'Hard to forgive' Meredith Kercher killer

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Meredith Kercher's sister said it would be "very difficult" to forgive anyone for the British student's murder today as she awaited the outcome of an appeal hearing.

Stephanie Kercher said her sister had been "hugely forgotten" in the furore around the appeal launched by American student Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito over the November 2007 killing in Perugia, Italy.

Sitting alongside her mother Arline and brother Lyle, she told a press conference: "It is very difficult to keep her memory alive in all of this."

Miss Kercher said forgiveness "does not come into it" at the moment.

She went on: "It would be very difficult to forgive anything at this stage.

"What everyone needs to remember is ... the brutality of what happened that night, everything that Meredith must have felt that night, everything she went through, the fear and the terror, and not knowing why.

"She doesn't deserve that, no-one deserves that."

Meredith's mother Arline refused to say whether she believed Knox killed her daughter but said she trusted the Italian justice system.

She added: "You have to go by the evidence because there is nothing else. What I want, what they want doesn't come into it.

"It is what the police have found, what the science has found, what the evidence is and that's all you can go on.

"It is to find out what happened to Meredith and to get some justice really."

Two judges and six jurors are considering whether to overturn the murder convictions of Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27.

Knox made a heartfelt plea for freedom today, telling the appeal court: "I have paid with my life for things I did not commit."

Miss Kercher's family, who arrived in Perugia this morning, were not in court to hear Knox speak.

Placing her hand on her mother's arm, Stephanie said they had come "to remember Meredith in a city she loved".

Lyle said what had happened to his sister was "still very raw" and suggested the photos of the murder scene that were shown in court last week had helped emphasise the brutality of the crime.

"There were some accusations of that being sensationalist," he said. "But if they were up here now, I think you would find it hard to forgive the person who did that to your sibling or daughter."

Asked how the family remembered Meredith, he said it was "as if she had gone away on an extended break and we haven't seen her come back as yet".

He also recalled a popular young woman, whose loss the family feels the most keenly when they meet to commemorate her birthday and at Christmas.

Asked if she had come any closer to knowing why her sister had been killed, Miss Kercher said she had "no idea why".

She added: "The reasons for that I couldn't even begin to understand. Meredith was such a lovely girl.

"She helped everyone out, she was a great friend to everyone she knew.

"She was always there for everyone."

Only those who were there on the night of the murder would ever know what really went on, she added - "until someone comes forward and says 'yes, this is what happened."'

But the family had not opted to launch the same kind of media campaign as the Knox camp, Lyle explained, as they wanted to get their lives "as back to normal as possible".

He acknowledged, however, that his family's legal team had been battling a "huge PR machine".

Meredith's mother went on to say that in some ways she believed the Italian justice system was superior to that of Britain.

"They look through the evidence," she added. "What is good is that in the previous trial the judge actually issued a 400-page document which detailed how they got to that result, what their thinking was, why they got there.

"In England you don't have that. The sentence is given and that's it, you don't know why sometimes."

Miss Kercher added that they trusted in the judge and jury to make the right decision.

The family refused to reveal whether they would fight the verdict if Knox and Sollecito were exonerated tonight.