Sunday 21 December 2014

Knox murder conviction upheld

Published 30/01/2014 | 08:47

Amanda Knox in court in Perugia, Italy, during a previous hearing
Amanda Knox in court in Perugia, Italy, during a previous hearing
Raffaele Sollecito, left, and his father Francesco leave after attending the final hearing before the third court verdict (AP)
Francesco Maresca, lawyer for the Kercher family, arrives for the final hearing in Florence (AP)

An Italian appeals court has upheld the guilty verdict against US student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend for the 2007 murder of her British housemate Meredith Kercher.

Knox was sentenced to 28 and a half years in prison, raising the spectre of a long legal battle over her extradition.

After nearly 12 hours of deliberations, the court in Florence reinstated the guilty verdict first handed down against Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in 2009.

The verdict had been overturned in 2011 and the pair freed from prison, but Italy's supreme court overturned that decision and sent the case back for a third trial in Florence.

While Sollecito was in court this morning, he did not return for the verdict, and Knox was half a world away awaiting the decision with, in her own words, "my heart in my throat".

AP

Reached by telephone, Knox's father, Curt Knox, said he had no comment.

Lawyers for Sollecito, who was given a 25-year sentence, said they were stunned and would take their appeal to Italy's top court.

"There isn't a shred of proof," said lawyer Luca Maori.

Presiding Judge Alessando Nencini ordered 29-year-old Sollecito's passport to be revoked but made no requests for Knox's movements to be limited, saying she was "justifiably abroad",

Knox's defence team gave its last round of rebuttals earlier in the day, ending four months of arguments in Knox's and Sollecito's third trial for the 2007 murder in Perugia of Leeds University student Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey.

Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, had told the court he was "serene" about the verdict because he believes the only conclusion from the files is "the innocence of Amanda Knox".

"It is not possible to convict a person because it is probable that she is guilty," he said. "The penal code does not foresee probability. It foresees certainty."

Mr Dalla Vedova evoked Dante, noting that the Florentine writer reserved the lower circle of hell for those who betrayed trust, as he asserted that police had done to Knox when they held her overnight for questioning without legal representation and without advising her that she was a suspect.

Knox had returned to Seattle after spending four years in jail before being acquitted in 2011. In an email to the court, Knox wrote that she feared a wrongful conviction.

She told Italian state TV in an interview earlier this month that she would wait for the verdict at her mother's house "with my heart in my throat".

Knox's absence did not formally hurt her case since she was freed by a court and defendants in Italy are not required to appear at their trials. However, Judge Nencini reacted sternly to her emailed statement, noting that defendants have a right to be heard if they appear in person.

Sollecito, on the other hand, had made frequent court appearances, always in a purple sweater, the colour of the local Florentine soccer club.

AP

Knox said later in a statement that she was frightened and saddened by the verdict, and that "justice was perverted".

AP

Press Association

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