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KNOXY'S NO KILLER ..MY BROTHER DID IT; Mobster's claim on Meredith.

Byline: NICK PISA

A MAFIA mobster has told a court his on-the-run brother killed British student Meredith Kercher - and that jailed Amanda Knox is innocent.

Luciano Aviello is one of five convicted criminals backing claims by Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito that they did not kill the 21-year-old in Perugia, Italy.

The mobster said his brother Antonio stabbed Meredith in a botched robbery at the house she shared with Knox, 24, and two other women.

He told the court Antonio had keys to the house and let himself in to steal a valuable painting - but was disturbed by "a woman in a dressing gown".

Aviello, 42, said: "My brother told me he put his hand to her mouth but she struggled. He said he got the knife and stabbed her."

He said Antonio had given him the keys and a knife to hide after coming home covered in blood after the November 2007 killing.

Knox was jailed for 26 years and Sollecito, 27, got 25 years after they were sentenced 18 months ago.

They are appealing against their convictions.

Drifter Rudy Guede, 25, was jailed for 30 years in 2008 for murder and sexual assault, cut to 18 years on appeal.

The mobster's claims came after the court heard evidence from fellow inmates of Guede.

One, child murderer Mario Alessi, told how Guede had confided in him at their jail near Rome in 2009 how Knox and Sollecito were innocent of the murder and how it had in fact been committed by an unidentified friend of his.

Alessi, 51, serving life for beating an 18-month-old to death with a shovel, said he and the friend went to Meredith's house after meeting her in a bar.

There was a struggle after she repelled their advances and a knife was held to her throat. Meredith, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was found semi-naked in her bedroom with her throat cut.

As Alessi spoke Knox, dressed in an ankle-length floral pattern dress and blue top, listened intently, making notes and consulting her lawyer.

Guede denies Alessi's claims. The court also heard from armed robber Marco Castelluccio, who backed Alessi's story.

Experts are re-examining controversial DNA evidence from the first trial. The hearing continues.

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Appeal hearing... Amanda Knox in court yesterday Evidence... Luciano Aviello
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 19, 2011
Words:381
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