Friday, December 4, 2009

A farcical end

(Jim Lovering)

The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito has ended the way it began, as a sad joke at the expense of everyone who cares about justice. Let's go back and summarize the main points of the crime for which Amanda and Raffaele have now been convicted. The story, per Mignini, runs like this:

Seething with resentment over household chores, Amanda recruited two love-sick puppies to restrain Meredith and plunged a huge kitchen knife into her neck, causing her death. Puppy number one ran away leaving a great deal of physical evidence at the crime scene; puppy number two stayed with Amanda to clean the place up and therefore left almost no physical evidence.

A judge and jury evaluated this account and decided that its truth is not in doubt. Then, having reached this conclusion, they imposed their sentence: 26 years of imprisonment for ringleader Amanda, and 25 years for puppy number two, Raffaele.

This begs the question: why did puppy number one, Rudy Guede, get a longer sentence of 30 years after sparing Italy the cost of a full trial? Isn't the fast-track process supposed to result in a reduced sentence? And if Rudy was a follower, whereas Amanda was the ringleader and the one who actually wielded the knife, shouldn't her sentence be more severe than his?

It seems clear that when the time came for them to serve the aims of justice, this judge and jury cowered before two opposing masters: Mignini and Truth. Their improbable verdict is the result.

I feel terribly sad for Amanda. My heart also goes out to her family. They are good, honest people who in no way deserve to be dragged through this ordeal, which has been financially ruinous and has exposed them to a steady stream of sniping that is as ignorant as it is malicious. It is all deeply unfair.

But, at the same time, I also think they are going to pull through this. Amanda has shown herself to be a resilient young woman. She is suffering now, but she will step out of prison in full Beatles regalia and scoop up the best opportunities that come her way. And there will be many. Curt and Edda will have plenty of happy times, grandchildren, the whole nine yards. It's all written in their future.

But for another family, the heartache will go on, bleakly, year after year. What is Meredith Kercher's family supposed to make of this verdict? Will they convince themselves it is the outcome of a process in which an impartial court, protective of their interests as victims, has weighed the evidence, gotten to the truth of the matter, and brought them justice?

Maybe they will. People badly want answers when something tragic happens in their lives. But I have to think they will be haunted by doubt. And for good reason. This verdict brings no truth or justice. It is nothing more than a craven accommodation to a provincial cabal. The sooner it is undone, the better for everyone, except perhaps those who orchestrated it.