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Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito acquitted by Italian court of murder of Meredith Kercher

Italy's highest court has overturned the murder conviction against Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend, bringing to a definitive end the high-profile case.

"Finished!" Ms Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out. "It couldn't be better than this."

Amanda Knox is "tremendously relieved and grateful", according to the Associated Press.

The decision by the supreme Court of Cassation is the final ruling in the case, ending the long legal battle waged by Ms Knox and Italian co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito.

See case timeline below

Both Ms Knox, who was awaiting the verdict in her US hometown of Seattle, and Mr Sollecito have long maintained their innocence in the death of British student Meredith Kercher.

The supreme Court of Cassation overturned last year's convictions by a Florence appeals court, and declined to order another trial.

The decision means the judges, after thoroughly examining the case, concluded that a conviction could not be supported by the evidence.

Their reasoning will be released within 90 days.

The case has aroused strong interest in three countries for its explosive mix of young love, murder and flip-flop decisions by Italian courts.

Ms Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found dead on November 2, 2007, in the flat that she shared with Ms Knox and two other students. Her throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were arrested a few days later. Eventually another man, Rudy Guede from Ivory Coast, was arrested, tried and convicted of the murder in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year sentence.

The couple maintained their innocence, insisting that they had spent the evening together at Mr Sollecito's place watching a movie, smoking marijuana and making love.

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito were initially convicted by a Perugia court in 2009, then acquitted and freed in 2011, and then convicted again in 2014 in Florence after the Cassation court overturned the acquittals and ordered a new appeals trial.

That Florence appeals conviction was overturned today.

Case timeline:

2007

:: November 2: Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student from Coulsdon, Surrey, is discovered with her throat cut in her bedroom at her house in the Italian town of Perugia. Her body is partially clothed and under a duvet.

:: November 4: A post-mortem examination reveals evidence of sexual activity at some point before Ms Kercher died.

:: November 6: Police arrest Ms Kercher's American housemate Knox, then 20, Mr Sollecito, then 23, and Congolese Diya 'Patrick' Lumumba, who runs a local bar. Police claim Ms Kercher was murdered because she refused to take part in violent sex. Knox is said to have broken down and confessed and implicated Lumumba. The three are held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit manslaughter and sexual violence.

:: November 11: Ms Kercher's body is flown home. Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, says Knox did not hear Ms Kercher's screams the night she died and was with Sollecito at his house.

::: November 19: A fourth suspect is named as Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, from the Ivory Coast. He is thought to have left Perugia for Milan after Ms Kercher died.

:: November 20: Guede is arrested in the German city of Mainz. Lumumba is released without charge.

:: November 22: Guede admits being in Ms Kercher's house on the night of the murder but says an Italian man he did not know committed the crime.

2008

:: September 9: Guede's lawyers say he will ask to be prosecuted separately from Knox and Sollecito in a fast-track trial after talk of a possible pact between the former lovers to frame him.

:: September 16: All three suspects appear before a judge in the first of a series of pre-trial hearings in Perugia. Judge Paolo Micheli grants Guede's request for a fast-track trial.

:: September 26: Knox and Sollecito come face to face in a closed courtroom for the first time since being detained after the murder.

:: October 28: After 11 hours of deliberation, Judge Micheli sentences Guede to 30 years for the murder of Ms Kercher. He also orders Knox and Sollecito to stand trial for murder and sexual violence. Judge Micheli later rules that the pair remain in prison while they await trial.

2009

:: January 16: The trial of Knox and Sollecito begins.

:: February 6: Sollecito tells the court he is not violent and has nothing to do with the case.

:: June 6: Ms Kercher's parents, John and Arline, give evidence. Mrs Kercher says she will never get over her daughter's murder.

:: June 12: Knox gives evidence in fluent Italian. She says she accused Lumumba "in confusion and under pressure" and that a police officer hit her during interrogation.

:: November 21: Prosecutors ask for life sentences for Knox and Sollecito.

:: December 4: Knox and Sollecito found guilty of murder. Knox is sentenced to 26 years and Sollecito to 25. Knox's family say they will appeal.

2010

:: November 24: Knox and Sollecito return to court in Perugia for their appeal.

:: December 11: Knox breaks down in tears as she makes an emotional courtroom appeal, saying she was the innocent victim of an "enormous mistake".

:: December 16: Italy's highest criminal court upholds Guede's conviction and prison sentence, which was slashed to 16 years in his first appeal.

2011

:: June 27: Guede gives evidence for the prosecution in the appeal and confirms the contents of a letter he wrote to his lawyers in 2010, which included a direct accusation against Knox and Sollecito.

:: July 25: Experts tell the appeal court that forensic scientists who helped convict Knox made a series of errors. Evidence was tainted by the use of a dirty glove and failure to wear protective caps, they claim.

:: September 7: Appeal court rejects prosecution request for new DNA tests.

:: October 3: Knox is freed from prison after being acquitted of killing Ms Kercher. Sollecito is also cleared.

:: October 4: Ms Kercher's brother Lyle says her family accept the court's decision but says questions remain unanswered about what really happened.

2012

:: February 16: Publisher HarperCollins announces it has signed a deal for a Knox memoir which was reportedly worth £2.5 million. The book, Waiting To Be Heard, is released in April 2013.

:: April 29: Ms Kercher's father John appeals to Guede to finally ''come clean'' and reveal what really happened the night she was stabbed to death.

2013

:: March 26: Italy's highest criminal court overturns the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito.

:: September 30: The third trial of Knox and Sollecito begins in Florence.

:: December 17: Knox declares her innocence in an email submitted to the appeal court in Florence by her lawyers before their closing arguments in which she says: ''I didn't kill Meredith.''

2014

:: January 30: The pair are found guilty of the murder of Ms Kercher after judges in Florence overruled their previous acquittals. Knox is sentenced to 28-and-a-half years and Sollecito to 25 years.

2015

:: March 25: Italy's high court hears Knox and Sollecito's appeal of the Florence conviction.

:: March 27: After lengthy legal arguments Italy's supreme Court of Cassation overturns the conviction and declines to order another trial. This is the final ruling in the case, ending the legal battle waged by Knox and Sollecito.

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