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Amanda Knox murder retrial set to open in Italy

Amanda Knox (L), the U.S. student convicted of murdering her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy in November 2007, arrives at the cou
Amanda Knox (L), the U.S. student convicted of murdering her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy in November 2007, arrives at the cou

By Catherine Hornby

ROME (Reuters) - Italy will put Amanda Knox back on trial on Monday for the murder of her British roommate in 2007, but the American will not return to attend court in the country that jailed her - she says wrongly - for four years.

Dubbed "Foxy Knoxy" by a fascinated news media, Knox was found guilty in 2009 of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher in what was described as a drug-fuelled sexual assault.

After winning an appeal in 2011, Knox, and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, also convicted of the murder, were released.

The case is being tried again after Italy's supreme court overturned the acquittals, noting "contradictions and inconsistencies".

Knox has always denied murdering Kercher, who was found with more than 40 wounds, including a deep gash in the throat, in the apartment they shared in Perugia, a picturesque town in central Italy that attracts students from around the world.

In a memoir released earlier this year, Knox sought to reverse the image of a callous sexual deviant painted in many media reports after her initial conviction, and portrayed herself as a naive young woman railroaded by a foreign justice system.

She told U.S. television this month that her decision not to return from Seattle for the re-trial was "common sense".

"I was imprisoned as an innocent person and I just can't re-live that," said told NBC television.

Knox is not obliged to attend and can be represented by her lawyers. If found guilty, she would be able to appeal again, but if that failed, Italy could apply for her extradition.

"SUPERFICIAL"

Sollecito, 29, who has also always professed his innocence, is planning to attend the retrial which opens in Florence on Monday, his father told Italian media this week.

Lawyers for the Kercher family have welcomed the retrial, criticizing the earlier ruling as "superficial".

Law professor Maria Lucia Di Bitonto said the supreme court had found that the appeal hearing that freed Knox and Sollecito failed to take all the evidence into consideration.

It noted that the one person still in jail for the murder, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede, who is serving a 16-year sentence, was unlikely to have committed the crime alone.

"The court observed that there were either inconsistencies in the arguments that supported the declaration of innocence or there was incoherence between arguments and some of the procedural results," said Di Bitonto, criminal law professor at Rome's LUISS University.

The Supreme Court said the possibility that Kercher was killed during a group sex game should be re-examined but Di Bitonto said it was unlikely that any new evidence would be presented at the trial.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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