Amanda Knox was found guilty — again — of murdering her roommate in Italy and has been sentenced to 28 years and six months in prison.
It’s the second time she’s been found guilty of the same crime. The Italian justice system has been heavily criticised by Americans because the rules allow for someone to be tried again and again for the same crime, even if they’re convicted and acquitted.
The case has been controversial — Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, was found dead in the apartment she shared with Knox in 2007.
Prosecutors insist that Knox, an American student who was also studying abroad in Perugia, and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito killed Kercher during a sex game gone wrong or a fight over household chores. Defence attorneys for the pair say they were wrongly implicated and that the evidence against them is nearly non-existent.
Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009 and acquitted in 2011. Knox spent four years behind bars in Italy after the initial guilty verdict.
She insists that she’s not going back to Italy to serve more prison time and has said the Italians would have to pull her back “kicking and screaming.”
And it’s unlikely that Knox will be extradited, according to a legal expert who spoke with CNN.
U.S. law says a person cannot be tried twice on the same charge, and that’s exactly what happened to Knox in Italy. A higher court ordered a retrial after Knox’s acquittal, creating a seemingly never-ending circuit of trials, appeals, and retrials. Under Italian law, if either side is unhappy with this new verdict, they can appeal.
Former prosecutor Sean Casey told CNN: “Under U.S. law, she was once put in jeopardy and later acquitted. Under the treaty [the U.S. has with Italy], extradition should not be granted.”
Justin Peters, a crime correspondent for Slate, writes that the U.S. is “theoretically obligated” to surrender fugitives who have been convicted of crimes in Italy if Italy requests that they be extradited. But there are exceptions — countries can deny requests if the accused has been subjected to double jeopardy in Italian court.
Even if the U.S. doesn’t use the double jeopardy argument to fight Knox’s extradition, there are other means the government could use to keep her in the country.
Peters notes that the current treaty says Italy would have to provide “a reasonable basis to believe that the person sought committed the offence for which extradition is requested,” and the evidence in the Knox-Sollecito trial has been shaky. TIME notes that Knox is now in limbo until Italy decides whether to make an extradition request.
Finally, an international law expert told British newspaper The Independent that if the U.S. refuses to extradite Knox, Italy could go to Interpol for help or issue an international arrest warrant. If that were to happen, Knox would be safe in U.S. territory but not if she traveled abroad.
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