Student appears in court in Italy slaying case

Italy Student Slain
Amanda Knox is escorted by Italian penitentiary police officers to Perugia's court at the end of a hearing in this Sept. 26, 2008, file photo. Knox, who is suspected in last year's slaying of her British housemate Meredith Kercher, has again proclaimed her innocence. Pier Paolo Cito / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Italian prosecutors on Saturday accused an American student of fatally stabbing her British housemate in a satanic rite and asked a court to put an alleged African accomplice in prison for life, defense lawyers said.

The American, Amanda Knox, 21, proclaimed her innocence at the closed-door hearing in the Umbrian university town of Perugia and accused police of hitting her and calling her a liar during an interrogation, defense lawyers said.

At his lawyers' request, a fast-track trial is being conducted for Rudy Hermann Guede, the Ivorian accused in the case. He has acknowledged being in the bedroom where Meredith Kercher's body, stabbed in the neck and lying in a pool of blood, was found in November 2007 in the house she rented with Knox.

Fast-track trials sometimes result in lighter penalties. But prosecutors asked the court to convict Guede and mete out Italy's stiffest punishment — life imprisonment. Italy has no death penalty.

The court deciding Guede's fate is also hearing arguments on whether Knox and her former boyfriend, Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, should stand trial for the slaying. A ruling is expected by the end of October.

All three suspects have denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors on Saturday "laid out a scenario like from some crime novel," Sollecito's lawyer, Luca Maori, said by telephone after the seven-hour hearing.

Prosecutors "alleged it was some kind of satanic rite, with Amanda allegedly first touching Meredith with the point of a knife, then slitting her throat, while Sollecito held her by the shoulders, from behind, Guede held her by an arm" and tried to sexually penetrate her, Maori said.

One of Knox's lawyers, Carlo della Vedova, told reporters that prosecutors had laid out "a presumed scenario" with no hard evidence to justify putting his client on trial.

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini declined to elaborate on his allegations Saturday about the slaying nor comment on his request for life imprisonment for Guede.

In the hearing, Knox "proclaimed her innocence, and got emotional when she recalled her interrogation by police in Perugia," another member of Knox's defense team, Luciano Ghirga, said in a telephone interview.

The lawyer denied Italian news reports that she wept, but said Knox was upset as she recounted "the pressure, the aggressiveness of the police who called her a liar."

Maori said Knox accused police of hitting her on the head during her questioning.

Italian TV showed a brief, partial view of Knox as she addressed the court. Only her hands, busily gesticulating, could be seen. There was no audio.

Knox and Sollecito, 24, have been jailed since shortly after the slaying. The pair have given conflicting statements.