Amanda Knox makes final plea for mercy

AMANDA Knox has rejected the “completely unjust” accusations in her murder appeal trial in Italy today, saying she was paying with her life for a crime she did not commit.

“The accusations are completely unjust and without any foundation,” the 24-year-old said in a tearful statement to the court.

“I am paying with my life for a crime I didn’t commit.”

Knox, 24, said she was betrayed by the Italian authorities after the killing of her flatmate, British student Meredith Kercher, in November 2007, saying: “I am not who they say I am. The perversion, the violence, the lack of respect for life and I did not do the things they say I did. I did not kill, I did not rape, I did not steal. I was not there at the time.”

Speaking in Italian on the final day of the appeal hearing, she sought to persuade the two judges and the jury who will decide her fate that she did not murder Kercher when a sex game went wrong.

 She said: “I want to go back home. I want to go back to my life. I do not want to be punished. I do not want my life taken away for something that I did not do because I am innocent.”

The presiding judge indictated there would be no verdict delivered before 5am (AEDT).

Before the hearing, Knox’s mother said she was hopeful of her daughter’s release.

“We’re all tense but hopeful because the defence has clearly shown that Amanda is innocent,” Edda Mellas told reporters.

“But we can’t allow ourselves to get too caught up in the wave of optimism now surrounding the case because there was no evidence last time.”

Knox entered the courtroom with her head bowed and looked nervous as her defence lawyer Luciano Ghirga summed up the case before the 24-year-old American made a final statement to the eight-person jury.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the gruesome killing of her British housemate Meredith Kercher, 21, in November 2007 in the hilltop university town of Perugia in central Italy where both girls were studying.

Prosecutors have asked for her sentence and that of her co-appellant Raffaele Sollecito, her boyfriend at the time of the murder, to be increased to life in prison because of the futility of the motives for the killing.

Kercher was found almost completely naked naked on the floor of her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox. The body had dozens of knife wounds and bruises on her body and there was evidence of a sexual assault.

Local small-time drug dealer and petty thief Rudy Guede has been convicted on the same charges as Knox and Sollecito but was tried separately and is serving a 16-year sentence after exhausting his appeals.

All three convicted for the murder have protested their innocence, although Guede claims he was in the house that night but did not wield the knife.

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