Lawyers for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the American woman and the Italian man convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher, could fight for five more years to try to clear their names. They believe an appeal based on “the lack of a plausible motive” and other weaknesses in the prosecution case will lead to an acquittal.
After nearly 14 hours of deliberation at the end of an 11-month trial, the two judges and six local jurors announced after midnight on Saturday morning that Knox, 22, and Sollecito, 25, her former Italian boyfriend, were guilty of murder and sexual assault.
Knox, who had shared a hillside cottage near the university for foreigners in Perugia with Kercher, was given 26 years in jail and Sollecito 25 years. The jury stopped short of the life sentences the prosecution had demanded, a move the defense believes reflects doubts over elements in the prosecution.
The first of two appeals will be held in Perugia, probably next autumn. If it fails, a second appeal will be made to the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) in Rome. The process could take five years, lawyers said. “We have lost a battle but not the war,” said Luca Maori, one of the lawyers for Sollecito. “For the serious crimes they are claimed to have committed you either sentence them to life or you acquit them. There is no middle way.”
Luciano Ghirga, Knox’s lawyer, who held her as she collapsed sobbing when the sentence was read out, said that it was a compromise. Ghirga said that, if the jury had been certain of the proof and motive, “they would have given them life”.
Giulia Bongiorno, a senior lawyer and parliamentary deputy who defended Sollecito, also said that the decision was contradictory. Asked if he would fight on Knox’s father, Curt Knox, replied: “Hell, yes.”
Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the Kercher family, said that the judge and jury had, in effect, accepted the prosecution case, which included the allegation that Knox, with the help of a compliant Sollecito, had murdered her British flatmate out of “hatred and revenge.”