Why should we be surprised at the delay of the Marasca Report, detailing the reasons for the unexpected acquittal of the defendants on March 27? The case has been dogged by contradictions, convictions and acquittals as the case ping ponged from court to court.
The acquittal was actually a surprise for all followers of the case: a return for retrial or a ratification of Nencini’s ruling was expected, not a complete acquittal by the very court which had requested a reappraisal of all the evidence cumulatively.
In March, Mario Pinelli, an eminent Italian prosecutor stated that Amanda Knox’s conviction for the sensational murder of British student Meredith Kercher was “beyond reproach”. Pinelli said there should be no doubt that Knox, an American, and her Italian ex-lover Raffaele Sollecito were responsible for the 2007 killing, as ruled by a Florence court last year.
Pinelli was addressing the Court of Cassation, which examined the verdict in what could have been the final act of an eight-year legal drama replete with sub-texts of drugs, alleged sexual debauchery and police incompetence. He told the court that “all the figures in this crime fit into a perfect reconstruction which has no flaws.””The scenario outlined by the Florence judges is beyond reproach,” he added.
However, Knox’s defence lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said the prosecution’s version of events was “not justice but a misrepresentation of the facts.””The Florence court’s verdict was “a very serious miscarriage of justice which must be put right,” he said.
Views were completely polarised, and without any doubt there was a minefield of opinion to navigate. The vastly experienced Judge Marasca from the Naples bar was appointed as lead judge in what may be the final ruling. The acquittal was a brave decision, and not the expected one. It was a tacit acknowledgement that the forensics were botched; that there was no perversion of the crime scene; that Amanda’s confession and spontaneous statement were illegal; that the burglary was not staged, but was committed by Rudy Guede, the only definitively convicted person in this sorry saga. So, was Rudy to be charged with the burglary? Just one problem there- no DNA from Guede was found in the room of the “burglary”.
This is just a small sample of items from the case which needed to be explained, and how to perform this without further embarrassment for Italy? Nevertheless, an acquittal it was- no more trials, no more accusations.
Naturally the ex defendants were ecstatic and the murdered girl’s family were left in limbo, not knowing the truth or why they had been so cruelly betrayed. Pro innocence supporters rejoiced; pro guilt people wondered what on earth had provoked this unexpected decision.
But wait! There’s another twist! The Motivation Report, promised well within the 90 days, is already 5 days late, and there is now a rumour that the court did not have the power to acquit in the first place!
It is said that the court could either uphold one or both of the murder convictions, or send the entire case back to the appeal stage — which could eventually see the pair acquitted, but significantly could not perform the acquittal itself. Hmm- would Marasca and co not know that fact of law? Was it a deliberate attempt to court controversy? Heaven knows, this case has had an abundance of that.
What is so upsetting about this delay, or return to the lower court for retrial, is the toll this has taken on the three families. Guilty or not, a person has the right to know his or her fate well before almost eight years have passed. The victim’s family have every right to have closure following a definitive ruling about what actually happened to their daughter, and to grieve in peace.
Nobody can deny that this delay, or whatever quirk it may turn out to be, is cruel beyond all measure, and the people the law is supposed to protect has failed at every level. That the Italian justice system is in urgent need of reform is indisputable and the members of the judiciary- the whole lot of them- should hang their heads in shame.