While the trains in Italy don’t run on time, getting railroaded by the Italian legal system is pretty easy. Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito have been re-convicted in the murder of Meredith Kercher. The case is travesty of justice for all three of them, and the Italian courts are to blame for allowing a bungled police investigation to stand.
As this journal has explained before, the facts in the case are fuzzy at best. What one can establish with certainty is that Meredith Kercher was a British student attending classes in Perugia, Italy, and sharing a flat with Amanda Knox. Ms. Kercher got her throat slit, and she died after in a pool of her own blood. Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, an Ivory Coast national, was arrested (his fingerprints were on the bloody knife identified as the murder weapon) and requested a fast-track trial; he was sentenced to 30 years, reduced by half on appeal. However, the Italian police decided more than one person had to be involved, so Ms. Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively.
In 2011, the court of appeals tossed out that conviction because according the toe BBC, “Experts tell the appeal court that DNA evidence used to convict Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito may have been contaminated and fell short of international standards, with police failing to wear the correct protective equipment. Italian prosecutors later deny the claims.” A definitive acquittal from the court of cassation was denied last year, and it ordered a second appeal accusing the appellate court of “numerous deficiencies, contradictions and manifest lack of logic.”
Mr. Sollecito has had his passport and ID seized by the Italian authorities, who caught up to him in northern Italy. Ms. Knox resides with her family in Seattle, Washington, USA. While the Italians are not likely to request her extradition until there is a final conviction, that is a foregone conclusion. The court that will decide the matter is the same one that tossed out the acquittal. Once that is done, a year from now or so, the Italians will have a fight on their hands with extradition. “If you look at common sense, you look at evidence then, no, I wasn’t expecting this, absolutely not,” Knox’s father, Curt, told ABC News. “They got it right in the first appeals trial where they found her innocent and allowed us to bring her home. And this is totally wrong.” Her mother, Edda Mellas, said the verdict was “mind-boggling, but not all that surprising.” That doesn’t sound like a family that will meekly surrender their daughter.
The Italian police, pure and simple, botched the investigation from the beginning. The evidence was clearly contaminated. The BBC noted “a knife recovered from Sollecito’s house was found to have Ms Knox’s DNA on the handle and a small amount of DNA on the blade ‘consistent with the victim’. Dr [Greg] Hampikian, who founded the Innocence Project, an organisation that investigates claims of wrongful conviction, says: ‘That is significant because Miss Kercher had never gone to that house, so what is she doing on the blade of the knife?’” The answer is simple; the Italian authorities put it there, inadvertently one trusts. The truth is “You can’t really wash the blood off and leave the DNA in any practical sense. That means that the few cells or molecules might have been from the laboratory after they amplified Miss Kercher’s DNA,” Dr. Hampikian explains. The Italian police used dirty gloves and no facemasks at the crime scene.
As a side note, n June 2010, Ms. Knox appeared in court for a preliminary hearing accused of slander. She had claimed she was beaten by police during interrogation. Her parents, who live in Seattle and are American citizens, were ordered to stand trial in Italy for libeling police after supporting her claims of abuse. This is the kind of thing one would expect in Belarus or North Korea, not a member state of the EU.
In all of this, one can’t forget that Meredith Kercher died a violent death far too young. The Italian authorities have denied her any chance at justice. If Mr. Guede is the lone killer, dragging Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito into this has forever tainted the whole thing. And if the two did participate in her killing, the botched investigation means definitive proof is gone. Meanwhile, despite numerous convictions in Italian courts, Silvio Berlusconi remains a free man