Could Prosecutor's Conviction Help Knox?
Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini faces a 16-month suspended jail sentence after a Florence court convicted him of abusing his position in a 1985 investigation into the death of a doctor believed to be part of a satanic group. An Italian police investigator was also convicted in the case.
"We think it's very positive," said Anne Bremner, a Seattle attorney who represents the family and friends of Knox. "Given that he was convicted of abusing his office -- and there have long been questions about his interrogation techniques in the Knox case -- we think this development could be very helpful for Amanda's cause. The family is never, ever going to give up."
Bremner pointed out that the Knox family has already geared up for the appeal by hiring Philadelphia attorney Ted Simon, a high-profile expert on defending Americans convicted in foreign jurisdictions. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., announced last month that she plans to call on the U.S. State Department and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to investigate possible violations of international law in the case.
Mignini said at the time of the judgment last week that he was puzzled by it. He insisted that the verdict in his case would have no impact on Knox's conviction for killing Meredith Kercher. Although Knox has filed for an appeal, it may not come to trial for up to two years.
"There were jurors who gave a verdict in the Meredith case," the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Mignini as saying in Florence. "Today's verdict, instead, involves me."
Mignini's conviction stems from his wiretapping of several journalists and a police official in one of the most sensational crimes in Florence's history, the so-called "Mostro di Firenze," or "Monster of Florence" case, a gruesome murder mystery involving a killer who stalked lovers in the Italian countryside between 1968 and 1985.
Pietro Pacciani, Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti were arrested and convicted after 1993 in connection with the case, but were later cleared of all charges by the Italian Supreme Court. The case remains officially unsolved.
Thomas Harris, the author of The Silence of the Lambs, found some of the inspiration for his book's character, Hannibal Lecter, by attending trials in the case, which has triggered countless theories and remains one of the longest and most expensive investigations in Italian history.
Mignini's role in the Monster of Florence case was the subject of controversy for years, particularly his contention that Satanism was behind the Florence murders -- a factor that is not connected to his conviction last week. Knox's backers have pointed out that Mignini accused her of murdering Kercher as part of a "ritualistic" slaying that occurred around Halloween. He later denied he meant anything satanic by the phrase.
Knox and her former Italian boyfriend were convicted last month of Kercher's murder in the Umbrian university town of Perugia, where all three were studying. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in jail, while her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, received a 25-year sentence. Both have insisted they are innocent. A third man, Rudy Guede, was convicted separately in the case and sentenced to 30 years, though that was reduced to 16 years on appeal.
Mignini's attorney, Marco Rocchi, says his client will also seek an appeal. "He is innocent," he said. "Other than that, we have no comment."