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FLORENCE, Italy — A prosecutor urged a court Monday to take steps to make sure that

Amanda Knox, of Seattle, and her former Italian boyfriend would serve their sentences if they are convicted of murdering British student Meredith Kercher.

Prosecutor Alessandro Crini preceded his request by noting that Knox has remained in the United States for this trial, while co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito has at times traveled abroad.

“The situation is unusual,” Crini told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the court session. “Usually if someone is convicted of murder, they are already in custody.”

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But in the long legal saga, both defendants were released by an appeals court that overturned their lower-court guilty verdicts, and both were legitimately free when Italy’s highest court ordered the case back to another appeals court after blasting the acquittal.

Sollecito has attended key court dates, making a statement in one, while Knox has stayed at home, acknowledging in an email to the court her fear of being “wrongly convicted” a second time.

On Monday, the defense and prosecution both made rebuttals to the lengthy closing argument, the closing section of the defendants’ third trial before the court begins deliberations Jan. 30. Knox’s two defense attorneys will have the final word before the panel of two professional judges and eight jurors begins deliberations. A verdict is expected that day.

Crini has demanded guilty verdicts and jail sentences of 26 years for both defendants, and asked that the court increase to four years Knox’s three-year sentence for a slander conviction, which has been upheld. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in the original trial, and Sollecito to 25 years.

In the case of 29-year-old Sollecito, who told reporters Monday that he intends to remain in Italy for the verdict, the precautionary measures could include immediate arrest, house arrest or the confiscation of his passport.

The court’s reach in Knox’s case is limited by her presence in the United States, Crini acknowledged.

Knox’s lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said during a break that any request for extradition could be made only after a possible guilty verdict is confirmed by Italy’s highest court — a process that can last a year or more.

Knox, 26, has been tried in absentia.

If a guilty verdict in this trial is upheld by Italy’s top criminal court, Knox would become a fugitive if she failed to return to serve a sentence.

The sensational legal case has fueled headlines since the discovery of Kercher’s body in her locked bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007, with suspicion falling quickly on her American roommate and Sollecito. Kercher, 21, had been sexually assaulted and stabbed multiple times.

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