After American student Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend were cleared of the death of Meredith Kercher in a dramatic appeals verdict Tuesday, Knox wept, her followers celebrated, and her sister thanked the world for following the case.
Elsewhere in Perugia, a man who had long followed the case was quietly celebrating, too.
For the past several years, Frank Sfarzo has covered every hearing of the Knox trial on his blog, Perugia Shock, which he created in 2007 just days after the murder. The blog became widely read around the world in part because it was the only Italian blog written in English, but also because Sfarzo had a way of obtaining inside information, and because no detail was too obscure for the blog.
In a post entitled “A Tribute to Frank Sfarzo,” a crime blogger who goes by “Maundy Gregory” writes : “You want pictures of the knife? Frank’s your guy. Something about starch? Non c’è problema. A printout of Meredith Kercher’s DNA? Click here.”
Sfarzo started out as an objective observer of the case, even releasing details that could have condemned Knox. But over the years, he became increasingly convinced of Knox’s innocence, and starting using the blog to lobby for her release.
In May, Google shut down the blog after the head prosecutor of the case, Guiliano Mignini, filed a suit against Perugia Shock for “defamation, carried out by means of a Web site.”
Sfarzo kept writing, at a new Wordpress blog located here.
Last night, Sfarzo took a few minutes to talk to us over the phone from Perugia about the verdict.
Q. So how do you feel? Why do you think the court came to the verdict it did?
A. This is a very happy day. I think the court made this decision because it recognized there was absolutely no evidence against Amanda.
Q. What has been the reaction in Italy?
A. The people outside the courtroom have gathered around yelling “Shame! Shame!” There are many young, drunk people there protesting against the case. People attached the first lawyer who came out of the courtroom, and he had to escape. Many of these people don’t know the case but had just seen it on TV... some people didn’t even know the name of the victim. People in Italy who have actually followed the case, some journalists, are sure she is innocent.
Q. How did you become convinced of Knox’s innocence?
A. I had the feeling that she was innocent from the beginning, but I tried to trust the prosecution when they said they had evidence about her. After I managed to obtain most of the documents from the trial, I said that this girl is absolutely innocent.
Q. How has this case made you think differently about the justice system in Italy, if at all?
A. It seems to me the court did not follow the law by the book. A court is supposed to follow both the defendant and prosecutor. For a long time, they didn’t do that, and that’s why the miscarriage of justice happened until yesterday. This case showed that those in charge of the law in Italy don’t respect the law. The law must be respected precisely.
Q. Why did you devote so many years to this endeavor?
A. There was already one girl who was killed, I didn’t want another girl to be killed, in another way, or be in jail for the rest of her life... I’m just very happy that two lives [Knox and Sollecito] have been saved tonight.