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Amanda Knox

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Amanda Knox
David Camm.jpg
Knox at the National Innocence Network Conference with David Camm and exoneree Randy Steidl
Born Amanda Marie Knox
(1987-07-09) July 9, 1987 (age 27)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Education University of Washington
Occupation Author
Known for Twice convicted and twice acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher[1]
Height 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)
Partner(s) Raffaele Sollecito (ex-boyfriend)
Parent(s) Edda Mellas (mother)
Curt Knox (father)
Relatives Deanna Knox (sister)
Amanda Knox Website

Amanda Marie Knox (born July 9, 1987) is an American woman whose conviction and eventual acquittal, along with Raffaele Sollecito, of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher in Italy received widespread publicity. Rudy Guede, who denied involvement but had strong forensic evidence against him, had earlier given evidence implicating Knox and Sollecito at his separate trial for murdering Kercher, and received a reduced sentence. Knox maintained her innocence and there was criticism of the verdict because of what some experts considered an anomalous absence of forensic evidence that she had attacked Kercher in her bedroom along with Guede, as the prosecution alleged. Knox spent almost four years in prison before a second-level or appeal trial freed both her and Sollecito in October 2011. After Knox had returned to the US, the Italian Supreme Court ordered the appeal trial to be re-heard. Knox remained in the US. In January 2014, she was again found guilty, and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Both Knox and Sollecito remained free; in Italy a guilty verdict in a serious case is not regarded as a definitive conviction until the accused has exhausted the appeals process.[2][3] On March 27, 2015, Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, again overturned the conviction,[4] definitively ending the case.[5][6][7]

Early life

Amanda Knox was raised with two younger sisters. Her mother, Edda Mellas, a mathematics teacher, and her father, Curt, a vice president of finance at the local Macy's, divorced when Knox was a few years old. Knox grew up in West Seattle. Her stepfather, Chris, is an information-technology consultant. She graduated in 2005 from the Seattle Preparatory School, and began to study linguistics at the University of Washington, making the university's dean's list by early 2007, when she decided to study in Italy.[8] Her stepfather had strong reservations about her going to Italy that year, as he felt she was still too naïve.[9]

Perugia and legal background

Italian prosecutors are part of the judiciary and have the responsibility of gathering evidence irrespective of whether it incriminates a suspect.[10] In 1989 the inquisitorial system of Italy was reformed and elements of US-style adversarial procedure were introduced. The changes were intended to remove an inquisitorial continuity between the investigatory phase and the basis for a decision at trial, but in practice they took control of inquiries away from police and gave prosecutors authority over the preliminary investigation.[11][12] After the assassination of Giovanni Falcone by the Sicilian Mafia and terror bombings that followed the capture of Salvatore Riina, prosecutors were given extra powers to fight organized criminals.[10][13] Although they have considerable authority over early inquiries and discretion in bringing charges, Italian prosecutors do not customarily use their powers in the aggressive way common in the US system.[14][13]

Perugia is known for its universities and large population of students. There had reportedly not been a killing in the city for twenty years, but its prosecutors had been responsible for controversial murder charges.[15][16] In 2002 the conviction in Perugia of fomer Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti on murder conspiracy charges resulted in complaints that the justice system had "gone mad". He was definitively acquitted by the Supreme Court the next year.[17][18]

In early 2002, Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who enjoyed taking a detective-like role and was later in charge of the Kercher investigation, arraigned 20 apparently respectable people for concealing a murder.[19] Mignini was acting on the theory that a man who apparently committed suicide was actually killed by a high-level secret society; the case was finally dismissed in 2010.[20][21] According to a scholar who researched comparative law in Italy, selective changes to the Italian legal system left it unable to cope when a prosecutor with Mignini's American-style adversarial approach used his powers to the fullest.[14]

Meredith Kercher murder case

Via della Pergola 7

In Perugia, Knox shared a four-bedroom ground-floor apartment in a house at Via della Pergola 7, the front door did not have a spring latch and had to be closed with a key. A minute's walk from the house was Piazza Grimana, where students often gathered.[22] Her flatmates were two Italian women in their late twenties, and Kercher. Kercher and Knox moved in on 10 and 20 September 2007, respectively, meeting each other for the first time.[23] Knox was employed part-time at a bar, Le Chic, which was owned by a Congolese man, Diya Patrick Lumumba. She told flatmates that she was going to quit because he was not paying her; Lumumba denied this.[24] Kercher's English women friends saw relatively little of Knox, as she preferred to mix with Italians.[25]

