Lifetime's 'Murder on Trial' skedded to air Feb. 21

ROME — Lawyers for Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend are taking legal action in an attempt to block the scheduled Feb. 21 U.S. airing of Lifetime telepic “Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy,” starring Hayden Panettiere as the American student jailed for murder in Italy.

Italian attorneys Carlo Dalla Vedova, who represents Knox, and Luca Maori, who reps her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, have announced they have fired off missives to Lifetime demanding that the telepic’s airdate be cancelled, and warning that, if not, they will ask a U.S. court to prevent it from going out to U.S. auds.

They are also demanding that the pic’s teaser-trailer be removed from Lifetime’s website.

A spokesman for Lifetime parent company A&E Television Networks declined to comment. The telepic, directed by Robert Dornhelm, is produced by Pilgrim Films.

Knox and Sollecito were found guilty last year of sexually assaulting and murdering British student Meredith Kercher, who shared an apartment with Knox.

Following an 11-month trial, they are serving 26 years and 25 years, respectively, in a jail in Perugia.

However 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.

Attorneys for Knox and Sollecito claim it is unfair, and also illegal, to re-enact the murder on television, or in a film, before the Italian judiciary reaches a final verdict, and that scenes in the trailer are hyped.

The victim’s father, Jon Kercher, has also slammed as “absolutely horrific” the telepic’s trailer in which Meredith Kercher is seen pinned to the ground with a knife held at her throat by the presently convicted suspects, and expressed outrage against Lifetime, claiming he had been assured by them that they would not show the actual killing.

Experts say the lawyers can easily prevent the telepic from airing in Italy, but that differences between the Italian and U.S. legal systems make it much more difficult to block its Stateside TV release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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