Europe court orders Italy to pay damages to Amanda Knox

File photo showing American murder suspect Amanda Knox, center, escorted by Italian penitentiary police officers from Perugia's court after a hearing, central Italy. (AP)
Updated 24 January 2019
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Europe court orders Italy to pay damages to Amanda Knox

  • Knox’s defense attorney said the decision “is not a big surprise for me because the supreme court already said there were many mistakes"
  • “It is impossible to compensate Amanda for four years in prison for a mistake. There will be no amount."

MILAN: Europe’s human rights court on Thursday ordered Italy to pay Amanda Knox financial damages for police failure to provide legal assistance and a translator during a long night of questioning following the Nov. 1, 2007 murder of her British roommate. But the court said there was insufficient evidence to support claims of psychological and physical mistreatment at the hands of police.
The European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, France, said in its ruling that Italy had not 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.” It ordered damages that Italy must pay Knox €18,400 ($20,000) in damages, costs, and expenses.
“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,” the court noted.
After more than seven years of legal battles and flip-flop decisions, Knox, now 31, was definitively acquitted of Meredith Kercher’s murder by Italy’s highest court in March 2015, but a damaging conviction for falsely accusing a Congolese bar owner of the murder was confirmed, leaving a cloud over her acquittal.
It was during questioning in the wee hours of Nov. 6, 2007, that Knox accused Patrick Lumumba, the owner of a bar where she sometimes worked, of the murder. Knox’s defense had long claimed that the accusation was coerced. The court noted she had quickly and repeatedly retracted the statement, citing a hand-written statement on the afternoon of Nov. 6, 2007, another for her lawyers three days later and in a wiretapped call to her mother on Nov. 10, 2007.
Knox’s 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.”
“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 said. He said 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 principle” he said.
The sensational murder of 21-year-old Kercher attracted global attention, especially after suspicion fell on Knox, and Knox’s then-Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. Kercher was found nude under a blanket, with her throat slit. While Knox and her former boyfriend were initially convicted in Kercher’s slaying and handed hefty sentences, both were eventually acquitted.
An Ivorian immigrant is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder.


Pakistan orders custody for Hindu girls at center of quarrel with India

Updated 26 March 2019
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Pakistan orders custody for Hindu girls at center of quarrel with India

  • The teenagers left their home in mostly Muslim Pakistan’s southeastern province of Sindh on March 20 to be married in Punjab province
  • Police have detained ten people in the case over their marriages

KARACHI, Pakistan: A court in Pakistan on Tuesday ordered the government to take custody of two Hindu sisters allegedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam, police said, a case that triggered a quarrel with Hindu-majority neighbor India.
Police say the teenagers left their home in mostly Muslim Pakistan’s southeastern province of Sindh on March 20 to be married in Punjab province, where the law does not bar marriages of those younger than 18, unlike Sindh.
“The girls appeared before Islamabad High Court on Tuesday morning,” Farrukh Ali, a police official in their home district of Gothki, said by telephone.
“The court has directed the deputy commissioner to take their custody,” he added, referring to an administration official in the Pakistani capital.
The court set a deadline of next Tuesday for the submission of a report into an inquiry ordered by Prime Minister Imran Khan, and directed that the girls not return to Sindh until the case was resolved, broadcaster Geo Television said.
Police have detained ten people in the case over their marriages and registered a formal case of kidnapping and robbery by the teenagers, after complaints from their parents.
The incident prompted a rare public intervention by a top Indian official in its neighbor’s domestic affairs, when Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter she had asked India’s ambassador in Pakistan for a report on news of it.
Pakistan was “totally behind the girls,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on social media in response to Swaraj’s Sunday message, but asked India to look after its own minority Muslims.
At a news conference on Sunday, he referred to religious riots in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.
In Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, Pakistan accuses India of human rights violations, a charge New Delhi denies.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will seek a second term in a general election starting next month. He has taken a tougher stand toward Pakistan in the past five years.