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Retrial of Amanda Knox Begins in Italy

ABC News(FLORENCE, Italy) -- Amanda Knox's third murder trial began in an Italian courtroom on Monday, with her lawyer asking the court whether it was fair that she be "tried endlessly."

Neither Knox nor her former boyfriend and co-defendant Raffaelle Sollecito were present for the opening.  Nor was the family of Meredith Kercher, the slain English student who was Knox's former roommate.

But Patrick Lumumba was in court.  Lumumba, who Knox blamed for the 2007 killing after a night of interrogation by Perugia police, accused Knox of staying away from the trial out of fear.

"We have to find justice for poor Meredith," Lumumba told reporters before the start of the retrial.  "Meredith is the first victim.  I am the second."

He added, "I think she (Knox) is not here because she is afraid...because she knows she is guilty."

Knox, 26, and Sollecito spent four years in an Italian prison for Kercher's murder until an appeals court threw out the verdict in 2011.

Italy's supreme court, however, ordered a new court to reconsider the evidence.  In its scathing written ruling, it argued that the appeal sentence had "inconsistencies," "illogical reasoning" and had "overlooked evidence."

The court's 74-page document indicates that the Supreme Court judges supported the prosecutors' original theory that Kercher possibly died during a forced "erotic game" that got violent.  It asked that the new trial focus on the motives of the murder and establishing if the defendants were present at the crime scene at the time of the murder.

Knox, who is studying creative writing at the University of Washington, will not return to Italy for the retrial.  By Italian law she does not have to attend the retrial in Florence and can be represented in court by her lawyers.

In court Monday, her lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, asked the court if Knox "is being treated like other defendants... Is this constitutional that she be tried endlesssly?"

The two previous trials have revolved around controversial DNA evidence.  Key to the original conviction was a claim that DNA from Knox and Kercher was found on a knife in Sollecito's home, and that Sollecito's DNA was found on a clasp that was cut from Kercher's bra.

But an appeals court questioned the conclusion about the DNA on the knife and said it was so minute it could not be retested.  The appeals court also said the bra clasp wasn't collected as evidence until 46 days after the murder when the crime scene had been disturbed several times.  The appellate ruling said it was possible the clasp had been contaminated by other evidence.

A second lawyer for Knox, Luciano Ghirga, called on Monday for more DNA tests on the knife.

Sollecito's lawyers raised questions about the reliability of the bra clasp evidence and asked the court to carry out additional tests to determine the time of Kercher's murder.  They also asked for tests on Kercher's cellphones, Sollecito's computer, and on a pillow found beneath Kercher that had yellow stains on it.

The appeal will be heard by a panel composed of Judge Alessandro Nencini, his assistant judge and eight jurors -- five women and three men.  Over 200 media passes have been requested and TV cameras are being kept outside the building.

Kercher's family issued a statement over the weekend.

"It took us as a family nearly five years to even begin to feel ready to lay Mez to rest and it is still extremely painful now," Kercher's older sister, Stephanie, said in a statement according to the Guardian.

Rudy Guede, a young man from Ivory Coast who was tried separately in a fast-track trial, remains in an Italian prison for the murder.  Although admitting to being present at the Perugia house on the night of the murder, he has denied involvement in the crime.  He is serving a 16-year sentence.

Knox told ABC News in a recent interview that she is still plagued by panic attacks and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after her 1,400 nights in an Italian prison.

The next hearing in the retrial is set for this Friday.

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