American plans appeal against conviction

Plans for a Lifetime telepic starring Hayden Panettiere as Amanda Knox, the American student jailed for murder in Italy, are prompting legal battle cries. Pic was announced Monday by Lifetime.

“The Amanda Knox Story,” directed by Robert Dornhelm and produced by Pilgrim Films, is due to air in the U.S. next year.

But Italo lawyers for the 23-year-old say they will take action if it unspools before the first appeal, scheduled to start on Nov. 24, has concluded.

“It is inconceivable to make a film when a final verdict on this case has not been reached,” Maria Del Grosso, a member of Knox’s legal team, complained to to Italian news agency Adnkronos.

“If the film is shown before the end of the appeals trial we will request it be seized (by authorities),” warned Giulia Bongiorno, an attorney for Raffaele Sollecito, Knox’s former boyfriend who was also convicted of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher. The British student shared an apartment with Knox.

Lifetime refused to comment.

Knox and Sollecito were found guilty in December after an 11-month trial and are serving 26 years and 25 years, respectively, in a jail in Perugia.

Italian law allows several levels of appeal and, given the snail’s pace of the legal system, a final verdict in the case could take many years.

Supporters claim that Italian authorities conjured up wild tales of Knox engaging in hard drug use and deviant sexual activities, leading to Kercher’s murder. The case launched a media circus in Italy, which some believe helped lead to an unfair trial.

On the other side, the Italian court argued that Knox and Sollecito stabbed Kercher and then tried to cover the crime up by staging a fake break-in.

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