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Amanda Knox slander conviction upheld by Italy court in Meredith Kercher murder case

WorldAmanda Knox slander conviction upheld by Italy court in Meredith Kercher murder case

FLORENCE, Italy — Amanda Knox failed in her bid to clear her name Wednesday as an Italian court reconvicted her of slander for accusing an innocent man in her roommate’s 2007 murder.

Knox wept after the verdict was delivered, as she appeared in an Italian courtroom for the first time in more than a decade. She was sentenced to three years imprisonment, but will not serve any more jail time as it counts as time already served.

The American was only 20 when she and her Italian then-boyfriend were arrested for the brutal killing of 21-year-old fellow student Meredith Kercher at the girls' shared home in Perugia.
Amanda Knox arrives at the courthouse in Florence, Italy on June 5, 2024.Tiziana Fabi / AFP – Getty Images

Speaking after the verdict outside the courthouse in Florence, Knox’s lawyer told NBC News that he was “very surprised at the outcome of the decision and Amanda is very upset.”

Knox, 36, made headlines around the world as she was jailed and then cleared of killing her roommate, Meredith Kercher.

While Knox’s murder conviction was overturned, the slander conviction remained on her record. She had hoped that a not-guilty verdict would remove any lingering doubt about her innocence, but the court found that she had wrongly accused Congolese bar owner Patrick Lumumba of taking part in the murder. 

22-year-old murdered British university student  Meredith Kercher.
Meredith Kercher.AP file

The case was largely based on two statements that Knox signed after she was questioned by investigators without a lawyer or a competent translator.   

Knox had recently arrived in Perugia when she endured a long night of questioning about the murder, despite having only rudimentary Italian language skills and she ended up accusing Lumumba of killing Kercher in the statements that were typed up by police. 

Wearing a pink top and blue skirt, Knox was accompanied by her husband, Christopher Robinson, and her legal team as she entered the courtroom early Wednesday for the retrial.

In a soft and sometimes breaking voice, Knox testified before eight Italian judges and jury members in fluent Italian, her arms resting on the courtroom bench.

She described the police interrogation as her “worst nightmare.” She said that she was questioned in a language she “barely knew.”

“When I couldn’t remember the details, one of the officers gave me a little smack on the head and shouted, ‘remember, remember,’” Knox said. “And then I put together a jumble of memories and the police made me sign a statement. I was forced to submit. It had been a violation of my rights.”

“I was a scared girl, deceived by the police and led not to trust her own memories,” she added.

Knox was 20 when she was sentenced to 26 years for Kercher’s murder at the apartment they shared in the idyllic central Italian university town of Perugia.  

The killing made headlines around the world after Kercher, 21, was found half-naked in a pool of blood with more than 40 stab wounds Nov. 1, 2007. Her throat had been slit. 

Kercher, a student from Britain’s University of Leeds, was embarking on a year of study in Perugia, living in a rented flat with Knox and two Italian roommates. Friends called her “Mez.” The youngest of four children, she grew up on the outskirts of London.

Knox and her her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, then 25, whom she had been seeing for around a week, were charged with Kercher’s murder.

Prosecutors alleged it was a case of rough sex that got violent at the trial that was followed intensely in the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom. 

After the two were convicted in December 2009, Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.

Both spent four years behind bars as the case meandered through the Italian court system and, after a series of flip-flop verdicts, they were ultimately exonerated by the the Supreme Court of Cassation, Italy’s highest court in March 2015. 

The two were cleared seven years after the October 2008 conviction of Rudy Hermann Guede, a man from Ivory Coast whose DNA was found at the crime scene. Before his release in November 2021, Guede served 13 years of a 16-year prison sentence handed down after a fast-track trial that foresees lighter sentences under Italian law. 

However, one conviction against Knox remained: the defamation case against Lumumba who spent a few weeks in jail, even after he established an alibi that proved he could not have killed Kercher. 

But in January 2019, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled that the interview conditions had violated Knox’s human rights and ruled that the Italian legal system should pay her $20,000. 

“Knox had been particularly vulnerable, being a foreign young woman, 20 at the time, not having been in Italy for very long and not being fluent in Italian,” the court noted at the time.

In light of this, and following a constitutional reform, Italy’s highest court ordered a retrial of the slander conviction and it instructed Florence’s appeals court to consider only a handwritten statement that Knox wrote in English hours after she was questioned. 

“On the one hand, I am glad I have this chance to clear my name, and hopefully that will take away the stigma that I have been living with,” Knox who campaigns for better awareness of forced confessions, said on her podcast, Labyrinths, in December.

“On the other hand, I don’t know if it ever will, in the way I am still traumatized by it,” she said.

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