Meredith Kercher's family ask Amanda Knox to stay away from grave on eve of retrial

Neither is expected to be present when the case returns to the appeals court in Florence on Monday, but nor is the 'nightmare' over for Ms Knox

Amanda Knox, whose retrial opens in Italy today for the murder of Meredith Kercher, has received a veiled request not to visit the British exchange student’s grave.

Almost six years after the 21-year-old from Surrey was brutally killed in the university town of Perugia, an Italian court will start hearing a fresh appeal against Ms Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s convictions for her murder. Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito, 29, were freed on appeal in 2011.

While Ms Knox is not expected to appear at the retrial, she recently said she would like to visit Ms Kercher’s grave. In an interview on ITV1’s Daybreak last week she said: “The greatest closure would be for the Kerchers to take me to Meredith’s grave.”

But on Sunday the family of the murdered girl issued a statement saying the body of Ms Kercher is best left in peace. “It took us as a family nearly five years to even begin to feel ready to lay Mez to rest and it is still extremely painful now,” said the statement from her elder sister Stephanie.

“However, she now has a place near to us that we and her friends can visit to take flowers and spend time … Her grave is now her safe place to sleep in peace and be with us and we hope that is respected by all.”

Ms Knox’s trial is the latest step in a tortured legal process that started with the original trial in January 2009 and the pair’s subsequent conviction of the brutal killing. The two defendants will be represented by their lawyers in Florence.

Their retrial came after prosecutors turned to the Supreme Court of Cassation, which cited inconsistencies in the Appeal Court’s reasoning. A fresh trial was ordered in March this year. 

 “I was very surprised by the appeal verdict acquitting the pair because it was such a complete reversal of the original verdict,” said Professor Renzo Orlandi, a criminal law expert at Bologna University.

 Mr Sollecito’s star lawyer Giulia Bongiorno acknowledged after the retrial was announced in March that the Appeal Court may have been “too generous” in ruling that the pair did not commit the crime.

While there remains a weakness of DNA evidence linking them to the scene of the killing, the Supreme Court said it was concerned that the appeal hearing that freed them had failed to take all the evidence into consideration. In October 2011 the senior appeal Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman lambasted both the weakness of the prosecution’s original case and its treatment of the accused. Ms Knox claimed that bullying and maltreatment by police and prosecutors led her falsely to accuse the bar owner Diya “Patrick” Lumumba of the murder.

In the Italian legal system, a conviction – or an acquittal – is not definitive until it has been issued by the Supreme Court.

Apart from issuing definitive verdicts, the highest legal body also has the power to send back cases to appeal as it has for the Meredith Kercher murder – raising the possibility of a further drawn-out process in the courts. Whatever the verdict in Florence, it is likely to be appealed against again at the Court of Cassation, which could then send it back for another appeal hearing, said Mr Orlandi. “So you could in theory have legal ping pong.”

On Friday, Francesco Maresca, the Kercher family lawyer, said of the fresh appeal: “The hopes are to have a complete, total, neutral and balanced trial which can then lead to a sentence which is properly developed and well-reasoned.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific