Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Saturday, 19 September 2009 18:15 UK

Kercher murder trial shown knife

Prosecutor Manuela Comodi shows a knife to the courtroom
Jurors were shown a knife prosecutors claim may have killed Ms Kercher

A court in Italy has been shown a knife prosecutors say could have been used to kill British student Meredith Kercher.

The knife - wrapped in plastic - was shown to the eight-member jury in the murder trial of Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

The pair watched as it was brought into the courtroom in a white box as part of the testimony of a forensic expert.

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito deny killing the 21-year-old exchange student from London in Perugia in 2007.

Prosecutors allege the knife found at Mr Sollecito's house had Ms Kercher's DNA on the 6.5in (16.5cm) blade and Ms Knox's on the handle.

But defence lawyers rejected the claim, saying the knife was too big to match Ms Kercher's wounds and the amount of DNA too small to be accurately attributable.

'No match'

Forensic expert Mariano Cingolani, one of three called by Mr Sollecito's defence team, questioned the "compatibility" of the knife with a wound to Ms Kercher's neck.

Amanda Knox
Prosecutors claim Ms Knox's DNA is on a knife that matches the stab wounds

If the knife in court was used in the attack, one of three wounds to the victim's neck would have been bigger, given its depth, he told the court.

But he also said no firm conclusion could be drawn without knowing the position of Ms Kercher's neck during the stabbing or the elasticity of her tissues.

Bruises on her neck suggested she might have been strangled and may have choked on her own blood, he added.

Mr Cingolani was appointed by a Perugia judge before indictments for the two defendants were handed down.

Ms Kercher, who was studying at Leeds University, was found with her throat cut in a house which she and Ms Knox shared.

Prosecutors say she was killed during what had begun as a sex game.

'Pool of blood'

Forensic expert Anna Aprile told the court the victim's body showed signs of sexual activity shortly before death.

She said it was unclear whether she was raped, but the fact that she was found in a pool of blood, with multiple wounds and bruises, suggested there had been violence during intercourse.

On Friday, forensic expert Francesco Vinci told the court that key forensic evidence had been wrongly linked to one of the defendants.

A bloody footprint at the crime scene had been attributed to Mr Sollecito, but defence witness Mr Vinci said the print was the wrong size.

He compared pictures of a footprint on a bathroom rug at the house where Ms Kercher was found with images of Mr Sollecito's feet and told the court they "absolutely don't match".

Rudy Hermann Guede, who has joint Italian and Ivorian nationality, has been jailed for 30 years for the killing of Ms Kercher. He has denied wrongdoing and is appealing against his conviction.

The trial continues.



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