Amanda Knox vowed to fight her second conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in 2007 while the two were students together in the Italian university town of Perugia.
Speaking on US television a day after her conviction by a court in Florence, the 26-year-old American said she would never willingly return to Italy to serve the 28-year sentence handed down by judges.
“I’m going to fight this until the very end. And it’s not right, and it’s not fair and I’m going to do everything I can,” she told ABC News’ Good Morning America.
Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were both found guilty of killing the 21-year-old Kercher, who was found stabbed to death in an apartment the two young women shared in Perugia.
Knox has remained in her US hometown of Seattle since being released from prison in 2011 after an appeal overturned an original conviction and freed her and Sollecito after four years in custody.
Neither her sentence nor the 25-year prison term handed to Sollecito will have to be served pending further appeals, and a prolonged legal fight is now in prospect.
Sollecito left the court hours before the verdict was delivered and was found by police in the early hours of yesterday between the northern towns of Udine and Tarvisio, less than 10km from Italy’s border with Austria.
It was not immediately clear what he was doing in the region. Italian media said he briefly crossed into Austria before returning to Italy, but his lawyer denied he was trying to escape, having left Thursday’s hearing early due to stress.
“Raffaele Sollecito had no intention of fleeing. He went to the police station in Udine voluntarily,” lawyer Luca Maori said.
Maori said Sollecito had assured him he “never had any intention of fleeing” and had been visiting his girlfriend because he was upset by the trial, but police were reportedly investigating what he was doing in Venzone, when she lives in Treviso, over 150km away.
Under the terms of his sentence, authorities were confiscating his passport and have instructed him not to leave Italy after the verdict. For the moment he is free to travel inside the country.
Asked about her former boyfriend, Knox said: “He is vulnerable, and I don’t know what I would do if they imprisoned him. It’s maddening.”
The case, which has made headlines around the world, has divided opinion.
Knox has been widely vilified in Italy but in the US is commonly seen as the victim of a faulty justice system and the prospect of an emotionally fraught battle to extradite the student is now on the horizon.
Kercher’s family urged the US to agree to extradite Knox if her conviction is upheld after a final appeal process expected to conclude in 2015.
“It would set a difficult precedent if a country such as the US didn’t choose to go along with laws that they themselves uphold when extraditing convicted criminals from other countries,” Meredith’s brother Lyle Kercher said.
Sister Stephanie said she had not been able to properly grieve due to a drawn-out struggle to establish the basic facts of the night their sister was killed.
“It may be we never know the truth about what happened that night,” she said.
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