Return to Transcripts main page


High Court Tackles Same-Sex Marriage; Italy Wants Amanda Knox Retried; New Threats from North Korea; Two Priests Defend Pope

Aired March 26, 2013 - 12:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: She is. I'm Michael Holmes.

Why don't we begin in Rome.

MALVEAUX: A dramatic u-turn, actually, in a murder case that made international headlines. Italy's supreme court says an American exchange student should be tried again for the killing of her roommate.

HOLMES: Yes, will Amanda Knox have to return to Italy? We've got a live report from Rome. We'll also talk to an American lawyer about this case and look at the potential fate of her ex-boyfriend too.

MALVEAUX: A fresh round of threats from North Korea. The military there is put on combat ready status for possible strikes on U.S. bases in Guam and elsewhere.

HOLMES: Is this just more heated rhetoric from the new leader? We're going to have a live report from South Korea.

MALVEAUX: And the tiny island nation of Cyprus has avoided an economic collapse by getting a $13 billion bailout deal. But it is anything but business as usual there.

HOLMES: Yes, banks are going to be closed now until at least Thursday. They keep stretching that out. But biggest bank depositors, well, they could lose as much as 40 percent of their savings. We'll be live in Cyprus in just a few minutes for more on that.

MALVEAUX: And the legal debate over same-sex marriage reaching the U.S.' highest court, of course the Supreme Court. It could determine how we define marriage and family and make a huge difference for a lot of same-sex couples.

HOLMES: Indeed right here in the U.S. The justices have been hearing arguments today in the first of two cases. We do expect to get audio from the court argument some time during the next couple of hours. Of course, we will bring that to you as soon as we get it.

MALVEAUX: But first, want to talk about the issues in the case that will be heard in the court today. Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, at the Supreme Court. You were actually inside at the time. And I know there's a lot of excitement outside of the Supreme Court as well. Tell us about, first of all, the main issue here of California's Prop 8 as it is known, ballot initiative that bans same-sex marriage.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, the court was deeply divided. That much is clear. That might be the only thing that's clear. The court very much seemed to be groping for a way to resolve this case. Does the Constitution protect the right to same-sex marriage? In California alone? In all 50 states? Does this case even need to be decided now? Several justices suggested that there were procedural issues that might prevent the case from being resolved now. So I have to say, after listening to 80 minutes of argument, I am less sure of the resolution than I was when I went into the courtroom.

HOLMES: Well, that's reassuring, isn't it?

And, Jeffrey, this is one of the biggest social issues for Americans they've ever really, you know, faced, I suppose. You compared it to I think it was Loving versus Virginia. A landmark case that struck down laws banning interracial marriage. What's interesting here, does it have to be one thing or the other? Could there be a narrow ruling that avoids the broader issues in the same debate?

TOOBIN: Well, the supporters of same-sex marriage -- the supporters of Proposition 8, the people who oppose same-sex marriage, made the point repeatedly, look, this is a very controversial issue. Attitudes are changing quickly. The court should not get involved. The court should let states by state develop the law in this area and not issue a ruling that preempts the political process.

Ted Olson, the lawyer who was supporting same-sex marriage, opposing Proposition 8, referred to Loving versus Virginia repeatedly. He said, look, in 1967, this court said to the states, no more bans on racial intermarriage. This is that moment on same-sex marriage. This is the time where the court has to get involved and allow people to have their rights.

There were certainly four justices who were sympathetic to Ted Olson's argument. The four Democratic appointees in different ways, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan seemed very sympathetic to Ted Olson. Justice Scalia, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito seemed very sympathetic to the anti-same-sex marriage forces. Clarence Thomas, as he usually does, says -- said nothing. And Anthony Kennedy, who is so often the swing vote, really seemed to be groping for some sort of resolution. He said some things that were sympathetic to one side, some sympathetic to the other. But I wouldn't venture a guess on his vote at this point.

MALVEAUX: And, Jeff, real quick here, that's a pretty good summary of inside the courtroom. It sounds like -- what is the mood outside the courtroom? Is it festive? It almost sounds like there's a party going on out there.

