Rudy Guede, the ‘third man’ in the Meredith Kercher murder case, on Wednesday appealed his 30-year conviction for the 2007 rape and murder of the British exchange student in this Umbrian town.

 

The 22-year-old Ivory Coast national claimed he saw Amanda Knox, a US student who is in a high-profile separate trial with her Italian ex-boyfriend, fleeing the murder scene with a man he could not identify. Earlier, he alleged, he had heard Knox and Kercher arguing about money from the bathroom of the house the two women shared. "I want the Kercher family to know that I was not the one who raped and murdered their daughter," Guede said at the end of a 15-minute prepared statement. "I was not the one who took her life".

 

"The only thing on my conscience, from which no court can absolve me," he said, was not doing all he could to try to save Kercher’s life. In his account, Guede claimed he met Kercher in the house on the night of her murder, November 1, 2007. He claimed he and Kercher had spent a quarter of an hour together, but not had sex, before he went to the bathroom and allegedly heard Knox return and start arguing about money. He said he then started listening to music on his I-pod but "halfway through the third track I heard a piercing scream". "I rushed out and I saw a male figure. It all happened in a flash, this person tried to stab me, I toppled back onto the floor".

 

"Then I heard someone outside the house running away and saying ‘let’s go, there’s a black guy in the house’. I didn’t have the courage to follow them but looking out the window I saw Amanda’s shape". He then claimed he had gone back into Kercher’s bedroom and tried to stop the blood from the knife wound in her throat. "Meredith was dying, she was trying to tell me something, I was holding her hand," he claimed. Guede then said he went into a "state of shock" from which he only emerged when he was in Germany, where he was arrested a few days after the murder. The Ivorian’s lawyer earlier argued that he had suffered post-traumatic stress. Guede was arrested after blood and other traces in the murder house and on Kercher’s body matched his DNA. He confessed to playing a part in the murder and opted for a fast-track trial in the hope of receiving a lighter sentence. Guede’s testimony cannot be used in the separate trial against Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, which is drawing to a close, legal experts explained. Earlier this year he was called to that trial but refused to answer questions or offer testimony. In the trial, which is expected to end early next month, the prosecution claims Kercher was killed when all three defendants tried to force her to participate in ”a perverse group sex game”. According to a reconstruction, Sollecito allegedly held Kercher down while Knox held a knife to her throat and Guede tried to sexually assault her, before Knox slit her throat. Seattle-born Knox, 22, and Sollecito, 26, deny wrongdoing.

 

Knox says she spent the whole night in Sollecito’s house in another part of Perugia. Sollecito has said he was on the computer at the time of the murder but does not remember whether Know spent the whole night at his house. Sollecito’s defence team recently presented medical evidence purporting to show a bloody footprint found in the house did not belong to him but to Guede. Knox’s team recently said the police had the wrong murder weapon.

 

They said the 17-cm inch knife was too long to be compatible with the 8-cm wound found on Kercher’s throat The knife was found in Sollecito’s house shortly after the murder and police say it has Kercher’s DNA on the tip and Knox’s on the handle. Defence lawyers said the DNA was contaminated. Prosecution lawyers will start presenting their final arguments against Knox and Sollecito on Friday. The trial should be over "at the beginning of December," judicial sources said earlier this week.