Italy's highest court of appeals has overturned murder charges against American Amanda Knox for the death of British roommate Meredith Kercher in 2007, capping an exhausting six-year legal battle, reported the BBC on Friday. Knox's boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was also acquitted. The final verdict comes on the heels of an emotional roller coaster ride for the 27-year-old Seattle resident, who spent a total of four years in jail for the stabbing death and sexual assault of her fellow exchange student.
Knox was originally convicted in 2009 for the death of the British Kercher, and waited behind the walls of the Capanne prison in Perugia, Italy for two years before her guilty verdict was dismissed in 2011. In 2014, both Knox and Sollecito's acquittals were overturned, however, and the two were sentenced to 28½ years and 25 years in jail respectively.
At the time of the 2014 acquittal reversal, prosecutors in the case had argued that "important evidence" had been disregarded by the courts that would have supported the prior guilty verdict, reported the BBC. Knox was convicted once more in January of last year, but spent the following year in the United States as Italian officials awaited her extradition.
In April last year, former UN lawyer M. Cherif Bassiouni indicated in a post for the Oxford University Press that the diplomatic channels through which Knox's execution may have been cleared were stalled over a potential "double jeopardy" clause.
"Amanda Knox would not be extraditable to Italy should Italy seek her extradition because she was retried for the same acts, the same facts, and the same conduct," explained Bassiouni. "Her case was reviewed three times with different outcomes even though she was not actually tried three times." CNN reported early on Friday that the hurdle in international relations could be a "new test for American diplomatic and justice officials."
Now that Knox's case has been overturned, however, it's one less thing for them — and for Knox, of course — to worry about. In a statement from her home on Friday evening, Knox wrote,
I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy. The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal. And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends, and strangers. To them, I say: thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
The Associated Press reported that high court presiding judge Gennaro Marasca's reasoning for the acquittal will be released within the next 90 days.
Ivory Coast-born Italian resident Rudy Guede, who was tried separately for the murder of 21-year-old Kercher and maintains his innocence, is currently still serving a reduced, 16-year sentence for his part in the murder. Italian authorities maintain that Guede did not act alone, but have yet to pinpoint the other assailants.
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