Public opinion in Italy divided over Amanda Knox acquittal

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Amanda Knox. (Photo: youTube)

By Megan Williams, PRI's The World. Listen to audio above for full report.

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A free Amanda Knox has left Italy, after spending four years in an Italian jail. The 24-year-old from Seattle was accused and convicted of murdering her British roommate and fellow student Meredith Kercher. But an appeals court overturned her conviction and Knox was released. Now Italians are divided on whether their legal system has produced a fair outcome.

The verdict from the appeals court in Perugia was unequivocal. The judge who read it ordered the immediate release of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. The jury fully acquitted the pair of murder.

During the appeals trial, independent experts testified that the small amount of DNA evidence linking the former couple to the crime was not reliable.

While inside the courtroom there was jubilation, outside there were signs that not everyone was satisfied with the acquittal. Onlookers crowded in the piazza outside the Perugia court chanted “Vergogna!” or “Shame!” after hearing the verdict.

In Italy, public opinion has been divided, not just over the verdict, but also over the impact an American pro-Knox propaganda campaign had on the outcome. Some, like prosecution lawyer Guiliano Mignini, say that campaign extended beyond Knox’s family and supporters to include US media outlets.

“There was unacceptable media pressure surrounding this trial that unfortunately led to a verdict that was almost a foregone conclusion,” said the prosecutor after the verdict.

Others in Italy are left with doubts. “I’m just wondering if it’s true, if they are really innocent,” said a university student interviewed on the street in Rome. “Or maybe it’s just because of American pressure and people’s opinion in America.”

Read the rest of this story on The World website.

Here's what some folks had to say on PRI's Facebook page:

John Stoj: Some in the US say a propaganda campaign supported by Italian media outlets affected the outcome of Amanda Knox's original trial.

Nikki Bearden: Some in Italy don't understand how to do proper crime investigation procedure and due process. But "whatever".

Jeff Gregory: Then why didn't it work the first time? This trial and the injustice done to Amanda have caused me to rethink my love for Italy. I may not go back, if the police are so ham-handed and they hate Americans so much. Let's see how long it takes Italy to start their own US PR campaign to get tourist money back into their country

Elizabeth Rodriguez: No, she was acquitted because of the horrendously sh*tty job the police and forensic people did. Thankfully she had a good lawyer in the acquittal phase as well as forensic people who actually knew what they were doing. The Italians should be embarrassed not crying foul.

Charles Johnson: Would a US appeal court have allowed Amanda to walk if she was convicted? We all know the answer to that question. There are far more people convicted, sentenced and sometimes killed with only circumstantial evidents in this country. The Italian justice system is just as weak and fraudulent as the US. They already gave in so they need to shut up and stop crying propaganda. Amanda knows more then she's saying. My heart goes off to Meredith's family. Good luck Amanda with the book deal and other deals yet to come. May God bless you.

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PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston. More about The World.