Amanda Knox’s murder trial continues to spew a toxic mix of deeply troubling revelations about the judicial system in Italy. Most recently, a criminal charge of libel against Knox’s parents has highlighted the dichotomy between the picturesque Italy that captures the imagination and its draconian criminal justice system.
The contrasts are stunning. Italy is filled with Renaissance sculptures and centuries old fountains that vie for the attention of stylishly dressed, cappuccino-sipping locals as they meander past Roman ruins, or stop at an outdoor cafe for a chianti. The darker side of this prosperous and high-tech country crept into our awareness through media reports of Amanda Knox’s murder trial. This highly publicized trial exposed an investigation and a prosecution that more closely resembled a lynch mob.
Like many foreign students, including Americans, Amanda Knox thought Italy would be a great location to study abroad. What she did not know was that the Italian criminal justice system was a landmine. Once this college student from Seattle fell into the path of the carabinieri officers who conducted her investigation, she triggered it. She then stood before prosecutors who spilled all of her secrets–drinking and drug usage, sexual encounters, virtually every misdeed she had ever committed. When she finally stood before the judges, it all blew up in her face.
TIn a high profile trial such as this, the prosecution did not manage much. Their best idea for a motive was that she–along with Sollecito, her boyfriend, and Guede, a guy neither of them really knew–killed her roommate, Meredith Kercher, because she wouldn’t join their orgy. To suggest something as far-fetched as this, a prosecutor should demonstrate a pattern of similar behavior. But there wasn’t. The DNA evidence, collected from a knife that didn’t match the knife imprint on the victim’s clothing, matched Knox’s DNA. Then again, it was her kitchen knife. The most damning testimony came from the confessed killer, Rudy Guede. While still on the run, he told a friend that Knox had not been at the scene of the crime that evening. But in the trial, following his own conviction, he changed his story to implicate Knox.
In fact, the more you read about this trial, the more you’ll reach two conclusions. First, Amanda Knox likely did not kill anyone. Second, whether or not she did, few foreign courts would have allowed such tainted evidence and sketchy testimony to reach a trial courtroom.
As popular as the verdict was in Italy, it was met with subdued shock throughout the rest of the world. Not surprisingly, Knox’s parents, speaking from Great Britain, were loud in their protestations of foul play. In a civilized, democratic society this type of talk is known as free speech. Not in Italy.
In Italy there’s a prosecutor waiting for them.