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

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 shuts Taftan border after coronavirus kills six in Iran

Updated 8 min 38 sec ago

Pakistan shuts Taftan border after coronavirus kills six in Iran

  • Flights to and from Iran unaffected despite deaths
  • Health emergency declared in border districts 

KARACHI: Pakistan has sealed its Taftan border and stopped pilgrims from traveling via the crossing to Iran after six coronavirus deaths were reported in the neighboring country, officials told Arab News on Sunday.
Afghanistan has also suspended travel to the neighboring country as fears across the region continued to grow over a jump in new coronavirus infections.
There are several shrines in Iran which are frequented by a large number of Shiites from Pakistan. Hundreds of people access the Taftan border crossing between the countries on a daily basis.
Pakistan has stopped all movement from crossing points, launched screening procedures and introduced additional patrols along the border “until the situation is under control,” Mir Zia Ullah Langove, home minister of southwestern Balochistan province, said.
“We are trying to take every possible precaution,” he told Arab News, adding that these were efforts being taken by the provincial government, with assurance from Prime Minister Imran Khan that the federal government would also be extending its help.
The move to seal the border follows Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan’s decision to declare a health emergency in all provincial districts bordering Iran on Saturday. But reports of the coronavirus deaths have had no impact on flights to and from Iran.
“The staff of the health ministry is already present at the airports and a passenger is allowed entry only after clearance of health declaration,” Abdul Sattar Khokhar, Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan spokesman, told Arab News as he dismissed reports of a temporary halt on flights to Iran.
“There is no reality in reports that flight operations to Iran have been stopped. We had neither stopped flight operations to and from China and nor will it be stopped to any other country.”
Imran Zarkon, who is chief of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, said 1,000 masks had been distributed in border areas and a temporary hospital tent with 100-beds had been set up to deal with an emergency as part of preventive efforts.
“Qom is the most affected area of Iran where the pilgrims go, so if there is any possibility of virus coming to Pakistan it will be through Taftan and authorities here are on high alert,” he told Arab News.
But these steps have failed to console the people of Balochistan, with some expressing concern about illegal movement along the porous border.
“Iran shares over #1000 KM long porous border with #Balochistan #Pakistan, #coronaravirus deaths are alarming news for the region,” Sanallah Baloch, a Balochistan lawmaker, tweeted on Saturday. “Daily 100s of people cross these borders without formal procedures, region is poverty-stricken with no medical facility.”
In a statement released Sunday, Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said he had discussed the matter with Iranian officials to safeguard Pakistani nationals visiting the country.
Qadri also spoke to Dr. Zafar Mirza, state minister for health, on the deployment of medical teams to Taftan town along the border.
Iranian health authorities said 28 people were being treated for the virus in at least four different cities, including Tehran.
Both Afghanistan and Pakistan share long, porous borders with Iran that are often used by smugglers and human traffickers, while millions of Afghan refugees currently live in the Islamic Republic — raising fears that the virus could easily spread over the border.
“To prevent the spread of the novel #coronavirus and protect the public, Afghanistan suspends all passenger movement (air and ground) to and from Iran,” the office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan said in a statement posted on Twitter.
A provincial official in Pakistan and the country’s Frontier Corps also confirmed that the country had sealed the land border with Iran.
Earlier Sunday, Iran reported eight deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest toll of any country outside China, as the supreme leader accused foreign media of trying to use the outbreak to sabotage a general election.
The latest three deaths Iran reported on Sunday were among 15 new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, bringing the overall number of infections to 43 and fatalities to eight — the highest death toll outside of China, the epicenter of the epidemic.
Four new infections surfaced in the capital Tehran, seven in the holy city of Qom, two in Gilan and one each in Markazi and Tonekabon, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said.
Authorities have ordered as a “preventive measure” the closure of schools, universities and other educational centers in 14 provinces across Iran from Sunday.
Desperate and jobless Afghans have crossed the porous border with Iran for years in search of work to support their struggling families back home.
But hundreds of thousands of Afghans have returned home in recent years as US sanctions have battered the Iranian economy.
(With AFP)