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Amanda Knox arriving at the Florence courtroom earlier today. Alamy Stock Photo
Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox re-convicted of slander by an Italian court over accusation of an innocent man

The American who was exonerated over British student Meredith Kercher’s murder in 2007 said police had forced a confession from her.

AMANDA KNOX HAS been re-convicted of slander in Italy over an accusation she made against an innocent man over British student Meredith Kercher’s murder in 2007.

Knox asked eight Italian judges and jury members to clear her of a slander charge that stuck even after she was exonerated over the brutal 2007 murder of her flatmate while the two were exchange students in Italy.

In a soft and sometimes breaking voice, Knox told the Florence court that she wrongly accused an innocent man – the Congolese owner of the bar where she worked part-time – of killing Meredith Kercher while she was under intense police pressure during overnight questioning without the benefit of a lawyer or competent translator.

In a nine-minute prepared statement, she told the panel: “I am very sorry that I was not strong enough to resist the pressure of police.

“I didn’t know who the murderer was. I had no way to know.”

The killing of 21-year-old Ms Kercher in the idyllic hilltop town of Perugia fuelled global headlines as suspicion fell on Knox, a 20-year-old exchange student from Seattle, and her new Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

Flip-flop verdicts over nearly eight years of legal proceedings polarised trial watchers on both sides of the Atlantic as the case gained international attention on social media, then still in its infancy.

The case continues to draw an intense media presence, 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 bar owner Patrick Lumumba, an accusation that led to her 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 Mr Sollecito.

She remained in the United States through two more flip-flop verdicts before Italy’s highest court definitively exonerated Knox and Sollecito of the murder in March 2015, stating flatly that they had not committed the crime.

Knox wrote on social media: “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.

“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, in which she was deprived of both a lawyer and a competent translator.

Last autumn, 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 1.45am and 5.45am as she was held for questioning overnight into the small hours of November 6, 2007.

In the statements, Knox said she remembered hearing Ms Kercher scream, and pointed to Mr Lumumba for the killing.

Hours later, still in custody at about 1pm, she asked for pen and paper and wrote her own statement in English, questioning the version that she had signed.

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

Whatever the outcome, Knox risks no more jail time. The four years she served before the first acquittal covers the three-year slander sentence.

Rudy Hermann Guede was convicted of Kercher’s murder in a fast-track trial that foresees a lesser sentence.

A drifter from the Ivory Coast who was living in Perugia, Guede was arrested in Germany where he fled after the murder.

He initially told a friend in a wiretapped call that Knox had nothing to do with the crime, but after being returned to Italy blamed Knox and denied involvement.

Guede was released from prison in 2021 after serving 13 years of a 16-year term that included a ruling that he did not act alone.

Press Association