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The New Arab Staff

Egyptian officials to face trial in Italy over Regeni murder

Regeni was murdered in 2016 [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 November, 2020

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Italian PhD student was murdered in Egypt in 2016.
Egyptian security officials will likely face trial in Italy over the murder of PhD student Giulio Regeni, The Times reported on Monday.

Regeni was researching labour unions in Egypt in 2016 when he was abducted and nine days later his body found dumped on a Cairo roadside, showing signs of extreme torture.

Italian authorities and Regeni's family suspect that Egyptian security forces were behind his murder, due to the sensitive nature of his doctoral thesis and false allegations that the student was a spy.

Italian magistrates are days away from completing an investigation into five Egyptian officials suspected of involvement in Regeni's murder and will demand they stand trial in Italy.

Among them is a leading figure in Egypt's National Security Agency, Major Magdy Ibrquaim Abdelaal Sharif.

"It is very probable that Sharif will go to trial," a source told The Times.

Due to the Egyptian government's repeated obstructions and denials its officials were behind the murder, the officials will likely be tried in absentia.

The Italian investigators have used witness accounts and phone records provided by the Egyptian government to link Regeni's killing to the officials.

"Other evidence gathered which has not yet been revealed will come out at trial," the source told the UK daily, with the investigation expected to conclude on 4 December.

The trial will likely reveal more details of Regeni's horrific death, with his body so badly mutilated by torture that his mother could only identify her son by the tip of his nose.

He had sustained a broken neck, wrist, toes, fingers, and teeth before his death, while initials were carved into his badly burned and bruised skin.

The last act of mutilation is said to be a "calling card" of the Egyptian security services, according to The Times.

Cairo claims that he was murdered by a "criminal gang", a theory rejected as ludicrous by Italian investigators.

Egyptian authorities have also failed to provide the Italians with contact information necessary for investigators to send evidence against them, prior to a trial.

"Officially the trial can proceed only if the accused is aware of it, but if we can prove to the judge that the communication between Italy and Egypt, as well as news coverage, has cited Sharif numerous times, the judge can decide the lack of response is a tactic and can proceed with the trial," the source told the UK daily.
The trial will also likely shine a light on the chilling conditions Egypt's tens of thousands of detainees endure, liberals, leftists and Islamists imprisoned after a military coup led by the now President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

This month, the regime detained three human rights workers from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights group, sparking international outcry.

Sisi has largely avoided US government criticism over Egypt's appalling human rights record under Donald Trump, but this is expected to change under president-elect Joe Biden.

Antony Blinken, expected to be soon named Biden's Secretary of State, responded to the arrests by tweeting out: "Meeting with foreign diplomats is not a crime. Nor is peacefully advocating for human rights."

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