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interrogation Ms Knox said she had heard Meredith scream – but this non-confession was made under duress, and rapidly withdrawn.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

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 25th Awards Gala on 11 November 2013 in Washington  

Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?

Grace Dent
 

Our political landscape is not changing anywhere near as much as we assume it is

Steve Richards
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible