Italy urges Egypt to help find missing student
Italy has urged Egypt to track down an Italian student who went missing in Cairo this month, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.
"The Italian Embassy in Cairo and the Foreign Ministry are closely following with great concern the fate of Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old student who has mysteriously disappeared on the evening of 25 January in the centre of the Egyptian capital," the ministry said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni has called his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry to "do his utmost to trace the Italian student and provide any possible information on his condition".
The Italian foreign ministry added that the embassy in Cairo had been in direct communication with the Egyptian authorities since "the very first hours after his disappearance".
"[The embassy] is now awaiting information on the dynamic of the disappearance," the ministry said, adding that it was in touch with Regeni's parents.
Regeni's friends and colleagues have launched the hashtage #whereisGiulio to spread the word in hopes of finding information on his whereabouts, as well as to urge the Egyptian authorities to find him.
Many fear that the Italian student may have been kidnapped and interrogated by security authorities, as he reportedly went missing on his way to a metro station near the iconic Tahrir square on the fifth anniversary of the 25 January revolution that ousted former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak after a 30-year rule.
The day Regeni disappeared also marked the country's national Police Day.
In anticipation of anti-regime mass protests, Egyptian authorities announced a nationwide high security alert in the run-up to the anniversary, warning people against taking part in protests this year.
The tightened security measures included thousands of raids on apartments in downtown Cairo close to Tahrir Square, as well as dozens of arrests of people linked to anti-regime Facebook pages.
Forced disappearances have been of particular concern in Egypt, as Cairo officials have been accused of causing hundreds of people to "vanish", according to local and international human rights organisations.
In June 2015, Human Rights Watch issued a report highlighting the issue of enforced disappearances in Egypt, calling on the authorities to "immediately disclose" the whereabouts of the forcibly disappeared and to "hold those responsible to account".
"The authorities should either release anyone illegally detained or charge the person with a recognisable crime," the report added.