Amanda Knox Acquitted - To Be Immediately Released

Mon, 10/03/2011 - 11:15

After a ten month appeal process, an Italian court has just overturned the sentences of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The court ordered that the defendants be immediately released.

Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were sentenced to 26 and 25 years respectively for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student who was studying in Perugia and shared a flat with Knox at the time of her death. Knox and her ex-boyfriend have already served nearly four years in prison.

Amanda Knox was found guilty of slander for giving a false statement to police that initially blamed Patrick Lumumba for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Knox has long claimed that she gave the statement under extreme duress and was not allowed an interpreter or a lawyer. She was ordered to three years of prison for slandering Lumumba (which she has already served) and required to pay Lumumba's legal fees.

Earlier today, Knox and Sollecito both addressed the panel of judges in an Italian court to make a final statement of their innocence.

Knox appealed to the court in fluent Italian, saying: "I trusted the police's sense of duty and trust. I trusted them completely. I was betrayed on the night of November the 5th. I was manipulated. I am not who I say I am. I did not do the things attributed to me. I am not violent. I don't have a lack of respect for life. And I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal. I wasn't there at the crime scene at the time".

In June, the defense attempted to discredit evidence linking Knox and Sollecito to the crime by bringing forward expert witnesses who testified that two pieces of DNA evidence linking the ex-lovers to the murder were mishandled and inconclusive. The forensic experts claimed that the DNA findings should never have been included because the results were too low to be reliable and the amount of genetic material was too small to be retested.

A third man, Rudy Guede, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the crime. He has appealed twice but his conviction has been upheld both times.

A survey carried out by a university website found that the 6,130 student respondents were evenly split between those who thought the couple were innocent (44%), and those who thought they were guilty (48%), with the remainder claimingly uncertainty.

The Knox family has reportedly been shipping Amanda's belongings home and has asked for privacy. Amanda Knox is expected to leave Italy immediately.