WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) Days after American Amanda Knox was sentenced to 26 years in an Italian prison for murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she'll meet with anyone who has concerns about the case.
Knox, of Seattle, and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were found guilty Dec. 4 of murdering Kercher in what the prosecution has called a sex game gone wrong. All three were college students in Perugia, Italy, when the 2007 slaying occurred.
Another man, Rudy Hermann Guede, was convicted in October 2008 for his role in the killing and sentenced to 30 years. Guede's appeal is ongoing.
The guilty verdict has stirred fears of possible diplomatic repercussions between the two countries, who are longtime allies.
Clinton says she's been tied up with Afghanistan policy and hasn't examined the case. She also says she hasn't expressed any concerns to the Italian government.
Knox's family insists Amanda is innocent and is a victim of character assassination. They have said the prosecution's sex game theory was ridiculous. Knox herself called it "pure fantasy." Knox's lawyers maintained that there was no physical evidence tying Knox to the crime. They plan to appeal.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington State, has said she plans to bring her own concerns, including whether "anti-Americanism" tainted the trial.
Italy's foreign minister, Franco Frattini, says there have been no adverse relations between Rome and Washington over the murder conviction.
Knox sought comfort from visiting family members who have been able to see her in prison since last Friday's conviction.
"Amanda like the rest (of us) is extremely disappointed, upset about the decision," Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, said after the visit to the prison just outside Perugia. "We told her that she's gonna get out of here. It's gonna take a little longer."
Knox and Kercher's families came to this central Italian town for the verdict, which was announced at around midnight around 11 hours of deliberations. The court also convicted Knox's co-defendant and former boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, handing down a 25-year jail term for the murder.
Knox and Sollecito's appeals are automatic in Italy.
Lawyer Luciano Ghirga said Knox was kept under strict surveillance. He denied reports that she had been put under suicide watch, which is the standard practice in such cases.
The prosecutors said they were satisfied with the ruling and would not seek to appeal, even though the court did not grant their request for life imprisonment. Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said that the verdict "recognizes the defendants are guilty of all the crimes they had been charged with."
The Corriere Della Sera is the Italian equivalent of the New York Times and the London Times. Here is a translation of today’s blast by Beppe Severgnini
The do-it-yourself verdicts and that wrongful U.S.A. cheering
Many Americans criticize the ruling, but have never followed the case. Why do they do that?
Judicial nationalism and media justice, when put together, form a deadly cocktail. We also have Reader-patriots and journalist-judges ourselves, but what is happening in the United States after the conviction of Amanda Knox, is embarrassing. Therefore it is highly worth pondered upon.
American television, newspapers and websites are convinced that Amanda is innocent. Why? No one knows. Did they follow all of the trial? Did they evaluate the evidence? Did they hear the witnesses who, moreover, testified in Italian? Of course not! They just decided so: and that’s enough.
Like Lombroso’s*** proselytes: a girl that is so pretty, and what’s more, American, cannot possibly be guilty. No wonder Hillary Clinton is now interested in the case: she’s a politician, and cannot ignore the national mood.
There are, as I wrote at the beginning, two aspects of the issue. One is judicial nationalism, which is triggered when “a passport is more significant than an alibi” as noted in yesterday’s Corriere’s editorial by Guido Olimpio. The United States tend to always defend its citizens (Cermis tragedy, the killing of Calipari) and shows distrust of any foreign jurisdiction (hence the failure to ratify the International Criminal Court). In the case of Italy, at play are also the long almost biblical timespans of our justice, for which we’ve been repeatedly criticized at the European level.
But there is a second aspect, just as serious as the first: the media justice operation. Or better: a passion for the do-it-yourself trial. It’s not just in the United States that it happens, but these days it is precisely there that we must look, if we want to understand its methods and its consequences.
Timothy Egan - a New York Times columnist, based in Seattle, therefore from the same city of Amanda - writes that the ruling “has little to do with the evidence and a lot with the ancient Italian custom of saving face.” And then: “The verdict should have nothing to do with medieval superstitions, projections sexual fantasies, satanic fantasies or the honor of prosecuting magistrates. If you only apply the standard of law, the verdict would be obvious “.
But obvious to whom? Egan – I’ll give it to him - knows the case. But he seems determined, like many fellow citizens, to find supporting evidence for a ruling that, in his head, has already been issued: Amanda is innocent. In June - the process was half-way - he had already written “An innocent abroad” (a title borrowed from Mark Twain, who perhaps would not have approved this use).
To be sure, among the 460 reader comments, many are full of reasonable doubt and dislike journalists who start from the conclusion and then try in every way to prove it.
I did not know if Amanda Knox was guilty. In fact, I did not know until Saturday, December 5, when a jury convicted her. I do have the habit of respecting court judgments, and then it does not take a law degree – which I happen to have, unlike Mr. Egan - to know how a Court of Assizes works.
It is inconceivable that the jurors in Perugia have decided to condemn a girl if they had any reasonable doubt. We accept the verdict, the American media does not. But turning a sentence into an opportunity to unleash dramatic nationalistic cheering and prejudice is not a good service to the cause of truth or to the understanding between peoples.
A public lynching, a witch hunt trial? I repeat: what do our American friends know? How much information do those who condemn Italy on the internet possess? How much have those who wrote to our Embassy in Washington, who accused the magistrates in Perugia, and who are ready to swear on Amanda’s innocence, studied this case for past two years?
Have they studied the evidence, assessed the experts’ testimony, or heard the witnesses of a trial that was much (too) long? No, I suppose. Why judge the judges, then?
They resent preventive detention? We don’t like it either, especially when prolonged (Amanda and Raffaele have spent two years in prison before the sentence). But it is part of our system: in special cases, the defendant must await trial while in jail.
What should we say, then, about the death penalty in America? We do not agree with it, but we accept that in the U.S. it is the law, supported by the majority of citizens. A criminal, no matter which passport he has in his pocket, if he commits a murder in Texas, knows what he risks.
Before closing, a final, obligatory point: I also did not like the anti-Amanda crusade in the British media, for the same reasons. The nationality of Meredith, the victim, does not justify such an attitude.
For once - can I say it? - We Italians have behaved the best. We waited for and now we respect the ruling, pending further appeal.
I wish we Italians behaved like that with all other high profile crimes in our country - from Garlasco’s case and on - instead of staging trials on television and spewing verdicts from our couch.
***Note: Cesare Lombroso, was a 19th century Italian criminologist who postulated that criminality was inherited, and that someone “born criminal”’ could be identified by physical defects.
I thought it would be useful to post Hillary Clinton's involvement and the Italian reaction.
Of course, I commented on CNN that Amanda was guilty and a liar. After it was "liked" enough to reach the top, they got rid of the comment lol.
EDIT #1 - Fixed HTML.