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Wednesday 30 July 2014

Knox and Kercher fought, says court

Published 29/04/2014|15:47

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Meredith Kercher was found dead in a pool of blood in 2007 in the apartment she and Amanda Knox shared in the town of Perugia

The Italian court that convicted Amanda Knox of Meredith Kercher's murder says the British student's wounds indicate multiple aggressors, and that the two exchange students fought over money on the night of her death.

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The appellate court in Florence issued a 337-page explanation for its January guilty verdicts against the American and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

The release of the court's reasoning opens the verdict to an appeal back to the supreme Court of Cassation. If it confirms the convictions, a long extradition fight for Knox is expected.

She has been in the United States since 2011 when her earlier conviction was overturned.

Ms Kercher, 21, was found dead in a pool of blood in 2007 in the apartment she and Knox shared in the town of Perugia.

The court said that a third person convicted in the murder, Rudy Hermann Guede, did not act alone, and cited the nature of the victim's wounds.

It noted that at least two knives were used to attack Ms Kercher and there were also finger imprints on her body, indicating she had been restrained - ruling out the possibility that Guede was the only attacker.

The court said there was ample evidence of a bad relationship between the two room-mates, despite Knox's attempts to play down differences in court, and cited statements by Guede under police questioning that Ms Kercher had accused Knox of taking money from her room.

The document said : "It is a matter of fact that at a certain point in the evening events accelerated; the English girl was attacked by Amanda Marie Knox, by Raffaele Sollecito, who was backing up his girlfriend, and by Rudy Hermann Guede, and constrained within her own room."

The court said it was not necessary for all of the assailants to have the same motive, and that the murder was not attributable to a sex game gone awry, as it was out of Ms Kercher's character to have consented to such activity.

Ms Kercher's throat had been slashed and she had been sexually assaulted. Knox and Sollecito were arrested four days later and served four years in prison before an appeals court acquitted them in 2011, and Knox returned to the US.

Italy's high court later threw out that acquittal and ordered a new trial, resulting in January's conviction. The court sentenced Knox to 28 and a half years in prison and Sollecito to 25 years.

The courts have cast wildly different versions of events. Knox and Sollecito were convicted of murder and sexual assault in the first trial, based on DNA evidence, confused alibis and Knox's false accusation against a Congolese bar owner, for which she was also convicted of slander.

Then an appeals court in Perugia dismantled the murder verdicts, criticising the "building blocks" of the conviction, including DNA evidence deemed unreliable by new experts, and lack of motive.

That acquittal was scathingly quashed in March last year by Italy's highest court, which ordered a new appeals trial to examine evidence and hear evidence it said had been improperly omitted by the Perugia appeals court, and to redress what it identified as lapses in logic.

Guede was convicted in a separate trial of sexually assaulting and stabbing Kercher. His 16-year sentence - reduced on appeal from 30 years - was upheld in 2010 by Italy's highest court, which said he had not acted alone.

Guede, a drug dealer who fled Italy after the killing and was extradited from Germany, acknowledges that he was in Kercher's room the night she died but denies killing her.

Press Association

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