Amanda Knox murder conviction spurs debate on Italian justice


Amanda Knox told ABC she would not willingly go back to Italy

On Thursday an Italian appeals court found American exchange student Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, guilty of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

The battle lines in the debate over Knox's guilt have long since been drawn, and the latest news has commentators once again returning to the ramparts.

The judicial saga began in 2009, when the pair were convicted of killing Kercher. After the decision was overturned in 2011 due to lack of evidence, Italy's Supreme Court got involved, saying in March 2013 that the jury hadn't considered all of the information and had ignored discrepancies in Knox's and Sollecito's testimonies.

Sollecito was recently discovered in a hotel near the Austrian border and is now in Italian custody. For Knox, who returned to the US when her original conviction was overturned, the latest decision could mean extradition to an Italian prison if the conviction is upheld.

Some American commentators write that the US shouldn't put Ms Knox's fate back in the hands of the Italian legal system.

Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine calls Italian law "totally insane", as it allows a suspect to be tried multiple times for the same crime - a "double jeopardy" that is constitutionally prohibited in US law. He writes that Knox is "the poster child for not studying abroad".

Start Quote

Has American arrogance ever been so bold?”

End Quote Andrea Vogt The Week UK

The Atlantic's Olga Khazan labels the case "an illogical, clumsy disaster" that reflects poorly on Italian justice.

"Judicial appointments in Italy are made through nepotism, juries aren't properly sequestered, and the courts are in dire need of reform," she writes. "Prosecutors may have been right to pursue the case until they're fully satisfied, but the bizarre, never-ending saga that Knox's case has become detracts from the legitimacy of the final verdict."

The Week UK's Andrea Vogt counters that American media are turning the murder of Kercher into "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," she writes. "Has American arrogance ever been so bold? Have the western media ever been so complicit in such an orchestrated public relations sham?"

Assuming Italy's highest court upholds the appeals court's decision, attention will turn to whether the US will extradite Knox if asked by Italian officials. According to Harvard Law Prof Alan Dershowitz, that's more likely than many in the US media may think.

"As popular as she is here and as pretty as she is here - because that's what this is all about, if she was not an attractive woman we wouldn't have the group love-in - she will be extradited if it's upheld," he tells Mira Oberman of Agence France Presse.

The Guardian's Nick Richardson advises that as the case proceeds, everyone should take a look at their opinions and see if they are based in reality and not on biases and cultural stereotypes.

"We should be cautious in our aspersions or feelings about the verdict, lest they say more about us than they do about the case; and if we do feel strongly one way or the other, we'd do well to ask ourselves if something besides evidence has a hand in our opinion," he writes.

If the case turns into an extradition battle between the US and Italian governments, however, such cool circumspection doesn't seem very likely.


More on This Story

Kercher verdict


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  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Americans think their laws apply throughout the world superceeding those of all other countries. They think their might makes them right by God and infallible. And yet you have people held in Guantanamo for a decade without ever being charged with any crime nor due process. Is that an example of American Exceptionalism? Knox is a manipulator running away from the truth. She knows what happened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Before you put so much faith in the Italian "justice system," review the (lack of) evidence in this case. It is absolutely impossible for Amanda Knox and Rafaelle Solecito to have committed this gruesome, bloody, horrible murder and have left NO physical evidence. Please, study the case before proclaiming that "the italian justice system has done its job." In my opinion THAT is the real circus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    US commentary & reaction to the verdict is astonishing; this from a country where such a disproportionate number are incarcerated, where justice is wholly contingent on color, class and what one can afford to pay, and where each judicial district prosecutor is an elected entity who's re-election is contingent on the sheer number of custodial sentences 'won.' & they call Italy justice mad?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I always felt sure that Knox was guilty,and am pleased with the decision of the court.Some of the comments in the American media have been disgracefull,to say the least.Yes Knox is "pretty".So was Meredith Kercher. She is dead,and deserves justice,not a media circus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Haven't seen the evidence so cannot comment on guilt, but I feel we have to assume that the legal system has considered everything and made their choice. They know how hot a potato this case is and they would not have decided as they did if they did not feel it was the right one. The system may be different but just as valid as ours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.


    By your logic, a woman found guilty of adultery in saudi arabia in absentia should be extradited to face her death by public stoning because she didnt 'respect' their laws.

    The evidence on this case is so scant, the prosecution really messed up and now they have suddenly found her 'guilty' despite no re-trial?

    Italian justice really is a joke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    She lied and said she saw the bartender guy kill the woman - she lied, he was found innocent. Not one US new organization mentions this. She said she wants no media, but she cashed in by writing a book and has peddled interviews. She is a hypocrit at best, and given her lies over the bartender, very obviously deserving of a long sentance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The Italian legal system has found Knox and Sollecito guilty of murder

    Both should now serve their sentence (pending any further appeal).

    Knox should not be able to evade justice by continued claims of innocence in her home country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I do not trust Italian law. It government. Its fairness at all. All Mafia inspired I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Not only the Italian 'Justice' system is insane, the whole country is !

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I really hope our government doesn't send that poor girl back over there, after this blatant kangaroo court decision. It's sad that somebody can be tried repeatedly until they're found guilty, and reflects poorly upon Italy and the EU in general.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    The USA and Ms Knox may not agree with the Italian legal system; however when Ms Knox entered Italy she agreed to abide by Italian law and the Italian justice system.

    IF there is a valid extradition treaty between Italy and the USA; and Ms Knox is found guilty; as is the case; even in absentia; then there is no reason why Ms Knox should not be returned to Italy to complete her sentence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    How many times will the Italian government charge her? What is the limit that a court can continue to accuse someone of something before they decide enough has been done. More importantly, how many times can you question someone before it's harassment. In the United States, courts can only try once for the same offense. Here, prosecutors are very careful to have enough evidence before persecuting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Having carefully looked at the evidence, or lack of, and the particulars of this case… It blows my mind that anyone would think Amanda Knox or Rafaele Solecito had anything to do with this horrible murder. It is absurd, in every way. What is happening to them is awful, and so is what is being done to Meredith Kercher's family, who are being fed a bunch of lies and innuendo.


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