Sisi blames 'evil' conspirators for Regeni's murder

Sisi blames 'evil' conspirators for Regeni's murder
4 min read
13 April, 2016
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has blamed 'evil' conspirators for the torture and murder of Italian Student Giulio Regeni, denying the involvement of Egypt's security services.
Italian relations with Egypt have become increasingly strained over Regeni's case [Getty]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has denied allegations that Egypt's security services were behind the murder and torture of Italian student Giulio Regeni, blaming "evil" conspirators instead.

"The conspiracy by the people of evil, they have been at work, and are still working," he said in a speech on Wednesday, adding that he would not identify them.

The president also said that "social networks and media professionals" were to blame for pointing the finger at security services.

"The moment [Regeni's] death was announced, people from among us said the security services did it," he said.

Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian PhD student who was researching Egyptian trade unions, went missing in Cairo on the evening of January 25, the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

His mutilated body was found a week later at the side of a road on Cairo's outskirts, suggesting he died at the hands of security services during an interrogation, an allegation the Egyptian government has strongly denied.

Read Also: Guilio Regeni: The face of Egypt's dark disappearances

UK pressure

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The British government has demanded a "full and transparent" investigation into the murder of Regeni, who was a Cambridge University student.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement after more than 10,000 people signed a petition demanding action from the government.

"We have raised his case with Egyptian authorities in both London and Cairo and underlined the need for a full and transparent investigation," a Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday night.

"We remain in contact with both the Italian and Egyptian authorities. Our thoughts are with Mr Regeni's friends and family at this difficult time."

A colleague of Regeni from Cambridge University told the BBC that it should not take 10,000 signatures on a petition to make the government speak out and join calls for an independent investigation into his brutal murder.

"We hear constantly about how UK businesses can benefit from the close ties between the British and Egyptian governments,” Dr Anne Alexander said.

"Yet when a PhD student from Cambridge is tortured and killed, ministers seem reluctant to say anything critical of the Egyptian authorities."

We hear constantly about how UK businesses can benefit from the close ties between the British and Egyptian governments. Yet when a PhD student from Cambridge is tortured and killed, ministers seem reluctant to say anything critical of the Egyptian authorities
- Dr Anne Alexander

Italian relations with Egypt have become increasingly strained following allegations in Rome that Cairo has not been fully cooperative in the murder investigation.

Egyptian authorities have claimed that Regeni was tortured and killed by a criminal gang, but Italy has dismissed the claims as ludicrous.

On Friday, Rome recalled its ambassador to Cairo for consultations over Regeni's case.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni recalled Ambassador Maurizio Massari from Cairo for "urgent evaluation of more opportune initiatives to relaunch the commitment aimed at determining the truth about the barbarous murder of Giulio Regeni," a ministry statement said.

Case 'remains open'

On Tuesday, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Regeni's case "remains open".

He raised the possibility of circumventing the "constitutional obstacle" standing in the way of providing Italian investigators with access to phone records relating to the case.

However, Shoukry warned that the investigation could take months, citing investigations into the assassination of Egypt's prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat in June 2015, which took one year.

In other efforts to address the strained Egyptian Italian relations, a delegation from the Free Egyptians Party (FEP), led by Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, visited Rome on Monday and met with Italian MP Fabrizio Cicchitto, head of the Italian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, to discuss Regeni's case.

"The party's initiative is an ethical one, in addition to its political responsibility as one of the largest effective parties, and with the most parliamentary seats," Nader al-Sharkawy, head of FEP's foreign affairs committee, told Daily News Egypt on Tuesday.

Sharwaky expressed his condolences and solidarity with the Italian people, and stressed the atrocity of Regeni's death and the importance of revealing the truth.

"Italy is a crucial ally to Egypt on the historical, cultural, political, and economic levels. We cannot allow our relations to deteriorate under any circumstances," he added.

"We were told during our visit that the recalling of the ambassador does not imply that diplomatic ties have been cut. Yet, it aimed at sending a strict message."