Three to appear in Meredith murder court hearing

The three people being held over the murder of UK student Meredith Kercher will appear before an Italian court today.

The three people being held over the murder of UK student Meredith Kercher will appear before an Italian court today.

American Amanda Knox, 21, her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24 and Rudy Hermann Guede, 21, originally from the Ivory Coast, are due to appear before a judge at a closed pre-trial hearing in the Italian town of Perugia.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, the family of Miss Kercher said they hoped justice would finally be done.

Her parents, John and Arline, and sister, Stephanie, spoke out as they arrived in the Italian town where Meredith was killed last November.

Miss Kercher was found semi-naked with her throat slit at the home she shared with Knox and others on Via Della Pergola in Perugia on the night of November 1, 2007.

The three suspects have been accused of killing her in a bungled sex game.

Cleared suspect Diya “Patrick” Lumumba is also expected to be in court today. He is suing Knox for falsely implicating him in Miss Kercher’s murder.

In a statement read by Stephanie, the family said: “Each time we arrive in Perugia, we wish we were here for a different reason.

“It is so easy to understand why Meredith loved this city. She loved everything about Italy but the fact she chose Perugia over other cities shows how important her year abroad was for her.

“Perugia is definitely a place of culture, a place to get to know people and learn. We only wish she’d had more time before being brutally taken from us.

“Maybe she’d have been keen to learn in our country if it had been as famous for chocolate as Perugia.”

She described her sister as a “a significant part of so many lives due to her caring, loving nature and laughter” and said the family was still struggling to understand why she was “so cruelly taken” from them.

She added: “Mez was such a genuine person that when we think of her now and when we see her friends we don’t need to say anything, we just need to smile. This is why she will never be forgotten.

“We are pleased we have reached a new phase in the process, hoping that justice will soon be done for Meredith.”

The family refused to be drawn on questions about the way the Italian police had conducted their investigation.

During the inquiry there has been a number of leaks to the Italian press, including a photograph of Miss Kercher as she was found.

The parents would not comment when questioned about letters of support from other mothers.

Their lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said they would not be commenting further about the trial.

Fearful of a pact between former lovers Knox and Sollecito, Guede plans to ask for a separate trial from them if he is indicted, his lawyer said last week.

Valter Biscotti said last Tuesday that his client would seek a fast-track trial, a process which is shorter and often leads to shorter sentences.

Guede reportedly sent a letter to his lawyers expressing his fear of being made a scapegoat, and taking issue with the way he has been depicted as a drug dealer and addict.

He was quoted in the regional newspaper Corriere dell’Umbria as writing: “It is easier for them to point the finger at me than at each other.”

Meanwhile a lawyer for Congolese bar owner Mr Lumumba said his client intends to join an eventual criminal trial in a move to claim damages from Knox.

Carlo Pacelli said: “Patrick was falsely accused by Amanda and slandered by her so he is now taking civil action against her.” Mr Lumumba was held for two weeks as a suspect before his release for lack of evidence. He is no longer a suspect.

Knox’s father, Curt, has reportedly said that his family is “leveraged to the hilt” to finance the battle to prove his daughter’s innocence.

He told The Seattle Times, their local newspaper, that they had drained their home equity and retirement funds to pay for a defence team of lawyers, forensic experts, investigators and a media adviser in Seattle.

All three suspects deny sexually assaulting and murdering the student from Coulsdon in Surrey.

Mr Maresca said the judge would probably not decide whether the three should be tried for murder until the end of October and that today’s hearing would be the first of six or seven between now and then.

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