The Latest Criminal Justice News from Italy – Franscesco Di Stefano and Bella Swan

I read in Italia! recently a story about reputed mafia boss Francesco Di Stefano, who fooled the Italian authorities into releasing him from prison due to health problems.   Francesco Di Stefano, who was serving a 30-year sentence, pretended to be suffering from anorexia and “post-traumatic paraplegia”.  He apparently faked the paraplegia and went on a crash diet until he was down to 84 pounds.  The Italian prison released him to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest at the residence of his wife in Bologna, in northern Italy.  The mafia boss then fled and was missing for sometime.  He was later found by police driving around down in  Sicily in a sports car.  When asked why he was not in a wheelchair, he is claimed to have replied: “It’s a Miracle!”  You have to at least admire the force of will that the man would have to have in order to bring his weight down to 84 pounds.  The man was only 36 years old.   This sort of thing would never happen in the U.S.   The system here is real hard-nosed about releasing even the very sick from prison.  I just don’t recall it ever happening.  I know when many states enacted mandatory life sentences and abolished the parole system, many people wondered if someday the prisons would start looking like nursing homes.  I anticipate this will be a budget issue some day.  I have blogged in the past about such budget issues, see here.  Usually in American prisons, the staff has significance experience in handling inmates with serious medical problems.  however, local jails are a different story.  Usually the staff of local jails are in a hurry for sick inmates to be released or sent off to prison.

Speaking of Italy, am I the only one who thought of Amanda Knox during the  Volturi scene in the movie Twilight: New MoonAn American girl pleads for her life, minus the blue berets The movie’s heroine,  Bella Swan, travels to Italy and is greeted by the Volturi, the governors of the vampire world.  It just seemed a little too familiar to see this charismatic American girl struggle to understand a foreign process and plead her case on why she should be set free.  And Bella Swan and Amanda Knox are both from Western Washington!  I haven’t seen any other blogger make this comparison, so let me know if I am crazy on this one.

4 Responses to “The Latest Criminal Justice News from Italy – Franscesco Di Stefano and Bella Swan”

  • Marfie:

    The director may have not planned it like that, but art imitates life, and the trailer did seem to present the Volturi scene as something that Amanda Knox fans could relate with

  • WHat?:

    Can’t believe, Bella is some cheap hollywood notion put together only to be forgot in a year or two. AMANDA IS IN THERE FOR 26 YEARS. The fault of the italian is their inabiliy to reign in out of control media outlets who want to sensational the whole case at every turn. I sat in thea Perujia court room many days, and the treatment Amanda received was worse than anything Bella saw. This trial is going to effect relations between US and Italy for years to come. Trump isn’t the only one who doesn’t want to have anything to do with the country.

  • Tracy:

    I do not believe any American regardless of the charge, whether they be innocent or guilty, will ever get a fair trial in a foreign country. As soon as your charged say your goodbyes to your family and loved ones.

  • S.R.:

    I like your comparison about the Twilight -New Moon scene. My husband and I discussed the same thing. Having come to Italy barely speaking Italian, it has been obvious to me from the start that Amanda was misunderstood when it came to her behavior and the way that she answered the police under illegal interrogation tactics- which were never recorded and have protected the abuses by the police. Having dealt with Italians in business or authority positions and over the last 12 years I can affirm that they can be incredibly difficult to deal with. I don’t know how many times I have experienced a situation in which they aggressively try to trick you into falling into a verbal trap- and this can have nothing to do with a crime scene of course, but when dealing with a land lord, someone who is trying to screw you in a business deal. Hotel people, people with the utility company, business owners. It is routine. I have never seen the same kind of verbal abuse in the USA as here. I am certain that Amanda was set up and that she unwittingly played into their hands. It has occurred during the entire trial. With an unsettling habit of verbosity, Italian is a language that birthed the inquisition. Italy is also an incredibly sexist country with bizarre prejudices about completely normal behavior. Abuse of power is normal in all countries, but in Italy I think it is out of control and always has been, as far back as recorded history goes. It is not long ago that the church controlled the justice system in most parts of Italy. As a country with the most number of laws on the books it is the country in which the least number of laws are enforced, but when they put their minds to it, an innocent person will be sunk. From Julius Caesar to Berlusconi, the laws are fixed to protect the most powerful. A person without a perfect command of Italian and without a translator, and/or without a lawyer has no chance in the Italian justice system. Amanda had neither and she and Raffaele were both set up to take the fall in order to cover up the idiotic crime scene that Mignini declared had occurred. How does a man come up with such a ridiculous premise for a crime and announce it to the world, then save face when everything he presented has been proven to be false, a lie, or misrepresentation of the truth? At this point, Mignini attacks like a rabid dog, trying to destroy all of his critics with petty lawsuits and by swinging his power around, trying to stifle free speech. He is protecting himself and the cops. I for one will not stop supporting free speech or Amanda and Raffaele, and the journalists who have steadily reported on this case.

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking:
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