2011年1月19日水曜日

Amanda Knox Murder trial

アマンダ・ノックス事件の控訴審が始まった。
英米伊コの学生らが薬物服用による乱交ゲームの果ての殺人事件として
報道された。
米国女子大生のルームメイトの英国留学生が被害者。
米国女子大生を取巻く、交際相手と知り合いが、被害者の血のついた
指紋から犯人となる。
生活の場は、薬物取引が多い場所の近く。

被害者
メレディス・ケルヒャー 交換留学生(英) 当時21才

容疑者
・アマンダ・ノックス 女子大生(米)  当時21才
・ラファエル・ソレシト 元交際相手(伊) 当時24才
・ルディ・グエデ 顔見知り(コートジボワール) 当時21才

1審陪審員裁判評決
・アマンダ・ノックス
 懲役26年
・ラファエル・ソレシト
 懲役25年
・ルディ・グエデ
 性的暴行と殺人により、懲役30年

検察側への指摘
・状況証拠しかない。
・犯行再現ビデオに、ノックスやソレシトが現場にいない。
・現場にあったDNAの証拠が小さく、劣化している。
・凶器の刃が死体の傷と何箇所か一致しない。
・メディアに流れたノックス中傷報道が、陪審団の判断に大きく影響した。

控訴審
・裁判官「合理的な疑いがある」DNAや指紋等の証拠を再鑑定命令。
    「もし、DNAの個人識別を照合することが不可能なら、
     われわれは(検察が行った)鑑定の信頼性を検証すること
     になる」。

控訴審評決
・アマンダ・ノックス
 公判中
・ラファエル・ソレシト
 公判中(?)
・ルディ・グエデ
 有罪判決。懲役16年。

ノックス犯人説
・遺恨による犯行の可能性が高い。
 米大学に通学している頃から、素行が悪かった。
 被害者と男出入りの件でもめていた。
 被害者には、43の傷とあざがある。
・嘘つき
 知り合いへの責任転嫁:名誉毀損で提訴される、
 婦警による暴行:取調べの可視化で嘘が発覚。

グエデ犯人説
・犯行時間に事件現場近くにいた。
・被害者の身体からDNAが見つかった。

米国報道
・伊検察が、被告情報を意図的にリークすることで、裁判を優位に進めた。
・犯行現場を踏み荒らし、法医学的証拠を減らした。

清楚な美女の周囲で殺人がおき、一般的な米学生の印象の「薬と性の乱用」
による犯行とリークされ、容疑者全員が犯行を否定。警察の捜査による
証拠が状況証拠のみ。検察の見立て(?)も悪く、収益のための中傷合戦と
なったようだ。自由奔放な米国人が伊で殺人と見ている報道もある。
米国のジョンベネ事件、ポルトガルのマデリンちゃん失踪事件、日本でも
足利事件、香川の祖母、孫3人行方不明事件、最近では、郵便不正事件の
ように、マスメディアが中傷報道をした後、容疑者が無関係となった案件
もあり、今回も同様の可能性がある。

米留学生が伊国内で殺され、米伊の国際問題に波及している。
・「証拠不十分だから、推定無罪」と伊司法制度に質問する米議員

検察の見立てのために、FDを改ざんした日本の検察もいたが、
伊検察の見立ては、グエデがケルヒャーさんを押さえつけている間に、
ソレシトとノックスがケルヒャーさんをナイフで刺す。致命傷は、
ノックスが3回目に刺した首への傷とのこと。

被害者も容疑者も代理人と弁護人として弁護士を立てているが、国内でも
弁護士を立てるのが大変なのに、国外で犯罪に巻き込まれたうえに、弁護
となると関係者はやりきれないだろう。

遺産相続VS仇討ち 骨肉の争い@香川
マデリン殺害誤報で謝罪
軟弱政府に鼓舞する国民


Amanda Knox: Rare Police Video Of Murder In Italy


The Truth About ''Angel Face'' Amanda Knox


amanda knox/Knox wins murder evidence review


---David C Anderson: Amanda Knox is a victim of Italian pride---
Sunday, 16 January 2011
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/david-c-anderson-amanda-knox-is-a-victim-of-italian-pride-2185628.html

The expert witness in another notorious trial says there were shocking failures in the investigation into Meredith Kercher's murder

Next weekend, the appeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito against their conviction for the horrific murder of her friend Meredith Kercher in November 2007 will continue in Perugia, and not a moment too soon. To my mind, their conviction is a monstrous injustice, and one from which a number of people in the Italian justice system will not emerge well.

I am a retired English physician, endocrinologist and former professor of medicine and endocrinology in Manchester, and I now live in Umbria, in central Italy. My years in academic medicine gave me a healthy scepticism of uncontrolled authority; positions of power attract at least their fair share of flawed people, and, unchecked, they can do untold damage.

I am haunted by the memory of another case I was involved in, half a lifetime ago. This involved a blatantly wrongful conviction in Leeds, (by coincidence the same town in which Meredith Kercher had been to university) which, had I been a bit more suspicious and proactive, I might even have helped prevent. This case involved the horrific sexual assault and murder by stabbing of Lesley Molseed, an 11-year-old girl with heart disease.

I recall clearly the occasion when, just before Christmas 1975, two police inspectors visited me and said they believed the killer to be Stefan Ivan Kiszko. Kiszko was a 25-year-old patient I was treating for Klinefelter's syndrome, a sex chromosome disorder. The police asked me if such a man could produce sperm and I said no. Seven months later, I was called to Kiszko's trial in Leeds, but never cross-examined in court. The defence lawyers, it seemed, also believed Kiszko was guilty, and so offered no proper defence; indeed they wanted him to plead diminished responsibility from the testosterone injections I had initiated.

The vital piece of evidence, never provided, was that Lesley Molseed's clothes showed that the murderer had masturbated over her and left sperm which the police knew Kiszko could not have produced. Kiszko was tried, on evidence later shown to have been made up by the police, and by three teenage girls who testified they had seen him expose himself - and who, years later, admitted they had lied.

Kiszko always denied killing Lesley Molseed, and, 14 years later, the authorities reopened the inquiry by visiting me and presenting for the first time the vital evidence that had been suppressed in the original trial. As a result, Kiszko was eventually released, after 16 years in prison; meanwhile, taunted and repeatedly attacked by fellow prisoners as a sex killer, he had developed schizophrenia. Six months after release, at the age of 41, he died of a heart attack.

One MP described it as "the worst miscarriage of justice of all time", yet Kiszko's defence barrister, David Waddington, who had served him so badly, later became Home Secretary in the Thatcher government. The prosecuting barrister, Peter Taylor, became Lord Chief Justice. The real culprit, Ronald Castree, convicted after 30 years from semen DNA, is now serving a life sentence.

I see clear parallels between this case and the improbable conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, young lovers with no histories of violence. In the Kiszko case, the arrest and later conviction depended on confessions later retracted, dubious witnesses and suspect-driven investigations. The interviewing detectives seized upon every apparent inconsistency between his varying accounts of the relevant days as further demonstration of his likely guilt. Kiszko was coerced into confessing to the crime after two days of intensive questioning. Vital evidence was ignored. The police did not tell him of his right to have a solicitor present. Likewise, Knox and Sollecito were subjected to long interviews through the night of 5 November 2007. And among all the other irregularities, the failure to test DNA on semen stains found on the pillow on which Meredith Kercher's body was lying, was extraordinary.

The police in Perugia were looking for a fast resolution to this horrific crime. Like Kiszko, Amanda and Raffaele were outsiders. For some reason, the police and prosecutor knew a black man was involved, and it was they who, using prolonged interview techniques, got Amanda to falsely implicate Patrick Lumumba. Many questions surround Rudy Guede, who has also been convicted and was clearly at the crime scene, but it seems to me grossly unfair to blame Amanda for naming Lumumba, if this was suggested to her while deprived of sleep, during extreme interrogation in a foreign language by 12 police officers.

Any doubt over this, as well as over whether Amanda was lying when she said she was hit by a policewoman, could be eliminated by referring to the tape recordings that by law the police were required to make. These we have yet to see.

Neither Italian nor foreign media did the couple any favours. They seem to have triumphantly accepted reported idiosyncrasies in Amanda's behaviour as confirmation of her guilt. Those photographs that suggested she might be a wronged, frightened victim of appalling circumstance somehow didn't make it into the papers.

Fortunately, some of the most contentious issues are now being re-examined. My suspicion is that misguided investigations deflected effort from finding the real truth about Meredith Kercher's murder. I have enough confidence in justice in Italy to believe that Knox and Sollecito will soon be exonerated, their lives doubtless scarred but, it is to be hoped, not ruined, as Kiszko's was. But we should never underestimate the extent to which people in powerful positions will fight for their professional survival.

