Italian court hears final rebuttals in Knox trial

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) - A prosecutor urged a court on Monday to take steps to make sure that American Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend would serve their sentences, if they are convicted of murdering British student Meredith Kercher.

Prosecutor Alessandro Crini preceded his request by noting that Knox has remained in the United States for this trial, while co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito has traveled abroad during it.

The defense and prosecution were both making their final rebuttals on Monday before the court begins deliberations on Jan. 30. A verdict is expected later that day.

Crini has requested guilty verdicts and jail sentences of 26 years for both defendants, and that the court increase to four years Knox's three-year sentence for a slander conviction, which has been upheld.

In the case of Sollecito, who told reporters Monday that he intends to remain in Italy for the verdict, the precautionary measures could include immediate arrest, house arrest or the confiscation of his passport.

The court's reach in Knox's case is limited by her presence in the United States, where she returned a free woman after the 2009 guilty verdicts against her and Sollecito were thrown out by a Perugia appeals court in 2011. Italy's highest court ordered a second appellate trial after blasting the acquittal.

Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said during a break that any request for extradition could be made only after a possible guilty verdict is confirmed by Italy's highest court - a process that can a year or more.

For the moment, Knox is being tried in absentia, a status that formally is not prejudicial in her regard. She would become a fugitive should she fail to return to serve a sentence should any guilty verdict in this trial be upheld on appeal by Italy's top criminal court.

Sollecito's father, Francesco Sollecito, said his son has no intention of fleeing justice.

"The fact that Raffaele has no intention of escaping the trial is evident by his presence" in the courtroom, Francesco Sollecito said. He said his son has been legitimately looking for jobs abroad, having explained in court that prospective employers in Italy are put off by the notoriety surrounding the case. "He is looking around, because he hopes this story ends soon."

The sensational legal case has fueled headlines since the gruesome discovery of Kercher's half-naked body beneath a blanket in her locked bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed multiple times.

A third person, Ivory Coast-born Rudy Hermann Guede, is serving a 16-year sentence for the murder. His conviction specified that he did not carrying out the murder alone.

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