Knox back on trial for Meredith Kercher murder in Italy

Knox back on trial for Meredith Kercher murder in Italy
Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

FLORENCE, Italy - The retrial of American Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher opened in Florence on Monday but neither of the accused were in court for the first hearing.

Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of killing 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in what was described as a drug-fuelled sexual assault.

After winning an appeal in 2011 quashing the guilty verdict, both were freed from prison. But a new appeals process has begun after Italy's supreme court overturned the acquittals in March, citing "contradictions and inconsistencies".

Sollecito's father Francesco said on Monday he was confident his son's innocence would be confirmed.

"Deeper examination can only demonstrate what we already know, that is that Raffaele Sollecito has nothing to do with what that poor girl had to suffer," he told reporters.

Knox, 26, has always denied murdering Kercher, when both were university exchange students in Perugia. She told US television this month that "common sense" told her not to return to Italy for the retrial.

"I was imprisoned as an innocent person and I just can't re-live that," she told NBC television.

Knox is not obliged to attend and can be represented by her lawyers, who said she was following the case closely from home in Seattle.

If found guilty, she could appeal again to Italy's supreme court. If that failed, Italy could request her extradition.

Sollecito, 29, who has also always protested his innocence, plans to attend some of the hearings, his father said.

Kercher was found with more than 40 wounds, including a deep gash in the throat, in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia, a picturesque town in central Italy's Umbria region that attracts students from around the world.

Lawyers for Kercher's family have welcomed the retrial, criticising the previous ruling as "superficial".

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