‘I’m not a monster,’ Amanda Knox tells murder retrial in email

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “I’m not a monster, Amanda Knox tells murder retrial in email” was written by Lizzy Davies in Rome and agencies, for The Guardian on Tuesday 17th December 2013 17.57 UTC

Amanda Knox, the American accused of murdering her British housemate Meredith Kercher six years ago, has made an impassioned declaration of innocence in an email to an Italian appeals court, insisting she is not a monster.

The Seattle-born student, 26, made the unusual intervention as her defence lawyers made their closing arguments in her second appeal, which is expected to end next month.

“I am not a murderer. I am not a rapist. I am not a third or a plotter or an instigator. I didn’t kill Meredith or take part in her murder,” wrote Knox.

Kercher, a 21-year-old Leeds University student from Coulsdon, Surrey, was at the beginning of a year abroad in Perugia when she was found stabbed to death in the flat she shared with Knox.

Rudy Guede, from Ivory Coast, has been found guilty of her murder and is serving a reduced 16-year sentence in an Italian jail. But prosecutors argue he did not act alone, and accuse Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 26, of having taken part in the killing – a claim they deny.

Having originally been convicted of the murder, the pair were acquitted on appeal in 2011 after four years behind bars. In March, however, Italy’s supreme court overturned that ruling, and ordered a fresh appeal to be heard in Florence.

In her email, written in Italian and read to the Florence appeals court on Tuesday, Knox said she had chosen not to attend the fresh proceedings for fear the court will uphold her conviction for a crime she insists she did not commit.

“I am not present in the courtroom because I am afraid. I am afraid that the prosecution’s vehemence will leave an impression on you, that their smoke and mirrors will blind you,” she said, according to an English translation of the letter.

Even though she was not in Florence, she added, she was following the case closely, “my life being on the line”.

The email appeared to leave judge Alessandro Nencini nonplussed. He said its five pages did not carry the same weight as a spontaneous declaration made in person, and according to the Associated Press told the court: “Who wants to speak at a trial, comes to the trial.”

In his closing arguments last month, prosecutor Alessandro Crini asked the court to reinstate Knox’s original 26-year sentence for murder and raise her sentence for slandering bar owner Patrick Lumumba to four years. Sollecito, he argued, should serve 26 years for murder, one year more than his original sentence.

Crini argued that the murder had occurred after an explosion of tensions between Knox and Kercher over household cleanliness.

In her email, Knox claimed this theory was a “terrifying distortion of the facts”. “Meredith was my friend. She was kind to me, helpful, generous, fun. She never criticised me. She never gave me so much as a nasty look,” she wrote.

The University of Washington student also insisted swas not the manipulating “she-devil” the original prosecution had made her out to be. “This is a fantasy,” she wrote, adding: “They want you to think I’m a monster because it’s easy to condemn a monster. It is easy to dismiss a monster’s defence as deception. But the prosecution and civil parties are severely mistaken and wrong.”

Knox also reiterated her argument that she had falsely implicated Lumumba due to pressure from the police.

In its March ruling, Italy’s supreme court definitively upheld her conviction and three-year sentence for slander. She is appealing against it at the European court of human rights.

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