoke out – a warden in Capanne prison who guarded her for two years, 66-year-old Angela Antonelli, and Amanda’s cell mate, Vittoria, who shared the small space with her for three long years.
It’s been widely publicised that the Beatles song ‘Let It Be’ meant a lot to Knox whilst she was in Capanne prison.
“She told me that the Beatles song kept her going in Capanne. I asked her what it meant, and this is what she gave me. Take it, I don’t want it.” Antonelli said to me at the time.
Here is a copy of the letter that Amanda gave to the Warden.
I have it in my possession as Angela didn’t want it.
It is ‘Let It Be’ written out in English and then translated into Italian for Angela so that she could see what the words meant.
Antonelli said “She sang continuously, English songs, the Beatles, and for her ‘Let It Be’ had a lot of meaning”
See the letter …. and Follow me on Twitter
Barbara Walters has named Amanda Knox as one of the year’s “10 Most Fascinating People.”
I can testify that Knox’s resounding impact has bowled me over this afternoon.
I travelled to Perugia some weeks ago to interview Ms Knox’s warden, Angela Antonelli, and one of her cellmates, Vittoria, who shared a cell with her for 3 of her 4 years in Capanne.
I have had an avalanche of reactions to the blog I posted on my website, and the link which takes people to the full interviews.
These were originally published by The People newspaper, but sadly are not on their website. There is only a small reference to them and not with my by-line. This is regrettable, and this oversight has given rise to unfounded comments on other blog sites.
Some of the unpleasant remarks about The People newspaper, and about the veracity of my interviews, have astounded me.
For the record and as a long-standing journalist, I find The People an extremely well presented and balanced newspaper, very readable and informative.
My interviews were recorded and the interviewees were NOT paid. This is in reference to another disparaging blogger who wanted to know how much the interviewees had received from me.
The same blogger made reference to the Fat expense account I must have been given to go to Perugia.
Actually I went to Perugia entirely off my own bat, funded by myself, and I met Antonelli through a friend. I was fortunate that she agreed to talk to me, and only did so because of the introduction and because she respects English journalists, whom she says comported themselves laudably throughout the trial.
I didn’t even know I’d be able to interview Knox’s cellmate Vittoria when I arrived.
She was reluctant to meet me, and only agreed to talk, at first very falteringly, because we got off on the right footing and actually got on rather well.
I found her funny, vulnerable and rather moving, as it happens.
14 years in Capanne is a very long time.
As my interview mentions, her 9-year-old daughter contracted lymphoma whilst Vittoria was in prison.
Her burden has been a heavy one. I hardly think she needs to start concocting stories about her cellmate Amanda Knox. She genuinely felt that Knox was unkind, cold and uncaring.
I have no doubt whatsoever that she told me the truth from her perspective, and considering that none of you bloggers were in the cell, day in and day out, I would come down on the side of Vittoria knowing a lot more than you ever could.
However many articles you’ve read and however much you feel justified in adding to this global issue.
Ultimately I did a job, I met the people, and I wrote what was said.
You are perfectly within your rights to doubt all that, and to denigrate The People newspaper most probably without ever having read it, but this is wrong and misguided.
Perhaps you should go to Perugia and talk to the locals as I did, and find out what they feel about Knox. It’s jaw dropping to hear the extent to which they loathe her.
Try and meet her former cell mates. Do the ground work as I did, put some energy into real investigation instead of this speculative and disparaging diatribe that I’ve been reading on blog sites this afternoon. And order The People before you denigrate it. That would be fairer.
Read their FULL interviews on my site…. and Follow me on Twitter
Read the FULL interviews at www.sharonfeinstein.co.uk
Did she do it, what’s the truth, what will she do now? Those are the questions everyone asks and is intrigued by.
For me it was thrilling to find the warden who had kept the young woman from Seattle under lock and key, AND a fellow cell mate for three of her four years of grim incarceration.
