Italy: Knox a victim of "la bella figura"?

10 December 2009 – Presseurop The Guardian
The Guardian, 1 January 1970

Guilty as charged? The case against Amanda Knox, the American student convicted of the killing of her English flatmate Meredith Kercher in the Italian city of Perugia, divides opinion in the countries concerned. Writing in the Guardian, US crime writer Douglas Preston is in no doubt – she is the latest victim of Giuliano Mignini, a controversial prosecutor already under investigation for suspected abuses during his handling of the Florence serial killer affair in the 80’s. After a hurried declaration that Knox and her boyfriend were the murderers, evidence emerged that pointed elsewhere. “Suddenly, it appeared that the authorities might have made a terrible mistake”, writes Preston in the Guardian. But Mignini went his way. As an insider told Preston, “This verdict has nothing to do with the actual evidence. […] With the conviction, everyone has ‘saved face’”.

To appease American opinion, Knox will probably be freed following an appeal, although she’ll have to spend another two years in jail. “But that’s a small matter compared to the career of so many important people,” writes Preston. Meanwhile, US and British coverage of the case has caused outrage, in Italy, considered as meddling and disrespectful of Italian institutions. According to writer Alexander Stille, writing in La Repubblica, “nationality and points of view count” – the English want a scapegoat for the killing of a compatriot, and Amanda Knox, pictured as “a man eating, drug abusing she-devil” is “perfect tabloid material”. For Americans, on the other hand, the baby-faced Amanda, an American innocent in corrupt Old Europe “is an easy character to identify with”. There would be no such upsurge of feeling for her, however, if the case against her was strong, Stille argues. “In the US, guilt must established ‘beyond any reasonable doubt’, and in this case there is quite a lot to doubt. I wouldn’t bet 100 euros on the fairness of Italian justice”.