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE). TOOBIN: It is -- it is pretty festive. It is overwhelmingly pro-same- sex marriage force, although there are a few opponents here. They've been here all day long. It's a very good natured crowd and it's threatening in any way. It's the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in action put to use by people expressing their views.

MALVEAUX: All right. Yes, lots of action going on outside the Supreme Court.

Thank you, Jeffrey.

And as we mentioned, of course, we're waiting for the audio. That is from the Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage. We're going to play that as soon as it's released.


MALVEAUX: It should be fascinating because, obviously, you know, you can't see inside or hear inside, but they're going to release that -- release it early.

HOLMES: Yes, they put it on the website, and we'll bring it to you as soon as it happens.

We are going to be hearing from people on both side of this debate. Ahead this hour, we're going to be talking live with actor and director Rob Reiner about his role in the fight for same-sex marriage.

MALVEAUX: And to Italy. Of course, that is where a high-profile murder case now back in the spotlight. We are talking about Amanda Knox, as she is ready to fight to prove her innocence again.

HOLMES: Exactly. This comes after Italy's supreme court said she should be retried for the killing of her roommate. Also, her former boyfriend. Both of them, of course, were found guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher. This happening back in 2007.

MALVEAUX: So they spent four years in prison before their convictions were overturned. Well, she has been living in Seattle since then and Knox's lawyer in Italy says she is unlikely to return.

HOLMES: Yes, her U.S. attorney says she will abide by the law.


TED SIMON, ATTORNEY FOR AMANDA KNOX: Amanda and her family will scrupulously abide by the rule of law and they are not required to appear for those proceedings. So let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's just see what happens. And we fully expect, because these charges are totally unfounded, they're totally unjust, and we fully expect that she will be exonerated, as she was before.

CARLO DALLA VEDOVA, ATTORNEY FOR AMANDA KNOX: I don't think she will come back for many reasons. First of all, she's a very young girl and she's (INAUDIBLE) her life and this has a psychological impact on her. So she can come, of course. She's a free person. There's no limitation of liberty. But for the time being, I think she's looking forward to have her life back in Seattle.


HOLMES: Barbie Nadeau is in Rome, criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson joining us from New York.

Barbie, let's start with you. It's sounding like she's not going to go back to Italy, but she can still be tried. She doesn't have to be there, right?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, that's right. According to the Italian law, defendants in cases, even murder cases, do not have to attend their own trial. Neither does Rraffaele Sollecito, who is an Italian citizen studying here in Barona in Italy. He doesn't have to attend the trial either. That is a point of law. The reason that they were in attendance at the original trial and the appeal, though, is because she was viewed as a flight risk and she was kept in jail during that process. But she's not here now, so she's not going to have to come back anytime soon, if at all.

MALVEAUX: And talk a bit about this -- the concept of double jeopardy here in the United States. Because, of course, in Italy, I guess you can be tried twice for the same crime. That's not necessarily the case for an American. Would there be any circumstance, Joey, in which she would actually have to face those charges again and that the U.S. would be forced to send her back to Italy?

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that's always an open question. But I would think it would be highly doubtful. And here's why. We abide by a constitution in this country and certainly this is a country that really values human rights. And under the Fifth Amendment, double jeopardy says you cannot be tried for the same offense twice. So although we do have a treaty with Italy, Suzanne, and that treaty provides, you know, since 1984, it's bilateral that we would have an extra decision proceeding where we may need to bring her back.

I would doubt that the United States would honor that. In fact, briefly a spokesperson was asked about that from the State Department in 2011. They punted in that time saying it was speculation. They weren't ready to address it. But I don't think if she is convicted in absentia and required to go back that the United States would honor it. It would certainly be a fight, but I don't think, based upon our notions of justice here, that the United States would be in a position to sent her back for any sentence of which she already has been adjudicated not guilty.

HOLMES: Yes, those things are often up for grabs. There's been cases where countries haven't sent people back to the United States because it has the death penalty, for example. So, I guess, those things can be discussed.

