Kerchers welcome Knox retrial

2013-03-26 15:10
Francesco Maresca, lawyer of Meredith Kercher's relatives, centre, is surrounded by journalists as he leaves Italy's Court of Cassation, in Rome. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Francesco Maresca, lawyer of Meredith Kercher's relatives, centre, is surrounded by journalists as he leaves Italy's Court of Cassation, in Rome. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

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Rome – The family of British student Meredith Kercher has welcomed the decision of Italy's highest court to overturn  the acquittal of American student Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito of the 21-year-old's murder, the victim's sister said on Tuesday.

There were "still questions that are unanswered and we are all looking to find out the truth", she said.

"We welcome the decision that a retrial has been ordered and are pleased it is a step forward to finding an answer to some of those questions," she told Sky News.

A lawyer for the Kercher family, Franceso Maresca, raised his fist when the Court of Cassasion made its ruling, which came on the day of Sollecito's 29th birthday.

Kercher was found dead in an apartment in the university town of Perugia in central Italy. Knox and Sollecito were convicted of murder in 2009 and sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively.

They were acquitted on appeal in 2011 and set free, in a case which attracted huge international interest. Knox returned to Seattle upon her release but the prosecution and Kercher's family appealed the ruling.

Knox, Sollecito not in court

The news of the retrial was "painful to receive", said 25-year-old Knox, since "the prosecution's theory of my involvement in Meredith's murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair".

"The prosecution responsible for the many discrepancies in their work must be made to answer for them, for Raffaele's sake, my sake, and most especially for the sake of Meredith's family. Our hearts go out to them," she added.


Judges were due to explain at a later stage, and in writing, what was wrong with the acquittal of Knox and Sollecito.

The court ordered the case moved to a court in Florence.

In Italy, verdicts can be appealed twice before they become final.

The Court of Cassation in Rome convened on Monday. Neither Knox nor Sollecito were present as the decision was read out.

Judges threw out a third appeal by Knox against her three-year jail term for libel, which she was handed after falsely accusing a Congolese pub owner of killing Kercher. She has already served the sentence.

Extradition

"The battle continues," Sollecito's lawyer Giulia Bongiorno told broadcaster SkyTG24. "We will not necessarily start from scratch."

Prosecutor Luigi Riello however said the new trial would be "on everything".

Sollecito is currently studying in Verona, northern Italy. Under Italian law, Kercher may be tried in absentia, and if found guilty, authorities may request her extradition.

"We will see if she will want to take part in the [new] trial," another member of her defence team, Luciano Ghirga, told SkyTG24.

Italian courts have so far delivered only one final ruling on the Kercher case. Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede was found guilty of murder in 2008 and sentenced to 30 years, reduced to 16 years in a 2009 appeal trial and confirmed in 2010 by the Court of Cassation.

Maresca, the lawyer for the Kercher family, insisted that Guede did not act alone.

The new trial, he said, would "establish the definitive and final truth on the murder of Meredith. There were other people with Guede: Judges will tell us who they were."

Read more on:    amanda knox  |  us  |  italy

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