Kercher case verdict to avoid brutta figura?

Heiko Image
12/06/2009 - 05:19

Was the guilty verdict at the Meredith Kercher trial to save face for the judiciary and Italy as a whole as suggested in this article:  What is your opinion?  Were they guilty or was there at least insufficient evidence to convict them?  It seems a very unsafe conviction to me.



I am no expert on this, and doubt the real situation will ever be discovered. But my view for what its worth is that whilst Amanda did not have the intent to murder, things got out of hand and she was involved and took part in the death of Meredith.As to whether the conviction is sound, I would need to be judge and jury on that and do not have the information or the legal expertise to inform me. But dont feel it was a facesaving conviction.A

 Sorry but, I think that any case that goes through the court process of the country of the crime should be accepted as valid, 'unsafe' or not.When you think how many unsafe convictions have been made in the UK (and elsewhere), and then there are appeals after appeals ...............hardly worth bothering with a justice system anywhere at times!!Any THEN the courts are sued for millions!S

For me the reporter displays the usual sneery contempt for any legal system that is not British. It's like he considers Italy to be some backward, corrupt, inept, third world nation.I wonder what the report would have said (on Meredith's behalf) if the trial had been held in USA and a not guilty verdict returned.So no matter what spin the Guardian reporter wants to apply, the fact is a lengthy trial was held and all evidence considered. Whilst over the course of the trial it seems the prosecution convinced the judges to convict, the couple and their lawyers seemingly did nothing to convince the judges of their innocence. Which is what you have to be able to do.

Here is an alternative view to that of the Grauniad, agree with Angie and think that the three of them were involved in the brutal slaying of Meredith, who did what I do not know, only they do. Knox used the tried and tested US approach, blame it on the black man and it backfired on her when he was found to have a solid alibi, she was thus found to be a liar, what else did she lie about?As to the process, I do not think the American Legal System or indeed that of the UK is above reproach, one can only therefore put ones faith in the judge and six jurors who have sifted through all the evidence and found them guilty, inconvenient though that may be for the US media and the Guardian.      

Conviction.There will be lots of evidence that has not been entered into the public forum. The most damning evidence is the DNA. If Knox had lawful access to the apartment occupied by  KERCHER then this would be unsafe. However if KNOX denied that she had ever had access to the apartment or ever had physical contact with the weapon then it is sound. From what I recall she changed her story on numerous occasions  usually denials followed by admissions are part of the best evidence rule and perhaps justice has been done. It is also likely that one or more of the defendants struck a deal with the prosecutors and imparted information. At least one had a separate trial and pleaded guilty. I don't think he gave evidence at their trial but only the prosecution will now what he said in private. It will be challenged at a great expense and the result will be the same. In the UK you either appeal the conviction or the sentence. Don't play with knives if you don't want to get hurt.

 Not sure if the real story will ever come out but if you are completely innocent then why did you try to accuse someone that really had nothing to do with it (a bar owner of the area) - which is also the reason Amanda got a year more than they Solecito. It does all have the feeling of a game taken too far and then bad attempts to cover up what really happened.

 Sky Italia that is has the sentence as right 76-24 % although rolling across the top of the screen is the american opinion and indeed several clips from cnn and fox...where they rip the Italian justice system to bits...rather than be negative about it i think what would help in Italy would be the stopping of people like Bruno Vespa holding televison trials during criminal or civil court trials often with people involved in the cae giving opinions on TV... the worst of all i find is some jumped up psycho guy..with a sort of criminal profile background who instead of doing fictional/factional series instead goes on TV and then we have clips of eye expressions and lack of smiles or too many smiles and people are convicted in public before the actual trial even completes...Italian justice would be better served if PMs did not go on TV to bolster up their side..  and television had much less to do with manipulating public opinion... when you think the Jury within these trials has the same sort of continual unproven opinions pushed in their faces too..Italian justice seems no better or worse than anywhere else although given a chance to work without Mr Vespa i think it would be fairer.. the verdict most probably would have been the same...

