Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito will face a retrial for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy.

Italy's highest criminal court has overturned the acquittal for both parties and has ordered a retrial, the Associated Press reports.

University of Leeds exchange student Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon in Surrey, was found dead on November 2, 2007 in her bedroom at the house in the Umbrian hilltop city she shared with Knox and others.

raffaele sollecito meredith kercher amanda knox

Raffaele Sollecito (left) and Amanda Knox (right) will face a retrial for the murder of Meredith Kercher (centre)

Her throat had been slit and her semi-naked body was partially covered by a duvet.

In 2009 Knox was sentenced to 26 years' imprisonment and Sollecito to 25, but both strenuously protested their innocence from behind bars and were acquitted on appeal in October in 2011.

Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede was convicted in a separate trial of sexually assaulting and stabbing Miss Kercher. His 16-year sentence, reduced on appeal from an initial 30 years, was upheld by Italy's highest court in 2010.

rudy guede meredith kercher

Rudy Guede was convicted in a separate trial of sexually assaulting and stabbing Miss Kercher

On Tuesday Knox has said it was "painful" to receive news that her acquittal had been overturned and said prosecutors must be made to answer for "discrepancies" raised in their case.

She said: "It was painful to receive the news that the Italian Supreme Court decided to send my case back for revision when the prosecution's theory of my involvement in Meredith's murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair.

"I believe that any questions as to my innocence must be examined by an objective investigation and a capable prosecution.

"The prosecution responsible for the many discrepancies in their work must be made to answer for them, for Raffaele's sake, my sake, and most especially for the sake of Meredith's family.

"Our hearts go out to them.

"No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity."

Miss Kercher's older sister Stephanie Kercher said her family welcomed the court ruling.

stephanie kercher

Stephanie Kercher says Meredith's family welcomes the court ruling

She told Sky News there were "still questions that are unanswered and we are all looking to find out the truth".

She added: "We welcome the decision that a retrial has been ordered and are pleased it is a step forward to finding an answer to some of those questions."

Italian law cannot compel Knox to return to the country for a fresh trial. She could be found in contempt of court but that carries no additional penalties.

It is unclear what would happen if she was convicted following a new appeal.

But the latest developments mean Knox could face the threat of an extradition request from the Italian government.

The US and Italy brought an extradition treaty into force in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president.

The treaty obligates each country to extradite anyone charged with or convicted of an extraditable offence - or any offences punishable under the laws of both countries by a jail sentence of more than one year.

Italy must provide the US with specific documents to demonstrate they have "probable cause to believe" that Miss Kercher was murdered and Knox committed the offence.

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  • Nov. 2, 2007

    British student Meredith Kercher, 21, is found murdered in the Perugia, Italy apartment she shares with 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student. Post-mortem examination reveals evidence of sexual activity before death.

  • Nov 6, 2007

    Knox and 23-year-old boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito (right) are arrested. Knox's boss, 38-year-old bar owner Patrick Lumumba, is also arrested after revealing he'd canceled Knox's shift the night Kercher is murdered. He is released Nov. 19.

  • Oct. 28, 2008

    A third suspect, 20-year-old drug dealer Rudy Hermann Guede, is sentenced to 30 years in jail after confessing to being in the house on the night of the murder. He maintains his innocence, instead blaming an Italian stranger for the crime.

  • Sept. 26, 2008

    Knox and Sollecito meet in court for the first time since their arrests.

  • Jan. 16, 2009

    Knox and Sollecito's trial begins.

  • March 6, 2009

    After claiming she was pressured to name a suspect, Knox tells the court she was at Sollecito's house when Kercher's murder took place.

  • Nov. 21, 2009

    Italian prosecutors request life sentences for both Knox and Sollecito.

  • Dec. 4, 2009

    Jury retires to consider verdicts. Both defendants are found guilty. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Sollecito received 25 years. On Dec. 19, Guede's sentence is decreased to 16 years.

  • June 17, 2010

    Knox appears at a preliminary hearing in view of her upcoming appeal trial.

  • Oct. 1, 2010

    Knox briefly reappears in an Italian court for a hearing on possible police slander charges.

  • Nov. 24, 2010

    Knox was escorted by a policewoman into the same Perugia courtroom where the first trial was held.

  • Nov. 8, 2010

    Knox is indicted on slander charges for claiming she was beaten by police when questioned in 2007 about her roommate's slaying.

  • Nov. 24, 2010

    Knox returns to court for the start of her appeals trial, about a year after the American student was convicted of killing her British roommate in a case that drew global attention.

  • Nov. 24, 2010

    The appeal trial for both Knox and Sollecito is scheduled to open in Perugia.

  • Nov. 24, 2010

    The 23-year-old was convicted in December 2010 of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher, and sentenced to 26 years in prison.

  • Nov. 24, 2010

    Knox chats with her lawyer Carlo Della Vedova.

  • Nov. 24, 2010

    Sollecito, right, is escorted by a penitentiary police guard as he arrives for a hearing in the appeals trial.

  • Nov. 24, 2010

    Knox is escorted by a penitentiary guard.