Message from the Italy-USA Foundation to the President of Italian Republic

The President of Italy-USA Foundation, Hon. Rocco Girlanda, sent the following letter to the President of Italian Republic, Hon. Giorgio Napolitano, regarding the case of Amanda Knox.

Illustrious President,

I address you as President of the Italy-USA Foundation – that as you know is an international bipartisan institution to which dozens of parliamentarians belong, together with Italian scientists, journalists, diplomats, politicians – and as a parliamentary member of the Judiciary Committee in the Chamber of Deputies. The event of the American student Amanda Knox’s detainment has provoked many discussions and debates, above all in the United States where even members of Congress and other influential institutional personalities are involved. I have been working personally for over a year to try to alleviate the tensions, both in Italy and in the United States, that this case has generated. Also, in full respect of the trial process and of the role of the judicial magistrates, we must make note that the appellate trial has objectively opened more wide and resounding doubts on what was considered clear evidence in the first phase, in which further expertise and examination of testimony were not admitted, limiting the debate in fact to the only reasons of accusation. After all, the same president of the Court of Appeals has opened the second level of trial with an eloquent clarification: “The respect of article 533 of the Penal Procedure Code (pronunciation of sentence only if the accused is guilty of the offense contested beyond any reasonable doubt) does not consent to share totally the decision of the Criminal Court from the first level”. The question that I ask myself is who will compensate two young twenty-year olds, in the hoped for case that the appellate trial recognizes their innocence, of the four years of life and freedom that they have been unjustly deprived and for which no economic compensation could ever reimburse. The use of preventative incarceration will unfortunately with time characterize our country. Even in the United States such measures are difficult to comprehend in so far as the varying rules from state to state. In the U.S. one can be detained from 48 to 72 hours, after which they are officially charged or are released. Trials like that of Perugia could be celebrated with the charged in conditions of freedom, eventually with the restrictive measures about the ex-patriot regarding a foreign citizen. Still, the magistrate has adopted the possible reiteration of the offense as a reason for the detention in jail, a motivation that I limit myself to define as surreal for those like me whom for over a year in these parts have had the chance to get to know Amanda Knox. I have in fact felt the obligation to write a book on Amanda Knox filled with many talks that I had with her in prison, in order to bring her justice and to explain to the world’s public opinion that the true Amanda is a girl completely different from the image that, with the contributions of the media, has emerged from the trials. All of the Penitentiary Police personnel of the prison of Perugia, that have come to know her in the past three years, have confirmed her exemplary behaviour done with respect and kindness towards all of the other detainees and towards the personnel. Amanda is a girl of which today I am proud to call a great friend. She is an ideal girl with which I would send my five children on vacation. Yet from the beginning, this case has pointed out some of the forceful and disturbing rule of law. During the investigation, a television and internet interview was conducted with a State Police officer that showed the corridor of the Roman Police offices, where there are framed photographs of such figures like the leaders of organized crime, serial killers, and other criminals convicted with severe crimes. The officer in question also showed some of the successes of the Central Operating Services, and right after the portrait of Bernardo Provenzano, head of the mafia, there was a framed portrait of Amanda Knox. This portrait was displayed in the State Police offices even before the first trial, and it was accompanied by very serious declarations to the press of that ruling (which has never been sanctioned) where he argues that a “psychological” investigation without the help of science and technology has, “allowed us to arrive very quickly to identify the culprits”. Is it not necessary to recall here that according to the legal principles of our country a defendant can only be found guilty at the end of three sets of hearings by the judiciary and not at the end of police interviews. It seems indeed rather curious and disturbing that in a democratic and liberal state, despite what is required by the Code of Criminal Procedure about the need for absolute and unambiguous evidence, it is possible to judge a citizen convicted only on “psychological” bases after a police interrogation. Through the light findings from the appeal process, the so-called evidence and testimonies of the prosecution have proved to be at best considered contradictory and unreliable. All of these distortions have occurred in the various phases of the investigation by the out of place statements from the police and during the first trial; they been widely reported and distributed throughout United States, even in talk shows with tens of million viewers. These distortions, not without reason, are fueling accusations against the administration of justice in our country. As Martin Luther King wrote in a letter from the Birmingham, Alabama prison, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Justice too long delayed is justice denied”. In this light and with the hope of a different ruling on the Amanda Knox trial taking place in Perugia, I’m well aware of the feelings you have towards the American nation and towards the excellent, historic friendship between the two countries. I would make an appeal, Mr. President, because your authoritative intervention will help to reconcile and mitigate the many controversies that this incident has generated on both sides of the Atlantic. In expressing my deepest gratitude, to the many citizens of Italy and America that the Italy-USA Foundation is honoured to represent, I take this time to express my utmost respects. 

Rocco Girlanda

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