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Amanda Knox faces a new slander trial in Italy

10/4/2024 5:57
        Amanda Knox faces another trial for slander this week in Italy in a case that could remove the last legal stain against her, eight years after Italy’s highest court threw out her conviction for the murder of her 21-year-old British roommate.
        
        Knox, who was a 20-year-old student when she was accused along with her then-boyfriend of murdering Meredith Kercher in 2007, has built a life back in the United States as an advocate, writer, podcaster and producer - with much of her work drawing on her experience.
        
        Now 36 and the mother of two small children, Knox campaigns for criminal justice reform and to raise awareness about forced confessions. She has recorded a series on resilience for a meditation app and has a podcast with her husband, Christopher Robinson, and an upcoming limited series on her struggles within the Italian legal system for Hulu that has Monica Lewinsky as an executive producer.
        
        Despite a definitive ruling by Italy’s Cassation Court in 2015 that Knox and then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito did not commit the crime, and the conviction of another man whose DNA was at the scene, doubts persist about Knox’s role with the victim's family and the man she wrongly accused.
        
        That is largely due to the slander conviction for wrongly accusing a Congolese bar owner in the killing, which was confirmed by the highest court in 2015. That conviction was only thrown out last November, based on a European Court of Human Rights rulingthat found Knox’s rights had been violated in a long night of questioning without a lawyer and official translator.
        
        Even now, Knox isn’t sure that a not guilty verdict in the new trial, which opens Wednesday in Florence, will persuade her detractors.
        
        "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, who did not respond to an interview request, 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. "I am sure people will still hold it against me because they don’t want to understand what happened, and they don’t want to accept that an innocent person can be gaslit and coerced into what I went through."
        
        Knox said on her podcast that she expects to testify, but her lawyer said she is not expected in court for opening day.
        
        The Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said the high court's exoneration did little in his mind to dispel doubts following Knox’s conviction by a trial court and two appeals courts, the first confirming her sentence of 26 years and the second raising it to 28 ? years.
        
        "This trial never ends,’’ Maresca told The Associated Press, obscuring "the memory of poor Meredith, who is always remembered for these procedural aspects and not as a student and young woman."
        
        Among his doubts, Maresca cited Knox's confused retraction of her accusation against Patrick Lumumba, the owner of the bar where she worked part-time, and the verdict in Rudy Guede’s conviction for killing Kercher that maintains that the Ivorian man did not act alone.
        
        Now 36, Guede was released from <a href="https://apnews.com/article/europe-italy-amanda-knox-meredith-kercher-rudy-guede-a65609db3970af585413bf9ae7531406" xmlns="http://iptc.org/std/NITF/2006-10-18/">prison in 2021 after serving 13 years</a> of a 16-year term handed down in a fast-track trial. Guede was <a href="https://apnews.com/article/italy-guede-meredith-kercher-amanda-knox-e81e640cb2ca04c70a3bb81daf351c75" xmlns="http://iptc.org/std/NITF/2006-10-18/">recently ordered to wear a monitoring bracelet</a> and not leave his home at night after an ex-girlfriend accused him of physical and sexual abuse. An investigation is ongoing.
        
        Knox's new trial will admit just one piece of evidence: her four-page handwritten statement that the court will examine to see if it contains elements to support slander against Lumumba. Despite having an ironclad alibi, he was held in jail for some two weeks before police released him. Lumumba has since left Italy.
        
        Two earlier statements typed up by police that Knox signed in the early hours of Nov. 7, 2007 that contained the accusation, and were considered the most incriminating, have been ruled inadmissible by Italy’s highest court.
        
        The four-page letter, which she wrote in the same 53-hour span of questioning over four days starting Nov. 6, reflects someone in a state of confusion, trying to reconcile what police have told her with her own recollections.
        
        "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 pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion,’’ Knox wrote.
        
        She referred to police statements that she would be arrested and jailed for 30 years and that Sollecito was turning against her.
        
        Lauria Baldassare, an Italian lawyer who founded the Innocents Project, said the topic of wrongful convictions in Italy is starting to "create social alarm as it assumes important dimensions."
        
        He cited 10 cases of defendants being paid damages for wrongful convictions over the last decade, but said they faced difficulty in escaping the stigma of their initial guilty verdict - much like Knox.
        
        "There is still part of the public opinion that does not accept the Court of Cassation's decision, and these debates become a sport,'' said Baldassare, whose organization is independent from the Innocence Project that Knox works with. "Italy does not have the maturity to accept an exoneration, because social prejudices are stronger than the finding."
        
        
        



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