Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Saturday, 5 December 2009

Meredith Kercher's family 'pleased' at guilty verdicts

Amanda Knox
Knox was heard loudly sobbing as she was led out of court

The family of murdered British student Meredith Kercher have said they are pleased with the conviction of her killers but there was "no celebration".

American Amanda Knox, 22, was jailed for 26 years on Friday after being found guilty of Miss Kercher's murder and sexual violence.

Her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 25, was given 25 years.

Miss Kercher, 21, a Leeds University student from Surrey, was found with her throat slit in Perugia, Italy, in 2007.

Knox and Sollecito had denied killing her, but prosecutors said Sollecito held her down while Knox stabbed her to death in what began as a drug-induced sex game.

Meredith Kercher
Everyone in this room associates Meredith with a tragic event - we would like to concentrate on the 21 years that we had with her
John Kercher

Small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, 22, had been jailed for 30 years for his part in the murder last October.

In a statement read to a press conference in Perugia, Miss Kercher's brother Lyle said: "Ultimately we are pleased with the verdict.

"It's not a time for celebration. It's not a moment of triumph.

"We are all gathered here because our sister was brutally murdered and taken away from us.

"Of course, there were two very young people who have been sentenced yesterday to a very long time behind bars."

The Kerchers were awarded a total of 4.4m euros (£4m) in compensation, but Mr Kercher said the figure was "symbolic" and no amount could make up for their loss.

He said the sum was to reflect the "severity and gravity of the case".

Miss Kercher's mother Arline told reporters: "At the end of the day you have to go on the evidence because there's nothing else."

The family praised the efforts of police, prosecutors, and jurors during the two years since Miss Kercher's death, with sister Stephanie thanking the public for their messages of support.

Knox family 'angry'

Her other brother John Kercher said: "Everyone in this room associates Meredith with a tragic event but we would prefer not to remember her in that way.

"We would like to concentrate on the 21 years that we had with her."

Meanwhile, Knox's parents have maintained their daughter's innocence and have vowed to appeal.

After visiting her in prison on Saturday, Knox's mother Edda Mellas told reporters: "Amanda like the rest of us is extremely disappointed, upset about the decision.

Lyle Kercher: Family 'pleased' with guilty verdicts

"We're all in shock. We told her she's going to get out of here, it's going to take a little longer.

"She had a lot of support when she got back to the jail, everybody there, the inmates and the guards were all taking great care of her."

Amanda Knox's father, Curt, had told American television reporters he did not understand how his daughter could be convicted.

Describing his reaction to the verdict, he said: "Anger, just disbelief on how a judicial system could even come up with a verdict like this. It's beyond me."

The family maintain the prosecution failed to explain why there was no evidence of Knox being in the room where Miss Kercher died.

They also claimed media "attacks on Amanda's character" had swayed the jury.

Police are still not certain why Knox, Sollecito and Guede were all at the house together, but they suspect it involved a drugs transaction.

Sex game

The prosecution said they cornered Miss Kercher in her room and began some kind of sex game which ended with her being held down while Knox cut her throat with a six-inch kitchen knife.

Her semi-naked body was found in a pool of blood.

Afterwards they tried to make the death look like part of a failed burglary, breaking the window in Miss Kercher's room to look like forced entry, the court heard.

Knox's odd behaviour after the body was found also aroused suspicions - she was reported to have performed a cartwheel and done the splits while waiting to be questioned by police.

Knox's mother, Edda Mellas: "Amanda, like the rest of us, is extremely disappointed"

At the end of a trial which began on 16 January this year, sitting infrequently, the jury deliberated for 13 hours before reaching its verdict.

After the judge read the decision to a hushed court, Knox buried her head in her lawyer's chest and sobbed.

Her sister Deanna wept uncontrollably as Knox was led out of court crying.

The family left court in tears, fighting through the crowds of journalists gathered outside.

In Seattle her grandmother, Elisabeth Huff, added: "They didn't listen to the facts of the case. All they did was listen to the media's lies."

The court ordered Knox and Sollecito to pay 1m euros (£900,000) to Miss Kercher's mother and the same amount to her father.

Her siblings would each receive 800,000 euros (£720,000), the court ruled.

Knox was told she must also pay 40,000 euros (£36,000) compensation to local barman Patrick Lumumba, for falsely accusing him of the murder.

Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, had been sharing a house with Knox, also a student, on her year abroad in the Umbrian hilltop town.

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Italy murder scene: Kercher flat
04 Dec 09 |  Europe

Financial TimesKnox murder conviction stokes anti-US claims - 6 hrs ago
Mail Online UK US backlash grows as Hillary Clinton is called in over the jailing of Foxy Knoxy - 8 hrs ago
Sky News Knox's Prison Pleas As Kercher Family Return - 27 hrs ago
Daily Star Kerchers head home following trial - 32 hrs ago Knox guilty, jailed for 26 years - 35 hrs ago
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