Italian police wait to quiz 'drifter' in Meredith case

Extradition by Germans expected within a week. By Peter Popham
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The Independent Online

One week ago, the fourth suspect in the Meredith Kercher murder investigation was a figure of mystery – no name, no face, just a set of fingerprints found on the Surrey student's blood-soaked pillow.

A week later Rudy Hermann Guede is famous, and will soon be on his way to the Umbrian capital. The 20-year-old drifter, born in the Ivory Coast and brought to Italy at the age of five, was arrested in Germany on Thursday. The previous day Italy had issued an international arrest warrant for him, with the preliminary judge in the murder case describing him as a dangerous murderer who could strike again. He was picked up on a train between Mainz and Frankfurt for travelling without a ticket. Germany expects to extradite him to Italy within a week.

Guede is the second of the four suspects to have admitted being in Ms Kercher's flat on the night she was killed, her throat slashed three times in her bedroom on 1 November. The first was Amanda Knox, the wealthy student from Seattle who told detectives that she had heard Meredith's screams and stopped her ears. But Knox, who denies involvement in the crime, named a different African as the murderer, the Congolese bar owner Patrick Lumumba, a Perugia resident for two decades.

Last Sunday, Congolese living in Umbria demonstrated for Lumumba to be freed, pointing out there was no evidence against him. Several witnesses had testified that he was behind the bar he runs in the centre of town on the night. On Wednesday the judge in the case ordered Lumumba's release from jail, where he had been for two weeks.

Speaking to a judge in Koblenz, where he is being held, Guede admitted being in Meredith's flat but gave two conflicting accounts of what happened. In one, leaked to Italian media, he said that he and Meredith had sex. He then went to the bathroom and, while he was there, Meredith was attacked by an Italian youth unknown to him. The Italian fled and Guede tried to revive Meredith but, having failed, he panicked and ran away.

In Guede's second version, he arrived at the flat with Meredith but was struck by a stomach ache and went straight to the bathroom. While there, he heard her screams. Sources close to the inquiry claimed at the end of the week that DNA taken from Guede's toothbrush matched that found on Meredith's body.

The position of Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, meanwhile, remains ambiguous. Knox has done nothing to clarify what happened, despite all the indications being that Lumumba (who said he did not think he could ever forgive her) is innocent. Both are in jail. Sollecito, who on Friday asked for an interview with the prosecutor, maintains he was at home all evening. Knox now says she was with him.

Their behaviour after the murder was bizarre. A shopkeeper in Perugia told investigators that the couple came to her shop on Saturday 3 November. They spent half an hour there, kissing and cuddling. Knox bought skimpy lingerie and told Sollecito that they would now go home and "have wild sex".

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