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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 19:04 GMT
Meredith accused held on remand
Meredith Kercher
Meredith Kercher was a student in Perugia, Italy
Three people accused of UK student Meredith Kercher's murder are to be remanded for up to a year in Italy.

Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, south London, was found with her throat cut at the flat she was renting in Perugia.

The suspects are American student Amanda Knox, 20, her Italian student boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24, and Congolese bar owner Diya Lumumba, 37.

All protest their innocence, but an Italian investigating judge ruled that there was enough evidence to hold them.

Police believe they are now in a position to press charges against all three suspects.

Held in isolation

At a hearing at a prison near Perugia on Thursday, lawyers for the trio called for them to be released.

But in a 19-page ruling, the investigating judge concluded that they should be held until a hearing is fixed to press charges.

Amanda Knox

Italian law allows judges to jail suspects without charging them if there is sufficient evidence and a chance they may flee, carry out another crime or interfere with evidence.

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Perugia said that all three suspects will be held in isolation.

The judge's ruling document refers to allegations made by investigators that our correspondent described as "explosive". These include claims that:

  • A 3.3in (8.8cm) flick blade belonging to Mr Sollecito is compatible with the stab wound in Miss Kercher's neck.
  • Traces of three footprints in blood found in the victim's room match the imprint of shoes belonging to Mr Sollecito.
  • Miss Kercher fought off a violent attack and had been raped.
  • Police allege Mr Lumumba entered Miss Kercher's room to have sex, during which something went wrong.

    They believe Mr Sollecito went in to join them and pulled out a knife.

    According to the case presented by investigators, the suspects have all changed their stories. They said Miss Knox had an unscrupulous tendency to lie repeatedly.

    Suspect's alibi

    All three suspects have denied being involved in the killing, but officers have said they are confident they can place the trio at the scene.

    Police have said Miss Knox crumbled under interrogation and now admits having been in the next room when Leeds University student Miss Kercher was murdered last week, but covered her ears to her flatmate's screams.

    Miss Knox has blamed Mr Lumumba for the murder.

    But Carlo Pacelli, Mr Lumumba's lawyer, said that his client had 16 alibis - including one from a university professor - who could place him in his bar at the time of the murder.

    Mr Pacelli added that Miss Knox was lying and that Mr Lumumba had "slept soundly" for the previous two nights.

    Lawyers for Mr Sollecito have admitted that he lied to police, saying he was at a party on the night of Miss Kercher's death.

    Phone records

    He has since said he was at his own home with Miss Knox at the time.

    Miss Knox's lawyer said she had had nothing to do with Miss Kercher's death and should be freed.

    Miss Kercher's body was found in her bedroom on Friday morning in a pool of blood.

    They do not believe the murder was premeditated but they allege each of the suspects played a role.

    Crucial to the case will be the suspects' phone records and calls they exchanged after the murder.

    Mr Lumumba had been in the country since 1988, while Mr Sollecito was a student at the local university. Miss Knox is from Seattle, Washington.

    VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
    Suspects' lawyers emerge from court



    SEE ALSO
    Students hold vigil for Meredith
    07 Nov 07 |  West Yorkshire
    Test results on murdered Briton
    05 Nov 07 |  London

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