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The Incredulous Perugia Trial: Ideal vs Integrity

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November 26, 2009 Crime And Trials, News & Oddities 3 Comments

One of the most dramatic and internationally observed italian trials of this decade is finally coming to a close: Verdicts are expected in the first week of December.

American student Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito stand accused of brutally murdering British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia more than two years ago in complicity with drifter Rudy Guede, who has already been sentenced to life for his part in the killing.

Italy as the scene of crime and trial has come under close scrutiny, and has been at the centre of a bizarre media frenzy covering the case.

The heinous crime that shook the small town only a few kilometers north of Rome has had the public up in roars. The young, attractive American college student put on trial is deemed “completely innocent” by organised groups of friends and family, even including a Pulitzer Prize Winner and several high-ranking attorneys. The evidence against the three is mostly circumstantial, but their non-existant alibis, their blatant lies and obscure behaviour throughout investigation and trial have allowed the prosecution to build a strong case against them. Of course, the media reporting on the case in different countries each ask for justice. But by whom do they believe justice should be done?

In the UK, home of the actual murder victim, the media coverage has mostly been fact-focused, dispassionate, and concerned with the victim’s family. Things have gone rather differently in the US, the home of Amanda Knox. Several American media outlets, a number of privately run websites, and even Pulitzer Prize Winner Timothy Egan on his New York Times blog have built a case of the innocent, white, jesuit-educated all-American girl “whose life has been nearly ruined by this collision of predatory journalism and slipshod prosecution” (Timothy Egan, The New York Times, June 2009). Never mind the evidence and eye-witness accounts that place her at the scene of the murder, her contradictory statements, or her appalling behaviour at the scene of the crime the next day (passionately kissing her boyfriend, joking around, doing splits and cartwheels). The demand that “justice be done,” coming from this line of argument, does not appear to regard the actual murder victim. On the contrary, it reproachfully asserts that accusing an all-American girl such as Amanda Knox of a horrific sexual murder defies any logic and should be a crime in itself. Rather than a call for justice, this reads like an irrational claim for the protection of an American ideal, at the expense of Italian integrity.

The coverage throughout Italy has been the most detailed, and has referred to documents widely ignored by both US and UK media, such as the official report by the Ministry of Justice in Rome (published on their website, as required by Italian law), which describes in great detail the victim’s autopsy, the wounds on her body, and the horrific state of her room. Analysis of such documents is fundamental to an in-depth understanding of the case. There is a strong sense in Italy that such a crime demands the truth to be discovered at all costs. As summed up by Ms Sarzanini, the Italian author of a book on Meredith Kercher’s murder, “the overwhelming feeling here [in Italy] is that the real victim is still Meredith Kercher – not Amanda Knox.” (BBC, February 2009).

Some American media outlets, and organisations such as “Friends of Amanda”, have launched a series of attacks – some of which personal – to discredit the prosecutors and the Italian judicial system as “corrupt”, “backward”, “third-world” and even “anti-American”. Blatantly ignoring important evidence and facts, they seek to “present the public with … crucial evidence that irrefutably proves Amanda’s innocence”. This seems rather bizarre and ridiculous, since the defendants would surely by now have presented such evidence to the court if indeed it existed. Other reports observe that judge Massei and his tribunal are conducting a fair and painstakingly cautious trial. The accusations have also prompted detailed analyses of the Italian judicial system, overwhelmingly deeming it modern, fair and much more weighted towards the defendants than the US and UK systems.

For once, Italy can show itself at its best: Its judicial system appears to stand up to critical international examination, while its own media reporting on the case is not only precise, but also concerned with true justice by the murder victim. What a well-deserved break for a country habitually subjected to international ridicule on issues such as its corruption problem, its inability to rid itself of the mafia, its colossal and languid bureaucracy, and last but not least, the antics of its Prime Minister.

Sources: nytimes.com, seattlepi.com, telegraph.co.uk, timesonline.co.uk, bbc.co.uk, repubblica.it, penale.it, truejustice.org, missrepresented.net, friendsofamanda.org, perugia-shock.blogspot.com

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

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    [...] a detailed article about the case and the media reactions around the world in relation to Italy (The Incredulous Perugia Trial: Ideal vs Integrity). Now, we are back to report on the reasoning behind the jury decision, which tells us what the [...]

  2. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [...] We had closely followed the first trial, in which Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty of murdering her British flat mate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia. This was one of the most dramatic and internationally observed Italian trials of this decade, and Italy as the scene of crime and trial had come under close scrutiny, and had been at the centre of a bizarre media frenzy covering the case. [...]

  3. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [...] The Incredulous Perugia Trial: Ideal vs Integrity [...]

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