After more than two years, much controversy remains in the case of a British student who was killed in the central Italian university town of Perugia. Two separate trials have been held for the three suspects. All three have been convicted and are in prison serving sentences of 30, 26 and 25 years. But all three continue to proclaim their innocence.
The most well-known of the three young people convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher in November 2007 is American-born Amanda Knox.
The British tabloid newspapers immediately described Knox as a she-devil and man-eater. A week ago, 22-year-old Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted to 26 and 25 years in prison respectively after a trial that lasted 11 months. The prosecution had requested life imprisonment.
The third suspect, Rudy Guede, from Ivory Coast, had previously been convicted of 30 years in prison in a fast-track trial. Nick Pisa is a British tabloid journalist who has been covering the story since Kercher's dead body was found. "In general I think people were expecting this verdict. It was certainly one that has been anticipated by both the Italian media and the Italian public. I think the only people who were surprised were perhaps the Anglo-Saxon press because in the face of the evidence that was presented in court it's very, very unlikely that this case would have been found guilty in another court," he says.
No one argues that there is no evidence that puts Knox at the scene of the crime. But the prosecution has said there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that she was involved. He said Knox changed her version of the story many times and also unjustly accused a Congolese bar owner, for whom she had worked.
Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, insists her daughter is innocent, that she was not home the night Kercher was killed and adds her daughter has been in prison for more than two years without reason. "She's devastated, she's scared that she's going to be stuck in jail. She's confused. She doesn't even really. I don't think she even believed that courts find innocent people guilty of crimes they didn't commit and especially in this case where there was no evidence," she says.
Mellas paints a very different picture of her daughter than the one presented by the prosecution and media. "Amanda's a great young woman. She's very bright. She's athletic. She's kind. She has really, really good friends. She's just a normal college kid," she says.
Knox's family members say they will fight on and appeal the court's decision. They say the verdict, based on the evidence presented, was wrong. Nick Pisa agrees that the appeal could make the difference for Knox. "It does appear that the evidence that convicted her was very, very flimsy and I think once they examine this DNA evidence again - let's remember there was the request for an independent review that was ruled out by the judge. And I think that's probably one of the first things that a new judge will ask for when he comes to review this case," he says.
By early March the court will provide a written document outlining the reasons behind the verdict. An appeal by Knox's defense lawyers will be deposited soon after that. In the meantime Knox will have spent her third Christmas in an Italian jail as she awaits for a hearing date to be set, which is unlikely to be before October 2010.