When we were young, we all listened to fairy tales where the wicked were punished, and the good eventually prevailed. These tales are comforting, and assure us that in this world, justice will always triumph.
If we apply this logic to the Meredith Kercher case, can we be sure we have the right ending? Pardon the pun, but for me the jury is still out on this one.
The family of Meredith Kercher has said that the Italian justice system has failed after the country’s top court annulled the conviction of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, for murdering the British student.
In a statement outside the courtroom, the family’s lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said: “This is not so much a defeat for the prosecution as a defeat for Italy’s justice system. The judges said there is a lack of proof and whoever acted with Guede [the only person found guilty of the murder] has not been found.”
The decision by a five-judge panel on March 27th to clear the pair definitively ends the long-running case, following the 2007 murder. Kercher’s throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted while she was on an Erasmus year in the medieval hill town of Perugia.
The Kercher family’s comments come a year after they expressed confidence in the Italian justice system. Meredith Kercher’s mother, Arline, said she was “surprised and very shocked” by the annulment.
It had been widely expected that the court would at least order a retrial, even if it overturned the previous convictions, but instead judges moved to definitively clear both Knox and Sollecito. I do not think anyone could have foreseen this, given that it was the Supreme Court who had demanded a review of the 2011 acquittal. Even the Knox ( and by association) Sollecito online support groups did not see this coming.
Without doubt there was shoddy collection of evidence, without doubt there were breaches of protocol such as failure to record a confession, without doubt there were systemic failings at every level. We have heard so much from Knox’s supporters about the faith they have in the Italian Justice system to eventually, as in the fairy tales, to do “the right thing.” Italian people, they say, must be very reassured by this. How so? If Sollecito, an Italian, had allegedly colluded in a murder with another Italian, would this story have had worldwide coverage? I suspect not. Knox had the (mis)fortune to be a US citizen, and by default could not be guilty in the eyes of many.
Speaking at her mother’s home in Seattle after the pair were cleared, Knox said she was “full of joy.” “I’m grateful to have my life back,” she told reporters, standing alongside her family. “I’m still absorbing the present moment, which is full of joy.”
This time, Knox cried real tears. This time she sobbed and her eyes were not dry. This time, doubtless she spoke with sincerity.
Her Italian defence lawyer said she had been “crying with happiness”, over the court’s decision. He said: “We shouldn’t have had to wait all these years, but we have a good decision today, so we are happy.”
In West Seattle, where Knox grew up, the news of her acquittal was accompanied by the sound of fireworks echoing across the water.
“Thank God it’s over. They can get on with their lives,” said Candace Dempsey, the author of ‘Murder in Italy’, a book about the case, who has been a constant Knox supporter.
“I’m very pleased and very surprised. Usually I’m an optimist, but I was sure this was going against them. I think it’s a brilliant move by Italy. They’ve averted a diplomatic crisis that no one needed. I couldn’t be happier that two innocent people are going free.
“I never thought when I wrote my book that this would happen. I’m so happy.”
Dempsey is also hopeful that the online abuse she said she has suffered from those who insisted Knox was guilty will come to an end. “I just hope the ‘guilters’ can go home now, and this tragic saga will be over at last,” she said. “It’s made me an admirer of Italian justice.”
So, it’s still all about Amanda, just as it always has been.
But I’d like to return to Dempsey’s comments. “Averting a diplomatic crisis” is very interesting, and implies that perhaps there was some external pressure, or that the US would use all its power and might to resist extradition. I really do not know, but am already investigating these possibilities.
The other comment “I hope the ‘guilters’ go home” is less controversial, because we would all hope for an end to the hostility engendered by this case. But have the ‘guilters’ gone home? Not a bit of it, and neither have the strident Knox supporters.
I have never been a Twitter user until now, but three days ago I joined and tweeted some fairly innocuous comments about an unsatisfactory verdict. I directed these comments at both the well- known supporters and detractors of Knox, and within a couple of hours I was an idiot, a troll, an agitator, a piece of shit under someone’s shoe, and most risible of all, a NON- BELIEVER!
So now, one cannot be a ‘guilter’ tut tut no, because the wonderful Italian justice as proclaimed by Dempsey has prevailed. Could this be the same Italian justice which was much maligned during the course of this case?
But it seems we have a new religion, with “agnostics” like myself vilified for daring to question the orthodoxy of the case. As I tweeted today, “Does being a Knox supporter automatically make you a more ethical person? No, it does not.