Ivorian holds key to Knox’s hopes in murder appeal

By Time of article published Jun 27, 2011

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ROME: The appeal hearing of American student Amanda Knox against her murder conviction in Italy was due to resume today, with all eyes on an Ivorian man also convicted in the slaying, who will testify as a witness for the prosecution.

Rudy Hermann Guede is serving a 16-year-prison sentence for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a British student who was stabbed to death in the apartment she shared with Knox.

Knox and her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, have also been convicted in the murder and are appealing.

Guede, who sought a fast-track procedure, was tried separately and has already exhausted all levels of appeals, with Italy’s top criminal court upholding his conviction.

He was to testify before the court hearing Knox and Sollecito’s appeal at the opening of today’s session, lawyers said.

Guede, 24, was called by the prosecution to counter testimony by a fellow inmate who testified for the defence and claimed he had information clearing Knox and Sollecito.

Convicted child-killer Mario Alessi told the court that Guede had confided in him during recreation time at the Viterbo prison that Knox and Sollecito had nothing to do with the killing.

Guede in the past has denied talking to Alessi about the case, and he is expected to repeat that when he takes the stand.

His lawyer, Valter Biscotti, stressed that Guede’s testimony was admitted in reference to that particular claim, and might be limited to that alone.

“He’s got nothing to hide and nothing to be afraid of,” Biscotti said of his client.

However, when Guede took the stand during the pair’s first trial, he declined to answer prosecutors’ questions.

Knox and Sollecito – the American’s boyfriend at the time of the killing – have been convicted of sexual assault and murder. She was sentenced to 26 years in prison, he to 25.

Like Knox and Sollecito, Guede has denied killing Kercher. But unlike them, he has admitted being at the crime scene on the night of the murder, November 1, 2007.

Speaking at the opening of his appeals trial, Guede claimed he had heard Kercher and Knox argue minutes before the Briton was slain. He heard Knox and Kercher argue over money, then heard a “very loud scream” coming from Kercher’s bedroom and rushed to it.

There, Guede said, he saw an unidentified man who tried to attack him. Backing down into the hallway, Guede said he heard the man say “Let’s go, there’s a black man in the house”.

Guede said he heard footsteps leaving the house and looked out of the window, where he saw a silhouette that he later identified as Knox’s. He said he then tried to rescue Kercher, who was lying in a pool of blood after her throat was slit.

Guede fled Italy, and was found and arrested in Germany about a month after the killing. His DNA confirms there was sexual intercourse with Kercher, while fingerprints and other traces attest to his presence in the house. – Sapa-AP

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