Cambridge student found dead in Egypt suffered 'inhuman animal-like violence' says Italian interior minister as Rome opens investigation into his death
- Giulio Regeni, 28, originally from Italy, was conducting fieldwork in Cairo
- He was last seen in the centre of the city on the evening of January 25
- Autopsy has revealed signs that he suffered 'inhuman animal-like violence'
- Examination showed Mr Regeni's neck was twisted or struck during attack
A Cambridge student whose battered body was found on the streets of Cairo suffered 'inhuman animal-like violence' during his death.
Italian Giulio Regeni was found naked from the waist down near a highway outside the Egyptian capital, nine days after he was reported missing.
An autopsy examination has revealed that Mr Regeni's neck was twisted or struck which broke a vertebra and left him unable to breathe.
Prosecutors from Rome have now opened a murder investigation into the death of the doctoral student and ministers are calling for Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to fully cooperate.
Mr Regeni, a student of Cambridge's Department of Politics and International Studies, had been in Cairo for just a few months, as part of his Ph.D. research into Egyptian labor movements, when he disappeared on January 25.
He had left his apartment with a plan to travel by subway to meet a friend in the city, but was never seen again.
A second autopsy in Italy has shed further light into Mr Regeni's death with details so shocking that interior minister Angelino Alfano told Sky TV that he struggled to catch his breath after reading the report.
While opening details have been released analysis of tissue and body fluid, which could help pinpoint or at least narrow the time frame when Mr Regeni died, are expected to take several days.
Mr Alfano said the student had suffered 'something inhuman, animal-like, an unacceptable violence.'
Prosecutor Ahmed Nagi, who leads the investigation team on the case, had previously said 'all of his body, including his face' had bruises, cuts from stabbings and burns from cigarettes, adding that it appeared to have been a 'slow death.'
Italian police were dispatched to Cairo on Saturday and have started working with their Egyptian counterparts on the case.
Mr Alfano said: 'I am convinced that it is in the interest of el-Sissi to work together. No one can bring Giulio back to life, but bring the truth to the surface will perhaps be able to save more lives.'
An Egyptian friend of Mr Regeni, who was from Fiumicello in the north-east of Italy, said that shortly before his death the student had been seeking contacts for trade union activists to interview as part of his research.
This political research had been the main focus when the friend was questioned by police following the Italian student's disappearance, he said.
Another friend explained he was travelling to downtown Cairo on the day of his disappearance, he said: 'A friend called him after he didn't show up. His cell was off then,' he told MailOnline, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He added: 'We briefly talked on the day of his disappearance, about two hours earlier. He was happy and cheerful, he was about to meet a friend. No indication of any worries whatsoever.
'I just feel terrible for his family, his girlfriend and all his friends.'
The Egyptian authorities had intensified a crackdown on dissent ahead of the January 25 anniversary of the Arab Spring, with police raiding apartments in downtown Cairo seeking signs of plans for organised protests and checking people's social media accounts.
For years, rights groups have accused Egyptian police of regularly torturing detainees.
Over the past year, they have also accused them of using 'forced disappearances' - detaining suspected activists or Islamists in secret without reporting their arrest.
The Egyptian Association for Rights and Freedoms documented 314 such disappearances in 2015, according to a lawyer, Halem Henish.
Most later turned up in prison, but at least five were found at the morgue, including one with signs of torture like burns and electric shocks.
He said the group has documented 35 disappearances so far in 2016, including at least two of whom have died.
*Photo of memorial for Giulio in Italy, courtesy of Getty Images