Amanda Knox reconvicted in slander case linked to 2007 murder of roommate

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Amanda Knox was again found guilty of slander Wednesday, in a retrial in Italy related to her infamous jailing and later acquittal for the 2007 murder of her British roommate.

The American cried in court in Florence as she was sentenced to three years already served for having accused, during police questioning, an innocent bar owner of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher.

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“I’m very sorry I was not strong enough to have resisted the police pressure,” Knox told the judges.

“I was scared, tricked and mistreated. I gave the testimony in a moment of existential crisis.”

She was 20 when she and her Italian then-boyfriend were arrested for the brutal killing of fellow student
Kercher at the girls’ shared home in Perugia.

The murder began a long legal saga where the pair was found guilty, acquitted, found guilty again and finally cleared of all charges in 2015.

But Knox still had a related conviction for slander, for blaming the murder on a local bar owner during initial questioning by police.

In October, Italy’s highest court threw out that conviction on appeal and ordered a retrial, which began earlier this year in Florence in Knox’s absence.

The night she was interrogated was “the worst night of my life... I was in shock, exhausted”, she said on Wednesday.

“The police interrogated me for hours and hours, in a language which I hardly knew, without an official translator or a lawyer”.

“I didn’t know who the killer was... They refused to believe me”, she said.

Kercher’s half-naked body was found in a pool of blood inside the roommates’ cottage in November 2007.

Her throat had been slit and she had suffered multiple stab wounds.

During police questioning, Knox implicated Congolese bar owner Patrick Lumumba, who then spent almost two weeks behind bars before being released without charge.

Knox was convicted of slandering him in 2011 and sentenced to three years already served.

But she said she was yelled at and slapped during the police investigation -- claims that prompted a separate charge of slandering police, of which she was cleared in 2016.

The police had found a message on Knox’s phone they said was proof she and Lumumba were plotting.

“They told me I had witnessed something so horrible that my mind had blocked it out,” Knox said on Wednesday.

“One of the officers cuffed me round the head and said ‘remember, remember!’,” she said.

“In the end... I was forced to submit. I was too exhausted and confused to resist.”

The European Court of Human Rights in 2019 ruled that Knox had not been provided with adequate legal representation or a professional interpreter during her interrogation.

That ruling -- which found her treatment “compromised the fairness of the proceedings as a whole” -- was cited by Italy’s top court last year when it ordered the retrial.

Knox said last October that at the time of Kercher’s murder, Lumumba “was my friend”.

But Lumumba’s lawyer, Carlo Pacelli, described how Knox’s accusation changed his life.

“When he was accused by Amanda he became universally considered the monster of Perugia,” he told reporters outside court.

Both parties will be able to appeal the verdict.

Knox was hugged by her husband in court -- the same one where she was reconvicted of murder in 2014 -- as a scrum of reporters looked on.

Her murder trial attracted global interest, much of it salacious, focusing on prosecutors’ claims that Kercher died as part of a sex game gone wrong.

But Italy’s highest court, when it acquitted Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito once and for all, said there had been “major flaws” in the police investigation.

One person remains convicted of Kercher’s murder -- Ivorian Rudy Guede, who was linked to the scene by DNA evidence.

He was sentenced in 2008 to 30 years for murder and sexual assault, his sentence later reduced on appeal to 16 years.

Guede was released early in November 2021.

Now 36 and with two young children, Knox is a journalist, author and campaigner for criminal justice reform.

She returned to Italy five years ago to address a conference on wrongful convictions, appearing on a panel entitled “Trial By Media”.

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