Wednesday 18 September 2019

Knox says she was falsely maligned

Amanda Knox yesterday accused the media of having built a false narrative around her during her years-long murder trial and appeals process, depicting her as guilty even though she was eventually acquitted.

The former exchange student from the US who became the focus of a sensational murder case returned to Italy last week for the first time since an appeals court acquitted her in 2011 in the killing of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.

Speaking at the Criminal Justice Festival in Modena, Knox said she was depicted "on the global scene as cunning, psychopath, drug-addicted, whore. Guilty".

Speaking through tears, she said the media that labelled her "Foxy Knoxy" invented a "false story, which fuelled people's fantasies and talked to their fears".

Knox had been accused with her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivorian-born Rudy Guede of killing Kercher in November 2007 in the university town of Perugia. After multiple rulings, Italy's highest court definitively acquitted Knox and Sollecito in 2015.

Guede is still serving a 16-year sentence.

EU considering sanctions for Venezuela

Major EU nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents - though divisions remain over the timing of any action for fear of derailing a negotiated exit to the country's crisis.

The financial and travel restrictions are being mulled by a core of five nations - UK, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands - before being put to the European Council, say diplomats with knowledge of the plan.

Steady progress is being made on building a solid legal case for the restrictions, but the main obstacle is the uncertain impact it could have on a mediation effort by Norway between representatives of Maduro and National Assembly chief Juan Guaido.

After two rounds of meetings in Norway, the Guaido opposition had not agreed by yesterday to a third round scheduled to begin next week in Barbados.

Guaido, who has been recognised as Venezuela's interim president by more than 50 countries, including most EU members, has pledged not to return to the negotiating table until Maduro is ready to call early presidential elections.

The EU has been slower than the US in confronting Maduro, fearing it could wreck the possibility of a negotiated solution to the political stalemate that has exacerbated misery in a country where more than four million people have migrated in search of work and food.

Any EU sanctions would require the support of all 28 of the bloc's members, four of whom - Italy, Greece, Slovakia and Cyprus - don't recognize Guaido as Venezuela's leader.

EU elections targeted by Russian bots

The recent elections to the European Parliament were targeted by Russia, Brussels has said.

An initial report by the European Commission found bots and fake accounts traced to Russia spread false information online in the run-up to the poll in an attempt to radicalise debate and amplify divisive content.

"There are plenty of reports of disinformation, from both bots and fake accounts, and that was across many member states: Poland, Spain, Latvia, France and the UK," said EU Security Commissioner Julian King.

Ousted Sudan president faces trial soon

Sudan's chief prosecutor yesterday said ousted President Omar al-Bashir would be sent for trial soon on corruption charges related to his three decades in power.

A news conference was told the trial referral would be made after a one-week period for objections expires, adding that criminal cases have been opened against 41 other former officials accused of corruption.

Syrian opposition claims dozens killed

Syrian opposition activists say government airstrikes and intense shelling on rebel-held areas in north-west Syria have claimed the lives of dozens of people.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the opposition's Syrian Civil Defence said at least 10 civilians were killed in the airstrikes in Idlib province.

US gives Iraq waiver over Iran sanctions

Two Iraqi officials yesterday said the US has given Iraq a new 90-day extension for an Iran sanctions waiver allowing Baghdad to import electricity and natural gas from Tehran. An Iraqi official said Baghdad was informed about the waiver by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Another official confirmed the waiver will start on Wednesday.

Sunday Independent

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