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Italian court begins retrial of Amanda Knox for murder

An Italian court has opened a new trial for the American Amanda Knox over the murder of her British roommate. Knox, whose original verdict was overturned in 2011, has not returned to Italy for the trial.

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New Amanda Knox trial begins

On Monday, a court in Florence began a new trial for Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito over the murder of the British student Meredith Kercher. Neither defendant was in attendance.

"I will not come back to Italy, also because my presence in court has always been a source of distraction," the 26-year-old Knox told Sunday's Corriere Fiorentino, adding that she wanted to avoid the "circus" of her earlier court hearings.

In 2011, Knox and Sollecito were found guilty and sentenced to more than 20 years in jail, but were freed in 2011 when the verdict was overturned.

However, Italy's top appeals court threw out that ruling in March and ordered a retrial.

Kercher's body was found in November 2007 in her bedroom of the house she shared with Knox and others in Perugia, the Italian university town where the two were exchange students. She had more than 40 wounds and her throat had been slashed. Prosecutors alleged Kercher was the victim of a drug-fueled sex game gone wrong.

Both deny killing

Knox and Sollecito denied any involvement in the killing, saying they were not in the apartment that night but did acknowledge they had smoked marijuana and their memories were clouded.

Both were acquitted on appeal and released in 2011 after four years in behind bars.

The appeals court heavily criticized the prosecution's case at the time, saying no murder weapon was ever found, the DNA tests were faulty and that prosecutors provided no motive.

A third person, Ivory Coast national Rudy Guede, was convicted of the murder in a separate proceeding and is currently serving a 16 year sentence.

Italian law cannot compel Knox to return to the country for the retrial and the US doesn't normally extradite its citizens to face legal action.

The new trial could be over by the end of the year, however any ruling could once again be challenged before the Court of Cassation.

hc/ipj (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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