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Amanda Knox is found guilty of Meredith murder again

By Michael Day

Amanda Knox was last night sensationally 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.

In a statement last night, 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."

She added: "A wrongful conviction is horrific for the wrongfully accused, and it is also terribly bad for the victim, their surviving family, and society."

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 court for the verdict, said he would not be able to forgive those responsible for his sister's death.

Mr Kercher told Sky News: "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.

BACKGROUND

The original Meredith Kercher murder trial in 2009 relied on DNA evidence, confused alibis and Amanda 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 dismissed 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 said it is unlikely Italy would seek the extradition of Knox until a verdict is finalised in the Supreme Court.

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