Scientists cast doubt on DNA in Amanda Knox case

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Italian experts have raised doubts about DNA evidence that helped convict US student Amanda Knox for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007, ANSA news agency reported Wednesday.

In a leaked report, experts who have been carrying out tests as part of Knox's appeal against her conviction said they could not be certain that DNA traces found on the presumed murder weapon were in fact those of the victim.

They also said that DNA traces found on Kercher's bra clasp which the first trial linked to Knox's boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, could have come from atmospheric contamination and pointed to mistakes in the tests.

"The international procedures for inspection, protocol and collection of evidence were not followed" for both the bra clasp and the knife, they said.

The original trial said the knife, which was found in Sollecito's house, had traces of Knox's DNA on the handle and of Kercher's DNA on the blade.

The findings are set to be formally debated at a hearing in the appeal trial of Knox and Sollecito, who were sentenced to 26 years and 25 years for the gruesome murder which shocked the Italian university town of Perugia.

A third person, Rudy Guede, has also been convicted for the murder as well as sexual assault of Kercher. On Monday, he testified at the appeal trial of Knox and Sollecito claiming they were the only ones to blame for the killing.

Kercher, an exchange student from Leeds University, was found in a pool of blood in the cottage she shared with Knox. The case has been turned into a television film in the United States starring Hayden Panettiere as Knox.

Prosecutors have said they believe Kercher was killed by Guede, Sollecito and Knox as part of a drug-fuelled sex game that turned violent.

All three claim they are innocent of the murder, although Guede has admitted he was in the house at the time of the killing.

© 2011 AFP

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