The wheels of justice, poorly oiled and laborious, continue to turn in Italy as Amanda Knox, touted to be ‘Foxy Knoxy’, had her murder conviction of December 2009 overturned, along with that of Raffaele Sollecito, a state of affairs that stunned the family of murdered Briton Meredith Kercher.
Lyle Kercher was both diplomatic and bewildered. ‘While we accept the decision that was handed down yesterday, respect the court, and obviously the Italian justice system, we do not find now that we are looking at this again and thinking how a decision that was so certain two years ago has been so emphatically overturned now’ (Guardian, Oct 4).
The Italian appeals court felt that the doubts over DNA evidence had become irrefutable. Prosecution is, in truth, a fine, if burdensome art. An independent review ordered at the request of the defense found acts amongst the investigating police verging on incompetence. Testing had been well below bar, with contamination possibly intervening to affect the DNA traces on the kitchen knife believed to be the weapon. Ditto Sollecito’s DNA on the clasp of Kercher’s bra. Astonishing laxity had also attended the crime scene – the samples were collected 46 days after the murder.
The sordid nature of the crime against Kercher (involving both sex and murder), and the celebrity that has come with it, has left the pundits, court observers and spectators drooling. Matthew Wright of Britain’s Channel 5 hosted a TV program with the theme ‘Foxy Knoxy: Would Ya?’ His own observation with the panellists was that Knox was ‘undeniably fit and loves wild sex’ (Mirror, Oct 5). Bloggers fumed in indignation, but Wright’s response was terse: ‘The real disgrace is the Foxy Knoxy epithet.’ Welcome to the world of sexed violence.
A gaggle of Italian prisoners (well, maybe more – some 500 to 600) at Perugia’s Capanne prison gave Knox, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Oct 2), a ‘boisterous send-off’. A bar in Knox’s home town of Seattle went so far as to offer half price drinks to celebrate her acquittal. A description in ABC World News (Oct 4, 2011) spoke of ‘a James-bond-like car ride to elude pursuing media and a police escort to her plane out of Italy.’
Knox has returned to Seattle, while one conviction still remains – that of the Ivorian Rudy Hermann Guede, who Knox accused of the slaying. That accusation also landed Knox with charges of slander. While Guede admits to being in the house the knight of the murder, he continues to profess his innocence. Yet, in what must rank as a curious turn of legal reasoning, Guede’s conviction was upheld by Italy’s highest court, whose justices could still say that he had not acted alone. His conspirators remain elusive phantoms.
Knox was never short of support, and the media glitz around the matter has never dimmed. Friends and family dished out rounds of spaghetti meals, held numerous bowling events and concerts to raise money for her defense. Then there was Corrado Maria Daclon of the Italy-US Foundation, who never wavered in campaigning for the American.
The entire strategy of the foundation sounded like a military plan. ‘The foundation had been working on the plans to get Amanda out of jail for 20 days, carefully studying how to get her out of jail, her arrival in Rome, transfer to the airport, her arrival and transit through non-public area of the airport.’ The entire operation was termed, without even a sense of exaggeration ‘Return to Freedom’.
For the family of the victim, the ordeal of uncertainly has now returned. The dead, and their representatives, tend to be silenced in at the altar of criminal celebrity. A person was slain, and there are no perpetrators to speak of – at least till the prosecution appeal to the next rung of Italian justice.