Knox: innocent abroad or ‘getting away with murder’?
There may be just enough reasonable doubt to convince a jury that Amanda Knox should be freed
WITH summations in Amanda Knox's appeal trial kicking off in Perugia this Friday, the young American and her loyal troupe of family and friends from Seattle are pinning their hopes on the defence's attempts to poke holes in the forensic evidence against her.
If Knox is acquitted of murdering her 21-year-old British roommate Meredith Kercher - and many observers in Italy believe it's likely - she will go down in history as one of more than 4 million victims of judicial errors or unjust detention in post-war Italy (according to statistics from Eurispes).
But she is unlikely to escape the indignation of some Italians who believe that Americans always seem to get away with murder in their country.
Many recall the Cavalese cable car accident in 1998, when an US Marines pilot, flying faster and lower than the Pentagon's orders, clipped a cable, causing a ski gondola to plunge 80 metres to the ground. The operator and 19 passengers died on impact.
The pilot and his navigator were acquitted of manslaughter when they were tried at home in the US. When it transpired they had destroyed the videotape recorded from the plane on the day of the accident, they were found guilty of obstruction of justice and dismissed from the Marines. But they were not recalled to face homicide charges, to the outrage of the Italian public.
In 2006, a New York Army National Guard soldier shot and killed Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari in Iraq as he was trying to liberate journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was also shot. Italian prosecutors indicted him on murder charges and attempted to try him in absentia, but it went nowhere.
Most recently, in 2009, a judge convicted former CIA Milan station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, along with 22 others accused of being CIA agents, of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric off the streets of Milan for an extraordinary rendition.
None of them is doing jail time in Italy.
If Knox is acquitted now, Italian prosecutor Guliano Mignini has implied he will immediately appeal. But by the time the courts get around to it, Knox will likely be long gone home to Seattle. If she were then convicted by Italy's court of cassation, it could trigger a 'caso Battisti' situation, say legal observers.
Cesare Battisti is an Italian man convicted of four murders in Italy during the political upheaval of the 1970s. He fled to France, then Mexico, then Brazil, where he was given political refugee status. Brazil refused to extradite him and eventually let him out of prison, to the ire of Italian authorities.
But Italians are a forgiving people. They know their judiciary is often partisan and sometimes gets it wrong, and they would rather see a guilty person go free than someone possibly innocent kept behind bars.
And therein lies the crux of the Amanda Knox case. There may be just enough reasonable doubt to convince a jury that, regardless of the whole truth, Knox's precise role in the murder has not been proven solidly enough for a clean conviction.
An acquittal would be cause for celebration in Seattle, but the family of Meredith Kercher would be left distraught. In a letter to the court earlier this month, Meredith's sister, Stephanie, pleaded that her sister's death should not be "in vain". ·
Comments are now closed on this article