FLORENCE, Italy -- American student Amanda Knox said she was “frightened and saddened” by an Italian court’s decision Thursday to reverse her acquittal in the 2007 killing of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
“Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system,” Knox said in a statement from Seattle. “There has always been a marked lack of evidence. My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution.”
Knox, 26, shared a house in the Italian town of Perugia with Kercher, then 21, who was found partially naked in a pool of blood, her throat slashed.
Knox and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 29, were convicted of the crime in 2009, and had spent four years in prison before their acquittal in 2011. However, Italy’s highest court overturned the acquittal and ordered a new appeal, saying the first was riddled with “shortcomings, contradictions and inconsistencies.”
Knox was not in the Florence courtroom Thursday when Judge Alessandro Nencini sentenced her to 28 years and six months in prison, more than the 26 years she received at her first trial. She refused to attend the second appeal, which began last year, writing to the court from Seattle that she feared being "wrongly convicted."
Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years in prison, the same term he previously received. He was instructed to hand over his passport and was forbidden to leave the country pending confirmation of the verdict by the Italian Supreme Court.
If the guilty verdicts are upheld, Knox could face extradition proceedings.
Here is her full statement:
First and foremost it must be recognized that there is no consolation for the Kercher family. Their grief over Meredith's terrible murder will follow them forever. They deserve respect and support.
I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict. Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system. The evidence and accusatory theory do not justify a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, nothing has changed. There has always been a marked lack of evidence. My family and I have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution.
This has gotten out of hand. Most troubling is that it was entirely preventable. I beseech those with the knowledge and authority to address and remediate the problems that worked to pervert the course of justice and waste the valuable resources of the system: overzealous and intransigent prosecution, prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation, unwillingness to admit mistake, reliance on unreliable testimony and evidence, character assassination, inconsistent and unfounded accusatory theory, and counterproductive and coercive interrogation techniques that produce false confessions and inaccurate statements.
Clearly a wrongful conviction is horrific for the wrongfully accused, but it is also terribly bad for the victim, their surviving family, and society.
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Kington is a special correspondent.