Amanda Knox ‘definitively’ acquitted of murder
Supreme Court totally rejects two previous guilty verdicts against Knox and Sollecito
Italy’s top court on Friday annulled the conviction of American Amanda Knox for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher and, in a surprise verdict, acquitted her of the charge. Photograph: Anthony Bolante/Reuters
The eight year long Meredith Kercher murder trial has finally achieved closure after a surprise ruling in which Italy’s Supreme Court definitively acquitted 27-year-old American Amanda Knox and 31-year-old Italian Raffaele Sollecito of the November 2007 killing of Kercher in Perugia.
The Supreme Court totally rejected two previous guilty verdicts against both Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito, handed down first in November 2009 and again in a Florence Appeals Court ruling in January last year, in which they were sentenced to 28 and 25 years of prison respectively.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this decision is its definitive nature. Not only have the defendants been acquitted but there is also no question of a further “retrial”, as had previously seemed possible. This time, we are at “endgame”.
To some extent, no one who listened to Giulia Bongiorno, defence lawyer for Raffaele Sollecito, yesterday morning could have been much surprised.
In her final address to the court, Ms Bongiorno, a lawyer who made her reputation in the 1990s by having seven times Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti acquitted of the charges of mafia collusion, very effectively underlined a series of fundamental “errors” in the prosecution logic.
If Mr Sollecito and Ms Knox had murdered Kercher in her bedroom, how come the investigators did not find their DNA all over the room, she asked. Were the two of them “dragon flys” who had floated around the room in the air?
The alleged murder weapon, a kitchen knife, she pointed out, had a 17 centimetre long blade yet none of the wounds on Meredith’s body were deeper than eight centimetres.
The prosecution, she said, claims that Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito’s attempt to clean up the flat on the morning after Kercher’s murder was proof of their guilt. Yet, what sort of criminal clean-up was it if they left Meredith’s bedroom untouched, the locked room in which her half naked body was found in a pool of blood with her wind pipe crushed and her throat cut, she asked.
Furthermore, if these two had really committed the murder, what were they doing still hanging around the house next morning when the Carabinieri arrived to return two cell phones, belonging to Meredith and found by a passer-by. If they had killed her, would they not have departed the scene in a panic, she asked.
Ms Bongiorno argued that all the forensic evidence against Mr Sollecito and Ms Knox supplied by the prosecution was highly unreliable, in part because of the botched nature of the original murder investigation. In particular, she pointed out that the police had failed to seal off the crime scene which was subsequently and inevitably contaminated.
Ms Bongiorno argued that it was no coincidence that the only definite DNA found at the crime scene was that of 28-year-old Ivory Coast native, Rudi Guede, the petty criminal who received a 16 year sentence for the murder of Meredith in a separate “fast track” trial in 2008. She said this was because Guede had acted alone in killing Meredith and not, as the prosecution claims, aided and abetted by Amanda and Raffaele in a drink and drugs driven, violent sexual orgy.
As of now, this strange case of a murder that had no obvious motive, no agreed murder weapon and no murder confession would seem to be definitely over. The defence line of Ms Bongiorno and of Amanda Knox’s Italo-Irish lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova – namely that Rudi Guede, and only he, killed Meredith – has been vindicated.
A family friend of Ms Knox said prayers were said for Ms Kercher by the Knox family last night.
Tom Wright, who has known Ms Knox since high school and wrote a book about the case, said she is “relieved and grateful” that the court cases are finally over.
Mr Wright said he was with the Knox family as they received the news of Ms Knox’s acquittal by Italy’s highest court.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast: “Quite frankly there were tears everywhere, everyone in the room. Regardless of age, gender everyone was weeping. It was just such a sense of relief.
This has been eight years, she served four years that she didn’t deserve. She came home, got her life back together and then again this came back and now finally it’s all over.”
Speaking about Ms Knox, he said: “The world’s going to see someone who is very compassionate for others and this experience has made her even more aware of people who might be in similar circumstances. She’s an outstanding person of great character and I am just so pleased that people are going to see that.”
Asked about his thoughts of Ms Kercher and her family, Mr Wright said: “I think there is a tremendous amount of empathy for the Kercher family and we are very hopeful that this helps brings some closure for them as well.”
“There were prayers said for Meredith after the decision was announced. There have been thoughts of Meredith and great compassion for that family as well throughout all of this. “We’re just grateful that there is some resolution, at least to the legal case, so this does not drag on much longer for anyone.”
Additional reporting: Agencies