Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Injustice of Amanda Knox

In 2007, Amanda Knox, an American student, was studying abroad in Italy. Knox shared a house in in Perugia with two Italian women and another American student that was studying abroad, Meredith Kercher. The house was split into two levels, with the women in the upper level and four men living in the lower level. On November 1st, 2007, Meredith Kercher was found murdered in her bedroom, mostly nude, with stab wounds in her neck. The night of the murder, all four men that lived downstairs were away for a long weekend and the other female housemates were staying at their boyfriends' for the night, leaving Kercher alone in the house.

Amanda Knox was originally scheduled to work at a local pub that night, but after receiving a text from her boss, Patrick Lumumba, saying she did not need to come in, she had gone to stay at the apartment of her new Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, The next day, Knox returned to the house and found the front door unlatched, spots of blood in the bathroom, and Kercher's door locked. Knox went back to Sollecito's to tell him what she saw and asked him to come back and investigate with her. When they returned, they noticed the window of one of their flatmates was broken and after trying to open Kercher's door and trying to contact her unsuccessfully, the two called the police.

The Italian postal police arrived at the house first and after they forced open the locked door, found the body of Meredith Kercher. More police soon arrived and based on what they described as "odd behavior," placed the couple under arrest. Once back at the station, Knox was interrogated for many hours over the next few days. According to Knox, there were as many as 12 officers yelling at her in Italian very loudly and she was denied a translator for some time after she asked for one. When she asked for an attorney the police said that would only make everything worse. Police reportedly struck her over the head and told her that if she did not confess, she would go to jail for 30 years and never see her family again.

After looking at the texts between Knox and her boss, Lumumba, they misinterpreted the conversation and took it as the two were going to meet up later that night. The police demanded to know where the two had gone repeatedly and even the translator that eventually came told Knox she may be blocking out the truth from her memory due to the trauma. After hours of interrogation and sleep deprivation she told police that she was at the house while Lumumba murdered Kercher. Amanda's boss, Lumumba, proved to have an alibi at the time and so Knox and Sollecito were arrested and charged with the murder of Kercher.

Police held a press conference detailing the arrests and that they had evidence the two killed Meredith after she refused to take part in a sex game, and that the case was effectively closed. However, police had barely examined any forensic evidence from the scene at the time and once the results came back two weeks later, DNA evidence pointed to Rudy Guede, a friend of the men who lived downstairs who also had a record of breaking into homes. Guede's DNA was found inside and on Meredith's body, along with his handprint in blood at the crime scene. Guede had fled to Germany but was quickly extradicted back to Italy and charged with the murder. Guede stated that he was at the scene of the crime but did not commit the murder, and also that Knox and Sollecito were not involved.

After making such a public ordeal about the case and unwilling to admit their mistake, the Police inserted Guede into the story where Lumumba previously was. The media portrayed Knox as a sex crazed American and ran fabricated stories about her and Sollecito's awful behavior in court. Although the couple had no previous records of violence, the judge in the case refused to grant them house arrest because they "failed to show any remorse for the crime.' After over a year of the media's twisted coverage while Knon and her boyfriend were in jail, the trial began in October 2008.

Even though there was very little evidence against them, the famous lead prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini spouted wild theories and weak accusations during the trial and on December 4, 2009, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were charged with the murder of Meredith Kercher. Their lawyers filed appeals, contesting the evidence and credibility of the witnesses. On October 3rd, 2011, Knox and Sollecito's convictions were overturned and Knox returned to the US.

In March 2013, the Italian Supreme Court ordered Knox and Sollecito to stand trial again for Kercher's murder. In February 2014, the two were found guilt again of the murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Finally, in March 2015, their convictions were again overturned by the Italian Supreme Court and due to Italian law limiting the number of rulings on a case, this ruling is final.

There are numerous injustices throughout the Amanda Knox case. The interrogation process violated multiple of Knox's rights by refusing to provide an interpreter, refusing to provide an attorney, physically harming her, and coaching her into a false confession. The entire unfair portrayal of the couple in the media combined with the lack of evidence and misconduct by the prosecutors all contributed to the absence of a fair trial. Another injustice is the fact that Knox was in prison for over 3 years by the time she was finally exonerated, and the entire process had tarnished her name, disrupted her education, cost her family millions of dollars, and robbed Knox of a portion of her life. The constant opening and closing of the case also subjected Knox and her family to years of prolonged worrying and fears. 

Some remedies that could be done for this injustice is a formal apology to Amanda Knox and her family from the Italian government, along with providing compensation for the expenses and trauma the family was subjected to. Also, the Italian government could launch an investigation into the mishandling of this case and hold those who allowed this to happen responsible. Finally, Italy could reform their laws regarding criminal cases including the conduct of the media, attorneys, jury members, and investigators to ensure that everyone has a fair and unbiased trial.

Some things that we can do to fight this injustice is sign a petition calling for the US, Great Britain, and Italy to launch investigations into the mishandling of the Meredith Kercher case, donate to the Amanda Knox defense fund or the Raffaele Sollecito defense fund, contact your local representatives or government officials and voice your concern about flaws in the Italian Justice system, and most importantly, know the rights you are entitled to for whatever country you may be in. 


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