Raffaele Sollecito has been denied compensation for his wrongful imprisonment in the murder of Meredith Kercher on November 2, 2007 in Perugia, Italy. On February 11, 2017 a court in Florence ruled that Sollecito was not entitled to compensation.
Sollecito was the boyfriend of 20-year-old American college student Amanda Knox when they were arrested for Kercher’s murder.
No credible uncontested evidence was found at the crime scene linking either Sollecito or Knox to Kercher’s murder in her bedroom of the house she shared with Knox and two other women. Their prosecution was largely based on incriminating admissions that Knox made when questioned by the police, which she recanted as coerced. Sollecito made inconsistent statements to the police that he also claimed were coerced.
In contrast to the lack of direct, eyewitness, or forensic evidence implicating Sollecito or Knox, forensic testing of evidence recovered from Kercher’s room identified the DNA and fingerprints of 20-year-old Rudy Guede. In October 2008 Guede was convicted of murder and sexual assault. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. His conviction was affirmed on appeal, but his sentence was reduced to 16 years because he expressed remorse for Kercher’s murder.
In December 2009 Sollecito and Knox were both convicted of murder. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in prison and Knox to 26 years. They were also ordered to pay total restitution of 5 million euros ($7.4 million) to Kercher’s family.
Extensive publicity about the case made Knox — who the media dubbed “Foxy Knoxy” — one of the most recognized people in the world. Almost two dozen books were written about Kercher’s murder.
Sollecito and Knox spent 47 months in custody before their acquittals by an appellate court and their release from prison on October 3, 2011. Knox immediately left Italy for her home in Seattle, Washington.
On March 26, 2013 Italy’s Supreme Court reversed the acquittal of Sollecito and Knox, and ordered their retrial.
Sollecito and Knox were again convicted on January 30, 2014. Sollecito was sentenced to 28-1/2 years in prison, and Knox to 25 years. Knox refused to voluntarily return to Italy to resume serving her sentence. Sollecito was arrested near Italy’s border with Austria.
On March 27, 2015 Italy’s Supreme Court acquitted Sollecito and Knox, and ordered the case closed.
In January 2016 Sollecito filed a claim for compensation from the Italian government. He sought the maximum he could be awarded, which was €516,000 (US$560,293*).
Sollecito stated during a BBC interview that he and his family needed the compensation to “clear up my debts” of about €400,000 (US$434,000) incurred as a result of his prosecution.
On January 27, 2017 a hearing was held on Sollecito’s claim.
On February 11, 2017 a court in Florence denied Sollecito’s claim. The court acknowledged that Sollecito’s acquittal by the Supreme Court supported he had been wrongly imprisoned. However, the court ruled that Sollecito wasn’t entitled to compensation because his conduct contributed to his conviction. The court stated that Sollecito made “contradictory or even frankly untrue” statements when Kercher’s murder was being investigated, which constituted “intent or gross negligence” on his part.
Sollecito’s lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, was disappointed that the court’s ruling failed to consider his conflicting statements to the police were given under duress. She said that error will be the basis of an appeal to the Supreme Court.
If the rationale for denying Sollecito compensation holds up on appeal, then Knox’s pretrial police statements will prevent her from successfully seeking compensation.
Previous Justice Denied articles about the case of Sollecito and Knox are:
Amanda Knox And Raffaele Sollecito Acquitted Of Murder And Sexual Assault By Appeals Court, By Hans Sherrer, Justice Denied, October 4, 2011.
Amanda Knox Owes Her Freedom To Italy’s Legal System, By Hans Sherrer, Justice Denied, Jan. 31, 2012
* The exchange rate was 1.085841 Euro per U.S. dollar on January 1, 2016.