PERUGIA, Italy Key witnesses failed to show up Friday for the slander trial of Amanda Knox s parents, NBC News reports, causing the judge to delay the trial until next year.

Five police officers who were expected to testify for the prosecution against Curt Knox and Edda Mellas were not in court. They were reportedly busy dealing with other police matters.

The judge accepted the reason and postponed the hearing until January 24, 2013.

It is kinda surprising, NBC reporter Chapman Bell said. Why did they not show up today? You'd think if the police are defending themselves, they'd have a really good reason to not be in court today. They said it was police matters, but you'd also expect them in such a high-profile chance to defend themselves and would've made every opportunity to come to the courtroom and say what they have to say.

Curt Knox and Mellas are not in Italy, but have attorneys representing them. They are on trial for allegedly slandering Perugia police while their daughter, Amanda, was accused of murdering her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007. Amanda was convicted of the murder in 2009, but won her appeal last year and was freed. She s now living in Seattle.

The parents accused police of abusing and hitting Amanda during her interrogation.

Back in 2008, Amanda s parents recounted her claims of mistreatment to a British newspaper, which led prosecutors in Perugia to charge them with slander. In 2011, there was a preliminary hearing. Last month, an Italian judge ruled there was evidence enough to go to trial.

The Italian court system does move very slowly and it's not unusual to have a case delayed, but to have what's seen as an important hearing to be delayed to next year is slightly amusing. You think they'd want to get on with it, said Bell.

Bell said Amanda's parents will have a chance to defend themselves, but he says it's anyone's guess if they'll actually come back to Italy.

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