The sister of murdered Meredith Kercher said her family expected a “long journey ahead” after Italy’s highest criminal court overturned Amanda Knox’s acquittal of the killing.
American student Knox, who was cleared of the murder of the Leeds University student in 2011, faces the prospect of an extradition request from the Italian government and a new trial in Florence.
The Court of Cassation in Rome ruled yesterday that an appeals court in Florence must re-hear the case against Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.
Italian law cannot compel Miss Knox to return to the country for a fresh trial but Italian officials could apply for her extradition if she is convicted in her absence.
Speaking at her home in Coulsdon, Surrey, Miss Kercher’s sister Stephanie said the decision was a step forward for the family who still hope to discover precisely what happened to the 21-year-old on the night she died.
She said: “There are a lot of unanswered questions still. We are very hopeful that going back to court will help find those answers and find out the truth of what happened that night.
“Whilst we are not happy about going back to court, and it will not bring her back, we have to make sure we have done all we can for her.
“We still have a long journey ahead and we are very grateful for the support of the public and in Italy, we just want justice for Mez.”
Miss Kercher was found with her throat slashed in November 2007 in her bedroom at the house she shared with Miss Knox in the Italian university town of Perugia.
Prosecutors claimed the student, who had been reading European studies at Leeds University before leaving for Italy at the end of August 2007, was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone awry.
Miss Knox, now 25, and Mr Sollecito, 29, have consistently protested their innocence and claim they were not even in the apartment on the night Miss Kercher died.
They were convicted following a high-profile trial but were released after an appeal court found the prosecution lacking and criticised large swathes of the case against the pair.
The case mounted against them by prosecutors was ripped apart by the Italian appeals court which noted the murder weapon was never found, DNA tests were faulty and that prosecutors provided no motive for murder.
Miss Knox, now a student at the University of Washington, said she was “confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity”.
She 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.
“I believe that any questions as to my innocence must be examined by an objective investigation and a capable prosecution.”
She said of the Kercher family: “Our hearts go out to them.”
Her lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said: “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.”
The US would decide if it honours any request for extradition, but they could come to a deal with Italian authorities that would keep Miss Knox in America.
The nature of the issues which led to the court order have not yet been revealed and will only be disclosed when a full ruling is released in the coming weeks.
Italy must provide the US with specific documents to demonstrate they have “probable cause to believe” that Miss Kercher was murdered and Miss Knox committed the offence.
Rudy Guede, a small-time drug dealer from the Ivory Coast, is the only person who remains behind bars over the case in Italy, where he is serving a 16-year sentence for sexually assaulting and killing the British student.
He has always admitted being present at Miss Kercher’s cottage on the night of the murder but denied involvement.