As a result of startling miscarriages of justice in England - including the Kiszko case - measures were taken to prevent the misuse of power ("abuse of process") by those in authority. In England there is now the Crown Prosecution Service, separate from the police, while the United States has rigorous Rules of Disclosure. Under these constraints, in both countries the case against Knox and Sollecito would never have made it to court. Italy, I fear, still lacks such safeguards.

Some good can still come of these young people's sufferings, if Italy reforms its system, to guard against abuse of process in the future. For this reason, I hope ultimately for a far-ranging and open public inquiry into this whole affair. It is at the root of democracy, surely, to hold to account those in authority. They, too, are fallible human beings, but they hold the power.


---Amanda Knox Defense Encouraged By Witness Antonio Curatolo's Drug Conviction---
01/15/11 11:08 AM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/15/amanda-knox-defense-encou_n_809517.html

ROME - A defense lawyer for Amanda Knox, the U.S. college student serving a 26-year prison sentence for the murder of her British roommate, expressed optimism Saturday that a drug charge conviction of a prosecution witness might help the American in her appeal in Italy.

The defense always maintained that Antonio Curatolo, a homeless man in the university town of Perugia, wasn't a credible witness, Luciano Ghirga told The Associated Press in Rome.

Perugia court offices were closed Saturday, and officials could not be reached to confirm Italian news reports that Curatolo had been convicted earlier in the week for dealing drugs. It wasn't immediately known what his sentence was or if he had been jailed.

In the first trial against Knox, Curatolo testified that he saw Knox and fellow murder trial defendant Raffaele Sollecito chatting near the apartment house the night Meredith Kercher was slain in 2007. Sollecito, an Italian who was Knox's boyfriend at the time, was also convicted of the slaying and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Both defendants are appealing their convictions. The next hearing in the appeals trial in Perugia is scheduled for Jan. 22.

"We have always said that he was not a credible witness," Ghirga said, referring to Curatolo. "It was the court that held he was credible." The drug charge conviction "will be an additional thing to help prove the witness is not credible," Ghirga said in a phone interview.

Seeking new witnesses is a key defense strategy in the appeals trial, with Knox's lawyers hoping new witnesses will refute Curatolo's assertion.

Curatolo had told the lower court that he had seen Knox and Sollecito chatting on a basketball court hear the house where the American woman and Kercher shared a rented flat the night Kercher was stabbed to death. The victim's body was found in a pool of blood in her bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007. Forensic experts said Kercher, her throat slit, died the night before.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted in December 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher. Both deny any wrongdoing.

The American's defense has argued that she spent the night of Kercher's slaying at Sollecito's house in Perugia, watching a movie, smoking pot and having sex.

Convicted separately in a lower court trial and an appeals trial of the murder is Rudy Hermann Guede, a young man from the Ivory Coast who acknowledged being in the house the night of the slaying, but denied killing the woman. He is serving a 16-year prison sentence.


---半裸姿で発見、英女子大生ルームメート刺殺事件で逆転無罪判決の可能性も---
2010.12.30 18:00
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/world/news/110108/erp11010801140006-n1.htm

 2007年11月、イタリアの古都・ペルージャ。21歳の英国人女子大生が半裸のまま、血の海と化した自宅で死んでいた。性的暴行を受け、刃物でのどをかっ切られていた。のちに、イタリア検察は「乱交ゲームの末の犯行」として英国人のルームメートだった米国人女子大生1人とイタリア人、コートジボワール人の男性2人を起訴する。しかし、女子大生に無罪判決が下される可能性が出てきた。(佐々木正明)
 事件は、「天使の容貌(ようぼう)」とも言われた米女性の名をとって「アマンダ・ノックス」事件、または語呂合わせで「Foxy(セクシー)Knoxy」事件とも呼ばれた。昨年の第一審判決は3人とも有罪。しかし、今年11月から始まった控訴審では一転した様相を呈してきた。12月の公判で、裁判官が検察側の有力な物証として提出していたDNAの再鑑定を命じたのだ。無罪を信じるノックス被告(23)の家族や支援者は逆転勝訴の期待を抱きつつ、次回開廷の2011年1月15日を迎える。
 ドラッグ、セックス、殺人、そして清楚(せいそ)なうら若き女性・・・。ハリウッド映画を地でゆくようなミステリアスな事件は発生直後から、メディアの注目をあび、欧米中を席巻。格好のネタに食らいつくゴシップ紙記者や言いたい放題のブロガーまで巻き込み、狂騒曲が続いた。09年12月の一審判決後、米国では、ノックス被告を後ろ支えしてきた上院議員がイタリア検察の捜査態勢を批判。一方で、イタリア側も反発し、双方で中傷合戦が行われる事態にまで発展した。
 この反響をもとに実際に、米人気テレビシリーズ「ヒーローズ」にクレア役で出演した女優、へイデン・パネッティーアさんがノックス被告を演じる映画の制作も決まった。すでに、撮影が始まっており、注目を集めている。パネッティーアさんは役作りのため、拘置所のノックス被告に面会を申し入れたが、当局から断られたという。また、ノックス被告の弁護団は、「映画の内容が予断を与える」として、否定的な見解を示している。
 事件を振り返りたい。ロンドン郊外に住む大学生、メレディス・ケルヒャーさんがペルージャにやってきたのは07年夏。同時期に米シアトルからやってきたノックス被告とともに共同で部屋を借り、留学生活を始めた。ケルヒャーさんは周囲に「ルームメートの生活も順調」とも打ち明けていた。
 しかし、幸多き人生は突然、暗転する。警察官が、自宅近くの庭で拾われた携帯電話を届けようとケルヒャーさんの部屋を訪れたとき、変わり果てた無残な姿を発見したのだった。
 部屋にはカギがかけられていたが、窓が壊れていた。現場近くには薬物取引で悪名高い駐車場があった。地元警察はまもなく、ノックス被告とイタリア人の交際相手で医者の息子、ラファエル・ソレシト被告=現在、25歳=を殺人犯として逮捕した。
 現場に動かぬ証拠があった。ノックス被告の血痕がバスルームにあったことや、ケルヒャーさんの下着の一部にソレシト被告のDNAが残されていた。さらに、ノックス被告とケルヒャーさんのDNAがついたナイフがソレシト被告の自宅から発見された。
 もう1人の「殺人犯」のコートジボワール人、ルディ・グエデ被告=現在、22歳=はノックス被告の顔見知り。現場に血痕のついた指紋が残されていたことが逮捕の決定打となった。検察側は、ドラッグ吸引の末の「セックスゲーム」で3人がケルヒャーさんを殺害したと主張した。
 裁判は、グエデ被告の公判だけが先行して進んだ。第一審は有罪判決。「ノックス被告ら2人にはめられた」と反論し控訴したが、今月17日に懲役16年の控訴審判決を受けた。殺人事件では、現場に残された血痕指紋は最も証拠能力が高いとされており、このまま有罪が確定する可能性が高い。
 一方、ノックス被告らの裁判は複雑な展開を見せた。2年間に及んだ審理の末、ペルージャ地裁の陪審員はノックス被告に懲役26年、ソレシト被告に懲役25年を言い渡した。
 しかし、有罪判決は事件の謎を深めただけだった。検察側が最後の仕上げとして作成した23分間の犯行再現ビデオには、ノックス被告やソレシト被告が現場にいたことが示されていない。決定的な殺害の証拠はなく、検察側も手持ちの資料が、状況証拠でしかないことを認めていた。
 弁護側は現場にあったDNAの証拠が小さなもので、劣化している事実も突き止めていた。一連の経緯をノンフィクション作品にして告発した科学捜査の専門家は検察側があげた数々の証拠を論破。洪水のようにメディアに流れたノックス被告への中傷報道が、陪審団の判断に大きく影響したとも言われた。
 そうして、迎えたのが今年11月から開始された控訴審だった。久々にメディアの前に現れたノックス被告は、家族や支持者に笑顔を1つも見せなかった。やつれたようにも見えた。すでに3年以上にもなる拘置生活が彼女を疲弊させたのかもしれない。
 この控訴はノックス被告にとって、大きな賭けでもあった。もし再び敗訴すれば今度は終身刑が言い渡される可能性もあり、ノックス被告には重圧がのしかかっていた。
 支持者や報道陣でいっぱいになった法廷で、ノックス被告は得意のイタリア語で最終陳述書を読み上げた。
 「私の人生はこの拘置生活で打ち砕かれた。私は検察側が烙印(らくいん)を押したような危険な悪魔ではありません。不当な有罪判決なんです」
 今は亡き友の家族に対しても、深い悲しみを伝えた。涙声だった。しかし、最後には、自らの潔白が認められない状況を訴え、「私はメレディスさんを殺していない」と述べた。
 そして、12月17日の公判。裁判官は、「合理的な疑いがある」として、検察側があげたDNAや指紋などの証拠を、ローマの大学にある独立科学捜査機関で再鑑定するよう命じた。
 裁判官は「もし、DNAの個人識別を照合することが不可能なら、われわれは(検察が行った)鑑定の信頼性を検証することになる」とも語った。
 「娘は呆然(ぼうぜん)としていた」
 傍聴席にいたノックス被告の母親、エダさんは法廷の様子を語った。
 「再鑑定に大きなショックを受けたようでしたが、これで希望が出てきた」
 弁護団や家族は、これまでもいちるの望みを抱いてきたが、流れを大きく変えた物証の再鑑定を評価している。
 次回期日の1月15日の公判では、第一審で否定されたノックス被告らの事件当日のアリバイを証明する目撃者の証言、さらには指紋照合の記録などについても再検証されるようだ。
 風雲急を告げたアマンダ・ノックス事件は、逆転無罪判決の可能性を呈しながら、発生から4年目となる2011年を迎える。


---Italian Court Allows DNA Review in Knox Trial---
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 18, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/world/europe/19italy.html?ref=amandaknox

PERUGIA, Italy (AP) - Amanda Knox won an important victory in her appeal of her murder conviction in Italy on Saturday, when a court ruled that it would allow an independent review of critical DNA evidence.

