Italy charges Egypt secret police with torturing phD student to death

Italy charges four Egyptian secret policemen with torturing to death Cambridge phD student in Cairo

  • Mutilated body of Giulio Regeni, 28, was found on the outskirts of Cairo in 2016 after he was kidnapped that January
  • The Cambridge University student had been researching trade unions in Egypt
  • The killing has strained relations between Italy and Egypt, which has offered a number of alternative explanations for Regeni’s death

Italian prosecutors plan to charge four officers from Egypt’s national security agency in the torture and death of Italian student Giulio Regeni, they said on Thursday. 

Tariq Saber, Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim, Capt Uhsam Helmi and Maj Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif are accused of kidnapping the Cambridge University phD student in 2016. 

Sharif is also accused of grievous bodily harm and murder. 

Regeni, 28, was in Egypt researching trade unions when he was kidnapped in January 2016. 

His mutilated body was later found in the outskirts of Cairo.

The young man’s death sparked outrage in Italy and strained diplomatic relations between the two countries, with Italy’s government accusing Egyptian authorities of non-cooperation.

Cambridge University phD student Giulio Regeni, 28, was in Egypt researching trade unions when he was kidnapped in January 2016. His mutilated body was later found on the outskirts of Cairo 

‘We think we’ve collected elements of significant proof,’ Public Prosecutor Michele Prestipino told a parliamentary commission, where he announced the investigation was complete.

‘We are going to ask to begin a criminal action concerning certain members of the Egyptian security services,’ Prestipino said on Thursday.

‘We owe it to the memory of Giulio Regeni.’

Relations with judicial authorities in Egypt during the course of the probe were ‘laborious and complex,’ he added.

Since Regeni’s death, Italian investigators have rejected multiple theories over the cause put forward by Egyptian authorities, including that Regeni had been working as a spy, or that he was the victim of a criminal gang.

Late last month, Egypt said it would ‘temporarily close’ its parallel investigation into Regeni’s murder, saying Rome’s accusations were based on insufficient evidence.

It said the perpetrators ‘remain unknown’ and added that any move to indict members of the security services, ‘was not based on consistent evidence,’ according to The Guardian.  

Accusations against members of the security forces were based on ‘individual acts by them, with no connection to any official institutions in Egypt.’

Egypt’s powerful security forces are thought to enjoy impunity in the country which has clamped down on dissent in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and particularly under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who came to power in 2014. 

Some 2,732 people have been forcibly disappeared by security forces since 2015, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms said last year.  

Prosecutors in Rome plan to charge four Egyptian security officers over Regeni’s torture and death, they said on Thursday. Pictured: A candlelight vigil for Regeni took place across Italy on January 25 2020 to mark a year since his disappearance. The banner reads ‘Truth for Giulio Regeni’ [File photo]

‘For the murder of Giulio Regeni there will be only one trial and it will take place in Italy with procedural guarantees according to our laws,’ Prestipino said. 

The suspects – three members of the security forces and one member of the police – are accused of kidnapping Regeni, with one suspected of the ‘aggravated assault and aggravated homicide’ of the student, Prestipino said.

An investigation into a fifth Egyptian, Mahmoud Najem, was dropped.

Regeni had been researching the sensitive topic of labour movements in Egypt and had written articles critical of the government under a pen name.

His mother has said she only recognised her tortured son following his death by ‘the tip of his nose.’

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