ROME, Mar 28- Italy’s top court has thrown out Amanda Knox’s conviction for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, bringing a sensational end to an eight-year legal drama that has gripped a global audience.
Judges at the Court of Cassation on Friday also quashed all charges against Knox’s Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito after ten hours of deliberations in Rome.
Knox said she was “tremendously relieved and grateful” for the court’s decision.
“Meredith was my friend, she deserved so much in this life. I’m the lucky one,” a tearful Knox told reporters in Seattle.
The 27 year old, who served four years in prison before being freed on appeal in 2011, said: “The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal.”
However Kercher’s mother said she was “surprised and very shocked” at the ruling.
Arline Kercher called the decision “odd” given the pair had been convicted twice following the British student’s killing in 2007.
Sollecito, 31, learned of the verdict at his home in Puglia in southern Italy, where he had driven after attending the final hearing in the high court review on Friday morning.
“Finally I can resume my life,” he said. “I still can’t quite believe it. Finally I will no longer have to spend all my time with legal papers. I can return to normal.”
The shock verdict was greeted with chaotic, jubilant scenes in the great hall of the Roman courthouse.
Chairs went flying as Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno reacted to the shock verdict by shouting “yes, yes, yes” and leaping up into the arms of a colleague.
“Raffaele has been a rock. This verdict has proved him completely right,” she said.
One of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Girgha, admitted he had been surprised by the verdict, but said it had restored the battered credibility of Italy’s judicial system.
“It was a brave decision, it has renewed my faith in the system,” Girgha said.
“It went beyond my wildest expectations, I’m super happy for Amanda. She has finally got her life back. She always insisted she was innocent.”
– A second acquittal –
Kercher, 21, died after being stabbed 47 times and having her throat slashed.
Her half naked body was found in a pool of blood in a back room of the house she shared with Knox.
Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede was jailed for the murder in 2008 but, in a judgement that was to have serious implications for Knox and Sollecito, the judge in his trial ruled that he could not have acted alone.
Prosecutors maintained to the end that Knox and Sollecito fatally slashed Kercher while Guede held her down.