June 13, 2009 / 5:48 PM / 10 years ago

Student says can't name Italian police interrogator

PERUGIA, Italy (Reuters) - An American university student on trial for the murder of a British student in Italy told a court on Saturday she could not identify the police woman she said had struck her during an interrogation.

Jailed murder suspect Amanda Knox of the U.S. gives evidence at her trial for murder in Perugia June 13, 2009. Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of Italy are on trial for the November 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher. REUTERS/Daniele La Monaca

Amanda Knox, 21, on trial with her Italian boyfriend for the killing in November 2007 of Meredith Kercher, told the court on Friday that police had struck her on the side of the head and suggested what she should say under questioning.

Under cross-examination by the public prosecutor on Saturday, Knox told the court in Italian: “I don’t know the name of the police woman who did it.”

Knox said she had incriminated the owner of the bar where she worked, Patrick Lumumba, due to pressure from investigators. The Congolese businessman was briefly jailed before being cleared of any involvement and is now suing Knox for defamation.

“It’s not that they told me ‘It was him’ but they said ‘we know you have met him’,” she said. “They wanted me to say a name. They told me that I knew, and they want to see if I didn’t remember or I was stupid and a liar.”

Knox said police told her: “If you don’t tell the truth, you are going to jail for 30 years.”

Knox told the court she burst into tears after naming Lumumba but had believed she would afterwards be able to explain why she had involved him.

Both women were foreign students at the University of Perugia when Kercher’s body was found in the apartment she shared with Knox.

Prosecutors say she was stabbed in the neck when Knox, her boyfriend Rafaelle Sollecito and a third person tried to involve her in an orgy. Knox and Sollecito say they are innocent.

A third suspect, 21-year-old Rudy Guede, was sentenced to 30 years in prison late in 2008 for complicity in rape and murder at a separate trial in the case.

The trial is expected to go on for months.

If convicted, Knox could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Reporting by Maurizio Troccoli; writing by Daniel Flynn

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