Knox’s freedom would suit Berlusconi very nicely
As Amanda Knox and her family await the appeal court finding, Berlusconi’s sex trial resumes in Milan
THE SEATTLE student Amanda Knox has been in jail in Italy for 1,450 days. Today could be her last if the two judges and six jurors hearing her appeal in Perugia decide to quash her December 2009 conviction for murdering her English flatmate Meredith Kercher.
Thanks to a review of forensic evidence that went her way and an extraordinary media campaign orchestrated by a Seattle PR agency, the momentum seems to be in Knox's favour. But in a sign of nervousness, her lawyers asked her parents on Friday to stop giving interviews to the media.
Why? Perhaps because, as Italians, the lawyers understand that the crescendo of American network television coverage banging on about poor Amanda being persecuted by a medieval and corrupt Italian justice system could have negative repurcussions. After all, this is not a slander case in which Knox is the victim, but an appeal against conviction for a particularly gruesome murder.
On Saturday morning, the griping was already evident. La Repubblica railed against the 'Amanda is innocent' campaign and, along with Turin's La Stampa, took note of the barbs thrown at Giuliano Mignini.
He is the prosecutor who won the December 2009 conviction that got Knox sentenced to 26 years in jail - and her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito to 25 years - for Meredith's murder.
Mignini famously painted Knox as a sexual predator who slit her flatmate's throat when she refused to take part in a sex game with Knox and Sollecito.
In recent months, Mignini has been pilloried in the American media alternatively as 'Grand Inquisitor' and 'Torquemada'. This is partly because of his negative portrayal in a bestselling book, The Monster of Florence, by the noted American thriller writer Douglas Preston and Florentine journalist Mario Spezi.
The book's title refers not to Mignini but to a notorious 1970s/80s serial killer Mignini decided, in his role as public prosecutor, to reopen a case against in 2001.
As The First Post reported last week, the authors have never forgiven Mignini for accusing the two writers of obstructing his investigation because they disagreed with his apparently bizarre theory that the the serial killings were the work not of one 'monster' but of members of a satanic sect.
As a result, both men have been keen to lend their weight to the 'Amanda Knox in innocent' campaign. On Friday, they appeared on ABC 20/20, making the same complaints against Mignini - in short that he is a mad conspiracy theorist - and giving the impression that, in the United States at least, it is Mignini's reputation that is on trial in Perugia.
Some observers go further - and say the entire Italian justice system is on trial. This is why left-leaning papers like La Repubblica and La Stampa have been warning that the Perugia appeal court should not feel bamboozled by the 'friends of Amanda'.
Yesterday, La Stampa talked of an international referendum on Italian justice that was building into a "tsunami" ready to crash over Italy.
It is an ironic coincidence that the 'bunga, bunga' trial of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi resumes in Milan, 450 kilometres north of Perugia, on the same day Amanda Knox hears her fate.
This is the trial in which Berlusconi is accused of paying a minor – the nightclub dancer Ruby Rubacuori, aka Ruby the Heartstealer – for sex.
What the Left fears is that if the Perugia court lifts Amanda Knox's murder conviction it will be seen as a defeat for the reputation of Italian justice - and that Berlusconi could profit from it.
Nothing would delight the embattled prime minister more than a high-profile judicial U-turn appearing to support the contention that the Italian courts are unreliable. If Amanda Knox, backed by a Seattle PR company with allies among the US television networks, can get off, then Berlusconi, supported by an entire media empire, surely can too.
Little wonder that the Italian MP Rocco Girlanda, a member of Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party, visited Amanda Knox in jail on Friday to wish her good luck. Little wonder, too, that there are rumours among the press pack in Perugia that he is so confident of her release that he has organised a party in Capanne prison on Monday to celebrate her freedom.
The problem - as The First Post has reported before - is that if Amanda Knox's conviction is lifted today, we might never know whether the judges and jurors were swayed by the surge of sympathetic media coverage or if they were genuinely persuaded - as is possible - that the long line of errors revealed in the Italian investigation allowed room for reasonable doubt and there was no option but to quash the convictions against Knox and Sollecito. ·
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