US student at centre of Italian sex murder

10th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

9 November 2007, Rome (dpa) - A 20-year-old female creative-writing student from the United States is at the centre of a sensational sex murder case in Italy. When in September Amanda Knox began her Italian and German language courses in Perugia - home to hundreds of students from abroad who attend the University for Foreigners located there - nothing suggested her story would make headlines. Nor that she would now be described in the vivid reports of British tabloids as a chief procurer of male company in

9 November 2007

Rome (dpa) - A 20-year-old female creative-writing student from the United States is at the centre of a sensational sex murder case in Italy.

When in September Amanda Knox began her Italian and German language courses in Perugia - home to hundreds of students from abroad who attend the University for Foreigners located there - nothing suggested her story would make headlines.

Nor that she would now be described in the vivid reports of British tabloids as a chief procurer of male company in a Perugia student party life fuelled by drugs, alcohol and sex.

"I've made plenty of friends here, and I have a lot of fun. I'm actually at one of my happiest places right now, but I still miss the people I love," Knox who is from Seattle wrote in her October 15 entry on her online MySpace blog.

On Friday a Perugia magistrate remanded in custody Knox, her Italian boyfriend and a Congolese night-club owner in connection with what Italian newspapers describe as a "sex and murder orgy."

Magistrate Claudia Matteini's ruling follows the arrest of the three on Tuesday for the sexual assault and murder of Knox's flatmate, British student Meredith Kercher, 21.

Kercher's semi-naked body, the throat slit, was found a week ago lying in her bedroom.

Knox initially told investigators she was not in the flat on the November 1 night of the murder, but had spent it with boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

But the sandy-haired, soft-featured Knox who prosecutors describe in a report obtained by the La Repubblica newspaper as "having a shameless aptitude to lie repeatedly," subsequently changed her version of events.

In fact, Knox later said that on the night of the murder she was in the flat's kitchen while Kercher was in her bedroom in the company of the Congolese man, Lumumba "Patrick" Diya, 38.

"The only thing I can say is that at a certain point I heard Meredith screaming," Knox told investigators according to reports published in Italian newspapers.

"I was so scared and put my hands over my ears ... I was in shock, but I could imagine what was going on," she was quoted as saying.

Still this account, reportedly retracted by Knox later, does not square with what investigators believe may have actually happened including the role of Sollecito, a bespectacled, 24-year-old engineering student.

Citing the Perugia magistrate's motivation for keeping the trio in jail, on Friday the Adnkronos news agency said investigators believe Kercher was murdered with a fold-out knife owned by Sollecito.

Sollecito himself has repeatedly contradicted himself, first telling authorities he and Knox had spent the November 1 night together at his home, then denying she was with him.

Italian newspapers citing investigators, allege that marks found on Kercher's body suggest she was held down while being sexually attacked and that these marks were consistent with Knox's fingerprints.

Diya, who is described as a popular figure in Perugia, has denied ever being at the flat and has told investigators that on the night of the murder he was working at his nightclub, naming several people he says can vouch for this.

Adding to the case's morbid appeal has been the publication of details gleaned from the internet including excerpts of a short-story - describing a drug-fuelled rape - allegedly written by Knox and posted on her MySpace site.

Several newspapers have also published photographs showing Sollecito dressed as a surgeon holding a meat cleaver and a bottle of bleach and posted on his personal website.

The case has also tarnished the image of Perugia a town of 160,000 - often tranquil by day, but at night transformed to the sound of student revellers, most of them foreign.

The London Times wrote Friday, that it is a well-known fact that foreign female students are the heart and soul of party life in Perugia, seen in bars and clubs where no Italian girl would go.

"On the whole, the Italian students despise the foreigners, who arrive in their masses at regular intervals, often naive, ignorant of Italian customs and interested only in partying," said Times writer Francesca Steele, herself once a student in the breathtaking Umbrian town.

"The day I arrived my Italian flatmate Silvia explained that she couldn't come out with me. People will look down on me if I drink. They will think I am like you, an English girl," said Steele.

DPA

Subject: German news

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