Rumor: Amanda Knox could be sent back to Italian prison

Now that a retrial has been ordered, can Knox be extradited back to Italy? One expert says no way.

UPDATE: Amanda Knox has decided that she will not return to Italy to face retrial for the murder of Meredith Kercher, according to family spokesman David Marriott.

"She will not be returning to Italy for the retrial. There's no requirement that she do so," Marriott told MSN News by phone on Monday.

Italian newspaper La Nazione first reported the news, saying that Knox's attorney in Italy, Luciano Ghirga, had spoken with Knox and that she made the perhaps-unsurprising decision not to return.

As MSN News has reported, both the United States' extradition treaty with Italy and the U.S. Constitution appear to bar American authorities from extraditing Knox to Italy, if the country demands it.

 

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Extraditing Amanda Knox from the U.S. is unconstitutional, according to an expert

MSN News spoke with English and Italian legal consultant and attorney Alessandro Canali from Rome about the possibility that Amanda Knox could be extradited by Italy if reconvicted of murder. Canali says extraditing Knox would run up against an insurmountable legal hurdle: It would be unconstitutional.

With the news that Knox, now a 25-year-old student in Seattle, has had her murder acquittal overturned and faces a retrial for the brutal killing of British student Meredith Kercher, attention has turned to whether she could wind up back in the Italian prison where she spent nearly four years.

Acquittals vacated

 

When Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted of murdering Kercher in an appeals trial, many Americans may have thought that was the last word and the two were free to carry on with their lives. But in Italy both the prosecution and the accused can appeal a ruling, and, in this case the prosecution team did exactly that. On Tuesday, Italy’s Court of Cassation agreed with the appeal, tossing out the acquittals and ordering a new trial. Now, the country’s highest court will decide once and for all whether Knox and Sollecito are guilty of what prosecutors have characterized as a drug-fueled sex game gone wrong.

Double jeopardy

Canali says that even if Knox is reconvicted, convincing the U.S. government to turn her over to Italian jailers would be impossible for one specific reason: the U.S. Constitution.

“The United States will never grant extradition to Italy because the conviction of Amanda would be in conflict with the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. ... The United States will say, 'No, we’re not going to grant extradition because it will be in conflict with our constitutional principle of double jeopardy,' " said Canali.

Indeed, the Fifth Amendment’s "double jeopardy clause" states, “[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb,” meaning that because Knox has been found not guilty of a crime, she cannot be retried for that same crime. Italy may have different constitutional principles when it comes to double jeopardy, but Knox isn’t in Italy anymore, and she can rest assured that she won’t be forced to go there, Canali says.

Sollecito, an Italian, isn’t in the same boat and could find himself behind bars if he’s reconvicted. As to whether Italian prosecutors know that the U.S. Constitution gives them no chance of getting Knox back into prison, Canali says “I don’t think they’ve realized that yet.”

The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment to MSN News about the possibility of extraditing Knox to Italy or whether such a move would be constitutional. 

Amanda Knox

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Knox still faces arrest in Italy

Even if Knox is again found not guilty, she could still be arrested the minute she sets foot on Italian soil, or in any country that’s a member of the European Union. That’s because she was also convicted of slander and sentenced to three years in prison. And despite spending four years in prison after her initial murder conviction, Italian authorities could still lock her up on that charge, Canali says. Whatever the case, all Knox has to do is stay away from Italy and the European Union  something, apparently by all accounts, she plans to do.

Get full coverage of Knox’s retrial

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