Italy opens new slander trial against Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox. Credit: AP

Amanda Knox is back on trial for slander for wrongly accusing a Congolese man of murdering her roommate while they were exchange students in Italy.

Knox was convicted of the murder before being exonerated in a case that grabbed global attention and headlines.

Arriving in Perugia, with rudimentary Italian, then 20-year-old Knox was questioned for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

She ended up accusing the owner of a bar where she worked part-time of killing the 21-year-old British student.

In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the interrogation violated her rights because she was questioned without a lawyer or official translator.

Meredith Kercher was found dead on the floor of her bedroom on November 1, 2007. Credit: AP

Based on that ruling, Italy’s highest Cassation Court threw out the slander conviction in November - nine years after the same court overturned convictions for Kercher’s murder against Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

Knox, now 36, did not appear in Wednesday’s hearing in Florence, and is being tried in absentia.

Her accusation against bar owner Patrick Lumumba appeared in statements typed by police that she signed, but these were ruled inadmissible when her previous slander conviction was thrown out.

Instead, the court will now look at a four-page handwritten note written the afternoon after she was questioned by police in which she recanted the accusation.

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A lawyer for Mr Lumumba, Carlo Pacelli, argued in favour of readmitting the disallowed documents as reference, since Knox referred to them multiple times in her written statement.

Mr Lumumba, who is participating in the prosecution as permitted by Italian law, also did not attend the trial.

Court recessed after nearly four hours of arguments and will reconvene June 5 for rebuttals and a decision. The case is being heard by two professional judges and eight civilian jurors.

Despite Knox’s attempts at walking back the accusation, Mr Lumumba was picked up for questioning and held for nearly two weeks.

The slander conviction carried a three-year sentence, which Knox served during nearly four years of detention until a Perugia appeals court found her and Sollecito not guilty.

After six years of flip-flop verdicts, Knox was definitively exonerated by Italy’s highest court of the murder in 2015.

Kercher’s body was found with the throat slit on November 2, 2007, in her locked bedroom in an apartment she shared with Knox and two other roommates.

Rudy Guede, whose DNA and footprints were found at the scene, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He was released after serving 13 years.

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