Italy’s highest criminal court on Monday threw out prosecutors’ convictions of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, saying that there was nothing linking them to the scene of the crime and blaming investigators for bowing to international pressure in one of the country's most publicized legal sagas in years.
The Court of Cassation freed Ms. Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in March, reported The Christian Science Monitor.
But this is the first time the court has explained its decision to acquit the two of murdering Knox’s British roommate Meredith Kercher in the Italian college town of Perugia in 2007, according to The Associated Press.
The prosecution’s case was flawed from the start, wrote the court in a formal explanation.
Firstly, there was an “absolute lack of biological traces” of Knox or Mr. Sollecito both in the room where the victim was stabbed and on her body, said the panel.
Had investigators presented more substantiated findings, “‘in all probability’ the defendants’ guilt or innocence could have been determined from the earliest stages,” reported the AP.
The judges went on to detail examples of what they called “stunning weakness or investigative bouts of amnesia and … blameworthy omissions of investigative activity.”
For instance, even basic information like the time of death was disputed, which reflected a "deplorable approximation,” wrote the panel.
Investigators had also mishandled potential evidence, such as causing “an electric shock” while trying to charge the computers of Knox and Ms. Kercher, “which perhaps could have furnished information useful to the investigation,” the judges said.
The victim’s bra clasp – a key piece of evidence as prosecutors argued it carried a trace of Sollecito’s DNA – was left on the floor of the murder scene for 46 days, said the panel. It was then passed around by officials “wearing dirty latex gloves."
How could a murder case of this magnitude be so faultily constructed?
Judges are pointing to the pressure of “the international spotlight.”
Prosecutors suddenly became so urgent in accelerating the investigation that it soon became a “frantic search for one or more guilty parties to consign to international public opinion,” wrote the judges.
This sense of urgency, they added, “certainly didn't help the search for substantial truth.”
Knox and Sollecito were arrested in 2007 and later served nearly four years in an Italian prison. Both have always maintained their innocence.
Knox, now 28, expressed her relief in a statement posted on her website Monday.
“I am deeply grateful that the Italian Supreme Court has filed its opinion and forcefully declared my innocence. This has been a long struggle for me, my family, my friends, and my supporters,” she said. “I will now begin the rest of my life with one of my goals being to help others who have been wrongfully accused.”
This report contains material from The Associated Press.