Italy: Amanda Knox retrial begins

Francesco Sollecito, father of Raffaele, talks to the press outside court. Picture: Getty
Francesco Sollecito, father of Raffaele, talks to the press outside court. Picture: Getty
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AMANDA Knox’s second trial over the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher has begun, but Knox is not present at court in Florence.

The country’s highest court ordered a new trial for Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, overturning their acquittals granted by an appeals court in 2011. The Court of Cassation said the acquittal was full of “deficiencies, contradictions and illogical” conclusions.

Ms Kercher’s body was found in November 2007 in her bedroom of the house she shared with Knox. Her throat had been cut. Rudy Guede, was convicted in the killing and is serving a 16-year sentence.

The appellate court is expected to re-examine forensic evidence to determine whether Knox and her former boyfriend helped kill the 21-year-old Ms Kercher when the two women shared an apartment in the university town of Perugia.

Knox, now a 26-year-old student in Seattle, has not returned to Italy for the trial, nor is she compelled by law to do so. She could be found in contempt of court but that carries no additional penalties.

Knox’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga said: “We refute the idea that because Amanda is not coming, that Amanda is guilty, that Amanda is using a strategy. Amanda always said she was a friend of Meredith’s, Amanda has always respected the Italian justice system.”

Knox and Sollecito, now 29, were convicted and later acquitted in Ms Kercher’s death. Knox served four years of a 26-year sentence, including three years for slander after falsely accusing a Perugia bar owner in the murder.

The bar owner, Patrick Lumumba, appeared at the trial today. He said: “I say the same thing I said six years ago. I think she is guilty, and that is why she slandered me.”

In its first move, the Florence court rejected a motion by Knox’s lawyers to exclude Mr Lumbumba from the new appeals trial as a civil participant, a status that allows him to seek further damages.

In the United States, the principle of double jeopardy would have prohibited another appeal round after her acquittal.