Let me tell you a story that didn’t happen.
I repeat: this story did not happen.
Maybe it’s all for the best that it didn’t happen, but it could have happened...
Perugia has a population of 150, 000 people.
It has two universities, one of which caters specifically for foreigners.
Ten years ago, there were 35,000 students in Perugia, though the number has been falling steadily to the present 20,000 estimate.
It’s a pleasant town with a lively cultural scene. There’s plenty to do, lots of trendy places to meet. Everywhere you hear foreign voices, which strikes a strange note in a region like Umbria which is so essentially Italian. The main drag, Corso Vannucci, is crowded with young people. They sit in the bars and cafes, and on the stone steps of the cathedral, or Palazzo dei Priori which houses a fine collection of Umbrian and Renaissance art, keeping an eye on the talent. Perugia makes you think of every university town you’ve ever been to – students study some, and socialize some more. Life is one long party, and sometimes they drink. Or get high. Getting high is higher on the agenda these days, but having a drink or three helps.
Let’s just say there are a lot of pushers in Perugia.
And where there are pushers, there are customers.
So, one day – and this is a story that really did happen – an Italian boy, an American girl, an adopted boy who came originally from the Ivory Coast, and an English girl were thrown together in Perugia by the forces of fate, and the outcome was that the English girl was raped and murdered. The other three students were imprisoned and tried, and, after ‘great trials and tribulations,’ two of them were eventually found not guilty and they were released.
The boy from the Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede, remained in prison because he confessed to being present (and DNA evidence tied him to the scene of the crime). He was high that night, he said, his memory of events was uncertain. He may have been advised to confess by his lawyers. By doing so, he was given a shortened sentence. Last month, nine years into his sixteen-year sentence, Rudy was granted a 36-hour parole from prison, where his behaviour has been described as exemplary. On the 26th June, he walked out of prison, intending to buy, as I read this morning, a ‘chessboard, a bottle of perfume and a pomegranate’ before he goes back to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Rudy’s statement was odd – a pomegranate?
His sentence was even odder. He was found guilty of murder and sexual violence in ‘the company of others.’ Who the ‘others’ may be has never been determined, but that’s the Italian justice system. Rudy is serving time for a crime committed in his presence by others who have never been identified...
By a strange coincidence, the other boy in the case, the Italian who was declared innocent after five trials (having been found guilty the first time), was spotted in the centre of Perugia the other day. He was in Corso Vannucci, mingling with the students, Italian and foreign, in the company of The Pills, a group of comedians who run a Facebook page. The Pills wanted to take a ‘selfie’ with Raffaele Sollecito in the town where he was convicted, and then absolved, of the murder of an English girl named Meredith Kercher.
I imagined Rudy Guede walking out of jail to buy that pomegranate, and meeting Raffaele Sollecito...
What would have happened in this story that didn’t happen?
In dreams, the pomegranate symbolizes a rift between rationality and imprudent behaviour.