Knox cleared of Meredith’s murder

Published: Saturday 28th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Amanda Knox has said she is “relieved and grateful” that Italy’s highest court overturned her conviction for the murder of her British flat-mate Meredith Kercher.

In a rare decision, the supreme Court of Cassation overturned last year’s convictions by a Florence appeals court and declined to order another trial.

The judges declared that Ms Knox, 27, and her then Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 30, did not commit the crime in 2007 – a stronger exoneration than merely finding that there was not enough evidence to convict.

The ruling brings to a definitive end the high-profile case that captivated trial-watchers on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Finished!” Ms Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out. “It couldn’t be better than this.”

In a statement issued from her home in Seattle, Washington, Ms Knox said she was “relieved and grateful” for the decision.

“The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal,” she said, thanking her supporters for believing in her.

Experts have said such a complete exoneration is unusual for the high court, which could have upheld the conviction or ordered a new trial as it did in 2013 when the case first came up to its review on appeal.

The justices’ reasoning will be released within 90 days.

The decision ends the long legal battle waged by Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito to clear their names over the death of Ms Kercher, 21, of Coulsdon, Surrey, after they spent nearly four years in prison immediately after the murder, only to be freed when they were first acquitted in 2011.

The case aroused strong interest in three countries for its explosive mix of young love, murder and flip-flop decisions by Italian courts.

Across the Atlantic, a spontaneous shout of joy erupted from inside the Seattle home of Ms Knox’s mother as the verdict was announced. Several relatives and supporters went into the garden, where they hugged and cheered.

Dalla Vedova said he called Ms Knox to tell her the news, but said she could not speak through her tears. “She was crying because she was so happy,” he said.

Ms Kercher was found dead on November 2 2007, in the flat she shared with Ms Knox and two other students in Perugia. Her throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.

Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca, was clearly disappointed by the decision.

“I think that it’s a defeat for the Italian justice system,” he said.

Ms Kercher’s mother Arline said she was “a bit surprised and very shocked”.

“They have been convicted twice so it is a bit odd that it should change now,” she said.

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were arrested a few days after Ms Kercher’s death. Eventually another man, Rudy Guede from Ivory Coast, was arrested, tried and convicted of the murder in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence.

The couple maintained their innocence, insisting that they had spent the evening together at Mr Sollecito’s home watching a film, smoking marijuana and making love.

They were initially convicted by a Perugia court in 2009, then acquitted and freed in 2011, and then convicted again in 2014 in Florence after the Cassation court overturned the acquittals and ordered a new appeal trial.

That Florence appeal conviction was overturned late last night.

Ms Knox had been convicted of slander for having falsely accused a Congolese man of the murder. That conviction was upheld by the high court, but Ms Knox has already served the three-year sentence in prison.

Mr Sollecito’s lawyer, Luca Maori, called the young man with the good news from the steps of the court.

“You have your whole life ahead of you now, Raf,” he told him.

Speaking to reporters, he added: “He almost couldn’t speak. Eight years of nightmare over.”

Published: Saturday 28th March 2015 by The News Editor

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