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Amanda Knox re-convicted of slander in Italy over accusations in roommate's murder

Amanda Knox arrives flanked by her husband Christopher Robinson, right, at the Florence courtroom in Florence, Italy, on Wednesday.
Antonio Calanni
/
AP
Amanda Knox arrives flanked by her husband Christopher Robinson, right, at the Florence courtroom in Florence, Italy, on Wednesday.

Updated June 05, 2024 at 06:46 AM ET

FLORENCE, Italy — An Italian court re-convicted Amanda Knox of slander on Wednesday, even after she was exonerated in the brutal 2007 murder of her British roommate while the two were exchange students in Italy.

The court found that Knox had wrongly accused an innocent man, the Congolese owner of the bar where she worked part time, of the killing. But she will not serve any more jail time, given the three-year sentence counts as time already served.

Knox showed no visible emotion as the verdict was read aloud.

Earlier Wednesday, in a soft and sometimes breaking voice, Knox asked eight Italian judges and jury members to clear her of a slander charge that stuck even after she was exonerated in the brutal 2007 murder of her British roommate while the two were exchange students in Italy.

Knox told the court that she wrongly accused an innocent man, the Congolese owner of the bar where she worked part time, of the killing under intense police pressure in overnight questioning without the benefit of a lawyer or competent translator.

"I am very sorry that I was not strong enough to resist the pressure of police,'' Knox told the panel in a 9-minute prepared statement, sitting alongside them on 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, still in its infancy.

The case continues to draw intense media attention, with photographers massing around Knox, her husband Christopher Robinson and their legal team as they entered the courtroom about an hour before the hearing. A camera knocked her on 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 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 persist, particularly in Italy. That is largely due to the accusation she made against Patrick Lumumba, an accusation that led to the slander conviction.

Knox, now a 36-year-old mother of two small children, returned to Italy for only the second time since 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.

"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 charges against me. Wish me luck."

Knox's day in court was set by a European court ruling that 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. 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 has been 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.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Associated Press
[Copyright 2024 WUKY]