Initial suspect in Perugia murder released

21st November 2007, Comments 0 comments

21 November 2007, Berlin/Rome - In a further twist Tuesday to the sex murder of a British woman in Perugia, Italy, Italian authorities released an initial suspect in the case just hours after another man allegedly linked to the killing was arrested in Germany.

21 November 2007

Berlin/Rome - In a further twist Tuesday to the sex murder of a British woman in Perugia, Italy, Italian authorities released an initial suspect in the case just hours after another man allegedly linked to the killing was arrested in Germany.

Lumumba "Patrick" Diya, 38, who was arrested on November 6, left a Perugia prison on Tuesday evening in a car driven by one of his lawyers, television news footage showed.

"I'm very happy to be returning home and I wish to thank God," Diya told reporters before getting into the car.

Diya, who is Congolese, was arrested with two other suspects in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, 21, whose half-naked body was discovered on November 2 in a house she shared with three other women in Perugia. She had been killed a day earlier.

The other two suspects arrested with Diya were an American student Amanda Knox, who was Kercher's flatmate, and her Italian boyfriend, Rafaelle Sollecito, 24. Both are still in custody.

Earlier Tuesday, German police said they had arrested a man identified by Italy's Adnkronos news agency as Rudy Hermann Guede, 21, an Italian citizen originating from the Ivory Coast, who was named as a suspect in the case on Monday.

Police in Perugia said in a statement they expected Guede to be extradited to Italy "in the next few days".

Guede was named as fourth suspect in the November 1 killing after investigators reportedly identified as his a bloody fingerprint on a pillow in the bedroom where Kercher's body was found with her throat slit.

Diya always denied any wrongdoing, saying that on the night of the murder he was working in his nightclub. He named several people who could vouch for this.

Knox, who like Sollecito has also denied any wrongdoing, initially said she was at her boyfriend's house on the night of the murder, but later told investigators she was in the kitchen of the home she shared with Kercher and had heard screams from the bedroom where the British student was in the company of Diya.

She reportedly never mentioned Guede when questioned by investigators.

German police earlier Tuesday arrested Guede, who said he was 20 and had been born in the Ivory Coast. He was caught travelling without a ticket on a suburban train, a police spokeswoman in the western city of Mainz said.

Meeting German leaders near Berlin on Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi thanked the German police for the arrest.

Guede was caught by chance. Police in Mainz said he had been stopped for travelling on a train without a ticket.

Federal railways police were called and handed him over to city police for identification, since he had no identity card and was initially suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

Officers then established from a database that he appeared to match the man sought under a warrant from Perugia police. The spokeswoman said the identification was still being double-checked, but at first glance he appeared to be the suspect.

Italian police suspect Kercher was killed after refusing to take part in a sex game with one or more male visitors to the apartment.

"The transfer of Guede to Italy, as requested by judicial authorities in Perugia that issued the warrant for his arrest is expected to take place in the next few days," a police statement in Perugia said, as quoted by Adnkronos.

An Italian Interpol liaison officer, posted to Germany's BKA federal police in Wiesbaden, is expected to pass key details quickly to police in Mainz, which is just a few kilometres away.

According to Italian news reports, Guede obtained Italian nationality and was adopted by a family living in Perugia, although they are said to have since ceased all contact with him. He reportedly has previous convictions for drug-dealing.

The case has attracted huge media attention in Italy and Britain, with much of the focus on Knox.

Knox and Kercher had been living in Perugia, home to hundreds of foreign students who attend the city's University for Foreigners, since the September start of the academic year.

DPA

Subject: German news

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