December 7th 1982

Texas, first execution with lethal injection

Some news from Italy.

Dear Sirs,

I am not a lawyer and I do not know anything about the Perugia (Knox) Affair, so I will not enter into the facts of the trial, but I want to say that we have not jurors, but “giudici popolari” (lay judges). They are drawn from a very thin list and sit with two “giudici togati” (trial judges). They decide the verdict and the sentence, and decide by themselves, without any obligation to follow Defence or DA suggestions and so they did.

More: they will write down a very meticulous explanation of their decision.

Two years to reach a sentence are not a very long time. It is difficult to see in Usa a capital or non-capital homicide trial to begin before two or three years. The Italian trial is long because we have not the preliminary hearings that clean the way and many procedural problems are still to be resolved at the opening hearing, when in America they were decided long before. We have also “parte civile” (lawyers for the victim/s).

Now the Knox case will go in Appellate Court, and in Italy this mean a quite de novo trial, with witnesses and everything. With new giudici popolari and new verdict and sentence.

Not yet finished: of course Corte di Cassazione (the court of last resort) will hear the case.

This is the way our justice works, with quite always a trial and always an appeal.

Very different it was for the Italian Carlo Parlanti in California. He refused the plea bargain and was convicted, for rape, by a jury without any explanation of the rationale and without any appellate review. Many jurists affirmed that, with the bizarre evidences presented at trial, no Italian court had convicted him.

Best regards

Dott. Claudio Giusti

Via Don Minzoni 40, 47100 Forlì, Italia
Tel.  39/0543/401562     39/340/4872522

Member of the Scientific Committee of Osservatorio sulla Legalità e i Diritti, Claudio Giusti had the privilege and the honour to participate in the first congress of the Italian Section of Amnesty International: later he was one of the founders of the World Coalition Against The Death Penalty.