Amanda Knox and boyfriend acquitted on murder charges in Italy

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ROME–Italy’s highest court overturned Amanda Knox’s murder conviction, closing a very long legal saga. Raffaele Sollecito’s conviction was also overturned.

Knox , 27, of Seattle, was convicted in 2009 for the killing of Meredith Kercher, who shared an apartment with her in the Italian university town of Perugia. Her boyfriend at the time, Sollecito, was found guilty, too.

Since then, their cases have been a series of back-and-forths.

The supreme Court of Cassation overturned last year’s convictions by a Florence appeals court, and declined to order another trial. The decision means the judges, after thoroughly examining the case, concluded that a conviction could not be supported by the evidence. Their reasoning will be released within 90 days.

Would the U.S. have extradited her?

If Knox’s conviction had stood, it would have created an international frenzy. She is currently on U.S. soil, and Italian police officers can’t just come here and drag Knox back to prison in Italy.

Italy would have had to ask the United States to put Knox on a plane back so she can face what would have been a 28-year prison sentence.

Under normal circumstances, the United States would be required to send Knox back because of a 1983 extradition treaty between Washington and Rome. The treaty establishes a framework for individuals charged or convicted of certain crimes in one country to be detained and sent back to the other.

The United States has extradition agreements with more than 100 countries.

But the high-profile nature of the case and the controversial evidence prosecutors have built their argument on would have made Knox’s extradition anything but certain.

Test for American, Italian officials

It wouldn’t have been the first time the extradition treaty between the United States and Italy had broken down, but past cases involved U.S. military and intelligence officials.

Knox’s case would have been a new test for American diplomatic and justice officials.

And while some legal experts contend Knox could have been extradited, others say U.S. officials could have refused to hand over Knox by leaning on a double-jeopardy clause included in the extradition treaty between the two countries.

“Extradition shall not be granted when the person sought has been convicted, acquitted or pardoned, or has served the sentence imposed, by the requested party for the same acts for which extradition is requested,” the treaty states.

And Knox was, according to M. Cherif Bassiouni, a former U.N. lawyer and international extradition law expert.

American and Italian officials may interpret the treaty’s double-jeopardy clause differently based on their own judicial systems, but Bassiouni said no interpretation would pass muster.

“Whatever the interpretation of article VI may be … Amanda Knox would not be extraditable to Italy should Italy seek her extradition because she was retried for the same acts, the same facts, and the same conduct,” Bassiouni wrote in an Oxford University Press blog post. “Her case was reviewed three times with different outcomes even though she was not actually tried three times.”