Amanda Knox awaits murder appeal verdict

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Four years after she was jailed over the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox could walk free from prison next week.

The American is now just days from learning whether her conviction for the killing in the Italian town of Perugia will be overturned, after launching her appeal in court almost a year ago.

Although both she and her family will be wary of getting their hopes up, the climax of this process could well bring the outcome they have been desperate for since she was locked up.

Summing up in the appeal is due to start on Friday, with a verdict expected around the end of next week.

The 24-year-old University of Washington student from Seattle was detained shortly after the discovery of the body of her housemate, Miss Kercher.

Convicted two years later, along with her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 26, she has continued to protest her innocence from behind bars, while her family have determinedly and expensively carried on the fight on the outside.

Ivory Coast-born drifter and small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede was also jailed for the murder, which prosecutors said began as a sex-game in which University of Leeds student Miss Kercher was not a willing participant.

Their version of events has been strenuously denied by Knox and Sollecito's lawyers, who have spent the past year mounting a comprehensive - and possibly devastating - attack on the case against the former lovers.

Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon in Surrey, was found dead on November 2, 2007 in her bedroom at the house in the Umbrian hilltop town that she shared with Knox and others during her year abroad.

Her throat had been slit and her semi-naked body was partially covered by a duvet.