Barbie, what's interesting, too, we can't forget that her boyfriend is involved here, too. In many ways, he's at a disadvantage because if the retrial says, guilty again, he's within reach of the law. NADEAU: No, that's exactly right. He's in a much more vulnerable position. It remains to be seen if he'll stay in Italy. You know, there's no reason to confiscate his passport and there's no reason he can't travel internationally at this point.

But, you know, I think it's an important point to make in the case, though, is the fact that the Italian system is different. There are three levels for every criminal case, which is subject to be hear and examined by three levels. It is still within the third level, the high court of Italy, that has turned this back to the second level, basically. So it's not that should be retried for the same crime that she was already acquitted in. She's still within the same system. And that's a system that applies to all criminal cases in Italy. So it's not an anomaly. Everyone who's facing a criminal trial, even in the most basic criminal trials, gets three shots (ph) before it's completely signed off on. Before the high court rules definitively.

MALVEAUX: And, Joey, I don't want to forget the victim in all of this, of course, Meredith Kercher, who was murdered. Is her family speaking out about this? Or do they believe that this is a part of the process of bringing justice to their loved one?

JACKSON: Well, you know, certainly justice needs to be done and there is a victim here and the family really wants closure on this and they believe that there is merit to having this retried and to getting the justice here. The question is whether or not it really does offend our notions of justice here in the United States because, remember, here in the United States, Suzanne, once you're adjudicated to be, you know, not guilty, your acquitted, that's it. The prosecution cannot appeal where a defendant who is convicted can. And so based on that, I would hope that the family does get justice. Whether they get justice through this remains to be seen.

MALVEAUX: All right.

HOLMES: Joey, thanks so much.

JACKSON: A pleasure.

HOLMES: Joey Jackson there in New York. Barbie Nadeau joining us from Rome.

It's interesting, too, the historical precedent here in Italy post Mussolini after the war, there were so many kangaroo court trials, the people were found guilty and locked up, that that's why this multi- appeal system came into being.

MALVEAUX: Can they -- can they continue this? I mean is there a point in which they have to stop?

HOLMES: There is a point in which they have to stop. But the interesting part is, look at Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister. He's been charged with things for years and he's -- a lot of people think he'll never go to jail, just appeal, appeal, appeal, and it goes -- and on it goes. It is the system. And the wheels move very slowly anyway, even without all these added appeals. MALVEAUX: I can't imagine anybody can have any closure in that kind of system, really.

HOLMES: It's a very difficult thing.

MALVEAUX: Especially for the victims' family. HOLMES: Lawyers -- lawyers get rich.

MALVEAUX: I mean it's unbelievable. Yes.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly.

MALVEAUX: If you actually want more details on this story, you can tune in -- this is Friday night -- for "Anderson Cooper 360." A special report. This is all about the Amanda Knox story. "Murder Abroad" it is called. We're going to have an inside look at the life, the crime, the trial. It's all coming up. This is Friday evening at 10:00 Eastern.

HOLMES: Absolutely.

And here, meanwhile, more of what we're working on this hour for AROUND THE WORLD.

A new threat from -- yes, another one from North Korea, warning that U.S. basis could be reduced to ashes and flames.

MALVEAUX: We're going to be live from the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

Also, plus, he is back.

HOLMES: He is.

MALVEAUX: Tiger Woods. Yes, number one again. Does winning really change everything? We're going to look at what it means for the sponsors, including Nike, whose ad says winning takes care of everything.

HOLMES: He's winning, that's for sure.

Also, we're going to meet Yahoo!'s new whiz kid. He's designed an app at the age of 17 that's made him millions, tens of millions of dollars. I want my kid to do that.



MALVEAUX: Here's some of the stories making news "Around the World" right now.

HOLMES: In London, police are saying the Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky killed himself. His body was found at his home over the weekend.

An autopsy performed yesterday, the conclusion was that his death was, quote, "consistent with hanging."

