February 7, 2011 / 5:35 PM / in 7 years

Italy lawyers in Knox murder trial want film halted

ROME (Reuters) - Lawyers for both U.S. student Amanda Knox, who is in jail in Italy for the killing of her British housemate, and the victim’s family are seeking to stop a film about the trial, which has now reached the appeals stage.

<p>U.S. student Amanda Knox looks on as she is led from court after a murder trial session in Perugia, November 20, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi</p>

The lawyers for Knox and Meredith Kercher’s family said they had formally demanded in separate letters sent to U.S. television network Lifetime last week that the film be scrapped, threatening legal action if it is not canceled.

“Amanda Knox: Murder on trial in Italy,” with Hayden Panettiere starring as Knox, is due to air on February 21.

“To have a film so soon, on such a violent death and with the memory of this tragedy so fresh in the family’s mind seems totally inappropriate and unjustified,” Francesco Maresca, a lawyer representing Kercher’s family, told Reuters.

Lifetime on Monday said it had no comment on the requests by the lawyers.

Kercher, 21, was found half-naked and with her throat slit in a flat she shared with Knox in the university city of Perugia, on November 2, 2007.

<p>Hayden Panettiere answers a question at the Lifetime Television panel for the movie "The Amanda Knox Story" during the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California January 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

Knox, now 23, and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito have been sentenced to 26 and 25 years in jail respectively. Prosecutors say the killing was the result of an extreme sex game that turned violent.

The appeals trial is under way, and the Perugia court has ordered DNA evidence in the case to be re-examined as requested by Knox’s and Sollecito’s lawyers.

“We are against the film because the trial is at a very delicate stage, and one cannot talk about the facts as if there was a crystal-clear truth,” said Maria Del Grosso, one of the lawyers for Knox at the trial.

“Also, the violence of the scenes (in the film’s trailer) forced us to make this decision,” she said.

The Kercher murder has attracted huge media attention in Italy, the United States and Britain.

The film’s producers said last month they did not contact the families of either Knox or Sollecito. Instead they worked from detailed Italian court documents and media reports about the case, and said they had been careful in telling the story in an impartial way.

Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Paul Casciato

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