Posts Tagged ‘Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton’

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito

Image copyrightGetty/AP Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were eventually acquitted after a legal saga lasting eight years

Italy’s highest appeals court has criticised “glaring errors” in the investigation into the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher. Ms Kercher, 21, was stabbed to death in a Perugia flat she shared with Ms Knox.

The court acquitted Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito of the murder in March.

Critically, it said there was an “absolute lack of biological traces” of either defendant in the room where Ms Kercher was killed or on her body.

The Court of Cassation, which exonerated the pair, published its reasoning on Monday, as it is required to do under Italian law.

It issued a damning assessment of the quality of the prosecution case, saying its high profile nature had an effect on investigators.

“The international spotlight on the case in fact resulted in the investigation undergoing a sudden acceleration,” the court said.

Several mistakes in the investigation were outlined by the court in its reasoning, including the fact that investigators burned Ms Knox’s and Ms Kercher’s computers, which could have yielded new information.


Kercher murder: Timeline

Meredith Kercher

Meredith Kercher – the mystery over her tragic slaying now intensifies.

  • 1 November 2007: Kercher is killed at her apartment in Perugia. Police find her a day later.
  • 6 November 2007: Kercher’s American housemate Knox is arrested, along with Sollecito and Congolese national Patrick Diya Lumumba.
  • 20 November 2007: Rudy Guede detained in Germany and extradited to Italy. Mr Lumumba released without charge
  • 28 October 2008: Guede sentenced to 16 years. A judge rules Sollecito and Knox will face a murder trial
  • 4 December 2009: Knox and Sollecito found guilty of murder and sexual violence, and jailed for 26 and 25 years
  • 3 October 2011: Knox and Sollecito acquitted
  • 31 January 2014: Convictions re-instated
  • 28 March 2015: Court of Cassation acquits Knox and Sollecito in final verdict

The court also wrote that the Florence appeals court which convicted the pair last year ignored expert testimony that “clearly demonstrated possible contamination” of evidence and misinterpreted findings about the knife allegedly used to slit Kercher’s throat, in what prosecutors had described as a sexual assault.

“The kitchen knife, found in Sollecito’s house and the supposed crime weapon, was kept in an ordinary cardboard box,” the judges noted, adding that no traces of blood were found on it.

The judges said that one of Ms Kercher’s bra clasps, which had been a key part of the case and which prosecutors argued carried a trace of Mr Sollecito’s DNA, was left on the floor of the murder scene for 46 days, and then “was passed from hand to hand of the workers, who, furthermore, were wearing dirty latex gloves”.

Another man, Rudy Hermann Guede, born in Ivory Coast, was convicted of the murder in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence. The court’s ruling against Guede stated that he did not act alone, but the acquittals of Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito mean that no-one now stands convicted of acting with Guede to kill Ms Kercher, who remains frozen in time in the photograph of her that is now so well known. Who acted with Guede? Will we ever know, now so much time has passed pursuing Knox and Sollecito?

What was Amanda Knox guilty of?

What was Amanda Knox guilty of?

So what was Amanda Knox guilty of? Possibly just of being terrified of being questioned in a tense atmosphere by Italian police when her own command f the language was rudimentary, and giving nonsensical answers as a result. Guilty of being young, and in a foreign land. Guilty of trying to blame someone else, for which she has been punished, and for which she has apologised, in a desperate attempt to get out of the Kafkaesque situation she found herself in. Guilty of occasionally smoking a joint, and having a sexual relationship with someone her own age.

It appears Sollecito was equally “guilty”.

And perhaps, she was guilty of not constantly look suitably “guilty”? Smiling at her parents. Composing herself (most of the time) in court. In fact, Knox’s public demeanour led some people to assume she was somehow sociopathic or hiding something. It never seemed to occur to some people that she considered it important to behave in a collected and discrete – even shy – manner, because that was her natural persona.

Australians in particular will remember how that same character trait condemned another woman to years in jail for a crime she didn’t commit, also convicted on the basis of dodgy forensic evidence. That, of course, was “A dingo’s took my baby” Lindy Chamberlain and her husband Michael.

“Why didn’t Lindy cry in court?” was the constant refrain of journalists and armchair commentators at the time.

Lindy and Michael Chamberlain

Lindy and Michael Chamberlain

The final resolution of that notorious case was triggered entirely by a chance discovery. In early 1986, English tourist David Brett fell to his death from Uluru during an evening climb.

Because of the vast size of the rock and the scrubby nature of the surrounding terrain, it was eight days before Brett’s remains were discovered, lying below the bluff where he had lost his footing and in an area full of dingo lairs.

As police searched the area, looking for missing bones that might have been carried off by dingoes, they discovered a small item of clothing. It was quickly identified as a crucial missing piece of evidence from the Chamberlain case, namely, baby Azaria’s missing matinee jacket

Discussing how that scandalous episode could occur, Lindy’s own website comments:

Was it because Lindy was never seen to be crying on television? That does not mean she didn’t cry, it only means that the controllers of what you saw on television did not choose to show that. Was it because she didn’t behave like people thought they would in such circumstances? Sure, that was part of it, but how does anyone know how they would react under horrific circumstances they will most likely never have to face? There are no guidebooks written to help one through such circumstances, and Lindy was doing her best to keep it all together. She is proud of her independence, and only shows her emotions to those very close to her. A lesser woman would probably still be in prison today.

