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Amanda Knox returns to Italian court to clear her name in defamation case

Florence, Italy — In a soft and sometimes brittle voice, Amanda Knox asked eight Italian judges and jury members on Wednesday to clear her of a defamation charge that persisted even after she was exonerated of the brutal murder of her British roommate in 2007 as the two were exchange students in Italy.

Knox told the court she wrongly accused an innocent man, the Congolese owner of the bar where she worked part-time, of murder under intense police pressure during an unassisted late-night interrogation. a competent lawyer or translator.

“I am very sorry that I was not strong enough to resist the pressure from the police,” Knox told the panel in a 9-minute prepared statement, seated alongside them in the jury box. She told them: “I didn’t know who the murderer was. I had no way of knowing.”

The panel has retired to deliberate and a decision is not expected until midday Wednesday.

The murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in the idyllic hilltop town of Perugia made global headlines as suspicion turned to Knox, a 20-year-old exchange student from Seattle , and her new Italian boyfriend of only a week, Raffaele Sollecito.

The reversed verdicts during nearly eight years of legal proceedings polarized trial observers on both sides of the Atlantic as the case was hotly debated on social media, still in its infancy.

The case continues to attract media attention, with photographers crowding around Knox, her husband Christopher Robinson and their legal team as they entered the courtroom about an hour before the hearing. A camera hit her in the left temple, her lawyer Luca Luparia Donati said. Knox’s husband examined a small bump on her head as they sat in the front row of court.

Despite Knox’s exoneration and the conviction of an Ivorian whose fingerprints and DNA were found at the scene, doubts about his role persist, particularly in Italy. This is largely due to the accusation she made against Patrick Lumumba, an accusation which led to a conviction for slander.

Knox, now 36 and the mother of two young children, has returned to Italy for only the second time since she was released in October 2011 after four years in prison by an appeals court. of Perugia which overturned the initial guilty verdict in the case. murder case against Knox and Sollecito.

She remained in the United States despite two other voluntary verdicts before Italy’s highest court finally exonerated the two men of murder in March 2015, stating categorically that they had not committed the crime.

“I will enter the same courtroom where I was once again convicted of a crime I did not commit, this time to defend myself once again,” Knox wrote on social media. “I hope to clear my name once and for all of the false accusations made against me. Wish me good luck.”

Knox’s day in court was set by a European court ruling that Italy violated his human rights during a long night of interrogation days after Kercher’s murder, deprived of a lawyer and of a competent translator. In the fall, Italy’s highest court of cassation threw out the slander conviction that had withstood five trials, ordering a retrial, thanks to a 2022 Italian judicial reform allowing cases that reached a verdict to be reopened definitive if human rights violations are noted.

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. while she was detained for questioning overnight until the early hours of November 6 2007. statements, Knox said she remembered hearing Kercher scream and fingered Lumumba for the murder.

A few hours later, still in custody around 1 p.m., she asked for a pen and paper and wrote her own statement in English, questioning the version she had signed.

“Regarding this ‘confession’ that I made last night, I would like to clarify that I very much doubt the veracity of my statements because they were made under the pressure of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion “, she wrote.

Whatever the outcome, Knox faces no further prison time. The four years she served before the first acquittal cover the three-year sentence for defamation.

ABC News

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