The re-trial of Amanda Knox in the Kercher case will be a show without its star

If it was murky and unreliable then, how can it become less so now?


When the re-trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher gets under way for real in Florence on 6 November, there will be one notable absentee. The only person in the entire case that the photographers and TV cameramen and reporters were desperate to have a good look at, will be missing. Amanda Knox who was found guilty, and spent four years in jail, most of them on remand, and who was given an especially harsh sentence because she was supposedly so wicked, will be 4,800 miles away in Seattle. 

She will not be extradited, but case absence is permitted in Italy’s curious and frequently dysfunctional justice system. For years, the occasions on which Silvio Berlusconi turned up to face his accusers could be counted on the fingers of one hand. David Mills, the British lawyer accused of perjury and laundering money for Berlusconi, was another frequent no-show: like Knox now, he seemed to find it prudent to remain beyond Italy’s borders.

Yet it is Amanda Knox’s absence that will be felt most keenly. “Angel Face” they called her during the previous trials. I reported much of the proceedings for The Independent and I was as glued to her as anybody else. We couldn’t get enough of that pretty, unmarked, innocent-looking American face.

Much of the savage fun the tabloid press got from the case was in the piquant contrast between those sweet features and the brutal knifing and murder of which she was accused. Either you couldn’t imagine her doing it, when there was no motive, no previous record, no forensic evidence against her, and when she and Raffaele had hung around and hung around, in the days after the killing, to be of help to the investigators; or else, despite all that, you could imagine it, in which case it was about the most saleable commodity a tabloid newspaper editor could hope to alight on, on a slow day for celebs.

All of which, I began to feel when reporting the case, put a vicious and unjust slant on the treatment of Knox and Sollecito right from the start. The prosecutors and police wanted a quick, clean wrap-up to this atrocious scandal; Giuliano Mignini, the chief prosecutor and a conservative Catholic, was known to have it in for those he saw as a menace to the community, whether foreign striptease artistes or British second-homeowners with poppies growing wild in their front gardens or the dope-smoking British and American students littering Perugia’s august centro storico.

Knox and Sollecito were certainly guilty of smoking dope and fornicating – they said as much themselves –  while the only people able to bear witness to their non-involvement in Meredith’s murder were their fornicating, dope-smoking selves. So Mr Mignini wrapped the whole decadent scenario into an unforgettable description of a drug-addled orgy leading to the killing of Meredith, throwing in some perverted Satanism for good measure. That was as good as the trial got, that description. He never repeated it because there was no evidence whatsoever that it had happened. But it certainly stuck in people’s minds. It’s probably the one thing that most people “know” about Amanda Knox.

So now their eminences are taking one final bite at this much-nibbled cherry. I feel acutely sorry for my colleagues who will have to sit through it all again. What on earth new can anyone hope to learn about evidence that was collected in such an amateurish way at the time, about the dodgy DNA on the bra clasp, on the disputed DNA on the knife plucked at random from Sollecito’s kitchen and declared to be the murder weapon? If it was murky and unreliable back then, how can it have become less so in the intervening years? Yet the public interest is still there, or a new film on the case, entitled Angel Face and starring Kate Beckinsale, would not be about to go into production. The stack of books about the case continues to climb. But it’s not surprising that Knox’s own memoir, Waiting To Be Heard, is selling less well than the publishers had hoped. Amanda the innocent? Who wants to hear about that?


Bosnia’s World Cup qualification masks divisions

It’s nice to see Bosnia-Herzegovina heading to Brazil for the World Cup, after defeating Lithuania this week. It is only 20 years since Yugoslavia was a major force in world football. Once Serbs and Croats have dried their tears after their early departures, perhaps they will summon what remains of South Balkan regional pride to cheer on Safet Susic’s fearless, high-scoring Bosnian team.

But excited chatter about  football putting the Bosnian Humpty Dumpty back together again is not rooted in reality. The ugly fact that Bosnians have been living with since the signing of the Dayton Accords is that ethnic  division is now built into the nation’s superstructure: American diplomat Richard Holbrooke crowed about ending the war, but the effect of the agreement he brokered was to freeze the wartime status quo in place.

This was brought home by the census carried out this week, the first since 1991: the only identifying boxes people could tick were ethnic ones. The fans may cheer on the national side with patriotic fervour, but once they have sobered up they have no choice but to resume being Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats and Serbs again.

React Now

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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The landslide vote for gay marriage takes Irish society further away from the Vatican  

Ireland gay marriage: Church's decision not to lead No campaign recognised remarkable new reality

Paul Vallely
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?