The Amanda Knox verdict isn't justice for Meredith Kercher. It's a witch-hunt

We have seen the fevered imaginings of a rank species of misogyny

Share

The brutal murder of a young woman in her own bedroom by a sexual predator is horrible to imagine. But the case of the British student Meredith Kercher, who was killed in Perugia more than six years ago, has been followed by one of the most protracted and tormenting legal processes in recent history.

Last week, an Italian court reinstated guilty verdicts on the victim's American flatmate, Amanda Knox, and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and yesterday the president of the Florence appeals court told an Italian newspaper the crime was the result of a series of coincidences. It might not have happened, said Alessandro Nencini, if Knox hadn't changed her mind about going to work that evening. He admitted this would be the most "controversial" part of the judgment.

It's worth recalling, at this point, that someone else was convicted of the murder five years ago. Copious amounts of forensic evidence implicated a young man called Rudy Guede, who left Italy after the attack and was arrested in Germany. He was convicted of sexual assault and murder in a fast-track procedure, and his sentence of 30 years was cut to 16 on appeal.

Most sex-attackers are men; Guede had Kercher's blood on his hands and left other evidence behind; there is no incontrovertible evidence placing Knox or Sollecito in the bedroom; forensic evidence cited by the prosecution was discredited at their successful appeal in 2011. Yet the Italian authorities have stood by an idea formed in the immediate aftermath of the killing, which is that a woman must have been the prime mover. The case long ago become a circus, with some British papers gleefully hailing the return of "Foxy Knoxy" after Thursday's verdict. At her original trial, this femme fatale supposedly had such power over two men who hadn't previously met that she was able to persuade them to take part in a murder influenced by black magic.

These were the fevered imaginings of a rank species of misogyny. Their origins lie in the infamous history of Perugia, described as the "epicentre" of 15th-century witch trials. Both sides in the case made the link, with one hostile lawyer describing Knox as a "diabolical she-devil". Five "witches" were burned to death in Perugia between 1445 and 1501; their male "accomplices" were spared on the grounds that they had been bewitched.

Now the Florence court has replaced the black magic motive favoured in Perugia with a row between Kercher and Knox over a dirty toilet. First it was witchcraft, now it's personal hygiene; if that seems a leap, the appeal judges haven't deviated from the prosecutors' original assumption in one crucial respect. They still seem to believe that a young American woman – not the man who left his DNA all over the scene – bears the greatest responsibility for a savage, sexually-motivated murder.

twitter.com/@polblonde; politicalblonde.com

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Recruitment Genius: Payroll Officer - Part Time

£12047 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Part Time Payroll Officer required for t...

Recruitment Genius: Event Management and Marketing Admin Support

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd champion the young and hold a cabinet meeting on top of Ben Nevis

Bear Grylls
 

i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot