Amanda Knox’s Conviction and What Not To Do About It

Some of the comments on the last post about Amanda Knox’s murder conviction made me want to clarify a few points.

First, the Italian court system is sometimes troubling, true, but the deeply problematic criminal justice system in Perugia should not be generalized to all of Italy. Perugia’s head prosecutor is not a good person, and this is not the first time the Perugian justice system has refused to let the truth get in the way of a good story. But by no means is Knox’s situation the Italian norm. It’s a crazy and unfortunate outlier.

The court system is not the only problem, either; even more pervasive are the biased and sensationalist media accounts. Perhaps even more so than Mignini, the media’s tabloid-style rumor mongering is in part responsible for Knox’s conviction, by convincing the public that baseless stories are grounded in some sort of proof, rather than sprung whole cloth out of peoples’ imaginations.

Second, staging an American boycott of Italian products or getting President Obama directly involved is the surest way to guarantee Amanda never sees the light of day again. Nations are — rightfully — extremely allergic to the idea of foreign entities interfering with their court system. Just think about how Texas and the rest of America flips their shit when the idea of the ICC is brought up, or when trivial things like multilateral treaties get in the way of us executing foreign murderers. Or about how we react to little issues like, say, LaGrand, Medellín, Avena?

If Italy thinks the U.S. government is trying to bully them into letting the vixen-murderess free, they will circle the wagons. The Italian court system will be pressured to uphold the conviction on principle, so as to not be seen as weak and catering to a foreign superpower. When I said “it’s time for the state department to bring out the big guns,” I was thinking more along the lines of behind the scenes diplomatic efforts that the rest of us never hear a word about. That way, Italy’s public officials will be able to act without taking a massive hit to their popularity, as would certainly occur if the fact the U.S. had asked them for help were publicized. And, I do think the U.S. Government has been exactly right so far in refusing to even acknowledge the case’s existence. Before Knox’s conviction, by far the best way that the U.S. could help her was by refusing to lift a finger in her defense.

If things get really desperate — and this would, unfortunately, be years down the line — I wouldn’t be against turning to multilateral international institutions for relief. It would deplete some of our foreign policy capital to be sure, but there are worse things to spend it on than freeing an innocent woman wrongfully convicted in an allied country.

Plus, you know, there’s that whole Italian conviction of 22 American CIA agents last month we have to deal with, too. We’re also going to have to sort out that mess. Unfortunately for Amanda, she’s going to be of secondary concern, if that, for the U.S. Government, and I doubt they’re going to offer Amanda too much assistance if it’s going to hinder other national security concerns.

Anyway, there is hope yet, and Italy’s domestic criminal procedures absolutely must be exhausted before any other action is contemplated. On appeal, the current bunch of Perugian officials will not be involved, which gives Knox a fighting chance.


Injustice in Perugia: The Fraudulent Conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito

My deepest sympathies go out to Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, as well as their families.

I don’t think I believed they would actually be convicted; I knew it was a possibility, given how shockingly corrupt the prosecution has been, but I was still stunned when I saw the guilty verdict.

The lead prosecutor in Knox’s case is Giuliano Mignini, a paranoid conspiracy theorist who has never displayed any concern for the truth of his allegations. Amanda Knox’s conviction makes for a great story — crazed American sexual deviant rapes and murders her roommate! News at 11! Also she does yoga, the evil little slut!– and that was enough to convince him of her guilt.

This article a few days ago in the New York Times Opinionater sums it up:

In closing arguments, Knox was described as a “Luciferina” and “a dirty-minded she-devil.” Preposterous, made-up sexual motives were ascribed to her. One prosecutor speculated before the jury what Knox may have said to Meredith Kercher before, he claimed, forcing an orgy that resulted in her death:

“You are always behaving like a little saint. Now we will show you. Now we will make you have sex.”

Nobody alleges that Knox said this to Kercher. But prosecutors asked the jury to imagine her saying such a thing.

What century is this? Didn’t Joan of Arc, the Inquisition and our own American Salem witch trials teach civilized nations a thing or two about contrived sexual hysteria with a devil twist?

The fact Amanda Knox is an American has undoubtedly played a role in her prosecution and conviction, as well; the jury was clearly influenced by the national identities involved, and at the reading of the verdict, six of the eight jurors were wearing red, white, and green sashes, the color of Italy’s flag.

The man who killed Meredith Kercher is in jail; Rudy Guede was fairly blatantly guilty from the beginning, with plenty of physical evidence plus his own confession to prove it. There is no coherent theory that can explain how he, Amanda, and Raffaele could have all been involved, even ignoring the fact there is zero believable evidence to show either Amanda or Raffaele alone were involved.

I suppose things could go well for them on appeal, but I don’t hold much hope for that. It’s time for the State Department to bring out the big guns, and do what they can to bring Amanda Knox home.