Friday 22 September 2017

Knox fate in the balance as retrial comes to a close in Italy

Peter Popham

ANOTHER watershed in the saga of the Meredith Kercher murder case arrives today when the retrial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito reaches a verdict.

Neither of the pair is expected to be in the court in Florence when the verdict is handed down. Ms Knox has remained in the US, citing her fear of wrongful conviction.

The third person convicted, Rudy Guede, is serving a 30-year sentence, reduced to 16 on appeal.

His conviction was upheld by Italy's highest court, which in a separate judgment threw out Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito's acquittals in 2011 because of what it said were failures to prove their case by defence lawyers, and errors on the part of independent forensic examiners.

If the former lovers are found guilty, their fresh appeal could still be pending by the time Guede is out on parole.

Ms Kercher's murder on November 1, 2007, was the bloody beginning of a legal ordeal which saw Ms Knox, Mr Sollecito and Ms Knox's employer, a nightclub owner called Patrick Lumumba, accused of committing the murder together in what prosecutors told the press was a satanic rite or erotic game gone wrong.

Amanda Knox will not be present in court today, opting to remain in the US, citing a fear of wrongful conviction. Her co-accused, Rafaelle Sollecito, will not be in the Florence court either. AP
Amanda Knox will not be present in court today, opting to remain in the US, citing a fear of wrongful conviction. Her co-accused, Rafaelle Sollecito, will not be in the Florence court either. AP

A few days after the murder, during an all-night interrogation, Ms Knox told police that she had been in the house during the murder though did not take part in it. Soon afterwards, she withdrew the statement and later claimed that it had been obtained under duress. But it was enough to put her, her boyfriend and Mr Lumumba, whom she named, in the frame for the murder.

That sensational theory was exploded when forensic traces at the crime scene, including DNA and bloody shoeprints, led investigators to Guede, a disturbed youth from the Ivory Coast who had fled the country after the murder and was arrested and brought back from Germany.

Mr Lumumba was later cleared.

If the two are found guilty, another appeal will follow, but efforts to extradite Ms Knox would probably begin only if her conviction were upheld by the Supreme Court. (© Independent News Service)

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