Within a day of finding them I travelled to Perugia
The interviews took place in conversational Italian, fast, full of jokes, anecdotes, and sometimes above my head.
Those 6 months I’d lived in Florence and studied at the British Institute all those years ago came in very handy. And the lovely Sonia Tardetti acted as my translator filling in gaps with immense patience.
The warden, Angela Antonelli, and inmate, Victoria, and gave me a fascinating, first hand gritty account of life in Capanne Prison for the young Miss Knox.
Is she or isn’t she guilty? Of course neither of them could say.
But they described her character, habits, demands and reactions to the other prisoners’ distress, in great detail, something no one else has had access to.
Read their FULL interviews on my site….
You can make all those plans and dream the dreams, in a year’s time, in five years, next Christmas. We’ll pay off the mortgage, go travelling, change jobs, move out of the big smoke. My close friend in Thailand dreamed the dream too. Khun Thoomma, 47-years-old, so creative she could carve flowers out of fruit, cook exotic dishes, name all the towering trees at the wonderful Rayavadee where she’d worked for 18 years, and speak to all the guests in their native tongue no matter where they came from. One of the longest serving staff members, living on the property with her little 6-year-old boy, Stephan, Khun Thoomma was a legend. Maybe she would have moved on when she hit the grand 20-year-mark at Rayavadee, maybe not. But she never got the chance to find out. This fantastically vibrant, life-embracing woman woke up last Sunday morning and developed a headache and chest pains. She walked into the hospital and died of a heart attack half-an-hour later, at 10.20 am. Khun Thoomma’s life snuffed out. How can I believe this ? Just 8 weeks ago we spent a part of every day together laughing, she always joked about my oh so annoying habits, taught me how to laugh at troubles, enjoy every moment, names the trees I was so in awe of, and drink down that last glug of wine. What a woman, what a great friend, what a lovely mother to Stephan and her older daughter and son. Where have you suddenly gone so unannounced, leaving everyone behind to gasp and pale in disbelief. I’d be walking to breakfast in the early morning with the sound of hornbills, monkeys in the trees, a distant longtail boat and then that booming voice coming down the path, Chun Rak khun, Khun Sharon. I love you Sharon. I’d look round and she’d be smiling, tall white chef’s hat on, and her pressed apron, all ready for her cooking class with the guests who’d booked her up. I’ll miss you dear friend, I miss you already, am so shocked to have lost you, and have been crying for you overnight, and will for many more nights. Thank you for what you taught me Khun Thoomma and thank you for the time we spent together. I am only grateful that you didn’t suffer and have no knowledge of how much suffering there is now without you.
Will Amanda Knox ever really be free and will Meredith Kercher’s murder ever really be explained ? A heavy shroud of inconclusiveness and unease hangs over the entire tragedy. The tragedy of Meredith’s untimely, brutal death and that of Amanda Knox and Raphaelle Sollecito, who have lost 1400 days of their lives , if not all the rest of their days on many levels. As Amanda Knox and Raphaelle’s convictions were overturned, the crowds outside the dark, ancient, courtroom jeered and cried out, Vergogna, shame ! Many have launched into the anti-Americanisms one always dreads hearing, as one dreads hearing all those predictable, vicious, racist remarks. “ It’s a judicial error to free the Americans with all their money, “ said one woman. Amanda Knox goes home to a heroine’s welcome, but with so many disbelievers out there, will she ever be free? A trail of doubt follows in her wake, the unsolved murder of a young, innocent British girl still lies at her doorstep and will haunt her all her living days, just as Meredith’s death will haunt each day of her ever-so-dignified family’s lives for the rest of time. Meredith’s mother, Arline Kercher, has so sadly and poignantly said she would never move from the family home in Coulsdon, Surrey. Why? Because if she did Meredith wouldn’t know where she was. The case is a hideous catalogue of suffering and savagery for all concerned. Even the ancient hilltop city of Perugia near the river Tiber, surrounded by verdant valleys and cypress trees, will forever more have the shroud of the young girl’s slaughter hanging over it. Death in Perugia and still one asks, Who really did it and why?
