ITALY NEWS

British student murdered in Perugia

Three held in connection with killing
(issue no. 67/2007 / November 15, 2007)

American student Amanda Knox has accused a Congolese pub owner of killing her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia on November 1.

 

Knox is being held in connection with the case, along with her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and local bar owner Diya ‘Patrick’ Lumumba.

 

The three have been detained since Tuesday as suspects in the sexual assault and killing of Kercher, who was found dead in her bedroom on November 2, hidden under a duvet, with a deep cut to her throat.

 

Perugia, a small city in central Italy, is home to two major universities: the University of Perugia and the University for Foreigners. Sollecito, a Puglia native, attends the University of Perugia. Knox, from the University of Washington, is completing a study-abroad program at the University for Foreigners.

 

Kercher was also studying in Perugia, on an Erasmus exchange from Leeds University in England. Lumumba is from Congo but has been an Italian resident since 1988. He lives in Perugia, where he runs a pub frequented by the university community.

 

All three deny involvement in the death, and authorities said it is not yet clear who inflicted the fatal wound. Sollecito’s footprints were found in Kercher’s room and the murder weapon was identified as a pocket-knife the Italian usually carried.    

        

The case has been further complicated by the fact that the three suspects have repeatedly changed their stories. A recently released judge’s ruling states that Knox has offered three separate versions of the events surrounding the murder—ranging from being asleep at Sollecito’s house to being in her apartment with Kercher and Lumumba when she heard Kercher screaming loudly.

 

Sollecito first claimed to be in town with his girlfriend at the time of the murder, then changed his story, placing him at home talking to his father and using the Internet.

 

Lumumba’s alibi—that he was at his pub until after midnight November 1 and 2—is still being investigated according to the judge’s report.

 

Under Italian law, suspects can be held without charge if a judge rules that there is enough evidence to jail them and that there is a chance they might flee, repeat the crime or tamper with evidence. Prosecutors may later seek to indict the suspects and put them on trial.

 

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