Raffaele Sollecito said he would now begin to live his life again, despite deep psychological wounds, following an Italian high court decision to annul his conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.
The court annulled the conviction of American Amanda Knox and Sollecito, for the 2007 murder of Kercher on 27 March, in a surprise verdict, and acquitted them both of the charge.
The brutal stabbing, alleged sex games and multiple trials provided fodder for tabloids on both sides of the Atlantic and inspired books and films.
"I just want to begin living again and forget everything terrible that has happened to me," Sollecito told a news conference in Rome where he was flanked by his lawyer Giulia Bongiorno and his father Francesco Sollecito.
"The wound, this wound that has been with me for seven years and five months, seven years and five months, a time that never ended, will never heal unfortunately. The wound is too deep in my heart and in my soul," he said.
The Court of Cassation threw out the second guilty verdict to have been passed on Knox and Sollecito, 31, for the murder; saying there was insufficient evidence to convict either of them.
Kercher's family said Meredith, who died aged 21, risked being forgotten and their lawyer appeared surprised by the verdict to annul the convictions of Knox and Sollecito.
"I am very sorry that Meredith's family is disappointed with this sentence but this sentence is the truth," Sollecito said.
"This time the court's truth is aligned with the truth of facts," he said.
"I had nothing to do with this crime, I only knew Meredith a little bit, in a very superficial way, I greeted her a few times. I didn't have any motive to be angry with her or to participate in this terrible crime. I hope they can accept what I am saying along with the support of those who are close to them and come to recognise this truth," he said.
Prosecutors had asked for jail sentences of 28 years and three months for Knox, and 24 years and nine months for Sollecito. They have both already served four years in jail after an original conviction in 2009. Knox, who returned to Seattle in 2011, and Sollecito have maintained their innocence throughout.
"I spoke to Amanda recently. I wished her the best and she did to me as well. Obviously we are both very happy. She celebrated with her family, she told me by phone. We had a brief conversation on the phone which finished with us wishing each other well for our new future and joy for this result," he said.
The acquittals almost eight years after the murder are sure to stoke further controversy and questions about the Italian justice system, which has now twice overturned guilty verdicts in the case.
"I feel relieved, really relieved, but on the other side seven years and five months is a very long time," Sollecito said, speaking in English.
Sollecito warned journalists at the news conference that he would never allow himself to be called a murderer or a murder suspect and said he would take legal action against anyone who did so.