Knox tackles DNA proof in Italy sex-murder trial

11th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Lawyers for Amanda Knox, the young American woman convicted of killing a British student in Italy, said they would question DNA evidence linking her to the crime at her appeal trial on Saturday.

"We will request a new examination of the DNA," Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga, who says his client is entirely innocent, told AFP before the hearing.

"We will also present a summary of our case," Ghirga said.

Knox was sentenced in 2009 to 26 years for murdering Leeds University student Meredith Kercher in the cottage they shared in the university town of Perugia as part of what prosecutors described as a drug-fuelled sexual assault.

Her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, was also convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison and is appealing together with Knox.

An Ivorian man, Rudy Guede, was convicted in a separate trial in which he admitted he was in the house but did not take part in the killing.

Prosecutors said Guede sexually asssaulted Kercher and then held her down while the other two killed her in a drug-fuelled, apparently motiveless attack.

The main piece of DNA evidence linking Knox to the murder, dismissed as unreliable by her defence, was a knife found in Sollecito's house which was found to have traces of Knox's DNA on the handle and Kercher's on the blade.

Knox last month 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 is now saying that she was with Sollecito in his house at the time of the murder. Sollecito has said he does not remember if she was there or not.

The trial in Perugia in central Italy began with a hearing last month in which a nervous-looking Knox appeared briefly before the court was adjourned.

The next hearings are scheduled for December 18 and January 15 and the outcome of the appeal trial is expected some time next year.

Ghirga has said he expects the final verdict in February or March.

Prosecutors have said they will seek a life sentence for Knox -- their original request in her first trial -- if the conviction is upheld.

Meanwhile Kercher's father, John, said in an article in Britain's Daily Mail this month that it was "utterly despicable" that Knox had become a celebrity.

He said that Knox's parents, Kurt Knox and ex-wife Edda Mellas, "have never expressed their condolences to our family for our grievous loss.

"This appeal, like the initial court case, will drag on for months, while the dark tunnel between my family and our ability to grieve for Meredith in peace becomes ever longer," he said.

"If Knox doesn't get the result she wants, our agony will be even more protracted: she may then take her case to Italy's Supreme Court in Rome. Put simply, our ordeal could go on for years."

© 2010 AFP

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