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May 20, 2:34 PM EDT

Lawyer: European Human Rights Court to hear Amanda Knox case


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MILAN (AP) -- The European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear Amanda Knox's case challenging her slander conviction during the trial for her British roommate's 2007 murder, her Italian defense lawyer said Friday.

Carlo Dalla Vedova said the Strasbourg court's decision this week is "good news" for his client, because the vast majority of cases are rejected at the preliminary stage. The Italian government has until September to provide its response.

Knox's team is arguing that the slander charge violated her human rights because it was based on statements she made under duress during overnight questioning without being informed she was a suspect and without a defense lawyer or translator present.

Italy's highest court last year overturned the murder conviction in the brutal murder and sexual assault of British student Meredith Kercher against Knox and her former boyfriend. However, it upheld Knox's slander conviction for wrongly accusing Congolese-born bar owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba in the murder. It reduced the slander sentence to three years.

Knox spent nearly four years in jail after being convicted and sentenced to 26 years in her initial trial. The court battle went on for seven and a half years, with flip-flop decisions that saw her return to the United States after being acquitted only to face another trial after the acquittal was thrown out. She faced her second appeals trial and high court proceedings in absentia.

Since Dalla Vedova filed the human rights case three years ago, he said there have been two favorable court decisions: the high court murder acquittal, and then an acquittal earlier this year of slandering police officers she accused of mistreating her during questioning.

"This ruling said exactly what we are saying in the human rights case - that she was put under psychological stress and said what she said to get out of that very uncomfortable situation, which is psychological torture," Dalla Vedova said.

The lawyer said he is preparing to seek damages from the government for her wrongful detention, and would file soon. The maximum allowed by law is 500,000 euros ($560,500).

DNA evidence at the scene of the murder led police to arrest a man from Ivory Coast, who was convicted for the murder in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year-sentence.

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