Monday 19 March 2018

Amanda Knox's ex Sollecito held by police near Italy border after conviction

Raffaele Sollecito
Raffaele Sollecito
Raffaele Sollecito has been found guilty of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher (AP)
Amanda Knox ( with her head covered by clothing, leaves the home of her parents surrounded by others including her fathe on January 30, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.
Family members of Amanda Knox, including her father Curt Knox, leave her parents' home on January 30, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.
Amanda Knox and, inset, Meredith Kercher
Amanda Knox. Reuters
Amanda Knox appears on NBC News' 'Today' show in New York, on September 20, 2013. Reuters
Family members of murdered British student Meredith Kercher, brother Lyle (L) and sister Stephanie (R), react during the retrial session announcing the verdict on Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith. Reuters
Raffaele Sollecito (L), convicted of killing British student Meredith Kercher in Italy on November 2007, talks with his father Francesco as they leave after attending a retrial session in Florence. Reuters

Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend was held by police near Italy's border with Slovenia and Austria today after the pair were convicted for a second time of murdering British student Meredith Kercher.

Raffaele Sollecito was found by officers with his current girlfriend at a hotel in Venzone, about 24 miles from the border, at around 1am.

He was taken to a police station in Udine and is expected to be freed later with a stamp in his passport forbidding him from leaving the country.

Meanwhile, Ms Kercher's family called for Knox to be extradited from the US after the 26-year-old said the only way she would go back to Italy was "kicking and screaming".

The victim's brother, Lyle Kercher, told a press conference in Florence: "If somebody is found guilty and convicted of a murder and if an extradition law exists between those two countries, then I don't see why they wouldn't.

"I imagine it would set a difficult precedent if a country such as the US didn't choose to go along with laws that they themselves uphold when extraditing convicted criminals from other countries.

"It probably leaves them in a strange position not to."

Ms Kercher's sister Stephanie said the family was still on a "journey for the truth" and admitted they were coming to terms with the possibility of never knowing what had happened to Meredith.

"You can't ever really get to a point where you just start to remember Meredith solely because it is following the case, coming over to Italy and everything associated with it.

"But the verdict has been upheld this time so we hope that ... obviously come the end of the trial, we are nearer the truth and an end so that we can just start to remember Meredith for who she was and draw a line under it, as it were."

When asked if the Kercher family would want to meet Knox, she replied: "It's not something that we would want to do at the moment and I can't say that we ever will."

She also said the family did not want to read a letter that Knox has reportedly written to them.

Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old Leeds University exchange student from Coulsdon in south London, was found with her throat slashed in the bedroom of the house she shared with Knox in Perugia, central Italy, in November 2007.

Knox was sentenced yesterday to 28 years and six months, while Sollecito was jailed for 25 years.

The pair were originally found guilty of murder in 2009.

They were cleared nearly two years later - but the appeal court ordered a fresh trial last March.

Prosecutors claimed that Miss Kercher was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone wrong, but the defendants have consistently protested their innocence and claim they were not in the apartment on the night Ms Kercher died.

Rudy Guede, a drug dealer, is serving a 16-year sentence over the death - though the courts have said he did not act alone.

In an interview before the verdict was handed down, Knox told the BBC: "They'll have to catch me and pull me back, kicking and screaming into a prison I don't deserve to be in."

Afterwards she issued a statement saying she was "frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict, having been found innocent before".

She said the grief of the Kercher family "will follow them forever" and said they "deserve respect and support".

"I expected better from the Italian justice system," the statement said.

"The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, nothing has changed. There has always been a marked lack of evidence.

"My family and I have suffered greatly from the wrongful persecution."

Speaking outside the court, Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga said he would launch an appeal.

"For those that, like me, are convinced that Amanda is innocent, it is a very difficult time," he said. "We have to respect the verdict but we will challenge them."

Sollecito was "prepared" for the verdict, his lawyer said.

Giula Bongiorno told reporters that the 29-year-old was "totally astonished why the court keeps changing mind in this way".

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