Kercher family 'pleased' with convictions

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The family of murdered student Meredith Kercher today welcomed the convictions of her killers, and said that they agreed with the outcome of the court case.

Speaking at a press conference in Perugia, Italy today, her brother Lyle Kercher said that they were "pleased with the decision."

He said: "Ultimately we are pleased with the decision, pleased that we've got a decision but it's not a time for celebration."

His mother Arline told a packed room of journalists that on the evidence, she agreed with the guilty verdicts against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

She said: "If the evidence has been presented then yes you have to agree with that verdict.

"It's difficult to say but at the end of the day you have to go on the evidence because there's nothing else."

The Kerchers were awarded 4.4 million euros compensation, but Lyle said the figure was "symbolic" and no amount could make up for their loss.

He said the sum was to reflect the "severity and gravity of the case".

The family said that the student's death had left a hole in their lives but that they wanted to focus on positive memories of her.

Her other brother John Kercher said that "Everyone in this room associates Meredith with a tragic event but we would prefer not to remember her in that way. We would like to concentrate on the 21 years that we had with her."

Lyle Kercher said the family were not interested in financial reward.

He told the press conference: "It's not the case that this has ever been about us seeking money, which is why we've been reluctant to do much media stuff throughout. That money will never really bring anything or change anything in that respect."

The family of 21-year-old Meredith have kept largely silent throughout the lengthy court proceedings and Meredith's father, also called John Kercher, did not speak to journalists during the news conference.

News that Knox and Sollecito planned to appeal against the guilty verdicts did not come as a surprise, the family said.

Meredith's sister Stephanie said that they had received support from all over the world but that things would never be the same without her sister, who was nicknamed "Mez".

She said: "It just feels like our lives have been on hold really. You can't continue your life as normal you just have to take each day as it comes.

"You have to take it one step at a time."

She was still part of their lives and they had cherished memories, Stephanie added.

Her brother John said: "Meredith still leaves quite a big hole in our lives and her presence is missed every time we meet up as a family."

American Knox, 22, from Seattle, was last night found guilty of stabbing the British student to death after what started as an extreme sex game.

She was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her Italian former lover, Raffaele Sollecito, 25, was also found guilty of the murder and sexual assault and was jailed for 25 years.

Knox's parents, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas, said in a statement after the verdict: "Amanda is innocent and we will continue to fight for her freedom.

"We are extremely disappointed in the verdict rendered...against our daughter.

"While we always knew this was a possibility, we find it difficult to accept this verdict when we know that she is innocent, and that the prosecution has failed to explain why there is no evidence of Amanda in the room where Meredith was so horribly and tragically murdered."

Prosecutors say Sollecito held the 21-year-old Leeds University student down while Knox cut her throat with a six-inch kitchen knife.

They committed the killing in Perugia, Italy, with small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, 22, who was jailed for murder and sexual violence last October for 30 years.

Knox's parents criticised the media for the way their daughter had been portrayed, alleging this swayed the judges and jurors.

They said in their statement: "It appears clear to us that the attacks on Amanda's character in much of the media and by the prosecution had a significant impact on the judges and jurors and apparently overshadowed the lack of evidence in the prosecution's case against her."

As well as compensation to the Kerchers, Knox was told she must also pay 40,000 euros compensation to Patrick Lumumba for defaming the local barman when she falsely accused him of the murder.

The semi-naked body of Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit in her room in Perugia in November 2007.

She had been sharing a house with Knox, who was also a student, on her year abroad in the Umbrian hilltop town.

Miss Kercher, a hard-working and pleasant young woman, was killed after Knox's hatred, probably fuelled by drink and drugs, boiled over into murderous rage, prosecutors said.

She, Sollecito and Guede panicked after committing the brutal murder and clumsily tried to make it look like part of a burglary gone wrong - breaking a window in the house to make it appear like a forced entry.

But they did so from the inside, an error soon spotted by the police.

Knox's odd behaviour after the discovery of the body also roused suspicions.

While waiting to be questioned at the police station, she performed a cartwheel and did the splits before pointing the finger at Mr Lumumba, who employed her as a barmaid.

The defiant Knox family said the guilty verdict was a failure for the Italian judicial system.

Speaking to American network ABC Curt Knox explained: "This is just a failure of the Italian judicial system and literally it is a failure for the city of Perugia and the community around it as well as Italy as a whole."

An emotional Mr Knox said he could not understand how his daughter had been found guilty.

Asked for his reaction to the guilty verdict he replied: "Anger and just disbelief on how a judicial system could even come up with a verdict like this. It's beyond me."

He added: "In the concept of beyond reasonable doubt to come up with a guilty verdict, much less that have something other than an innocent verdict is.... I just don't see what they were looking at.

"I just looked at him, (the judge) looked at the jurors, each one of them and I said 'how can you even do this with what was presented in court alone' and for that matter the judge didn't even raise his head while he read the result."

Knox's sister Deanna said: "I feel like this trial has failed their own system.

"This is completely unjust and I'm in complete shock."

The Knox family will visit Amanda Knox in prison next week.

Deanna added: "We yelled across the court as they were taking her away that we love her but we couldn't see her.

"There's still hope for her, we are not going to leave her here, we are not going to take what this jury convicted her with, we are not accepting it.

"We will continue to be here and we will bring her home."