I am not used to seeing truth and common sense from the U.K. Guardian. However, on Italy's latest perversion of justice, they really got it right. Read the original article here.
Knox and Sollecito case delivers harsh verdict on Italian justice
The Italian justice system has pulled off an astonishing and unenviable feat: finding Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder – for the second time – without a shred of evidence to substantiate the verdict.
This case, so long and tortured and so unsatisfactory to many, seems destined to go down not just as a breathtaking miscarriage of justice, but one that raises serious doubts about Italy’s ability to mete out criminal justice based on factual verification and proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Consider: the appeals court that in 2011 found Knox and Sollecito not guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher and set them free after four years in prison made clear that almost every pillar of evidence mounted against them had collapsed. A court-ordered reappraisal of the forensic evidence completely dismantled the prosecution’s claims about the purported murder weapon, refuted the contention that Sollecito’s DNA was on Kercher’s torn bra strap, and made clear there were no physical traces of either defendant in the room where the murder took place.
Nothing, in other words, tied them to the crime except for theories and conjecture unsupported by actual evidence. By contrast, the DNA of Rudy Guede, the Ivorian-born drifter now serving a 16-year sentence for the murder, was all over the crime scene.
The high court justices who threw out the first appeal and ordered a new trial last March did so not because it had doubts about the forensic reappraisal, but rather because, in their view, the appeals court had focused too much on the shortcomings of individual pieces of evidence instead of examining the case “as a whole”. This alone was a deeply disconcerting line of argument.
The high court was convinced, even without proof, that Meredith Kercher had died as a result of a multi-person sex game gone wrong and said a new trial must take this into account. Enter Alessandro Crini, the lead prosecutor in the latest appeal, who did his best to follow the high court’s directions but could not make the sex-game theory stick.
Instead, Crini came up with an entirely new scenario, unheard in any previous court proceedings going back to 2008, in which he envisioned Knox and Kercher arguing over an unflushed toilet and then somehow allowing the argument to escalate to the point where Knox pulled an eight-inch kitchen knife from her purse and Sollecito plunged his pocket knife into her neck. Guede’s role, Crini claimed, was limited to “satisfying himself in barbarous fashion” – in other words, seeking sexual gratification while the murder took place in front of him.
The kitchen knife has been tested repeatedly and it is now agreed by all parties that Kercher’s DNA was not on it. Sollecito’s penknife, meanwhile, was never seriously considered to be a factor until Crini suddenly decided it was—again, without a shred of forensic evidence. The prosecution had nothing to place Knox or Sollecito in the house on the night of the murder, much less in Kercher’s room. And it had no motive to offer beyond the ludicrous notion – also unproven -- that Knox was moved to homicidal rage because Kercher accused her of being messy around the house, and Sollecito was willing to go along with the crime out of love for her.
Somehow – we won’t know the reasoning for another three months -- the Florence appeals court took this nonsense seriously enough to find Knox and Sollecito guilty and sentence them to 28-and-a-half years and 25 years respectively. The case will now return to the high court, which must confirm the sentences before they take effect. The future certainly looks grim for the defendants, especially for Sollecito who is in Italy and has been ordered to surrender his passport. Knox, who is in the US, will most likely avoid having to return to prison in Italy but she can never go back there and remains mired in legal costs and liabilities.
A case that began as tragedy and turned swiftly to farce under the glare of the international media spotlight has thus taken on new tragic overtones. It boils down to an Italian justice system more interested in saving face than in looking at the evidence. In another judicial environment, the focus might be on the multiple pieces of evidence presented in court by the Perugia police and by the original prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, which fell apart on closer scrutiny; on the fact that Mignini was fighting off criminal charges of prosecutorial misconduct when he mounted the original case; on the fact that Sollecito was put in solitary confinement for six months solely on the basis of the blood-stained print of a shoe that was later demonstrated not to be his; or on the fact that chief homicide detective on the case, Monica Napoleoni, has since been removed from her job on suspicion that she abused her position to try to intimidate her ex-husband in a child custody dispute.
Those who believe Knox and Sollecito are guilty have often complained that the memory of the crime victim, Meredith Kercher, has been lost in the media shuffle. The real scandal, though, is the way the entire Italian judicial system has itself tarnished Kercher’s memory by chasing phantoms and needlessly tormenting two wholly innocent young people, all because it won’t admit that it blew the case from the start.
Andrew Gumbel was co-author of Raffaele Sollecito's account of the case, Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox
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