As most who follow the news or social media know, Amanda Knox was originally found guilty, along with two others, of murdering housemate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. She served four years in Italian prison, but was released when the verdict was overturned on appeal. After Ms. Knox returned to the United States, she (in absentia) and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were retried ― some technicality prevented that from being considered double jeopardy ― in Florence. On Thursday, the guilt verdict was reinstated. Bear in mind no actual evidence has been found. Afterwards, Ms. Knox’s attorney, Ted Simon, said:
“The bottom line is, there is no evidence. There was no evidence, and there never will be any evidence, and that’s why this is such a gross miscarriage of justice.”
The case will now be appealed to the Italian Supreme Court, which must have been thinking: please don’t find the duo guilty again; spare us this travesty of a case; don’t force us into an extradition battle with the U.S. State Department. On the other hand, after what this case has revealed about the Italian justice system to the world, perhaps the Italian Supreme Court is looking forward to its moment in the center ring.
It’s not considered PC to show too much sympathy for Amanda Knox because she’s a white American, middle-class, and attractive. Theoretically, our sympathy for minority and impoverished victims of injustice should trump sympathy for someone such as her. But, arguably, aside from identifying with her or being attracted by her looks, even beyond the horror of the murder, it was the sensationalism of the original claims by the prosecutor that the crime was committed by a sex cult which attracted the attention of the media and the public.
In addition, Ms. Knox has been at pains in her statements, interviews, and on her website to show how her case is part of worldwide network of injustice with a special focus on coercive police interview technique. Except for maybe the super-rich, it could happen to anybody.
While the court makes a mockery of justice, she remains classy and still takes the high road:
“This has gotten out of hand,” Knox said in the statement. “Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system.”
And in a Good Morning America interview this morning:
“I did not expect this to happen, I really expected so much more from the Italian justice system.”
Three stray oddities in a case full of them:
1. The murder victim’s family continues to place their faith in Ms. Knox’s imprisonment as the key to their healing:
“The guilty verdict is just the next step for us,” said Stephanie Kercher, Meredith’s sister, … Asked Friday whether Knox should be extradited to Italy following the guilty verdict, [Meredith’s brother] Lyle Kercher said: “Yes.”
“If someone has been found guilty and convicted of a murder, and if an extradition law exists between those two countries,” that would be appropriate, he said.
2. The Italian justice system already convicted the obvious suspect, Rudy Guede, who’s now serving a lengthy prison sentence. Why exactly do they and the Kerchers need other parties whose connection to the murder was simply that they had met Guede on a couple of occasions?
3. Oddest of all, why does the Italian judiciary insist on hanging its reputation on such a flimsy case? Finally, why hasn’t the Italian government sent signals to the courts to stop beating a dead horse that will only bring it into further conflict with the United States?
If the Italian Supreme Court were to uphold the verdict, and the Italian government were to demand extradition, the ball is in the court of the U.S. State Department to exert some common sense and resist. In the interim, the Amanda Knox case should serve as that much more motivation to all of us to call for fair judicial outcomes not only elsewhere, but in the United States.
Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.