The family of murdered British student Meredith Kercher has launched an impassioned plea for her memory to be honoured, claiming that the legacy of Kercher, who was murdered in 2007, is being drowned by the media storm surrounding convicted American student Amanda Knox.
Stephanie Kercher said it had become “very difficult” to keep her sister’s memory alive because of the interest surrounding Knox, who was reconvicted of murdering the 21-year-old in 2007 earlier this month. "Mez has been forgotten in all of this," Ms Kercher said in comments to be broadcast tonight.
"The media photos aren't really of her. There's not a lot about what actually happened in the beginning. So it is very difficult to keep her memory alive in all of this."
Her comments come just weeks after an appeals court in Florence reinstated the original 2009 guilty verdicts handed down against Seattle-born Amanda Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito, with whom she was in a relationship at the time of Ms Kercher’s murder.
Knox, 26, was sentenced to 28 years and six months in prison, while Mr Sollecito, 29, was given a 25 year sentence. Both she and Sollecito are appealing the reconvictions, with the case due to be heard by Italy's Supreme Court by early 2015. Ms Kercher said the family were desperate for “some sort of closure”. “Just having an end of the Italian justice system and knowing that's the final decision, and then we can start to remember just Meredith."
The comments, made to a US-produced programme to be screened on BBC Three tonight, mark a rare public appearance from the Kercher family, who have widely avoided media attention since Meredith’s murder on 2 November 2007. Their stance has been seen as of stark contrast to Knox, who recently posted a photograph in which she holds a placard with the words "We are innocent" written in Italian.
But in the programme tonight Ms Kercher spoke of her sister’s motivations to study in Italy. "She was very excited about coming to Italy, looking forward to learning about Italian culture. Seeing the city of Perugia and making new friends. She really fought to be here. She wanted to be here.”
Her brother Lyle Kercher spoke of struggling to cope with Meredith's death and said of the new guilty verdicts: "It's not the end of it. It's another chapter moving things forward."
He told the programme: "Anybody losing anyone close is hard, losing someone so young and the way we did is obviously 100 times worse, and on top of that to have all the media attention that has gone for so long makes it very difficult to cope with."
Mr Kercher said the fact that the case had been drawn out over such a long period of time, with repeated twists and turns, had inevitably been "incredibly difficult" for the family. But he did not criticise the notoriously slow-moving Italian justice system, saying on the contrary it was designed to achieve the right verdict.
In the documentary Is Amanda Knox Guilty?, Ms Kercher added: “Everything that Meredith must have felt that night. Everything she went through. The fear and the terror and not knowing why. She didn't deserve that. No one deserves that.”