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ROME, Nov 23 — The only person convicted of killing British student Meredith Kercher in Italy is free, granted early release 14 years after the grisly murder that became a global saga, his lawyer said today.

Ivorian Rudy Guede was convicted in 2008 for the murder the previous year that also saw Kercher’s American flatmate, Amanda Knox, jailed but then sensationally acquitted alongside her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito.

“Rudy Guede was released at the end of his sentence,” his lawyer Fabrizio Ballarini said in a statement to AFP.

He said a magistrate in Viterbo, a city north of Rome where Guede had been in prison, had granted the inmate early release and the order had been signed by the Milan prosecutor’s office.

The half-naked body of Kercher was found in November 2007 in a pool of blood in the cottage she shared with Knox in the town of Perugia, central Italy. 

The 21-year-old’s throat had been cut and she had been stabbed 47 times.

Guede, who was linked to the murder scene by DNA evidence, was arrested in Germany a few weeks later and, following a fast-track trial in Italy, was sentenced in October 2008 to 30 years for murder and sexual assault.

His sentence was later reduced to 16 years on appeal, and he tried unsuccessfully to have it reviewed following the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito.

Knox, a 20-year-old student from Seattle at the time of the murder, served four years of a 26-year sentence before she was acquitted twice, first in 2011 then again in 2015 after a retrial.

She became the focus of frenzied media attention in Britain and the United States over the trial, in which prosecutors painted the murder as a drug-fuelled sex game gone awry.

Sollecito, who was 23 at the time of the killing and had only been dating Knox for a week, was also acquitted both in 2011 and in 2015. 

Guede had already been transferred to the care of social services before his formal release, his lawyer said. 

Italian news agency ANSA said this arrangement began last December.

Professor Claudio Mariani, who teaches at the Centre for the Study of Criminology in Viterbo, told ANSA that Guede had volunteered at the charity Caritas and worked in the centre’s library. — AFP


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