The lower court trial, which convicted Ms. Knox last year and sentenced her to 26 years in prison, had rejected a similar defense request for an outside review of DNA found on the victim’s bra clasp and on a knife the prosecution alleged was used to stab the victim, Meredith Kercher.

Ms. Knox, a college student from Seattle, was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering Ms. Kercher, a fellow student with whom she shared an apartment in Perugia. Her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian, was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years.

The prosecutors maintain that Mr. Sollecito’s DNA was found on the bra clasp and that Ms. Knox’s DNA was found on the knife. The defense maintains that DNA traces presented at the first trial were inconclusive and that they may have been contaminated when they were analyzed.

Saturday’s hearing was held two days after Italy’s highest criminal court upheld the conviction and 16-year-prison sentence of a third person charged with the murder, Rudy Hermann Guede of Ivory Coast. Mr. Guede has admitted being at the house the night of the murder but denies killing Ms. Kercher. He was tried separately.

The high court’s ruling, which cannot be appealed, states that Mr. Guede took part in the slaying but did not act alone, prosecutors and lawyers said.


---Appeal Opens for U.S. Student Convicted in Italy---
By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO
Published: November 24, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/25/world/europe/25knox.html?ref=amandaknox

PERUGIA, Italy - Nearly a year after they were found guilty of murdering a British exchange student, Amanda Knox, a Seattle college student, and her onetime Italian boyfriend returned Wednesday to an underground courtroom in this hilltop town to begin their appeals.

The crush of cameras suggested that interest in the case and its fresh-faced protagonists remained high. In the past year, half a dozen books in English have been published on the case (as well as several in Italian), and two films - one for television - are in production.

After more than three years in prison, Ms. Knox, 23, looked wan and tense as guards ushered her in. She bowed her head as she passed the bright lights of dozens of television cameras - many representing the English-speaking news media - that jostled for space in the brick-vaulted courtroom. Her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 26, was impassive, staring directly at the cameras as he was led into the room.

“We have to get used to the idea that this is going to be a media trial,” Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann told the jury of five women and one man.

The case became an international media magnet almost from the moment that the body of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old Leeds University student on an exchange program, was found, throat slit, in her room in Perugia on Nov. 2, 2007. A few days later, the police arrested Ms. Knox, her American housemate, who was also studying here, along with Mr. Sollecito, Ms. Knox’s boyfriend of less than two weeks, accusing them of committing the murder during a drug-induced sex game that had spun out of control.

Last December, Mr. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in prison; Ms. Knox got 26 years.

A third defendant, Rudy Guede, a Perugia resident from Ivory Coast, was sentenced separately to a 30-year term, which was reduced to 16 on appeal.

The opening hearing lasted barely 20 minutes because Giulia Bongiorno, a member of Parliament who is on Mr. Sollecito’s defense team, could not attend. The next hearing was scheduled for Dec. 11.

In separate briefs filed for the appeal, defense teams for Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito are challenging the forensic and circumstantial evidence - the murder knife, the time of death, the witness accounts, the blood with mixed DNA, and DNA on a bra clasp - that led to the convictions. Asserting that proper procedures were not followed in recovering the DNA evidence, the defense is also asking that independent experts review forensic evidence.

“We’re contesting everything, from A to Z,” Luciano Ghirga, one of Ms. Knox’s lawyers, said after Wednesday’s hearing. Mr. Ghirga said there was no believable motive for the crime. “Putting together a lot of uncertain elements does not make a strong case,” he said. “At least not one with no reasonable doubt.”

The court must now decide whether to allow the defense to introduce experts and consultants to make their case.

Ms. Knox is also standing trial in a separate case, on charges of slander. She is alleged to have accused the police of striking her during an interrogation.

As Mr. Sollecito was led back to his prison cell after the hearing, reporters called to him, asking what he hoped for.

“Justice,” he said.


---American Didn’t Plan to Kill, Italy Judges Say---
By RACHEL DONADIO
Published: March 4, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/world/europe/05knox.html?ref=amandaknox

ROME - An American college student and her sometime Italian boyfriend convicted in the 2007 killing of a British college student in Italy acted without premeditation or rancor, according to a 427-page document released on Thursday by the two judges in the closely watched case.

The judges assessed the prosecution’s case, built on a drug-blurred sex game gone wrong, as being “without holes or inconsistencies.”

With its telegenic young protagonists and a plot straight out of a true crime drama, the case drew intense international attention. In December, the American student - Amanda Knox, 22, of Seattle - was sentenced to 26 years in the murder and sexual assault of her housemate, Meredith Kercher, 21. Ms. Knox’s former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, was sentenced to 25 years.

A third defendant, Rudy Guede, 23, was sentenced separately to 30 years, reduced to 16 years on appeal in December. All three have declared their innocence. The release of the judges’ document clears the way for the appeals expected from Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito.

After Ms. Kercher was found semi-naked with her throat slit in the house she shared with Ms. Knox in Perugia, the case became the focus of relentless media coverage. Ms. Knox, in particular, became an object of fascination, alternately depicted as an innocent American caught up in the unpredictable Italian justice system and as a pot-smoking wild child capable of committing murder in the heat of a sex game.

In their painstaking reconstruction of the case, Judge Giancarlo Massei and Judge Beatrice Cristiani outlined their understanding of the events leading up to Ms. Kercher’s death and enumerated the DNA and forensic evidence that led the jury - the two judges along with six civilians - to reach a guilty verdict.

They paint a picture of a debauched chain of events in which Mr. Guede, knowing that Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito were being “intimate” in Ms. Knox’s room, “gave in to his own desires” and sought to have sex with Ms. Kercher.

Then, the judges wrote, Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito, who acknowledged smoking hash that evening, “might have found it exciting” to help Mr. Guede sexually assault Ms. Kercher.

According to the judges, Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito “acted without premeditation” or “rancor” and also “showed a kind of compassion” by covering Ms. Kercher’s body with a duvet.

Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito have denied involvement in the death, and maintain they were at Mr. Sollecito’s house the night of the murder.

Although no definitive murder weapon was found, the trial in Perugia focused on a knife found at Mr. Sollecito’s house with Ms. Knox’s DNA on the handle and Ms. Kercher’s on the tip. In their reasoning, the judges said that that knife might not match the fatal slash on Ms. Kercher’s neck, but that it was consistent with other of her wounds, indicating Ms. Knox’s participation.

They said Ms. Kercher’s bruises indicated that she had been set upon by a second assailant with a second knife. “This court maintains that that second assailant was Amanda Knox.”

The judges also argued that DNA from Ms. Knox and Ms. Kercher appeared to have been mixed together in several spots of blood found in the bathroom they shared. They added that the police found Ms. Knox’s footprints in Ms. Kercher’s blood in the house after police used luminol, a substance that reveals traces of blood left after cleaning. Witnesses for the defense argued that the DNA evidence was weak.

In the reasoning, the judges also placed significant weight on evidence used to convict Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito of tampering with a crime scene to stage a robbery.

In a statement released by a family spokesman, Ms. Knox’s parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, said the reasoning contained “a lot of conjecture” as well as “discrepancies,” “inconsistencies” and “contradictions” and “conclusions not supported by evidence.” They said they had instructed their lawyers to begin an appeal immediately.


---The Kercher trial: Amanda Knox snared by her lust and her lies---
December 6, 2009
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6945967.ece

What really happened on the night that Meredith Kercher was brutally murdered has become obscured amid endlessly changing alibis and disputed evidence
John Follain in Perugia

For 11 months Amanda Knox remained impassive as she sat in a Perugia courtroom, assailed by the accusations of prosecutors and a series of harrowing crime-scene photographs and films.

Even when she was sentenced to 26 years in prison for murdering the 21-year-old British exchange student Meredith Kercher, she bowed her head and wept noiselessly, burying her head in her lawyer’s chest.

It was only as she was leaving the courtroom just after midnight yesterday morning and was being led back to the prison van by armed guards that she truly cracked. “No, no, no!” she shouted in desperation.

