Now, I'm really not one to say, 'I told you so'...okay, that's a lie. I am. I LOVE IT. So here we go.
I fucking told you so.
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, after spending nearly 4 years in an Italian prison for killing Meredith Kercher, have been fully acquitted of the murder charge levelled against them by a corrupt and inept prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini.
I stayed up to watch the verdict and, despite my erratic internet connection and zero knowledge of Italian, was able to witness the judge confirm that the charges were being dropped 'because they did not commit the crime' and see Amanda Knox collapse into the arms of her defence team with a relief that I don't think any of us will ever be able to understand.
In the days leading up to the verdict, I would try and put myself into her shoes. And I don't even mean as someone who stood falsely accused, let's just disregard her innocence or - lack of - for the moment. She was building up to a moment in time that would either leave her in an Italian jail cell until middle age, leave her in an Italian jail cell for the rest of her life (as Mignini had requested) or send her back to her home country, with all her friends and family, and where she had spent the first, event-free 20 years of her life where nobody had ever accused her of murder.
How she must be feeling now, I have no idea. My first thoughts turned to food, to be honest. 'She's going to eat the shit out of some Italian food before she leaves', I kept thinking. She must be on cloud 99, never mind cloud 9.
But she will surely never be the same after this. Prison must take something out of you, whether you are guilty or not, and 4 years of it must really change a person. She will no longer trust anyone like she would have before, never know whether people actually believe she is innocent. If it were me, I'd be paranoid as hell for the rest of my life, scared to ever let myself get anywhere near a situation whereby someone might accuse me of some awful crime. I just hope she is able to find happiness somehow.
And for Sollecito as well, seemingly ignored by his home media during this trial and certainly largely ignored by the foreign media, his future must be uncertain. I wonder if he will be able to move on, in the country where the crime took place under a system that wrongly imprisoned him for 4 years? I'd be so angry, bitter, resentful. I wonder if he can let these emotions go? I wonder if the Italian people will be able to accept their justice system's own verdict? I suppose only time will tell.
So, did they do it? I never thought so, but only those present at the scene will ever really know. Rudy Guede, the man who's DNA was the only one represented at the crime scene is serving 16 years for the murder but has never formally admitted his involvement. But a denial carries little weight when forensic evidence puts you at the crime scene and you fucking run to Germany the day after the crime. Knox and Sollecito's denials always seemed a trifle more convincing - because nobody could prove that they did it.
It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to prove guilt, not for the defendant to prove innocence. That is why I was so angered throughout the trial and subsequent appeal, and why only very shallow digging will unearth that dreaded whiff of corruption that so often underpins Italian society. Sig. Mignini, for example, has recently been convicted of abuse of office. More specifically, he was found using illegal wire taps to support his evidence in another trial. Because of his right to appeal, however, he was not prevented from doing his job and so you are left with the quite frankly hypocritical situation where a convicted criminal is prosecuting suspected criminals. Mignini was gunning for Knox from the very beginning, when he realised the media exposure that would come from a sex crime involving two beautiful foreigners, a studious looking Italian boy and a token black man. No problem that the first black man to be implicated (Patrick Lumumba) had an alibi! Just substitute in Guede, literally invent some bullshit about a sex game and the occult, and you have yourself a prosecution case! They had no evidence that even placed Knox or Sollecito at the crime scene. All they had was some odd behaviour at the police station (cartwheels by Knox, exactly what a murderer would do after being arrested for murder, right?) an unexplained turning off of their mobile phones on the morning following the murder and no alibi except each other. There was nothing else. But of course, they were charged due to a lack of other leads.
This lack of evidence was brought up by the father of Raffaele Sollectio on national TV, 45 days after the body was found. The host of the show, a widely respected Italian journalist, suggested that, were Sig. Sollecito to be correct regarding the prosecution case's weaknesses, then 'somebody would pay'. The day after the show was broadcast, the prosecutors announced that they had found one of Meredith Kercher's bra clasps upon which they had discovered the DNA of Sollecito. At appeal, an independent trial deemed this evidence inadmissible, as it was "not supported by scientifically validate analytical procedures". It was complete and utter bollocks, in other words.
As well as this farcical and borderline criminal behaviour, the 'tag-team' questioning of Knox conducted by the Italian police in the middle of the night, where they relentlessly bullied her, denied her either a rest or a lawyer, confused and coerced her before forcing her to implicate herself and Lumumba (she has served a 3 year sentence and will pay a fine for this crime of slander) was disgusting and again casts doubt on the already pathetic evidence the Italians were using to prosecute. I was accused of not showing enough respect for the Italian justice system when I wrote my first blog. Now I wonder if I actually showed it far too much. The American press has certainly suggested the Italians have made a hash of it, but from a country that recently executed an innocent man and released a guilty woman...let's just say that their glass house is in danger from their own stones.
The Italian judges presiding over the appeal had two options for acquittal. They could have freed the pair due to a lack of evidence. In this case, they would not have been declared innocent, but the court would admit that there was not enough evidence to convict and so they would have been freed. Or, there was the second option. The one that they chose. To fully acquit them of their crimes, and admit that their conviction were, in fact, incorrect. 'They did not commit the crime', the Judge told the court. Knox will return to America today as a completely innocent woman, with 4 years of torment to contend with. But the prosecution team has been dealt a full-force and incredibly humiliating blow.
The question must surely be asked - and in Italy, to the people who are responsible for this miscarriage of justice, it must be asked over and over again - why were they even charged with the crime in the first place?
At the end of all of this (and despite the prosecution having the option of an appeal, one has to suspect that this will now be the end of it), Meredith Kercher is no more alive than she was before. There has still been a beautiful, intelligent, innocent life extinguished for no bigger reason than some mobile phones and a sexual kick. Her family has every right to be confused, as they have said since the verdict, but hopefully they will accept the appeal verdict as much as they seemed to accept the guilt of Knox and Sollectito after the initial trial. If they want to blame someone or something for their 4 years of torment, and the lack of closure they must now feel as further confusion and doubt is cast over the events of that fateful night four years ago, then blame Giuliano Mignini and his entirely inept prosecution team.
But for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito - a young couple who were guilty of nothing more on the night that Meredith died than enjoying a cheeky spliff, some pasta and a shag - their lives, that have been on pause for the last 4 years, can finally start again.
Love, Smithy x
Posted by Smithy at 4.10.11