Four members of the Egyptian secret services are tried in absentia in Rome on Thursday. The men are charged with the abduction, torture and murder of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni in Cairo. It is one of the most difficult court cases in Italy in recent years.
Death of 28-year-old Giulio Regeni, PhD student at Cambridge University, caused a shock in Italy. He went missing in the Egyptian capital, where he conducted research on the activities of the local trade unions, on January 25, 2016, on the fifth anniversary of mass anti-government protests. On February 3, the massacred body of a young Italian was found near an Egyptian secret service prison. The traces of torture were so enormous that the mother recognized her son from the tip of his nose. Then it was emphasized that the Egyptian secret service was known for the kind of torture inflicted on it. This evidence made Regeni a victim of the repression apparatus in Italy.
The following years were spent on a trial of strength and tensions between the Egyptian authorities and successive Italian governments, which demanded that Cairo explain the circumstances of the crime and assist in the investigation. Appeals from Rome were met with silence and refusal to cooperate with Italian investigators. Egyptian services, shortly after finding Regeni’s body, announced that he had fallen victim to a car accident.
Egyptian service officers tried in absentia
In a court in Rome, officers of the Egyptian services will be tried in absentia: General Sabir Tariq and Colonels Usham Helmi, Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim and Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif. They are accused of involvement in kidnapping, torture and murder.
The researcher’s parents, Paola and Claudio Regeni, want the next Italian prime ministers who have held office in the last five years, including Matteo Renzi, Paolo Gentiloni, Giuseppe Conte and Mario Draghi, to testify in the trial. The Italian Council of Ministers also applied for the status of the injured party.
During the proceedings, the judiciary obtained testimony from people who confirmed that the Egyptian services were deliberately misleading to obstruct the investigation, and they did so from the first hours after the investigator’s body was found.
“There is a power in Egypt that is not subject to any dictates”
Just before the start of the trial, the Italian media publicized the words of Egyptian President Abd el-Fatah al-Sisi in Budapest, where he met with the leaders of the Visegrad Group. In relation to human rights, he stated: – You are dealing with a state that respects itself and its people. There is a power in Egypt that is not subject to any dictates.
Italian Camera dei Deputy Roberto Fico said on the eve of the trial that “if we look back and think about the enormous effort it took to get to this point, to recreate the circumstances of the crime despite obstruction of the investigation and all kinds of resistance from Egypt, we will understand how important it will be the day.
Main photo source: MASSIMO PERCOSSI / EPA / PAP