At a press conference in Rome earlier this month, Raffaele Sollecito claimed his university thesis proves his innocence. Sollecito analyzed social networks to determine how many people believed he was innocent or guilty alongside co-defendant Amanda Knox in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy.
Sollecito and Knox were convicted of Kercher’s murder and served four years in prison. A 2011 acquittal was overturned in January when they were both convicted a second time — Knox refuses to return to Italy to serve her 30-year sentence.
Sollecito faces 25 years but is free as he awaits a final appeal to the Italian high court. He’s asked to stand trial separate from Knox, claiming her version of the story is “imagination and hallucination.” He has earned two degrees, the first was from Perugia University while in jail. On Tuesday, he graduated from Verona University with a degree in computer engineering.
In his thesis, called “Social Network Analysis and Semantic Proximity,” Sollecito examined social networks to determine the number of people who favored or opposed his conviction and found that his name and comments about the brutal murder were more often linked to the word “innocent” than “guilty.”
Sollecito seems to think social media mentions carry enough weight to determine his guilt or innocence.
“What was interesting was that that in the days after we were re-convicted, there was a complete inversion — for the justice system we were guilty, but on the Web, or at least among those Internet search engines that I studied, the interpretation was exactly the opposite,” Sollecito told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Sollecito posted to Facebook several pictures of himself smiling and celebrating as he received his degree. His thesis was written in English and defended in Italian.
His and Knox’s acquittal was overturned by Italy’s Supreme Court because evidence linking them to the murder scene had not been properly considered during the appeals trial.
A source close to the Kercher family told Sky News, “The pain for them goes on. They will never experience the joy of Meredith graduating, but Sollecito and Knox are carrying on with their lives.”
*image via corrieri.it