An emotional Amanda Knox said Friday she had been left reeling after an Italian court again found her guilty for murder, and vowed she would never return willingly to serve her sentence.
Knox, 26, was sentenced in absentia to 28 years and six months in prison for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in the latest dramatic twist in the long-running legal saga.
Both Knox and her former lover Raffaele Sollecito, who was sentenced to 25 years, have fiercely maintained their innocence and vowed to appeal.
Fighting back tears, Knox told ABC television on Friday the court’s guilty verdict “hit me like a train.”
“I will never go willingly back… I’m going to fight this to the very end,” she said, adding “it’s not right and it’s not fair.”
Knox, 26, spent four years in an Italian prison after being initially convicted of the murder of her roommate Kercher in Perugia, Italy, where they were both studying.
She was freed when an appeals court threw out the conviction in 2011, but Italy’s supreme court ordered the case retried and an appeals court found her guilty Thursday.
“I did not expect this to happen. I really expected so much more from the Italian justice system. They found me innocent once before,” Knox said in her first television interview since the latest verdict was announced.
Her lawyer Ted Simon, vowed on CNN Friday that his client would appeal the “unjust” verdict.
“There was no evidence then and there’s no evidence now,” he said. “That’s why it becomes so incomprehensible how could there be a different verdict when there’s no new or differing evidence.”
Sollecito picked up by police
Meanwhile in Italy, Sollecito was picked up by police in the town of Venzone near the Austrian border where he was reportedly staying with his girlfriend.
Sollecito, 29, who was designated a flight risk by the court, was asked to surrender his passport after being reportedly found with Greta Menegaldo, whose parents live in South America, Italian media reported.
His lawyer Luca Maori said Sollecito had assured him he “never had any intention of fleeing” and had been visiting his girlfriend because he was upset by the trial, but police were reportedly investigating what he was doing in Venzone, when Menegaldo lives in Treviso — over 150 kilometres away.
Sollecito had made a brief appearance in court on Thursday morning, but was not present for the verdict.
Kercher’s family said Friday it was still “on a journey for the truth”.
Meredith’s sister Stephanie told a news conference in Florence that the family may never “really know what happened that night, which is obviously something we’ll have to come to terms with.”
Sitting alongside her brother, Lyle, she added: “We hope that we are nearer the end so that we can just start to remember Meredith for who she was and draw a line under it, as it were.”
Lyle called for Knox to be extradited to Italy from the US, saying it was appropriate “if someone has been found guilty and convicted of a murder, and if an extradition law exists between those two countries”.
The Kercher’s family lawyer Francesco Maresca said he thought Knox and Sollecito had originally been freed on appeal because of “political pressure from the United States felt by the judges and jurors.”
An extradition procedure can only be launched following a definitive ruling from the supreme court, which Maresca said could take up to a year.
Pending that verdict, Knox will not have restrictions on her travel. Legal experts said an eventual extradition from the United States was possible.
“She will be extradited if it’s upheld,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told AFP.
“The Italian legal system, though I don’t love it, is a legitimate legal system and we have a treaty with Italy so I don’t see how we would resist.”
‘Nothing will bring Meredith back’
Kercher was found with her throat slit on November 2, 2007 in the cottage she shared with Knox in the mediaeval university town of Perugia where she was on an exchange programme.
“Losing somebody close to you is difficult. Someone of that age, killed in that way, is horrendous,” Lyle said.
“No matter what the decision, nothing is going to bring Meredith back or take away the horror of what happened to her,” he added.
Prosecutors said during the trial that the murder may have been the result of a sex game turned violent due to tensions between Kercher and Knox.
The defence had dismissed this and said there was a lack of conclusive DNA evidence putting Knox and Sollecito in the bedroom where the murder happened.
A third accused, local drug dealer Rudy Guede, is currently the only person in prison for the murder. Investigators say that multiple stab wounds on the body — apparently from two different knives — indicate he could not have acted alone.