A study abroad trip, intended to last one semester, could turn into a lifetime commitment for Amanda Knox, American citizen and student of the University of Washington. Knox arrived in Italy during the fall of 2007 to study and improve her Italian, but faced rather different circumstances after becoming a prime suspect in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. A year and a half later, Knox speaks fluent Italian, a result of her time in jail as opposed to the classroom.
This past week, Knox appeared in court to provide her version of events the evening Kercher was murdered. After initial interrogations, Knox had stated she had been in the apartment when Kercher was killed but later retracted those statements. In her most recent appearance, Knox claims she was beaten and forced into providing police with what has been interpreted as a confession throughout the investigation and trial. It has been duly noted that a defendant’s testimony in court is not under oath as it is in the U.S., or for witnesses in the Italian system, meaning any and all statements made by defendants face even more skepticism in regards to their honesty.
The Italian Judicial system does not seem much different from that of the United States on paper, but Knox undoubtedly faces a much different trial in Europe than she would in her home country. If Knox was in fact coerced into providing certain statements in the days following Kercher’s murder, she is protected by Article 13 of the Italian Constitution and the testimony would have to be thrown out entirely. A judge will decide whether or not Knox, along with her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are guilty of the murder based upon little evidence and a great deal of testimony by character witnesses.
The Amanda Knox trial has become infamous at home and abroad in large part due to the attention tabloids have paid to the young American’s behavior. Social networking sites have lent a hand in this portion of the trial as photos have been lifted from her Facebook page in order to paint what the Italian’s have come to believe is a clear picture of a wild and promiscuous student’s lifestyle. While there are several person’s of interest in the case, none of their testimonies coincide and without any concrete physical evidence, both the prosecution and defense have been forced to turn to character interpretations to persuade the judge. The case is expected to be decided by the end of summer with Knox facing up to life in prison.