UK

Amanda Knox appeal: Student 'not near Kercher murder scene'

Amanda Knox in court, March 12 2011
Image caption Amanda Knox was jailed for 26 years for murder, but she says she is innocent

Witnesses appearing on behalf of US student Amanda Knox have rejected a claim she was seen near a house where her British roommate was murdered.

Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are appealing in a court in Perugia against their 2009 convictions for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Their lawyers said the evidence of a homeless man who said he saw the couple the night she died was unreliable.

Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, south London, was found with her throat cut.

Prosecutors said the Leeds University student died during a sex game which went wrong.

Her semi-naked body was found partially covered by a duvet in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox.

Shuttle buses

During the original trial a homeless man, Antonio Curatolo, said he saw Sollecito and Knox in a piazza near the flat she shared with Miss Kercher in Perugia.

But Amanda Knox insists she spent the evening of 1 November 2007 at Sollecito's flat.

Mr Curatolo said he was certain about his recollection because he also remembered seeing shuttle buses and other students in the piazza waiting to go to discos.

Image caption British student Meredith Kercher was murdered in November 2007

Defence witnesses who appeared in court on Saturday included shuttle bus operators, who said there were no services on that night.

Rita Pucciarini, who worked for a disco which used the buses, said her nightclub was closed: "I'm certain because discos focus on Halloween, which is a big draw. It's like New Year's Eve," she said. "There were no buses."

Luciano Ghirga, a lawyer for Knox, said the testimony "removes (her) from the scene of the crime."

However, prosecutor Manuela Comodi said the evidence was "useless" because there were many discos in Perugia, and other bus shuttle services whose operators had not spoken.

A lawyer for the Kercher family, Francesco Maresca, also told reporters: "I remain convinced of the reliability of this witness."

The appeal hearings resumed on Saturday after a break of two months.

Mr Curatolo is expected to take the witness stand again in the next hearing, on March 26.

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