Amanda Knox conviction: Italy strikes back at US complaints
US student Amanda Knox's conviction for the murder of her roommate in Italy, has sparked some complaints of an unfair trial. Prosecutors and the Italian press are striking back.
Italian judges angrily hit back Monday at American accusations that the 26-year prison sentence for college student Amanda Knox for the murder of her British flatmate was based on flawed evidence, a botched investigation, and a coerced confession.Skip to next paragraph
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The chief prosecutor in the case, whose call for Ms. Knox and an Italian man to be sentenced to life in prison was rejected by a jury in the Umbrian hill town of Perugia, said US criticism of the 11-month murder trial was unfair and unfounded.
American skepticism over the fairness of the trial has hurt Italian national pride, with the country's leading daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, commenting: "The (US) administration cannot close Guantanamo, yet it finds the time to think about Perugia." (The US State Department has not commented on the verdict.)
Knox, from Seattle and her former boyfriend, computer science graduate Raffaele Sollecito, were found guilty Friday of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher, who was on a year's exchange course from Leeds University in northern England when she was murdered on Nov. 1, 2007.
Mr. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was given an extra year after the jury ruled that Knox had defamed a Congolese bar owner who lives in Perugia by falsely accusing him of the murder.
The prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, said the accusations of a miscarriage of justice from American legal pundits and Knox's supporters in the Pacific Northwest were aimed "at the Italian justice system, as much as at me personally".
"[The Americans] are saying there's not enough proof to convict these two kids, but how is it possible to argue that? It's unacceptable," Mr. Mignini said. "At the various levels in this case, from the preliminary investigating judge to the trial itself, the evidence was scrutinized by no less than 19 judges. This is about unacceptable interference."
Critics of the trial, including the Friends of Amanda Knox campaign group, have made much of the fact that Mr. Mignini is being investigated for abuse of office, including allegedly allowing the illegal wire-tapping of journalists, in a case involving a notorious serial killer dubbed by the Italian press the Monster of Florence. Those murders have not yet been solved.
Mignini was accused by a judge in Florence of being "in thrall to a sort of delirium" in his handling of the serial murders, in which he came up with theories of Satanic rituals and sadistic sex, just as he speculated that the killing of Kercher might have been fuelled by Halloween fantasies and Sollecito's taste for Japanese manga comics.
Supporters of Knox, including her family, have alleged that her conviction rested on unreliable DNA evidence, a disputed murder weapon, a "confession" which they say was bullied out of her after an all-night police interrogation, and the unfair influence of the Italian media.
Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini played down the chances the conviction would affect relations with the US on Sunday. Front page stories in the Italian press have alleged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was planning to intervene in the matter, having been petitioned by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) of Washington.