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Amanda Knox could be extradited, legal expert says

Law professor says treaty trumps U.S. constitution

31 January, 15:42
Amanda Knox could be extradited, legal expert says (ANSA) - New York, January 31 - Amanda Knox could face extradition to Italy, a leading international criminal lawyer told ANSA in an interview on Friday.

Christopher Blakesley, a professor at the University of Nevada, called extradition "absolutely possible" for Knox, who has been living in the United States.

Knox received a jail sentence of 28 years and six months after she and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty in a Florence court Thursday for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia. The appeals-level verdict was the fourth ruling on the case and it is now expected to go to the Italian supreme court. Blakesley, who teaches at the William S. Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas, said a 1984 bilateral treaty between the United States and Italy obliges the US to obey an extradition request, if made.

The professor added that the treaty takes precedence over the US constitution, but the case would likely be adjudicated in federal court.

One key issue to be determined would be whether Knox's conviction constitutes a case of "double jeopardy". The US constitution protects citizens from being tried again on the same criminal charges once a person has been acquitted of them in court. Thursday's verdict in a Florence middle court represents the fourth verdict for Knox and Sollecito, after the Italian supreme court rejected an acquittal made by a previous middle appeals court. Some have hypothesized that the double-jeopardy clause could save Knox from extradition, but Blakesley is not sure. According to Blakesley, under Italian law Knox's new conviction does not come from a new trial, but from a new stage of the same trial. In addition, the US signed the treaty with Italy knowing full well the laws that govern its justice system, he said.

Blakesley said that the last word, however, would lie with the US secretary of state, who holds veto power on extraditions.