Bizarre ruling in the case of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito merely highlights failings of Italian justice system

The pair’s conviction despite no evidence or motive was based on a weak alibi

Share
Related Topics

 

She grew up in Italian jails, and in the blinding lights of the world’s TV crews: the emotional, impulsive Seattle co-ed who fell in love with the hilltop apartment in Perugia where she took the spare room offered by Meredith Kercher, an exchange student from Leeds University.

Only a couple of months later, on 1 November 2007, Meredith was dead, horribly slashed in her bedroom. And days later that Seattle flatmate, Amanda Knox, and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were arrested along with a local bar owner and jailed on suspicion of the killing. The local police chief told the press that with these three arrests the case was solved.

When the trial of Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito eventually got under way, the case against the pair seemed weak. Neither had criminal convictions, or any history of violent behaviour. 

Chief Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini claimed that the murder was the conclusion of a Satanic Halloween orgy by drug-addled hippies, but there was no forensic evidence of such an event. After an all-night interrogation Ms Knox said she had heard Meredith scream – but this non-confession was made under duress, and rapidly withdrawn. Throughout the trial and the appeal, no forensic evidence was ever found of Amanda Knox’s presence in Meredith’s room.

Yet the murder was not the mystery it appeared: a few weeks after the couple’s arrest, a local Perugia drifter and drug dealer called Rudy Guede, originally from the Ivory Coast, who had broken into several properties in the preceding weeks and who was in the habit of carrying a knife, was arrested in Germany and sent back to Italy to stand trial.

Guede’s traces were all  over the crime scene and he was convicted in a fast-track trial that concluded before the trial of Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito began.

The conviction of the pair despite the lack of evidence or motive was principally based on the weakness of their alibi: they claimed to have spent the night together at Mr Sollecito’s flat, but there was nobody to corroborate their story. But the positive claims of prosecution witnesses to have seen them close to the crime scene proved to be flimsy.  

Amanda Knox’s occasionally wacky behaviour in court, her decision to wear a T-shirt emblazoned ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, the miniature sex toy hanging from her key ring (the gift of a former boyfriend) – all these were put in the “guilty” scales by the popular media, in Italy and elsewhere, titillated by the thought of a pretty young girl carrying out such a gruesome killing.

The Kercher family have always maintained that  many questions about what happened on that night in 2007 remain unanswered.

Yet to many observers who saw the trial unfold, with its catalogue of mishandled forensic evidence and demonisation of Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito, there was more than reasonable doubt cast on their guilty verdicts. When they both got long, long sentences, it seemed proof of the grossly disproportionate power of prosecutors in Italian trials.

One year and five months ago an appeal court in Perugia threw out the convictions of both of them, and Ms Knox flew home to her family. For many observers it represented justice.

What the Italian Supreme Court has now decreed appears merely bizarre.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?