MORE than 100 students at Leeds University held a silent vigil in memory of murdered classmate Meredith Kercher.
Friends of the European Studies student bowed their heads in silence during the emotional tribute to the 21-year-old, who was found dead in the Italian city of Perugia last week.
Clutching bunches of flowers or single white chrysanthemums, the students walked together from the Parkinson steps to Tetley Garden, where a photograph of Meredith was lit by candles under a tree.
Students took it in turns to lay their flowers at the memorial display, which also featured a wooden carving of the word 'Mez', Meredith's nickname.
Many were tearful and had to be consoled by friends at last night's emotional scene, where a book of condolence was opened for students to write their tributes.
The Italian department at Leeds University said everyone was "in shock" over Meredith's death, describing her as "a beautiful, clever and happy young woman, who was serious about her studies and popular with her peers".
The department will hold a full memorial service in September 2008, when many of Meredith's friends, who are currently studying abroad, are back in Leeds.
Meredith, an exchange student in the third year of her degree course, is alleged to have had her throat cut as she fought off the advances of three people who wanted group sex.
Her semi-naked body was discovered last Friday in her bedroom at her house on the Viale Sant 'Angelo, not far from Perugia city centre.
Police in Italy are still questioning the student's American flatmate Amanda Knox, 20, along with Knox's Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24, and Congolese chef Lumumba 'Patrick' Diya, 37.
The trio were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit manslaughter and to commit sexual violence. Knox allegedly confessed to Italian police that she heard Meredith die and covered her ears to block out the screams.
Most of the six Leeds University students who were in Perugia with Meredith have flown back to Leeds and are in daily contact with the head of the Italian department.
Staff from the department will talk to students affected by Meredith's death on Monday, while a meeting will be held next week offering advice to exchange students travelling to Italy next year.
To read the latest on the investigation, click here.