Raffaele Sollecito is seeking $545,000 for wrongful imprisonment according to a report from NBC News. Sollecito’s attorney states that this is the most that Italian law will allow him to claim. Sollecito spent four years in jail for the murder of British exchanged student Meredith Kercher before he and ex-girlfriend American Amanda Knox were cleared of all charges. A Tuscan court is expected to make a decision regarding his claim on Tuesday.
Sollecito and Knox were in and out of court for several years before finally being cleared of all charges. They maintained their innocence throughout, advising the court that they had been in Sollecito’s Perugia apartment on the night that Kercher was stabbed to death. They were convicted for her murder in 2009. The court later identified mistakes that had been made in the investigation and Sollecito and Knox were both released in 2011. Prosecutors filed an appeal after their release and a new trial was ordered in 2013. This trial was held in a different court, but Sollecito and Knox were convicted again in that trial and, according to The Guardian, were sentenced to over 20 years in jail. They were both released again in March of 2015.
Raffaele Sollecito’s $545,000 lawsuit comes after the conviction of he and Knox, which was based on an investigation with “stunning flaws” according to The Guardian. In a 52-page legal document, a panel of judges at the court of cassation in Rome explained that there was not sufficient evidence to convict the two of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. They specifically cited the absence of biological evidence. The judges also stated that they believe investigators charged Sollecito and Knox in part because of the tremendous pressure they felt to arrest someone quickly in this high-profile case.
“The international spotlight on the case in fact resulted in the investigation undergoing a sudden acceleration, that, in the frantic search for one or more guilty parties to consign to international public opinion, certainly didn’t help the search for substantial truth.”
Meredith Kercher was the roommate of Amanda Knox. Raffaele Sollecito was arrested as her accomplice within days of Kercher’s murder. Prosecutors were never able to come up with a clear motive for Knox and Sollecito to commit the murder, stating only that there was resentment between Knox and Kerchner, something for which they were never able to provide evidence.
The Roman court had further criticism of the previous court’s conviction of Sollecito and Knox, stating that they had ignored strong indications from experts that evidence had been contaminated. They also cited misinterpretation of evidence related to the knife that was used to kill Kerchner.
A drifter from the Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede, was eventually found guilty of the murder and is currently serving 16 years for his actions. One of the prosecutors’ claims throughout the trials was that the crime could not have been committed by one person. In the 52-page document from the Roman court, the judges state that although Guede may not have acted alone, prosecutors have failed to prove that Sollecito and Knox were accomplices to his crime.
The statements from the Roman court will likely help Raffaele Sollecito’s claim to $545,000. The case received a large amount of media exposure and left much of the world with a poor opinion of the Italian legal system. Many believe that both Sollecito and Knox were wrongfully imprisoned and don’t understand how they could be tried twice for the same crime in what seems to be “double jeopardy.”
“For seven years I have had a suspended life, I have lived with the fear of being arrested but knowing I am innocent,” Raffaele Sollecito said about his imprisonment and the botched case.
[Photo courtesy of Stephen Brashear/Getty Images]