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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Amanda Knox and Rome

This post was first published on April 6, 2013

It’s not easy to find a connection between Rome and Amanda Knox, the Seattle college student accused of murdering her housemate Meredith Kercher in Perugia in 2007.  But, since I was determined to write something about it - and Bill was equally determined that there be a Rome connection for RST - I finally found the link.

The decision in the last week of March to overturn Knox’s and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito’s acquittal was issued by Italy’s Supreme Court, called the Corte Suprema di Cassazione. That Court of Cassation is located in Rome’s Palace of Justice, a turn of the last century building most Romans think is comically bad. Of course, Bill finds things to love about it, and will do a post on it some day.
The Palace of Justice from the Piazza Cavour side (that's Cavour on the column)

From the Lungotevere side - it looks its best in this photo

There will be more pronouncements in the Knox/Sollecito case coming from Rome, too, when the Court issues its explanation – which it has not yet – within about 90 days.  That explanation should be fascinating, because the lower court, an intermediate appeals court, threw out Knox’s and Sollecito’s convictions on the grounds there was NO evidence.

I must admit we were not initially fascinated with the Knox case, perhaps because it all seemed too full of extreme claims and positions.  And we also assumed Knox would get a reasonable trial under the Italian system, whose differences from the U.S.'s we appreciate and had no intention of derogating. It wasn’t until I read the Afterword in Douglas Preston’s book on murders in and around Florence, The Monster of Florence, that I became intrigued by the Knox and Sollecito cases.  I didn’t even want to read The Monster of Florence, but someone gave it to me for Christmas and I felt obliged to at least look at it. 

I still wasn’t that interested in murders around Florence, but Preston's and co-author Mario Spezi’s treatment by the prosecutor in the Florence cases was astounding.  The prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, had Spezi jailed.   Preston can’t go back to Italy.  And they were simply journalists investigating the murders.  It reminds one of Egypt or Syria or Russia, not Italy.  And, when the Afterword tells us that this abusive prosecutor who accused Spezi of the murders at one point is the same one who cooked up the stories about Knox and Sollecito, that was riveting   Mignini has since been charged with multiple counts of abuse of office.  Most of the charges were thrown out, but one remains and is on appeal.  He remains in office nonetheless and has risen in profile to an English Wikipedia entry: 

And, I should point out, Mignini also sued the West Seattle Herald.  Having been born and raised in West Seattle, I can attest that this little neighborhood newspaper (births, deaths, prom queens, grocery coupons) is not exactly into cutting-edge journalism.  Stooping to sue the Herald would make me laugh, if the entire affair weren’t so tragic.

It’s interesting to us, too, that Italians and Americans seem to have two very different takes on the Knox case.  Most Americans think she is innocent.  Most Italians think she is guilty and that only Hillary Clinton (!) got her out of jail and back to the U.S.  The Italians are disgusted at the Americans’ portrayal of their judicial system – but they should take a hard look at Mignini, in my opinion.  One dual citizen friend of ours, Don Carroll,  who is about the most measured person I’ve known, wrote a piece I recommend in 2011 about the Knox case in the online magazine, The American/inItalia   

Douglas Preston is interviewed regularly on the Knox case, and wrote an article for USA Today when the latest verdict came down.  For an account by a Seattle journalist, who has covered the case from its beginning and wrote an award-winning book about it - and is admittedly pro-Knox, see Candace Dempsey’s blog: 


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