Egypt police looking for Regeni

Prosecutor says signs of torture 'misinterpreted'

(ANSA) - Rome, March 9 - Cairo police had been looking for Italian student Giulio Regeni since the end of December, friends of the slain Italian student told La Repubblica daily Wednesday.
    Meanwhile the prosecutor leading the Egyptian investigation into Regeni's death played down reports he had been tortured.
    On December 11 Regeni attended a meeting with some NGOs on the trade union movements he was researching for his Cambridge doctoral thesis, the sources told the Rome daily.
    They said Regeni was surprised to see "an Egyptian girl taking his picture with a cellphone", they said.
    "One of the possibilities is that informants for the security forces were present".
    Two weeks later, the sources told La Repubblica, the police sought Regeni in his home without finding him, in one case threatening to search it.
    And on the day Regeni disappeared, January 25 - the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted former strongman Hosni Mubarak - "all you had to do was go out of your house to come across a checkpoint".
    "In the preceding weeks there had been a climate of tension and very strong paranoia, not only towards activists. There had been blanket checks on apartments occupied by foreigners. In the climate of paranoia and xenophobia it's possible that some corps, departments, groups, mistook Giulio, his work, for who knows what. Sometimes all it takes is to be foreign and speak Arabic to arouse suspicion".
    The Giza prosecutor leading the probe for Egypt, Hassam Nassar, meanwhile played down reports of torture and said that Regeni was killed the day before his body was found on February 3 after being subjected to one single bout of violence.
    "He was killed in a timeframe between the 2nd and the 3rd," Nassar told La Repubblica in an interview. Far from being tortured for at least a week, as previously reported, "the violence he was subjected to was all inflicted at one time, between 10 and 14 hours before his death," Nassar said. Nassar added that there had been a "misunderstanding" about Regeni's clipped ears and torn-out nails.
    He said Egyptian doctors had taken off parts of the ears, as well as a fingernail and toenail, to "carry out more thorough analyses.
    "In the case of the nails they wanted to verify if they contained traces that could give leads or demonstrate a fight," he said.
    As for the burns on the body, previously reported to have been cigarette burns all over the body, Nassar said "they are all concentrated on the left shoulder.
    "But frankly, our doctors have not been able to tell us what their origin may have been".