Curt Knox and Edda Mellas Charged with Slander in Italy? Are You Kidding?

Americans are really starting to wonder about Italy.  This seemingly mild-mannered NATO ally is the birthplace of the renaissance, and the Roman Republic is a cultural antecedent to all Western democracies.

"About every two minutes a new wave of planes would be over. The motors seemed to grind rather than roar, and to have an angry pulsation like a bee buzzing in blind fury." -- Ernie Pyle

Italian soldiers have fought along side the U.S. in Afghanistan, and the country remains a popular tourist destination for Americans.   The U.S. public just hasn’t had any negative views toward Italy  since well, you know, that whole World War II Mussolini thing.  But now, the American public is just quietly watching with bewilderment as the Italian legal system spins out of control in this whole Amanda Knox fiasco.

I was just dumbfounded last November when Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini charged Amanda Knox with slander.  But today the newspapers were filled with the story that Amanda Knox’s parents have been charged with slander.  The news today was that Curt Knox and Edda Mellas have both been charged with the crime of slander in an Italian court for repeating their daughter’s complaints of police mistreatment to a British newspaper.  In November, I addressed Amanda Knox’s slander charge and wrote: “As a lawyer, and a former American prosecutor, I have seen some pretty petty moves pulled by prosecutors.  However, this “slander” charge I think would top them all.”  Little did I know as to what was to come.   The biggest problem I see with this prosecution, is how in the world can you charge someone with slander when they did not profess to have any independent knowledge of the occurrence?  All that Curt Knox and Edda Mellas did was relay complaints that their daughter made about being cuffed in the head by the Italian police during an all-night interrogation.  If the parents are being charged with slander, then why isn’t every newspaper in Europe being charged with slander for reporting the same information?  The reason is because the Italian prosecutors are completely out of control, they do whatever they want, and the Italian justice system is so dysfunctional that it doesn’t seem to have even the most elemental checks and balances that you would expect in any free country.

2 Responses to “Curt Knox and Edda Mellas Charged with Slander in Italy? Are You Kidding?”

  • Good post, Steve. It sometimes seems as though Mignini and his gang of thugs want to advertise how vindictive and irrational they are. But I think the message they are really sending is more stark: “We are in control, and if we want to ruin the lives of innocent people, we can and will.” Surely that kind of power appeals to Mignini, and probably to others. But there must be people inside the system over there who are as disgusted as we are.

  • Quentin:

    This is the way Patrick Lumumba said he was treated by police. in Perugia.

    “I was questioned by five men and women, some of whom punched and kicked me,” he claims. “They forced me on my knees against the wall and said I should be in America where I would be given the electric chair for my crime. All they kept saying was, ‘You did it, you did it.’ “I didn’t know what I’d ‘done’. I was scared and humiliated. Then, after a couple of hours one of them suggested they show me a picture of ‘the dead girl’ to get me to confess.”

    This was part of a long paid for interview with the tabloid The Daily Mail. It has the ring of authenticity to it and Patrick also says they stormed into his house in the middle of the night shouting racial epithets.

    So why wasn’t he indicted? Well, it appears that threats from the police and the prospects of making money inspired Patrick to claim that he was “misquoted” on this one point (though everything else he said was truthful and fine). But the truth is he was horribly treated. He was kept for two weeks even though he had a powerful alibi from the beginning. Everything he said at first confirmed the fact that Amanda was abused. That is the way they do things.

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking:
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