Archive for January, 2014

Meredith Kercher: What Price Memory?

January 30, 2014


Later today, January 30th 2014, yet another verdict is due in the murder trials of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. Hopefully, if justice is truly done, they will be exonerated once and for all and the Kerchers will finally accept the truth: Meredith Kercher was killed by Rudy Guede, known knife-carrying burglar, when she unwittingly entered her rented flat while he was in the act of robbing it. I have wanted to write this post, have been thinking about it for several years, but quite frankly have felt intimidated by online trolls and been fearful of causing offense. But now, today, it seems important to acknowledge the elephant in the living room and publicly question what drives the Kerchers to continue ignoring the evidentiary facts and persist with unfounded accusations against two innocent people, while displaying zero interest in the one guilty party who can definitively be linked to the crime.

Does intense grief excuse a person from doing horrendous wrong? This is the question I have pondered over and over again since I first began researching the Meredith Kercher murder and subsequent witch hunt against Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. The guilty person, Rudy Guede, has long been identified and to any sensible and thorough researcher of the evidence, his lone involvement is beyond question. There is no DNA evidence linking Sollecito and Knox to the crime, no motive and neither of their psychological profiles are compatible with violent murder. The original prosecution case of a “sex game gone wrong” (what even is that?) was a fabrication of Prosecutor Mignini, already convicted for similiar misconduct in the infamous “Butcher of Florence” investigation. This is a man who has demonstrated a lurid obsession with ritual-sex murders arising from a fantasy world that is reminiscent of the plot of Kubrick’s last film “Eyes Wide Shut”, only as re-imagined by David Cronenberg. The revised theory, that Knox killed Kercher due to disputes about cleaning, is equally ludicrous and utterly fails to explain how this would involve either Rudy Guede or Raffaele Sollecito.

Despite the 100% lack of evidence against Knox and Sollecito and the 100% existence of same against Rudy Guede, the Kercher family, via the tabloids and in collaboration with Mignini and their publicity-hungry legal team in Italy, have continued to insist that Knox and Sollecito are involved. This sad and wrong-headed obsession of the Kerchers has already cost both innocent youngsters 4 years of their lives, spent in Italian prisons before being acquitted, and now that the acquittal has been overturned on a technicality, they still are prevented from moving on with their lives. It has been particularly impossible for Sollecito, who lives in Italy after all, to rebuild his life and return to the pursuits he had prior to meeting Amanda Knox at a classical music recital in 2005. Neither of them will ever be free of association to a horrific crime, simply because Knox happened to be the victim’s housemate and did not flee Italy, unlike Kercher’s supposedly better friends (British students), but remained there hoping to be of help to the investigation and solace to the Kercher family when they arrived. For this she was rewarded by becoming the chief defendant in a shocking trial while Sollecito, with even more tenuous links to the event, had his fate cruelly lumped in with hers.

Thousands upon thousands of online trolls, particularly those based in the UK, continue to write vicious character assassinations about Knox and Sollecito, even going so far as to access their private Facebook pages and engage in ugly flame wars with both them and their many supporters. I myself have been on the receiving end of bizarrely vicious abuse from fanatical haters, for comments I’ve published here and elsewhere online in support of Raffaele and Amanda. One of these, who may or may not be the Hollywood film producer Don Murphy*, spews venom of a particularly vile hue. (*Paramount Pictures did not respond to my enquiries trying to determine if this prolific online troll is in fact the producer of “Natural Born Killers” or an imposter. The online consensus appears to be that it is actually Murphy, which beggars belief, if true.) The Kerchers could stop all of this hateful libel in an instant but they don’t. In fact, they encourage it with their own persistent accusations.

It is considered in extremely poor taste to criticize the Kerchers. (I am sure I will get some really nasty emails after posting this. I can handle it.) After all, their Meredith was savagely butchered and they have experienced unimaginable loss and suffering, all in the full glare of the public eye. They are considered untouchable due to their status as the victim’s family.

But I am going to criticize them today, as well as analyze their reasons for behaving as they have done.

As proven in cases like the Robin Hood Hills murders and some other wrongful convictions, it is indeed possible for the victim’s family to rise above their own personal pain and seek true justice and not be satisfied with the wrong person(s) being punished. This is a very high moral standard and I realize it may seem like asking a lot. But ask yourself this: if a loved one was killed, would you really be happy that as many people as possible were jailed for the crime, or would you want to be absolutely certain that only the guilty were punished?

I can’t even imagine being in the situation but my claim is that I would aspire to the latter position. I would not want an innocent person to suffer to compound the suffering that had already unfairly occurred.

So Why Can’t the Kerchers Accept the Truth?

John Kercher describes himself, within the first few pages of his sad book about his daughter Meredith’s murder, as a freelance journalist with 30 years experience working for major national news sources, doing features and celebrity interviews.

Odd then, that when I try searching for his by-line, the only “celebrity interviews” I find are a couple of Q&A’s for the website This Is Money, with someone I’ve never heard of called Carol McGiffin (apparently she appeared on Loose Women), and the slightly less obscure singer Jane Macdonald (also of Loose Women “fame”) from late 2008. Mr. Kercher’s by-line does not even appear actually and the Q&As do not even fill a whole newspaper column. I don’t find any other published work, other than in connection with his daughter’s murder, with John Kercher’s name attached. Elsewhere, he has been identified as having worked for the tabloids which is certainly much closer to the truth.

