Convicted child killer, mobster back Amanda Knox

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Amanda Knox and her lover Raffaele Sollecito on Saturday turned to a convicted child killer and a mobster in their bid to overturn their convictions for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

Both men told the court hearing the pair's appeal that Knox and Sollecito had nothing to do with the 21-year-old's death in 2007.

Mario Alessi, serving a sentence for killing a child, told the hearing that a friend of co-defendant Rudy 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.

Guede allegedly told him Kercher was murdered by his friend, who was not officially identified.

"Rudy told me he tried to help the young woman (Meredith Kercher) after his friend wounded her with a small knife with an ivory-coloured grip," Alessi told the court.

The friend reportedly then told Guede: "What are you doing? We have to kill her if not we'll end up in prison because of her."

Alessi earlier made the same allegations in a deposition to police.

When questioned by Perugia prosecutors Guede, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in a separate trial for his role in the murder, denied ever having made such statements.

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

Knox, from Seattle, Washington, was sentenced in December 2009 to 26 years in prison for the murder of Kercher with whom she shared a house in Perugia.

Sollecito, Knox's boyfriend at the time, was sentenced to 25 years for his part in the murder. Both are now appealing their convictions.

Prosecutors said they killed Kercher when a drug-fuelled sex game turned violent on the night of November 1, 2007.

She was found semi-nude in a pool of blood under a duvet with multiple stab wounds to the neck.

Ivorian Guede was convicted in 2008 and sentenced to 30 years in jail, but the appeal court later reduced his term to 16 years.

At the court's request Guede is to be heard as a witness on June 27.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted in large part because of traces of Knox's DNA found on the knife that killed Kercher and Sollecito's DNA on a bra clasp.

As part of the appeal, fresh DNA tests were ordered on the weapon and the clasp.

Last month Knox attended the first hearing in a slander trial in which she is charged with falsely accusing Italian police of beating and intimidating her during questioning.

Amanda's father and her mother were also ordered to stand trial for alleging their daughter was beaten by Italian police in an interview they gave to Britain's Sunday Times in 2008.

© 2011 AFP

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