Sentenced to 25 and 26 years seems almost mild in comparison to what they could have received.  They should be grateful they weren't tried and found guilty in a Saudi Arabian court. 

Guilty or not? I have no Idea, but with DNA forensic science being new [only 20 years old] and being overturned  regular as the science gets better and flaws are spotted, then I will not be surprised if she is aquitted after the Appeal.afterall the case strongly relies on weak DNA forensics,and the common held believe it is infallable. One other thing occurs to me, I believe the drug dealer convicted last year, did not give eviedence against her?This more than anything leaves me wondering Why,and with such a weak case to start with,one would have to consider the prosicutors would have made a good offer to Gaude to give evidence afterall he got 30 years.Its all a little strange to me, but its the same everywhere.

We either believe in or don't believe in the 'jury system' of justice. I do believe in it and as I haven't seen a fairer system yet, I'll continue to hold on to this one...We all know that, as a system,  it is not infallible, but it has held it's own as the best way to mete out a style of 'fair justice' over several centuries in what we like to call civilised countries. But the way these journalists from a variety of countries behave is based solely on their need to sensationalise news in order to sell their lurid tabloids...For them - 'money speaks louder than justice!'Irrespective of  'suspected' crimes committed - before anyone questions the trial by jury system of justice we may want to to look at, and call into question other systems of pre-trial investigation. To do that we don't have to look much further than the question of the approach to a fair system of justice towards terrorist suspects, that was (and still is) being carried out by the CIA at Guantanamo Bay, or some recent arrests made by the Iranian government.    

Well that got a discussion going!  I had no intention to put down the Italian justice system, although it is known to be slow and inefficient, but hey, as someone said, no legal system is perfect.  What I am saying is that on the evidence presented, not only by the Guardian, it seems a dodgy conviction.  They may well be guilty, but is there sufficient evidence?  A lot of things seem odd and don't add up, on both sides of the argument..  Luckily there is no death sentence here.  In the US the two defendants would no doubt be on death row now.

We do not have access to all the evidence presented, we have not watched the accused responding to questioning... We can only trust justice and hope that the conviction is a fair one. I read and watched the Spanish media´s reports and perhaps, as they were not directly involved, they were more objective than the ones issued by either the British, the American or the Italian press.From what I gather, it is a case of a horrible game that went wrong. I do not think that there was premeditation; however, all the little details are quite difficult to assimilate. Personally, I think that the accused are guilty as convicted. Yes, this is going to destroy their lives, but what about Amanda Kercher's own life? What about their family? It is not a case of "an eye for an eye" and no matter what kind of penalty they get the Kercher family will keep on suffering for the rest of their lives. And I do not believe in the death penalty.What I would like to see is the media banned from all these trials. Their power is abused. Only last week, here in Spain, a 24 year old guy was publicly accused of having sexually abused and killed his 3 year-old step-daughter. And the media was condemning the guy even before the forensic evidence was brought forward. Guess what? The guy was innocent. The child had fallen from a swing only a couple of days before, there was medical negligence involved as the child had been duly taken to hospital after the fall and they didn't even order an X-Ray. Now, everybody is asking for forgiveness, but this guy´s life has been destroyed. Media power is a very dangerous weapon. And it is becoming a circus.....

 Whilst i understand you were trying to be objective, the fact is the CIA operations are outside of any judisual system and although the Iranian  actions to us seem somewhat objectional, they are atleast still applying legal and judisual rules as in there own constitution.And there legal system is not disimilar to our own, no matter what properganda is spread 

I think that the discomfort comes from the convention that murder convictions usually centre around four things.  1. The body - no problem there... 2. Motive - the prosecution changed its mind about the motive at the last moment, suggesting that there was no sex game, instead Amanda Knox murdered Meredith Kercher because she didn't like her complaining about her personal habits, which some people have found unconvincing... 3. Murder weapon - the knife produced as evidence was not universally accepted as actually being the murder weapon... 4. DNA evidence - Amanda's DNA was not present in the room at all.  Sollecito's DNA was on the clasp of the bra strap but nowhere else, not even on the rest of the bra...Guede, the only person who was definitely there on the night, told the police that Amanda definitely wasn't there, although he seeems to have changed his opinion after some time in police custody.Amanda certainly behaved very strangely while being interogated, but is that enough to convict without other supporting evidence?  If there was other, behind the scenes evidence not made public at the trial, then that might explain it!

