Amanda Knox Verdict: Meredith Kercher's Family Speak Out
Members of Meredith Kercher’s family have made an appeal for their daughter to be remembered just hours before an announcement on the verdict of Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.
The family addressed a packed room of around 300 journalists in Perugia, Italy.
“The focus has shifted for obvious reasons onto the people in court at the moment,” said her sister, Stephanie.
“Meredith has been forgotten. There is not a lot that has been said about what happened at the time [of her death]. It has been very difficult to keep her memory alive through all of this. This is why the whole trail happened in the first place."
Meredith's mother Arline echoed the point that her daughter had been forgotten.
“It’s been nearly four years now… and the focus has shifted onto the proceedings in court," she said. "There’s not a lot about what happened in the beginning. We’re here to remember Meredith in the city that she loved.”
Throughout the conference, the family members refused to answer questions on Monday night's verdict, which could see Knox and Sollecito walk free.
Earlier on Monday, Knox spoke of her fear and suffering having been convicted of the Kercher's murder.
"I was manipulated," said the 24-year-old. "I am not what they say. I am not a promiscuous vamp, I am not violent."
In the four years since the murder, Knox has gained international notoriety for her involvement in Kercher's death, often portrayed as sex-crazed, drug-fuelled killer. The world's media dubbed her "Foxy Knoxy".
Speaking of Meredith's killers, her brother, Lyle, said that forgiveness was difficult.
“At this point – four years is a long time. On the other hand it [the murder] is still very raw.
“Because of hype around the case, Meredith has been forgotten. What has also been forgotten is the brutality of it.
“The photos shown in court show just how horrific the crime was.”
Meredith, a student at Leeds University from Coulsdon in Surrey, was 21-years-old when she was discovered in bed, half-naked with her throat cut in November 2007.
Throughout the original trial, a picture of Knox as a promiscuous "she-devil" was painted by the prosecution. The student from Seattle, along with Italian Sollecito, was convicted of Meredith’s murder in 2010. Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede was also convicted of murder, but has not appealed.
“Whilst we pressed for the last conviction, it wasn’t a case of celebrating when the conviction came through," said Lyle.
"There were three young people involved who were having their lives taken away as well… but we won’t be talking forgiveness for a while."
When asked how they remember their murdered sibling, Stephanie said they remember her up until the point she went to Italy.
“It’s like she went away on an extended break and hasn’t come back.”
On why it happened, her sister said she couldn’t think of any reason.
“In terms of the truth, the evidence is there. The police and the judges all have that and we trust in them. We wait until this evening to see if it’s upheld,” she added.
When asked about the judicial process in Italy, the family were united in their satisfaction with how the case has been handled.
"We have to go by the evidence as there is nothing else," said Meredith's mother. "I believe in the original conviction as that’s all we have to go on."
Meredith's sister accepted that Knox and Sollecito had the right to appeal. "That’s how it works. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial," she said, adding: "Only the people there that night will know what actually happened."
On the media attention surrounding the trial, her brother said it was inevitable due to the strange nature of the murder. "You’ve got Italian, American, British – it is an unusual case, so it’s likely to generate the attention it has," he said.
"It is difficult to be thrust in the worldwide limelight because of the death of Meredith. We’ve tried to keep dignified silence, but it’s hard for our legal team to battle against a PR machine, so as much as we want to keep quiet, it’s important to make sure the message is getting out and Meredith’s memory is maintained."
Family members would not be drawn on whether they would challenge the verdict if Knox and Sollecito were found innocent.
Knox released from prison. Rumours abound that she'll leave the country within hours.
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.
The Kercher family enter the courthouse to hear the verdict on the convictions of Knox and Sollecito.
Knox arrives at the courthouse in Perugia to hear the verdict on her appeal.
BBC is reporting that verdict is now likely in 90 minutes - around 20.30 GMT.
Knox and Sollecito find out imminently as to the whether the court in Perugia will uphold their convictions for the murder of Meredith Kercher.
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."
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."
Earlier in the conference Meredith's brother Lyle said the family felt they were fighting "a large PR machine" operating on behalf of Knox.
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".
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
The family of Meredith Kercher are due to hold a press conference in Perugia.
Knox's image has changed notably since she began the trial process four years ago.
|@ GMA : Full video: Amanda Knox to Court: 'I Want to Go Home' http://t.co/HtWrPdK1|
|@ nzerem : The #kerchers have just landed at #perugia airport for #Amandaknox appeal. Sister Stephanie says 'we'll talk later'|
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).
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."
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."
"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.
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."
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."
"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."
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.
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."