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Amanda Knox reconvicted in slander case

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Davide Ghiglione,Vicky Wong

EPA Amanda Knox arriving at a courthouse in Florence with her husband and a lawyerEPA

Amanda Knox (centre) arriving at a courthouse in Florence with her husband.

A court in Florence has reconvicted Amanda Knox for slander, years after she was acquitted of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007.

Knox will not go to prison as she has already served four years for the murder, for which she was originally convicted.

At the time she was also convicted of slander for blaming the murder on local bar owner Patrick Lumumba during police interrogation, but that conviction was quashed last year and a retrial ordered.

Knox’s lawyers have said they expect to appeal against the latest verdict.

They added that Amanda was disappointed as she was hoping to finally clear her name after years of legal battles.

She told the court on Wednesday that police had coerced her into implicating Mr Lumumba.

“The police threatened me with 30 years in prison, an officer slapped me three times saying ‘Remember, remember’,” Knox, 36, said.

“I’m very sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to withstand the pressure from the police,” she added, speaking in Italian.

“I never wanted to slander Patrick. He was my friend, he took care of me and consoled me for the loss of my friend (Meredith). I’m sorry I wasn’t able to resist the pressure and that he suffered.”

Mr Lumumba was arrested in connection with the 2007 murder and spent two weeks behind bars, but was released without charge after a customer gave him an alibi.

Despite this, his lawyers said the case has affected his reputation, and that he became “became known everywhere as the monster of Perugia”.

His lawyer told reporters outside the courthouse before the hearing: “He lost his job, had his bar seized for months, and had to return to Poland, because his wife was Polish.”

Mr Lumumba was not in court.

PA Media Photo of Meredith Kercher at a partyPA Media

Meredith Kercher was an exchange student at the University of Perugia in 2007

The hearing was held behind closed doors, and audio and video recording was prohibited.

Knox was famously tried, convicted and later acquitted for the murder of 21-year-old student Ms Kercher, originally from south London.

Knox and Ms Kercher were both language exchange students sharing a house in the university town of Perugia in 2007.

Ms Kercher, 21, was found dead in their house. Her throat had been cut and she had been sexually assaulted.

The trial was the subject of global media interest because prosecutors argued that Ms Kercher was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone wrong.

Knox, her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and a third person called Rudy Guede were convicted of murder and sexual violence in December 2009 and jailed. Knox was convicted of slandering Mr Lumumba in 2011.

Getty Images Patrick Lumumba standing outside a courthouse in 2015Getty Images

Patrick Lumumba spent two weeks behind bars as a result of Knox’s comments during police interrogation

But the same year, a jury freed Knox and Mr Sollecito on appeal after doubts emerged over forensic evidence used against them, and Knox returned to the US after spending four years in prison.

The duo’s guilty verdicts were reinstated in 2014 then ultimately overturned in 2015.

Knox is now married with two young children, and is a campaigner for criminal justice reform. She returned to Italy five years ago to address a conference on wrongful conviction, where she spoke of the pain of being tried by the media.

The trial was also the subject of a Netflix documentary in 2016, and Knox also published a memoir about her time in prison.

Mr Sollecito has kept a low-profile since his release. In 2017, he told the BBC that the case had left him in debt.

Guede – a Perugian resident originally from the Ivory Coast – was linked to the scene by DNA evidence and is the only person whose conviction for Ms Kercher’s murder was upheld. He was released early in 2021.

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