Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito Freed in Italian Murder Appeal

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Knox today. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were found not guilty today in Perugia, Italy, in the murder of Meredith Kercher, Knox's 21-year-old roommate at the time her death in November 2007. A guilty verdict was upheld today for the charge of slander, which carries a three-year sentence, but based on the nearly four years already served, the pair will be free effective immediately. Knox and Sollecito, who were dating when the crime occurred, were found guilty of murder and sexual violence in 2009. Knox, now 24, was sentenced to 26 years in Italian prison, while Sollecito was given 25. (In a separate trial, Rudy Guede was also convicted of the murder and sentenced to 30 years.) The appeal included twenty hearings over the course of ten months, beginning on November 24, 2010. Earlier today Knox pleaded through tears in fluent Italian for her freedom: "I did not kill, I did not rape, I did not steal. I was not there," she said in her personal statement. "I want to go back home. I want to go back to my life. I don't want to be punished. I don't want my life and my future to be taken away for something I didn't do because I am innocent." Prosecutors are expected to appeal the new ruling.

"We're thankful that Amanda's nightmare is over," Knox's sister said in a brief press conference immediately after the new verdict was read. "We now respectfully ask that you give Amanda and our family the privacy we need to recover from this horrible ordeal."

Here's video of the ruling:

This post has been updated with additional information.

Previously: Amanda Knox Found Guilty [NYM]
Amanda Knox arrives in court for Kercher appeal verdict [BBC]
Tearful Amanda Knox pleads for freedom [Reuters]
Related: Perugia's Prime Suspect [VF]