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Amanda Knox makes final plea in appeal hearing

posted 3 Oct 2011, 06:13 by Sam Mbale

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito make final statements in appeal, urging an Italian court to overturn their murder convictions.

PERUGIA, ITALY (OCTOBER 3, 2011) REUTERS - American student Amanda Knox on Monday (October 3) made a tearful plea to be acquitted of murdering her British roommate, saying she was paying with her life for a crime she did not commit.

Moments before she spoke, co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito said in a halting voice that he had never hurt anybody in his life.

"I never hurt anybody, never in my life. In these year the accusations made against me, I always thought in some way they would be overturned and in some way with time everything would be cleared up," he said.

Pointing to a bracelet on his wrist he said:

"On this bracelet is written 'Free Amanda and Raffaele'. I haven't taken it off since I was given it. It is a little bit frayed but not dirty. I think now is the time to take it off."

Struggling to hold back the tears, Amanda Knox took the stand to make her final plea after Sollecito had spoken.

"I lost a friend, in the most brutal and inexplicable way possible. My absolute faith in the police authorities was betrayed, I've had to face absolutely unfair, suggestive and baseless accusations. I am paying with my life for things I did not commit," she said.

Knox, who has visibly lost weight in jail, continued by saying:

"I am not what they say. The perversions, the violence, contempt for life and for the persons... aren't part of me and I did not do what they say I have done. I didn't kill, I didn't rape, I didn't steal, I wasn't there, I wasn't present at the crime."

She raised her voice to say through tears: "I insist on the truth, I insist after four desperate years on our innocence ... I want to go home. I want to go back to my life. I do not want to be punished. I do not want to be deprived of my life for something I did not do, because I am innocent."

Knox barely spoke Italian when she was arrested but addressed the court fluently in the language.

The Seattle native and her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, are fighting a 2009 verdict that found them guilty of stabbing the Leeds University exchange student to death during a drug-fuelled sexual assault.

A verdict for the appeal is due later on Monday.

Expectations are high among many in the United States that 24-year-old Knox will walk free from the Italian prison she has been held in for nearly four years after a forensics review cast doubt on DNA evidence used to convict her.

Knox and Sollecito are still viewed with suspicion by some who claim the staged theft following the murder and Knox's false testimony against an African bar owner raise suspicions the duo are guilty because of efforts to mislead investigations.