Defence seeks new DNA tests in Knox retrial

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Amanda Knox's retrial for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher is underway in Florence. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP.
15:15 CEST+02:00
Defence lawyers at the retrial of Amanda Knox for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher called Monday for new tests to be carried out on semen stains from the crime scene and DNA on the alleged murder weapon.

Lawyers for the US student and her former lover told the court the fresh tests were essential in clearing the defendants, as the victim's lawyer said
the truth behind one of Italy's most notorious crimes was long overdue.

Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito spent four years behind bars for the murder of Meredith Kercher, who was found half-naked in a pool of blood in the
house she shared with Knox in 2007, her body riddled with stab wounds.

An appeals court overturned their convictions in 2011 and Knox returned to Seattle, but Italy's Supreme Court in March ordered a retrial following an
appeal by prosecutors against what they slammed a "superficial ruling."

"We need a key step forward on the DNA evidence. We insist the traces on the knife be re-examined," Luciano Girgha told retrial judge Alessandro

"We want the truth", he said.

The knife, recovered from a kitchen drawer in Sollecito's house, bore tiny traces of Knox's DNA on the handle, and Meredith's DNA on the blade.

A third DNA trace had gone unexamined after experts said was it too low to produce conclusive results but the defence hopes it could help clear the pair.

I'm not coming back

Knox, 26, has insisted she will not return for any of the retrial.

"I was depicted as a young, unscrupulous liar. A sex fiend, a murderess. I'm not coming back," she told Florence's local Corriere Fiorentino daily.

If Knox is convicted again and loses another Supreme Court appeal, experts say there is a remote chance that she could be extradited and imprisoned.

Sollecito, 29, has been living in the Dominican Republic but he has said he will attend court later on in the trial, which could last months.

"It seems to be pretty never-ending saga of nightmare. My life is still on hold and I cannot move on," he told NBC television on Monday.

Kercher was found naked apart from a t-shirt. Her throat had been slit and she suffered a "slow, agonising" death, according to the coroner's report.

"I hope that we will take a step towards the truth, for the Kercher family. A truth which will finally reveal what really happened to Meredith that night," the family's lawyer Francesco Maresca said.

Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede, who like the other two has always denied the murder, is the only person still in prison for the crime.

The defence asked for the court to focus on the DNA evidence rather than the witness testimonies, which they said were flawed.

Sollecito's lawyer Luca Mauri called for semen stains on the pillow found under Meredith's corpse to be tested for the first time, saying he was "shocked that an investigation purportedly into a 'satanic orgy' overlooked the semen."

The prosecution has claimed from that beginning that that the grisly murder was the result of "an erotic game that spun out of control" -- a hypothesis the Supreme Court suggested was valid and asked the retrial to explore further.

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Defence lawyer Giulia Bongiorno ridiculed the idea that a four-way, violent sex game could have taken place in Meredith's bedroom and left behind multiple DNA traces belonging to Guede but no trace of Knox and only one trace of Sollecito.

Sollecito's DNA was found on a bra clasp, which was only collected from the crime scene 47 days after the murder.

Prosecutors insist Knox and Sollecito left no or little DNA behind them because they cleaned up after themselves.

"I ask the court to appoint experts to see whether or not it is possible to remove certain traces of DNA from a crime scene and leave others, considering you cannot see naked handprints or skin cells," Bongiorno said.

She insisted the original probe into the murder was flawed -- with police caught using dirty gloves to bag evidence and failing to store it properly, allowing for possible DNA contamination.

Mauri also insisted that the bedroom had been too small to host a violent orgy.

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