Italy's highest court of appeal has overturned US student Amanda Knox's acquittal, ordering a retrial over the murder of her British roommate. The ruling is the latest development in a case that gained global attention.
The Court of Cassation ruled that an appeals court in Florence must rehear the case against Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, for the 2007 murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher.
"This is an important day for the Italian justice system," Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca said outside the court.
Knox, now 25 and a student at the University of Washington, issued a statement through a family spokesman after the ruling.
"It was painful to receive the news that the Italian Supreme Court decided to send my case back for revision when the prosecution's theory of my involvement in Meredith's murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair," the statement said.
"No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity," Knox's statement added.
Stephanie Kercher, the older sister of Meredith, said her family welcomed Knox's retrial, telling Sky News there are "still questions that are unanswered and we are all looking to find out the truth."
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.
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.
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. Her lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said Knox wouldn't come to Italy "for the moment" but would follow the case from home.
Knox had been scheduled to speak publicly about the case for the first time on American TV in April, when her memoir is due to be released.
dr/hc (AP, dpa, AFP, Reuters)