Amanda Knox returns to Italian courtroom, looking to clear name ‘once and for all’ in slander case

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Amanda Knox returns to an Italian courtroom Wednesday for the first time in more than 12 1/2 years to clear herself “once and for all” of a slander charge that stuck even after she was exonerated in the brutal 2007 murder of her British roommate in the idyllic hilltop town of Perugia.

The slaying of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher fueled global headlines as suspicion fell on Knox, a 20-year-old exchange student from Seattle, and her new Italian boyfriend of just a week, Raffaele Sollecito. Flip-flop verdicts over nearly eight years of legal proceedings polarized trial watchers on both sides of the Atlantic as the case was vociferously argued on social media, still in its infancy.

All these years later, 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 a Congolese bar owner who employed her part time, a claim that led to her being found guilty of slander.

Knox, now a 36-year-old mother of two small children, returns 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 Sollecito.

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

“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,” Knox wrote on social media. “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, deprived of both a lawyer and a competent translator. In the fall, 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 1:45 a.m. and 5:45 a.m. as she was held for questioning overnight into the wee hours of Nov. 6, 2007. In the statements, Knox said she remembered hearing Kercher scream, and pointed to Patrick Lumumba, the owner of a bar where she worked, for the killing.

Hours later, still in custody at about 1 p.m., 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.

Colleen Barry (), The Associated Press

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