Trial Opens in Italy for U.S. Student Charged With Coed's Murder

The American student Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, her former Italian boyfriend, appeared in court Friday at the start of the long-awaited Meredith Kercher murder trial.

Knox, 21, entered the court in Perugia, Italy, smiling broadly and greeted Carlo della Vedova, one of her lawyers, with a slight shrug. She was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt which she later removed to reveal a black and white striped long sleeved T-shirt.

The bespectacled Sollecito, 24, wearing a lime green sweater and cream polo neck, occasionally glanced along the row at Knox. She however turned her head the other way, chatting during recesses to her female interpreter.

The pair are accused of killing Kercher, a British student who was studying the Italian language in the Umbrian town. She was found semi-naked with her throat slashed, under a duvet on the floor of her bedroom in the hillside cottage that she shared with Knox and two Italian women.

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Police found Knox and Sollecito, an IT student from a wealthy southern Italian family, already at the house, but they said that they had just arrived. The prosecution case is that Kercher died in a sex game that went wrong. Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast immigrant, drifter and small-time drug-dealer who fled to Germany after the murder, has already been given 30 years for his part in the crime.

At the start of the trial this morning, Judge Giancarlo Massei rejected an application by the Kercher family's lawyer to hold all proceedings behind closed doors because of the "gratuitous" nature of the evidence.

Instead, he ruled that all evidence would be held in public, except when the court agreed that "sensitive" matters would cause particular offence to the victim's family.

He did, however, ban television cameras and photographers from the court in future, with only writing journalists admitted to the courtroom and to a press room set aside for them at the courthouse. Photographers and TV cameramen were only allowed in court for the opening session.

In contrast to the Kercher family's application, lawyers for Knox and Sollecito argued that the proceedings should be open, arguing that neither defendant had anything to fear since the evidence would prove them innocent.

At the start of today's proceedings, six jurors or "people's judges," were sworn in at the semi-basement courtroom in the heart of Perugia's historic center.

Before the trial began, Ms Knox said she was "not afraid" because she believed the evidence would support her contention that she did not commit the crime.

Luciano Ghirga, her lawyer, said that she had told him when he visited her in prison just outside Perugia: "Meredith was my friend, I didn't kill her. I am not afraid of the truth." She added: "I have nothing to fear. I have been waiting for over a year for this moment. I am not a murderer."

Some 250 witnesses are due to be called at the trial, which will last at least until the autumn.

Click here to read more on this story from the Times of London.