Italy’s Justice Minister has announced an investigation into comments made by Judge Alessandro Nencini to the Italian media about the deliberations and the verdict in the Amanda Knox case.  Justice Minister Annamaria Cancellieri said in a statement Monday she has asked the inspector general to make a preliminary assessment of the remarks published by two Italian newspapers.

The newspapers quoted Nencini as saying, among other things, that Sollecito’s decision not to testify on the witness stand worked against him.  Sollecito’s attorneys said the comments are a “serious” breach, that is “unacceptable” and could form part of their appeal to the verdict.

“This is not a vendetta because a judge handed down a verdict other than what we expected,” defense lawyer Luca Maori said.

Defense lawyers for Sollecito requested that the Judicial Ministry investigate the impropriety.  Knox defense lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said that the interviews were “not appropriate,” but he reserved comment on any action until the court’s reasoning for the verdict is issued.

“She feels that [the verdict] is a mistake and she will continue fighting for her innocence,” Dalla Vedova said.

An Italian news agency reported that the members of the Justice Ministry also requested the inquiry, saying that Nencini had violated the secrecy of deliberations, anticipated arguments in the unpublished reasoning, and made comments on defense strategy that suggested bias.  Nencini was the presiding judge on the panel that included judges and lay jurors that deliberated for nearly 12 hours before reinstating a guilty finding against Knox, 26, and Sollecito, 29, for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher.  

In his published comments, he told the newspapers that one difference in the defenses of Knox and Sollecito was that Sollecito was never questioned directly, even by the prosecution, “The ability not to be heard in a trial is a right, but it deprives the subject of a voice.”

Nencini also told the papers that the judicial reasoning behind the verdict will show why the court decided not to separate Knox and Sollecito in their deliberations or verdict.  Sollecito’s lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, requested that the panel not consider Sollecito as an extension of Knox, but look at him in his own right.  The two defenses both maintained that the couple spent the night together at Sollecito’s apartment.

Nencini said that the reasoning behind the verdict will be considered controversial and is based upon coincidences.  The verdict hinged on the fact that Knox and Sollecito changed their plans last minute.  At 8:15pm on the night of Meredith Kercher’s death, “they had different plans; then these were ditched and the occasion [to commit the crime] was created,” Nencini said,

“…There were coincidences and on this we have developed our reasoning. We realize this will be the most controversial part.”

Nencini said that the two judges and six jurors were unanimous, but the decision was “very tough…I feel liberated because the moment of the decision is the most difficult.  I also have children, and inflicting a sentence of 25 and 28 years on two young people is emotionally very tough.”  In response to the inquiry Nencini told the media, “If my words generated a misunderstanding about the absolute legitimacy of the choice of a defendant to make voluntary statements, I regret it.”  Nencini went on to say that his intention was to “clear up possible misunderstandings” and that he ran into the newspaper journalists “casually” while walking through the halls and they presented him with “rumors” about the deliberations.

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