ROME (AP) — Italy's highest criminal court on Tuesday overturned Amanda Knox's acquittal in the slaying of her British roommate and ordered a new trial, prolonging a case that has become a cause celebre in the United States.
Knox called the decision "painful" but said she was confident that she would be exonerated.
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.
Italy's Court of Cassation ruled that an appeals court in Florence must re-hear the case against the American student and her former Italian boyfriend for the murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. The exact issues that have to be reconsidered won't be known until the court releases its full ruling within 90 days.
Knox, now a student at the University of Washington, stayed up until 2 a.m. Seattle time to hear her fate and issued a statement through a family spokesman.
"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," she said.
Knox said the matter must now be examined by "an objective investigation and a capable prosecution."
"No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity," Knox said.
Knox, now 25, and Raffaele Sollecito, who turned 29 on Tuesday, were arrested shortly after Kercher's body was found in a pool of blood in November 2007 in her bedroom. Kercher, whose throat had been slashed, had shared an apartment with Knox and others in Perugia, an Italian university town where the two women were exchange students.