Sun, Nov 11, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Suspects in murder of UK woman to remain in custody

AFP , ROME

All three suspects in the murder of a British student in Italy were remanded in custody on Friday by an investigating magistrate whose order, leaked to the media, painted a lurid picture of debauchery and depredation.

The US roommate of Briton Meredith Kercher is thought to have arranged a tryst with a bartender that ended in her murder, according to a scenario described in Claudia Metteini's order.

Enough evidence exists against the bartender, Congolese immigrant Lumumba Diya, the roommate Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Italian Raffaele Sollecito, to justify their continued detention, Metteini ruled.

When the three appeared before Metteini on Thursday, Diya and Solleciti offered alibis, while Knox claimed her right to remain silent.

The three face charges of aggravated homicide and sexual assault in the death of 21-year-old Kercher, who was found with her throat slit on Nov. 2 after what police called a "sexually motivated" attack.

Press reports said Metteini's order contained a reconstruction of the events leading up to the murder, starting with Knox, 20, and Sollecito, 24, spending the afternoon smoking hashish.

She received a text message from Diya, 38, confirming a rendezvous that evening. She replied saying that she would set up an encounter with Kercher, with whom Diya was in love.

Knox and Sollecito met up with Diya and went to the apartment Knox shared with Kercher and two Italian women.

Investigators surmise that Kercher and Diya went into her bedroom and "something went wrong," according to the leaked court order, which was detailed by the Italian news agency ANSA.

The order suggested Sollecito -- described as bored and hungry for "strong emotions" -- entered the room and the two men asked something of Kercher that she refused.

Her throat was slit with the flick-knife that Sollecito always had on him, investigators surmise.

Diya, whom Knox accused of the murder, claimed that he was at his bar, called Le Chic, at the time, with witnesses and cash register records to prove it, press reports said.

A text message from Kercher to Diya on the evening of Nov. 1 reading "see you later" was not to be taken literally, he told the judge.

Knox of Seattle, Washington, had given police varying accounts of what transpired, but on Thursday remained silent.

For his part, Sollecito claimed to have been at home surfing the Internet. He also said he called his father in southern Bari that evening, but police reportedly have no record of such a call.

An imprint of a sports shoe in Kercher's blood matches the size and design of shoes police seized from Sollecito, reports said.

Police said that Kercher's assailants "apparently had a sexual motive," though initial autopsy results showed the Briton from south London had not been raped.

They have also said that the depth of the wound in Kercher's throat indicated that it was inflicted by a man, and that the bruises on her head suggested that she was restrained by one person while another beat her.

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