Amanda Knox's fate in hands of Italy's top court

2015-03-27 10:04
Amanda Knox. (File: AP)

Amanda Knox. (File: AP)

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Rome - Amanda Knox will discover on Friday if she is to be definitively convicted of murder as Italy's top court resumes a hearing on the 2007 slaying of British student Meredith Kercher.

The conclusion of what could be the final act of an eight-year courtroom drama was carried over from Wednesday, partly as a result of delays caused by huge media interest in a case centred on a horrific murder with an intriguing cast of photogenic suspects and a string of subplots including sex, drugs and disputed DNA evidence.

After hearing final arguments from the defence, judges will retire to consider whether to uphold the convictions of Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

If they do, Sollecito could be taken straight back to jail while the absent Knox is likely to become the subject of a wrangle over whether she should be extradited back to Italy to join him behind bars. The pair have already spent four years in jail - two on remand and two after their initial conviction for murder.

Alternatively, the judges could send the case back to the appeal stage, opening the door to possible acquittals for Knox and/or Sollecito.

The real question

Prosecutors wrapped up their presentations on Wednesday by insisting that a Florence court was right to re-convict the pair last year, nine months after they were freed on appeal.

Lawyers for the defence called the prosecution case a distortion of the facts, but admitted Knox was "very worried" about possible extradition procedures.

Legal experts are divided on whether Italy would succeed with an extradition request.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told AFP, Knox would likely seek to argue she had effectively been tried twice for the same crime, in breach of the double jeopardy principle.

"These arguments are unlikely to succeed on the merits, but may give American authorities an excuse to do what the American public would like them to do - namely to keep her in this country," Dershowitz said.

"Legally she would have a weak case, but politically she would have a strong case. The real question is whether politics would prevail over the law."

Throat slashed

Kercher, 21, died after being stabbed 47 times and having her throat slashed.

Her half-naked body was found in a pool of blood in a back room of a house she shared with Knox in the university town of Perugia, triggering a murder inquiry which has captivated a global audience and been subject to a series of dramatic turnarounds.

Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede was jailed for Kercher's murder in 2008, but the judge in his trial ruled that he could not have acted alone.

Knox, now 27, left Italy immediately after her appeal victory and has vowed she will have to be dragged back kicking and screaming.

Many in the United States see her as an innocent abroad who was a victim of an unreliable judicial system.

Prosecutors believe Knox and Sollecito fatally slashed Kercher while Guede held her down.

They have accused Knox of repeatedly changing her story about what happened on the night of the murder, starting with an attempt to pin the blame on the manager of a bar she sometimes worked at.

Knox and Sollecito initially claimed they smoked marijuana and slept together at another apartment on the night of the crime.

But Sollecito has since admitted he cannot be sure if Knox was with him throughout the time. The Italian's lawyers are seeking for his case to be treated independently of Knox's.

Read more on:    meredith kercher  |  amanda knox  |  us  |  italy  |  meredith kercher murder

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