Image: U.S. student arrested
Pietro Crocchioni  /  EPA
Police officers Tuesday escort American student Amanda Marie Knox, center, who is one of the three suspects in the murder of a British student in Italy.
updated 11/7/2007 9:32:06 PM ET 2007-11-08T02:32:06

An American student detained in this central Italian city in connection with the slaying of her British roommate will face a judge Thursday in a hearing to determine whether she and two other suspects will stay in jail.

Amanda Marie Knox, a 20-year-old University of Washington student from Seattle, was detained Tuesday along with her 24-year-old Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and a Congolese resident of Perugia, Lumumba “Patrick” Diya, 38. They were held in connection with the sexual assault and death of British student Meredith Kercher.

Perugia police did not release the suspects’ names, but a police spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that the names that had appeared in the Italian media were correct.

Kercher, 21, was found dead Friday, half-naked, in the apartment she shared with Knox after attending a Halloween party, authorities said.

Police chief Arturo De Felice said Tuesday she died fighting off a sexual attack. The coroner said Kercher was stabbed in the neck, but police say no murder weapon has been found.

Suspect's family arrives in Italy
In Italy, a judge must determine within 48 hours whether to hold or release the suspects. If the judge at Thursday’s hearing confirms the detentions, the prosecutor will likely ask that the suspects remain in prison while the investigation continues, said attorney Valerio Spigarelli, who is not connected to the case but is an expert in Italian criminal law.

Edda Mellas, Knox’s mother, arrived in Perugia on Tuesday night, city spokesman Paolo Occhiuto said. He said Mellas had been informed during her trip that her daughter was being detained.

Members of Kercher’s family arrived earlier Tuesday in Perugia and were awaiting word from prosecutors on when they can take her remains home, Occhiuto said in a phone interview.

“We don’t know how long it will take,” he said.

In Seattle, the president of the Seattle-Perugia Sister City Association, Mike James, said he helped make travel arrangements for Mellas to get to Perugia. At the time she left, she was going to comfort her daughter and did not know she was a suspect.

Commemorative candles burn
A spokesman for the University of Washington in Seattle, Norm Arkans, said Knox was a student in good standing, studying this quarter in Perugia.

“That’s all we can say because of student information privacy,” Arkans said. “We don’t have a role in any student’s private legal problems.”

Perugia, a city of about 150,000 people, hosts two major universities, the Italian state University of Perugia, with some 20,000 students, as well as the University for Foreigners, with a few thousand students, Occhiuto said.

Dozens of red commemorative candles still burned Wednesday evening in Kercher’s memory on the steps of the city’s medieval cathedral, but many foreign students continued to party as usual.

“The Americans still come out as if nothing happened,” said Esteban Garcia Pascual, the Argentine-born owner of a downtown pub that is popular among foreign students. “They go out and have fun and continue their adventure.”

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