Having just come back from the most idyllic holiday in Crete, suffused with a sense of peace and serenity, it’s a total contrast to confront the absolute mayhem in the UK Capital, and extremely frightening. Police have warned that my square is within a target area tonight, and all across London buildings are on fire, cars torched, businesses ransacked and homes smashed to smithereens. Londoners are walking around in shock and incredulity unable to fathom what is happening around us. It’s just engulfed us so suddenly and violently it beggars belief. My family live in Johannesburg and I’m always telling them how they need to leave crime city, but now I really can’t talk from any different standpoint. London is lawless and who knows whether the 16,000 police ordered onto the streets will be able to stem this tidal wave. And how are we going to pay the £100 million bill of the estimated destruction so far when no one has any money and taxes are at record highs. No chance of a pint of milk tonight with shops boarded up and things changing hour to hour. A kind of war going on here, and an economic war raging and zinging round the world at the same time. How to see the glass half full at this stage is eluding me, for the moment.
I have done this interview with someone I actually grew up with in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She has been struck down with early Alzheimer’s disease and is facing her fate with extraordinary courage and good humour, not flinching from the slow horrors that unfold in her life, and never losing her smile and indeed her sensitivity to others. I was so impressed and in awe of Nadia’s positive approach and how attentive she was towards me, curious and interested in my life, in the midst of everything she is going through. She is indeed an example of someone who sees her cup half full, and I found her an absolute inspiration.
Is it just me or is anyone else worried that we haven’t seen any evidence of Bin Laden’s death. I don’t want to rain on the parade and maybe I am just a compulsive worrier, but we had evidence of Saddam being pulled out of his hole in Iraq and I just need something visual to show me that the most evil man on the planet is no longer of the flesh. Dropping his body into the sea means we can never know this for sure. Did they take a photograph? I know there are DNA samples but do we believe this, I want some concrete and visual proof. Assuming all is well, and the rest of the world seems to be at peace with this (apart from me) it is a massive turning point for us all. A hugely emotional day but mostly for those who have lost someone to the vicious terrorism of Al Qaeda. To them the day will bring bitterness and sadness as well as joy and relief. Well done to President Obama and God Bless the U S of A, and all the military and intelligence that has gone into this huge feat. Gone is the financier of terrorism, the terrible Satanic visionary of death, the master planner of destruction. Yes Al Qaeda lives on in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and one has to note how saddened and condemnatory Hamas has been today. But the heinous movement has been stripped of its Head. Let’s hope the Hydra serpent doesn’t grow more heads and that if it does the West manages to torch them off and bury them under a rock forever, as with the mythical Hydra. Following on from the legend, it’s interesting that Hydra lived in the Lernean marshes, near Argolis, and Bin Laden lived just 60 miles from Islamabad, Capital of Pakistan. Does that mean the Pakistani authorities were complicit in his survival and life there ? Surely yes! How can he have kept his compound such a closely guarded secret just a two hour drive from the Capital and streets away from Pakistan’s Sandhurst, a military academy complex that has been the training ground for the country’s officer corps for 60 years.
“Osama – who cares? He’s just a creation of America,” said a mechanic, from under a broken vehicle in Abbottabad, this quiet military town in the Himalayan foothills, which seems to have housed Osama Bin Laden for many years. “We don’t care about him. Petrol prices are rising, food is more expensive, and our leaders are corrupt. That’s all we care about.”
Well you know what mate, the rest of us do care about this a whole lot, we in London who lived through 7/7, those in New York who lived through 9/11, and the countless others in places around the world where Bin Laden unleashed his atrocities. Most recently Marrakech, where two friends of mine have just celebrated their honeymoon and were in the Square when the bomb went off last week, mercifully shielded by some stalls and thank God unhurt. Yes many, many others around the world most certainly DO CARE that, hopefully, Bin Laden is finally dead.