Page last updated at 20:17 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 21:17 UK

Kercher accused 'on web at time'

Raffaele Sollecito
Raffaele Sollecito's lawyers say he was using an interactive cartoon website

A man accused of murdering UK student Meredith Kercher was downloading a cartoon at his home at the time she was killed, a court in Italy has heard.

Lawyers for Raffaele Sollecito, 24, said he was on the internet between 9pm and 10pm on the day Miss Kercher died.

They also said it could not be proved that DNA found on her bra strap belonged to Mr Sollecito.

Meredith, 21, from south London, was murdered on 2 November last year in the house where she lived in Perugia.

Her body was found in her bedroom, semi-naked and with her throat cut.

After the pre-trial hearing in Perugia, Mr Sollecito's lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno, said: "Analysis of the phone calls made from Meredith's phone on the night of the murder show that she must have been killed between 9pm and 10pm.

At first people were talking about a flick knife but now they're saying it was a kitchen knife
Mr Sollecito's lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno

"Raffaele Sollecito would not have had time to get to her house."

Ms Bongiorno said the evidence indicated there was just one murderer, whose trail was left by a piece of broken glass they trod on and which got stuck to their shoe and made marks on the floor.

Mr Sollecito's legal team launched their defence using video and audio material as well as a mannequin to reconstruct the way in which Miss Kercher's bra could have been unfastened.

They argued it could not be proved that DNA found on Miss Kercher's bra strap was Mr Sollecito's.

Ms Bongiorno said: "The DNA found on the bra strap could be that of a number of people. Many different people had been in the house."

Flick knife

She added that police who had entered the house after the forensic officers had started investigating and contaminated the crime scene and thus affected the scientific viability of the evidence.

She also argued that the prosecution's case was undermined by the fact that they had changed their story, including the theory about the murder weapon.

"At first people were talking about a flick knife but now they're saying it was a kitchen knife," she said.

Mr Sollecito has been held for nearly a year over the murder of Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, in south London, along with fellow suspect Amanda Knox, from Seattle in the US.

They are expected to learn early next week whether they are to be charged or released from prison, when a series of pre-trial hearings which began last month draws to a close.

The hearings continue on Saturday.

A third suspect, Rudy Hermann Guede, 21, originally from the Ivory Coast, is being tried behind closed doors in a fast-track process, the result of which is also expected next week.

All three suspects deny being involved in the murder.



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