Rome Recalls Envoy to Egypt Over Student’s Death

Rome Recalls Envoy to Egypt Over Student’s Death

Italy has summoned its ambassador from Egypt for “urgent” consultations over the Egyptian probe into the murder of an Italian researcher.
Cairo officials had provided clashing accounts of the student’s death.
Ambassador Maurizio Massari was summoned home to help determine the truth “about the barbarous murder of Giulio Regeni”, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday, AFP reported.
Regeni, a 28-year-old graduate student who was researching Egyptian labor
movements, went missing in Cairo on January 25, the fifth anniversary of the toppling of Hosni Mubarak.
Police had been patrolling the city streets to prevent possible demonstrations at the time.
Regeni’s body was found over a week later in a roadside ditch. The dead PhD student showed signs of “protracted” torture, most likely lasting several days, according to Italian officials.
Many observers in Italy suspect Regeni was captured and killed by rogue members of Egyptian security agencies. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that the pattern of torture suggested that Regeni’s killers believed he was a spy. Cairo has rejected such claims.
The accusations, however, grew louder after Egyptian officials gave a series of contradictory statements about Regeni’s death.
On the day his body was found, a police official described the death as a traffic accident, with others denying signs of torture. This was followed by a claim that the murder was motivated by personal reasons and finally a conflicting account about Regeni dying at the hand of a local gang, who were then all killed in a shootout with the police.
The Cairo authorities said the gang was known for posing as police officers.
However, Rome prosecutors rejected this explanation, saying they were convinced there were “no elements indicating direct involvement by a band of criminals in the torture and death”, in a Friday statement.
The prosecutors’ statement follows a two-day visit by two Egyptian prosecutors and three senior police figures. The team traveled to Rome to assure their Italian colleagues of Cairo’s commitment to solving the case.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, the Egyptian delegation failed to provide all of the evidence Rome had requested, including a surveillance video from near the metro station where Regeni was last seen. Also, the Italian prosecutors said they were still waiting on data from Cairo cell towers that had connected to Regeni’s phone.
The Italian officials described the meetings as “disappointing”, according to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
The decision to recall the ambassador was made “immediately” after Italian prosecutors presented their assessment of the meetings, Renzi told reporters on Friday.
Italy would stop “only once we get the truth”, Renzi added, citing a commitment to the Regeni family.

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