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Italian court orders new trial for Amanda Knox

  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011 file photo Amanda Knox gestures at a news conference in Seattle Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, after returning home from Italy. Italy's highest criminal court has overturned the acquittal of Amanda Knox in the slaying of her British roommate and ordered a new trial. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

ROME — Italy's highest criminal court ordered a whole new trial for Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend on Tuesday, overturning their acquittals in the gruesome slaying of her British roommate.

The move extended a prolonged legal battle that has become a cause celebre in the United States and raised a host of questions about how the next phase of Italian justice would play out.

Knox, now a 25-year-old University of Washington student in Seattle, called the decision by the Rome-based Court of Cassation "painful" but said she was confident that she would be exonerated.

The American left Italy a free woman after her 2011 acquittal — but only after serving nearly four years of a 26-year prison sentence from a lower court that convicted her of murdering Meredith Kercher. The 21-year-old British exchange student's body was found in November 2007 in a pool of blood in the bedroom of a rented house the two shared in the Italian university town of Perugia. Her throat had been slit.

Raffaele Sollecito, Knox's Italian boyfriend at the time, was also convicted, sentenced and later acquitted.

It could be months before a date is set for a fresh appeals court trial for Knox and Sollecito in Florence, which was chosen because Perugia has only one appellate court.

Italian law cannot compel Knox to return for the new trial and one of her lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said she had no plans to do so.

"She thought that the nightmare was over," Dalla Vedova told reporters on the steps of the courthouse. "(But) she's ready to fight."

He spoke minutes after relaying the top court's decision to Knox by phone shortly after 2 a.m. local time in Seattle.

Another Knox defender, Luciano Ghirga, was gearing up psychologically for his client's third trial. Ghirga said he told Knox: "You have always been our strength. We rose up again after the first-level convictions. We'll have the same resoluteness, the same energy" in the new trial.

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