Four years ago, international opinion was split as to whether Amanda Knox should have been imprisoned for the murder of her room-mate British student Meredith Kercher. With the seeming lack of police evidence in the case, some called the original guilty verdict an outrageous miscarriage of justice while others tended to side with the unfavourable media portrayals of America’s “Foxy Knoxy”.
While Knox’s family and lawyers celebrated in the wake of yesterday’s acquittal, how did media from the key countries in the case cover her first moments of freedom? Here is a round-up of the world reaction surrounding the news of her acquittal by the Italian courts on Monday night.
The US media has protested Amanda Knox’s innocence since the trial began, calling it a tragedy that the young girl spent 1,000 days behind bars and arguing that she should have never been found guilty. In Perugia yesterday, a strong American presence gathered outside the courtroom with tears of joy on the news of her Knox’s acquittal. The media, notably the Seattle Times (from Knox’s hometown), has also welcomed the release of the 24-year-old - most expressing relief that justice was served and glad of the peace of mind Amanda and her family can now enjoy.
Mark Waterbury, a forensic scientist and member of the Seattle-based Friends of Amanda campaign, told the newspaper that the freeing of Knox had been the work of “four years and thousands of people. We did it!”
MSNBC described the overturned verdict “a severe embarrassment to the Italian justice system”. It also reported that cheering could be heard inside the prison where Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were jailed.
Gloria Allred, a woman’s human rights campaigner, described it a “wonderful verdict. Anything else would have been an extreme injustice – it would have been horrible if she had spent even one more day in prison.” Allred said that much of the blame for the injustice Knox had gone through lay with the media. Particularly in Italy, which had spun “out of control”.
However, not all Americans took the Italian jury’s verdict so well. On Twitter, users quickly expressed their concerns. “Even though I know virtually nothing about the case, it seems Amanda Knox really got off lightly with being cleared of murder,” tweeted Jacob_Prichard. “Brilliant. America has a new OJ Simpson,” Kevin Biggs tweeted.
The acquittal of Amanda Knox has been dominating the UK headlines today. The British media has tended to support the plight of the Kerchers, while emphasising Amanda’s looks.
Within the first 24 hours of her being freed, the Daily Mail was quick to speculate which lucky American TV presenters would be the first to interview her while the Daily Telegraph still questions her character in light of the acquittal leading with the headline: “She-devil. Witch. Dominatrix.”
It appears British student Meredith Kercher and her family – the victim of the high-profile murder case which saw Knox initially imprisoned for it – was forgotten amid all the media hype around Amanda in the US. But UK media, notably The Sun and The Guardian have focused on the family’s agony after the court decision.
After the case was thrown out of court in Perugia, Italy, news reports and video clips outside the court room show thousands of people outside the Umbrian courtroom fiercely chanting: “Shame! Bastards”, “disgrace” and “assassina!” (murderer) to the judges and lawyers on the Knox case.
The Italian media has always painted a negative picture of Amanda, illustrating her as a “sex-crazed monster." Despite the sensational claims about her character, when Knox was first cleared, Italian opinion was generally split either way with half of Yahoo! users agreeing with the sentence saying it is right to free someone if there are no certain evidence against them.
Italian journalists and legal experts, didn’t find the acquittal a shock because in the last few months the evidence against Amanda and Raffaele was said to have been weakening. The question on everybody’s lips now is what will happen to Ivorian Rudy Guede who was jailed as an accomplice. The Italian courts announced that they will now reopen his trial.
The rest of Europe
In France, Germany and Spain, the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito appeal has been barely mentioned in the mainstream media. The stories so far have been played straight with the newspapers taking a factual standpoint on the verdict.