UK & World News
Knox Back On Trial Over Meredith Murder
The retrial of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend in the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher has opened in Italy, but neither defendant was in court.
The proceedings opened in Florence, with the hearing expected to be largely devoted to procedural matters.
In 2009, American student Knox, and Raffaele Sollecito, an Italian IT graduate, were convicted of killing Miss Kercher in the student flat the two women shared in Perugia.
An appeals court acquitted them in 2011, citing weaknesses in DNA evidence.
Knox and Sollecito, who at that point had spent four years behind bars, were released, and the American flew back home.
But in March, Italy's supreme court overturned the acquittal, citing what it said were "shortcomings, contradictions and inconsistencies" in the appeal court's verdict, and ordered a retrial.
A new appeal verdict will now be reached, possibly by Christmas, before the case returns to the supreme court.
If Knox is found guilty and the supreme court upholds the verdict, she may face an extradition request, although the US would probably refuse to hand her over.
The appeals judge could order new DNA tests on a tiny biological trace on a knife suspected of being used in the killing, which was overlooked during earlier trials.
Francesco Maresca, a lawyer representing the Kercher family, said: "It was considered too small to test at the time, but there are new kits now. Let's see how well it was conserved."
Mr Maresca said the experts appointed by the appeal court who questioned DNA evidence found on the knife and on Miss Kercher's bra clasp had been rightly challenged by the supreme court.
"They were unprepared for something that important and probably influenced by the defence," he said.
Carlo Dalla Vedova, a lawyer for Knox, defended the experts' work and said he would ask that they be summoned to defend their work at the new trial.
"The supreme court's criticisms of the acquittal are all wrong," he said.
Giulia Bongiorno, a lawyer representing Sollecito, said she would request an examination of a stain found on Miss Kercher's pillow, suspected to be sperm, which was never tested.
After giving a stream of interviews in recent weeks in which she has proclaimed her innocence, Knox, now 26, has said she will not travel from her home in Seattle for the trial, while Ms Bongiorno said Sollecito would attend later hearings.
Knox has said she would like to visit Miss Kercher's grave, but Miss Kercher's family said last week she should stay away from her former flatmate's final resting place.
Mr Maresca said Miss Kercher's sister Stephanie had planned to attend the hearing, but had decided to stay with her parents in Coulsdon, south London, because "they need her support".
A third man, Rudy Guede, was convicted in the killing in a separate trial and is serving a 16-year term. Judges have said that Guede had not acted alone.