Egypt No to Italy Regeni prosecutors at police questioning (4)

Slain researchers' parents meet Pignatone

(ANSA) - Rome, June 16 - Egyptian authorities have turned down a request from Rome prosecutors probing the Cairo torture and murder of Giulio Regeni to be present at the questioning of Egyptian police officers who carried out investigations into the Friuli-born Cambridge University researcher.
    They said Egyptian law forbids the presence of foreign magistrates during judicial activity. Regeni's parents Claudio and Paola were informed of the refusal during a meeting Friday with Rome chief prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone and his assistant Sergio Colaiocco.
    Cairo prosecutors have, however, sent their Italian counterparts a second report on testimony from the seven policemen who probed Regeni, who disappeared on January 25 2016 and whose mutilated body was found on the road to Alexandria eight days later.
    The testimony is a summary of what the agents said and not their testimony in full, judicial sources said.
    Italian magistrates are hoping for a third tranche of documents, starting with questioning of the national security chief who investigated Regeni a few days before his disappearance, as well as testimony given in March 2016 by the agent who searched the home of the alleged head of a kidnapping gang suspected of abducting and robbing foreigners.
    Regeni, 28, went missing in the Egyptian capital on January 25, 2016, on the heavily policed fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted former strongman and president Hosni Mubarak.
    His severely tortured, mutilated body was found on February 3 in a ditch on the city's outskirts.
    Egypt has denied speculation its security forces, who are frequently accused of brutally repressing opposition, were involved in the death of the Cambridge doctoral student.
    Regeni was researching street vendors' trade unions, a sensitive topic.
    Egyptian and Italian prosecutors have been working on the case but Rome has yet to send a new ambassador to Cairo in protest at the lack of progress.
    "Italy has mourned the killing of one of its studious young people, Giulio Regeni, without full light being shed on this tragic case for a year and despite the intense efforts of our judiciary and our diplomacy," President Sergio Mattarella said on the first anniversary of Regeni's disappearance.
    "We call for broader and more effective cooperation so that the culprits are brought to justice".
    Premier Paolo Gentiloni expressed his support for Regeni's family and said his government was determined to get to the truth.
    Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano echoed his words and said that the young man's death "deprives all of us of a generous heart that could have done a great deal for others".
    The message on the foreign ministry website said that "the tragic death of Giulio Regeni is still an open wound not only for his family, who remain in our thoughts, but for our entire country".
    A video recently surfaced in which the head of the Cairo street traders' union, Mohammed Abdallah, secretly filmed Regeni asking him questions about the union using a police shirt-button microcamera.
    Abdallah said he was doing his patriotic duty because Regeni, he said, was a spy.
    Egypt has furnished several explanations for Regeni's death ranging from a car accident to a gay fight to a kidnapping, all of which have been dismissed by Italy.
    Suspicion has fallen on seven members of the Egyptian police and intelligence services who used Abdallah as an informant and who later were responsible for wiping out the alleged kidnapping gang.
    Regeni's personal documents were allegedly found in the house of the sister of one of the alleged gang's members.
    There seem to have been signs of Egyptian cooperation on Giulio Regeni's death thanks to the work of Rome prosecutors but there is absolutely no evidence of true cooperation from Egyptian authorities, Regeni's parents said recently.
    Paola and Claudio Regeni urged that Italy's ambassador to Cairo not return to Egypt, since this "would give a signal of detente that must not be given", and stressed the importance of not sending Egypt spare parts for F35 fighter jets until justice has been served.
   

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