We don’t know whether Amanda Knox is guilty of murdering her roommate five years ago when they were students in Perugia, Italy, but we have reason to doubt Italy’s justice system.
What we do know is that Ms. Knox, who now lives in Seattle, has been tried twice, getting convicted the first time and winning an acquittal the second time around. She has also spent several years in prison (during which she improved her fluency in Italian) and has run up bills of about $1 million.
We doubt that a third trial, possible now after Italy’s Supreme Court — the Court of Cassation — overturned the 2011 acquittal, would do little but reprise the sensationalism that accompanied the first two trials. That would be unjust to Ms. Knox and difficult on the family of the victim, Meredith Kercher, without ensuring any resolution in the case.
Although the retrial in 2011 wasn’t without flaws — those are apparently part and parcel of the Italian justice system — her conviction in the first trial stretched credulity from the Dolomites to the toe of Italy’s boot.
Her conviction was overturned because despite the juicy details that emanated from questionable witnesses, the prosecution’s evidence was flimsy. So was its theory that the crime was associated with a sex game involving Knox, her one-time Italian boyfriend (Raffaele Sollecito), the victim and a fourth individual. Not coincidentally, that fourth individual, Rudy Guede, fled Italy after the murder. He eventually was captured and pleaded guilty.
If, as is expected to happen, Italy requests Knox’s extradition, the United States shouldn’t be in a hurry to comply. Not only is Italy’s judicial system suspect, but its plan to retry Ms. Knox would subject her to double jeopardy. That is unconstitutional in this country, and for good reason. Defendants could be tried multiple times, with acquittals set aside until a jury agrees on guilt.
Even if the United States declines to extradite Ms. Knox, Italy could try Ms. Knox in absentia. And if she were convicted, the prosecution could claim it won two out of three trials. It would not, however, convince many others that she is guilty.
As for Ms. Knox, she’s a student at the University of Washington who presumably won’t be spending a semester studying in Italy. Even if she manages to avoid Italy, however, she’ll still have to dodge the international paparrazi, who are nothing if not relentless.