We previously discussed how the parents of Amanda Knox are being sued by police for objecting to their shoddy investigation. It is an absurd case — one of many such defamation cases in Europe where courts allow lawsuits over comments that would be protected from liability in the United States. Now, the judge in the libel case has resigned due to a conflict of interest, but the police are still going forward with the lawsuit — despite the fact that recent disclosures establish clearly shoddy work by the police.
Judge Paolo Micheli said he would recuse himself from the trial of Knox’s parents Edda Mellas and Curt Knox. The trial of their daughter showed numerous instances of alleged substandard police work and recently the court heard evidence that the DNA evidence failed to show the victim’s blood on the murder weapon, a kitchen knife. While Knox’s DNA was found on the handle, the experts found there was possible contamination of the evidence and that no blood could be conclusively linked to the victim, Meredith Kercher.
The statements of the parents should be protected opinion, particularly when the subject of the comments is the government itself. Putting aside the problems with the Italian defamation laws, it is very disturbing to see the parents of a defendant or a victim subjected to such lawsuits. Whether you believe Knox or not, these parents are going through a living hell and should be allowed a degree of deference in responding to the case. The police can and did defend their actions. Suing these parents, in my view, is little more than harassment and retaliation for criticism of the government.
There are many legal lessons we could take from Europe, but defamation is not one of them. The case shows the dire need for countries like Italy to reexamine their laws to afford greater protection of opinion and political statements. As with the increase in blasphemy and hate speech prosecutions, free speech seems under assault in the West.