There has been a buzz in the news lately around the case of Amanda Knox, pushing many college students to question whether studying abroad is still an option for them, and whether it is worth the risk of encountering something similar to the case of Knox.
Nov. 6, 2007, 20 year-old Amanda Knox was arrested in Perugia, Italy, for the murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher. Four years later, on Oct. 3, she was released by the Italian judicial system and returned to her home state of Washington.
One question prevails in the minds of those who have followed the case: Is Amanda Knox guilty of murder? Events and circumstances surrounding the gathering of evidence and admission of guilt have been compromised due to dishonesty of those on trial and conflicting statements.
Knox was an American student taking a semester abroad to study Italian, German and Creative Writing. She shared a small apartment with three other women, one being Kercher, a British student also studying abroad. While not close friends, Knox and Kercher were on friendly terms, and there never was any evidence of strain in their relationship.
Nov. 2, 2007, Knox and her then-boyfriend, Raffaelle Sollecito, allegedly walked into her apartment to find blood in the bathroom and one of the windows broken. According to CNN after a series of frantic phone calls, Sollecito proceeded to call the police, who quickly arrived to survey the scene.
Many of the events surrounding the murder and arrests remain unclear.
Kercher left her friend’s house in the early evening of Nov. 1, 2007 and walked for a short time with a friend. She then allegedly continued the rest of the way alone. Knox was scheduled to work at a local club that night until her boss called and let her know that she was not needed.
Knox was seen at Sollecito’s flat around 8:40 p.m., according to MSNBC, when she opened the door for a friend. On Nov. 5, Sollecito confirmed that Knox had stayed the night with him at his flat, but he was unsure as to when she left during the night.
Knox’s interview with the government officials lasted 14 hours, and during this time, she claimed to have been beaten, denied food and water, kept from using the bathroom and denied a translator, according to CNN. After all this alleged torture, Knox accused her boss, Patrick Lumumba, of being with Kercher the night of her death, and confessed to being confused of her whereabouts during the time of the murder. Knox was then arrested on Nov. 6. At this time, she recanted part of her “confession,” claiming she was coerced.
“The Amanda Knox case doesn’t change my opinion to study abroad,” sophomore Ben Thompson said, “I know what kind of business not to get involved in and what people to stay away from.” Students who have already traveled abroad also feel that Knox’s troubles were easily avoidable.
Senior Stephanie Angus, who studied in Japan for a semester, said that, “It is exceptionally important to learn the laws that are different from laws in your home country. You can easily ask program officials, and, in the case that you do get into some trouble, you should cooperate honestly with police and get an interpreter.”
According to CNN, the Italian Court of Cassation later found that Knox’s human rights had been violated because the police interrogators had not told her of her legal rights, appointed her a lawyer or provided her an official interpreter.
Because of this, her statement was ruled as inadmissible. Knox’s boss, Lumumba, was arrested but later exonerated when Knox admitted that she had wrongly accused him. Later, forensic evidence in the form of bloody fingerprints led to a man named Rudy Guede, who was arrested and convicted of the murder of Kercher.
Both Knox and Sollecito were convicted of assisting in the murder and sexual assault. However, they both appealed the case on contaminated evidence. They both won.
Many students’ opinions of learning abroad have been shifted due to this incident, and this has pushed many to reconsider the option of studying abroad.
Many American students maintain the attitude that because they are American they can travel to other countries and act however they please. This is not the case, as Director of International Programs at Whittier College Katie Hunter argues.
“Students should make good decisions about who they hang out with and learn from Knox’s mistakes,” Hunter said. “The Amanda Knox case serves as a warning, and when abroad, students should make an effort to learn the local laws and legal processes so as to avoid getting into the same trouble as Amanda Knox.”