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Regeni murder trial resumes in Rome

February 20, 2024 at 12:27 pm

Protest in Italy on 25 January 2020 for Italian student Giulio Regeni who was murdered in Egypt [MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images]

The trial of four Egyptian agents accused of kidnapping and murdering Italian researcher Giulio Regeni resumed in Rome today, Anadolu has reported. This is a high-profile, controversial case which has caused years of friction between Italy and Egypt.

Regeni, who was murdered in Egypt in 2016, was a postgraduate student at Britain’s University of Cambridge. At the time he was carrying out research in Cairo about local trade unions and workers’ conditions. The body of the 28-year-old was found on the side of a highway on the edge of Cairo with cigarette burns, broken teeth and fractured bones. He had been missing for several days.

In October 2021, an Italian court halted a trial of the four Egyptian security officials, ruling that prosecutors had to redouble efforts to locate the defendants – who were set to be tried in absentia — and notify them of the charges against them before the trial could continue.

Italy’s top court dismissed that ruling last year, saying Egypt’s failure to cooperate in locating the suspects should not prevent a trial on very serious accusations such as torture. “It’s an important day,” Regeni’s parents told reporters when entering the courthouse.

The trial represents the first time that Egyptian officials have been prosecuted abroad for alleged crimes that human rights groups say have been committed on a large scale in the North African country in recent years. People familiar with the proceedings have said consistently that the Egyptian authorities have refused to help Italian prosecutors locate the four agents.

Egypt has rejected such claims, saying that its authorities cooperated with Italian officials and that its own investigations concluded that Regeni’s killers are unknown. Officials also said that the Italian investigation was not based on consistent evidence, denying any responsibility on the part of the country’s security apparatus.

Initially, Egyptian police claimed that Regeni was killed by gangsters specialising in impersonating police officers, kidnapping foreigners and stealing their money. The police added that the alleged gangsters were killed in an exchange of gunfire with genuine officers. Egyptian judges then ruled that the men were not Regeni’s killers.

The Italian government is a civil plaintiff in the trial. The list of witnesses that prosecutors will call to testify include former Italian prime ministers and a raft of other Italian and Egyptian officials.

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