Monday 19 February 2018

Prosecutor in Knox case urges jail sentences of 26 years if pair are found guilty, court hears

Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox
Raffaele Sollecito walks outside Florence court, Italy today. Photo: AP Photo/Francesco Bellini

A prosecutor has urged an Italian court to take steps to make sure that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito would serve their sentences, if they are convicted of murdering British student Meredith Kercher.

Prosecutor Alessandro Crini noted that American Knox has remained in the United States during this trial, while her former Italian boyfriend and co-defendant has travelled abroad during it.

The defence and prosecution are both making their final rebuttals before the court begins deliberations on January 30. A verdict is expected later that day.

Mr Crini has requested guilty verdicts and jail sentences of 26 years for both defendants, and that the court increase to four years Knox's three-year sentence for a slander conviction, which has been upheld.

In the case of Sollecito, who has said he intends to remain in Italy for the verdict, the precautionary measures could include immediate arrest, house arrest or the confiscation of his passport.

The court's reach in Knox's case is limited by her presence in the United States, where she returned a free woman after the 2009 guilty verdicts against her and Sollecito were thrown out by a Perugia appeals court in 2011.

Italy's highest court ordered a second appellate trial after blasting the acquittal.

Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said during a break that any request for extradition could be made only after a possible guilty verdict is confirmed by Italy's highest court, a process that can a year or more.

For the moment, Knox is being tried in absentia, a status that formally is not prejudicial in her regard. She would become a fugitive should she fail to return to serve a sentence should any guilty verdict in this trial be upheld on appeal by Italy's top criminal court.

Sollecito's father, Francesco Sollecito, said his son has no intention of fleeing justice.

"The fact that Raffaele has no intention of escaping the trial is evident by his presence" in the courtroom, Francesco Sollecito said.

He said his son has been legitimately looking for jobs abroad, having explained in court that prospective employers in Italy are put off by the notoriety surrounding the case. "He is looking around, because he hopes this story ends soon," he said.

The sensational legal case has fuelled headlines since the gruesome discovery of Ms Kercher's half-naked body beneath a blanket in her locked bedroom on November 2, 2007. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed multiple times.

A third person, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Hermann Guede, is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder. His conviction specified that he did not carry it out alone.

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