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Rome mural shows Regeni comforting Zaki

Rome mural shows Regeni comforting Zaki

'It'll be OK this time' murdered Italian tells detained Egyptian

Rome, 11 February 2020, 15:19

Redazione ANSA




A piece of street art that appeared near the Egyptian embassy in Rome overnight shows Giulio Regeni, the Italian student tortured and murdered in Cairo in early 2016, comforting Egyptian Bologna university researcher and activist Patrick Zaki who has been arrested and some fear may suffer the same fate, after reports he has already been tortured.
    The mural, by street artist Laika, depicts both young men in prison uniform next to the words freedom in Arabic, with a speech bubble over Regeni telling Zaki not to worry, "this time everything will turn out right".
    Laika said "this phrase has a double meaning, its serves to reassure Patrick, but above all to confront the Egyptian government and the international community with their responsibilities.
    "We can't let what happened to Giulio Regeni and too many others happen again.
    "This time it MUST all go OK.
    "I hope that this affair ends well and that Zaki is freed as soon as possible.
    "I also hope that although he is not an Italian citizen, our country can stand guard over what is happening.
    "I'd like this small gesture of mine to be a stimulus for the media to increase the spotlight on Zaki's case." Commenting on what he called the arbitrary arrest of gender studies master degree student Zaki at Cairo Airport Friday on charges of spreading false news and inciting protests, Philip Luther, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa research director, said: "the arbitrary arrest and torture of Patrick Zaki represent another example of the systematic repression by the Egyptian state of those who are considered opponents and defenders of human rights, a repression that is reaching ever more flagrant levels day after day.
    "We urge upon the Egyptian authorities the immediate and unconditional release of Patrick, who is being held exclusively for his work on human rights and his ideas expressed on social media.
    "It is necessary that the authorities carry out an independent probe into the torture he has suffered and that his protection is guaranteed in a timely way".
    Italy has got the EU to monitor the case of 27-year-old Patrick George Zaki, whose lawyer and family say he was tortured with electrical cables.
    The human rights lawyer, Wael Ghally, told Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper Sunday that "he was not beaten with sticks so as not to leave marks of torture".
    Zaki is also a human rights activist as well as being a student at Bologna, where he is doing a master's in gender studies.
    Amnesty International also says Zaki was tortured, as does his sister.
    Zaki has been charged with instigation to protest and spreading false news.
    The Italian foreign ministry said Sunday that Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has been following the case "from the start".
    It said Di Maio had asked the EU to set up monitoring of Zaki's case via its embassies in Cairo.
    For the moment Zaki has been placed in preventive custody for 15 days.
    The spokesman for the European Union External Action service (EEAS), Peter Stano, said they were aware of Zaki's case and "we are assessing it with our EU delegation in Cairo, and we will take adequate action if necessary.
    "As soon as we have collected more information we will be able to say something more concrete".
    Amnesty Italia said in response they expected "incisive and constant action starting with the presence, as requested by Italy, of EU observers at upcoming hearings, the first of which is on February 22," according to spokesman Riccardo Noury.
    Noury said the EEAS statement was marked by "an excessive principle of prudence and delay".
    The European Parliament caucus of the ruling anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) called for Zaki's immediate release and vowed "we will not permit another Regeni case". Amnesty said the case reminded them of that of Regeni, a student from Friuli who was researching the politically sensitive subject of street sellers' unions, whose leader had fingered him as a spy to secret services.
    Regeni's father said last week that failings in the effort to get to the bottom of his son's death were not limited to the Egyptian side.
    In particular, he took issue with Italy's failure to recall its ambassador to Cairo in protest at the lack of cooperation from the Egyptian authorities.
    "There are grey zones both on the side of the Egyptian government, which is recalcitrant and does not cooperate as it should, and on the Italian side, which has not yet withdrawn our ambassador to Cairo," Claudio Regeni told the parliamentary commission of inquiry into his son's murder.
    "We have been calling for the ambassador's withdrawal for some time".
    The mutilated body of the Cambridge researcher into Cairo street unions was found on the highway to Alexandria on February 3, 2016, a week after he disappeared in the Egyptian capital on January 25, the heavily policed fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted former strongman Hosni Mubarak.
    His mother said she had only been able to recognise him "by the top of his nose".
    Magistrate Giuseppe Pignatone, who was Rome chief prosecutor at the time of Regeni's killing, said Monday that the Cairo prosecutor's office hasn't made any progress on the investigation since December 2017, when Rome named five members of the Egyptian security apparatus as suspects.
    At various stages, Egypt has put out several purported explanations for his death including a car accident, a gay lovers' tiff turned ugly and a kidnapping for ransom in which the alleged gang, criminals but later found innocent of the Regeni murder, were wiped out after his documents had been planted at their lair.
    Judicial cooperation between Rome and Cairo prosecutors dried up after the Roman prosecutors placed the five members of the security apparatus under investigation.
    Last month Rome prosecutors Sergio Colaiocco and Michele Prestipino said that Regeni was caught by a "spider's web" spun by the Egyptian security services.
    "A spider's web was spun around Giulio Regeni by the Egyptian National Security Service in October (2015) before the kidnapping and murder," Colaiocco and Prestipino told a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the Friuli-born student's death.
    "A spider's web in which the (security) apparatus used the people who were closest to Giulio in Cairo, including his lawyer flat mate, the street traders union representative and Noura Whaby, his friend who helped him with translations".
    "It was a spider's web that closed in more and more and which Giulio ended up in the middle of".
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has denied any official involvement in Regeni's death.
    Sisi reiterated to Premier Giuseppe Conte in Cairo last month that Egypt wants to get to the truth in the case.


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