The other day I was talking to an old friend. She asked me why I first took an interest in the Meredith Kercher case and why I am still involved, over seven years later. I call it the Meredith Kercher case because that is the name of the young woman whose life was tragically snuffed out in Perugia, Italy on the evening of November 1st 2007. It is better known to the wider world as the Amanda Knox case because Amanda was falsely accused of murdering Meredith and it was alleged that she was assisted by her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.
After four years in prison, including a guilty verdict in 2009, Amanda and Raffaele were exonerated on appeal in 2011. The appeal court was presided over by Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann who went out of his way to say that this was no mere acquittal on a technicality. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were innocent because the evidence proved that they could not be guilty.
And that, we all thought, was that.
We were wrong.
We had not accounted for the Italian justice system.
My friend asked a very good question and there is no simple answer. My active involvement in the case dates from the time of the first conviction in 2009. By then it was crystal clear to me that Meredith’s murderer was a Perugian local layabout called Rudy Guede and there was no credible evidence against anyone else. It was also obvious that the case against Amanda and Raffaele was not merely unconvincing; there were serious questions that the prosecution should have been made to answer. Two innocent young people should not have been encarcerated by trickery and they should not have been found guilty by a process of judicial fraud. The blatantly deceptive behaviour of the prosecution lawyers shocked me.
This was a case that was being played out in the spotlight of the world’s media, yet only the prosecution arguments were being covered. The average tabloid newspaper reader was given the impression that this was an open and shut case. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were guilty because the prosecution case was more lurid, more shocking and yes, more ‘sexy’ than the banal reality of a burglary gone wrong. Few journalists cared for the truth and few newspapers were interested in printing it.
For those who looked beneath the surface, the real story of the murder was not hard to ascertain. The defence had concentrated on the facts; the prosecution was reduced to slander and hyperbole – a sure sign that there was no real case to answer. Every prosecution witness lacked credibility. There was no timeline that could be invented that placed Knox and Sollecito at the crime scene when the attack must have taken place – shortly after 9.00pm on November 1st 2007.
Unconvincing attempts had been made to move the time of the murder to much later in the evening. Crucially there was no forensic evidence that placed either defendant in Meredith’s room at all – at any time, yet there were copious samples left by Guede. The items that the prosecution claimed were key to the case – a kitchen knife from Sollecito’s apartment and a bra clasp that was retrieved from an unsecured crime scene 46 days after the murder – were both so ludicrously and obviously contaminated that no serious forensic scientist would have dared to enter them as evidence at all. There was something rotten in the state of Umbria and the media wasn’t getting it.
So the 2009 guilty verdict shocked me and I determined to get involved and try to help the defendants and their families. I was not sure how I could begin to do this, but opportunities appeared as time moved on. I had never been tempted to attach myself to an innocence campaign before, but the sheer brass neck of the prosecution’s behaviour and the court’s perverse verdict made me angry. It was all happening in broad daylight and was being reported as if there was some kind of logic behind it.
Later, I would read Candace Dempsey’s book, ‘Murder in Italy’ and Frank Sfarzo’s blog, ‘Perugia Shock’. I would discover the fledgling ‘Injustice in Perugia’ website and the support sites from the families of the defendants. I would also write articles about various aspects of the case and write to newspapers.
Why am I here?
I am launching this blog as an archive for some of the pieces I have written. I will edit them and place them here, together with new thoughts on the case as they occur to me. Seven years is a long time to be under threat from a dysfunctional judicial system. Five years is a long time for me to have spent on one case. It is far from over. I intend to be around until true justice is achieved for Meredith Kercher – and for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
You can join me if you like.