Double jeopardy for Knox
No one could foresee that the murder of a London woman in Perugia, Italy in 2007 would garner so much attention worldwide or manage to stay in the news for six years; and now, more than a year after Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted of Meredith Kercher’s brutal murder, they will have to go through the same legal process, and subsequently the same media circus, all over again.
The Italian Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of a retrial of Knox and Sollecito for the murder of Kercher. The hearing was expected to be a slam dunk in favor of upholding the acquittal; clearly, that was not the case.
Junior accounting major Caroline Cowart reacted much like the rest of the U.S.
“It is unfair to try her a second time when she has already been acquitted,” Cowart says. “Hasn’t she suffered enough?”
Regardless of whether you believe in Knox’s innocence, it is wrong to try her a second time for the same crime. It does not appear that the prosecution has new evidence, so there should be no grounds to overturn the verdict. Repeatedly trying someone for the same crime puts excessive financial, mental and emotional pressure on the defendant and his or her family; it is also unlawful in the U.S.
In the U.S. Bill of Rights, the Fifth Amendment bans trying someone twice for the same crime, a principle known as “double jeopardy.” The extradition treaty between the U.S. and Italy has a provision that protects against this. Italy allows two levels of appeals: the prosecution has the right to appeal acquittals if the acquittal is annulled, then it is as if it never happened, and a retrial does not constitute a “second” trial.
Although Italy does not have a ban on “double jeopardy,” Knox, a University of Washington student, is an American living on American soil. Italy may request that the U.S. extradite Knox in the event of a conviction, and it is plausible that the U.S. may deny the request.
Joey Jackson, a U.S. attorney, believes the U.S. would not uphold an extradition request from Italy.
“We have principles that are well-founded within our Constitution, one of which is double jeopardy,” Jackson said. “So as a result of that, I think it would be highly objectionable for the United States to surrender someone to another country for which justice has already been administered and meted out. So I don’t think or anticipate that that would happen.”
This does not solve the problem.
Knox’s family and she are unable to move on with their lives and have to worry about how their future will be affected by all of this. I believe Knox is being continually targeted by Italy because she is an American and the popular opinion in Italy is that she is guilty, and neither are reasons for continued prosecution when the justice system has already done its work. Even so, Knox is ready to fight back.
“The prosecution responsible for the many discrepancies in their work must be made to answer for them, for Raffaele’s sake, my sake and most especially for the sake of Meredith’s family. … No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have: confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity,” she said.
The retrial is expected to begin sometime early next year in an appellate court in Florence, Italy. It is expected that Knox will be tried in absentia. I hope that the U.S. stands by Knox by upholding its laws and protecting its citizens from unlawful foreign prosecution.
Sarah Backer is a business sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].