Italy summons Egyptian ambassador over Giulio Regeni killing

The body of the 28-year-old PhD student was found in a ditch between Cairo and Alexandria in 2016

    No one has yet been arrested or charged over Regeni's killing in 2016 [File: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters]
    No one has yet been arrested or charged over Regeni's killing in 2016 [File: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters]

    Italy's foreign minister summoned Egypt's ambassador on Friday and urged Cairo to respect its commitment to move quickly and bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Giulio Regeni.

    The 28-year-old PhD student was killed in Cairo in January 2016. His brutalised body, which bore signs of torture, was found lying next to a military blanket in a ditch by a highway between Cairo and Alexandria 10 days after he disappeared. 

    Despite months of cooperation between Egyptian and Italian prosecutors, no one has been arrested or charged over the killing.

    "Minister [Enzo] Moavero expressed Italy's need to see concrete investigative developments," the Italian foreign ministry said in a statement. It added that there was "strong disquiet" in Rome over the way the case was being handled.

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    The statement said the Egyptian ambassador had assured Moavero that Cairo's determination to "shed light on the case cannot be questioned". The envoy added that investigators in Egypt were committed to pursuing their probe "despite the difficulties encountered,".

    Egyptian and Italian prosecutors met earlier this week to discuss the state of the investigation, but judicial sources in Rome said the Cairo team had failed to deliver a promised breakthrough.

    Frustrated by the lack of progress, Italy will next week place under official investigation at least two members of Egypt's security forces over their alleged involvement in Regeni's disappearance, judicial sources said on Thursday.

    Parliamentary ties suspended

    In a largely symbolic move, the president of Italy's lower house of parliament has said he will suspend ties with Egypt's parliament until there is progress in Cairo towards resolving the case.

    Responding, Egypt's parliament said on Friday it was "surprised" by what it called the Italian chamber's hasty decision to anticipate the results of the investigation. 

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    Egyptian officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in Regeni's death. The general prosecutor's office in Cairo said that it had no comment to make beyond a statement it issued on Wednesday following the meeting between the two teams of investigators. 

    That statement said that the two sides had agreed that "investigations are going well" and that they would "do everything in their power to find the perpetrators".

    Being placed under official investigation in Italy does not imply guilt and does not automatically lead to a trial. The two security forces members will be investigated for allegedly kidnapping Regeni.

    No one is being placed under investigation at this point for torturing or killing the student, the sources said. 

    Is Egypt covering up the murder of an Italian student?

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    Is Egypt covering up the murder of an Italian student?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies