US student goes on trial for murder in Italy

January 16th, 2009 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Perugia (Italy), Jan 16 (DPA) Media frenzy surrounded the opening Friday of a trial in which a US college student and her Italian former boyfriend are accused of sexually assaulting and murdering her British roommate.Scores of reporters, including many from the US and Britain, packed a courthouse in Perugia where Amanda Knox from Seattle and Raffaele Sollecito appeared in front of an eight-member jury, the ANSA news agency reported.

The two were indicted in October for the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher, found semi-naked with her throat cut, in the apartment she shared with Knox in 2007.

Both defendants deny wrongdoing in the case for which another accused, Ivory Coast national Rudy Hermann Guede, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2008.

Guede, claiming innocence, opted for a “fast-track” trial in exchange for clemency.

The case has stirred sensational interest in Italy, much of it directed at Knox who has often been described as having the “face of an angel” for her soft features.

The court was expected to decide Friday whether trial proceedings should be held behind closed doors, a request made by lawyers representing Kercher’s family and which is supported by prosecutors.

Knox and Sollecito’s defence teams want the trial to remain open to the public, a move which they say will help counter the “deformed” image of their clients which has emerged in the media.

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