The walk-out semi-basement of the house was rented by young Italian men with whom both Kercher and Knox were friendly. One, Giacomo, spent time in the girls' flat due to a shared interest in music. Returning home at 2 am one night in mid October, Knox, Kercher, Giacomo and another basement resident met Rudy Guede whom the Italians knew from playing basketball with him at Piazza Grimana.[26] Guede attached himself to the group and asked about Knox. He was invited into the basement and talked about her with the Italians. Knox and then Kercher came down to join them. At 4:30 am Kercher left, saying she was going to bed, and Knox followed her out.[27][28] Three weeks before her death Kercher went with Knox to the EuroChocolate festival. On 20 October, Kercher became romantically involved with Giacomo, after going to a nightclub with him as part of a small group which included Knox. On 25 October, Kercher and Knox went to a concert where Knox met Raffaele Sollecito, a 23-year-old student. She began spending her time at his flat, a 5-minute walk from Via della Pergola 7, which Sollecito visited several times, including having lunch there early on the day of the murder.[29]

November 1 was a public holiday and the Italians living in the house were away. Kercher was alone in the house when she returned that evening. In the late morning of November 2, 2007 Knox reported that, after spending the night with Sollecito at his apartment, she had returned to the house and found a broken window and signs of a burglary. There was blood in the bathroom and Kercher was not answering her bedroom door, which was locked. Police arrived and the door was broken open, Kercher's body, naked except for a T-shirt pulled over her shoulders, was on the floor. She had died of blood loss and suffocation caused by stab wounds to her neck.[30]

Prosecutor Mignini was assigned to the case, and spoke to Knox at the scene. According to author John Follain, Mignini thought she was concealing something. Because anyone effecting an entry through the broken window seemed unlikely, police almost immediately discounted the possibility of a burglar being the killer and Knox became the prime suspect, although she was not told this.[31][32][33][34] Over the next four days she was repeatedly interviewed and during the interrogation and statements of 5–6 November, the conduct of which is a matter of dispute, Knox incriminated herself and Lumumba. Knox, Sollecito, and Lumumba were arrested and charged with murder. Examination of the crime scene identified the fingerprints of Rudy Guede, who had fled to Germany days after the murder. Guede, Knox, and Sollecito were charged with committing the murder together. On 30 November 2007 a panel of three judges endorsed the charges, ruled there had been no burglary, and ordered Knox and Sollecito held in detention pending a trial.[35]


Prior to the murder of Kercher, Guede was said to have burgled a Perugia apartment and brandished a jackknife when confronted, although the complaint and identification did not come until he was a fugitive. On October 14, 2007, a Perugia office was broken into by smashing a window with a large stone. Property was stolen and later found in Guede's possession. On October 27, 2007, the principal of a Milan nursery school arriving for work in the morning discovered Guede in her office. Police found stolen items in his backpack, including a knife from the school kitchen. Examination of the premises found no sign of a forced entry. [36]

In an internet conversation while he was a fugitive wanted for the murder of Kercher, Guede did not mention Knox or Sollecito as being in the house on the night of the murder. The first interview of Guede by the state prosecutor was on December 7, 2007. On On March 26, 2008, Guede was questioned again by a prosecutor and for the first time put Knox at the scene of the crime. Although he was accused of committing the murder together with Knox and Sollecito, Guede was tried separately and first. As defendant he could give evidence without taking an oath, but he did not testify.[37] In his pre-trial declarations Guede said Kercher had let him in the cottage.[36][38] In their findings the judges said Guede not been guilty of any theft and there had been no break-in, further saying that Kercher would not have opened the door to Guede (who she knew to be an acquaintance of her boyfriend Giacomo, having socialized with both men in the basement).[36] The judges said that because someone with a key must have let Guede in the house, the signs of a break-in had been staged in an attempt to divert suspicion. The judges found that there was sufficient evidence for a trial of Knox and Sollecito.[39] [36]

Italian system and publicity

In Italy the file of the prosecution's case becomes public domain before the trial, and there are looser definitions of what is prejudicial.[16] The rationale for having a bias for the inclusion of available evidence is based on the Inquisitorial system concept of a search for the truth. Two presiding professional trial judges, who are also part of the jury, are expected to correct any tendency of the lay-judges to give evidence inappropriate weight during their deliberations.[40] Appeals are intrinsic to the process and essentially guaranteed. Unlike the US, where a verdict cannot be appealed except on procedural grounds, an Italian jury's reasoning is given in writing and can be grounds for overturning its verdict.[40] Knox was the subject of unprecedented pre-trial media coverage, including a best-selling book about her that contained witness transcripts not in the public domain, imagined or invented events, excerpts from her prison journal, and unsubstantiated allegations about her sex life.[41][42][43][44] [45][46][47][48][49]

First trial

In 2009 Knox and Sollecito pleaded not guilty at a Corte d'Assise on charges of sexual assault, murder and simulating a burglary.

