ROME — Italy’s Supreme Court has overturned the murder conviction of American Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend in the 2007 slaying of her British roommate, the court announced late Friday.
Knox, 27, of Seattle, was convicted in 2009 for the killing of British student Meredith Kercher, who shared an apartment with her in the Italian university town of Perugia. Knox’s boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, had been found guilty, too.
The case is now closed, the court said, and both Knox and Sollecito are free to go.
Thus ends an eight-year legal saga that gripped the United States, Britain and Italy.
Knox issued a statement saying she was “relieved and grateful” because of the decision. She thanked family and friends for their support and said, “The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal.”
Knox’s family said in their own statement: “We want to express our profound gratitude to all of those who have supported Amanda and our family. Countless people — from world-renowned DNA experts to former FBI agents to everyday citizens committed to justice — have spoken about her innocence. We are thrilled with and grateful for today’s decision from the Supreme Court of Italy. And we are grateful beyond measure for all that so many of you have done for her.”
The semi-naked body of the 21-year-old Kercher, her throat slashed, was found in November 2007 at the home she shared with Knox in Perugia.
Prosecutors in Perugia said Knox directed Sollecito and another man infatuated with her, Rudy Guede, to hold Kercher down as Knox played with a knife before slashing Kercher’s throat.
Both Sollecito and Knox were convicted in 2009 and sentenced to lengthy jail terms. Guede, a drifter originally from the Ivory Coast, was tried separately and is serving a 16-year sentence.
Then, after the evidence was re-examined, an appeals court quashed the two students’ convictions in October 2011, citing a lack of evidence against them, and both were set free to return to a “normal” life.
Two years later, they were retried and their acquittals overturned. Knox was sentenced in absentia to 28½ years in prison. Her ex-boyfriend got 25 years.
If the decision had gone the other way, Sollecito, now 31, could have been sent to prison immediately. He has been living in Italy.
“This is truly a very important day, not just, I believe, for Raffaele Sollecito, but I believe also for all of those who believe strongly in justice,” Sollecito’s attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, told reporters in Rome.
Knox’s Italian lawyer, Dalla Vedova, also expressed relief.
“We finally got the right decision,” he said. “Right now she has to stay with her family and recover from this very bad experience.”
Knox can freely travel to Italy if she wants to, said CNN reporter Barbie Nadeau, but there’s one legal issue hanging over her head.
Knox had originally accused bartender Patrick Lumumba of being involved in the slaying. He spent several weeks in jail after Knox accused him and he won a defamation suit for which she was ordered to pay about $54,000 in damages, Nadeau said.
Knox hasn’t paid the money, Nadeau said.