First World countries enjoy a measure of security that Third Worlds do not–laws, bylaws, statutes, and treaties protect us. We have a host of officials to enact those laws or raise awareness when someone is illegally tinkering with them. That Safety Net is available to every one of us as Due Process and it is our birthright. If those laws are not abided by then the treaties and regulations are nothing more than useless words on paper, the long hours spent to forge them—meaningless.
We take the Safety Net for granted while traveling in the First World, we expect because of its presence that someone is there to take care of us if we are hurt or in trouble.
The Lesson, of course, is to never take anything for granted because the laws may be perfect, but people are not.
The Safety Net utterly failed British student Meredith Kercher, of London, when she was murdered in her Perugia, Italy apartment in 2007 and the subsequent evidence tampering clearly shows that the police and prosecution are trying to cover for the killer, Rudy Guede. The killer they let off the hook six days before she died.
Guede should have been in prison in Milan the day he killed promising young Meredith; he had been caught red-handed in a burglary with stolen goods on his person less than a week before her home invasion robbery.
Someone in Perugia worked a deal for Guede and he was sent back to the hilltop city, it’s speculated that his association with a wealthy Perugian family is the reason that he had so many Get Out Of Jail Free cards. In the 45 days that Meredith had been in Perugia, Guede had been on a crime spree. He had been caught at two of the robbery scenes and yet managed to stay out of jail, shockingly he was made to apologize to one of his Perugian victims just three days before he killed the Briton.
Someone in Perugia is trying to cover up Rudy Guede’s tracks.
The Safety Net utterly failed Italian citizen Raffaele Sollecito, of Bisceglie, and American citizen Amanda Knox, of Seattle, as well. Amanda was Meredith’s roommate and friend, just days after being devastated by her death, Amanda and Raffaele were devastated to be wrongfully imprisoned for her death and trapped in the Italian justice system.
The break-down begins with the universities.
Both of the Perugian Universities, along Leeds in the UK and University of Washington in the US, have guidelines in place for foreign students. The Erasmus Programme that Meredith took part in is affiliated with 37 countries and has over 4000 students in the program worldwide at any given time, there is no way they could operate without some sort of organization. Similarly the University of Washington’s program also includes communication between them and at least 20 other countries.
These higher learning institutions have to be talking to each other throughout the year in the normal course of duty.
After Meredith’s murder the Perugian universities should have been checking up on all of their students, monitoring Merdith’s friends in particular. And, at the very least, an official should have made sure that Amanda had a translator while talking to the police. Above all, they knew she did not have a command of the language and that was precisely the reason she was a student there, to learn Italian. Instead no University Official talked to Amanda about her legal or living or emotional situation, even when she was physically in the building, in class, the day before her arrest. And someone must have contacted the University of Washington about the situation in that first week, if nothing more than to get background information about Amanda. Of course they would know who she was, her roommate was murdered.
But this isn’t a matter of what Amanda, as a legal adult, should or should not have done for herself; this is protocol in First World universities to look after their study abroad students. Surely the murder of one is big news and so that student’s friends and roommates would garner special attention.
So why was Amanda allowed to twist in the wind?
And Amanda did try to help herself, she asked the police for advice on more than one occasion about contacting her embassy in Rome. She was rebuffed and told that she did not need their intervention when, in reality, she did. And she needed it badly. Amanda’s biggest mistake was thinking that she was helping the police, in hindsight she should have left Italy and not come back without a lawyer—just like the European students did.
But, again, this is naïveté and that is why these laws and treaties are in place. To Protect Citizens.
The American Embassy in Rome, for their part should have seen red flags because Perugia’s then Public Minister, Giuliano Mignini, had been complained about by another American citizen eighteen months before Amanda’s mother called for help after her arrest.
There are two important points to consider here: 1) Mignini had been complained about and 2) Amanda was told by Perugian officials to NOT contact her embassy. It was a murder investigation, for heaven’s sake, OF COURSE an embassy needs to know if a citizen is being questioned. Amanda knows now, hindsight is 20/20, that she should have called her embassy. So the embassy failed to recognize a threat (Mignini) and that Amanda was prevented from contacting them in a timely manner.
In fact, the Perugians contacted the embassy AFTER they arrested Amanda, following protocol, but there is a caveat, the Perugians were required to tell the Americans that Amanda was under surveillance during the days prior to her arrest. They should have contacted the embassy in the normal course of a background check, but they DID NOT and therefore broke the bylaws in not only the Vienna Convention, but also the Italian Constitution.
And then there are the legalities surrounding “softening up” Amanda and Raffaele before their interrogations, it is a form of torture not meant to be used on university students and is illegal in both Italy and the US, another big red flag.
Because of those actions taken by the Perugians, the American Embassy was required to file Protests on Amanda’s behalf and they DID NOT, thereby breaking the bylaws in the US Foreign Affairs Manual. In fact, by the time the embassy took action it was too late, Amanda was enmeshed in the system with no way out except through the Court of Cassation (Italian Supreme Court). By my count more than ten Protests should have been filed with the US Department of State by the end of 2007, most of the bylaws were broken in the first two weeks of Amanda’s arrest.
These Protests would have brought attention to her plight long before it was finally noticed by American officials with the proper connections to speak on her behalf to Italy. Plus they would have highlighted the illegal actions of the Perugians and might have prevented the media from attacking innocent people.
Meredith, as a foreigner, was also entitled to rights similar to Amanda’s, yet it seems that the UK similarly ignored the needs of the Kercher family during a time of great grief. Given that Meredith was killed because the Perugians pandered to Rudy Guede, instead of jailing him, the UK certainly should have taken a closer look at the case.
And when the investigation into her death took such a bizarre turn regarding the sex game and the poorly processed DNA evidence, the UK should have questioned all of it. By remaining silent, while these young students and their families were being abused, bystanders assumed that the Italians had properly investigated the murder and properly processed the evidence.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Raffaele, as an Italian citizen, was afforded more rights that even Amanda and Meredith, yet his were blatantly ignored although he was requesting access to his family when he knew that the situation had taken a turn for the worse. He knew his rights were being stripped as it happened real-time, unlike Amanda (language barrier) who didn’t understand what was happening for more than a week. She thought she was in “protective custody.”
Instead the universities and the embassies filed their reports and left the helpless young adults to a horrible fate. No one doubted that some sort of orgy had taken place until the families of the victims brought the ridiculousness of the theory to the attention of the public, and that took years.
This could happen to anyone. Any student, any tourist, any business person abroad in any country.
The saga of the Kercher, Knox and Sollecito families is a glaring illustration that the officials who are hired or elected or appointed to serve the public are not doing their jobs. This is a global issue as we witness Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States utterly fail their citizens in the most elementary of ways, they failed to follow the laws ALREADY in place.
It sadly exemplifies that those international treaties between our countries are not worth the paper they are written on.