Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 17:58 UK

Kercher police beat me, Knox says

Amanda Knox giving evidence in court

The woman accused of killing UK student Meredith Kercher has told her Italian trial she was beaten by police who wanted her to name a suspect.

American Amanda Knox said she wrongly implicated an innocent man under police pressure. Police deny any misconduct.

Ms Knox, 21, claims she was at the home of her ex-boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, 24, who also denies the murder, when her housemate was killed.

Ms Kercher, 21, of south London, was stabbed to death on 1 November 2007.

The Leeds University student's body was discovered in the bedroom of the house she shared with Ms Knox in the Umbrian university city of Perugia the following day.

Her throat had been cut.

Giving evidence for the first time, Ms Knox described returning home to find the door open and nobody answering when she called.

"I went to my room and changed, went to the bathroom and saw spots of blood there," she told the packed courtroom.

The [police] declarations were taken against my will
Defendant Amanda Knox

"I had a shower and on the way back to my room I saw blood on the floor. I thought: 'Hm, strange'."

Another flatmate, Filomena Romanelli, returned to the house to discover her window had been broken, before they noticed Ms Kercher's door was locked, Ms Knox said.

"I felt strange, it was a strange situation," she added.

She said she had not seen the murder scene but added: "I heard there was a body in there. There was lots of confusion.

"I was in shock. I couldn't believe what had happened, couldn't accept it."

Confusion

Ms Knox was on a student exchange from Seattle's University of Washington when Ms Kercher died.

The court heard she had implicated innocent Patrick Lumumba, who employed her as a barmaid, during police questioning.

When his lawyer, Carlo Pacelli, asked her why, she replied: "Everything [I] said was said in confusion and under pressure.

"They [the officers questioning me] were suggesting Patrick Lumumba so the first thing I said was 'OK, Patrick'."

When asked if she had been hit by police, Ms Knox replied: "Yes".

She told the court that before she named Mr Lumumba, officers had accused her of trying to protect someone.

Meredith Kercher
Meredith Kercher was found dead two months into her studies in Italy

"When I denied that, they called me a stupid liar," she said.

Ms Knox claimed the officers had threatened her with prison and that in her confusion she had started to imagine that what they said was true and that she was traumatised.

"The declarations were taken against my will," she added.

She said she eventually realised that what she had thought about Mr Lumumba was "just imagination".

"I felt very, very bad about it," she added.

She went on to tell the court that she had enjoyed good relations with Ms Kercher and had last seen her at 1pm on the day before her body was found.

Later that day Mr Lumumba had sent her a text message telling her not to go to work, she said.

'Doing homework'

Consequently, she spent the evening at Mr Sollecito's apartment where the couple ate dinner, smoked a marijuana joint and went to bed.

She said she woke up next to Mr Sollecito the following day.

Earlier, she had told the court she was surprised when she arrived at the police station to discover that police wanted to question her about the murder.

"I was sitting on my own doing my homework when a couple of police officers came and sat with me," she told the court.

"They began to ask me the same questions they'd been asking me all those days ever since it happened.

"For instance, who could I imagine could be the person who had killed Meredith, and I said I still didn't know."

A third person, Rudy Guede, has been jailed for 30 years for the killing.



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