Witness to confront Amanda Knox in Italy murder appeal

27th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

A man convicted of killing a British student in Italy takes the stand for the first time on Monday against Amanda Knox, the US woman appealing a sentence for her part in the same murder.

Rudy Guede was tried separately from Knox and her Italian lover Raffaele Sollecito after he agreed to a fast-track trial procedure and his sentence was reduced to 16 years in prison after he expressed remorse over what happened.

He has admitted to sexually assaulting Kercher in her home on the night of November 1 and to being in the house when she was killed but not to the gruesome murder, which has shaken the medieval university town of Perugia.

"I'm concerned since there have been mistakes in this process all along but I'm confident," Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, told AFP as the hearing got underway, with a series of witnesses for the prosecution set to testify.

Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, a schoolteacher from Seattle in the US state of Washington, also attended the hearing together with her husband Chris Mellas and said that her daughter has been "anxious" ahead of Monday's hearing.

"It's horrible for her to go through this but I think she's glad things are moving along. She feels things are going well," she said.

Commenting on a crucial review by independent experts of the DNA evidence used to convict Knox in the case, which is due to be presented to the court by Thursday, Mellas said: "There's no evidence of her in the room.

"It sounds like the independent experts are professionals and if that's the case, it's all going to come back positive for her," she added.

The killing of Kercher, an exchange student from Leeds University, was the subject of a controversial US television film earlier this year starring US actress Hayden Panettiere as Knox and has drawn international media attention.

Kercher's family have spoken of their trauma as the case is once again dragged into the spotlight and have said they are confident of the convictions.

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

Prosecutors said they killed Kercher when a drug-fuelled sex game in a stone cottage that Knox and Kercher shared turned violent. She was found semi-nude in a pool of blood under a duvet with multiple stab wounds to the neck.

Guede, a local drifter originally from Ivory Coast who fled after the murder and was arrested in Germany, was convicted in 2008 and originally sentenced to 30 years in jail, but the sentence was later reduced on appeal.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted in large part because of traces of Knox's DNA found on the knife believed to have killed Kercher and Sollecito's DNA on a bra clasp. For the appeal, fresh DNA tests were ordered on both items.

At a hearing this month, a convicted child killer and a mobster told the court that Knox and Sollecito had nothing to do with the 21-year-old's death.

Mario Alessi, convicted of killing a child, said that in fact a friend of Guede had killed the Briton to silence her after she resisted a sexual assault.

The convict said Guede had spoken to him about the case during an exercise session at Viterbo prison where they shared a cell.

Camorra boss Luciano Aviello, meanwhile, accused his own brother, telling the court his sibling killed Kercher in an attempt to steal a painting.

© 2011 AFP

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