Italy’s Supreme Court overturns Amanda Knox murder conviction
Faith Karimi, Hada Messia and Jeremy Diamond
(CNN – March 27, 2015)– [Breaking news update, posted at 5:48 p.m. ET] – Italy’s Supreme Court has overturned the murder conviction of American Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend in the 2007 slaying of her British roommate, the court announced late Friday.
[Previous story, posted at 5:36 p.m. ET]
Italy’s highest court will rule Friday whether to uphold Amanda Knox’s murder conviction in the 2007 death of her British roommate.
Knox , 27, of Seattle, was convicted in 2009 for the killing of Meredith Kercher, who shared an apartment with her in the Italian university town of Perugia.
Her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, was found guilty, too.
Since then, their cases have been a series of back-and-forths.
Both were acquitted in 2011 on appeal, and Knox returned to the United States. Two years later, they were retried and their acquittals overturned. Knox was sentenced in absentia to 28½ years in prison. Her ex-boyfriend got 25 years.
Can the U.S. extradite her?
When the Supreme Court renders its verdict Friday, Knox will be in the United States — thousands of miles away
Italian police officers can’t just land on American soil and drag Knox back to prison in Italy.
But if she is found guilty, Italy could ask the United States to put Knox on a plane back so she can face what could be a 28-year prison sentence.
Under normal circumstances, the United States would be required to send Knox back because of a 1983 extradition treaty between Washington and Rome. The treaty establishes a framework for individuals charged or convicted of certain crimes in one country to be detained and sent back to the other.
The United States has extradition agreements with more than 100 countries.
But the high-profile nature of the case and the controversial evidence prosecutors have built their argument on makes Knox’s extradition anything but certain.
Test for American, Italian officials
That said, Italian officials may still ask their American counterparts for Knox’s extradition.
It wouldn’t be the first time the extradition treaty between the United States and Italy has broken down, but past cases involved U.S. military and intelligence officials.
Knox’s case would be a new test for American diplomatic and justice officials.
And while some legal experts contend Knox could very well be extradited, others say U.S. officials could refuse to hand over Knox by leaning on a double-jeopardy clause included in the extradition treaty between the two countries.
“Extradition shall not be granted when the person sought has been convicted, acquitted or pardoned, or has served the sentence imposed, by the requested party for the same acts for which extradition is requested,” the treaty states.
And Knox was, according to M. Cherif Bassiouni, a former U.N. lawyer and international extradition law expert.
American and Italian officials may interpret the treaty’s double-jeopardy clause differently based on their own judicial systems, but Bassiouni said no interpretation would pass muster.
“Whatever the interpretation of article VI may be … Amanda Knox would not be extraditable to Italy should Italy seek her extradition because she was retried for the same acts, the same facts, and the same conduct,” Bassiouni wrote in an Oxford University Press blog post. “Her case was reviewed three times with different outcomes even though she was not actually tried three times.”
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report