Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving in Perugia: Knox’s Appeal Begins

Amanda Knox and Raffale Sollecito came face-to-face today (technically Wednesday) for the first time since they had been convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher back in December 2009.

Wearing a pale blue sweater against the damp autumn chill, Knox entered the court for her first appeal session looking more serious, as opposed to her carefree demeanor during her original trial.

Presiding judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman (with assistant judge Massimo Zanetti) swore in the jury of five women and one man, then promptly made his first decision: hearings just once a week—on Saturdays—to accommodate Sollecito’s high profile attorney Giulia Bongiorno (a key Italian parliamentarian and head of the justice commission who recently revealed she is several months pregnant).

Under Italian law, anything can happen in the appeals process, from complete acquittal, to conviction on lesser charge such as manslaughter, to an even harsher sentence if convicted again.

Knox’s appeal is built largely around a request for an independent review of forensic evidence (in particular the DNA evidence from the knife that prosecutors say was the murder weapon).

Prosecutors are also appealing the extenuating circumstances granted to Knox and Sollecito, in hopes that they’ll be handed down a life sentence.

This time, the trial stars “three” prosecutors: Giancarlo Costagliola, and the two from the trial, Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Comodi. Mr. Costagliola, the newest prosecutor, will lead the team.

The long awaited appeal is finally here, and the first session was over quite quickly: lasting only about 15 minutes. The defense asked for a postponement until Dec. 11, so “the trial could begin in an atmosphere of tranquility and serenity,” and the prosecution agreed. Judge Hellman granted the request, and fixed hearing dates for Dec. 11, 18 and Jan. 15, for now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Knox Indicted for Slander

Well, the script may be written, but the story is far from over. 23-year-old Amanda Knox was indicted today on slander charges stemming from her allegations that she was struck by police during her 2007 interrogation/arrest. Police denied misconduct and filed charges saying Knox’s comments were slanderous.

Knox was driven to the courthouse in a police van with darkened windows. The hearing was closed to the public, but photographers were able to get a glimpse of her in the courtroom hallways. Looking thinner and drawn, Knox wore a dark green sweater and black pants, her hair is a jaw-length bob, and she looked to have gained weight.

Judge Claudia Matteini issued the indictment ruling after a hearing behind closed-doors today in Perugia. Judge Matteini scheduled the trial to begin on 17 May 2011. “I didn't mean to offend or slander anybody,” Knox said, as she broke out into tears. “I reiterate, I was only trying to defend myself. I was exercising a right.” If she is convicted, Knox could face an extra six years in prison.

Knox will be back in court in Perugia on 24 November for the first of two appeals against her sentence that she is permitted by Italian law, along with her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito; who was sentenced to 25 years for his role in the murder of Meredith Kercher. Knox’s lawyers are due to contest DNA evidence used to convict her.

Rudy Guede, who was also convicted for the killing, saw his sentence reduced from 30 to 16 years in his first appeal. Italy’s Supreme Court will hear his final appeal on 16 December.