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Italian court considers new trial for American in killing

Exchange student was convicted then acquitted

ROME — Italy’s highest court heard six hours of arguments Monday on whether American student Amanda Knox should face a new trial in the killing of her British roommate.

With Knox waiting anxiously in Seattle to hear if her long legal battle will end, the court said it would announce a decision Tuesday on whether the 2011 acquittals of Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito will stand.

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Italian prosecutors have asked the high court to throw out the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito in the killing of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher and order a new trial.

The court normally issues the decisions the same day it hears arguments, but prosecutor general Luigio Riello said that ‘‘in very complex cases,’’ the court takes another day.

Lawyers for Sollecito declined to speculate on what the delay could mean. Their client was not in the courtroom Monday.

Sollecito’s father was calm about the development. ‘‘We have waited so many years, one night is not going to make a difference,’’ Francesco Sollecito said outside the courthouse.

One of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga, said as he arrived at Italy’s Court of Cassation in Rome that Knox was monitoring the developments.

Knox, now 25, and Raffaele Sollecito, who turns 29 on Tuesday, were arrested in 2007, shortly after Kercher’s body was found in her bedroom in the apartment she shared with the American and others in Perugia, where they were exchange students. Her throat had been slashed.

Prosecutors alleged that Kercher was the victim of a drug-fueled sexual assault. Knox and Sollecito have maintained their innocence.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted and given long prison sentences: 26 years for Knox, 25 for Sollecito. But an appeals court acquitted them in 2011, criticizing virtually the entire case mounted by prosecutors. The court noted that the weapon was never found and said DNA tests were faulty.

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