Amanda Knox appeal starts in Italy sex-murder case
The appeal trial of Amanda Knox over the sex-murder of a British student in Italy gets underway on Wednesday, as prosecutors seek a harsher sentence and Knox's family protests her innocence.
Knox, 23, was sentenced to 26 years in prison last year for killing Meredith Kercher in the cottage they shared in the medieval city of Perugia as part of what prosecutors described as a gruesome, drug-fuelled sexual assault.
"We believe that if the judges and the jury take a look at just the evidence and what we're bringing up in the appeal it's a no-brainer and they will let Amanda go," her mother, Edda Mellas, said on British television this week.
Her father Curt Knox told channel ITV1: "I look at it as this is a point that is Amanda's next chance to be found innocent, which she is."
But Italian prosecutors have said they will seek a longer sentence for Knox if the conviction is upheld by the Perugia appeals court.
Knox's then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who was sentenced to 25 years for the 2007 murder, is appealing at the same time. An Ivorian man, Rudy Guede, who fled Perugia and was arrested in Germany, has also been jailed for the murder.
Wednesday's hearing is expected to be technical in nature and the appeal trial proper is set to start next month, lasting possibly into next year.
Kercher was found on November 2, 2007, half-naked in a pool of blood with stab wounds to the neck in her room in the cottage she shared with Knox.
Knox, a Seattle native, has repeatedly protested her innocence and her case has continued to garner large-scale media attention, particularly in the United States where many people are convinced of her innocence.
Earlier this month she was indicted on additional charges of slander for claiming that police beat her during questioning soon after the murder. She said then that she had been in the house at the time of the killing.
Knox faces a separate trial on the slander charges on May 17 next year.
She has spoken in detail of her imprisonment in a book of interviews by Italian lawmaker Rocco Girlanda, president of the Italy-USA Foundation, who has taken a personal interest in the case and has visited Knox in prison.
Knox is quoted in the book as saying that she longs to live a normal life and hopes to one day become a mother and start a writing career.
"I want to live... I'm thinking about when I will be out of here," Knox is quoted as saying during one of the visits in her cell in Perugia.
"Living here is like being in limbo," she said.
Girlanda said he brought Knox numerous classic works of world literature during his visits, including works by Dostoyevsky, Hemingway and Kafka.
The case is also serving as the basis for a television film currently being shot in Italy called "The Amanda Knox Story," starring US actress Hayden Panettiere as Knox. It is expected to screen in the United States next year.
© 2010 AFP