Entries in Italy (7)


Italian High Court to Decide Future of Amanda Knox

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images(ROME) -- Monday could be the official end of Amanda Knox's long ordeal or the beginning of another one.

Italian prosecutors will go before their Supreme Court to try to overturn a local court's ruling from 2011 that threw out murder charges against Knox and former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

Knox, 25, was convicted in December 2009 for the 2007 murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher in the Italian city of Perugia. She and Sollecito spent several years in jail until they were exonerated in October 2011.

One person was convicted in Kercher's murder, Rudy Guede, who is spending 16 years in prison.

Knox, now a student at the University of Washington, will not be present for Monday’s hearing.  If prosecutors are successful, Knox and Sollecito will face a re-trial, although her attorneys would vigorously fight extradition.

If the high court upholds the appeals court ruling, Knox will not only remain free, but she can sue for false imprisonment.

Her memoir, Waiting to Be Heard, published by HarperCollins, will be released April 30.  She reportedly received an advance of $4 million for the book.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Minnesota Couple's Bodies Identified from Costa Concordia Wreck

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) -- An American couple was identified as two of the five bodies recovered from the Costa Concordia wreck on March 22.

Three months after the ship ran aground on the island of Giglio shortly after leaving port, the bodies of Minnesota couple Barbara and Gerald Heil were found. Two other bodies were identified as German citizens, Christina Mathi Ganz and Norbert Josef Ganz, along with Italian crewmember Giuseppe Girolamo.

Out of an estimated 4,200 passengers and crew onboard the ship on Jan. 13., 30 bodies have been found and two people remain missing.

Capt. Francesco Schettino is under investigation for allegedly steering the ship too close to the shore and then abandoning the ship while passengers tried to leave the sinking ship.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox's Ex-Boyfriend Signs Book Deal

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Raffaele Sollecito, the former Italian boyfriend of Amanda Knox, who was found guilty with the Seattle woman in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher only to see their convictions overturned last year, has signed a deal to write a book about his experiences.

It was just last month that Knox got a $4 million book deal from Harper Collins to describe her ordeal in an Italian jail.  That memoir isn't expected to be published until mid-2013.

Sollecito already has a title for his book, Presumed Guilty: My Journey to Hell and Back With Amanda Knox, that will arrive in stores this fall.

Publisher Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, announced that the book "will finally tell his side of the story -- from his first meeting with Amanda Knox, to his arrest, prison time, subsequent release, and current relationship with the woman he stood by through the worst ordeal of both their lives."

It wasn't immediately known how much Sollecito will be paid for his literary efforts.

This latest development could make things interesting during a possible reunion of the former couple when Sollecito goes on a job interview Friday in Seattle with computer giant Microsoft.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox Appeals Slander Conviction

Kevin Casey/AFP/Getty Images(PERUGIA, Italy) -- Amanda Knox is a free woman, but she still has one conviction clouding her life.

Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, confirmed to ABC News that Knox's defense team filed an appeal of her slander conviction in Perugia, Italy, Monday.

Knox was acquitted four months ago of the 2007 murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher. But the appeals court upheld her conviction for falsely accusing her former boss, bar owner Patrick Lumumba, of being involved in the murder. The appeals court also increased her sentence for slander from two years in prison to three years. Knox was released, however, because she had already spent four years in prison.

During Knox's nearly 50-hour interrogation in November 2007, she was not allowed to make a phone call and claims that her Italian interrogators yelled at her and hit her head when they didn't like her answers.

Investigators also wanted to know why Knox texted Lumumba on the night of the murder the equivalent of "see you later" after Lumumba told Knox she did not need to come to work that night at his bar, Le Chic. They said the text indicated they were meeting up later that night.

At one point during the marathon grilling, Knox told police that Lumumba was at the scene of the crime.

Knox told police she had a "vision" that she and Lumumba were inside the cottage she shared with Kercher when Lumumba went into Kercher's room. Knox said she stayed in the kitchen where she heard screams and covered her ears.

Lumumba was arrested and jailed for two weeks, but he was freed after 11 alibis placed him at his bar that night.

Knox initially stated during her interrogation, and again after implicating Lumumba, that she was not present during the murder. She insisted she was with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito at his apartment the night Kercher was killed. Knox later said she made the statement regarding Lumumba because she was under extreme stress and pressure.

"Amanda was confused, stressed and pressured," Dalla Vedova said.

The Supreme Court of Italy ruled Knox's statement placing Lumumba at the apartment was inadmissible.

Lumumba has received damages as a part of his case against Knox.

Dalla Vedova added that the appeals court stated their reasoning behind the decision to acquit Knox that "something went wrong" during Knox's interrogation.

"She has been acquitted of murder, and she should be acquitted of slander," Dalla Vedova said.

