Egypt's prosecutor-general Hamada El-Sawy (photo courtesy of the Egyptian public prosecution)
Egypt's public prosecution will temporarily close investigations into the 2016 murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni, whose perpetrator is still unknown, according to a joint statement by the Egyptian and Italian prosecutions released on Monday.
"The Egyptian public prosecution affirms that the perpetrator of the murder of the Italian student is still unknown, and [accordingly] it will temporarily close its investigation, while instructing investigative authorities [the police] to continue taking all necessary measures to reach the perpetrator of the crime," the statement said.
The statement added that prosecutorial authorities in Rome “understand” the decision by their Egyptian counterpart.
Regeni, a 28-year-old student who was doing postgraduate research on the Egyptian labour movement, disappeared in Cairo on 25 January 2016, the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution.
He was found dead 10 days later in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo. Egyptian investigators said his body bore signs of torture.
Italy identifies five suspects
Monday’s joint statement comes following years of judicial cooperation between the prosecution teams in Cairo and Rome. The two teams last met in Cairo on 28 October and in Rome on 5 November, where they exchanged all the information and viewpoints on the case before reaching the following conclusions.
The Italian public prosecution intends to conclude its own investigation into the murder, which has led it to five Egyptian suspects, all of whom belong to Egyptian security apparatuses. The suspected involvement of the five individuals is unconnected to any Egyptian governmental bodies or entities. The Italian prosecution will present its case to Rome's Preliminary Investigations Judge.
However, the Egyptian prosecution said that while it appreciates the Italian legal proceedings, it has expressed its reservation about Italy’s suspicions, which it said are "not based on solid evidence.” The Egyptian prosecution added, however, that it understands the independent decisions taken by the Italian prosecution.
Egypt confirms gang stole Regeni's belongings
The Egyptian prosecution said it has solid evidence supported by some eyewitness accounts that gang members had “coercively stolen” Regeni’s belongings, which were found in the apartment of one of the gang members.
In March 2016, the Egyptian authorities found a passport and other identification documents belonging to the murdered Italian student inside an apartment in Qalioubiya, north of Cairo.
The announcement came hours after the gang's four members were killed in a firefight with the Egyptian police forces that were deployed to arrest them, according to a previous official statement.
The Egyptian side also said the investigation proved that the gang members had committed similar crimes against foreigners including an Italian citizen other than Regeni.
"The gang committed their crimes using forged documents that falsely identified them as belonging to an Egyptian security agency," the statement added.
The statement assured that both the Egyptian and Italian sides expressed their commitment to pursuing judicial cooperation and making available all information concerning the incident to unearth the truth.
Both prosecutions also said the judicial cooperation will remain at the highest level in all judicial fields.