On January 30th, 2014, Amanda Knox was found guilty, once again, but this time by the Italian Supreme Court. Here’s a quick timeline of Amanda Knox and the Italian justice system. In 2007, she was accused, along with her former boyfriend, of murdering her roommate in Italy while studying abroad. Based on the overload of cases in Italy, she waited in prison for two years until her trial. Unfortunately, she was convicted of murder. However, those charges were overturned in 2011 by the appellate court in Florence. On March 26th, 2013, the Italian Supreme Court overruled the acquittal and ordered a retrial due to “multiple instances of deficiencies, contradictions and illogical” conclusions by the appellate court. Why? Because the Italian justice system allows prosecutors to appeal acquittals.
So what is going to happen to Amanda Knox now? Luckily for her, she was not in attendance of her trial when the verdict was reached. Otherwise, who knows if she would ever be able to return back to the U.S. until she serves her 28 ½ year sentence in prison. As of now, I’m sure she will stay in the U.S. and wait to see what decision will be made regarding her lawyers’ appeal that they plan to file after the court publishes their reasoning. If the conviction is upheld, then I would not doubt that Italy will submit an extradition request to the State Department. “Extradition’ is the formal surrender of a person by a State to another State for prosecution or punishment”. The U.S. has extradition treaties with over a hundred nations of the world, one being Italy.
On October 13th, 1983, Italy and the U.S. signed the International Extradition Treaty. After reading it, I find Article 10 and 6 the most interesting when applying it to Knox’s case. Under Article 10, Italy needs to demonstrate to a U.S. court “probable cause to believe that the crime for which extradition is sought was committed and that the person sought committed it.” Some may argue that this case does not even meet this burden even though the Italian Supreme Court found the evidence to be beyond reasonable doubt. Article 6 discusses “non bis in idem” which is Latin for nobody can be tried twice and thus gives grounds for refusal of extradition. So does that mean the U.S. will not extradite Amanda Knox because she has a 5th Amendment right entitling her to no double jeopardy? Not necessarily. Some say that the “retrial” was not considered a retrial, but rather just one case allowing appeals from both the defendants and the prosecutors.
So what do you think will happen? Do you think the U.S. will fight for Knox? What happens if they do not comply?
Picture: Amanda Knox
Source: Injustice in Perugia; Extradition Treaty
This case resonates with me because I was living in Italy when the murder took place. At that time, America was not a popular country internationally because of the policies instituted by President Bush. I along with my fellow students, were treated unfairly and disrespectfully just for being American. Granted, American study-abroad students have made quite a reputation for themselves in Italy and other countries, but there can be no doubt that these cultural misinterpretations and biases played a role in the arrest and trial of Amanda Knox. She has done an excellent job of using the media to portray herself as a person being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but there are still many questions to be answered regarding the murder. If she is found guilty by the Italian Supreme Court I think the idea of extraditing her will become very political. The idea of sending a young girl back to a foreign country to spend over 20 years in prison for a crime that isn’t conclusive is sure to ignite the public’s dissatisfaction.
Based on the series of events happened in Knox’s trial, it is really hard to guess what will happen next. I think we now just have to wait and see how the “retrial” will go. However, I do think that the reasoning behind the Italian Supreme Court granting the “retrial” might be the fact that the prosecution has found new evidence or somehow convinced the court that the “retrial” is necessary. I do not think that the Court overruled the acquittal solely because of bias. If we look at the background of the case, we will see that Knox made inconsistent statements about what exactly happened on the night of the murder. Certainly, the interesting part about the Italian Court system is the fact that the “retrial” could happen if the prosecution is not satisfied with the Court’s decision. However, in America, this would be a violation of the defendant’s 5th Amendment rights. What is happening here is technically “double-jeopardy.”
When it comes to the extradition problem, I do not think that the US will follow its domestic law. As stated by Mr. Fortunato, Amanda Knox can have the same relief under the extradition treaty, particularly under Article 6. Pursuant to the terms of the treaty, it is unlikely that the US will grant the extradition of Knox if she is found guilty at the end of the trial.