Calumny

[Calunnia, pp. 29-35; translated by komponisto]

The “spontaneous” statements made by Amanda Knox on November 6, as well as the note [memoriale] subsequently written by her, have been introduced into the trial record.

This Corte di Assise di Appello, while confirming the procedural ruling [ordinanza] of the first-level Corte di Assise on this point, has nevertheless specified that, while they are usable with respect to the crime of calumny against Patrick Lumumba, they cannot be usable with respect to the other crimes against Meredith Kercher to the extent that, as the Corte di Cassazione has also confirmed (ruling no. 990/08, dated 4-01-2008), they are subject to absolute nullification in this regard [sono affetti, sotto questo profilo, da nullità assoluta], as having been given in the absence of an attorney by a person who had already assumed the role of a suspect [indagata].

The evidence against the current defendants with regard to the crime of murder aggravated by sexual violence (as well as the other crimes connected to these) cannot, therefore, include these “spontaneous” statements, but only, possibly [in ipotesi], the note written afterward.

In these statements, Amanda Knox indicated Patrick Lumumba as the perpetrator of the homicide, and placed herself in the house on Via Della Pergola, without however attributing to herself any active participation, but rather as a terrified and confused spectator.

According to the prosecution theory, Amanda Knox, at this point exhausted by the long interrogation and especially demoralized after having learned from her interrogators that Raffaele Sollecito had (so to speak) abandoned her to her fate, denying [her] the alibi that she had offered up until then (having spent the whole night together at Sollecito’s house), launched a final attempt at defense, by reporting more or less what really happened in the residence on Via Della Pergola, but substituting Patrick Lumumba for Rudy Guede: “black man for black man”, in the Public Minister’s words.

This Court does not accept the prosecution theory.

To determine the real significance [per valutare la reale portata] of the “spontaneous” statements and the note written practically right afterward, we must take into account the context in which the former were given and the latter was written.

The obsessive length of the interrogations, carried out during [both] day and night, by more than one person, on a young and foreign girl who at the time did not speak Italian at all well, was unaware of her own rights, did not have the assistance of an attorney (which she should have been entitled to, being at this point suspected of very serious crimes), and was moreover being assisted by an interpreter who — as shown by Ms. Bongiorno — did not limit herself to translating, but induced her to force herself to remember, explaining that she [Amanda] was confused in her memories, perhaps because of the trauma she experienced, makes it wholly understandable that she was in a situation of considerable psychological pressure (to call it stress seems an understatement [appare riduttivo]), enough to raise doubts about the actual spontaneity of her statements; a spontaneity which would have strangely [singolarmente] arisen in the middle of the night, after hours and hours of interrogation: the so-called spontaneous statements were made at 1:45 am (middle of the night) on 11-6-2007 (the day after the interrogation had started) and again at 5:45 am afterward, and the note was written a few hours later.

In order to show that, in the days following the killing of Meredith, Amanda Knox was not at all disturbed at the police station, the testimony [deposizioni] of some police officials and other young women who had been summoned there was recalled: Amanda and Raffaele, they said, were displaying affection [si scambiavano delle effusioni], and Amanda had even engaged in a few gymnastic maneuvers while waiting.

In reality, however — beside the fact that the affectionate displays, simple tenderness of two lovers, could have been a way of finding comfort in the situation, and beside the fact that gymnastic exercises could also themselves be a way of relieving [esorcizzare, lit. “exorcising”] what was certainly an anxious and frightening environment for all involved — apart from all these considerations, it must be observed that this testimony refers to the beginning of the time at the police station and not late at night (1:45 am and 5:45 am) when the so-called “spontaneous” statements were made. Which, contrary to the prosecution’s assumption, serves [only] to demonstrate that Amanda Knox, who at the beginning had no reason to be afraid, went into a state of oppression and stress precisely as a result of her interrogation and the way it was conducted.

At the hearing of 3-13-2009, the Public Minister, evidently to support the absolute legitimacy of the transcription [verbalizzazione] of the so-called spontaneous statements, asked Ms. Donnino (the interpreter present at the time of the “spontaneous” statements, but appearing at said hearing as a witness): “Is it your understanding that at the beginning Amanda Knox asked that the questions also be transcribed?…Is it your understanding that she asked that questions and answers be transcribed in her native language, that is in English in addition to Italian?”

To [both of] these questions Ms. Donnino replied in the negative.

But could one really expect that a twenty-year old girl from a foreign country, subjected to interrogation for hours by the police, would be so quick, lucid, and even courageous as to formulate requests of this sort, or indeed even to suppose that she might be in a position to formulate them?

Beyond the formal aspect, the context in which those statements were made was clearly characterized by a psychological situation which for Amanda Knox had become an unsupportable burden: witness Donnino reports that an outright emotional shock on the part of Amanda Knox occurred when the matter of the exchange of messages with Lumumba was raised.

Now, since Lumumba was in fact uninvolved in the murder, the emotional shock cannot be considered to have arisen from her having been caught (doing what, exchanging a message with a person who had nothing to do with the crime?), but rather from having reached the limit of emotional tension.

In that context, it is understandable that Amanda Knox, yielding to pressure and fatigue, would have hoped to put an end to that situation by giving her interrogators that which, in the end, they wanted to hear: a name, a murderer.

But why Patrick Lumumba, exactly? Because the police had found, on Amanda Knox’s phone, the message “see you later”,  sent by her to Lumumba on the evening of November 1; which could also mean she actually intended to see him later to go somewhere, maybe to the house on Via Della Pergola — whence the insistent questioning about that message, its meaning, and its intended recipient.

