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Body of Italian student slain in Egypt repatriated to Rome after memorial service

AP , AFP , Saturday 6 Feb 2016
Italian Hospital
The Italian ambassador's vehicle leaves the Italian Hospital in Cairo after a a private mass at the church in the hospital complex for slain Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 (AP)
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The body of a 28-year-old Italian student who had disappeared in Cairo last week and was found dead was repatriated on Saturday to Italy.

Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge University PhD student, had gone missing on January 25 while on his way to meet a friend before his body was found on Wednesday.

Friends, family and diplomats held a memorial ceremony Friday at a Cairo church for Regeni, nine days after he disappeared from the streets of the Egyptian capital.

The circumstances of the killing of Regeni remain murky. He disappeared on 25 January, the anniversary of Egypt's 2011 uprising, a day when security forces were on high alert and out on the streets in force to prevent any demonstrations by activists to commemorate the occasion.

Regeni was found this week with multiple stab wounds, cigarette burns and other signs of torture on a roadside in the outskirts of Cairo, Egyptian officials said.

Regeni's parents, who came to Egypt to search for him, and his friends attended the memorial held Friday inside an Italian church, which was heavily guarded by security forces, with plainclothes intelligence officers and police patrolling the area. The priest presiding over the service emphasised that Regeni had been "seeking truth."

The Italian foreign minister told reporters in Amsterdam that Regeni's body would arrive tomorrow in Italy. The Italian news agency ANSA said that the body will be transported for an autopsy ordered by Rome prosecutors who are investigating his death.

Egyptian authorities have already conducted an autopsy and prosecutors investigating the case said they are waiting for a full report.

Meanwhile, an Italian security delegation arrived in Cairo late Friday, to follow ongoing investigations into the killing of Regeni, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported.

The delegation, who will stay for a few days, will also meet with a number of Egyptian officials to look into the incident.

Regeni had been in Egypt since September conducting research on workers and labour rights.

He also wrote several articles under a pseudonym about labour issues in Egypt for the left-wing Italian newspaper Il Manifesto.

After his death, the paper ran his last piece under his name, detailing difficulties facing independent labour unions, including the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services.

The centre's general coordinator, Kamal Abbas, told AP that he met with Regeni twice — most recently in December — to talk about unions' role in advocating worker rights.

"I remember him as a very decent and very shy, bright man," Abbas said. "He was very interested in researching workers' role in the uprising."

"What happened is very worrying," he said.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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