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Knox Convicted

Knox and Sollecito (New York Daily News)

An Italian appeals court has just convicted former exchange student Amanda Knox on murder charges and sentenced her to 28½ years in prison. Her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years.

The charges stem from the November 2007 murder of Knox’s former roommate—Meredith Kercher—who was found dead in the house they shared in Perugia, Italy. Knox and her boyfriend Sollecito were convicted of the murders a few years later, but were released in 2011 when the charges were overturned on appeal.

For the next year, Knox lived quietly and unassumingly in Seattle, Washington. Sadly, her break from the spotlight would be short-lived. In March, Italy’s Supreme Court overturned the acquittals for both Knox and Sollecito and, as you can see, this is the end result.

Amanda Knox today (ABC News)

If either of them ever returns to Italy, their second destination after the airport will be a prison cell. Of course, Knox has no intention of ever going back, as she expressed in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica earlier this month.

When asked what she would do if found guilty, Knox said simply, “I will become… a fugitive.” And who could blame her?

Fortunately, the American justice system—despite its many faults—will not allow a citizen to be tried twice on the same charge, so it’s unlikely Knox will see any more jail time. She already spent four years behind Italian bars for a crime she still says she did not commit, so I’m sure she’s gotten the last “taste of Italy” she could ever want.

There are plenty of other countries to visit… but I suggest Amanda not see them through a student exchange program. Call me superstitious…

Knox Going Nowhere

Amanda Knox after her acquittal (Reuters)

It was 2009 when American student Amanda Knox was convicted of murdering her British roommate—21-year-old exchange student Meredith Kercher—in what some believed was a kinky sex act gone wrong.

Knox has always denied this allegation, of course, pointing out that she has never “strapped on leather or [bore] a whip.” And I believe her, if for no other reason than the fact that people who enjoy kinky sex rarely broadcast this desire publicly.

At any rate, Knox spent several years in an Italian prison until her case was overturned for lack of evidence in 2011 and she was finally able to return home. Since her acquittal she has been living peacefully in Seattle, Washington and keeping a low profile… at least until last year.

That’s when the Supreme Court in Italy reviewed Knox’s case, decided some evidence had not been considered and questions still needed to be answered, and decided to retry her for Kercher’s murder. The retrial is scheduled to begin this fall, but now it looks as if the defendant may not even be present.

A spokesman for the Knox family recently announced that Amanda would not return to Italy for her retrial since there is “no requirement she be there.” And Knox never said she would attend in the first place. This means that if the Italian government eventually orders her to return, they will have to go through the American government and request her extradition.

Meredith Kercher (Reuters)

Many believe any such extradition request would be denied by the U.S., but I have my doubts. I worry because of an unrelated case that could toss a proverbial monkey wrench into Knox’s plans: the case of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

When Snowden fled to Russia after revealing top-secret information about several NSA surveillance programs, the United States requested his extradition and was denied. In our government’s view, Snowden was a traitor and was guilty of jeopardizing America’s national security, so he deserved to return home to face justice. The Russians obviously disagreed and even granted Snowden asylum for one year, renewable indefinitely.

Needless to say, President Obama and the American government were pissed. Despite efforts to improve relations with Russia—efforts they thought were being reciprocated—it looked as if things were destined to get worse. After all, how could the Russians protect someone with the potential to harm America if they were truly interested in improving relations between the two countries?

What the f—?

This is why I think Amanda Knox could be in trouble if Italy appeals for her extradition from the United States—even though the concept of retrying someone a second time for the same crime seems utterly ridiculous to me. Assume, for a moment, that the Italian authorities actually have some new evidence that might prove Knox’s guilt. Would America allow the Italians to extradite Knox simply because of the injustice they suffered when they requested Snowden’s extradition from Russia?

Put another way: Can we really deny an extradition request when new evidence could result in true justice being served?

I worry for Amanda Knox. And I hope no one sends her back to Italy since she was acquitted for this crime years ago. In America we have something called double jeopardy, which prevents a defendant from being tried a second time for the same crime. I know I’m biased since I am an American, but I like to think I would agree with this regardless of my citizenship.

It is all about fairness, and to me that is pretty important.

Bad, Bad Berlusconi

Berlusconi is sweating it… as he did with Ruby up to 13 times! (courtesy of

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi—also known as Il Cavaliere (The Knight)—accomplished a lot during his three stints as the Top Dog in the boot-shaped European nation. And in his business life, he has been especially successful.

To date, Berlusconi is the owner of the AC Milan soccer team; the 194th richest man in the world, with Forbes estimating his 2013 worth somewhere around $6 billion; the longest post-war Prime Minister of Italy; the third-longest since Italy was reunified; the leader of the People of Freedom party; and was the most senior leader of the G8 countries for a number of years.

Of course, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for this colorful Italian character. For decades, Berlusconi has been embroiled in all manner of scandals and controversies.

