‘Meredith Kercher should not be forgotten’

The Mayor of Perugia has told The Local that the death of British student Meredith Kercher remains an "open wound" in the heart of Perugians and that she should "not be forgotten".

'Meredith Kercher should not be forgotten'
Meredith Kercher died in Perugia on November 1st 2007. Photo: ©John Kercher. Supplied by TJMK.

As he assessed the impact the case has had on the city over the past six years, Mayor Wladimiro Boccali also accused the media of sidelining Kercher in its coverage.

“We have always said that this tragedy must rest, above all, on the memory of a girl killed in a barbaric way, while in the media Meredith is often pushed to second place,” he told The Local.

Kercher was killed at her home in the city on November 1st 2007. Her housemate Amanda Knox, a 26-year-old American, and Raffaele Sollecito, Knox's ex-boyfriend, were first found guilty of the murder but were acquitted on appeal in 2011. The decision was then overturned earlier this year and the pair’s retrial begins on Monday.

Perugia has also been portrayed badly – and wrongly – according to Boccali.

“After the murder it was described, especially in the first weeks after the crime, in exacerbated tones which didn’t fit the truth. A murder that could have happened anywhere sparked off an aggressive press campaign which was without foundation."

While Boccali said Perugia has always been a safe city, efforts have been made to improve security. New measures are a result of the “strong sense of alarm” felt by residents after the crime, he added.

They include greater police presence in Perugia, while the council is also working more closely with citizens’ associations.

As a result, Boccali said “the city has succeeded in restoring its true image…[as] a beautiful city, rich in art and history."

But he is adamant that Kercher, who was on a year abroad as part of her degree, should not be forgotten.

“We wanted to establish, with the University for Foreigners, a scholarship dedicated to her."

The first scholarship, which helps a British student attend the University, was awarded in June. 

On Friday, Stephanie Kercher, Meredith's sister, spoke to The Local about the Meredith Kercher Trust Fund.

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‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.