Italy clears Amanda Knox and former boyfriend of Kercher murder

ROME (AFP) - Italy's top court on Friday cleared Amanda Knox of the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, bringing a sensational end to an eight-year legal drama.

Judges at the Court of Cassation also cleared Knox's Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito after 10 hours of deliberations in Rome.

"I have spoken to Amanda and just told her about the verdict of definitive acquital. Obviously she is very happy," said Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova.

"At last the error has been put right by the Court of Cassation."

Knox shortly afterwards said she was "tremendously relieved and grateful".

Sollecito's lawyer Giulia Bongiorno reacted to the shock verdict by shouting "yes, yes, yes" and leaping into the arms of one of her colleagues.

"You never saw Raffaele pleading, or praying. He has been a rock," she said.

"He is at home with his father and he is very happy. The verdict has proved him completely right."

Knox and Sollecito were convicted for a second time last year for taking part in the brutal knife slaying of Kercher, with whom Knox, then 20, shared a house in the university town of Perugia.

The pair served four years in prison - two on remand before their initial conviction in 2009 and two more before they were freed on appeal.

That decision was subsequently overturned and a retrial in Florence last year reinstated the guilty verdicts that were finally quashed on Friday.

Knox's conviction for slander, which relates to a statement in which she tried to incriminate a Congolese bar owner for the murder, was not overturned but the time she served in prison more than covers the sentence for that.

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