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02.07.12

Amanda Knox Appeals Slander Conviction

Italian courts convicted Knox after wrongly holding her former boss in jail for two weeks based on her interrogation.

Does Amanda Knox miss the limelight? It would appear so, as she is back in the news now that her Italian lawyers have filed an appeal against her conviction of slander against her former boss Patrick Lumumba.

The 24-year-old Seattle native, who was convicted of the 2007 murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy, in December 2009 and sensationally acquitted on appeal in October 2011, serving her three-year sentence as part of her four-year incarceration.

In the 40-page appellate document obtained by The Daily Beast, Knox’s lawyers argue that the false accusation was the product of “intense pressure” that bordered on “abuse” against the young American. That pressure, they say, caused her to inadvertently accuse Lumumba of the crime. Her incarceration and subsequent trauma then prohibited her from self-correcting her error, according to the document, hence Lumumba's two weeks in jail. For these reasons, Knox’s lawyers believe the slander conviction should also be overturned.

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Amanda Knox, left, was comforted by her sister Deanna following her arrival in Seattle in October (Elaine Thompson / AP Photo)

Knox’s appeal comes just one week before the deadline for the Perugia prosecution to launch its own appeal of her acquittal. In Italy, convictions and acquittals are not considered final until the country’s high court issues a final ruling. The prosecutors in Perugia tell The Daily Beast they will file their own appeal of Knox’s acquittal by the Feb. 17 deadline. Both appeals will likely be heard in Italy’s supreme court in Rome before the end of the year.

Shortly after her release last fall, Knox escaped into the Seattle underbelly, with sporadic paparazzi montages capturing her freedom holding hands with her new live-in grunge boyfriend and engaging in the somewhat mundane activities of daily life. News that her family hired top literary agent Robert Barnett gave way to conflicting reports from family insiders that Knox refused to sell her story, potentially negating a multimillion-dollar windfall and instigating an internal family feud. But even interest in that debacle has waned.

During the initial November 2007 interrogations into Kercher’s murder, Knox told investigators that she was in the house when Kercher was killed and described to investigators how Lumumba was the one who killed her roommate. Lumumba was then arrested based on Knox’s accusation and eventually released two weeks later when a customer at his bar provided an airtight alibi. After a lengthy appellate trial in which the judge allowed an independent review of forensic evidence, the Perugia court effectively negated the murder conviction against Knox, but it wrote in its final reasoning that there was inarguable proof that she knowingly accused Lumumba of the heinous crime.

In Italy, more than 50 percent of all criminal cases are altered during the first appellate level, and a further 25 percent of acquittals are changed once more in the high court—often reversing the appellate decisions and, in many cases, sending the acquitted back to jail. Court experts say Knox’s murder case will likely sustain the high-court scrutiny, thanks to the independent forensic review. But her slander conviction may be another story. Either way, Knox’s brief resurgence back into the headlines is certainly not her last.