American Girl, Italian Nightmare, and a Update on Mario Spezi

Saturday night on CBS, “48 Hours” will air a segment on the ongoing trial of 21-year-old Amanda Knox, who stands accused of murdering her roommate Meredith Kercher on November 2, 2007 in Perugia. The case has provoked a considerable amount of media attention and notoriety ever since prosecutor Giuliano Mignini accused Knox of murdering Kercher in the midst of a drug-filled sex orgy gone wrong, and the piece, by Peter Van Sant, asks some equally provocative questions about whether Knox is being falsely prosecuted for the crime.

Douglas Preston will also be interviewed on the show, for he has firsthand experience of Mignini’s tactics as it related to his work on the book that became the NYT bestseller THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE, co-written with Mario Spezi. And here I have frustrating and sad news to report. Three years ago, Spezi was arrested, accused of being a conspirator in the Monster of Florence case, and though he was eventually released – and Mignini reprimanded for his actions – things have worsened for Spezi since the book came out last summer, when he flew to New York to participate in various promotional appearances with Preston (including a panel I moderated at Bryant Park’s lunchtime reading series) who reports the following in a email sent around today:

Mignini just a few weeks ago filed a new round of charges against
Spezi. These include murder (yet again), as well as disturbing public
order by means of the press, “vilification” of a public figure
(himself), and using the press to obstruct justice. These charges stem
from the fact that Mario, in his capacity as a journalist, wrote pieces
critical of Mignini’s investigations in the Knox case and in the
Monster of Florence serial killings.

In addition to ruining the life of an innocent American girl, Mignini’s

persecution has now brought Mario Spezi to the brink of ruin. Despite a

long and honorable career, Mario has trouble finding work because

newspapers are afraid to hire a journalist charged with murder. His

home has been searched by police and his papers seized. His health has

been affected; last year he nearly died of a pulmonary infection which

his doctors thought was partly due to an immune system compromised by

stress. The legal bills have left him economically devastated and close

to losing his home. He lives in constant fear of arrest. The police

have tapped his telephone and bugged his car, videotaped his movements,

and questioned his family and friends.

Because, of course, it is far easier to take the complex, conspiracy-laden route and accuse an honorable journalist of outlandish crimes than it is to prosecute the likeliest suspect, whom Preseton and Spezi identified in their book.  What angers me most is that just after our panel ended, I spent some minutes chatting with Spezi about the Kercher/Knox case, expressing my disbelief that Mignini’s theories would be taken seriously after the Monster of Florence mess but never thinking Spezi would be caught in the vortex anew.

So here I am, full circle from a little over three years ago. One can only spread the word, yet again, so that Spezi will be left alone once and for all, justice can be served and Mignini’s fixation on Satanic rites and needless persecution can be quashed.

UPDATE: Preston’s editorial appears at