Prosecution case

A prosecution witness, homeless man Antonio Curatolo, said Knox and Sollecito were in Piazza Grimana on the night of the murder for an hour. Prosecutors advanced a single piece of forensic evidence linking Sollecito to Kercher's bedroom: fragments of his DNA on Kercher's bra clasp.[50][51][52]Giulia Bongiorno, leading Sollecito's defence, questioned how Sollecito's DNA could have got on the small metal clasp of the bra, but not on the fabric of the bra back strap from which it was torn. "How can you touch the hook without touching the cloth?" Bongiorno asked.[53][52] The back strap of the bra had multiple traces of DNA belonging to Guede.[53] According to the prosecution's reconstruction, Knox had attacked Kercher in her bedroom, repeatedly banged her head against a wall, forcefully held her face and tried to strangle her.[54] Guede, Knox and Sollecito had removed Kercher's jeans, and held her on her hands and knees while Guede had sexually abused her. Knox had cut Kercher with a knife before inflicting the fatal stab wound; then faked a burglary.[55]

Defense case

The defence pointed out that no shoe prints, clothing fibers, hairs, fingerprints, skin cells or DNA of Knox were found on Kercher's body, clothes, handbag or anywhere in the bedroom.[56][57] The prosecution alleged that all forensic traces in the bedroom which incriminated Knox had been wiped away by her and Sollecito.[58][59]

Guede's shoe prints, fingerprints, and DNA were found in Kercher's bedroom, where the murder took place.[60] Guede's DNA was on the strap of her bra, which had been torn off, and his DNA was found on a vaginal swab taken from Kercher's body.[53][60] Guede's bloody palm print was on a pillow that had been placed under Kercher's hips.[61] Guede's DNA mixed with Kercher's was on the left sleeve of her bloody sweatshirt and in bloodstains on the inside of her shoulder bag, which 300 euros and credit cards had been stolen from.[60][62][63][64] Guede refused to answer questions at the trial.[65]


Knox was found guilty and sentenced to 26 years imprisonment, and Sollecito to 25 years.[42][66][67]


American lawyers were troubled by statements obtained while Knox was being denied her rights under Italian law being excluded from the murder trial, but allowed for contemporaneous civil and defamation suits heard by the same jury. Knox's defense attorneys were seen as, by American standards, passive in the face of the prosecution's use of character evidence about her.[68][69]

In May 2011 Gregory Hampikian, director of the Idaho Innocence Project, a non-profit investigative organization dedicated to proving the innocence of wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing, said forensic results from the crime scene pointed to Guede being a killer who had acted on his own.[70][71]

Amanda Knox leaving the prison in Perugia in a car with Corrado Maria Daclon, secretary general of the Italy–USA Foundation

Acquittal and release

A Corte d'Assise verdict of guilty is not a definitive conviction. An appeal trial, Corte d'Assise d'Appello, reviews the facts of the case as well as legal aspects. The appeal (or second grade) trial began November 2010 and was presided over by Judges Claudio Pratillo Hellmann and Massimo Zanetti. A court-ordered review of the contested DNA evidence by independent experts noted numerous basic errors in the gathering and analysis of the evidence, and concluded that no evidential trace of Kercher's DNA had been found on the alleged murder weapon, which police had found in Sollecito's kitchen.[72][73] Although the review confirmed that male DNA fragments on the bra clasp, which the forensic police had lost on the floor for 47 days, included some from Sollecito, the court-appointed expert testified the context strongly suggested contamination.[74][75][76][77]

On October 3, 2011 Knox and Sollecito were found not guilty and released. In an official statement giving their grounds for the acquittals, the judges emphasized that Knox and Sollecito's accounts failing to completely match did not constitute evidence they had given a false alibi. Discounting Curatolo's testimony as self-contradictory, the judges observed that he was a heroin addict. Having noted that there was no evidence of any phone calls or texts between Knox or Sollecito and Guede, the judges concluded there was a "material non-existence" of evidence to support the guilty verdicts, and that an association among Sollecito, Knox, and Guede to commit the murder was "far from probable".[66][78][79] Knox returned to the US.[80][81]

She wrote a letter to Corrado Maria Daclon, Secretary General of the Italy-USA Foundation, the day after regaining her freedom:

