2 hours ago
Four members of the Egyptian security forces are being tried in absentia today, Thursday, in the Italian capital, Rome, in the case of the murder of researcher Giulio Regeni.
They face accusations of kidnapping, torturing, and killing the Italian researcher about five years ago in Egypt, which the Egyptian authorities deny.
In February 2016, Regeni’s body was found in a pit near the Egyptian capital, Cairo, and Regeni’s body was so disfigured that his mother found it difficult to recognize him.
Regeni’s parents are due to attend the court hearing in Rome, to find out how their son died.
Regeni was no more than twenty-eight years old when he was kidnapped on January 25, 2016, while he was preparing a PhD thesis at Cambridge University on independent Egyptian trade unions. Within a week, his body was found on the side of a road to Alexandria.
The Italian side accuses the Egyptian authorities of “obstructing” the progress of the Italian investigations into the Regeni case, because there are different accounts about the way Regeni was killed: one of them spoke of a drug deal, another of a failed robbery attempt, and a third of an attempted rape.
But the Italian prosecutor concluded that Egyptian national security was involved in Regeni’s murder.
Prosecutors said that the Italian researcher had been under surveillance for weeks, and security reports by a member of the Cairo Street Vendors Syndicate described him as a spy. The prosecution adds that, before his death, Regeni was kicked, punched, wounded and burned with very hot objects, in addition to being beaten with sticks.
The Italian prosecutor named four defendants in the case: Major General Tariq Saber, Colonel Hossam Helmy, Colonel Athar Kamel Muhammad Ibrahim, and Major Sherif Magdy Ibrahim Abdel Aal.
Egypt denied Regeni’s death while he was being held by security forces. The four defendants deny the charge of kidnapping Regeni. Major Sharif also rejects other accusations of involvement in the infliction of severe injuries and murder.
Regeni’s killing sparked widespread anger and caused a crisis in relations between Egypt and Italy, which recalled its ambassador from Cairo.
Egypt halted its investigation into Regeni’s murder, “based on insufficient evidence,” according to the Egyptian Public Prosecutor.
The Egyptian authorities acknowledge that Regeni was monitored and betrayed by people he met. However, the Egyptian authorities refuse to provide Italy with details of the defendants’ places of residence.
Regeni’s parents – Claudio Regeni and Paola Devendi – accused the Italian government of abandoning them, after normalizing relations with Egypt and selling two frigates as part of a major arms deal.
Meanwhile, political opposition in Egypt remains hidden. In a report issued last year, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms said it had documented more than 2,700 cases of enforced disappearance since 2015.
Earlier this year, Alessandra Ballerini, a lawyer for Regeni’s parents, said all of Regeni’s human rights had been violated. Now, with the court proceedings proceeding, Regeni’s parents “have good hope that at least the right to the truth will not be violated”.