Family accused of trying to blunt inquiry

June 22, 2008 at 4:12 PM

PERUGIA, Italy, June 22 (UPI) -- A family member of a suspect in the death of a British student killed in Italy has been accused of trying to interfere with the investigation, officials say.

The Observer reported Sunday that Italian police are investigating the strangling and stabbing death of Meredith Kercher, a Briton found Nov. 2 in Perugia, Italy.

The father of suspect Raffaele Sollecito was overheard in a police wiretap having discussions that allegedly suggested plans were being made to get some politicians to use their influence to get detectives whom the Sollecitos considered hostile taken off the case.

The newspaper said Sollecito's sister, a police officer, also was overheard allegedly discussing politicians who could help their case.

Giulia Buongiorno, a lawyer and member of Parliament in Silvio Berlusconi's ruling coalition, has now been retained to represent Sollecito.

"She can help out on this case at a political level," Sollecito's father was overheard saying.

In related news, a witness has said he was threatened with knives by prime suspects Amanda Knox, her boyfriend and another man.

Albanian Hekuran Kokomani has described how he saw the three suspects near the murder scene, Sky News reported. Knox threatened him with an 8-inch knife she pulled out of her bag, he told police.

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