Redemption in Perugia

It is astonishing that the prosecution is demanding a life sentence for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, plus an extra-punitive six months of solitary confinement, when all the evidence against them has collapsed and they are clearly innocent. They are the two students were convicted in the 2007 murder of another student, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy. At the same time, the system has already reduced the sentence of the actual killer, Rudy Guede, to 16 years, without any protest from the prosecution. Sixteen years for mauling her, carving up her throat with a knife so that her blood spurt into the air, sexually assaulting her while she lay bleeding, rifling through her purse for money and credit cards, and then leaving her to choke to death. The evidence against Amanda and Raffaele has totally collapsed, and the campaign against them is legal hysteria, like the child-abuse trials in America some years ago (in which Dorothy Rabinowitz became a champion of the falsely accused). It is therefore another instance of the human capacity for complete and utter irrationality. The prosecution calls Amanda a “diabolical she-devil,” a phrase truly reminiscent of Salem. Where is the Arthur Miller who will turn this into a play?

But is it hysteria or pure malignancy? Is it the willingness to destroy two innocent lives in order to save face for the original wrongful arrests and interrogations before Guede was found, and the many previous and subsequent prosecutorial and forensic lies, missteps, outrages, and ethical transgressions? Is there a racial component, a truly malevolent political correctness, when the self-dramatizing prosecutor Mignini pleaded, ”Don’t let the poor black guy be the only one to pay the price for this murder.” What could he mean by that? Guede committed a savage murder, and he is not going to pay nearly enough for what he did. If Amanda and Raffaele were guilty, they would deserve to pay, but they are innocent. What has race got to do with it? What is the meaning of playing the race card at this point? To ply white liberal guilt and get the convictions upheld despite the lack of evidence?

The prosecution has also evoked Meredith’s parents’ suffering in order to arouse the judges’ feeling against the two young people. But the parents have already somehow swallowed Guede’s reduced sentence; that’s the outrage against them and their daughter. The whole thing may have been fueled by the need to cover up. Guede had been caught in several burglaries prior to the murder, including one in which he wielded a knife, but was repeatedly released by local police. This has led to suspicion that he was a police informer. If he had been where he should have been, in jail, he wouldn’t have been able to commit this heinous crime. But the only way to redeem Perugia and save the face of Italian justice is to let Amanda and Raffaele go immediately and allow the truth to emerge as it must.

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