And also, some weed. And also, Amélie. And also, a cross-examination of The New York Times?
Judging from the scores of last week’s sensationalized reports in American and European media regarding the trial of Amanda Knox, such details and descriptions, disparate yet cogent, only barely graze the surface of this story that is far from simple to summarize.
Yet here is an attempt: While studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, in the fall of 2007, Knox, a University of Washington undergrad, came under suspicion for participating in the murder of one of her flatmates, Meredith Kercher, an English exchange student. Knox was arrested in November of 2007 and has been in custody since then. Her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian, was also arrested at that time for alleged involvement, as was Patrick Lumumba, originally from Congo, a musician who was Knox’s boss at a bar where she occasionally worked. Lumumba was held for two weeks before being fully acquitted. Yet another suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede, originally from the Ivory Coast but raised in Italy, was arrested in Germany at the end of November, 2007; he was convicted in October, 2008 and sentenced to 30 years for conspiracy to murder, a verdict his lawyers are still trying to appeal. Knox, Sollecito and Guede are held in three separate Italian prisons.
Such, essentially, is the set of hard facts in this case that has been as complicated by contradictory statements and conflicting accounts as it has been by questionable investigational procedures and the all-too-tabloidal, often nationally biased media frenzy that it immediately engendered, a frenzy that was rejuvenated last week when Amanda Knox, at long last, took the stand.
Naturally, different sources have divulged details of the proceedings dissimilarly enough. What follows is but a tiny, Italocentric sampling thereof.
In defending herself, Knox made a number of claims that put some Italian authorities on the defensive. “Omicidio Meredith: la versione di Amanda Knox,” from Il Sole 24 Ore, quotes Knox, who testified almost exclusively in Italian: “They called me a ‘stupid liar’ and told me that I was trying to protect someone.” She goes on to describe other allegedly abusive practices by the police and prosecutor: “‘They hit me twice to make me say a name I couldn’t say, because I didn’t know… I continued to repeat that I had nothing to do with the murder and that I was at Raffaele’s place the whole evening. They continued to insist, saying that I had left the apartment at some point to see someone… according to them I had forgotten. The interpreter told me I was in traumatic shock. I was very scared. They were yelling and emphasizing so much that I had met up with someone that in the end, in my confusion, I was convinced that it had actually happened… But I was confused!’”
It was during that round of initial questioning that Patrick Lumumba’s name came up, after which he was arrested and imprisoned for two weeks, then released. Knox claims that his name did come up in questioning, but that she hadn’t necessarily accused him of anything. When asked by Lumumba’s lawyer if she had named him to save herself, she denied it. Nonetheless, Lumumba is seeking damages.
Of greater emphasis in “Penso a Mez, ma devo andare avanti,” from La Stampa, was what happened on November 2nd: “‘From Raffaele’s place, I went over to Via della Pergola [where her flat was] to take a shower. I found traces of blood around the house and in the bathroom and other strange things. I took a shower and then went barefoot into my room. I didn’t note the time because I wasn’t on a schedule, I only had to go back to Raffaele’s.’ Once back at her Pugliese boyfriend’s place, Amanda claims to have told Raffaele over breakfast what she had seen at her place. Worried, it was Sollecito who encouraged Amanda to call her Italian flatmates. ‘They told me they were not in Perugia,’ explained Amanda, ‘and they asked me to take care of the situation.’”
So Amanda and Raffaele go back to Amanda’s, they look around, they find a broken window in one of the flatmates’ rooms, they see that nothing seems to be stolen, and then they notice that Meredith’s door is locked. Ostensibly, only later is Meredith’s slain body discovered — her throat slashed with additional stab wounds in her neck, lying in a blood-soaked bed.
While most of the mainstream Italian press seemed to concentrate on directly citing Knox rather than opining or raising additional conjecture, news outlets were also given something else to report – a different report. Not long after Timothy Egan from The New York Times released his only-maybe-quite-barely objective piece in defense of Knox, “An Innocent Abroad,” a couple days before she was to testify, the American journalist was himself cross-examined in La Repubblica and Il Corriere della Sera. Though his piece concentrates on the dubious legitimacy – and it is very deeply dubious – of the investigation and proceedings so far, he passes plenty of unnecessary judgment as well. For him to claim that “In Italy, they see a devil, someone without remorse, inappropriate in her reactions” when gazing upon Ms. Knox is, at best, extraneous. Especially in the specious context in which he drops it.
The French, The Spanish, The Germans, NOT the British
According to accounts, Amanda and Raffaele spent the evening of November 1, 2007 screwing around on the Internet, smoking hash, screwing coitally and screening Amélie. So apparently, that’s how they spent their last serata tranquilla before being swallowed up by tragedy and the press.
British publications, in which Knox is known as the ‘cold assassin with the face of an angel’ or by her MySpace name, ‘Foxy Knoxy,’ have been particularly busy covering all imaginable sides of the story, even going so far as to explore the Christmastime Kung Fu Panda angle of the case – that old journalistic trope! So I’ll leave British coverage right there.
But very briefly, I learned in El Mundo that in Italy, a television program named Knox ‘woman of the year,’ outranking both Sarah Palin and Carla Bruni Sarkozy.
I learned in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Kercher’s parents are seeking upwards of 30 million Euros (approximately $41.6 million) in damages.
And in Le Parisien, I learned that the prosecution’s oft-cited ‘sex games’ that allegedly preceded the murder, judging from their description’s ferociously foursome structure, open themselves up to all sorts of pornographically appellative interpretation.
At any rate, no great predictions here. No conclusions, no confirmations, no claims. Next to nothing, anyway, will be decided until this fall. Judges and jurors need their summer vacations too, after all.
So although leaving out a great deal: Basta.