Italian court convicts Amanda Knox of slander over murder accusation

(This June 4 story has been corrected to fix the year of murder to 2007 in paragraph 1, and to rectify the spelling of Christopher in paragraph 4)

By Silvia Ognibene and Cristiano Corvino

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - An Italian court found American Amanda Knox guilty of slander on Wednesday and handed her a three-year jail sentence in a case related to the murder of her British flatmate in 2007.

Knox, who spent four years in jail for the killing of British student Meredith Kercher before the conviction was annulled in 2015, had returned to Italy hoping to clear her name in the last legal case against her over the affair.

However, the appeals court in Florence on Wednesday returned the same verdict as Knox received in an earlier case for wrongly accusing Congolese bar owner Patrick Lumumba of killing Kercher.

Knox, who was in court with her husband Christopher Robinson, is set to appeal against the verdict to Italy's highest court. The sentence will have no practical impact as it is covered by the time Knox spent in prison.

"Amanda is very upset ... from the outcome of this hearing, she was looking to have a final point of all this, 17 years now, judicial procedure," lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said.

Knox, who is now 36 and campaigns for social justice and has her own podcast, made no comment as she left the court.


Knox earlier accused Italian police of threats and violence to force her to name Lumumba as the killer.

"The police threatened me with 30 years in prison, an officer slapped me three times saying 'Remember, remember'," she told the court.

"I'm very sorry that I wasn't strong enough to withstand the pressure from the police," she added, speaking in Italian.

The stabbing of 21-year-old Kercher in the city of Perugia and multiple trials provided fodder for tabloids on both sides of the Atlantic and inspired books and films.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2019 that there had been procedural errors during Knox's questioning and Italy's highest court last year ordered another trial in the slander case.

Lumumba was held for two weeks in 2007 before he was freed.

"When Patrick was accused by Amanda, he became known everywhere as the monster of Perugia," Lumumba's lawyer Carlo Pacelli told reporters before the hearing on Wednesday, adding that the conviction should be upheld. Lumumba was not in court.

Rudy Guede, originally from the Ivory Coast, was sentenced to 16 years in jail for the killing of Kercher, in a ruling that said he acted with unnamed other culprits. He was granted early release in 2021.

(Additional reporting by Claudia Greco, and Roberto Mignucci in Florence; Writing by Keith Weir; editing by Alexandra Hudson, Crispian Balmer, Angus MacSwan and Alex Richardson)