Media crush as Knox verdict day opens in Italy

3rd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The last day of Amanda Knox's murder appeal opened in Italy on Monday with dozens of photographers, cameramen and supporters of the 24-year-old American crowding into the frescoed courtroom.

Knox's defence lawyer Luciano Ghirga is expected to deliver his summing up and will be followed by statements from Knox and co-appellant Raffaele Sollecito, 27, her boyfriend at the time of the killing in November 2007.

The eight-person jury, which is presided by judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann, will then retire to chambers later on Monday to consider its verdict.

"The wait is really hard. I slept on and off. We're all tense but hopeful because the defence has clearly shown that Amanda is innocent," Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, told reporters before the start of the hearing.

"But we can't allow ourselves to get too caught up in the wave of optimism now surrounding the case because there was no evidence last time and they found her guilty," said Mellas, who has attended much of the trial.

Some 400 journalists are accredited for the appeal, which began in November 2010, and television vans have been parked outside the tribunal for days.

Queues of journalists formed outside the court on Monday from before dawn.

Knox and Sollecito have been convicted of taking part in the murder and sexual assault of Knox's British housemate Meredith Kercher in the university town of Perugia in central Italy, where all three were studying.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito to 25 in 2009.

Rudy Guede, a local drug dealer and petty thief who attended student parties, was tried separately and convicted on the same charges. He is serving out a 16-year sentence after exhausting his chances for appeal.

Knox and Sollecito have protested their complete innocence and say they were not in the house that Knox and Kercher shared on the night of the murder.

Guede has admitted he was in the house at the time of the killing but has pointed the finger at the other two for being the actual perpetrators.

© 2011 AFP

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