Amanda Knox has accused the media of building a false narrative around her during her murder trial and appeals process, depicting her as guilty even though she was eventually acquitted.
The American former exchange student who became the focus of a murder case returned to Italy this week for the first time since an appeals court acquitted her in 2011 in the slaying of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
Ms Knox took the stage Saturday at an Italian panel discussion at the Criminal Justice Festival in Modena, entitled Trial by Media.
Speaking in Italian, she said she was depicted "on the global scene as cunning, psychopath, drug-addicted, whore – guilty".
Ms Knox wept as she said the media labelled her "Foxy Knoxy" and invented a "false and baseless story, which fuelled people's fantasies and talked to their fears".
Her 2011 acquittal was part of a long legal process with multiple flip-flop rulings before she was definitively acquitted in 2015 by Italy's highest court.
She said she returned to Italy despite the fact she was afraid of being "molested, derided, framed, that new accusations will be directed against me for telling my truth".
Ms Knox also criticised Italian prosecutors, who described a scenario made up of "orgies and sex toys" during her first trial, even though that version of the story was toned down in the appeal.
She acknowledged despite her final acquittal: "I remain a controversial figure in the public opinion, especially here in Italy."
Ms Knox had been accused with her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivorian-born Rudy Guede of killing Ms Kercher on November 1 2007 in the university town of Perugia.
After multiple rulings, Italy's highest court definitively acquitted Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito in 2015.
Guede is still serving a 16-year sentence.
During her speech, which was followed by a standing ovation, Ms Knox recalled Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini as the one who accused her in his search for justice.
"One day I'd like to meet the real Mignini and I hope that when he comes, he will also see that I am not a monster, I simply am Amanda," she said.
On Friday, the lawyer for Kercher's family described Knox's invitation to speak at the Criminal Justice Festival as "inappropriate."
"Inviting her to a technical panel on justice was a mistake," Francesco Maresca told The Associated Press, adding "lawyers for both parts should have been involved."