An Italian supreme court overturned the acquittal of Amanda Knox on Tuesday, ordering a review that could result in demanding that the 25-year-old return to Florence to stand trial again in the 2007 killing of her roommate.
Legal experts say there's little Italy can do to force Knox, who lives in Seattle, to return for the new hearings, and Knox's lawyers say there's no reason she would agree to do so.
“Merely because they have sent it back for revision does not mean that anything else will happen," Theodore Simon, one of Knox's lawyers, said in an interview with the "Today" show. "They will review it. They may simply affirm that there was a ‘not guilty’ before and it should remain the same. They may seek to take some further evidence, but nothing has really changed.”
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Italian law cannot compel Knox to return to Italy for a new trial, although a court could declare her in contempt if she refused to appear. But even if that happened, the contempt charge would carry no additional penalties, the Associated Press 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," Carlo Dalla Vedova, another lawyer for Knox, told the news service. In that scenario, the United States would have to agree to extradite her.
That would seem unlikely since it violates the U.S. legal principle of double jeopardy preventing someone from being tried twice for the same crime. But Vedova told the New York Times it does not apply in this case because there had been no final ruling.
More from the AP:
It is unclear what would happen if she were convicted and sentenced to further prison time. It is possible Italy could seek her extradition, or that U.S. and Italian authorities could come to a deal that would keep her in the United States.
The new hearings will be held at an appellate court in Florence sometime later this year or early next year, the Italian court said.
In a statement released Tuesday, Knox called the court's decision "painful" since "the prosecution's theory of my involvement in Meredith's murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair."
In 2011, Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, her former boyfriend, were acquitted in the murder of Meredith Kercher, a British student who was found dead in the Perugia, Umbria, apartment she shared with Knox, half naked with her throat slashed. Knox and Sollecito each spent four years in prison before the acquittal.
"The prosecution responsible for the many discrepancies in their work must be made to answer for them, for Raffaele's sake, my sake, and most especially for the sake of Meredith's family," Knox said. "Our hearts go out to them. 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's book about the case—"Waiting to Be Heard"—is due to be released next month.