Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Improved cooperation over Regeni investigation

Italy says cooperation with Egyptian investigators is back on track, reports Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

An Italian delegation of investigators arrived in Cairo on Saturday on a three-day visit to follow up on the investigation into the murder of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni. Italian news agency ANSA quoted sources who said that Italy’s requests for information from Cairo had been “largely met”. Italian investigators described meetings with their Cairo counterparts as “useful and cordial”.

Regeni, 28, a PhD student at Cambridge University in the UK who was affiliated with the American University in Cairo, was in Cairo researching Egypt’s trade unions and labour movements. He 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.

Egyptian investigators provided the Italian delegation on Sunday with “more phone records and written testimony”. It was reported that during this week’s visit Egypt handed over the mobile records of eight Egyptian citizens to the Italian team. The records of five others, including union chief Mohamed Abdullah who was in contact with Regeni prior to his death, were handed over last week.

Egypt had earlier refused to hand over the mobile phone records. Following the visit of an Egyptian judicial and security delegation to Rome in April, described by Italian media as a failed meeting, Assistant Public Prosecutor Mustafa Suleiman said Egypt had refused to provide phone records requested by Italy because to do so was “unconstitutional”.

Following the April meeting, Italy recalled its ambassador to Egypt for “consultations” over the lack of progress in the probe into Regeni’s brutal murder. Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the Rome meeting between Italian and Egyptian prosecutors had not produced the required results. Yet, according to ANSA, this week’s meeting signalled an end to the tense standoff between Rome and Cairo.

On 4 May Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry criticised remarks by his Italian counterpart Gentiloni over the investigation into the murder of Regeni for what he said was their failure to recognise the common interests of both countries.

“I have followed statements by the Italian foreign minister on more than one website and occasion in the recent period,” Shoukry told state news agency MENA.

“It worries me that they [the statements] carry a tone that does not reflect awareness of the common interests between the two countries, or the amount of cooperation shown by the Egyptian side from the beginning,” Shoukry was quoted as saying. He added that Cairo “will continue to inform the Italian side of developments with complete transparency and credibility.”

Sources told ANSA that all the documents provided by Egyptian investigators are in Arabic and an assessment of their value will take 10 days.

“I’m waiting for an assessment from the prosecutor’s office,” Gentiloni said on Monday. “I am certain that the prosecutor will issue an evaluation as soon as possible. The fact that contacts have resumed is a positive, per se, but we have to see what’s inside the files.”

Egypt’s interior and foreign ministers have repeatedly dismissed the notion that the security forces were behind Regeni’s murder. Human rights groups in Egypt accuse the Interior Ministry of widespread abuses, allegations it denies.

Last month, Reuters published a report citing six police and intelligence officials in support of the news agency’s claim that “Regeni was detained by police and then transferred to a National Security compound the day he vanished”.

According to the report, the six sources, who spoke to the agency on condition of anonymity, said that Regeni and an Egyptian who was picked up at the same time had not been specifically targeted but were detained as part of a general security sweep.

The interior ministry responded by filing a police complaint against Reuters’ Cairo bureau, accusing it of “publishing false news using anonymous sources”.

Reuters’ April report was not the first to point fingers at the Egyptian security services in the case of Regeni. In March Reuters quoted two prosecution sources who claimed that an Egyptian forensics official has told the public prosecutor’s office that the autopsy he conducted on the Italian student showed that he had been interrogated for up to seven days before he was killed.
The report concluded that the forensics autopsy’s “findings are the strongest indication yet that Regeni was killed by Egyptian security services because they point to interrogation methods such as burning with cigarettes in intervals over several days”.
On 11 February a report published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claimed that a Cairo street vendor told Italian detectives he had seen plainclothes officers detaining a foreigner on 25 January outside the metro station close to the Italian’s flat in Dokki.
The account first surfaced in the New York Times, which ran a story claiming, “Three Egyptian security officials who said they had inquired about the case said that Regeni had been taken into custody by the authorities because he had been impertinent with the officers. ‘He was very rude and acted like a tough guy,’ one of the officials said.”
In response, the Interior Ministry issued a statement in February in which it complained that “the results of the investigation are being pre-empted by people jumping to conclusions and circulating rumours in foreign newspapers without any evidence”.

add comment

  • follow us on