The Conversation

Italy's Highest Court Overturns Amanda Knox Acquittal

Amanda Knox, the American student in Italy, who in 2009, was convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher, and later acquitted, has been ordered to return to Italy to face a retrial.

In a stunning development, the Court of Cassation, Italy's final court of appeal, has overturned her acquittal of the 2007 murder.

The New York Times reported that the  announcement  was greeted by "a shocked silence in the courtroom here."

Ms. Knox, who now attends the University of Washington in Seattle and had expressed hope that the ordeal was behind her, said through a spokesman that the news of her resurrected prosecution was “painful.”'

Knox's boyfriend,  Raffaele Sollecito,  was also found guilty of the murder in 2009, and had his conviction overturned by appeal. That acquittal has been overturned, as well.

The jury upheld Knox's calunnia conviction for falsely accusing bar owner Patrick Lumumba of committing the murder, but that sentence of three years, she has already served.

Her excuse for falsely accusing Lumumba was that “after a long and grueling interrogation, she yielded to police demands by describing an imaginary dream or vision. In this vision, she was in the kitchen covering her ears to block out screams while the man she worked for, Patrick Lumumba, was in Meredith's bedroom. It was completely untrue, but it was what the police wanted to hear.”

What she never explained was why the Italian police would want to incriminate Lumumba, and why they let him go after 13 days when he was completely cleared of wrongdoing.

The Court of Cassation's ruling  means that the case against Ms. Knox and her former boyfriend will be reheard at a new appeals court in Florence either later this year or in 2014.

Amanda Knox was often portrayed by the American media as an innocent victim of a witch hunt; but the evidence against her was overwhelming.

Amanda Marie Knox was born at Seattle, Washington on July 9, 1987. In October 2007, she was studying at the University For Foreigners in Perugia, Italy, where she was sharing an apartment with a fellow student, Meredith Kercher, and two Italian women. On the afternoon of November 2, the body of the British-born Kercher was found by her flatmates and the police; there was evidence of robbery, and also of a possible sexual assault; her throat had been cut.

The crime scene suggested that Miss Kercher had been murdered and possibly raped during the course of a robbery, which would imply she was the victim of a random or opportunist attack, but as with the Jeremy Bamber case, crime scenes can be staged, and the Italian police – who have been portrayed as a rerun of the Keystone Kops – soon found evidence that this was indeed the case, in particular that one of the windows of the cottage had been broken not in order to gain entry, but to give that impression. Three people would stand trial – in two seperate trials – for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The first, African itinerant Rudy Guede, was convicted in October 2008 and sentenced to 30 years in prison, reduced on appeal to 16 years. There is no question about Guede’s participation in the murder, and nothing he has said has helped Knox or her boyfriend in any way. The second trial was of Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito; the prosecution case was that Meredith was murdered when a bizarre sex game went wrong, and that Knox wielded the murder weapon.

In December 2009, both accused were convicted by a panel of two judges and six jurors. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in prison; Knox to 26 years. Then came the real hue and cry. How could they convict this poor, fresh faced young girl of such a dastardly crime? In Italy, Foxy Knoxy became known as Angel Face.

The Italian legal system is radically different from both the American and British systems, but in spite of harsh and for the most part unwarranted criticisms, the police, the prosecutors, and the panel of jurists appear to have done a thorough job. In March last year, the two judges published a 427 page legal opinion explaining in considerable detail how the panel of eight had reached their verdict.

The 400-plus page report, released by the Italian court can be read here.

Ms. Knox issued a statement via her media advisers within minutes of the announcement, saying it was “painful” to receive the court’s ruling “when the prosecution’s theory of my involvement in Meredith’s murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair.”

“No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity,” the statement said.

Giulia Bongiorno, a lawyer representing Mr. Sollecito, said in a telephone interview: “The battle continues. In this trial we always had to climb up the mountain.”

“We feel greatly confident,” she said. “We know that Raffaele is innocent, and we also know this is not a conviction.”

Ms. Bongiorno said she did not believe that Mr. Sollecito would be sent back to prison.

A lawyer for the Kercher family was jubilant.

“This is marvelous,” said the lawyer, Francesco Maresca. “I am very happy. I had faith in the Court of Cassation. I was sure it would annul the acquittal.”


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