Italian prosecutor lashes out at Amanda Knox
An Italian prosecutor issued a scathing personal attack on Friday against Amanda Knox in her appeal against a conviction for murdering her British housemate Meredith Kercher in 2007.
"Have you ever seen a defendant who hires a big PR agency?" Giuliano Mignini, who has followed the four-year legal saga from the start, told jurors as Knox, her family and supporters in the courtroom shook their heads.
"She has a publicity campaign behind her that cost up to a million dollars. And she's the one who has been crucified by the media?" Mignini said, picking up on a phrase used by Knox's defence lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova on Thursday.
"If anyone's been crucified by the media, it's Patrizia Stefanoni" -- the police forensic scientist whose work has been at the centre of the appeal and was heavily criticised in an independent review of the DNA evidence.
A verdict in the appeal, which began in November 2010, is expected Monday.
Kercher was found on November 2 in a pool of blood in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox and two other Italian girls. Her body was almost completely naked and covered in bruises and knife slashes. She was 21.
Knox told police during initial questioning without a lawyer present that she was in the house but did not take part in the killing. She now says that she was at her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito's house that night.
Referring to Sollecito, who was also convicted of murder and sexual assault and is appealing with Knox, Mignini said the two had coordinated their defence.
"You wanted to make a pact of steel and blame it all on the black guy," he said, apparently alluding to Rudy Guede -- the third person convicted of a murder that prosecutors say was the result of a drug-fuelled sexual assault.
"They covered their tracks well. The poor black guy will pay for everyone," he added. Guede has been tried separately and convicted on the same charges and is serving out a 16-year sentence after exhausting all his appeals.
"Do you know what will happen if you absolve? She will run away abroad and we won't be able to do anything about it," he told jurors.
Prosecutors have said they will appeal if the verdict is overturned but Knox would be free to leave the country so any hypothetical appeal would take place in absentia. If Knox's verdict is upheld, she has one more chance to appeal.
© 2011 AFP