Egypt State TV airs 'exclusive' video of Italian student Regeni's conversation with vendor

Mostafa Ali , Monday 23 Jan 2017

Egypt State TV airs 'exclusive' video of Italian student Regeni's conversation with vendor

Egypt's state TV broadcasted on Monday what it described as an exclusive video of murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni, showing a conversation between Regeni and a representative of a vendors' union.

The broadcast comes less than 24 hours after Egypt's General Prosecutor Nabil Sadek agreed on Sunday to a request from Rome to allow Italian experts to take part in the retrieval of CCTV footage, which could reveal the circumstances surrounding Regeni's murder in early 2016.

Giulio Regeni, a PhD student at Cambridge University, had been in Cairo conducting research on independent trade unions for several weeks, when he went missing on 25 January 2016, the fifth anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 Revolution.

His body was found on 3 February on a roadside on the outskirts of Cairo, bearing signs of torture.

The edited four-minute video was reportedly recorded by the representative of the Independent Vendors Union Mohamed Abdallah.

It shows Abdallah asking Regeni to help him secure funds by an unnamed British foundation for a personal emergency while Regeni explains why he could not do so.

It is not clear where and when the video was shot.

The video starts with Abdallah telling Regeni "I need money to pay for a surgery for my wife who has cancer. I will do anything as long as I can get money."

Regeni responds that he could not ask for a grant for personal purposes.

''The money is not mine. I can only use it for certain purposes. I am an academic and I cannot submit a grant application to the British foundation saying that I want the money for a personal reason. It is not possible. If I do this, it would cause a huge, huge problem for the British," Regeni says in Arabic.

"Is there another way to get the money for personal use?" Abdallah pushes Regeni.

"I don't think money can come through Guilio. The money comes from the British to the Egyptian Centre and then goes to the vendors," Regeni says.

"But can't you set it up for me, because I feel that the Egyptian Centre might deceive us and not give us anything," Abdallah asks.

It is unclear which Egyptian NGO the two were referring to in the conversation.

"It is not in my hands. I cannot do such a thing and I would not even know how to do so. I am sorry. This is how it is. I don't have the authority in this matter," Regeni says.

Abdallah then asks if the process to receive the money would take a long time.

Regeni replies that a grant is not guaranteed, explaining that it requires a lot of project proposals submitted from around the world, and one from Egypt among them.

"We have to try but if we have ideas, you for example and the street vendors, we have until March to prepare data," Regeni says.

"Data like what? I'll prepare it and work on it starting now," Abdallah replies.

The Italian researcher cites examples to Abdallah, telling him that the questions the foundation would ask would include "What might be important for the syndicate? What does the syndicate need? What would 10,000 pounds do for the union?"

"I don't understand, "Abdallah says.

"What does the union need this money for? That is the important question for me, " Regeni explains.

"But you want ideas also?" Abdallah asks.

"We need ideas to answer this question, and then we develop those ideas," Regeni responds.

"So the idea of how we're going to use the money?" Abdallah says.

"Exactly, exactly, exactly," Regeni concludes as the edited video ends. 

The uncertainties surrounding the murder of Regeni and the length of the investigation carried out by Egyptian authorities into his case has strained relationships between Cairo and Rome.

Egypt has strongly denied accusations by some that Egyptian security forces were involved in Regeni's murder.

In recent months, Egyptian and Italian prosecutors have been cooperating closely in the investigation.

The CCTV footage to be retrieved is that captured by security cameras at Dokki Metro station, which reportedly recorded the last images of the Italian student before his disappearance on 25 January, 2016.

According to security sources, Abdallah reported Regeni to authorities in early January.

Authorities placed the Italian student under surveillance for three days before suspending investigations into his activities.

In December, Egypt's Sadek visited Rome to discuss developments in the investigation, the fifth such meeting between Egyptian prosecutors and their Italian counterparts since the murder.

Sadek assured the parents of Regeni of Egypt's commitment to achieving justice in the case during his visit.

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