In reply to by MichaelM

Sorry MichaelM, but you cannot say that Guede had not (from the very oustet) claimed that Knox was present. Guede was ambivalent as to whether Sollecito was the 'white guy', but he put the finger on Knox in the very early stages.And Carole -  where is your CIA stuff coming from? The case was complicated enough without this red herring!

Sorry MichaelM if you thought my reference to the CIA was a 'red herring'. It wasn't intended that way.


The point I was trying to make was that, at least in Italy, 'suspects' who are arrested are given the facilities to have legal representation, their families are advised of their whereabouts and are able to communicate with them throughout their incarceration.  This- despite what their crime, or suspected crime, may be... And I do believe that if Italians beleived that individuals were being 'spirited away' (so to speak), for whatever reason,  as in Guantanamo Bay there would be a public outcry.This saying about living in glasshouses comes to mind when thinking about the international press behaviour in this case...

PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULDN'T THROW STONES - "Those who are vulnerable should not attack others. The proverb has been traced back to Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Troilus and Criseyde' (1385). George Herbert wrote in 1651: 'Whose house is of glass, must not throw stones at another.' This saying is first cited in the United States in 'William & Mary College Quarterly' (1710). Twenty-six later Benjamin Franklin wrote, 'Don't throw stones at your neighbors', if your own windows are glass.' 'To live in a glass house' is used as a figure of speech referring to vulnerability." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). 

I had a look at the comments on your facebook thing.  They seem to be mostly by paranoid Americans.  But as a whole the Italian justice system hasn't made a positive impression in other areas, where people with influence regularly get away with fraud and corruption, because they drag on court cases until they run out of date or bribe witnesses.  I can't but feel that if Knox had not been a foreign student, but the daugther of an Italian politician or possibly mafioso, she'd have probably got away with it,  guilty or not.

  haven't been following it all that closely but: - Given that everyone complains A LOT about nepotism, massive tax evasion, and general corruption in Italy I don't think it's possible to defend the judicial system as somehow above all that.  Lawyers may work hard to ensure the rule of law is upheld (that's why they are often first up against the wall in bl**dy revolutions), but they can only work with the system they've got. - As I understand it, a lot of the decision-making in European judicial processes takes place before it ever gets to court.  I think that's what the Observer piece meant.  The UK follows the US system more closely ( actually it's the other way round of course) in that the Police investigate, the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether their investigations reveal enough evidence to make out a prima facie case, and then the whole thing is handed over to the Court.  More division of responsibilities. Not that I'm saying the UK system is above reproach (Guildford 4 onwards.....) I remember a Dutch woman who was in the same seminars as me talking about how our notion of "trial by your peers" is viewed abroad.  A Judge had said to her that they couldn't understand how the system could allow 12 (or 15) untrained Joe Publics off the street (probably either students or retired, since everyone else tries to get out of it) to decide the fate of the accused. Having been on a jury I think he has a bit of a point, though of course he was probably just trying to bolster his own professional position. And there have been a few famous cases where juries have found innocent in cases where they've been told by the Judge that the evidence against the accused is overwhelming.  In particular during the Thatcher years.

