Florence Appeal Factsheet

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This factsheet is to give the background to Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito's appeal of their conviction by Judge Massei of the Perugia Criminal Court. For a break down of the progress of the appeal, see the Nencini Appeal page.

Contents

Meredith Kercher murder case: Florence appeal, 2013, factsheet

"Illustration of current Amanda Knox trial status"
Illustration of current trial status
  • The appeal in Florence is a rehearing of the appeal by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, against their convictions for the murder of Meredith Kercher.
  • The appeal opened on September 30, 2013, at the Assize Court of Appeal, in Florence, Italy, (Corte d'assise d'appello di Firenze).[1] A sequence of hearings took place in October, November and December, 2013.[2] A verdict is expected by the end of January, 2014. (Update: The evidence phase having been closed, the final closing arguments were scheduled for January 30, 2014, with a decision to be announced later that day)
  • This is not a retrial (despite its being described as such by many in the media). The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito was held in 2009, and it lasted almost the whole year. At the end they were found provisionally guilty, subject to appeal. In 2011, the appeal was held and found them provisionally innocent, again subject to appeal to the Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione). In March 2013, the Supreme Court examined the case and quashed the findings of the appeal court. The Supreme Court can only rule on matters of law, not of fact, and it concluded that the application of law, by the appeal court, had been so poor that the entire appeal needed to be reheard.
  • The intervention of the Supreme Court is not a special peculiarity of this case. Under Italian law, there is a right of appeal, at two levels, following a trial verdict. This is often very beneficial to a defendant, but to achieve equality between defense and prosecution, both parties have the right of appeal.[3]
  • The Supreme Court issued their 74-page reasoning report on June 18, 2013 and what was unusual was the number and seriousness of the errors that they found in the application of law by the earlier appeals court, necessitating a complete re-run of the appeal. An English translation of their report, by a group of volunteers at perugiamurderfile.org, is available at http://www.perugiamurderfile.org/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=599#p141747.[4]
  • This is not double jeopardy. The trial and two levels of appeal (and any repeat hearings called for by the Supreme Court) together constitute a single process, and defendants are not finally declared innocent or guilty until the whole process is complete.[5] The multiple levels of appeal do not constitute double jeopardy within Italian or international law.[6] Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have never had a definitive verdict of guilty or innocent passed upon them: that will only happen when the entire legal process has completed. Under Italian law, a verdict becomes final, either by ratification by the Supreme Court, or if the verdict of a lower court is not appealed by either the defense or prosecution.
  • The current appeal is not an appeal against the verdict of the Supreme Court. It is an appeal by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito against their conviction by the 2009 court. It is being held at their request and for their benefit, to re-examine some of the evidence presented in the original trial. Knox and Sollecito have the right to an appeal but were not obliged to request it. They could have withdrawn their appeal, at any time, in which case the Florence court would not now be hearing the case, but the verdict of the original 2009 trial would then have become final.
  • The Presiding Judge is Alessandro Nencini, aged 58, who is the President of the Second Chamber of Appeal of the Court of Florence.[7] He is assisted by Judge Luciana Cicerchia, who is President of the Court of Assizes.[8]
  • Nencini and Cicerchia are part of a panel of judges, including lay judges, who are somewhat like jurors in common-law jurisdictions.
  • The prosecution is led by Alessandro Crini, who is Assistant to the Prosecutor General in Florence.[9]
  • The possible outcomes are that the new appeal could find the defendants provisionally innocent; it could uphold the original verdict and sentence from the 2009 trial; or it could uphold the verdict but change the sentence to either a shorter, or indeed a longer prison sentence.[10] The outcome from this court will again be provisional. If appealed by either party, it will again be referred to the Supreme Court.
  • Under Italian law, defendants have the right to attend their own trials and appeals but are not obliged to do so. Amanda Knox has said she will not attend and Raffaele Sollecito has attended some of the court sessions.[11] Whether they are present, in person, or not, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are represented by their legal teams.
  • The scope of the appeal was determined at the start of the court hearings in September. The Supreme Court gave some guidance on items that should be considered by the appeal court ― for example, the finding by previous courts that Meredith Kercher had been killed by multiple assailants. Very little additional evidence or opinions have been heard, but Judge Nencini and his colleagues will review the full written record of the original trial.
  • Update: The appeals trial concluded 30 January 2014, with the court reconfirming the guilty verdicts for Knox and Sollecito. 28 years and six months for Knox, including an increased sentence for calunnia, and 25 years for Sollecito. The motivations report was deposited by the court 29 April 2014. Knox and Sollecito have announced their decision to appeal to the Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the case in the fall.

Background

Meredith Kercher, a British student was murdered on November 1, 2007, in Perugia, Italy, at the apartment she shared with Amanda Knox, an American student, and two other women. Three people were charged with the murder: Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, Knox's Italian boyfriend, and Rudy Guede, a resident of Perugia, originally from the Ivory Coast. All three pleaded innocent, although Guede admitted being present when it occurred. Guede opted for a fast-track trial, in which the abbreviated process is rewarded by a lighter sentence: he is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence. Knox and Sollecito were found provisionally guilty at a 2009 trial. At their appeal in 2011, they were found innocent (again provisionally) and were released from custody. The case came before the Supreme Court in March this year, and the appeal court's findings were quashed. A new appeal was set for September 2013, in Florence.

Copyright notice

This factsheet was put together by volunteers whose only interest is in presenting the facts of the case, in the face of a great deal of media misunderstanding and misinformation. We give our permission for you to copy, distribute or display this factsheet page, in whole or in part and to make derivative works, including commercial use of the work. You are free to do so with or without attribution to the original authors.


Inquiries are welcomed via media@themurderofmeredithkercher.com or through the Contact page.

Notes

  1. BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23244941
  2. Source: La Nazione, Umbria. http://www.lanazione.it/umbria/cronaca/2013/07/09/917042-meredith-perizia-sollecito-amanda.shtml: "Sarà celebrato davanti alla Corte d'assise d'appello di Firenze. Corte che ha già fissato un primo calendario di udienze e prevede date anche a ottobre e novembre per esaminare il procedimento." Trans:"It will be held before the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Florence. Court which has already provided an initial schedule of hearings and also includes dates in October and November to examine the proceedings."
  3. See summary of Italian criminal law at Studio Legale Canestrini: http://www.canestrinilex.it/eng/risorse/trial.html
  4. The translation at http://www.perugiamurderfile.org/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=599#p141747 was done by a group of volunteers, including those bilingual in English and Italian, including people knowledgeable in Italian law. It is a piece of work of professional quality and not to be confused with some Google translations also available on the Internet.
  5. See summary of Italian criminal law at Studio Legale Canestrini: http://www.canestrinilex.it/eng/risorse/trial.html
  6. See, for example, the Explanatory Report for the European Protocol No. 7 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This clarifies that "The principle [of double jeopardy] established in this provision applies only after the person has been finally acquitted or convicted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of the State concerned." It further explains that "a decision is final if, according to the traditional expression, it has acquired the force of res judicata. This is the case when it is irrevocable, that is to say when no further ordinary remedies are available or when the parties have exhausted such remedies or have permitted the time-limit to expire without availing themselves of them."
  7. See GoNews.it http://www.gonews.it/articolo_210534_Omicidio-Meredith-Kercher-dal-30-settembre-nuovo-appello-Sollecito-Knox.html
  8. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named IC
  9. See article at Firenze Today
  10. See summary of Italian criminal law at Studio Legale Canestrini: http://www.canestrinilex.it/eng/risorse/trial.html
  11. See La Nazione, Firenze