The Trials of Amanda Knox

The news last Thursday 30th January, that an appeals court in Florence reinstated the original guilty verdict of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, for the murder of English student Meredith Kercher, has made world headlines. After the couple were tried and convicted in 2009, that verdict was reversed by Italy’s Court of Cassation – second only to the Supreme Court -  in March 2013 on the basis of errors and faulty logic. In fact, many non-Italian journalists and commentators wrongly referred to this latest process as the couple’s second “trial” when in fact it was, as Knox’s lawyer pointed out: a “continuing case on appeals”.

The mistake is understandable given the complex, drawn out nature of Italy’s justice system. Although Knox’s and Sollecito’s last appeal did result in an acquittal, that ruling was thrown out by Italy’s Supreme Court due to “deficiencies, contradictions and illogical” conclusions and  the case was sent back to the appellate level. Since, under Italian law no verdict is  final until the Supreme Court affirms a judgement, last week’s newly upheld guilty verdict must also again go before the Supreme Court which will eventually uphold or overthrow it. That ruling will almost certainly not happen until next year. And, if the Supreme Court does uphold the verdict of the appellate court, there will almost certainly be a move to extradite Knox, who has stated she will never willingly return to Italy. The case therefore could drag on for many years, if not decades.

This is a deplorable scandal for many reasons. Not least, the lack of hard evidence of the couple’s guilt. The recent hearing included some much-vaunted ” further evidence” brought by the prosecution. This consisted principally of a second forensic analysis of DNA traces, already previously tested, on a knife, alleged to be the murder weapon. That analysis, as in the first forensic report, proved inconclusive. Not that this will cut any ice with seasoned followers of the saga. Irrespective of the eventual Supreme Court ruling , many will claim that justice was not done: whether Knox and Sollecito are found to be innocent or guilty will not satisfy the two main groups of observers who have followed the case since 2007. A final guilty verdict will lead many to declare a grave error of justice, since no hard forensic evidence, or eyewitness testimony links Knox and Sollecito to the murder scene – the house shared by Kercher and Knox which necessarily bears traces of both women’s DNA. If the couple’s guilty verdict is overturned, a howl of fury will erupt from the alarmingly vociferous army of self-confessed “Amanda Knox haters”, who have repeatedly, publicly and furiously vilified the American woman on Twitter and Facebook, believing her to be the devil incarnate, a drug and sex-obsessed degenerate who can only be  guilty of Kercher’s murder. This is therefore a case in which there are no winners, only losers.