US will likely extradite Amanda Knox

2014-01-31 08:53

The US will have little legal argument for turning down an extradition request should Italy seek the return of Amanda Knox for the 2007 murder of her British housemate.

In the latest dramatic twist in the high-profile case, a court in Florence yesterday sentenced Knox to 28 years and six months in prison for killing Meredith Kercher in the university town of Perugia.

Knox was following the proceedings from her home town of Seattle in the US, where she has lived since a previous acquittal in 2011, which Italian prosecutors appealed.

Her lawyers now plan to appeal this latest conviction in turn to the Italian Supreme Court, but if they fail Knox could find herself flying back to a country where she has already spent four years in jail.

“As popular as she is here and as pretty as she is here – because that’s what this is all about, if she was not an attractive woman we wouldn’t have the group love-in – she will be extradited if it’s upheld,” said Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

While Knox has won a great deal of support in the US, where she is seen as the innocent victim of a miscarriage of justice, Dershowitz said there are no legal grounds for preventing extradition.

Nor would it play well diplomatically, given that the US demands more extraditions than any other nation, he said.

“The Italian legal system, though I don’t love it, is a legitimate legal system and we have a treaty with Italy so I don’t see how we would resist,” he told AFP.

“We’re trying to get Snowden back – how does it look if we want Snowden back and we won’t return someone for murder?” he asked, referring to fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Knox’s supporters argue she should be protected from extradition because the Italian system – which allows prosecutors to appeal a verdict – violates the US legal prohibition on double jeopardy: trying someone twice for the same crime.

Legal experts attach little weight to this argument.

“They always forget she was convicted first,” said Julian Ku, who teaches transnational law at Hofstra University.

Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito served four years in prison for the murder before being released after an appeal led to their 2011 acquittal.

The Italian Supreme Court overturned that ruling in 2013, sending the case back for retrial.

Italy must first file an extradition request with the US State Department, which will then determine if it should ask the Justice Department to detain Knox.

Knox then has the right to challenge her extradition in a US court.

“The chances of her winning that are not high because there has to be some very strong claim she’d have to make to block her extradition,” Ku said in a telephone interview.

While the “public notoriety” of the case could theoretically push the State Department to deny the request, Ku said it would be difficult to argue that the Italians didn’t meet US standards of justice.

“I followed the trial, it was slow but I never got the sense that it was unfair,” he said.

A US State Department official confirmed that there is an extradition treaty between the US and Italy, but declined to comment on Thursday’s verdict and trial.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Audit Senior / Bookkeeper to Trial Balance

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Placement Point (Pty) Ltd
R15 000.00 - R21 000.00 Per Month

Key Accounts - IT

Southern Shore Recruitment
R15 000.00 - R25 000.00 Per Month

Sales Representative- Knysna

George - Knysna
George Employment Consultants
R15 000.00 Per Month Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.