After 12 hours of deliberations with a colleague and six jurors, Judge Giancarlo Massei read the verdict in a low monotone in the frescoed courtroom in the picturesque hilltop city of Perugia in central Italy.

Seattle-born Knox, 22, and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, an IT graduate from southern Italy, were pronounced guilty of sexually abusing and murdering Kercher. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in jail. Both will appeal against the verdict.

The victim’s parents, Arline and John, her sister, Stephanie, and her brothers, John Jr and Lyle, were in court. Yesterday Lyle Kercher said at a news conference: “We are pleased with the decision but this is not a time for celebration; it’s not a moment of triumph. We got here because our sister was brutally murdered.”

Meredith Kercher was indeed only a fleeting figure in the trial, with attention both in and outside the courtroom focusing on Knox.

“Foxy Knoxy” - a nickname earned from her footballing skills as a child - was an intriguing figure. She came from a good home, was highly intelligent and had lots of friends: could she really have been involved in such a vicious murder?

Was she “an unscrupulous and manipulative she-devil”, as alleged by the prosecution, or “a wholesome girl” wrongly accused, as the defence said?

The protracted nature of the trial - with sittings taking place on three days a week at most - added to the confusion in many minds. Ever-evolving alibis, new witnesses, disputes over forensic evidence and the fact that a third man - Rudy Guede, a 22-year-old Ivorian drifter - had already been convicted of the murder after a fast-track trial last October only made matters worse.

Even now there are many gaps in the story but, after the guilty verdicts, the events that led to the murder of Kercher on November 1, 2007, can be pieced together.

IT WAS the foreigner’s “Italian dream” that brought victim and killer together. Both Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, and Knox, from Seattle, in America’s northwest, were embarking on a year abroad to improve their Italian, which they were studying as part of their degrees.

They chose Perugia, which was popular among overseas students as a small but vibrant walled city in Umbria with a large population of fellow undergraduates. Both enrolled at its University for Foreigners.

In the summer of 2007 Kercher and two other girls were already living at the whitewashed cottage with views of rolling hills and cypress trees when Knox moved in. At first, the two women were friendly.

Kercher, reading politics and language at Leeds University, introduced Knox, a gifted, Jesuit-educated student, to her English friends, showed her where to shop and toured a chocolate festival with her.

But the relationship soon soured. Kercher, a cheerful and hard-working young woman, had budding reservations about her flatmate. According to friends, she grew more and more exasperated by Knox’s behaviour - she failed to flush the toilet, kept strumming the same chord on her guitar, and brought “strange men” to the cottage.

Indeed, it appears that it was Knox’s sex life that really drove a wedge between the women.

Knox’s sexuality featured heavily in the prosecution case, illuminated by a diary entry in which she listed seven partners, three of whom she slept with after her arrival in Italy (the list excluded Sollecito). Among them was a man she met and had sex with on the train on her way to Perugia. On Facebook, she put down as her interests “men”.

Kercher had already remarked to her father that “Amanda arrived only a week ago and she already has a boyfriend”. Later she told friends that she was shocked to see Knox leave a beauty case with a vibrator and condoms in open view in the bathroom.

We do not know what comments passed between the women, but the prosecution argued that Kercher’s criticism of Knox’s sex life - whether perceived or direct - helped spark in the American a deep hatred of her flatmate, which eventually led to her murder.

If that motive seems slim, it was just part of what was a perplexing case for both prosecutors and observers.

On November 1, Kercher spent the early part of her last evening watching the romantic film The Notebook and eating a home-made pizza at the home of English friends.

Shortly before nine o’clock she left with her friend Sophie Purton; the two parted company outside the latter’s house and Kercher walked on alone, heading down a winding, cobbled alley that leads towards the cottage.

When Giuliano Mignini, the lead prosecutor, offered his reconstruction of what followed he was careful to point out that nobody knew for certain how events spiralled into sexual abuse and murder. A colleague said that precisely what happened that night “is known only to God”. Nevertheless, the reconstruction was based on examination of Kercher’s 43 wounds and bruises, on forensic evidence such as Guede’s DNA found in her body, and on studies such as a blood-splatter analysis on the cupboard in Kercher’s room.

According to Mignini’s reconstruction, Kercher arrived home and shortly afterwards Knox turned up with Sollecito and Guede, who was strongly attracted to Knox. The two other housemates were away.

The prosecutor believes Knox and Kercher started rowing - either because Kercher was looking for some missing money or was annoyed by Knox bringing both Sollecito and Guede to the cottage.

The row soon escalated. Knox, Sollecito and Guede, “under the influence of drugs and maybe of alcohol, decided in any case to involve Kercher in a heavy sex game”, Mignini said. The two young men took part in the assault “to please Knox, because they were competing to please her”.

Kercher was grabbed by the throat - by Knox, said Mignini - flung against the cupboard and then threatened with a kitchen knife with a 6.5in blade. Sollecito, standing next to Knox, grabbed Kercher’s hair.

Kercher fell between the bed and the cupboard and her jeans were pulled off. Forensic evidence indicated that Guede groped her and Sollecito produced a second knife and ripped off Kercher’s bra.

Realising that the violence was unstoppable, Kercher gave a desperate scream - a cry that was heard by Nara Capezzali, an elderly neighbour who said it was so chilling she felt as if she was “in a house of horrors”.

Knox then stabbed Kercher, inflicting the deepest of three wounds to her neck. The American’s DNA was later found on the handle of a kitchen knife which had Kercher’s blood on the blade.

As Kercher lay dying in agony - the autopsy found it took her several minutes to die as she inhaled her own blood - Knox and Sollecito fled. Guede stayed and tried to stop the blood coming out of Kercher’s neck with a couple of towels. He, too, then fled.

The scene was discovered the next day when police came to investigate why two mobile phones that belonged to Kercher had been thrown into a neighbour’s garden. They found Knox and Sollecito sitting outside and a house that had apparently been burgled.

Some time during the night, the couple had returned to the cottage and faked a burglary in the room of another housemate. But as the police picked through the broken glass they were told that nothing had been stolen.

They would have left it at that had not the housemate asked insistently why the door to Kercher’s room was locked shut. Eventually, it was knocked down.

Kercher lay virtually naked on the floor, her two cotton tops rolled up above her chest. Oddly, her body was partly covered by a beige quilt.

Investigators were initially perplexed. Who could want to kill Kercher? They turned first to the students downstairs and then to her acquaintances.

However, attention soon turned to Knox. Her cold, detached manner at the police station a few hours later stunned both investigators and Kercher’s friends. When one friend, Natalie Hayward, said she hoped Kercher did not suffer, Knox burst out: “What do you think? They cut her throat, Natalie. She f****** bled to death!”

Investigators were also struck by a gesture she made repeatedly in front of them over the next few days. “She’d press her hands to her temples and shake her head, as if she was trying to empty her brain of something she’d been through,” one of them recalled.

A short story she had written for her creative writing class at the University of Washington in Seattle also attracted attention. Entitled Baby Brother, it told of a young woman drugged and raped by another young woman. One passage read: “She fell on the floor, she felt the blood on her mouth and swallowed it. She couldn’t move her jaw and felt as if someone was moving a razor on the left side of her face.”

While the defence could dismiss this as the product of an active imagination, it was more difficult to explain the emerging DNA evidence, including the knife that was found not at the cottage but at Sollecito’s flat.

On the clasp of Kercher’s bloodied bra, tests also found DNA belonging to her, Sollecito and Guede. Tests with luminol - a chemical that turns blue in the search for blood - detected bloody footprints in the cottage that matched those of Knox and Sollecito.

The quilt, said the prosecution, was also a sign of Knox’s guilt: she could not stand the sight of Kercher’s wounded body, and had covered it in a gesture of female pity.

Although Sollecito claimed he had never met Guede, a university graduate testified he had seen them together with Kercher and Knox outside the cottage two days before the murder.

Knox also had to explain why she had initially accused Patrick Lumumba, owner of the bar Le Chic, where she worked, of killing Kercher. She had said she was cowering in the kitchen covering her ears while he committed the crime.

Lumumba was cleared after witnesses testified that he was at Le Chic on the night of the murder, claims backed up by till receipts. Knox said she had made the accusation because she was exhausted and stressed by a total of more than 50 hours of police questioning.

Knox and Sollecito have insisted that they had spent the evening and night of the murder at his flat, and that she returned to the cottage only the following morning. They had watched the French romantic comedy Amelie - one lawyer compared Knox to the film’s faux-naive heroine, played by Audrey Tautou - had fish for dinner, smoked cannabis and made love.

In court, the defence of Knox and Sollecito pinned all the blame for the murder on Guede and rubbished the forensic evidence - apart, of course, from that which implicated the Ivorian.

