Meredith murder suspects ordered to stay in prison

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The Independent Online

Two of the suspects held in connection with the murder of the British exchange student Meredith Kercher have had their appeal to be released from jail rejected by a court in Perugia.

Giuliano Mignini, the lead investigator in the case, said Raffaele Sollecito, 23, and Amanda Knox, 20, would remain in custody at the Italian town's Capanne prison, where they were remanded on 9 November.

The Leeds University student Miss Kercher, 21, of Coulsdon, Surrey, was murdered on 1 November. She had had her throat slit and police said there was evidence of a violent sexual encounter.

Another man, Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, was arrested on 20 November in Germany, where he is awaiting extradition. A Congolese bar owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, 38, who was arrested on 6 November, was released from prison last week but remains a suspect in the case.

All four deny involvement in the crime.

Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito both attended the court in central Perugia where the evidence against them was being reviewed by a panel of three judges.

Luciano Ghirga, one of Ms Knox's lawyers, said his client had given a brief statement proclaiming her innocence during her three-hour hearing. Italian media reported that Mr Sollecito had spoken for around 25 minutes.

About three hours after the hearing, the judges' decision was announced. Mr Mignini was mobbed by dozens of journalists as he left the court building, speaking only to confirm that the pair would remain in custody. In a written submission, he had urged the court not to release Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito, saying that there was sufficient evidence to keep them in prison and warning that they might go on the run if set free. Marco Brusco, one of Mr Sollecito's lawyers, said he would not be making any comment about the ruling until he had seen the reasons behind the judges' decision. But he said he would be applying to the town's public prosecutor, Claudia Matteini, for his client to be released.

Francesco Maresca, the lawyer for the Kercher family, said he was "very satisfied" with the decision.