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Italian prosecutor says American artist was strangled in Florence

The death of Ashley Olsen, an American expat in Florence, has many wondering about how well Italy's justice system will work. The concerns stem from another murder trial involving an American in Italy - Amanda Knox.

An Italian prosecutor said an American woman living in Florence was strangled to death last week, perhaps with a rope.

The city's chief prosecutor Guiseppe Creazzo

said there was no indication that Ashley Olsen, a 35-year-old artist, had struggled with the killer, suggesting she knew her attacker. Further bolstering that theory is that there appeared to be no signs of forced entry.

Olsen reportedly moved to Italy to be closer to her father, who is an art teacher in the Tuscan city.

Her naked body was found Saturday at midday, when her boyfriend Federico Fiorentini, an Italian artist, went to check on her.

There are unconfirmed reports that the couple's relationship had been tense and that Olsen was considering ending it. But Fiorentini has given police an alibi and is not under investigation, according to Italian press reports.

American expat Ashley Olsen was often seen with her pet Beagle in the neighborhood of her Florence home

Olsen was often seen with her pet beagle

But further tests are to come, as the prosecutor tries to determine whether Olsen was sexually assaulted before her death and whether she had taken any drugs. They also plan to perform chemical analyses of body tissue and fluid to establish a more precise time of her death, which now appears to have been some time during a 36-hour-window between Friday and Saturday morning.

Echoes of Amanda Knox

The case has sparked intense domestic and international interest as it echoes of another Italian murder case involving an American expat.

In 2007

Amanda Knox was a 20-year-old American exchange student

in Perugia when her British roommate Meredith Kercher was found dead in their apartment.

Knox was initially convicted of Kercher's death

(and sentenced to 26 years in prison), but was acquitted on appeal, convicted again and,

in the final round of Italy's circuitous justice system, acquitted

.

But she spent nearly four years in prison as

her case ping-ponged through Italy's justice system.

Her boyfriend was also initially convicted, then acquitted.

At least nine documentaries were done about Knox's plight by US broadcasters and her story was made into a TV movie in 2011.

Olsen's death and the forthcoming investigation is sure to put Italy's justice system on trial, as the Knox fiasco left many wondering about the reliability of Italy's justice system.

bik/jil (AFP, AP)

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