Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Italian hits out over Meredith case

British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found dead in Perugia in central Italy in 2007

The former boyfriend of Amanda Knox has repeated his innocence as he prepares to face a retrial over the murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher.

Raffaele Sollecito denies any involvement in the killing of the Leeds University student who was found with her throat slashed in the bedroom of the house in Perugia in central Italy that she shared with American Miss Knox in November 2007.

The 29-year-old Italian, who is appealing for money to fund his new court battle, also defended himself against claims that he and Miss Knox had made money out of the tragedy.

He said he wanted Italian prosecutors to read his book to find out the facts about the case. He told ITV's Daybreak: "I have to make money in order to defend myself. I cannot get a real job and, even if I had a real job, there is not enough money there."

Asked about the prospect of a retrial alongside Miss Knox, who has since returned to the US, Mr Sollecito said: "It is not about facing the nightmare again together, because we are no longer together as a couple. We are friends. All of these kinds of unfair things are happening in Italy. I am Italian, she is American, that is the difference."

Italy's highest criminal court, the Court of Cassation, ruled in March that an appeals court in Florence must re-hear the case against Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito for the murder of 21-year-old Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey.

The pair were found guilty in December 2009 of murdering Miss Kercher, with Miss Knox sentenced to 26 years in prison and Mr Sollecito 25. But after an 11-month appeal in a Perugia court, both convictions were thrown out in October 2011.

Prosecutors claimed that Miss Kercher was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone awry. Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito have consistently protested their innocence and claim they were not even in the apartment on the night Miss Kercher died.

They were convicted following a high-profile trial but were released after an appeals court found the prosecution lacking and criticised large swathes of the case against them. The case mounted against them by prosecutors was ripped apart by the Italian appeals court, which noted that the murder weapon was never found, DNA tests were faulty and prosecutors provided no motive for murder.

Rudy Guede, a small-time drug dealer from the Ivory Coast, is the only person who remains behind bars over the case in Italy, where he is serving a 16-year sentence for sexually assaulting and killing the British student. He has always admitted being present at Miss Kercher's home on the night of the murder but denied involvement.

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