Belfast Telegraph

Why we shouldn’t scream ‘Italian job’ over Amanda Knox

By Gail Walker

It's strange, isn't it? One minute we have Foxy Knoxy, the promiscuous hard-faced American psychosexual harridan and the next, after she gets 26 years, we have the innocent victim railroaded by a corrupt legal system.

She’s now being compared to Joan of Arc — on trial because she’s a feisty woman in a sexist, man's world. Just as Knox was tarred at the start of the murder inquiry, she's now being whitewashed by her defenders. Her case — like that other beacon of pure justice, OJ Simpson — is moving outside the courtroom into the world of instant debate about wider ‘ishoos’.

Suddenly, it's all about how awful the media is, the cultural norms of nations, and what a misogynistic bunch we are to be so fascinated by stories of predatory sexual females.

Oh yes, and how cr*p Italians are. At everything. (Apart from running ice cream shops and organised crime syndicates, obviously.)

First, we’re told — thanks to to a bit of Cup-a-Soup cultural analysis — that the whole case was a charade because not losing face is a huge thing with Italians. (All that's missing is Marlon Brando with cotton wool stuffed in his cheeks.)

Then, it’s how the Italians are just hapless ‘Whatsamatteryou’ incompetents. Even the jury’s revelations about tears in the decision room is taken as proof they’re an unstable lot. Italy is guilty. Of something. Or other.

And after US politicians ‘raising questions’ about the trial, Hillary Clinton is being asked to get involved. Knox, you see, could be the victim of Italian anti-Americanism. (No mention of the racist anti-Italian overtones of much of the criticism heading east over the Atlantic).

There appears to be anomalies in the Knox case — no properly established motive, DNA evidence that isn’t all that it could have been. That's why the case is probably going to appeal. And Italian justice allows not one but two appeals.

During the trial, the DNA evidence was challenged. The jury decided to disregard the challenge. Evidence challenged is not evidence refuted. But there was compelling evidence as to why Knox should stand trial: she changed her story several times about what she was doing on the night in question. At one point, she confessed.

She tried to frame an innocent man. Phone records prove that she was in contact with the third person accused in Meredith's slaying, drug dealer Rudy Guede, before and after the murder. There was a botched attempt by someone to fix evidence in favour of a break-in theory. Knox did behave bizarrely, cartwheeling round the cop shop. Saying that Italians just don't ‘get’ Americans (and young Americans at that) is stretching it a bit.

Apart from the ‘break in’ (which, in fairness could have been done by somebody else), all this is now being blamed on Knox being ‘tired’, ‘confused’, even ‘brainwashed’. Of course, it could also be the behaviour of someone trying to get off the hook.

Knox and her parents claim darkly that she wasn't just confused; she was beaten by Italian police — prompting detectives to sue the Knoxs. Oh, aren’t Italians touchy!

What the evidence proved to the jury was guilt. The suggestion that it should all just somehow be dismissed as the idiosyncrasies of a strange young woman is plain silly. Equally, just saying you were beaten by police doesn't make it true.

In all our discussions we have lost sight of the only undisputed victim in all of this, Meredith Kercher, who was brutally slaughtered.

As the media frenzy rages, a rare note of sanity was spoken by Meredith's brother John. Asked if his family had any qualms about supporting the Italian prosecution, he said: “In order to be involved with this case, that's the line we needed to take. But it is not for us to decide. We are not the detectives, the lawyers, or the judge and jury.”

And neither — comfy in our armchairs — are we. Working out our cultural neuroses in the public prints is, quite simply, not the way to ensure justice for Meredith.

Belfast Telegraph


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