Investigation ongoing into Italian student Giulio Regeni killed in Egypt

Ahram Online , Thursday 4 Feb 2016

Egypt summoned the Italian ambassador on Thursday to express condolences and discuss latest developments, the ambassador arrived at the morgue later on in the afternoon

A car belonging to the Italian ambassador is parked outside of Cairo, Egypt's central morgue where the body of Giulio Regeni, A 28-year-old graduate student, is held, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 (AP)

Conflicting media reports and narratives are surrounding the mysterious death of an Italian citizen whose lifeless body was found dumped along a highway in Egypt's Giza governorate on late Wednesday.

According to the Italian foreign ministry and his friends, Giulio Regeni, 28, disappeared on Jan. 25, the five-year anniversary of the 2011 revolution, after leaving his home in Dokki, an upper middle class area in Cairo, to meet a friend downtown.

Days before his body was discovered, Regeni's disappearance was widely circulated by many social media users on both Facebook and Twitter questioning his whereabouts with a trending hashtag ‘Where is Giulio Regeni?’

Egypt's prosecution said in official statements that there were cigarette burns and signs of torture on Regeni's body, while Reuters quoted Ahmed Nagy, a senior prosecutor in Giza Province, who said that there were also signs of beatings and cuts to the ears.

Regeni’s body was found half-naked and eventually identified by his roommate. The body is currently in Cairo's Zinhom morgue.

The deputy head of investigations at Giza's police department told several local media outlets that Regeni's death might have occurred as a result of a traffic accident, adding that there is no criminal suspicion in the incident.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni in Geneva to discuss the causes behind the incident.

The two ministers agreed to work together to determine the cause of the student’s death. 

The Italian government has summoned the Egyptian ambassador to demand maximum cooperation in a probe into what happened, as Italy's foreign ministry issued a statement earlier on Thursday saying that it "expects its own experts to be involved in the investigation."

The Italian ambassador to Egypt went to the morgue Thursday afternoon.

Italy's Minister of Economic Development Federica Guidi reportedly withdrew late Wednesday from talks with Egyptian officials in a protest of the incident.

Regeni is a Cambridge University PhD student who was conducting research in Egypt on trade unions after the 2011 uprising. 

Reuters published additional details of the Italian citizen, which showed that he spoke four languages and had won several scholarships.

Cambridge University issued a statement on Thursday expressing its "condolences" and "deep sadness" over Regeni's death.

Ahram Online spoke to one of Regeni's Egyptian friends, who preferred to remain unnamed, who indicated that he received several emails and phone calls from Regeni asking for contacts of labor rights activists so that he could interview them for his research.

The friend said the Regeni vowed that he would not go out for any interviews or fieldwork until after the January 25 anniversary.

"Then, on the morning of January 25, Regeni texted me asking me if there were any plans for a birthday celebration for one of our friends. Then I never heard from him again," his friend told Ahram Online.

"I was summoned by security officials after Regeni's disappearance. Their questions were focused on the purpose of his visit and studies. There were also some questions about his personal affiliation," he added.

Maha Mahfouz Abdel Rahman was his PhD supervisor in Cambridge, and Rabab El-Mahdi was his supervisor in Cairo. El-Mahdi said in a Facebook statement "I will not supervise foreign students anymore. I can't face his parents."

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