Tuesday, June 28, 2011

GQ Italy: Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito Are Innocent


Click here to view the original article in Italian.

English Translation

"This could be one of the most important judicial errors of recent years. And the reason is simple: there is not enough evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for a conviction. In other words: as far as a court is concerned, they cannot have killed Meredith Kercher." So says criminologist Giorgia Quadri, commenting on one of the most notable crime and legal stories of the last few years: the Perugia murder. Rudy Guede, an Ivorian, has already been definitively sentenced (to 16 years in prison) for the killing of English student Meredith Kercher, which happened on the night between November 1 and 2, 2007. The appeal trial of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox, sentenced at the first level to 25 and 26 years [respectively], is still in progress. And just yesterday, Guede blamed the two youths [for the crime]. "But they have a number of things going for them", says Quadri. Here are seven of them:

1. "The 'proof' that convicted Sollecito consists of two items: a shoeprint -- which however the judges acknowledged to be Guede's -- and a tiny trace of DNA on Meredith's bra clasp. Which, however, was collected 46 days after the first inspection and -- it should be stressed -- with quite a few errors on the part of the law enforcement personnel on the scene. In sum: that miniscule trace could have ended up there due to a technical error".

2.  "Of Knox, however, there is no trace at all at the crime scene. The 'smoking gun" against her is the slander against Patrick Lumumba. But let's not forget that Knox named Lumumba after 53 hours and 45 minutes of interrogation. The kiss given to Sollecito outside the Perugia cottage, with Meredith's dead body still inside, also carries weight. But let's not forget that at the time, Amanda was hardly more than a kid -- she was 20 years old -- she was in a country other than her own, and found herself at the scene of a horrible crime".

3. "They say that they found the knife that was used to kill Meredith at Sollecito's house. A 31-centimeter knife that Amanda, according to the prosecution, was carrying around in her purse to defend herself with. But who goes around with that kind of weapon in their purse? There are DNA traces of Amanda on the handle of this knife, very tiny traces of Meredith on the tip. They washed it with bleach, according to the prosecution: is it possible that the washing was selective, and didn't remove Amanda's DNA from the handle?"

4.  "Sollecito is also accused because of his calls to the Carabinieri, which were allegedly made subsequent to the arrival of the Postal Police at the house on Via Della Pergola. But this timeline was later refuted; [and] who would call the Carabinieri with the Police on site, and why?

5.  "There's actually no proof that Guede knew Knox and Sollecito. Rudy himself has always said he saw "a figure that resembled Sollecito", but nothing more. And there's another anomaly: usually, in these cases, the people who are accused start accusing each other in turn, absolving themselves. In the case of the Perugia murder, this has not happened".

6.  "The reconstruction of events by the prosecution is somewhat fanciful: Guede supposedly became aroused on seeing Knox and Sollectio's displays of affection; he entered Meredith's room, started to assault her, the screams would have brought in Raffaele and Amanda who, thinking it was a game, would have bound, assaulted, and killed Kercher. There's no reason why two people in the process of exchanging affections, who enter a room where a stranger is assaulting Amanda's roommate, would take it upon themselves to torture Meredith. And in fact, the only thing the judges wrote was that Amanda and Meredith hated each other. Hardly enough for this kind of murder, don't you think?"

7.  "Even if we accept the version of the facts that came out of the first-level trial, how is it possible that Guede leaves traces everywhere -- including feces in the bathroom of the house, where he didn't flush;something that could also be a sign of guilt, given that feeling ill after a criminal act is not unusual -- and Amanda and Raffaele leave none? With all this excitement going on, is it [really] possible that the only trace would be a miniscule DNA finding on the clasp of Kercher's bra?"

Amanda Knox Appeal: a Day of Irrelevance

Amanda Knox

No new information was heard from the main witness at yesterday's appeal hearing for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as Rudy Guede, the man responsible for Meredith Kercher's murder, took the stand for the prosecution. Guede was called to refute the testimony of five inmates that told the court last week that Guede informed them during prison yard discussions that Amanda Knox was innocent. 

Guede's testimony reiterated the feelings he expressed in a letter written in 2010. In a strange courtroom display, his letter was read aloud by Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini because Guede claimed to be unable to read his own handwriting. Judge Hellmann found this odd prompting him to ask Guede if he understood the big words written in the letter; in a very telling admission,  Guede's answer was no.

As Mignini read the words allegedly penned by Guede, the court heard Guede's accusation that Knox and Sollecito murdered Meredith Kercher. Guede has lied repeatedly throughout this case, modifying his stories, based on news reports as it best suited his defense, so hearing Guede's most recent claims, once again, was old news. 

Old news or not, hearing these words while Guede was in the same courtroom was shocking to Knox and Solleito none the less. Knox requested to make a statement while Guede was present but the request was denied, leaving her to give an emotional declaration to the court once Guede had been shuffled out.
"Please the Court, I simply want to declare that the only time that Rudy Guede, Raffaele and I were together in the same space is in a courtroom. We never had any kind of contact. I am shocked and anguished by his declarations, truly, because he knows it, that we weren't there. He knows that we weren't involved and I don't know what happened that night. I just wish I could tell him "Look, mistakes can be fixed by first telling the truth." That's all. Thank you."
Raffaele also passionately addressed the court showing disgust that he was unable to face his accuser.
"Rudy said in his chat to Giacomo Benedetti that Amanda wasn’t there, and as a male he saw just a shadow. Then he accused us just because we were already blamed!"
"For almost 4 years I’m fighting against the shadows, and he comes here, and doesn’t even speak. What should I defend myself from, if he doesn’t speak?"
Although Guede's testimony has been dramatized by the media it actually went exactly as expected. No one imagined that Guede would come clean and tell the truth. He did answer my question as to whether or not he had a conscience; the answer is clearly no. 

As I predicted shortly after the first trial concluded in December, 2009, we have seen a clear shift in the media leaning toward innocence during the appeal for Knox and Sollecito. As the truth becomes crystal clear, journalists around the world are finally coming to terms with reality. As I have said repeatedly, some may have seen the error of their ways, others are just jockeying their position so they don’t end up on the wrong side of the story.

Even though the media has improved drastically over the past year, it had to be expected that details of yesterday's hearing would be simply too irresistible for even the most disciplined reporters to not exaggerate. Unfortunately this led to another round of sensationalized headlines and misrepresentation of the facts, suggesting to the public that Guede provided shocking new information. It's okay, the headlines carry no weight and will quickly fade leaving Guede's testimony to have no lasting effect on the trial. 

When the dust settles from the commotion created during the past two hearings, the media coverage will soon come back to reality, back to the embarrassing heroin addicted super witness, back to the faulty DNA, back to the complete lack of evidence against Knox and Sollecito. The haunting words of Sollecito "fighting against the shadows" couldn't be more relevant as the truth is now being exposed from the darkness. Two who were once condemned will soon find freedom.