AMANDA Knox has said she will not return to Italy to face a retrial over the murder of British student Meredith Kercher because she fears she would be a “distraction” in the courtroom.
The 26-year-old American has denied any involvement in the killing of the Leeds University student who was found with her throat slashed in the bedroom of the house they shared in Perugia, central Italy, in November 2007.
She was convicted along with her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito following a high-profile trial, but the pair were later cleared in 2011 after an appeal court found the prosecution lacking and criticised large swathes of the case against them.
Italy’s supreme court has ordered a new trial and but Miss Knox, who now lives in Seattle, has said she will not attend as she is unable to afford to travel to Italy and remain in the country for the duration of a retrial.
In an interview with the Sun on Sunday, Miss Knox said: “The fact is that my presence has always been a distraction in the courtroom. Every single movement I made, every gesture, every facial expression, was the focus of scrutiny and distracted from the evidence in the case.
“If it were possible to go to the court and not have to deal with the issues of being afraid of being thrown back in prison again for an arbitrary reason, or for being able to financially afford it, absolutely I would want to be there.”
Miss Knox told the paper she had been portrayed during the first trial as “the dark lady...who decided Meredith was better than me and had to die”.
“Projecting that image justifies in their minds that I would be capable of committing a crime so heinous as this and therefore validates the guilty verdict in the first trial,” she said.
Italy’s highest criminal court, the Court of Cassation, ruled in March that an appeal court in Florence must re-hear the case against Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito for the murder of 21-year-old Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey.
Mr Sollecito is due to face a retrial on September 30. But Miss Knox’s lawyer revealed last month that she will not return to Italy for the new trial.
The pair were found guilty in December 2009 of murdering Miss Kercher, with Miss Knox sentenced to 26 years in prison and Mr Sollecito 25.
But, after an 11-month appeal in a Perugia court, both convictions were thrown out in October 2011.
Prosecutors claimed that Miss Kercher was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone awry.
Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito have consistently protested their innocence and claim they were not even in the apartment on the night Miss Kercher died.
The case mounted against them by prosecutors was ripped apart by the Italian appeals court, which noted that the murder weapon was never found, DNA tests were faulty and prosecutors provided no motive for murder.
Rudy Guede, a small-time drug dealer from the Ivory Coast, is the only person who remains behind bars over the case in Italy, where he is serving a 16-year sentence for sexually assaulting and killing the British student.
He has always admitted being present at Miss Kercher’s home on the night of the murder but denied involvement.