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ROME — Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito told Monday how he and his family went “crazy with joy” when the pair’s murder convictions were overturned by Italy’s top court.
“Everybody was pushing me… we were in kind of a frenzy… a chaos of happiness,” the 31-year-old told NBC News. “It was great, it was really great.”
The software engineer spent four years in an Italian jail after being convicted alongside Seattle native Knox over the 2007 stabbing death of British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
They were acquitted and freed in 2011 but an appeals court overturned the acquittals in 2013 and ordered a new trial, and they were convicted again last year. The latest decision, announced late Friday in Rome, is the final verdict in the case.
Sollecito said he struggled to believe the ruling.
“You put on it all your strength, everything, all your emotions, all your suffering … so it’s very hard to have just words saying ‘It’s over’ — you need something else.”
He added: “I still have to realize it, but it feels like the air is more fresh … the air of freedom feels very nice, it smells nice!”
He told NBC News he had not spoken to Knox since the verdict, and had not yet discussed any plans for a lawsuit over his original conviction.
“I’m so glad for her, but for me psychologically having all these connections and grievances and all the people talking about my relationship with her really took me down," Sollecito added. "I want to be detached from this bond … not that I have anything against her.”
Asked about his message to the victim’s family, who said they were shocked by the verdict, he said: “I’m surprised that they are surprised. The real facts show that I’m innocent.”
Sollecito said he wanted to use his freedom — after more than seven years of legal process — to take a dream vacation in Japan and to be known for his work projects, not the murder case.
“It was a really long crazy experience … seven years is a big part of your life so I’m getting used to that, even little things. It’s very hard to feel completely a sense of freedom because it's been a few days and I’ve been trapped inside the house for so long so now I have to start all over again, I have to look at the world around you in a different way.
“It’s very sad because the 20s [are] the best period of everybody’s life so it was completely taken away from me … but still I’m so glad I can think about having a new life starting from now.”
NBC News' Chapman Bell contributed to this report. Alastair Jamieson and Zainab Abul Aziz reported from London.