Italy’s highest court of appeal overturned the acquittal of US student Amanda Knox on Tuesday and ordered a retrial over the murder of her British housemate in what prosecutors said was a drug-fuelled sex attack.
Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito -- originally sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison for killing and sexually assaulting Meredith Kercher in 2007 -- were acquitted on appeal in 2011 after four years in prison.
Both now face a retrial in a Florence court after judges upheld a 2012 prosecution appeal against their acquittals.
“It’s not been easy from the start. We have had to climb a mountain, but we draw great strength both from being innocent and from the fact the court’s ruling today is not a guilty verdict,” Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno said.
“The retrial means the court has decided some details need to be reviewed. The battle continues,” she said.
Prosecutors addressing the court on Monday had said they were convinced the former lovers were guilty of murdering Kercher. Calling for the judges to “make sure the final curtain does not drop on this shocking and dire crime,” they said the acquittal, based mainly on the admissibility of DNA evidence in the case, contained “omissions and many mistakes”.
Prosecutor general Luigi Riello had described it as “a rare mix of violation of the law and illogicality and should be overturned,” and accused the appeal judge of having “lost of way”. Kercher, 21, was found half-naked with her throat slashed in a pool of blood in her bedroom in the house that she shared with Knox in November 2007.
A third person, Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede, who like the other two accused has always denied the murder, is the only person still in prison for the crime. Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca punched the air in victory as the court’s decision was read out, according to journalists present.
“This decision serves to review the definitive and final truth of Meredith’s murder. Guede was not alone, the judges will tell us who was there with him,” he said.