PERUGIA,Italy– Amanda Knox has leftRomeaboard a London-bound plane en route to theUnited States.
The Italy-US Foundation, which has championed her cause, said Knox departed shortly after noon fromRome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport. InLondon, she will catch a connecting flight to theUnited States.
Knox is making her way home to theUnited Statesa free woman Tuesday, after an Italian appeals court dramatically overturned the American student’s conviction of sexually
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Prosecutors said Monday night after hearing the verdict that they would appeal to the nation’s highest criminal court, the Court of Cassation, after reading the court’s reasoning, which will be published in the next 90 days.
“Tonight’s sentence is wrong and confounding,” prosecutor Giuliano Mignini told the ANSA news agency. “The Court of Cassation will establish who is right” between the lower court and the appeals court,” said, citing what he called “unprecedented media pressure,” revisiting a theme he touched on during his closing arguments.
Back inPerugia, the family of slain British student Meredith Kercher remained stunned by the verdict and searching for answers.
“It was a bit of a shock,” said Stephanie Kercher, the victim’s sister. “It’s very upsetting … We still have no answers.”
Lyle Kercher, a brother, said the family is still trying to understand how a decision that “was so certain two years ago has been so dramatically overturned.”
Lyle Kercher said the family has been left to wonder who is guilty in the 21-year-old Kercher’s death after the release of Knox and her one time boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito on appeal. A third man has been convicted in the brutal slaying, however his trial concluded that he did not act alone.
“If they two released yesterday were not the guilty parties, we are obviously left to wonder who is the other guilty person or people. We are left back at square one,” Lyle Kercher said.
Knox left her prison outsidePerugiaMonday night, less than two hours after the verdict was read out in a packed court acquitting her and her Italian one-time boyfriend of the brutal murder. Knox was expected to leave Tuesday for theUnited States.
Knox thanked those “who shared my suffering and helped me survive with hope,” in a letter to a foundation that seeks to promote ties betweenItalyand theUnited Statesand which has always championed her cause.
“Those who wrote, those who defended me, those who were close, those who prayed for me,” Knox wrote. “I love you, Amanda.”
Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and murdering Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old British student who shared an apartment with Knox inPerugia. Knox was convicted to 26 years, Sollecito to 25.
In a stunning reversal, the appeals court inPerugiaoverturned those convictions and set the two free. They had been in prison since Nov. 6, 2007, four days after Kercher’s body had been found at the apartment.
The 24-year-old Knox dissolved into tears as the verdict was read in a packed courtroom after 11 hours of deliberations, and needed to be propped up by her lawyers on either side.
Two hours later Knox was in a dark limousine that took her out of the Capanne prison just outsidePerugia, where she had spent the past four years, and headed toRome.
“During the trip fromPerugiato Rome Amanda was serene,” said Corrado Maria Daclon, the secretary general of the Italy-US Foundation, who was with Knox in the car. “She confirmed to me that in the future she intends to come back to our country.”
The prosecution’s case was blown apart by a court-ordered DNA review that discredited crucial genetic evidence used to convict the two in 2009.
While waves of relief swept through the defendants’ benches in the courtroom, members of the Kercher family, who flew in for the verdict, appeared dazed and perplexed. Meredith’s older sister Stephanie shed a quiet tear, her mother Arline looked straight ahead.
“We respect the decision of the judges but we do not understand how the decision of the first trial could be so radically overturned,” the Kerchers said in a statement. “We still trust the Italian justice system and hope that the truth will eventually emerge.”
The Kerchers had pressed for the court to uphold the guilty verdicts passed two years ago, and resisted theories that a third man convicted in the case, Rudy Hermann Guede, had acted alone. Guede, convicted in a separate trial, is serving a 16-year sentence.
The verdict reverberated through the streets of this medieval hilltop town, where both Knox and Kercher had arrived with so much anticipation for overseas studies programs four years ago.
Hundreds of mostly university-age youths gathered in the piazza outside the courtroom jeered as news of the acquittals spread. “Shame, shame,” they yelled, adding that a black man had been made to shoulder all of the guilt for the murder.
The jury upheld Knox’s conviction on a charge of slander for accusing bar owner Diya “Patrick” Lumumba of carrying out the killing. But the judge set the sentence at three years, less than the time Knox had spent in prison.
Prosecutors said they would appeal to the nation’s highest criminal court, after reading the court’s reasoning due out within 90 days.
“Tonight’s sentence is wrong and confounding,” prosecutor Giuliano Mignini told the ANSA news agency. “There is a heavy conviction for slander. Why did she accuse him? We don’t know.”
Just before deliberations began Monday, Knox tearfully told the court she did not kill her roommate.
“I’ve lost a friend in the worst, most brutal, most inexplicable way possible,” she said of the 2007 murder of Kercher, who shared an apartment with Knox when they were both students inPerugia. “I’m paying with my life for things that I didn’t do.”