Friday 19 December 2014

Is Amanda Knox really the other victim . . . ?

Caitriona Palmer in Washington on why there is growing concern about the conviction of a young 'sex killer'

For three years, near the medieval Italian town of Perugia, a 23-year-old American student named Amanda Knox has sat in a prison cell, convicted of the brutal slaying of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.

To the tabloid press and Italian gossip mill, she is a heartless "she devil": a "sex predator" with an appetite for the kinky who allegedly slit the throat of 21-year-old Kercher in a drug-fuelled sex game that went horribly wrong.

But to a growing chorus of international forensic and investigative experts, Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are innocent. Unwitting victims, they say, of a massive miscarriage of justice and a case so inconsistent and weak that it would not hold up in a court of law elsewhere.

This week, Knox was back in court facing slander charges for claiming that she was hit twice on the back of the head by police during questioning about her roommate's death in 2007.

Already serving 26 years for the murder of Kercher, Knox faces an additional six years if the Italian jury finds her guilty.

It is just one more headache and distraction for Knox's defence team who are gearing up for the battle of their lives when they return to court on November 24 to begin an appeal against her murder conviction.

Speaking exclusively with the Weekend Review this week, Amanda's mother, Edda Mellas, said that her family was hopeful about the outcome of the appeal.

"I am cautiously optimistic about the appeal. We have a very strong case because Amanda is innocent and there is no forensic evidence of her in the crime scene," Mellas said.

"If they just look at the evidence objectively, they will correct this mistake and free two innocent people. I hope they have the courage to do the right thing."

"There is no DNA (relating to Amanda)," Paul Ciolino, a private investigator hired by the CBS television network to investigate the case, told the Weekend Review. Experts note that Knox faces an uphill battle in Perugia, where the foreign language student's notoriety as a femme fatale is unrivalled, and where members of the same court will try her appeal.

"She will have a very hard time because it is a small town and once you've been found guilty in a small town anywhere, it's very hard to come back from that," said Candace Dempsey, an Italian-American journalist and the author of Murder in Italy, a true crime book about the Knox case.

Controversy also surrounds the presence of Giuliano Mignini -- the powerful lead prosecutor in the murder trial and the proponent of the sex-game allegation -- who gambled his personal reputation on convicting Knox and Sollecito.

Last year, Mignini was convicted by a court in Florence for abuse of power charges in a separate murder investigation that involved alleged Satanist cult members. He received a suspended 16-month prison sentence.

The court ruled that Mignini had exceeded his powers by tapping the phones of police and journalists investigating the sensational 'Monster of Florence' serial killings that terrified Italy between 1968 and 1985.

Knox's saga began on November 2, 2007, when the body of Meredith Kercher was discovered in the cottage that they shared.

The University of Leeds student was found with her throat slashed and with multiple bruises on her body -- evidence that she had fought desperately for her life. DNA evidence was splattered all over Kercher's room and apartment, including a bloody handprint on the wall and the bloody imprint of a knife on her bed.

Despite their claims that they had spent the night alone at Sollecito's apartment, Sollecito and Knox soon became suspects. Investigators cited Knox's bizarre behaviour -- kissing and cuddling with Sollecito in front of television cameras -- as strange for someone in her predicament.

Irish Independent

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