Meredith ignored in "media fog" around Amanda Knox

Oct 1, 2011, 7:11 a.m.
Amanda Knox (R), the U.S. student convicted of murdering her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy in November 2007, leaves the court for a break during her appeal trial session in Perugia September 30, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

By Deepa Babington

PERUGIA, Italy (Reuters) - Murdered Briton Meredith Kercher has been forgotten in the "fog" of a tireless media and public relations campaign to free the American student convicted of killing her, a lawyer for the victim's family told Reuters.

Seattle student Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are appealing an Italian court verdict that found them guilty of murdering 21-year-old Kercher in 2007 during a drug-fueled erotic game that turned violent.

A verdict is due on Monday in a case that has centered largely on Knox, a 24-year-old alternately depicted as a sex-driven vamp who lived life on the edge or a naive American girl framed by prosecutors on a witch-hunt.

In the breathless Knox-obsessed media coverage, "Mez" -- whose half-naked body bearing more than 40 gashes and bruises was found in her Perugia apartment -- has disappeared from view, said Francesco Maresca, a lawyer for the Kercher family.

"The whole world has forgotten about Meredith and her family," Maresca, a Florence-based lawyer, told Reuters.

"One always thinks of the defendants, their families, the suffering of their families and the victim is forgotten."

Knox, in large part, can thank her family for keeping her at the center of global media attention, Maresca said. "They have done a huge public relations campaign to free her that has created a fog around the trial."

His comments come after prosecutors on Friday urged the jury to ignore a pro-Knox publicity campaign they said cost over a $1 million.

Maresca has also highlighted the contrast between reports of a private jet -- denied by the Knox family -- waiting to whisk away the student if she is freed, with the trouble the Kercher family were having in finding tickets to fly to Perugia from Britain.

"They are a modest, middle-class family without huge amounts of money to spend and so can't afford to stay in Perugia for weeks and weeks in a hotel to follow the trial, which is what the families of the accused have done," he said.

The Kerchers, who are expected in Perugia for the verdict, have kept a low profile -- in stark contrast to the Knox family.

The Knoxes, who have hired Seattle public relations firm Gogerty Marriott, regularly appear on U.S. morning talk shows and news programs, backed up by a supporting cast including Knox's friend Madison Paxton and former FBI agent Steve Moore.

Websites like Friends of Amanda and Amanda Knox Defense Fund have also campaigned to free the Seattle student, who is seen by many in the United States as an innocent victim trapped abroad in the clutches of a medieval justice system.


The role of the media has been a recurrent theme in a trial where frantic journalists fighting for scraps of information have become so intertwined in the case that both the prosecution and defense have begged the jury to ignore the coverage.

A small army of reporters and camera crews has descended on the hilltop town of Perugia as the appeals trial ends, packing the center with satellite trucks, chasing Knox's parents and sisters around town and tweeting each minute detail.

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