To hold my hand and offer support and respect throughout the obstacles and the controversy, there were Italians. There was the Italy–USA Foundation, and many others that shared my pain and that helped me survive, with hope. I am eternally grateful for their caring hospitality and their courageous commitment. To those that wrote me, that defended me, that stood by me, that prayed for me... I am forever grateful to you.[82]


On March 26, 2013, Italy's highest criminal court set aside the judgement of the trial of the second degree that had acquitted Knox and Sollecito, leading to a re-trial.[83][84] The retrial began on September 30, 2013, while Knox remained in the US.[85] Judges granted a prosecution request for analysis of previously unexamined DNA found on a kitchen knife of Sollecito's, which the prosecution alleged was the murder weapon based on the forensic police reporting that Kercher's DNA was on it. The conclusion had been discredited by court-appointed experts at the appeal trial, but the failure to order another test had been criticized by the prosecution and others.[86][87][88] When the unexamined sample was tested, no DNA belonging to Kercher was found.[89][90] On 30 January 2014, Knox and Sollecito were found guilty. Knox was sentenced to 28½ years in prison, Sollecito received 25 years.[2] The decision was overturned by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation on March 27, 2015.[4]

Definitive acquittal

On March 27, 2015, Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, overturned the prior conviction,[4] which definitively ends the case.[5][6][7] The decision by the five judges came as a surprise,[to whom?] as legal experts[who?] thought the convictions would be upheld.[7]

Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova, said, "Finished! It couldn’t be better than this."[6]

After this verdict was announced, Knox, who has been in the United States continuously since 2011, issued a statement, “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.”[91]


  • A Long Way From Home: CBS 48 Hours documentary, broadcast in April 2008 in the United States[92]
  • American Girl, Italian Nightmare: CBS 48 Hours documentary, broadcast in April 2009 in the United States,[93]
  • The Trial of Amanda Knox: NBC Dateline NBC documentary, broadcast on December 4, 2009, in the United States[94]
  • The Trials of Amanda Knox: The Learning Channel documentary, broadcast on March 24, 2010, in the United States[95]
  • Beyond the Headlines: Amanda Knox: Lifetime documentary, broadcast on February 21, 2011, in the United States[96]
  • Cold Blood: Life Behind Bars For Amanda Knox: Investigation Discovery Cold Blood documentary, broadcast on April 20, 2011, in the United States[97]
  • Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story: CNN Presents documentary, broadcast on May 8, 2011, in the United States[98][99]
  • Amanda Knox: The untold story, CBS 48 Hours documentary October 8, 2011, 7:45 PM[100]
  • Murder Mystery: Amanda Knox Speaks an ABC News 20/20 special interview with Diane Sawyer. Knox's first interview after being released from prison.[101]

Personal life

On February 3, 2015, Knox became engaged to childhood friend and musician Colin Sutherland.[102]


