This is a young woman preparing to spend the next 26 years behind bars, whose case, had it been brought in Britain, would never have reached court. If by some cruel miracle a British judge had found himself presiding over 12 good men and true, whose task it was to determine whether Knox was innocent of Kercher’s murder, it is inconceivable that he would not have made strong, telling directions to acquit.
Then why was she convicted? Wade puts it down to sexism, plain and simple: 'In a trial where the evidence has struggled even to reach the realm of the circumstantial, Knox has been demonised for being a sexually active woman.' And he concludes: 'It is a tragedy that Italy — which [...] played a key role in the development of Western jurisprudence — should stand by as so chilling a blend of sexism and injustice wreaks havoc.'
On the other hand, for US crime writer Douglas Preston, writing today in The Guardian, this apparent miscarriage of justice is all about preserving the reputations of corrupt and self-serving prosecutors. Preston alleges that Amanda Knox's initial interrogation was a travesty, in which she was tricked (and possibly beaten) into signing a confession she hardly understood:
I have read those statements. They are written in perfect, idiomatic, bureacratic 'police jargon' Italian. It is difficult to imagine that a foreign student, who had been in Italy for just two months, would have understood what those statements said, let alone made them herself.
And he accuses Italian police of declaring the case closed, and treating Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Solicito as convicted criminals, before they had even come to trial: 'With Knox and Sollecito locked up, the police threw all their resources into retroactively gathering the evidence to prove them guilty.' Then, despite the fact that defence lawyers painstakingly demolished every shred of evidence against them in court, and firmly believed they had won the day, the jury found the pair guilty. Why?
I posed this question to my most knowledgeable contact in Italy, a highly connected person who knows whereof he speaks. Here is his opinion: 'This verdict had nothing to do with the actual evidence. It's all about la faccia, face. They had to convict her. Now, with the conviction, everyone has saved face, the judiciary, the prosecutors and police have been vindicated. There will be an appeal and she will be acquitted, and that will be done to satisfy the Americans. Then everybody will be happy. Of course, Amanda and Raffaele will be in prison for another two years, but that's a small matter compared to the careers of so many important people.'
That's justice in Berlusconi's Italy.
[A trivial aside: I tried linking to Douglas Preston's article, which I read in the G2 section of today's print edition, but despite my best efforts I can't find it on the Grauniad website. It's not the first time this has happened: it may look pretty, but the paper's site must be one of the most frustrating to search, and there's often a strange disconnect between print and online editions. Inputting 'Amanda Knox' only brought up days-old articles, while typing 'Douglas Preston' threw up stories in which that particular Christian name had occurred in conjunction with the Lancashire town. On the other hand, when I searched The Times website, Wade's piece came up first time.]