The experts appointed by the appeals court, Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti from Rome’s Sapienza University, were formally sworn in at a hearing on Saturday, the first of the new year. They will begin their review on February 9 at a university lab, conclude by May 9 and report their findings to the court on May 21.

Independent forensic experts will have 90 days starting next month to review crucial evidence linking American student Amanda Knox to the murder of her British roommate, an appeals court said on Saturday.

Knox was convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher, and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her co-defendant and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also convicted and sentenced to 25 years. Both have denied wrongdoing.

Their lawyers have disputed DNA traces used to back up their convictions and obtained an independent review at the start of the appeals trial.

The experts appointed by the appeals court, Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti from Rome’s Sapienza University, were formally sworn in at a hearing on Saturday, the first of the new year. They will begin their review on February 9 at a university lab, conclude by May 9 and report their findings to the court on May 21.

Kercher was stabbed to death the night of November 1, 2007. Her body was found in a pool of blood the following day in the apartment the 21-year-old shared with Knox. They were both exchange students in Perugia, a university town in central Italy.

Prosecutors maintained in the first trial that Knox’s DNA was found on the handle of a kitchen knife they believe to be the murder weapon, and that Kercher’s DNA was found on the blade. They say Sollecito’s DNA was found on the clasp of Kercher’s bra.

The defence says those DNA traces were inconclusive and that they might have been contaminated when they were collected and analyzed.

The two independent experts can either make new analyses on the DNA traces that were found, or, if that isn’t possible, review the analyses that had been carried out by previous forensic experts and assess whether they are reliable. Experts appointed by both the prosecution and the defence will be present during the review.

While the evidence review is being carried out, the trial will continue with witnesses sought by the defence aimed at challenging the reliability of a key prosecution witness who said he had seen Knox and Sollecito by the house the night of the murder. Knox and Sollecito insist they were at Sollecito’s house.

The next hearing is on March 12.

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