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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Italian court explains why suspects in student's slaying should still be jailed

The Associated Press

ROME — A court in the Italian university town of Perugia contends that a British student slain last month apparently was killed by someone she knew, because there were no signs of a break-in at her apartment, Italian news agencies said Wednesday.

A three-judge panel made the assertion in 35-page explanation of its ruling last week upholding the Nov. 6 jailing of the victim's American roommate, Amanda Knox, and Knox's former boyfriend.

The lack of break-in signs indicates that "the killer did not need to exercise any violence to enter, having used the keys or having been let in by the victim herself," the news agency ANSA quoted the document as saying.

The panel wrote that there was enough evidence to keep Knox, a 20-year-old University of Washington student, and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, behind bars during the investigation of the sex-slaying of Meredith Kercher, 21, who shared a rented flat with the American.

The written explanation of the ruling, which is required under Italian law, was filed Wednesday in Perugia's court house.

Knox's lawyer did not answer repeated calls to his mobile phone, and aides at his office said he was not speaking to the media.

Kercher's body was found Nov. 2 in the Perugia apartment.

In addition to Knox and Sollecito, 23, Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivory Coast national, is being held. Guede, who was arrested in Germany, is expected to be transferred to Italy on Thursday.

Another suspect, Congolese pub owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, has been released from jail but has not been formally cleared.

All four deny wrongdoing.

An autopsy found that Kercher died from knife wound to the neck, apparently while trying to fight off a sexual assault.

Guede has acknowledged he was in Kercher's room the night she died, but said he did not kill her and that an Italian who is trying to frame him did. It was not clear whom he meant. DNA testing has confirmed that Guede, 20, had sex with Kercher the night of the slaying.

On Wednesday, Guede's lawyers said they were seeking his release from custody. Judges are scheduled to hear defense arguments by Guede's lawyers on Dec. 14, lawyer Walter Biscotti said.

"He has gone through and (is) going through the toughest moment of his life," another lawyer for Guede, Nicodemo Gentile, told reporters in Perugia. Before he left Italy, Guede "strongly wanted to say something (about the slaying) but he had trouble; he did not know what to do and was afraid he was not going to be believed."

Guede is believed to have fled the country shortly after the slaying, authorities have said.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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