Monday 29 April 2013

Waiting To Be Heard

While imprisoned in Italy for four years over the murder of her roommate, Amanda Knox fended off sexual harassment from guards and an overture from a cellmate. On the night of the killing, she was smoking marijuana and watching a movie with her Italian boyfriend. And those infamous cartwheels that Ms. Knox reportedly performed in the police station never happened.  
Amanda Knox, an American, was convicted and then acquitted of murder in Italy.
Those assertions are among the many in “Waiting to Be Heard,” the long-awaited memoir that is Ms. Knox’s most extensive public testimony since she was convicted, and then acquitted, of killing her 21-year-old British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
An appeals court acquitted Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito two years after their original conviction and they were released. But in March, Italy’s highest court overturned that decision ordering a new trial sometime in the next year.
Ms. Knox’s book is scheduled for release on April 30. Harper Collins are convinced that the intense publicity the case received, with its lurid details and the courtroom spectacle of two Italian trials, would make the book a big seller and reportedly paid a $4 million dollar advance.
While saying she was the victim of bias and mistreatment by Italian authorities, Ms. Knox also writes that her own mistakes contributed to her conviction. She admits to being naïve, sometimes inappropriate and odd, too proud to admit when her halting knowledge of Italian failed her. During the investigation, she followed the directions of the Italian police “like a lost, pathetic child,” she recalled.  In 463 pages, Ms. Knox recounts her darkest moments in prison — at one point, she writes, she imagined committing suicide. 

Ms. Knox exhaustively lays out her defense, describing her whereabouts on the night that her roommate was killed. She says that she and Mr. Sollecito were smoking marijuana, reading a Harry Potter book aloud in German and watching the film “Amélie” at his apartment. She pointed to the Italian prosecutors who she said willfully ignored and manipulated evidence while they clung to the theory that she and Mr. Sollecito were responsible for Ms. Kercher’s death.  
According to Ms. Knox’s account, the police interrogated her for hours and sporadically slapped her on the back of her head. Eventually they goaded her into signing a statement that implicated her and an innocent man, Patrick Lumumba, her boss at a bar where she worked. At the police station, while Ms. Kercher’s British friends huddled together in grief, Ms. Knox wrote that she paced the hallways, dry-eyed, slamming the heel of her palm against her forehead in anger. “First I showed not enough emotion; then I showed too much,” she wrote.
Since her return from Italy, Ms. Knox has been living in Seattle. Executives from major publishing houses who met with Ms. Knox last year said they were dazzled by her charm, intelligence and forthright demeanor. HarperCollins, a News Corporation subsidiary, eventually secured the rights in a deal brokered by the Washington lawyer Robert B. Barnett. Whether Ms. Knox can win over the book-buying public is another matter.
Will she come across as an innocent abroad, a naïve college student ensnared by a medieval Italian legal system? Or, as she has been portrayed in the Italian and British press, a cunning seductress who engineered the brutal killing of her roommate?

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