Italian author portrays a 'different' Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox, the American convicted of murdering a British student in a drug-fuelled sex orgy, is a thoughtful and bookish girl with melancholic blue eyes, the author of a new book out on Tuesday told AFP.
The book by Rocco Girlanda, a member of the Italian parliament who says he has become a friend of Knox's since their first meeting after her conviction in 2009, is based on his numerous visits to her in prison in the city of Perugia.
"It was something I had to do for Amanda," Girlanda said in an interview in a hotel bar near the Montecitorio parliament building in central Rome.
He remembers their first meeting as "very cold" but the discrepancy between the image of Knox and her real character caught his interest, he said.
"I found she was a very different girl from what I imagined and was afraid of... I had to meet a girl described as sex, drugs and rock'n'roll," he said.
"Instead from our conversations a very different person came out."
The book is released just over a month before the start of Knox's appeal hearing on November 24. She is also due in court on November 8 on a charge of slander for alleging she was beaten by police during her interrogation.
Girlanda emphasised that he never spoke to Knox about the case or the trial.
His book, entitled "Take Me With You: Talks with Amanda Knox in Prison", is sympathetic but does not express any personal view in favour of her case.
The Italian version came out on Tuesday, while the English version is due to be published on November 24 -- the day of the appeal hearing.
Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the family of Knox's victim, 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, has said the book is "completely inappropriate."
Girlanda responded: "I understand and I respect his position but he's talking about a situation that doesn't exist. I'm talking about a girl, a friend, who speaks about her desire to live."
Girlanda is a member of parliament for the Umbria region where Knox and her victim, Meredith Kercher, were studying and is also head of the Italy-USA Foundation -- the reason he became interested in the case in the first place.
"Amanda is a curious girl compared to other 23-year-olds. In a good way. Amanda is a girl who goes in depth on everything," Girlanda said.
"She reads a huge amount of books. Every time I visit I bring her a dozen books and within 15 days she's read them all," he said.
Girlanda's book also includes Knox's first work of fiction -- a love story -- as well as two nostalgia-filled poems about returning home and dreams.
"She's a deep girl," Girlanda said.
Asked about her current mood, Girlanda said: "Amanda is serene.... Every now and then though a melancholic shadow passes through those beautiful blue eyes."
Knox was sentenced in December 2009 to 26 years in prison for the murder of Kercher, a fellow student in Perugia, in a sex game that turned violent.
The Seattle native has repeatedly protested her innocence.
Kercher was found on November 2, 2007, semi-nude in a pool of blood with stab wounds to the neck in her room in the cottage she shared with Knox.
Knox's then Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and a man from Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede, were also convicted of the murder.
© 2010 AFP