Kercher Family Pledges Support To Prosecutors

4 October 2011, 17:33

Meredith Kercher's family has vowed to fully support an appeal by Italian prosecutors against Amanda Knox's acquittal for the murder of the Leeds University student.

American Knox flew home to Seattle today after her conviction for killing her house mate in Perugia was dramatically overturned.

She smiled broadly, dressed in a loose-fitting grey cardigan and black leggings, as she made her way to the gate at Rome's Fiumicino Airport.

She later changed planes at London's Heathrow Airport before flying back to the US after four years in jail, surrounded by her delighted family.

Prosecutors who saw their case collapse over discredited DNA evidence confirmed they would appeal against the verdicts delivered last night, which saw Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito finally walk free.

And a lawyer for the only person still behind bars for the killing, small-time drug-dealer Rudy Guede from the Ivory Coast, said he would seek a retrial.

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who had maintained the three killed Miss Kercher together during a drug-fuelled sex game, confirmed he would appeal to Italy's highest criminal court after publication of the reasons for the acquittals, due within 90 days.

'Let's wait and we will see who was right - the first court or the appeal court,' Mr Mignini said. 'This trial was done under unacceptable media pressure.'

The highest court's remit is to rule on whether any procedures were violated and the hearing generally takes one day in Rome. Defendants are not required to attend.

If the highest court overturns the acquittal, prosecutors would be free to request Knox's extradition to Italy to finish whatever remained of her sentence.

It will be up to the Italian government to decide whether to make the formal extradition request but it is thought to be highly unlikely that Knox will ever be sent back to Italy over the charges.

Miss Kercher's brother Lyle suggested nonetheless that his family's fight for justice would continue.

'It's my understanding that the prosecutors will be going ahead to appeal the decision but I believe it's actually someone higher up who decides that,' he said.

'We would support them fully in that.'

His sister Stephanie added: 'It may be a case of waiting another year now to get the truth and we can't decide that, we have to leave that to the police, the forensics and the courts.'

The Kercher family, disappointed after attending court in Perugia for the verdicts last night, said today it was 'back to square one' in their battle to learn the truth about how the Leeds University student died.

Mr Kercher said they accepted the ruling, but added that questions still remained about what really happened.

'While we accept the decision that was handed down yesterday and respect the court and the Italian justice system, we do find that we are now left obviously looking at this again and thinking how a decision that was so certain two years ago has been so emphatically overturned now,' he said.

Recalling that Guede, 24, had been found to be acting not alone but with others, he went on:

'Of course, if the two who were released yesterday were not the guilty parties, we are now obviously left wondering who is the other person or people and really, for us, it feels very much almost like back to square one and the search goes on really to find out what truly happened.'

Miss Kercher's mother, Arline, said the family was still 'absorbing' the decision.

'You think you have come to a decision and obviously it has been overturned,' she said. 'I think it is very early days really.'

She added: 'What happened to my daughter, Meredith, is every parent's nightmare.'

Miss Kercher, 21, was stabbed to death during her year of studies in the Italian city.

Her semi-naked body was found on November 2, 2007, in her bedroom in the house she shared with fellow student Knox.

Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27, were found guilty in December 2009 of murdering her, with Knox sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito 25.

But after an 11-month appeal in a Perugia court, both convictions were thrown out last night.

Of the Kercher family members who gave a news conference in the city today, it was Mrs Kercher who came closest to expressing sympathy for the former lovers imprisoned for so long for a crime they insisted they played no part in.

'I don't think anyone's going to get off scot free,' she said. 'Their lives have been disrupted.'

She added that 'no-one is untouched by this' and admitted she could appreciate why Knox would feel she had lost her life over the last few years.

The Kercher family was flying home from Italy today to try to make sense of the justice that has been delivered four years after the daughter and sibling they called 'Mez' was taken from them.

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