I used to practice as a criminal lawyer in London and was involved in defending several murder suspects at the Old Bailey. The question I was always asked was "how can you defend someone if you know they are guilty". Well if they tell you they are not, what ever you believe, you detach yourself from your own view and pick apart the evidence.  Everyone has a right to a fair trial and their lawyers should leave no stone unturned in fighting their defence. These Defendants had the best lawyers in Italy representing them. Despite that, it is possible that the court could have made mistakes which led the jury to consider evidence which in the UK perhaps would have not been allowed. For example, Amanda's first story to the police that she had been at the house and heard the screams was made without a lawyer, she says after being beaten up. That interview should maybe have been excluded as inadmissible, but it was played on a full screen TV to the jury, and certainly contradicted her later story. I have read a lot of accounts of the evidence on Italian and US websites, and I think this was skimmed over in the media. There were a number of witnesses who saw Amanda, Raffaele and Rudy, one who was threatened in his car by Amanda brandishing a knife. Apparently the best evidence from from a very well spoken and intelligent tramp who was convinced he saw Amanda and Raffaele near the scene when they claimed to have been at home together all night. There were neighbours who heard two sets of footsteps running away. When the judge's written verdict comes out we will for the first time have the full picture of how each piece of evidence was presented to the jury and conclude whether there was enough evidence to have convicted. Whether or not a UK jury would have found that they were guilty beyond reasonable doubt is another matter - maybe a different jury would not have done on exactly the same evidence. But even in spite of the media reporting I think they had a fair trial.

well it seems that everyone has formulated some sort of an idea on this trial. personally i think that she, knox, and her then boyfriend did in fact kill her, whether or not that was the original intention or not.One can also express some doubts on the smooth running of Perugia's forensic police who seemed to be coming and going for months. As far as the comments on the judiciary are concerned, however, i beg to may have become a national sport ,for some timenow, to try to slag off the italian judiciary (i personally would rather be tried here by competent judges than a band of council house dwellers from some london borough) this case will now go to the corte d'appello .In Italy an appeal case UNLIKE for example the U.S.A ( i've no idea what happens iin the uk)is not simply a revision of of the correct running of the first case.The ENTIRE case will be re-examined and EVERY SINGLE piece of evidence reviewed along with the rest of the claims,accusations etc.No i do not agree in the slightest that this system would allow an unfair trial or ,almost worse a biased trial nor a trial which holds "national" interests.IF they are definitively found guilty in appeal thats it,if not thats it.NOT many western countries go through such a lengthy and complete revision as happens in Italy they would probably be more worried about their budgets!

quote Sebastiano " i personally would rather be tried here by competent judges than a band of council house dwellers from some london borough "......  ( i've no idea what happens iin the uk)   I'm sure Charlotte's fuming quietly- if you don't know what you're talking about, keep it to the pub!                      

  You, Charlotte, have evidently followed the case in the Italian media - rather than the 'glossed over' version which the US received! I'm a bit unsure about the issue of the Court having possibly erred in letting the jury see the Knox interview (made without a lawyer present). The Court did not allow the prosecution to use the statement as evidence on the murder charge, but (IMO) the Court was obliged to allow the interview to be shown to the jurors who were also being asked to decide on the defamation (of Lumumba) charge.

I read a short response from Kercher family in the UK press today and thought .....well they were at the trial and heard all the evidence...., they had a daughter of the same age and wouldn't have wanted a conviction if it were insecure and still they are sure the correct verdict has been given. For me, that's as secure as it gets (I've done jury service twice and have kids of the same age)

 Having followed this case online and in the Italian press since the beginning, I was quite shocked to read Charlotte's post saying that there had been a witness who had been threatened, presumably near the house, and presumably on the night in question, by Amanda wielding a knife...  I can't understand why that evidence was not central to the whole case as it would appear to prove that everything else she said was false.  With that evidence, I can appreciate why she was convicted.  Just can't understand why I haven't seen or heard any reference to it during any of the proceedings and why I can't find any reference to it anywhere else.  Perhaps someone can tell me where I should be looking!

In reply to by MichaelM

  Yes this witness was an Albanian who apparently was all over the place in court, and perhaps not given that much weight. But he was a key witness from the moment of the arrests. I found it on an American website here. The tramp who saw Amanda and Sollecito on the night was also discredited by the defence (who of course may have had a good point) but by all accounts he was abolutely steadfast in his evidence and came across as articulate precise and intelligent, and what he says contradicts their (Well Amanda's second) story that they were at home together all night. There was also a student was saw all three together on the night who backs up the tramps account. Charlotte