Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi suggested that his political rivals may have killed Italian student Giulio Regeni in order to destabilise the country.
In an interview with Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, Al-Sisi described the incident as "individual" noting that millions of Italians have visited Egypt and "enjoyed safety and their well-being was ensured."
"The timing of this incident is intriguing and raises several questions. Why did it happen during the visit of the Italian minister of economic development to Egypt, where she headed an Italian business delegation?" he said.
"Why did it happen when bilateral relations gather unprecedented momentum both politically and economically? Are there any beneficiaries who seek to impede relations, given the turbulent situation in the region?"
Al-Sisi pointed to the disappearance of Egyptian citizen and Italian resident Adel Moad, who has been missing since October, noting no one has raised this issue. "I reiterate that such individual acts should not be exploited to undermine bilateral relations," he said.
He stressed that there are many efforts being exerted to find Regeni's killers.
"I reiterate once more our sincere keenness to intensify cooperation with Italian authorities to resolve any ambiguity related to this painful incident and bring their perpetrators to justice," he said.