Florence - The retrial of Amanda Knox and her former lover
for the murder of a British student began in Florence on Monday, with lawyers
for the victim saying her family was long overdue the truth behind one of
Italy's most notorious crimes.
US student Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito spent four
years behind bars for the murder of Meredith Kercher, who was found half-naked
in a pool of blood in the house she shared with Knox in 2007, her body riddled
with stab wounds.
Kercher's throat had been slit and she suffered a
"slow, agonising" death, according to the coroner's report.
"I hope that we will take a step towards the truth, for
the Kercher family. A truth which will finally reveal what really happened to
Meredith that night," said lawyer Francesco Maresca.
An appeals court overturned Knox and Sollecito's convictions
in 2011 and the US student returned to Seattle, but Italy's Supreme Court in
March ordered a retrial for them both following an appeal by prosecutors
against what they slammed a "superficial ruling."
"We are convinced of their guilt, and believe the
Supreme Court ruling supports our theory," Maresca said.
The lawyer told the court that none of the Kercher family
were present because Meredith's parents were in ill health.
Knox, 26, has insisted she will not to return for any of the
retrial, saying her stint in prison aged her by 40 years and she suffers from
panic attacks and depression.
"I was depicted as a young, unscrupulous liar. A sex
fiend, a murderess. I'm not coming back," she told Florence's local
Corriere Fiorentino daily on the eve of the hearing.
If Knox is convicted again and loses another Supreme Court
appeal, experts say there is a remote chance that she could be extradited and
Sollecito, 29, has been living in the Dominican Republic but
his family has said he will attend court later on in the trial, which could
Sollecito's father Francesco, who was present in court,
said: "the Supreme Court wants the new court in Florence to look at the
fundamentals, and we're pleased."
"It can only confirm what we already know: that
Raffaelle has nothing whatsoever to do with what happened to that poor
girl," he said.
Retrial judge Alessandro Nencini will have to decide whether
to order DNA evidence to be examined again from scratch and re-hear witness
'She is guilty'
Italy's highest court said a retrial was necessary because
of "numerous examples of shortcomings, contradictions and
incoherencies" in the appeal ruling.
It accused the judges of glazing over clues and insisted the
prosecution's claim from the original trial - that the grizzly murder was the
result of "an erotic game that spun out of control" - was a valid
It strongly questioned the decision not to test a third
trace of DNA found on the alleged murder weapon - a kitchen knife found in
Sollecito's house - despite experts saying the trace was too low to produce
It accused the judges of not considering the prosecution's claim
that Sollecito's involvement was proved by the fact that only one in three
billion people were compatible with the DNA traces found on Kercher's bra
The defence insists the DNA samples were not admissible
because the original probe into the murder was flawed - with police caught
using dirty gloves to bag evidence and failing to store it properly, opening
the way to possible DNA contamination.
The Supreme Court said Knox's original confession to police
which she later retracted - in which she said she heard Meredith's screams from
another room in the house and covered her ears - was undervalued.
She also falsely accused Congolese bar owner Patrick Lumumba
of the murder, landing him behind bars for two-weeks before he was cleared of
"Amanda isn't here because she is guilty. She is guilty
or she would not have accused me," said Lumumba, who was present in court.
The US student insists the claims were made under duress.
Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede, who like the other two
has always denied the murder, is the only person still in prison for the crime.