“I’m going to fight this to the very end. It’s not right and it’s not fair,” Knox said on ABC’s Good Morning America. She said she won’t return to Italy: “I will never go willingly back.”
The Seattle native, along with her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, was convicted on Thursday for the 2007 murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy. That followed a series of verdicts, appeals and judgements that have kept her in legal limbo for years, even after returning to the United States. Following the latest conviction, Knox pleaded for “those with the knowledge and authority” to remedy what she called a “wrongful persecution.”
A court in Florence handed down the verdict Thursday, effectively upholding the duo’s 2009 conviction. An appeals court overturned the original guilty verdict in 2011, and both Knox and Sollecito were freed after four years in jail. But in another twist, Italy’s supreme court then overturned the appeal acquittal and called for a retrial, which began Sept. 30. The court on Thursday sentenced Knox to 28 years and six months in jail, while Sollecito received 25 years.
Reaction to the verdict rippled across the world. From Seattle, where she has been living since her 2011 release, Knox released a statement about the judgement. “I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict,” she said. “Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system. The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, nothing has changed. There has always been a marked lack of evidence. My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution.
She added: “I beseech those with the knowledge and authority to address and remediate the problems that worked to pervert the course of justice and waste the valuable resources of the system: overzealous and intransigent prosecution, prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation, unwillingness to admit mistake, reliance on unreliable testimony and evidence, character assassination, inconsistent and unfounded accusatory theory, and counterproductive and coercive interrogation techniques that produce false confessions and inaccurate statements.”
Unfortunately for Knox, the powers that have the “authority” to reverse the guilty verdict are the same ones that overturned her acquittal in the first place: Italy’s supreme court. John Follain, author of Death in Perugia and a Rome correspondent for the Sunday Times, told Newsnight that when the supreme court ordered the retrial, “it was pointing to a conviction.” It is now up to the supreme court to finalize the guilty verdict, but Follain added, “Given that the supreme court previously trashed the acquittal, it would be quite surprising if the supreme court went back on what it’d once ruled. One could expect a definitive conviction.”
No matter what the supreme court’s decision is—and it will be months before that stage is reached— it’s already apparent that Knox won’t voluntarily return to Italy.
Meanwhile, in Italy, Sollecito was “struck dumb” after hearing the verdict, his lawyer told the BBC. Hours later, police detained Sollecito near Italy’s border with Austria and Slovenia. The authorities promptly confiscated his passport and stamped his identity papers, indicating that he could not leave the country. But he was then released, as the retrial judge had not ordered an immediate arrest.
Knox and Sollecito weren’t the only ones trying to process the latest verdict on Thursday. Meredith Kercher’s family has said in the past that they believe Knox and Sollecito are culpable, but Thursday’s verdict clearly brought no relief. Outside the courtroom, Stephanie Kercher, Meredith’s sister, told reporters, “I think we are still on a journey for the truth and it may be the fact that we don’t ever really know what happened that night, which is obviously something we’ll have to come to terms with.”