Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Egypt will ‘spare no efforts’ in murder case

Identifying the murderers of Italian student Giulio Regeni will take time, cautions President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, reports Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

Speaking for the first time about the murder of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica: “I want to speak to the Regeni family as a father, not as president, to stress that I fully understand the pain, bitterness and shock they feel at losing their son.”

He continued, “I would like to extend my sincere condolences over his death. I stand in solidarity with them in their calamity and I confirm that we will spare no efforts and continue to work with the Italian authorities to arrest the perpetrators so that they can be punished according to the law.

“I would also like to confirm that thorough efforts are exerted by Egyptian security agencies to counter extremism and terrorism and to enhance security and stability. In the case of the assassination of Egypt’s prosecutor-general it took almost nine months to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”

Regeni, 28, was a PhD student at Cambridge University in the UK and was affiliated with the American University in Cairo. He was in Cairo researching Egyptian trade unions and labour movements. Regeni was reported missing on the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. His mutilated and half-naked body was found on 3 February on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road.

“The timing of this incident is intriguing and raises several questions,” Al-Sisi told La Repubblica. “Why did it happen during the visit to Egypt of the Italian Minister of Economic Development where she was heading an Italian Business delegation? Why did it happen at a time when bilateral relations were gathering unprecedented momentum politically and economically? Who would benefit from impeding relations given the turbulent situation in the region?

“I confirm to the Italian people that Egyptian efforts will continue day and night to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident and arrest the culprits who will receive a deterrent punishment in accordance to the law.”

Al-Sisi continued, “There is a fundamental point to consider: Egypt’s stability is crucial. If it were to end it would endanger the whole of the Mediterranean and Europe. We must be very clear and honest with ourselves: this is an international phenomenon that is spreading throughout the world, not a threat to individual countries.

“Terrorism in Egypt is related to the crisis in the region — Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Mali, Somalia and Nigeria. This is why we need a global strategy and not just efforts by individual countries. This has to be the international community’s number-one priority.”

In his interview with the Italian newspaper, Al-Sisi also referred to the unsolved disappearance in October of Egyptian citizen and Italian resident Adel Moad.

Last week, Egypt’s top prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, and Rome’s chief prosecutor, Giuseppe Pignatone, met in Cairo to discuss developments in the Regeni case. During the course of their meeting they agreed to organise regular briefings between the Egyptian team investigating the Regeni case and Italian investigators.

A statement by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry posted on Facebook claimed that Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni had expressed his satisfaction with the way that Egypt has cooperated over the investigation into Regeni’s murder. The statement, posted by the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, said Gentiloni spoke to his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukri, by phone on Saturday evening.

On Monday, however, Gentiloni told Italian news agency ANSA, “Until now, cooperation has been insufficient.” He added that he hoped Pignatone’s meeting with his Egyptian counterpart “can at least try to lay the basis for a more intense and satisfying collaboration”.

“Pignatone’s trip to Cairo should bring forth definite improvements in cooperation with the Egyptian authorities as both parties probe Regeni’s death by torture,” said Gentiloni.

According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the goal of Pignatone’s trip to Cairo was “to lend new impetus to a slow-moving probe into the 28-year-old’s death”. Said Pignatone, “Even my Egyptian colleague had to acknowledge that the crime was of a heinous ferocity.”

He continued, “We’ll see in the next few weeks how the joint work evolves but one thing must be clear: we will provide all the necessary support but it is the Egyptian magistrates that will be leading the investigation.”

Rome’s chief prosecutor added, “The marks of torture found by Italian doctors on the body of Giulio Regeni, the Italian student murdered in Cairo, are worse than claimed in the first Egyptian autopsy.”

In its initial report, Egypt’s Forensic Medicine Authority said the cause of death was blunt force trauma delivered by a sharp object to the back of the head, which caused a cranial fracture and severe intracranial haemorrhaging. It also noted signs of torture on the body, including cigarette burns, bruises and cuts. The authority’s final autopsy report on Regini was sent to the prosecutor-general’s office on 14 February.

An autopsy conducted following the body’s repatriation to Rome revealed what Italy’s Minister of Interior Angelino Alfano called “inhuman, animal-like” violence. Italian news agency ANSA quoted unidentified sources close to the Italian coroners saying: “The findings showed that Regeni’s neck was twisted, the vertebra was broken and he was left unable to breathe.” They also reported that the Italian student had fractures all over his body.

On 10 March, the European Parliament held a plenary session in Strasbourg at which MEPs discussed reports of human rights violations in Egypt. The parliament passed a resolution with a particular focus on the case of Regeni by an overwhelming majority. The resolution recommended an EU-wide embargo on the export of any form of security equipment and military aid to Egypt and condemned continued security cooperation and arms deals between Egypt and EU member states, most notably France, Germany and the UK.

In response, Egypt’s parliament has authorised an 13-member delegation to visit Brussels next month to respond to allegations contained in the European Parliament’s resolution.

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