Amanda Knox prepares for Italy sex-murder appeal

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An appeal by Amanda Knox, the American woman jailed for the sex-murder of a British student in Italy, is set to bring her 26-year conviction back into the international spotlight starting Wednesday.

Knox, 23, was sentenced last year for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, her housemate and fellow foreign student in the medieval city of Perugia in central Italy, during a drug-fuelled sex game that went horribly wrong.

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.

Her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and an unemployed drifter from Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede, were also convicted of the gruesome murder.

Sollecito will be appealing against his 25-year sentence jointly with Knox in the Perugia court from Wednesday under an international media glare.

Defence lawyers for the two have said there were "numerous" gaps in the prosecution's case and have spoken of a "miscarriage of justice."

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 and will face trial on May 17 for slandering seven police officers and an interpreter.

Knox said her false statements -- notably, that her part-time employer Patrick Lumumba was the killer -- were the result of "suggestions" during aggressive police questioning by interrogators who called her a "stupid liar."

She said a policewoman had twice hit her on the back of the head during questioning, a charge which Italian police have strongly denied.

Knox said she was under duress when she originally stated she was at home at the time of the murder and could hear Kercher's screams.

Knox 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 found she was a very different girl from what I imagined and was afraid of... I had to meet a girl described as sex, drugs and rock'n'roll," Girlanda said in an interview with AFP last month.

"Instead, from our conversations a very different person came out," he said.

In one of their conversations, he quotes Knox as saying: "I want to live... I'm thinking about when I will be out of here."

"Living here is like being in limbo," she is quoted as saying from her cell.

Girlanda said he brought Knox numerous classic works of world literature during his visits, including works by Hemingway, Kafka and Tolstoy.

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

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