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Ruling expected Thursday in Perugia murder of student

Knox, Sollecito face fourth judgment in 2007 stabbing of Kercher

28 January, 16:59
Ruling expected Thursday in Perugia murder of student (ANSA) - Florence, January 28 - A court in Florence is expected to rule Thursday on accusations of murder against American Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend in the 2007 stabbing death of British student Meredith Kercher.

The ruling marks the fourth verdict for Knox, who has been living in her native United States and has not attended this trial, and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who has spoken to the court at some of the hearings.

Sollecito's family says the 29-year-old will watch the verdict from his home while the victim's sister may be present in the courtroom to hear the judgment in the case where prosecutors have requested a 26-year prison term for Sollecito and 30 years for Knox.

Both served a total of four years in prison, including pre-trial custody, after they were initially convicted in 2009 of the November 2007 murder of Kercher, who was Knox's roommate while they were students in the medieval city of Perugia. Last week, during their closing arguments, prosecutors asked that "precautionary measures" be taken if Knox and Sollecito are found guilty of the stabbing death of Leeds University student Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey.

In practice, such measures would likely be applied only to Sollecito, because Knox, 26, has said she is too "afraid" to return to Italy. Measures could range from house arrest to being stripped of his passport.

If the pair are found guilty, it would not be the final word, as they would have the right to appeal to the country's supreme court.

Both Knox and Sollecito have denied the charges against them and in 2011, were acquitted on appeal two years after their first conviction.

Then, the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest court, subsequently overturned the appeal ruling and ordered a new appeals-level trial in 2013 over aspects of the evidence it argued had not been properly examined before.

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.

Guede's DNA was found inside Kercher, on her clothes, and elsewhere in the apartment.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Alessandro Crini repeated accusations from the original trial that Guede held Kercher down while he sexually assaulted her and at the same time, Knox and Sollecito repeatedly stabbed her in a drug-fuelled rage.

But he also ruled out the scenario of a sex game gone awry leading to Kercher's death as was posited by the original prosecutors.

Instead, Crini has repeatedly argued the murder was sparked by the latest in a series of arguments over the cleanliness of the apartment, after Guede left the toilet dirty.

The Kercher family have welcomed the new appeals trial and consistently stated they want to know who committed the crime along with Guede.