European judges has awarded Amanda Knox £15,660 ($20,000) in damages, after finding that Italian authorities ‘violated her human rights’ during the investigation into the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in 2007.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Italian police failed to provide legal help and a translator when questioning Knox after Ms Kercher’s murder.
American Ms Knox was convicted, but later cleared, of the murder of her British roommate, following years of legal battles in Perugia, Italy.
Ms Knox and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, spent four years in an Italian prison and eight years on trial before finally being exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court in 2015.
Amanda Knox was convicted, but later cleared, of British student Meredith Kercher’s murder following years of legal battles in Perugia, Italy
Knox (pictured in custody in 2011, left) was twice convicted and twice acquitted of murdering English student Meredith Kercher (right) in Italy
The ECHR said today that there had been breaches of Ms Knox’s rights leading up to a related conviction for malicious accusation – the only charge which she was never acquitted of.
The European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, France, today ruled that Italy must pay Knox €10,400 damages plus €8,000 for costs and expenses, which comes to around £15,660, or $20,000.
Ms Knox, from Seattle, Washington, said in her complaint that the failure to provide her with a lawyer or interpreter during a long night of questioning on November 6 violated her rights.
The court said in its ruling that Italy hadn’t succeeded in proving that ‘the restriction of Ms Knox’s access to a lawyer… had not irreparably undermined the fairness of the proceedings as a whole.’
Italian police alleged Ms Knox made false accusations against Congolese bar owner Diya ‘Patrick’ Lumumba, knowing him to be innocent and in order to distract investigators away from her own responsibility.
She also said she was not assisted by an independent and professional interpreter, but only a police employee who acted instead as a ‘mediator’ who encouraged her to ‘imagine hypothetical scenarios’.
Ms Knox’s defence had long claimed that the accusation was coerced and the recent court ruling noted she quickly and repeatedly retracted the statement, citing a hand-written statement.
Accused: Ms Kercher’s American roommate Amanda Knox was found guilty of her murder in 2009, and spent more than four years in jail before finally being officially exonerated in 2015
Murder scene: The house is pictured in November, 2007, shortly after Ms Kercher’s body was found in her bedroom
But Ms Knox, now 31 years old, appealed on the grounds she was denied access to a lawyer and an independent interpreter, was slapped on the head and subjected to psychological pressure by Italian police.
The ECHR ruled that there had been a violation of Ms Knox’s rights when her claims of ill-treatment in police custody were not investigated.
But the judges said the court did not have any evidence that Ms Knox was subjected to the ‘inhuman or degrading treatment’ she complained about.
They also said that the Italian government had failed to show that Ms Knox’s restricted access to a lawyer at police interview had not ‘irreparably undermined the fairness of the proceedings as a whole’.
Judges further found that authorities had failed to assess the conduct of the interpreter assigned to Ms Knox and whether this had affected criminal proceedings against her.
The Italian government was ordered to pay Ms Knox €10,400 (£9,000) in damages and €8,000 (£7,000) for costs and expenses – a lot less than the €2.7 million she had sought.
Knox and her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito (right), were accused of murdering Kercher during a sex-game-gone-wrong
Ms Knox posted images on Instagram last November announcing her engagement to her novelist fiance, Christopher Robinson
Her defense attorney, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said the decision ‘is not a big surprise for me because the supreme court already said there were many mistakes. That is one of the reasons that invited us to tell Amanda to go to Strasbourg.’
He said: ‘For me this is a certification of a mistake, probably the biggest legal mistake in the last years in Italy, also because the attention that this case has had.’
Dalla Vedova added he was considering whether to challenge the standing conviction for malicious false accusations.
‘It is impossible to compensate Amanda for four years in prison for a mistake. There will be no amount. We are not looking for compensation of damages. We are doing this on principal,’ he said.
Ms Kercher was found semi-naked with her throat cut in the house where she had been renting a room.
The body of Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student, was found by police in the flat she shared with Ms Knox and three other girls on November 2, 2007.
Knox served nearly four years in jail after being sentenced to 26 years and eight years on trial before finally being exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court in 2015
Officers discovered her throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.
Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were arrested, accused of killing Ms Kercher in a sex-game-gone wrong and later convicted of murder and sexual assault in 2009.
The couple maintained their innocence, insisting that they had spent the evening together at Mr Sollecito’s home watching a film, smoking marijuana and being intimate.
Two years later, the Perugia Court of Appeal acquitted the pair of the more serious charges, but upheld Ms Knox’s conviction for malicious accusation.
After three years in custody, Ms Knox was released and left Italy for the United States.
Rudy Guede leaving with penitentiary police after a court hearing in Perugia in September 2008. He is serving a 16-year sentence for Ms Kercher’s murder
Ms Knox challenged the malicious conviction, but the Court of Cassation quashed her acquittal in 2013 and referred the case back to the Assize Court of Appeal.
That court re-sentenced her to more than 28 years in prison for complicity in sexual assault and murder, and three years for malicious accusation.
Ms Knox launched another appeal, and in 2015 she and Mr Sollecito were acquitted of sexual assault and murder by Italy’s highest court, but Ms Knox was not cleared of the malicious accusation charge.
Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivorian, is serving a 16-year sentence for Ms Kercher’s murder.
Guede was tried separately in a fast-track procedure and in October 2008 was found guilty of the sexual assault and murder of Kercher.
- An earlier version of this article stated that the judgment had been handed down by an EU court. It has been corrected to state that the decision was made by the European Court of Human Rights, which we happy to make clear is separate from the EU.