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Amanda Knox Verdict: Knox And Sollecito Acquitted

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After four years in prison, American student Amanda Knox, 24, and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, have been acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Knox was bundled out of the court in tears after the verdict was read out in a court in Perugia, Italy, on Monday. Her parents, Curt and Edda Mellas, hugged their lawyers.

Meredith, a student at Leeds University from Coulsdon in Surrey, was discovered in bed, half-naked with her throat cut in November 2007.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted of the 21-year-old's murder in 2009.

Kercher's family, who had earlier given a press conference in which they expressed their confidence in the Italian judicial system, remained seated as the verdict was read out. Meredith's sister, Stephanie, broke down and was comforted by her brother, Lyle.

Outside the court, Amanda's sister, Deanna, said:

"We're thankful that Amanda's nightmare is over. She has suffered for four years for a crime that she did not commit."

She also thanked Knox's layers and the support the family received from around the world.

"Not only did they defend her brilliantly, but they also loved her," she said. "And last, we are thankful to the court for having the courage to look for the truth and to overturn this conviction."

She ended the statement by appealing for privacy for the Knox family.

Amanda Knox herself thanked Italians "who shared my suffering and helped me survive with hope", according to the Associated Press.

Although cleared of murder, Knox was found guilty of defamation by judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmanand. He set her sentence at time served.

After the verdict was delivered, Knox’s lawyer said:

“There is no winner. Justice has superseded ... Amanda was a friend of Meredith and we should remember this.

“This [the conviction] was a mistake according to our system ... The court of appeal has rectified the mistake of the original trial.

“Amanda is a very intelligent girl. She has matured. We worked with her in order to defend her … and we are happy to have had her as a client.”

There were ugly scenes outside the Perugia courthouse where a hostile crowd jeered the both appellant's lawyers. More than 100 people had gathered for the verdict. There were cries of "shame, shame" when the verdict was read out.

The prosecution said they would appeal.

Sollecito and Knox were due to return to prison to go through the release procedure. Knox is expected to leave Italy at midday on Tuesday on a commercial flight, the BBC reported.

Her imminent release comes after she gave an impassioned plea in court protesting her innocence.

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Knox released from prison. Rumours abound that she'll leave the country within hours.

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Knox and Sollecito cleared of murder. The pair are free. Ugly scenes inside and outside the courtroom with people shouting "murderer". Clearly some disquiet about the verdict.

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The Kercher family enter the courthouse to hear the verdict on the convictions of Knox and Sollecito.

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Knox arrives at the courthouse in Perugia to hear the verdict on her appeal.

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BBC is reporting that verdict is now likely in 90 minutes - around 20.30 GMT.

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Knox and Sollecito find out imminently as to the whether the court in Perugia will uphold their convictions for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

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The family said one of the reasons they held the conference was they felt that their sister had been forgotten during the course of the trial.

Stephanie Kercher said: "The focus has shifted for obvious reasons onto the three people in court at the moment. Meredith has been forgotten in all of this. There is not a lot that has been said about what happened at the time. It has been very difficult to keep her memory alive in all of this, this is why the whole trail is going on in the first place."

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He said it was "very hard to talk about forgiveness and difficult to speak about forgives".

"You have to balance forgiveness with compassion as well. But I am not sure we will be giving out forgiveness."

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Earlier in the conference Meredith's brother Lyle said the family felt they were fighting "a large PR machine" operating on behalf of Knox.

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Responding to a question from Fox News, Meredith's mother says Amanda and Meredith were "friendly" but not "that close" as they were "moving in different circles".

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Stephanie Kercher says the family will be satisfied with the verdict as long as it is based "purely on the information available to them" and is not caught up in the "media hype".

"For now we would just have to wait and see," she says.

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Meredith's brother: "We remember her up until the point she left, as if she went on an extended break and hasn't come back yet."

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Meredith Kercher's mother is speaking about the verdict.

"What I want, what they want [Knox and Sollecito] doesn't come into it, it was what the police have found what the science has found what the evidence is, that's all we can go on," she says.

