Parents of Amanda Knox are sued by Italian police

Italian police are suing the parents of Amanda Knox for libel after they claimed in a newspaper interview that officers had physically and verbally abused their daughter following her arrest in 2007 for the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.

Curt Knox and his wife, Edda Mellas, claimed in a Sunday Times article in 2009 that "contrary to the truth", their daughter "had not been given an interpreter, had not received food and water and had been physically and verbally abused," according to court documents. They are also accused of falsely claiming that Knox was "hit by a cuff behind the head" and threatened, "If you ask for a lawyer, things will get worse for you."

Five members of the Perugia flying squad will stand as plaintiffs in the libel trial, which begins in the city on 6 July. Knox, who has begun her appeal against a 26-year term for murdering Ms Kercher, has also been accused of libelling the police, with that case due to begin on 17 May.

Knox claimed that unduly aggressively questioning by police officers caused her to blame innocent bar owner Patrick Lumumba for the killing of Ms Kercher. Mr Lumumba later sued her for defamation and was awarded €40,000. The accusation against Mr Lumumba was seen to be very damaging for Knox, in a trial which at times appeared to dwell more on her personality than the forensic evidence gathered against her.

Two other people were convicted along with Knox for the murder, which prosecutors say occurred when a drug-fuelled sex game got out of control, culminating with Ms Kercher's throat being cut.

One, Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, is also appealing his 25-year sentence. The other, Rudy Guede, from Ivory Coast, has exhausted the appeals process and is serving 16 years. Defence lawyers for Knox and Sollecito claim there are numerous gaps in the prosecution's case and insist that a miscarriage of justice occurred.

The weakness of the forensic evidence and the failure of the prosecution to provide a convincing motive for the crime has led some, particularly in the US, to express doubts about the safety of the conviction.

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