So he was certainly no star reporter but reading between the lines, it’s safe to assume that he was at least on the professional fringes of the lesser newspaper business for some time.

Which explains why when he heard the very first news of a murder in Perugia, before he even knew for sure that the victim was his daughter, John Kercher was on the phone, not to the Home Office, or his daughter’s Italian flatmates, but to what he describes as “the foreign desk of a national newspaper”. He does not name the media outlet, but it stands to reason – given his background and the fact that he does not name it – that it was a tabloid. My guess is that it was either the Daily Mirror or the Daily Mail, both of whom have been at the forefront of the witch-hunt. Their agenda, headlines that sell papers, and his, keep Meredith’s name alive, became fused on that day and have not parted ways since.

I am not the only person to recognize that celebrity seems to be at the heart of the Kerchers’ quest “for justice”. By John Kercher’s own admission, what really bugs him in all of this is the amount of publicity that Knox has received: “It’s all been about Knox” he complained to the Daily Mail (14 April, 2012).

It’s as if he wants someone else to suffer as he has suffered, because Meredith suffered. Why should another pretty young woman, his daughter’s age, get to live the rest of her life when Meredith’s was cut brutally short? Why should the newspapers be fascinated by Amanda when they should be focused on Meredith?

Actually, the reverse is true: the only reason anyone outside of the Kerchers’ immediate circle is even still talking about Meredith is precisely because of Amanda Knox. Without her, without Sollecito, the murder is banal, ordinary, and would have disappeared from the papers years ago.

John Kercher, from his own work experience in the tabloids, knows this. He knows that a story about a girl killed in a botched robbery, while tragic, is sadly nothing special. Newspapers, especially tabloids, thrive on the sensational, the shocking, the unusual. So the Kerchers need Amanda in order to “keep Meredith’s name alive”. Raffaele, practically ignored by them and the prosecution, is merely collateral damage: because he is Amanda’s alibi, necessarily he must be roped into the circle of guilt as well or the case against her falls apart.

I can imagine the warped emotional logic that has driven the Kercher family to persist in their ludicrous belief that three people, not one, killed their Meredith. It comes down to three central points.

1. If lovely Meredith must be killed so cruelly, let it at least be “the crime of the century”; let her have some kind of status in death that would reflect on her specialness as a person. To accept that there was nothing uncommon, nothing unique about her murder is somehow even more demoralizing.

2. The regard for Meredith as someone strong and special nurtures a desire to believe that she could have defended herself from a lone attacker. After all, as Mr. Kercher has somewhat pathetically pointed out, she was really good at judo. But anyone with unclouded reason knows that judo learned in a gym environment is no match for an experienced criminal with a knife. Especially when it’s a contest between a small female and a larger male.

3. Jealousy. If one of the female flatmates had to die that night, why couldn’t it have been one of the others? As Amanda has stated, she might have been at the flat that night as well in which case, she might also have died. Or perhaps together she and Meredith could have resisted Guede? Either way, the very continued existence of Amanda is an affront to the Kercher family. She has come to symbolize the life that goes on despite tragedy. Each year she gains in age represents another milestone that Meredith will never achieve and for this Amanda must be punished.

The Inconvenience of Raffaele

In all of this, as has been noted by other commentators, mention of Raffaele is weirdly lacking. He has been dragged into this and then barely even considered, by either the prosecution or the Kercher family. More than anything else, more than my lengthy perusal of the evidence, more than my sure instinct that Amanda Knox was not capable of committing a murder for which she had no motive, it has been the person of Raffaele Sollecito that has proven to me beyond a shadow of doubt that the prosecution case is totally empty. For all the machinations that have attempted to portray Knox as a she-devil, a pervert, a sociopathic killer, there has never been a single credible explanation for why this gentle and shy young guy, in the throes of first love, would have participated in the murder of his new girlfriend’s flatmate. It just doesn’t make any sense at all psychologically and when taken together with the fact that he would have had to levitate while wearing a full-body latex suit in order to leave no DNA behind, the conclusion of his innocence should be a foregone one.

Since the acquittal was overturned I have had a little correspondence with Raffaele, via Facebook, have read his book and communicated with his friends and found that his integrity and kindness are impossible to question. Throughout it all he has shown incredible strength, honour and compassion. If it were me, I would be filled with hatred for the Kercher family at this point; relatives of a girl I barely knew trying to destroy my life. But Sollecito has never displayed anything of the sort, instead he has reached out to them via the media, expressed his great sorrow for the family and even visited Meredith’s grave. He is a better human than I am.

It is my greatest hope that the verdict due later today will be the right one and that the Kerchers will finally accept the truth: their daughter died for nothing in an unexceptional act of senseless violence and they have been persecuting innocent people for years. I hope that they will finally see how wrong they’ve been and realize that Meredith, if she was half as nice as people say, would want her family to apologize to her friend Amanda, and Amanda’s friend Raffaele for hounding them in her name.

For Meredith Kercher’s memory is not served well by this debacle.

If the wrong verdict comes in then I only hope to high heaven that Raffaele left the country last night.