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interrogation Ms Knox said she had heard Meredith scream – but this non-confession was made under duress, and rapidly withdrawn.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

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

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence