Raffaele Sollecito has warned he will no longer accept being called an “assassin” by anyone discussing the killing of Meredith Kercher in a strongly worded statement after he and his former girlfriend Amanda Knox were acquitted of her death by Italy's highest court.
Sollecito and Knox were acquitted of the British student’s murder on Friday in a final verdict after a near eight-year legal battle. Both he and Knox, who lived with Kercher, spent four years in prison over her death before being freed in 2011 and then found guilty again in a subsequent re-trial.
In his first press conference since the decision was announced, the 31-year-old described the ruling as a “rebirth” and said he hoped it could pave the way for him to have a normal life after living an “unbearable tragedy” for seven years and five months.
However, he told journalists he had an “infinite list of horrible moments” and compared his situation to a “wound that will never stop bleeding”, highlighting his arrest as the “worst moment”.
“Another awful moment was when people close to me were also criticised,” he went on. “I felt people didn't respect me, and so if people didn't respect me anything could happen. Why did people have such a strong lack of respect for me and my family?
In pictures: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
In pictures: The trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
1/14 Amanda Knox 's lawyer arriving for the final verdict
Amanda Knox 's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova arrives at the Italy's Supreme Court in Rome on March 27, 2015, the day that Knox's verdict was overturned
2/14 Raffaele Sollecito's lawyer before the final verdict
Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer of Raffaele Sollecito, delivers comments at the Palazzo di Giustizia courthouse before the last session for the final verdict of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito murder retrial
3/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Amanda Knox sits alone before being interviewed on the set of ABC's 'Good Morning America' in New York, 2014
4/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Amanda Knox wipes her nose with a tissue while making a television appearance in New York, 2014
5/14 Amanda Knox on 'Good Morning America'
Robin Roberts interviews Amanda Knox on ABC's 'Good Morning America' in New York, 2014
6/14 Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court
Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court in Florence, 2014
7/14 Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court
Raffaele Sollecito leaves the court in Florence. Judges in a Florence court gathered to decide whether US Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are guilty of the 2007 murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, 2014
8/14 Kercher's sister, Stephanie Kercher and brother Lyle Kercher
Kercher's sister, Stephanie Kercher (L) and brother Lyle Kercher speak during a press conference in Florence, 2014
9/14 Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini reads out the verdict
Appeals Court Judge Alessandro Nencini (C) reads out the verdict for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Florence, 2014
10/14 Layers of Raffaele Sollecito Luca Maori, Giulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox's lawyer Carlo Della Vedova
(L-R) Layers of Raffaele Sollecito Luca Maori, Giulia Bongiorno and Amanda Knox's lawyer Carlo Della Vedova attend the final verdict of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito retrial at the Courthouse of Florence of Nuovo Palazzo di Giustizia in Florence, 2014
11/14 Amanda Knox on NBC News' 'Today' show
Amanda Knox speaks to Matt Lauer (L) as she appears on NBC News' 'Today' show in New York, 2013
12/14 Amanda Knox at a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport
Amanda Knox cries and gestures to friends while her mother Edda Mellas sits next to her during a news conference at Sea-Tac International Airport, Washington after Knox landed there on a flight from Italy, 2011
13/14 Amanda Knox leaves the court
Amanda Knox breaking in tears as she leaves the court after the announce of the verdict of her appeal trial in the Meredith Kercher' murder at Perugia's court, 2011
14/14 Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito stand outside the rented house where 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher was found dead in Perugia, 2007
“Even today, I am asking myself why people hated me so much. After this press conference, I no longer want to talk about the actual trial. There is no doubt that my mind and my soul will be marked for life – this wound will never stop bleeding because I feel that it will never heal.
He urged anyone reporting on or discussing the case to be “very cautious”, warning: “I don’t accept from now on to be called an assassin or a suspect ever again and I will be ready to defend my dignity.
"I was accused of being an assassin without an element of truth. You can’t possibly imagine what it feels to see your own life and your own family in pieces for nothing.”
He then discussed the possibility of writing a book, saying: “Maybe one day I will write a book, and maybe I won't. But today I want to carry on living and forget this awful thing that has happened to me.”
Sollecito thanked his family and his lawyers for their support and said they were all “extremely happy” at the final outcome.
He denied reports that he had not expected to be acquitted, saying: “This is absolutely not the case.
“This is the reality and of course it had to finish in the way, but in the same time after everything that has happened, of course I was really scared.
“The most beautiful moment was one that put an end to a nightmare - the call from my sister after reading the sentence and the total acquittal. I hope to live like a man of my age without having to have any worries anymore. I am hoping to have a future.
"I never committed any kind of crime, I am completely outside of this whole case. I had to respect the sentence but I was always convinced that justice would prevail."
Sollecitio also took a moment to address reports about the relationship between him and Knox, telling the conference: “My relationship with Amanda was simply affection between two young people and neither of us could have envisioned this absurd and never-ending story.”