They claimed that the clasp of Kercher’s bloodied bra had been “accidentally contaminated” with Sollecito’s trace in the laboratory of the forensic police in Rome; that the kitchen knife was inconsistent with Kercher’s wounds and was wrongly handled by forensic scientists. All of this will form part of their appeal.

Before the verdict, Knox’s family disclosed they had a bought a plane ticket for her return home to Seattle. Afterwards, her father branded the verdict “a failure of the Italian judicial system and literally a failure for the city of Perugia ... as well as Italy as a whole”.

The character of his daughter continues to be a subject of public fascination, with a girl-next-door now convicted of murdering her flatmate.

Professor David Canter, director of the centre for investigative psychology at Liverpool University, said Knox seemed to lack many of the typical hallmarks of sexually motivated murderers and as such she presented an unlikely offender profile.

“Most bizarre murders, particularly those with a lot of sexual activity and if there are drugs involved, come out of a lifestyle that’s pretty dysfunctional in which there’s some sort of build-up. So it’s unusual for apparently capable and functioning youngsters to get caught up in all this,” he said.

Under the media spotlight at the trial, Knox appeared at first relaxed and even cheerful, chatting happily with her lawyers and prison guards as she gesticulated Italian-style with her hands. After this behaviour drew unfavourable headlines, she turned more sober, sitting mostly immobile, frowning slightly in concentration.

She then stunned many in court by wearing an oversized white T-shirt for a hearing on St Valentine’s Day. On it, marked in big red letters, was a lyric by her favourite group, the Beatles: “All you need is love.”

In the women’s wing of the Capanne prison outside Perugia, she has kept up an impressive pace in studying languages including German, Russian and Chinese, taking guitar lessons, teaching yoga and English to fellow prisoners and reading widely, including Anna Karenina and books on philosophy and religion.

She spent the first night of her sentence in tears, according to a visitor. Her appeal will not be heard until the autumn of next year. If the conviction is confirmed, she has one last resort - Italy’s Supreme Court.

KERCHER was largely lost in the hue and cry surrounding Knox. Her story was not often brought up at the trial - except at its very end.

As he requested the life sentences, Mignini told the court: “The most serious mistake you could make now is to look only at the accused, forgetting what they are accused of and the victim of the crime. Instead you must remember her, especially now.”

When she was killed, Kercher had been due to go home to London to celebrate the birthday of her mother, Arline. Instead, said Mignini, “she will never go home again to hug her loved ones. She was killed in a horrifying way and now her relatives can only go to the cemetery and stand quietly in front of her grave”.

Death in Perugia: The definitive account of the murder of Meredith Kercher, by John Follain, will be published in January 2011

THE REACTION IN AMERICA

In Amanda Knox’s home city of Seattle, there was a predictably appalled reaction to her guilty verdict, writes Tony Allen-Mills in New York.

The Seattle Times newspaper noted that “her battle for freedom headed sharply uphill”, while profiling those who had campaigned for her.

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Knox’s home state of Washington, said she was “saddened” by the verdict. “I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.”

Other US experts who followed the case have warned that attacking Italy’s system of justice might prove counterproductive. “I’m not sure I would have tried to indict the criminal justice system in defending her,” said Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler. “That may come back to haunt them.”

Peggy Ganong, an Italian-speaking Seattle blogger who followed the case closely, said: “The implication was that Italian forensics are inferior to American forensics, and I think that’s just not true. The forensic evidence was a lot stronger than her supporters said.”

Online reaction was divided, with some commentators outraged by what they saw as politically motivated Italian chicanery, and others reluctant to believe an Italian jury would act any differently from an American one.

One online comment noted wryly: “If she wanted an American trial, she should have murdered in America.”


---Verdict in Italy, but American’s Case Isn’t Over---
By RACHEL DONADIO
Published: December 5, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/europe/06perugia.html?ref=amandaknox

PERUGIA, Italy - Tensions and cultural misunderstandings ran high on Saturday after an American college student was found guilty here of murdering her British housemate.

Rather than clarifying the saga of what prosecutors said was a sex game gone fatally awry, the conviction on Saturday of Amanda Knox, 22, a Seattle college student, for killing her roommate, Meredith Kercher, 21, seemed only to heighten the conflicting public opinions voiced in two years of fierce international news coverage.

As the yearlong trial unfolded in the media as much as in the courts, Ms. Knox was often depicted in the United States as an innocent abroad, a fresh-faced young woman caught in the vagaries of the Italian justice system.

Yet in the Italian press, she was a blithe, dope-smoking party girl who had accused a former boss, Patrick Lumumba, of the crime before changing her story. (She later said the police had pressed her to accuse him.) On Saturday, she was also found guilty of defaming Mr. Lumumba, whose lawyer called her a “little she-devil” in closing arguments last week.

The trial also tapped into longstanding town-and-gown tensions in Perugia, where residents blame foreign students like Ms. Knox for helping transform the picturesque city into a pub crawl.

The Knox family insisted Saturday that this cultural clash and the concern with the gossipy details of Amanda’s personal life obscured the focus on what really happened on Nov. 2, 2007.

“It appears clear to us that the attacks on Amanda’s character in much of the media and by the prosecution had a significant impact on the judges and jurors and apparently overshadowed the lack of evidence in the prosecution’s case against her,” the family said in a statement.

The family vowed to continue its campaign to free Ms. Knox. Asked if they would appeal, her father, Curt Knox, replied, with tears in his eyes, “Hell, yes.”

Ms. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, and her Italian former boyfriend, 25-year-old Raffaele Sollecito, to 25 years. A third defendant, Rudy Guede, 22, is appealing a 30-year sentence for sexual assault and murder. He has admitted that he was at the house the night of the murder, and his DNA was found on Ms. Kercher’s body.

For many in Britain and the United States, what was on trial here was Italian justice.

In a statement after the verdict was delivered early Saturday, Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, said, “I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.” She added, “The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Knox was guilty.”

Ms. Kercher’s family saw it differently. Relatives, who held a rare and sober news conference here on Saturday, expressed satisfaction with the verdicts.

“Ultimately we are pleased with the decision, pleased that we’ve got a decision, but it’s not a time for celebration, it’s not a moment of triumph,” said Lyle Kercher, the victim’s brother.

Another brother, John Kercher Jr., added, “Her presence is missed every time we meet up as a family.”

Asked if they were convinced by the verdict, Ms. Kercher’s mother, Arline, said, “You have to go on the evidence, because there is nothing else.”

Prosecutors used both forensic and circumstantial evidence against Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito, whose defense lawyers failed to persuade the jury.

Beyond the atmospherics, Italian legal experts said, the case appeared to have been deliberated on the merits. “It’s true that the longer the trial, the longer the pain, but it also means that there can be an in-depth analysis of the facts,” said Michele Ainis, an expert in Italian constitutional law. “I hope that happened.”

“Our justice system is certainly in rough shape,” he added, “but it has a lot of self-correcting mechanisms.”

In the Italian system, the end of this yearlong trial closes only the first chapter. Unlike in the American system, in which appeals center on issues of law, not fact, in the Italian system, appeals are automatic and defendants can ask to retry the entire case in a first round of appeals.

From there, the case can go to Italy’s highest court, which is required to hear every appeal.

It may be years before a definitive sentence is reached.


---Italian Jury Convicts U.S. Student of Murder---
By RACHEL DONADIO
Published: December 4, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/05/world/europe/05italy.html?ref=amandaknox

PERUGIA, Italy - After one of the most closely watched trials in Italy, an American college student and her former Italian boyfriend were found guilty early on Saturday of murdering her housemate two years ago in this picturesque university town.

The polarizing case gripped Italy and drew intense international media attention to a pair of fresh-faced young people who had no clear motive or violent pasts.

Prosecutors had accused Amanda Knox, 22, then a student at the University of Washington who was studying here, and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, of slitting the throat of her housemate, Meredith Kercher, 21, of Surrey, England, in November 2007 after a scuffle escalated into their coercing her into a sexual game.

After deliberating for more than 12 hours, a jury of six civilians and two judges found Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito guilty on all the major charges. The judge finished reading the verdict after midnight to a courtroom packed with the families and friends of the defendants, along with a host of international journalists and local spectators.

Ms. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Mr. Sollecito to 25 years. Prosecutors had been seeking life, Italy’s stiffest sentence, for both. It was not immediately clear why the sentences differed. Under Italian law, the jury has 90 days to release the reasoning for its decisions.

A third defendant, Rudy Guede, 22, is already serving a 30-year sentence for sexual assault and murder; the judge ruled that he was one of three assailants. All three deny wrongdoing. The trial in Mr. Guede’s appeal is under way.

In a brick-vaulted courtroom humming with tension, Ms. Knox wept when the verdict was read, while Mr. Sollecito remained impassive. Mr. Sollecito’s stepmother could be heard sobbing and shouted at him to “be strong.” Ms. Knox’s mother and sisters were in tears. Her father, Curt Knox, responded tensely that the family would fight on, appealing the decision.

