UK

Amanda Knox Verdict: Meredith Kercher's Family Speak Out

03/10/2011 15:20 BST | Updated 03/12/2011 10:12 GMT

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.