A man convicted in absentia of the murder of Meredith Kercher, the 21-year-old British woman found dead in an Italian apartment in 2007, has been set free after Italy’s highest court rejected his appeal, according to local media.
The decision to overturn the conviction of Raffaele Sollecito came a week after Italy’s highest court announced it would consider the case of Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, who was convicted of Kercher’s murder and is serving a 16-year sentence.
Prosecutors have always said Knox, an American student, was with Sollecito at the time of the killing. The pair were found guilty in 2009 and a court overturned their conviction in 2015. Kercher’s death and the initial lack of a clear motive drew widespread attention in Italy and abroad.
The court ruling in the request to release Sollecito said the acquittal was unanimous. He is believed to have been living in Italy since he was freed in 2015.
Prosecutors had argued Guede had sexually assaulted Kercher before killing her and his fingerprints were found on Kercher’s body. Knox said she had been raped and was with Sollecito when she heard the victim scream. The accused had claimed that Kercher had attacked them.
Knox’s retrial in Florence in 2015 was another formality after it ended in the acquittal of her and Sollecito. Knox, who is not required to travel to Italy for the new appeal, said she would not return for fear of having her sentence upheld.
The case of Knox and Guede, 25, came to the fore as a result of Knox’s high-profile memoir, Waiting to Be Heard, which was published in the UK last week.
She wrote that she first believed that Guede had killed Kercher but after losing faith in the prosecution, the pair were certain that another man had been responsible.
The high court had ordered another appeal to consider whether Knox and Sollecito could have faced life in prison even if Guede was ultimately convicted in the same trial.