A new DNA test on a knife allegedly used in the killing Meredith Kercher has been ordered by the Italian judge hearing the retrial of suspects Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito spent four years in jail for the 2007 murder, but their convictions were overturned on appeal.
That ruling was itself overturned in March by Italy’s highest court.
A separate trial convicted Rudy Guede from Ivory Coast of Meredith Kercher’s murder. He is serving 16 years in jail.
Neither the American Amanda Knox, nor her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were in court for the start of the hearing in Florence.
Amanda Knox, now 26, was the housemate of Meredith Kercher – a 21-year-old Briton who was found dead in their student lodgings in Perugia.
Meredith Kercher’s sister Stephanie wrote to the court to express the family’s feelings, nearly six years on from the brutal killing.
Meredith Kercher, from Coulsdon in south London, was an undergraduate at the University of Leeds and was studying on an exchange programme at the University of Perugia at the time of her death.
At the first session on Monday, lawyers for the two accused requested an array of new testimony and evidence be considered by the court.
The presiding judge, Alessandro Nencini, rejected most of the defense’s requests, but agreed to test for DNA on a kitchen knife which the prosecution says was used in the murder.
The first appeals trial, which cleared the two suspects, rejected considering any DNA evidence from the knife, saying the trace was too small to analyze.
The judge also agreed to the prosecution’s request to hear again from a jailed gangster, who has accused his brother of murdering Meredith Kercher. He will testify on Friday.
The final hearing of this new trial is expected in November, paving the way for a verdict as early as December.
Both Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito maintain their innocence.
Amanda Knox has exercised her right to stay away from the court, and remains at home in Seattle.
Earlier this month, she said she expected to win another acquittal, but that “common sense” told her not to return to Italy.
However, if Amanda Knox’s previous conviction were to be confirmed, Italy would be expected to request her extradition.
Raffaele Sollecito, 29, is currently in the Dominican Republic, but it has been reported that he intends to return to Italy to attend parts of the retrial.