  1. ^ "Amanda Knox guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher, gets 28 years". Sydney Morning Herald. January 31, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Wall Street Journal, 30 January 2014 Italy Court Finds Amanda Knox Guilty of Murder of U.K. Student in Retrial
  3. ^ Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial (January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012
  4. ^ a b c "Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned by Italy's highest court". Associated Press. March 27, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Amanda Knox verdict overturned by Italy's supreme court.". Slate Magazine. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c "Italian high court overturns Amanda Knox murder conviction". Washington Post. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
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  8. ^ Oloffson, Kirsti. "Amanda Knox, Convicted of Murder in Italy", Time magazine, 4 December 2009.
  9. ^ Follain p.14-15, 19
  10. ^ a b The Italian Judicial System
  11. ^ Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012. p 234
  12. ^ Economist, Feb 8th 2014 italian justice Untimely Italian Justice
  13. ^ a b (Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012. p 237 and footnote 151)
  14. ^ a b University Kansas, 2/4/ 15, Professor: Amanda Knox trial shows problems with comparing legal systems
  15. ^ Kercher, John (2012). Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth
  16. ^ a b The Week, 9 DEC 2009, Robert Fox, Nothing ‘Third World’ about Italian justice
  17. ^ The Week, 9 DEC 2009, Robert Fox, Nothing ‘Third World’ about Italian justice Retrieved30/2/15
  18. ^ NYT, November 19, 2002, Andreotti's Sentence Draws Protests About 'Justice Gone Mad'
  19. ^ Death in Perugia: The Definitive Account of the Meredith Kercher John Follain, Chapter 55
  20. ^ Monster of Florence: Amanda Knox Prosecutor's Satanic Theories Rejected by Judge, Crimesider, CBS News, 23 April 2010
  21. ^ Bloody Italy: Essays on Crime Writing in Italian Settings edited by Patricia Prandini Buckle p70-73
  22. ^ Follain p10-11 and 26
  23. ^ Murphy, Dennis. "Deadly exchange", NBC News, 21 December 2007.
  24. ^ Follain p. 25-47
  25. ^ Follain p.35
  26. ^ Follain p179
  27. ^ Follain p.39 ("Meredith joined them she took just one pull on the joint; she was no habitual smoker")
  28. ^ Wise, Ann. "'They Had No Reason Not to Get Along'", ABC News, 7 February 2009.
  29. ^ Follain p.41-43
  30. ^ Follain. J., Death in Perugia p.70=72
  31. ^ Follain p. 83-84
  32. ^ Dempsey 2010, pp. 62, 76–77; for Napoleoni, see Burleigh 2011, p. 165. for Battistelli see Follain p. 67.
  33. ^ Follain p. 75–76.
  34. ^ Burleigh 2011, p. 151–152.
  35. ^ Follain p199-200
  36. ^ a b c d Judgment, Trial of Rudy Hermann Guede], Dr Paolo Micheli, Court of Perugia, judgment of 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2011 (Google translation, Italian to English).
  37. ^ (Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012.)
  38. ^ name="T24">Moore, Malcolm. "Meredith whispered killer's name, suspect says", The Daily Telegraph, 24 November 2007.
  39. ^ Follain p. 397.
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  42. ^ a b Wise, Ann. "Small Victory For Amanda Knox", ABC News, March 22, 2010.
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  44. ^ Coffrey, Kendal (December 4, 2009). Prime News. Interview with Mike Galanos. HLN. 
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  47. ^ Sherwell, Philip. "Amanda Knox: 'Foxy Knoxy' was an innocent abroad, say US supporters", The Daily Telegraph, December 5, 2009.
  48. ^ Timothy Egan (June 10, 2009). "An Innocent Abroad". The New York Times. Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  49. ^ "Simon Cowell one of Walters' 'Fascinating People'". Bloomberg Businessweek. December 1, 2011. 
  50. ^ Follain p.307
  51. ^ "Kercher trial: How does DNA contamination occur?". BBC News. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  52. ^ a b Telegraph, 5 December 2009, Amanda Knox trial: the unanswered questions
  53. ^ a b c News AU, Bra takes centre stage in Foxy Knoxy trial
  54. ^ Follain p344
  55. ^ Follain p342-344
  56. ^ Guardian, 22 September 2011, Amanda Knox 'hopeful of release'
  57. ^ Judgment, Trial of Rudy Hermann Guede, Court of Perugia, judgment of 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009 (Google translation, Italian to English).
  58. ^ Falconi, Marta. "Prosecutors: Knox staged break-in after murder", Associated Press, 20 November 2009.
  59. ^ Follain. J., Death in Perugia p.248
  60. ^ a b c Follain. J., Death in Perugia p.177
  61. ^ Follain. J., Death in Perugia p.174
  62. ^ Povoledo, Elisabetta. "Italian Experts Question Evidence in Knox Case", The New York Times, 29 June 2011.
  63. ^ Judgment, Trial of Rudy Hermann Guede, Dr Paolo Micheli, Court of Perugia, judgement of 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2011 (Google translation, Italian to English).
  64. ^ Diritto, procedura, e pratica penale Tribunale di Perugia: Ufficio del G.I.P.: Dott. Paolo Micheli: Sentenza del 28 October 2008 – 26 January 2009 (Italian): (English trans): Guede "confirmed then to have touched more or less everywhere in the room, even with his hands stained with blood, without however explaining why one of his [palm-]prints were found on the pillow under the corpse, when he remembered the regular pillow on the bed, where they also found the jacket and purse/handbag that the girl [Kercher] had put down on re-entering the house. The bed was, according to his description, covered with a red or beige duvet (but he had insisted far more on the former colour): the pillow was outside of the quilt." Earlier in his judgement, the judge noted that (Italian): "Soltanto in seguito, attraverso la comparazione in Banca Dati di un'impronta palmare impressa nel sangue e rinvenuta sulla federa del cuscino che si trovava sotto il corpo della vittima, si accertava invece la presenza sul luogo del delitto del 21enne G. R. H., nativo della Costa d'Avorio ..." (English): "Only later, through the comparison in the database of a palm-print imprinted in the blood of the victim and found on the pillowcase of the pillow where the body of the victim was found, it confirmed instead the presence at the scene of the crime of the 21-year-old G[uede] R.H., native of the Ivory Coast, ...".
  65. ^ Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial (January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012, page 247, note 122
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External links