Updated 11:36 PM EST, Mon, Dec 22, 2014
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Amanda Knox Case: Judge Rules in Favor of Knox's Right to Privacy During Murder Trial

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Amanda Knox Trial
Amanda Knox, the U.S. student convicted of murdering her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy in November 2007, arrives in court for her appeal trial session in Perugia October 3, 2011. (Photo : REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

A Milanese judge ruled in favor of Amanda Knox's right to privacy on March 21, ruling that Knox suffered moral damages as a result of an Italian journalist's dissemination of personal information regarding her sex life. 

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According to Lexology, the judgment ruled on the media coverage of the murder trial vs. the defendants' right to privacy. The Milan ruling addressed if those accused of serious crimes have a lesser right to privacy than others. 

The issue arose in December 2008, when Knox, who was in pre-trial custody for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, filed a civil complaint against RCS Mediagroup, the company that owns the Milan-based daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Knox complained that exerpts of her personal diary--which became part of the criminal trial file and included names of her sexual partners--were published in two articles, and in a book authored by a journalist. She sought compensation for "moral damages."

The Milan court granted Knox's request, but the defendants appealed the ruling to the Court of Cassation. The court referred it back to the Milan court, requiring that they reevaluate the case according to rules governing privacy and journalism. 

The court referred to a part of the Italian Data Protection Code that said the dissemination of personal information is limited to information that is essential "with regard to facts of public interest." The judge in Milan agreed with Knox, finding that there was a violation of the Code, and that the journalist revealed personal information that was not essential to the public interest. 

While the judge agreed that certain details of Knox's love and sex life were relevant to the trial, as the murder was committed in the context of a sexual assault by one of the co-defendants in the case, she ruled that some of the details reported by the journalist were not relevant to the case. 

The journalist reported on the "troubled" upbringing of Knox, which thereby resulted in her unbalanced management of her relationships and sexual freedoms. The judge ruled that that information could have been reported upon without exposing the details of Knox's sexual relations, as well as personal information of third parties that was unrelated to the crime. 

In the reasoning, the judge ruled that it would not be acceptable to "... lower the bar for intrusion into the personal life of inviduals in proportion to the hype around the facts", and that the relevance of the information would not be connected to the public relevance of the story, and instead "... linked to the volatile curiosity of readers and, more importantly, bent to economic interests, or interests of another nature, pursued by the media...".

The judge also said the publicity of court documents does not permit journalists to publish all of the information they contain; journalists are still required to filter the documents to comply with the standards for the protection of fundamental rights in the privacy code. 

She ruled that Knox has suffered moral damages, and ordered that the defendants compensate for said damages. 

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