This article originally appeared in
New arrest in Italy slaying
By ERIC J. LYMAN
Special to The Seattle Times
PERUGIA, Italy — A new suspect in the slaying of a British university student was apprehended
Tuesday in Germany just hours before the case's first suspect — 44-year-old Congolese bar
owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba — was released.
Lumumba had been implicated by University of Washington student Amanda Knox, 20, in the
Nov. 1 slaying of Meredith Kercher. Knox, Kercher's housemate, and Knox's 23-year-old
boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are also being held in connection with Kercher's death.
Italian prosecutors asked a judge to release Lumumba because of a 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 was quoted as saying.
Tuesday's events represented the most intense flurry of activity in the case in several days, and
legal experts said they could be a turning point in the investigation.
German police said Tuesday that they had
arrested 21-year-old Rudy Hermann Guede,
an Italian citizen originally from the Ivory
Coast who has lived most of his life in
Perugia. He was tracked down on a train
between the German cities of Mainz and
Koblenz, where he was questioned for
traveling without a valid ticket. He is being
held in Mainz awaiting Italy's extradition
request to be translated and processed.
Italian investigators have said for several
days that they were looking for a new
suspect, a man whose bloody fingerprint
was found on a pillowcase and again on
some refuse in the house Kercher and Knox
shared in Perugia.
The fingerprint was connected to Guede last week, and the case against him was bolstered by
eyewitness accounts that placed him in the area the night of the slaying. On Thursday, police
issued an international arrest warrant for Guede, whose name first appeared in the media four
Guede — a former semipro basketball player for the Perugia team — reportedly left Perugia
soon after Kercher's body was found, reportedly sending a text message to friends saying he
planned to travel to Milan to "go dancing."
According to a statement released Tuesday, police were able to place Guede in Germany after
monitoring his account on the social-networking site Facebook.com.
The suspect reportedly sent a message to a British newspaper Sunday night to say he wanted
to clear his name. Police in Perugia were able to trace the computer he used to Germany. They
alerted German officials, who tracked him down Tuesday morning.
"We captured [Guede] in a joint Italian-German operation," the brief statement from police in
Perugia said. The statement said they expected Guede to arrive in the city before the end of the
The arrest of the man Italian newspapers had taken to calling "the missing puzzle piece" is
being treated as a major break in the case, which in recent days appeared to be in danger of
bogging down as authorities constructed a case and the other suspects languished in jail. The
new development led evening newscasts in Italy on Tuesday and sparked speculation that the
pieces could start falling into place quickly.
"If it is true that he is the final suspect they are looking for, then this is the end of the beginning,"
said legal commentator Alesandro Aquari, a professor of jurisprudence at Roma Tre University.
"Now comes the hard part: A case has to be made."
A spokesman for the Caribienieri national police agreed: "This is when the investigation really
begins." No charges have been filed in the slaying of Kercher. But the Italian judge who upheld
the detentions of Knox and Sollecito said there are enough "serious indications of guilt" to keep
them behind bars for up to a year.
Both have denied involvement in the killing.
Knox moved to Perugia from Seattle earlier this year to study at the University for Foreigners,
where Kercher and Sollecito were also students.
Lumumba had been the main suspect in the case, after Knox reportedly told investigators she
thought the well-known bar owner, a 17-year Perugia resident, was responsible for the killing.
But Knox changed her story a few days later and Lumumba's alibi for the night of the murder
Lumumba's lawyer called the release "historic" and said he was unsure if his client would seek
damages for wrongful arrest. Lumumba did not issue a statement upon his release, but told
Italian reporters: "I am thankful to God for helping me."
Eric J. Lyman is a freelance reporter based in Rome.
|Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Image provided by Italian Police in Perugia, central Italy,
of a man from the Ivory Coast identified as Rudy Hermann
Guede, allegedly the fourth suspect in the slaying of a
British student in central Italy, Monday Nov. 19, 2007.
(AP Photo/Italian Police)