Page last updated at 21:50 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Meredith Kercher killer Rudy Guede has sentence reduced

Rudy Guede
Guede has joint Italian and Ivorian nationality

A man jailed for 30 years for killing UK student Meredith Kercher has had his sentence almost halved on appeal.

Rudy Guede, 23, will now serve 16 years for killing the Leeds University student from Surrey, who had her throat slit in Perugia, Italy, in 2007.

Small-time drug dealer Guede fled to Germany but was extradited to Italy.

American Amanda Knox, 22, and her Italian former lover Raffaele Sollecito, 25, were jailed for 21-year-old Miss Kercher's murder last month.

They were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison respectively.

Guede, who has joint Italian and Ivorian nationality, had chosen to be tried separately from the pair - in a fast-track trial behind closed doors - because he feared they may form a pact.

He had admitted being in Miss Kercher's flat - which she shared with Knox - on the night she was murdered, but said he was in the bathroom at the time and heard screams.

Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox and  Raffaele Sollecito (Copyright: PA, Getty and AP)
Miss Kercher (top) had been studying Italian on an exchange programme

However, he was found him guilty of murder and sexual violence last October.

On Tuesday, an eight-member jury upheld Guede's convictions, but reduced his sentence.

His lawyer, Valter Biscotti, said his client was not happy about the reduction because "he is innocent" and planned to lodge a second appeal against conviction.

Guede was arrested in Mainz in Germany after fleeing Italy.

He had initially been picked up for being on a train without a ticket

Police had begun searching for him after finding a bloody fingerprint on a pillow that did not match those of the other suspects.

Officers are still not certain why US student Knox, Sollecito and Guede were all at the house together, but they suspect it involved a drugs transaction.

They had begun some kind of sex game which ended with Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, being held down while Knox cut her throat with a six-inch kitchen knife.

Meanwhile, the mother of Knox has said she "waits for the day" Miss Kercher's family know her daughter is innocent.

In her first UK interview since Knox was jailed, Edda Mellas told BBC Radio 5 live her daughter had "nothing to do with the crime".

She also said Knox was "still in disbelief" over the sentence.



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