Feature

Amanda Knox: Italian justice or injustice?

The prosecution already has plans to appeal the case, and the Italian public is divided over Knox's innocence.

The jury in Perugia “could not do otherwise” than to acquit Amanda Knox, said Carlo Federico Grosso in the Turin La Stampa. In the end there was a lack of unequivocal evidence that the young American woman was guilty of murder, so “the safeguards of the criminal process” make this the only proper outcome. Yet it leaves a “bitter taste in the mouth.” We can never know whether there might have been a different verdict “if not for all the errors, uncertainties, sudden shifts in accusations, divergence among experts, and failure of scientific evidence.” For that reason, this is “not a victory” for the Italian court system, but one more occasion for us to reflect on “the efficiency of our justice and the ability of our judges.”

There’s plenty of troubling evidence to ponder there, said Tobias Jones in the London Guardian. The worst aspect of Italian jurisprudence is “that it never delivers conclusive, door-slamming certainty.” There’s always a chance for one side or the other to appeal to the next level, as the prosecution has already said it plans to do in this case. The Italian public now sees one win for each side, and remains “divided down the middle” about whether Knox is really innocent or not. Little wonder: The court system is riddled with prosecutors appointed “through nepotism rather than competence,” and their bumbling only feeds the Italian national pastime of theorizing endlessly over conspiracies, the more lurid the better.

That’s not all our fault, said Aldo Grasso in the Milan Corriere della Sera. From the beginning of this case, “the media have overshadowed considerations of justice.” It was British newspapers that took the side of the English victim Meredith Kercher, dubbing Knox “Foxy Knoxy” and playing up every salacious suggestion they could find about her. The American media, for their part, have marshaled their formidable resources to promote the image of “the American girl who is a victim of injustice.”

It’s that image, straight out of Puccini’s opera The Girl of the Golden West, that has prevailed for now, said Vittorio Zucconi in the Rome La Repubblica. Of course I’m delighted to see America’s indignation over Amanda Knox’s judicial plight turn to joy at her acquittal. But in America “such indignation and mass mobilization isn’t triggered” in the many executions based on fragile circumstantial evidence or recanted testimony. In Italy, as in the U.S., the administration of justice offers only “an approximation of truth.” And “until we invent a technique to raise the dead,” we should never allow any judgment to be irreversible, for Amanda Knox or anyone else.

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