Let us hope other miscarriages of justice are addressed with equal attention, but we suspect they will not be. Knox had the advantage of being beautiful and having a family who could – at great personal cost – organise a defence on her behalf. There are plenty of poor, ugly people who get locked up without her advantages. She served four years – disgraceful and avoidable – but they frequently serve a life sentence, or worse.

Imagine if Australia or Italy still imposed the death penalty, and as arbitrarily as some other states do. There would be no bringing Knox and Sollecito, or Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, back from that.

Those interested in that subject should checkout the great work done by The Innocence Project by clicking this link.

 

Azaria Chamberlain disappearance

After 30 years, finally, the truth. Lindy and Azaria before their world was savaged and taken from them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people have passed on since Lindy Chamberlain was wrongly convicted of the murder of her daughter, Azaria. Young people born since then will hardly begin to comprehend the obsessive interest in the case that swept Australia and, indeed, the English-speaking world. The nine-week-old baby’s disappearance from a campground at Uluru more than 30 years ago became one of Australia’s most sensational legal cases and saturated the media for years. It also spawned a popular movie, called Evil Angels (also called “A cry in the dark”) with Lindy played memorably by Meryl Streep.

It was the most horrifying examples of a miscarriage of justice, because of the complicity of the whole society in its perpetration – a grieving and bereaved pair of parents, robbed of their baby daughter in awful circumstances, clearly with no motive for such an act, were convicted and punished in an atmosphere of a public lynching. It was a riotous circus of botched forensic evidence, the refusal of authorities to consider alternate explanations other than the fact that the baby had been murdered, and the constant howl of a public scenting blood. “Surely she did it, look at her face, she doesn’t care –  doesn’t Azaria mean something about “sacrifice” – they belong to a weird religion, you know.” And so it went on, endlessly.

What is most terrifying about the case is that it was conducted in full view of the so-called impartial media, and despite the manifest failings of the case, that media largely failed to apply any intellectual rigour to the Chamberlain’s defence. Instead they were swept along by the lust of the public for a neat, sensationalist conclusion.

Canis lupus dingo Fraser Island Queensland, Au...

Canis lupus – the “Wolf Dog” – not a pet, not a friendly toy, a wild animal.

Well now the Northern Territory coroner finally found that Azaria Chamberlain was attacked or taken by a dingo in 1980. There were emotional scenes in court on Tuesday as the findings were handed down, with even the coroner’s voice quivering as she delivered what is likely to be the final chapter in a bitter legal battle.

Coroner Elizabeth Morris told a Darwin inquest on Tuesday morning that all of the evidence indicates a dingo was responsible for Azaria’s death.

“Azaria Chamberlain died at Uluru, then known as Ayers Rock, on the 17th of August 1980,” she said. “The cause of her death was as the result of being attacked and taken by a dingo. It is clear that there is evidence that a dingo is capable of attacking, taking and causing the death of young children.”

There have been four coronal inquiries, a murder trial and a royal commission into the case.

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton was jailed for murder despite an initial inquest ruling that a dingo had killed her daughter.

The conviction was overturned in 1988 after Azaria’s mangled and torn jacket was found near a known dingo lair. What would have happened if that jacket had never been found hardly bears consideration, and yet we must consider it, because only happenstance saved Lindy from spending decades in prison, just as only happenstance – and the ignorance of justice conducted as a blood sport – saw her in there in the first place.

“Please accept my sincere sympathy on the death of your special and loved daughter and sister, Azaria,” the coroner told the family after handing down her finding. “I’m so sorry for your loss. Time does not remove the pain and sadness of the death of a child.”

Outside the court, Ms Chamberlain-Creighton fought back tears but said she was “relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga. No longer will Australians be able to say that dingoes are not dangerous, and that they only attack if provoked. The truth is out,” Mr Chamberlain added, saying that the family welcomed “a chance to put our daughter’s spirit to rest.”

Ms Chamberlain Creighton and former husband Michael Chamberlain were applauded outside the Darwin Magistrates Court by a large media contingent and members of the public. Mr Chamberlain said the coroner’s ruling was a triumph of justice. “This battle to get to the legal truth has taken too long,” he said. “However, I am here to tell you that you can get justice even when you think that all is lost.”

Some, it appears, though, will never be convinced. At 2.38 pm on 13th June, a Yahoo poll of so-far 3,000 people (a statistically significant figure) was showing this result.

Does Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton deserve an official apology?

  • Yes (1969) 65%
  • No (1051) 35%

One can only shake one’s head sadly and wonder what, if anything, the state can do to an innocent family that does deserve an apology.

(With Yahoo, ABC and others)