Amanda Knox acquitted of murder of Meridith Kercher

Kercher from Surrey in the UK was stabbed to death in Italy in November 2007

Italy's highest court prepares to rule on whether to uphold former US exchange student Amanda Knox's conviction for the 2007 murder of Briton Meredith Kercher. Video: Reuters

 

An Italian court has overturned the conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. The decision by the supreme Court of Cassation is the final ruling in the case, ending the long legal battle waged by Ms Knox and her ex-boyfriend.

Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old from Coulsdon, Surrey, was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her bedroom in 2007 while studying in Perugia, Italy. Her flatmate Ms Knox, a student from Seattle in the US, and Mr Sollecito spent four years in jail for the murder but were acquitted on appeal in 2011.

Ms Knox returned to the US before an appeal court threw out the acquittal and reinstated her and Mr Sollecito’s guilty verdicts last year.

But Italy’s highest court today overturned last year’s convictions and declined to order another trial.

The Supreme Court had to decide whether to uphold or overturn a January 2014 Florence Appeals Court ruling in which Ms Knox and her former boyfriend, 31-year-old Italian Raffaele Sollecito, were sentenced respectively to 28 and 25 years of prison for the killing of Kercher.

From the beginning, the case has been prominently played out on the stage of world media opinion.

Given that it features sex, drugs and a grisly killing in the idyllic surrounds of student life in Perugia and that it has highlighted fundamental cultural differences between US, British and Italian jurisprudence, this comes as no surprise.

British and US observers, many experiencing Italian justice for the first time, found it hard to understand a “baroque” system in which Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito have been, by turns, found guilty, then acquitted and then found guilty again. Not for nothing, Michael Winterbottom’s new film, “Face Of An Angel”, portrayed much of the media frenzy prompted by the “Caso Meredith”.

The case began on the morning of November 2nd, 2007, when Meredith Kercher was found dead, half naked in a pool of blood in her bedroom in the house she shared with Amanda Knox and others.

Kercher’s body was badly bruised, her windpipe crushed and her throat cut. The Kercher killing remains a crime with no obvious motive, no agreed murder weapon and no murder confession.

It is true that 28-year-old Ivory Coast native, Rudy Guede, a man with a petty criminal record, is currently serving a 16 year sentence for the murder of Meredith, after accepting a separate “fast track” trial in 2008.

Although he pleaded his innocence, Guede was convicted largely because his finger prints, his foot prints and traces of his DNA were found at the murder scene.

In his defence, Guede had argued that he had been in the bathroom when he heard Meredith scream.

When he came out of the bathroom, he saw a man with a knife standing over Meredith’s bloody body, a claim that was obviously rejected by the fast track trial court.

In the case against Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito, the public prosecution has argued that Guede did not act alone but that rather both Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito participated with him in a drugs, drink and sex driven orgy of violence.

In contrast, Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito have always argued that they were not in the Kercher house on the night of the murder, rather that they spent the night at Sollecito’s apartment, smoking pot and making love.

In the Supreme Court on Wednesday, defence lawyer for Amanda Knox, Carlo Dalla Vedova, argued that Florence Appeals court did not consider all the (forensic) evidence fairly, rather it concentrated only on that which pointed towards Amanda’s guilt.

That Appeal, he said, had ignored the evidence on which her original October 2011 acquittal had been based.

Giulia Bongiorno, defence lawyer for Mr Sollecito, touched a similar chord on Wednesday when saying that the Florence verdict was full of “huge mistakes” as he indicated there were 193 “critical errors”.

The Supreme Court could have ruled in three different ways today.

Firstly, it could have confirmed the Florence guilty verdict. Secondly, it could have overturned that Florence verdict and order a retrial. Thirdly, it could have simply overturned the guilty verdict without ordering a retrial.

Additional reporting from Agencies