Reinstate Knox's murder charge, Italian court told


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The Independent Online

Italian prosecutors yesterday called on the country's highest criminal court to reinstate the murder convictions of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend.

Ms Knox, 24, was cleared of killing Meredith Kercher, a British student, last October when the appeal court in Perugia accepted that the pivotal DNA evidence used to convict her and Raffaele Sollecito, 27, was flawed.

The finding overturned Ms Knox's 26-year prison term for the November 2007 killing of Ms Kercher, 21, who was stabbed 40 times and had her throat slashed. Mr Sollecito had been serving 25 years. But prosecutors yesterday launched their 111-page appeal at Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation to have the pair's convictions reinstated, claiming that the decision to acquit them was "contradictory and illogical" with "omissions and many errors". Prosecutor Giovanni Galati said: "We are still completely convinced that they [Knox and Sollecito] are both responsible for the murder of Meredith Kercher."

The second appeal process marks the final stage in the criminal case against Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito.

The prosecution has portrayed the crime as a drug-fuelled sex game that got out of control.

The judges may only overturn the first-appeal verdict on technical grounds. Thus, no new evidence can be introduced and the prosecution's room for manoeuvre is limited.

Under Italian law, Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito can not be retried for the same crimes.

There was no immediate comment yesterday from Ms Knox or her lawyers. But Mr Sollecito reacted angrily, telling the Ansa news agency: "I've already been through four years of hell." His lawyer, Luca Maori, said the court was expected to issue its decision near the end of the year. "We will write our brief to say it's a mistake," he said.

Ms Knox returned immediately to her home in Seattle when she was freed in October. That verdict came under the full glare of the international spotlight after severe criticism of the way evidence was gathered and employed by the prosecution. Some legal experts have said that Italian prosecutors would have difficulty in extraditing Ms Knox from the US, even if the court were to re-establish her guilt.

The review of evidence ordered by the first appeal court in the summer discredited crucial DNA evidence linking Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito to the crime scene and the murder weapon.

It said the amounts of DNA used to incriminate the pair fell below inter nationally-accepted thresholds.