Beware the Nazis are back, casting a shadow across an ancient land

Posted in SharonSpeak on October 3rd, 2012 by Sharon Feinstein

Even the name has that totem-like, mythical feel about it, designed to inspire mindless allegiance.
The Golden Dawn, the latest fascist group to be born out of the ashes of economic discontent and the culture of Blame .
As Greece flails about and Athens finds itself in a shocking new world of hardship and unemployment, The Golden Dawn steps in.
After all, what is history but the repetition of mistakes and terrible lessons left unlearned.
The Nazis are back wearing black T-shirts, crashing into make-shift fruit and vegetable stalls, preying on those inevitable fears that its the immigrants who must be behind all the economic hardships.
They’re even distributing potatoes in poorer regions of Greece just as the Nazis gave out food parcels in Germany.
Woe is me. The tactics of terror. Another dark shadow is cast across this ancient land that has witnessed more turmoil and bloodshed than any other European nation over the last century.
Civil war, Communists, the terrible Generals, and now this.
Rising discontent is the breeding ground for groups like the Golden Dawn.
Wake up to the patterns of history, the tactics of dictatorships, discontented people grasping at so-called saviours.
60 million people died in World War 2 which started exactly like this!

A Cretan love affair, The Elounda Mare

Posted in SharonSpeak on August 21st, 2012 by Sharon Feinstein

Relaxing on a boat

This year I went to the Elounda Mare on my own, but never once did I feel alone in this glorious hotel where the staff sweep you up with their warmth, and the dramatic views over the Bay of Mirabello infuse you with that Cretan magic. For all the scare mongering about the Greek crisis the atmosphere couldn’t have been more buoyant, with an overall air of tranquillity, sophistication and well-being pervading the hotel.

Fun on the water

I swam for hours across the bay in the glinting sunshine, not a cloud in sight after months of drumming British rain. I water skied, sailed on Yanni’s 40 foot yacht based at the Mare’s water sports, ate in the excellent Relais Chateaux restaurants ( Old Mill, Yacht Club and Calypso at the neighbouring Peninsula) and read copiously.
I also made some delightful new friends at the cool Karavia bar where charming mixologist, Demetris, can concoct whatever you desire and always with a smile.

Making new friends

There is nowhere like this haven on the Med where you feel you are welcomed into a home from home of real style and class, and that you become part of its extended guest family.
The Mare has a wonderful sense of space, its private bungalows and secret bays spread out amongst elegant gardens of bougainvillea, carob trees, pines, olives, eucalyptus, all with their alluring scents and textures.

Dramatic views

Thomas Cohen on Peaches Geldof, read my exclusive interview

Posted in SharonSpeak on January 29th, 2012 by Sharon Feinstein

What a lovely chap. Thomas Cohen has all the freshness, vigour and enthusiasm of youth. He is incredibly proud to be Jewish and wants to bring up his soon-to-be-born baby as a Cohen. He is besotted with his fiancee, the once wayward Peaches Geldof. He has spoken to me about how they met, his introduction to the Geldof family and how he’s grooming his future son to like Thomas’ rock band S.C.U.M
Read the interview at
www.sharonfeinstein.co.uk

Jon Voight chooses to stick his neck out on one of the most controversial issues of our time, and its not Angelina

Posted in SharonSpeak on January 4th, 2012 by Sharon Feinstein

Jon Voight chooses to stick his neck out on one of the most controversial issues of our time, Israel and Anti Semitism, and he needs our respect and admiration for his courage

He was brought up a Catholic, but what marked him very deeply was the experience of his father Elmer Voight,  a golf professional at a Jewish country club in West Chester county NY .

Jon says it was there that he began to understand the nature of  anti-Semitism,  because the local Jews weren’t able to join other country clubs and as a result started their own. He watched his father, who had grown up amongst the Jewish community from the time he was 8 because he was a caddy at the Golf Club, flourish in that atmosphere and become a champion golfer. All this made a lasting impression on the young Jon.

It was there that Jon learned about the Jewish people and came to admire them.

Jon, who shot to fame in midnight Cowboy and went on to  receive an Academy Ward and three Golden Globe Awards, has brought up two children ( the actress Angelina Jolie and actor James Haven )

He is now a grandfather to Angelina and Brad’s brood of 6, three of whom were adopted from far flung places, and this has given him a new lease of life

But it is his rage and fight against Anti-Semitism, and work with leading Jewish figures like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and writer Elie Wiesel, that makes this remarkable man such a driven and outspoken person of our age.

Read an exclusive and searingly honest interview with Jon at www.sharonfeinstein.co.uk

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Vittoria, Knox’s cellmate, speaks again

Posted in SharonSpeak on December 10th, 2011 by Sharon Feinstein


These repeated visits to Vittoria are a favour to me to establish as many of the facts as possible, and move things on so that the focus can get back to what I see as most relevant, the tragic death of a British student and the ongoing questions as to who was responsible, or how many people were responsible. I have noted that many of the interested parties reading my blogs are far more involved with the minutiae of times, dates, cell mates and other miniscule details than with the bigger picture. But taking that into account, here is the latest information from Perugia. I am hoping this doesn’t give rise to another landslide of nitpicking because there’s a bigger picture out there.

My trusted envoy spoke to Vittoria again and this is the result. Vittoria revealed that when she was freed she went to say goodbye to Sabrina, the gypsy cell mate who had become her friend. She says that Amanda smiled and said goodbye to her and something else, she thought maybe it was “in bocca al lupo” (in the mouth of the wolf) which means good luck. This is the sequence of cellmates according to Vittoria and for those who have asked: Amanda was initially in solitary confinement and had a different daily timetable to the other prisoners (Vittoria doesn’t know why).Then Amanda was in the same cell as Vittoria and Patrizia Plini (who is still in prison). Then Patrizia Plini was moved to another cell and Sabrina was put into the cell with Amanda and Vittoria. Two other women joined them for a while. They arrived from another prison. As the cell was for 4 people they had to add an extra bed. Vittoria doesn’t recall their names because they were foreigners. Vittoria spent the last 2-3 days of her detention in another cell because she was quite nervous and often argued with Amanda (she didn’t like her behaviour). Victoria didn’t want to get a bad report and hinder her getting out, so she requested that she move cells rather than end up in arguments and visible difficulties with Amanda, whom she found unreasonable and callous.
Read my interviews . . . . at www.sharonfeinstein.co.uk

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Vittoria speaks again tonight in Perugia

Posted in SharonSpeak on December 9th, 2011 by Sharon Feinstein


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.

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A Terrible, Significant month in the Perugia Murder

Posted in SharonSpeak on December 7th, 2011 by Sharon Feinstein

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.

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A Gift from Amanda Knox

Posted in SharonSpeak on December 6th, 2011 by Sharon Feinstein

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”
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This is my reply to the avalanche of reactions around the world to my AMANDA KNOX interviews

Posted in SharonSpeak on December 3rd, 2011 by Sharon Feinstein

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.

Sharon and Angela Antonelli

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

Amanda Knox remains a mystery

Posted in SharonSpeak on November 29th, 2011 by Sharon Feinstein

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….