Italian High Court Overturns Acquittal Of American Student Accused Of Murder

Italy's highest court has overturned the 2011 acquittal of Amanda Knox, the American student who, together with her then boyfriend, was accused of killing her roommate in Perugia in 2007. It raises the possibility that Italy will seek to extradite her from the U.S. to be re-tried. U.S. constitutional protection against double jeopardy would complicate any extradition attempt, however. Knox, now a student at the University of Washington, said it was "painful" to receive the news but said she will face the continuing legal battle "confident in the truth and with our heads held high." The original trial attracted world wide attention.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. The case of Amanda Knox is not over. She's the American exchange student who was accused of murdering her British roommate in Italy. She was acquitted in 2011. But today, Italy's highest court overruled that acquittal. The court ordered Knox and her former boyfriend to be retried. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, this reopens a case that drew international attention and sharp criticism of the Italian judicial system.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: The reasoning for today's decision won't be known until the supreme court issues its final ruling within 90 days. From her home in Seattle, Amanda Knox issued a statement saying the decision was painful. One of her Italian lawyers, Carlo Della Vedova, spoke with Knox by phone from the courthouse.

CARLO DELLA VEDOVA: She's shocked. She's very sad. She thought this was the end of a nightmare and - but she's also very strong in the sense that she's willing to fight again. She did all this up to now, so we will continue to fight.

POGGIOLI: The day after Halloween 2007, the body of British student Meredith Kercher was found in a pool of blood in the apartment she shared with Amanda Knox in Perugia where they were exchange students. Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, both maintained their innocence, but the prosecution claimed Kercher was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone awry. In 2009, a court convicted them to 26 and 25 years respectively. But two years later, after spending four years in jail, they were acquitted on appeal.

The appeals court said the DNA evidence was not reliable. Further complicating the case, a young man from the Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede, is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder after being convicted in a separate trial, but that court ruled that he did not act alone. In his arguments Monday before the high court, Prosecutor General Luigi Riello said the appeals court had been too dismissive in casting aside the DNA evidence, and he accused the trial judge of having lost his way.

Under Italian law, Knox is not required to be present at the trial, which probably won't take place before next year. But if she is convicted and that ruling is upheld by Italy's supreme court, the question of extradition will become an issue of diplomatic negotiations between the U.S. and Italian governments. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.

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