Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito have been sensationally cleared of killing British student Meredith Kercher after a tortuous legal process that lasted more than seven years and saw five trials.
Judges in Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation dismissed murder charges against both late last night after deliberating for over 10 hours. The pair cannot be retried on the charges and thus ends one of the most controversial and highly-publicised murder cases of recent times.
Ms Knox was said last night to be “overjoyed” at the verdict and her spokesman in Seattle said, “The truth has won out.”
In Italy, her lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova declared exultantly, “Finished!” and added: “It couldn’t be better than this.”
Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old, was found murdered on 2 November 2007, in the apartment that she shared with Ms Knox and two other students in the central Italian town of Perugia. Her throat had been slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.
Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were arrested a few days later. Both have maintained their innocence ever since. However, they were initially convicted of the killing by a Perugia court in December 2009, before being acquitted and freed in 2011 at which point Ms Knox fled back to the US.
But they were convicted again in 2014 in Florence after the Supreme Court of Cassation court overturned the acquittals and ordered a new appeals trial.
Minutes after the verdict at 10.40 pm last night, Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno said: “This is a very important day for both Sollecito and Italian justice.’’
In pictures: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
In pictures: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
1/14 Amanda Knox 's lawyer arriving for the final verdict
Amanda Knox 's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova arrives at the Italy's Supreme Court in Rome on March 27, 2015, the day that Knox's verdict was overturned
2/14 Raffaele Sollecito's lawyer before the final verdict
Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer of Raffaele Sollecito, delivers comments at the Palazzo di Giustizia courthouse before the last session for the final verdict of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito murder retrial
3/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Amanda Knox sits alone before being interviewed on the set of ABC's 'Good Morning America' in New York, 2014
4/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Amanda Knox wipes her nose with a tissue while making a television appearance in New York, 2014
5/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Robin Roberts interviews Amanda Knox on ABC's 'Good Morning America' in New York, 2014
6/14 Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court
Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court in Florence, 2014
7/14 Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court
Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court in Florence. Judges in a Florence court gathered to decide whether US Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are guilty of the 2007 murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, 2014
8/14 Kercher's sister, Stephanie Kercher and brother Lyle Kercher
Kercher's sister, Stephanie Kercher (L) and brother Lyle Kercher speak during a press conference in Florence, 2014
9/14 Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini reads out the verdict
Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini (C) reads out the verdict for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Florence, 2014
10/14 Layers of Raffaele Sollecito Luca Maori, Giulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox's lawyer Carlo Della Vedova
(L-R) Layers of Raffaele Sollecito Luca Maori, Giulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox's lawyer Carlo Della Vedova attend the final verdict of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito retrial at the Courthouse of Florence of Nuovo Palazzo di Giustizia in Florence, 2014
11/14 Amanda Knox on NBC News' 'Today' show
Amanda Knox speaks to Matt Lauer (L) as she appears on NBC News' 'Today' show in New York, 2013
12/14 Amanda Knox at a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport
Amanda Knox cries and gestures to friends while her mother Edda Mellas sits next to her during a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport, Washington after Knox landed there on a flight from Italy, 2011
13/14 Amanda Knox leaves the court
Amanda Knox breaking in tears as she leaves the court after the announce of the verdict of her appeal trial in the Meredith Kercher' murder at Perugia's court, 2011
14/14 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito stand outside the rented house where 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher was found dead in Perugia, 2007
Earlier in the day, Ms Bongiorno, in a last ditch bid to secure Sollecito’s acquittal, told the Supreme Court judges that the Florence appeals court had made mistakes and contradictions of “colossal proportions”.
She likened Mr Sollecito to the naïve fictional film character Forrest Gump, saying he was “someone innocent finding himself involved in spectacular events without being aware of what was happening”.
Supporters of Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito, and many independent observers say the prosecution has failed over a period of seven years to provide convincing forensic evidence of the pair’s involvement in the killing.
Ms Bongiorno said today that “only a dragonfly” could have moved around the blood spattered murder scene, without leaving substantial evidence behind.
Traces of Mr Sollecito’s DNA on Ms Kercher’s bra strap were ruled inadmissible as evidence due to crime scene contamination and shoddy practice by investigators.
There was no other DNA trace of Mr Sollecito in the room where Ms Kercher was stabbed to death.
Rudy Guede, a petty criminal has already been jailed for killing Ms Kercher. His DNA was found at the murder scene and inside Ms Kercher, who had been sexually assaulted.
Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were cleared on first appeal in 2011 when an independent expert review found that DNA evidence that figured in their initial conviction had been fatally flawed.
But in March 2013 the Supreme Court agreed with prosecutors that this acquittal was “contradictory and illogical”, partly because the lack of stab marks on the victim’s arms and hands suggested that she had been unable to defend herself because two other people had held her down, while she was attacked.
Ahead of yesterday’s verdict Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova, said she was on “tenterhooks”. “Amanda has not closed her eyes, she cannot sleep,” he said.
After returning to the US in 2011, Ms Knox declared that she would only be brought back to Italy “kicking and screaming”.
After the acquittal, the Kercher family’s lawyer, Francesca Maresca, expressed their surprise.
Perugia bar owner Diya “Patrick” Lumumba, the man Ms Knox falsely accused of the killing soon after the crime, was in court to witness the verdicts.Many observers believe her slanderous accusation against Lumumba, which Knox says was the result of unduly aggressive questioning, was a chief factor in her initial conviction.
Both Knox and Sollecito served four years in prison.Reuse content