Italy seeks new suspect in UK student murder

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ROME, Nov 19 (Reuters) An Italian judge has issued an international arrest warrant for a fourth suspect in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, an investigative source said today.

Kercher, a 21 year-old exchange student, was found dead in her bedroom with a deep cut to the throat in the university city of Perugia, about 130 km (80 miles) north of Rome, on Nov. 2.

Her American flatmate Amanda Knox, 20, Knox's Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 24, and a Congolese man, Lumumba Diya, 37, who runs a bar in Perugia, have been in police custody since Nov. 6 on suspicion of involvement in the killing.

Police are now seeking a fourth suspect, identified by Italian media as a 21-year old Ivory Coast national who had been living with an Italian family in Perugia but is now missing.

His fingerprint was discovered on Kercher's blood-stained pillow and his faeces were also found in the toilet of Kercher and Knox's flat, according to media leaks of the investigation.

Police suspect a sexual motive and Italian and British newspapers have reported that prosecutors believe that Kercher, on a year's study trip from Leeds University, was killed because she refused to have sex with one or more assailants.

On Thursday, investigators said they had found samples matching Kercher and Knox's DNA on a kitchen knife belonging to Sollecito.

All say they are innocent, although Knox initially accused Lumumba of the killing and said she had to cover her ears to drown out her friend's screams, according to media leaks of her interrogation. She later changed her version and said she was not at the scene.

REUTERS RSA RN2318

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