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Sollecito 'should have been questioned at Kercher trial'

Spontaneous comments not same as testimony, judge suggests

03 February, 14:38
Sollecito 'should have been questioned at Kercher trial' (ANSA) - Rome, February 3 - Raffaele Sollecito, whose conviction in the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher was upheld last week, said Monday that if his formal testimony was important to the most recent trial, he should have been properly questioned.

Sollecito, who is appealing his murder conviction along with co-accused American student Amanda Knox, was responding in an interview to quotes from Alessandro Nencini, president of the Florence appeals court, who reportedly hinted that testimony from Sollecito could have been helpful in the case.

On Monday, Nencini apologized for creating "misunderstandings" with his earlier interviews and said he meant only that Sollecito had the right to make spontaneous statements at his appeals-level trial rather than formal testimony.

Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in prison at Thursday's hearing while Knox was sentenced to 28 years for the murder of Meredith Kercher, but because they are appealing, they have not been imprisoned.

Knox returned to the United States two years ago, after the pair's original conviction was struck down on appeal, and has said she will not come back to Italy.

Sollecito, who has been ordered to remain in Italy and has had his passport seized, maintained his innocence Monday and said he should have been asked to testify again if the court thought he had something new to add to the case.

"I find puzzling the considerations of the president of the court," Sollecito said.

"If indeed my statements could have changed the course of the trial, why didn't anyone feel the need to interrogate me?" said Sollecito, who attended part of the hearings in Florence and made informal statements to the court but was not called as a formal witness.

"I was available but in all these years no prosecutor or judge has ever (requested testimony)," said Sollecito, adding that he did not even know the victim very well but had only "seen her a couple of times" and therefore had no motive for murder.

Sollecito and Knox have both already served a total of four years in prison, including pre-trial custody, after their initial conviction in 2009.

That sentence was subsequently overturned on appeal but the supreme court last year quashed the acquittals over aspects of the evidence it argued had not been properly examined and ordered a repetition of the appeals-level trial.

Sollecito on Friday morning was forced to hand in his passport after he had taken a drive through Austria, but denied allegations of attempting to flee, saying the brief trip was to relax from a stressful 12-hour court session on Thursday.