Amanda Knox is a convicted killer: the decision is (almost) final
The media may take her side, but Amanda Knox's guilt has been upheld by a serious court of law
FLORENCE – The last time she was convicted by an Italian court, Amanda Knox was whisked back to prison for warm milk and cookies with her Perugia cellmates. This time, she watched from her mother’s comfortable West Seattle home, with network television cameras ready to record every moment of emotion in the aftermath.
That is how this story has unfolded. A European country convicts an American. The American watches the verdict in live streaming and then protests in a series of coordinated appearances… the whole thing chronicled in real time as if the murder of Briton Meredith Kercher were some sort of twisted reality show, not a heinous crime being tried in a serious European court of law.
Frankly, it makes a mockery of the Italian magistrates who professionally managed this appeal, and who regularly risk their lives prosecuting the mafia in that very same courtroom. Has American arrogance ever been so bold? Have the western media ever been so complicit in such an orchestrated public relations sham?
Knox’s story – and her insistence on her own innocence - is gripping and her handlers are savvy at peddling it to news outlets willing to spin it the right way on the right day – an Italian “train wreck” was how The Guardian touted yesterday’s verdict in its intimate interview with Knox, organised in coordination with BBC Newsnight, and released within minutes of the court’s decision.
It was a move straight out of her American PR team’s playbook, because Knox’s advisors know the new battle is over extradition: will Italy request it, will the US grant it and if the Obama administration dithers, will Britain push for it on behalf of the Kercher family? At a press conference in Florence early today, Lyle Kercher said that if Italy's Court of Cassation confirms yesterday's decision, the family will press for extradition.
Knox was first convicted in November 2009. Her supporters and lawyers doubled down and won her acquittal on appeal in October 2011. She flew home the following day to Seattle and began rebuilding her life.
But that acquittal was annulled by Italy’s highest court in 2013 for a series of irregularities, and a new appeal was ordered in a more neutral jurisdiction – Florence. After 12 hours of deliberation yesterday, the two judges and six lay jurors from Florence upheld the original court’s finding: Guilty.
Guilty of murder, carrying a concealed weapon, sexual assault, simulating a crime scene and slandering Patrick Lumumba.
They sentenced Knox to 28 years and six months, two years more than her original conviction because of her malicious accusation against Congolese nightclub owner Patrick Lumumba, who was innocent, but believes he was blamed because he was black. (Another African, Ivory Coast national Rudy Guede, was eventually arrested and convicted in connection with the murder. He is serving a separate 16-year sentence in Italy for his involvement).
Knox’s former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years and his passport and identification documents were ordered confiscated. The court did not order the same measure for Knox, noting that she is legitimately residing in the US, where such requests would not apply.
The question everyone is now asking is: what next? Will Knox ever serve the rest of her sentence?
Before Italy decides whether or not to make that request, there is one last step in the Italian judiciary. Florence judge Alessandro Nencini must give his reasoning. This will be passed to Italy’s high court, the Court of Cassation, where Knox’s lawyers will have the chance to make one last plea for innocence. If the convictions are upheld there, in Rome, the case is over.
Because it was the Court of Cassation that annulled the acquittal and ordered the new appeal, it is largely believed they are likely to uphold yesterday’s decision.
Meredith Kercher’s brother, Lyle, and sister, Stephanie, flew from London to Florence to hear the verdict, but soon will be going back to their regular London lives. It was, Lyle said, the “best we could have hoped for, but not cause for celebration.”
For them last night’s verdict is just one more chapter in the very painful ordeal that began on November 2, 2007, when Meredith Kercher was found stabbed to death in the rented villa she shared with Amanda Knox near the University for Foreigners in Perugia.
“Being almost at the end of the Italian justice system process – knowing there is a final decision – that will allow us to just focus on Meredith,” Stephanie Kercher told me yesterday. “Instead of having to think of the next legal steps… we can start to remember the happier moments. Because it has been six, and what will be even longer, very difficult years.”
Kercher’s father and mother have been unwell and decided the trip to Italy was too much. The long process “has taken its toll”, conceded Lyle Kercher, Meredith’s brother.
The family had received many well wishes from around the world as the close of this trial approached, Lyle and Stephanie said, but there was no sense of celebration.
“People have reached out from all over the world. We know she is remembered by many,” Stephanie said. “But for us it is not just a court case… it is a constant reminder of the horrific circumstances of how she was taken from us.”