|Alma mater||University of Perugia|
|Years active||Magistrate since 1979|
|Known for||Monster of Florence|
Murder of Meredith Kercher
He is known for his involvement as the prosecutor in the investigation of the death of Dr. Francesco Narducci, who was found dead in the Trasimeno lake in 1985. Mignini opened an investigation into his death as a cold case in October 2001, as he believed Narducci was involved in the Monster of Florence serial murders case. The investigation resulted in the prosecution of 20 individuals over the following years, on allegations indirectly connected to Narducci's death such as cover-up and side-tracking charges. In 2010 all 20 individuals were acquitted, and Mignini was convicted of abuse of office. The conviction was later overturned on appeal.
Mignini came to wider public attention as the prosecutor who led the 2007 investigation into the murder of Meredith Kercher, and the subsequent prosecution of Rudy Guede, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. The conviction of Knox and Sollecito was eventually annulled by the Supreme Court of Cassation On March 27, 2015. The verdict pointed out that as scientific evidence was "central" to the case, there were "glaring defalliances" or "amnesia" and "culpable omissions of investigation activities".
- 1 Education and career
- 2 Notable cases
- 2.1 The Narducci case
- 2.2 Murder of Meredith Kercher
- 2.3 Brigitta Bulgari
- 3 See also
- 4 References
Education and career
Mignini was born in 1950 in Perugia, the son of a high-school teacher belonging to a family of sculptors. He obtained his law degree from the University of Perugia. He had wished to pursue a career in the Air Force, but he was rejected by the Pilots' Academy because of a form of daltonism. He passed the magistrate's examination in 1979, and worked for one year in Volterra serving as pretore (an investigating judge role which does not exist anymore in the Italian system). He served for several years as judge in the courts of Pisa and Terni, where he worked on different times both as a criminal and as a civil judge. In 1989 he returned to Perugia and served as investigator and criminal prosecutor (sostituto procuratore), between 2004 and 2012 he also had powers as the head of anti-mafia prosecutors (Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia) in Umbria, in 2013 he took a post at the Appeals prosecution office (Procura Generale).
The Narducci case
The investigation on the death of Perugian doctor Francesco Narducci (1949-1985) was a case that lasted overall about ten years, between 2000 and 2010. It is one of the investigations connected to the principal investigation on the serial murders known as "The Monster of Florence" case. Dr. Francesco Narducci's body was recovered from Lake Trasimeno near Perugia, Umbria, in 1985 and was determined to be a drowning. His body was discovered a month after the final double-murder linked to the Monster of Florence. The name of Dr. Narducci belonged to a list of "persons of interest" issued by the Florence Police in relation to the Monster of Florence cases since 1987. Police and prosecutors in Florence initially investigated Narducci's death as connected to the murders after a number of anonymous letters were received, but police were unable to find evidence of a connection.
Perugian investigation into Narducci's death
In early 2002, blogger Gabriella Carlizzi contacted Mignini regarding her theories about Narducci being part of a secret society behind the Monster killings. Mignini connected this to an ongoing phone stalking case he was investigating, where some of the conversations they recorded included references to the Monster of Florence and secret societies. While a medical examiner had determined the cause of Narducci's death to be drowning, no autopsy had been performed on the insistence of Narducci's father. Mignini opened an investigation file on suspicion that Narducci might have been murdered.
Based on Carlizzi's claim that Narducci's body had been substituted for another, Mignini requested an experts' opinion. Pathologist prof. Giovanni Pierucci examined the picture of the body that was taken on the pier in 1985. While all present at the time had claimed the body was Narducci's, Pierucci's report claimed that the decay of the cadaver in the photo appeared too advanced to be consistent with only five days in water, and recommended the unburial and examination of the body. Further expert examinations of the photograph claimed that the body on the pier was also shorter than Narducci and had a waist size not compatible with the trousers on the exhumed corpse. Other experts disagreed. In late summer 2002, Mignini, assisted by the Florence prosecutors, had Narducci's body exhumed and examined. The exhumed body was Narducci's. The pathologist found evidence that the cause of death could have been strangulation. Mignini believed a second body switch had occurred prior to the exhumation, and claimed to have sufficient evidence that the whole finding of the body at the lake had been a staging, performed as part of a cover-up by state authorities, coordinated by the Provincial head of Police (Questore).
Mignini alleged that Narducci had been involved in a secret society and killed to keep quiet and that his father, Ugo Narducci, a member of a masonic lodge, had masterminded the cover up. Mignini's theory involved a complicated conspiracy of 20 people, including government officials and law enforcement officers. Mignini indicted 20 people and charged them with the concealment of Narducci's murder. In 2010 all 20 were acquitted, and no crime or cover-up was determined to have occurred in the Narducci case. Narducci's family and colleagues believe that his death was a suicide.
