Kercher murder: Sollecito found near Austria border
- 31 January 2014
- From the section Europe
Italian police have found Raffaele Sollecito near the Austrian border after a court reinstated his guilty verdict for the murder of Briton Meredith Kercher in 2007.
Sollecito's passport was confiscated but his lawyer said his client had never thought of fleeing.
Sollecito was given 25 years and his US ex-girlfriend Amanda Knox 28 years and six months in Thursday's ruling.
Knox, who is in the US, said she would fight to avoid extradition to Italy.
Meredith Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon in south London, was stabbed to death in the flat she shared with Knox in the college city of Perugia.
The Kercher family lawyer said that justice had been done.
At a news conference on Friday, Ms Kercher's brother, Lyle, said he believed extradition would be appropriate "if someone has been found guilty and convicted of a murder, and if an extradition law exists between those two countries".
His sister, Stephanie, said: "I think we are still on a journey for the truth and it may be the fact that we don't ever really know what happened that night."
In his first reaction to the decision, Raffaele Sollecito said he had not expected his conviction to be reinstated.
"To me, all of this makes no sense, so I will fight until the end, also because we proved and we showed in many ways that I have nothing to do with this murder," he told NBC News.
The travel ban on Sollecito was part of the verdict handed down by the court in Florence on Thursday.
The court noted that there was a "real and actual the danger that Sollecito could escape Italian justice".
He is free to move within Italy until the verdict is confirmed, normally the task of the supreme Court of Cassation.
Lawyers for both Knox and Sollecito have said they will appeal to the Court of Cassation.
Sollecito had been in the courtroom in Florence earlier in the day on Thursday but was not there for the ruling.
Police reportedly found Sollecito with his girlfriend in a hotel in Venzone, about 40km (24 miles) from the Austrian border and also close to Slovenia, in the early hours of Friday.
Venzone is 322km from Florence.
Italian media reported that Sollecito told police he had crossed into Austria during the day on Thursday - but had returned.
A police statement read: "Raffaele Sollecito... was notified of the cautionary measures of the travel ban and the confiscation of his passport."
He was taken voluntarily to a police station in Udine.
Sollecito's lawyer, Luca Maori, told Ansa news agency that his client had "never thought of fleeing and had given up his passport spontaneously".
Mr Maori said his client was "stressed" on Thursday and had travelled to the Friuli area because his girlfriend lived there.
Ansa reported that investigators were considering whether Sollecito had shown the intention of fleeing, and if so could keep him in protective custody.
'This is wrong'
Amanda Knox appeared on ABC's Good Morning America programme in New York on Friday.
She said: "This has really hit me like a train. I did not expect this to happen."
Knox, her voice regularly breaking, said she had listened as the judge read the verdict.
"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," she said, adding that her first reaction was: "No, this is wrong."
She added: "I will never go willingly back... I'm going to fight this to the very end."
Knox said Sollecito was "vulnerable", adding: "I don't know what I would do if they imprisoned him. It's maddening."
Knox and Sollecito were jailed for Miss Kercher's murder in 2009 but the verdicts were overturned in 2011 and the pair were freed.
However, the acquittals were themselves overturned last year by the Court of Cassation, which returned the case to the Florence court.
The court on Thursday made no requests for limits on Knox's movements.
Legal experts say it is unlikely Italy will request Knox's extradition until the verdict is confirmed.
They say that if Italy puts in a request, the US would have to decide whether the case fell under their mutual extradition treaty. Political considerations could also come into play, they say.