ROME -- Italy's highest court decided Tuesday that Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito must be tried again for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.
Ms. Knox, now 25, was an exchange student in Perugia at the time of Kercher's murder in 2007. She was originally convicted and sentenced to 26 years and served almost four years in jail before the decision was overturned in October 2011. Mr. Sollecito, 29, also was sentenced to 25 years in jail in the first ruling in 2009 and found not guilty on appeal in 2011. Ms. Knox returned to her hometown in Seattle after the appeals verdict.
"It was painful to receive the news that the Italian Supreme Court decided to send my case back for revision when the prosecution's theory of my involvement in Meredith's murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair," Ms. Knox said, according to an email sent by David Marriott, a spokesman for her family.
The court Tuesday approved the prosecutors' request to void the appeals court verdict and try Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito again, according to a court official. The case against Ms. Knox and Mr. Sollecito will be retried in a Florence court of appeals. Ms. Knox, who still is considered innocent pending the retrial verdict, will evaluate whether to take part in the trial, her lawyer Luciano Ghirga said on television network SkyTG24.
The case garnered global media attention in Italy, the U.K. and the U.S., and the appeals trial in 2011 saw a wave of journalists descending on Perugia, a town of 170,000 in central Italy. In Italy, the prosecution can file appeals when a verdict goes against them. An eventual extradition request could be considered in the event of a conviction in the retrial and confirmation by the highest court, according to a Justice Ministry official. The retrial is expected within one year, Mr. Ghirga said.
If Ms. Knox is convicted and Italy requests her extradition, it would be up to U.S. authorities to decide if they will send Ms. Knox to serve any sentence in Italy. Knox lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova noted that U.S. authorities would carefully study all the documentation to decide whether she had received fair trials.
U.S. and Italian authorities also could come to a deal that would keep Ms. Knox in the U.S.
The case should be examined by "an objective investigation and a capable prosecution," Ms. Knox said in the statement. "No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity."
Kercher, a 21-year-old student, was found dead in her bedroom, half-naked and strangled with her throat slashed, Nov. 2, 2007, at the house she shared with Ms. Knox and two other women. Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini said at the original trial that Ms. Knox had masterminded a drug-fueled sex game involving Mr. Sollecito and Ruby Guede, an Ivorian-born Italian citizen, which turned violent, leading to the murder. Mr. Sollecito and Ms. Knox always have denied any wrongdoing.
Guede was found guilty in a separate "fast-track" trial in 2008 and sentenced to 30 years. He had his sentence reduced to 16 years in a 2009 appeal.
In arguments to the appeals court in 2011, Mr. Sollecito's attorney Giulia Bongiorno compared Ms. Knox to Jessica Rabbit, saying the American had been unfairly portrayed in news media as a savvy, sex-obsessed manipulator. Like the cartoon-film character, Ms. Knox "isn't bad, she's just drawn that way," Ms. Bongiorno said.
Ms. Knox first told police she was at the villa at the time of the killing and that screaming from Kercher's room alerted her to the crime scene.
Neither Ms. Knox nor Mr. Sollecito were in court Tuesday. Ms. Knox's memoir on the years spent in prison, "Waiting to Be Heard," will be released April 30, according to the website of publisher Harper Collins.world
Associated Press contributed.