• Gasps from public gallery as video of investigators dropping clasp is shown
Police scientists involved in the Amanda Knox murder case made a series of glaring errors, an appeal court heard yesterday.

Knox, 24, is serving 26 years for the sex murder of student Meredith Kercher, 21, who was found semi-naked with her throat cut in the house the two shared in Italy.

The American and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 26, were convicted on two key pieces of evidence, a 12in kitchen knife and a clasp from Meredith's blood-stained bra.
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Upbeat: Amanda Knox smiles and waves to supporters as she takes her place before the start of a session at her appeal trial in Perugia's courthouse today

Their trial heard how DNA from Meredith was found on the knife blade and that of Knox was found on the handle, while DNA from Sollecito was said to be on the clasp.

But their appeal in Perugia heard from two independent court-appointed experts who were severely critical of the methods used by police forensic teams.

Professor Stefano Conti showed the court a video clip of two officers collecting the bra clasp, pointing out that it had been found six weeks after the murder and in a different place.

There were gasps from the public gallery as the two officers were seen picking up the clasp, passing it from hand to hand, dropping it, picking it up and then placing it on the floor again.

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Murdered: Meredith Kercher was found with her throat cut in November 2007 in the home she shared with Knox
Professor Conti said that although the police wore gloves, dirty marks could clearly be seen on the thumb and forefinger of one of the officers.

He said the clasp had been subsequently kept in such a poor way that it was covered in rust and further testing would be futile.

Professor Carla Vecchiotti said their tests had showed negative for blood on the knife and that the DNA said to have been Meredith's was so low it could not be examined again with any conclusion.

The two added that numerous people had been in and out of the crime scene and that objects had been moved, putting all evidence at risk of contamination.

In a damning point-by-point deconstruction the experts said that the errors made by the police during the original investigation meant the evidence should be considered inadmissible.

Both Knox and Sollecito listened intently as the experts put forward their case, bringing fresh hope that they will be freed when the court gives its verdict in September.

Later Knox's mother, Edda Mellas, said: 'We have been saying this all along but it was just ignored.

'It really does beg the question how they were found guilty in the first place when you see the mistakes that were made during the original investigation.

'This is a good day for us and hopefully the judge and jury will see this.'

A third defendant, small-time drug dealer Rudy Guede, was jailed for 16 years in connection with the 2007 killing.

The appeal hearing was adjourned until Saturday.
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A new man: Raffaele Sollecito, the Italian student convicted of killing Meredith Kercher three years ago, arrives for a trial session in Perugia. His appearance has changed markedly since his original trial

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'Incompetent': This 2007 file photo shows Italian police forensic teams outside the flat where Meredith was found