Stolen Life: Nico Bento Speaks up and the Failure of the Forensic Science Service
Video: Peter Marshall reports on the case of Nico Bento, an innocent man wrongly convicted of killing his girlfriend Kamila Garsztka on the basis of incorrectly interpreted CCTV footage. via BBC
Amilton spent two years and four months in jail until he was acquitted of the death of his girlfriend, Kamila.
When he says “them”, he is pointing the finger to the Bedfordshire Police (who until the closure of this edition did not answer to Expresso) and to the American specialist Casey Cottle, the witness for the prosecution which unbalanced the whole process and lead to Nico’s guilty verdict.
The main evidence against the Portuguese man resumed to a single image recorded by a CCTV street camera which, according to what was revealed by Cottle to the jurors, showed Kamila, at 19h46, walking towards the river carrying a white hand bag. The same one that was later found in Amilton’s apartment, a fact that by itself proved that the boyfriend was the last one to see her. And that he had strangled her close to the lake, even though the autopsy report did not reveal any lesions in the victim’s neck.
To the Court, Nico told a different version. He guaranteed that when he arrived home it was already after 23h, after being with a Portuguese friend, and only then he found the white hand bag and Kamila’s mobile in the bedroom. Various witnesses confirmed his version. Even Kamila’s own family put into question the police investigation; however Casey Cottle’s witness statement seemed irrefutable.
Forensic Science Service, “shocked”.
“All my life I fought for justice. I could not watch in silence to the destruction of an innocent man”, he tells to Expresso. “The image had no quality. I advised the police to do a reconstruction however they choose to meet Casey, in Las Vegas”.
For two years, Kennedy fought an unsuccessful fight and was target of threats and vilifications. His only option was to resign. “And, even so, they wanted me to sign a document which obliged me to not disclose the case”. He didn’t give in. All that he knew he told to Amilton’s new lawyer, Peter Hughmans, in whom the family placed all the hopes.
In light of these new revelations, the Portuguese was released. Before he could be confronted by the defense, Casey Cottle committed suicide. “With him, died my chance to know why I was persecuted”, laments Amilton. For John Kennedy, the most serious issue is that none of those involved in this case was penalized. “They remain employed and will again do the same to another innocent”.
Extract from "The case of the innocent man condemned to life imprisonment" in Expresso Newspaper
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