Italy court told Knox conviction case perfect, ruling delayed

 An Italian prosecutor told the country`s top court Wednesday that Amanda Knox`s conviction for the sensational murder of British student Meredith Kercher was "beyond reproach".

AFP| Updated: Mar 26, 2015, 00:29 AM IST

Rome: An Italian prosecutor told the country`s top court Wednesday that Amanda Knox`s conviction for the sensational murder of British student Meredith Kercher was "beyond reproach".

Mario Pinelli said there should be no doubt that Knox, an American, and her Italian ex-lover Raffaele Sollecito were responsible for the 2007 killing, as ruled by a Florence court last year.

Pinelli was addressing the Court of Cassation, which is examining the verdict in what could be the final act of an eight-year legal drama replete with sub-texts of drugs, alleged sexual debauchery and police bungling.

The court will either uphold one or both of the murder convictions, or send the entire case back to the appeal stage -- which could eventually see the pair acquitted.

Pinelli told the court that "all the figures in this crime fit into a perfect reconstruction which has no flaws."

"The scenario outlined by the Florence judges is beyond reproach," he added. 

Knox`s defence lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said the prosecution`s version of events was "not justice but a misrepresentation of the facts."

The Florence court`s verdict was "a very serious miscarriage of justice which must be put right," he said.

Sollecito`s lawyer will also get a chance to respond on Friday, before the court retires to consider its verdict.

The ruling -- which could spark a request for Knox`s extradition from the United States -- had initially been expected by the end of Wednesday.

But with a massive international media presence forcing a change of rooms for the hearing, Wednesday`s proceedings ran on so long that court president Gennaro Marasca said another session would be necessary.Sollecito, 30, arrived at the Rome courthouse in the pouring rain, ushering his girlfriend Greta Menegaldo before him through the crush of international media gathered at the entrance.

Dalla Vedova told journalists outside the court he had spoken to Knox and that she was watching closely and was "worried".

Kercher was found in a pool of blood in a house she shared with Knox in November 2007, half-naked and with her throat slashed. She had been stabbed 47 times in what prosecutors initially claimed was a satanic rite.

Just under a year later, Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede was jailed for her murder, with the judge in his fast-track trial concluding that he had not acted alone.

In December 2009, Knox and Italian Sollecito were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison for their part in the killing in the university town of Perugia.

After four years in jail, the pair were acquitted on appeal in 2011 and Knox returned to the United States.

The couple were found guilty again in a shock about-turn in January last year after judges ruled Kercher was killed because a row with Knox spiralled out of control.

The Seattle native, 27, who now works as a journalist and is reportedly engaged to a childhood friend, was handed 28 years and six months in prison, while Sollecito, 30, was given 25 years and had his passport confiscated.

"We do not expect this to be the last hearing. We hope the court will annul the verdict and send the case back to appeal," Knox`s second lawyer Luciano Ghirga told AFP.

He refused to speculate about a possible extradition. Knox has said she will have to be dragged back "kicking and screaming".

Legal experts are divided as to whether an extradition request would succeed with Knox seen by some in the United States as having already been tried twice for the same crime on the basis of unreliable DNA evidence which was central to the case.Prosecutors believe Knox and Sollecito fatally slashed Kercher while Guede held her down and sexually abused her.

The appeals court placed importance on a written confession Knox made under police questioning, in which she said she had been in the house and had heard the murder, but had not taken part.

She also initially accused a local barman of the murder, but later retracted the statements, claiming they had been made under duress.

Knox and Sollecito have provided each other with alibis, claiming they smoked marijuana and slept together at another apartment on the night of the crime.

But Sollecito admitted last year that he could not remember if Knox was present all the time and his lawyers are now asking for his case to be considered separately from hers.