Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Italian Justice

Amanda Knox was convicted along with her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of her roommate the British student Meredith Kercher. The 22 year old Ms Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison and her 25 year old Italian boyfriend to 25 years after a trial that lasted a year. Now it might appear to the sloppy, subjective Americans that the Italians just don't like them, that justice somehow hasn't been done and that it really doesn't matter that her boyfriend, who is Italian and who is a member of a wealthy and influential Bari family, was also convicted.

Anyway, now we have Knox's mother saying, that she is worried that even an appeal would not be fair in Perugia where "feelings are so against Amanda," and we seem to have an American press that is stirring the Knox fan club into its "Italians are anti American" balyhoo and in the meantime we have Hillary Clinton saying that she will meet Maria Cantwell, the Democratic Senator from Knox's home state of Washington, and listen to her reservations, which include the suggestion that "anti-Americanism" may have tainted the trial.

Yes, the Italians can be a wee bit slow and this was a long trial. Nevertheless, while I don't know all the details of this particular case, it would appear that the American media is also woefully unaware of them. Furthermore, it remains difficult for me to imagine that an Italian court would convict two innocent young people to spending their best years behind prison bars. That, of course, remains to some extent speculation on my part. However, it is an opinion that is supported by my knowing that the Italian legal sytem only recently convicted 23 Americans, mostly CIA operatives, for kidnapping the Egyptian cleric, Abu Omar and, also recently, lifted Berlisconi's immunity from persecution. Yes, there appears to be something akin to the rule of law in Italy, while, on the other hand, in the good old US of A,  50% of the prison inmates are Afro-Americans, despite that group only constituting some 12.8% of the population and we don't hear about Hillary meeting some Senator to talk about the possibilty of racism being behind a particular verdict.

No, unlike many Afro-Americans and Hispanics in the United States, Amanda Knox received a fair trial and her appeal should now go through the proper process in the Italian courts. Of course, should that appeal be unsuccessful, then "Uncle Sam" has at least two possibilities; firstly, he could flex his muscles and bully the Italian government and, if that fails, he could send some of the 23 who were convicted by the Italian courts back to Italy to earn their "American" reprieve, by kidnapping Amanda and bringing her home to a heroine's welcome.  No doubt, she is already thinking up the title of her book - "Italian Justice", "Innocent Behind Bars", "Thank You America" - and I won't be watching 'Larry King' on that particular evening and I am most definitely not going to the film.

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