Medical examiners will open an inquest. That is standard procedure. That's going to happen Thursday.

Berezovsky, of course, amassed a huge fortune in Russia, but got on the wrong side of Russian President Vladimir Putin and fled to England.

MALVEAUX: In recent years, he had been fighting lawsuits and prosecutions and had been trying to return to Russia.

In Mexico this morning, an earthquake rattled the southern state of Oaxaca on the Pacific coast. Five-point-five magnitude quake hit about 11 miles from the town of Santiago Jinotega Nacional (ph).

A second quake struck nearby just a few minutes afterwards. So far, there are no reports of damage or injuries.

And, of course, Michael, I want you to meet the latest multimillionaire. I'm a little jealous.

HOLMES: I love this story. I'm jealous. I want my kids to follow in his footsteps.

His name is Nick D'Aloisio. He just sold his smartphone app to Yahoo! He's still a year away from finishing high school, believe it or not.

MALVEAUX: Oh, my God.

So this was created while he was actually studying for exams. He was looking for a way to condense the information that he was reading on his smartphone, so ...

HOLMES: Yeah, and he did it.

He was actually on CNN earlier, talked about working with the Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer.


NICK D'ALOISIO: I was fortunate enough to have had a few conversations with Marissa.

The main thing we were focusing on and the thing that really excites me and the reason I want to join Yahoo! is there's such scale and opportunity here.

Yahoo! has hundreds of millions visiting their content every month, and so, for a technology like ours or, indeed, any others, it's such a big platform to leverage.

And, again, with the focus on mobile and beautiful design, I think there's a ton of consumers who are going to love these products.


MALVEAUX: I love how he's on a first name basis. Marissa and I, you know, we're chatting it up at Yahoo!

HOLMES: He's 17 going on 35. Yahoo! didn't say how much it paid exactly. They're not saying, but it's believed to be in the tens of millions. There's been quotes of $30 million or so, but ...

MALVEAUX: You know, he has still has a year to go in high school before he's even allowed to work for the company, so yeah.

HOLMES: That's under law. But he's going to do it and do his studies at work. So he's still going to do his -- finish up his high school, yeah.

MALVEAUX: Secretly, that is my goal, my dream, to design an app and just get rich.

HOLMES: He started to work on it when he was 13. I've got a 13-year- old boy. I'm going to go home. I'm going to say, get on it.

MALVEAUX: Get on it. Take care of your old man.

HOLMES: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: North Korea, now unleashing a new round of threats against the United States, says that it plans to put certain military units on high alert.

HOLMES: These units are actually assigned to strike U.S. bases as well as targets in South Korea.

Matthew Chance joins us from a South Korean island.

Matthew, this is just more bluster from the new leader? And tell us about the island that you're on, Pyongyang. This is an island that knows North Korean aggression.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And, you know, whereas we may see these as bluster and many South Koreans may see this latest threat as bluster, many people on this island of Yeonpyeong feel that it could be more than that.

They've got very terrible experience of North Korean threats. It was three years ago that North Korean artillery positions bombarded areas just behind me here on this island, killing at least four South Koreans, laying waste to a large area of the settlement here on this very small island just about five, six miles off the coast of North Korea itself.

And so, there's a very heightened sense of tension here when they hear all these -- this barrage of North Korean threats coming down now over the past couple of weeks.

Of course as I say, in Washington, elsewhere, people just dismissing this as just more bluster.

MALVEAUX: So, Matthew, is there anybody in South Korea who is responding or reacting to this? Are they preparing? Are they worried or afraid in any way? Are they taking it seriously?

CHANCE: I think they have to take it seriously because the stakes are so high.

Obviously, the country, South Korea, in general, is on almost permanent state of high alert. They've also bolstered their military relationship with the United States over the past few days as well, signing an agreement that essentially lowers threshold for the U.S. to get involved in a conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

Previously it had been if South Korea had been invaded. Now, under this latest agreement, it's if North Korea attacks South Korea, the U.S. could step in and help its ally.

