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The Conviction of ‘Foxy Knoxy’

The Conviction of ‘Foxy Knoxy’

It has been a sordid tale, enrapturing audiences in Italy and globally. The murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher, who was found with her throat slit in her Perugia apartment in November 2007 after being sexually assaulted, continues to excite and convulse. Convictions have now been handed down to Amanda Knox, a Seattle student, and her ex-boyfriend Raffaelle Sollecito for 26 years and 25 years respectively. They add to the conviction of Rudy Guede, a 21-year-old Ivory Coast native who is serving a 30-year sentence for his part in the crime.

Knox has been a figure of calculating composure throughout her trial. When it opened in January this year, Barbie Nadeau of Newsweek (Jan 16, 2009) found her poise unnerving, similar to that of a ‘beauty-pageant contestant.’ Nor were the now convicted participants made to endure the standard indignities of normal detainees – they were not made to wear handcuffs, nor made to stay in cells throughout.

Knox had certainly done much to deflect interest in her part of the case. She had made what her attorneys challenged as a ‘false confession’ on November 6, 2007, while accusing her then boss, the Congolese pub owner Patrick Lumumba, of the killing. On being released for insufficient evidence, Lumumba launched a civil claim against Knox and charged her with criminal false accusation.

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The press and public have responded rather harshly to Knox, describing her at various stages as a ‘devil with an angel’s face’. Headlines such as ‘And in prison, she even tries to sun tan’, have featured regularly. Her notoriety shot her up in an online chart for the ‘person of the year’, conducted by an Italian channel. She even pit Carla Bruni to the post. Facebook pages have been dedicated to her, some in favour, some against.

The submissions have not been lacking in eccentricity. Giuliano Bongiorno, counsel for Sollecito, submitted that the couple could not have been involved in this drugged sex crime – they were too infatuated with each other to seek such drastic adventures in the bedroom. ‘Where were the wine glasses? Where was the music?’ The prosecution, in turn, sort to construct a picture of rampant orgies, a situation that doomed the reluctant Kercher.

Knox’s parents, Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, remain convinced that the case was not made out against their daughter. ‘We find it difficult to accept this verdict when we know she is innocent, and that the prosecution has failed to explain why there was no evidence of Amanda in the room where Meredith was so horribly and tragically murdered’ (The Telegraph, Dec 7). Legal experts across the pond tend to agree, seeing a miscarriage of justice at every corner of this case. The defendants have insisted that the attacks were the fault of opportunistic robbers.

Another unpleasant feature of the proceedings is the evident lack of honour amongst thieves. Each of the defendants has been insinuating at stages of the trial that the other was somehow responsible. Guede, fearing that he might well be doomed by a conspiratorial pact between lovers, preferred a ‘fast track’ trial.

The defense team will have to be patient. Court commentators speculate that the convictions may well be challenged successfully, though one can’t be too optimistic. A backlog of 3.6 million criminal cases and 5.4 million civil cases suggests a bureaucratic nightmare operating at snails pace.

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Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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