Who is Amanda Knox? She is a young American college student wrongfully convicted in Perugia Italy of murder. While there is not a shred of evidence to sustain her conviction, nor was there at trial, she was prosecuted by an incompetent prosecutor with a political agenda and history of similar misconduct. Italy is not known for an effective police or judicial system, and it clearly failed this young innocent college student.
Why should you care? First, she is a young American girl, and she could be your daughter or sister, and next time, perhaps it will be. Second, she is an innocent American facing injustice and looking at spending the rest of her life in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Lastly, she is innocent, and an injustice anywhere, as it was said, is an injustice everywhere.
We all know that innocent Americans were wrongfully imprisoned in Iran (and they also deserve our support) and God knows how many innocent people, including perhaps Americans, are wrongfully imprisoned in North Korea. But we expect that of these totalitarian dictatorship where the rule of law is totally absent. We think of Italy as a western, democratic country where the rule of law prevails. History teaches us otherwise. It is closer to Columbia or Mexico. They have great difficulty prosecuting major criminals like the Mafia, and even Judges and prosecutors who try to prosecute these criminals are often assassinated. Corruption and incompetence are rampant. Even the Italian Prime Minister seems not only to have legal problems, but to be “above the law.”
On a personal note, of all the countries I have traveled to, including Mexico, China, France, England, etc., Italy is the only country where I was the victim of crime, and within an hour of my arrival. My wallet and passport were stolen, and such thefts are a common occurrence and the police are indifferent and ineffective in dealing with this. As Mayor Rudolf Giuliani realized when he was mayor of New York City, preventing low level crimes like these, so called “quality of life” crimes, was the first step in creating a climate where more major crimes would not be tolerated. Italy has surrendered, in many respects, its efforts at all levels of effectively combating crimes.
The prosecutor in this case is clearly responsible for procuring the wrongful conviction. There is no meaningful evidence against Amanda Knox except a coerced confession. The DNA evidence is at worst, meaningless, and at best, exonerates her. There is no credible eyewitness testimony which implicates her. The key and main eyewitness has recanted. He was a homeless man addicted to and using heroin. He has recently admitted that, contrary to Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini’s statements, this eyewitness was at that time under investigation for narcotics trafficking, which investigation was coincidentally dropped [clearly in exchange for his testimony.] This alone would be grounds for a mistrial in the US [not disclosing a quid pro quo for the testimony of a witness, much less a critical witness whose veracity and even memory were clearly in doubt.]
Another key difference between the USA and Italy was that, during the trial, the Italian Press ran wild with false, prejudicial accusations which the jury was readily and extensively exposed to every evening during the trial. Even the Italian Prosecutor, who was so biased against Amanda Knox, admitted that the stories in the Italian Press were complete fabrications (of course all of which condemned Amanda Knox and falsely accused her, among other things, of being involved in satanic rituals and of purchasing bleach to destroy evidence at the crime scene.)
That the confession was coerced and false was proven by several clear and convincing evidence. First, many of the facts in her confession have been proven to be untrue. She explained that she was beaten and interrogated for something like 36 hours by a bully prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, and deprived of water. We know that people will confess to anything given the right pressure and methods.
Second, that such wrongful interrogation techniques were used is evidenced by a separate unrelated and similar prior occurrence which strongly suggests that Amanda Knox’s version of the coercion, and her explanation for a false confession, are true. A US author (living temporarily in Italy), as interviewed on May 9, 2011 on CNN, [See CNN’s Coverage of Amanda Knox story] was writing a book on a serial killer in Italy. The same prosecutor outrageously accused him of being the serial killer and used the same interrogation techniques on the reporter. The prosecutor has denied he ever used these techniques. While the reporter had enough skepticism and fled Italy immediately, Amanda Knox believed, to her detriment, in the Italian system of justice. Clearly, Prosecutor Mignini lied, and does use these coercive interrogation techniques. Accordingly, Amanda Knox’s explanation in her recantation of her alleged confession is credible, and Prosecutor Mignini’s defense of the credibility of the confession, and his denial of his abusive interrogation techniques, are not credible.
Second, other wrongful investigative techniques used by the same Italian prosecutor caused him to be criminally convicted of “Abuse of Office” and receive a 16 month suspended sentence. Italian Prosecutor Mignini was under investigation for this prior misconduct at the time he investigated the Amanda Knox case, had the motivation to, need for, and predilection to “rush to judgment” and find somebody to quickly accuse for the crime to rescue his severely tarnished reputation. Then having accused that person, he had even greater motivation to make sure the prosecution was successful He still has the same motivation to ensure that the conviction be upheld (it is now under appeal).
If all of the above were not bad enough, prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, admitted that he effectively made a “rush to judgment” when he claimed that he knew, the minute he saw Amanda Knox, that she was involved in the murder. This was because she, among other things, kissed her boyfriend and at one point in the multi-week investigation appeared happy. Again, this is exactly the type of “rush to judgment” which often results in injustice. It is the reason the parents of Jon Benet Ramsey retained lawyers immediately. It is the reason everyone should, if ever questioned by the police in a matter where they might be a suspect, regardless of their guilt or innocence, immediately and persistently insist on exercising their fifth and sixth amendment rights to remain silent and to have a lawyer, respectively. This is true whether you are totally guilty or 100% innocent.
What should you do?
Write the Italian Embassy and Italian Mission to the UN and demand the immediate release of Amanda Knox. If you are so inclined, boycott travel to Italy, and inform the Embassy and Mission that you will do so, until Amanda Knox is free.
Here are the addresses:
Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Embassy of Italy
3000 Whitehaven Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel.: (202) 612-4400 – Fax: (202) 518-2151
Italian Mission to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations
Two United Nations Plaza, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel. (212) 486-9191 – Fax: (212) 486-1036
Some other links if you are interested in this story: