Europe

Meredith Kercher: Knox and Sollecito court ruling delayed

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Media captionAmanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were both convicted for the second time last year, as Gavin Lee reports

Italy's top court has delayed a decision on whether to uphold the convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

The court will hear from Sollecito's defence team on Friday before the judges give their verdict.

Former lovers Knox and Sollecito were convicted for the second time in 2014.

They have maintained their innocence throughout and have already served four years in prison.

The Court of Cassation in Rome is due to confirm the guilty verdict or overturn it - either ordering another trial or effectively bringing about an acquittal.

A definitive conviction would trigger complicated attempts to extradite American Knox, who lives in Seattle in the US.

Sollecito, from Bari, southern Italy, has remained in the country, and attended the court with his new girlfriend on Wednesday.

'Remember Meredith'

Speaking before the hearing, the Kercher family's lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said they hoped the court's decision would bring an end to the judicial process.

"It's a case that has gone on for so many years now," he said.

"They hope that this will be the final stage of this judicial process and they will at last... be able to remember Meredith outside of the court room [process]."

Profile: Meredith Kercher

Image copyright PA
Image caption Meredith Kercher, 21, was found with her throat cut

Leeds University student Meredith Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, south London, was found dead in the flat she shared with Knox, now 27, in Perugia, central Italy, where both women were studying.

Her partially-clothed body was found under a duvet in her bedroom, which had been locked from the inside. Her throat had been cut.

Prosecutors claimed she was killed as part of a bungled sex game. Knox and Sollecito, 30, were convicted of the murder by a trial court in Perugia in 2009.

They were freed in 2011 after an appellate court overturned the convictions.

Profile: The two faces of Amanda Knox

Profile: Raffaele Sollecito

Image copyright AP
Image caption Sollecito and his current girlfriend Greta Menegaldo arrived at the court in pouring rain on Wednesday morning
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Amanda Knox, who appeared on American TV last year, could face extradition

The Court of Cassation rebuked the appellate judge's reasoning and last year an appeals court in Florence sentenced Knox to 28 years and Sollecito to 25 years.

The latest ruling could confirm that conviction or overturn it - and either order yet another trial or effectively acquit the pair, although legal experts say the last option is unlikely.

Rudy Hermann Guede, born in the Ivory Coast, who opted for a fast-track trial, is serving a 16-year sentence for his role in the murder.

The high-profile case has inspired books and at least two films, and Kercher's family has said Meredith, the real victim, risked being forgotten.

Originally portrayed as a fast-living partygoer, Knox came to be seen in much of her home country as a victim of a botched investigation and an unwieldy justice system.

Her lawyer, Luciano Ghirga, said she was "waiting anxiously" for Wednesday's verdict, according to AP.

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