L-R: Curt Knox & Edda Mellas, Amanda Knox's parents, will be in court July 4 to face a libel suit. Far right: Private Investigator Paul Ciolino cries foul. He is pictured speaking at Salty's on Alki in West Seattle at a fundraiser for Amanda Knox shortly after she was arrested.
Parents of Amanda Knox indicted for libel, supporters cry foul
Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, the parents of West Seattle raised Amanda Knox, have been ordered to stand trial for alleging that Italian police abused their daughter. They were indicted Feb. 10 in Perugia for criminal libel. The trial is set for July 4. The charge is based on their June 15, 2008 Sunday Times of London interview where Curt Knox alleged that police had physically and verbally abused Amanda during questioning after Meredith Kercher's 2007 slaying, but before Amanda was arrested.
Curt Knox said this: “Amanda was abused physically and verbally. She told us she was hit in the back of the head by a police officer with an open hand, at least twice. The police told her, ‘If you ask for a lawyer, things will get worse for you’ and ‘If you don’t give us some explanation for what happened, you’re going to go to jail for a very long time.’”
This statement follows: Edda adds tearfully: “She was told she wouldn’t ever see her family again, and her family is everything to her.”
Police have denied harming Knox.
The Knox and Mellas family released this statement Feb. 16:
“The defamation charges formalized against us are not new. We recall them well because we were served with these charges, unexpectedly, while attending the first day of defense closing arguments in our daughter's trial in Perugia, Italy at the end of November 2009. The charges were based upon a media interview that was published in England - 18 months before - in June 2008. We did then what we have done since our daughter was arrested - speak out and seek to inform that Amanda has been wrongfully charged and now wrongfully convicted. The continuation of these charges against us was not unexpected. Our focus is unchanged. It remains wholeheartedly with our daughter, her appeal, overturning her wrongful conviction, and bringing her home.”
Theodore Simon, Amanda Knox's U.S. lawyer added that "formal charges directed at Amanda's parents, cannot and will not shake their resolve to continue to speak out and remain focused - as they always have - on the profound and compelling absence of evidence in Amanda's case. They continue to remain hopeful as the Appellate Court has decided to reopen the case, permit an independent examination of forensic evidence and re-evaluation of witness reliability."
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Typically, such cases of libel result in monetary fines, not jail time.
Some Knox supporters also cry foul as Giuliano Mignini, the head prosecutor on Ms. Kercher's murder trial that resulted in Knox's 26-year conviction, conducted the controversial interrogation where the misconduct by the officer was alleged. He also signed her arrest warrant. They question his ability to be impartial while involved in prosecuting the libel trial.
New York Times best-selling author, Douglas Preston was quick to weigh in on the libel suit for the West Seattle Herald. Prior to the Kercher murder, Mignini forced Preston to leave Italy for investigating a string of murders culminating into his book, The Monster of Florence. He said Mignini tapped his cell phone, bugged his writing partner’s (Mario Spezi) car and interrogated him in Perugia because he was closing in on the murderer(s) which ran counter to Mignini's years of investigation and those he thought guilty.
"This prosecutor Mignini is an utterly vicious and vindictive man, bringing criminal charges against Amanda's parents who were doing nothing more than defending their daughter," said Preston. "The police claim Amanda wasn't abused during her interrogation. Funny that they have refused to produce an audio or video tape of the interrogation, nor even a transcript! What are they hiding? It is disgusting."
"The fact that Mignini is still a prosecutor, still working, voids any legitimacy to any of these charges," private investigator, Paul Ciolino told the West Seattle Herald. Ciolino is former chief investigator of the child homicide team for the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services. He and Peter Van Sant have investigated the Kercher case for CBS 48 Hours episodes. Ciolino has never been retained by the Knox family or their supporters, nor was he asked by CBS to contradict the prosecution's findings.
"Mignini has been convicted in the Italian system," Ciolino said. He is referring to Mignini's conviction in a court in Florence Jan. 22, 2010 of official misconduct and illegal wiretaps in connection with the Monster of Florence case, as we reported here:
"This isn't some third world country that convicted him," Ciolino added. "This is his own country. No other country in the world I am aware of would allow a prosecutor to work on (the libel) case. It's just more of the same nonsense to keep the pressure on the parents to remain silent. Wrongful conviction cases are allowed to continue in general because nobody says anything."
In Ciolino's view there is no DNA linking Knox or Sollecito to the murder.
"It's only when someone starts screaming and raising hell that people start paying attention," he said. "It's (Amanda's) parents' job to make this horrible thing known to the public. The parents repeated something said in court that's of record. They are being indicted for defending their daughter. I've been reading nonsense written by journalists over there for three years, nonsense that's not even close to being accurate and nobody's indicting them."