U.S. murder suspect goes on trial in Italy

PERUGIA, Italy Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:05pm EST

U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox arrives at her trial for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia January 16, 2009. REUTERS/Daniele La Monaca

U.S. murder suspect Amanda Knox arrives at her trial for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia January 16, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Daniele La Monaca

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PERUGIA, Italy (Reuters) - American student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend went on trial in Italy on Friday for the murder of a fellow British student killed in what prosecutors are calling a bungled sex game.

Twenty-one-year-old Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24, have been held in jail for more than a year for the November 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, 21.

Kercher's semi-naked body was found in the apartment she shared with Knox in the university city of Perugia in central Italy. Prosecutors say she was stabbed in the neck when Knox, Sollecito and a third suspect tried to involve her in an orgy.

Knox, who has attracted huge media interest both in Italy and abroad, appeared relaxed as she walked into the courtroom.

She and Sollecito say they are innocent. A third suspect, 21-year-old Rudy Guede, was sentenced to 30 years in prison late in 2008 for rape and murder.

After an initial discussion over whether to keep proceedings behind closed doors, the judge allowed the large group of Italian, British and U.S. cameramen, journalists and photographers to enter the courtroom for a short period.

The trial is expected to continue for several months.

(Reporting by Cristiano Corvino; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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