I am sick to death of the Amanda Knox case. I am sick of hearing about it, thinking about it, reading about it. Learning that another film director has had the lousy idea of making another lousy film about it. Reading the blog of yet another opinionated know-nothing who sees the horrible, cold-blooded murder of a studious young woman from Coulsdon as the perfect spring board for blogging him/herself to death about the latest ramfications of a case, all of whose significant details were long ago established, and about which there really is nothing more to be said. Except to say – how badly wrong the justice system of a wonderful, enlightened country can go.
I had the misfortune to be present in Rome, as the correspondent of The Independent, when Meredith Kercher was killed in October 2007. I was by no means the first to realise that this tale would run and run – credit for that goes to the tabloid freelancer Nick Pisa, upon whom I understand the main journalist in the latest film is broadly based and who wrote millions of words on the subject and can also take the credit for popularising the phrase ‘Foxy Knoxy’. But I went up to Perugia the day after the murder along with colleagues, stared at the pretty cottage where Meredith was killed, talked to local people, visited the bar where Knox had worked and whose owner she ended up dragging into the case when he had absolutely no connection with it.
I was there again a few days later when the papers announced, quoting police, ‘caso chiuso’: case closed. Guilty persons identified. Whole thing wrapped up. Marvel at the speed and dispatch of the Italian authorities when push comes to shove!
I read, and duly reported, the police claim that the murder had been committed by Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba in a “sexual attack” in which all three were involved. No evidence was produced to support this at the time, though it led directly Knox and Sollecito’s conviction. No evidence of such a “sexual attack” has ever been found. The only justification for the “caso chiuso” claim was that, in an all-night interrogation without an interpreter, Knox had admitted being in the house where the killing occurred, and had agreed that Lumumba was involved – a statement she tried to retract within hours.
A clearer example of the perils of screaming ‘caso chiuso’ before proper forensic investigation have been undertaken, and in the absence even of a persuasive confession, would be hard to find. Because 10 days later I reported, as the headline on my piece ran, “DNA from mystery ‘fourth suspect’ found in flat of murdered student.”
In pictures: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
In pictures: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
1/14 Amanda Knox 's lawyer arriving for the final verdict
Amanda Knox 's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova arrives at the Italy's Supreme Court in Rome on March 27, 2015, the day that Knox's verdict was overturned
2/14 Raffaele Sollecito's lawyer before the final verdict
Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer of Raffaele Sollecito, delivers comments at the Palazzo di Giustizia courthouse before the last session for the final verdict of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito murder retrial
3/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Amanda Knox sits alone before being interviewed on the set of ABC's 'Good Morning America' in New York, 2014
4/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Amanda Knox wipes her nose with a tissue while making a television appearance in New York, 2014
5/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Robin Roberts interviews Amanda Knox on ABC's 'Good Morning America' in New York, 2014
6/14 Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court
Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court in Florence, 2014
7/14 Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court
Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court in Florence. Judges in a Florence court gathered to decide whether US Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are guilty of the 2007 murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, 2014
8/14 Kercher's sister, Stephanie Kercher and brother Lyle Kercher
Kercher's sister, Stephanie Kercher (L) and brother Lyle Kercher speak during a press conference in Florence, 2014
9/14 Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini reads out the verdict
Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini (C) reads out the verdict for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Florence, 2014
10/14 Layers of Raffaele Sollecito Luca Maori, Giulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox's lawyer Carlo Della Vedova
(L-R) Layers of Raffaele Sollecito Luca Maori, Giulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox's lawyer Carlo Della Vedova attend the final verdict of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito retrial at the Courthouse of Florence of Nuovo Palazzo di Giustizia in Florence, 2014
11/14 Amanda Knox on NBC News' 'Today' show
Amanda Knox speaks to Matt Lauer (L) as she appears on NBC News' 'Today' show in New York, 2013
12/14 Amanda Knox at a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport
Amanda Knox cries and gestures to friends while her mother Edda Mellas sits next to her during a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport, Washington after Knox landed there on a flight from Italy, 2011
13/14 Amanda Knox leaves the court
Amanda Knox breaking in tears as she leaves the court after the announce of the verdict of her appeal trial in the Meredith Kercher' murder at Perugia's court, 2011
14/14 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito stand outside the rented house where 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher was found dead in Perugia, 2007
Close forensic examination of Meredith Kercher’s bedroom, where her body was discovered, revealed no evidence whatever of the presence of the three people accused of the crime, but abundant bloody leavings of a fourth person. Identified as a local drifter and part-time drug dealer called Rudy Guede, he was tracked down to Germany, where he had fled after the murder, and brought back.
Police and the public prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, were seemingly committed to the guilt of Knox and Sollecito. So Lumumba – the only one of the three with a cast-iron alibi (from customers in his bar) – was duly removed from the picture and Rudy Guede substituted. He was convicted in a separate fast-track trial and is still in jail.
Had the police and prosecutors been a little more patient – had they not felt so put upon by the international attention the case drew right from the outset – they might have waited a few days for the forensic people to do their job. And in the absence of forensic evidence against them – and bearing in mind that it was they who first summoned the police to the crime scene – Knox and Sollecito might never even have been arrested.
We would have been left with the squalid and ugly murder of an innocent girl by a disturbed and homeless immigrant who had twice broken into premises in the previous weeks and who on one such occasion was in possession of a knife. The Kercher family would have had the closure they so richly deserve. And Amanda and Raffaele would eventually have been left in peace to continue having sex, kissing in public, buying lingerie, puffing dope, watching videos, strumming the guitar, failing to flush the loo, singing in a loud voice and all the other student-type misdemeanours of which they (mostly her, actually) were certainly guilty. All of which stopped a long way short of murdering a friend for no good reason, when neither had ever done anything violent in their lives, or fulfilling the fantasies of sleazy prosecutors by staging occult sex orgies to coincide, roughly, with Halloween.
Today Italy’s Supreme Court is expected to pronounce the final word on this pasticcio, this unholy mess. I very much doubt Knox and Sollecito will be acquitted for a second time: the Italian justice system has too much prestige invested in their convictions to allow such a disruptive verdict. Pressure from the American side has been wholly counter-productive – reminding Italians of all the ways the US has badgered and bullied them in the past. The probability is that this wholly unedifying saga will continue to run and run and run.Reuse content