History of United States' Extraditions Sheds Light on Knox's Prospects

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A long-awaited verdict for American citizen Amanda Knox is expected from Italy’s highest court as soon as January 30, 2014.[1] Knox was arrested in 2007 following the grisly murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, while the two were studying abroad in Perugia, Italy.[2] Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted and sentenced to 26 and 25 years imprisonment respectively. In 2009, Rudy Guede, who chose a fast-track trial, was also convicted for his involvement in Kercher’s murder and subsequently sentenced to 16 years imprisonment.[3] Knox and Sollecito spent more than 3 years in prison before their release in October 2011 following the Italian appellate court’s reversal of both their convictions.[4] The Italian Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Knox and Sollecito in March 2013.[5]

If the Italian Supreme Court finds Knox guilty, she faces the possibility of extradition. Knox has maintained her innocence since 2007 and recently announced that if found guilty, she will not willingly return to Italian prison.[6] The United States does have an extradition treaty with Italy, and the existence of this treaty seemingly obligates the United States to return Knox to Italy at their request. However, the United States commonly denies such requests,[7] and many reasons for such a denial exist here. Some critics speculate that the American prohibition of Double Jeopardy (being tried twice for the same crime) may create an exception allowing Knox to remain in the United States.[8] Other reasons offered to suggest that Knox will not be extradited include political biases,[9] Knox’s popularity in America, and the American public’s belief in her innocence.[10] Indeed, since 2010, the United States has denied extradition requests from Russia, Bolivia, and Venezuela, for suspects facing charges or convictions for fraud, genocide, and terrorist bombing.[11] These denials appear valid: the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, the Bolivian suspect was charged with military crimes, and the Venezuelan suspect may have been tortured upon his return.[12] More interesting is the American response to the kidnapping and torture of Abu Omar. In 2003, 23 Americans, 22 CIA employees and one Air Force Colonel were involved in the kidnapping and torture of Egyptian citizen, Abu Omar.[13] Omar was taken from Milan, transported to Egypt, and tortured for seven months.[14] The 23 Americans were convicted in absentia in 2009, and the Italian prosecutor wanted the Americans extradited.[15] However, it appears that after the United States made clear it would not extradite the 23 American citizens, and spent years pressuring the Italian government to back down, several Italian Ministers of Justice blocked all extradition requests.[16] It is perhaps with this recent incident in mind that one commentator doubts that Italy will even request Knox be extradited.[17] Furthermore, a government rarely extradites its own citizens, and even if the United States did cooperate with an extradition request, it could take several years to actually complete the extradition.[18]

Ultimately, though the American media remains skeptical about the possibility of Knox’s extradition, the United States government has yet to comment on the matter, and the final decision falls to Secretary of State, John Kerry.[19]


[1] Tom Kington, Amanda Knox: I’ll Be a Fugitive if Found Guilty Again of Murder, Huffington Post (Jan. 9, 2014), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/10/amanda-knox-fugitive-if-found-guilty-of-murder_n_4567282.html [hereinafter “Fugitive”].

[2] Timeline: Meredith Kercher Murder Case, CNN (Mar. 26, 2013), http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/28/world/europe/italy-amanda-knox-timeline/ [hereinafter “CNN Timeline”].

[3] Tom Kington, Court Cuts Rudy Guede’s Sentence for Meredith Kercher Murder, The Guardian (Dec. 22, 2009), http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/dec/22/rudy-guede-sentence-kercher-murder.

[4] Id.

[5] CNN Timeline, supra note 2.

[6] Fugitive, supra note 1.

[7] US Hypocrisy Exposed: Has a Long History of Rejecting Extradition Requests, TechDirt, http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130807/11183724099/us-hypocrisy-exposed-has-long-history-rejecting-extradition-requests.shtml.

[8] Russel Goldman, Could Amanda Knox be Extradited to Italy?, ABC News (Mar. 26, 2013), http://abcnews.go.com/International/amanda-knox-case-extradited-italy/story?id=18815983; Justin Peters, Amanda Knox Will Never Be Extradited to Italy, Slate (Mar. 26, 2013), http://www.slate.com/blogs/crime/2013/03/26/meredith_kercher_murder_case_amanda_knox_will_never_be_extradited_to_italy.html [hereinafter “Peters”].

[9] Will US Extradite Amanda Knox if Convicted on Appeal in Kercher Murder?, Examiner (Jan. 19, 2014), http://www.examiner.com/article/will-us-extradite-amanda-knox-if-convicted-on-appeal-kercher-murder?cid=rss (“Would [extradition] be influenced by political biases, instead of the validity of any verdict by the Italian court? …. Will there be loyalty to the law, or to [John Kerry supporter, Maria] Cantwell’s personal feelings that a University of Washington exchange student couldn’t possibly be guilty of murder?”).

[10] Peters, supra note 8.

[11] U.S. Denies Extradition Request for Former Duma Member, Report Says, The Moscow Times (Sept. 6, 2013), http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/us-denies-extradition-request-for-former-duma-member-report-says/485663.html [hereinafter “Moscow Times”]; Glenn Greenwald, America’s Refusal to Extradite Bolivia’s Ex-President to Face Genocide Charges, The Guardian (Sept. 9, 2012), http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/sep/09/america-refusal-extradite-bolivia [hereinafter “Bolivia”]; Diana Washington Valdez, Luis Posada Carriles Won’t Be Extradited to Venezuela, El Paso Times (Dec. 30, 2010), http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_16970097 [hereinafter “Venezuela”].

[12] Moscow Times, supra note 11; Bolivia, supra note 11; Venezuela, supra note 11. See also Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, Knox Retrial Raises Questions About Extradition, The Washington Times (Oct. 1, 2013), http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/1/knox-retrial-raises-questions-about-extradition/?page=all.

[13] Barbie Latza Nadeau, Will CIA Employees Be Extradited For Abu Omar Kidnapping?, The Daily Beast (Sept. 21, 2012), http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/21/will-italy-extradite-cia-employees-for-abu-omar-kidnapping.html.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Glenn Greenwald, Italy’s Ex-Intelligence Chief Given 10-year Sentence for Role in CIA Kidnapping, The Guardian (Feb. 13, 2013), http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/13/italy-cia-rendition-abu-omar.

[17] Peters, supra note 8.

[18] Claire Suddath, A Brief History of Extraditions, TIME (Sept. 30, 2009), http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1926810,00.html.

[19] Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, Knox Retrial Raises Questions About Extradition, The Washington Times (Oct. 1, 2013), http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/1/knox-retrial-raises-questions-about-extradition/?page=all.


Posted by Brighton Nicole Haslett on Mon. January 27, 2014 8:00 AM
Categories: Extradition, Italy

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