The Egyptian authorities arrested the Italian student Giulio Regeni and beat him, believing he was as a British spy, before finding him dead, according to an Italian press report based on a new testimony.
The new testimony about the fate of Regeni, a 28-year-old doctorate student at Cambridge University who disappeared in Cairo in January 2016, was made by a person who had wiretapped an Egyptian intelligence agent talking about a “young Italian man,” according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The conversation in Arabic dealt with the unstable situation in Egypt at a police conference in an unnamed African country in the 2017 report and was transferred to Italian investigators who asked the Egyptian authorities to provide more information.
The Italian Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter that it “supports the prosecution’s request in Rome to obtain information in an attempt to bring justice to Giulio Regeni.”
The Italian eavesdropper, whose name was hidden, obtained name of the Egyptian agent after exchanging a work card with a fellow eavesdropper, the newspaper said.
The Italian eavesdropper is one of five agents, who the Italian authorities said were investigating the killing of Regeni who disappeared while on his way to take the subway train in west Cairo on 25 January 2016.
The Egyptian intelligence agent said: “We thought he was a British spy. We arrested him, and after putting him in the car, we had to beat him. I personally beat him several times in the face,” according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Regeni’s dead body was found on the side of a road outside Cairo nine days later, carrying signs of torture.
After the transfer of Regeni’s coffin to Rome, an Italian autopsy of his dead body showed that he was killed after being struck at the bottom of his skull and injured with several fractures all over his body.
Regeni’s case has greatly affected relations between the two countries after Rome accused the Egyptian authorities of failing to cooperate adequately in the investigation.
Italian investigators believe the new testimony is credible, prompting them to request further details from Egyptian investigators in the summer of 2017. They particularly demanded to know the location of the Egyptian agent.
Egypt denies allegations that its security forces were involved in the killing of Regeni.
The Egyptian authorities initially said that Regeni died in a traffic accident, but later said a criminal gang killed him that the police officers managed to smash.