The tortuous trial of 26-year old Amanda Knox, an American student and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who were convicted and subsequently declared innocent of the murder in Perugia in November 2007 of fellow student Meredith Kercher, took a dramatic turn at the court of appeal in Florence on Thursday.
The Florence court reconvicted the pair – who have consistently pleaded their innocence – at the end of a four-month long hearing on a second appeal by the family of Ms. Kercher.
Judge Alessandro Nencini sentenced Ms. Knox to 28 years and six months in jail, while Mr. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years.
Lawyers from both sides said they would appeal the verdict in the highest appeals court in Italy.
Ms. Kercher’s family – her mother is of Indian origin – was represented in court by Lyle and Stephanie Meredith, the brother and sister of the murdered student.
Asked by an Italian television reporter if the verdict gave them a sense of satisfaction, Lyle Kercher said: “Satisfaction inasmuch as this is what the prosecution’s been working for… That’s probably the best we could have hoped for.”
In her statement Ms. Knox called the verdict “unjust.” While offering her former flat mate’s family “respect and support” she “expected better from the Italian justice system. The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In a recorded interview she gave to Simon Hattenstone of The Guardian from her home in Seattle before the verdict (carried in full on The Guardian’s website), Ms. Knox said that a guilty verdict would “feel like a train wreck.” The Italian authorities would have to “catch me and pull me back kicking and screaming into a prison that I don’t deserve to be in. I will fight for my innocence,” she says in the interview.
Ms. Kercher’s body was found with her throat slit in the apartment she shared with Ms. Knox on November 1, 2007. Ever since the legal process has roller-coasted through several twists and turns.
While Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, an Ivory Coast national, was convicted of the murder in a separate fast track court in October 2008, Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito were convicted in December 2009, the former to 26 years in prison. Both the accused were acquitted of the murder in October 2011.