ROME – If in the U.S. Amanda Knox is widely seen as an innocent young student who fell victim to incompetent prosecutors and a medieval justice system abroad, in Italy many see her as a she-devilwith an angel face who literally got away with murder.
It didn’t come as a surprise, then, that Tuesday’s decision by Italy’s High Court to overturn the acquittals of both Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the 2007 killing of British student Meredith Kercher was received with a hint of satisfaction by Italians who obsessively analyzed every twist and turn in one of the most televised trials in Italy's modern history.
“What’s surprising is that they allowed her to leave Italy in the first place,” said Serena Chiesa, a real estate agent in Milan. “How are they going to bring her back now?”
Her doubts were shared by hundreds of readers of the biggest Italian daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera. Answering an online poll, 95 percent of them said they didn’t believe she would come back even if Italy asked for her extradition.
Conspiracy theories are rampant among Italians as to why Knox was acquitted in the first place.
"Her acquittal was political, not juridical,” said Irene Colelli, a 40-year-old lawyer who lives in Rome.
Fabio Massei, a 50-year old Rome-based business manager, also believes international politics played a part in the case. “They are guilty; but they were released after the United States put pressure on the judges.”
Valentino Ferraro, a 38-year-old Roman, had a more mercenary view of the decision. "It's all about the money. As it happens every time a trial attracts so much attention, a huge business is built around it. A lot of people are going to benefit from this retrial: lawyers, judges, journalists, talk shows…"
Ferraro was right about the tremendous media interest in the case, at least on Tuesday.
The High Court decision quickly became the top story in the Italian press, leading news coverage all day. Newspapers, TV newscasts and websites all carried the breaking news story for hours, putting heavy emphasis on the way the news was reported abroad, particularly in the United States.
Once again, two years after Knox and Sollecito's acquittal, the trial grabbed the nation's attention.
On Twitter, the majority of Italian users welcomed Knox's retrial.
“Finally some justice for Meredith,”@giovafrankie tweeted. “I thought they abandoned her to make the U.S. happy.”
“Asking Knox to come back to Italy is like asking Marie Antoinette to sharpen the blade of her guillotine,” tweeted Pasquale Barbaro on @pasqu85.
While Knox is not legally required to attend the initial stages of the retrial, which will start in Florence, the United States may reject an eventual extradition request by Italy based on “double jeopardy,” a principle that bars a defendant from being tried twice for a particular offense after being cleared.
Now the High Court judge who overturned the acquittal and ordered another appeal trial has 90 days to publish the motivation behind his decision. Then both the prosecution and defense teams have 45 days to put forward their arguments. This means that the trial won’t start before the end of the summer, if not later in the year.
But while the outcome is unpredictable, the majority of Italians seem to have already issued their guilty verdict.