Knox begins Kercher murder appeal


Amanda Knox is appealing against her conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher (AP)

Amanda Knox briefly returned to court in Italy for the start of her appeal trial, about a year after the American student was convicted of killing her British house mate Meredith Kercher.

The hearing, devoted mainly to procedural matters, lasted 15 minutes and the case was adjourned until December 11.

Knox was escorted by a policewoman into the same Perugia courtroom where the first trial was held. The 23-year-old was convicted in December of sexually assaulting and murdering Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, and sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Also attending was Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who was Knox’s boyfriend at the time of the murder. He has been convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Both have always maintained their innocence.

Luciano Ghirga, a lawyer for Knox, said on the eve of the appeal that the American’s confidence had been low in recent days, but was now eager for the appeals trial to get going, so that “at least she knows what lies ahead”.

The defence is seeking a full review of the case, hoping to introduce new witnesses and ultimately win an acquittal. The prosecutors have also appealed, as they can Italy, as the ruling fell short of their demand for life in prison.

Knox and Sollecito have been behind bars in Perugia since November 6, 2007, four days after Kercher’s body was found in a pool of blood, her throat slit, in the apartment Knox and Kercher shared as exchange students in Perugia. Forensic experts said the 21-year-old was killed when a sex game turned violent.

Knox’s lawyers hope they can use new evidence to clear her and will try to introduce new witnesses.

Along with Sollecito’s legal team, they are also seeking a full review of the forensic evidence, including disputed traces of DNA found on a knife allegedly used in the murder and on the clasp of Miss Kercher’s bra.

The defence maintains that the DNA evidence was inconclusive and has also argued it may have been contaminated when analysed.

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