British tabloid press, rejoice! -- The Amanda Knox saga has returned. Italy's highest appeal court has overturned the acquittals of now-25-year-old Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, 29, ordering a retrial in the case of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher and paving the way for a potential extradition battle between Italy and the U.S.
The appellate court's new ruling came after prosecutors argued that the court, which acquitted Knox and her former lover in 2011, had not conducted proceedings properly. According to the AP, "Italian law cannot compel Knox to return for the new trial, and her lawyer said she had no plans to do so. The appellate court hearing the new case could declare her in contempt of court but that carries no additional penalties."
Knox's original trial fueled a media frenzy, especially in Italy and Britain, with salacious accusations of student group sex gone murderously awry. The rumors, although headline gold, infected public perception and -- commentators noted -- the court proceedings. The foreign exchange student, who was studying in Italy and shared a Perugia apartment with Kercher, earned the epithet "Foxy Knoxy" from the ravenous paparazzi.
Knox and Sollecito were arrested shortly after Kercher's body in November 2007. The British 21-year-old's throat had been slashed. As the AP noted, "an Ivory Coast man, Rudy Guede, was convicted of the slaying in a separate proceeding and is serving a 16-year sentence. Knox and Sollecito were also initially convicted of the murder and given long prison sentences, but were then acquitted on appeal and released in 2011." Knox had already spent four years behind bars in Italy before returning to Seattle, all the while maintaining that she and Sollecito had not been in the Perugia apartment the night of the murder.
Via the AP:
It is unclear what would happen if Knox was convicted in a new appeals trial.
"If the court orders another trial, if she is convicted at that trial and if the conviction is upheld by the highest court, then Italy could seek her extradition," [Knox's attorney] Dalla Vedova said Monday.
It would then be up to the United States to decide if it honors the request. U.S. and Italian authorities could also come to a deal that would keep Knox in the United States
In a statement Knox herself said: "It was painful to receive the news that the Italian Supreme Court decided to send my case back for revision when the prosecution's theory of my involvement in Meredith's murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair."