Almost two and a half years ago, I wrote about my disgust at the travesty of what was the Italian judicial system. Femme fatale and media darling and murderer, Amanda Knox, was found innocent after an appeal of her previous guilty verdict. She was released from prison and flown back to America where she could work on making millions from selling her story to a publisher and doing the usual round of morning TV talk-shows about how horrible it was to be found guilty of a crime she maintains she never committed.
However as of yesterday, it appears that the Italian courts have redeemed themselves. This re-running of the appeal process was ordered by Italy’s highest court, whose judges had demolished the grounds for Knox and Sollecito’s acquittals back in 2011. Two judges and eight jurors took 12 hours to deliberate, before returning to a packed, silent courtroom to hear Judge Alessandro Nencini sentence Knox to 28 years and six months in jail – more than her original conviction – while her ex-boyfriend, Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years.
Now that it has secured a conviction, an eventual attempt to extradite Knox is a possibility. Sadly though, most people in Italy find it very difficult to imagine the US authorities putting Amanda Knox on a plane and sending her back to Italy to serve out her sentence. It seems the best we can hope for in the end is that Interpol serve an international arrest warrant, preventing the murderer-cum-media-darling from ever leaving American borders.
Knox, who is currently studying for a degree in creative writing at the University of Washington (which might come in handy for the next round of appeals!), followed the court proceedings from her home in Seattle. After the verdict, she issued a fiercely critical statement, attacking the Italian justice system and saying she had “expected better”.
She added: “Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system. The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution.”
I would tend to agree with her….but only up to a point. Her aquittal should never have been granted in the first place! She was acquitted due to a technicality, (the Italian appeals required Knox’s team to simply the DNA evidence against her to undermine the whole edifice of the original trial), made all the more farcical by the fact that the appeals panel was made up of lay judges (i.e. “judges” are essentially normal people selected, in a similar fashion as jurors in Britain or the U.S.) who had no formal legal understanding or qualifications.
Thus this ping-pong between the courts has done more to perhaps damage and tarnish Italy’s judicial reputation (which is already a laughing stock as a result of the various cases against Berlusconi) that it has done to damage Knox’s reputation….at least that’s the case in America.
For now, Knox can continue to cash in on her book sales and probably earn more doing another round of morning TV talk-shows, safe in the knowledge that her seat is not quite booked on an Alitalia flight any time soon.