I'm not a killer, says Knox

Amanda Knox told a court today she did not want to be branded an assassin.

The 22-year-old American, on trial for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, addressed the courtroom in Perugia, Italy, in a voice trembling with emotion just days before a verdict is due.

Prosecutors accuse her of stabbing 21-year-old Leeds University student Ms Kercher to death in November 2007, but she said today that they are only doing so because it is their job to do so.

Knox, who has been behind bars for two years, told the court in Italian that people often asked her how she managed to stay so calm.

"The first thing to say is that I am not calm," she said. "I am afraid of being defined as something I am not and by actions that are not mine.

"I'm afraid of having the mask of a murderer forced on to my skin."

The semi-naked body of Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found in a pool of blood in her room in the house she shared with Knox in Perugia, Italy, on her year abroad.

Knox is accused by her Italian former lover, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, of murdering Miss Kercher after what started as an extreme sex game.

She said she was "confused, sad, frustrated" about being kept in jail for two years. But she said she had tried to find the positive side of the situation.

"I don't get depressed," she said. "In these situations, I grieve and try to find the positives in important moments."

A verdict in the trial is expected later this week.