Sollecito accuses Italian police of violence

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The Independent Online

Raffaele sollecito, who along with his former girlfriend Amanda Knox was cleared on Monday of killing British student Meredith Kercher, has claimed that he was treated violently by Perugia police after being taken into custody in November 2007.

Describing his experience at the hands of interrogators, he said: "I thought that I didn't have anything to worry about because they would look after me as my father had always told me they would.

"I certainly couldn't have imagined that rather than protect me the police would act with violence and coercion." The statement, read by Mr Sollecito's father, Francesco, had been, according to Corriere della Sera, deliberately toned down.

Ms Knox has also claimed that she was assaulted during questioning and that the verbal and physical intimidation caused her to wrongly claim that an innocent man, the bar owner Patrick Lumumba, committed the killing.

She has been ordered by the courts to pay €22,000 (£19,000) in compensation for wrongly accusing Mr Lumumba. She was also sentenced to three years for the defamation, which accounts for most of the time she spent in a Perugia jail. Ms Knox and her parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, also face slander charges for making claims against police officers.

Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann noted that Mr Sollecito, who spent 1,448 days behind bars, and Ms Knox were "completely innocent" of murder and assault. An appeal against the acquittals by the prosecution is expected to be launched next year.

But Mr Sollecito's comments underline the anger and bitterness felt by the former computer-studies student over his ordeal. He also joined in the mounting criticism of the public prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, whose interventions were notable for his descriptions of the lurid motivations and personality traits he attributed to the alleged killers.