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Amanda Knox not guilty, says Italian mafioso

Amanda Knox is serving a 26-year sentence for murder in Italy. Will new testimony – and forensic evidence – be enough to overturn her conviction?

By Correspondent / June 14, 2010

Amanda Knox, center, sits between her two lawyers during a preliminary hearing in Perugia, Italy, June 1. Ms. Knox, the American student convicted of killing her British roommate in Italy, is not guilty, according to a jailed Italian mafioso.

Fabrizio Troccoli/AP

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Rome

The extraordinary saga of Amanda Knox, the American student convicted of killing her British roommate in Italy, has taken a new, quintessentially Italian twist.

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An Italian mafia turncoat claims that his brother killed the 21-year-old British woman, Meredith Kercher, during a bungled robbery and that Ms. Knox, from Seattle, is entirely innocent.

The claim will form part of the appeal that Knox’s Italian lawyers are preparing and which is expected to be heard this fall. There are two levels of appeal in the Italian judicial system. At the first level, analysts say, this new testimony might get Knox's sentence reduced. On the second level, which could be two years or more away, it might overturn her conviction.

The new claim gives the former University of Washington student fresh hope in the fight to overturn her 26-year jail sentence, handed down by a court in Perugia at the culmination of a year-long trial that received intense media coverage on both sides of the Atlantic.

The mafia turncoat, Luciano Aviello, claims that he and his brother, Antonio, were living in Perugia, the walled medieval town in Umbria where the murder took place in November 2007. He has told Knox’s defense team that one night his brother returned home with an injury to his right arm and his jacket covered in blood.

“He said he had broken into a house, where he had killed a girl, and then had run away,” Mr. Aviello told Knox's lawyers, according to an Italian news magazine, Oggi.

He said his brother and an Albanian man named Florio had broken into the hillside cottage that Ms. Kercher shared with Knox and two Italian women.

The Leeds University student was alone in the house. The men were looking to steal anything of value, but when Kercher saw them, she started screaming.

Antonio Aviello allegedly tried to silence her by putting his hand over her mouth but she resisted and, according to this unsubstantiated version of events, he ended up fatally stabbing her.

Kercher, who like Knox was on a year-long course in Perugia, was found lying dead in her bedroom on the morning of Nov. 2, 2007.

'My brother confessed to me'

Luciano Aviello, who is serving a 17-year sentence for associating with the Naples-based Camorra mafia, insists that the two men convicted alongside Knox of the murder – her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede, a local drifter – are also innocent of the crime. They are serving jail terms of 25 years and 16 years respectively.

"It was my brother who killed Meredith on the night of November 1, 2007. Amanda, Raffaele, and Guede are innocent," Aviello reportedly told Knox’s lawyers. “I know because my brother confessed to me and asked me to hide a blood-stained knife and a bunch of keys. I hid them underneath a wall, behind my house, covering them with soil and rubble.”

Aviello says he can show police exactly where the knife and the keys are hidden.

His claims chime with some realities of the case. The trial heard that the knife, which the prosecution claimed was the murder weapon, did not fit the wounds of Kercher’s neck. Traces of DNA linking it to Knox were weak and highly questionable. Nor have the keys to the cottage ever been found.

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