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Italy: Amanda Knox awaits murder re-trial verdict with 'heart in her mouth'

last update: January 30, 14:33

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Florence, 30 January (AKI) - US student Amanda Knox's heart was "in her mouth" as she awaited Thursday's verdict in her re-trial for the brutal murder of her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in central Italy in 2007.

Speaking via Skype to an Italian TV station, she said: “I will be waiting to receive a phone call from my lawyers and my heart will be in my mouth.

“But the proof is in the facts - it’s clear that there’s no evidence that I was there when (the murder) happened.

Knox, 26, who is being re-tried for Kercher's 2 November 2007 murder together with her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito has remained in the US for the trial, said she would be at at home in Seattle with her mother and family and that her lawyer would inform her of the outcome.

“If I am convicted, I understand I will be a fugitive, but I will continue fighting until the end,” she said.

Knox claims she has not returned to Italy for fear of being "wrongfully convicted".

Sollecito and his father announced the would be in court for the verdict, which was not expected from the Florence appeals court before 5pm local time. Two judges and eight jurors began their deliberations earlier on Thursday.

Prosecutors have asked for sentences of 30 years and 26 years respectively for Knox and Sollecito for the gruesome murder of Kercher at the apartment they shared with two other students in the central Italian city of Perugia.

The prosecutors claim Kercher was killed during a violent confrontation with Knox over housecleaning, that Sollecito was present and that the couple was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Knox and Sollecito claim they are innocent of the murder of Kercher, who was found semi-naked in her room at the flat with her thoat cut and multiple stab wounds all over her body.

They were arrested days after the killing, imprisoned and convicted in 2009, but acquitted and freed from prison two years later on appeal after DNA experts testified that key evidence that convicted them was seriously flawed.

In March last year, Italy's highest court sensationally overturned the acquittals and ordered a fresh murder trial for Knox and Sollecito, strongly criticising the way the appeals court had dismissed important evidence in the case and citing conflicting witness testimonies.

A third person, Ivorian-born drifter Rudy Guede, was tried separately and convicted. He was jailed for 30 years in 2010. That sentence was reduced to 16 years after two rounds of appeals and the judges' conclusion that he had not acted alone.

Whatever the decision of the court, it could be challenged once again before Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, Italy's top appeals body.

If she is convicted, experts doubt she could be extradited back to Italy but may not be able to travel freely outside the US if Italy issues a warrant for her arrest.

If found guilty, Sollecito could be jailed or stripped of his passport to prevent him fleeing.

Kercher's brother and sister were expected to be in court for the verdict. Knox has written a letter to Kercher's sister Stephanie offering "words of comfort" that has so far remained unopened, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported Thursday.


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