Amanda Knox says she is 'afraid' to appear in court
'I didn't kill Meredith,' American student writes in email17 December, 16:16
"I am not in the courtroom because I'm afraid," Knox, who denies the charges, wrote in an email to the court from the United States, where she is a student.
"I fear that the vehemence of the accusations will (influence) you," she said in a lengthy message to the third trial into the murder in November 2007 of Kercher in Perugia. "I am not afraid of your powers of discernment, but because the prosecution has succeeded already in convincing a court comprised of responsible and perceptive adults to convict innocent people," she wrote.
The President of the Court of Assizes Alessandro Nencini, said that such an email message from an accused person was "irregular" and added that it would have been better if Knox had attended in person.
In her message, Knox also said defended her relationship with Kercher, who had been her roommate, and suggested she would have had no reason to hurt the British student.
"I didn't kill Meredith," Knox said in her email. "Meredith was my friend," she added.
"She was nice, she helped me, she was generous and funny.
She never criticized".
The Florence court is trying the case against Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who has also said that he is not guilty of the accusations.
Each has spent four years in prison, including custody before their first trial that convicted them of murder in 2009. An appeal court overturned those convictions in 2011 and Knox returned to the United States.
In March, Italy's highest court sent the case back to the appeals stage over aspects of the evidence it argued had not been properly examined before.
The supreme court ruled that the initial forensic evidence had been wrongly dismissed in the acquittal and a prosecution theory about a sex game that went wrong should be re-examined.
Kercher, 21, was found dead on the floor of an apartment she shared with Knox on November 2, 2007.
A third accused, Rudy Guede, was convicted in a fast-track trial and is serving a 16-year sentence in the murder, but Italy's top appeal court said it was unlikely he acted alone.
An Italian prosecutor has requested a 26-year prison term for Knox and Sollecito for the murder, plus a further four years for Knox for allegedly slandering bar owner Patrick Lumumba, whom she initially implicated during tough police questioning before later retracting, saying she had been confused. The new trial opened in Florence in September, and a decision is expected on January 10. In her email, Knox said she accused Lumumba under pressure from the Italian police, who made her sign a false confession "that made no sense and should not have been considered legitimate evidence".
Knox added that she had been denied a lawyer during several days of interrogation in Italian, which at that time she did not really understand.
Knox also denied she had had any disputes with Kercher, which had been one of the prosecution's possible motive for the crime.
In fact, one of Knox's defense attorneys said the prosecution frequently changed its theory on possible motives for Kercher's murder, calling that a "weakness". "It is absurd that Amanda (Knox) would join an (act of) aggression against a friend," said defense lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova, adding that Knox had been a victim of "judicial harassment".