Hopefully that will play some kind of deterrent roll. But at the moment, all it seems to be doing is provoking more rhetoric, more threats from Pyongyang.

HOLMES: All right, Matthew Chance on the island of Yeonpyeong. Thanks so much. Good to see you.

MALVEAUX: So they said he protected us, told us where to hide. Now these are what two priests are saying what Pope Francis' role during Argentina's so-called "dirty war."

HOLMES: Some good news for him, yeah.


MALVEAUX: In Argentina, two priests have come forward to clear the new pope's name in the country's so-called "dirty war," a time when tens of thousands disappeared under the country's military dictatorship.

HOLMES: They were bad years.

Now, hours after being elected, Pope Francis was actually accused of turning his back on two Jesuit priests who ended up in prison.

Rafael Romo has spoken to two other priests who say that the then- Reverend Bergoglio actually helped them avoid being captured.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Jorge Bergoglio testifying before authorities in Argentina.

The then-Buenos Aires cardinal, who would become Pope Francis, said in 2010 hearings that he demanded the liberation of two fellow Jesuit priests.

"I testified," Bergoglio said, "that they were not involved in anything weird."

The Jesuits had been detained by the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. The period known as the "dirty war" saw the disappearance of as many as 30,000 people in Argentina.

Pope Francis was accused in a book written by an Argentine journalist of deliberately failing to protect two Jesuit priests kidnapped by the military when Bergoglio was the leader of the order in his country.

But two other Jesuits priests say Bergoglio protected them and gave them advice on how to elude authorities.

REVEREND CARLOS GONZALEZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST (via translator): He would tells us that, if somebody came looking for us, to find out first if they were people we knew. If not, he would say don't even get close.

He even told us where to hide in case authorities came looking for us.

ROMO: During the "dirty war," the dictatorship targeted previously, Jesuits among the poor were especially vulnerable.

One priest says Bergoglio, as leader of the Jesuits in Argentina, gave him secret advice on how to stay safe.

MIGUEL LA CIVITA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST (via translator): He told us that we could count on him and that we were not alone.

He gave us advice not using the main staircase, but the elevator instead, and avoid strangers.

He told us where to hide if there were strangers and to let him know as soon as possible. He was undoubtedly worried about us.


MALVEAUX: Rafael Romo's joining us. And we were asking all of the questions during the break here. This is fascinating.

But tell us what his role was, Bergoglio. It looked like it was kind of a practical thing that he was managing at the time.

ROMO: It is true, and there are conflicting reports, two priests who said he didn't help them, two other priests who said he, in fact, was helping them.

And I think what's emerging here is a very pragmatic figure of then- Cardinal Bergoglio who knew that if he was too much in the face of military authorities he was going to end up being killed by the regime.

And so what he chose to do was to play this role as walking a very gray area in which he made sure that he remained alive because at the end of the day he was not going to be able to do anything if he ended up a martyr.

HOLMES: And he could have. He could have easily have ended up that way.

ROMO: He could have. There was not a lot of room for error. There was not a lot of tolerance between 1976 and 1983.

HOLMES: So he's doing this balancing act. Do we know what happened to the other two priests that say Bergoglio did them no favors?

ROMO: One died in the '90s, and one is still alive, living in a monastery in Germany.

And he has said since that there was misunderstanding as to what the role of Bergoglio was back then and that he later -- his understanding was that he was actually helping them behind the scenes.

HOLMES: Right.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, it's fascinating. You just want to know everything about the pope, his background and how he's going to be behaving moving forward.

But it really does tell, speak of the man and what he's like.

HOLMES: And it says a lot about those times.

ROMO: Pragmatic, in one word.

HOLMES: Yeah. Rafi (ph), good to see you. Rafael Romo there.

ROMO: Thanks.


And, of course, we are going to be talking to actor and director Rob Reiner. He was at the Supreme Court today listening to debate over same-sex marriage.

HOLMES: He was. He's actually the first person in line to get in.

We're going to talk to him next about his role in fighting California's same-sex marriage ban.