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Opinion

Never mind the Italian witch hunt -- Amanda Knox is innocent

Amanda Knox was convicted of murder in an Italian courtroom nearly a year ago. Her appeal will be heard this fall, and if the case is decided on fact rather than fiction, she will be set free.

By S. Michael Scadron / September 15, 2010



Washington

Over the past few years, Perugia, Italy, has been the focus of an international scandal involving the demonization of an American exchange student convicted of murdering her housemate in a drug-fueled orgy. The sex-game scenario is one dreamed up by the prosecutor and embellished in the media, but unsupported by the evidence before the court.

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Seattle native Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are spending their third year behind bars, their fate uncertain as the case grinds its way up the appellate ladder. The appeal will be heard this fall. If the case is decided on the facts, Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito will go free because there is no reliable evidence to implicate them in the crime. If the case is decided on some other account, such as protecting the political ambitions of local authorities, they may remain in an Italian prison for more than two decades.

Giuliano Mignini reigned as public minister of Perugia when Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student, was found murdered, her throat slashed, in the cottage she shared with Knox and two Italian women.

Mr. Mignini was indicted himself in 2006 on charges of abuse of power in a sensational serial killer case – charges of which he was ultimately convicted in January 2010. Focusing on bizarre theories of satanic rituals, his investigation in that case had hit a dead end. Mignini’s reputation had suffered.

Knox would become his chance at redemption, and Sollecito, collateral damage.

Knox's 'confession'

The young couple has maintained that they spent the night of the murder at Sollecito’s place. Under immense pressure to solve the case, the police came to suspect Knox, whose free-spirited behavior didn’t comport with Perugia’s conservative lifestyle. Following an all-night interrogation, during which she later claimed that she was physically and emotionally mistreated, an exhausted Knox stated that she had a dream-like vision in which she heard the screams of the victim. She named Patrick Lumumba, her boss at a bar where she’d worked, as the actual killer.

The police had come to suspect Mr. Lumumba because of an email Knox sent him the evening of the murder. Lumumba told Knox he didn’t need her to work that night. “See you later,” she emailed back. The police believed this meant something sinister was to occur.

Knox later retracted her statements but the police claimed they had her “confession.” They announced to the press with great fanfare that they had solved the case.

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