Step right up for the next phase

“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell

The battle to control the past reaches the next phase on March 25th when the Italian Supreme Court is expected to rule again on the innocence or guilt of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. In its previous incarnation in 2013 it overturned Judge Hellmann’s acquittal of the pair and ordered that the conviction should be reinstated at a further second level trial. This was duly done in Florence last year by Judge Nencini.

Who controls the past controls the future

For the Supreme Court, the events that happened on the evening of November 1st 2007 in Perugia are no longer relevant. The fact that Rudy Guede murdered Meredith Kercher is beside the point. We are looking at the Italian concept of judicial truth here, not reality. George Orwell understood the importance of controlling the past as he explained in his dystopian novel, ‘1984’. The truth of Meredith Kercher’s death is in the past. The only person who is still alive and who was there was Rudy Guede and we are unlikely to hear from him on the subject. He has been effectively silenced by a tightly controlled judicial process that minimised his role as lone murderer by implicating others for his benefit.

The process of controlling the past began in this case as soon as the police and prosecuting authorities became aware of Meredith’s death. As far as we know for sure, this was when her bedroom door was broken down in the presence of the Postal Police at around 1.15pm on November 2nd. Within days – and before forensic tests had confirmed Guede’s complicity – the wrong people had been arrested. At this stage it cannot be proved that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were arrested by mistake though there are good reasons to suspect dark motives on the part of the authorities. Although clearly innocent, they might have been arrested on purpose at the start of what we can now call the ‘sideline Guede’ project.

From the time when the wrong suspects were in custody (if not before), it became essential for the authorities to control the past instead of investigating it. Firstly, Knox and Sollecito were driven around Perugia in a convoy of police cars, sirens wailing, horns blasting, before being deposited in prison. Then the Interior Minister of Italy, Giuliano Amato declared them to be guilty when he said “It’s an ugly story in which people which this girl had in her home, friends, tried to force her into relations which she didn’t want”. For Knox and Sollecito the presumption of innocence never existed. A fair trial was not going to be allowed to happen. They had to be guilty. The fix was in. The past was being controlled.

Apparently Amanda Knox was a cross between Aleister Crowley and the Marquis de Sade

So, who exactly was controlling the present and therefore the past, at that point? Prosecutors in Perugia were briefing the media. It was a good story. One of the accused was a girl barely out of her teens. The prosecution’s fantasy was spiced up immediately. There was talk of a sex game and a satanic ritual. Apparently Amanda Knox was a cross between Aleister Crowley and the Marquis de Sade. This was impressive for one so young. The British media, mainly serviced through Italian based English stringers, was ecstatic. You just couldn’t make this stuff up. Well of course they didn’t have to. Somebody else made it up for them.

The media was to prove a powerful ally of the Italian judicial establishment. It helped to control the past with all the tricks at its collective disposal: libel, innuendo, ad hominem attacks and a refusal to examine the facts of the case. After all, an attractive but demonical female suspect is far more newsworthy than an innocent girl who was framed.

Within days the personality of Amanda Knox had been trashed beyond repair. It has never recovered. The case has been about Amanda Knox ever since. It will always be about Amanda Knox. She was in prison, where she was to remain for four years, so she was powerless to correct any of the misconceptions.

Collateral damage

Her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito was collateral damage. He had to be arrested as well because he was Knox’s alibi, but nobody really cared about him, except as a means to get at her. He could have stated that they were not together when Meredith was killed – that he was at home and Amanda was out. If he had done so, he would have sold out to the prosecution’s strategy of controlling the past. He declined and remained in prison, six months of which were in solitary confinement.  Would he have done that if he knew Knox was guilty?  No way.

The first trial was a foregone conclusion. In some ways it appeared similar to a trial in a country with a correctly functioning judicial system. But Italy is not like that. At the European Court of Human Rights, they do not count the number of appeals about Italian cases, they weigh them. Italy is the No 1 country in Western Europe for appeals, by a long way. There was never a chance that Knox and Sollecito would get a fair trial.  On the 4th of December 2009, they were found guilty and sentenced to 26 and 25 years, respectively.

In 2011 their appeal began.  Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann was appointed to conduct it. From the start he took on the whole Italian judicial establishment with his opening remarks to the court. He said, “We know only one thing for certain: Meredith Kercher is dead.” With this sentence he not only affirmed the presumption of innocence that Knox and Sollecito never had in the first trial, he gave notice to the prosecution that they would be required to prove their assertions. Dodgy DNA, flaky witnesses and hyperbole might not be enough to gain a conviction a second time.

Who controls the present?

On October 3rd 2011, Hellmann made good on his pledge to deliver a fair trial. Knox and Sollecito were acquitted. Not only that, Knox was free to leave Italy, which she duly did, within 24 hours. The veil of control over the past was swept aside. But Hellmann was only one man and the powers behind the Italian judiciary were not happy.

This was when the story of a kooky American student became a problem for the whole creaking Italian judicial establishment. It was not going to end well.

Appeal – acquittal overturned – reconviction and now back to the Supreme Court. What does this all mean? Reaction has tightened its grip on the Italian courts. Having been declared guilty a second time, too many in the judicial establishment will be embarrassed if Knox and Sollecito succeed in their appeal this March.

The professional reputations of writers (I hesitate to call them journalists) like Barbie Nadeau, Angela Vogt and John Follain are bound up in this case, to greater or lesser extent. Camp followers like Selene Nelson and Harry (who he?) Rag, are steadfast in their defence of the indefensible. They linger as an online poisonous presence, doing all they can to assist the powers of darkness to control the present and the past.

They cannot be allowed to succeed. Just as the French state could not control the past when it sought to destroy Alfred Dreyfus, the powers of darkness in Italy must not succeed this time.

It might take the European Court of Human Rights to overturn this travesty but it assuredly will be overturned. Nobody should be able to control the past and destroy the lives of innocent people, especially in such a blatant and arrogant manner.

The Italian courts may not appreciate just how big this case has got. It is no longer about a couple of kids who were framed by the cops in an Italian backwater. The world is watching. Tabloid hacks and internet trolls are struggling to control the narrative – the past and the future – by controlling the present.

This is the highest profile miscarriage of justice of the twenty first century. The good guys have to win.

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