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.


Philippines begins termination of US deal

Earlier, Duterte said he would give the US a month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa. (AP)
Updated 58 min 53 sec ago

Philippines begins termination of US deal

  • The move comes after Washington’s refusal to issue a visa to ally of President Duterte

MANILA: The Philippines has started the process of terminating the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allows the deployment of US forces to the country to conduct military exercises, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on Friday.
The move comes one day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to do away with the agreement if the US did not reinstate the visa of his political ally and former police chief, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.
Although in a speech on Thursday night the president said he would give the US one month to restore Dela Rosa’s visa before terminating the VFA, Panelo told reporters the process had already begun.
“The President feels that we cannot sit down and watch idly,” he said, adding he had relayed the matter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin.
Locsin, in a Twitter post on Friday, confirmed he had called Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “to start the process of terminating the VFA.”
Lorenzana, in a statement on Friday evening, said that he would discuss with the president “the various scenarios concerning the possible termination of the VFA, and what future actions may be undertaken by the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regarding this matter.”
The defense chief said he could understand why the president was angered by the cancellation of Dela Rosa’s visa, over alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with the government’s anti-drug war.
“It is a direct affront to (the president) being the architect of the drug war upon his assumption of office,” the defense chief said.
He noted that Duterte ordered Dela Rosa when he was installed as police chief in 2016 to launch the drug war, and promised to back him. “He is just being true to his promise,” Lorenzana stressed.
Dela Rosa himself said details surrounding the revocation of his US visa remain unclear to him. He added that it “might be related” to the anti-drug war.
The Philippines Department of Justice said it was studying the “proper procedure to terminate the VFA.”
Responses from Philippine lawmakers have been mixed.
“In the absence of a Philippines Supreme Court ruling on the president’s power to unilaterally break a treaty or bilateral agreement like the VFA, without the consent of a 2/3 supermajority vote of the members of the senate, the president can do that without the senate’s approval or consent,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the VFA termination would work in favor of China, and so did not come as a surprise.
According to Lorenzana: “The termination of the VFA may be unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, and it is well within the right of the government to do so if it determines that the agreement no longer redounds to our national interest.
“Such a termination does not need the approval of the Philippine Congress. All that is required is that a notice of termination be served to the US government. The termination shall take effect 180 days after the date of the notice,” the defense chief stressed.