By Silvia Ognibene
FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - An Italian prosecutor asked for a total sentence of 30 years for American student Amanda Knox on Tuesday in a retrial for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher.
The prosecution also requested a 26-year sentence for Knox's Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. The two are accused of killing the 21-year-old Leeds University student in a drug-fuelled assault in 2007 in the central Italian town of Perugia.
They both deny any involvement.
The prosecutor asked for a longer penalty for Knox because of an additional charge of implicating a bar owner, Patrick Lumumba, in statements to police. Lumumba was cleared of involvement.
Knox and Sollecito were convicted of the murder in 2009, but a subsequent trial overturned the verdict and freed them from prison two years later.
Now the case is being tried again after Italy's supreme court quashed the acquittals in March, citing inconsistencies in the case.
Kercher's half-naked body was found, with more than 40 stab wounds and a deep gash in her throat, in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia, a picturesque town where both were studying as university exchange students.
Knox has not returned to Italy for the retrial and remains in the United States.
A lawyer for the Kercher family welcomed the prosecution's request.
"We support the assessment of guilt put forth by the prosecution. What interests us is the request they be found guilty, not the number of years of the sentence," Francesco Maresca told Reuters.
Ivory Coast-born Rudy Guede is in prison serving a 16-year sentence for the murder, but the supreme court has said he was unlikely to have committed the crime alone. It has also asked for a re-examination of a theory that Kercher was killed in a sex game that spiraled out of control.
Sollecito's lawyer Giulia Bongiorno said if the case revealed several people were involved in an erotic game the police should search for new suspects.
(Writing by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)