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Amanda Knox faces slander retrial over accusing bar owner of murder


Amanda Knox, the American woman who was jailed and then cleared of killing her roommate while studying in Italy in 2007, faces a slander trial this week for accusing a bar owner of taking part in the murder.

Knox was exonerated of the murder, but a conviction of slander for falsely accusing a Congolese bar owner of committing the murder was not rescinded. Knox now hopes that a not guilty verdict will remove any lingering doubt about her innocence and clear her name.

She is not expected to appear in person on the opening day of the trial in Florence on Wednesday, but has said she expects to testify at some point.

Knox, then 20, was sentenced to 26 years for the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher after a trial that was followed intensely in the United States, Italy and Britain. Kercher was found half-naked in a pool of blood with more than 40 stab wounds at their shared house in the city of Perugia.

Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, of Italy, were released from prison in 2011 having served four years. Italy’s highest criminal court quashed the conviction in 2015 due to what it called “glaring errors.”

Yet one conviction remained: Knox was found to have defamed bar owner Patrick Lumumba by implicating him in Kercher’s murder. She had already served the three-year jail term when she was released in 2011.

But she made that accusation while being interviewed by police without legal representation or an interpreter during 53 hours of questioning over four days, with only rudimentary command of Italian. Because of this, in 2019 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled that the Italian legal system should pay her $20,000.

A four-page document she wrote while in police custody will be admitted as evidence to this trial, while two earlier statements have been ruled inadmissible.

“Ms. Knox had been particularly vulnerable, being a foreign young woman, 20 at the time, not having been in Italy for very long and not being fluent in Italian,” the European court noted at the time.

In light of this, and following a constitutional reform, Italy’s Cassation Court ordered a retrial of the slander conviction. Knox said when the trial was announced in October, “I’m on trial in Italy again … and this is a good thing.”

Knox, now 36 and living in the U.S. with two young children, campaigns for better awareness of forced confessions.

“On the one hand, I am glad I have this chance to clear my name, and hopefully that will take away the stigma that I have been living with,” Knox said on her podcast, Labyrinths, in December.

“On the other hand, I don’t know if it ever will, in the way I am still traumatized by it,” she said.

The Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said that for the slain student’s loved ones, “this trial never ends.”

He told The Associated Press that the trial was obscuring “the memory of poor Meredith, who is always remembered for these procedural aspects and not as a student and young woman.”

A third defendant, Rudy Guede, was convicted of the murder, sentenced to 16 years in jail and was released after serving 13. His DNA and footprints were found at the crime scene.

Lumumba spent just weeks in jail after his alibi was established.


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