Arrest of journalist Mario Spezi
Italian journalist Mario Spezi had covered the Monster of Florence case since 1981 and was still pursuing his own leads in 2006. On February 23. 2006, Mignini summoned American author Douglas Preston for questioning as a person informed about facts related to Spezi's activities. The police, on Mignini's orders, had wiretapped Spezi's phone conversations with Preston regarding a villa in the countryside of Tuscany. According to Preston and Spezi they had investigated the villa on a tip from an ex-convict that evidence regarding the Monster was hidden there, while Mignini interpreted the conversation as intention to plant evidence on the location. Preston has claimed that Mignini used "brutal" tactics during his interrogation, and has accused Mignini of attempting to coerce him into implicating himself and Spezi in the murders, saying "they have techniques that could get you to confess to murder."
On the 7th April 2006 the Florence police arrested Spezi. Preliminary judge Marina De Roberti, on Mignini's request, ordered the men to be held in cautionary custody and not to speak with his lawyers anymore before the first hearing in Court that took place on April 11. This, notwithstanding what many English sources claim, did not allow Mignini to hold and interrogate Spezi for six days without access to legal counsel: De Roberti's order was notified to Spezi on the 8th of April while he was actually speaking with his lawyer. Mignini formally suspected Spezi of complicity in the homicides of the Monster of Florence case. The request of custody was not motivated by the suspicion of murder, but based on the accusation of attempting to pollute the Narducci investigation. Spezi was held for 23 days, at which point an appeals tribunal found the arrest illegal.
Allegations of abuse of office
In 2004, the Florence Public Prosecution office discontinued their cooperation with Perugia, and demanded that they alone have the whole investigation file on Narducci's death. Mignini refused to hand over the investigation, claiming that the Trasimeno Lake shore where the body was recovered was in the territory under the jurisdiction of his office. The Florence police also provided Mignini with a recorded wiretapping in which prosecutor Paolo Canessa justified the break up of Florence collaboration by explaining that the Chief Prosecutor of Florence, Ubaldo Nannucci, was "not a free man" and was acting on superior orders. Based on the recording of Canessa's voice, Mignini opened an investigation against Ubaldo Nannucci, and against the Chief of Police in Florence, Giuseppe De Donno, accusing both of them of voluntarily obstructing Police activity and of hindering the investigation on Narducci's death.
In 2006, a Florence prosecutor, Luca Turco, in return charged Mignini and the head of the Florence Mobile Squad, Michele Giuttari (the department which had provided Mignini with the recording) with a number of counts, including the alleged fabrication of a false audio recording, plus a number of counts of abuse of office for allegedly ordering the illegal wiretapping of the phones of various police officers and journalists involved in the Monster of Florence case. Some newspapers called the escalation a "prosecution office war". Florence prosecution accused Mignini of carrying on a "parallel investigation" in order to cover up for Giuttari's alleged fabrication of a false recording of Canessa's conversation, and ordered a police raid of his office. Perugian newspapers alleged that in fact Florence ordered the raid in the Perugian office in order to put their hands on the Narducci - Monster of Florence file.
The Florence Prosecution office accused Mignini of taking part in forging a fake audio recording, of abusing his powers as he investigated the head of Florentine police Giuseppe De Donno, and for having wiretapped phone calls of three journalists and two police officers, allegedly for unjustified reasons. Mignini objected that the Florence Magistrates had no jurisdiction on him because of their office's conflict of interest and requested that the investigation be moved to Turin. Preliminary judge Dania Mori turned down his request. In January 2010, a Florence court chaired by judge Francesco Maradei acquitted him of the first three counts of fabricating fake evidence, as Mignini and Giuttari managed to prove that the audio recording was authentic, but found him guilty of the remaining four counts of exceeding the powers of his office. He was given a 16-month suspended sentence. Mignini appealed the conviction, saying "My conscience is clear, I know I did nothing wrong." He remained in office through the appeal process, as Italian law does not consider convictions final until all appeals are exhausted, but delayed taking a post at the Procura Generale where he had been already appointed. According to Rome-based journalist and author Barbie Latza Nadeau, even if Mignini were convicted, offenses such as this are rarely grounds for removing a prosecutor from office.
In November 2011, a Court of Appeals accepted his preliminary objection and annulled the previous conviction, also declaring the prosecution by Florentine magistrates illegitimate - since some of the Florence prosecutors were also the offended parties - and sent the investigation file to a prosecutor in Turin. The Prosecution General of Florence appealed against the decision at the Supreme Court, so factually blocking the transfer to Turin for at least another year. In February 2013 the Florence office lost their appeal and the Supreme Court ordered the investigation be moved to Turin. Mignini said "It took me 7 years to be right" In 2016, the court of Turin dropped the remaining charges due to statutory terms expiration.
