THE father of Meredith Kercher, the British student murdered in Perugia, is to release a book telling his side of the story six months before Amanda Knox has the chance to give her version of events.
John Kercher’s account is billed as “a father’s story of losing a beloved daughter, and the first account of the torment the family have suffered and their ongoing quest for justice”.
Its release later this month comes six months after Miss Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted of the crime on appeal after spending nearly four years in jail.
In Meredith: Our Daughter’s Murder and the Heartbreaking Quest for the Truth, Mr Kercher describes how he learnt from a newspaper reporter that the young woman whose death in Italy had been widely reported was his daughter.
“I hadn’t been able to get through to Meredith on her mobile, which was very unusual, but I tried to keep calm by telling myself the victim couldn’t possibly be Meredith,” he writes.
“The call eventually came from the foreign desk of the Mirror newspaper, from a young girl I hadn’t spoken to before. That call ended my world as I knew it… I shall never forget her words. 'The name going around Italy is Meredith.’ I dropped the phone. I didn’t believe it. Not my beautiful Meredith.”
While a number of books on the case have already been published, this will be the first from a Kercher family member.
Available from April 26, it gives the 21-year-old’s father the chance to tell his story at least six months before Miss Knox, from Seattle, tells hers.
HarperCollins, the publisher, acquired the rights to Knox’s memoir for a reported £2.5 million and has tentatively scheduled its publication for next year.
While Knox’s book promises a “full and unflinching account of the events that led to her arrest in Perugia and her struggles with the complexities of the Italian judicial system”, Mr Kercher’s 304-page account will celebrate his daughter’s life.
Although Miss Kercher’s family have spoken out previously, they have given few media interviews.
Miss Kercher’s sister Stephanie appeared on an Italian television show in September to claim that Meredith had been “completely forgotten” since her death, with the spotlight focused relentlessly on Miss Knox and her high-profile court battle.
Mr Kercher, a writer and journalist, did not attend court when Miss Knox and Mr Sollecito, were acquitted of the murder in October, although other Kercher family members were present.
Miss Kercher, a University of Leeds exchange student from Coulsdon in Surrey, was found dead on Nov 2, 2007 in her bedroom at the house in the Umbrian hilltop town she shared with Miss Knox and others. Her throat had been slit and her semi-naked body was partly covered by a duvet.
Miss Knox was originally sentenced to 26 years in prison and Sollecito to 25. Following their acquittal, Miss Kercher’s family said it was almost “back to square one” for them and that the search would go on “to find out what truly happened”.
Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast-born drifter and small-time drug dealer, remains in prison for the murder.