The Knox family said in a statement that the prosecution had “failed to explain why there is no evidence of Amanda in the room where Meredith was so horribly and tragically murdered.” They also criticized “attacks on Amanda’s character in much of the media and by the prosecution.”

In the international media, Ms. Knox has alternately been depicted as an American girl running wild on her junior year abroad or as a wholesome honors student unwittingly caught up in an Italian legal nightmare.

The verdict did not appear to resolve a host of questions about what happened the night of Nov. 2, 2007, when Ms. Kercher was killed. Some people argued that the prosecution had failed to present a coherent narrative or motive for the crime, while others said the defense had failed to adequately dispute the forensic evidence.

Although held under an international spotlight, the trial was conducted in a small-town court. After the verdict, the Knox family and lawyers were caught in a mob of people exiting the courtroom into the glare of television cameras.

A lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, called the ruling “a good sentence that fills us with satisfaction.” He added, “I think justice has been done for the Kercher family.”

In addition to the murder charges, the jury also found Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon - a knife that prosecutors said was involved in the murder - and of staging a crime scene. Prosecutors contended that the three had faked a burglary to cover up the murder.

Ms. Knox was also found guilty of defamation, for having accused her former boss in a bar where she worked, Patrick Lumumba, of the crime in both oral and written testimony. He was jailed before being released. Ms. Knox has said the police put pressure on her to accuse Mr. Lumumba.

Addressing the court the day before the verdict, Ms. Knox said she was “afraid of being branded a murderer.”

In their closing arguments, prosecutors showed the jury an animated simulation of the night of the crime. It showed a cartoon version of Ms. Knox getting into a fight with Ms. Kercher in the victim’s room, while Mr. Sollecito held a knife and Mr. Guede held her from behind and reached a hand into her underwear.

The animation also included graphic photos from Ms. Kercher’s autopsy. They showed bruises suggesting fingerprints under her chin, several small cuts and one gaping knife wound in her neck. Forensic experts testified that the markings on Ms. Kercher’s body suggested multiple assailants. Lawyers representing for Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito argued that there was only one killer, Mr. Guede.

The forensic evidence was contested. Prosecutors said the murder weapon was a kitchen knife later found scrubbed clean in Mr. Sollecito’s kitchen with Ms. Knox’s DNA on the handle and Ms. Kercher’s DNA on the tip.

Defense lawyers said that the DNA evidence was not strong enough and that the blade did not match some of Ms. Kercher’s wounds. A second knife, with which prosecutors contend that Mr. Sollecito taunted Ms. Kercher, was never found.

The circumstantial evidence was also fraught. Ms. Knox said that she had spent the night of the murder at Mr. Sollecito’s house, where the two smoked marijuana and had sex. She said she had gone home the next morning and found some spots of blood on the bathroom floor, but took a shower anyway before finding Ms. Kercher’s body. Mr. Sollecito has said he does not remember whether or not Ms. Knox spent the whole night at his house. Mr. Guede has admitted to being at the house on the night of the murder and his DNA was found on Ms. Kercher’s body. In Italy, it is common for sentences to be reduced in two potential rounds of appeals.


---U.S. Student Delivers Appeal at End of Italian Trial---
By RACHEL DONADIO
Published: December 3, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/world/europe/04italy.html?ref=amandaknox

PERUGIA, Italy - An American college student charged with murdering her housemate in this picturesque Umbrian hill town told the court on Thursday she was “afraid of being branded a murderer.”

In a trembling voice the day before a jury is expected to begin deliberating her fate, the student, Amanda Knox, 22, thanked her family and friends, the jurors and even the prosecutors. “They are trying to do their work even if they don’t understand,” she said in Italian nearly perfected during her time in prison.

In a tale of junior-year-abroad-gone-bad that has drawn intense news media attention, prosecutors allege that Ms. Knox, then a student at the University of Washington, and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, killed her housemate, Meredith Kercher, 21, of Surrey, England, after coercing her into a sex game.

They are facing trial together, and prosecutors are seeking life, Italy’s stiffest sentence, for both. A third defendant, Rudy Guede, 22, was sentenced to 30 years for sexual assault and murder, although the judge ruled that he was one of three assailants. All three deny wrongdoing.

Yet more than two years after Ms. Kercher’s body was found semi-naked with her throat slit in the Perugia house she shared with Ms. Knox and two others - and after a barrage of press coverage and hundreds of hours of testimony from forensic experts and character witnesses - no one is any closer to understanding what exactly happened that fateful night.

“It plays like a great crime story, like a television series,” said Gianluca Nicoletti, a cultural commentator for Il Sole 24 Ore radio. “But in the end, years have gone by and what are we talking about? Who killed her? With what? With what motive?”

In their closing arguments, prosecutors argued that Ms. Knox, high on drugs and alcohol and irritated with Ms. Kercher for being “prissy,” corralled Mr. Sollecito and Mr. Guede into group sex that ended with her slitting her housemate’s throat. They claim the murder weapon was a kitchen knife later found scrubbed clean in Mr. Sollecito’s kitchen with Ms. Knox’s DNA on the handle and Ms. Kercher’s on the tip.

Defense lawyers say that the DNA was contaminated and is not credible, and that the blade does not match some of Ms. Kercher’s wounds. In the absence of a smoking gun or entirely convincing motive, the telegenic and enigmatic Ms. Knox, who came to the police station as a witness and left as a suspect, has become an object of fascination.

“Who is Amanda?” the playwright John Guare, who has followed the case closely, asked in an interview by e-mail. “Is she Henry James’s ‘Daisy Miller,’ the archetypal American girl in Europe who comes to a disastrous end? Is she Dorothy swept up into an evil Oz?” Ms. Knox, he added, “with no history of violence, is a screen on whom we can project any identity.”

The case is also freighted with race, a still uncomfortable issue in an increasingly diverse Italy. Ms. Kercher’s mother is of Indian origin and her father is white. Mr. Guede, who has admitted to being at the house the night of the crime and whose DNA was found on Ms. Kercher’s body, is from Ivory Coast. Ms. Knox first accused Patrick Lumumba, originally of Congo and the owner of a bar where she worked, of the crime; he was jailed and later released and is suing her for defamation. In testimony in June, Ms. Knox said the police pressured her to accuse him.

In the press, Ms. Knox is often portrayed as an innocent girl unwittingly caught up in the Kafkesque Italian justice system. But even one of her lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said that he believed the trial was fair. He added that he “disagreed” with news media coverage that depicted it otherwise.

But to American eyes, many aspects of the trial can in fact seem baffling, even if they are perfectly normal here.

Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito were held in jail for a year before prosecutors moved to indict them. Although it began in mid-January, the trial has taken nearly a year - long by American standards but fast by Italian standards - because it has met only two days a week, partly to accommodate a powerful lawyer for Mr. Sollecito, Giulia Bongiorno, who is also a sitting member of Parliament and the head of Parliament’s Justice Committee.

The case the prosecutors have presented is largely circumstantial, though even some American legal experts say it could be strong even in an American courtroom.

Prosecutors have cited records showing that Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito stopped using their cellphones around the same time on the evening of the crime, and began using them again around the same time early the next morning. Forensic experts have testified that evidence with Ms. Knox’s and Ms. Kercher’s commingled DNA was found in a room in the house where prosecutors allege Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito staged a break-in as a cover-up, for which they are also charged.

Ms. Knox has maintained that she spent the night of the murder at Mr. Sollecito’s house, where the two smoked marijuana, watched the French film “Amelie” and had sex. She said she went home the next morning and found the door to the house open and Ms. Kercher dead.

Mr. Sollecito has said he does not remember whether or not Ms. Knox spent the whole night at his house. His lawyers chose not to subject him to cross-examination, in part because his story does not entirely corroborate Ms. Knox’s. On Thursday he delivered one of his few declarations in court, saying, “I did not kill Meredith” and appealing to jurors to give him his life back.

Unlike in some American trials, where defendants often turn on each other, Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito’s lawyers have mounted a common defense. They say this is because their clients are innocent. Yet the Italian justice system offers no American-style plea bargain, in which defendants admit some guilt in exchange for a lesser sentence. The closest equivalent is a fast-track trial, which Mr. Guede’s lawyers asked for with the hope of a shorter sentence for him.

The jury of six civilians and two judges is not sequestered and has access to news media coverage of the case. They must convict if they are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. In closing arguments on Thursday, one prosecutor, Manuela Comodi, told jurors that they did not require absolute truth. That, she added, was known only “by God.”


---Spotlight: Amanda Knox---
By NINA BURLEIGH Monday, Jun. 29, 2009
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1905525,00.html

Amanda Knox has finally spoken. Ever since the 21-year-old American student was arrested in Italy in late 2007 and charged with the grisly murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher, tabloids on both sides of the Atlantic have bubbled with scandal and speculation. Was she, as Italian and British reports suggest, a promiscuous party girl who lived like a slob and took strange men back to the house? Did she, as Italian prosecutors allege, cut Kercher's throat after she refused to take part in group sex with Knox; Knox's boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito; and Rudy Guede, an Ivoirian now serving a 30-year prison sentence for the murder? Or was Knox, as friends and family in Seattle insist, a hardworking honors student railroaded by incompetent and overzealous police work? Testifying on June 12 for the first time, Knox fought back in her own words, claiming that she had been bullied into making a false confession, accusing Italian police of abusing her and insisting she was sleeping at Sollecito's at the time of the attack.

