Knox freedom: Italian authorities free Amanda Knox’s co-accused

Matteo Salvini, who heads the Lega, said the murder, at a party in Perugia, had been the work of ‘thugs’

Italy has freed a man convicted of killing Meredith Kercher in Perugia in 2007 after he was acquitted by an Italian court, saying a new DNA examination showed that the Perugia murder investigation had been mishandled.

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Amanda Knox, who studied at the University of Washington in Seattle, was sentenced to 26 years in prison along with her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the killing, in what has become one of the most notorious and divisive murder cases in Italy.

At the time of her arrest and murder, Knox was abroad studying in Perugia with her boyfriend, Kercher, who lived and worked in a house shared by several students. Kercher’s body was found half-naked and with more than 40 stab wounds, including to her throat, and was found in her bedroom in what police believed was a savage attack by a pack of drug-crazed criminals.

Italy said the murder had been the work of “thugs”, and it launched a major investigation, repeatedly arresting and questioning Knox and Sollecito. They were freed after seven years in jail, after an appeals court in Florence acquitted them.

A lawyer for Knox, Francesco Maresca, said: “Today’s news is a relief for us. We look forward to helping the people of Italy to move forward.”

The next court will deal with the “treatment of evidence and the use of witnesses in the investigation, then the objectivity of judges and prosecutors”, the Italian justice ministry said in a statement.

The ruling is unlikely to be final as Kercher’s family has filed an appeal against the acquittal.

“We ask for our silence. For now, we will observe the closure we have been waiting for over the last decade. We wish to thank all those who have fought for us over the years, to the end,” Kercher’s family said in a statement.

“We are looking forward to the truth coming out of the Italian justice system.”

A day after the court cleared Knox and Sollecito, the leader of the Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, who last week gave leader of the far-right League party, Matteo Salvini, a star turn in Rome’s newly inaugurated Europa Square. Photograph: Giorgio Benvenuti/AP

Matteo Salvini, who heads the Lega party, led an enthusiastic welcome for American attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova, who is representing Knox in Italy, and expressed joy about his release.

Salvini said the acquittal of Knox and Sollecito “reflected the elimination of those who were prosecuted and tried for the killing of Meredith Kercher”. He added: “Some were honest, some were definitely dishonest, and some were simply themselves, but they all had one thing in common: the Kercher family wanted them dead”.

Salvini went on to say that his government would fight against any international prosecutor who tries to obtain the extradition of Knox and Sollecito, declaring Italy’s “will to defend our Italian soil and fight the attacks that we are subjected to”.

A lawyer for Amanda Knox said that the conviction had to be upheld before she could be granted her freedom.

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