Knox appeal: Kercher family's pain ahead of verdict

Stephanie Kercher: "We're here today to be present and remember Meredith."

The family of murdered British student Meredith Kercher have said they will always find it difficult to forgive her killers.

Speaking in Italy ahead of a decision in the appeal of those convicted of the murder, her sister said Meredith had been "forgotten" during the case.

Earlier, Amanda Knox made a tearful appeal against her conviction, saying she was "paying with her life".

A van carrying Knox has left prison for the courtroom ahead of the verdict.

Speaking at a news conference in Perugia ahead of the decision, Stephanie Kercher said: "It is very difficult to understand what happened that night without knowing the truth."

She went on: "It would be very difficult to forgive anything at this stage.

"What everyone needs to remember is ... the brutality of what happened that night, everything that Meredith must have felt that night, everything she went through, the fear and the terror, and not knowing why.

"She doesn't deserve that, no-one deserves that."

Her mother Arline said she could not say whether she believed Knox killed her daughter but said she trusted the Italian justice system.

How Perugia's Court of Appeal works

  • Appeal decided by a jury of eight, made up of main judge - in this case Claudio Pratillo Hellmann - another judge and six jurors from the general public
  • Judges take part and vote as part of the jury, but guide rather than instruct others how to vote
  • Jury can overturn or uphold the convictions of Knox and Sollecito, and keep their sentences the same, raise them to life, or cut them
  • Jury must stay in chambers until a verdict is reached
  • If verdicts are upheld, Knox and Sollecito have one more chance to appeal - in Italy's highest appeals court

"You have to go by the evidence because there is nothing else. What I want, what they want doesn't come into it," she said.

"It is what the police have found, what the science has found, what the evidence is and that's all you can go on.

"It is to find out what happened to Meredith and to get some justice really."

Miss Kercher's brother Lyle said the family's legal team had found it hard to counter Amanda Knox's "PR machine". He added it was hard to think about forgiveness.

"We got the [original] conviction we were looking for but it wasn't a case of celebrating that," he added.

"As I said at the time, there were three people - three young people - all involved in this who at the end of the day are having their lives to an extent taken away so I think it's hard to balance forgiveness and compassion."

Earlier Knox, 24, who was sentenced to 26 years in jail in 2009, told a packed courtroom she had been betrayed and manipulated.

Tearful, and speaking in fluent Italian, she said: "I am not who they say I am. The perversion, the violence, the lack of respect for life - I did not do the things they are saying I did."

Knox told the jury: "I had good relationships with everybody who was living in my flat. I was untidy, careless, but we did have good relationships.

Amanda Knox: "I insist - after four desperate years - on our innocence"

"I shared my life, particularly with Meredith. She was always very kind towards me. Meredith was killed and I have always wanted justice for her. I do not run away from the truth and I've never run away from it."

She added: "I want to go back home. I want to go back to my life. I don't want to be punished. I don't want my life and my future to be taken away for something I didn't do because I am innocent."

Her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, who was given a 25-year term, told the jury he had never harmed anyone in his life and the claims against him were "totally untrue".

"I've heard that I have accused Amanda, this is not true, this is totally untrue," he said.

Raffaele Sollecito: "I've never woken up from this nightmare"

His lawyer Giulia Bongiorno told reporters his client was "very emotional" but "strong" and sure of his innocence.

"We do say there have been an awful lot of mistakes, mainly not asking for an expert opinion," she said.

"The way things were personalised was something I didn't particularly like."

The pair have since been taken back to jail while the jury considers its verdict.

Prosecutors have said they will appeal if the verdict is overturned.

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