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Amanda Knox wins €18,400 in damages after human rights case against Italian authorities

The European Court of Human Rights said police did not provide her with a lawyer or interpreter.

Amanda Knox, pictured in Seattle in 2015.
Amanda Knox, pictured in Seattle in 2015.
Image: Ted S. Warren/PA Images

EUROPE’S TOP HUMAN rights court has said that Italy failed to provide adequate legal representation for Amanda Knox, an American student acquitted in 2015 of the gruesome killing of her British housemate after spending years behind bars.

It ordered the Italian authorities to pay €18,400 in damages and legal costs.

Knox had accused the Italian police of threats and violence during questioning over the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2007, when she was denied both a lawyer and a professional interpreter.

The American exchange student served four years in prison after her initial conviction for participating in Kercher’s killing, before being released on appeal and then definitively acquitted.

Kercher’s body was found on 2 November, 2007, in the apartment she and Knox shared in Perugia, where they were both foreign exchange students.

The 21-year-old had been stabbed 47 times and had her throat slashed. Police also found signs of sexual assault.

The case at the European Court of Human Rights concerned Knox’s claim about ill-treatment during overnight questioning by police on 6 November.

During the questioning, she accused her former manager at a pub of murdering Kercher.

The manager was later released without charge, prompting prosecutors to accuse Knox of making a “malicious accusation”.

‘I was in shock’

The court said Knox claimed she was slapped on the head twice during the interrogation, and forced to speak despite being exhausted and unable to show “discernment or willpower”.

Knox also said she was not assisted by an independent and professional interpreter, but only a police employee who acted instead as a “mediator” who encouraged her to “imagine hypothetical scenarios”.

Knox and her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, were charged and eventually convicted of the murder, with Knox facing a 28-year prison sentence when the conviction was upheld in 2014.

Both were acquitted the following year.

The European court said the Italian authorities had improperly denied access to a lawyer and failed to assess the conduct of the police interpreter, which had “compromised the fairness of the proceedings as a whole”.

But it said it had found no evidence of inhuman or degrading treatment during her questioning.

In a statement after the ruling, Knox thanked the court for “acknowledging the reality of false confessions”.

“I was in shock, and I volunteered to help the Perugian police in any way I could,” she said, citing 53 hours of questioning over five days “without a lawyer, in a language I understood maybe as well as a 10-year-old.

But they weren’t interested in my help. They were determined to break me.

While Knox and Sollecito were in jail, Italian police arrested an Ivory Coast-born drifter named Rudy Guede over the murder, though the judge in that trial ruled that Guede could not have acted alone.

Guede has insisted he is innocent, saying he had consensual sex with Kercher before going to the bathroom, where he listened to loud music on his headphones, and when he came back out she had been attacked.

But an Italian court last year denied a review of his conviction, upholding his 16-year sentence.

© – AFP 2019

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