June 21, 2008

Kercher Suspects May Face Charges Within Weeks

The three suspects in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher could face charges within less than a month, police said yesterday.

Italian investigators said they had completed official inquiries into the killing of the 21-year-old at the home she shared in Perugia.

American student Amanda Knox, her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Ivory Coast national Rudy Herrman Guede, who have been held in prison since last November, all deny being responsible for her


The student from Leeds University was found dead in a pool of blood in the house in the Umbrian university town.

Prosecutors say she was killed resisting sexual assault, and were investigating the suspects on suspicion of murder and sexual violence.

All three suspects have denied any wrongdoing.

The defence now has 20 days to request further questioning or produce more documents before prosecutors either seek charges or drop the accusations.

In the court document that officially notified the defence that the investigation was over, prosecutors said that the three suspects strangled and stabbed the victim.

They also say in the document that Guede committed sexual violence on her, with the help of Knox and Sollecito. Prosecutors also contend that Knox and Sollecito tried to make it appear that an attempted robbery had taken place in the house, the document said.

Both Knox, a student at the University of Washington, and Sollecito have given conflicting statements, saying they had smoked hashish the night of the slaying, according to other court documents.

Sollecito has maintained that he was at his own apartment in Perugia, working at his computer.

He has said he does not remember if Knox spent the whole night with him.

Knox has insisted she was not at home during the murder, although at one point in the investigation, she accused a Congolese pub owner, Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, of the killing. Lumumba was arrested but quickly released for lack of evidence.

He was formally cleared last month.

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