June 21, 2013 by AK
In its “motivations report” in the Knox-Sollecito case, Italy’s supreme court seems to have parroted uncritically a long list of assorted assertions by the prosecution. The SC completely ignored the fact that most of those claims were demolished during the trials held in 2011 and 2009. It’s quite a shameless litany of known lies. One would think that the reasonable way for the top court to argue againt the appellate court’s ruling would be to pick on the weakest links in its reasoning.
Instead – having swallowed the prosecution’s appeal hook, line and sinker – the SC attacked even those conclusions that were unquestionably sound. It claims that a homeless drug addict who messed up critically important dates and who was in prison on drug dealing charges in 2011 was still a reliable witness. (This second-guessing of the two judges and six lay persons who actually saw and heard the witness is astounding by itself. The whole opinion is an exercise in second-guessing the eight-member panel of the appeals court, rather than checking for legal irregularities.) The SC demonstrated a strong grasp of physics claiming that if a window is broken from the outside, all the broken glass must fall outside too. (If you did not detect the sarcasm, try breaking a window and see, or recall the last time your place was burglarized.)
On top of that, the court managed to break the basics of European law as well. It insisted that conclusions from another trial, in which thee defendants were not represented, be binding on this case – going against the right to face one’s accuser. It also said that contamination in DNA testing must be proven – which is scientific nonsense of course but legal nonsense as well, placing the burden of proof on the defense. In any decent court in a decent country, defense only has to prove that the lab broke basic rules to have DNA results thrown out. It’s pretty much axiomatic and here we have a country’s top court denying it. Once again, it must be the result of uncritically incorporating a highly polemical prosecution appeal into the final judgment. So much for quality and independence.
Perhaps the SC’s clerks are simply lazy. Perhaps some of the judges were too close to the prosecution – it’s an incestuous little world over in Italy. Perhaps no one cares much about the content of motivations reports except for two-three bits insiders know to be important. Anyway, Italy’s top criminal court has shown to the world they cannot be taken seriously as jurists and cannot be trusted to make a sensible argument – but can be incredibly biased. It’s judicial porn as someone said. And, I should add, it’s pretty demented.