Amanda Knox’s ex-boyfriend back in court, calls charges ‘absurd’
LONDON -- The former boyfriend of American student Amanda Knox pleaded with an Italian appeals court Wednesday to acquit him in the 2007 killing of her British roommate, saying the charges were “absurd.”
Taking the stand for the first time at a retrial in Florence, Raffaele Sollecito asked the court to “correct the errors” of those who condemned him, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
“I feel towards me a senseless, shocking persecution,” said Sollecito. “I would like to make you understand that these charges against me are absurd.”
Knox and Sollecito, who is Italian, were convicted in 2009 of stabbing to death 21-year-old student Meredith Kercher, who was found half-naked in a pool of blood in the house in Perugia that she shared with Knox. The pair won an appeal in 2011, but Italy’s highest court ordered a retrial this year, saying the acquittal was riddled with “shortcomings, contradictions and inconsistencies.”
The appeals court heard evidence Wednesday that a previously unexamined trace of blood found on a knife allegedly used in the killing belonged to Knox, not the victim.
The evidence presented by a court-appointed expert “distances us even more from the concept that this could be the murder weapon,” one of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, was quoted as saying by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Defense attorneys argue that it is not surprising that Knox’s DNA would appear on the knife found in Sollecito’s kitchen because she ate at his home.
Forensic expert Andrea Berti told the court there was a “strong discrepancy” between the trace examined and DNA belonging to Kercher, Sollecito and Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast-born man who was convicted separately in the slaying.
“We strongly support the claim that the genetic profile of Amanda was present in that trace,” Berti was quoted as saying by the daily La Stampa.
Francesco Maresca, a lawyer representing Kercher’s family, told reporters that
the trace was not the only DNA evidence found on the knife. The prosecution presented evidence during the first trial that Kercher’s DNA was on the blade, while Knox’s DNA was on the handle. A court-ordered review during the first appeal found that the evidence of Kercher’s DNA was unreliable.
Neither Knox, who now attends the University of Washington in her hometown of Seattle, nor Sollecito were required to be present for the new trial. Knox opted to stay away, but Sollecito decided to exercise his right to address the court.
Describing Knox as his “first true love,” he acknowledged that he did not at first take the charges seriously enough because he said he was caught up in the new romance.
“I hope I’ll have the chance to live a life, a life, because at the moment I don’t have a real life,” he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “That’s what I’m asking you.”
Times staff writer Zavis reported from Los Angeles. Stobart is a news assistant in The Times’ London bureau.