Amanda Knox's Parents Investigated for Alleged Defamation

"Why now?" asks mother about timing of investigation into alleged abuse of Knox.

ByABC News
November 28, 2009, 2:30 PM

PERUGIA, Italy, Nov. 28, 2009, — -- The parents of Amanda Knox arrived in Italy Thursday to support their daughter in the final days of her trial for murder, and were promptly informed by Italian authorities that they are under investigation for defamation -- allegedly for accusing police of beating Amanda.

In a June 2008 interview with the British Sunday Times newspaper, the two said that Amanda was "abused physically and verbally" by police in the course of an interrogation. They also told the Sunday Times that Amanda told them that she "was hit in the back of the head by a police officer with an open hand at least twice."

Amanda Knox's parents, who are divorced but have kept a united front during their daughter's trial, are puzzled by this latest development, and do not want it to take attention away from the trial's final days.

"Why now?" asks Edda Mellas.

"The timing is suspect since it comes 18 months after the fact and right before the end of the trial," she told ABC News outside of court today.

"We don't have the file yet, so we cannot comment on it, but in that interview we just repeated what Amanda told us, and what she herself later said in court," Mellas said.

Mellas also pointed out that "you have to name someone" in order to be accused of defamation, but they never named anyone, she said.

Police deny mistreating Knox. Defamation through the press carries a sentence of six months to three years in prison and a fine. A person without a police record is unlikely to serve prison time, however.

Prosecutors in Perugia, Italy, last week asked for life in prison for Amanda Knox, 22, and her co-defendant and former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 25. They are accused of sexually assaulting and murdering Knox's British roommate, Meredith Kercher, who was 21 at the time of her death.

On Friday, Kercher's family requested the equivalent of about $36 million in damages from the three people who are accused of killing her, including Knox, who would be liable for $12 million.

Kercher's body was discovered on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007, in her room in the cottage she shared with Knox and two Italian women. Kercher had multiple cuts to her throat, and died from a combination of strangulation and suffocating on her own blood.