Amanda Knox could be extradited to Italy if she loses appeal
Most probably Italy will ask the US to extradite Amanda Knox and the decision will probably come down to Secretary of State John Kerry.
According to legal experts, it would be difficult for John Kerry to refuse the request.
Amanda Knox, who was convicted for a second time by an Italian court on Thursday in the 2007 murder of her roommate, vowed to “fight this until the very end”. And Italy would probably wait until the appeals process plays out before asking the US to expel her.
Italy and the US have an extradition treaty, and unless American authorities find clear evidence of a miscarriage of justice, legal experts say, it would be difficult for the US to say no.
Amanda Knox, 26, an American citizen, was convicted by an Italian court in 2009 in the murder of Meredith Kercher, a British student who was found dead in a pool of blood in the apartment she shared with Knox.
An appeals court in Italy threw out the conviction in 2011 after independent experts said DNA evidence had been contaminated by the police.
Amanda Knox, who had spent four years in prison, returned to the US.
The highest court in Italy later dismissed the acquittal because of “contradictions and inconsistencies”.
Then, on Thursday, an Italian court convicted Amanda Knox again and sentenced her to 28 years and six months behind bars.
Meredith Kercher’s family is pushing for Amanda Knox to be returned to Italy. Her brother, Lyle, told reporters that it would be “strange” and would set “a difficult precedent” if she were not handed over.
Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said Friday that the department has followed the case closely, but she declined to address the prospect of extradition for Amanda Knox.
“The case is still working through the Italian legal system, so we don’t want to get ahead of that process,” she said.
An extradition request would go first to the US State Department. It would review whether a treaty exists (it has since 1984), whether the crime is an extraditable offense (murder qualifies), and whether there are “any potential foreign policy problems”.
If the State Department decided that the request was proper, it would go to the Justice Department, which would check to see whether the request established probable cause that the American committed the crime – a relatively low bar to clear.
If the request cleared that hurdle, it would go to a federal judge.
If a judge failed to intervene, the extradition request would go back to the State Department and John Kerry.
Some legal analysts have said that Amanda Knox could cloak herself in the Fifth Amendment’s protection against double jeopardy, being tried again for a crime after an acquittal. However, that protection wouldn’t apply to Amanda Knox.
Because extradition requests mix law and diplomacy, there are cases in which a country looks at the facts and simply declines to turn someone over.
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