A Cambridge University student who was tortured to death in Egypt was murdered because he was suspected of being a British spy, according to a report in an Italian newspaper.
Giulio Regeni, an Italian man who was 28 at the time of his death, went missing in January 2016 before his body was discovered more than a week later at roadside in Cairo.
His body showed signs of torture, having suffered broken bones and shattered teeth, and letters had been carved into his skin.
Mr Regeni’s family believe he was killed by Egypt’s security services because he was researching labour unions which had opposed president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as part of his PhD at Cambridge University‘s Girton College.
Now a new witness has come forward and told Mr Regeni’s family he overheard an Egyptian intelligence agent speaking about “the Italian guy” and saying the student had been beaten because he was thought to be a British spy.
“We thought he was an English spy, we took him, I went and after loading him in the car we had to beat him,” the intelligence agent allegedly said, according to the Correre della Sera newspaper.
“I hit him in the face,” the agent reportedly added.
The conversation is said to have taken place at a police convention in an unnamed African country in 2017.
The Egyptian agent’s name was passed to Italian prosecutors, who believe the evidence is credible.
They have requested Egyptian prosecutors outline the agent’s whereabouts at the time of the alleged conversation in 2017.
Egypt has strenuously denied its security services were involved in Mr Regeni’s death, and initially said he died in a car accident before blaming a gang for his murder.
Italy recalled its ambassador to Cairo in April 2016 in protest at the slow pace of the probe into Mr Regeni’s death, though a replacement was sent a year later.
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