Amanda Knox’s slander retrial opens in Italy

Knox has appealed for a conviction she received after wrongly accusing Patrick Lumumba of murdering British student Meredith Kercher to be dropped

Colleen Barry
Wednesday 10 April 2024 17:39 BST
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Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox (AFP via Getty Images)

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A court in Italy has opened a new trial against Amanda Knox over a slander conviction for wrongly accusing a Congolese man of murdering the British student Meredith Kercher. Knox herself was convicted of the murder before later being exonerated.

Knox was a 20-year-old student with rudimentary Italian who had recently arrived in Perugia, During a night of questioning by police she accused the owner of a bar where she worked part-time – Patrick Lumumba – of killing the 21-year-old Ms Kercher. Mr Lumumba later provided police with an alibi after a witness came forward. Lumumba was held in jail for nearly two weeks.

The European Court of Human Rights later ruled that the interrogation of Knox violated her rights because she was questioned without a lawyer or official translator. In November, Italy's highest Cassation Court threw out the slander conviction — the only remaining guilty verdict against Knox after the same court definitively threw out convictions for Ms Kercher's murder against Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, nine years ago.

Rudy Guede, who was the only person definitively convicted of the murder, was released from prison in November 2021 after completing 13 years of a 16-year-sentence.

Knox, now 36, did not appear in Wednesday's hearing in Florence, and is being tried in absentia. She remains in the United States.

Patrick Lumumba, left, flanked by his lawyer Carlo Pacelli, outside an earlier hearing in Rome
Patrick Lumumba, left, flanked by his lawyer Carlo Pacelli, outside an earlier hearing in Rome (AP)

Knox's accusation against Mr Lumumba appeared in statements typed by police that she signed, but which have been ruled inadmissible in the new trial by Italy's highest court. She recanted the accusation in a four-page handwritten note in English penned the following afternoon — the only evidence the court can rule on.

However, a lawyer for Mr Lumumba, Carlo Pacelli, argued to readmit 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 on 5 June for rebuttals and a decision. The case is being heard by two professional judges and eight civilian jurors.

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.

Ms Kercher's body was found on 2 November2007, in her locked bedroom in an apartment she shared with Knox and two other roommates.

Associated Press

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