Kercher accused says he wouldn't hurt a fly

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The Independent Online

A man accused of murdering the British exchange student Meredith Kercher after she allegedly refused to take part in a sex game told an Italian court yesterday that he would find it hard "to kill a fly".

Raffaele Sollecito, 24, an Italian, stands accused of murdering Miss Kercher in Perugia in November 2007, along with his American ex-girlfriend Amanda Knox and a "drifter" from the Ivory Coast, Rudy Guede.

Before any evidence had been heard, Mr Sollecito chose to address the court, permitted under Italian law. He said: "I am not a violent person and it has never entered my mind to kill anyone. Anyone who knows me will tell you I wouldn't harm a fly. I don't know why I'm in this situation. I barely knew Meredith. I didn't know Guede at all." He said he believed he had been the victim of a "judicial error".

The head of the local postal police, Filippo Batolozzi, cast doubt on his claim that he had been at home at the time of the murder, downloading a cartoon. Mr Batolozzi testified there had been no activity on Mr Sollectio's computer between 9.10pm and 5.32am on the night in question.

Later, other postal police officers revealed that it was Ms Sollecito and Ms Knox who invited them to come into the flat where they discovered Ms Kercher's murdered body. The 21-year-old student from Coulsden, Surrey, died from loss of blood from stab wounds in the neck. Guede was last year jailed for 30 years at the end of a "fast-track" trial for his role in the crime, but the trial of Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito has only just got under way.

Ms Kercher's corpse was discovered in her bedroom in the flat she and Ms Knox shared with two Italian girls after two officers from the postal police came to the house trying to find the owner of two mobile phones that had been discovered in a garden nearby. The phones were registered under the name of one of Ms Kercher and Ms Knox's flatmates but were being used by Ms Kercher.

Yesterday, two officers, Michele Battistelli and Fabio Marzi, testified that they were dispatched to Via Pergola 7, the cottage where Miss Kercher died, at 12pm on 2 November to try to locate the registered owner of the cellphones that had been handed in.

Inside, the officers found the bedroom window smashed and glass scattered around the room. It is the contention of the prosecution that Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito smashed the window after the murder to throw investigators off the scent.

The officers then found Ms Kercher's foot protruding from under a quilt on her bedroom floor. "It was clear from the amount of blood, from the unnatural colour of the foot and the fact that it wasn't moving" that Meredith was dead, said Mr Battistelli.

The trial continues today.

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