Amanda Knox won a victory in court today when she was granted a full review of crucial DNA evidence used to convict her of Meredith Kercher’s murder.
The appeal hopes of the American 23-year-old rest partly on having the evidence re-examined independently.
After a hearing lasting most of the day, the decision went in her favour, giving her family some hope that the guilty verdict may yet be overturned.
The evidence to be reviewed includes disputed DNA traces found on a knife allegedly used as the murder weapon and on the clasp of Miss Kercher's bra.
Lawyers representing Knox’s Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, also jailed for the murder, requested a fresh look at this too.
Both legal teams maintain that this evidence was inconclusive and have also argued it may have been contaminated when analysed.
Knox was convicted last year of sexually assaulting and murdering the 21-year-old British student and was sentenced to 26 years in prison.
The trial in the Italian hilltop town of Perugia saw Sollecito sentenced to 25 years for the same crime.
Prosecutors said the brutal killing followed a sex game taken to the extreme, but the former couple have continued to protest their innocence from behind bars and are appealing against the verdict.
Knox’s mother, Edda Mellas, was in the Perugia court room for today’s hearing and welcomed the result.
She told Sky News: “There’s hope.”
University of Leeds student Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found dead on November 2, 2007 in her bedroom at the Perugia house she shared with Knox and others during her year abroad.
Her throat had been slit and her semi-naked body was partially covered by a duvet.
Prosecutor Giancarlo Costagliola had opposed the request by defence lawyers for a review of the DNA evidence, labelling it ``useless''.
He said: “This court has all the elements to be able to come to a decision.”
Lawyer Francesco Maresca, representing the Kercher family, had also been against a review.
After the decision went against them, Knox’s stepfather said it was “the first step in the right direction”.
Chris Mellas, 36, said: “We’re all pleased. It’s nice to have the first good decision in three years.
“Amanda is definitely hopeful. We’ve always had a little bit of that hope but this is the first time we have a reason for it.”
But the time frame for the review was “up in the air”, he added. It had originally been expected to take at least 60 days.
The court also granted permission for defence lawyers to introduce two new witnesses to the appeal process.
It was another boost for Knox, who cut a hunched and pale figure when she was escorted into the court room earlier to sit through a day of argument by the prosecution and civil parties in the case.
Meanwhile Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast man jailed for the murder and sexual violence in separate proceedings, failed to get his conviction overturned at Italy’s highest court in Rome this week.