Saturday 24 March 2018

I'll hold my head high and fight, says Knox as she faces retrial

Tom Kington Rome

Amanda Knox has insisted she will clear her name over Meredith Kercher's murder after Italy's highest court took the surprise decision to overturn her acquittal and order a new trial.

Ms Knox (25) described the ruling as "painful" and said the suggestion she played a role in her flatmate's death was "completely unfounded and unfair".

The Seattle-born student and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of Ms Kercher's killing in 2009 and sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison respectively.

Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old Leeds University student, was said to have been stabbed to death in a sex game gone wrong at the house she shared with Ms Knox in Perugia, Italy.

However, both Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito (29) were acquitted of her murder two years later after an appeal court raised doubts over DNA evidence and their alleged motive for the crime.


The Italian Supreme Court in Rome overturned that acquittal and said the pair now face a new appeal hearing in Florence, which Italian judicial sources said could start as early as this summer.

The ruling sets the stage for another legal battle as well as a diplomatic row if Italy tries to request Ms Knox's extradition.

Ms Knox said: "No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity."

She said the prosecution "must be made to answer" for "many discrepancies in their work".

Carlo dalla Vedova, a lawyer for Ms Knox, said: "She thought the nightmare was over. But she's ready to fight."

Ms Kercher's family said the ruling raised "lots of unanswered questions" and they welcomed the decision.

Speaking at the family home in Surrey, England, Ms Kercher's sister Stephanie (29) said: "All that we want is justice for Mez, but there is still a long journey ahead of us.

"While we are not happy about going back to court, and it will not bring Meredith back, we have to make sure we have done all we can for her."

"Every day is difficult," added Ms Kercher's mother Arlene. "We are still remembering Mez all together."

Ms Knox, who has a book deal reportedly worth e3m, is not compelled by law to attend the new trial, said Mr dalla Vedova.

Should her initial sentence of 26 years be upheld, and then confirmed by the Supreme Court, she could face an extradition order, he added.

Rudy Guede, a drifter from the Ivory Coast, was sentenced to 16 years for his role in the murder in a separate trial.

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were acquitted by an appeal court which ordered a fresh review of forensic evidence and denounced as unreliable traces of Ms Knox's DNA found on a knife and traces of Mr Sollecito's DNA found on Ms Kercher's bra clasp.

Prosecutors used the second appeal to challenge the acquittal at the Supreme Court in Rome. The court also upheld Ms Knox's sentence for falsely accusing a barman, Patrick Lumumba, of the murder.

Francesco Maresca, the Kercher family lawyer, punched the air as the ruling was read out after a five-hour hearing.

The six-judge Supreme Court panel has not found Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito guilty but has identified errors in the way the appeal was handled, and will explain its decision within weeks.

Mr Sollecito, who turned 29 yesterday, said: "I am innocent and can continue to walk with my head held high," according to one of his lawyers.

Mr Sollecito reportedly rang Ms Knox after the ruling, his girlfriend told a TV station.

Giulia Bongiorno, a lawyer for Mr Sollecito, said she ruled out an arrest warrant being issued for her client, who is studying robotics in Verona.

Caitriona Palmer

Irish Independent

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