Italy’s top criminal court has criticised “stunning flaws” in the criminal prosecution case against Amanda Knox, 28, and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 31.
The pair were first convicted in 2009 for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, 21, who was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in Perugia, Italy, in 2007. Kercher’s body was found in the flat she shared with Knox.
They were acquitted for a second time on 28 March this year in the final ruling in the case, after a seven and a half year ordeal. There will be no more appeals or retrials, Italy’s highest appeals court has ruled.
As is required by Italian law, the court of Cassation published the formal explanation behind the pair’s exoneration on Monday.
The statement has severely criticised the prosecution for presenting a flawed case against the former couple, and declared that there was never any proof Knox or Sollecito were at the scene of the murder. They have said that the case lacked enough evidence to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Judges cited “glaring errors” in the investigation into Kercher’s murder, and an “absolute lack of biological traces” from Knox or Sollecito on Kercher’s body, or inside the room in which she was killed.
The panel of judges who compiled the 52-page document stated that the high profile nature of the case affected the proceedings, saying:
“The international spotlight on the case in fact resulted in the investigation undergoing a sudden acceleration, that, in the frantic search for one or more guilty parties to consign to international public opinion, certainly didn’t help the search for substantial truth.”
In a bid for a conviction, prosecutors overlooked “omissions in the investigative activity.”
Vital errors were incurred during the investigation, including the burning of Knox and Kercher’s computers, which could have contained invaluable data.
The document also stated that the conviction of the pair last year by the Florence appeals court ignored expert testimony that “clearly demonstrated possible contamination'' of evidence and misinterpreted findings about the alleged murder weapon.
"The kitchen knife, found in Sollecito's house and the supposed crime weapon, was kept in an ordinary cardboard box,” judges noted. And no traces of blood were found on it.
Additionally, judges have stated a “possible contamination of evidence”, after a bra - that prosecutors argued contained a trace of Sollecito’s DNA - was left on the apartment floor for 46 days before it “was passed from hand to hand of the workers, who, furthermore, were wearing dirty latex gloves".
Knox and Sollecito served four years for Kercher’s murder before being released and retried. The pair have always proclaimed their innocence.
A separate party, Rudy Hermann Guede, a drifter from the Ivory Coast, was convicted or Kercher’s murder and is currently serving a 16-year sentence but was previously thought to have acted with an accomplice.
Amanda Knox has since written on her blog:
“I am deeply grateful that the Italian Supreme Court has filed its opinion and forcefully declared my innocence. This has been a long struggle for me, my family, my friends, and my supporters.”
“I will now begin the rest of my life with one of my goals being to help others who have been wrongfully accused.”
Images: Rex Features