Amanda Knox will not return to Italy for retrial for fears her presence would cause a 'distraction'

After having her conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher thrown out, the Italian courts have announced a retrial of Ms Knox and her former Italian boyfriend

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The Independent Online

Amanda Knox has said she will not return to Italy to face a retrial over the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, because she cannot afford the travel and worries her presence will prove a 'distraction' in the courtroom.

After being convicted of the murder in December 2009 and sentenced to 26 years in prison, the American and  her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito had their convictions overturned following an 11-month appeal, in October 2011.

The body of the 21-year-old Ms Kercher, a Leeds University student, was found in the bedroom of the house she shared with Ms Knox in Perugia.

Prosecutors had claimed she was killed by accident in a drug-fuelled sex game, however the prosecution's case was shown to have gaping holes in it on appeal, as the murder weapon was never found and there were errors with DNA testing.

Mr Sollecito is due to face a retrial on September 30, but Ms Knox's lawyers announced last month that she would not return to Italy for the trial.

Speaking to the Sun on Sunday, Miss Knox complained she had been presented as "the dark lady" in the trial and that the constant commentary on her appearance and gestures distracted from the evidence.

"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."

After being cleared, Ms Knox returned to the United States and now lives in Seattle.

Rudy Guede, a drug dealer from the Ivory Coast, is serving a 16-year sentence for sexually assaulting and killing the British student. He admits being in the house at the time of the murder, but denies any involvement.