Italy Wrongly Deprived Amanda Knox of Legal Counsel, Court Rules

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ROME — The Italian authorities deprived Amanda Knox of adequate legal assistance during a nightlong interrogation in 2007, Europe’s top human rights court ruled on Thursday, the latest legal twist stemming from the murder of Ms. Knox’s roommate more than 11 years ago.

The European Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to pay 18,400 euros — about $21,000 — in damages, costs and expenses to Ms. Knox, the American who was convicted of killing Meredith Kercher, but ultimately acquitted on appeal.

But the human rights court said in its ruling that it had found no evidence of “inhuman or degrading treatment” of Ms. Knox during police questioning, as she had alleged.

“The court took the view that the Italian government had not succeeded in showing that the restriction of Ms. Knox’s access to a lawyer” during the police interview, when she was already a murder suspect, “had not irreparably undermined the fairness of the proceedings as a whole,” a statement issued by the court on Thursday said.

The court noted that at the time she was accused of killing Ms. Kercher, a Briton, Ms. Knox “had been particularly vulnerable, being a foreign young woman, 20 at the time, not having been in Italy for very long and not being fluent in Italian.” Her statements during the interrogation “had been taken in an atmosphere of intense psychological pressure,” the court said.

The case made headlines for years in Italy, the United States and Britain.

During her interrogation in 2007, Ms. Knox accused her boss, a pub manager, of killing Ms. Kercher, but he was subsequently exonerated. A court later found that she had committed slander, and the European court decision concerned the process leading to that conviction.

On Thursday Ms. Knox, who is 31 now and lives in Seattle, wrote on her blog that she had “spent years wracked with guilt over those statements I signed in the interrogation room.”

Ms. Knox, her boyfriend at the time of the killing, Raffaele Sollecito, and a third man, Rudy Guede, were found guilty of Ms. Kercher’s murder in 2009. But in 2015, Italy’s highest court not only overturned the conviction of Mr. Sollecito and Ms. Knox, who had served four years in prison, it took the rare step of fully exonerating them. Mr. Guede is still serving a 16-year sentence.

In lodging her complaint with the European court, in 2013, Ms. Knox said she had not been assisted by a lawyer during the all-night interrogation, and had not been provided with a professional interpreter. She also claimed to have been subjected to extreme psychological pressure, an allegation the court would determine was unfounded.

“Today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that my slander conviction was unjust,” Ms. Knox wrote on Thursday.

“I was interrogated for 53 hours over five days, without a lawyer, in a language I understood maybe as well as a ten-year-old. When I told the police I had no idea who had killed Meredith, I was slapped in the back of the head and told to ‘Remember!’ ” she wrote. “I never should have been charged, much less convicted, of slander.”

One of Ms. Knox’s defense lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said he had spoken to her on Skype. “She’s looking for a kind of vendetta — no one has ever apologized for what happened, even if it was clear that she didn’t understand anything, that she was under extreme stress, and was totally confused,” he said.

“Finally there is a ruling that fully acknowledges this,” he added.

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