Finding of no wrongdoing
While the Italian justice system does not prosecute criminal allegations beyond statutory terms through penal courts, Italian Magistrates are still subjected to a judgement also by a disciplinary court of the High Council of the Judiciary (Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura, or CSM) which seeks to find out facts in the merits, even if the Magistrate has already been acquitted of criminal charges on technicalities, or when there is still reasonable doubt. Mignini underwent a lengthy trial by the CSM about the Florence allegations on Narducci case. In March 2017 the CSM disciplinary court acquitted Mignini of all allegations, finding that in his conduct "there was no wrongdoing".
Murder of Meredith Kercher
In October 2011, Mignini told a reporter from the British newspaper The Guardian "I have felt under attack ever since I investigated Narducci. It all started there." He further suggested that the trial for abuse of power was related to persecution for his role in the Monster of Florence case and blamed American author Douglas Preston, co-author with Spezi of a book about the case, of masterminding a U.S. press campaign against him over the Knox case. As part of his summing up in the first Knox appeal he said "our judicial system has been subjected to a systematic denigration by a well-organised operation of a journalistic and political nature".
Preston has criticized the conduct of Mignini in the trial. In April 2009, Preston appeared in a segment of 48 Hours on CBS, in which he argued that the case against Knox was "based on lies, superstition, and crazy conspiracy theories". In December 2009, after the verdict had been announced, he appeared on Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN and described his own interrogation by Mignini in the same terms, claiming he was also denied a translator, and has since referred to the interrogation as "psychologically brutal".
In 2013, Knox and Sollecito's case was committed to another prosecutor, Alessandro Crini, who requested and obtained the convictions in their retrial. Knox and Sollecito were acquitted by the Supreme Court of Cassazione on 27 March 2015, ending the case.
Satellite prosecutions initiated by Mignini
In February 2013, Mignini launched a defamation suit against Raffaele Sollecito, for allegations in Sollecito's book, Honor Bound, including claims of secret negotiations between Mignini and Sollecito's family. Mignini later retracted his claims, and the rest of the suit was dismissed.
On December 4, 2015 Mignini was disciplined by the High Council of the Judiciary for violation of correct procedure in the arrest of Sollecito in November 2007. The Prosecutor General of the Supreme Court requested his acquittal. Mignini was defended by judge Piercamillo Davigo. The disciplinary panel stated that he issued an oral order of prohibiting legal counsel with Sollecito, instead of issuing a written order as provided by the law. He was issued a censure.
In June 2010, Mignini was the prosecutor involved in the case of porn star Brigitta Bulgari who was arrested and held for 11 days after being charged with child pornography; this followed the surfacing of a mobile phone video showing 15-year-old boys touching her breasts while she performed as a stripper in an Umbria night club. Sexual contact with minors itself may be not punishable under Italian law, but it is illegal to produce videos. Bulgari had her charges dropped in October 2011 based on a preliminary judge assumption that "Bulgari was not aware that there were minors in the club" and "because of intense lights she could not see whether people were filming". Bulgari stated that she was "just trying to make a living" and that she felt sorry for Amanda Knox, pointing out that they were both investigated by the same prosecutor. She also said that she would seek monetary damages for "muddying her name" and planned to write a book about her experiences after arrest.
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Mr. Ferdinando Zaccaria, in such occasion, admitted to the activity carried on by Spezi, by Ruocco and by himself, explaining that such result would have made a "world scoop", subsequently to which they would have made "a lot of money".
- Verbale di Assunzione di Informazioni. Procura della Repubblica presso il Tribunale di Perugia. 23 February 2006. p. 3.
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Pugno duro del giudice nei confronti di Mario Spezi
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- source: AGI (9 April 2006). "Si terrà martedì prossimo l'interrogatorio di garanzia dei due arrestati, anche se si attende la conferma definitiva".
"Rome, 9 April 2006. Defence attorney Antonio Traversi explained "The prohibition of counsel is legitimate, to be fair it is usually applied to charges of a different gravity, given that the order of cautionary custody is not about a murder but about crimes of a very different nature and degree of danger, anyway there was this prohibition and we complied" Italian: "Roma, 9 aprile 2006. Il difensore Sandro Traversi spiegando che «è legittimo il divieto ai colloqui, per la verità generalmente applicato in processi di ben altra portata, visto che qui l'ordinanza di custodia cautelare riguarda non l'omicidio ma reati di natura e di pericolosità ben diversa, comunque c'è questo divieto e ci siamo attenuti»
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Nel novembre 2011, la corte d'Appello di Firenze aveva annullato la sentenza di primo grado
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