Ex-boyfriend points to text that blows hole in Knox murder alibi

By Michael Day

Raffaele Sollecito leaves after attending a press conference in Rome yesterday. Photo / AP
Raffaele Sollecito leaves after attending a press conference in Rome yesterday. Photo / AP

The former boyfriend of Amanda Knox has cast doubt on her innocence in the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher.

Italian Raffaelle Sollecito, 30, told reporters in Rome that the evidence showed Knox was not with him at his home at the time of the killing of Kercher, 21. Knox has claimed the pair were together on the night of the murder.

Kercher, from London, was killed on November 1, 2007 in the flat she shared with Knox in Perugia where the pair were studying. Knox, Sollecito and Rudy Guede have been convicted of killing Kercher but only Guede is serving time in prison.

Knox and Sollecito have been convicted, had their convictions overturned and then reinstated by Italian courts. Knox and Sollecito are due to appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn their convictions again.

Sollecito, a student of robotics, accompanied by his lawyer Giulia Bongiorno, pointed to text message evidence that he said implicated Knox rather than him.

On the night of the murder, Knox, 27, claimed that she'd sent an SMS to Patrick Lumumba, confirming that she would not be working at his bar in Perugia that night.

But in the January 2014 appeal, which saw their convictions confirmed, judges noted that Knox had lied in saying she had sent the text from inside Sollecito's house, possibly in an attempt to place herself away from the scene of the crime.

"She gave me an alibi. I had nothing to do with it," Sollecito said yesterday regarding the judges' deliberations.

His declaration was repeated by Bongiorno, who said the pair had gone on to sleep together that night.

"It's [the declaration relating to] this first part of the evening that is new," she said.

"This text message, according to the court's own ruling, was not sent from his house. Therefore the pair were not together," she said.

Sollecito denied he was changing his story. "Only a madman or a criminal would change versions, and I'm neither mad nor criminal. There's proof that I was at my place and I was watching Japanese cartoons."

 Amanda Knox will not return to Italy from the US for the new trial. Photo / AP
Amanda Knox will not return to Italy from the US for the new trial. Photo / AP

Asked where Knox may have been in those missing hours, Sollecito said that he was concentrating only on defending himself and could not vouch for her whereabouts. Despite casting doubt on Knox's testimony, Sollecito said he was convinced of Knox's innocence.

"I always believed, and still believe, that Amanda Marie Knox is innocent," he said. He wanted only to ensure that evidence against Knox was not unfairly used against him.

Both Sollecito and his lawyer claimed that his January conviction was unfairly influenced by Knox's original pre-trial statement, in which the American falsely claimed to have heard Kercher being murdered by Lumumba.

Legal experts believe Sollecito's defence team are hoping that Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation will dismiss his 25-year prison sentence and order a retrial. Knox will not return from the US for the trial.

The pair were first jailed for the murder in Perugia in 2009, with Sollecito handed a 25-year sentence and Knox 26 years, a year longer because she falsely accused Lumumba of the murder.

The slander was seen as the act that convicted Knox the first time around, despite the lack of forensic evidence. Sollecito was seen to have incriminated himself with vague statements about the pair's activity on the evening of the killing.

Both were freed on appeal in October 2011. The Supreme Court of Cassation ordered the appeal to be reheard in Florence in January this year. A person is not considered definitively convicted in Italy until the Supreme Court has ruled them guilty.

The Supreme Court said prosecutors' claims that Guede, the only person definitively convicted of the crime, could not have acted alone, warranted more attention.Independent

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