By “giving up” [Dando “in pasto”] that name to those who were interrogating her so harshly, Amanda Knox probably hoped to put an end to that pressure, now a true torment after long hours, while adding details and constructing a brief story around that name would certainly not have been particularly difficult, if for no other reason than that many details and inferences [illazioni] had already appeared in many newspapers the next day, and were circulating all throughout the city, considering the modest dimensions of Perugia.

Furthermore, the very manner in which the story is told [la stessa articolazione del racconto], as contained not only in the transcripts of the spontaneous statements but also in the note written immediately afterward, makes it seem like the confused narration of a dream, albeit a macabre one, and not the description of events that actually happened — which confirms the state that Amanda Knox was in at the time she made the spontaneous statements and wrote the note, and rules out the possibility that the purpose of either could have been to conceal [tacere, lit. “keep quiet”] the name of the actual perpetrator, Rudy Guede, [even] on the assumption that it was known to her, as a co-conspirator [concorrente].

It is indeed totally illogical to suppose that Amanda Knox, if she actually had been a participant [concorrente] in the crime, could have hoped that naming Patrick Lumumba — whom in such a case she would have known to be entirely uninvolved and far, even physically, from where the crime took place — would have helped her position in any way; it would, if anything, have been easier for her to indicate the real perpetrator, even while stressing her own absolute innocence: after all, she lived in that house, and for her to have been in her own room at the time of the crime, perhaps actually entertaining Raffaele Sollecito as held by the first-level Corte di Assise, would have been entirely normal, and would certainly not have entailed responsibility for a crime committed by others in the next room.

Thus for Amanda Knox, in the event that she had been inside the house on Via Della Pergola at the time of the murder, the easiest way to defend herself would have been to indicate the true author of the crime, [who would have been] present in any case inside the house, because this would have made her credible; and not to instead indicate a totally innocent individual, whom she had no reason to hope would be without an alibi, and who might have been able to refute the account she had provided to the police.

This Court therefore finds that Amanda Knox had indicated Lumumba as the perpetrator only because, at that moment, it appeared to be the quickest and easiest way to put an end to the situation in which she found herself, her interrogators having insisted on an explanation of the message she sent to him.

It follows from this that, with regard to the murder, not only may the “spontaneous” statements not be used, but in reality neither may the note written later, since, although usable from a procedural standpoint, it does not deserve to be relied upon from a substantive one, as it does not represent what really happened in this case.

Besides which, in the note in question Amanda Knox does not indicate either herself or Raffaele Sollecito as the perpetrator of the crime, but [instead] writes of total confusion, [and] of not being in a position to remember what she is asked — the only thing of which she is sure being her and Raffaele Sollecito’s innocence.

To quote [original English text, with minor corrections]: “In these flashbacks that I’m having, I see Patrick as the murderer, but the way the truth feels in my mind, there is no way for me to have known because I don’t remember FOR SURE if I was at my house that night”…and then… “The questions that need answering, at least for how I’m thinking are: 1. Why did Raffaele lie? (or for you) Did Raffaele lie? 2. Why did I think of Patrick? 3. Is the evidence proving my presence at the time and place of the crime reliable? If so, what does this say about my memory? Is it reliable? 4. Is there any other evidence condemning Patrick or any other person? ”

However, this Court does not find that there is any significant objective evidence that, when she made her spontaneous statements and wrote her note, Amanda Knox was in not only a situation of considerable psychological pressure and stress but also even in a condition of not intending or wishing; so that, having accused of such a serious crime a person whom she knew to be innocent, she must in any case be held responsible for the crime of calumny, the constitution of which does not require any specific purpose from a psychological point of view, such as shifting the blame off of oneself [conseguire la propria impunità] (an aggravating circumstance alleged [here]). Generic criminal intent [il dolo generico] is sufficient, thus including the aim of escaping from a particularly oppressive personal situation.

According to the prosecution’s theory, it would be contradictory to find Amanda Knox guilty of calumny while acquitting her of the other crimes, since (it is argued) Amanda Knox could know that Patrick Lumumba  was innocent of the murder only because she herself had participated in the crime, and thus was aware of its true perpetrators; if she had not participated in the crime or had not been present in the house on Via Della Pergola at the moment of the murder, she could not have known that Lumumba was innocent.

This argument cannot be accepted: the circumstances under which Lumumba’s name emerged in the course of the police interrogation (a message directed to him taken from the cellular phone of Amanda Knox), and the lack of evidence of a connection between Lumumba and Meredith Kercher [should have] allowed Amanda Knox, even if actually innocent herself and far from the house on Via Della Pergola at the time of the crime, to be aware of Lumumba’s total innocence, and thus of the calumny that she was committing by pointing to him as the perpetrator of the murder.

There is no contradiction, therefore, in finding her guilty of the crime of calumny, and nonetheless rejecting the aggravating circumstance under C.P. Article 61 no.2.

Taking into account the criteria established by C.P. Article 133, and recognizing mitigating circumstances equivalent to the aggravating circumstance under C.P. Article 368, second paragraph, for the reasons already explained by the first-level Corte di Assise (lack of criminal record, young age, involvement in academic pursuits [impegno nella vita scholastica], etc.), and considering the particular gravity of the underlying crime of calumny, it is equitable to determine the sentence for the crime of calumny as three years of confinement.

The civil sanctions concerning this crime thus remain intact, and the defendant is sentenced to the payment of court costs incurred at the present level by Patrick Lumumba.

To summarize, the crime of calumny has occurred, but, without the aggravating circumstance under C.P. Article 61 no. 2, the consummation of the crime of calumny cannot be considered evidence against Amanda Knox with respect to the other alleged crimes.

Next: Statements of Rudy Guede

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