Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Truth of this terrible tale is that Knox is a victim too

In the end, it took two minutes. After four years in a prison cell shared with a killer, it took two minutes for an Italian court to overturn the verdict that had turned a young American woman into one of the most famous murderers in the world.

It was almost unbearable to watch. It was almost surreal to see the TV crews, and satellite vans, squeezed between honey-coloured buildings in streets that were built for horses long before Perugino taught Raphael how to paint his angels and his crucifixion.

It was terrible, of course, to see the mother, and sister, and brother, of a young woman who had been left to bleed to death after having her throat slashed like a pig, walking in front of the world's cameras into a courtroom, as if walking in front of cameras was a normal thing to do when the smiling girl you loved would never come back.

But it was terrible too, to see the white face of the young woman in the black hooded jacket, who had waited, waited, waited for the words that were coming, and who looked as if she couldn't carry the burden of that wait for one moment more.

When the judge spoke, in terms that some people at first found so confusing that at least one newspaper briefly ran a story on its website saying that the young woman had lost her appeal, we couldn't see her face.

It's hard to imagine the path that took her from dreamy student life in the southern sun to a prison cell where she was told she'd spend 26 years for a crime she didn't commit.

It's hard to imagine the path for her then boyfriend of less than two weeks, too, a young man whom the world has largely ignored.

But the police - and justice - weren't on their side.

The man in charge of the investigation into the death of Meredith Kercher, Giuliano Mignini, insisted, even when a young man whose bloody handprints were found on Meredith's pillow confessed to being in the house, that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were the key movers in the murder.

It was Mignini who was happy to build a case on 'evidence' collected so clumsily that videos of it taking place drew howls of horror in court. There were, according to a report, more than 50 errors in the original case.

You can see why a prosecutor might think that the young woman and her boyfriend might be involved in the case and why he might want to find evidence that supported his view.

But it's quite hard to see why he would stick to that case, even when the evidence for it seemed to be extremely flimsy, and why he never seemed to consider the possibility that lack of evidence might mean he was wrong.

You can just about see why a prosecutor who was concerned with his professional reputation would be determined to stick with a story that seemed to get crazier every day.

Or perhaps it was just because, once there's a story, even if it's a crazy story, and even if it's not all that clear where it came from, that story seems to harden into something that feels like the truth.

And so it's important that story doesn't change, because if something that feels like a kind of truth can change, then anything can change. Perhaps that's why the Kerchers, too, seemed reluctant to believe Mignini might be wrong.

On Monday, they talked about the 'PR machine' and 'hype' that surrounded Amanda Knox's appeal, as if she was trying to market a pop album, and not trying to escape a life in jail.

They were right to remind the world of the girl at the heart of this terrible story, the girl they said had been "hugely forgotten".

But terrible stories don't have just one victim. "In this case," said Amanda Knox's lawyer, "there is no winner". Just a dead girl and a heartbroken family.

And two young people who are only just beginning an escape from hell.

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