Kercher killer has sentence cut in half after appeal

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The Independent Online

An Italian court of appeal yesterday reduced the prison sentence for the first person convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher from 30 years to 16.

But after four hours of deliberations, the eight-member jury upheld the conviction of of Rudy Hermann Guede on charges of murder and sexual violence. Guede, who is from Ivory Coast, was sentenced to 30 years last year after requesting a fast-track trial, but denies killing the British student.

The two others who were convicted earlier this month of her killing are Amanda Knox, the US student who was the victim's roommate in Perugia, and Raffaele Sollecito, Knox's boyfriend at the time. Knox and Sollecito both deny wrongdoing and are expected to appeal against their convictions. They were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively.

Kercher, a student at Leeds University, was killed in November 2007. Guede, who was arrested in Germany shortly after the killing, has admitted he was at the scene of the crime on the night of the murder, but said that he did not kill Kercher.

Guede was in court yesterday when the verdict was delivered and told reporters afterwards: "I am not happy because I am innocent."

The Kerchers' family lawyer Francesco Maresca said he was satisfied that Guede was found guilty but was "surprised" the sentence was almost halved. He added that the ruling recognised some extenuating circumstances for Guede. The court is expected to give its reasons for the decision within 90 days.

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