In a separate legal case, the Perugian police involved in Knox's interrogation also accuse her of slander. During her testimony in her 2009 trial, Knox stated she was hit in the head during her interrogation. A hearing is tentatively scheduled for July.

In addition, the prosecution in Knox's case has until Feb. 16 to appeal her acquittal for murder.

Rudy Guede, a local Perugia drifter, is the lone person convicted in Kercher's murder. He is serving a 16-year prison sentence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Minn. Community Prays for Retirees Missing in Italian Cruise Wreck

Laura Lezza/Getty Images(WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn.) -- Friends of missing retirees Jerry and Barbara Heil are planning a prayer service for the Minnesota couple, who haven’t been heard from since the cruise ship they were on capsized off the coast of Tuscany last Friday night.

On Tuesday, divers recovered five bodies from the wreckage of the Concordia Costa -- four men and a woman -- although it’s unclear if the Heils were among them.

“At this point we don’t have anything new to report,” said the latest posting on the Heil family’s blog.  “We will await word from the U.S. Embassy and Italian authorities on the newly discovered passengers.  Please continue to pray for the other families and the safety of the rescuers.”

The uncertainty has prompted a 24-hour prayer vigil at the church the Heils attend.

“The sense from fellow parishioners is that there is still a lot of hope,” said Dr. Larry Erickson, the parish administrator at the Church of St. Pius X in White Bear Lake.  The 1,500-member parish will hold a prayer service for the Heils on Wednesday night.

Sixty-nine-year-old Jerry, a retired state worker, and Barbara, 70, a cancer survivor, attended mass every morning, and would often come early to pray the rosary.  Their absence leaves a void.

“I see Jerry and Barb every day.  It’s a different kind of missing them right now,” said Erickson.

The Heils are parents to four grown children and have 15 grandchildren.  They are well known for their devotion to family and faith.  Friends describe them as a quiet couple who would volunteer to run church dinners, make meals for those in need and drive neighbors to medical appointments.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox Teams with Lawyer to Broker Book Deal

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Amanda Knox has hired a well-known attorney to represent her in inking a book deal to tell her side of her story after she was acquitted of the murder of her roommate in Perugia, Italy.

Knox, who along with her one-time boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was convicted in 2007 of the murder of her then-roommate Meredith Kercher, has signed a deal with lawyer Robert Barnet.  The Washington, D.C.-based attorney will represent Knox while she discusses opportunities for book deals with publishers, according to Knox family spokesman Dave Marriott.

Barnet is one of the biggest names known as far as representing well-known media figures in the publishing world.  He has previously brokered deals for Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sarah Palin.

The Knox family spent over $1 million on attorneys, travel and the costs of living in Perugia to be near their daughter during her murder trials, her father Curt Knox told ABC News in 2009.  Criminal defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt has estimated that her family may have spent more on Knox’s appeal than during the first two years leading to her conviction.

Although Knox was released in October from the Italian prison where she served four years of a 26-year sentence, the 24-year-old still owes 2,000 Euros, or $29,000, for defamation after accusing bar owner Patrick Lumumba of Kercher’s murder.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amanda Knox Trying to Break Habit of Speaking Italian

Kevin Casey/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amanda Knox is in seclusion as she readjusts to life outside of an Italian prison, including getting used to speaking English again.

Knox's father, Curt Knox, told ABC's Good Morning America Thursday that his daughter out of habit occasionally slips back into Italian, a language she became fluent in during her four years in Capanne prison outside of Perugia while she battled charges that she murdered her roommate.

"It has become really almost her first language since she's been in prison so long, but she seems to be moving to English," Curt Knox said with a chuckle.  He said she got "a kick" out of having to be reminded to speak English at her airport news conference Tuesday night.

Curt Knox indicated that he had been worried about possible trauma his daughter suffered during her long incarceration, but seemed relieved so far.

"She's actually doing a lot better than I anticipated.  She's seems to just almost look like she hasn't missed a beat with the family and that's been really great to see," he said.

Curt Knox said they had not yet decided on seeking counseling for Amanda.

"We're going to take it on a day-by-day basis and see how she continues to react and kind of blend back in to just being a regular person outside of prison.  It's a big concern of mine if there's any traumatic circumstances that arise later on," he said.

The stress of those last days in prison were obvious as Knox became tense, broke out in hives, lost weight and nearly collapsed when the not guilty verdict was announced.

Amanda Knox had told her family that one thing she was looking forward to was lying in the grass in the back yard of her Seattle home.  She hasn't laid down in that grass yet because she is staying outside of Seattle, but she has laid down in the grass, her father said.

"She has and it's been very nice to watch her do it," he said.  "It's the little things that she hasn't had a chance to do in the last four years that really make it worth while and really kind of get her reconnected again."

One of the things that she has enjoyed since returning to the U.S. has been playing with her twin cousins who were only 1-year-old when Knox went to prison.  She's also been "just sitting down and talking with friends, kind of catching up."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio