Italy summons Egypt ambassador over Regeni killing

2018-12-02 10:00


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Italy's foreign ministry formally summoned on Friday the Egyptian ambassador to Rome to prompt authorities in Cairo to "act rapidly" in investigating the torture and killing of an Italian researcher nearly three years ago, as pressure mounts on Egypt which voiced regret over Italy's lower house decision to break parliamentary ties.

The decision by Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi follows a recent meeting between Egyptian and Italian prosecutors, which his office said in a statement that caused "worry" to ripple through Rome over the prolonged investigation.

Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge University graduate student who was researching trade unions in Egypt, disappeared in Cairo on January 25, 2016 - the fifth anniversary of Egypt's popular uprising when thousands of police deployed across Cairo to pre-empt any attempt to mark the occasion.

His body was found several days later by the side of a highway near Cairo with torture marks that activists and rights groups say resembled the results of widespread torture practices in Egyptian detention facilities.

In the statement, Moavero relayed Italy's concerns and the need to see "concrete" developments in the protracted investigation. Meanwhile, Egypt's ambassador to Rome offered assurances of his country's willingness to continue cooperation, it also said.

Later, Moavero was quoted by Italian news agency ANSA as saying that the government will be discussing whether it would bar Italian companies from attending next week's arms expo in Cairo, upon the return of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte from the G20 summit in Argentina.

Italian media is also reporting that prosecutors in Rome are set to launch an investigation into seven Egyptian secret service members they suspect were involved in Regeni's abduction and murder.

Italy has been pressing Cairo for years to identify and prosecute those responsible for the torture and killing of Regeni.

Its latest move comes a day after its Chamber of Deputies announced the suspension of relations with the Egyptian parliament, which said it was surprised by the Italian chamber's "unilateral" decision in a Friday statement. Egypt's parliament also called for the non-politicization of legal issues.

Egypt has recently acknowledged that Regeni was being watched by police while in Cairo because of the nature of his research.

The case previously roiled Cairo's relations with Rome, with Regeni's family and Italian media accusing Egyptian security forces of torturing and killing him.

Egyptian authorities have denied any involvement and since 2016 have suggested several alternative scenarios for his death, including being hit by a car or victimized by a criminal gang that specializes in robbing foreigners.

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