Monday, 3 February 2014

RIP Meredith Kercher (1985-2007)

With the media circus over the trial of the Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, it’s easy to forget who was the real victim in this long running saga: the twenty-one year British university student Meredith Kercher, who was brutally raped and murdered in the Italian city of Perugia in 2007. Meredith had everything to live for, being an attractive and intelligent girl, yet her life was tragically taken away so young. There is something haunting when one looks at her old photos with her happy, smiling, innocent face. She certainly didn’t deserve to be killed. My sympathies go out to her family, still trying to come to terms with Meredith’s death.

I must admit that when the murder was first reported in the press late in 2007 I didn’t follow it closely. My interest grew gradually over time as I felt increasingly sympathetic for the dead girl’s family. With the media interest intense and often unhealthy, I wondered if a fair trial could possibly happen. Also having a young girl myself, I could only imagine the turmoil they were going through.

I have studied the evidence and the behaviour of the accused, and I have come to the conclusion that the Italian justice system has rightly upheld the convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. There was sufficient evidence in the initial trial to convict all the three accused -  Rudy Guede, Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. The acquittals of Knox and Sollecito were a miscarriage of justice, and the Italian Supreme Court rightly allowed a prosecution appeal.

A very slick campaign of misinformation, carefully orchestrated by the Seattle based PR firm Gogerty Marriott employed by Amanda Knox’s father, had been at work from the beginning, convincing large swathes of the American media and parts of the British media too (The Independent and The Guardian in particular) of Amanda Knox’s innocence. The PR campaign has constantly tried to obfuscate the facts and misled the media, but I am glad the Italians saw through this and formed their own judgement.

The damning evidence

Here’s the main evidence to implicate all the three accused:
  • more than one person attacked Meredith (there were no defensive marks on Meredith’s body, suggesting an inability to react normally, and there were two different types of knife wounds)
  • the knife recovered from Sollecito’s apartment contained the DNA of Amanda Knox and Kercher
  • the bra clasp of the victim had Sollecito’s DNA
  • a burglary was staged after the murder (broken glass had fallen on top of the scattered objects)
  • footprints compatible with Sollecito and Knox made with the victim’s blood (discovered by investigators after tests with luminol)
  • Knox’s blood mixed with Kercher’s blood where the burglary was staged (even though Knox testified that the bathroom was clean the day before the murder)
  • contradicting alibis of Knox and Sollecito
  • Knox’ false accusation of an entirely innocent man – her boss, Patrick Lumumba
More supporting evidence, of course, was presented at the trial, which I don’t want to go into here.

Is Amanda Knox a psychopath?

Seeing the images of Amanda Knox on television I had the impression that she was a very disturbed girl. During the initial trial, she hardly showed any emotion over the brutal killing of her flatmate. She was pictured kissing Sollecito extensively. There was a coldness and detachment that seemed odd. There were reports of her doing cartwheels in the police station. She deliberately played up to the media. In her post-acquittal interviews, she tried to convince her audience that she was the victim of injustice; sympathy for the victim seemed more contrived. Now a prison guard, Angela Antonietti , has said Knox was known as the “Ice Maiden” when in prison because of her cold-hearted nature. To me these are characteristics consistent with a psychopathic personality.

Here’s the view of a highly experienced American psychotherapist, Dr Coline Covington, in 2009 now practicing in UK before the latest verdict:

Knox’s narcissistic pleasure at catching the eye of the media and her apparent nonchalant attitude during most of the proceedings show the signs of a psychopathic personality. Her behaviour is hauntingly reminiscent of Eichmann’s arrogance during his trial for war crimes in Jerusalem in 1961 and most recently of Karadzic’s preening before the International Criminal Court at the Hague.
The psychopath is someone who has no concern or empathy for others, no awareness of right and wrong, and who takes extreme pleasure in having power over others. The psychopath has no moral conscience and therefore does not experience guilt or remorse.
Most psychopaths are highly skilled at fooling those around them that they are normal by imitating the emotions that are expected of them in different circumstances. They are consummate at charming people and convincing them they are in the right. It is only when they reveal a discrepancy in their emotional response that they let slip that something may be wrong with them.

The psychopath is the conman, or in the case of Amanda Knox, the con-woman par excellence. Her nickname ‘Foxy Knoxy’, given to her as a young girl for her skills at football, takes on a new meaning.
Whether or not Knox, who is appealing her verdict, is ultimately found guilty, her chilling performance remains an indictment against her. Her family’s disbelief in the outcome of the trial can only be double-edged.

Justice for Meredith

The Knox family and their supporters have been quick to blame the Italian justice system after the latest ruling. There is an implicit assumption of cultural superiority in their accusation, as if the American model of justice is somehow the only acceptable standard. This is clearly a prejudiced view. I believe due process was carried out and the Italians conducted a fair trial. The case is not finished of course. The defence have another chance to appeal to the Italian Supreme Court.

My sympathies are firmly with the family of Meredith Kercher. Their loss is indeed great. I hope one day they get justice. RIP Meredith.