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Italian lawsuit against Americans delayed

PERUGIA, Italy, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- An Italian judge Tuesday delayed until next year the defamation trial of American parents whose daughter is serving a 26-year prison sentence for murder.

Judge Carla Giangamboni, in Perugia, set the first defamation hearing of Seattle residents Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, who allegedly told a reporter police mistreated their daughter, Amanda Knox, convicted of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

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Amanda Knox had gone to Italy as part of University of Washington program.

The libel suit was filed on behalf of five police officers who were present at Knox's interrogation. The five say the parents defamed them in a June 2008 interview in which they said their daughter told them she had been threatened and hit during her questioning. Amanda went on to contradict her parents' statements at her trial.

"(The parents) always said whatever they wanted, but because this does not correspond to the truth, they also have to take responsibility for what they have said," said Francesco Maresca, the Florence lawyer representing the police officers.

The Post-Intelligencer said the question comes down to whether language protected as free speech in one country can be deemed as defamation in another if the story is online and read in the nation where the allegedly defamed individual lives.

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Maresca said Italian law says yes, but it's not clear how a court may look at such a charge, the online newspaper said.

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