Amanda Knox’s former boyfriend detained near Italian border after guilty verdict

Rafaelle Sollecito missed final session of trial in Florence that found him and Knox guilty of murdering Btitish student Meredith Kercher in 2007.

A woman believed to be Amanda Knox, centre, is hidden under a jacket while being escorted from her mother’s home to a car by family members on Thursday. AP Photo
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FLORENCE // Police found Amanda Knox’s former boyfriend near Italy’s border with Slovenia and Austria after he and the American student were convicted for a second time in the death of British student Meredith Kercher.

Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyer, Luca Maori, said his client was in the area because that is where his current girlfriend lives, and that he went to the police voluntarily.

However, the cabinet chief of the Udine police station, Giovanni Belmonte, said police showed up at about 1am on Friday at the hotel in Venzone, about 40 kilometers from the border, where Sollecito and the girlfriend were staying.

Police said Sollecito reached the area in the early afternoon of Thursday, hours before the guilty verdict was announced by the appeals court in Florence.

Police took him to the Udine police station, took his passport and put a stamp in his Italian identity papers showing that he cannot leave the country, as mandated by the court.

Mr Belmonte said that since the court did not order Sollecito to be detained, he was to be freed as soon as the paperwork was completed. He said Sollecito was calm and came willingly to the station.

Asked if police thought he might have fled the country, Mr Belmonte said: “We don’t know his intentions,” but said police were tipped off to his presence in the hotel and came immediately.

In Italy, adults checking into hotels must hand over ID, which the hotels are then required to communicate to local police.

His former girlfriend Knox, who remained in Seattle as the court in Florence reached its verdict, said she was “frightened and saddened” when the judges reinstated a guilty verdict against her and Sollecito in the 2007 slaying of her British roommate.

David Marriott, a family spokesman, said Ms Knox awaited the ruling on Thursday at her mother’s home. After the decision was announced, a person believed to be Knox emerged from the house. That person, surrounded by others and covered by a coat, climbed into a vehicle and was driven away.

“I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict. Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system,” Knox said in a statement.

The University of Washington student was sentenced to more than 28 years in prison, raising the spectre of a long legal battle over her extradition.

Knox, 26, said she and her family “have suffered greatly from this wrongful persecution”.

She blamed overzealous prosecutors and a “prejudiced and narrow-minded investigation” for what she called a perversion of justice and wrongful conviction.

The court in Florence reinstated a verdict first handed down against Knox and Sollecito in 2009, which found them guilty of murder and sexual assault based on evidence that included DNA.

The DNA evidence was later deemed unreliable by new experts and the verdict was overturned in 2011, but Italy’s supreme court vacated that decision and sent the case back for a third trial in Florence.

Associated Press and Agence France-Presse