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Amanda Knox testifies at her slander trial in Italy

Amanda KnoxAn American who was convicted and later exonerated of murdering his housemate while they were studying in Italy, on Wednesday lost another trial in an Italian court against trumped-up charges related to the killing. people in 2007.

Ms. Knox was convicted by a court in Florence on charges of slandering a man who ran the bar where she worked by falsely accusing him of killing her housemate, Meredith Kercher, 21 years old, in 2007. Ms. Knox was unjustly convicted. was sentenced by the court to three years in prison, which she has already served.

Ms Knox was initially convicted of slandering the man Diya Lumumba, also known as Patrick, in 2009, a verdict that was upheld by multiple Italian courts. At the time of the murder, Mr. Lumumba ran a bar called Le Chic, where Ms. Knox worked part-time.

Ms. Knox declined to speak to reporters after Wednesday’s verdict. Standing in the courtroom, she appeared heartbroken and held her husband, Christopher Robinson, in her arms for a long time.

“Amanda is very upset,” one of her lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said after the verdict was delivered. He said she had been looking forward to the trial as a way to end “17 years of judicial proceedings.”

Her defense team said they would read the court’s full written ruling, expected within 60 days, and would then most likely appeal to Italy’s highest court.

Speaking to a courtroom packed with journalists earlier Wednesday, Ms. Knox, referring to her comments about Mr. Lumumba in 2007, described “the worst night of my life” and said that she was bullied by the police into accusing an innocent man. of murder.

She told the court, speaking in Italian and her voice breaking at times, that she was a scared 20-year-old who had been tricked and was “mentally unstable.” She said she couldn’t understand why the police, “whom I was raised to trust and obey,” would pressure her to admit something untrue and sign a a text that is nothing more than “a mixture of incoherent memories.” .”

Wednesday’s hearing was the latest twist in a legal journey whose echoes continue to resonate nearly 17 years after the murder of Ms. Kercher, a British student, made headlines around the world and turned Miss Knox became a staple of the tabloids.

The European court ruling and a change in Italian law allowed Ms. Knox to make a fresh appeal on the slander charges, and Italy’s highest court in October ordered a retrial, to begin in April.

Ms. Knox became a household name in 2007 when she was arrested along with her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, then 23, for the murder of Ms. Kercher in a case that prosecutors described as Cholera is a sex game gone wrong. All three are studying in the picturesque city of Perugia in central Italy.

Ms. Knox was convicted of murder by an Italian court in 2009 but was acquitted after appeal. She returned to the United States in 2011 while her case bounced between various courts until she and Mr. Sollecito was exonerated by Italy’s highest court in 2015.

Ms Knox, arriving at court early on Wednesday, had to push through a crowd of camera operators waiting for her to appear. One of her lawyers said that she was accidentally hit in the forehead by the camera.

Speaking in court, recalling the events that led her to accuse Mr Lumumba, Ms Knox said Ms Kercher had been “a victim of horrific violence”. In the days after Ms Kercher’s death, Ms Knox said she was “shocked and exhausted” and had never felt “so vulnerable in her life”.

It was at that point, she said, during an interrogation that lasted all night, that police pressured her to name Mr. Lumumba, with whom she had exchanged a number of text messages that night. She said an officer slapped her.

In a handwritten note the morning after her interrogation, she retracted her statement and wrote of her confusion: “I want to make it clear that I have strong doubts about the veracity of my statements because they are given under the pressure of extreme stress, shock and exhaustion.”

Mr. Lumumba, who now lives in Krakow, Poland, did not attend Wednesday’s hearing and did not respond to requests for comment.

Since returning to the United States, Ms. Knox, now 36 and a mother of two, has become an advocate for people detained for crimes they did not commit and a campaigner for criminal justice reform. criminal law.

Rudy Guede, a Perugia resident with a history of breaking into police, was tried separately and found guilty in the murder case. He served 13 years of a 16-year sentence and released in 2021, recently made headlines after an ex-girlfriend accused him of physically abusing her. His lawyer said this week that the case involving his ex-girlfriend is still under investigation.

Although Ms Knox recanted her incriminating statement against Mr Lumumba, he was arrested, spent two weeks in jail and was only released after one of his clients provided an alibi.

Mr. Lumumba was sued for slander, and Ms. Knox was convicted and sentenced to three years, which she served all four years in prison.

In the December 2023 episode of “Maze,” the podcast she hosts with her husband, Ms. Knox said the slander verdict still makes her nervous.

For some people, she said, it’s “proof that I’m a liar and I’m a nasty person and I have something to hide and I’ve never told the whole truth about what happened to Meredith and there was just someone involved in the case.” Criminals may even make statements implicating themselves and others.”

There is no recording of the interrogation that night, and Italian police officers sued Ms. Knox for slander for her description of the interrogation. She was tried and was acquitted of those charges in 2016.

In 2019, Europe’s top human rights court ruled that Ms. Knox had been abused deprived of full legal aid during interrogation, violated her right to a fair trial and ordered Italy to pay her 18,400 euros, equivalent to about $21,000 at the time, in damages, costs and expenses. The court also raised questions about the role of Ms Knox’s interpreter, and said Ms Knox’s statements during the interrogation “were made in an atmosphere of intense psychological pressure”.

At a hearing in April related to the slander case, the Italian prosecutor and Carlo Pacelli, Mr. Lumumba’s lawyer, argued that Ms. Knox had deliberately accused the bar manager to distract attention. attention away from himself and diverting the investigation.

Ms Knox was ordered to pay damages to Mr Lumumba, but Mr Pacelli said she never gave any money to his client. Because of the charges, Mr. Lumumba lost his business and he left Italy with his family.

“I’m so sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to resist the police pressure and put him through that,” Ms. Knox said Wednesday before the verdict.

Another lawyer for Ms. Knox, Luca Lupária Donati, called Wednesday’s ruling “a serious judicial error,” adding, “We will not stop here.”


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