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Knox to see fate in murder trial from afar

US student 'tense' ahead of Meredith Kercher appeal verdict

29 January, 19:04
Knox to see fate in murder trial from afar (By Denis Greenan).

(ANSA) - Perugia, January 29 - Amanda Knox will await Thursday's verdict in an appeal on the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in her Seattle home.

A lawyer for the US student, accused of killing her flatmate along with her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, said his client was "tense" and was "shunning all media contact" ahead of the ruling.

"She's going to wait for the court's decision at home with her mother," Luciano Ghirga told ANSA.

"She's aware of the delicacy of the moment," he added.

Ghirga said he had called Knox "just to say hello" and that she had been tight-lipped.

Sollecito's father confirmed that his son, as promised, would appear in the Florence court.

The court is expected to rule late Thursday on charges of murder against Knox and Sollecito, marking their fourth verdict concerning the November 2007 stabbing death of Kercher while they were students in the medieval city of Perugia.

Both deny the charges.

"I asked him to accompany me, and so we will be in the courtroom," Francesco Sollecito told ANSA, adding that it had not yet been decided if his son will make any statements before the panel of judges withdraws to the council chamber. "We will be there because once more we have faith in the justice system," the father said, and "out of respect" for the middle appeals court of Florence.

Sollecito's family had previously said the 29-year-old would watch the verdict from his home as well.

Kercher's sister may also 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 Sollecito and Knox served a total of four years in prison, including pre-trial custody, after they were initially convicted in 2009. Last week, during their closing arguments, prosecutors asked that "precautionary measures" be taken if Knox and Sollecito are found guilty.

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 supreme court 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.

Defence experts in the latest trial have said DNA evidence was unsafe.

They said alleged traces of Knox's DNA on the handle of a kitchen knife found in Sollecito's flat, and of Kercher's on the tip, were in fact non-existent.

The presence of Sollecito's DNA on Kercher's severed bra clasp was due to crime-scene contamination, they said.

Prosecutors dusted off the initial trial's theory that Kercher was killed when a drug-fuelled sex game went wrong.

Ivory Coast drifter Rudy Guede, whose DNA was found inside Kercher and all over the flat, was convicted in a separate fast-track trial and sentenced to 16 years.

Neither Knox's nor Sollecito's DNA was detected at the murder scene.

When it sent the trial back to the appeals stage, the supreme court said it agreed with prosecutors' views that Guede could not have killed Kercher on his own.