Suspect arrested in Germany in slaying of British student

ROME — A fugitive wanted in connection with the killing of a British college student in central Italy — the fourth suspect detained in the slaying — was arrested Tuesday in Germany, Italian officials said. Hours later, one of the suspects jailed in Italy was released.

Rudy Hermann Guede, 20, was arrested Tuesday in the western German city of Mainz, an investigator in Perugia told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Guede emerged Monday as another suspect in the slaying of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, found stabbed to death Nov. 2 in her Perugia apartment.

Two other suspects, Kercher’s American roommate, University of Washington student Amanda Marie Knox, and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, have been jailed in Perugia since Nov. 6.

A third suspect, a 38-year-old Congolese who owns a bar in Perugia, who had been jailed on the same day, was released on Tuesday.

“I am fine. I thank God who helped me go back home,” Lumumba told reporters who mobbed him as he left the Perugia jail.

The ANSA news agency reported prosecutors asked the judge to release Lumumba for lack of evidence.

“He was jailed with the shame of being a monster and today he comes out with his head held high,” lawyer Giuseppe Sereni, who escorted him from the jail, was quoted as saying by ANSA.

The three suspects who were jailed in Italy have denied wrongdoing.

Authorities said they found Knox’s DNA on the handle and Kercher’s on the blade of a knife that belongs to her boyfriend and is implicated in the killing.

In the days leading up to Guede’s arrest, investigators had launched a manhunt for a new suspect who had left a bloody fingerprint on Kercher’s pillow.

Police in Mainz confirmed they had arrested a 20-year-old native of the Ivory Coast, who appears to be the suspect. The man was arrested on a train bound for nearby Frankfurt for traveling without a ticket, said Mainz police spokesman Achim Hansen.

The man is to be brought on Wednesday before a German judge, who will rule whether he can be kept in custody on the Italian warrant, said Karl-Rudolf Winkler, a spokesman for prosecutors in Koblenz who have now taken over the case.

If the man is ordered held, Koblenz prosecutors will then begin preparing a case for his deportation, he said.

Guede is an Ivorian former basketball player who has been living in Italy since childhood, Italian media reported.

Italian police traced Guede to Germany through a friend who established Internet contact with the suspect Monday night and chatted with him for hours, the investigator said.

In Perugia, Police Chief Arturo De Felice praised international cooperation and said Guede will be transferred to Italy as soon as possible.

“It’s a matter of days, only days,” he told the Italian news channel SkyTG24. “There was a trail to Germany; we knew that it could be one of the places where he could have sought refuge.”

Shortly before Lumumba was released, his lawyer, Sereni, said his client was “serene: he knows he will come out of this, there is no trace, nothing that leads to him.”

According to a ruling by the Perugia judge who had originally ordered his jailing, Lumumba became a suspect based on Knox’s accusations. The same judge ruled that the American was confused about the events because she had smoked hashish the night of the killing.

No physical evidence has emerged tying Lumumba to the crime scene, and witnesses have placed him at his bar the night of the murder.


Associated Press Nils Weisensee in Frankfurt, Germany, contributed to this report.

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