Amanda Knox to defend herself in Italian court against slander charge

4 June 2024, 20:34

Amanda Knox
Italy Knox. Picture: PA

Her chance was made possible when a European court ruled that Italy violated her human rights during questioning over the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Amanda Knox will be back in an Italian courtroom this week to defend herself against a 16-year-old slander conviction that she hopes to beat once and for all.

Her chance was made possible when a European court ruled that Italy violated her human rights during a long night of questioning over the murder of Meredith Kercher in November 2007.

The slander conviction for accusing a Congolese bar owner in the killing is the only charge against Ms Knox that withstood five court rulings that ultimately cleared her in the murder of her 21-year-old roommate in the apartment they shared in the Italian university town of Perugia.

A verdict in the slander case retrial ordered by Italy’s highest court is expected on Wednesday, with Ms Knox appearing in an Italian court for the first time in more than 12-and-a-half years.

Meredith Kercher
Meredith Kercher was murdered in 2007 (PA)

“I will walk into the very same courtroom where I was reconvicted of a crime I didn’t commit, this time to defend myself yet again,” Knox wrote on social media. ”I hope to clear my name once and for all of the false charge against me. Wish me luck.”

The slander charge was largely based on two statements typed by police that Ms Knox signed during the early hours of November 6, 2007, under extended questioning in Italian from police without a lawyer or a competent translator. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the conditions violated her human rights.

Ms Kercher’s murder grabbed worldwide attention as suspicion fell on Ms Knox, then 20, and her then-Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, with whom she had been involved for just about a week.

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were convicted in their first trial, but after a series of flip-flop verdicts, they were ultimately exonerated by Italy’s highest court in 2015.

Ms Knox returned to the United States in October 2011, after her first acquittal. She is now the mother of two small children, and has a podcast with her husband while campaigning against wrongful convictions.

However, the slander conviction against Ms Knox endured, a legal stain that continued to fuel doubts about her role in the killing, particularly in Italy – and despite the conviction of Rudy Hermann Guede, a man from Ivory Coast whose DNA was found at the crime scene.

Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox in 2010 (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

Guede served 13 years of a 16-year prison sentence handed down after a fast-track trial that foresees lighter sentences under Italian law.

Based on the ruling by the European court, Italy’s highest court threw out Ms Knox’s slander conviction last November and ruled that the two statements typed by police were inadmissible. It ordered a new trial, instructing the Florence court to consider only a handwritten statement that Ms Knox wrote in English some hours later.

“In regards to this ‘confession’ that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements, because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion,” her statement said.

A pioneer of the study of false confessions, Sal Kassin, says Ms Knox’s signed statements follow a playbook of false confessions.

“It is empirical fact that most false confessions contain accurate details not yet known to the public and ‘false-fed facts’ that are consistent with the police theory of the crime, but that later prove to be untrue,” Mr Kassin, a psychologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, wrote about the case in his book Duped, which examines the phenomenon of false confessions.

Mr Kassin said police “contaminated” Ms Knox’s confession, which aligned with police theory at the time.

“To hold her accountable for a statement in which she also implicated herself is absurd,” he wrote.

By Press Association

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