In 1990, he was found guilty of giving false testimony in front of the Court of Verona. Fortunately, some kind of amnesty passed in 1989 pardoned him and prevented any sentence from being applied.

In 2009, Berlusconi was mentioned in the same breath as the word bribery for allegedly paying a British lawyer named David Mills to provide favorable witness evidence in court. And for his role he received no real punishment to speak of.

Ruby is going to get you, Silvio! (courtesy of Gossip Blog)

In 2011 and 2012, Silvio B. kept very busy. First came charges of abusing his office by releasing confidential wiretaps meant to discredit his political rivals. The paper Il Giornale—which is owned by Berlusconi’s brother—published the damning information and as a result, big brother Silvio received a one-year jail sentence.

The second big controversy in this two-year span involved tax evasion and resulted in Berlusconi being sentenced to four years in prison. He was also barred from seeking political office for five years, not that this matters to someone worth billions of dollars.

I’m sure he’ll find ways to fill his time… when he’s not behind bars, I mean.

Unfortunately, it now looks as if bad Berlusconi will have even more prison time than he originally planned thanks, once again, to a scandal, this time of the sexual variety.

In 2011, Berlusconi was charged with having sex with a minor and abuse of power. Apparently, he hooked up with an underage prostitute named Karima el Mahroug—professionally known as “Ruby the Heart-Stealer“—a total of 13 times. She had lied about her age, of course, but that mattered little to the Italian court.

And when Ruby was later arrested for theft, the then Italian Prime Minister claimed she was related to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and tried to persuade police to set her free.

Ruby gets naughty (courtesy of Face Foot)

This was enough for an Italian court to find Berlusconi guilty and to sentence him to 7 years in prison, again barring him from political office for another 5 years.

And thus ends the tale of bad, bad Berlusconi… a man with money, power, political clout and an insatiable need to bang young hookers. Here’s hoping he finds a creative way of satisfying those same needs in prison!

The Amanda Knox Saga Continues

Knox in court (courtesy of Mahoney Criminal Defense Group)

Knox in court (courtesy of Mahoney Criminal Defense Group)

On November 2007, the body of slain British student Meredith Kercher was discovered in the Perugia, Italy home she shared with several others, among them American student Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito.

The case was all over the news once Knox and Sollecito were arrested for the murder and convicted two years later. Eventually, however, the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence and the arrest of Rudy Guede, an Ivorian drifter who was later convicted of the murder.

Knox returned to her Seattle home in 2011 and has since tried to live a normal life far from the spotlight that shined so brightly on her before. For the last few years, she has been attending the University of Washington and even wrote a book, which is scheduled for publication in April.

Perhaps she should have waited because this week, it looks like there could be another chapter in this ongoing saga.

According to ANSA, the Italian news agency, Perugian prosecutors have appealed Knox’s acquittal and want the court to overturn their initial decision. If this happens, then it is possible that both Knox and Sollecito could be headed back to Italy to face another trial in appellate court.

“We are still convinced that [Knox and Sollecito] are the co-authors of Meredith’s homicide,” prosecutor Giovanni Galati said recently. As such, the appeal of Knox’s acquittal was automatic, but many feel the odds of it being reversed are slim.

Coming soon to a bookstore near you (courtesy of RadarOnline)

And no one hopes this will be the case more than Amanda Knox. After all, her original murder sentence was 26 years. And I don’t know anyone who would be anxious to spend that time in an American prison, much less an Italian one.

When I first heard Knox’s story, I felt overwhelmingly that she had something to do with her roommate’s murder. Being such a strong believer in justice and the law, though, my current opinion is this: leave the girl alone. She faced an Italian court and was acquitted of this heinous crime. And though I know far less about the Italian system of justice than I do our own, that’s good enough for me.

With any luck, this latest appeal will fall on deaf ears and Knox can finally return to something she hasn’t enjoyed for some time: a normal life. At this point, I think she’s earned it.

UPDATE: Uh oh. It looks like an Italian court has overturned Knox’s acquittal, which means she and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito will be heading back to stand trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Will this saga never end?

Something in the Air


Marijuana (Photo credit: warrantedarrest)

According to a recent study by Italy’s Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research, the air of eight Italian cities contain trace amounts of the psychoactive drugs cocaine and marijuana. They are Florence, Naples, Palermo, Bologna, Milan, Turin, Verona and Rome.

Yes, Italy is the place to be if you want to get drunk on great wine, fat on amazing food and high on intoxicating air!

Well, not really. The amounts are too small to produce any physical effects, and only large enough to be measured by very sensitive instruments.

But just in case you’re interested, this highest concentration of air drugs were found in Turin; Palermo had the least. For marijuana, Florence has the edge, especially during the winter months when levels tend to spike.

Call your travel agent today to book your next vacation there!

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