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Supreme court setback for Knox

Cassation says more than one person took part in Kercher murder

24 February, 17:37
Supreme court setback for Knox (ANSA) - Rome, February 24 - Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito suffered a setback in their bid to be cleared of killing Meredith Kercher Thursday when Italy's supreme court said more than one person took part in the murder.

American student Knox and Sollecito are currently appealing against 26-year and 25-year sentences respectively in a separate court in the central city of Perugia, where Knox's flat mate Kercher was found with her throat cut on November 2, 2007.

The supreme court of Cassation said Thursday that a third person convicted of the murder, Ivorian drifter Rudy Guede, was not the only person involved, in its explanation for its December rejection of Guede's appeal against a 16-year sentence for the murder.

It also upheld lower court sentences, according to which, 21-year-old exchange student Kercher was killed after a sex game went wrong. She was the victim of ''the brutal and overbearing force of a group conduct which highlights, in its unhappy protagonists, an orgiastic desire to unleash the most perverted criminal instincts, such as to prompt a profound sense of dismay, repugnance and contempt in any person of average morality,'' the Supreme Court said.

Guede has exhausted the appeals process after his defence team asked for his case to be handled via a fast-track procedure, while Knox and Sollecito are in the middle of the first of two possible appeals granted by the Italian justice system.

In its explanation, the supreme court stressed that it had only been called to assess the guilt of Guede.

Nevertheless, the ruling is bound to affect Knox and Sollecito's claim Guede was the sole perpetrator of the crime. Knox has many supporters in her homeland who say she is the innocent victim of a miscarriage of justice and are supporting her appeal.

Earlier this month forensic experts started re-examining disputed DNA evidence that was central to the prosecution's case in Knox and Sollecito's first trial after their lawyers requested it be looked at again.

The experts' findings are due to be delivered on May 9 and then assessed at a hearing set for May 21.

The supreme court setback for Knox and Sollecito comes after their lawyers failed in a bid to block the broadcast of a film on the murder on television in the United States this week.

Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy, with rising star Hayden Panettiere playing Knox, was aired by America's Lifetime network on Monday.

Knox said she was 'distressed' after seeing the trailer of the film.

Kercher's family also made unsuccessful calls for the movie, shot in the autumn in Seattle, Knox's home town, Rome and Perugia, not to be shown. ''To actually see it like this is very distressing,'' Meredith's father John Kercher told the British media.

''The scenes are absolutely horrific. It's awful what these film people have done''.

British director Michael Winterbottom also plans to make a film on the murder, reportedly with Colin Firth playing an investigative reporter.

photo: Amanda Knox.