Kercher family vows to help prosecutors

Meredith Kercher’s family vowed today to lend prosecutors their full support if they fight the acquittal of Amanda Knox for the murder of the British student.

Meredith Kercher’s family vowed today to lend prosecutors their full support if they fight the acquittal of Amanda Knox for the murder of the British student.

American Knox was on her way home to Seattle today after her conviction for killing her house mate in Perugia, Italy, was dramatically overturned.

Her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, also walked free from prison last night after his conviction for the crime was quashed too.

But under Italian law, the prosecutors can appeal against the court’s decision - and Miss Kercher’s brother Lyle said he expected they would.

“It’s my understanding that the prosecutors will be going ahead to appeal the decision but I believe it’s actually someone higher up who decides that,” he said.

“We would support them fully in that.”

Suggesting his family’s fight for justice would continue, Mr Kercher referred to a “further stage” in the process in 12 or 15 months’ time.

His sister Stephanie added: “It may be a case of waiting another year now to get the truth and we can’t decide that, we have to leave that to the police, the forensics and the courts.”

Extradition of Knox back to Italy from the US is thought to be highly unlikely, however.

The Kercher family, from Coulsdon in Surrey, could not share the elation of Knox’s and Sollecito’s relatives after the verdicts came, saying instead that it was “back to square one” in their battle to learn the truth about how the Leeds University student died.

Mr Kercher said they accepted the ruling, but added that questions still had to be answered about what really happened.

“While we accept the decision that was handed down yesterday and respect the court and the Italian justice system, we do find that we are now left obviously looking at this again and thinking how a decision that was so certain two years ago has been so emphatically overturned now,” he said.

Small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, 24, from the Ivory Coast, was also convicted of the murder, which prosecutors said began as a sex game forced on Miss Kercher.

But, Mr Kercher said, “I understand the court agreed that he was not acting alone.”

He went on: “Of course, if the two who were released yesterday were not the guilty parties, we are now obviously left wondering who is the other person or people, and really, for us, it feels very much almost like back to square one and the search goes on really to find out what truly happened.”

Miss Kercher’s mother, Arline, said the family was still “absorbing” the decision.

“You think you have come to a decision and obviously it has been overturned,” she said. I think it is very early days really.“

She added: “What happened to my daughter, Meredith, is every parent’s nightmare.”

Miss Kercher’s semi-naked body was found on November 2 2007 in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox during her year in the Italian city.

Knox, 24, and Sollecito, 27, were found guilty in December 2009 of murdering Miss Kercher, with Knox sentenced to 26 years behind bars and Sollecito 25.

But after an 11-month appeal in a Perugia court, both convictions were thrown out yesterday.

Knox was flying home from Rome via London’s Heathrow Airport today, while Sollecito has been reunited with his father Francesco, from Bari in southern Italy.

Miss Kercher’s family were also flying home to the UK today after attending court yesterday for the verdicts.

The family’s pain had been prolonged over four years, Mr Kercher said, and the “brutal circumstances” of his young sister’s death made it “incredibly difficult” for them.

It was Mrs Kercher who came closest to expressing sympathy for Knox and Sollecito, who were imprisoned for so long for a crime they insisted they played no part in.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to get off scot-free,” she said. “Their lives have been disrupted.”

She added that “no-one is untouched by this” and admitted she could appreciate why Knox would feel she had lost her life over the last few years.

Conservative Richard Ottaway, the Kercher family’s MP, said he accepted the court’s verdict.

He added: “I would like to pay tribute to the quiet dignity of the Kercher family.

“They thought they had closure on this ghastly incident and they don’t and it has been a very stressful time for them. I hope that, in all the furore over this, they are not forgotten.

“I think it is important that we accept the machinery of justice in Italy. It may not have been conducted in the way that we would expect here. It looks very much like the police inquiry may not have been to the standards we expect here, but in the end a verdict has been reached and we have to accept that.”

And Prime Minister David Cameron said his thoughts were with the Kercher family.

He told Sky News: “I think all of us should be thinking of them.

“Obviously there is somebody in prison for the murder still, but one can’t help but think of the difficult time they will be going through.”

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