Amanda Knox murder appeal: The protagonists

2nd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The killing of Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2007 has led to a complex four-year legal saga that is culminating in a verdict in the appeal by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito expected on Monday.

The three young people convicted for the shocking murder -- Knox, Sollecito and Rudy Guede -- have all consistently protested their innocence.

Knox and Sollecito say they were at his place on the night of the killing, while Guede admits he was in the house but says he did not commit murder.

Prosecutors say that Kercher was held down by Guede and Sollecito in her bedroom while Knox wielded the knife in a crazed attack that may have been fuelled by drugs. All three have been convicted of murder and sexual assault.

These have been the main protagonists in the case:

AMANDA KNOX: The then 20-year-old Seattle native arrived in Perugia in September 2007 for a one-year programme at the local university. She took a job as a bar waitress and met her boyfriend Sollecito at a classical music concert.

-- Legal status: Sentenced to 26 years for murder in 2009, appealing.

-- Defence: No traces of Knox were found at the scene of the crime and her initial admission during an interrogation that she was in the house during the murder only came out after heavy police questioning and with no lawyer present.

-- Prosecution: Mixed traces of Knox's and Kercher's blood were found in their bathroom. She lied during questioning, identifying the owner of the bar where she worked as the killer. She has been portrayed as a sex-mad party girl.

RAFFAELE SOLLECITO: A 23-year-old computer engineering student at the time of the murder, Sollecito is the son of a respected urologist from a small town near Bari in southern Italy. He has completed his degree while in prison.

-- Legal status: Sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2009, appealing.

-- Defence: Kercher's torn bra clasp was found by the original trial to have traces of his DNA but an independent review during the appeal cast serious doubt on this proof, meaning no physical evidence would place him at the scene.

-- Prosecution: Sollecito was a regular drug user and had a large collection of knives. The prosecution says computer and phone records do not back up his claim that he spent the whole night of the crime at his home with Knox.

RUDY GUEDE: The then 20-year-old son of a migrant from Cote d'Ivoire, Guede was informally adopted by a local businessman. He was a small time drug dealer and petty thief who frequented nightclubs and played in a basketball team.

-- Legal status: He fled Italy after the murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2008. The sentence was later reduced to 16 years on appeal after he appeared to show some contrition. He has exhausted his appeals.

PATRICK LUMUMBA: A popular local musician, the Congolese-born Lumumba owned a bar where Knox worked as a waitress. Knox falsely identified him as the killer saying he was attracted to Kercher and had gone to the house with her.

THE SCIENTIST: Police forensic scientist Patrizia Stefanoni's work helped convict Knox and Sollecito but has come under serious doubt after an independent review. Stefanoni has said she will sue for reputational damage.

THE PROSECUTOR: Giuliano Mignini has been the head prosecutor on the case from the start and is accused by Knox supporters of bias. In a separate incident, he has been convicted of abuse of office in a phone-tapping scandal.

THE TABLOIDS: There were fears in Knox's first trial that sordid coverage from British tabloids may have influenced the outcome. Generally favourable pieces about Knox on television during the appeal have also raised concern.

© 2011 AFP

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