Trial decision due in Meredith Kercher case

Two former lovers suspected of killing Leeds University student Meredith Kercher will find out today if they are to face trial.

Two former lovers suspected of killing Leeds University student Meredith Kercher will find out today if they are to face trial.

Judge Paolo Micheli will decide whether Amanda Knox, 21, and Raffaele Sollecito, 24, should be formally charged for the murder of the 21-year-old exchange student on her year abroad in Perugia, Italy, last November.

The body of Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey in England, was found on November 2 in her room in the house she was sharing with Knox and others.

She was semi-naked and her throat had been slit.

American Knox and Italian Sollecito have been accused of killing her in a bungled sex game, alongside third suspect Rudy Hermann Guede, 21.

Guede blames the couple, with his lawyers claiming the murder weapon was found at Sollecito’s house and had Knox’s DNA on the handle.

The Ivorian immigrant has undergone a fast-track trial, the verdict of which will also be announced today.

Lawyers for all three suspects are confident their clients will be cleared, they told reporters outside court last night.

But Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said in the case of a trial, he had requested Knox be placed under house arrest at San Fatucchio – a supervised community and farm for recovering drug addicts and young offenders in rural Umbria, run by Catholic charity Caritas.

Mr Vedova said: “Amanda has faith and can’t wait for this nightmare to be over. She’s been in jail for a year and she doesn’t even know why.”

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini advised against placing Knox and Sollecito under house arrest before a trial, raising fears they may flee.

Prosecutors allege Knox stabbed Kercher in the throat, while Sollecito held her down and Guede tried to sexually assault her.

The three suspects were in court in Perugia yesterday, where the prosecutors gave their response to the defences presented last week.

Sollecito’s lawyer Giulia Bongiorno said: “All the evidence proving Raffaele was not involved remains intact and we look forward to a positive conclusion.”

The IT graduate’s legal team has argued that traces of their client’s DNA on Miss Kercher’s bra cannot be used to prove his guilt as, they said, they were the result of accidental contamination during the investigation.

They cited a forensic expert who found that traces of DNA compatible with Knox and Guede were also present on the bra, but said this did not mean they were pointing the finger at Knox.

“We don’t need to go to trial to show that this piece of evidence was contaminated,” Ms Bongiorno added.

His legal team will have a final chance to defend their client in court this morning.

His lawyer Nicodemo Gentile said: “We’ll tell the judge again there is no proof of a sexual attack by a group and that no sexual violence occurred.

“There is no connection between Rudy and the murder weapon and responsibility lies with the other two suspects.”

Valter Biscotti, another of Guede’s lawyers, added: “The knife was found at Sollecito’s house and had Knox’s DNA on the handle. There should be a positive result for Rudy ... but he is very anxious.”

Prosecutors have requested he receive a life sentence if he is convicted.

The three suspects have been in custody in Perugia for nearly a year, while the gruesome murder case has continued to grip Italy and make headlines across the UK and US.

Mr Mignini defended the handling of the investigation, which has seen a number of leaks to the media and has attracted criticism in Knox’s home country.

Miss Kercher’s family are due to arrive in the Umbrian hilltop town today to hear the verdicts.

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