Amanda Knox testifies at the new defamation trial in Italy

Amanda Knox, an American convicted and later cleared of killing her roommate while they studied in Italy, lost another trial in an Italian court on Wednesday against defamation charges linked to the 2007 murder.

Ms. Knox was convicted by a Florence court on charges of defaming a man who ran a bar where she worked, falsely accusing him of killing her roommate, 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, in 2007. Ms. Knox was convicted by court to three years in prison, time he has already served.

Ms Knox was initially found guilty of defaming the man, Diya Lumumba, also known as Patrick, in 2009, a conviction upheld by various 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 sentencing. Standing in front of the courtroom, she appeared distressed and held her husband, Christopher Robinson, in a long embrace.

“Amanda is very upset,” one of her lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said after the verdict was handed down. He said she looked forward to the trial as a way to end “17 years of court proceedings.”

His defense team said they will read the court's full written ruling, which is expected within 60 days, and then will most likely appeal to Italy's highest court.

Last Wednesday, speaking to a courtroom packed with journalists, Ms. Knox, referring to her comments about Mr. Lumumba in 2007, described “the worst night of my life” and said she had been forced by police to charge a innocent man. of murder.

She told the court, speaking in Italian and her voice cracking at times, that she had been a frightened 20-year-old who had been deceived and was “psychologically destabilised”. She said she couldn't understand why the police, “whom I had been raised to trust and obey,” were pressuring her to admit something that wasn't true and to sign a document that was little more than “a mix of incoherent memories ”. .”

Wednesday's hearing is the latest twist in a legal journey whose echoes continue to reverberate nearly 17 years after the murder of Ms. Kercher, a British student, sparked headlines around the world and turned Ms. Knox into a tabloid staple.

A European court ruling and a change in Italian law allowed a new appeal by Ms. Knox over the defamation charges, and Italy's highest court in October ordered a new trial, which began 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 during what prosecutors described as a sex game gone wrong. All three were studying in the picturesque central Italian city of Perugia.

Ms Knox was convicted in 2009 of the murder by an Italian court but acquitted on appeal. She returned to the United States in 2011 as her case bounced around various courts until she and Mr. Sollecito were acquitted by Italy's highest court in 2015.

Ms. Knox, who arrived at court early on Wednesday, had to push her way through a crowd of television workers waiting for her to appear. One of her lawyers said she had been inadvertently hit in the forehead by a camera.

Speaking to the 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 “in shock and exhausted” and had never felt “so vulnerable in my life”.

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

In a handwritten statement the morning after the interrogation, she recanted her statements and wrote of her confusion: “I want to make it clear that I am very doubtful of the veracity of my statements because they were made under the pressure of stress, shock and extreme 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 incarcerated for crimes they didn't commit and an advocate for criminal justice reform.

Rudy Guede, a Perugia resident with a history of break-ins, was tried separately and convicted of murder. He served 13 years of a 16-year sentence and was released in 2021, recently making 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 statements accusing Mr Lumumba, he was arrested, held in prison for two weeks and released only after one of his clients provided an alibi.

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

In a December 2023 episode of “Labyrinths,” the podcast she hosts with her husband, Ms. Knox said the defamation conviction still bothered her.

For some, she said, it was “proof that I'm a liar and I'm an unpleasant person and that I have something to hide and I never told the whole truth about what happened to Meredith and only to anyone who was involved in the matter.” . the crime would never make statements implicating themselves or others.”

There are no records of the interrogations that night, and Italian police officers have sued Ms. Knox for defamation for describing the interrogation. She was tried and acquitted on those charges in 2016.

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

At the April hearing in the defamation case, the Italian prosecutor and Carlo Pacelli, Mr. Lumumba's lawyer, argued that Ms. Knox had knowingly accused the bar manager of diverting attention from herself and derailing the investigations.

Knox had been ordered to pay damages to Mr Lumumba, but Mr Pacelli said she had never given any money to his client. Because of the accusation, Mr. Lumumba lost his business and left Italy with his family.

“I am very sorry that I was not strong enough to resist the pressure of the police and that he suffered as a result,” Ms Knox said on Wednesday before the sentencing.

Another of Ms Knox's lawyers, Luca Lupária Donati, called Wednesday's verdict “a serious miscarriage of justice”, adding: “We will not stop here.”

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