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Slain Italian student investigated by Egypt police before abduction

Egypt has denied its security forces were involved in Regeni's killing [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 September, 2016

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Egyptian police investigated the activities of Italian student Giulio Regeni days before his abduction but dropped the probe after assessing he posed no threat.

Egyptian police investigated the activities of Italian student Giulio Regeni days before his abduction but dropped the probe after assessing he posed no threat, Egyptian and Italian prosecutors said on Friday.

Regeni disappeared on January 25 in central Cairo, and his body was later found by the side of a road bearing signs of brutal torture.

Egypt has denied its security forces were involved, but Italy recalled its ambassador to Cairo in April in protest at what it said was a lack of progress in the investigation.

Egypt's state prosecutor met his counterpart in Rome this week to further the investigation.

In a joint statement, the two prosecutors said Regeni, who was researching Egyptian street vendor trade unions, had been under investigation for three days by Egyptian police in January.

"The Egyptian state prosecutor pointed to information that the head of the street vendor union passed on specific information about the Italian student to Cairo police," the statement said.

"Police probed his activities for three days that concluded that his activities were of no concern to national security, and based on that dropped the investigation."

This is the first Egyptian official acknowledgement that Regeni had been on the radar of security services.

Trade unions are an especially sensitive political issue in Egypt, with successive governments fearing strikes and labour unrest.

Egyptian police officials had at first suggested Regeni might have died in a road accident, and have since offered little information on their investigation.

In March, police linked a gang it said extorted foreigners to Regeni's death, saying his belongings had been found in the home of the gang leader's wife.

He and four others were killed in a shootout with Egyptian police.

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