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Amanda Knox trial closes, but doubt over Italian prosecution, media's role remain

Amanda Knox trial: Jailed since 2007 for the murder of British student, Ms. Knox awaits decision of court on whether her 2009 conviction will be upheld. Defense lawyers say prosecution's evidence is shaky.

By Correspondent / September 30, 2011

Amanda Knox, the US student convicted of murdering her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy in November 2007, arrives in court after a break during her appeal trial session in Perugia on Friday.

Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

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Perugia, Italy

Four years after she was first accused of stabbing to death her British housemate, it is crunch time for Amanda Knox.

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An appeals court in the Italian hill town of Perugia is expected to rule on Monday on whether to uphold the American’s 26-year sentence for murdering Meredith Kercher or to acquit her and let her go home to Seattle.

But the case has raised questions over the efficacy and fairness of the Italian judicial system, with Knox’s family and other critics saying prosecutors in Perugia were under so much international pressure to solve the crime that they shoehorned evidence to fit their theory that Ms. Knox and her boyfriend, an Italian computer studies graduate named Raffaele Sollecito, were the killers. There also has been profound disquiet over the degree to which Knox, in particular, was subjected to trial by media in the year after she was arrested and before her trial began.

Trial by media

Ms. Knox has been in prison ever since she was arrested in November 2007. She and Mr. Sollecito, were found guilty of murder and sexual assault at the end of a year-long trial in 2009. As the case draws to a dramatic end, nearly 400 Italian, American, and British journalists have been accredited to cover Knox’s trial, filling Perugia’s sunlit streets with a horde of satellite vans, television crews, and reporters. And the coverage has been devastating to Knox, say her attorneys.

Tabloid journalists plundered photos and messages from her MySpace page, picking up on her nickname, “Foxy Knoxy,” to depict her as a promiscuous vamp with a penchant for living life on the edge and a fascination for the macabre.

The defense said Knox had been “crucified” by lurid coverage in the tabloid press and scurrilous reports of her sex life and supposed promiscuity.

“[She] has been run over by a media tsunami. She is a girl who is very different from how she has been depicted,” Carlo Dalla Vedova, one of Knox’s attorneys, said.

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