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Italy suspends trial of Egypt officers charged with torture, murder of student

October 15, 2021 at 10:15 am

Italian lawyer Tranquillino Sarno (C), representative of one of the Egyptian defendants, arrives on 14 October 2021 at the Rebibbia bunker courtroom in Rome, for the trial in abstentia of four Egyptian security officers for the 2016 killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni. [FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images]

A Rome judge yesterday suspended the trial of four senior members of the Egyptian security services citing concerns that there was no certainty they had been formally made aware that they were charged in the 2016 abduction, torture and killing of an Italian doctoral student, Giulio Regeni in Cairo.

During the session, Italian prosecutors urged the court to continue the trial in absentia, arguing that Egyptian authorities had obstructed the investigation into Regeni’s death and prevented Italy from contacting the suspects, Al Jazeera reported.

“What is at stake is Italy’s right to hold a trial regarding a very serious crime that might have taken place abroad, but that involved an Italian citizen,” prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco told the court

Colaiocco argued that the four knew very well the trial was beginning and yet failed to show up.

READ: Italy will not give up in Regeni murder case, says parliamentary Speaker 

However, Judge Antonella Capri refused to put the four on trial and ordered the documentation returned to prosecutors, who must try again to locate the suspects.

Last May, a judge ruled at a preliminary hearing that media coverage meant news of the investigation would have reached them.

Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif, from Egypt’s General Intelligence, General Tariq Sabir, the former head of state security, police Colonel Usham Helmi and Colonel Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim, a former head of investigations in Cairo city are accused of “aggravated kidnapping”. Sharif has also been accused of “conspiracy to commit aggravated murder”.

Regeni, 26, a postgraduate student at Cambridge University, was conducting research in Cairo when he disappeared on 25 January 2016.  His body was found bearing signs of torture nine days later.