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Italy: European court awards €18,000 to Amanda Knox after human rights complaint

Human rights judges in Strasbourg have backed American Amanda Knox in her human rights battle against Italy.

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the European Court held that Italy was to pay Knox 10,400 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 8,000 for costs and expenses.

Today’s European Court of Human Rights judgment concerned the proceedings which lead to the conviction of Amanda Knox for malicious accusation.

During a police interview on 6 November 2007 Ms Knox accused a pub manager of killing her flatmate. The man was subsequently found to be innocent and she was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for making a malicious accusation.

In its Chamber judgment,  in the case of Knox v. Italy (application no. 76577/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of the procedural limb (investigation) of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court held in particular that Knox had not had the benefit of an investigation capable of shedding light on the facts and any responsibility, further to her allegation that she had been ill-treated on 6 November 2007 at a time when she had been entirely under police control.

In spite of her repeated complaints, no investigation into the alleged treatment had been forthcoming.

no violation of the substantive limb of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the convention.

The court found that it did not have any evidence to show that Ms Knox had been subjected to the inhuman or degrading treatment of which she had complained.

a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) (right to legal assistance)

The court took the view that the Italian Government had not succeeded in showing that the restriction of Ms Knox’s access to a lawyer, at the police interview of 6 November 2007 at 5.45 a.m.

– when there was a criminal charge against her – had not irreparably undermined the fairness of the proceedings as a whole.

a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (e) of the Convention (right to the assistance of an interpreter).

The court held that the authorities had failed to assess the conduct of the interpreter (who had seen herself as a mediator and had adopted a motherly attitude towards Knox while the latter was formulating her statement), to examine whether her interpreting assistance had been consistent with the safeguards under Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (e) of the Convention, or to consider whether that conduct had had an impact on the outcome of the criminal proceedings against Ms Knox.

In the court’s view, that initial failure had thus had repercussions for other rights and had compromised the fairness of the proceedings as a whole.

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