Missing Madeleine
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Post  Panda on Sat 22 Jan - 7:13

Nick Pisa in Perugia (sky news)

Amanda Knox returns to court today to continue her appeal against her conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher - with her lawyers confident of victory.

Amanda Knox being led into court last month: She denies killng Meredith

Knox, 23, was jailed for 26 years for the brutal sex murder of student Meredith Kercher, 21, who was found semi naked with her throat cut in her bedroom in the house they shared.

The American's former boyfriend, computer studies graduate Raffaele Sollecito, 25, was also found guilty and given a 25-year sentence. He is also appealing.

Last month Knox broke down in tears at the hearing in Perugia after appeal judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman granted a DNA review of the evidence used to convict her and Sollecito - particularly on a kitchen knife and bra clasp.

The original trial heard how the 12-inch knife was found in Sollecito's flat with DNA - genetic material not blood - from Knox on the handle and Meredith on the blade.

Also key to the conviction was a bloodied clasp from Meredith's bra on which DNA from Sollecito was said to have been found but in both cases defence lawyers said the results were so low they should not have been admitted.

Sollecito is also appealing against his murder conviction

Today, two experts from Rome's La Sapienza Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti will be officially appointed to carry out the review which will take between two and three months to complete.

Knox's lawyer Luciano Ghirga said the review was ''an important step'' and a ''victory in the search for truth,'' while prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said it would show ''once and for all the good work of the investigators.''

Defence lawyers will also question the reliability of key witness tramp Antonio Curatolo who said that he saw Knox and Sollecito by the house the night of the murder.

He had told the court he remembered the night ''clearly'' as he saw student revellers queueing up to catch buses to nightclubs on the outskirts of the city.

However, defence lawyers have established that he could not have as the night Meredith was murdered was a bank holiday with venues being shut and no buses running.

Meredith was in Italy as part of a year-long exchange programme

They are also expected to bring up a charge of drug dealing that Curatolo, 53, faces and which is due to go to trial later this year - he has been a key witness in two previous Perugia murder trials.

Curatolo said he saw Knox and Sollecito ''chatting animatedly'' on a basketball court in a square close to the house and that he saw them ''around five times'' between 9.30pm and midnight the night that Meredith was murdered.

During his evidence he pointed to the couple, who have always insisted they were at home the night Meredith was killed and did not leave until the following morning.

Prosecutors are also appealing at the hearing and are looking to have the sentences against Knox and Sollecito increased to life.

Meredith, a Leeds University student from Coulsdon, Surrey, was in Italy as part of a year-long exchange programme with her European Studies degree and had only been in Perugia two months when she was killed in November 2007.

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