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Knox, ex-lover cleared of murder in Italy

Italy's top court has 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 ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito after ten hours of deliberations in Rome.

 "Finished!" Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out late on Friday.

 "It couldn't be better than this."

In a rare decision, the Court of Cassation overturned last year's convictions by a Florence appeals court, and declined to order another trial 

The decision means the judges, after thoroughly examining the case, concluded that a conviction could not be supported by the evidence.

Experts have said such a complete exoneration is unusual for the high court, which could have upheld the conviction or ordered a new trial as it did in 2011 when the case first came up to the Cassation's review on appeal.

The justices' reasoning will be released within 90 days.

The decision ends the long legal battle waged by Knox and Sollecito.

Both Knox, who awaited the verdict in her hometown of Seattle, and Sollecito have long maintained their innocence in the death of Kercher.

The Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, was clearly disappointed by the ruling.

"I think that it's a defeat for the Italian justice system," he said.

In the United States, a spontaneous shout of joy erupted from inside the Seattle home of Knox's mother as the verdict was announced.

Several relatives and supporters filtered into the back yard, where they hugged and cheered.

Dalla Vedova said he called Knox to tell her the news, but said she couldn't speak through her tears.

"She was crying because she was so happy," he said.

"I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy," Knox said in a statement.

"The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal," Knox said.

"And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

"Your kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in person."

 AAP

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