Hollywood waits in wings for Amanda Knox verdict
As paparazzi prepare for ‘liberation of Amanda’, why George Clooney has an interest in Knox’s release
THE WORD from Perugia is that there is not a motorbike for rent anywhere in the city. Why? Because the paparazzi and news agencies have taken them all, ready to cover the 'liberation of Amanda' when Seattle student Amanda Knox is eventually freed from the high-security Capanne prison and whisked to the city airport, possibly as early as Saturday afternoon.
There, it is said, a private jet chartered by a US television network will be waiting to take Amanda home to Seattle, via London. In return, the network – rumoured to be ABC, though they deny it - will get the "first interview" with the 24-year-old.
While Amanda Knox herself is said to be "very cautious" about the verdict – her younger sister Deanna Knox told the BBC yesterday she "doesn't want to get too hopeful" - the US media are generally acting as if her release is a foregone conclusion.
There are only two potential snags in this scenario – first, that the two judges and six jurors considering her appeal will not quash her 2009 murder conviction and, second, that her American passport has expired while she's been languishing in Capanne.
Neither of these factors is discouraging the US networks. Some of the best-known anchors in America are in Perugia, interviewing members of Knox's extended family, friends and supporters, who arrive daily from Seattle.
Elizabeth Vargas, the ABC anchor is there, as is Peter Van Sant from CBS. Yesterday, Deanna Knox and Amanda's two other younger sisters were accompanied by an ABC crew on a "last visit" to see her in Capanne prison.
Nearly 400 press accreditation requests have arrived for the denouement, expected to occur this Saturday, or Monday if the jury's deliberations take longer, even though the small courtroom in Perugia can accommodate less than a third of that number.
Earlier this week a Knox activist was led away from the court after an outburst that took observers and security officers by surprise. An American woman, wife of the self-proclaimed former FBI agent Steve Moore who has been lobbying for Knox's release on television, approached prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and shouted, "You are evil".
In Italy, insulting a magistrate in court while he or she is wearing their court robes is a punishable offence. It is unclear whether the court authorities will take any action - it could depend on whether Knox wins her appeal or not.
The US networks aren't the only ones with their cameras ready to roll – so is Hollywood. British director Michael Winterbottom has a project under development based on the book Angel Face by Rome's Newsweek bureau chief Barbie Nadeau, who is considered one of the experts on the case.
Nadeau has, among other things, written about the media manipulation of the Knox case, as addressed in my First Post article earlier this week.
The Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth is attached to the Winterbottom project. The star of The King's Speech has enjoyed a tour of the city and even stopped in to chat with Mignini. "He seemed a great guy... very intelligent," said Mignini of Firth, adding that the English heart-throb's visit had put his wife and daughters in a tizzy.
It is no coincidence that Mignini should be Mrs Moore's target – which brings us to another Hollywood movie project.
One of Mignini's best-known previous cases as a public prosecutor was his failed attempt to nail the notorious serial killer known as The Monster of Florence, who killed 14 people in the 1970s and 80s. A book of the same name, by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, deals with the controversial case and Mignini's role in it.
According to the two writers, the prosecutor refused to accept that the monster's 14 victims – couples murdered while they made love in parked cars - were dispatched by a single serial killer, preferring his own theory that they had been murdered by members of a Satanic sect.
To say Preston and Spezi fell out with Mignini would be an understatement. The prosecutor threw Spezi in jail, claiming he was a member of the Satanic sect, while Preston became so anxious after being pulled in for questioning that he fled the country back to his native United States.
As a result, Preston has been a regular commentator on the Amanda Knox case, convinced she is an innocent victim of what he believes is another Mignini conspiracy theory.
Fox 2000 owns the rights to The Monster of Florence and George Clooney is set to play the part of Preston. There is no doubt Knox's freedom – and the damage that might do to Mignini's reputation – would provide Preston, Spezi and the film's producers with just the result they need to help their project along.
But before the movie cameras can begin turning, the real story of Amanda Knox and her role – or not, as the case may be – in the murder of her English flatmate Meredith Kercher must come to an end.
As always in this long saga, the family of Meredith, found dead in a pool of blood on November 2, 2007, in the apartment she shared with Amanda Knox, must take their place in the shadows as the Knox circus grabs the headlines.
At least one member of the Kercher family, who reportedly remain convinced that Knox killed Meredith, is expected to fly into Perugia to hear the verdict – assuming he or she will be allowed a seat in the packed courtroom. ·
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