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Iran and US 'close' to accord on nuclear programme

Iran and the US are said to be close to a deal over Tehran's nuclear programme. Credit: Parspix / ABACA Press France

Iran, the US and other major power are reportedly close to agreement on a document that would end a 12-year standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, officials said.

"The sides are very, very close to the final step and it could be signed or agreed and announced verbally," a senior Iranian official told Reuters although key details are still being negotiated.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been discussing the political framework agreement for days in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Other foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China are expected to arrive over the weekend.

The goal of the negotiations, under way for nearly 18 months, is to hammer out an accord under which Iran would halt sensitive nuclear work for at least a decade in exchange for lifting sanctions.

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Twists and turns on timeline of Meredith Kercher case

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have had had their murder convictions overturned by Italy's highest court, bringing to an end their legal battle following the brutal death of British student Meredith Kercher.

Here is a timeline of the case:

Meredith Kercher was found dead in November 2007 in her bedroom in Italy.

2007

  • November 2nd 2007: Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student from Coulsdon, Surrey, is discovered with her throat cut in her bedroom at her house in the Italian town of Perugia. Her body is partially clothed and under a duvet.
  • November 6th: Police arrest Ms Kercher's American housemate Amanda Knox, then 20, Raffaele Sollecito, then 23, and Congolese Diya 'Patrick' Lumumba, who runs a local bar. The three are held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit manslaughter and sexual violence.
  • November 19th: A fourth suspect is named as Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, from the Ivory Coast. He is thought to have left Perugia for Milan after Ms Kercher died.
  • November 20th: Guede is arrested in the German city of Mainz. Lumumba is released without charge.
  • November 22th: Guede admits being in Ms Kercher's house on the night of the murder but says an Italian man killed her.
Rudy Hermann Guede was found guilty of Meredith Kercher's murder after a fast track trial. Credit: Reuters/Stringer

2008

  • September 9th 2008: Guede's lawyers say he will ask to be prosecuted separately from Knox and Sollecito in a fast track trial after talk of a possible pact between the former lovers to frame him.
  • October 28th: After 11 hours of deliberation, Judge Micheli sentences Guede to 30 years for the murder of Ms Kercher. He also orders Knox and Sollecito to stand trial for murder and sexual violence. Judge Micheli later rules that the pair remain in prison while they await trial.

2009

  • January 16th 2009: The trial of Knox and Sollecito begins.
  • June 12th: Knox gives evidence in fluent Italian. She says she accused Lumumba "in confusion and under pressure" and that a police officer hit her during interrogation.
  • December 4th: Knox and Sollecito found guilty of murder. Knox is sentenced to 26 years and Sollecito to 25.

2010

  • November 24th 2010: Knox and Sollecito return to court in Perugia for their appeal.
  • December 16th: Italy's highest criminal court upholds Guede's conviction and sentence, which was cut to 16 years in his first appeal.
Raffaele Sollecito was put on trial for Meredith Kercher's murder in 2009. Credit: Reuters/Remo Casilli

2011

  • June 27th 2011: Guede gives evidence for the prosecution in the appeal and confirms the contents of a letter he wrote to his lawyers in 2010, which included a direct accusation against Knox and Sollecito.
  • July 25th: Experts tell the appeal court that forensic scientists who helped convict Knox made a series of errors. They claim evidence was tainted by the use of a dirty glove and failure to wear protective caps.
  • October 3rd: Knox is freed from prison after being acquitted of killing Ms Kercher. Sollecito is also cleared.

2012

  • February 16th 2012: Publisher HarperCollins announces it has signed a deal for a Knox memoir which was reportedly worth $2.5 million. The book, Waiting To Be Heard, is released in April 2013.
Amanda Knox appeared on US television to plead her innocence. Credit: Reuters/Andrew Kelly

2013

  • March 26th 2013: Italy's highest criminal court overturns the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito.
  • September 30th: The third trial of Knox and Sollecito begins in Florence.
  • December 17th: Knox declares her innocence in an email submitted to the appeal court in Florence by her lawyers before their closing arguments in which she says: "I didn't kill Meredith."

2014

  • January 30th 2014: The pair are found guilty of the murder of Ms Kercher after judges in Florence overruled their previous acquittals. Knox is sentenced to 28-and-a-half years and Sollecito to 25 years.

2015

  • March 25th 2015: Italy's high court hears Knox and Sollecito's appeal of the Florence conviction.
  • March 27th: After lengthy legal arguments Italy's supreme Court of Cassation overturns the conviction and declines to order another trial. This is the final ruling in the case.

Meredith Kercher's mother 'shocked' by court's decision

The mother of murdered British student Meredith Kercher has spoken of her shock after Italy's highest court overturned the convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

Arline Kercher, mother of murdered student Meredith Credit: Reuters

Arline Kercher said she had heard little more about the decision other than the verdict.

(I am) a bit surprised, and very shocked, but that is about it at the moment. They have been convicted twice so it's a bit odd that it should change now.

– Arline Kercher

Asked whether she had any plans following the ruling, she told the Press Association: "I really don't know at the moment, I haven't got any plans."

Ms Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her bedroom in 2007 while studying in Perugia.

Tonight's decision by the supreme Court of Cassation is the final ruling in the case, ending the long legal battle waged by Ms Knox and her ex-boyfriend.

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Amanda Knox 'tremendously relieved' at murder acquittal

Amanda Knox has said she is "tremendously relieved" after being finally acquitted of the 2007 murder of her former British roommate Meredith Kercher.

Amanda Knox, seen during an interview in 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The American student issued a statement after learning of Italy's top court's decision to overturn a lower court's guilty verdict handed down last year.

I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy. The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal. And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in person.

– Amanda Knox

Her family also issued a statement thanking people for support during the lengthy legal battle.

We want to express our profound gratitude to all of those who have supported Amanda and our family. Countless people – from world-renowned DNA experts, to former FBI agents, to everyday citizens committed to justice – have spoken about her innocence. We are thrilled with and grateful for today’s decision from the Supreme Court of Italy. And we are grateful beyond measure for all that so many of you have done for her.

– Amanda Knox's family

Harry Kane scores on England debut after 79 seconds

England supersub Harry Kane celebrates his immediate impact at Wembley. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

England beat Lithuania 4-0 in their European Championship Group E qualifier at Wembley Stadium.

Roy Hodgson's side maintained its 100% winning record thanks to first-half goals from captain Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck, with Raheem Sterling and then sub Harry Kane both scoring their first senior international goals in the second half.

Visit ITV's England website for highlights and reaction.

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