US student Amanda Knox has defended her decision not to return to Italy for a new appeals trial over the 2007 killing of her British roommate, even as she acknowledged that "everything is at stake". She insisted she is innocent.
"I was already imprisoned as innocent person in Italy, and I can't reconcile the choice to go back with that experience," Ms Knox said in an interview on NBC. "I just can't relive that."
When asked if she was worried that she was handing prosecutors an admission of guilt by not attending the trial, she responded: "I look at it of an admission of innocence."
Ms Knox said there was no trace of her in the room where her roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found killed when both were exchange students studying in Perugia, Italy. Ms Kercher's throat had been slashed.
"It's impossible for me to have participated in this crime if there's no trace of me," Ms Knox said.
In March, Italy's supreme court ordered a new trial for Ms Knox and her Italian former boyfriend. An appeals court in 2011 had acquitted both, overturning convictions by a lower court. The new appeals trial begins in Florence on September 30.
Ms Knox said school and finances also were keeping her from attending the trial.
She said she still had faith in the Italian legal system. "I believe that people who really care about justice and look at this without prejudice will come to same conclusion," she said.
Still, she acknowledged that the prospect of returning to prison haunted her.
"I thought about what it would be like to live my entire life in prison and to lose everything, to lose what I've been able to come back to and rebuild," she said. "I think about it all the time. It's so scary. Everything is at stake."