Small Victory For Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox, the Seattle student serving a 26-year murder sentence in Italy, has won a small victory when an Italian court awarded her $55,0000 (40,000 euros) in damages.

The American woman who has had a steady losing streak in Italian courts had sued the author of a book charging a violation of privacy and illegal publication of court documents.

VIDEO Amanda Knox Speaks From JailPlay

Knox was the main focus of an instant-book by Italian journalist Fiorenza Sarzanini that went to press shortly after Knox was indicted and before she went to trial.

"Amanda e gli Altri" (Amanda and the Others) was published by Italian publisher Rizzoli in November 2008, and features a stunning photo of Knox walking into court on the cover, her blue eyes staring right into the camera.

Knox, 23, and her former boyfriend, Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, 26, were convicted in December 2009 of murdering Knox's British roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison while Sollecito got 25 years.

A third person, Ivory Coast native Rudi Guede, 23, is also serving a prison sentence for his role in the murder. His original conviction to 30 years for his role in the crime was reduced to 16 yearson appeal.

The book by Sarzanini quotes extensively from Knox's diary and personal notebooks, as well as from interrogations of witnesses, some of which were not in the public domain.

Amanda Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, told ABC News that in the proceedings against Sarzanini and Rizzoli, he had argued a violation of Knox's privacy as far as her sexual activity and medical history were concerned, both of which are protected by privacy laws in Italy.

Dalla Vedova also charged that Knox's rights were violated when a photo of her in police custody was published in a Rizzoli magazine, and because the magazine and Sarzanini's book quoted legal documents that were not public.

Knox's Thoughts Quoted

The Knox family was particularly offended by a passage in the book with an account by an Albanian man of a night of sex with Knox. This man was never questioned by police and was never a witness in any proceeding, and his existence has also been questioned.

Many of the passages in Sarzanini's book quote personal writings by Knox which include her thoughts about the people, and especially the boys, she was meeting as an exchange student in Italy. Based on the documents she obtained, Sarzanini creatively reconstructed scenarios and thoughts she imagined her characters had.

Knox's lawyers had asked for $677,000 (500,000 euros) in damages. Instead, the court ruled that Sarzanini and the publisher must pay $55,000, plus $6,200 in legal costs.

Today in Perugia, the appeals court released its reasoning behind its decision on Dec. 22, 2009 to reducing his sentence from 30 to 16 years. Guede was tried separately from Knox and Sollecito in a fast-track proceeding, which allows for a reduction in sentence.

In it's 56-page explanation the judges of the appeals court wrote that Guede "participated fully" in the sexual assault and murder "not only as the perpetrator of the sexual assault, but also for having held down the victim's left hand" while she was being slashed. Guede's DNA was found on Kercher's left sleeve.

Regarding the fact that Guede has never clearly said that Knox and Sollecito participated in the murder, but has only recently hinted at it, the judges believe Guede kept quiet as long as he could, because "if he had accused Amanda (Knox) and Raffaele (Sollecito) he would more than probably have exposed himself to retaliatory statements by them."

The judges for the Perugia court of appeals also explained the reasons they granted Guede attenuating circumstances that led to a substantial reduction of his sentence. These include the fact that he had no previous police record, the fact that he did not wield the knife that killed Kercher, that he voluntarily returned to Italy after running to Germany in the days after the murder, his young age, and the "acute stress" that led him to flee the scene without rescuing the victim.

The judges also mention Guede's difficult childhood without a mother and with a father who was often absent.

Guede has always said he was present in the house when Kercher was murdered, but says he was in the bathroom when she was killed. Knox and Sollecito have also always maintained their innocence, and say they were together at Sollecito's house when Kercher was murdered.

In explaining the attenuating circumstances, the judges also mention the fact that Guede is the "only" one of the defendants to have said he was sorry to the Kercher family, "even if it (the apology) was only for not having been able to save Meredith," and not for his role in her killing.