On Monday, Italy’s Justice Minister Annamaria Cancellieri ordered an investigation into the comments made by the judge who reinstated the murder convictions of Amanda Know and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.
Last Thursday, Alessandro Nencini sentenced Know to 28 years and six months and Sellecito to 25 years for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher and later spoke to Italian media after the verdict. Lawyers for Sollecito claim that his comments show the judge had been biased against their client. They asked Italy’s judicial governing body to consider disciplinary action and queried whether the court’s decision was still valid.
Nencini’s comments were made before the court issued its full judgment, the ‘motivations’ that in Italy are published within 90 days of a verdict, explaining how the court reached its decision. But he appeared to hint at what the document would contain. Through his comments, he indicated that Sollecito’s decision to not be questioned in court may have influenced the final decision.
After news of the investigation, Nencini went on to defend himself, claiming he had not intended to appraise the strategy of the defense.
Opinion in the case is bitterly divided in Britain, Italy, and the US. In Italy, Knox is commonly seen as the villain, whereas in the US she is seen as a victim at the mercy of a faulty justice system. In Britain, where Meredith Kercher aged 21 was from, views are mixed. Last week, her family said they may never really know what happened.
This is not the first time that the trial has been accused of taking a false step. The defense claims the in the initial investigation, police made to many mistakes, putting much of the evidence into doubt.
First convicted in 2009, Sollecito and Knox were cleared on appeal, but Italy’s highest court ordered a retrial due to what it said were inconsistencies in the acquittal.
The latest appeal reinstated the initial convictions, but will not be final unless it is confirmed by the highest court in the final phase of Italy’s three-level justice system.
Sollecito’s passport has been confiscated but he is free to travel within Italy pending a definitive sentence.
Knox has remained in her hometown of Seattle since being freed in 2011 after almost four years in jail, and would have to be extradited to serve any sentence.
One person is already in jail for the crime: Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, who is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder and sexual abuse of Kercher. Judges ruled he did not act alone.