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Police pressure in murder case?

AN American student charged with murdering her British roommate in 2007 told an Italian court yesterday that a "crescendo" of police pressure led her to finger an innocent man in the case.

Amanda Knox of Seattle, cross-examined by prosecutors on her second day in the witness stand, said a policewoman had hit her twice on the head during interrogation after 21-year-old Meredith Kercher was found dead.

Knox, 21, and Italian co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, her ex-boyfriend, are accused of murder and sexual violence in the slaying of Kercher, who was found in a pool of blood on November 2, 2007, in the apartment she shared with Knox in Italian town of Perugia.

Knox had taken the stand for the first time on Friday, saying she spent the night of the killing at Sollecito's apartment. Prosecutors believe Knox, Sollecito and a third suspect convicted in a separate trial went to Kercher's home the night of the murder and killed the Briton in what began as a sex game.

Knox also claimed police pressure caused her to accuse Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, a Congolese man who owns a pub in Perugia, of being the culprit. Lumumba was jailed briefly, but was later cleared and is seeking defamation damages from Knox.

Police have denied any improper behavior, but Knox repeated her claim yesterday when questioned by lead prosecutor Giuliano Mignini.

"It was always a crescendo," she said recalling her early questioning sessions. "When I said I was with Raffaele all the time they told me I was a liar. I was scared, I thought: maybe they are right."

Knox and Sollecito could face life imprisonment if convicted of murder.


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