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Amanda Knox retrial in Italy starts without her

Amanda Knox won't be attending the retrial in Italy where she faces charges of murdering her British roommate.  Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted and later acquitted in the college student's death.

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Amanda Knox on NBC News' "Today" show in New York earlier this month. Knox is accused of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2007. Knox is a student in Washington state now.

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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 US student Amanda Knox's second appeals trial in her British roommate's murder opened Monday in the absence of the star defendant.

Italy's highest court ordered a new trial for Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, overturning their acquittals in the gruesome 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher with a harsh assessment of an appeals court acquittal in 2011. The Court of Cassation said the acquittal was full of "deficiencies, contradictions and illogical" conclusions.

The appellate court in Florence is expected to re-examine forensic evidence to determine whether Knox and her former boyfriend helped kill the 21-year-old Kercher while the two women shared an apartment in the Umbrian university town of Perugia.

Knox, now a 26-year-old University of Washington student in Seattle, has not returned to Italy for the trial, nor is she compelled by law to do so. The appellate court hearing the new case could declare her in contempt of court but that carries no additional penalties.

"We refute the idea that because Amanda is not coming, that Amanda is guilty, that Amanda is using a strategy. Amanda always said she was a friend of Meredith's, Amanda has always respected the Italian justice system," Knox's defense lawyer Luciano Ghirga told reporters before the trial opened.

Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, now 29, were convicted and later acquitted in Kercher's death. Knox served four years of a 26-year sentence, including three years on a slander conviction for falsely accusing a Perugia bar owner in the murder, before leaving Italy a free woman after her 2011 acquittal.

The bar owner, Patrick Lumumba, showed up at the trial Monday, saying he did so to underline the damage he suffered from Knox's false accusations.

"I say the same thing I said six years ago. I think she is guilty, and that is why she slandered me," Lumbumba told reporters. Knox's conviction for slandering Lumumba has been confirmed by the high court, but it asked the Florence appeals court to determine if it should reinstate it as an aggravating circumstance that Knox lied to derail the investigation and protect herself from becoming a murder suspect.

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