Italy warns Egypt over delays in student murder probe

Italy will take “immediate and proportionate” measures against Egypt if authorities do not fully cooperate in uncovering the truth behind the murder of an Italian student earlier this year.

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s warning came on Tuesday after Egypt postponed a meeting in Rome over investigations into the death of Giulio Regeni, who moved to Cairo in September to research Egypt’s trade union movement.

Regeni, a Univeristy of Cambridge student, disappeared on January 25 during the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power. At the time, Egypt’s massive security apparatus was on high alert to prevent possible demonstrations.

His body showed signs of extensive torture and was discovered in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital on February 3.

Egypt has denied any involvement of its state apparatus, and promised to fully investigate the murder, but there has been friction with Rome over the lack of progress and explanations offered by Egyptian officials and media.

“If there is not a change in tack [by the Egyptian authorities], the government is ready to react, adopting measures that are both immediate and proportionate,” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told parliament.

The head of the Italian parliament’s human rights committee, Luigi Manconi, said last month that the government should recall Italy’s ambassador to Cairo and declare Egypt unsafe for visitors if the Egyptian investigation went nowhere.

Egyptian prosecutors and policemen will meet with Italian counterparts in Rome at the end of this week to discuss investigations.

According to an Italian police statement, two Egyptian magistrates and three police officers will be in the Italian capital on Thursday and Friday to “take stock” of investigations and “examine related documentation.”

Rome prosecutors investigating the murder, as well members of special investigative units from the state police and Carabinieri police are going to represent the Italian side at the meeting, the statement  added.

Talks were initially foreseen for Tuesday.

The death has attracted renewed scrutiny of Egypt’s record under President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, amid allegations from rights groups and opposition politicians that state security agencies likely had a hand in Regeni’s murder.

Source: Agencies