UK & World News
Kercher Killer Sollecito Speaks About 'Escape'
Convicted killer Raffaele Sollecito has spoken in detail for the first time about why he drove to Austria the day he was sentenced for the murder of Meredith Kercher.
Computer studies graduate Sollecito, 29, crossed the border with his girlfriend Greta Menegaldo while the judge and jury considered their verdict.
They later returned to Italy, telling police - who tracked him down to his hotel after a tip off from the night porter - that he had gone there because he was "feeling stressed".
When details emerged there was speculation that he had driven into Austria from Italy as part of an escape plan, but in an interview with La Repubblica newspaper he denied the suggestion.
"Escape? Greta and I went to (the Austrian town) Villach, a place we both wanted to see," he said.
"It was never my intention to flee. I had no reason to. I was convinced they would clear me.
"I followed the trial very closely and perhaps naively, I was convinced they would find me innocent, that the judges would see I had nothing to do with Meredith's death and in the end I would be cleared.
"But instead ... well I don't want to say anything about the sentence. It was just a quick trip and afterwards Greta and I were driving back to her father's house at Porte di Piave when it started to snow heavily."
Earlier on the evening he arrived in Austria, the appeal court more than 300 miles south in Florence had upheld his 2009 conviction for murdering and sexually assaulting British student Meredith Kercher.
He was given a 25-year sentence and his former girlfriend and co-accused, Amanda Knox, 26, was also convicted of the same charges and given a 28 year sentence - two years more than the original decision.
Both have vowed to fight verdicts which are expected to be heard by Italy's Supreme Court next year and only then, if the verdict is definitive, will it be confirmed if Knox is to be extradited from the United States.
Sollecito, an Italian citizen, has had to hand over his passport and been placed on a watch-list forbidding him from leaving the country.
Speaking of the moment police knocked on his hotel door, Sollecito said: "They woke us up at 6.30am. I knew I would have to give them my passport and ID card. It was my intention to do it that morning.
"I planned to stop at the first police station or carabinieri HQ that I came across. When the reception told me the police were there, I called my dad and he said the lawyer had told him they were probably there for my passport.
"He said to ask if I could do it at Bisceglie (hometown near Bari) but they wouldn't let me so in the end I went to the police station at Udine with Greta following behind in her Mini."
Sollecito, who is now back home in Bisceglie, added: "I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible. I think it is impossible for anyone to understand the state of my soul.
"Even to imagine it would involve multiplying it 1,000 times to even have the slightest idea. I have been convicted for a crime that I didn't commit and I have spent four years in jail, I don't have a future anymore.
"The only prospect I have in front of me is facing the next 20 years in jail. Even now I am no longer a free man. Before I could travel around, move about, get a job overseas. Now I am watched around the clock, I am worried about everyone and everything."
Judge Alessandro Nencini ordered Sollecito to hand over his passport because he had been spending increasing amounts of time in the Caribbean paradise of the Dominican Republic, which has no extradition treaty with Italy.
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