Knox case poised to set powerful precedent in international court cases
Amanda Knox was sentenced to 28 1/2 years in prison after her second conviction in Italy in the stabbing of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, when they were students in 2007. It remains to be seen whether the Italian government will seek the extradition of Knox from the United States.
Kercher’s body was found in her apartment, which she shared with Knox in November 2007 in Perugia, Italy. Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were arrested in connection with the murder. Another suspect, Rudy Guede, was extradited from Germany in connection with Kercher’s murder and remains the only person in jail. However, aspects of the crime remain unaccounted for.
The trial began in 2009 in Perugia.
The DNA evidence used in the prosecution of Knox and Raffaele Sollecito was deemed unreliable by an independent report requested by Italy’s appeals court in Jun. 29, 2011. Knox and Sollecito were released from jail in October, after the appeals court overturned their murder convictions. Knox returned to her hometown in Seattle four years after her arrest.
In March 2013, Italy’s highest criminal court ordered a retrial for Knox and Sollecito after reversing the appeals court’s reversal of their convictions.
Having already spent four years in Italian prison after the first murder conviction, Knox said she would never willingly return to Italy. The Italian courts would have to rule an appeal before they can seek to extradite Knox.
A portion of the Italian population was upset at the fact that Knox refused to return for the latest trial when Sollecito returned to Italy to fight his new murder conviction.
The bigger question isn’t whether Knox is guilty. If this case played out in an American court with an American jury, the results would likely be different. Questions were brought up about the DNA evidence.
Judge Alessandro Nencini, the judge who declared Knox and Sollecito guilty in the murder of Kercher, is being investigated for ethical violations in relation to the trial. The investigation called into question his ability to be unbiased.
Nencini spoke out to the media, saying the motive for the crime was because Knox is a “she-devil.”
Nencini later apologized for speaking out, but typically in the Italian judicial code of ethics, it is prohibited to comment from the bench for weeks after following a verdict.
The most current copy of the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Italy does not list double jeopardy within the requesting country as a viable cause to deny extradition.
American lawyers can claim that the extradition of Knox would be unconstitutional, but a requesting country reserves acquittal and enters a judgment of conviction.
The majority of Italians believe Knox is guilty, so it would be difficult to be granted an intercession by the U.S. Secretary of State. It would be an incredible risk to protect an American citizen from a prison sentence set abroad.
In 2003, the Italian court convicted 23 CIA operatives of kidnapping in absentia. However, Italy never formally sought the extradition of these operatives because of pressure from the American government.
The United States government seeks the extradition of more people than any other country in the world. If the U.S. decides to deny Knox’s extradition, other countries might use the decision against future requests in the extradition of American citizens.
If anything is to come out of this long process in the courts, it will be the final outcome that sets an example for similar court cases in the future. While Knox waits for everything to play out, this case demonstrates how the judicial system can react to any error. The last thing anyone would want is to put away someone who is innocent; the same goes for letting someone guilty walk free.
Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations junior and may be reached at [email protected]