Italy recalls Egypt envoy over murder

People hold a vigil for Giulio Regeni in front of the Italian Embassy in Cairo (file photo)Image copyright

Image caption

The case has attracted renewed criticism of Egypt’s human rights record

Italy has recalled its ambassador to Egypt for consultations over the murder of student Giulio Regeni in Cairo.

It comes after Egyptian officials briefed their Italian counterparts on the investigation into the killing.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni tweeted (in Italian) that Italy wanted “one thing only: the truth about Giulio”.

Rights groups have suggested security forces were to blame, but Egypt says a criminal gang was behind his murder.

Mr Regeni, 28, disappeared on his way to meet a friend on 25 January. His body, mutilated and showing signs of torture, was found in a ditch on 3 February.

Correspondents say that there is a feeling in Italy that the Egyptian authorities are not moving fast enough in their investigation.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said Italy will not settle for what he called a “convenient truth”.

Many in Italy think that Mr Regeni could have been targeted by the Egyptian intelligence services because of his research on trade unions and activism.

The foreign ministry said it had recalled Ambassador Maurizio Massari for “an urgent evaluation” of what steps to take to “ascertain the truth about the barbaric murder of Giulio Regeni”.

A statement by the Rome prosecutor in charge of the case said that, in this week’s meetings, Egyptian officials had handed over phone records of two of Mr Regeni’s Italian friends who were in Cairo at the time of his disappearance, as well as photos taken on the day his body was discovered, AFP reports.

The statement made no mention of CCTV footage of the neighbourhood from which Mr Regeni disappeared on January 25, which the Italians had asked to see.

The Egyptian team indicated that they were still considering the possibility the student was abducted by an anti-foreigner criminal gang whose members all died in a police shoot-out last month.

The Italian prosecutor “reiterated his conviction that there are no elements to directly link the gang to the torture and death of Giulio Regeni,” the statement said.

Giulio Regeni murder: What we know

The 28 year old disappeared on 25 January, the fifth anniversary of the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, while there was a heavy police presence in Cairo.

His body was found a week later in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo, showing signs of severe torture.

Egypt’s initial autopsy report said Giulio Regeni had been hit on the back of the head with a sharp instrument.

Much of the evidence of torture came to light in a second autopsy by Italian doctors. Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Mr Regeni had suffered “something inhuman”.

As a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, Mr Regeni was carrying out research on trade unions and labour rights in Egypt, a sensitive topic in recent years.

Rumours about possible involvement of Egypt’s security services in the killing have been reported by the Italian press, activists and opposition groups.

Cairo investigators have suggested that Mr Regeni was kidnapped and killed by a criminal gang posing as members of Egyptian police.

Police then said they had killed all five members of the alleged gang in a raid and recovered some of Mr Regeni’s personal belongings.

Mr Regeni’s family say they are adamant their son was killed by Egyptian authorities and that the criminal gang theory is a cover up.

comments powered by Disqus