November 2 marked the one-year anniversary of the brutal murder of the English Erasmus student Meredith Kercher. The picturesque central Italian town of Perugia commemorated Kercher's death with a church service, while friends left flowers and lit candles outside the cottage that she shared with one of the murder suspects, 21-year-old American student from Seattle, Amanda Knox.
Kercher, who studied at Leeds University, went to Perugia to learn Italian and pursue a European studies degree. She had been in the medieval city for only two months when police found her body, with more than 40 wounds, lying on floor of her bedroom. Prosecutors posit that Kercher was killed during a ‘sex game' gone awry with Knox; an Italian student, Raffalle Sollecito; and an Ivory Coast national, Rudy Guede.
The three accused have been in jail since the crime, as investigators compiled evidence. At the end of the quiry, Guede opted for a plea bargain-a fast-track trial without a jury-to avoid being tried alongside the two other suspects in the case. He received a 30-year jail term for his role in the sexual assault and murder and has been order to pay Kercher's family 7 million euro in compensation.
The presiding judge, Paolo Micheli, ruled there was sufficient evidence to proceed to a full trial for both Knox and her former boyfriend, Sollecito, and set the first hearing for December 4, 2008. The two accused will remain in jail until the trial commences.
Guede's lawyers claim that the crime was carried out by Knox and Sollecito alone. The Ivory Coast national has always admitted to being in the house on the night of the murder but claims he was in the bathroom when Kercher was murdered. Lawyers for Knox and Sollecito maintain their clients were not in the house and that the crime was committed by a single attacker.
Despite accepting the plea bargain and its 30-year murder term, Guede says he will work to ‘clear his name' in the case.