Outburst in court on first day of new Amanda Knox slander trial


Lawyers have accused Amanda Knox of lying during an angry outburst as another slander trial against the 36-year-old started in Italy today. 

Along with her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, Ms Knox was convicted of the murder of her 21-year-old British roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia in 2007. Both were exonerated in 2015.

She has since established herself in the US as an advocate, writer, podcaster and producer – with much of her work drawing on her experience in the Italian legal system.

Lawyers say the latest trial is the last legal stain against Ms Knox. It relates to a slander conviction where she wrongly accused a Congolese bar owner, Patrick Lumumba, of the murder during an interrogation.

While Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were definitively acquitted of murder by Italy’s highest court – the Cassation Court – in 2015, her conviction for slander against Mr Lumumba was not rescinded.

A year later, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the 2007 interrogation violated her rights because she was questioned without a lawyer or official translator.

In light of this, the Cassation Court overturned the slander conviction last year and ordered a retrial.

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From 2016: Amanda Knox acquitted of murder

During the opening of Wednesday’s retrial in Florence, Carlo Pacelli, Mr Lumumba’s lawyer, shouted “Amanda is a liar” to Ms Knox’s lawyers.

He was then interrupted by the president of the court, with Ms Knox’s lawyers replying: “We cannot restart the murder trial again, we are here for a defamation case.”

The new trial will focus on just one piece of evidence: her four-page handwritten statement that the court will examine to see if it contains elements to support slander against Mr Lumumba.

He was held in jail for two weeks before police released him and he has since left Italy.

Diya "Patrick" Lumumba at Italy's highest court building, in Rome, Friday, March 27, 2015. Pic: AP
Diya “Patrick” Lumumba was held in jail for two weeks before he was released. File pic: AP

Knox was ‘gaslit’

Two other statements typed up by police that Ms Knox signed in the early hours of 7 November, 2007 – nearly a week after Ms Kercher’s murder – that contained the accusation, and were considered the most incriminating, have been ruled inadmissible.

The four-page letter, which she wrote in the 53-hour span of questioning over four days starting 6 November, reflects a state of confusion.

“In regards to this ‘confession’ that I made last night, I want to make clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity [sic] of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock and extreme exhaustion,” Ms Knox wrote.

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From 2019: Knox breaks down in tears on her return to Italy

Speaking about the latest trial on her podcast ‘Labyrinths’ in December, Ms Knox said: “On the one hand, I am glad I have this chance to clear my name, and hopefully that will take away the stigma that I have been living with.

“On the other hand, I don’t know if it ever will, in the way I am still traumatised by it.

“I am sure people will still hold it against me because they don’t want to understand what happened, and they don’t want to accept that an innocent person can be gaslit and coerced into what I went through.”

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Diya "Patrick" Lumumba in 2008. File pic: AP
Mr Lumumba’s lawyer shouted “Amanda is a liar” to Ms Knox’s lawyers in court. File pic: AP

‘This trial never ends’

Ms Knox added on the podcast that she expected to testify, but she was not in court for the opening day of the trial. Sky News understands she is in Seattle after giving birth to her second child in September.

Her lawyer told Sky News he will ask the judge “for a total acquittal in order to restore the necessary truth for a young woman who has unjustly suffered so much”.

The Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said that Ms Knox’s exoneration did little in his mind to dispel doubts following the American’s conviction by a trial court and two appeals courts, the first confirming her sentence of 26 years and the second raising it to 28-and-a-half years.

“This trial never ends,” Mr Maresca said, adding that it obscures “the memory of poor Meredith, who is always remembered for these procedural aspects and not as a student and young woman”.

Rudy Guede, from the Ivory Coast, was convicted in 2008 of the sexual assault and murder of Ms Kercher.

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His DNA was found at the scene but the verdict against the 31-year-old maintains that he did not act alone.

Guede was released from prison in 2021 after serving 13 years of a 16-year term.

He was recently ordered to wear a monitoring bracelet and not leave his home at night after an ex-girlfriend accused him of physical and sexual abuse. An investigation is ongoing.

Former Perugia public prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who led the investigation into Ms Kercher’s murder, told Sky News that “there may still be a culprit who took part in the murder and who has not been discovered yet”.

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