The verdict heard around the world Monday came from an Italian court freeing Amanda Knox, a 24-year-old American woman who’d previously been convicted of murder. In 2009 Knox was convicted of murdering her roommate, Meredith Kercher, while in Perugia, Italy as an exchange student. Though she’d initially been sentenced to 26 years, an appeals court composed of two judges reversed Knox’s conviction and freed her yesterday. The court also released Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s former boyfriend.
One person who didn’t get out of prison yesterday is Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast native who was convicted as an accomplice of Knox and Sollecito. Prosecutors had alleged that Knox, Sollecito, Guede and Kercher had participated in a drug-fueled sex game that went awry, leading to Kercher’s death. But later DNA evidence poked holes in that theory, exonerating Knox and Sollecito. Prosecutors say they’re going to appeal Knox and Sollectio being freed. In the meantime, the question of what’s going to happen to Guede is the one on everyone’s mind.
By all accounts, Guede and Knox were only very casual acquaintances, and Sollecito didn’t know Guede at all. So the question of why Knox, Sollecito and Guede would be engaged in a sexual tryst was always one that plagued the trial. Nevertheless, though Guede has said that he was present in Kercher’s apartment the night of the murder, he has simultaneously maintained that Knox and Sollecito were with him. And when Guede was convicted, the court acknowledged that he didn’t act alone, though Sollecito and Knox were never mentioned by name as being his accomplices. Where that leaves the case is in a strange and confusing state in which Guede says Knox and Sollecito are guilty, the court says Guede is guilty but not alone, and Knox and Sollecito say they are totally innocent and weren’t at Kercher’s apartment the night of the killing.
In light of Knox and Sollecito’s release, Guede now says he’s also going to ask for a retrial. The difference for Guede, however, is that he’s far less of a sympathetic case than Knox. A smalltime drug dealer and Black African immigrant, Guede's case is not the same kind of front-page tabloid fodder as Knox, a pretty, young white American woman. To many people, Guede looks like a killer, while Knox does not. That’s not to say that the Italian courts are necessarily racist, of course. But the facts are the facts: The white woman and man are free. The Black man remains in prison.
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(Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)