Knox retrial due to acquittal flaws
Shortcomings and inconsistencies cited over appeal ruling to free American and ex-boyfriend
Reuters in Rome
Italy's top court said it had ordered a retrial of American Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher because their acquittals contained "shortcomings, contradictions and inconsistencies".
Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito were initially found guilty of killing the 21-year-old Leeds University student in 2007 during what was described as a drug-fuelled sexual assault, but both were cleared on appeal in 2011.
In March of this year, Italy's top appeals court overturned the acquittals and ordered a retrial of a sensational murder case that has prompted harsh criticism of the Italian justice system.
Explaining its reasons, the Court of Cassation said the judges in the appeals case had underestimated the evidence against the two accused, assessing clues one by one and not stepping back to view the big picture.
The one person still in jail for the murder, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, who is serving a 16-year sentence, may not have committed the crime alone, and the possibility that Kercher was killed during a group sex game would need to be re-examined, the Court of Cassation said in giving reasons for the retrial.
Kercher's body was found with more than 40 wounds, including a deep gash in the throat, in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia, in central Italy, where both were studying during a year abroad.
Knox, now 25 and living back in the United States after four years in an Italian jail, has consistently denied involvement in her roommate's death.
According to the Ansa news agency, Sollecito's lawyer, Giulio Bongiorno, said: "If there was an erotic game then there needs to be a search for the other people involved, who are certainly not Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox."
Kercher's lawyers, who have described the acquittal as "contradictory and illogical", have welcomed the plan for a retrial.
In Knox's hometown of Seattle, lawyer Anne Bremner, spokeswoman for the group Friends of Amanda, said she was stunned by news that the retrial ruling included reference to a ritualistic sex allegation.
"I was really surprised," Bremner said of the ruling. "The prosecutor abandoned [that allegation] back in the trial phase … I thought it was the weakest part of the evidence."