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Murder trial redux PDF Print E-mail
Mar 26, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Will this happen again?
 This morning the news hit that the Italian Court of Cassation, the highest review tribunal in the country, has annulled the sentences of the Perugia appeals court that on October 3, 2011 acquitted American student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito of murder charges. A new trial will thus be held sometime in the not so distant future, this time in the Appeals court of Florence since Perugia only has a one-section Appeals court and they cannot be asked to reconsider their own verdict.
Amanda and Raffaele, along with a third person, Rudy Guede, who is currently serving a 16 year sentence, had been convicted in December 2009 of the murder of Amanda's roommate, Meredith Kercher, on the night of November 1, 2007. The two have always maintained their innocence but in the first trial were convicted on the basis of forensic evidence that seemed to indicate their presence at and during the murder.
At the moment, it is not known exactly what the "motivations" of today's decision by the Cassazione were; whether it takes issue with the acquittals themselves or with more formal aspects of the trial. I myself never followed the ins and outs of the trial since I was not then working for a newspaper that required constant coverage and it was hard - at least for me - to make a judgement in the matter. What I did find outrageous was the general attitude of the U.S. media which consistently treated the Italy as if it were a backwater banana republic.
Now, there is no doubt that the Italian justice system leaves a lot, and I mean a lot, to be desired. It is incredibly slow, overly bureaucratic and probably its prosecutors, or at least a good number of them, are older people who are unschooled in the more modern investigative techniques. One analyst I heard speaking today on television, believes in fact, that the main defect of the two trials held so far - primarily that staged by the regular tribunal (which in Italy is the first stage of justice) and then again the appeals court - did not do enough to investigate who else might have been involved, since there seems to be little doubt that three people played some sort of role in Meredith' untimely murder and only one, Mr. Guede, has been convicted. But to turn the whole affair into a sort of nationalistic battle - US vs Italy - was unfair and unseemly. And let us not forget how many bloopers the U.S. justice system has committed over the decades; just to cite some fairly recent cases, the failure to find the murderer of Jonbenet Ramsey, O.J. Simpson's getting away scot free, and the scores of people convicted (and some executed) because of legal mistakes or worse.
By the way, it is also unclear if Amanda would  have to do jail time even if the second Appeals trial were to find her guilty once again. Italy would have to try and extradite her and the US might refuse.
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