Knox sentence increased to 28 years
American student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, have been found guilty for the second time of the 2007 murder of Briton Meredith Kercher, in a retrial that reversed an earlier appeal judgment.
The verdict on thursday, after 12 hours of deliberations, confirmed Knox and Sollecito’s original 2009 conviction. Knox’s sentence was increased to 28 years and six months and Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years. Knox did not attend the retrial, having gone home to the US after the previous appeal.
“I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict. Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system,” she said.
Sollecito’s lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, confirmed that her client would appeal to Italy’s highest court, and Knox’s lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said he was “stunned”. The court will publish the reasons for its verdict in 90 days.
For Kercher’s family, who had pushed to have the appeal verdict overturned, the reaction was equally raw.
“We are still in shock,” said Stephanie Kercher, Meredith’s sister, after the ruling was read.
Kercher’s brother, Lyle, who was in the court for the verdict, said he would not be able to forgive those responsible for his sister’s death. In an interview with Sky News, he said: “I think you’d have to be a very strong-willed – arguably religious – person to find that forgiveness. I think it is so easily forgotten what happened to Meredith. When I read reports even now, I find myself skimming past the paragraphs that refer to what actually happened to her because it is so horrific.”
If final appeals are heard, neither Knox nor Sollecito, who was banned from leaving Italy, would face arrest or jail time until a final verdict by the highest court.
Knox attacked the “overzealous and intransigent prosecution” and “prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation” and said she had been wrongfully prosecuted.
Kercher, 21, was found stabbed to death in her bedroom in the apartment she shared with Knox in the Umbrian city of Perugia in 2007, where the two were students.
Investigators quickly pointed to Knox and Sollecito as suspects, building a narrative that the two killed Kercher in a sex game gone awry. Both were convicted in 2009 and spent four years in prison.
They were cleared on appeal, but Italy’s highest court last year quashed that verdict because of “inconsistencies” and ordered a repeat of the appeal trial.
Knox has seen a steady transformation of her image, helped by a sophisticated publicity machine that has portrayed her as a victim of a faulty justice system.
They argued that only one person is guilty of the murder: Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, who is serving a 16-year sentence for sexually assaulting and stabbing Kercher. His trial found that he did not act alone because of the number and variety of Kercher’s more than 40 wounds.Reuters