Italian Suspect in Death of British Coed Attends Hearing

An Italian suspect in the killing of a British student attended a hearing Monday in central Italy, where a judge appointed an expert to examine his computer as well as those belonging to another American suspect and the victim.

A handcuffed Raffaele Sollecito, 23, was escorted into the courthouse in the central town of Perugia for the closed-door hearing, where he gave the password to his laptop, lawyer Marco Brusco said.

Sollecito and Amanda Knox, his American girlfriend at the time of the killing, have been in custody since their Nov. 6 arrest in the slaying four days earlier of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher.

The suspects have not been formally charged, but a judge said they could be held for up to a year while the case was being investigated. Knox did not attend the hearing on Monday.

Kercher, a student from Leeds University in England and enrolled for a year of study in Perugia, was found dead Nov. 2 in the apartment she shared with Knox. She died from a stab wound to the neck, and prosecutors said she was killed resisting a sexual assault.

Ivory Coast national Rudy Hermann Guede is also being held as a suspect in Perugia, following his extradition from Germany. Another suspect, Congolese pub owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, was released from jail but has not been formally cleared.

All suspects deny wrongdoing.

On Monday, the judge appointed an expert to examine the laptops of Sollecito, Knox and Kercher, Brusco said. The expert is expected to deliver the results within 70 days.

Sollecito has said he was at his own apartment in Perugia the night of the slaying, working at another computer. Sollecito's lawyers have said that analyses on his computer show he had been logged on. But prosecutors say police have proven only that the computer was connected to the Internet, but not accessed by anyone overnight.

Sollecito told the judge on Monday that he had not used his laptop since July, Brusco said.

Sollecito has said he did not remember if Knox spent the whole night with him. Both suspects have given confused recollections and conflicting statements and said they had smoked hashish that night, according to court documents.