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Four Egyptian spies risk trial over Regeni murder

Four Egyptian spies risk trial over Regeni murder

Friuli-born Cambridge student tortured and killed in early 2016

ROME, 10 December 2020, 13:00

Redazione ANSA




Rome prosecutors said Thursday they had completed their probe into the 2016 abduction, torture and murder in Cairo of Italian student Giulio Regeni and were ready to file charges against four out of five Egyptian intelligence service members involved in the case.
    The prosecutors sent notification of the closure of the probe to the four while they asked for possible charges to be shelved against the fifth.
    Completion of a probe in Italy normally precedes a request to indict.
    Possible charges are, variously, multi-aggravated abduction of a person, complicity in aggravated murder and complicity in grievous bodily harm.
    The four who risk trial are General Tariq Sabir, Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim, Uhsam Helmi, and Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif.
    The latter is accused of grievous bodily harm and murdering Cambridge doctoral researcher Regeni.
    Sharif would have been faced possible torture charges if the case had taken place after that crime was introduced into Italian criminal law, in July 2017.
    The shelving of the case against Mahmoud Najem, the fifth spy, was requested due to insufficient evidence to support the case against him.
    The communication of the end of the probe was made to court-appointed Italian lawyers, since the Egyptian security service members have not stood as possible suspects in the case.
    The lawyers and their clients now have 20 days to present evidence for their defence and eventual requests to be interviewed by investigators.
    Rome prosecutors told their Egyptian counterparts November 30 they were ready to wrap up the probe and were set to charge members of Egypt's security apparatus.
    The Rome prosecutors said they had the necessary proof and witness statements against the secret service members accused of abducting Regeni in January 2016.
    Egyptian prosecutors said they did not agree with their Roman colleagues, who are led by Michele Prestipino.
    Egypt's prosecutor general, Hamada al Sawi, said "there is insufficient evidence to prove the charges".
    Regeni's parents, Paola and Claudio, said they "noted the umpteenth fruitless meeting between the two prosecutor's offices".
    They said "the paths of the two sets of prosecutors have never been so divided.
    "In these years we have suffered wounds and outrages of all kinds from the Egyptian side, they have abducted, tortured and killed our son, they have thrown mud and discredit on him, they have lied, insulted and deceived not only us but the whole country".
    Witnesses have told the Rome prosecutors that Regeni was picked up by members of the Egyptian security services.
    The witnesses, deemed reliable by the prosecutors, say the 28-year-old Cambridge doctoral researcher was abducted by agents of the Egyptian National Security Agency on January 25, 2016, the heavily policed fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted former strongman Hosni Mubarak, and taken to at least two barracks in the subsequent hours.
    The young man from Friuli was seen in a barracks near the Dokki metro stop, where he was previously last seen, the witnesses said, and later at another barracks where young foreigners are usually taken.
    Rome prosecutors told their Cairo counterparts about these witness statements, but the Egyptian magistrates rejected the statements as allegedly unreliable.
    Regeni was found dead in a ditch on the Cairo-Alexandria highway on February 3, 2016, a week after disappearing on the Cairo metro. He had been tortured so badly that his mother said she only recognised him by the tip of his nose.
    At various times Egypt has advanced differing explanations for his death including a car accident, a gay lovers' tiff and abduction and murder by an alleged kidnapping gang that was wiped out after Regeni's documents were planted in their lair.
    The student was researching Cairo street sellers unions for the British university, a politically sensitive subject.
    The head of the street hawkers union had fingered Regeni as a spy.
    Rome recently drew condemnation from Regeni's parents by announcing the sale of two frigates to Egypt.
    Premier Giuseppe Conte said the deal was on a separate level from cooperation on the Regeni case.
    Ex-premier Matteo Renzi, who was in office when Regeni died, has called for Italy to send a special envoy to Egypt to urge the Sisi regime to enable the trial of the secret service members.
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has repeatedly promised to help Italy get to the truth about the murder.


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