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Stephanie Kercher says it is difficult to understand what happened to her sister the night she died.

"The brutality of what actually happened that night and everything that Meredith must have felt that night everything she went through the fear and the terror and not knowing," she said.

"She didn't deserve that, no one deserves that.

"Its very difficult to understand what happened that night without knowing the truth."

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An official from the British embassy is organising the press conference.

He says the answers to any questions will not be translated from English into Italian.

Meredeth's sister Stephanie says she feels her sister has been forgotten as all the focus has been on Knox and Sollecito.

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The family of Meredith Kercher are due to hold a press conference in Perugia.

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ABC News in the United States has posted a video of Knox's statement
@ GMA : Full video: Amanda Knox to Court: 'I Want to Go Home' http://t.co/HtWrPdK1

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Channel 4 News' Keme Nzerem reports:
@ nzerem : The #kerchers have just landed at #perugia airport for #Amandaknox appeal. Sister Stephanie says 'we'll talk later'

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@ RobNisbetSky : This is scene outside media entrance to court http://t.co/erO0zeUA

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Knox has concluded her remarks.

The judging panel will now retire to consider the verdicts. The ruling is expected sometime after 20:00 pm Italian time (19:00 pm BST).

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Knox tells the court that she has spoken a lot about Meredith. She says she has "always wanted justice for her".

"I want truth. I insist that after four desperate years on our innocence because it is true. And deserves to be defended and recognized," she says.

"I want to go back home. I want to go back to my life. I don't want to be punished.

"I am innocent. And Raffaele is innocent too. We do not deserve this.

An emotional Knox tells the court: "We never did anything to deserve this."

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Knox: "I was manipulated, I am not what they say. I am not a promiscuous vamp, I am not violent."

"I have never did what they say I did, they said this how things go, this is not so. I had good relationships with everybody who was living in my flat. I was untidy, careless, but we did have good relationships.

"We were all willing to help each other. I shared my life particularly with Meredith. We were friends."

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"I have never faced so much fear so much tragedy so much suffering," she says,

Describing the night Meredith was murdered she says "I could not believe it. How was it possible".

"She was killed in her own house. If i had been there that night I would have died. Just like her. The only difference was I was not there," she says.

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I am the same person as I was four years ago, the only thing that is different is what i have suffered," she tells the court.

"Over the last four years I lost a friend, a girlfriend, the most brutal way in an unexplained manner.

"My trust in police authorities has been betrayed.

"I've had to deal with unfair charges and unfounded charges. I am paying with my life for things I did not commit."

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He says he was in an "idyllic situation" that day as he had just met Knox and was about to get his degree.

"I was about to reach a very important objective, I was going to debate my thesis that was practically ready over the next few days and I would have got my degree," he says,

"I'd met Amanda Knox just earlier on, she was a beautiful woman."

"We only wanted to spend the evening stroking each other and cuddling each other and nothing else. Our desire our wish was just to do that, nothing else."

He concludes: "I hope there is going to be hope for Amanda and myself. I hope there is going to be a new future, which i think we deserve."

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"Amanda and I have been in prison for more than 1,400 days," he says. "We have spent these 1,400 days practically 20 hours a day in a cell that is about 2.5 meters by three. it is very difficult to figure out what it is like to live in such a small space."

He tells the court that his family has made huge sacrifices for him while he has been in prison.

"My family has given me whatever they could, they have made huge sacrifices to give me all the necessary tools to face this trial and to get me out of this situation" he says,

"I thought the outcome was clear from the very beginning unfortunately this has not been the case."

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Sollecito says he has been "living a nightmare".

"Somehow I would like to say that every day in prison, by the end of the day you really feel like dead, every day is like that," he tells the court.

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Raffaele Sollecito is speaking in court.

"What happened was so big it is impossible to say something that can take everything in," he says.

"I've never harmed anyone never, ever in my life. The charges that have been made against me all these years were so out of place somehow i thought they would disappear."

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Sky News and the BBC are periodically returning to the court, but you can watch the whole thing live on this dedicated BBC stream.

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