Amanda Knox Acquitted: End of a Successful Minor News Story

So, American Amanda Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito, her lover at the time of the events, are not guilty of the murder of Briton Meredith Kercher, who was found half-naked, raped and stabbed in her Perugia apartment in 2007. They were Erasmus students; attractive, well-off, occasional cannabis smokers and free to express their bodies and their feelings.

It doesn’t take much for a side story to succeed: a face, a setting and a story. The face? Above all, that was Amanda’s. Alternating between seraphic and cruel, angelic and stubborn, Botticellian and devilish. The face was also that of Raffaele Sollecito, vaguely resembling Jacques Perrin in his early roles, also sometimes a bit simple-minded. The setting was the unbeatable Perugia, one of Italy’s main college cities, perched on a hill dominating Umbria. Simply magnificent. The story? Love being created and torn apart without a care in the world. This was the plot with which some wanted to make a gory version of “The Spanish Apartment” or a new adaptation of “A Devil in Paradise” (Henry Miller) seen through the eyes of Charles Manson.

But you still need more: dramatic twists, a breathless narrative and clear stances. The Knox-Sollecito-Kercher affair had plenty of each of these. A slightly botched investigation, pieces of evidence as thin as a slice of culatello, somewhat forced confessions, and a fugitive (Rudy Guede, who was recaptured and sentenced to 16 years in jail for Meredith’s rape, but not her murder)*. And journalists to sensationalize the events. Acting more like students defending a thesis than witnesses to a trial, the media transformed the affair into an intercontinental derby.

A Murder Still without a Real Perpetrator

For Americans, Amanda was innocent and the Italian justice system incompetent; for the English, there was the hunt for someone guilty of murdering their compatriot, as Amanda could only have killed Meredith in the course of a sex game that went wrong. And for the Italians? They were a bit divided between those claiming that Raffaele was innocent beyond all doubt and those who saw him as a feeble young man acting as a shy pawn in the hands of Amanda the temptress.

And what about justice? It also played its part in making this story THE minor headline of the early millennium. Five trials, from the first instance to the Court of Cassation, which on two occasions wavered between the theory of the “devilish lovers” being totally guilty (25 and 26 years in prison) and totally innocent (acquittal); between convictions – and who hasn’t got one? – and proof. Now this was what was lacking. This was what, deep into the night of Friday, March 27, led the Court of Cassation, sitting for the second time, to acquit Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

They will be able to resume their interrupted lives. For her in Seattle in the U.S., where unbelievable contracts are waiting for her; for him in his home region of Puglia. They have spent four years in jail for nothing and are preparing to claim substantial damages and interest. Meredith’s family’s pain remains, dealing with a murder whose real perpetrator remains unknown to this day.

But whatever snags there may be in this affair, it is now definitively over. There will be no sixth act, no sixth series. Books will be written (already done), movies or straight-to-TV movies will be made (also already done), but the judicial phase is complete. Like the end of a series that you’ve been watching for too long, it will leave some people with a feeling of emptiness, of idleness. The only solution to escaping this: talk about something else.

*Editor’s note: Rudy Guede was sentenced to 16 years for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

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