Prosecutors in Amanda Knox case face probe

By Michael Day

Two prosecutors who called for Amanda Knox to spend the rest of her life in jail after claiming she killed Meredith Kercher are now themselves under investigation.

The investigating magistrates, Giuliano Mignini and Manuela Comodi, are accused of wasting public funds on commissioning a controversial video, presented to jurors, which showed images of Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito murdering the British exchange student.

Knox, 24, was dramatically cleared of the killing last October when the appeals court in Perugia accepted that pivotal DNA evidence used to convict her and Sollecito, 27, had been fatally flawed. A third person, an unemployed drifter Rudy Guede, is serving 16 years for the murder in November 2007.

Now, in a further embarrassment to Comodi and Mignini, the Umbria audit court prosecutor Agostino Chiappiniello has said he suspects the two of inappropriately spending €182,000 ($295,000) on a crude and cartoonish 20-minute video, which purports to show events leading up to and including the brutal slaying. It was shown during the original 2009 trial, after which Knox was jailed for 26 years and Sollecito for 25 years.

Both were freed last October. But they must wait until later this year to see if the Supreme Court of Cassation, Italy's highest criminal legal body, absolves them definitively of the murder charges.

In February the prosecution appealed to the court to reinstate the murder convictions.

The gung-ho Mignini, who led the prosecution of Knox in the first trial, is no stranger to controversy. Since their release, the friends and families of both Knox and Sollecito have criticised the investigating magistrate, who after leading the prosecution in the first trial, reappeared in the second, despite being accused of abuse of office in the interim in a separate case.

In both trials, his interventions were notable for the outlandish motivations and personality traits he attributed to the defendants. He promoted the idea that the murder was the result of a sex-game that got out of control, despite having little or no evidence to support the theory.

Judges at the Cassation court may only overturn the first-appeal verdict on technical grounds. Thus, no new evidence may be introduced and the prosecution's room for manoeuvre is limited. Knox is back in her home town of Seattle in the US. Sollecito has returned to university.

- Independent

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