An unsafe verdict – Amanda Knox

The case against Amanda Knox was flimsy. There is not one iota of physical evidence placing her at the crime scene. There is, of course, a knife with her DNA on its handle found at the house of her boyfriend, but that could have resulted from preparing a meal.

Her attorney Anne Bremner scathingly dismissed the idea that this was the knife that killed Kercher. She rightly argued that the murder weapon was never found. A bloody print on the bed linen conveys the shape of the actual murder weapon and the knife in question “doesn’t match an outline of the knife on the bed”. In addition, expert testimony has shown that at least two of the wounds on Kercher’s neck could not have been made by that particular blade.

Of course, on occasion, Knox did not help herself – but people who stand accused of serious crimes rarely get everything right. It is clear that there were inconsistencies in the statements given by Knox but to seasoned criminal lawyers, her words are typical of the confusion engendered by hours of interrogation in extremis, in an unfamiliar judicial system.

The prosecution was clearly obsessed with the idea that Knox, a young American undergraduate, was sexually active. Actually, it would have been a greater surprise to most of us to be told she was not sexually active but as far as Knox’s Italian prosecutors were concerned, such conduct apparently meant that she was fast, loose and prone to kill.

Had the trial been in the UK, it would have been abandoned as having been hopelessly prejudiced not merely by media coverage, but by the prosecutors routinely divulging what should have been confidential pre-trial information. Here, from the moment of arrest or criminal charge, contempt of court laws prevent the publication of information which may cause serious prejudice to a trial.

The piecemeal leaking of salacious information about Knox was a disgrace. She was subjected to a relentless, corrosive character assassination that she never had a chance of fighting. She has been demonised simply for being a sexually active woman. The evidence struggled to even to reach the realm of the circumstantial. Nothing in the facts sustains the Italian prosecution’s belief that the murder was a she-devil’s sex game gone wrong. It is conjecture, pure and simple.

The guilt of the rootless figure of Rudy Hermann Guede was never in doubt. He was given a 30-year sentence in October 2008, after opting to be tried under a “fast track” legal process. Quite why, with Guede’s guilt established, the authorities insisted on going after Knox and inventing a she-devil sex game is rather more a matter for psychological analysis than the humdrum details of the girl’s Seattle past.

During the trial, the Italian prosecutor was allowed to speculate that Knox said to Kercher at the murder scene, “You are always behaving like a little saint. Now we will show you. Now we will make you have sex.” No judge should ever have allowed such utter nonsense to be presented before a jury. It was a tawdry, sordid, example of how not to run a trial in the face of an international audience.

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