On November 2, 2007, Meredith Kercher, a 21-year old British student studying in Perugia Italy, was found dead in her apartment, in a clear case of homicide. Her housemate, American student Amanda Knox, and Knox’s Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were soon charged with the killing based largely on circumstantial inferences and suspicions the police had about Knox and Sollecito’s behavior. The charges against Knox and Sollecito were not dropped even after physical evidence revealed that a burglar named Rudy Hermann Guede (who had little connection to either Knox or Sollecito) had been responsible for the murder. Instead, investigators theorized that the three of them, Knox, Sollecito, and Guede, had killed Meredith Kercher in the course of a violent sex orgy, and amassed various pieces of evidence which (they claimed) supported this theory.
Guede was soon convicted in a “fast-track” trial process in October of 2008, and sentenced to 30 years in prison (which was later reduced to 16 on appeal). The case against Knox and Sollecito continued according to a standard schedule, and in December of 2009, Knox and Sollecito were convicted of participating (along with Rudy Guede) in the killing of Meredith Kercher, and sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively. That verdict is currently under appeal.
In the Italian judicial system, the judges in a case (who are themselves also part of the jury) are required to publish a written document “motivating”, or justifying, the verdict of the court. In March of 2010, the presiding judge in the trial of Knox and Sollecito, Giancarlo Massei, and assistant judge Beatrice Cristiani, released a 427-page report explaining the reasoning that had led them, along with the six “popular judges” (i.e. ordinary jurors), to believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito participated in the murder of Meredith Kercher. This is the Massei-Cristiani report that is presented here.
The translator, komponisto, believes that Knox and Sollecito are not only innocent but obviously so, and that the Massei-Cristiani report is of interest to students of human rationality, skepticism, and critical thinking as a case study in atrocious reasoning on the part of a judicial authority — about concrete empirical facts, not subtleties of jurisprudence.
This translation was begun in 2010, soon after the report was released, and was interrupted after a group advocating Knox and Sollecito’s guilt announced the imminent publication of a translation of their own. Now, while working on the translation of the Conti-Vecchiotti report, komponisto has decided to make the completed portion of his Massei-Cristiani translation available, with a view toward possibly finishing it in the future. Annotations containing critical commentary may also be added at a later date. (Such a document would be a valuable resource for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it would would eliminate the need for supporters of Knox and Sollecito to constantly pay homage to the efforts of a pro-guilt group by citing their translation.)
A note on nomenclature and attribution:
An ordinary (not fast-track) Italian murder trial is conducted by not one but two professional judges, a presiding judge (Presidente della Corte) and an assistant judge (giudice a latere); consequently, a motivation document issuing from such a trial is a work of joint authorship. (This applies both at the initial level, and at the first level of appeal.) And indeed, the motivation document in the Knox-Sollecito case is signed by two people, Giancarlo Massei (the presiding judge) and Beatrice Cristiani (the assistant judge); for this reason it is properly referred to as the “Massei-Cristiani report”, as it is here. However, it is widely known simply as the “Massei report”. While this might be justified as ellipsis or synecdoche, it is the present translator’s belief that this nomenclature in fact results from an incorrect analogy with the (first-level) motivation document in the Guede case, the Micheli report. In the case of that document, the single-author attribution is correct, because Guede’s trial was held under the “fast-track” rules, and only involved a single judge. In the case of the document translated here, it is komponisto’s opinion that Beatrice Cristiani should not be absolved of her role in its preparation.