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Knox called 'she-devil' by murder trial lawyer

Demand for life sentence for American accused of killing British student

Amanda Knox is a dirty-minded she-devil and that is why she murdered her friend Meredith Kercher, a lawyer said in court in Perugia yesterday, as the trial of Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the murder entered its final stage.

Another lawyer drew the jury's attention to what he characterised as the contrast between the "elegant silence" of the suffering family of Miss Kercher and the "media pressure" allegedly exerted by "the Knox and Sollecito lobbies".

Carlo Pacelli, the lawyer representing Congolese man Patrick Diya Lumumba, a bar owner in Perugia who was originally the third suspect until he was cleared by a solid alibi, said Knox had murdered then incriminated his client because she was a lying, diabolical "double soul" capable of being both saintly and satanic at the same time.

"Is Amanda Knox the angelic [person] we see here?" said Mr Pacelli, turning to point fiercely at Knox. "Or is she a diabolical she-devil, an explosive concentrate of sex, drugs and alcohol? She is both. But the latter is the Amanda we saw on November 1, 2007." This is the date that Miss Kercher was murdered.

Under police questioning in the days after the murder, Knox identified Lumumba as the murderer. He was arrested and jailed for two weeks during which he was portrayed in the world's press as Miss Kercher's assassin. He was later cleared of any involvement.

Mr Pacelli repeatedly described what he called Knox's poor hygiene habits – the fact that she sometimes did not flush the toilet, and that she brought home lovers and kept condoms and a vibrator in a transparent beauty case in the bathroom. "Amanda Knox was unclean on the outside because she was dirty on the inside," he said.

Knox's stepfather, Chris Mellas, who was in court for the hearing, later said that Pacelli's denunciation of Knox was "a sexist discourse that sets Italy back 100 years".

When Mr Pacelli had finished, it was the turn of the lawyer for Miss Kercher's family, who drew a sharp contrast between the discreet silence of the victim's relatives and the "pressure" from supporters of Knox and Sollecito.

"It has been intolerable, the media pressure and attacks by certain pressure groups," said Francesco Maresca. "We never heard the Kerchers on the television networks, in the papers, or seeking interviews.

"There is a huge abyss, when you compare the Kerchers' reserve with how the Knox clan and the Sollecito clan have behaved," said Mr Maresca.

He demanded €25m compensation and life in prison for those convicted of Miss Kercher's murder. "The Kercher family is asking only for truth and justice," said Mr Maresca. The jury is expected to begin its deliberations next week.