Amanda Knox 'accused bar owner to divert suspicion' over Meredith Kercher murder
Amanda Knox wrongly accused a bar owner of murdering Meredith Kercher to “throw off course” the investigation into the crime, the businessman’s lawyer has said.
Miss Knox and her ex-boyfriend were found guilty of the sexual assault and murder of Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey, in 2009 but then acquitted by an appeals court in Perugia in 2011
The remarks were made during the first hearing of a retrial for Miss Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, for the murder of the Leeds University student, who was found lying in a pool of blood in the bedroom of her shared student house in Perugia in Nov 2007.
During her initial police questioning Miss Knox falsely accused Patrick Lumumba, the Congolese owner of a bar in the Umbrian town, of murdering Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey.
Mr Lumumba successfully sued the American student for defamation.
“Why did she accuse Lumumba?” said his lawyer, Carlo Pacelli, during a break in proceedings in the modern court complex on the outskirts of Florence. “It was to throw off course the police investigation.”
Mr Lumumba was arrested and spent more than two weeks in prison after Miss Knox pointed the blame at him.
He was only released and had his name cleared after a businessman heard of the case by chance and came forward to say he had spent the evening in Mr Lumumba’s bar in Perugia. The Congolese businessman is hoping to be admitted as a civil plaintiff in the new trial, as he was in the original trial of Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito.
“The first victim of this whole business is poor Meredith, who lost her life, but I’m the second victim,” he said in court. “I lost everything, I was sent to prison, even though I didn’t do anything.”
Miss Knox was asked in an interview this month why she had falsely accused Mr Lumumba. He replied: “I was interrogated by the police from 11 at night until six in the morning. It was a very tough interrogation, with a dozen people who were yelling in a language I didn’t understand, and with one person who was giving me slaps to my head.”
A short time afterwards, realising that she made a false accusation, she tried to withdraw it, she said.
Miss Knox and her ex-boyfriend were found guilty of the sexual assault and murder of Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey, in 2009 but then acquitted by an appeals court in Perugia in 2011.
But earlier this year the Supreme Court in Rome ordered a retrial, saying the appeals judges had “underestimated” some of the evidence against them.
Miss Knox insists that the crime was committed solely by Rudy Guede, a small-time local drug dealer who is serving a 16-year prison sentence in an Italian jail after being found guilty in a separate, fast-track trial.
Neither she nor Mr Sollecito were in court on Monday – under Italian law they were not obliged to turn up.
Miss Knox says she will not return to Italy because she fears being found guilty and thrown in prison again, while Mr Sollecito, from Bari in southern Italy, has said he will probably attend some hearings in late October.