Egypt 'necessary interlocutor' for Italy (3)

Also to find Regeni culprits

(ANSA) - Rome, February 20 - Egypt is "central in the geopolitical and regional-security dynamics and is a necessary interlocutor for our country, also to foster cooperation in finding those who (tortured and murdered Italian student) Giuliano Regeni," the annual intelligence report said Tuesday.
    Italian prosecutors suspect members of Egypt's security apparatus had a hand in the case of Regeni, who was killed two years ago.
    The Egyptian services have always denied playing a part.
    Italian and Egyptian prosecutors have been working on the case together but the Regeni family recently denounced a lack of progress in the case.
    The Regeni family said earlier this month that the Italian government's decision to send an ambassador back to Cairo six months ago had been a "failure" due to lack of progress in the death probe.
    The new envoy's mission, which "was supposed to have shed light on the murder two years ago that brought all the evil of this world on our son," said Paola Deffendi and Claudio Regeni, "has failed".
    The Cambridge researcher's parents called for an "immediate change of tack".
    They said they expected to see Egyptian police hand over "the videos of the underground" on the day Regeni disappeared, January 25, 2016, as well as the agreement of "a joint investigative strategy" between Egypt and Italy.
    The Italian ambassador to Egypt, Giampaolo Cantini, arrived in Cairo to take office in mid-September, a month and a half after he was named.
    Cantini replaced Maurizio Massari, who was recalled in spring 2016 to protest lack of progress in the Regeni case.
    Last Thursday the European Parliament said, again, there has been a lack of progress in the Regeni case on Egypt's part.
    In a resolution on executions in Egypt, the Strasbourg assembly "recalls, yet again, its outrage at the torture and murder of Giulio Regeni".
    The resolution "denounces, again, the absence of progress in the investigation into this brutal murder".
    The EP said it would continue to "urge European authorities to work with their Egyptian counterparts until the truth is established in this case and the culprits brought to justice".
    The resolution voiced a firm condemnation of the use of the death penalty in Egypt and "deep disquiet over collective trials".
    Italy marked the second anniversary of Regeni's disappearance on January 25 with Premier Paolo Gentiloni saying he was not forgotten and Rome prosecutors saying "the one sure thing" is that Egypt's security apparatus was involved.
    Italy marked the anniversary in solemn fashion with a string of events and State broadcaster RAI transmitted special commemorative and investigative programmes.
    Amnesty International staged an all-Italy event where yellow candles, symbolising the hunt for the truth, were lit by hundreds of people at 19:41, the time of his last phone message.
    And there was a torchlit vigil in the Friuli town of his birth, Fiumicello, led by parents Paola Deffendi and Claudio Regeni, who have vowed to continue their search for the truth despite what they call a stream of lies from Egypt.
    Gentiloni said that Italy will not stop trying to get to the bottom of Regeni's death.
    "Italy has not forgotten, two years after the horrible murder of Giulio Regeni," Gentiloni said via Twitter.
    "The commitment to seek the truth continues".
    Regeni was killed because of his research into trade unions and the Egyptian secret services had a role in the case, Rome prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone wrote in a letter to daily newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica on January 25.
    The 28-year-old Italian Cambridge PhD researcher's tortured body was found in a ditch on the road to Alexandria on February 3, 2016, after he went missing nine days earlier.
    January 25, 2016 was the heavily policed fifth anniversary of the uprising that toppled former strongman Hosni Mubarak.
    The motive for the murder was linked to "the research activity Giulio conducted in the months of his stay in Cairo", wrote Pignatone, who is in charge of the Italian probe into the case.
    He said this and "the action of the Egyptian public apparatus, which had concentrated their attention on Giulio in the previous months, with more pressing methods, up to January 25" are "firm points".
    Italy also solemnly marked the second anniversary of Regeni's body being discovered, last Saturday, February 3.
    Egypt's secret services, frequently accused of repressing dissent, have consistently denied any part in Regeni's torture and murder.
    Several concocted explanations of Regeni's death have been rejected by Italy, from a car accident to a gay quarrel turned ugly to a kidnap for ransom that went wrong - after which the purported kidnap gang was wiped out by police and Regeni's documents 'found' in one of their alleged lairs.
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who recently repeated that Regeni was killed to hurt Italo-Egyptian ties, has reasserted a pledge to help Italy find the culprits.
    Regeni was researching Egyptian street-seller unions.
    His contact, the head of the Cairo street sellers, had told police he was a spy.
    The Regeni investigation has come onto "the right track as far as the British side is concerned" after initial "havering" by his former Cambridge supervisor Maha Abdelrahman, Italian Ambassador to the UK Paquale Terracciano told ANSA on the anniversary.
    Delays in the UK side of the probe "were not due to the London authorities nor to Cambridge University per se, but to an individual lecturer, Regeni's tutor, who had a havering and contradictory attitude," Terracciano said.
    This has now been put right and Abdelrahman has handed over her computer and database in a "rather invasive step", the ambassador said.
    Abdelrahman, who has been accused of putting Regeni in harm's way with a PhD subject that was too politically sensitive, recently stressed that the 28-year-old Friuli-born researcher had "freely chosen" his doctoral subject.
    Cambridge issued a statement on January 17 denouncing what it said was a "shameful campaign of denigration, fanned by political expediency" against Abdelrahman.
    It said this came against the background of "an apparent absence of investigative progress".
    In the statement, Vice-Chancellor Stephen J. Toope reiterated Abdelrahmand's intention to collaborate fully with the probe.
    But he deplored leaks from the probe.
    The Egyptian Prosecutor General's office said recently a letter attributed to the Egyptian secret services citing the arrest of Giulio Regeni was "totally counterfeit".
    In a statement, it said "this letter is totally falsified and the Egyptian Prosecutor-General's office immediately informed its Italian counterpart" of its falsity "in the framework of the fruitful cooperation between the two sides".
    "The Egyptian prosecutor-general's office on January 22 received from its Italian counterpart an anonymous letter sent to the Italian embassy in Swiss capital Bern," the statement said, which said Regeni had been arrested by the Egyptian secret services.
    The letter was dated January 30, 2016, or five days after Regeni's disappearance.
    Rome prosecutors asked their Egyptian counterparts to confirm the information in the letter, the statement said.
    "This news could hurt cooperation between the two prosecutor's offices," the statement said.
    It said the letter was "categorically" false, including its stamps and signatures.
    photo: Regeni truth campaign


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