Raffaele Sollecito 'born again' after Kercher acquittal

Raffaele Sollecito gives a news conference in Rome Raffaele Sollecito described his final acquittal as the "end of a nightmare"

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Raffaele Sollecito has said being acquitted of the murder of UK student Meredith Kercher by Italy's highest court was like "being born again".

Speaking for the first time since a final ruling exonerated him and former girlfriend Amanda Knox, Mr Sollecito said he had been "branded a killer".

Ms Kercher, 21, was stabbed to death in 2008 in the Perugia flat she shared with Seattle native Ms Knox.

Mr Sollecito spent four years in prison in Italy after being convicted in 2009.

He was freed along with Ms Knox in 2011 after the convictions were overturned and Ms Knox returned to the US. But the pair were found guilty again by another court last year.

The Court of Appeal ruling on Friday will be the last in the case and so brings to a close a seven-and-a-half-year ordeal for the pair.

'Marked for life'

Speaking at a news conference in Rome, Mr Sollecito described the years since his arrest as a "dreadful kind of pain without an end".

"It is time I will never be able to recoup. My mind and my soul will be marked for life, and the wound will never stop bleeding, it will never heal."

Sollecito: "There were too many horrible moments"

Mr Sollecito said he was informed of the decision over the phone late on Friday night, by his sister.

"The most beautiful moment without a doubt was the one that put an end to the nightmare, the call from my sister after the reading of the sentence and the total acquittal from the High Court," he said.

He added that his relationship with Ms Knox had been distorted by the press, describing it as "simply affection between two young adolescents".

"Neither of us could have envisaged this absurd and never-ending story."

Undated family handout photo Meredith Kercher, 21, was found dead in the flat that she shared with Ms Knox

Both Mr Sollecito and Ms Knox always denied being involved in the crime, with the American claiming that an early confession was obtained under duress.

Asked about the victim, Mr Sollecito said he "hardly knew" Ms Kercher.

"I am very sorry that Meredith's family is disappointed about this verdict. The verdict reflects the truth. It reflects what really happened. I have nothing to do with this crime. I hardly knew Meredith. I just said hello to her a few times and I had no reason to hate her or to be a part of this heinous crime."

Arline Kercher, Meredith's mother, said she was "shocked" by the decision.

Ms Knox said she was "full of joy" after being acquitted.

The reasoning behind the acquittal will be made public in 90 days.

Rudy Guede, from the Ivory Coast, was convicted of Ms Kercher's murder in 2008 and is serving a 16-year prison sentence in Italy.

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