Amanda Knox Unlikely to be Extradited for Retrial
After being acquitted by an Italian appeals court in 2011 for the murder of fellow student Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox’s lawyers say she won’t return to Italy for yet another trial that is reportedly set to begin Sept. 30.
Reconsidering the Sex Game
Earlier this year, Italy’s Supreme Court ordered Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian, to stand trial again in the slaying death of Kercher, according to CNN. But a spokesperson for Knox told CNN that Knox’s presence isn’t required at the trial. No extradition proceedings have been reported.
The Italian high court in March ruled that Knox must be retried and then explained its ruling in June, directing the appellate court to reconsider the possibility that Knox and Raffaele killed Kercher during a sex game that got out of control.
Knox and Kercher, a Brit, were roommates studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, in 2007 when Kercher was brutally murdered. Knox became a media sensation as the world watched an Italian court convict and sentence her to 26 years in prison, of which she served 4 before the first appellate court overturned her conviction.
She returned to the United States in October 2011 and wrote a book about her adventures.
Even the possibility that Knox would be retried may seem strange to Americans. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits “double jeopardy,” meaning a person can’t be tried twice for the same crime.
Like most European nations, Italy does not forbid it, treating a retrial as a simple continuation of the first one. “Under Italian law, a prosecutor can appeal an acquittal,” confirms Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm in Albany, N.Y.
Her home country seems to be taking her side. “Since the principle of double jeopardy is highly regarded in the United States, experts believe that there is a good chance the United States will not extradite her to Italy for trial,” Rosenblum says. “However, under Italian law she can be tried in absentia.”
Absent, but Not Fonder
That leaves Italian prosecutors to carry on without her, which they can do.
“Knox’s lawyer said recently that she will not return to Italy for trial,” points out Rosenblum. “I believe due to the very public nature of the case, and the fact that they have devoted so much time and resources to the case thus far, the prosecution will likely conduct a trial in her absence.”
In the United States, it’s unlikely that would happen. “Under federal Law,” he says, “a felony trial can only be held in absentia if [the defendant] begins the trial in person and (1) voluntarily leaves after the trial begins; or (2) is so disruptive that he needs to be removed.”
If Knox is convicted in absentia, Rosenblum says the United States will remain unlikely to serve her up to Italy and would refuse to extradite her. She would be safe as long as she stays home in Seattle. “We know one vacation spot Ms. Knox won’t be visiting any time soon,” confirms Rosenblum. “Italy.”
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