A statement released by Egypt's top prosecutor Nabil Sadek confirmed that Egyptian police had investigat Italian student Giulio Regeni before his murder but suspended the operation after three days.
According to Al-Ahram Arabic website, the prosecutor's statement, which came during his two-day visit to Rome to meet with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Pignatone and discuss the case, said that police investigations started into Regeni's activities after he was reported to the authorities in early January by the head of Egypt's independent union for street vendors.
Regeni, who was in Cairo conducting research on independent trade unions, went missing on 25 January. His body was found, bearing signs of torture, by a roadside on the outskirts of Cairo on 3 February.
The prosecutors discussed with the Itlalian side the details of the ongoing investigation, the statement said, and provided Rome with a log of the phonecalls Regini received on the day of his disappearance.
The investigations revealed “doubts” regarding a link between a reported gang, that were killed in confrontations with the police last March, and the kidnapping and murder of Regeni, the prosecutiojn said.
At the time, the interior ministry said the gang specialised in “robbing foreigners” and announced they found Regeni’s passport and university ID in an apartment belonging to a relative of one of members of the reported gang.
The police killed all four gang members in a shootout.
Sadek travelled to Rome on Thursday to hold talks with Pignatone in the latest round of meetings between investigators from the two countries probing the murder of the Italian student.
It is the third such meeting between Egyptian prosecutors and investigators looking into the case and their Italian counterparts, after previous meetings in Cairo on 14 March and Rome on 7 April.
Egypt has strongly denied claims that security forces were involved in Regeni's murder.
The Italian government recalled their ambassador to Cairo in April in response to Egypt's handling of the investigation, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said. Italian officials have publicly criticised what they described as a lack of transparency from the Egyptian side.
A new Italian ambassador to Cairo, Giampaolo Cantini, was appointed in May but has not yet taken up residence in Egypt.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has repeatedly stated in various interviews that the Regeni murder should not affect Egypt-Italian relations.