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article imageAmanda Knox returns to Italy for 'trial by media' talk

By Marco BERTORELLO (AFP)     Jun 13, 2019 in World

Amanda Knox on Thursday returned to Italy for the first time since the US student was acquitted in 2015 of the gruesome killing of her British housemate after spending four years behind bars.

Knox, 31, was at the centre of an eight-year legal drama which made global headlines and is on Saturday to address a panel discussion titled "Trial by Media" at the Criminal Justice Festival in northern city Modena.

The Seattle native was 20-years-old at the time of the murder of Briton Meredith Kercher, a fellow exchange student whose half-naked body was found on November 2, 2007, in a bedroom of the apartment she and Knox shared in the central city of Perugia.

The 21-year-old had been stabbed 47 times and had her throat slashed. Police also found signs of sexual assault.

Knox, now 31, flew in to the northern city of Milan on Thursday before heading to Modena, where she was seen at a cocktail party inaugurating the festival, glass in hand and smiling.

The conference is organised by a group of Modena lawyers and the Italy Innocence Project, which focuses "on the issues related to wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice".

"The Italy Innocence Project didn't yet exist when I was wrongly convicted in Perugia," Knox, who has complained of unfair media treatment, tweeted in May.

"I'm honored to accept their invitation to speak to the Italian people at this historic event and return to Italy for the first time."

The Innocence Project also offers pro bono legal consulting and scientific resources to help lawyers assisting wrongfully convicted inmates.

The conference is organised by a group of Modena lawyers and the Italy Innocence Project  which focu...
The conference is organised by a group of Modena lawyers and the Italy Innocence Project, which focuses "on the issues related to wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice"
Marco Bertorello, AFP

The case sparked lurid headlines in Britain and Knox's hometown of Seattle, Washington.

Prosecutors described the murder as a drug-fuelled sex game gone awry involving Knox, her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and an Ivorian drifter, Rudy Guede.

Sollecito was acquitted along with Knox, but Guede was convicted in a separate "fast track" trial and is serving a 16-year jail term in Italy.

Defence lawyers argued that their clients could not get a fair trial because of the media frenzy over the murder, with lurid headlines seizing on the young student's nickname "Foxy Knoxy".

Knox left Italy after she was acquitted on appeal in 2011.

In an essay published online on Wednesday, Knox said she was "polishing up the speech I’m about to give to a potentially hostile audience in Italy".

She said that prosecutors had painted her as "a sex-crazed femme fatale" and that she was "about to return to Italy for the first time since I was released from prison and fled the country in a high-speed chase, paparazzi literally ramming the back of my stepdad’s rental car".

- Damages -

The European Court of Human Rights in January ordered Italy to pay 18,400 euros ($20,700) in damages to Knox because Italian authorities failed to provide a lawyer in the initial days of the investigation.

Knox's sentence was stiffened to 28 years in prison when the conviction was upheld in 2014, though both she and Sollecito were acquitted by Italy's top court the following year.

Knox returned to Seattle after her release, where she works as a journalist and commentator. She has also written a memoir of her ordeal, "Waiting To Be Heard".

"Amanda now works to shed light on the issues of wrongful conviction, truth seeking and public shaming, and to inspire people towards empathy and perspective," her website says.

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