U.S. to follow appeal in Knox murder case: Clinton

WASHINGTON Mon Dec 7, 2009 9:11pm EST

American university student Amanda Knox looks to one of her lawyers during her murder trial in Perugia December 4, 2009. Defendants Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are on trial for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in November 2007. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

American university student Amanda Knox looks to one of her lawyers during her murder trial in Perugia December 4, 2009. Defendants Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are on trial for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in November 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will provide consular support for U.S. exchange student Amanda Knox as she appeals her conviction in Italy in a high profile murder case, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.

"I understand that there will be appeals taken, and we will follow that. And of course, I stand ready to meet with anyone who wishes to discuss this case further," Clinton said.

The American student from Seattle was sentenced by an Italian court to 26 years in prison and jailed her ex-boyfriend for 25 years after they were found guilty of murdering Knox's British roommate, 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, during a drunken sex game.

Kercher was found semi-naked with her throat slit in the bedroom of her apartment in Perugia.

Lawyers for the two defendants said they would appeal the verdict while Knox's family denounced what they called a "failure of the Italian judicial system." The defense has questioned DNA and other evidence used in the case.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Monday the United States had no reason to believe justice had been mishandled.

Clinton said the United States would continue to extend consular support to Knox through her appeal as per normal procedure. "Our consular affairs personnel have been in regular contact with her and with her family," she said.

The November 2007 murder was followed by an 11-month trial in the university town of Perugia, where Knox had been studying on a year abroad. In 2008 a man was sentenced for his part in the murder.

Prosecutors had sought life for the defendants, but a jury handed them lesser sentences after 14 hours of deliberation because they were young and had no criminal records.

(Reporting by Andrew Quinn, Editing by Sandra Maler)

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