Well if you weren’t yet convinced how dysfunctional Italy’s criminal justice system is, you have to be convinced now after reading the morning papers today. Despite the fact that Amanda Knox has been sentenced to 26 years for murder, prosecutors are seeking additional prison time and additional charges for “slander”. See story. The lawyers allege that Knox besmirched the good reputation of the Italian police when she explained that police slapped her on the back of the head during their 14-hour, all-night interrogation.
As a lawyer, and a former American prosecutor, I have seen some pretty petty moves pulled by prosecutors. However, this “slander” charge I think would top them all. In this country, I don’t ever recall anyone being charged with criminal slander. Sure, it is something you can sue for. But to be charged with a crime? Almost unheard of.
I have to admit, part of me is glad these charges have been filed. Why? Because the frivolousness of these charges is really something that everyone will agree on. Even those people who believe Knox is guilty of murder have to admit that this charge is really silly. If the Italian prosecutors really believed their murder conviction would be upheld, then why would they worry about getting more time for slander charges? The truth is the prosecutors are probably nervous about the conviction being overturned. Additionally, are the Italian police such a sensitive bunch that their “feelings were hurt” by allegations that they slapped an arrestee? Are the Italian police so much different from all other police of the world that they never ever manhandle suspects? It is laughable that the Italian prosecutors are really trying to get the world to believe that. The Italian police admit that they interrogated Knox for 14 hours without food or sleep, and that they did this by working in teams against this one girl. That in itself is abusive and coercive. Does any more “slander” really damage the reputation of the Italian police? The so-called “confession” that Amanda Knox made to the police was the result of the police repeatedly insisting that she committed the crimes. Using an universal interrogation trick, the police insisted that Amanda “imagine” what happened if she had committed the murder, and Amanda complied.
Aren’t people allowed to public criticize the government in Italy? (I guess not – remember how Giuliano Mignini tried to bring defamation charges against the West Seattle Herald?) The image of the Italian criminal justice is going from bad to worse with this new “slander” charge. Let’s see if Amanda’s defense lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova can try to get these charges dismissed. You really have to wonder about the wisdom of Judge Claudia Matteini in bringing these charges.
Am I the only one who thinks these charges are ridiculous?
See my past posts about the Amanda Knox case beginning the summer of 2009.