Observers at the trial in the central Italian hill town of Perugia say there's plenty left for Knox to defend herself against. Forensic evidence includes bloody prints that allegedly match Sollecito's and Knox's feet and a knife found in Sollecito's apartment with the victim's DNA on it. The two have given conflicting accounts of their whereabouts, and there is evidence that the murder scene was tampered with before police arrived. Then there's the confession, in which Knox said she was at the house during the killing but blamed her boss, bar owner Patrick Lumumba (who was later cleared). The document was signed without a lawyer present and is inadmissible, but prosecutors produced another note in which, they say, Knox reaffirmed her declaration.

Her many supporters in the U.S. say the case is far from cut and dried. Family lawyers call the forensics collection deeply flawed, the DNA evidence laughably slim. One theory says the entire trial is the fantasy of prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who is facing misconduct charges in a separate case. He has never provided a convincing motive or solid evidence to support the group-sex theory. In her two days on the stand, Knox poked holes in the prosecution's legitimacy, noting that she cooperated as a witness while the police never told her she was a suspect. A lawyer for Kercher's family told TIME the testimony was a "very good job."

Still, Knox's words may yet work against her. Her rosy depiction of the roommates' relationship contradicted testimony from Kercher's friends that the two didn't get along. Speculating on Kercher's slow death--pathologists say she choked on her own blood--Knox called it "yucky, disgusting" and mimicked sounds of choking in a manner that seemed to startle jurors. When asked if she ever thought about the victim, Knox was less than sympathetic. "In the end, I knew her for a month," she said. "And first of all, I'm trying to get on with my life."

ONE VICTIM; HOW MANY KILLERS? 1 Meredith Kercher, 21, was killed Nov. 1, 2007 2 Raffaele Sollecito began dating Knox two weeks before the murder 3 Rudy Guede admitted to having sex with Kercher and was convicted of murder 4 Patrick Lumumba, named in Knox's confession, had an airtight alibi

Kercher's body was found in the cottage she shared in Italy with Knox and two students


---伊の英国人留学生刺殺事件、米国人ルームメイトが公判で無罪主張---
2009年06月14日 17:16 発信地:ペルージャ/イタリア
http://www.afpbb.com/article/disaster-accidents-crime/crime/2611100/4258509

 【6月14日 AFP】イタリアで2007年に殺害された英国人留学生メレディス・ケルヒャー(Meredith Kercher)さん(当時21)の事件で、ルームメイトだったケルヒャーさんが乱交に加わることを拒否したため殺害に加わったとして起訴された3人のうち、米国人交換留学生アマンダ・ノックス(Amanda Knox)被告(21)の公判が13日、現地ウンブリア(Umbria)州ペルージャ(Perugia)で開かれた。
 公判2日目のこの日は、検察側がノックス被告に対し、乱交パーティーからケルヒャーさん刺殺に至った経緯などについて厳しく追及した。被告は流暢なイタリア語で答えたが、裁判官らに対して終始、イタリア語で通常必要な敬称を使わなかったため、時々法廷内をざわつかせた。

■被告、警察による供述強要を示唆
 ノックス被告は「殺害時刻に自宅にいて、ケルヒャーさんの悲鳴が聞こえた」と供述したのは、警察に強要された結果だったと述べた。そして、事件当日2007年11月1日の夜は、イタリア人の交際相手ラファエル・ソレシト(Raffaele Sollecito)被告のアパートで、マリファナを吸って性交をした後、映画を見たと答えた。ノックス被告、ソレシト被告ともに事件発覚数日後に拘束された。
 2被告とともに起訴されたコートジボーワル人のルディ・グエデ(Rudy Guede)被告(20)には、すでに殺人罪で禁固30年の刑が言い渡されている。検察側は、グエデ被告がケルヒャーさんを押さえつけている間に、ソレシト被告とノックス被告がケルヒャーさんをナイフで刺し殺したとみている。
 ケルヒャーさんはノックス被告が共に借りていた家で遺体で発見された際、ケルヒャーさんは半裸でのどを切られ、血の海のなかに倒れていた。
 ノックス被告はまた、警察の尋問の過酷さに耐えきれず、自分のアルバイト先の雇用主パトリック・ルムンバ(Patrick Lumumba)さんが真犯人だと偽の供述をしてしまったと主張しており、検察はこの点について特に詳しく質問した。弁護側は、警察が尋問中に被告を強くののしったり、執拗に自白を促すなどした結果、被告は「自分に当時の記憶がないと思いこまさせられた」と主張した。
 カルロ・ダラ・ベドバ(Carlo Dalla Vedova)弁護士はAFPの取材に対し、ノックス被告のこの日の証言は良かったと述べ、「20歳前後の女性を弁護士なしで一昼夜とどめおき、その若さにつけ込めば、作りあげた供述をさせることは難しくない」と警察の捜査を批判した。
 ノックス被告に名前を挙げられ、一時拘束されたものの嫌疑不十分で釈放されたアルバイト先の上司ルムンバさんは現在、ノックス被告を名誉毀損で訴えており、この日の公判も傍聴していた。

■大学の同級生が被告の性格を証言
 さらにこの日は、ノックス被告の性格証人として、被告の出身地米ワシントン(Washington)州シアトル(Seattle)から大学のクラスメート、アンドリュー・セリバー(Andrew Seliber)さん(22)が証言に立ち、被告の普段の様子や、過去に被告が開いたパーティーについて答えた。
 英デーリー・メール(Daily Mail)紙電子版は、地元で行われたこのパーティーについて「ワイルドでひわいなノックスの過去」と衝撃的な見出しをつけ、「アルコールとドラッグでハイになった学生たちが道路に向かって石を投げていた」と報じていた。記事では参加したという人物の話を引用し「いたるところに酒とドラッグがあり、みんな裸になって寝転がっていた。みんな飲みすぎていたから、あちこちでケンカも起こっていた」と伝えた。
 しかし、セリバーさんは法廷で「この記事には、実際に起こっていなかったことがたくさん含まれている」と反論した。また、ノックス被告についてはたまにアルコールを飲んだり、マリファナを吸う程度の「どこにでもいる大学生」で、しかも自分の体については「大事にしていた」と述べた。
 判決は今年後半に下される予定で、有罪の場合にはノックス被告、ソレシト被告にも禁固30年が言い渡される。


---Student on Trial in Italy Claims Police Pressure---
By RACHEL DONADIO
Published: June 13, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/world/europe/14italy.html?ref=amandaknox

PERUGIA, Italy - An American student on trial here in the murder of her housemate held to her version of events under cross-examination on Saturday, saying that “confusion” and a “crescendo” of police pressure led her to wrongly accuse a man of the crime.

The student, Amanda Knox, 21, of Seattle; her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, 25; and a second man are accused of the murder of Meredith Kercher, 21, of Surrey, England. Ms. Kercher was found semi-naked with her throat slit in November 2007 in the house she shared with Ms. Knox and two other women.

In October, the second man, Rudy Guede, 21, received a 30-year sentence for the crime. Prosecutors claim that Ms. Kercher died in a sex game gone awry, in which Mr. Guede had sex with Ms. Kercher while Mr. Sollecito held her down and Ms. Knox held a knife. All three say they are innocent.

On Saturday, her second day on the stand, Ms. Knox - who has been dubbed “Foxy Knoxy” in the British tabloids - was confident and poised. Speaking in fluent Italian, she repeated her earlier testimony, but this time under questioning by the lead prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, and by lawyers for the Kercher family and for Mr. Sollecito.

Ms. Knox said that she was at Mr. Sollecito’s house on the night of the crime, where the two smoked marijuana, watched a movie and had sex.

But she said she was pressed by the police, who hit her twice and put ideas in her head, to change her story and accuse her boss at a bar where she worked of the crime. The boss was later cleared and is now suing Ms. Knox for defamation.

Ms. Knox was not testifying under oath. Under Italian law, only witnesses, not defendants, must testify under oath.

On Saturday, prosecutors and lawyers questioned Ms. Knox on her whereabouts on the night of the crime, as well as on intimate details about her personal hygiene, sex life and drug use.

Mr. Mignini asked Ms. Knox about a $279 municipal citation she had received for a party she and her friends held at the University of Washington, where Ms. Knox was a student. He asked whether the party had “alcohol, drugs, people throwing rocks” and “naked people inside.”

Ms. Knox said there had been beer at the party. She said the citation was a noise complaint, with as much importance “as a parking ticket.”

