There is an interesting twist in the Italian trial of Amanda Knox. The American exchange student Meredith Kercher facing murder charges has claimed that she was struck by police and otherwise abused during her interrogation. Now, Italian prosecutors have added a slander charge due to her in court statements.
In the United States, all in-court statements are privileged. In Italy, not only may you be charged for things you say in your own defense but charged as part of a criminal case. It is remarkably abusive rule. While it will not deter a murder suspect who will hardly be afraid of a slander charge on top of a murder charge, it would create a chilling effect on other defendants raising police abuse or testifying on their own behalf.
Under the Italian system, the defendant may speak at any time to react to testimony or evidence. Knox did so after an interpreter testified that she confessed to the murder of her roommate and seemed relieved to be able to get it off her chest.
Knox says that the police called her a “stupid liar” and interrogated her for “hours and hours” and was slapped on the head by police.
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