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ROME (Reuters) - Amanda Knox, the American jailed in Italy for the murder of her British flatmate, insisted at the second hearing of her appeal trial on Saturday that she was innocent, and said it was a mistake to keep her in prison.
Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison in December 2009 for her part in the killing of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher after what judges said was a frenzied sex game that spiraled out of control.
Her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and another man, Rudy Guede, were also convicted for their roles in the murder.
"I and Raffaele are paying with our lives for a crime we did not commit," an emotional Knox told the court on Saturday. "It's unjust that I have spent three years in prison. It was all a mistake," she added, speaking in Italian.
Knox, 23, appeared in court in a grey sweater for the second hearing in her appeal, which began on November 24. She broke down in tears as she sympathized with Kercher's family.
"I am very sorry that she is not here any more, I also have younger sisters and the thought of losing them terrifies me," she said.
Kercher died in November 2007. Her half-naked body was found locked in her blood-splattered bedroom in the house she shared with Knox and two other students in the university town of Perugia.
She had a deep stab wound in the throat.
Prosecutors accused Knox of persuading Guede and Sollecito to take part in an extreme sex game involving Kercher, which turned violent. They said Knox was furious at Kercher for criticizing her for promiscuity and a lack of cleanliness.
Knox, whose case drew huge interest around the world, said on Saturday that a false image had been painted of her. "I am not a mean, devilish, uncaring or violent person, I have never been that girl," she said.
Family and friends of Knox, and some U.S. media, have said her conviction was a miscarriage of justice.
Further hearings in the appeal trial are scheduled for December 18 and January 15.
Reporting by Maurizio Troccoli, editing by Tim Pearce