Amanda Knox flirts with Raffaele Sollecito at Meredith Kercher murder trial

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Amanda Knox sought to patch up relations with her estranged former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, behind the scenes, at the opening of their trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher, Ms Knox’s British flatmate, it emerged today.

During the seven-hour opening hearing on Friday, Ms Knox, 21 smiled and laughed repeatedly, joking with her lawyers and interpreter. Although sitting only a few feet from the bespectacled Mr Sollecito, 24, she barely acknowledged his glances along the row.

As far as is known the two, who have been held in separate prisons, have not spoken since they were arrested after the murder of Ms Kercher in November 2007. But during a recess on Friday, Ms Knox approached Mr Sollecito and broke the ice by asking: “Ciao, come stai?” (“Hi, how are you?”). She smiled at him and said: “You look good with your hair cut short.”

Mr Sollecito, who had grown his hair long in prison, blushed at the compliment, according to Italian reports from legal sources who witnessed the exchange.

Ms Knox told him that she had not slept well because one of her cellmates snored loudly, but added that she felt optimistic and was “not afraid” because the trial would “end well” for them both.

Mr Sollecito, who appeared “much more tense and uncertain”, told his former girlfriend that the trial would take “a long time”, but he too “hoped for the best”. He told Ms Knox he was being transferred from prison at Terni to the Perugia prison where she is being held, in order to be closer to the courtroom, but said he was “not happy about it.” He said that at Terni he had been allowed to mix with other prisoners, whereas at Perugia he would be held in isolation.

In her prison diaries, which are part of the prosecution evidence, Ms Knox accused Mr Sollecito of having lied when he told investigators that Ms Knox had not been at his flat for the entire evening and night of the murder, as she claimed. He later said that he could not remember whether she had been present throughout or not because they had been smoking cannabis and his memory was hazy.

After the pair were sent for trial last October Mr Sollecito remarked that “our love affair is over”.

Luca Maori, one of Mr Sollecito’s lawyers, said the defence was confident that Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito would be acquitted, since “the murderer has already been identified and sentenced”, a reference to Rudy Guede, the Ivory Coast immigrant sentenced to 30 years in jail last October for his part in the crime.

Walter Biscotti, one of Mr Guede’s lawyers, told The Times: “We will not allow the blame to be pinned on Rudy Guede. That strategy will not work.”

Mr Guede is expected to be among the 200 witnesses called during the trial.

The prosecution says it has proof that all three took part in the murder during a “sex game” in which Ms Kercher was forced to her knees as an unwilling participant, a view endorsed by Paolo Micheli, the pre-trial judge, who decided there was enough evidence against Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito for them to be put on trial.

Manuela Comodi, the deputy prosecutor, said that the prosecution had not called either Ms Knox or Mr Sollecito as witnesses “because there is no point. Every time they were questioned during the pre-trial investigation they lied or tried to derail the inquiry.

“ If they have nothing to add and just repeat the same version of events, questioning them in court would be a waste of time. The facts will come from others.”

Ms Knox returned to prison from the opening hearing saying that she was more convinced than ever that she would be freed, according to legal sources, “because I am sure this judge will believe what I say, not what others say — starting with Rudy”.

At the next hearing, on February 6, the judge and jury will hear evidence from officers of the postal police who found Ms Kercher’s body on the morning of November 2, 2007, when they arrived at the hillside cottage that Ms Knox shared with Ms Kercher, to trace the owners of two mobile phones abandoned near by. They found Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito already there. They allege that Ms Knox said that she had taken a shower, despite noticing blood in the bathroom basin.

Ms Knox, described by Il Messaggero as a “strange but fascinating mixture of femme fatale and fresh-faced innocent”, claims she and Mr Sollecito arrived at the cottage only in the late morning. However the prosecution is expected to call a witness who says that he saw Ms Knox at a shop near the cottage some three hours earlier, buying cleaning fluids.

The prosecution also claims that Ms Knox’s DNA is on the handle of the presumed murder weapon, a kitchen knife from Mr Sollecito’s flat, with Ms Kercher’s DNA on the tip of the blade. She and Mr Sollecito said that there had been a break in, but the prosecution alleges that they faked this by breaking a window themselves.

According to Ms Kercher’s student friends, who will testify at the trial, Ms Knox showed “indifference” to the murder in the days after the crime. She was photographed kissing and cuddling Mr Sollecito as if nothing had happened, and gave contradictory versions of her behaviour on the night of the killing.

Giancarlo Massei, the presiding judge, will decide at the next hearing whether a “confession” made by Ms Knox before she was imprisoned admitting that she was at the scene of the crime and “covered her ears” so as not to hear Ms Kercher’s screams is admissable evidence.

The defence argues that it is not, since Italy’s highest court of appeal has ruled it that was made late at night with no lawyer present.

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5540939.ece?token=null&offset=0&page=1

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