Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito Case Summary
The highest profile miscarriage of justice of the twenty first century
When historians look back at miscarriages of justice, some cases stand out. They stand out for a number of reasons, starting with the obvious: innocent defendants were prosecuted following a series of astonishing misjudgements. The miscarriages are compounded by an ignorant or malevolent media and the schadenfreude of the wider population. They acquire a life outside the courtroom and are discussed in workplaces, homes and pubs. They become symbolic. They exemplify prejudice. They inspire campaigners and they cause prosecutors and legal establishments to hunker down, circle the wagons and defend the indefensible.
In 1894 Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer, was convicted of spying. It took eleven years for the case to unravel and by the time he was exonerated, the government and the apparatus of the state had been rattled. Dreyfus went on to serve in the army again, with distinction. The ‘Dreyfus Affair’ is now seen as one of the most striking examples of a complex miscarriage of justice, where a major role was played by the press and public opinion.
In Australia in 1980 a baby girl, Azaria Chamberlain was snatched and killed by a dingo. The child’s mother Lindy Chamberlain (now Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton) was arrested, charged, convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Eight years later, in 1988, the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously overturned the conviction and she was released and was awarded $1.5M for false imprisonment. It was not until 2012, over thirty years later, that a fourth inquest finally ruled that Azaria had been killed by a dingo. The ‘Dingo Baby’ case is probably the most notorious in the history of Australia. A major role in the miscarriage was played by the press and public opinion.
People are fallible. Justice systems are fallible. They make mistakes.
Now we have the case of Meredith Kercher who was murdered by Rudy Guede in Perugia, Italy on November 1st 2007. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were wrongfully prosecuted and vilified across the world, just as Alfred Dreyfus and Lindy Chamberlain were in their day. The same pattern of a flawed investigation followed by a rush to judgement is evident here as well, for those who take the trouble to look for it. Meredith Kercher’s killer Rudy Guede was caught quickly. Solid forensic evidence ties him to the crime and he admitted to being with Meredith when she died. He was in the house of a girl he barely knew; a place where he had no right to be. His DNA was found in her vagina and there was semen between her legs. Straightforward open and shut cases are rarely as clear as this one.
So, how on earth could a justice system in a Western nation charge and convict two additional people who are innocent and had alibis, when no credible evidence places them at the scene of the crime?
Welcome to Alice in Wonderland, Italian style, where a car crash of judicial and prosecutorial malice and incompetence chased down two students and their families for over seven years.
It is a fundamental tenet of justice that an accused person should have the right to confront his or her accuser. This principle is at the heart of the European Convention on Human Rights. Rudy Guede was tried separately in a ‘fast track’ trial process in which rulings were made that became binding on Knox and Sollecito but which their lawyers were denied the right to challenge. Throughout the trials Guede was never required to substantiate his accusation that Knox and Sollecito were present when Meredith Kercher was murdered. This became an Italian ‘judicial truth’, used by the Italian Supreme Court to torpedo their acquittal in 2013.
Sollecito’s attorney Giulia Bongiorno said it was the first time that ‘two people have been convicted of a crime when there is no evidence putting them at the scene’. And his other lawyer Luca Maori said in the Justice on Trial documentary “In most western countries, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. It can’t be the reverse. The accused don’t have to prove they’re innocent. In this case we were the ones who had to prove our innocence against non-existent evidence.”
The twists and turns of the case transfixed tabloid newspaper readers in three countries. One newspaper, the British Daily Mail, became so obsessed with the life of Amanda Knox that it paid a photographer to stalk her around the streets of Seattle and posted photos of her drinking tea, riding a bike and talking to friends. Rarely has the life of an innocent person been subjected to such relentless and intrusive scrutiny.
But print and online journalism are only part of the story. The trials of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito saw the coming of age of the internet as a medium for hate. The anonymity it offers enabled an army of trolls to attack them continuously and without mercy. Websites were set-up specifically for this purpose. Far from being interested in truth or justice, their sole purpose was to invent, repeat and rehash lies and myths that were dis-proven many times both in and out of court.
The purpose of the trolls was best articulated decades ago by Joseph Goebbels, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” By this means they hoped to deny two innocent people the eventual exoneration that was their right.
The so called ‘evidence’ against Knox and Sollecito ranks amongst the most bogus and risible ever presented before a court of law. The state of Italy should be embarrassed that anyone dared to argue that any of it had probative value.
Nothing of Knox or Sollecito was found in the room where Meredith Kercher died. The items that were suppose to implicate them – a knife and a bra clasp – are scientifically worthless and logically invalid. No honest prosecutor would have dared to use them. But in this case the prosecution was so eager to convict that the list of the abuses of due process of Italian and European law is two pages long and there was a petition demanding a thorough investigation into this denial of rights to the accused. At the time of the acquittal in March 2015, the petition had amassed 4100 signatures in 4 months.
The prosecution’s lab technician and DNA ‘expert’, Patrizia Stefanoni, falsified documents and committed double perjury regarding the knife; she destroyed the bra clasp; withheld test results that proved that no bloody footprints were detected on passageway floors until half way through the trial and she suppressed in excess of 100 DNA profiles from the crime scene. Other evidence destruction included 29 phone taps of Knox and Sollecito before they were arrested and Amanda Knox’s computer and camera which had photographs of her friendship with the victim.
When these facts were revealed to the court, they were largely ignored by the journalists who slept or joked in an anteroom. Just one of Stefanoni’s misdeeds should have terminated the trial leading to the release of the defendants. Each of them should have triggered an investigation into her malpractice, followed by her dismissal and the filing of criminal charges against her for seeking to pervert the course of justice. Every case she ever worked on should be reopened and the people she helped to convict given new trials.
If the forensic evidence presented in court was a scientific joke, the prosecution’s witnesses were no better. They tripped over their own statements and showed themselves up as confused drug addicts and unreliable poseurs.
Investigators recorded and transcribed thousands of hours of innocent phone calls and prison visits while apparently neglecting to tape the single crucial interrogation of Amanda Knox that the whole case hinged on. You really couldn’t make this stuff up.
This website has been carefully assembled by a team who refused to simply stand by and watch while a monstrous conceit was foisted on two innocent young people, the nation of Italy and last and emphatically not least, the family of murder victim Meredith Kercher. Please read these pages. You will be shocked.
The Kerchers deserved so much more from the police, investigators and courts of Italy, but they were failed. They were owed a duty of care by the media of Meredith’s home nation, but it placed scandal and a quick buck ahead of the truth and let them down. They are owed an apology by the leeches who sought to prolong their misery by deliberately misrepresenting the case and harassing the innocent.
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito suffered for too long. The Kercher family suffered for too long.
The Dreyfus Affair shocked France. The saga of Lindy Chamberlain embarrassed Australia. The trials of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are a stain on the reputation of Italy. Their treatment by the media, particularly in Britain, was a disgrace, even by the low journalistic standards associated with that country.
But the truth cannot be hidden. This website presents it.