Comment: US faces embarrassment over Knox case

ITALY will not make an appeal for extradition of Amanda Knox until after the appeals process has been completed.

Robin Roberts interviews Amanda Knox on ABC's 'Good Morning America' programme. Picture: AP
Robin Roberts interviews Amanda Knox on ABC's 'Good Morning America' programme. Picture: AP

The case will go to the Court of Cassation, Italy’s supreme court, and if that court confirms the judgment that Knox is guilty of murder and should be sentenced to 28 years and six months, that is when a formal extradition request will be made to the United States.

When it gets to America, the ultimate power lies with the secretary of state, who is currently John Kerry.

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But whichever state she is in – Knox currently lives in Seattle, in the state of Washington – a senior prosecutor will act in the public interest but also on behalf of the Italian justice system.

He will bring proceedings in court, she will be legally represented and it will be for her to try to block the extradition.

One thing that could arise is double jeopardy, but I don’t really see that holding water in this case.

Another argument would be if the Italian prosecution fell foul of international human rights standards. That’s also very unlikely.

Italy is signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and there are no concerns internationally about their legal system.

But if there were concerns about a fair trial, she could raise that as a bar to extradition.

If the court in the United States decides that she is going to be extradited, there are still various stages of appeal to go through.

The Italian appeal may take a year to resolve and, if the extradition is challenged, that might take many months. There are various stages of appeal, so the process in the US itself could take years.

And it is still at the discretion of the secretary of state, who will have to consider whether to extradite.

There’s been some talk about the US being a hard place to extradite from, and to some extent that’s true, but in this case, I think America would embarrass itself if, after fair process, it does not hand her back to Italy.

Currently, she is a convicted murderer, it is a British victim and Italy is signed up to the human rights convention.

So there is no political reason why America would not hand her over.

• Niall McCluskey is a Scottish advocate specialising in extradition.