Amanda Knox has been declared guilty once again of the murder in 2007 of British student Meredith Kercher, with whom she had shared a flat in Perugia, Italy.
An appeals court in Florence said Knox, 26, and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 29, took part in the killing of Ms Kercher, 21, in the latest twist in the tortuous legal process, which will now move on to Italy’s Supreme Court.
Knox was not in court. She returned home to Seattle after the first appeal trial overturned her 2009 conviction. Sollecito will have his passport confiscated, but will not yet return to prison.
Prosecutor Alessandro Crini, who had demanded 26 years on the murder charge for each of the defendants, also asked the court to raise Knox’s sentence on the slander conviction from three to four years because he alleged she accused the wrong man to remove suspicion from herself. This request was denied by the judges. They handed Knox 28 years and six months and Sollecito a 25-year jail term.
Knox said she was “frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict”. She said: “Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system. The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, nothing has changed. There has always been a marked lack of evidence. My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution.”
One of Sollecito’s lawyers, Luca Maori, condemned the verdict and said the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that his client was guilty. “This was a verdict devoid of sense,” he said.
Ms Kercher’s brother, Lyle, who was in the court for the verdict, said he would not be able to forgive those responsible for his sister’s death. In an interview with Sky News, Mr Kercher said: “I think you’d have to be a very strong-willed – arguably religious – person to find that forgiveness. I think it is so easily forgotten what happened to Meredith. When I read reports even now, I find myself skimming past the paragraphs that refer to what actually happened to her because it is so horrific.”
The jury, of two judges and six lay people, took far longer than the expected eight hours to arrive at the verdict, indicating some disagreement.
The original trial in 2009 relied on DNA evidence, confused alibis and Knox’s false accusation against a Congolese bar owner. The pair were convicted and spent four years in prison. In 2011 a Perugia appeals court dismantled the guilty verdict, criticising the “building blocks” of the conviction, including DNA evidence now deemed unreliable. But the Supreme Court ordered the third trial. Experts have said it is unlikely Italy would seek the extradition of Knox until a verdict is finalised in the Supreme Court.