Knox and Sollecito walk free

Amanda Knox was tonight acquitted of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in the Italian city of Perugia following a successful appeal against her conviction. Her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito will also walk free from prison.

The 24-year-old American has spent four years behind bars for the killing in Perugia, Italy, that she insisted she played no part in. But her nightmare ended when jurors in her appeal trial found her not guilty of stabbing Miss Kercher after forcing her into a violent sex game

Knox, from Seattle, was jailed for 26 years in December 2009 after a year-long trial, along with her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito who was jailed for 25 years.

Sollecito, 27, was also cleared tonight after a successful appeal.



The verdicts came after the former lovers delivered heartfelt addresses to the Perugia court this morning, proclaiming their innocence once more.



Knox, watched by her anxious family in the medieval chamber, declared: "I am not who they say I am - the perversion, the violence, the lack of respect for life - and I did not do the things they say I did.



"I did not kill, I did not rape, I did not steal. I was not there at the time."



Choking back emotion, she told jurors: "I want to go back to my life. I do not want to be punished. I do not want my life taken away for something that I did not do because I am innocent."



The semi-naked body of Leeds University student Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon in Surrey, was found on November 2, 2007, in the house she shared with Knox on her year abroad.



Small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, 24, from the Ivory Coast, was jailed for the murder and sexual violence after separate proceedings and, while he too protests his innocence, his conviction was upheld on appeal.

Hundreds of people gathered in the streets outside the court shouted "shame" when they heard about the decision.

Knox was told she must pay 22,000 Euros in compensation to Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, a barman she falsely accused of the murder.

Knox walked out of the court in floods of tears, followed shortly afterwards by Sollecito, who showed little expression on his face.

Members of Knox's family smiled and hugged each other after the results were read out by the judge. Some friends and relatives simply clasped their hands over their mouths, seemingly in surprise.



Her mother Edda Mellas helped wipe the tears from the face of one of her daughter's friends as the verdict sunk in. Lawyers were also seen embracing and patting each other on the back.



Meredith's brother Lyle and sister Stephanie comforted each other as they remained seated in the courtroom with their mother Arline.



Television pictures showed hundreds of people outside the court building, with dozens of cameramen and photographers trying to get pictures.



Shouts and jeers could be heard outside the building in reaction to the acquittals.

Knox's victory was won after a successful PR campaign fought by her family, who have repeatedly given media interviews about her wrongful conviction.

In marked contrast to the Kercher family, who have largely maintained a dignified silence since losing their daughter and sister, the Knoxs deployed every resource at their disposal to save theirs.



Knox's stepfather, Chris Mellas, even moved to Perugia to be near his stepdaughter and attend her appeal hearings.



Her acquittal secured, Knox is now expected to return to the US with her family at the earliest possible opportunity.



Her next move remains to be seen, but she is known to have been penning her memoirs in prison, while rumours of million dollar bids for the first television interview with her have been rife.



The Kerchers refused to comment earlier on whether they would fight the court decision should the convictions be overturned but are likely to address this issue tomorrow.



Prosecutors are expected to appeal, even in the knowledge that once Knox has gone home she will almost certainly not be extradited back to Italy.

Knox's lawyer Carlo dalla Vedova said that Knox and Miss Kercher had been friends and he expressed his condolences to the Kercher family on behalf of his client and her family.

Asked what Knox would do now, he said: "We're looking forward to taking her back home as soon as possible.



"We're going to the prison now to complete the procedure. I know that Amanda wants to go home - she's been far away from home now for four years and she wants to go back to Seattle."



He said she had been tense before the hearing as it was a "very important day for her".



He told the BBC: "The justice has superseded and has rectified a mistake.



"It was a terrible tragedy at the beginning because of the death of Meredith.



"Meredith was a friend of Amanda, so we should never forget this. We have to respect the sorrow of the family.



"But there's no winner here. Justice has recognised that Amanda was not involved in the murder."



Asked what the American said to him after she heard the result, he said: "She didn't say anything but she was so happy she started to cry.



"She had relief. She was extremely worried at the beginning. She was scared. She was feeling that today was a very important day."



The lawyer said his client had been on the "border" between life in jail and freedom.



He said of her: "Amanda is a very intelligent girl.



"We were able to appreciate the extreme sensible and intense intelligence of Amanda and we're very happy that we had Amanda as a client."



PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines