jeudi 11 avril 2013

HarperCollins UK suspends publication of Knox "memoir"

Victim Meredith Kercher as a child

This is welcome news and a no-brainer. Can you imagine HarperCollins US publishing Jodi Arias's memoir right now, with her trial for murdering Travis Alexander pending? But this is precisely the situation Knox is currently in, except that the murder victim was English and the alleged crime took place in far-off Italy. I'll try and make this as simple as possible: When Knox signed her book deal with HarperCollins, allegedly for a 4-million dollar advance, she was not yet out of the woods legally.

Several of us pointed this out at the time. But in the headlong, greedy rush to make out like bandits, none of her handlers or advisors seemed to be paying attention. Here's the truth: Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were initially convicted for their role in murdering Knox's roommate, Meredith Kercher. In addition, Knox was convicted of calunnia, or defamation, a felony in Italy, for falsely accusing her boss, Patrick Lumumba, of the crime, claiming in addition that she was an ear witness. Both the prosecution and the defense teams filed an appeal, the prosecution because it felt that the sentences were too lenient in light of the heinous nature of the crime and the attempt to derail the investigation by (i) falsely accusing an innocent man and (ii) tampering with the evidence to suggest a break-in. The subsequent appeal trial was quite strange, against the backdrop of US media vying for the rights to an exclusive with Knox. If you are interested in the details of this media circus and the trial itself, you can read my other posts or go to the website True Justice for Meredith Kercher (.org).

Oddly, the Hellmann court "acquitted" Knox and Sollecito but upheld Knox's conviction by the first court for aggravated calumny. Both the prosecution and the defense teams appealed this court's ruling. I bolded that line because it is important. As far back as October of 2011, it was virtually certain that the case would go to Italy's highest court for a decision. In other words, the matter was still pending and you can safely ignore all of the ignorant commentary in the US about double jeopardy. A few months later, the actual appeal was filed by PM Galati. The discussion board I moderate ( translated this document. You should read it. The grounds for appeal were very strong indeed. Too bad the folks at HarperCollins did not read the appeal; I guess they were too busy working out the details of the infomercial with ABC, which outbid the other networks for the chance to sit down in a carefully controlled setting and throw softballs to Knox, kicking off her book promo.

Truly, the only real mystery is how a bunch of people who should know better went ahead and negotiated a book deal and then a promo gig with someone whose legal status was and is still pending. The Italian Supreme court heard the appeals and issued its decision in late March. And the decision is without a trace of ambiguity: the court overturned the Hellmann court decision in all of its aspects except for his decision to uphold Knox's felony conviction for calumny.

In other words, that conviction is now final. As for the rest, a new appeal trial will be held in Florence, Italy. The calumny conviction will loom large. In the meantime, will HarperCollins realize the folly of its plan to publish a memoir co-written by an individual who is a convicted felon for the crime of lying to police and accusing an innocent man of murdering her roommate in her presence? How credible is a memoir written by a co-narrator who is prima facie unreliable? Maybe HC should take my advice and rebrand the book as fiction. That would certainly be more honest, assuming that truth in advertising matters.