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Amanda Knox reconvicted of slander in Italy

Amanda Knox reconvicted of slander in Italy
Amanda Knox arrives surrounded by her husband Christopher Robinson and her diaper Luca Luparia Donati at the courthouse in Florence, Italy, June 5, 2024   -  
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Antonio Calanni/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved


An Italian court reconvicted Amanda Knox of slander Wednesday, quashing her hope of removing a legal stain against her that has persisted long after her exoneration in the brutal 2007 murder of her British roommate while the two were exchange students in Italy.

The decision by a Florence appeals court panel marked the sixth time that an Italian court found Knox had wrongly accused an innocent man, the Congolese owner of the bar where she worked part time, of the killing.

Knox has argued that her statements to police were forced during an intense night of questioning and relied on her then-remedial Italian when she was a 20-year-old university student.

But the panel of two judges and six jurors confirmed the three-year sentence, which she already served in four years in Italian custody while the investigation and multiple flip-flop trials ensued. The court's reasoning will be released in 60 days.

Knox's appearance Wednesday in Florence, in a bid to clear her name "once and for all," was the first time she had returned to an Italian court since she was freed in 2011. She showed no visible emotion as the verdict was read aloud. She was accompanied by her husband, Christopher Robinson.

But her lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said shortly afterward that "Amanda is very embittered."

"We are all very surprised at the outcome of the decision,'' Dalla Vedova said outside the courtroom. He added that Knox had expected an acquittal would cap nearly 17 years of judicial proceedings.

Another defense lawyer, Luca Luparia Donati, said they expected to appeal to Italy's highest court.

Knox's retrial was set in motion after a European court ruling that said Italy violated her human rights during a long night of questioning days after Kercher's murder, deprived of both a lawyer and a competent translator.

Addressing the Florence court in a soft and sometimes breaking voice, Knox said that she wrongly accused Patrick Lumumba under intense police pressure.

"I am very sorry that I was not strong enough to resist the pressure of police," Knox read in Italian from a prepared statement, addressing the 8-member panel from the jury bench. She told them: "I didn't know who the murderer was. I had no way to know."

The slaying of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in the idyllic hilltop town of Perugia fueled global headlines as suspicion fell on Knox, a 20-year-old exchange student from Seattle, and her new Italian boyfriend of just a week, Raffaele Sollecito.

Flip-flop verdicts over nearly eight years of legal proceedings polarized trial watchers on both sides of the Atlantic as the case was vociferously argued on social media, then in its infancy.

All these years later, the intensity of media interest remained, with photographers massing around Knox, her husband and her legal team as they entered the courthouse about an hour before the hearing. A camera knocked her on the left temple, her lawyer Luparia Donati said. Knox's husband examined a small bump on her temple as they sat in the front row of the court.

Despite Knox's exoneration and the conviction of an Ivorian man whose footprints and DNA were found at the scene, doubts about her role persisted, particularly in Italy. That is largely due to the accusation she made against Lumumba.

Lumumba's lawyer, Carlo Pacelli, told reporters that the accusation branded him across the world, and his business in Perugia floundered. He has since re-established himself in his wife's native Poland.

"Patrick has always been dutiful to all of the court decisions, and all the courts up until today have affirmed that Amanda Knox was a slanderer,'' Pacelli said.

Knox is now a 36-year-old mother of two small children who advocates for criminal justice reform and campaigns against wrongful convictions. She was freed in October 2011, after four years in jail, by a Perugia appeals court that overturned the initial guilty verdict in the murder case against both Knox and Sollecito.

She remained in the United States through two more flip-flop verdicts before Italy's highest court definitively exonerated the pair of the murder in March 2015, stating flatly that they had not committed the crime.

In the fall, Italy's highest Cassation Court threw out the slander conviction that had withstood five trials, ordering a new trial, thanks to a 2022 Italian judicial reform allowing cases that have reached a definitive verdict to be reopened if human rights violations are found.

This time, the court was ordered to disregard two damaging statements typed by police and signed by Knox at 1:45 a.m. and 5:45 a.m. as she was held for questioning overnight into the small hours of Nov. 6, 2007. In the statements, Knox said she remembered hearing Kercher scream, and pointed to Lumumba for the killing.

Hours later, still in custody at about 1 p.m., she asked for pen and paper and wrote her own statement in English, questioning the version that she had signed, still in a state of confusion.

"In regards to this 'confession' that I made last night, I want to make clear that I'm very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressure of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion," she wrote.

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