American student Amanda Knox was indicted for a second time by an Italian court today, this time for allegedly slandering Italian police for saying they were abusive when they interrogated her for the murder of her roommate.
Knox, who was convicted last year of murdering Meredith Kercher and sentenced to 26 years in prison, stood up in court and made what Italian legal officials call a "spontaneous statement" before the judge's ruling.
"I have always tried to defend myself. I never wanted to offend or slander anyone," Knox said in Italian.
The charge refers to Knox's testimony during her murder trial that Italian police were rough with her when they interrogated her overnight just days after Kercher's body was found in a pool of blood in the house they shared. She claimed the officers yelled at her, discouraged her from calling a lawyer and cuffed the back of her head. The 12 officers named in the slander complaint have denied being abusive to Knox.
At the end of the long interrogation, Knox signed a statement in which she said she had a confused dream-like recollection of being in the house and hearing Kercher scream, effectively placing her on the scene of the crime.
Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said Knox was "saddened" by the decision.
Another lawyer for Knox, Maria Del Grosso, told reporters that "for Amanda this (interrogation) was the genesis for her homicide accusation. She is very frustrated and obviously disappointed, but she knows that today's was only a preliminary hearing and the truth was not ascertained today. Let's hope it is when the case is debated because there was something that went wrong that night."
Knox was driven into the courthouse in a police van with darkened windows. The hearing was closed to the public, but photographers were able to get a glimpse of her in the courtroom hallways. Looking thinner and drawn, Knox wore a dark green sweater and black pants, her hair is a jaw-length bob.
Before the hearing, Knox's stepfather Chris Mellas told ABC News that "Amanda is doing better. She is rightfully angry about the slander accusations, and told me she was going to speak out in court this morning. She told me she wanted to tell them that she sees police interrogations shown on TV all the time, and would like to know why her interrogation was not recorded or videotaped."
But according to her lawyers, she limited her statement to saying she was just defending herself and did not want to offend.
Knox will go to trial for slander on May 17, 2011 before a single judge, Cecilia Bellucci. Matteini said the case needed to go to trial to resolve some formal technical matters, and to debate the accusations, possibly with witnesses.
The lawyer for eight of the police officers, Francesco Maresca, said that the "framework of the request for an indictment was confirmed, and now we await the debate."
Conviction of the charge could add as much as six years to Knox's prison sentence.
Knox is appealing her murder conviction and sentence. That hearing is scheduled to begin Nov. 24. Her case will be heard by a new set of jurors and judges, who will review all the evidence presented in the first trial. Knox's lawyers will request an independent review of the forensic evidence that was hotly contested in her first trial.