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Amanda Knox: Who is she and why was she back in court?

It has been more than 17 years since Meredith Kercher was murdered in Italy and Amanda Knox was accused of being responsible. 

The murder, trial and subsequent overturning of convictions have been the subject of a string of books, documentaries and films.

Ms Knox now faces a slander trial, which her lawyers hope will remove the “last legal stain” against her.

Sky News looks at the latest legal development and how it got to this point.

Why is Amanda Knox back in court?

The latest trial relates to a slander conviction after Ms Knox wrongly accused a Congolese bar owner, Patrick Lumumba, of the murder during an interrogation.

During a long night of questioning, when Ms Knox did not have a lawyer or qualified translator, she accused her employer of the murder.

The police typed two statements including the accusation, which she signed.

She recanted in a four-page handwritten note the next afternoon, but the memo showed her confusion as she attempted to reconcile the signed statements with her own conflicting recollections.

Diya "Patrick" Lumumba at Italy's highest court building, in Rome, Friday, March 27, 2015. Pic: AP
Image:
Patrick Lumumba in 2015. Pic: AP

She received a three-year sentence for slander.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ms Knox’s rights had been violated during questioning because did not have a lawyer or interpreter.

Based on that ruling, Italy’s highest court threw out the slander conviction last November and ruled the two statements typed by police were inadmissible. It ordered a new trial.

The new trial will focus on just one piece of evidence: her four-page handwritten statement.

The court will examine this to see if it constitutes slander against Mr Lumumba, who spent two weeks in jail after the murder accusation.

A verdict is expected on 5 June.

British exchange student Meredith Kercher
Image:
British exchange student Meredith Kercher

The murder, convictions and acquittal

Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student from London, was stabbed to death in the Perugia flat she shared with Ms Knox on 1 November 2007.

She was found half-naked, having been sexually assaulted. Her throat had been cut and she had been stabbed 47 times.

Suspicion fell on 20-year-old Ms Knox and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

Prosecutors alleged the pair carried out the killing with small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, who was convicted of murder and given a 30-year jail term in October 2008.

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were acquitted of the crime in 2011 after spending four years in prison.

Ms Knox had been sentenced to 28 and a half years in prison and Mr Sollecito to 25 years.

They were exonerated completely in 2015, when Italy’s top criminal court ruled there was a lack of biological evidence against them.

‘I became the dirty, psychopathic, man-eating Foxy Knoxy’

Speaking on her first return to Italy since her acquittal, Ms Knox recalled her time in prison and the way the case was sensationalised in the media.

“It was impossible for me to have a fair trial,” she claimed, recalling how in the eyes of many she had become “the dirty, psychopathic, man-eating Foxy Knoxy”.

Amanda Knox gets emotional as she speaks at a criminal justice festival at the University of Modena, Italy, in 2019. Pic: AP/Antonio Calanni
Image:
Amanda Knox speaks at a criminal justice festival in 2019. Pic: AP


While many in the US defended her as an innocent victim caught in a judicial nightmare abroad, in Italy she was portrayed as an angel-faced man-eater.

“They convicted that doppelganger. That person was sentenced to 26 years in jail,” she said.

“The verdict fell upon me like a crushing weight,” she added.

“I could only suffer in silence from my prison cell”.

What is Amanda Knox doing now?

Now 36 and the mother of two children, Ms Knox campaigns for criminal justice reform and against forced confessions, drawing on her experience.

She has a podcast and a new limited series in development for Hulu that includes Monica Lewinsky among the executive producers.

She also has recorded a series on resilience for a meditation app.

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