Forensic experts say a knife found at Mr. Sollecito’s house had Ms. Kercher’s DNA on the tip and Ms. Knox’s on the handle. They also say they found DNA evidence of Ms. Knox’s footprint in Ms. Kercher’s blood in the house they shared, and several other traces of the two women’s intermingled DNA elsewhere in the house.

Defense lawyers accuse investigators of shoddy police work and tampering with the crime scene.


---Man Guilty in Killing of Briton in Italy---
By RACHEL DONADIO
Published: October 28, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/world/europe/29italy.html?ref=amandaknox

PERUGIA, Italy - A judge on Tuesday convicted a defendant for the murder of a British exchange student last year and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. The judge also charged two other suspects - an American college student and her Italian former boyfriend - with the crime, lawyers for the three suspects said.

The sentencing of the defendant, Rudy Guede, 21, and the charges against the American student, Amanda Knox, 21, and her onetime boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 24, are milestones in a case that has gripped Italy ever since the body of Meredith Kercher, 21, was found last November naked with her throat slit in the house she shared here with Ms. Knox and two other students.

The proceeding was closed, as have been all previous court sessions in the case, and many questions remain unanswered. There was no official statement from Judge Paolo Micheli, who under Italian law has several weeks to make public his reasoning.

Prosecutors contended that Mr. Guede, Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito killed Ms. Kercher in a drug-fueled sex game that went awry. They also accused Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito of covering up the killing to make it look like a robbery. Judge Micheli ruled that Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito should stand trial on all charges filed by prosecutors, lawyers said.

All three defendants have denied wrongdoing and have been in jail since their arrest last fall. Italian law allows suspects to be held for as much as a year without charges if they are considered flight risks. Judge Micheli has five days to rule on whether Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito may be placed under house arrest pending trial, as their lawyers have requested.

Mr. Guede, who was born in Ivory Coast and reared in Italy, has admitted to being present the night of the killing and to having sex with Ms. Kercher. Traces of his DNA were found at the crime scene, the police said.

Mr. Guede had requested a fast-track trial, which is a closed proceeding without a jury and can sometimes result in a shorter sentence. Prosecutors had requested a life sentence, the stiffest offered in Italy, which does not have the death penalty. Mr. Guede can appeal the ruling.

In final arguments last week, prosecutors accused Mr. Sollecito of having held Ms. Kercher while Ms. Knox held a knife to her throat and Mr. Guede tried to penetrate her, prosecutors told the Italian media.

Although no murder weapon has been identified, an eight-inch kitchen knife was found at Mr. Sollecito’s house; prosecutors said it had traces of Ms. Kercher’s DNA near the tip and of Ms. Knox’s DNA near the handle.

Ms. Knox initially told the police that she was in the house the night of the killing and had heard Ms. Kercher’s screams from another room. She accused someone else of the crime, but that suspect was subsequently cleared and is now suing her for defamation.

Italy’s highest court later threw out Ms. Knox’s statement to the police on the grounds that she had been questioned without a lawyer present, although the same ruling also upheld her detention. Ms. Knox subsequently changed her account, saying that she had arrived home the morning after the killing.

Lawyers for Mr. Sollecito contended last week that a vital piece of evidence, Ms. Kercher’s bra, was unreliable, because it contained DNA from more than one person.

“There was a mix of traces, so the evidence isn’t usable,” Giulia Bongiorno, a lawyer representing Mr. Sollecito, said Tuesday before the verdict.

Carlo Dalla Vedova, a lawyer representing Ms. Knox, said he was disappointed by Judge Micheli’s decision to send Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito to trial. “We will fight against the accusations, knowing that Amanda has nothing to do with the murder of her friend Meredith,” he said.

A lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, said, “Italian justice has paid the tribute of truth to poor Meredith.”

Lawyers said the trial for Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito was expected to begin on Dec. 4.


---Details Only Add to Puzzle in Umbrian Murder Case---
By RACHEL DONADIO
Published: September 29, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/30/world/europe/30perugia.html?ref=amandaknox

PERUGIA, Italy - From the rear windows of the medieval courthouse here you can see clear across the Umbrian countryside to Assisi. But inside, a true-crime drama is playing out whose brutality seems at odds with the postcard-perfect surroundings.

In the coming weeks, a judge will decide whether to indict Amanda Knox, of Seattle, and her onetime Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, in the killing of Ms. Knox’s 21-year-old housemate, Meredith Kercher, last November. A third suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede, who was born in Ivory Coast and grew up in Italy, is undergoing a separate fast-track, closed-door trial for murder and sexual assault; a verdict in his case is expected by the end of October.

With its good-looking young suspects, tales of junior-year-abroad debauchery and hints of racial tensions in a sleepy college town, the case has drawn relentless news media attention, particularly in Italian and British tabloids. Whenever the suspects arrive in court, they face a veritable Fleet Street gantlet. There are blogs and books about the case. But much of the coverage is speculative because nearly a year has gone by without any decisive developments.

There is still no clear motive, no precise time of death and no definitive murder weapon. Because the case has not yet moved to open court, details have emerged in a wild series of leaks, contradictions and reversals. All three suspects say they are innocent. And the more information that materializes, the hazier the story becomes.

But this much seems clear: last Nov. 2, Ms. Kercher, an exchange student from Surrey, England, was found strangled and with her throat cut, wrapped in a duvet in the hillside house she shared with Ms. Knox and two other women. Mr. Guede has admitted he was in the house the night she was killed and traces of his DNA and a bloody fingerprint were found there, the police have said.

An eight-inch kitchen knife was found at Mr. Sollecito’s house with traces of Ms. Kercher’s DNA near the tip and Ms. Knox’s near the handle, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors say the killing was part of a drug-fueled group sexual assault and have charged the three suspects with “voluntary murder with the aggravating circumstance of cruelty,” which carries a life sentence. They have also charged Ms. Knox, a student at the University of Washington, and Mr. Sollecito, a computer science student, with covering up the murder to make it look like a robbery.

Over time, Ms. Knox, 21, has changed her statements. At first she said she was at Mr. Sollecito’s house the night of the killing. Then she said she was at her house during the killing, and accused another man of the crime. He is no longer a suspect and is suing her for defamation.

Italy’s highest court later deemed that statement inadmissible after it emerged that Ms. Knox had been questioned without a lawyer or an interpreter, although the same ruling upheld her detention.

Ms. Knox now says she returned home to find Ms. Kercher’s body after spending the night at Mr. Sollecito’s house, where the two smoked marijuana. Prosecutors maintain that Ms. Knox said multiple times that she was at the house during the murder.

To American eyes, the case can seem baffling, with prosecutors, law enforcement and lawyers regularly leaking confidential material. And under Italy’s preventive detention laws, the suspects have been in jail since last November, although Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito have not yet been formally indicted. The judge must either indict them before the end of October or renew the detention order.

The process can also seem slow. But “for Italy, the timing is extremely quick,” said Francesco Maresca, a lawyer for the Kercher family. He predicted the case would go to trial early next year, with a verdict next summer. “The important thing is they were all there,” he said. “All three are responsible.”

As in the unresolved case of Madeleine McCann, the 3-year-old British girl who disappeared in Portugal during a family vacation last year, the investigation has drawn accusations of incompetence. “I’m not impressed,” said Joseph Tacopina, an American lawyer who was paid by ABC News to examine the case. He said Italian authorities had violated the crime scene. “They trampled all over that place,” he said. “That makes forensic evidence unreliable.”

In the courthouse last week, reporters and paparazzi clustered five-deep behind a barricade to catch a glimpse of the suspects as they were escorted into court. “Are you innocent, Amanda?” one reporter shouted before a hearing. “Foxy-Knoxy Comes Face to Face with Look-Alike Ex-Boyfriend,” ran a headline in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper after Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito both wore white and blue to court.

“They’re brutalizing her in the press,” Curt Knox, Amanda’s father, said in an emotional interview here last week. He said his daughter had cooperated with the police and never expected to be implicated. “She is 100 percent innocent,” he said. Mr. Knox, an executive at Macy’s, and Amanda’s mother, Edda Mellas, a Seattle schoolteacher, have taken turns living in Italy to visit their daughter in prison.

The case is being watched closely. “Obviously, we’re following the case, as we do with all American citizens arrested,” said Philip Egger, the consul general at the United States Embassy in Rome. Through a spokeswoman, Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, said she was “concerned that all citizens who visit Italy, or Europe, receive fair treatment and adequate due process if they are suspected of or prosecuted for criminal offences.”

Mr. Sollecito’s family has hired one of Italy’s top lawyers, Giulia Bongiorno, a member of Parliament who has successfully defended the seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti in Mafia trials.

After the hearings last Friday, defense lawyers held impromptu news conferences, poking holes in the story of the only witness who claims to have seen the three suspects together the night of the crime. “It was a festival of ‘I don’t know,’ ‘I don’t remember,’ ” said one of Mr. Guede’s lawyers, Nicodemo Gentile.

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