Knox 'sad and frightened' by Meredith Kercher murder ruling

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, June 2011 (composite image) Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are seen here in 2011 when they were acquitted

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US student Amanda Knox says she is "frightened and saddened" after a court in Italy reinstated her guilty verdict for the 2007 murder of her British flatmate Meredith Kercher.

Knox, who is currently in the US, was sentenced to 28 years and six months.

Her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, also had his guilty verdict reinstated and received 25 years. He was "struck dumb", his lawyer said.

The Kercher family lawyer said that justice had been done.

Lawyers for both Knox and Sollecito have said they will appeal to the supreme Court of Cassation.

At the scene

This re-running of the appeal process was ordered by Italy's highest court, whose judges had demolished the grounds for Knox and Sollecito's acquittals.

And so there was a sense that the momentum was with the prosecution as this latest appeal began. Now that it has secured a conviction, an eventual attempt to extradite Knox is a possibility.

But her legal team would fight it with everything it had.

Most people in Italy would find it very difficult indeed to imagine the US authorities one day putting Amanda Knox on a plane and sending her back here to spend much of the rest of her life in jail.

As part of Thursday's ruling, Knox and Sollecito were also ordered to pay damages to the family of Miss Kercher, whose brother Lyle and sister Stephanie were in the courtroom in Florence.

Speaking soon after, Lyle Kercher said: "It's hard to feel anything at the moment because we know it will go to a further appeal. No matter what the verdict was, it never was going to be a case of celebrating anything."

Their lawyer, Francesco Maresca, called the verdict "justice for Meredith and the family".

'Out of hand'

Sollecito's lawyer, Luca Maori, said his client had heard the verdict on TV and looked "annihilated".

"There isn't a shred of proof," Mr Maori said.

Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon in south London, was stabbed to death in the flat she shared with Knox in the college city of Perugia.

Knox and Sollecito, 29, were jailed for her murder in 2009 but the verdicts were overturned in 2011 and the pair were freed.

Kercher murder: Timeline

  • 1 Nov 07: Meredith Kercher found murdered in her shared flat in Perugia
  • 28 Oct 08: Guede jailed after being found guilty of murder
  • 4 Dec 09: Knox and Sollecito jailed after being found guilty of murder and sexual violence
  • 3 Oct 11: Knox and Sollecito acquitted on appeal
  • 26 March 13: Italy's top court overturns acquittals and severely criticises the appeal hearing
  • 30 Sept 13: Re-trial of Knox and Sollecito. Guilty verdict returned on 31 January 2014

However, the acquittals were themselves overturned last year by the Court of Cassation, which returned the case to the Florence court.

The Court of Cassation will now hear the defendants' appeals.

In Italy, verdicts are not considered final until they are confirmed, usually by the Court of Cassation.

Legal experts say it is unlikely Italy will request Knox's extradition until then.

In a statement issued after the verdict, Knox, 26, said: "I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict.

"Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system."

She added: "There has always been a marked lack of evidence. My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution. This has gotten out of hand."

Meredith Kercher (undated file photo) Meredith Kercher was found dead in her room
Amanda Knox with face covered leaves home in Seattle with family Amanda Knox, her face covered, left her parents' home in Seattle after the verdict
Raffaele Sollecito, 30 January 2014 Raffaele Sollecito was in court earlier on Thursday but left before the verdicts

Knox, who is currently studying for a degree in creative writing at the University of Washington, followed the court proceedings from her hometown of Seattle.

After 12 hours of deliberation, the verdicts were delivered by presiding judge Alessando Nencini, who ordered that Sollecito's passport should be revoked.

The verdict is the third in the case

Sollecito had been in court earlier on Thursday but left before the verdicts were delivered.

The judge made no requests for limits on Knox's movements.

Legal experts say that if Italy requests extradition, the US would have to decide whether the case fell under the nations' extradition treaty. Political considerations could also come into play, they say.

Will US extradite Amanda Knox?

Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University in Washington DC, says that whether or not Knox is extradited to Italy is a question of the request's legal basis and America's political interest in the case.

Once Italy makes a request, the US will have to decide whether it falls under their extradition treaty.

While there is "no reason to think the US has a specific interest" in blocking her extradition, Mr Vladeck says, countries can effectively stand in the way with a variety of "creative" interpretations of extradition treaties.

If the US does grant Italy's request, Knox can fight her extradition in a US court, citing among other things international human rights law.

US Senator Maria Cantwell, from Knox's home state of Washington, said she was "very concerned and disappointed'' by the verdict and confident that the appeal would re-examine the decision.

"It is very troubling that Amanda and her family have had to endure this process for so many years,'' she said in a statement.

Rudy Guede from the Ivory Coast has already been convicted of Miss Kercher's murder at an earlier trial, and sentenced to 16 years in prison. That verdict specified that he did not commit the crime alone.

Prosecutors sought to prove Miss Kercher had died in a sex game involving Knox and Sollecito that went wrong.

They have since alleged that the murder resulted from a heated argument over cleanliness in the Perugia apartment.

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