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.

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