Page last updated at 19:20 GMT, Saturday, 13 June 2009 20:20 UK

Lawyer challenges Knox testimony

Amanda Knox gives evidence in court

An American student accused of killing her British housemate Meredith Kercher in 2007 has spent a second day under intensive cross-examination.

Amanda Knox, 21, said she had been threatened by police with 30 years in jail if she continued to "lie".

She also denied previously meeting the man convicted in October of murder and sexual violence in the same case.

Miss Knox and then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito deny charges they murdered Meredith after a sex game went wrong.

A third person, 22-year-old Ivory Coast national Rudy Guede, has already been jailed for 30 years for the killing.

During Saturday's hearing, Miss Knox denied being friends with Mr Guede, but said she had met him three times.

Questioned by Mr Sollecito's lawyer she also said she rejected the evidence of an Albanian witness, Hekuran Kokomani, who told the court in March that he had seen Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito on an unspecified date with Mr Guede.

Miss Knox said: "This is completely false. It's impossible."

Speaking in fluent Italian, the 21-year-old from Seattle said police pressured her to wrongly implicate an innocent man during questioning - a claim prosecutors are disputing.

Miss Knox claimed police wanted her to name a suspect and repeated her allegation that they had beaten and bullied her into making a false statement.

She alleged that during hours of questioning, police said if she did not tell the truth, they would "throw me in jail for 30 years".

INSIDE COURT
Duncan Kennedy
Duncan Kennedy, in Perugia

It was a more casually dressed Amanda Knox who has taken the stand for a second day. She is wearing jeans and a white blouse.

The questioning has been started by the prosecuting magistrate, Giuliano Mignini, a thick-set man who has been pressing the attacks against Amanda Knox for the past five months.

Amanda Knox's supporters don't like Mr Mignini. They think he is not a fair prosecutor.

But he has certainly begun his cross examination with some direct questions and there've been some raised voices.

He could yet question her about her whereabouts on the night Meredith Kercher died and the forensic evidence against her.

Amanda is again speaking in Italian, she wasn't happy with her translator yesterday and has decided her Italian is good enough to take on the lawyers.

Her father and her defence team say they felt she did well in the witness box yesterday. Today will be just as testing.

Ms Kercher, 21, of Coulsdon, 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 Miss Knox in the Umbrian university city of Perugia the following day. Her throat had been cut.

Defence lawyers accused chief prosecutor Giuliano Mignini of badgering Miss Knox and asking leading questions.

When questioned about wrongly naming her part-time employer Patrick Lumumba as the killer to the police, she said she became so confused after "a steady crescendo... of 'I don't know,' 'you're a stupid liar', 'maybes', and 'imagines' that ... I was led to believe I had forgotten things".

"When I said 'Patrick' I actually started to imagine a kind of movie, images that could have explained the situation, Patrick's face, then (Perugia's) Grimana square, then my house on the night of the murder," she added.

When questioned about yoga and stretching exercises she did at the police station, she said: "Everyone deals with tragedy in his own way. I'm always trying to feel less stress. I know I may appear spacy, but that's how I am."

Defence lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova then asked Miss Knox about the knife which was discovered at Mr Sollecito's flat, but belonged to the American.

She told me she got on really well with her roommates
Andrew Seliber
Character witness

In a recorded phone conversation with her mother, Miss Knox said she became concerned after learning about it while in custody.

"I was worried because for me it was impossible. I didn't know how it could be there," she said.

Miss Knox claims she spent that night at Mr Sollecito's apartment where they ate dinner, smoked a marijuana joint, had sex and went to bed.

Answering questions from Francesco Maresca, the Kercher family's lawyer, Miss Knox said of her relationship with Sollecito: "I slept with Sollecito the first time I met him."

"We made lunch or dinner together nearly every day," she added.

'Slow death'

Mr Maresca also questioned Miss Knox about her claim that Miss Kercher had suffered a slow death.

Miss Knox replied that she based this on what she had heard from others and what she imagined must have happened to her housemate.

For a second time, Miss Knox, who had been on a student exchange from Seattle's University of Washington, described how she learned Miss Kercher had died.

"When I got home, I found it strange the door was open but I didn't know what to think," she said. "I called 'Is anybody there?"'

She said the room of another of her housemates, Filomena Romanelli, was in "chaos".

"I saw clothes on the floor. I saw the window was broken. I wondered what had happened.

"Meredith's door was locked but this didn't alarm me. I was only alarmed when I called her and she didn't answer."

She added: "Meredith was my friend. I am so upset about what happened to her."

After the hearing, Miss Knox's lawyer said he was pleased with her testimony.

Carlo Della Vedova said: "She gave a very clear reply to the prosecution, and we are happy."

And Miss Knox's father Curt said: "I think she came across really well. She was very articulate in her answers.

"I also think it gave people a better idea of who she really is versus the picture that's been painted of her in the tabloids."

The trial was adjourned to 19 June when Ms Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, is expected to give evidence.



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