Italy names four Egyptian officials as suspects in connection with murder of Guilio Regeni

One could face charges of ‘conspiracy to commit aggravated murder’, prosecutors say

Zoe Tidman
Thursday 10 December 2020 19:20 GMT
Italian prosecutors have named four people suspected of being involved in the ‘aggravated kidnapping’ of student
Italian prosecutors have named four people suspected of being involved in the ‘aggravated kidnapping’ of student (AFP via Getty Images)

Nearly five years after Giulio Regeni was discovered dead next to a road in Cairo, Italian prosecutors investigating his disappearance and murder have named four Egyptian officials as possible suspects.

All are senior members of Egypt’s security forces, and are suspected of being involved in the “aggravated kidnapping” of the Cambridge University student, the prosecutors said, while one was also charged with connection with the Italian’s murder.

Mr Regeni went missing in the Egyptian capital at the start of 2016, before his body was found nine days later by the side of the Cairo-Alexandria road on the city’s outskirts.  

A post-mortem showed the student – who had been researching independent trade unions in Egypt – had been tortured before his death, with letters carved onto his body, which also showed signs of cigarette burns and cuts.

On Thursday, Italian prosecutors said they had wrapped up their investigation into his disappearance and murder just under five years ago.

A statement from the prosecutors said four senior members of Egypt’s security forces were suspected of “aggravated kidnapping”, while one of them – a major in Egypt’s general intelligence – could face charges of “conspiracy to commit aggravated murder” as well.

The four men were named as Major Sherif Magdy from General Intelligence, Major General Tarek Sabir, who is the former head of state security, police colonel Hisham Helmy and colonel Ather Kamal, a former head of investigations in the Cairo municipality.

They were given 20 days to submit statements or ask to be heard in the case. After that time, the investigators will decide whether or not to seek their trial.

There was no immediate comment from Egyptian authorities. 

Officials in Egypt have repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing of Mr Regeni, who was a postgraduate student at Girton College at the University of Cambridge. 

The 28-year-old had been researching Egypt’s independent labour unions for his PhD, while associates have said he was also interested in alternatives to the domination of the country’s economy by the state and military. Both topics are sensitive in Egypt. 

Investigators in Italy and Egypt had been working together on Regeni’s death. However, around a week ago Egypt said it was temporarily suspending its investigation into his murder, citing reservations about evidence Italy had compiled. 

Egypt has previously denied its security services were involved in his death, and initially put his death down to a car accident, before saying a gang was responsible.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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