Knox: I am not diabolical or violent

Appeal opens with tears and regret for Kercher
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The Independent Online

Amanda Knox, the convicted murderer, broke down in tears yesterday as she made an emotional address to an appeals court in Italy, saying she was the innocent victim of an "enormous mistake" and that her life had been "broken" by three years in jail.

Speaking in court, the 23-year-old American reached out for the first time to the family of Meredith Kercher, the British girl she was convicted of killing and sexually assaulting in 2007 when they were roommates on a student exchange in Perugia. Knox denied being the "dangerous, diabolical, jealous, uncaring, violent" person described by the prosecution.

Last year, Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian who is Knox's former boyfriend, was convicted on the same charges and jailed for 25 years. Both deny wrongdoing and have appealed against the verdict. "I am innocent. Raffaele is innocent. We did not kill Meredith," Knox said during her 20-minute address in Italian. "It doesn't do justice to Meredith and her loved ones to take our lives from us."

She thought of Kercher as a dear friend she was "grateful and honoured" to have met, she said.

In the previous trial, Knox had described Kercher as a friend whose death had shocked her. Yesterday, she turned her thoughts to the victim's family. "I'm very sorry Meredith is no longer living. I too have little sisters and the idea of their suffering, their loss, terrifies me."

Kercher's family did not attend. The victim's father, John Kercher, recently wrote in the Daily Mail lamenting that "since that act of horrific violence, Knox, it seems, has been accorded the status of a minor celebrity". He added that Knox's parents "have never expressed their condolences to our family ... There has been no letter of sympathy; no word of regret. Instead, I have watched them repeatedly reiterate the mantra of their daughter's innocence."

In its December 2009 ruling, the court said that on the night of the murder Knox and Sollecito were at the house with a fourth person, Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivory Coast citizen who has also been convicted of murder in separate proceedings. The court said Knox and Sollecito assisted Guede's sexual desire for Kercher, attacking along with the Ivorian man and ultimately killing the 21-year-old when she resisted the sexual approach.

In the appeals hearing, lawyers for Knox and Sollecito are seeking a review of the forensic evidence, including that concerning DNA traces found on a knife allegedly used in the murder and on the clasp of Kercher's bra.

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