Amanda Knox "hopeful" after blow to prosecution

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 07, 2011 4:38 PM
Amanda Knox "hopeful" after blow to prosecution

LONDON (Reuters) - An American student jailed for the murder of her English housemate hopes to win an appeal against her conviction after an Italian judge rejected prosecution calls for a second review of crucial evidence that two experts have undermined, her family said on Wednesday.

Amanda Knox, 24, is appealing against her conviction for the 2007 killing of language student Meredith Kercher at their rented house in the Italian town of Perugia, central Italy.

Appeal court judge Claudio Pratillo Hellmann turned down a prosecution request to review forensic evidence used to convict Knox after an independent report found it to be unreliable.

"They have no case, there is no case left and I am very hopeful that by the end of the month we will get to bring Amanda home," her father Curt Knox told CNN outside court.

His daughter is "happy and hopeful" that she will be released from prison soon, he said in comments reported by Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

One of the two prosecutors opposing Knox's bid to overturn her conviction was quoted by the Daily Mail newspaper as saying that there was an "ill wind blowing in this case."

Prosecutor Manuela Comodi said she could envisage Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, also convicted of Kercher's murder, being cleared by the appeal court.

"The judge and his assistant are clearly against us. I can see both Knox and Sollecito being freed which will be a shame as they are both involved," Comodi was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

Knox and Sollecito and Ivorian Rudy Guede were jailed in 2009 after what judges concluded was a frenzied sex game that spiraled out of control.

KNIFE BLADE

Court-appointed experts, Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti, said in court at an appeal hearing in July they had found no evidence to support original police conclusions that the blade of the knife thought to have been used to kill Kercher carried traces of the victim's blood.

In the report, the experts said proper decontamination procedures had not been followed in the initial investigation, there was insufficient documentation of the amount of DNA evidence and inadequate "real time" analysis.

Vecchiotti said the knife had not been handled or cleaned properly in the initial investigation, and could have been contaminated with other DNA traces.

The two experts had been asked by the appeal court to go over the forensic evidence in the case which has attracted huge media interest and severe criticism of police methods from the defense team.

Prosecutors questioned the two reviewers' findings and had asked the court for a second review of the DNA evidence. But the judge rejected that request and said there had been enough discussion of the DNA evidence.

The appeal hearing continues, with closing arguments expected to start toward the end of this month.

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Louise Ireland)