Italy to rule again on Amanda Knox conviction

ITALY’S high court has begun hearing the appeal over Amanda Knox’s murder conviction for the brutal killing of British student Meredith Kercher in 2007.
Amanda Knox is awaiting the verdict at home in Seattle. Picture: APAmanda Knox is awaiting the verdict at home in Seattle. Picture: AP
Amanda Knox is awaiting the verdict at home in Seattle. Picture: AP

Dozens of journalists and camera crews were on hand for the final arguments and deliberations of the Court of Cassation in Rome over the death of Ms Kercher.

The judges could decide to confirm the convictions and 28-and-a-half-year sentence for Knox, as well as the 25-year sentence for her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, which would then raise extradition questions for Knox, who is in the US.

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The court could also decide to throw out the convictions and order a third appeal trial.

It could overturn the convictions without ordering a retrial, a decision that would be tantamount to an acquittal, although this is less likely.

A ruling may not come until Friday.

The high-profile trials of Knox and Sollecito have produced alternating guilty-then innocent-then-guilty verdicts, polarising observers in three nations.

Knox has been portrayed alternately as a victim of a botched investigation and shoddy Italian justice, or a promiscuous predator who falsely accused a Congolese bar owner of the murder.

Knox is awaiting the ruling in her home town of Seattle, and is “worried, very worried,” her attorney, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said before the hearing began.

Asked if he would call Knox with the court’s decision even if it came in the middle of the night in the US, Mr Dalla Vedova said: “I don’t think she’s sleeping much.”

Television crews mobbed Sollecito as he made his way into the courthouse, and he huddled with his attorney before the hearing began.

His attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, said she hoped the court would annul the guilty verdicts, saying the ruling was “littered with errors and absolutely littered with contradictions and by an illogical motivation”.

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Ms Kercher was found dead on November 2, 2007, in the apartment that she shared with Knox in Perugia where both women were studying. Her throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.

Suspicion quickly fell on Knox and Sollecito, who were arrested days after the murder. The couple denied involvement and said they had spent the evening at Sollecito’s home.

The Florence appeals court that convicted them most recently last year said in its ruling that the pair acted in concert with Rudy Hermann Guede, a drifter born in the Ivory Coast who is serving a 16-year sentence for his role in the killing and sexual assault. The presiding judge contended that Knox herself delivered the fatal knife blow, writing that the American wanted to “humiliate the victim”.

Knox called the reversal unjust and blamed an “overzealous and intransigent prosecution”, “narrow-minded investigation” and coercive interrogation.