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Amanda Knox found herself on Italian soil over the weekend for the first time in four years. It proved to be an emotional return for the 31-year-old, who spent years wrongly imprisoned in the country for a crime she was ultimately acquitted of.
Knox was a featured speaker at the Criminal Justice Festival in Modena on Saturday, where she addressed the subject of “Trial by Media,” CNN reports.
Knox, then an American student studying abroad in Perugia, made international headlines when her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, was murdered in 2007. Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were collared for the crime and both went through a tumultuous series of convictions and acquittals before Italy’s highest court acquitted them both of Kercher’s murder for a final time in 2015. Another person, Rudy Guede, was ultimately convicted of killing the student and is currently serving 16 years for the crime.
Knox, who was a tabloid staple during her lengthy legal battle in Italy, had not returned to the country before Saturday. Now a journalist and advocate for the wrongly convicted, she opened up about her own experiences with the media’s handling of her famous case, which she said included “clickbait stories” and speculation.
“On the world scene I wasn't a defendant, innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “I was a clever psychopath, dirty and drug-addicted whore, guilty until proven innocent. It was a false and unfounded history that lit up people's imagination because it fed fears and fantasies.”
Knox, at times, seemed to fight back tears, outlets report.
She expressed a desire to one day meet Giuliano Mignini, the lead prosecutor in Kercher’s case, according to CNN. She said Saturday that Mignini’s participation in the Netflix “Amanda Knox” documentary opened her eyes to the “genuine and noble motivation” that Mignini had to bring Kercher’s killer to justice.
“One day I'd like to meet the real Dr. Mignini, and I hope that when he comes, he will also see that I am not a monster, I simply am Amanda,” she said. “I have the same hope ... that being brave enough to face you and meet you face to face we can get to some sort of understanding and reconciliation.”
“Because the real justice happens when we see the other people with compassion, when we judge with moderation and when we come back to each other after the pain with the courage of an open heart,” she continued.
Knox, who previously wrote on Instagram that she felt “frayed” at the prospect of going back to Italy, addressed that fear during her talk Saturday and explained why she still felt the need to make the trip, according to Italian outlet, The Local.
“To tell the truth I am afraid, afraid of being harassed, insulted, afraid of being trapped and new accusations being directed at me,” she said. “I have come back because it was something I had to do — there was a time when I felt at home in this beautiful country and I hope one day to recapture this feeling.”
Francesco Maresca, attorney for the Kercher family, called Knox’s return “inappropriate and uncalled for” in a statement to the Telegraph last month, but Knox defended her decision on Saturday.
"I know that, despite my acquittal, I remain a controversial figure in the face of public opinion, especially here in Italy. I know many people think I am wicked," she said, according to The Local. “Some have even suggested that by being here I am once again traumatizing the Kercher family and profaning Meredith's memory. They are wrong.”
She continued, “The fact I continue to be held responsible for the Kerchers' pain shows how powerful false narratives can be and how they can undermine justice, especially when reinforced and amplified by the media.”
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