Monday, February 29, 2016

Additional evidence of torture in Giulio Regeni case, Italy demands Egypt's full cooperation in investigations

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Italian government is urging Egyptian authorities to heighten cooperation with their investigations into the torture and murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni, whose body was found in a Cairo suburb on February 3. The pleas came after additional evidence supporting the theory that Regeni was tortured to death emerged on Monday, according to Italian coroners.

New evidence from the autopsy conducted in Italy showed that the nails on the 28-year-old's toes and fingers had all been ripped off, and that all of his fingers were broken, the Associated Press reported.
On Sunday, Italy’s Interior Ministry said the PhD student was subjected to “animal-like” brutality.

That day, results from Regeni’s autopsy suggested a broken cervical vertebra was the cause of death. The autopsy also revealed that Regeni’s body bore the marks of cigarette burns, cuts, several stab wounds and bruising.

"We will not settle for purported truths, as we have said on the occasion of the two arrests initially linked to the death of Giulio Regeni,” Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told the Rome-based daily newspaper La Repubblica on Monday.

Gentiloni was alluding to Egyptian security forces’ reports that two suspects in Regeni’s death were arrested a few days ago. Scant information has been released on the suspects, who were described by Interior Ministry sources as criminals not linked to any terrorist organization.

On February 5, Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement declaring Egypt and Italy’s “mutual desire to uncover the reasons behind this incident and its perpetrators.”

However, in his interview with La Repubblica, Gentiloni argued, "We want those who are really responsible to be apprehended, and to be punished on the basis of law."

Regeni’s murder “is a very grave stain on a fundamentally authoritarian regime,” Gennaro Migliore, Italy’s under-secretary to the justice minister, told the Associated Press.

Regeni disappeared on January 25 – the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak – near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. Security forces were deployed en masse across the country that day, and local media reported more than 150 opposition protesters were arrested.

In hopes of unraveling the mystery of Regeni’s death, Italy dispatched members of its special operations police unit to Cairo to partake in the investigations.

On Monday, Egypt's Interior Ministry held a press conference presided over by Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, in which he touched on both Regeni’s death and the events of January 25.
He said he was "disturbed by the coverage of some media outlets,” who he accused of “jumping to conclusions."

"Some have implied that Egypt's security services are involved in this incident,” he noted, but “we only received notice of his disappearance on January 27." The minister went on to claim that Egypt's security forces are conducting investigations with "complete transparency and professionalism" to help identify those responsible for Regeni's murder.

Ghaffar then offered his condolences to the Italian people.

On Sunday night, around 2,000 people held a candle-lit march and vigil for Regeni in his hometown of Fiumicello in northeastern Italy, Reuters reported.

"We want a commitment at every level to shed light on what happened to Giulio,” Fiumicello Mayor Ennio Scridel told Reuters.

Regeni was a PhD candidate at Cambridge University in London. He moved to Egypt in September to research and write his thesis under the supervision of a professor from the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Both Cambridge and AUC are reportedly involved in the investigations.

In an open letter of protest released Monday that was initiated by Regeni's colleagues at the University of Cambridge, more than 4,600 academics expressed their grief for his death, while calling for investigations into his fate as well as the fate of hundreds of Egyptians who have disappeared or been abused and killed while in police custody.

The letter notes that Regeni disappeared "in the midst of a security campaign which has resulted in mass arbitrary arrests, a dramatic increase in reports of torture within police stations and other cases of disappearances."

 "We therefore call on the Egyptian authorities to cooperate with an independent and impartial investigation into all instances of forced disappearances, cases of torture and deaths in detention during January and February 2016," the letter concludes.

Regeni was writing about the labor movement and independent trade unions in contemporary Egypt.

He wrote a number of articles on the Egyptian labor movement for the Italian leftist paper Il Manifesto. An Italian journalist investigating the murder told Mada Masr that, due to security concerns, Regeni wrote his articles under the name Antonio Drius. His articles were generally critical of President Adel Fattah al-Sisi’s administration and his labor policies.

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