4 Oct 2011

Knox appeal upheld

9:11 am on 4 October 2011

An appeals court in Italy has cleared an American woman and her former Italian boyfriend of murdering a British student in 2007.

Amanda Knox, 24, and Raffaele Sollecito, 27 had appealed against their conviction in 2009 of murdering Meredith Kercher, 21, during what prosecutors said was a sexual assault.

Her semi-naked body was found in a house she shared in Perugia with Knox during a year abroad.

Independent forensic investigators sharply criticised police scientific evidence, saying it was unreliable.

Innocence proclaimed

Knox on Monday told the court that she is innocent of the crime.

Speaking in Italian, with her voice sometimes breaking on the last day of the hearing, the young American woman said Meredith Kercher was her friend.

"I am not who they say I am - the perversion, the violence, the lack of respect for life - and I did not do the things they say I did,'' she said.

"I did not kill, I did not rape, I did not steal. I was not there at the time.

"I want to go back to my life. I do not want to be punished. I do not want my life taken away for something that I did not do because I am innocent."

Ms Kercher was found with her throat slit in 2007 after what prosecutors contend was a violent sexual encounter.

Knox's ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito earlier denied accusing her of the murder and said he was in a "nightmare" he had never woken up from.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison in 2009 for the killing.

Sollecito, who was sentenced to 25 years, told the jury he had never harmed anyone in his life and the claims against him were "totally untrue".

Further appeal?

The BBC reports prosecutors previously said they will appeal if the verdict is overturned.

Much of the case centred on a review of DNA evidence on a knife, thought to be the murder weapon, which indicated that the evidence could be flawed.

Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, south London, had been sharing a cottage in Perugia with Knox during a year abroad from Leeds University.

Prosecutors say she was killed in a brutal sex game which went wrong. Her throat had been slit and she had been sexually assaulted.